Monday, August 31, 2009

Fabric fun

My mother came up this weekend for Logan's birthday, and brought me up some fabric that she had appropriated from her quilt club's yard sale. The quilters didn't want it, since it is all apparel fabric and these pieces were too small (or too odd) for Mom to use so she brought them to me.Pretty awesome, hey?
This one is my favorite! Isn't it cute?! It is a baby cord. I love all the cute little vintage-y animals prancing all over it!! Myra will be getting a jumper out of this. I'll be on the search for some knit in one of those colors to make her a shirt to wear under it. So fun!!

All of the fabrics have that old attic smell. Although I suspect that they come by it honestly, it doesn't appeal, so they are headed for the wash now.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recipes promised, and long overdue!

An old friend of mine recently asked for my recipe for Challah, and I have been remiss in getting it to her, so I decided to make a loaf and share it (virtually) with all of you. Here it is!
The recipe comes from "The Garden Way Bread Book: A Baker's Almanac", which was published in 1979 and is now out of print. Alas! This is a wonderful book! There are a few available on, so you can get your own. Anyway, the recipe - direct from the book:

Posy's Healthy Challah

2 1/2 Tbsp dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp honey or sugar
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup sweet unsalted butter, softened or light oil
1/3 cup honey
7 large eggs
9 cups unbleached white flour, approximately
3/4-1 cup raw wheat germ
1 egg and 1 Tbsp butter for glaze

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast with the 3/4 cup warm water and tsp honey or sugar. Let it sit until bubbling. Add the 1 cup water, salt, butter and honey. Mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add 4 cups flour. Beat 2 minutes with and electric beater or 200 strokes by hand. Add the wheat germ. Add enough remaining flour to make a
dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and holds together.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if dough remains sticky. Be sparing. Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Turn to coat all sides. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down, turn out and knead briefly to press out air bubbles. Divide into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Divide one dough ball into 3 parts. Form each part into a rope about 18 inches long by rolling it against the board with your hands. Braid the 3 ropes. Pinch the ends together. Place in a greased 9 inch loaf pan.
Repeat with the other balls of dough. If you don't have enough loaf pans, braids may be baked on greased cookie sheets.
Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Cover, let rise until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Glaze: Blend the egg and butter. Brush it on top of the loaves. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Bake braids about 30 minutes, longer for larger braids. Don't let them cook too long which is easy to do because the bottom tends to stay soft and doesn't produce a hollow thump until almost too late.
If you prefer, make 3 large braids, or, if you can fathom it, the classic Hebrew 8 braid,
Makes 4 medium loaves, 3 large braids, 2 giant ones or one gargantuan one.

Yum!! I usually am lazy and omit the glaze, but it really is quite good with it. I also can never find raw wheat germ, but toasted, which they carry at my HEB, works just fine.

My sister, Varina, also asked my for a recipe that I remember from when we were kids. We made these little mints for holidays. I didn't make any to show you, so you'll just have to enjoy the picture from the recipe card. It isn't a holiday yet!

Cream Cheese Mints

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
2 lbs. powdered sugar
few drops food coloring if desired
1/2 tsp peppermint, wintergreen or lemon extract

Combine cream cheese and butter in heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir over low heat until cheese is soft, butter is melted and the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Add the powdered sugar and stir until well combined.
Add your choice of food coloring and flavoring. If desired, you can divide the whole batch to make two or three color choices, adding extract to taste.
Roll into 1 inch balls. Place on a sheet of waxed paper. Press with a fork or stamp with a decorative cookie stamp to form design on top.
Let stand, uncovered, about 4 hours or overnight until mints are firm and outside is dry, but inside is still moist and creamy.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Project planning:Ren Fest

