More jam

Before, after and aftermath.

I think I’ve got jam on the brain. I suppose there are worth things.

This batch of jam (and by batch I mean just that one jar) was made necessary because of some excessive buying of Greenstring Farm plums. They’re very delicious, but it turns out that I can only eat so many plums and I buy them ripe.  So hurry!  Make some jam.  I used the ripest plums, an overripe nectarine, a really ripe apricot and a handful of strawberries in this batch.

I followed the basic jam making directions found on this site because I find they’re straightforward and make sense to me.  I use 1/2 cup sugar, 16 oz. cut up fruit and the juice and peel of one lemon.  That is all it takes to make a jar of jam. This batch is super tangy and nice and fruity.  The only thing I did differently this time is to use the immersion blender to squash up the fruit.  Berries are easy to squish with a fork, but these plums and friends didn’t want to squish.  The immersion blender blended the hell out of that fruit, so I worried that I’d be making some awful goop.  But the jam gods smiled upon my experiment and it thickened up nicely.  I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!

I also found myself with too much zucchini.  I’m sure this is a common situation in many households.  I cracked open my Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts and found azucchinicake Zucchini Spice Cake recipe.  It’s super delicious and a bundt cake!  I chose this recipe because they use butter instead of vegetable oil to make the cake, which is my preference.  Many zucchini bread recipes just are kind of yuck and heavy and chewy.  This is a nice cake.  I used cake flour (since I don’t have pastry flour) and 1.5 cups of ground almonds (not toasted because I couldn’t be bothered).  The zucchini makes the cake moist but doesn’t add much to the flavor, so it’s basically a moist spice cake.  I suspect this will be a good “keeper” when I want a treat without firing up the oven.  I cut most of the cake into pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap then put them all into a ziplock bag (just like Martha Stewart taught me).  They should be good for weeks!  Who knew too much zucchini would be so delicious.

Nothing but some berries

These blackberry bushes grow wild everywhere around these parts. I vow to pick some this year and make some jam.

I’ve got nothing crafty to share. I’ve not even cooked much lately. So today look at the pretty wild blackberry bushes that are common around here. I will do my best to pick some this year and make a jar of wild blackberry jam. Now that I’m a one jar jam girl.

Sewingwise, I’ve made a bodice for a dress that was just too huge to even think about fitting.  Next.  I’m going to toile a bodice for McCalls 6833 that I plan on making out of some of my fabric purchased on my recent Hawaii trip.  I hope this one fits better than the last pattern I tried.  And don’t worry if you click through and wonder why I’m making a lady princess dress.  I’m not, trust me on that one.

A muslin on purpose this time

Selfie with a purpose, can you see that neckline?

As the title intimates, I’ve made another garment that’s not “best”.  I came across Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage and thought I’d give it a try.  I’ve been looking for a pattern with that lapped kind of neckline and couldn’t find one until now.  Because I have lots of knits hanging around I thought I’d make up a quick version to check fit before cutting into one of my striped fabrics (I see this as a sailor type top you know).

Bronte was quite easy to make up and seems to fit pretty well.  There are a few tweaks to the length and sleeve length that I’ll make, but I think this is a pattern that is ready to go.  So here is my muslin made from a burnout rayon that sticks to itself (yes, like that striped dress from the entry before).  I didn’t like sewing this fabric so the remainder will go in the Goodwill bag.  I think this muslin will make a good workout top so it should have a full sweaty life outside the house.

A muslin of many stripes

Easy tank dress with flared out sides. Awful fabric makes it dangerous to wear.

I inadvertently sewed up a muslin for a dress that I was trying to make “for real”.  How did that happen?  When I chose the fabric I totally ignored/didn’t notice that it was super drape-y and sticks to itself.

I dutifully laid out may pattern and cut it in a single layer to get a better chance of stripe matching, never thinking that this dress REALLY wants to stick to itself and consequently show my unmentionables to the world.  Seriously, I have a photo of me in this dress with my ass cheek showing because it’s stuck to itself.  No, that one won’t be on the internet ever thankyouverymuch.

So this is Jorna Dress and is a super easy make and would have been quite wearable, but as is, it’s too dangerous to wear this out of the house.  This is DEFINITELY a house dress.  I will wear it cleaning, cooking and knocking around these four walls.  It will never again go out in the front yard and scare the neighbor children with it’s hidden assets (well, my NOT hidden assets).

Hope you all have a good 4th of July holiday if you’re in a place that celebrates it.  I shall be working, as one does on most holidays.  I will be a quite sad for myself.  In Honolulu.  Lost you on that last one, didn’t I?

Safe celebrating!

Decades past

Linen sweats avec wife beater. Admiring nature.

Having unearthed this tan linen (and an even bigger piece of blue linen) the other day, I thought I’d find a use for it.  Thinking back to where this linen came from was rather difficult.  I believe that I purchased it in NYC in the mid ’90s when I lived there.  So after aging for 20+ years the least I could do was use it up.

