Minty linen peplum top from a dress pattern!

29.4.16

Oh, Oregon spring... 80 degrees one day, pouring rain for 20 minutes one crazy morning a few days later, sunny again, 36 degrees as I drove to work the other day, then forecasted for 90 this weekend... I'm making the best of it, though, and have already pulled out my summer clothes and started making some new ones!

Last summer I made this lovely lightweight denim ruffle/peplum top from a fave dress pattern and I absolutely love it! But as I've mentioned recently, I've decided I really need to get some more colors and interesting textures in my wardrobe cause most of what I wear is black, grey, or denim. Not great for getting in the spring mood.

When I made that top I used the bodice from Simplicity 1873 as my pattern, but I cut out a size too big and I didn't add the waist darts. But, that pattern has nice bust darts so the top still had good shape. This time, I was using bias-cut fabric that used to be a skirt (!) so I was very limited on fabric and used the bias. I tried the same technique, not adding the waist darts, but with the bias that made the top HUGE! So I took the skirt off, added the front and back waist darts, and put the skirt back on--and it fits great. Pulls over the head without a zipper but still has a nice fitted shape.

Also because of the limited fabric and because it's linen so it's perfect with raw edges and a little more casual look, I cut the neck and armholes without the seam allowance and didn't hem them at all! I used a very slightly darker aqua thread to show off the exposed edge.

This linen is so nice to work with and wear!

And it totally calls for breaking out the white jeans. I love white jeans.

Aqua and white could look too sweet, so I made it a little edgy with the aviators and of course, trusty jean jacket!

Based on how much I love the denim version from last year, I think this top will have quite the versatile life!

You can shop these spring/summer staples to go with your DIY tops this season here!


Raspberry mango lime salsa - from fresh or frozen berries!

26.4.16

I got really creative with this recipe and - spoiler - it totally paid off!!

This recipe is fun and exciting and summery, which was just what I needed on the grey afternoon I made this partial vision into reality! Summer is not here yet, despite the nice days we've had, and while I can't wait for Oregon berry-picking season, in the meantime I'm trying new things to do with frozen berries. The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission, who represent the Oregon farmers and berry growers, are working with bloggers this winter to share recipes for frozen and preserved berries--including in savory/non-dessert recipes! (See recipes from local Oregon bloggers here.) (Over the summer I made this delish salad from freshly picked berries and it's on that list!)

I took on the challenge of a non-dessert appetizer recipe and made this tangy, spicy salsa. I wasn't quire sure what it would be like but I used fresh salsa essentials (lime, cilantro, etc.) and it ended up being so tasty and perfect with plantain chips (one of my favorite foods of all time)! Would be an excellent springy or summery party appetizer! Serve some guacamole or avocados on the side, too, or try it on top of a protein like chicken, pork, or maybe even fish.


I love berries so much and while I love picking them myself and eating them right away, I also love freezing them and having them on-hand later on. I'm out of raspberries we picked last summer so I bought these at a local natural grocery store - look for some near you! More than 90% of the berries we grow in Oregon are flash frozen within hours of being picked at the peak of ripeness, locking in maximum nutrition, taste, and color.

Raspberry Mango Lime Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. red onion, minced
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (about 1/4 c.)
  • Juice and pulpy bits of 1-2 limes (mine were small so I did 1.5)
  • 2 c. fresh or frozen raspberries (I used frozen organic Oregon raspberries!) (I recommend getting them out of the freezer while you chop the other ingredients so they can begin to thaw, but they soften pretty fast)
  • 1/2 c. mango, chopped

    Instructions:


    1. Combine all ingredients except mango in a mixing bowl. Stir so raspberries begin to break apart.
    2. Add mango chunks last, stirring gently but not too much so the bright orange color is still apparent.
    3. Enjoy!! Serve with plantain or corn chips, or with fish?, chicken, or pork!

    Husband was very skeptical of this flavor combination but this recipe really won him over! A success!


    Thanks to the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission for sponsoring this post by providing me a gift card for shopping for these ingredients!

    Praise from three important moms and a book giveaway!

    22.4.16

    Mother's Day is coming up on May 8th and it's got me feeling grateful for the support I have from my mom and other important moms in my life!

    I owe my crafty nature and most of my sewing skills to my mom. She taught me to sew when I was very young and continues to provide guidance, support, interest, and sometimes bulk sewing supplies (she has the hook-ups!) to this day. She learned to sew from her mom and grandmother. Since publishing my book DIY Wardrobe Makeovers I've heard from many people that they learned some sewing skills from an important woman in their lives. I thought Mother's Day was a perfect time to celebrate these moms and women, and do a giveaway of a few copies of my book!

