Archive | June, 2013

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!

McCall’s 6559 — Knit Maxi Dress

11 Jun

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Ladies and gentlemen, I have found my official pattern for summer — McCall’s 6559.  This knit tank dress pattern (post-tweaks, of course) is nearly perfect — easy, casual, chic, and comfy.  On top of that it is quick and easy to sew up since it only involves two pattern pieces plus neck and armhole bands.  My fabric for this dress was one of my treasures from last year’s NYC trip.  I don’t know the exact fiber content but I would guess some viscose and elastane.  It is a lightweight, soft knit with great recovery.

 

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I strayed from the pattern instructions (didn’t even look at them, actually) for the neckline and armhole binding.  I have never been satisfied with the bands that most patterns call for so when Lauren at Lladybird posted about this binding method from Megan Nielsen, I was all over it.  I LOVE the results and don’t think I’ll ever go back to the bands unless I have a fabric that is uncooperative.  I stabilized my neckline with knit staytape from Emma Seabrooke and used Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 and a twin stretch needle for my hem.  I have gotten so many compliments on this dress, especially about how professional the finishes look.

 

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As with all Big 4 knit patterns I have encountered, this one runs huge so I just based my size choice off of finished pattern measurements, going with a 12 in the shoulder, grading to a 14 at the bust/under the arms for a cheater FBA, tapering in to a 10 at the waist and then back out to a 14 at the hips.  If I had gone by the measurement chart I would have cut a 16 in the bust, 14 in the waist and an 18 in the hips!

 

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I started with a wearable muslin from a sturdy cotton knit and realized that I would have to make all future versions with a center back seam if I wanted it to fit my figure.  I had to take a 3/4″ swayback adjustment and then added a 1″ wedge back in over the derriere to accommodate for the swayback adjustment plus some for the junk-trunk.

 

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There will definitely be more versions of this dress in both the long and short varieties.  On the next rendition, I think I will go ahead and trim the seam allowances down to 1/4″ for serging and I will raise the neckline a bit to make it more work-friendly.  I will also take a bit more out for the swayback adjustment so it hugs my low back better.  Finally, because my fabric is a bit heavy, this dress could use some reinforcement in the side seams to support the weight.  I will be adding some clear elastic to the seam allowances from the underarm to the hip to prevent stretching and will keep this in mind for future versions if the fabric is really stretchy.  I don’t think it will be an issue with less stretchy knits.

So what do you think?  Could knit dresses be your go-to this summer?

 

 

 

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Thirsty Thursdays — Strawberry Mint Lemonade Two Ways

6 Jun

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Happy Thursday, everyone!  One more day until the weekend!!  Since you all seem to like these Thirsty Thursday posts so much, here’s another one.  I found this recipe inspiration from Jessica on How Sweet It Is — she has tons of great drink recipes so hop over there if you get a chance… or get thirsty.

I am providing both an alcoholic and an unleaded version of this beverage because I think it works perfectly both ways.  I could see this being incorporated into your next summer cookout, bridal/baby shower, picnic, day at the beach, etc.  We all know strawberry lemonade is a divine thing but adding mint gives it just a hint of herbal freshness — definitely not over the top, though, so don’t worry!

My only modification from the original recipe was to add a bit more water because I found it to be a little concentrated (but I didn’t strain mine).  Feel free to adjust it according to your own tastes and depending on how sweet your berries are.  Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Mint Lemonade Two Ways

Yield: About 4 cups

 

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves

Variation:  citrus vodka (optional)

Combine sugar and water in a microwave safe measuring cup and microwave on high at 1 minute intervals until sugar is completely dissolved.  Or be fancy and heat it in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved.  Regardless of your method, cool the simple syrup in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Put the strawberries and mint in a blender and  puree until liquified. Add in the lemon juice and simple syrup and puree until combined. At this point you can choose to keep the mixture thick with the fruit puree, strain half of it to lighten it a bit or strain all of it to remove the strawberry pulp. It’s up to you! Pour the mixture into a pitcher and refrigerate for 20 minutes until cold. Serve over ice.

