Friday, March 30, 2007

Fickle is my middle name today

I got a call this morning that the appointment for which I'd been preparing paperwork has been moved to Monday afternoon. Which means I can procrastinate delay a bit on finishing that stuff. So, off to the sewing room I go. (But I was a good girl and laid down a coat of tape and mud on the new drywall in the family room first.)

I was all set to pick back up on the Diana Mode top but I really wasn't feeling it today. Instead, I was thinking about capris. I seem to be living in them these days and I want more. So I pulled out the March 2007 issue of Burda WOF to look at the capris I showed the other day. I started reading the construction info (I always read the instructions — I'm OCD that way) and at one point, they referred to another design for more construction steps. I flipped to that page and I was in love. I hadn't noticed these pants before but that's because (1) the magazine photo shows nothing about the design details (I hate that!) and (2) they're not plus sized. And so that's where the challenge begins. I've traced them and now I'm going to try to grade them up to fit me with a few considered slash/spreads. It may work or it may be a dismal failure. Either way, it will be fun trying to get there.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not Sewing

Here's yet another not-sewing post. I've got a bunch of paperwork to do over the next two days and then DH will want me to start in on the family room floor (well, I want the floor too, just not the work!) so the sewing will be slow around here until next week. My Diana Mode top remains on Zillie as you last saw it.

Does that stop me from buying fabric? Hah! This arrived this morning. The fabric inspector gives his approval. So do I! These are rayon/Lycra knits from Lucy's Fabrics. They are more beautiful in real life than in either Lucy's or my photos. And Belinda, if you're reading, these are more of the *good* rayon knits. Luckily for you, they're not your colors. ;-) Unluckily for me, new swatches were also packed in the box and I couldn't resist ordering yet more. I'm pledging to use many TNT patterns over the spring and summer so I can sew the stash down faster and have more clothes to actually wear instead of just dreaming about. We'll see how that works out. ;-)

These Sophia doubleknits arrived yesterday, from Ressy's coop. These are also quite lovely but more wintery so they'll go through the laundry room and then be put away for a few months (at least). Ressy almost tempted me with the first round of Juliette knits and she's making it hard to resist the more springy colors & coordinates currently being offered. So far, I'm being strong so don't you go pointing that wand at me Miss Evil Fabric Queen!

Speaking of the family room, I know you've been on the edge of your seat waiting to see what the fireplace looks like now. OK, maybe not, but here it is anyway. Still need to tape & mud the seams on the patches to each side, and then cover the fireplace hole with more drywall (which,(shhh!, we're not going to make pretty because it won't show). DH has used expanding foam and fiberglass insulation to fill in the gaps the brick used to cover. Our electric bills are high enough without sucking out more A/C and heat through all of that. The huge jumble of wires is from the TV. I can't wait until we can get that cleaned up and our surround sound hooked up again. (The boys say, "Me too!")

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hey Mom, What's For Dinner?

Ham Broccoli Ring

This is one of the boys' favorite meals. Maybe it's because they also love Hot Pockets thrown in the microwave for a quick weekend lunch? ;-)

I found the original recipe idea in a magazine years and years ago, changed it up a bit and used to make it once in a while. But then for whatever reason, I stopped. Probably because my (then) little sons were picky about vegetables. One day a couple of years ago I remembered it. I made it up, served it, and watched it disappear in seconds. All the guys loved it, including DS#2 who at that time hated broccoli (or anything green) but loved ham. He didn't believe there was broccoli in it even though it's as green as can be. Silly boy, but I didn't argue.