Now that Logan's Peter Pan costume is done, I'm turning my attention to the two wee pirate lasses in our fair band. Myra and Lily will be all dressed up as the wee pirate maid in the middle, with the red coat, black and white striped skirt and black pirate hat.
Mitch already has a great pirate shirt. Here he is at our first Ren Fest together. He doesn't like these pants, though. They are too hot for Texas in October. And I agree that the look isn't very pirate-y.Mitch wants some pants like this guy, who we saw the last time we went.
I'm not sure he's very pirate-y either, but I do think his pants are cool. It looks like just strips with a waist and knee band, but I haven't found a pattern quite like them. I think the ventilated aspect is what draws Mitch, but he'd still have to wear tights or some other under layer, so I think it'd still be pretty hot. I bought this pattern because I LOVE Captain Jack, but the pant pattern really isn't anything particularly special and I am confident that he won't be wearing a coat. It is just too hot. So, I'm not going to waste my time on one.

What about me? Well, I already have a corset and dress. I don't love them and they aren't very pirate-y either, but they will do.
If I have time, I'd like to make a new corset and a knee length peasant dress (maybe in a stripe like the girl's skirts?) although I'm kind of digging this pattern. We'll just have to see what I have time for...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Butterick 4632

As August (and birthday season!) comes to a close, my sewing room turns to thoughts of October. Here in Texas, that means both Halloween and the Texas Renaissance Festival! This year we are planning to attend the Pirate Adventure weekend with some friends of ours. We always like to dress up, so I am getting started on some costumes. The first is for Logan. He is dressing as Peter Pan. His best friend, Anna is going to be Wendy. Or Tinkerbell. She's still undecided...
The tunic is Butterick 4632 and the leggings are Ottobre 04/2004, #38. The leggings went together without a fuss. Yay, Ottobre!
I have to say, this tunic was MUCH more complicated than it should have been! The neckline/collar is all in one piece with the front, then faced with a two piece facing. There are CB and CF seams as well, but the pattern instructs you to construct the tunic, then add the facing, matching it fussily at the point of the front opening. I think that should I ever need another Peter Pan tunic, I will construct the two sides, including the facings, then seam them as a whole at CF and CB.

At least it is cute! But now what to do about a belt? Buy or make? I'm on the fence.

There is much more fun Pirate themed sewing coming. I think there'll be a project planning post in my future...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Simplicity 5695

With Logan's birthday party (which has a Disney Cars theme) coming closer I finally managed a project that I have wanted to do for some time.Myra's own Lightning McQueen dress. Ever since I made Logan his Cars shirt, I have had this little dress in my head.
It is nice to finally see it in fabric. This is a great pattern. Fun and easy. I'll definitely be using it again. The only difficulty I had with it was the neckline elastic. The pattern includes a guide, which I used initially, but when I tried it on Myra it was waaaay too big. Of course, as do all Big 4 children's patterns, it runs unbelievably large. By measurements, I should have sewn a size 2, but this is a size 1/2. Just be sure to flat pattern measure, and you should be fine.
And last, some gratuitous cuteness.
I think she likes her dress. I know I do!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pants~along:The final product!

While I am not fully back into the swing of things I did manage to get all caught up on the pants~along. I was so excited to wear my cute new pants that I went ahead and hemmed them.Myra wanted to pose, too. I don't know why I am making that funny face. Just look at the pants and the cute baby!
Here is the casing and the front detail. The computer monitor does not do justice to the colors. The teal is very saturated and rich while the facing and ribbon are a delicate, pale pink. The topstitching is cream.
Pants front. Did I mention that I love how they fit? They are awesome. I admit that this is a pattern that I would never have purchased if it weren't for this pants~along, but it is a great basic pant (and skirt) pattern, so I am glad that I have it! The only changes that I made were to straighten the legs from the knee down. I'm not a fan of tapered pants at all.
Here is the back. I love the little bit of ribbon peeking out between the grommets in the back. Nice touch! I had a hard time deciding on the length. When I cut out the pants I had just enough fabric for this "clamdigger" length, but I had knee length capris in my head. Once I tried them on, I really like this length, so I decided to keep it. I can always shorten it later or just roll them up if I want.

