Classy plaid dress

12.30.2009

I had some nice quality wool that my mom gave me, so I made this classy plaid dress in a classic style.  It feels very Mad Men and I love that it's 100% wool.  I used McCall's M5686 as a basic pattern with a few adjustments.

Can you believe they don't give dresses like this a lining?  It would pull and tear... something this fitted needs a lining!  I gave mine a full lining, bodice and skirt, and I made the neck lower to emulate an Ann Taylor Loft one I'd seen in a magazine.  I added those self-fabric bias ruffles, too.  I'm wearing it with a thin black leather Ralph Lauren belt.  It's not ideal but was sort of the best I had.  I think it needs a little wider belt...

*We are having technical difficulties in the camera department so this was the only picture we could get before the camera died.  You can't really see the flounces close-up, and the flash is not flattering.  I will post more, better, pictures later!*

Rich dark chocolate mousse--a classic French recipe

12.29.2009

I realized I had a lot of eggs the other day, so I made chocolate mousse.  I got this recipe at French camp from the French counselor who taught French cooking one summer.  I actually translated it myself to be published in the camp "yearbook" in English!  Amandine, I think was her name, didn't like listing the recipe out in clear numbers and steps.  She cooked more by feel and it was hard for me to get her to spell everything out.

She showed us how to make delicious mousse but I have never been able to get my egg whites quite as stiff as she did... sigh... anyway see in the picture, I don't have any ramekins so I used these wine glasses my grandma gave me, very vintage...

Classic Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:
  • 10 oz chocolate (just shy of a bag of chocolate chips) 
  • Splash of milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 5 eggs, separated
Directions:
  1. Melt chocolate and milk in a saucepan.
  2. Separate egg whites and yolks.  Mix the yolks and sugar with the chocolate, then sift in flour.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  4. Very delicately, fold the whites into the chocolate.
  5. Put into ramekins or a bowl and refrigerate 4 hours or more.

I L-O-V-E this shirt!!!

12.28.2009

I made myself this shirt from Simplicity pattern the other day and I just loooooooove it!  It is comfy, makes me feel cute, and is good for day or evening hanging out.  Here's the pattern, which I modified quite a bit to make it more wintery:

I used the yoked top pattern but gave it one tuck on each side, and gave it longer puffy sleeves than any of the tops called for.  I used a bias binding on the sleeve bottoms, so they fit sort of loosely.  I must have been low on fabric when I cut it out since the hem was snug, so I cut slits on each side and it fits comfortably now.  See me, looking dopey with my messy hair?

Here's a close-up on the tucked yoke:

Like I said, I made this shirt the other day and I loved it sooooo much that I made another one, almost identical, out of a red and black checkered flannel.  The navy/green/black plaid is more of a brushed homespun cotton, but this red is very flannel-ey and makes me feel sort of like a mountain man if I don't accessorize it right.  I made some modifications...

I also added the tucks on this yoke, but gave it five small buttons rather than three or four medium ones.  The sleeves look puffier on this shirt than the navy one but I don't think they are; they're just shorter and have a wide cuff at the bottoms.  It really is fire engine red and black check, although it looks more muted in the picture, so this shirt feels sort of Christmasey, but I think I can wear it all winter long.  =)
I see flannel and plaid shirts at all the stores these days but they are usually very cheaply made.  It is so cool to make my own!  And they are very easy, no need to worry about exact fit, and they take very little fabric.  I bought these plaids at JoAnn on sale and paid something like $3/yard for them, and I bought a yard and a half of each.  A fun project with a little fabric!

Playing with the Christmas gifts...

12.27.2009

My mom got me this great book for Christmas, one I've never heard of but I'm sure will be helpful and fun!



It got excellent reviews.  There are all kinds of drafting instructions and pictures that will be very helpful for me... I've never made a pattern from scratch before, but I'm sure I can do it!
Jason bought me Julia and Julia on DVD, which I have been bugging him to move to the top of his Netflix cue since I've never seen it.  In a way, this story is what got me into blogging in the first place (a friend said, "Why don't you blog about all the things you sew and decorate with, like Julie did in Julie and Julia?")



What are some of your favorite gifts this year?

Happy holidays from my house!

12.24.2009

Here's some pictures from the Christmas tree farm we went to last month to get and cut down our tree.  It was so much fun!  I am happy to live in a place where we can get our tree at the source, and enjoy hot cocoa and candy canes after!
I am celebrating Christmas at my parents' house and at Jason's parents' place, and are very grateful to only have to drive the few miles back home.  It would be awful to try to fly somewhere this time of year.  I hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday season, enjoying Christmas with friends and family.  Happy holidays, everyone, and here’s to a great 2010!


Christmas Tartan table runner: Tutorial

12.20.2009

Tartans and red, navy and green plaids have long been Christmas season décor, but this season they are back in a fresher look. Elle Décor has a big piece about tartan decorating this month, and Williams-Sonoma has plaid accents this Christmas, including these table linens:

And Martha has a DIY project using an old plaid blanket:

And of course it’s all over the Ralph Lauren collection:

I find plaid and tartan pleated skirts at the Goodwill Outlet all the time. Pleated skirts, especially the long ones, are quite no longer really in style to wear, but hold a lot of good quality fabric. I made a table runner out of a genuine Pendleton Malcolm tartan, 100% wool. Using skirt fabric is waaaaaay cheaper than buying nice wool at $25+ per yard, and it is much better quality than what you can buy at most fabric stores today, anyway. See my instructions below:

1) Unpick stitches on waistband, pleats, hem, and zipper. Then cut the side seams.