It’s very Calvin Klein-ish isn’t it? Blazer and sweats…

Linen warm weather type trousers was the idea I came up with. Essentially these are linen sweats.  I’ve even modeled them here with a wife beater to class the joint up.  Now honestly, I don’t think these will get much wear outside the house.  I see these as “all my sweat pants are in the hamper and I don’t want anything tight on my body” wear.  Paired with a tee of course.

The pattern is from Burda World of Style (which is now called Burdastyle) from February 2003.  The pattern is old, but still a decade younger than the fabric.  As to why there are beach trousers in the February issue of a pattern magazine I can’t think.  Maybe it’s to give the Germans hope for summer in the heart of winter.  What evs.

Cut up magazines and crushed food and I don’t know what else.

What you see here are wide legged trousers with a drawstring waist worn slightly below the waist and hemmed to work with flip flops.  The pattern is Burda WOF 02/2003 style #103.  The linen is from the Clinton administration.  We shall see if this is a winning combination as the warm weather wears on.

As an added bonus I present you with a photo of the biggest mess left by passengers any of the crew had ever seen.  REALLY awful in person.  This was two kids and a dad.  No, I didn’t work this flight because I’d have made them clean it up themselves.  I’m like that.

Someone stop me

What’s that Britney song? Oops I did it again.

I’m at work today in the middle of a trip and today we ended up in Los Angeles. This particular trip is one of early get ups. Very early indeed. I’ve gotten up at 2am (my time) every day so despite it being super early in LA, it’s really my late afternoon.

Does that mean I don’t walk over to the fabric district (1.5 miles each way mind you) to “just look”. No sir, it does not.

I confined my limited energy to one store (Michael Levine) which admittedly is super huge. I managed to buy 10 yards of fabric for an average of $5/yard including tax. Pretty freaking sweet. I wanted to buy some denim since LA is the home of jean manufacturing companies and the selection is amazing (and very cheap). I pawed through but couldn’t decide so I left it for another day.

After buying my prints and dots I procured a chicken torta with jalapenos at a neighborhood eatery and called it a day (after walking back 1.5 miles with 10 yards of fabric).

My plan for all this fabric is somewhat vague but I would like to make the April Rhodes Staple dress with one of these.  It’s an easy, travel friendly dress if done with the right fabric and two of these fabrics fit that bill (upper left and lower right).

Now it’s nap time!  Hope you’re out in the sun.

Scads of scones

Scones, jam and coffee. Good morning!

Today I had to make scones.  Had?  Yes, had.  I have some whole milk in the fridge that I used for a recipe.  I bought a pint of milk since that’s all I could find and only used about 2 tablespoons.  I won’t drink whole milk so I have to find ways to bake with it.  Horrible dilemma, no.

Baking inspiration struck and I made scones.  I dug out my scone recipe which is from a “lifestyle” show in the UK.  Well annoying TV people aside, this is a tasty scone recipe.  A few notes on making this:  I’d start with 400g of flour and add as necessary, or conversely you’ll probably need more milk since that’s a huge amount of flour for that amount of liquid.  If you’re wondering why the recipe calls for buttermilk and I’m trying to use up whole milk, I used a mixture of yogurt and whole milk with a scant teaspoon of cider vinegar to give it a bit more tang.  You can pretty much use any dairy in place of buttermilk – I’ve used yogurt, sour cream or regular milk.  It’s about using up what’s in the fridge.

These are great with some strawberry refrigerator jam.  If strawberries get a bit too old or I just want jam, I make up a jar.  No special equipment or pectin, just use lemon and a clean jam jar.  I use a clamshell box of strawberries quartered, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depends on berry sweetness and your taste – I like it tangy) and juice of a lemon (natural pectin and super tang in the jam).  Here’s a great post on making easy jam if you’re interested in trying it.  Truly easy and super delicious, plus it only makes one jar so you’re not inundated.

Sorry for making you hungry if you’re stuck at work.

Painting is the new sewing/knitting?

The before shot: this dresser had a sheer green varnish that’s been sanded a bit by moi. Very 50s/60s.

First off, if you’re so inclined go wish my dear sister Claudia a speedy recovery from her back op.  It went well and she in recovery mode. All the healthy healing vibes you can send are appreciated.

Secondly, I’ve been slacking on the fiber and fabric arts and painting a dresser.  I found a nice wood dresser at the thrift shop last month and thought it would be a good replacement for my mammoth IKEA antique (srsly it’s 20 years old) that’s traveled across the country with me.  It always sounds so easy in the thrift shop, “just slap a coat of paint on it and it’ll be good”.  Well reality is a bit harder, but not much.  These things just take time.

