Friday, October 31, 2008

bubbling insa and halloween tidbits

Halloween week has been very busy! (And it's not over yet!) We went to the zoo for their Halloween "Spooktacular" where Emily gave cotton candy another try and decided that she does in fact, love it (she had it at the shore this summer and hated it). And, she won 3rd place in the costume contest, which was an experience*.

I dug out her TUK knockoff kitty shoes that match my Tredairs and discovered that the size marked on them was wrong -- if I'd waited to pull them out she'd have never worn them! So, whew. And she loves them!

kitty shoes!!

I finished up this experimental Insa skirt and learned that black corduroy is really, really hard to photograph:

bubbling insa

I made this Insa to see what it would look like without the overskirt, just as a basic skirt, and I was very pleased. I also was experimenting with some bias tape used as trim rather than ribbon. It even has some little bows at the back, which were much harder to make from bias tape than from ribbon!

bubbling insa - back view

Here's a closeup of the bows. I don't love them, but like I said, it was largely an experiment so I'm not going to worry about it. Much!

I also realized I have never posted the shirt I made for myself! It's from the Zoela pattern (the women's version of Zoe, which I've made before)

totally 80s zoela

The body is a very soft cotton baby rib, the sleeves a blend of some sort I picked up a while back. Unfortunately, while the stripes are cool, the fabric is already pilling from the synthetic content it must have. Also unfortunately, I kind of hacked out the applique because I just wanted to be done. But, it fits great and is very comfortable. More Zoelas for me are on my sewing list already!! Maybe even one in velour like Emily's Halloween Zoe!

And now, it's time to get some lunch into a hyper Halloween witch so she has the energy to get through several events today!! Happy Halloween, everybody!!

*To make a very long story not-quite-so-long, I misunderstood the contest and thought it was more of the little kid costume parade type thing I am used to -- no, it was actually a 3-winners-only highly competitive display of bad parenting. A small group of mothers climbed onto the stage and blocked several kids from the judge's view, including Emily -- but the MC called the kids up anyway. Then, these same mothers booed when the last winner -- Emily -- was announced, as none of their kids won. Booed!! All these kids were under 5! I was horrified at their behavior, not to mention the lessons they were teaching their kids, but luckily Emily was oblivious to it and was excited to win when she had misunderstood the contest to be just going up to the judges to see what they thought of your costume.

Monday, October 27, 2008

best. pie. ever.

apple pie

No kidding. It's the sour-cream apple pie recipe Alicia Paulson posted recently. I made my own crust (the awesome no-roll crust recipe from Penzey's which they ought to call "no-work pie crust") which you make like this: dump 1-1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup canola oil, 1/4 cup melted butter (okay, actually they say 1/2 cup oil, but I like butter and next time might try using all butter), and 3 Tablespoons milk into your pie pan, stir with a fork until well mixed, press into place. It actually makes a nice, flaky buttery crust! With no work!! I also used Mutsu apples because there are no granny smiths at the farmer's market. And I used brown sugar in the topping. And the result? Amazing. I want Saturday to hurry up and get here so I can buy lots more apples!! And we haven't even finished this pie off!! (And a note: it warms up in the microwave fine in 1 minute, although you do lose the crunch of the topping. But watch for hot spots!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

this is...something i'm surprised i like



When I was a kid, I hated mushrooms. Despised them. Loathed them. I would cook dinners for my family involving mushrooms and refuse to eat the results. But now, we go through a pile of them a week! Raw, cooked, in everything or on their own. Mostly we stick to button and crimini, with some enoki here and there. But we do branch out occasionally. I'm happy to say that Emily has no problem with mushrooms. Sandwiches? Now that's a different story...

This week's This Is... theme brought to you by Victoria of Earl and Cookie.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Do you think I might have a little too much single-fold binding there? Considering I just need to edge a tablecloth?

too much binding?

Yup. Too much.

yup, too much binding.