For variation, add 1-2 shots of citrus vodka to each serving (depending on size of glass and stress level of consumer).  Enjoy!

 

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Bourbon and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

2 Jun

 

 

 

 

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So would you like to add a quick, easy, and tasty chicken dish to your recipe box that you can whip up even on weeknights when you are exhausted? If so, look no further than this delectable specimen from the Garden and Gun blog.  As you may recall, I already have a recipe for what I consider to be the best oven roasted chicken. But if you’ve tried it or read the recipe, you know that it is a little time-consuming. I mean, it can be done on a weeknight but it’s best if you do some of the prep work in advance.

This recipe, though, is so easy, you can get the bird into the oven within about 15 minutes. And you should have most of the ingredients on hand, except maybe the fresh rosemary but that will keep for a while or you could just grow some outside your back door.

I have made this chicken now 3 or 4 times and each time it is moist, tender, and very flavorful.  Mr. Homemaker gives this dish his seal of approval so chances are your hungry man will, too. If you are like me and don’t like bourbon, don’t worry, it isn’t a strong flavor. If you’re like someone else in my house and you like bourbon, you could always increase the amount in the recipe to bring out the bourbon flavor.

As I talked about in my other chicken recipe post, trussing the chicken helps it cook evenly.  Watch this video for a good how-to. This recipe also involves preheating a cast iron skillet in a very hot oven.  Needless to say, this should necessitate care as the chicken and sauce will both sputter when added.  Wear your oven mitts.

 

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Roasted Rosemary-Bourbon Chicken

Adapted from Garden and Gun blog

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, rinsed and patted dry
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Place an average-size cast iron skillet on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat to 500F.  Season the chicken all over, inside and out, with the salt and pepper, then rub with the olive oil. Truss the chicken.

Combine the rosemary, soy sauce, honey, molasses, bourbon, and Dijon mustard in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until just warm then remove from the heat and set aside.

When the oven and pan are preheated, place the chicken — breast side up — into the skillet and cook at 500F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and pour the prepared sauce all over the chicken.  Be careful because it will sputter. Continue to roast the chicken at 350F, basting with the sauce in the bottom of the cast iron skillet every 10-15 minutes. Cook until the chicken is done, the juices run clear, and a meat thermometer inserted into the breast reaches 160F.  This portion of cooking usually takes 30-45 minutes for me but will vary based on the size of your bird.

Once the chicken is done, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and place the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat.  Heat to a boil and boil for about 1 minute, or until the sauce has thicken slightly.

Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the sauce. And maybe some Granny-Style Green Beans and mashed sweet potatoes.

 

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Me Made May ’13 — Part 3

1 Jun

Well folks, the month has finally drawn to a close and I have successfully completed my first Me Made May challenge.  I must say it was a great confidence builder to be able to wear self-stitched or altered items each day for 31 days straight.  I even managed to make it more than 2/3 of the month without repeating an item!  As you have seen from my photos, I have several new items that have yet to be given official blog posts, but I will do my best to get those documented in the upcoming weeks.  So without further ado, here are the last 12 days of my month’s wardrobe:

 

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Me Made: Simplicity 2599 ruffle blouse
RTW: Nordstrom pencil skirt, Tessyla necklace, Cole Haan shoes

 

May 20 (Monday) — Today was a full day in the office.  Nothing exciting to report.

 

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Me Made: Refashioned David Kahn white jean capris
RTW: CAbi seahorse camisole and lacy jacket, turquoise necklace, nude patent flats

 

May 21 (Tuesday) — Another day at the office.  I hosted a CAbi party at my house the next night so my friend who sells the clothing brought her entire collection to my house a few days early so I could “test” things out.  I borrowed the cute seahorse cami and lacy jacket to wear to work this day with some refashioned white jean capris.  The capris are at least 5 years old and had a very flared hemline until I slimmed them down.  That was my first time to ever work with denim.  As long as no one looks up close at the seams and hems, I will be in good shape 🙂

 

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Me Made: In-House Patterns Belle Bow Blouse
RTW: Cookie Johnson straight leg white jeans, Kluster white coral necklace, Franco Sarto nude bow pumps (worn only for photo — being returned because they are too small)

 

May 22 (Wednesday) — My day off and my first repeated item.  I spent the morning dropping my car off to get serviced then met a new sewing buddy for some fitting help with a jacket project (Thanks, Nancy!  You are incredible!!!)  Nancy was so sweet and sent me away with an armload of awesome sewing goodies — patterns, fabric, notions — I feel so spoiled!