The completed dresser is in place and looks good.  I figured out that smaller drawers hold less.  I’m a genius.  So as well as painting, I’ve been winnowing my dresser containment items.  So final score is dresser looks good, the local St. Vincent de Paul got a quality donation and I spent more money on paint than I did on my dresser.  Irony, thy name is diy.

P.s. The old dresser got Freecycled to a good home within hours.  Efficient and good for the environment.

The after (before I put all the junk on top of it again). Lots of sanding, primer and two coats of shiny white paint. Original handles.

Where’s the grain?

The results to drape from moving the grainline from front to bias.

Sometimes you get an idea in your head and you just push on ahead.  Maybe it’ll work out, maybe not.  I stubbornly wanted to make a Hollyburn skirt out of some denim I’ve had stashed for a bit.  What’s nicer than a denim skirt to knock about in during the summer?  Well I’d bought the denim with a straight skirt in mind and Hollyburn is a full skirt.  Hmm.

My skirt with Center Front on the straight grain.

Since I didn’t have enough fabric to make the skirt as laid out on the pattern sheet (with the CF on the bias) I laid it out so the center front (CF) and center back (CB) seams were on the straight grain.  I have enough pattern making under my belt that I knew this would change the way the skirt would drape and fall.  But what the hell, go for it.  I did look out my pattern making text and saw that changing the front and back grainlines would make the skirt flare out more at the sides than the original layout.  I used a medium weight non-stretch denim with some rayon in it (judging from the fraying!) so I thought this might be ok.

As you can see above from the text illustration, Grainline 1 is CF on the straight grain of the fabric.  The drape “flares toward side and side front”.  You can see in my skirt that this is how the drape falls.  My skirt has a cone of drape between the front and side and flares out at the side.

CF is twisted to my left hip and the CB is on my right hip. Pocket is front and center.

I then wanted to see the drape had I laid out the skirt as the pattern indicated with the front and back seams on bias, which would be more like Grainline 3 illustrated above.  I just twisted my skirt round so the center front was at the left side seam and the side seam was in the front.  You can see how the cones of drape move (it’s easier to see on photo right since the seams don’t get in the way as much).  The drape now flares towards the front and side.  It also sits closer to the body and to my eye more flattering to wear.  I mean there was a reason Tasia drafted the pattern on the grainlines that she did!

So does this mean I won’t wear this skirt or wear it pulled sideways?  No, I’ll wear it.  I stubbornly went ahead with making it from my too small piece of denim and I think it’s a bit too flare-y. Does it look uber weird?  No, but I do plan on unearthing some linen from the stash to make it properly.  I’m trying to get through some stash so I won’t buy more denim until I get some already owned fabric used up.

So my first go round with Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt is an overall go.  My stubbornness caused the flare to appear as such, but I did find out that this pattern fits me well and is as wonderfully drafted as all the Sewaholic patterns I’ve previously used.  I’m calling this a wearable muslin and moving on.  Stay cool!

Hooters and Naked Toes

I’m crazy for these owls! I may need to make a pair for me.

See, now I’m just f*ing with the spammers and weirdos out there.  Nothing to see here, keep it moving.

Seriously the cutest owls.

Today I had to buckle down and make some PJ bottoms for one of my friends who’s having a birthday next week.  It’s a thing we do.  Sometimes I knit socks or a scarf and sometimes it’s PJs.  Since she enjoys a nice owl, I had to get this owl flannel at Joann’s.  I may not think too much of Joann’s fabric selection on the upper end (there isn’t an upper end is there?), but the flannels and cottons are well stocked.  And on sale.  Natch.

So owl flannel mated with Sewaholic’s Tofino PJ pants and voila!  This is the third pair of Tofinos I’ve made so it’s a snap by now – though it’s a snap from the first one truth be told.  I made these pair about 6″ shorter than the pattern (yes!) and are a size smaller than the last pair I made for me and they fit so well I’m loathe to give them up.  Of course the problem I see here is that I’m 5’5″ and my friend is maybe 5’2″ so they may be a tad long.  Alterations may take place next week.  But they’re done for now!

The other thing I did the other day was buy the Perfect Parcel 3 group.  I couldn’t resist since it had several patterns I’ve wanted yet not purchased blended with a philanthropic cause.  This is sewing for the good of the children.  I paid $28 for the patterns which is EXACTLY how much a pedi with flower art and tip costs me.  I needed a pedi but blew the wad on patterns.  What’s a girl to do?  Watch some YouTube nail art videos and do her own damn pedi.  Sure, my work is not as good as the salon, but the price was right.  Things learned, if you’re right handed it’s still hard to paint flowers on your left foot; toothpicks are for nail art – not just cake testing.  I’m going back to the salon for the next one, but I’m good for a bit.

Agenda item:  Use some fabric purchased during LAST World Cup before THIS World Cup starts.  Deadline looming.

Kind of hard to do, the ladies at the salon make it look easy. Not bad for a first try using the back of a pin and toothpicks.