Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pizza Shop

DS#1's favorite pizza topping is BBQ chicken. (He could eat chicken every night of the week, but that's another story.) Over the weekend we somehow ended up talking about BBQ chicken pizza and so I decided that I'd try making pizza dough in the bread machine and we'd have pizza for Monday night's dinner.

When we order pizza, the boys usually go through one themselves and I figured I'd need to make at least two pizzas. Until I read the recipe, I thought one batch of dough would be enough for two large pizzas. I was wrong. I'd have to make the dough twice.

I started making the dough yesterday morning, timing it so that the second batch would be ready when it was actually time to make the pizzas. While the first batch of dough was processing, I went ahead and cooked the chicken, added BBQ sauce, and then put it in a covered bowl to sit in the fridge for a few hours and marinate.

Here are the two pizzas assembled and ready to go in the oven.

DS anticipating the tasty goodness. (His words!)

One finished pizza and the accompanying salad.

It turned out great and tasted wonderful. The pizza was so filling that we could've gotten by with just one. But now DS and I have pizza leftovers for lunch today, so that's fine with us.

There's nothing really fancy about this recipe since I used some ready-made products and the dough recipe from my bread machine manual, but here it is:

BBQ Chicken Pizza & Bread Machine Pizza Dough

1 Cup Beer or Water (I used water, we were out of beer)
1 tbsp. Shortening (I used olive oil)
1 tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
3 Cups White Bread Flour
1-1/4 tsp. Yeast
2 tbsp. Cornmeal

1. Put all ingredients except for cornmeal into bread pan in the order listed.
2. Process on Dough setting.
3. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface. If necessary (it wasn't), knead in enough flour to make dough easy to handle.
4. Grease pans (two 12-inch, one 14-inch or one 15x10 inch) and sprinkle with cornmeal. (I used pizza stones so I didn't grease them but I did use the cornmeal.)
5. Roll out dough and place on pan/stone. (We used a combination of "pizza shop dough handling" and a floured rolling pin.)
5. Top each pizza with sauce, toppings, cheese, etc. Bake at 425 for 15-25 minutes, or until done. Pizza is done when edges of crust are golden and cheese is bubbly.
Yield: 1 large or 2 medium pizzas

Topping (for 2 large pizzas):
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2/3 bottle BBQ sauce
1-1/2 jars of pizza sauce (about 2-3 cups)
1 green pepper, chopped into small pieces
1/2 onion, sliced thin
handful of fresh cilantro
shredded cheese (4-6 cups) (I combined mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar and jack)
Cook chicken on stove until done. Add enough BBQ sauce to coat plus a little extra. Cook for a few more minutes until the BBQ sauce is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pour 1-1/2 jars of pizza sauce into a bowl. Add 1/2 - 1 cup of BBQ sauce (amount is per your preference). Mix and then using a ladle, spoon over pizza crust and spread to within 1/2" of crust edge.

Sprinkle on cheese. Add BBQ chicken, onion slices, and green peppers. Add cilantro leaves over everything. (We like cilantro so we probably used more than average.)


Is it lunchtime yet? ;-)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Love My Button Foot

I'm the first to admit I have a serious addiction to presser feet. I own 99% of the feet Viking makes for my machine and a few others Viking doesn't make. I'm sure I'll have them all one of these days. Most of the feet work wonderfully. Many I can't live without anymore and some others mostly collect dust, and yet I still can't bear to part with them. The button sewing-on foot is one of the gems.

Before Viking came out with this foot I would still sew buttons on by machine, using the hump-jumper thingie and a piece of tape. It was fiddly and I'm not really sure if it was actually easier or faster than sewing them by hand but at least it wasn't sewing on by hand! ;-)

The Viking foot comes with this little button grabbing tool. You squeeze it slightly and insert the prongs into the holes in the button. The tool expands a bit and the button is "stuck" on it until you squeeze the tool again to release it. This removes all the fiddly-ness from placing the buttons into the foot and in position over the fabric.

The foot itself has a "shelf" where you rest the button. When the presser foot is in the full down position, the button is sandwiched securely between the two layers of the foot. There is also a finger that can be moved in and out for creating thread shanks of varying height.

Here's the grabber tool still holding the button after I've put the button into the foot. I leave the tool in place until I put the foot down.

