Monday, February 25, 2013

Xiao Long Bao, a Foodie Quickie

Took a break from two sewing projects to be the one woman camera crew for my daughter as she made these little delights. What are they? Well I'm so glad you asked!
The translation is 'Little Basket Bun' I am told. They are little baskets of yum! Inside a small piece of dough rolled in a thin circle is a mixture of pork, and several flavoring ingredients like ginger, green onion, and soy sauce, along with a broth that has been thickened with a special ingredient. When steamed, the thickened broth makes soup! So it's like a little basket of soup, with pork in the center, how cool is that??!
These were hands down the best Chinese food item I have ever eaten. We invited friends over and had these for dinner.
Lauren made these for her Chinese Class, as the students were assigned to make an authentic Chinese dish. I'm pretty darn sure she aced this assignment!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Dress Project and Pants Fitting

So it seems I can procrastinate making curtains a little longer. My daughter asked me last night if I would make a black dress for an upcoming event, just shy of a month away. She sketched her vision, then looked through the pattern stash for some inspiration. I knew immediately which fabric I wanted to use. I have had this black Italian rayon matte jersey out in my sewing room ever since it came home to me from Gorgeous Fabrics, (see Ann's used of this fabric for her Mission Maxi here) just waiting for the right time to make it into a beautiful dress. It's time has come.  The green at the bottom of the picture will be an accent color.  If I can't find trim in that color, then we will just have to get creative.  This will be a bit of a frankenpattern/self-drafting type of project. Lauren requested a slit in the skirt to the high upper thigh. Or wherever I'm comfortable with it ending. Cough-cough. Lol. More on this project another day, once I've come up with a pattern.

Next are a pair of Style Arc Sailor Sue knit pants in a brown Ponte knit. So y'all know how many times I've made these? This will be #5.  They are comfortable and versatile!

A while back, after taking my first pair of Sailor Sue's in twice, I altered the physical pattern. However, as I am typing this, I am realizing that I took the pants in at all 4 seams - each side, front, and back. When I altered the pattern, I think I removed width from the waist and hip area only at the side seams. I'll take another look at the pattern.

I made this brown pair up yesterday, no waistband or hem yet, but slipped them on to gauge the waistband elastic. Looked decent from the front except maybe a little excess fabric in the front crotch area. Looked good from the side. The back not so much.  There are all kinds of diagonal wrinkles under my bottom. I took some crappy, late night cell phone pictures, lightened to show detail.
Extra fabric folding in the crotch.

Side view not bad.

The last pair that I made, this gray pair, I added length above the waist, and added a waistband as well, because I wanted the pants to sit higher and look smoother under knit tops at the tummy region. The grey Ponte was a thicker fabric with a firmer hand and drape than the first pair I made. When I noticed similar wrinkles, I thought they may have been due to my fiddling around with adding a waistband and length above the waist. I'm not a fan of those wrinkles, so I tend to wear this pair less.

Back to today's brown pair. I'm toying with the idea of a waistband, but I may just sew in elastic and turn as the pattern indicates. I love these pants and wear the heck out of my others, but want to fix the wrinkles for future makes.

I will hem these pants to exclude excess fabric pooling as a cause of the wrinkling, then try to figure out  the fit issue. I'm wondering if I have the dreaded old lady 'low butt' (OLLB Syndrome) causing this - after all, I did just turn a year older this month.  {Looking at pictures of your own butt is motivation to exercise, is it not??}

Maybe I need a fisheye dart to take out excess under the butt?  Reshape the crotch curve? I'll be pinning out fabric on these to see what gives the correct fit, and consulting my fitting book library.

In the meantime, if you know what causeth my back leg wrinkles, please speak up in the comments! I know so many of you have gone through the pants fitting trials.  Did you have a similar issue, and if so, what was your fix?

Thanks and have a wonderful day!


Friday, February 15, 2013


I've been MIA for awhile, working on some home improvement projects. There has been *a little* sewing room activity, though! (Emphasis on little.)  I've been keeping up on blog reading, but have been having difficulty commenting on Blogger blogs using my iPad or iPhone.  Have you experienced the same issue?  Hoping Blogger fixes it soon.

Anyhow, this is what I've been up to!

Bra Sew-Along:  I completed my muslin during the sew along.  Amy of Cloth Habit and Norma of Orange Lingerie were fabulous, so gracious with their time, talent, and knowledge.  It helped me make the leap from staring at my bra pattern to sewing my bra pattern.  I do not have a final, complete, well-fitting bra yet, though.  That will require some pattern alterations or a different pattern.

Bra Muslin hanging.

Bra muslin stuffed.

This shows the cup details better.
It is a 2 part cup with a power bar.

