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Susie Does Housekeeping… And Me Made May ’14!

30 Apr

 

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Hi, y’all! I hope your week if going well. Ours is very wet here on the Gulf Coast. I don’t have anything new to show you today but I do have a few exciting things to tell you. First of all, I am squeaking in under the wire to say that I am participating in Me Made May for 2014:

‘I, Katrina of Susie Homemaker MD, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2014 and at least one hand knit item during them month of May.’

Alright, next on the agenda is an award — the Sunshine and Shine On blog awards to be exact. I was kindly nominated by Annette over at Mrs. Toad Sews. I am apologizing in advance for not fulfilling all the requirements of the award (listing 10 things about myself, nominating 10 others), but I hope you will forgive me because of the next item on the agenda…

 

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I am packing as we speak to leave for a work-related trip but I have managed to squeeze a little sewing related fun into the mix and I will be joining my brothers and sisters of the needle and thread who live in the NYC area for the Workroom Social Sewing Swap Meet and Party! I am so exciting about meeting the faces behind some of the blogs I follow. I am also going to get to do a little fabric shopping in Philly and NYC so I will tell you all about it when I get home.

The last little bit of excitement may not seem like much to most of you but I finally get to eat at a restaurant of my favorite chef, Thomas Keller, while I am in NYC — Per Se. I will let you know if it lives up to my expectations when I return.

That’s it for today — meeting adjourned! :)

DIY Moon Pies — Totally From Scratch

28 Feb

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Ever since I was a kid, I have associated Mardi Gras primarily with MoonPies — not beads, parades, etc — just the tasty treats with marshmallow sandwiched between two graham cookies and enrobed in chocolate. Yes, there are other flavors of MoonPies, and even more choices in recent years, but I have eyes only for one variety.

From what I have read, our area (Mobile, Alabama), seems to be more fond of the MoonPie because we throw them more at parades than New Orleans does. We even have a giant, light-up MoonPie drop over the city on New Year’s Eve.

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The MoonPie was not created as a Mardi Gras throw, however. In the early 1900s a bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, concocted the treat in response to requests from coal miners. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the MoonPie became the preferred throw of revelers. You can read more about the MoonPie’s history here.

I have been going through a big cooking phase lately, and one of my favorite places to get recipes has been magazines — Bon Appetit, Garden and Gun, Food and Wine, etc. When I saw this recipe for DIY MoonPies in a recent Garden and Gun, I knew I had to try it. It would satisfy my sweet tooth and let me try my hand at homemade marshmallow for the first time.

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The recipe is simple although it does involve multiple steps best conducted over a couple of days. It yields a tasty, satisfying treat reminiscent of the holiday classic but without the near stale texture that packaged MoonPies always seem to have. The graham cookie in this recipe is light and tender, the marshmallow sweet and fluffy, and the chocolate rich and silky.

Can you see my reflection in the chocolate? It was so shiny when it was first poured!

Can you see my reflection in the chocolate? It was so shiny when it was first poured!

My only modification from the printed recipe was to cut the cookies with a 2 1/4″ cutter rather than a 3″. This yielded 19 sandwich cookies. The recipe also made a ton of marshmallow so I have scaled down the recipe here for you so you won’t have a ton of leftover fluff.

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I also wanted to make mention of two fabric acquisitions recently added to my stash. The first was a gift from a very special lady who is a blog reader and mother of a sweet little patient. She is from Brazil and brought these fabrics back for me from her recent trip home. Each fabric represents different parts of Brazilian history and is made from very soft cotton. Can’t wait to use these in a project. Thanks, Bruna!

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The next two pieces of fabric were bought on the US Virgin Island, St. John, during my recent cruise. On our way back to the ship, we stopped in a little retail area for a bite to eat. Walking in, I noticed a store called the Fabric Mill. Of course I had to check it out! It was owned by a nice lady from New York City who had studied fashion design but moved to St. John (I am guessing for the weather or when she retired).  The wall behind her register was covered with bolts of beautiful rayon and cotton batiks. I picked up a few yards of my two favorite rayons. She also carried a nice selection of clothing and accessories, and I bought a cute sun hat to shade my pasty white face.

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Homemade MoonPies

Cookie Dough

6  ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
¼  cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼  cup cane syrup (I used Alaga)
¼  teaspoon vanilla extract
1½  cups all-purpose flour
1¼  cups graham cracker crumbs, ground fine (approximately 1 whole sleeve of crackers)
¾  teaspoon kosher salt
½  teaspoon baking powder
½  teaspoon baking soda
¼  teaspoon ground cinnamon
2  Tablespoons whole milk

Cream butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low speed; slowly stream in the milk.