I know a lot of you are short on time too so tonight while I was making this up for dinner, I took some pics along the way. It's delicious, cheap, and looks like you spent way more time than you did. ;-) I think the total prep time is 15 minutes or less. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Ingredients: (Makes 2 large rings, see notes below for quantity changes)
3 cans of crescent roll dough
1 lb. sliced deli ham, sliced (while still stacked) into 1 inch squares
2-3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3-4 cups frozen broccoli florets (mostly thawed)
2 medium onions
about 1/2 cup dijon style mustard
2 tbl parsley (fresh or dried)
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Finely chop broccoli and onions in the food processor (or by hand) and turn out into a large bowl. Add ham, separating the slices a bit as you do. Add the cheese, mustard, parsley and pepper and mix together, so it looks like this:

Open the crescent rolls and arrange 12 crescents on each baking stone (or cookie sheet) like this:

Scoop and arrange 1/2 of the broccoli mixture onto each ring, like this: (I use my hands to do this so I can keep the mixture compacted and neat.)

Stretch the crescent points up and over the broccoli mixture and tuck the ends under, like this:

Both rings complete and ready to bake:

Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown, like this:

Slice like pizza and enjoy!


Before my sons' appetites became insatiable, I used to use 1 can of crescent rolls and make only 1 ring, served with a green salad. The rest of the ingredients are then decreased by roughly half, but you'll have a bit left over (great on toast in the toaster oven for an open-faced sandwich the next day!). You can also use 2 cans, 8 crescents per ring, and decrease the ingredients by roughly one-third. Play with it, it's very forgiving.

The original recipe called for canned ham, but I changed that to the prepackaged sliced ham found in the refrigerated lunchmeat section of the grocery store. You can substitute deli or pre-cooked/leftover shredded chicken, turkey, or your other favorite meat, and cheddar (or another) cheese can also be substituted for the swiss. If using chicken or turkey, try substituting tarragon for the parsley.

* * * * *

For Non-US'ers, we have crescent (and other) roll doughs which come pre-shaped and rolled up in a cardboard "can." These are found in the refrigerated goods section of the grocery store. Pillsbury is the most popular brand. The can is "popped" open by tapping it on the counter, hence where the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Pop 'N Fresh, got his name.

(I use the plain dough, not the butterflake dough shown here, but this was the best photo of the can that I could find.)

I'm in Diana Mode Mode

I've decided to start with this top from Diana Mode, mostly because it's going to be fast and easy. Ahem. Famous last words. Well, I hope it will be. We're going to be putting down new flooring in the family room toward the end of the week/weekend and I wanted a sewing project that I could work on (escape to?) in little bursts between floor laying and still make some progress.

So far, I've traced the pattern and have pinned it on Zillie for a first evaluation. The tracing was an adventure. If you thought Burda WOF was a challenge, you ain't seen nuthin'. Imagine 3 times more patterns per sheet and in only 2 colors, red and black. Then couple that with non-English instructions, and throw in a dash of middle-aged eyesight. Thankfully this pattern only has 4 pieces.

Nothing surprising here. I'll be doing an FBA.

The back is not too bad, although I may need to fold some length out above the waist. I'll wait to see how it is after I add to the hips.

Sidseams. Again, nothing surprising. I'll do the FBA to gain some width on the front and I'll slash/spread for some more caboose room.

I think the shoulders on this pattern are square-er than most others I've used, which is a good thing for me. Since I will be doing a muslin, I'm going to leave them unaltered for now and see how they fit. The armhole may need to come up a bit, but the FBA reshaping may fix that so I'll wait until the muslin for that too.

I wouldn't normally be doing a muslin for such a simple knit top but I want to really test this properly because there are a few more styles in the magazine that I like and which use some of the same (or very similarly shaped) pattern pieces. The other reason is my stash is just overflowing and I need to actually use some of those knits I bought for testing. And we won't mention that even more fabric is on the way. Oh. Whoops.

I will be making that Burda WOF shirt dress very soon so hang in there if that was your "vote." In the comments, someone mentioned a hesitation about the puffy sleeves. To me, they are more like the essence of puff. Not quite a full puff going on, so the effect will be more subdued and appropriate for my puffy arms. At least that's what I'm thinking now. I also need to decide on a fabric for that. I've got some linens, but I'm not sure if I have THE linen.