    Whether you're a mom and you deserve a fun new book to inspire you to try some new sewing for yourself or others, or you're a new or experienced sewist and want to share these new project ideas with your mom or an important lady in your life... this giveaway is for you!!

    I also wanted to share a few of the happy comments I've received from my mom and other important moms in my life. Everyone was so supportive when DIY Wardrobe Makeovers came out last summer and I heard from many supportive friends and family who ordered the book (thank you!!)... and I got this email from my husband's grandma, who is 90 but very skilled at email. 

    Hi Suzannah, 
    I got your book this afternoon and it is fabulous. So are the photos of you. You are so photogenic! I went through it page by page as soon as [Grandpa] brought the mail in. And then again concentrating on the photos of you. 

    Every July my book group has a meeting where members can talk about and recommend any books they like. It will be fun to just casually mention that this one was written by my grandson’s wife. Can’t wait. 

    [Grandpa] wants me to order a copy of your book for his sister Darlene. She has over the years done a lot of sewing and selling her things at street fairs, etc. Not clothes unless they’d be baby clothes — more like baby blankets., toys etc. Anyhow, he thought she’d be interested in seeing your book. 

    Again, congratulations, author.

    It made me so happy! What wonderful words! And proof that my book is fun for people of all ages!

    I also got a very sweet phone call from my grandmother shortly after the book came out. She's in her 80s and has been slowing down lately and has less energy than I remember her having in my childhood, so her phone call out of the blue was so touching to me and makes me a little emotional just thinking about it. When she called not only did she compliment me for my hard work and lovely projects, she also reminisced a little about how she taught my mom to sew and all the sewing she used to do. (She was very talented! She had 5 daughters and made clothes for all of them, plus quilts for all the grandkids later on.) I was so happy to be able to share my book with her.

    And, of course, there's my mom. I can't even begin to describe how grateful I am for her continual support and pride. I'm an only child and have always been very close with my mom, but I don't see her all that often now that I'm off on my own and I'm so happy to have hobbies like sewing that keep us connected on levels other than the occasional how-have-things-been dinner or phone call. Of course she's very proud of me for writing a sewing book!, and she's shared it with friends and groups online and at events. (She has a business making historic clothing for reenactors and museums. I think sewing runs in our veins.)

    Anyway, thinking about these happy supportive comments and gestures for DIY Wardrobe Makeovers has me excited to do something very special for my mom and grandmother this Mother's Day!

    Enter for a chance to win one of 3 copies of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers between now and next Friday, 4/29. Keep it for yourself or give it to your mom or another mom you think would enjoy it! And if you don't win, please check out the book on Amazon and treat yourself! ;)


    Bay Area travels - Union Square, Villa Florence, grassfed burgers, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and more!

    20.4.16

    Wow oh wow, what a great trip we just did!!

    We just got back from a trip to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and some state and regional parks in the Bay Area. It was the first "real vacation" we've had in ages and boy, was it awesome!

    My husband is from the Berkeley area and has family down there, but the original reason for our trip was a concert he wanted to go to that timed perfectly with his sister's birthday. And, she just got into midwifery school so there was a party for her on Saturday as well as a lovely birthday dinner on Sunday.

    But, we made a whole trip of it and fit in some San Francisco sight-seeing, hiking, visiting restaurants we'd heard about, exploring, and generally being in vacation mode!

    We drove down from Portland so we started very early Friday AM and made it to San Francisco in time for a little sight-seeing after checking into our hotel, Villa Florence, right by Union Square. (They're a sister hotel to The Heathman Hotel in Portland, who I'll be working with on some upcoming "staycations" but I was able to try out the Villa Florence and their restaurant, Kuleto's on this trip to share with you!)

    The Villa Florence is in one of the many beautiful historic buildings in downtown SF and I loved the historic elements like the original brass doorknobs, heavy wooden doors, and wide baseboards - but they've recently updated it with some elegant pieces like these in the black and pink color scheme.

    One of the highlights of the trip was the amazing meal we had at Kuleto's. We haven't been out to an Italian place in ages since we don't eat pasta or bread, but their menu had so many excellent choices for us and every single dish and course was so perfect, we think we may need to try to find a similar great place up here! Local ingredients, homemade salumi, amazing combinations... it was a very memorable, luxurious meal! (I tried to capture it but had a hard time not making it look like one of Martha Stewart's awful food photos... here's my ahi tuna!)

    The next day we did a great little self-led walking tour around Union Square and visited Britex Fabrics. Four stories of incredible fabrics, basically a museum where you can shop if you have the means. ;) I'd been there years ago but it was great to go again now that I sew for myself so much more!