Continue mixing until the dough comes together. Press the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour (I refrigerated mine for a day and let it thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Turn out the chilled dough onto a floured surface, then roll it to ¼” thick. Stamp out cookies using a 2- or 3-inch round cookie cutter (yield will depend on size and thickness).

Place cookies 2″ apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely.

You can start the marshmallow while the cookies are cooling if you are making it all at one time.

 

Marshmallow

2 3/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water, ice-cold, plus ¼ cup at room temperature
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites

Sprinkle gelatin over ice-cold water and set aside.

Combine room-temperature water, corn syrup, honey, and sugar in a small pot, insert candy thermometer, and simmer until mixture reaches 240 degrees. When the thermometer reaches 200 degrees—but not before—place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on high.

Once the sugar mixture hits 240, remove it from the heat, and stir in the bloomed gelatin. Then, while egg whites are whipping, slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture down the inside of the bowl to avoid spattering the hot syrup. I find this easiest to do using a glass measuring cup with a pour spout (like a Pyrex). Continue whipping for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the mixture stiffens. The mixer bowl will still feel warm to the touch but no longer hot.

Match up the cookies in pairs according to size. Flip over half of the cooled cookies. Lightly coat a spoon with nonstick cooking spray, and spoon approximately a quarter cup of marshmallow onto each flipped cookie (less if you used a smaller cutter). Use the remaining cookies as tops; gently push down until you can see the marshmallow come just to the edge. Chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes while making the chocolate coating.

 

Chocolate Coating

1  lb. bittersweet chocolate (61%–70% cacao)
2  tbsp. vegetable oil or canola oil

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval. Once only a few unmelted chunks remain, remove from microwave and stir until chocolate is smooth. Let it cool slightly and once the chocolate is no longer hot, slowly whisk in the oil in a steady stream. Allow the chocolate to cool for about 5 minutes before proceeding with assembly. Depending on your cookie yield, you can probably get away with 12 ounces of chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. With my 19 two-inch cookies, I had a fair amount of chocolate left over.

 

Assembly

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil and place a cooling rack inside. This will allow extra chocolate to drip off the cookies while they set. The lining will make clean up easier. Submerge chilled cookies in the melted chocolate, using a fork to gently lift the sandwiches out of the bowl, scraping excess chocolate on the side of the bowl. Place on cooling rack and let set until shell hardens (several hours in my case). Store in an airtight container.

Adapted from Garden and Gun Feb/Mar 2014.

 

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2013 in Review

1 Jan

Now that 2013 is officially over, I thought I would take a minute to reflect on what the past year has held.  The year started out with lots of excitement when I traveled across the country by myself to attend a 3 day sewing workshop with Gretchen Hirsch and Heather Ross. While there I made quite a few friends, in particular Lauren, who started her own blog not long after the sewing weekend. She and I worked on the same pattern so we were able to give fitting assistance to one another. I also got to visit the brick and mortar Hart’s Fabric, which has become one of my favorite places for fabric shopping.

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My next trip took me to Washington DC for work-related business but I managed to squeeze in a little time to shop at G Street Fabrics.

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I participated in Me Made May for the first time and surpassed my expectations by not repeating any items for over 2/3 of the month.

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I attended a local sewing workshop with Sandra Betzina and made her pattern Vogue 1291. I also got to enjoy a lovely dinner party at a friend’s home with Sandra.

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I participated in the Spring Sewing Swap hosted by Kestrel. I was paired up with Shelly of Shelly’s DIY Style and got some great goodies all the way from Australia.

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I reviewed a pattern for one of my favorite indie designers — In House Patterns — and ended up with a gorgeous, breezy Blossom top. I currently have my next pattern to review cut out. Will be making a muslin soon.

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I participated in a garment sewing competition on the Hart’s Fabric website and thanks to all my wonderful readers, I won a $50 Hart’s gift certificate!

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In August I made an evening ensemble to wear to our hospital’s charity gala. I ventured into couture sewing with a lace bustier with spiral steel boning and self-drafted a silk charmeuse skirt.

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The last major sewing of the year involved creating dresses for my nieces to wear in my sister’s wedding — sewing for little girls is so much easier!

