Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Suburban Mom Outfit

Capris, tee, and flip-flops — the uniform of suburban moms everywhere. But hey … I never claimed to be a fashion plate at this stage of my life. Those days are over probably forever and that's fine with me. I have a casual lifestyle, live in a very casual climate, and wouldn't change either of those. I'm very happy with how both pieces turned out and I know I'll get a lot of wear from them over the coming months. And if the capris shrink in length 1/2" to 1" with future washer cycles, even better. ;-)

The pants are hanging nice and straight in the back, if you excuse the wrinkles from sitting down before I remembered to do the pics.

Thirty minutes and a trip to the dog park later, I was sporting a nice muddy pawprint on my right thigh. Yep, suburban mom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2 Projects Completed: His and Hers

His: DH finished the shelves and finally hung them up in the sewing room. Woo hoo! I have knick-knacks still packed in boxes to put on these, if I remember which box. For now, I'm making do with what's immediately on hand.

Close-up #1:

Close-up #2:

Maybe one day I'll even have a valance across the top of the window. What's that saying about the shoemaker's children? :grin:

Hers: I finished my capris, and I like them. Except they're a smidge too long. I'm hoping another couple of trips through the laundry will take care of that. I only prewashed the twill once, so I'm optimistic. I'm definitely not going to be ripping out the hems and re-doing them. The X-Twistie alteration seems to have taken care of the wrinkles from the knock-knee effect. Being extremely picky now, I do still think I need to straighten the back crotch angle a bit more. I tried them on at one point backwards (by mistake) and the back tushie area looked great. Backwards. Hmprf.

Back pockets:


I'm planning to wear them tomorrow with my new tee. Hopefully, I'll remember to snap a pic before I get them all wrinkled.

In Money Pit news, we've officially started in on the family room finishing touches. It's been without a real floor, baseboards, crown molding and ceiling fixtures for far too long. DH is currently framing out the French doors. After he finishes that job (tomorrow probably), we'll (and when I say "we" I mean "they") be demolishing the fake brick hearth that runs the width of the room. After that, we'll (and this time I do mean "we") need to drywall-patch-mud-texture the gaping hole. And after that, I'll finally be able to start laying the floor while DH works on the baseboards and crown.

Looks like Spring Fever is rearing its head around here.

Quick & Easy Capris

I almost lived in 2 pairs of denim capris I made last summer, and I've already pulled them out and worn them again in the last week. (Ah, one of the perks of living in Florida in February!)

The warm and sunny weather has definitely given me the summer sewing bug and so I'm nearly done making khaki-colored capris from my TNT pattern, Simplicity 4605 (now OOP). These are just your basic pull-ons, but I need pockets. So pockets I will have. (Sans chalk lines.)

These two are waiting to be plastered on my butt. I never actually use back pockets but I find they visually break up the wide expanse back there and so I really do prefer pants with back patch pockets. The third pocket has already been sewn to the side of the left leg. This one I will use to hold things like an ATM card and a shopping list or the catering receipts I bring back to the football coach during football season (gotta plan ahead).

I said this was a TNT pattern and for the most part, it is. But … before cutting out these capris, I gave my pattern an "X Twistie" modification. I'm anxious to see how it worked out since I didn't muslin or pin fit or any of that icky stuff. Yeah, I'll probably be eating my words. We really shouldn't toy with the muslin gods.

I've got about another 30 minutes to go before finishing these and then I'll be able to see how my alteration worked.

* * * * *

And since I can't seem to stop talking about my dogs these days, here are some pics from yesterday's afternoon outing to the dog park. We took Pepper too, but you can't prove it by the pics I came home with. (Bad doggie mommy!) She mostly putters around with a few bursts of running now and then, and she's never in the middle of the action which is where I'm pointing the camera. Now that her forehead hair (or is that fur?) has grown back, she's photogenic again. I'll make a note to get her in some future shots.

