22 April 2010

Linen Galore

Last night I ventured down to South Philly to pick up some thread for my Beignet skirt.  I also hoped to find some fabric for M5851.  The trip to the wonderfully amazing Jomar, though easy, is not exactly convenient for someone without a car, such as myself, especially in the rain.  I needed to make the most of it.  

I lapped the store, searching for McCall's suggested fabrics- Silk Crepe, Challis, Charmeuse, or Double Georgette.  I couldn't find all of the types and the ones that I found were not to my taste.  I considered florals, but I wanted to keep it simple.  All of the floral patterns were too stiff or too wild for the look I had in mind.  About to give up, I decided to go with linen.  Even though it is not listed, I think it will work.  

For the body of the tunic, I found a lovely melon colored linen that is very light and airy.

I decided upon a few other colors for the cute yo-yo neckline- four to be exact!  I plan on using the melon linen along with a darker, berry hue for the larger yo-yos.

For a little extra pop, I found a lemony yellow for some of the smaller yo-yos.

But then I thought it needed a darker color, to keep things grounded.  Black would have looked cool but been too harsh for a cheerful spring blouse.  So I choose this pretty slate blue:

I had second thoughts about the blue, and picked up a chocolate brown as well. 


I'm fairly certain I will use both the blue and the brown, along with the yellow, for the smaller yo-yos.  I got a quarter yard of each, so I have plenty of room to play around with the color placement and yo-yo size.  I might even change my mind and use a 4 color palette but I don't think I will decide on that until I am placing the yo-yos. (I think i really like saying/typing that word!)

And here is my terrible little mock-up:


 I'm very happy with my selection and so excited to get started.  I have to get at least one spring top in for Made by Rae's Spring Top Week 2010! The clock is-a-tickin'.

I'm also very excited about the amount I paid for all of this:
3.5 yards of melon linen, 0.5 yards of berry linen, 0.25 yards of yellow linen, 0.25 yards of blue linen, 0.25 yards of brown linen and 4 spools of thread for a grand total of....

$21 and some change!!!  Reason number one why I am eternally grateful for Jomar.

20 April 2010

A New Necklace

I thought I'd share the necklace that I made Saturday.  Literally 45 minutes before I was to head out the door for my friend's birthday evening.  

I'm fairly certain Dan was less than pleased when he realized what I was doing, after witnessing me furiously stringing bead after bead.  

Dan: "You plan on wearing that tonight?"  
Me: "Yup."  
Dan: "You realize we are leaving here in 30 minutes." 
Me: "Yup"  
Dan: "You're nuts"  
Me: "I realize this."

It was at this point in the conversation that I pointed out to him that if he helped me string the beads on I could finish getting ready and we could pop out the door on time.  And you know what?  He obliged.  He's good like that.  

See all those tiny black seed beads?  Yup, that's Dan's good work.  He usually helps me string my necklaces together and I love him for that.  It's been a while since I've made a new piece of jewelry so he could have been a little rusty but I think he did just fine.


The necklace is composed of dyed Green Quartz round beads, faceted Red Jasper briolettes and Miyuki Delica matte black seed beads.  I used an old clasp that I had in my supplies but I plan on making a new one for this out of hammered sterling silver or copper wire.

19 April 2010

Beignet Update

It's Monday and my Beignet Skirt is still not complete, though it is close.  I didn't have the amount of time I had anticipated to devote to the skirt this weekend.   I also encountered a few minor hang ups but nothing a little patience and a seam ripper couldn't handle.  All that remains is attaching the lining to the shell and adding the buttons and I'm done!  

Last week I received my fellow swapper information for Sew, Mama, Sew's Fat Quarter Swap.  The fabric swap gives you the opportunity to send off a favorite fat quarter to four participants that Sew, Mama, Sew matches you up with.  In exchange, you receive four fat quarters from the swappers you were paired up with!  I'm really excited about this.  I'm not sure if I am going to use each piece for a separate project or if I should keep them together and create a shoulder bag or something.  It will definitely be interesting.  I'll be sure to post my acquisitions once they arrive.