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I did squeeze in a quick sewing project right before Christmas — 10 infinity scarfs from my stash fabric to give as gifts to all the girls in my family. I used this tutorial but didn’t snag any pictures of my finished products before giving them away. Maybe one of the recipients will send me a picture so I can post it…

Top 5 Recipes

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Decadent Hot Cocoa Mix

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Caesar Salad

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Bourbon and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

cuba libre

Cuba Libre, Reinvented

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Goat Cheese Spinach Dip (most searched post of 2013)

Top 5 Sewing Projects

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Knit Maxi – McCall’s 6559

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Bustier Top  Simplicity 1664

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Lace Bustier – Vogue 8849

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Date Night Dress – New Look 6457

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Belle Bow Blouse – In House Patterns

Top 5 Things I Learned

New binding for knit necklines

Underlining to create neat seam finish on vertical seams

Using spiral steel boning

Handpicking zippers

How to draft a skirt pattern

5 Goals for 2014

Post my backlog of completed sewing projects

Learn how to match patterns on fabric when creating a garment

Make some good basics for my wardrobe (knit tops, specifically)

Sew a jacket

Fess up that I have learned to knit in the last few weeks!!!

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Dulce Neck Cozy — free pattern on Ravelry

Grand Summer Ball Ensemble, or Vogue 8849 and a Self-Drafted Skirt!

8 Sep

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope your weekend has been a fun and productive one. Mine has been very busy but I have been hammering away on the sewing machine as much as possible. A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended the annual fundraiser gala for the hospital where I have privileges. I always look forward to this event because I love any excuse to get dressed up and be “fancy.”

The event takes place at the beautiful Marriott Grand Hotel, right on the shore of Mobile Bay. I love visiting the Grand Hotel (and have since childhood), because it is old, Southern, and charming. There is lush vegetation everywhere, the staff is friendly and gracious, and the whole atmosphere is very relaxed.

 

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As I have been honing my sewing skills in recent years, I have begun to enjoy creating outfits for specific occasions, and the Grand Summer Ball was the perfect opportunity. I first started dreaming up my ensemble around the end of last year but didn’t actually finalize my plans until about two months before the ball. But no matter how much I plan and brainstorm in advance, I was still stitching a hem and sewing in the zipper the day of the event (but with plenty of time to spare to get ready).

Want to see a picture of my handsome date before I go into the details of the outfit (and I might get a little wordy)?

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Alright, now on to what I wore. First, I decided I wanted to wear separates this year — long skirt and top. I started with Vogue 1310, a Chado Ralph Rucci number. You will notice that my colors are similar to those in the pattern photo; I think this is why I initially gravitated toward this pattern. I muslined the skirt and it was awful! The wrap tie created a huge poof across my midsection and it just wasn’t flattering.

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So I decided to draft my own skirt. I wanted something that would skim my hips then flare out at the bottom. I relied heavily on my copy of Patternmaking for Fashion Design (given to me by a sweet friend who was a fashion major). I started with creating a basic one-dart skirt sloper (one dart in front and one in back). Then I closed the darts and transferred the fullness to the hemline, pivoting at a point around knee-level.

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I also added a godet to the back center seam for extra fullness. I decided to create the V-shaped yoke as an added design feature. I cut the yoke on the bias thinking it would skim my hips better but I think this just created more trouble with ripply seams (even though I interfaced the seam lines). I added a simple 1″ waistband and handpicked a centered side zipper. The clincher with the skirt came when I realized that somehow part of the back hemline was 2″ shorter than the front, resulting in a skirt that hit at my ankle instead of grazing the floor like I had planned. Overall, the skirt was wearable and served it purpose, but it isn’t my most favorite make and all of its silk may get repurposed at a future date.

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On to the top. It is my favorite thing that I have sewn so far and I am so proud of it! I started with the bodice of Vogue 8849 and made 4 muslins before I got the fit just right. For construction, I referenced this blog post by Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics, who described her experience of sewing a lace bustier during a Susan Khalje class.

I started with a base shell of some sort of poly satin. Then I constructed my boning layer from muslin and inserted 6 channels for spiral steel boning along the bust princess seam lines, back dart lines, and side seam lines. I used boning casing to house the boning and these supplies came from Corset Making Supplies. I then hand-basted the muslin to the shell fabric and treated them as one for the duration of the construction.

