Sunday, January 29, 2012

Linda Pants

Finally at long last, and with much excitement, I was able to whip out a pair of Style Arc's Linda Pants. Style Arc's patterns have received great reviews on Pattern Review, and several sewists have made up Linda Pants that look great on them.

I've had the fabric (a stretch Bengaline from JA) laid out on my cutting table for longer than I care to admit. I decided that I would throw common sense to the wind and cut and sew the pants right out of the package. These pants seem to fit so many without alterations.

After sewing them up today, before putting of the waistband, I tried them on because I was anticipating that they would be slightly big in the waist and might need a little tweaking. Hah! I could barely get the freaking pants on my body, and when I did, could barely get them off! Holy smokes am I bummed! My sewing time is so limited lately and I spend it sewing a garment that doesn't fit.

The Linda Pant is a great pant pattern. I wish I'd chosen the size better, especially since I can't just run out and get a different size. Size wise, I thought I had chosen well. In fact, according to the measurement chart on Style Arc's website, I did choose correctly by the hip measurement. The waist measurement for that same size is larger than my own, which is why I thought I'd need to take it in. There are no finished garment measurements listed, but according to SA's measurement chart and a quick flat pattern measurement, it appears that there is a half inch of ease at the hip of this pattern. Perhaps the 'Stretch Bengaline' available here does not have the same stretch as what is available in Australia. Regardless of why these are too small, I'll need to do some alterations to the pattern before making them again.

So what to do with a too small pair of slacks? The fabric is quite nice and has a lovely drape, and I would hate seeing them go to waste. One of my girlfriends is coming over next weekend, and I'm thinking they will fit her well. If so, I'll attach the waistband, hem them, and take pictures. For now, I'll just have to leave you with this:

Yesterday we drove thirty minutes for the best solution to a hectic week - Grouper sandwiches and a long walk on the beach. Florida is beautiful this time of year.

Have a great week!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Foodie Post

Around lunchtime today, my daughter hung her head over the railing and hollered, "Is that spaghetti sauce I smell?" Indeed it was.  I had put on a pot of marinara sauce and made linguini (whole wheat to my family's dismay). The sauce was really intended for a beautiful eggplant that soon is to become baked eggplant with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce, but I felt like a little pasta also.

Crystallized ginger for the scones.
While the eggplant was draining in the colander, I pulled out a small bag of crystallized ginger that has been taunting me every time I opened the spice cupboard. I'd flagged a recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Scones with Cinnamon Chips, and it was time to try them. I had everything on hand except cinnamon chips, so I made some, using this recipe. I used Spectrum Organic Non-Hydrogenated Shortening in my recipe, and made a double batch, and chopped them after they cooled. They were just perfect for the scones.

I made up a double batch of the scone batter. Half of the batter was made into drop style scones, and the other half I followed instructions. They'd be lovely with a scone pan, but I do not own one.

Taunted by the intoxicating scent of cinnamon wafting up through the center of the house and into her bedroom, DD and Crystal, the latter always hopeful for a treat, appeared in the kitchen as though transported Enterprise style. (I swear they have a hidden transporter.)

"What has gotten into you, Mom?" DD asked, grateful for whatever it was that spurred this cooking spree.

"Just felt like cooking, I guess."

I got got to thinking about the question she'd asked. Deep in the recesses of my brain, I know why I am cooking and baking up a storm. Stress relief. I find in times of stress, I hit the kitchen. Generally I share much of what I make with friends and family, otherwise we would all be very large, and we are big enough as it is.

It's been a rather stressful week! A sick older relative, a needy older relative, and we found DD has fractures in both feet. :( She is bummed, as she was working hard training for a race coming up this spring.  She does not need casting, but will have to lay off the running for now. Mostly I just feel really bad for her, as I know how frustrated she is.

Back to food:  see all those spots on the scones?  Those are the homemade cinnamon chips.  I loaded the scone batter with them, and placed some on top prior to baking.  I skipped the butter brushing as per the recipe.

Drop scone
Triangle shaped scone
In case you were wondering, both shapes are equally delicious.  Ask me how I know.  ;)

If I were going for a little decadence or perhaps if we were serving to company, I'd make a little glaze for the tops, perhaps with a hint of orange rind in the glaze.

Healthier version of eggplant parm.  Before baking.

The eggplant, after baking, will be assembled with fresh mozzarella on top and bathed in marinara sauce, then back in the oven until bubbly hot and cheese melted.  That's what's for dinner in my house!