Meet and Greet in the small dog area:

Chase and Run with some new friends:

Meet and Greet in the big dog area:

Chili is so eager and energetic that he often intimidates the dogs in the small breed area. Well, not so much the dogs but the owners of those dogs. And since I hate feeling I need to apologize to uppity humans for my dog acting like a dog (gasp!) in a dog park, we've been taking both of the pooches into the big dog area where Chili intimidates no one, and has 4 more acres he can cover at top speed. They both do great with the big dogs. Pepper and Chili really have no idea they're small and neither do the big guys. They're all equal opportunity sniffers (and sniff-ees).

I love this thing! It's a water fountain for humans and for dogs. How cool is that?? (OK, I need to get out more … to human establishments.) The button on the right of the tall column turns on the higher spout for humans. The button on the left of the tall column turns on the lower spout on the left, filling a very slow-draining bowl for dogs. Pepper has quickly learned what "Let's go get a drink" means and happily follows me over there about 5 times an hour.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Spring Top Success

Edited to add a photo of the now-hemmed and completed top.

Original photo:

It's nice to have a successful sewing day! All that's left to be done is the bottom hem (and trimming the ties), but I ran out of one thread on my coverstitch machine after hemming the second sleeve so I've got to wind another bobbin before continuing. I thought it was a good place to stop for the evening. I'll finish the top tomorrow morning when I get up and I'll be wearing it for the rest of the day. (Before anyone asks, the pattern is from the August 2006 issue of Burda WOF.)

Speaking of my coverstitch machine … until I sat down at it today, I had forgotten how long it's been since I used it. I've been sewing pants and a jacket which had no coverstitching in their construction, and the twist tops didn't quite make it to the hemming stage. It was fun to bond with that little machine again today.

This was one of those projects that just came together with hardly any effort. The fabric is from a recent coop purchase, the neckline trim I've had for eons now matched perfectly, and I had a spool of matching thread already on the rack which was surprising since I don't sew these colors very often. I even remembered that I needed to narrow the shoulders on this top before I sewed the sleeves on, and I managed to keep the big flowers from becoming boobie bullseyes. Good Karma all around.

Here's a close-up of the trim. It's plush elastic with little pom-poms knitted into one edge.

And a close-up of the coverstitched princess seaming.

This is great fabric (cotton with a bit of Lycra) and I know I'll be wearing this top lots all through the summer. It fits great and is ultra comfortable. And it's not striped! ;-)

Yep, I love a good sewing day.

* * * * *

Do you think he's comfortable with his new family? This is where Chili's been while I've been typing this entry. He really wants me to move upstairs to the bed, but he looks pretty content while he's waiting. ;-) We've had him exactly 1 month now.


I'm taking a little break from the latest twist top. Not because I'm sick of it (OK, just a little), but mostly because I haven't decided what fabric to use for a non-stripey version. No, I still don't like the last version and never will, but thank you for all the comments and suggestions. I can be OCD on getting something "just right" but this isn't going to be one of those times. (So Bev, email me!)

Today I'm going to make another version of this Burda WOF top:

I loved this one, but the interlock I used kept growing. I gave it to my sister when she was here in January since she has broader shoulders than I do and the stretchy upper width fits her much better than me. I have another lime top to wear with this favorite skirt so the give-away didn't affect the outfit.

Spring has definitely sprung here so my attention is on lighter colors, floral prints, and short sleeves. I'd like to get this top done and then move onto a pair of khaki capris. Maybe I'll do a final print version of the twist top in between since I really want a wearable top from that pattern.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sorry Bev, Not Diggin' the Stripes

I'm tossing in the towel on this one too. I don't like it. It feels great, the way Slinky does, but I just do NOT like the stripes.

Especially in the back. Ugh.

The chevron effect is cool … when I'm not wearing it. When it's on me, all roads point to and emphasize The Big Butt. Granted, this is a twisted and most unflattering angle, but trust me, it doesn't get much better. The vertical stripes down my arms are not a good look either, since they curve out where my flab does and draw attention to their non-slimness.

On the bright side, I like the seaming detail on the front (which is what first inspired me to copy this top) and I think it actually reduces the bustal projection visual. Do you agree? I think if the seaming was actually below my bust, objects would be larger than they appear in the mirror (or something to that effect). I will try this top one more time in a non-stripe and without the back seaming. If that doesn't work, I'll give up once and for all.

