Monday, November 30, 2009

Multi-tasking in the Craft Lounge

After pie baking, turkey trotting, eating lots of stuffing and battling a cold, I did find some time for sewing over the weekend. I have several projects going at the same time, and the Craft Lounge is a total disaster area. See...

After pinning and basting my 3 Graces shirt in a number of ways to try to make it fit right, I have decided to temporarily shelve it until I am not so peeved that I want to crumple it up and throw it in the trash. Really, I have spent way too much time on this project. I may give up on the sleeves and just finish it as a sleeveless top. I also retraced the pattern, scaling it back by 2 sizes and will probably attempt it again on some cheapo jersey as a test.

After my disappointment with the purple top, I decided to truly flirt with disaster by working on another Hot Patterns um.... pattern. I cut the lining for my pencil skirt. I know, I know, I should do a muslin first. But I just don't have enough hours in the day to make a muslin for every garment. So, I held my breath and cut the lining, which was not terribly expensive. We will call it a muslin. Lucky for me, it looks like it will fit with just minor adjustments (taken in at waist and let out slightly at hips). So, my gamble is paying off. I plan to transfer my alterations to the pattern so that when I cut the fabric, it will be perfect.

Finally, I am powering thru diaper bag #3 for Mar Mar. And it is a good thing, since Baby Abigail arrived a week early on Friday. Congrats to MarMar, Jay and the Big Brother. Um, my gift will arrive as soon as it has a lining and strap. Right now it is just an outside of a bag. And pockets. By this time, you know that diaper bags seem to be an exercise in pocket making.

Oh! And one more thing. I have finished disassembling Phineas' beloved pajamas. Let me tell you what a pain it is to undo flat-felled seams. For the non-sewists, that is the typical blue jeans seam - with 2 visible lines of stitching on the outside, which I am now going to have to learn how to do.

I plan on using the disassembled pj pieces as the pattern for cutting the new pj's since Phin wants his pajamas to be exactly the same as the old ones. These pj's were bought at the GAP about 10 years ago. I have to admit: I'm really rather impressed with their quality. They really held up over time. And once I got a look at the inside, they really were rather well made. I don't think GAP makes such nice clothing anymore.

Anyway, I've got lots going on as you can see, and tomorrow I will talk a bit about my next adventure in the test kitchen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

All Hail the Snail!

39 or so minutes (unofficial time)
Running the whole way
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hmmm, maybe I won't be wearing this on Thanksgiving...

I basted my purple cowl neck 3 Graces top together last night. I had optimistically been thinking that I would wear it on Thanksgiving.

Yes, you will have to make do with a picture of the top on a hanger
rather than looking horrible on me.

That may have been premature. Once I finished basting, I tried the top on: too big. Shapeless. Baggy. Well, it did fit at the hip, but not anywhere else. I had cut a size 12 based on both my bust and underbust measurements.

I usually end up having to taper my tops at the waist. It's my normal adjustment to both the things I sew and to RTW. However, this top is too big at the shoulders, and I'm not yet sure how to fix it.

I think I will have to do some investigating at and elsewhere to see if others had this problem and what they did about it. Hopefully, in between pie baking tomorrow, I will find some time to work on it.

Thank goodness it is only basted together!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sequined Craft Lounge

On Saturday, Dr Kiang and I invaded Magenta's Sequined Studio for our day of crafting. Magenta and Dr K both have a lot of creative energy.

My pursuits - drafting a pattern for Magenta's summer pants and ripping out the seams of Phineas' favorite (but falling apart) pajamas - were very rote by comparison.

A forest of wooden beads being spray painted.

With the addition of some silver and gold spray paint, Magenta turned some colored wooden beads into a fabulous metallic necklace.

You can still see the original color inside the hole in each bead - tres cool! Magenta also once again proved that she can no longer claim to have no kitchen skills. The monkey bread she made for Dr K's birthday dinner was delicious!

Proof that Magenta can bake.
(Note the empty incriminating champagne bottle on the counter.)

Here's the birthday girl:

(Note the new necklace she made for herself.)

Once Dr K gets on a roll with making necklaces, she really goes at it. She ended up making 4 necklace - 3 gifts and the one for herself.

Top row: the 2 necklaces Magenta made.
Bottom: the 4 necklaces that Dr K made.

I'm always a bit lacking in the photography department, and somehow I didn't manage to get a picture of Magenta knitting up a storm, or any pictures of my projects. Oh well. I'll post about those projects at later stages.