I finally renewed my membership to the Philadelphia Museum of Art this morning.  Hoorah!!  I hang my head in shame every time I pass this wonderful jewel in our city because I live just a few blocks away and I haven't been there in ages!  I've renewed it just in time to catch the current exhibition Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris.  Dear Saturday, please hurry.

Henri Rousseau. Football. 1908

16 April 2010

Beignet Skirt, in progress

I am happy to report I've nearly completed my Beignet skirt.  This really is a lovely pattern.  I was quite nervous to start it because everything seemed so overwhelming and so delicate.  As I worked my way through the pattern, my nerves subsided and I stopped worrying about ruining the pattern pieces.  

The instructions are carefully broken down into uncomplicated steps.  And the illustrations!  Thank you Sarai!  The illustrations are so, so helpful. 

Because my waist and hip measurements differ (my waist is closer to a size 10 and my hips a 14 according to the back of the pattern) I cut the larger of the two, allowing me to grade the muslin down where needed.  As Sarai suggested here, I constructed a muslin of the shell, sewed it up and then took each seam in evenly, pinning until I had a fit I was happy with.  Once the appropriate fit had been determined, I took the muslin apart to create the final Beignet.  Though it may not sound like it, this was a rather quick process. 

After the pieces were separated I compared them to the pattern cut outs.  I was shocked to find that each piece lined up to a near exact size 8!  I think I might be measuring my hips incorrectly with such a drastic difference?  Has anyone encountered a similar experience?  

From there on out it's been a fairly smooth process.  Aside from forgetting to cut out my second pocket, and realizing this only after the first had been sewn on, I haven't had any terrible frustrations.  

The fabric, which is composed of some sort of mystery fiber, is much lighter that I had originally anticipated.  It was very thick and had a rather coarse, almost canvas like hand to it when I purchased it.  After the initial wash and dry, it morphed into a fabric with a very soft hand and an airy, linen like drape.  It also pilled a little bit, but I think that this is the nature of the weave.  I have to look into this fabric further.  I'd really like to know what type it is.

I intended to have it completed by last night so that I could wear it to the Phillies game this evening.  Honestly, what  better way to open the season than by sporting a cherry red Beignet skirt with my new navy blue faux Keds?

I'm not really sure there is a better way.  After racing the clock this week to complete it (and even skipping two spin classes :( ), I still have the lining to sew in and buttons to be added, so there will be no Beignet/Phillies/Navy Blue Faux Keds triple threat this evening.  I've got solid plans to finish this baby on Saturday, however.  After spin class of course.

08 April 2010

Wild Honey (Walnut) Pie

A few weeks ago, when a local art gallery announced they would be hosting a "Best Pie in Philly" baking contest in honor of the opening night of its Twin Peaks inspired art exhibition, "The Black Dog Runs at Midnight", I took it as an opportunity to  get some baking in.  Having a tiny kitchen with near-zero counter space coupled with an apartment mate that avoids desserts like the plague, I find my baking skills are exercised purely for the regulatory holiday meal and the occasional BBQ or get together with friends.  It's a sad situation, I know.  I would bake every week if I had someone to share my dessert with.  Aaah, woe is me.

Wayne Thiebold, Pies Pies Pies, 1961  

I quickly decided that I would prepare not one, but two pies.  How exciting!  That evening I sat down to plan out my attack. I knew I wanted a chocolate caramel confection inspired by a tart that I seem to find every single excuse to make.  The other pie had yet to be determined.  

For as much as I love to bake I've made very few pies.  The first pie that I ever made was a peach pie that I made around my 16th birthday.  I remember standing in the kitchen, covered in a mix of flour and sweat from the late July heat, when my grandfather arrived. He had come to bring me to my grandparents house.  Obviously unaware that this was part of the day's events, I obliged, brushed the flour from my face, and hopped in the car.  Little did I know he was shuttling me off to my surprise 16th birthday party.  It was a memorable day filled with friends, family, birthday cake and a peach pie that tasted oddly of apple pie.

For 10 years I never attempted another pie until I made this apple pie, sans the Southern Comfort, with great success.  The ever important crust, which my mom believes the success of a pie banks on, turned out spot on.  This past Christmas I used the same crust to make a pie of apples, ginger and cranberries.  It was tasty, but not quite as successful as it's apple predecessor.  The up coming pie contest was an opportunity to add to my very lacking pie repertoire.