So, Bev, free to a good home (plus shipping). :grin: You'll have to hem the sleeves and bottom edge, though, since I quit on this one.

A Sewing Room Challenge: At This Very Moment

Stacy Sews and Stephanie Sews laid down the challenge to take photos of your sewing room as it is, without straightening it up first. Sharon Sews accepted it and motivated me to do the same (although I broke the pattern of blog names). So, here are photos of my sewing room taken 10 minutes ago. It's not too bad because I can't stand to work in big clutter so I tend to keep things put away unless I'm using them. (Sorry ladies!)

Starting at the door into my sewing room and then going around the room:

This is what you see when you first walk in. Zillie (my dressform) is modeling my current WIP (work in progress), which you'll recognize if you're a regular reader. The machines are set up on my table, plastic bins on wheels hold most of my notions and other supplies, and my ironing board is against the adjacent wall. Zillie is blocking my coverstitch machine, which also sits on the table.

You also see my pattern cabinet when you first enter, but I couldn't fit it into the same photo as the shot above. On top are mostly things that belong and a few that don't. The blue looseleaf binders on the left are my pattern envelopes filed in sheet protectors by garment category. The envelope contents are in the cabinet below. Next to those are 3 sewing-themed stacking boxes. They are awaiting placement on the shelves that DH keeps promising me he'll hang up "real soon now." (Sigh.) Next to those is a rectangular basket with my "on deck" patterns and new patterns that I haven't yet entered in The System. In front of the basket is the leftover purple knit from muslin/tester #2 of the top I'm currently working on. I haven't yet put it back in the stash. In front of the pattern binders is a pile of miscellaneous which includes a pants muslin, a couple of magazines, and some pattern tracings. Between that pile and the purple knit is a stack of swatches I save to send to Belinda in Australia. (We exchange swatches from our sewing projects, which is fun because I get to really "feel" what she makes and vice versa.) Finally, on the floor in front of the pattern cabinet is a pile of folded denims that somehow haven't made it into the stash closet yet. I thought I would sew these faster than I have.

Next is the "pressing center" which kind of drives me crazy. I need to hang shelves or a pegboard or a slatboard on the wall to store my pressing notions. (I think I've decided on slatboard and now I need to buy one.) Right now, they're stacked in plastic baskets on the floor or laid on the flimsy shelf below the board. I also use the ironing board as a cutting table adjunct. IOW, when I'm using the cutting table to actually cut, all those things which I stacked on the table get moved to the ironing board. Right now, that includes a stack of patterns and WOFs, my big clear ruler, and a folded-up piece of cardboard that really needs to hit the trash can. There's also a blouse waiting to be ironed which is just laid across the bins to the right. (I hate ironing, so it's been there longer than it should.)

Under the ironing board is a paper bag of I-don't-remember-what, a cut of sherpa fleece for dog napping, and you can see my "basket" trashcan in the foreground. I love this for a trashcan because it has a handle which makes it easy to grab and move near me when I switch between machines.

Moving around, next is the cutting table. It's looking pretty good. The scraps on it are from the current WIP and also the nearly-complete purple knit test before that. Also visible are my reading glasses (ugh), the TV remote, the pattern I'm using, some pattern weights, and one of my magnetic pincushions (the other is on the machine table). Under the table is a rolling cart which used to be in the laundry room of my other house. The top shelf holds a bin with my cutting and writing implements, as well as my tape dispenser, and the pattern weights. The second shelf is rulers and curves (the ruler on the ironing board usually goes here but since I was just using it, it was still out — really!). The bottom shelf holds a couple old muslins I should toss, and hmm ... I forget what's in that plastic box. Whatever it is, I'm sure I need it. ;-)

There is another short shelf at the end of the cutting table. On top of it are various adhesive sprays, a bin with other most-used notions (Wonder Tape, tape measures, gluesticks, etc.). Next to it is a pile of home dec stuff I want to work on one of these days. (Yeah, right.) The bins on the second shelf are lingerie supplies, the bins on the bottom are buttons and large knit scraps for preemie sewing.

Behind the cutting table are the TV and big bookcase. The bookcase holds my sewing "library," DVDs, and magazines. You can see my Burda WOFs stacked up on the 4th shelf. The white binders on that shelf hold the WOF newsprint "At a Glance" inserts so I can look at styles without dragging out each magazine.