Next, I cut my lining from the same fabric as my outer shell, then sewed the lining to the shell, right sides together, along the top seam. then I inserted the boning and sewed the lining to the shell right sides together along the bottom seam. Once turned right side out, I had clean-finished seams along the top and bottom and two open ends. These open ends were important and you will see why in a minute.

Next, I placed the bustier on my dressform for draping the lace. This is the most use I have ever gotten out of my form. I decided I wanted the lace edge to run along the bottom edge of the bustier, so I positioned the lace as such and started pinning it to the shell layer underneath, easing as I went. Because lace is very moldable, you can shape it over the curves of your body without having to use seams and darts. If you look closely at my detail photos, you will see the seams of the bustier shell underneath but no seams in the lace. I was very glad it worked like this because I was terrified of having to match lace patterns!

For the top of the bustier, I folded the lace over to the inside and did not try to use the lace’s border here. Next, I started tacking the lace to the shell/muslin layer by hand, using the open ends to access the area between the shell and lining. This was the most time-consuming part but also the most enjoyable. I have never been much of a hand sewer but I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this bustier. I worked on my handstitching in the evenings, at the office between patients, and any other time I could squeeze in. All total, I probably spent 4 hours tacking the lace down.

Bustier Detail collage

Next, I hand-picked a centered side seam zipper. I used the advice in Ann’s blog post and used a full-length dress zipper instead of a separating zipper. The longer zipper makes it easier to get in and out of the bustier and to zip yourself up in it without help, and the long tail is tucked up inside and snapped to the zipper tape. The bustier was finished off with a hook and eye at the top of the zipper.

And let me tell you how marvelous it was to wear! I didn’t spend all night hiking my top up or worrying about wardrobe malfunctions. I didn’t put a waist stay in yet, but I plan to add one soon. Photos from the event can be found here, here, here (with my sis), and here. I purchased my garnet necklace from the Etsy seller Alison Storry.

My fabrics were all purchased locally at Ely’s Fabric Warehouse in Mobile, Alabama. They have a nice selection of formal wear fabrics and lace. The skirt is made from a beautiful crimson silk charmeuse and the bustier’s shell and lining are poly satin and the lace is a beautiful, heavier-weight lace with a finished border along both edges (sorry I don’t know my lace terms).

While I will have to revisit my skirt drafting skills, I will definitely be making more iterations of the bustier top in both casual and dress versions. I think even this bustier can be dressed down a bit, perhaps with jeans for date night or like I wore it today to church.

Bustier casual

If you’re still there, thanks for reading about my mini-venture into couture sewing. Stay tuned for more!

Would you vote for me, please?

6 Sep

Evening, friends! I am dropping you a quick line to let you know that my recent make, the halter maxi dress in the Anna Maria Horner Sinister Swarms fabric from Hart’s Fabric is entered in their weekly Sew Your Hart Out contest. You can help me win a $50 gift card to Hart’s by liking this photo. And while you’re at it, I would love for you to “like” Susie Homemaker, MD on Facebook, too.

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Think you would like to win a prize from Hart’s? They are giving away weekly prizes for items made from their fabrics. You can also enter to win the grand prize of a brand new Janome sewing machine (no finished garments required!).

I hope to get some sewing done this weekend and will try to bring you another completed project next week (and this next one may be quite fancy). I may also have a Thirsty Thursday in the works. Stay tuned and happy weekend! And thanks for voting on my photo!

Spring Sewing Swap Reveal!

26 Jun


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Hi, friends!  As usual, I am a bit behind on posting things — my lovely parcel from the Spring Sewing Swap is no exception, considering that it is now officially summer!  Early last week I had the fun of receiving a nice little package all the way from Australia — from my new sewing friend Shelly at Shelly’s D.I.Y. Style.

Shelly and I chatted a bit before the swap and realized that we share similar tastes and sewing goals. That made shopping for Shelly both easy and hard — easy because I could buy her things that I would like myself, but hard because there was so much I wanted to send!  (If you want to see what I decided on, head over to Shelly’s post and check it out.)

So without further ado, let me show you the wonderful things Shelly sent all the way around the globe for me:

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1. Two yards of beautiful pink cotton lawn which is likely to become a summer top from a pattern I have been asked to test. The fabric looks a bit wrinkly now because I have already washed it for sewing :)

2. An adorable set of flower print buttons (perhaps to go with said top?).

3. Some needle gripper pads.  I have never seen these before but I will definitely love using them — I can see them saving me a lot of headache!

