Still looking for my aloha

Burda Style #124 from 7/2014 magazine.

I had high hopes for this bodice.  This is Burda Style #124 from 7/2014 magazine.  In the magazine it’s a cute beach-y empire style with a full skirt.  I lengthened the bodice 2″ to make it less empire and more grown up and nixed the sweetheart bit.  I thought this style would be it.

Then I tried on the muslin.

The shoulders fell off my shoulders (and I’ve got pretty broad shoulders) and there was too much fabric at the center back.  I pinched out the shoulder and back excess and it fit ok, but somehow I knew it just wasn’t it.

I was pretty frustrated since I’d put a fair bit of work into altering the pattern, but sometimes you just have to call it like you see it.  Not good enough was the initial verdict, so better just admit it and move on.

And moving on.

See, fits much better than the one up there.

The last bodice that fit me pretty darn well was Simplicity 1419 of my “galaxy fabric” dress.  Why not go back to that one and make some changes there.  I photocopied the front and back bodice pattern tissue and taped them together like a ransom note.  I drew in a rounded neckline and thought I’d try a muslin of this version.

As you can see it fits pretty darn well, as did the original dress so that’s not a big surprise.  It’s just nice to finally make something that works.  I will redraw the neckline curve so it’s a bit more open and I’m going to go forward with this version for my Aloha dress.  Well after I go to work tomorrow.

Seriously, this dress has been hard!

Turns out I’m still a Madonna wannabe

Imagine this a non shiny day dress. No trim, no nothin’

I have some Hawaiian fabric I got in Honolulu over the 4th of July and want to sew up and enjoy it.  It’s not a particularly precious fabric, it’s a poly/cotton blend with a floral border print.  Pretty darn inexpensive (about $5/yard) in fact.  I just like it and don’t want to make a hash out of making a dress with it.  I was attracted to McCall’s 6833 because it had that nice pleated skirt I’ll need for the border print skirt, and the bodice looks pretty cute too.  I decided to make the view C bodice because I wanted to get a lot of wear out of it and my need for a strappy, un-bra-wearable dress isn’t too greatl.

maddonaSo bodice muslin commenced and my first reaction was: Madonna cone bra.  Check it out, I snapped a boob picture in profile so you could see the pointy darts.  I’ve made my muslin from a gorgeous remnant of Japanese

So pointy and wrong.

cotton, much more gorgeous than my poly Polynesian print fabric and it still looks like ass.  That doesn’t bode well, does it?

Must hold onto it to simulate the weight of the skirt. Good news, that makes the neckline even more low cut.

So my options are to redraft the front cups and raise that neckline while I’m there.  Heck, I’m not breast feeding so that’s too much cleavage for a day dress.  Which is a fair bit of work.  Then remuslin.


Pick a different darn pattern!  Maybe take the bodice from my super fabulous, much worn Simplicity 1419 dress from May (! where’s the time gone!) and frankenpattern it to the McCall’s skirt?  I’d redraft the Simplicity neckline to a simple round neck, leave off the collar, sleeves and slit and that should work, I think.

Why is this dress so hard to bring to fruition?  I may just think all that over and make something else while I mull it over.  A palate cleanser so to speak.    I’m tired thinking of it.  No wonder I’m obsessed with jam.  Hull fruit, squish and cook!

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.