Here the foot is down and I'm ready to stitch. Pardon all the lint on my machine. It was cleaning day today and the machines all got a thorough going over, but not until after this photo was taken.

My machine has a specific button sewing stitch, which is basically a zigzag stitch set for the width between most button thread holes. I say "most" although I've not yet had a button for which this stitch wasn't perfect so maybe I should amend that to "all." It's a handy stitch and coupled with this foot, it's the answer for sewers like me who prefer not to sew on buttons by hand.

If you have a Viking, you must get this foot! If you don't have a Viking, other brands do have a similar foot and there are generics, but I don't think any of those come with the little grabber tool. (Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.)

You've now been enabled. Again. ;-)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Boxers, With a Little Tutorial

Two more pair for DS. The paisley is fairly sedate, especially when compared to the floral. But DS has a wild streak and he won't mind wearing purple/fucshia floral boxers. In fact, he'll probably make sure they stick out of his pants a little. ;-)

Taly asked to see the pattern piece so here that is. You can see the add-on I made to the fly area so that I could construct like the RTW pair. The extension is 2 inches wide.

As I mentioned last post, my construction differs from the pattern instructions. On the L pattern piece only (the one where the fly overlap will end up on top), cut off 1" of that extra 2" that was added to the fly opening. Turn it under 1" and press a crease. I use a pressing cloth so I don't melt the fabric!

On the R piece, fold the extension under 1" and press, and then fold it under again another inch and press. (Only fold the R piece twice.)

Once both sides were pressed, I used a glue stick to hold the folds in place since the fabric is slippery.

On the R piece only, stitch the extension in place 1" from the edge, catching the fold. You can do this from the back side.

Here's the back side of the R piece after the stitching.

Next, press up your leg hems. It will be helpful to have this crease already in place later. Then unfold the hem and sew/serge the inseam edges together, separately for each piece of course, so that you end up with two "tubes."

Turn one "tube" right side out and the other wrong side out. Slip the right-side-out piece inside the other so that right sides are touching. Align the crotch curve edges and the outside edges of the pressed-under fly extensions. Starting at the bottom of the fly extensions, sew/serge in one motion all the way up to the waist edge, as shown below. (Keep in mind this photo shows the boxers flat. You will only be sewing/serging along the edge.)

Next, separate the fly opening and fold over the top extension (L piece) once so that the fly opening lays flat at the bottom. (The extension will pretty much want to do this fold itself.) Stitch the L piece extension, ending approximately 2" above the fly extension bottom edge (which is underneath).

Close the fly so the L side is over the R and pin in place, or you can use my hi-tech method of taping in place. (I like the tape better because some knits will run/ladder if you pierce them in the wrong place with a pin.)

Now finish stitching the L fly extension, starting where you left off and curving into the Center Front seam. Continue up along the CF and then cross over back to where you started. This will anchor the bottom edges of the fly extensions in place.

While the CF is still taped, I sew the button in place, stitching through both layers of the fly. DS doesn't actually use the fly opening so he's OK with a buttonhole-less button.

Hem the leg. Since the crease has already been set, all I have to do is move to my CS machine and stitch.

I didn't take photos of the elastic application (sorry!), but I changed that up too. The Simplicity instructions have you fold down a casing and thread the elastic through. I don't like that method because the elastic always twists later on. (The RTW boxers were not done that way either.) Instead, I sewed the elastic into a circle and then quarter-marked the elastic and the waist. Then I put the elastic next to the wrong side of the waist and serged the raw edge of the waist and the elastic together, stretching the elastic to fit the waist between my quarter marks. (This is a stop-and-go process as you stretch, serge, readjust, stretch, serge, readjust, etc.)

After the elastic was attached, I folded down the waist/elastic once, toward the inside, and coverstitched it into place while stretching the fabric/elastic flat. The last step is to stitch along the top edge of the waist, about 1/4" from the edge. I did that on my sewing machine. The RTW has a chainstitch there, but I didn't feel like unthreading/un-needling and then rethreading/re-needling my CS machine.

These boxers with the one pattern piece are extremely fast to cut and sew. But … I'm going to have to make a copy of this pattern adding a sideseam because I have big "scraps" of the fabrics left over which are enough to make more boxers from, but only if I have separate pattern pieces for each body quadrant. If I had bought the fabric specifically to make these boxers, I would've bought less and wouldn't have big leftover pieces to use. But since I didn't, there's too much for just one pair of boxers and too little for anything else unless I make sideseams in the pattern.