The pattern I used was Danglez DB3E.  It is said to be a good pattern for larger cup sizes, but as a first bra pattern for a bra making newbie, I had some head scratching moments with the instructions.  I had to use a few other sources to make sense of the pattern pieces initially.  The Danglez directions do not have pictures,  ladies.  I dare say most people who sew & create stuff lean toward the visual.  The power bar on the side cup really does it's job to bring your sides in, if you know what I mean.  (You busty ladies will.  ;-))

The pattern as I made it did not have enough volume in the cup, which is fixable, although I am happy with the underwire fit.  There is one thing I didn't care for with this pattern - the straps are too far apart for my taste.  This can be altered, of course, if I choose to go further with this pattern.

I am excited about a new pattern from Bramaker's Supply, called the Shelly full band bra pattern that Michelle, a bra sewing buddy told me about.  It has the larger cups, a 3 part cup with power bar, and the angles of the straps looks more to my liking.  I want to give this pattern a try before I alter and remake the Danglez.

Fabric Acquisitions:   By now I am sure you have read about all the sewing bloggers practicing abstinence (of the fabric and pattern variety) or pledging to use X number of fabrics from their stash.  I'll have none of it!  No abstinence, no promises.  To that end, my first fabric purchase of the year came recently from Marcy Tilton.  The gold fabric is a Ponte, the other two are yummy microfiber knits.  I am not positive about the gold color on me, but my daughter looks fab-u-lous in gold.  It was too pretty to pass up.


Garment Sewing:  Several patterns are cut and ready to sew, just waiting for the time to sew.  The other day I put on my first pair of Style Arc Sailor Sue Pants, made 11 months ago, and since taken in 2 sizes.  I hate to say it, but it's time to retire them, or at least relegate them to around-the-house wear.   The Ponte used for these has become terribly pilled.  Although I have a brown pair cut out, and also own a navy and a gray pair, black is a mainstay in my wardrobe, so I'll need to make another black pair.  This pant style fits my lifestyle well, since it can be dressed up or down, and is so comfortable.  They are also easy to take in, if you are in weight loss mode.

Speaking of pilled fabrics, this knit made into a Style Arc Creative Cate top, has also pilled.  I wear this top fairly often - it is so comfortable and I love the fabric.  It never goes in the dryer, and the fabric was not inexpensive, so I am disappointed.  I recently saw this fabric for much less than I paid, on for $5 per yard!  I have a skirt in this fabric also, which has seen much less wear, so is still in great shape. 

Hemming and Hawing:  During the Great Purge, I found several pairs of pants that are older & skinnier ~and fit~ that need hemming, since I had to give up heels.  I hate hemming, so in order to get it done, I am visiting my friendly neighborhood tailor.  Yes, lazy, I know.  I'll throw in a couple of my husband's pants while I'm at it.  My mending pile is already too high, and I've got to clear off my project/cutting table to make way for my next big project, curtains.

Knitting:  I am trying to relearn knitting.  It's been in Barbie Doll scarves were on my knit list.  

Practicing knit & purl, and slip stitches.  It's not pretty.

Curtains:  Yes, I am about to begin a couple sizable home dec projects.  I've got 26 yards of dec fabric, and the  same amount in both interlining and lining, for long overdue master bedroom curtains.  The goal is room darkening, as well as sound and temperature blocking.  I've promised my daughter mom-made curtains for her bedroom as well - I am thinking white velvet!   
I've had a large cutting table set up in our MBr for some time, rolls of fabric waiting.  Of course, I've been using the fabulously large table for cutting out apparel fabrics & patterns. Once this project is done, it's bye-bye to my fabulously large cutting table in our bedroom.  My husband will be overjoyed.  But I'll be sad.  

Ahh, Florida:  As much as I miss the change of seasons and beautiful snowfalls, life in Florida is nothing to complain about, friends.  This has been a mild winter again for us, and while we have had a few cold days, for the most part it's just been plain gorgeous.  I took the dogs on an extra long walk a few days ago, to the circular park in our old neighborhood.  When we lived there, we walked Crystal in this park most days.  Her old stomping grounds, if you will, and it was time to introduce Zelda to the park on this particularly beautiful Florida day.

The park is full of Oak trees, and squirrels to chase are plentiful.

This is 'the bouncy tree'.  An old palm that grew sideways.  On any given day, you'll see kids climbing on it, and bouncing up and down.  Lauren spent many an afternoon bouncing on this tree!  It used to be several feet more off the ground, but gravity, age, and bouncing kids have taken their toll.  I may have bounced on the bouncy tree at times.

Gratuitous dog pictures....
Crystal introduced Zelda to the bridge that goes over the creek and small ravine.  Z wasn't very sure about it, so proceeded cautiously.

Zelda was pretty proud that she mastered the bridge!

We have family coming into town this weekend, so I've got to tidy up a bit and make some cookies.  The little ones that I made skirts and pants for will be here!  Best thing is, they are considering moving to town - we are all so excited and hope it works out.  It's good to have little people around.   

The painters have finished Lauren's room, so I'll put it back together today, since she is away for a couple days on a school trip.  Her 'stuff' has been clogging up my studio. 

If I go dark for a while, it means I have begun the Great Curtain Project.  But I might have to sew a few clothing items first.  ;-)  

Happy sewing!