After a week of scouring the web in search of the perfect 'knock yer socks off' pie, I stumbled upon this honey walnut pie.  The simple list of ingredients whispered baklava wrapped in a blanket of pie crust.  If it tasted any where near as good as baklava, which makes me swoon and buckle in the knees after one bite, it would surely not disappoint.

The weekend before the event I gathered up the ingredients and set off to create a Honey Walnut Pie.  Everything went swimmingly.  Until. . . 

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Beekeepers, ca. 1567-68

...all of my anticipation for a drenched-in-honey-baklava-like filling came crashing to the ground with my first bite.  It tasted of Christmas (in April) and winter desserts.  Walnuts and oranges battling it out to see which ingredient could overcome the other all on a hard, dry pie crust of a battle ground.  The presence of the honey I was looking forward to was completely lost.  I was so disappointed. 

The following evening it was chopped into thirds and divided amongst two of my neighbors and myself.  The next day I received a text from my neighbor explaining that they absolutely LOVED the walnut honey pie.  Stunned, I gave it another go and packed it for breakfast.  It was DELICIOUS! Especially paired with coffee.  It just took a few days for all of the flavors to meld.  Rather than fighting one another, the walnut, orange, and honey formed a happy symbiotic relationship. 

Unfortunately I was not confident that it would succeed as my second weapon of choice in the pie competition. (Meaning, I needed to find another pie, stat.)  However, I do plan to make it again- only it will be in the fall or winter time, rather than an unseasonably warm April. 

Honey Walnut Pie
from Martha Stewart Living, November 2008

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
Pate Brisee, Walnut Variation (I opted for the regular Pate Brisee rather than the walnut)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 lightly beaten egg for brushing
3/4 cup acacia, or other mild honey
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
Fine sanding sugar  (plain ol'sugar worked fine for me)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a 9 1/8-by-1 3/8-inch tart ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment; set aside.  (I used an ~9" regular pie dish.) On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick; cut into a 14-inch round. Fit into tart ring; trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Refrigerate while making filling.

Whisk together 4 eggs, the honey, granulated sugar, butter, orange zest and juice, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in walnuts and then pour into your prepared tart/pie shell.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining disk of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into an 11-inch round. Cut 5 slits for vents. Drape over filling. Trim overhang to 1 inch; fold over bottom crust. Press edges to seal, and tuck into ring. Brush with remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake until a knife inserted in one of the vents comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack; let cool completely. If using a tart ring, remove ring before serving. The pie can be stored, covered, overnight.

*As I noted above, I did not use the walnut variation patte brisee.   Next time around I might consider this version as I found the plain pate brisee to be lacking in flavor and texture.  However, my neighbor loved the crust.  It's up to you.  Either way, after a day or so, that filling is going to taste amazing and will offer a very fine breakfast as it isn't too sweet.  Enjoy!

06 April 2010

Simplicity 8336 Wrap Skirt Hack

This weekend, as busy as it was, allowed me to finish a few projects and begin tying up loose ends, such as the A-Line denim wrap skirt I have been working on for the last few weeks.  Last night, I was finally able to dedicate a nice bit of time to this skirt.  All that remains is a final hem.  (big sigh of relief here) 

Simplicity 8336 and I have been in a love/hate relationship ever since the beginning. 

To be quite honest, it is in no way the fault of the pattern, a simple wrap skirt from 1978- it is completely my own.  This is what I get when I decide to veer off course completely and create my own version of the pattern until it in no way resembles the original design.  Did I mention this was my first pattern attempt ever?
I purchased this vintage pattern online, cut and all.  Everything about it was perfect except for three things.  A.) I ordered the wrong size.  Because I had never ordered a vintage pattern before, let alone a contemporary pattern, I had no idea that the sizing ran so small.  No problem there.  I would simply grade the size up.  After all, it was only 3 simple panels.  B.) After looking at the photos closely I realized that this skirt has a gathered waist.  Absolutely no good for a hippy gal like me.  Again, no problem.  I was confident that even with my non-existent pattern experience, I could simply adjust the pattern by adding a few inches to either side and be done with it.  C.) It didn't have pockets and I needed pockets.  However, I had no fear.  I would simply follow a tutorial I saw on BurdaStyle and add my own inseam pockets. 