02/28/08: Edited just to see if Bloglines now picks up both feeds for this post.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Drop Trou

DS#2 has been bugging me for weeks to buy him new boxers. The problem is I haven't been able to find more of what he wants, which are silky *knit* boxers. Silk, yes. Cotton knit, yes. But not silky (tricot) knit. They were everywhere a couple of years ago. But now? Nuthin.

This morning I wandered into my sewing room — where I haven't been all week — to put away some fabric I had prewashed and to repair the boxers he does have. It suddenly dawned on me that I have some tricot! (Duh!) Soon, I had pulled out some prints and solids that would work for his boxers and had dug out a pattern.

The pattern is Simplicity 8150, which is long OOP. The boxers pattern has a grand total of one piece (no sideseams) and was even already cut out. I thought that might be a problem since the last time I used it was for St. Patrick's Day themed boxers years ago when the boys were a lot younger. But I laid one pair of the RTW boxers on it and by using 1/4" seams, it was going to be pretty good match. Yay!!

I spent about 30 minutes studying the construction of the RTW around the fly opening because after reading the pattern instructions, I knew I'd have to change things up. I added onto the fly facings so I could fold them over double per the RTW and cut out the fabric.

First I mended the RTW and then I finished up some other errands in and out of the house. It was about 4:30 PM when I got back into the sewing room to sew the new pair. I had just finished them when DS walked in from football practice. He loves the funky print (which is not as pink as it looks in this photo) and they fit him exactly like the RTW. Yay! Success and relief that I can stop tearing my hair out looking for more in the stores and instead start whipping 'em up in an hour now that I have the construction worked out.

And it was very nice to be back in the sewing room again.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Digital Sewing

This blouse from the 01/2008 issue of Burda WOF was recently the topic of an alterations query on Pattern Review. Even before that, though, it had caught my eye.

There is more than one way to do most things and thus the advice for how to make a Full Bust Alteration (FBA) was varied. Some advocated treating the seams as princess lines and doing a "FFRP* Princess FBA." Others (me!) thought it would be less tedious to do the regular ol' FFRP FBA and then rotate the horizontal dart to the shoulder with the existing dart.

I had a spare hour the other night and decided to give it a whirl. The largest size of this pattern (42) is still too small for me so I'll never actually sew this version to try it out. But pinning on Zillie and holding it up to my actual bust both pre- and post-alteration told me it would work fine.

There are 3 pieces which make up the front bodice. Each is outlined in a different color in these photos. The black outlines show my slash/spread alterations.

I gave up drawing the outlines on the photos before I had finished the one which shows rotating the dart. Whoops. I still have the pics so maybe I'll finish the "series" just to be complete.

In the meantime, today I doodled with my patternmaking software while eating lunch. I took a plain old side bust dart blouse and drew in the style lines. Then I rotated the side dart to the shoulder, which is the part missing from the pics above.

I need to reshape the bib portion a little better, but you get the idea. I'm not sure if this will actually ever be a blouse for me but I do think it will at least make it to the muslin stage before I make a final decision.

Happy Valentine's Day!

*FFRP = Fit For Real People by Palmer/Pletsch

Saturday, February 9, 2008

So Now I Have Plans

My younger son came home from the school play last night and … ahem … told us that the cast & crew party was going to be at our house tonight. I wasn't really planning to do anything much this weekend, but I certainly wasn't planning on this.

DH and DS#2 spent the morning doing yardwork, setting up the firepit and hauling wood over to it. The party will be outside around a bonfire. DS#1 and I went to the grocery store (where I had just done the week's shopping yesterday!) and bought the food and drink stuff.

In about 20 minutes I'm going to start making 6 big pans of brownies and assembling sandwiches on long loaves of bread to be cut up for finger sandwiches on a platter. The rest of the party snacks will be S'mores, Cokes, bottled water & hot cocoa. And whatever chips/dip the kids bring themselves.

The Tiki lamps are in place down the driveway and around the firepit. The patio has been swept and chairs and benches set up. DH and DS still need to run to the store for ice. And put out the tables for the food.

