Tag Archives: easy

Flirty Skirt — McCall’s 6706

1 Mar

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Hi, friends! I am finally sharing a completed sewing project with you. It feels like it has been ages!! Want to know the best part? It’s been about 6 months since I made this but since I wore it to work recently, I decided to snap some pictures and share it with you.

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Be warned, though, this photo shoot took place after 10 hours at work and seeing 40+ patients. You will see wrinkles, stringy hair, and a tired face. And since I conducted this photo shoot with the timer on my camera, my head or feet may be missing in some photos ūüôā

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This skirt is made from McCall’s 6706, a great little pattern for a quick and satisfying project. I have not become a huge fan of the hi-low hems yet, but I thought this skirt made in some free fabric would be a great way to test it out. The fabric was a remnant given to me when I went fabric shopping in NYC. It came from Elliot Berman and I am guessing it is rayon challis. It was easy to sew and has a light, floaty feel.

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As for the pattern, it was very easy to sew up and required minimal fitting. All you have to do is select your size based off the finished waist measurement printed on the tissue. I looked for the size that was closest to my waist +1″ of ease. Since it is so full in the hips, adjustments there will likely not be necessary.

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I installed an invisible zipper and finished the waistband facing by stitching in the ditch from the right side. The hem is a narrow 1/4″ machine hem using this tutorial. No hand stitching on this baby!

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My only regret is that I should have used a sturdier interfacing in the waistband.

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And that I don’t look good from behind in this hi-low hem skirt ūüė¶

Oh well. Live and learn!

Thirsty Thursdays — Best Hot Cocoa Mix Ever

20 Dec

Wouldn’t you love to have a recipe for a simple but delicious treat you can whip up to satisfy your chocolate tooth or to give as a cute, homemade gift? This hot cocoa recipe will serve both purposes.

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I have never been a big fan of store-bought hot cocoa mixes — they are just too weak. And that’s even after mixing it with milk instead of the prescribed water. Fortunately, I found this recipe that allows me to keep my own homemade cocoa mix on-hand for chocolate emergencies.

This recipe is also great made in bulk to fill cute mason jars and give as gifts — to teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc. I made gift boxes of homemade goodies for my stepson’s teachers and included this cocoa mix, this Cheez-It Crack, Fantasy Fudge, these nuts from Ina Garten, Spiced Caramel Pear Jam (will try to blog soon), and homemade marshmallows (made by The Marshmallow Fairy).

 

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A few notes on ingredients — since the flavor of the cocoa really shines through, please use the best cocoa powder you can find. I have tried this recipe with both Callebaut Dutch-processed cocoa and Hershey’s natural cocoa, and there is a definite difference between the two. The mix made with the Hershey’s cocoa has a chalky feel on the tongue while the Dutch-processed cocoa was silky and smooth. I assume this is because Dutch-processed cocoa typically has a higher fat content than store-bought cocoa. For the bulk recipe I made to put in jars, I substituted the vanilla extract with pure vanilla bean powder that I bought at my local health food store, but I think regular vanilla bean seeds could be substituted 1:1.

A few notes on serving — it is important to heat the mix with a small amount of cream or milk before you whisk in the rest of the milk. This extra step ensures your cocoa powder “blooms,” or develops its full chocolate flavor. You can substitute low-fat or fat-free milk for the cream, but don’t skip this step. You can also garnish the cocoa as desired. I stirred homemade salted caramel sauce into mine, topped it with homemade whipped cream, then drizzled a little more caramel sauce on top. And cute mugs don’t hurt. Yum!

Below you will find a recipe to make both one single serving and a 1-pint jar of mix for gift-giving (or just pantry stocking). Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

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Decadent Hot Cocoa Mix for One

Yield: 1 one-cup serving

  • 3 Tablespoons high-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup half-and-half or 1/2 cup whole milk plus 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or any dairy combination to equal 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all the dry ingredients with 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half and whisk over medium-low heat until the cocoa and sugar have dissolved and liquid has become dark and silky. Whisk in the remaining dairy and heat until steaming, whisking frequently. Pour into a mug, garnish as desired, and enjoy!

