Thursday, August 28, 2008

WIP: Shrug

Over the last few evenings, I have started work on the shrug for my mom. Cutting the pattern one night, the fabric another, and last night beginning to sew. Before I go any further, I am going to have mom try it on this weekend.

I'm not sure how the sleeves will fit. The armscyes look fine, but the sleeves are not terribly large and are going to take some finessing to ease them in smoothly. I'm a little concerned about this, and also whether there will be enough room under the armpit.

The only other unforeseen issue is how I will finish the seams. I should have thought of this before I started sewing. I have a feeling that the sequins will be a bit itchy and rough on skin. Maybe I will trim and then bind them together with biased tape. Or if I feel very ambitious, I could do a Hong Kong finish. Although, that would probably be overkill and wouldn't really get rid of the problem of itchy sequins on the skin, even though I am now dying to try this finish.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


So, more on the curtain project for Terpischore's wedding reception. This is the layout of the reception area. All the W x L measurements are for the curtains. The place has an industrial feel to it and the curtains will be hung on the metal pipes at key windows and doorways. Because of that, I will make curtains that have ties at the top, rather than a casing to thread a curtain rod thru.

The black delustered satin arrived over the weekend, as did the heavy weight grosgrain ribbon that will be used for tie-backs and hanging ties. I'm happy with the quality. I was definitely worried since I got it on the cheap. But it looks great for this use and I think will do well for clothing and a duvet after the wedding.

I am going to make a sample curtain this weekend to work out the design issues before the sewing blitz with the Muses. That way we will be ready to go. Even Mom Muse is getting in on the act; she has volunteered to be one of the pressing and pinning team.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


"Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly."
- Rose Franken, American Playwright

Three cheers for the future Mr & Mrs Dr Kiang! We're so happy for you!

Another tote bag done!

Yesterday, I finished the tote for my mom. I think it came out really cute! I really like how the contrast pocket, straps and lining worked out. The one thing I would probably alter in future tote bags is that the lining is a little bit large. I would probably do it a shade smaller than the tote bag, so that it nestled in better. That said, I think I am the only one who would notice.

Here is the inside pocket with my very own label.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hai, the Trim Guy

If I sounded at all frazzled this morning, you should know that my afternoon shopping put me back on the right track. I decided that my mom's shrug will need some kind of trim since the ends will not look very attractive if I just hem them. So, off I went to 38th Street, swatch in hand.

I'm not sure if it is advisable to build a project around the trim, but there were so many gorgeous, fun and frilly ribbons that I was tempted. I really like Hai's Trimmings, where I found black leather barbed wire, and B&Q, which has an abundance of lace, but today I found what I wanted at Pacific Trimming, which is simply enormous.

This trip totally reinforces my philosophy that my clothing need never be plain again. Now, if I just had the time to put this philosophy into action...

Project backlog!

Yesterday, Magenta commented that I had lots of cool projects in the works. She's right - I've got an immensely full plate! Because of this growing backlog of projects, I took Monday off and devoted most of the day to sewing. I'm doing the same thing this Monday.

I made good progress on the tote bag that I am making for mom's birthday. I stopped when I decided that what it really needed was an inside pocket. Once that is complete, all that I will have to do is attach the lining and put on finishing touches like the handle, some top stitching, and a final coat of Stainguard.

Here it is, in progress

I have one more tote bag to do this summer; a birthday tote for Terpischore, the bride. She liked the one I made Poly so much that she asked me to make one for her. She will be honeymooning in Mexico, and hopefully it will be finished in time. I still haven't picked out fabric for this project and am in a bit of a panic about it.

I also have to make several enormous curtains for her wedding. She is a bit of a DIY bride, and there are a few doorways and large windows at the reception venue that she wants to cover. Yesterday, I ordered 45 yards (135 feet!!) of black delustered satin. At $2.99 a yard, the price was definitely right! Hopefully, I'll be able to make the fabric into something else after the wedding (duvet covers? sheets? an army of little black dresses? who knows.) Anyway, I have put the muses on alert that we are having a massive sewing party the weekend before the wedding and I am going to spring for pizza and wine to bolster our efforts. If you are reading this, you are heartily invited to attend.

However, before I work on any of this, I MUST make a shirt or two for Phineas for his birthday. He has been a tremendous help with prepping all my fabrics while I am at work and has been incredibly patient with my frequent disappearances into the Craft Lounge. It's time he reaped the benefits.

It is funny now to think that at one point I worried about not having enough projects to keep me busy. Those were the days!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stretch Assignment

I admit it. I have been wanting to poke around in Spandex World, that mecca to the fabric that launched 1000 tacky fashions, for quite some time. I've just never had an excuse to walk in the door. Until today that is!

One of the many (many many!) projects I am working on is a short sleeved shrug that I am making for my mom. She bought a red strapless dress for Terpiscore's wedding. Scandalous, I know. But in all sincerity, it is about the most modest red strapless dress ever made. However, she still wants to cover up a bit for church, and so I volunteered my services.

I decided that the shrug should be 1- tiny, 2-black and 3-made of stretch lace. So off I went to Spandex World. All I can say is, you haven't really lived until you've witnessed two adult men argue over whether to buy the leopard print or zebra print spandex. At first I was disappointed with the small selection of lace, but when I realized there was a second floor (yes, two whole floors of spandex), things started looking up. I ended up with some beautiful black stretch lace that has sequins sewn right into it. Perfect!

Poorly photographed, but beautiful fabric.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beautiful Bride

Better late than never! Check out some pictures from Terpischore's Bridal Shower. It is a bit of a miracle that Terp has them since she LOST the memory card somewhere between my parents and home. After a few days the card was found on a neighbor's brick wall outside her apartment. Incredible!