DS#1 is having band practice here tonight too. I think they'll be moving it outside to be the entertainment. My neighbors ought to love me for that. ;-)

But I did manage to squeeze in a tiny bit of sewing this morning. My mom requested a tissue cover and sunglasses case to match the purse I made for her for Christmas. Those took about 20 minutes, start to finish. But they're done and packaged up ready to drop in the mail on Monday, because I forgot to stop at the mailbox today on the way out to the store with DS.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's a Wrap

The top is finished. You can read the full review on PatternReview.com, here.

I did use Rose's trick of sewing the ties in half so they would stop rolling out to the wrong side. This worked great so thanks again! (BTW Rose, are you MasoumaRose on PR?)

Below are two photos showing the after-the-fact elastic insertion. I threaded it through the end of the hem straight through to the other side. I used safety pins to hold it in place while I tried it on and then anchored it at the two areas between the red circles. I pulled the tails out at the sides and cut them off so the only elastic left is between those two points. (Just for kicks, I also pinned the stretched elastic at the armhole seams to simulate how the elastic would behave if I followed the pattern instructions. It definitely pulled the armholes inward in an odd way so I'm glad I didn't have to be stuck with only that option.)

The top on me:

Two questions from the comments regarding this top:

From Sherril: "I was worried about those ties not working on me since I have such a short waist. Do you think they would work better if they were just shortened and tied in the back, not wrapped around to the front?"
Personally, I don't like anything tied in the back after a certain age … say 10. ;-) To me, it says either "little girl" or "maternity." So, my answer is no. I think you should tie in front, but also lengthen the overall length of the top to give the illusion of more torso/waist. And you'll probably want to use Rose's idea too. Just my 2 cents.

From Nancy K: "Did you do an fba on this? It is not clear."
Yes, and No. ;-) No, because I was using my TNT Ottobre tee pattern pieces which already have a full bust allowance incorporated via easing extra front length into the back sideseam. But Yes, because I did add extra length (~1.5") to the crossover pieces to compensate for the extra length a full bust needs for coverage.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tweakin' the Twists

So here's where it is this morning. Looks like it's done, eh? Uh, nope!

On me, the tweaking still to be done becomes more apparent.

First, the camisole panel. Because I knew I did not want elastic running armpit to armpit, I purposely did not insert any into the top edge yet, intending to judge how much and where after it was on me. It will be very easy to thread some narrow elastic into the coverstitched top hem and stitch it into place behind the wrap panels so that it will never be seen by the world (except you, of course, when I show it later!). Once that is done, it will snug up against my chest and sit high enough for modesty's sake.

Next, I still need to hem the sleeves and bottom.

Lastly, the ties are still making me crazy. They do NOT want to stay right-side out. Rose, you had a FABULOUS idea, and I'm going to try it out, tenkyewvellymuch. In case you missed it in yesterday's comments, Rose said that she ended up folding the ties in half and sewing them shut. I'm going to try that by basting first so I can see where to start the fold. The ties are definitely wide enough — and my high hip fluff starts rounding out early enough — for this to work out well, I think.

As you can see by the rear view, the ties want to make themselves narrower anyway as they try to squeeze into what space there is back there.

Overall, though, I like it and I think it's actually flattering, which is something I was wondering about since most of the reviews on PR are shown on thinner ladies.

See! I told you these ties are crazy! ;-)

P.S. Angie, don't wait. Put this top into your SWAP! I think you'll look great in it! But, no pressure, right? ;-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I think the actual sewing and fitting are going OK, but those ties are going to drive me NUTS! I'm already thinking of just cutting them off and inserting the ends into the sideseams. They are heavy, long, and they do not stay all the way right-side out when tied around Zillie's or my waist. This pattern really should be made with a 2-sided knit. Since the sideseams aren't yet sewn and the cami isn't in place, I'll withhold final judgment. But I'll be basting the sideseams to give myself an easy out if I do end up cutting off the ties. And let me say right now how glad I am to have downturn fellers for my coverstitch machine. Otherwise, I'd still be sewing the narrow hems on those ties.

Unrelated … my denim order from Fabric.com arrived yesterday. It's not the same fabric/color as the Best Jeans Ever. In the photo below, the top denim is the 10 oz Indigo but it has a lot of white and reads much lighter than I expected. The middle is the 12 oz Navy. The bottom is what I cut off The Jeans prior to hemming.