This door is just to the left of the big bookcase and leads to the bathroom. Next to that is my mirror corner. STP (tracing paper) rolls are in a basket (which you can't see) and in the corner next to the wicker trunk which holds my embroidery cards and CDs. That's a roll of poly batting that doesn't have a real home so there it sits.

Almost full circle. The entry door is just to the right of the thread. The stash closet speaks for itself. ;-)

This cabinet (which my father made BTW) actually sits at the top of the staircase and is just outside my sewing room. I included it here because right now it's a sewing room addition since it's holding (1) new fabric, (2) things I want to put on those shelves DH is promising, and (3) has the to-be-hung bulletin board leaning against it. The inside is actually not holding fabric. Yet.

OK, who's next??

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Still diggin' the stripes, maybe?

Stripes isn't really what I had in mind for this top but I think maybe they're growing on me. (Ya think? This is the third stripe-y version, after all.) This latest fabric is the slinky that I bought about a month ago from and the colors are much closer to the swatch below.

I don't know why I keep picking the stripes because it means every piece has to be cut single layer and very carefully so the stripes match up. Well, actually, I do know why. It's because I'm still not willing to cut into the more-loved stuff yet. I wasn't thrilled with this slinky when it arrived so I was willing to sacrifice it if necesssary instead of granting it space in the stash. It's great quality slinky (acetate not poly), but it's just not my usual colors or pattern. It reads much more black and dark than shows up in these pics and I never wear black. Except now I do have a couple of pairs of black knit pants and well, I was thinking this could go with them since nothing else I have really does. That's my thought process anyway. I'm still ambivalent about the stripes though. Yes, they look good geometrically. But I'm not usually a wearer of stripes. Hmm.

If I like how this third one fits, I think I'll go for #4 in a fabric/print I really like and I'll do short sleeves since we're slamming right into 80-degree temps and Spring this week after the much cooler temps just a couple of days ago. I doubt we'll be having any more truly cold weather again until next winter. But that's getting ahead of things. I need to finish this one first.

I can tell already that this one will fit much better, just with the difference in fabric and stretch factor. I'll work on it a bit more today but this afternoon, Pepper, Chili, DH and I have an "appointment" at the dog park. Can't let all this great weather go to waste. It will be sticky and humid before we know it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sometimes It's the Fabric

Here's muslin #2. Yep, still a "muslin" but this time only due to a poor fabric choice.

It think it looks pretty darn good on the dressform. But on me, not so much. The fabric is a poly "faux slinky" (for lack of a better description) without a lot of stretch/give and it accents every lump and bump because I cut it on the bias to get the chevron effects but with this fabric, there's less stretch on the bias than crossgrain. The top also wants to slide slightly upward at the bust like it doesn't fit even though I know in another knit it would be just fine. Again, the bias cut factor. There was a little voice whispering in my head about this fabric's stretch factor and I should've listened to it.

I love the striping detail and it was because of those knitted-in stripes that I decided to try this fabric. That, and the fact that it's been taking up far too much room in my stash for way too long. (See pic here, 4th shelf down on the far right.) I bought it from a co-op and this one was a miss instead of a hit. I still have nearly 3 yards left and I'm thinking an unfitted cardigan and shell will be a better use for this. Or the trash can.

Right now the bottom and sleeves aren't hemmed and the neckline isn't turned under. I think I'll spend 15 minutes finishing those details and send it to the donate pile. Then I'll try it again with a nicer knit. It's fast to cut out and sew now that I've got the details worked out.

Responding to comments:

Toya asked what I used to make the patterns. I use the Pattern Editor module of my Pattern Master Boutique software. Click here for more info on that.

* * *

Marji commented that maybe I should try one more paper trial of the twist because she didn't think my last pattern revision would work. The top two sections don't really twist around completely. It's more of an interlocking. If you follow the stripes in this version of the top, you should be able to see how that happens.