In my mind: Done. Done. and Done.  In reality:  Nooot quite.  I made several attempts at adding inches to the skirt's width.  Each time it was not wide enough and I would have to add more inches so that I could get a nice a-line wrap.  Once I had a bottom width that suited my taste I realized that the waist was far too large.  I decided to remedy this by chopping some of the width off of the inner and outer front panels, therefore allowing me to cinch the waist according to my likings.  Perfect idea.  Unfortunately, I ended up trimming them too much.  I was left with two front panels that barely flapped over one another.  I had to extend the front panel.  The only way to do this was to remake the front panel,  remove the old one, and resew.  Now my front panel is fabulous and does not risk unwanted exposure.

The pockets were a success but unfortunately they bulged out a bit, creating unwanted bulk in the hip area.  In the end, I had to remove them :(  But now I have a very clean line that moves from the waist down to the hem of the skirt that I am quite happy with.

As I mentioned, all that is left to do is a final hem.  I think that I am going to use hem tape as the denim is rather heavy.  I want to add as little weight to the hem as possible.

Tomorrow I hope to enjoy this 80 degree weather in my very first garment creation.  I'll be sure to take photos to share.

Keep your fingers crossed that the Beignet Skirt on deck goes more smoothly.  I'm confident it will, assuming I refrain from hacking the beautiful pattern up like I did with Simplicty 8336.  I promise I won't! It's perfect as is. :)

01 April 2010

Taking advantage of the Vogue Patterns sale.

I'd like to send a huge thank you to Gertie for pointing me toward the Vogue Patterns $3.99 sale in her post earlier this week.  I took full advantage of this sale and picked up a pattern for a dress I've been fantasizing about in my mind for over a week.

In my mind, I picture Vogue V1174 all sewn up in one of the stunning patterns from the new Van Gogh Collection by Free Spirit.  I also picture myself dancing around madly in my new frock at a few summer weddings and rocking it with tights in the winter.  So far, the following lovelies are up for consideration:

 Red Splatter

Fushia Splatter

Purple Splatter

Blue Flowers

Red Flowers
I have plenty of time to decide as I would prefer to have a few completed garments under my belt before I attempt this pattern.  With its seam details, princess seams, piping trim, and foundation with boning I'm a little nervous. 

But I'm confident I will get this practice in as I work my way through my new Vogue Pattern Booty!  This Cynthia Steese design wasn't the only $3.99 pattern I took advantage of.  I purchased six (six!!) patterns for approximately $21!  Again, Gertie, THANK YOU.  I am so new to the sewing world and was never aware that Vogue carried such amazing sales. 

I am very excited about my pattern choices.

I'm looking forward to V8577 very much.  I think it was the pockets that drew me to it.  It reminds me of a very cute vintage summer dress that I purchased at an outdoor market in Italy a few years ago.

 Clearly V2902 was a no brainer.  How could I not add this Vintage Vogue reissue to my collection?  It's perfect.  I plan on shortening the length and adding inseam pockets.  And spinning around in the full skirt like a giddy little girl.

I was debating between V8184 and this Vintage Vogue reissue.  I find them both very similar in style and attitude but, after careful deliberation, I chose V8184 because of the numerous options offered.  And wouldn't you know, two blogs that I have read since ordering this pattern on Tuesday have reviewed V2961 and each one was adorable. They can be viewed here and here

B5917, a Maggie London pattern for Butterick, made the cut because of an incredible rendition of this pattern  that I spotted on BurdaStyle.  The designer, BeNew, made a brilliant change to the design when she added a sash in a complimentary fabric.  This change sold me on the pattern as I am not a fan of the empire waisted original design.  With this being her first dress and second garment I am so inspired.  And just as BeNew did, I will also be adding inseam pockets.

And finally, because my warm weather wardrobe begs for more tops, I purchased M5851.  I am imagining many possibilities in the scoop/boat neck detailing.  I am aiming for an Anthropologie-esque design.  I also plan on using it as one of my spring top contenders in the Spring Top Week 2010 Challenge.

What are your spring/summer wardrobe sewing plans?