2) Iron all the pleats and hem out using a press cloth. I needed steam and the highest heat setting on this nice heavy wool.

3) Using the plaid as a guide, cut the excess strip that was hidden in the pleat below the zipper so you have two perfect rectangles.

4) Match the plaids and sew the long ends together, hem to waistband. Choose the width of your table runner and fold the pieces in half. In my case I trimmed off about 24 inches, which I plan to hem and use as a tree skirt.

5) Sew a seam down the long side of the runner (left in the above picture). Turn right side out. Find the center at the top and bottom sides.

6) Pull the centers of the top and bottom of the ends of the runner apart, tucking in the corners. Pin.

Then fold back together and pin.

7) Pick your trim and sew it on, equidistant from the edge all the way around. I’m using gold ric rac, with a zigzag stitch to attach it, about ½” from the edge.

8) Optional: Add an extra holiday motif—draw it on with chalk and sew your trim over the lines.

(Also optional: Add a tassel or other decoration hanging off the bottom point. I don’t have any tassels but plan to add one on each side!)

Volia! Festive table runner for a total cost of... well, $1.39 per pound for the skirt fabric and a few cents for the vintage ric rac. This will look great with a Christmas centerpiece and red and green napkins! I also love the look of the white background on William-Sonoma’s table linen set, and I have a primarily red plaid wool pleated skirt to cut up, too. Also, I know I have seen tartan patchwork quilts and blankets before, with many different plaids in big squares sewn together. Lots more plaids to come!


Mention on the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store's Facebook page!

12.17.2009

My Pendleton plaid cape was mentioned on the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store's Facebook today!  The store in very SE Portland has amazing prices on wool and wool pieces, and they hold contests for project ideas on their Facebook.  Pendleton has the greatest plaids, makes me want to do more wool projects!\

Great book! Christmas DIY

I don't remember where I first ran across this book, but it's really cool for all of us decorating for Christmas with DIY and eco-friendly ideas.  Check it out on Amazon:

Fabric flower pins! For winter.

12.16.2009

Today I had a lot of fun sitting at the dining room table and making these wool plaid flower pins.  I got the idea from Design Sponge.  How cute are they?  Here's the one from Design Sponge:
And here are mine:
They are all 100% wool plaids except for the one on the far right, which is a 100% cotton woven texturey plaid from JoAnn.  It was fun to use up scraps of other projects!  I just had to buy the pin backs, like $2 for a pack of 44.  It was fun and fast!  I didn't use the pattern template so they are all slightly different sizes.  My favorite is either the red one or the hounds-tooth one.
I think I will try to sell some in my Etsy store.  They are so cute but I don't know what to do with all of them!

Essential blue jean mending method--Tutorial!

12.15.2009

I love my jeans.  I wear jeans all the time, and have favorite pairs for different moods.  The shape matters, and once you've worn a favorite pair out you can't duplicate the softness.  Anyway, I wear my jeans out, and for a long time have been expertly patching the knees and crotches of favorite pairs.  I got the idea for this method of patching holes from my roommate my first year of college, indirectly from Abercrombie and Fitch.  You know those "destroyed" jeans that the typical dad insults at family reunions, making snarky remarks about how they cost twice as much as the new ones but they're already worn out?  Lots of brands sell destroyed jeans with paint spots, worn holes, and patched holes.  Not the greatest purchase for everyday wear, but the look is acceptable and sometimes you really want to hang on to those favorite jeans, so it's nice to have the option of creating your own.

How to Mend Holes in Jeans!


Here's a photo tutorial of how to do this on a pair of jeans with a gaping hole:
  • Assess the damage.  Here's a pair of my fiance's jeans that wore a hole in the butt.
  • Collect your interfacing.  I recommend the nicer Pellon type, the polyester stuff, not the papery stuff.  I save small scraps of it (you buy it by the yard but this is one of the things it's worth it to save pieces of when you're done using it on a project!).
  • Turn the jeans inside out and check out the inside of the holes.
  • Cut a piece of interfacing approximately the size of the holes and lay it over them.
  • Set the iron on the correct setting for the fabric (cotton) and iron the interfacing down, trying to cover the whole area.
  • When I ironed the patch on, the interfacing sort of shrunk away from part of the hole, so I added a wedge to cover better.
  • Turn the jeans right side out and position them under your presserfoot.  This mending method requires no hand sewing, yay!  It is pretty awkward to get the pants in the right position, depending on the size.  These are big man jeans so it's not too hard.
  • Here's the fun part.  Sew forward/backward/forward/backward.... a million times, over the hole.  I usually make big triangular zigzags over the gap and then go back to the beginning and make denser lines.  See here we are, partially done:
  • As you sew, the feed dogs pull the thin interfacing toward the rest of the fabric, like stitches pull together an open wound.  So although the bottom hole has a big gap in it, it will be fixed when I stitch over it.  I pretty much keep my finger on the backstitch button this whole time.
  • Now flip them inside out and see what it looks like on the back.
  • In this case I didn't cover the whole area of the interfacing, and although it claims to be machine washable, it will peel up after a few wearings.  So I chose to sew around the edge even though the stitches will show a little through the fabric.
  • Now you're done!  Flip them right side out, and done!

I have some good and some bad examples of this technique on my absolute favorite pair of jeans.  It's pretty ridiculous how many times I've patched them.  I used blue thread on a lot of these patches so it's almost invisible, although it gets pretty thick when patches overlap.  See?

I know, you're thinking, "Suzannah, just get some new jeans!" But...Gap doesn't make this cut anymore!  Jean-patching is a very important skill to have, when sometimes it's one hole that makes the difference between the Goodwill pile and the favorite pile.  Yay for mending!

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