* * *

Others commented that it's fun (or informative or whatever) to follow along with me. Thank you, and I'm glad you think so. It's fun for me too. :-)

* * *

Also, thanks everyone for the nice comments about the party and our parenting. It's pretty easy to take the credit for being good parents when my kids are so great. So, anyone want some pizza? We have plenty. ;-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sidetracked by Seussical

No sewing yet this weekend as it was DS#1's performance weekend for his high school's production of Seussical, the Musical (a cute show based on the works of Dr. Seuss). DS is 3rd from the left in this photo and his girlfriend is 4th from the left. The show opened Thursday evening. We went to Friday's performance and had a great time.

Earlier in the day on Friday, DS asked if we could host the Cast Party after the final performance Saturday night. He wanted it outside with a bonfire, food, drinks, etc. DS said to expect 50 or more guests. Because there were two Saturday performances, DS was not available for party assistance and so DH and I spent all of Saturday getting ready for it ourselves (we knew this going in, but we're suckers for our sons!).

DH chainsawed some dead trees and fallen branches from the back of the property for firewood, used one of the ATVs to drag in some big stumps for seats and then improvised for others with cinder blocks and planks to supplement the camping chairs, picnic benches and patio chairs we have. We ordered 20 pepperoni pizzas to be picked up 30 minutes prior to party time and also had a few cases of sodas on ice in coolers, giant sandwiches cut up on trays, chips, yummy bakery cookies, a big decorated sheet cake, hot cocoa, and the makings for S'mores. We picked up tiki torches and balloons and red plastic tablecloths. We mowed the lawn, raked the firepit area, and set up a table and blinking lights for DS' stereo & speakers.

Around 9:45 p.m., the first cars starting rolling down the tiki torch lined driveway. By 10:30, we had a medium-sized parking lot and a loud and lively group. DS was right about the head count. At one point, I counted 78 which included the kids in the cast and crew, plus a few teachers and parents.

It was a great party! The skies were clear and bright and the temps were in the high 40's which was perfect for a bonfire. The hot cocoa and S'mores were a big hit. The pizzas, sandwiches and cookies disappeared before our eyes (although we have plenty of pizza leftovers for today). It was a whirlwind day pulling this all together and DH and I finally fell into bed about 3 a.m. but it was worth it. DS was grinning ear to ear all night and nearly every kid found me and/or DH and thanked us for hosting the party.

The pic below is Kelli (DS#1's girlfriend), DS#1 in the middle, and DS#2 (who was a stagehand). That's Thing #2 standing in front of them, but I don't remember her real name.

Today we'll clean up what we missed in the yard last night and then head to the dog park for a couple of hours. Later I'll finish sewing my second version of the Adrienne Vittadini Allegra Twist Front Top, which BTW, went together perfectly after the last pattern revision.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A New Twist on Things

I never did get back to the twist top in progress yesterday but bright and early this morning I ripped out one half of the bodice and twist seams and evaluated. It didn't take long before I realized my big mistake.

Yes, as expected, I sewed the wrong seams together. But that's not my real mistake. My real mistake was not "twisting" the pattern itself when I was making it to allow the right side of the fabric to be facing outward after the twist. By keeping the right side out when sewing yesterday's prototype, the only result would be what I ended up with. A good pattern drafting learning experience for me, if nothing else.

Here is my flawed pattern drawing. First, the middle section on the left isn't really there in the final pattern. It's in my drawing only to let me know where I started. Next, imagine folding the extension on the right side over to the left (like the page of a book) and so that it's back on top of the "phantom" middle section. That fold/flip puts the correct seams together but the wrong side of the fabric ends up facing outward. If you flip/twist so that the right side of the fabric stays on the right side of the top (which is what I did yesterday), the seams cannot meet up with their correct counterparts. Oops.

I hope you can follow this. If not, print and cut out that flawed pattern from yesterday's entry (twice), marking Right Sides and Wrong Sides and then try it for yourself. You'll see the mistake right away. I should've tried it in paper like that first. ;-)

What I should have done is to allow for both the twist *and* keeping the right side of the fabric on the right side by flipping the middle section extension, like this:

Below is my new pattern drawing with the seam lines trued — and neckline raised per yesterday's test (in pink). I can now fully twist the extension, keep the right side of the fabric facing out, and still end up with the seams next to their correct counterparts.