A clothesline of lingerie from the Muses and KK

I wonder who got her this. tee he he

I can't wait until the wedding! 32 days...31... 30...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tote Bag for Momma Muse

I'm in San Francisco, but my mind is on my sewing projects at home.

I am going to use this fabric on a birthday tote bag for my mom afterall. It will be the pockets, lining and trim of the bag, and I will use a plain red for the front, back, sides and bottom - anywhere that will be more prone to getting grubby.

I made good progress over the weekend. The fabric is all cut, the interfacing is fused on, and the pockets are basted. The rest is in pieces. Oh well. But for now I have to set it aside at least until Monday, when I can hit the Craft Lounge again!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Introducing the Breakfast Cookie

Yes, this does seem like an oxymoron: a breakfast cookie. But in terms of texture, this tasty treat is more muffin top than cookie. And what could be more wholesome than oatmeal, whole wheat flour, raisins (or craisins), carrot, walnuts and cinnamon? Plus there is little fat, less sugar than most breakfast bars and absolutely no preservatives. So, I contend that this is a perfect breakfast... er... um... even taking into account the 1/3 cup of chocolate chips I may have added.

I know, I know! If I had made it into bars it would seem more legit as a breakfast item. It's true. But somehow I can't imagine it tasting quite as good or being as much a treat as if I make them into cookies. So there.

Here is the recipe. My tinkering: 1/3 cup chocolate chips, craisins instead of raisins, additional oatmeal to replace the bran flakes, and I make 18 cookies instead of 12.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Refashioning project

After months of travel, weddings and related events and otherwise busy weekends, Phineas and I finally had a quiet weekend free of commitments. So, in addition to getting back into the kitchen, I took the opportunity to get back into the craft lounge. I can now scratch Erato's birthday gift off the to do list. I think it is safe to post about it since she is in finals and not likely to read my blog.

How to Refashion a Dress
Step one: Take one old dress and rip out the seams.

Step 2: Sew all the loose hems and add a colorful waistband and sashes.

Step 3: Add ties and some embellishments, like a flower and a loop for hanging.

Step 4: Topstitch the waist and sashes, and add your own label.

Step 5: Voila! Admire your handywork. You now have a very cute apron!

Obviously, you wouldn't cook a messy meal in this apron, but I can see Erato sashaying around her new apartment offering cocktails to her guests in it. Perhaps I will have to make some matching drink napkins or coasters.

Three cheers!

The oven is back and I am a happy baker! First up was oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, to get me back into the swing of things.

Admit it; you do it too...

Nothing beats the smell of cookies in the oven...

...except cookies cooling on the counter.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pants: In 2D

I was very disappointed when I had to cancel my Pattern Drafting Class because of a work commitment. My fabric shop said they probably won't offer the class again for another 3-4 months. BUT on Tuesday, the teacher of the class called to say I could make up the missed lesson with a one-on-one session on Wednesday night, and then I could join the main group next Monday. Woo hoo hoo! What an opportunity!

Pattern Drafting Class 1No, you are not allowed to suck in...

Most of the class was spent taking very detailed measurements of my body - waist, high and low hips, length from center waist to floor and side to floor, circumferences of my thighs, knees and calfs, crotch depth, height of my knee... You name it, I now know exactly how big it is. I even had to bring scary spandex pants to wear in order to get a really accurate measure. (ewwwww!)

The point of the class is to make a sloper - basically a 2D image of yourself that you will then use to create patterns in whatever style you want that fit you perfectly. We spent the rest of the class doing some calculations - taking my specific measurements and adding the right amount of ease. (Ease is the amount of extra room you need to actually move and be comfortable in a garment.)

Next class we will draw our slopers. Then we will create a muslin to check that the fit is correct and work out any kinks. And at the end, I will (in theory) have solved my pants problem!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back to the Kitchen

Since I am sadly still without an oven, I am resorting to posting recipes that don't require heat. My corn salad recipe has become a summer staple. Actually, I am not even sure I can even call it a recipe since it is entirely raw. But, since I get lots of requests, here is the "recipe". No cooking required.

Summer Corn Salad
  • 4-6 ears corn (raw)
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes or 1/2 carton of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 med red onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional ingredients (any assortment of): 2 avocados, 1 large cucumber, 1 can black beans (rinsed), 1 mango, 1-2 red peppers, parsley (to replace some or all cilantro)
Shuck the corn and cut the kernels off the ears. Dice tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño. Rinse the onion in cool water to tame the bite, if you want. Toss all the ingredients together including any of the optional ingredients. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Here it is before the addition of tomato, avocado and red onion. I
never remember to take photos of my finished projects! It's a problem.

For Terpiscory's recent shower, I made this salad with added black beans and avocado since it was one of our vegetarian offerings. It was a blazingly hot day and the salad was cool, refreshing and looked bright and colorful on the buffet. I made it raw, but you could grill the corn lightly before taking it off the cob if you really wanted. However, if you have never had raw corn, I highly recommend that you give it a try. It is fresh, crisp and delicious.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Birthday Love for Phineas!

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you. - Winnie the Pooh

Friday, August 1, 2008

Light at the End of the Oven?

Apparently, the part arrived yesterday. So, the oven may be back in business in time for pizza Friday this evening and peach pie for Sunday. Fingers crossed!

Yes, that is twine holding the oven together. I am hopeful that this is the
things get worse before they get better portion of the repair.

UPDATE (8/4): The oven is still not fixed. Apparently what was thought to be the broken part is not actually the broken part. SIGH. Back to the drawing board.