4. A new retractable measuring tape.  Shelly must have a spy in my sewing room because I just broke my favorite retractable tape and have looked at a new one every time I go to the store but haven’t bought one.  It’s a good thing because the one Shelly sent is so much better than what I’ve seen around here.

5. Aqua and brown bias tape.  I love print bias tape and this one has such a soft and supple hand I can’t wait to find a project to incorporate it into.

6. Red and white trim.  Red is one of my favorite colors so I know this will be easy to use.

7. And last but not least, that cute little ladybug you see is a darling thread cutter that can be stuck onto my sewing machine.  How adorable is that??

Thanks so much, Shelly, for sending me my lovely treats — I am so excited about giving them all a good home.  And thanks to Kerry at Kestrel Makes for organizing this swap.  It’s so nice to receive a sewing-related gift from someone who knows about sewing.  I look forward to doing it again soon!

Sewaholic Lonsdale

31 Mar

I’m still here!  Don’t worry I haven’t fallen off the planet!!  I have been traveling, sewing, and mostly working since we spoke last.  I have a cute sundress to show you today.  We are definitely getting into sundress-wearing weather here in the Deep South and the Sewaholic Lonsdale is the perfect pairing.  I stalked this pattern for a while before I actually convinced myself to buy it, but once I got it, I sewed it up almost immediately.  I love the cute knot at the front and the way the straps loop through the back and then tie.  I also like the breezy half (?) circle skirt.  Although I don’t think this halter style is the most flattering on my body, that’s not going to stop me from wearing my new cute dress or making this pattern up again :)

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For this version, I used a new rayon challis I picked up at Hart’s Fabric when I was in California last month.  I know I still have to show you all my fabrics and I promise I haven’t forgotten.  The fabric was easy to work with and it is wonderful to wear.  It does wrinkle a bit as you can see in the photos but it is not that bad.
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If you are not familiar with this pattern, the bodice is self-lined but the skirt is unlined.  I strayed from the pattern and decided to line the skirt as well.  I used a yellow batiste.  Because I sewed the batiste to the rayon all the way down the center back seam when inserting the zipper, I could not separate the two layers for hemming without doing some unpicking.  Since that is one of my least favorite tasks, I left it as it was and just hemmed the two layers together and the skirt lining became more of an underlining.  The downside is that my flowy rayon is now a bit more structured but the plus side is that I had a hidden layer to anchor my handstitched blind hem to.  This minor blooper is not going to prevent me from wearing this dress at all and I have already enjoyed wearing it on vacation, to church, and all day to our local arts and crafts fair (where the photos were taken).

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I love the consistent sizing of Sewaholic patterns.  I sewed my usual size 8 and did my usual 1″ full bust adjustment.  This FBA was a bit different since I didn’t want a waist or bust dart in the final dress.  I rotated the bust dart up to the knot gathers and the waist dart fullness was rotated to the center front seam.  You can see details of how this is done on the Sewaholic website’s tutorial.

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The only other alteration I made was to hem the skirt just above knee-length as I feel this is more flattering on me.

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If you are looking for an easy-to-sew and very wearable summer dress pattern, you should definitely consider the Lonsdale.  I am thinking about making the maxi version for the next go-around.  What do you think?

Vogue 8603, Washington DC, and G Street Fabrics

4 Mar

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So I have to apologize to my email and RSS feed readers who may have noticed that my last post went up a few days prematurely. I guess I will just blame it on the lack of time awareness that goes along with being on a cruise. I actually scheduled the post for Thursday but the WordPress app on my iPad had different ideas. Regardless, now you definitely know that I am spending the week bobbing around the Caribbean aboard the beautiful Celebrity Reflection.

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I’m sorry for not posting this skirt sooner — I initially stitched it up about a year ago but a series of events have kept it from making an introduction before now. Initially, the skirt was complete save for the hemming. Then, I lost a little weight and it got a bit big in the waist. I ended up taking it to my local alteration shop for the modifications because I decided if it was up to me, it would never get done. She also helped me mark the hem. By then it was summertime and I just didn’t feel like working on the skirt any more so it has sat in my UFO pile until now. I decided to finally finish the hem and wear the skirt on a recent work trip to Washington DC a few weeks ago.