These are all of the latest pattern pieces for printing, with that twist change incorporated. (Click on it for a bigger, clearer view.) I also added some flare to the back peplum piece because after sewing the tester top, I decided that's what I wanted. IOW, a style change only.

I'm printing my new pieces now and then I'll be cutting some better fabric. Not the really good stuff yet, just in case, but something that will be wearable if this now works as expected. Hmm. Maybe I should take my own advice and print out and test the paper miniatures first.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

In Theory. (Yeah, but.)

So I said that I thought the pattern pieces looked good … in theory. In reality, something didn't quite work.

What's wrong with this picture?

This is most certainly not a design feature that flatters me. ;-)

I must've matched up wrong because I measured all the adjacent seams before I cut, and again after this mishap and the lengths were and are just fine. Which is why I'm thinking I inadvertently twisted a half rotation too much and sewed the wrong seams together. Another clue is the "striping" on the knit is not chevroning as I expected. Oops. I'll check all this out later today. It's just a tester top that I never wanted to be wearable, so no big deal.

Other than that … erm … slight glaring issue, I'm liking it. The neckline is a little too low cut in this version but part of that is this cheesy test knit.* I'll probably get out my French curve and modify the pattern to raise it a smidge for the next one.

The middle sections aren't as deep at the bust as I was expecting, compared to the original handknit inspiration top. (I think they'd be closer to my expectations at the sideseams if there actually were sideseams.) I'm still thinking on whether the lower seam should really land under my bust or not. If I lengthen that section, then I'm also visually enlarging my bust. Trust me, they don't need any more enlargement, visually or otherwise. ;-) I'm leaning toward leaving that section as is. I don't think it reads "ill-fitting empire" when worn because there are two seams. I think instead that it reads "interesting seaming." Of course, all of this is subject to change the next time I try it on.

*I wish I had bought more of this icky knit. It was in Joann's clearance section at least 2 years ago and extremely cheap. It's much too thin/sheer to ever think about wearing out in the world but it's great for "muslining" knit patterns since it has pretty good recovery, sews nicely, and the knit-in striping is perfect for grainline checks. Oh well. No sense yearning for fabric not bought — especially fabric as awful as this.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

First Draft — 2-Seam Twist

Here it is, the first draft of my version of Linda's Adrienne Vittadini Allegra Twist Front Top (say that 10 times fast!). I have no idea if this will actually work since I did it all by eye, but it looks good in theory for now.

Apologies for the blurriness. Hopefully clicking on it for the full-size view will clear things up a bit. Later: It does. I just tried it. Whew!

Here's what I did:

1. I started with my TNT (tried-n-true) PMB (Pattern Master Boutique) darted top for knits.

2. Next, I drew the seamlines onto my front pattern piece, and transferred 1/2 of the dart to each seam. Sort of the way you'd transfer a dart out at a sideseam. This is the part I'm "iffy" on, because I just winged it. I'm hoping a knit with good recovery will compensate for anything I screwed up. ;-)

I adjusted seamlines as necessary so that adjoining seams would match in length; specifically, the two seams around the bust and the sideseam (to match the back piece).

3. Then I duplicated my pattern pieces and flipped them so I could "wing" the twisty section. The original handknit top twisty section looks to be one piece if you follow the chevroning of the cable stitches, so I went with that. I might be totally off here but I had to start somewhere.

4. Finally, I pulled in my TNT sleeve and back piece and decided to split the back into a peplum-y thing to match up with the front seaming. Obviously I still have peplums on my mind.

My final pattern pieces look like this:

I'm going to print it out, try it with an unloved knit, and see what I end up with. I'm not quite sewing again yet, but I'm getting close.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Slow day

Not much (OK, not any) sewing has been happening here while I finish up some "real" work. You know, the kind that funds my sewing.

The boys and dogs had a mostly lazy weekend and this photo about sums it up.

I have a few errands/chores to finish today but I hope to be dusting off my sewing room tomorrow. Linda's twist-front sweater is still on my mind …

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Chilly, Chili & Chili

It's been a bit chilly outside here the last few mornings and evenings (beautiful in the middle of the day though), which makes me crave some warm-you-up dinners from the crockpot. This is Cowboy Chili in the works, and how I came to have this recipe is actually sewing-related.