I only have one regret about these adorable pants. As I was putting them on to take pictures, I realized that no one will ever see the cute waistband details. I am unbelievably short waisted (thanks to my Colley blood for that), and so I always wear long, untucked tops to elongate my torso. Oh well, I know it's there!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where am I?

In bed. Being sick and not sewing.
See ya in a few days, when I am feeling up to being upright.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cars Birthday Fun!

Well, while my pants~along puts on pockets, I thought I'd try out something fun for Logan's birthday party. I've been seeing all of these sweet buntings on blogs and in Etsy shops, so I thought I'd haul out some scraps and give it a go. I used this great tutorial, with a few minor changes.
Here is my fun Cars bunting!
Cute, eh? I think Lightning McQueen looks excited!

So, the only things that I did differently were that I didn't use fat quarters, just scraps from other projects, and I didn't starch my pennants. I tried it on one, but it didn't seem to make any difference, so I quit. One thing I did discover is that starching your bias tape makes a BIG difference, both in the making and in the using. I've often read that you should starch your bias strips before you press them into the tape, but it always seemed like an extra step. It's not! It totally made this project so much easier, and my tape so much better! I am a reformed woman. Going forward, there will be starch in my bias tape.
I also found this fun arrowhead shaped stitch in Janome's arsenal. She may not honeycomb, but she's still got a few cool stitches. I think this one makes for a nice "boy" touch, if Cars and checkered flags aren't "boy" enough for you!
Logan and Myra approve!

Wondering where my scraps came from? Well, the red Lightning McQueen and checkered flag fabric were left over from these, and the blue Cars toss was left over from this. The tan Cars toss was given to me by my good friend Donna, who had bought a bolt to use for some home dec stuff and then never got around to it. So now I have a bolt to play with! So fun!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I finished this dress several months ago, but Myra has finally grown into it. Seriously, Big 4 patterns for babies are ridiculously large... This is a "Medium", which roughly corresponds to a 6-9 month size if you look at the envelope measurements. Myra is a year old and wearing 18-24 month on the rare occasion that she wears RTW.
Anyway, I'm actually glad that it ended up too big. It is so long that crawling in it is quite a challenge, so it is a good thing that Myra is a walker now.Here she is accessorizing. You are never to young. I think this is a perfect LBD. Now she just needs a nice pair of stilettos and we're ready to go!
And look, she's learning early the importance of proper tools for pressing...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pants~along: Butt darts

Well, I am all caught up on startdustshoes pantsalog! Yay! Here is the front, with my round pockets and double needle topstitching. As you can see, I decided against the faux fly. I think there is enough going on with all the pocket stitching, and there is more stitching to come as we add the facings and drawstring.
And the back. I elected to topstitch just a single line along the crotch so that the rear would be a little simpler, since I'd rather folks not focus all that much on my rear thank-you-very-much. The next step will be back pockets, but I think I will sit that one out (so to speak). I like the simplicity of the pant sans pockets and as aforementioned, don't really want any more focus on my rear than necessary.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pants~along: The early years

I'm so excited about joining in on stardustshoes' pants~along! I started a little late, since I wanted to finish my apron first, but I'm getting caught up!Here is my fabric. The teal is a cotton/poly woven with a bit of stretch, which I think will give it a nice fit. I am using this delicate pink eyelet for the linings and facings.