I'm still deciding whether or not I'm going to keep these. I've never returned anything to Fabric.com but since I have another order of what I think is The Actual Denim arriving soon and denim takes up a lot of shelf space, I may just do that with this. On the other hand, one of these cuts would probably work pretty well for DS. They're good denims and will be tons better after prewashing, but do I really need them? (Especially when … ahem … 9 more yds are on their way.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jumping on the Bandwagon

… but bringing my own drummer. Or something like that.

Pattern 116 from the 01/2008 issue of Burda WOF is turning into a popular top over at Pattern Review. And since I do love crossovers, I figured what the heck, I'll join in too. But this time I decided to pull out the TNT Ottobre patterns *before* making the leap of faith.

Here's the Burda line drawing:

And the Ottobre 02/2007 line drawing:

Quite similar, no? Yes.

The main differences between the two are (1) Burda has a built-in camisole panel and Ottobre uses a full tank front panel; and (2) Burda's crossover morphs into wide wraparound ties while the Ottobre top extends the binding into the wraparound ties. This looked like a very easy morph to me.

Below is the crossover pattern piece. My Ottobre tracing is in black; the Burda tracing is in red. (Click the photos for larger versions.) These were surprisingly close. I say "surprisingly" because I'm still remembering how wonky that shirred top armhole from the Plus issue is/was. I used the WOF pattern as the base and then morphed my shoulder angle, armhole curve, and sideseam width from the Ottobre pattern. I also added 1.5" to the length because I think the girls are going to need it. I gradually decreased the added length as I moved across the pattern piece, so that the tie sections remain the same width as the original pattern.

Next was the cami section. I made another tracing of the Ottobre plain front tee and then laid that over the Burda cami pattern, aligning the armholes and center fronts. You can see the original lines of the Burda pattern in red. I'll cut off the upper bodice section of the Ottobre pattern to make this piece mimic the Burda pattern.

This is the bottom of the cami piece. I'm keeping the length per the Ottobre pattern (black).

For the back and sleeves, I'm going to use the straight Ottobre pattern pieces. No morphing necessary. Especially since I see those high Burda sleevecaps for a knit again. Ick.

I'm going to go back up to the sewing and change over the threads on the machines and then I'm hoping to cut this out after dinner.

As Seen On Our Daily Walks

I love where we live, even if the house we live *in* still isn't finished. At this point, I'm realizing it probably never will be. One of the things I really like is the narrow road behind our property where I walk the dogs. It's a lazy road, about a mile long, with lots of open spaces. We rarely have to watch out for cars. It's quiet back there but there's always something to watch (or sniff, in the case of the poochies) and I come back from the walks peaceful and happy.

Yesterday, I finally remembered to bring my camera. I've been wanting to get pics of the various critters we see along the way. Below is a sampling of down just one half of the road.

First up, cows. They love eating the Spanish Moss which hangs from the trees. When they're close to the road, I'll often pull some down and feed it to them. It takes a little coaxing to get them over to me, but they usually can't resist the sight of that fresh moss.

The goats. These guys take no coaxing whatsoever to come close. Before I got here, they were all just casually grazing but as soon as they saw me, they came running. Sorry goats. No veggies for you today. On the days I do bring carrots and celery, Chili and Dani eat just as many as do the goats and give me dirty looks if they think the goats are getting a bigger share.

This guy is the chief billy. He's very greedy and often head-butts subordinates outta the way.

You'll have to squint for this one. At the right, near the telephone pole is a horse and a rooster. It was about 2 PM but the rooster was just crowing away.

These guys bark and run around non-stop every time we walk by. You'd think they'd remember they know us by now. They are actually very friendly and are just trying to get my pups to join in their fun. They are all rescues and are living a pretty good country life now. Lucky dogs.

Another yard, another dog. This is Pepper's dog-walk boyfriend. She just adores Java (his name) and starts whining and whimpering when we get near his yard. Java likes her too and always comes over to say hello. He's got the most beautiful ice-blue eyes and is much more obedient than my dogs will ever be.

A couple more horses. They're in their stables today but they are often out grazing in their yard, along with their 3 dog "brothers" who come out and bark at us from time to time.

The donkeys. We hear these guys braying from our yard a lot. I like hearing them, the roosters, and cows off in the distance. If they were right next door, probably not so much. ;-)