Thanks for an excellent day, ladies!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Muse-ings

So right now, Dr Kiang is en route to Magenta's for the weekend. I will be joining them tomorrow for a "pre-holiday jewelry making party with a box of stuff we have 'hanging around' our drawers and craft rooms". We'll also be celebrating Dr K's birthday.

Magenta has big plans for her jewelry making and Dr K is just going to see what inspiration hits her. I, on the other hand, won't actually be making jewelry, since that is more their thing than mine. Instead, I'll be working on a pattern for M's perfect summer pants, which she has been incredibly patient about.

I hope you have great weekend plans too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drapey Top for a Muse

Muse-like, no?

I spent an hour last night working on my 3 Graces top. This is the first knit project that I've done on my wonderful new sewing machine. It took a bit of playing around to decide on the stitch type/length/tension before I was ready to sew.

Also, I had to interface the neckband facing. I recently bought interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply after they had received praise in the sewing blogosphere. Their pro-knit interfacing is definitely better quality than what I'd been using- I guess you get what you pay for. It went on easy and stabilized without compromising the stretchiness of the bamboo jersey.

Ready to sew, I finally took a look at the directions. Hmmm... Hot Patterns instructions are what I would tactfully call "minimalist". Even the diagrams are rather spare. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I would have done the neck/shoulders correctly on the first try if I had not watched the series of Youtube videos on the construction of the top.

I'm not saying that the construction was difficult. It wasn't. Really, the directions and accompanying illustrations just aren't very specific. That said, I'm really pleased with how the top is turning out. I've only completed the neck and shoulder seams, but the draping looks really good. This may be overly optimistic, but I am hoping to squeeze in a little sewing tonight, after a run. Wish me luck on both.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Freeeeeeeeezer Funnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!

Phineas here. As you may or may not know, I will freeze anything! Chocolate, taters, pies, dumplings, you name it and I 've frozen, defrosted and eaten it . When you don't want to cook, it's nice to just reach in the freezer and have a yummy meal in minutes. So the latest version of freezer-to-table cooking involved some short ribs that I braised a few weeks ago but, because of our schedules, never managed to eat. Into the freezer it went! Wanting something different than the usual short ribs with mash (we just had our pre-Turkey Day turkey the night before), I decided to make some quick short rib ravioli.

First, I made fresh pasta dough and rolled it out into sheets for the ravioli. (I know this is not exactly fast, but wonton sheets from the supermarket will also do just fine.)

While resting the dough, I shredded and reheated the short ribs, reducing it in its sauce until it became the consistency of sticky Sloppy Joes (hmmm... now there's an idea!). Next up, fill the wonton/ravioli and cut to size. No directions here, but you can make them as big or as small as you like. Let them hang out while you boil some agua and make a quick sauce.

Tonight's sauce was sauteed garlic, shallot and mushrooms tossed with butter and roasted grape tomatoes (1. cut up a container of tomatoes, add some chopped garlic - season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a healthy dose of oil/your choice 2. place in a 300 or so degree oven or toaster oven 3. stir every so often until it becomes a sticky reduced chutney-like substance 4. use in recipe or put on sandwiches instead of yucky out of season tomatoes or mayo, which is super-yucky in Clio's opinion).

Cook the ravioli, toss in pan with sauce and voila dinner is served!

P.S. Easier version (assuming you have cooked short ribs around) : Cook up sauce. Add reduced and shredded short ribs. Got a bag or frozen peas? Toss a handful of those in to heat through. Dress your favorite fresh or dried pasta (papparadelle would work great) or frozen cheese ravioli. Shower with parmesan or pecorino cheese and eat!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Multi-tasking: Domestic Goddess for the Weekend

Cutting out my purple bamboo top

I did eventually arrive home on Friday evening. And I had a rare weekend without any plans, so I took full advantage and got down to sewing and cooking projects.

I traced the first several patterns for my wardrobe project, cut the Hot Patterns 3 Graces top (cowl neck version) out of my purple bamboo, and cut out the next of my many diaper bags. This will be a messenger style bag, like the very first one I did this year. This is the fabric:

Thankfully, there is only one more diaper bag to go after this one. I also fused some great hair canvas interfacing to the appropriate pieces.Essentially, I am ready to sew both the purple top and the diaper bag.

On the cooking front, I made and froze all of my Thanksgiving pie crusts. And I whipped up a batch of breakfast cookies.