What do you do when you are stressed? I'm thinking exercising would be a better choice than cooking, but at least it's all fairly healthy. The tomatoes in the marinara are full of good-for-you lycopene, plus the garlic in the sauce is good for something, right? The eggplant is baked, not fried, and the scones are full of good stuff. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, cinnamon, of which I used a lot, is full of antioxidants, and ginger is supposed to be good for many things, from morning sickness (ain't none of that here, mind you) to migraines to lowering cholesterol. (Purely anecdotal info on the ginger, haven't seen any scientific data on that!)

Now that I've cooked my way to being relaxed, I'm off to do some sewing.

Hope your weekend is going wonderfully!


p.s. if anyone is interested in my Marinara Sauce Recipe, I would be happy to post it - just ask me in the comments. It's quick, easy, and delicious.

P.p.s. If you like cinnamon and ginger, the scones are a must try recipe. Holy smokes are they good, especially with a cup of tea.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Happy Friday! This having been one most hellatious week, I am so glad it is the weekend. I am planning on spending a good chunk of it sewing. Other than my walking buddy, husband, and daughter, I won't be answering my phone. Hibernation is the theme this weekend. Not sure what I'll be sewing. I'm feeling like a heavy sweater or coat - I saw one Neiman Marcus Last Call online that really caught my eye:

Something along these lines would be great for a trip we are taking next month up north. I love the neck on this sweater - it looks so cozy. Any suggestions for a pattern? I can't think of anything offhand, so I'll have to do some searching.

I really just need to spend some time in the studio and see what inspires me. My husband just walked in with his fleece PJ pants I made him, and asked if I could make three more for him. I guess that means he likes them. :)

Have a wonderful weekend,


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Simplicity 2317 & A Fleece Remnant

Thank you to those who left such nice comments to my previous post. I truly appreciate your kind words. It has been a very busy month so far, and January is half over, can you believe it? I finally got some much needed sewing time in Saturday night.

I find being in my studio, whether alone, joined by the ever faithful Crystal, or joined by my sweet daughter, it is time well spent and goes a long way toward relieving the stresses of life. Do you find yourself feeling more relaxed after sewing for a bit?

Since it's the new year, I promised myself to get through the pile of mending cluttering up the studio. It consisted mostly of the hubby's dress shirts and pants. After that was all finished, I pulled out a remnant of plaid fleece that I had in the stash. The fleece is from Hancock's - one day not long ago I ran in for something else and spotted this on the $1.99 table. It's been pretty chilly here in FL (seriously) and I've been wanting to make us all some PJ pants. Simplicity 2317 was waiting in the queue, a perfect little match.

Waistband rolled down twice.
This is a quickie, 1 hour from cutting to pictures. I didn't have enough fabric to accurately match the plaid, so just did the best I could. The fabric was not prewashed, but poly fleece doesn't shrink, so I whipped it up and washed it afterwards.

Simplicity 2317 consists of a traditional PJ set for men or women, a longer nightshirt, a tee shirt, and a cute misses' tank and shorts PJ set. A lot of options in one pattern (a 99 cent bargain!), and I can see myself making the nightshirt at some point.

For the pants, view C, I cut an XL, because these are supposed to be for the hubs. There's not much to say about these - they are your basic 2 piece pant pattern. I sewed the elastic to the inside top of the waistband using a zig-zag stitch (because I didn't feel like rethreading my serger), then turned down and zig-zag stitched it in place, of course stretching the elastic while sewing both steps. I have no idea what the instructions say to do - I didn't look at them, but I like this method, especially when the stitching won't show.

The pattern envelope states the pants are intended to be worn 2" blow the waist. I took an inch off the top of the waist after constructing the pants but before applying the elastic.  Even with an inch removed, they are at my waist, and although I didn't measure my husband, he prefers to wear his PJ pants low.  They are too big and too long for me, as they are intended for the hubs, but they are so very comfortable. I gave them a test run last night after they came out of the dryer, and wore them to bed.  I will definitely be making this pattern again.

I think the last time I sewed for my husband, other than mending, it was many, many moons ago - perhaps in the late 80's?  It feels good to have cleared out the mending he has been waiting so patiently for me to do, and to whip up a pair of PJ pants for him.  I might even let him wear them.  ;)

Rolled down twice, the pants are now about 2 inches below my waist.

Rear view, waistband rolled.  Isn't that one happenin' hairdo?