    We also visited Roam Artisan Burgers, a place I'd heard about for their grassfed beef burgers and other quality ingredients. It did not disappoint! And it was cool for us to get outside the downtown area and see another part of San Francisco.

    We did lots of family things Saturday and Sunday - big picnic in the park to celebrate my sister-in-law getting into midwifery school at UCSF, grilling out on her patio overlooking Oakland and the bay, hiking at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland (which is HUGE and a lot like Forest Park!), more grassfed burgers (at Farm Burger - really fun atmosphere and so many awesome add-ons for the grassfed burgers!!!!)...

    Then Monday we made it out to Stinson Beach north of the city. An oasis! The weather was beautiful and warm, and the beach was perfect. We hung out a while here and had our picnic lunch before hiking!

    From the beach we hiked up into Mount Tamalpais State Park. What an incredible place. Views of these idyllic hills, trekking through these spots of forest in shady, Fern Gully-style creeks and paths, views of the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge, California poppies everywhere...

    It was a 7.6 mile hike with 1,600' of elevation gain but it was worth every bit of work to get up there! Every step was beautiful!

    Then we had some more family time and cooked our hosts dinner, which we ate out on their patio as the sun set on the other side of the hills. Those hilly neighborhoods make for some amazing views! My sister-in-law's condo was built in the 50's and has oak floors and windows on all sides. The sun streams in in the mornings and the huge deck is perfect for eating breakfast in the sun and dinner in the shade. It was a great vacation spot for us!

    Now we're refreshed and ready for the rest of the week! What a fantastic break we had!

    My very own off-the-shoulder top

    12.4.16

    I don't know about you, but I've been inspired lately! Off-the-shoulder tops are popping up everywhere this spring and I've never owned one, but now I want to join the party!

    I tore this page from a magazine I read while getting an oil change. Something about that glamorous afternoon made me want to get back to the sewing room. ;)

    Something about seeing all these tops in one place, all a little different and interesting but also lots of classics like white and chambray, made me want a basic long-sleeved top with a little texture or interest to start with.

    I went to the fabric store and found this black/white seersucker stripe - so basic, they must have it everywhere all year 'round - and happily also found McCall's M7163. I don't imagine there are a ton of off-the-shoulder patterns right now but I'm sure there will be more if the style sticks around.

    I made View D, the long-sleeved tunic version. I didn't realize from the pattern but the top edge has a double row of narrow elastic, which is a nice touch but also helps keep it in place.

    It's very blousy, so I think it looks best with a belt at the waist!

    And a hat, of course. Seriously, search for "off-the-shoulder top outfit" and you will see lots of summer hats.

    It was perfect and playful for a summery dinner out! Even my husband, who is often confused by fashion trends, was a fan.

    The body and sleeves of this pattern are SO big, maybe too big, so I think next time I might cut them much narrower. It's actually longer than it needs to be, too, so I could shorten it. What do you think?

    If you don't feel like making your own, I've rounded up several affordable off-the-shoulder tops below! Maybe you can start with ready-to-wear and try a pattern if you like the style. Shop these and similar pieces to the rest of the outfit here!


    Gingham! Super simple top from a vintage pattern

    8.4.16

    It's almost time for summer sewing!
    It's been so beautiful here (off and on) lately that I've been inspired to make several summery things. Some are only just cut out, but this one I finished the other weekend and wore proudly for an evening that included grilling at my parents' place and eating on the back patio. So perfect.

    I made this top in what felt like about an hour, and I wanted something super simple and comfy but also slightly interesting.

    I wanted a loose, swingy kind of top I could tuck in. I had this darling pattern, vintage Butterick 4248 (which I think I inherited from my mom so it's legit!) and I made the short version of what's supposed to be a swimsuit cover-up, but I didn't do the sleeves.

    Sewing with vintage patterns is so funny since often the instructions and styles are much simpler and less fussy than we're used to. Or they just use different techniques.

    For example, I was all ready to make or use a bias facing for the neck edge, but the pattern literally instructed me to turn it under twice and hem. How simple! And thrifty, no waste of fabric cutting bias and no extra notions to buy!

    Also, guess how this pocket is made?! Like a teddy bear. It's a long oval/football field-shaped piece that you sew right sides together, leaving an opening at the bottom of the curve. Clip, flip, and press, then sew the bottom opening together by hand and topstitch the pocket on where you want it. Very smooth, no raw edges, no fussy turning under as you sew.

    This would probably be great with some big flares and platforms! But I opted for an easier-to-wear option of these jeans that come up mid-waist rather than low waist, plus my new versatile flat sandals.

    I know the gingham is pretty summery, but it felt like summer on this sunny evening of grilling!

    Shop the rest of the look here!





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