Decadent Hot Cocoa Mix in Bulk

Yield: 2 cups of powder (enough for 1 pint jar), roughly 6-8 servings of hot cocoa

  • 1 cup¬†high-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, whisking to blend well. Pour into one-pint container and store at room temperature. To serve, whisk 4-6 Tablespoons of mix with 1/4 cup dairy until melted and smooth. Whisk in 3/4 cup dairy and heat until steaming. Garnish as desired.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

Violette Field Threads — Emmaline Dress

25 Nov

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Last month, my sister got married. Being the wonderful sister and loving aunt that I am, I volunteered to make the flower girl dresses for my two nieces. I must say, sewing for someone else was very enjoyable, especially when the someone is kid-sized. Fitting for a child is so much easier than fitting for a grown woman.

 

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Plus, who wouldn’t want to make something for those two cute girls? They were so excited about their “long” dresses.

 

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The pattern I used was the Emmaline dress by Violette Field Threads. I originally found the pattern via a food blog that I follow (funny, huh?). When I first saw it, I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, other than it would be really cute on Mary Catherine and Sarah. Then my sister announced her engagement and the plan was born.

 

All the girls

 

To make matters even more simple, Katie chose navy and pink as her colors and the cover photo for this dress is shown in a cute pink and white chevron, exactly the same fabric Katie wanted (Riley Blake pink chevron fabric here). To tie in the navy, I added a grosgrain ribbon sash to each dress.

 

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This pattern is very straightforward. The sizes are true and the instructions are very clear with color photo illustrations. My only gripe was with the bulk and weight of all three layers of ruffle. Sewing two rows of basting stitches really isn’t a good method for this much fabric so next time I will zigzag over a piece of floss to gather.

I also found the skirt of the dress to be pretty heavy, pulling down on the bodice and causing the hem to drag. To fix this (partially), I put an elastic stay around the waist by sewing a piece of elastic a little smaller than the waist measurement to the waist seam of the dress. The sash also helped to hold the dress up.

Otherwise, this dress is quick and easy to sew up and little girls love the glamorous long length!

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I French braided both of my niece’s hair and Katie’s hair stylist added baby’s breath to the braids. I also helped my sister with her party favors — three batches of homemade peach jam in cute 1/4 pint jars, all made in a 3 hour sprint in my kitchen.

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And because I have a beautiful sister, a few photos to finish off the post. Don’t you love that dress?!?

Thirsty Thursdays — Mimosa Punch

24 Nov


Howdy, friends! I hope everyone is getting geared up for this holiday season. Here in the US, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday so we will get our season of indulgence started soon!

 

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I am posting this Thirsty Thursday a few days early so you can add it to your Thanksgiving menu.¬†I have been making this Mimosa Punch for a year or so now — it is an excellent addition to a holiday brunch, baby/bridal shower, or any other occasion where a few people are gathered. I recently served it the morning of my sister’s wedding for the pre-wedding breakfast and while everyone was getting ready. It received rave reviews and there were only a few drops left when all was said and done.

This recipe is simple to make and requires minimal prep. Chill all your ingredients in advance and/or serve the punch over ice. Either way it is delicious. I think the addition of orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, makes this punch better than your standard Mimosa. I would love to hear what you think after you try it!

And if you are looking for more drink recipes to serve a crowd, check out my Coffee Punch, Apple Pie Moonshine, or Eggnog. Cheers!

 

Mimosa Punch

  • 2 quarts orange juice (I prefer pulp-free, not-from-concentrate juice — freshly squeezed would also be delicious)
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
  • 1-750 mL bottle champagne or sparkling wine (I usually buy the cheap stuff such as Cook’s)
  • 2 liters ginger ale
  • Sliced fruit for garnish, optional (I usually use strawberries and oranges)

Chill all ingredients in advance. Immediately before serving, combine orange juice and liqueur in punch bowl or beverage container. Slowly pour in ginger ale and champagne. Stir to combine. If desired, garnish with sliced fruit.