Oh, and speaking of comments … I have a favor to ask. If you comment anonymously, would you mind giving me a hint of who you are. A name? Initials? I'm just curious is all. Thanks! :-)

Now I'm off for an overdue haircut. I shall be so glamourous upon my return. Until we hit the dogpark.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Birthday Suit

No, not that one!

Yesterday was my birthday. Those numbers just never get smaller, do they? Ugh.

It was a relatively boring day (OK by me!) but the evening made up for it. Here's my outfit for the night —the new Favorite Things Cute Skirt with my Burda WOF 07/06 #109 blouse (remember that one?). A perfect match! There's something to be said for constantly buying and sewing in the same color families. And, yes, white shoes before Memorial Day in Florida is a law. ;-)

The "men" took me to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory where we started with a sampler appetizer for four which included Avocado Eggrolls, Spinach and Cheese Dip, Pot Stickers, Summer Rolls, Quesadillas, Corn Cakes, Buffalo Blasts and Calamari. We should've stopped at that because there was more than enough to call it dinner. But no! DH had a chicken pasta entreé, DS#1 had Grande Burrito, DS#2 a honkin' big bacon cheeseburger/fries, and I ordered fish tacos (of which I ate half of one and brought home the others). Were we done? Nope! Dessert. One Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake, one Lemoncello Cream Torte, and four forks. Again, enough for 10 people. Other numbers not getting smaller yesterday? My waistline!

After dinner, we drove over to Channelside to hit the movie theater. We love this theater because it's new and modern, and never crowded. Downtown Tampa has too few residential dwellings to keep the theater busy. More and more buildings are going up so it's only a matter of time. But until the real estate market picks back up and those condos are sold, we'll keep this theater our little secret. ;-) It's only takes about 20 minutes longer to get to than the local 24-plex, and well worth the drive. Did I mention it has free valet parking?

So, what did we see? Premonition, starring Sandra Bullock. Yawn. Save your money. Lame, lame, lame — especially the ending (which I won't spoil). The boys kept reminding me that 300 was playing right down the hall but I'm not sure I want to see that one either so we stayed planted. Still, it was nice to be out with my family even if we were just making fun of the movie toward the end.

Once home, I opened my presents. No big surprises there since I'm required to supply a list. LOL! Some kitchen gadgety things I've wanted, a CD, and a HUGE chocolate chip cookie that DS#2 picked because he's the one who really wants to eat it.

By the way, after we got out of the car and had started walking toward the restaurant, DH asks, "Is your slip showing or something?" Typical. ;-) (But I wouldn't trade him for anything.)

Sewing Room Assistant

Hey! What's happening up there?

Ooo. What's that stuff? Looks like fun! Does it taste good?

Pick me up. Please? Pretty please?

Sigh. OK. I get the hint.

Hah! Fooled you. Here I am on the other side.

I really, really, really want to be on your lap.



(And by the way, mom, those are some lovely PJ pants you're wearing.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Summer Hues

Yesterday we were busy all day getting ready for the party. I saw the package outside the front door, picked it up and tossed it into the laundry room unopened. And I promptly forgot about it until 10 minutes ago. I love those fabric surprises from Fashion Fabrics Club. I call them surprises because FFC isn't known for its speedy shipping and often by the time my order arrives at my house I've almost forgotten about it. This one was no exception. I remembered about the print (cotton sateen) and the lime (stretch twill), but I had completely forgotten about the aqua (tencel). Bonus!

Don't these all look perfect together? (Trust me, the green in the print matches the green solid and the two solids are a little brighter than my dull photo.) And aren't they 100% my colors? These will all get sewn up before summer officially arrives because I want to live in them until October. Perfect spring/summer Florida fabrics.