I'm not very good at following directions, and I've already deviated a wee bit. The pattern I am using is Butterick 3460, rather than See & Sew 3886. Butterick was 99 cents this weekend, and I've noticed that you can often find the same designs that you see in the lower price pattern lines in the main collections by the same company. This pattern line drawing is just like the See & Sew and the description is word-for-word identical, so I saved a couple bucks. I should also state here that I have a pants method that I always use, regardless of what the pattern tells me to do. Here is my formula: Pockets and embellishments first, then sew outside leg side seams, inside leg side seams, then crotch seam last with the pants nested right sides together. I like to sew the outer side seams first so that any topstitching I do there can be done with the legs flat so that it is easier and I am less likely to mess up where it really shows.
So, that said, I made my pockets first. Since I was using that delicate eyelet for my lining, I decided to do rounded pockets and to line them as well. Besides, lined pockets means no curved hems. I hate curved hems!
There is the pretty lining.
And here is my right leg - all finished! I love all of this topstitching! I decided to really make mine pop and used a light cream embroidery thread. It is nice and thick, so it really shows up well against the teal. I love it!
Well, I still need to finish the inside left leg. It just needs topstitching, then I will move on to the crotch seam. I am on the fence about embellishment here. I think a faux fly might be cute, but I'm not sure... What do you think?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Butterick 4945

It's finished! My presser foot apron, that is.Here it is with the ties in front, which is generally how I wear an apron. I like that this pattern has nice long ties!
And with the ties in the back. I think it looks almost like a strappy formal this way. I love that black fabric! I only had a teeny bit and I used nearly every shred making this apron. I think I may have to head over to Hobby Lobby and get some more. It is so cute!

Attaching the straps

Have you ever added an enclosed strap, only to find that the enclosure is too big and hanging off, or worse, too small and your strap is sewn along the side and all wonky? If not, then you can stop reading - you are a better person than I. I have this problem a lot, but I think I figured out a solution as I was making this apron. I'm going to share with you what I did.

Starting off, here is the apron body with the straps basted into place. The piece you see the wrong side of is the side facing which will enclose the straps. It is all pressed and ready to go.
First, line up the facing with the band, matching notches, blah, blah.
Now, feel for your strap inside the two pieces and mark the edge on the wrong side of your facing piece (where you will be stitching). Then make a perpendicular mark from the apron edge to your line.
Same thing on the other side. You can see that this one is a little tricky due to the curve. Follow the edge of the strap only for a few millimeters here and then come back up to your seam allowance. You can see where I drew in a little curve to remind myself. These are your new sewing lines. Ignore your seam allowances for this bit - they will only get you in trouble. You can grade back up (or down) to your seam allowances once you have cleared the strap.
After you have stitched, but before you trim your seam allowances and finish your seams, turn out your strap and be sure that the corner is tight. If it isn't, stitch again. You can see that I had to add an additional line of stitching an eighth of inch or so in.
Trim and turn - Viola! Perfect squares with straps coming out exactly where they should and no fabric hanging over the edge.
And at the waist. Also perfect!

I hope this is helpful. If you have any tips, I'd love to hear!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Turning a closed loop...

I learned this method for turning a loop from a Vogue pattern a couple of years ago and it has made my life so much easier. Now, turning a loop that is open on both ends is not too much of a hassle, particularly if you have a loop turner, but with a loop that is closed on one end (like our apron straps) it can be tricky. There isn't anywhere to hook your loop turner! So, here is how I do it.Start with your trimmed loop.
Get a big 'ole needle. I use a giant embroidery needle. Thread it with sturdy thread. The color doesn't matter. I used fluorescent orange so that y'all could see it.
Put a stitch into the seam allowance near the stitched corner.
Tie it off snugly. You don't want this to come untied while you are trying to turn your loop!!
Gently insert the needle between the two layers of fabric and in between two stitches as close to the point where you pivoted your stitching as possible.
"Thread" your big needle through the loop. Be careful not to come through the fabric. This is why I use a big needle. It is easier to keep a hold of!
Here is what is likely looks like up top. You can see my orange knot at the corner. The fabric is bunching up around the knot, trying to turn!
With your fingers, gently tuck the knot into the loop.
Then VERY gently so as to not break your thread or your knot, pull the needle while working the fabric over itself.
When you see the corner coming out the end, you can just yank it the rest of the way. You're home free!
Now you just have to straighten it out and press it. An added bonus is that since you pulled the loop through at the corner, your stitched corner comes out nice and sharp, with a very professional look.

Tomorrow I'll tackle lining up straps within the facing.