Adapted from this recipe.

 

Red Wool Crepe Sewaholic Hollyburn | Red October

30 Oct

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Have you heard about the color-themed sewing going on among the Sewcialists? For October the color is red and I am squeaking in just under the deadline with my contribution.

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You may recognize this pattern as I have made it before — the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt. It is so quick and easy to sew and doesn’t really require any fitting changes if you pick the right waistband size. For me that was an 8 in the shortest length.

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Skirt: Made by me!
Top: Nordstrom — with the cutest red heels all over it!
Necklace: Tessyla on Etsy
Shoes: Cole Haan

For my fabric, I used a vibrant red wool crepe I have been stashing for a while. I had it steam pressed by the dry cleaners before sewing.

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Pretty close to perfect invisible zip.

To make this project a little more challenging, I used this technique to underline the skirt with silk organza and finish the vertical seams all at the same time. I also omitted the pockets as I wanted a more streamlined look.

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For the hem, I applied the red and white dot bias tape I picked up in Bath, England, last year then handstitched it to the silk organza underlining.

I am very pleased with this skirt. The underlining technique is a great one to have in your arsenal and I know I will get lots of use out of this wardrobe basic this fall/winter! Thanks for reading ūüôā

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee — with Sparkles!

23 Sep
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Me Made Kirsten Kimono Tee paired with reversible polka dot jeans from Nordstrom, hot pink patent Cole Haan heels, and Ray Bans.

 

Howdy, everyone! Here’s a quick and simple project for you — the Kirsten Kimono Tee from Maria Denmark. What’s even better than quick and simple? This pattern is a FREE download on Pattern Review¬†Maria’s site just by signing up for her newsletter! It only involves taping together a few pages (and this one doesn’t require cutting — yay!) From start to finish, I spent maybe 3 hours on this project and that included assembling and cutting out the pattern.

I cut a base size M but graded out a bit at the bust and tapered it in a little at the waist. I added 1/4″ seam allowances as the pattern doesn’t include them. Next go around I may create a center back seam to address my swayback.

 

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For the fabric, I chose a white sequin knit from my local shop, Ely’s, and a basic white tee-shirt knit from Sawyer Brook for the back and neck binding. When I bought the sequin fabric, everyone seemed a little surprised that I planned to make a tee-shirt with it. But I think once they see my finished project, they may not think it was so strange after all. I purchased 3/4 of a yard at $29.95 a yard and only used about 1/3 to 1/2 of the fabric. So technically I could make another top.

 

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I used my serger for all parts of construction on this top. I finished the neckline according to this Megan Nielsen tutorial and sewed the neckline and hems with the coverstitch function on my 5-thread serger. This could have just as easily been made solely on a standard machine with a stretch or zigzag stitch and a double needle to finish the neck and hems. I will mention, though, that sewing over sequins does increase your chance of breaking a needle so use something that is sturdy but appropriate for knits and sew slowly or even drive the machine with the handwheel over parts that are two layers of sequined fabric.

Overall, I love my new top, even if it may be a tee-shirt that has to be dry cleaned! I have already worn this shirt out on the town (like in the photos), and to work tucked into navy slacks with a green cardigan and the pink shoes from these photos. If you have contemplated making a knit top, this would definitely be a great place to start as the sizing is true and the process couldn’t be simpler. And consider experimenting with unusual fabrics as this pattern’s simplicity lends itself to modifications. Happy sewing!