From the comments on yesterday's entry, it looks like the Burda WOF dress is the majority pick. I'm not sure if that will be the next thing I sew — I need to scope out the stash for a good fabric pick and I've got to start installing the family room floor soon — but it's definitely going to be a sooner rather than later make. I think I have some linens that would be great, even if it means I have to iron it before every wearing. I can see a casual linen dress with sandals or even flip-flops claiming a top spot in the summer wardrobe, can't you?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

I was paging through some of my pattern magazines today to see what was catching my eye. Pardon the burriness and overall poor quality but I was taking these pics as the magazines, notepad, pen, and I were sprawled across my bed. With two nosy dogs sniffing to see what was going on.

First is #128 from the 03/2007 issue of Burda WOF. It's a pretty dress with some nice details. Look at the back seaming — very interesting.

And #130 from the same issue. Nothing striking here except they look like a fast sew for some more summer capris but with a little more detailing.

This one is from Diana Mode, Nr.22/#17F (or however they number them). I like the use of trim and the basic shaping, even though the pinheaded model is swimming in this plus sized top and thereby doing everything possible to hide what could be a nice tee. This would also be an easy way to try out one of the Diana patterns without too much of a time investment.

The line drawing looks entirely boxy but the pattern pieces do have some shape.

This is a Patrones "Grande" jeans pattern from the 11/2006 issue.

Look at those pattern pieces. This may be just the thing my full thighs and caboose need. I'm going to try this in muslin if nothing else, just to see what I learn.

This skirt will be getting made soon — View D as on the adult model and in the upper left, the paneled skirt with the flounce. I like that this pattern is for knits. I think I'll get a slimmer fit since it won't need so much gathering at the top in order to make it past the hips. I can see this being a *very* comfortable skirt, almost like yoga pants but in a skirt. ;-)

Next, there's the latest issue of Ottobre Woman. I'm definitely trying one or two of the tees, the 10-gore skirt, and the drawstring bottom capris (without side cargo pockets though). I'd also like to try the flared curvy skirt but I may be tired of skirts by the time I get to it.

And finally, this 06/2005 #111 Burda WOF pattern that I've already made twice. I want to make it at least once more with short sleeves (longer than the cap sleeves shown) because it is one of my favorite tops both for comfort and flattering-on-me style. I just need to pick the fabric wisely for this since it may not look as nice on me in a less drapey knit. (Or, who knows, maybe it would.)

So, what to make next? Probably nothing until next week. Tonight my now 18-year old son is having a co-birthday bonfire party here with his girlfriend (hers was this past Monday) and 30+ guests. And tomorrow I really need to be doing some paperwork.

But if you had a vote, for which would it be? I'm thinking the Diana Mode tee because it will be fast. Of course, it's all subject to change on a whim since I haven't included my on-deck non-magazine patterns in the mix.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Let's Not Get Complicated

I got a second wind around 10 PM last night and decided to just go ahead and make up a Favorite Things Cute Skirt. From sewing the muslin the other day, I knew it would be a fast project. That is until I started overthinking things. I'm good at that. ;-)

It started with the fabric … a very sheer cotton batiste (I think). OK, I could sew the pattern as is and wear a slip. But ugh. Another band of elastic around my middle in August in Florida? It wouldn't be a Favorite Thing anymore. So I started rooting through the stash to see what I had for an interlining and I came across some white cotton bastiste (I know this one is bastiste) purchased from a Martha Pullen expo a few years ago. Perfect. That is until I started overthinking things.

To underline meant that the white bastiste would have to be caught up in the sideseams of the outer layer, at the very least. I wanted a more flowy, breezy skirt. Which meant a true lining. Which meant tossing out the easy, sew-in-an-hour-or-less instructions and making up my own. Not to mention making up my own lining for an 8-gore skirt. Neither of these is hard. That is until I started overthinking things.

By this time, it was going on 11 PM and my brain really did not want to think about all of this. I came downstairs, poured myself a (soft) drink and sent out some email (Hi Belinda!). But I forced the thinking cap back on and came up with a plan.