This was also the night of the CAbi party that I hosted for my friend Catherine.  For the party I made peach margaritas, fresh guacamole, and strawberry cupcakes with strawberry swiss buttercream; I picked up a party platter of fajita fixings from a local Mexican restaurant to round out the menu.  Yum!  We had a great time having a girls’ night in. Photographed here with Jennifer, one of my best friends since first grade.

 

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Me Made: Simplicity 2648 as a peplum top
RTW: LOFT denim jacket, vintage (college-era) black maxi skirt, turquoise necklace, Cole Haan purse, Cole Haan black peep toe low heel pumps

 

May 23 (Thursday) — A full day at the office at usual but in the evening my 5-year-old niece graduated from her pre-K school.  I cannot believe she will be a kindergartener next year!  The black skirt you see me wearing here is at least 12 years old.  I bought it when I was in college and have hung on to it since, knowing that it would come back in style again.  Unfortunately the elastic in the waistband has dried out so I will have to replace it before I can wear it again or I will risk wardrobe malfunction. I am posing here with the niece of honor and my mom.

 

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Me Made: Unblogged Jalie 2921 scarf neck tee with ties wrapped to back (so glad I figured this out!)
RTW: Cookie Johnson white straight leg jeans, Etsy necklace, nude Nine West low heel pumps

 

May 24 (Friday) — TGIF and I’m not on call!  Plus this is the weekend I get to spend sewing nonstop at the Sandra Betzina workshop at All About Sewing.  In this photo I am working on McCall’s 6559 which you will see more of later in the week.

 

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Me Made: Simplicity 1664 top (will blog soon!) and McCall’s 6654 skirt
RTW: Silpada necklace and Cole Haan tan peep toe heels

 

May 25 (Saturday) — The Sandra Betzina trunk show took place this day.  She went through the samples of all her patterns and discussed different techniques for altering and modifying each pattern.  Although most of Sandra’s patterns don’t appeal to me right off the cover (I don’t think I am in her age demographic), changing fabric and/or features can definitely make them more attractive (see my project from last year’s workshop here).  After the trunk show, we each sat down with Sandra and our chosen pattern (Vogue 1291 for me) to select our size and make any fitting adjustments to our flat pattern. We then all went home to cut out our fabric.

Except a few of us didn’t go straight home — my sewing bestie, Dianne (far left), invited Sandra, me and Joni (far right) over for dinner at her beautiful new home, spouses included.  I was asked to bring a cocktail, so I made a double batch of the Strawberry Riesling Slushies that Annie recently featured on her blog (if you couldn’t tell from the empty glasses and pitcher, the drink was a hit — not too sweet but very refreshing!). Mr. Homemaker and I had a wonderful time — our dinner companions were lively and entertaining and our hostess prepared an excellent meal for us to feast on.  Thanks again, Dianne!

 

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Me Made: Trina Turk knit tank altered to open up an extra buttonhole
RTW: Citizens skinny jeans, red Franco Sarto patent flats

May 26 (Sunday) — Our first full day of sewing with Sandra and my first day to wear something that involved only a minimum of sewing skill on my part.  None of my attire is me-made but this top only had two functioning buttonholes when I bought it.  On a less busty person I don’t think that would have been an issue but for me that made the shirt gape like crazy and revealed more than I liked.  So I got out my handy seam ripper and tore this shirt a new one — a new buttonhole that is 🙂

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Me Made: Golden Renfrew
RTW: Cookie Johnson white straight leg jeans, Kluster red coral necklace, nude patent flats

May 27 (Monday/Memorial Day) — This was our second full day of sewing.  I finished almost all of the construction of my shirt on Sunday so I just had to hem it and stitch down the neck band when I got to the store on Monday morning.  After that I made a few more flat pattern alterations to my knit maxi dress (McCall’s 6559) based on a knee-length muslin and cut out my fashion fabric.  Before we finished up for the day I had my shoulder seams sewn, the neckline finished with my new favorite method, and my side seams sewn.  All I had left was to bind the arm holes and hem it.