What We’re Eating — Recipe Round-Up

2 Jul

Mr. Homemaker and I have been contemplating buying/building a new house recently so we’ve been trying to save our pennies. ¬†That means we’ve been eating out a lot less and cooking a lot more. ¬†You’d think I would have a lot more recipe posts for you but on weeknights when we both get home at 6:30 or later and dinner isn’t on the table until 8:30 or later, the last think I want to do is arrange food on a plate in a photogenic fashion and take pictures of it. ¬†I mean, we are starving by that point and I think Mr. Homemaker would bite my hand if I told him he had to wait even 2 minutes for me to snap some shots of his plate! ūüôā

Being an empty nest part of the week, we tend to eat out a lot. ¬†And even with just a party of two, that can get expensive, especially when you aren’t satisfied with the same few restaurants over and over again. ¬†Mr. Homemaker and I knew transitioning to exclusive at-home dining wasn’t going to be easy for us — sure, having a goal helps — but we knew that we would have to keep the menus fresh and interesting to keep us motivated. ¬†So each weekend we sit down with our bi-weekly produce delivery list and come up with a tentative menu and grocery list. ¬†I use the¬†Epicurious and Food Network¬†websites as well as some of my favorite food blogs for inspiration and recipes. ¬†We also try to recreate some of our favorite restaurant dishes at home.

So far I would say we have been pretty successful.  In the past month, we have only eaten out once, and that was just a shared fajitas for one at the cheap Mexican joint. Compare that to our prior habit of dining out 6-7 meals (lunch and/or dinner) per week! We have also enjoyed spending time together in the kitchen getting back into one of our mutual hobbies.  Each meal inspires us to cook up different menus and dishes for the next week.

So since I don’t have time to do an individual post for each recipe that we have enjoyed, I am giving you a recipe round-up and brief review so you can enjoy these dishes, too. ¬†Please feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. ¬†And when we make these things again, I will try to takes pictures and add those to this post. I am also giving each recipe my star rating along with my review and suggested modifications. ¬†Total possible stars = 4. None of the photos are my original photos — they are the property of the recipe source. ¬†Click recipe title for source.

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Steak Picadillo Tacos ****

We LOVE these tacos. ¬†We have made them twice now in the span of two weeks. ¬†They are easy and quick to throw together. ¬†We make them exactly as directed (yes, we put in the olives AND raisins), but we do buy a more tender cut of meat since we found the skirt steak to be way too tough on the first round. ¬†We prefer sirloin for this recipe. ¬†It would even be great with left over filet ūüôā ¬†I also use mild Rotel as the regular makes the tacos a bit on the spicy side. We top our tacos with a healthy dollop of sour cream to tame the heat.

 

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Pork Meatball Banh Mi ***

These meatball subs were one of our attempts to keep things interesting in the kitchen.  This recipe is another one that is simple to throw together although some of the ingredients can be harder to find (my local Publix did have some Daikon radish). Matt really enjoyed the pickled carrot and radish topping and has eaten it as a side with other dishes since (the recipe makes more than enough). I am giving it three stars because some of the ingredients can be hard to find but I do love the flavor combination that it creates and I think the meatballs would be good served alone as an appetizer (or even in spaghetti).

 

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Simple Roasted Chicken *****

Did you notice this one got 5 stars? If you check out the recipe link, you will see that it was created by Thomas Keller, one of my favorite chefs. ¬†I have raved previously about one of his other roasted chicken recipes, and since y’all know I don’t discriminate against a roasted chicken (that’s two already on this blog), I had to try this one. ¬†Funny thing is, I didn’t realize this recipe was by Thomas Keller until the day after I made it. ¬†I have now deemed him Dr. Chicken.

But to get to the point, for no more time and ingredients than this involves, you will never put a better piece of chicken in your mouth. ¬†Like shut up and go slap your momma good kind of chicken. ¬†And so easy you just season the chicken with salt and pepper and throw him in the oven in a skillet. ¬†Then when he comes out, slather him with a little butter and maybe a little thyme if you feel like it. ¬†And his skin will be so crispy and his meat will be so juicy. ¬†And not to mention flavorful! ¬†Please, before I ruin my keyboard drooling all over it, just go make this chicken — you can easily do this on even a tired weeknight!