I sewed up the 8 gores of the skirt fabric as per the pattern — one section of 3 gores and the other with 5. I then topstitched each gore seam because if you're going to break away from easy, you might as well go all the way. I laid those two sections on my white bastiste one at a time, traced around them with the rotary cutter and came away with a front and back for my lining.

With a true lining, I couldn't use the great neat-finish waistband application instructions so instead I just sewed the waistband in the round but because I like to overthink things, I aligned the skirt and waistband sideseams and sewed one raw edge to the skirt, inserted the back elastic and stitched that in place leaving an opening for adjusting the elastic, and then flipped the other half of the waistband down and stitched in the ditch from the right side of the skirt.

Of course, I'm now slapping my forehead because I should've just serged the folded-over waistband on all in one pass, leaving an opening in one sideseam for the elastic, and then finished it by edgestitching the seam allowance flat from the right side of the skirt. Oh well, by this time it was waaaaaay after midnight and I did what my tired brain came up with. On the bright side, the next one will now go at least 10 times as fast. ;-)

Then I tried it on to adjust the elastic and see about the hems for the lining and outer layer. My plan was to turn under a narrow hem on the skirt, and cut the lining about an inch shorter and narrow hem that too. Until I started overthinking things.

When I looked in the mirror, the lining was hanging out at the bottom since I had cut it a little longer than the skirt just in case. Hmm. What if I purposely left the lining longer than the skirt?? Flowy and romantic, no? (Just go with me here.) So that's what I did. Instead of cutting the lining shorter, I cut the outer layer shorter. And instead of narrow hems, I opted for rolled hems on the serger. Nothing rolls nicer than a lightweight cotton batiste. Then I stopped thinking and overthinking and went to bed.

And that's how to take a really easy pattern and make it take 3 times as long to sew up. ;-)

But hey, at least I *like* the skirt on me now. (Photo coming soon.) With this lightweight and drapier fabric, it's not the sack that my muslin fabric was. The two cottons feel very luxe. Looking at the back view on the pattern, mine looks pretty much the same. Well, except for that underlayer sticking out. ;-)

And now I'm not going to overthink things. I'm going to pretty much cut and paste what I wrote here into a review on PR. So if you've made it this far, you probably don't need to read the "official" review.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The First of Many

You may get really tired of seeing this top because I'm planning to make at least 150 of them. ;-) I'm very happy with how this fits, how it flatters, and how easy it was/is to make up. In case you're just now tuning in, this Butterick 4986 pattern required NO full bust alteration at all. On me, that's a minor miracle. The official review on PR is here.

I wanted a bit more edge treatment than a typical double-needle coverstitch so I stuck in the third needle, threaded up, and went crazy.

And I didn't stop with just the top. I also used the same thread and triple coverstitching on the skirt seams and hems. I really like how it turned out. The flattering vertical seams aren't hidden in the print and the prettiness of the skirt design comes through.

I'll get a photo of me in the new ensemble soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Goofy Dog & GF Birthday Pillow

I ask, how can anyone not love this face?

Remember when I said that Chili smiles? I was trying to get photographic evidence yesterday but he was so wiggly. This is the best I could get.

It's hard to capture the goofiness because it tends to look like a full-on dog snarl in a still photo, but trust me, it's not. He is definitely happy. Oh, and excuse the rug full o' dog hair — I'm still having vacuum issues. (One being that I haven't.) ;-)

I'm hoping to finish my skirt and top this afternoon after I get back from some errands, but one project that did get completed yesterday was the tee shirt pillow DS made for his girlfriend's birthday. He really did do everything himself. I chalked out the cutting lines on the tee shirt and rethreaded my machine in black, but then he took over and rotary cut it, sewed the seams, stuffed the pillow form in plus some extra stuffing in the corners, and then hand-sewed the opening closed (which I had pinned for him). I had suggested adding a ruffle trim but he vetoed the idea by saying it would be too girly for him to do. The logic of making something girly for a girl was lost on him.