Note the finished tablecloth underneath the apparently untouched mound of binding. I'll be making Halloween-themed linens for the next decade.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

a bewitching Feliz

So, the famous Feliz! I thought this pattern was stunning when I saw the first examples of it, but I wasn't sure what to do with it -- we have zero call for party dresses around here. But then I realized, I needed to make a dress for Emily's witch costume, and it would be perfect! Here is the result:

Bewitching Feliz

Bewitching Feliz

And here is the little witch making a "witch face":

Halloween Witch

That is not actually her complete outfit -- she is dressed up here for the Halloween party at her playgym (to which I wore this) I am making a heavy top for outdoor events, but I knew it would be a bit warm at the gym so I just put a black tee underneath. There's also a broom and a black cat around here somewhere....I should get complete outfit photos this weekend!

The Feliz is nowhere near as difficult to put together as it might look. There is a lot to do (especially if you go for the ruffled look and have to make and apply them all!), but if you go slowly and carefully it comes together very easily. I only did a few things differently: I hemmed the underskirt before assembling the dress; I basted the straps to the overdress before assembling; and I followed the suggestions here for adding the elastic into the side casings and adding interfacing to the back opening of the overdress. That was definitely necessary -- not only does it make the dress go on and off more easily, but it keeps the dress in place when the sash comes loose. Which will happen a lot, if your Feliz-wearer is like mine:

the witch at the playgym

The twirl on this dress is amazing. Emily is seriously enamored of it -- she insisted on wearing the dress right up until bedtime. So, I think there will be more Felizes in our future, whether or not we need any party dresses! The only things I would do differently: I would cut the overskirt longer and check the length before hemming, after assembly. I also might think about adding facings to the sides of the underdress, while it would make the dress even heavier there, I didn't like the wrong side of the fabric showing at the sides. Not a big deal, and if it wasn't all on black I probably wouldn't even notice. I also might make the whole thing a bit shorter since it will end up in the garden...but for now, we're just enjoying this witchy Feliz!

Halloween Witch

Monday, October 20, 2008

and the winners are:

Emily isn't feeling well today, so I turned to the random number generator for help in giving away all three sets of patterns I have this week. (Not as much fun as using Emily, but certainly much faster!!) The results?


Which means:

4: Miz K!
1: Thien-Kim!
3: Astrid!

Come on down!! Send me your addresses and I'll get these out asap! Thanks again to everyone who entered, and keep your eyes on the wiki (and here) -- there will be another giveaway in the not-too-distant future!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

spooky skirts and birthday fabric

Matching halloween skirts for me and Emily!

Spooky Rømøs

Both skirts are made using the Rømø pattern I've used before. The base fabric is a "Spooky Hollow for Joann's" cotton I bought years ago and stashed when it went on sale - I've waited all this time for a good reason to use it! Finally! The orange dotted fabric was left over from making Emily's Halloween costume dress (in fact, the ruffle on her skirt was actually made for her dress, I had a big length of ruffle left over and she asked me to put it on her skirt). Here's my skirt alone, and Emily's. Honestly, I think this is my favorite skirt pattern, so simple to put together (both versions) and also so easy to dress up. I just did a facing this time on mine (instead of a full lining) since I will probably not wear it as much, which made it come together even quicker. The girl's version is so easy I'd make Emily 10 of them....if I didn't suspect she is planning to boycott skirts now (as well as pants and sleeves).

I also have to show off this adorable cotton fleece (think really nice sweatshirt) I got for my birthday from my brother! (Well, with the gift certificate he got me from Bunte Fabrics.)

hilco knut fleece

It's called Knut, after the famous polar bear, obviously. So cute!! I think it will be used for a copy of a favored dress Emily is on the verge of growing out of. I will almost hate cutting into it!! I also got the corduroy you can see in this photo, Emily picked that one out from the choices I gave her. NO idea what that's going to be. It's so adorable. I should also note that Bunte Fabrics is having a great sale right now on Japanese canvas fabric as well as lots of other stuff -- if I hadn't already known what I wanted it might have taken me forever to decide what to get!

Friday, October 17, 2008

the final farbenmix/fledge giveaway!