 

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Roasted Potatoes ****

Who doesn’t love garlic roasted potatoes? ¬†Enough said.

 

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Arroz con Pollo ****

I referenced a meal in a prior post that my husband deemed one of the best I had ever cooked — this was it. ¬†I woke up on my day off craving something exotic but comforting and for some reason Arroz con Pollo came to mind. ¬†Now, don’t think Arroz con Pollo is something we ever ate as kids — we didn’t even eat the American version of chicken with white rice. ¬†But I have seen it on menus and have seen recipes enough recently that it sounded just exotic enough and just comforting enough to fit the bill. ¬†And boy did it! The smell in the house was incredible and the process to create it was fun and new — I definitely learned some new techniques while preparing this meal. ¬†And sofrito, the seasoning blend used to flavor the rice, has become a staple for us to make various things such as Spanish rice and stuffed peppers. If you have some kitchen skills, I definitely recommend trying this recipe out — it is well-written and if followed, will yield wonderful, flavorful results.

 

Raspberry Basil Limoncello Cocktail ****

I had a pint of fresh raspberries in the fridge that had gotten a little too soft to eat straight so I went in search of a cocktail recipe. ¬†This one from Bobby Flay was on the top of my to try list and it didn’t disappoint. ¬†The basil is not very strong but does add just a hint of herbal flavor that I found very refreshing. I will definitely be making this one again and maybe it will be a Thirsty Thursday if I can get a photo of it.

 

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Debris Po’Boys¬†****

So Mr. Homemaker has been craving a New Orleans style roast beef po boy for some time now. ¬†The kind that gets your hands all messy and drips down to your elbows when you eat it. ¬†I don’t know if most people even think of these as po boys because I think most people think of seafood when they think of the traditional New Orleans sandwich. ¬†But nonetheless, the debris po boy is a thing, and a delicious thing at that. ¬†I cooked up a chuck roast according to this recipe then reduced the cooking liquid down to a gravy consistency (had to add a teaspoon or two of cornstarch) to make a delicious meaty mess. ¬†We dressed our sandwiches with mayo and provolone and baby Swiss because that’s how we like them. ¬†I don’t care what any of you Cajun say ūüėČ

 

Skillet Lasagna ***

Who doesn’t love lasagna? ¬†And lasagna that you don’t have to layer and mess up every dish in the kitchen for? ¬†That’s even better! This lasagna is easy to throw together and tastes great. ¬†I substituted ground beef for the Italian sausage just for personal preference. ¬†I found it to run a little dry so I ended up adding the whole second can of tomatoes and then a little more water as it cooked. ¬†I also reduced the cooking heat a little as it seriously stuck to the bottom of the skillet. ¬†Although the one skillet was a cleanup nightmare, the soul-warming meal was worth it and I will definitely make it again.

 

Vinaigrette ****

This is another Thomas Keller recipe that I found while browsing the Epicurious site. ¬†I think this recipe is a great base for creating other flavors but I haven’t really had time to experiment yet. ¬†So far we have just put it on basic green salads seasoned with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookies ****

I had a serious craving for chocolate chip cookies last night but didn’t want to be in the kitchen all night changing out batches in the oven and didn’t want the temptation of eating 3 dozen so this little recipe for 12 cookies was perfect. I added a few toasted pecan pieces and they were divine warm out of the oven!

 

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Mocha Brownies ***

I saw this recipe come up in my blog reader and I was sold on the brownie with frosting. ¬†As a kid my mom always made wonderful brownies but they never had frosting and I always craved brownies with frosting. I guess I now have an unfulfilled desire for frosted brownies because I make/eat them when I can. These brownies were decadent and tasty and the girls in my office RAVED about them. I found the brownie base to be a little bland to stand alone but with the frosting it is just fine (if you are going to make it without frosting, I would add a little salt or vanilla). ¬†My issue was with the frosting. ¬†The recipe calls for too much water. ¬†At the ratio given, the butter separates out and curdles. ¬†I think the recipe should call for 1/2 to 3/4 of the amount of water listed and next time I will stop at that. ¬†Because I wanted to follow the recipe as written (I am a rule follower), I added all the water and I regretted it. ¬†I ended up adding more sugar, butter, and cocoa trying to get the butter to re-emulsify. ¬†I got it to be palatable (based on compliments), but I wasn’t please with the grainy appearance of the frosting. ¬†I will definitely remember this next time I make this recipe.