When I first became obsessed with sewing about 5-1/2 years ago, I bought a used Viking Rose. It was a great machine and certainly a huge step up from my very basic Kenmore mechanical. I loved that machine, but soon started coveting a Designer 1. (My dealer is very good at holding classes that make you want to spend money!) Soon after, I lucked into a side web design job that paid Big Bucks. Since it was bonus income, I spent the money on a luxury item — a new Designer 1. But that meant I needed to sell my Rose because, as some of you may remember, I was sewing in a closet at that time and had no room for another machine. (Yes, I did somehow manage to squeeze my coverstitch machine in later!)

I listed the Rose on Ebay and sold it to a very nice woman about my age. We had some email correspondence before, during and after the sale and at some point the conversation went in the direction of cooking for a house full of "men." She shared a recipe that has since become one of my guys' absolute favorite meals. Yep, the Cowboy Chili shown above. I've changed the ingredients around a bit, but the basics are pretty much the same. The original recipe (and how I've changed it) is below. I guarantee this will be a hit with any meat-eating male in the house. This current batch has been in the crockpot since 8 AM and the house is already smelling delicious. Later I'll be making some bread in the bread machine to go with it.

And, what's one Chili without the other? ;-) The poochies are still getting along great, although we need to make sure that Pepper gets her share of hugs and loves, since Chili wiggles his way to the front-and-center of any petting session! I'm taking them both to the vet this afternoon. Chili for a basic checkup and Pepper for a follow-up after her surgery. She's not looking so much like FrankenPuppy anymore as the shaved area on her forehead is filling back in. Her stitches are still intact though, so she does have a little more healing to go before she's 100% back to her usual cuteness.

Here they are, both eagerly waiting for … what else, but a Treat! (I had to bribe them so they'd both be looking at me for the photo.) Chili has made huge progress with his commands. He now knows Sit, Down, Shake, and Come. Next on the list is Roll Over. He'll be a natural for that one. Pepper used to Roll Over, but now she's so plump she gets stuck. ;-) I'm curious to see what she weighs at the vet today since her diet and exercise have improved a thousand-fold now that "Mr. Spoiling Dad" (a/k/a DH) isn't in charge anymore.

* * * * *

Cowboy Chili (original)

Brown 2 lb. ground beef. Add 1 chopped onion, 4 chopped green onions, 1/4 c. celery, 1/2 clove garlic, 1/4 bell pepper. Saute until soft.

Add salt and pepper to taste, 1 T chili powder, 1/4 tsp. sugar. Stir well. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 16 oz can tomato juice, 2 cans drained whole kernel corn, 1 can Rotel Ranch Style chili beans, and 6 medium potatoes peeled and cubed. Add water if necessary to prevent scorching. Cook until potatoes are done (approx 30-40 minutes).

Cowboy Chili (my changes and for the crockpot)

Stir all of the following together in a large crockpot and cook on High all day (about 6-8 hours) or Auto Alternating (high/low) if you have that option on your crockpot. Makes 8-10 servings (good for lunch the next day!)

3-4 lbs. cubed stew beef (extra lean meat will end up too dry)
2 cans Rotel Ranch Style Beans
2 cans diced chili style tomatos
2 cans whole kernel corn (not drained)
1 can tomato paste
5-6 medium potatoes (not peeled), cubed
1-1/2 T chili powder
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chopped garlic or 1 fresh clove, diced
1 whole green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2-3 stalks of celery, diced (optional)
4-6 green onions, chopped (optional)

I stopped using the tomato juice because it's only available here in very large cans and we ended up tossing the rest. The extra can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste work just as well.

We also prefer stew beef over ground beef. Chicken is a good meat alternative for a different flavor.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

I am SO going to make this!

Have you seen Linda's completed Adrienne Vittadini Allegra Twist Front Top?? It's gorgeous!

I love all twisty tops but I think this one has the potential to look the best on me, since it's not a deep V neckline and the twist is more subtle, above the cleavage area instead of right in the middle of it. Plus, look at those opportunities for darts! I don't knit so I'm going to try creating it for a knit fabric and with sleeves. I'm sure I've got a pattern around here somewhere that will be a good jumping off point, whether it's a commercial pattern or something created in my software.