I also ran 3.3 miles on Sunday afternoon - without stopping! - all in one go! So, it looks like I am ready for race day.

Sigh. It's good to be home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stuck in the airport

Well, here I am in the Montreal airport while my flight is delayed. After changing the departure for the second time, they actually did board us. Then they pushed back our departure again by so much that they decided to de-board again - a hint that maybe we will not be leaving any time soon?

So here I am in the airport bar with 22 oz of the local brew. (hint taken. thanks.) That is the small size, by the way. The other option was 34 oz.

All of this is an immense tease. Sewing projects are waiting for me at home. Yet here I am in the airport. And if the size of the beer is any indication, there is little hope that I will be in any shape to sew once I do make it home. What's a girl to do? Sigh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fall Wardrobe Project: Planning

After last weekend's PR outing, I'm all jazzed up about my wardrobe project, and am pouting a bit that I can't get started. I won't be home from my business trip to Toronto and Montreal until Friday.

Over the last few weeks, I've been buying up fabrics and amassing zippers, buttons, interfacings and linings. In fact, on Sunday night I did a major re-org of the Craft Lounge so that it won't be a disaster area when I'm ready to get down to sewing. I just need one or two more pieces of fabric and notions, but other than that, I am just about ready.

I will be making 3-4 knit tops, a pencil skirt, a sheath dress, 3 pairs of trousers and a hobo bag, roughly in that order. I might run into trouble along the way, since all of the patterns I am using are new to me. If I do, I'll revise my plans. But here is how things ought to go.

I'll be making this purple bamboo from Mood and this black jersey from Metro into the Three Graces shirts from Hot Patterns. I've never worked with bamboo fabric before.

I've been planning on making this very fun plaid with silver splashes into a pencil skirt since the spring. It's time to get going on this one. Photos don't do justice, but the fabric has a lot of dark brown (espresso?) in it. It really pops with the purple bamboo.

I confess that I have always had sheath dress envy. I've never really been able to buy a fitted dress off the rack because my top and bottom are just different sizes. So, I am making myself a sheath out of this beautiful Vera Wang Lavender Label boucle suiting. It really is lovely in person. I plan to do view B of this pattern:

And finally, pants. As you know, pants are my arch-nemesis.

But I have three beautiful fabrics. On the far left is a light grey wool suiting from Metro Textiles, that Kashi says is from the Loro Piana mill in Connecticut. It feels gorgeous. In the middle is black tropical weight wool suiting, also from Metro. And on the right is the mystery, possibly Armani fabric from my mom.

What is left to buy is a piece of ultrasuede or faux leather to make into a hobo bag. Also, I need to decide on another fabric or two (I'm waffling on colors), and pattern or two for tops. Black and purple is fine, but I definitely feel the need to inject more color into this mini wardrobe since it is very grey/silver, black and white.

So, there you have it. And here I am still in Montreal for another day. Pining for my sewing machine. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Tortoise and the Snail... on a treadmill...

In the fabled race between the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise - through his superior patience and persistence - wins. However, I am not a tortoise. I am a snail: an even slower runner than the tortoise. But I run. And I'm making progress.

Now that I am attuned to my inner snail, I have ramped down my pace on the treadmill and am finally doing a bit better. It has also helped immensely that Phineas has revamped my workout in the last few weeks leading up to the 5k Turkey Trot, prioritizing the distance covered over the pace. For whatever reason, I found watching the seconds tick by grueling, whereas watching the miles click away is ok. And on my most recent outdoor run, I ran 2.4 miles, walked for one minute, and then completed the 5k (3.1m). So we are nearly there.

Even though I will not be breaking any land-speed records, I am looking forward to my Turkey Day Trot, which I will most likely finish only slightly faster than I could walk it. And naturally, I am looking forward to the pie that will follow. For the record, this snail prefers pecan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pattern Review Day NYC!

I was a bit nervous going to Pattern Review Day in NYC on Saturday. Pattern Review is an online forum for sewists to chat about sewing and review patterns, books and equipment. Think Rotten Tomatoes, but for the needle-and- thread set. This was an opportunity to meet with some of the people whose blogs I follow and shop with like-minded individuals in the Garment District.

I was feeling self conscious about not wearing anything I've made. Most of the clothing I made for myself is very summery, and so out of the question. But I was welcomed into the fold, met lots of great people (many of whom were wearing beautiful things they'd made), picked up some great bits of advice and scored some excellent fabric with a special Pattern Review Day 20% discount. Nancy K summed up the day really well on her blog, so I won't give the blow-by-blow. But here is what I scored.