 

New York Cheesecake ****

I made this for the Fathers’ Day dinner at my parents’ house. All but 2 slices were eaten that night and everyone said it was the best cheesecake that had ever had — better than New York City’s itself. ¬†I think that’s enough explanation!

 

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Vanilla Cupcakes ***

Since I was worried the kids wouldn’t want to eat cheesecake, I also took cupcakes to our Fathers’ Day dinner. ¬†I have made this recipe before and it is a moist and tender cake with a good vanilla flavor. ¬†My only gripe with it in cupcake format is that it doesn’t crown well and it pulls away from the cupcake wrappers. ¬†My suggestion is to fill the cupcake papers closer to 3/4 full and this will help keep them from pulling away. If you are looking for a good basic vanilla cake, though, this is it. I omitted the vanilla bean and doubled the extract.

 

I hope you have enjoyed my little recipe round-up here.  Let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you have any suggestions for tasty new recipes to try out!

 

 

 

 

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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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
¬Ĺ 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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McCall’s 6654 — Knit Maxi Skirt

19 May

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Well, friends, I have been on a sewing spree this week! ¬†Me Made May has been Motivate Me May for me! ¬†I have completed three projects this week, this skirt being the most recent. ¬†I think I have been so eager to complete projects because I have made it 18 days into the month without repeating an item. ¬†While that wasn’t part of my original pledge, I am amazed that I have made it this far with no repeats. ¬†I am afraid I will have to show some reruns this week, though, but I will try to style them differently. ¬†Aside from this skirt, I have also made two shirts, one of which you can get a sneak peek of on my Flickr stream and I will have reviews forthcoming for both tops.

 

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This skirt (McCall’s 6654) is one of the simplest things I have ever sewn — it is three straight seams plus a waistband casing with a piece of elastic inside. ¬†I didn’t even bother to hem it. ¬†It is really quick and easy if you have a serger but I can’t imagine that it would take much longer with a regular machine — just remember to use a narrow zig zag stitch so your stitches won’t break, especially on the waist.

 

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My only beef with this pattern is that it runs HUGE! ¬†But I find this to be the case with all Big 4 knit patterns. ¬†I suspected this going in so I did a little preparation before I started cutting. ¬†I first looked at the pattern pieces to see what the finished measurements were for each size. ¬†Unfortunately, the finished waist measurements weren’t given so I measured the waistband casing piece and subtracted the seam allowances. ¬†I then realized that if I cut my size according to the size chart, this skirt would be GIGANTIC, so I decided to see which size corresponded to the waistband size I wanted. ¬†Basically, I looked for the size that most closely matched my waist measurement plus seam allowances so there would be zero ease at the waist. ¬†I didn’t want a bunch of excess fabric gathering at the waist of this skirt that is supposed to have an A-line silhouette. ¬†I then checked the finished hip measurement for that size, and saw that it was only 1″ smaller than my hip measurement so I decided that I could live with that. ¬†But honestly, there is no way this is 1″ smaller than my hips — do you see any negative ease? ¬†My final skirt ended up being 2 sizes smaller in the waist and 4 sizes smaller in hips than what the size chart recommended!

 

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Overall, I highly recommend this pattern for anyone.  Seasoned sewists will find it a breeze and a great palate cleanser after more complicated projects.  Beginning stitchers will boost their confidence with the 2 simple seams and elastic waistband.  What do you think, should I shop my stash for a floral knit for my next version?

 

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For more details on the construction, visit my post on Pattern Review.