This photograph is a group shot of some of the ladies at the workshop.  We all had a great time and got tons of sewing accomplished!  Sandra is a great teacher and I always learn lots from her and the other students who all have more experience than me.  I am already looking forward to when she returns to our area next year.

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Me Made: Vogue 1291 butterfly sleeve top
RTW (not shown): Elie Tahari pencil skirt, Cole Haan coral wedges

 

May 28 (Tuesday) — Back to the real world.  Here’s my version of Sandra’s pattern, Vogue 1291.  Although this photo was taken during the workshop when I tried on my completed top (notice the mismatched necklace), I actually wore it to work the next day with a cobalt blue pencil skirt and my coral Cole Haan peep toe wedges but I just couldn’t get a flattering photo that I could bring myself to post for all the world to (potentially) see.  Sorry 😦

 

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Me Made: Sewaholic Cambie as a peplum blouse
RTW: Cookie Johnson denim capris, Tessyla necklace, Cole Haan wedges

 

May 29 (Wednesday) — My day off but this was a pretty busy one with running errands.  I started out with stopping by the hospital to check on my grandfather after he had surgery (he did great), then I had a dentist appointment, dermatologist appointment, grabbed a quick lunch, packed up some of my sewing stuff, headed to a friend’s house for a sewing playdate for a few hours working on tracing off and making flat pattern adjustments to the Colette Chantilly pattern, ran to the grocery store, then came home and cooked dinner for my husband.  I actually scored a “This is one of the best things you’ve ever cooked” from Mr. Homemaker so the recipe will be making an appearance here in the future.  Be on the lookout.

 

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Me Made: Simplicity 2599 ruffle blouse, Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt
RTW: Tessyla necklace, old belt, Via Spiga blue suede pumps

 

May 30 (Thursday) — Back to the office.  Two me-made pieces this day.  I added a belt over the Hollyburn skirt and I really like the look.

 

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Me Made: McCall’s 6559 maxi dress in a drapey knit from Elliott Berman (from my NYC trip)
RTW: Old belt

May 31 (Friday) — Yay!  I made it!! This is my most recently finished project — I started it during the Sandra Betzina workshop and finished it up the Thursday evening after so I could wear it before the month ran out. I will dedicate an entire post to this pattern, but can I just tell you that I LOVE it!  It is so easy and once you figure out your fitting tweaks and the sizing, it is such a flattering and comfy dress. I am going to make up more versions in both the long and short varieties.

And can I just apologize for the awful photo? After 30 days of remembering to take daily outfit photos, I hopped into bed last night and remembered I hadn’t taken my photo for the day.  Well, I wasn’t going to mess up on the last day of the challenge so I jumped out of bed, threw my dress and belt back on and tossed my iPhone to my husband and made him snap some photos of me in my bare face and bare feet. While I was at work, I paired the dress with my denim jacket and some white leather d’Orsay pumps.  After work, I nixed the jacket and changed into some white flip-flops for a casual business dinner.  I also paired the dress with a multistranded Silpada necklace (seen on May 25).

Reflecting on the month, I feel like I have grown in my sewing skills, especially in fitting.  I finished several new items during the month — 7 total — and overall they each fit really well and I don’t have any major construction complaints.  I do need to bite the bullet and start working on fitting myself for pants and shorts.  All in good time, I guess.

Well, guys, thanks for following along.  I have several pattern reviews to bring you as well as some recipes for desserts, drinks, and main dishes.  Stay tuned!