Phineas has a pair of favorite pajamas, which are falling apart. See...

Right. You don't want to see the hems either. Anyway, we've had a few talks about how these pj's need replacing. But, after all these years, they are so buttery soft and broken in that he is reluctant to let go of them. Also, I had not been able to find any really good match for the fabric. Until, that is, I went to Rosen & Chaddick, which carries only the best of everything. Next time I want $127/yd wool suiting, this is where you will find me shopping. But on Saturday, they also had a beautiful 100% cotton, in the same blue and white stripe pattern as the pj's in question. In fact, it could be the same cloth.

New fabric (background) and old (foreground).

So, Phin will be getting new pj's. I know, I know. There is always one more gift to make for someone else before sewing for myself. But without Phineas, I wouldn't have my wonderful new sewing machine. So, I am making an exception here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Done Done Done!

So, the diaper bag for my sister-in-law is done. So is the matching changing pad. Here it is:



Changing pad


The bag came together quickly and easily. And it looks just as good, and I hope will be just as functional, as the last one. I have just two bags left to make. Whew! And then the factory is closed!

I'm off to Canada for work for the week tomorrow morning. But I have lots to blog about including Pattern Review Day in NY, all the gorgeous fabrics I bought in the last week or so, and my upcoming wardrobe project. SO, be sure to stay tuned.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Muse Day in the Big City

On Wednesday, Erato and I played hookie and spent our day museum-ing, lunching and shopping in the garment district. It was a perfect day - great plans, excellent company and gorgeous fall weather!

We started the day with breakfast at Mon Petit Cafe. As we were leaving to head to the Met, we spotted a button store - Tender Buttons - across the street. What a gorgeous little jewel of a store, and what an auspicious start to our fabric shopping day!

We hit the Met to see the Vermeer's Milkmaid exhibit. I love Vermeer and find something exceptional about every one of his paintings. But then we were off again to stroll thru Central Park - all gold and orange this Autumn - and make our way down to the Garment District for the real fun!

My goal was to buy fabrics for my wardrobe project, which I'll talk about next week. I also wanted Erato to go to a few of the stores that don't have storefronts, so that she would be comfortable seeking out and shopping at these kinds of places in the future. We hit Mood, MetroTextiles, Greenberg & Hammer, NY Elegant Fabrics, and Paron Fabrics, although, by that time we were pretty spent. Here we are at NY Elegant Fabrics.

"Think of how many muppets had to die for this fur!" - Erato

Only scandalous thoughts come to mind when I see see-thru orange vinyl.

Exhaused from our shopping, we decided it was time for a martini and then dinner. We had both been wanting to try Prune for quite a while and, at least for me, it lived up to my expectations. Both Erato and I can be adventurous eaters, and Prune does not play it safe. I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, we had so much fun that we have decided that we have to make our day off together a seasonal - or at least spring and fall - event. Hooray!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Putting it all together: Diaper Bag #2

It's a good thing I worked on Diaper Bag #2 on Sunday, since Phineas let me know that my sister-in-law was having labor pains this morning.

This time, the bag came together quickly and easily, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it is partially to do with my new sewing machine. Maybe it is just that I've made the bag before.

Whatever the reason, I'm nearly done. It just needs a little bit of hand stitching to close some seams up, a label and a few coats of stain guard.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Harry Halloween!


This year, my nephew Orpheus paid me a huge compliment by deciding against getting a new costume for Halloween. He went as Harry Potter again, in the robes I made him last year. It's a good thing I made them long last year, because he really shot up!

His brother Linus decided to go as a superhero, instead. For some reason he wouldn't smile for the camera. This is the most - just a hint of a smile - that I was able to catch. Although, he did lots of smiling at other times.

And again, here is Orpheus as Harry with his mom, Calliope, who also went as a witch. I was invited to come trick-or-treating, as long as I was willing to go in costume. Orpheus was horrified that I was planning to go as as the Harry Potter villain, Bellatrix Lestrange. So, we compromised and I went as his friend, Hermione Granger, instead. And if my mom sends me pictures, I will post one of my very excellent costume.

Happy Halloween!

Update on December 6: Here are a few more photos....

Calliope, me (note the cauldron with the copy of Beedle
the Bard's tales in it),and Orpheus as Harry
in front

I don't think Harry and Hermione ever dueled in the Harry Potter series,
but we dueled over the time turner I'm wearing around my neck.