I read Linda's blog entry this morning and this top has been on my mind all day. Looks like it's going to be high in the order of the What To Make Next list. But since I'm short on time this (already half over) week, I'm thinking I'll sew up a very quick TNT tee by the weekend and leave this one for next week. But don't hold me to that. I may not be able to wait. ;-)

Meanwhile, this rayon knit jumped into my Textile Studios shopping cart this morning. I swear, I was helpless.

Monday, February 5, 2007

This and that

I never know whether to respond to comments by making a comment myself or to answer in the main blog stuff. So today, I'm answering here and then rambling about other things.

Dog park: Nope, we don't have to pay directly. It's a county park and so our yearly county taxes help to fund this and other county parks.

Dogs: Thanks for putting up with me going on (and on) about Chili and Pepper and thanks for all your nice comments. We're still thrilled with our new family member and I'm not sure if he could get any cuter but he sure keeps on trying. I've also enjoyed seeing and reading about some of your pooches and other pets.

Tornados: Thank you all for thinking of me. We're south and to the west of where they hit. We were lucky but lots of people were not.

Dutch sewing terms: Thank you for all the offers for translation, etc. I'm sure I'll be taking you up on that!

Topstitching: Someone asked how I get it so straight ... I probably wouldn't be able to without my edge stitching foot and my edge joining foot! The former has a rudder on the right side of the foot and the latter, a rudder in the middle. The rudders ride in the "ditch" and I use my needle positions to set the spacing. Using these feet, topstitching is almost mindless and very relaxing for me since it's pretty much just straight stitching over a seam that's already been sewn.

General: Thanks for the commiseration on the jacket frustrations and the head cold. You already know that jacket is done now and I'm loving it, and I'm happy to report the cold is almost done too. Just a bit of lingering sniffles and an intermittent cough.

Tonight is Superbowl food leftovers for dinner. I've got a whole tray of nachos ready to bake, some Buffalo wings, and cheese/meats/crackers. (The beer didn't survive though!) We're also going to be heating up the other leftovers from the past few days. The boys may complain about "leftovers" but unless they're volunteering to make something else, it's my vote that counts. ;-) The game was good to watch, since we were mostly rooting for the Colts and Tony Dungy who got a really raw deal when he was booted away from our hometown Bucs and Gruden moved in for what should've been Dungy's first SB victory. But honestly, I like both teams a lot and would've been happy either way.

The commercials were a little disappointing though, do you agree? Although I did like the Blockbuster "mouse," the faux dalmation, Oprah and Dave, and the regular joe winning ad with the sports fanatics feeling sad at the end of the season. What were your favorites? I'm sure I've forgotten some other good ones.

And does anyone really like Prince? Sorry if you do, but I'm just not getting him and the Superbowl combination (like the halftime show ever makes sense!) I did feel bad that he was completely doused in the rain during his performance though.

I did write up my review for the jacket, but if you've been following along here, you've read/seen it all.

I think that's enough rambling for one post, don't you?

Sunday, February 4, 2007


They can be so goofy. I had just put on the jacket to take some pics this morning and met DH coming up the stairs. He says, "So it's done now?" And I said, "Uh, yes. And by the way, I was *wearing* it last night when we went to the store and walked the dogs." Him: "Really? Well, it looks very nice." Yeah, sneaky way to escape that one. ;-)

So, here's a pic of me in the jacket. The color is off and I look as purple as the jacket for some reason that isn't happening in real life, but otherwise it's not a completely bad shot. Belinda asked me, if after all the work, whether I liked it or if it needed some time in the "Magic Wardrobe." I'm happy to report that I love it and all the time spent was worth it. I really did enjoy the project a lot. It's good to be challenged and I feel like I've learned a few things in the process.

I spent some time this morning cleaning up the disaster a/k/a the sewing room and now I'm ready to start thinking about what's next. So many choices! But since it's Superbowl Sunday and the pregame stuff is already on, I don't think I'll be making a whole lot of progress on that today. After today, no more football for months and months. Sob.