Waistband not rolled.  When I make these for me, I will chop  more off the top and taper in from hip to waist on both sides. 
That's all for today!  Happy sewing,


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Coming Clean

One day in 2010 when I had significant down time recovering from surgery, I discovered sewing blogs.  I had previously found Pattern Review and Stitcher's Guild, but didn't frequent the sites.  During that down time I became familiar with a number of blogs, and began regularly visiting some.  I was pleasantly surprised about the abundance of sewing related information 'out there' on the internet, and the wonderful sewing community as well.    

Since my memory isn't what it used to be, I decided to begin blogging this year as a way to journal my sewing projects.  I also began a written sewing notebook this year, as a spot to write down measurements, alterations I did - the minutiae that I want to be able to consult at a later date.  The notebook also helps me with my blog entries, especially if I blog later rather than sooner after completing a project.

I enjoy the sense of community that the online sewing blogs and websites offers.  None of my wonderful, 'real-life' friends sew (but I still love them!), so having online friends who do is just peachy.  For the sewists/bloggers who read my blog thank you!  I hope that you find it as enjoyable as I find reading others' blogs.  You are all a source of inspiration to me.

Many bloggers have taken the opportunity to review their year, write about the ups and downs of their sewing in the past year.  There are also lots of bloggers who enter sewing contests or participate in 6 packs, etc.  I won't be joining any 6 packs, garment-a-month contests, or any of the like.  But I love watching the progress of those who do.  I have great admiration for the prolific sewists out there.

In general, I don't sew with a plan.  I respond more to what moves me, or what I want/need at the moment.  Or what someone I love wants or needs.  (I jump for joy on the inside when my 16 year old asks me if I can make something for her!)  Or sometimes just because I want to try a technique, or because I have fallen in love with a piece of fabric.  

I realize that my blogging has been inconsistent.  In some cases, it has just been the stuff of life that has kept me out of the sewing room.  I've mentioned the older family members that have had lots of issues in the past year who have needed lots of our time and attention.  But that is only part of the equation. 

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been beaten up or run over, or maybe both.  I thought to myself as I hobbled to the bathroom that it was a hell of a way to end the year.  So I dragged my sorry a$$ downstairs and put on a pot of coffee, took a few meds, and snuggled up on the sofa under a warm blanket, with the heating pad on my knees.  Eventually my family got up and moving, and my husband gave me an injection of a strong anti-inflammatory medicine in my hip that allowed me to have a better day, and to join my family in the cooking and festivities of the day.  

While lying on the sofa in the quiet house early on this last morning of 2011, I decided that instead of making excuses about my inconsistent sewing and blogging, I would 'come clean'.  So here it is.  I have a form of Inflammatory Arthritis. Terms such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Psoriatic Arthritis may be familiar.  The arthritis that I have affects my spine as well as the peripheral joints.  Essentially, no joints are spared.  There are some very cutting edge medications to treat Inflammatory Arthritis these days that have given many people back their lives.  Unfortunately, more than a couple of those medications have led to severe 'side-effects' for me, so they are all off the table for me.  As a result, there are times that I just need to lay low and let things run their course.  Hence the sewing and blogging lapses.  

I decided to share this about myself because it is part of the package, part of my life experience, my journey. I am not trying to have a pity party.  We all have our ups and downs, right?  My tendency is to be private about my 'downs', so sharing this is a leap for me.  I am a fairly pragmatic person, so the rough patches don't get me mentally down, so to speak.  I just adjust and spend time doing quieter, less taxing activities.  It just is what it is.

Having this disease necessitated giving up my career several years ago, which was hard, but I adjusted. It is also why I have people who come to clean my house regularly, and our handyman is on speed dial. When it comes to decorating for Christmas (and undecorating), I have a company come in that sets up the artificial trees. My husband puts up the real tree, and we put all the ornaments on, which is the best part anyway. Even though I love to cook and bake, that can't always happen either. Thankfully my daughter and husband are both good cooks and can fend for themselves. I am thankful we have people that we can trust to fill in the gaps. I am thankful for my supportive husband. He has truly always been there for the good and the bad, and the really, really bad.

Despite the challenges, we enjoy life and each other, and generally laugh a lot. That is the best medicine, right?

If you've read this far, thank you for sticking with this lengthy soliloquy! I truly wish you a happy, healthy 2012.  Good health is a gift, as are family and friends.  Cherish them all.