180px-Feliz.jpg 180px-Anna.jpg

It's time for our last and final giveaway to celebrate the launch of the farbenwiki! Again, I've got a pair of patterns (courtesy of Nancy Langdon of StudioTantrum/Fledge) -- an Anna and a Feliz. (These are 'scratch and dent" patterns that had folding issues; so they come without the usual ribbon tags and have their titles crossed out to prevent their sale, just so you know. But they are perfectly usable and will make fabulous dresses!) All you have to do is comment on this entry or email me (and mention the giveaway!) by Monday morning -- and it looks like i may even an extra set or two to give away, so your chances may be even better than usual! Thanks for coming by!

Please note -- if you enter, plan on coming back here on Monday to see if you've won just in case my email to you gets filtered. If I don't hear back from the winner within 48 hours of emailing I will draw a new name and pass the patterns on. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

sweet cherry insa!

cherry insa detail

Here's the latest installment in the Autumn sewing blitz -- a cherry corduroy Insa for Emily! This has actually been in the works for ages, ever since we (Emily and I) saw Sara's cherry cord Insa on flickr and Emily insisted that she wanted THAT SKIRT. So, I decided to simply clone Sara's idea and used the exact same Robert Kaufman babywale corduroys for mine! Here's the full view:

cherry insa

Plus, here's a shot of it on the dressform, as the weather has gotten warm again and there's no chance of getting it onto Emily anytime soon. (Also note the completely inconsistent light we have this time of year -- every room a different color.) I ended up almost trimming it identically -- I brought home a very similar green ribbon along with my pink rick rack! But the ribbon didn't wash well so I waited, and then I found that perfect jacquard cherry mini-ribbon. I did not copy the trim on the yoke seam from Sara (she said it is always covered up anyway), and I also added a little medallion that I made from scraps. So, it's not a perfect clone...but it sure is close! Luckily we're continents apart, so no chance of an embarrassing playground faux pas.

The pattern went together incredibly well -- it is a bit long, and definitely too long for a girl who plays in the dirt in her skirts and dresses, so I shortened the yoke quite a bit, and truthfully, I'm happier with the proportions this way. The resulting skirt is really nice, full without much bulk. We like it so much there's a second one underway already!

Monday, October 13, 2008

recipe request: baked macaroni

So here's the macaroni recipe I use (as seen in the polka dot macaroni). It's based on the (allegedly) original recipe from the Automats, but there is actually controversy about that recipe -- some people claim there are tomatoes, others say no. Relatives who ate at the automat say no. But who knows? I don't really care. I love it because it's so easy to remember: 1/2 t worcestershire, 2T butter, 2T flour, 4 oz pasta, 8 oz cheese, 12 oz milk. It's like mathematical macaroni!

1. preheat oven to 350°
2. grate 8 oz of cheddar cheese and set aside (I grate 2 lbs at a time and freeze it in packets of 8 oz each!)
3. cook 4-5 oz of elbow macaroni and drain (you can do this while making your sauce, below)
4. melt 2 T butter in a small saucepan, add 2 T flour and whisk until it just starts to turn golden brown. Grind in some pepper if you like. Add 12 oz of milk and cook on medium low for 5-6 minutes (don't let it boil!), stirring regularly. Hey, you just made béchamel sauce!! Awesome!
5. combine sauce, pasta, cheese and 1/2 t of worcestershire sauce in a bowl and stir until just combined.
6. Scrape into a baking dish (I use a 9 x 12 glass dish) and bake for 30 minutes. Or so. Depending on your oven.

Dish it up! Also, this is best fresh, but it can be frozen and reheated - Emily loves this so much I often bake a whole one just to portion up and freeze to give her later. She even likes it at room temp, I don't know if I like it that much though!

(If you wanted to reduce the fat and starch, you can replace the béchamel sauce with an (unheated) egg blended into the milk. Put the milk and 1 egg into a blender or food processor along with the worcestershire sauce and pepper and whirl away. Mix into the pasta and cheese and bake as above. It works perfectly well, but we're too used to the other way, so I won't be doing it again.)

and the winner is...