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While I was in DC, I made a trip out to G Street Fabrics that all of the DC area sewing bloggers talk about. I had to take the Metro out of the city into Maryland and then walk 5-10 minutes to get there. They have a decent selection of fabric but some of it is hard to peruse because of the way all the bolts are piled on top of one another and their prices are ridiculous! Their silk charmeuses were $60-$70 per yard! I also saw an exact cotton that I purchased in NYC for $6 per yard selling in G Street for $25 per yard. They did have a nice selection of trims and buttons and I did manage to find a few things to bring home. I will show them in an upcoming post along with the Hart’s Fabrics buys that I mentioned not long ago.

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I love the ruching on the hips of this skirt. It reminds me of a skirt I have by one of my favorite designers, Nanette Lepore.

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Unfortunately, I have forgotten many of the details of the construction of this skirt because I made it so long ago. I do know that I cut the lining from the pieces that did not include ruching — no sense in having double the bulk in that area.

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My fabric is a lovely stretch suiting from Emma One Sock with a peachy nude background and green, magenta, and coral tweed-like flecks in it. It is hard to see the details of the fabric from these photos. I will try to update when I get home.

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I lined the skirt with a silky and slightly stretchy pale green satin. I used hot pink for all of my serger threads.

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My mother and grandmother joined me on my trip to Washington. While we were there, we had the opportunity to visit my cousin at work at the Pentagon!

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6 Airplanes, 3 Days, and 1 Gertie!

6 Feb

Drumroll, please!  The winner of my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway is… Breenie!!! Breenie, please contact me at susiehomemakermd [at] gmail [dot] com so I will know where to send your Craftsy gift certificate for a free course of your choice.  Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented!

You may recall me mentioning last week that I was going to a workshop with the lovely and talented Gretchen Hirsch of Blog for Better Sewing and Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing fame. Bright and early Friday morning I boarded a plane for Monterey, California, and three flights and nine hours later I arrived on the beautiful and sunny west coast. I let the rental car agent talk me into upgrading to a convertible and I headed with the top down to the peaceful and wooded grounds of Asilomar Conference Center, a state park that was built in the 1910s as a women’s camp. After unpacking and resting for a bit, everyone met in our sewing lab for introductions.

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There were about 24 workshoppers in all plus our excellent instructors, Gretchen and Heather Ross. Heather was an amiable hostess and was a natural at making everyone feel welcomed and like an old friend. We were also assisted by another Katrina (how often does that happen?!?), who worked at Hart’s Fabrics in Santa Cruz, and she was kind enough to tell us all about their Super Bowl Sunday sale. So not only did we gets lots of sewing and socializing done, we also got to go on a field trip to an awesome fabric store!

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Me and Lauren in our mid-construction shirtwaists

Before the workshop most of us introduced ourselves via email. Through those communications, I met Lauren and realized that we had similar sewing interests and were both planning to work on the shirtwaist dress from Gretchen’s book. We chatted back and forth about our muslins and fabric choices in the weeks leading up to the workshop and we were neighbors in the sewing lab. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet Lauren and hope one day I can make pretty bound buttonholes like hers!

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Mid-construction fitting check

I chose to work on the shirtwaist dress from Gretchen’s book during the workshop because I have always loved the look of a classic shirtdress but have had a hard time finding one to fit off the rack. I worked on a muslin prior to the workshop and only had to make a few tweaks once I got to California. My alterations included a FBA, lowering the darts (a lot!), shortening the bodice (a tad), a forward shoulder adjustment, bringing in the shoulders, and lowering the armscye. I also shortened the hem. I didn’t quite finish the dress during the workshop so I will wait until I complete it to give you my official review.

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Please excuse my darts — we didn’t have a tailor’s ham!

But here’s you a sneak peek. If you look closely, you will see I only have one sleeve sewn on! :)

Gretchen was so nice to work with — she is the reason I chose to attend the workshop.  The week before I left for California, I emailed Gretchen to see if she would bring the actual shirtwaist dress from the book and she graciously agreed.  We all oohed and ahhed over her beautiful creation and teased to stick it in our suitcases when she wasn’t looking.  Her fitting advice was spot on and she made sure to spend time with each sewist in the room over the course of the weekend.  And, yes, the pink hair is awesome in person!

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Do you see the beach deer?!?

On Sunday afternoon we took a tour of the grounds with the park ranger and actually looked at the ocean (we had all been way too busy sewing!).

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That’s my cute little rental car there in the middle of the picture.

It was a gorgeous day so after our final goodbyes, I put the top down on my little car and headed to Santa Cruz for the sale at Hart’s fabrics. I ran into Gretchen, Lauren, and at least a half-dozen of the other ladies while I was there. I doubt Mr. Homemaker reads this far down so let’s talk about what I bought. I racked up on some awesome solid color knits, cotton/silk blend, rayon challis, and silk chiffon.

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Thankfully Hart’s was willing to ship my fabrics home for me, so when they come in later this week, I will show you what I got.

Once I closed down Hart’s, I headed to San Jose to visit my favorite department store, Nordstrom. I picked up a few shirts, belts, and shoes, and they, too, were willing to ship. Thank goodness because I otherwise would have had to buy a new suitcase!

I finished off the night with a delicious and decadent dinner for one at a charming little restaurant in Pacific Grove called Passionfish. I had a scallop appetizer, crab and avocado salad, Wagyu beef brisket entrée, and Meyer lemon panna cotta for dessert. I was stuffed!

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the beautiful Monterey peninsula. Traveling across the country by myself to spend the weekend with like-minded women who don’t mind talking about sewing over dinner or who will gladly pin you into your dress and give you fitting advice was refreshing and a needed change of pace. Heather Ross puts on a great retreat and I can’t wait to join her and Gretchen again soon!

Check out my Flickr set for more photos.

Sewing Finds in Great Britain

9 Oct

 

In my last post I mentioned a recent intercontinental trip — Mr. Homemaker and I took a little vacation to Great Britain last month!  We had known for a while that we wanted to go because one of my friends from medical school is spending a year there doing a fellowship.  We decided that planning a trip to visit them in Scotland would be a good excuse for us to make our first trip to Europe together.  We took an overnight flight into Glasgow then caught the train to meet our friends at their flat in Edinburgh.  While the weather was a bit chillier there than it is here, that didn’t stop us from tromping all over the place.

 

 

Once we explored Edinburgh, we spent a night at Dalhousie Castle then took the train into the Cotswolds.  While there we visited Bath, which I thought was a lovely place and can’t wait to go back.  Finally, we took the train into London and spent three nights before heading back to reality and (warmer temperatures!).  In London, we booked a room at the High Road House in a residential neighborhood called Chiswick.  According to their website, their hotel chain is a members club for people in the film industry but when rooms aren’t filled, they reserve them to commoners like us.  While I think the London hotel is low-key compared to some of their other properties (like Miami), I did spot one celebrity that I recognized while we stayed there (Hugh Dancy).

 

 

The hotel was immensely cute and their food and bar service were excellent, not to mention the fact that the bathroom was filled with full-size amenities — we had four different body washes to choose from each morning! To top it all off, the room was reasonably priced and it was a 3 minute walk to the tube.

 

 

While I am not a huge museum-buff, I did stop by the Victoria and Albert to view the Ballgowns exhibit while we were in London, and we visited the Tower and saw several of the other big sites.

Now, of course you know I squeezed in a little shopping while we were there.  I did have to be careful, though, because we did carry-on only for this trip (hard to believe if you know me!).

 

 

I knew I wanted to go to Liberty and I was open to any other cute sewing souvenirs I came across.  First up, while in Bath, I visited a cute little shop called The Makery, where you can actually shop online.  It was a darling, tiny little store that sold unique trimmings and fabric and also offered classes (of course, I didn’t have time for one of these).  While there, I picked up two lengths of patterned bias binding (blue floral and red and white dot) and a Molly Makes magazine with a free envelope of assorted buttons.  Next up, we stopped in Salisbury to visit Stonehenge and while there I passed a sewing machine store that also sold some notions, so I picked up the white buttons and a cupcake pin cushion.  Finally, in London I knew I had to visit Liberty and that’s what I had been saving all my pennies for.

 

 

While there, I met Chow, a very helpful and funny salesman who cut my selections of cotton lawn and cotton jersey.  I also found two pieces from the remnant table, one 2.5 yard piece in a brown, pink, and mustard shoe pattern and another small length of floral silk destined to become a scarf.  Yes, Liberty fabrics are a splurge, but how often does a girl get to visit the brick and mortar store in person?  Not to mention all the restraint I had exercised when packing my carry-on suitcase so I could fit a few cuts of fabric in it for the ride home :)

I will leave you with a few more photos from our trip; you can check out my Flickr stream if you want to see more (although I did not upload the entire 500+ photos).  Thanks for looking!  More cooking and sewing to come, so stay tuned :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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