Congrats on winning giveaway #3, Rebecca! And thanks to everyone else who entered -- remember to come back next Friday for the final giveaway, there's one last set of patterns waiting to go to a new home!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

this is... my current reading material

I am sure I am forgetting something (or five things!) but here's what I'm remembering of the books I have scattered about:

Rendering Fashion, Fabric and Prints with Adobe Photoshop: I waited to get this from the NYC library for months, literally...and what a disappointment. It's a textbook, and feels like the worst of the bloated textbooks I had to buy in college. The photoshop advice is really bad, and I feel like the textile advice can't be much better. The sections on how to swipe material had me a little disturbed as well. I didn't actually finish it and I'm not going to. If you've been trying to find this book for your Spoonflower designs, just go get a good Photoshop book instead.

The Algebraist: Another book I am probably not finishing, at least not now. I am a big Iain Banks fan (well, really an Iain M. Banks fan) but I'm having trouble getting through this one for some reason. I have to admit, I didn't love the last two books of his I read either.

Mothstorm: The Horror from Beyond Uranus Georgium Sidus!: Now here is a writer who has yet to disappoint. I loved the Mortal Engine series, like LOVED; and I am really enjoying this new series as well.

The Art of Manipulating Fabric: Fantastic resourse for anyone who sews -- I just got this but I already know it'll be one of my most used references. It's truly amazing, you can check out this google books preview to see what I'm talking about. The section on ruffles and flounces alone is worth the price of admission.

There are also several books I am in the middle of which had to go back to the library before I could finish; the Splendid Table most notably. That is a cookbook that is going on my wishlist. A stack of magazines in the kitchen I need to riffle through and toss. And surely, more books stashed here and there that I am not remembering. I used to knock books off so fast, but with the preschooler at my takes me forever now. Having my booktime slashed drastically has had one good effect though -- I don't bother finishing books I don't really like! Now that is a timesaver!

This week's This Is... theme brought to you by MissK of My Champagne Dreams.

Friday, October 10, 2008

friday freebie -- pattern giveaway 3!!

180px-Feliz.jpg 180px-Anna.jpg

It's time for giveaway number THREE to celebrate the launch of the farbenwiki! Once again, I've got a pair of patterns (courtesy of Nancy Langdon of StudioTantrum/Fledge) -- an Anna and a Feliz. These are 'scratch and dent" patterns that had folding issues; so they come without the usual ribbon tags and have their titles crossed out to prevent their sale, just so you know. But they are perfectly usable and will make fabulous dresses! All you have to do is comment on this entry or email me (and mention the giveaway!) by Monday morning -- and if you don't win, there will be one last chance next weekend!! And please spread the we can spread the love!

And Rebecca is this week's winner! Please come back next Friday for the last set of patterns! Thanks!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

jump rope roxy

Another project has been marked off my Fall sewing list!

roxy in action

This is the farbenmix Roxy tunic/dress pattern, made with some really cute "Katie Jump Rope" Denise Schmidt fabric I got last Xmas (thanks, Hallie!), which I have been itching to use. It's paired with a dot fabric from Quilt Gate I bought a ton of early this year (it went out of print, but I love it as an accent or trim so I stocked up). Unfortunately, I couldn't get an invisible zipper in the orange, so I used a regular one, and I really am not thrilled with that. But, it's not like Emily cares!

Front view:


Back view:


It's finished with some eyelet trim I ran through my new ruffler foot. I also used some rick rack edged elastic on the sleeves, which is cute but was a bit of a pain. I love the pattern -- no adjustments necessary, and the fit is fantastic. The princess seams went together like magic, and the bit of flare it has at the hem is just perfect. I might try puffing the sleeves a bit more next time, but that's just for fun, not because it needs it. And it got raves from Emily! A Roxy will definitely be on the Spring planning list (if I go that long without making another!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

this favorite kitchen tool

Well, whoops. It's been some week. I was supposed to post this on Sunday, and I even had my post planned, but I never got to it. So I'll just give you the gist: this was a rough one! I love everything in my kitchen, I swear. First I ruled out all gadgets since a "tool", to me, is a non-powered item. And I finally decided that my one cannot-live-without item is my wusthof santoku knife. Honestly, I love it so much more than my chef's knife. I use it for practically everything. You can't beat it on vegetables! Although...I doubt it cuts bread too don't ask me to give up the rest of my knives!

This week's This Is... theme brought to you by Sharon of Handmaiden.

Monday, October 6, 2008

and the winner is...

Congrats to this week's winner:

and the winner is

Send me your address, Nicole! And everyone else, please come back this Friday to enter giveaway #3 -- I have 2 more Feliz/Anna packs to give away! And please...pass the word, and visit the farbenwiki!

Friday, October 3, 2008

some quick notes...

I keep forgetting to post this, we have a bunch of stuff on ebay right now. There is a handful of my knitting stuff, some kits, vintage magazines and a big batch of vintage needles.

Also, I've gotten a lot of questions about the bread, and while every household and machine are going to call for a different recipe, one constant is high quality ingredients. For bread I use only King Arthur flour -- when they had to raise prices this year we tried cheaper brands and there was a noticeable difference in taste. I'm sure any comparable flour would be fine. Also, when dry milk is called for in baking, the dry milk from the grocery store is not really what they're talking about, you need to get baker's dry milk, it's a totally different thing. I know it's tempting to use the cheapest stuff available but it will make a huge difference in your bread if you use the good stuff. Also, get some ascorbic acid (from any baking/spice place) and add 1/8 of a teaspoon to your bread mix, it makes the bread a lot softer and acts as a preservative. Not that we really need that around here. Finally, I use instant yeast, it works great, and cuts baking time in half. Seriously. I cannot deal with a 4-hour loaf of bread!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

another Anna/Feliz pattern giveaway!

It's time for giveaway number TWO to celebrate the launch of the farbenwiki! Once again, I've got a pair of patterns (courtesy of Nancy Langdon of StudioTantrum/Fledge) -- an Anna and a Feliz, which is just about all you need to dress any girl from toddler to, okay, not teen, but big girl, definitely. These are 'scratch and dent" patterns that had folding issues; so they come without the usual ribbon tags and have their titles crossed out to prevent their sale, just so you know. But they are perfectly usable and will make fabulous dresses! All you have to do is comment on this entry or email me (and mention the giveaway!) by Monday morning -- and if you don't win, try again next weekend!! And please spread the word so we can spread the love!

And Nicole is the winner! Please come back Friday Oct 10th and enter giveaway #3 for another chance!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

fall sewing: the purple edition

I've gotten fall sewing underway, with several projects finished (although, unfortunately the light changes this time of year, making the house glow but making photographs hard to get!) Here are two, both purple at Emily's request. First up is the recycled Henrika:

recycled Henrika

Henrika pattern from Farbenmix, made from some navy cotton rib and a recycled Hanna Andersson playdress (the dotted purple stuff). The skirt is really the original playdress skirt grafted on to the Henrika top. I think it came out really cute, but Emily has declared war on all sleeves, so it may be a while before I get her into it. I had very little trouble with the pattern; the sleeves I chose are long by design but I shortened them a tad anyway.

Also purple, and thankfully without sleeves, is this Noelle skirt, also Farbenmix:


Here it is from the back:

Noelle - back

I love the lacing detail -- I did the topstitching in a decorative stitch that echoed it. Black velvet ribbon trim, sparkly plastic pony beads on the laces for extra oomph! I did run into some trouble with the Noelle pattern, I think this is the first thing I've made for Emily that actually is a bit fitted -- and now I realize that she is a size smaller in width than she is in height. Everything up until now has been slightly boxy in the cut, so it hasn't been noticeable, but to my surprise, the skirt slipped right off! I have it laced as tightly as possible now, and I think over tights it will be fine. But I will have to watch out for this in the future. It was a "shocking surprise" (as Emily likes to say) because I still think of her as the roly-poly bundle she once was, but that was about 2 years ago now....oops! I will definitely use this pattern again, but I will measure more carefully on all fitted patterns from now on! (And I've already recut one I was working on.)

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