Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shorter Commute

I've been packing boxes for the last few days because my office is moving today. I'll have a larger office in a smaller suite and my commute will be shorter by two whole floors. What will I do with all the extra time - 8 whole seconds by my count!?!?! LOL The movers arrive at 3pm.

So, since I'm sitting in my empty office with nothing left to do but pack up my computer, I thought I'd share this new Harry Potter trailer with any other fans out there. It looks spectacular!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pockets and Poconos!

It was a very exciting weekend in the Craft Lounge!

Welt Pockets

Shortly after I posted my first good-looking welt pocket - done on scraps - on Friday, I took a deep breath and made pockets on my pants...

Look, look! Welt pockets!
...And I am thrilled with how they came out!

Once I set my mind to it, and approached the whole thing in a calm and careful way, it all fell into place. I think Ann of Gorgeous Things really wrote a very thorough and top notch tutorial which guided me through it in exactly the right-for-me way. Honestly, some instructions have you pulling the whole pocket bag through the opening, flipping things inside out. Those methods just didn't work for me.

In the end, I would have to say that welt pockets aren't difficult, per se. They just require careful and meticulous attention to detail. And sharp scissors. I used serrated medical scissors, which seemed to allow me to cut to within one or two molecules of the stitching. LOL. It really helped.

Anyway, these trousers are nearly done, which is a very good thing since the Bottoms Up Challenge is winding down. So, expect photos soon.

Pocono Sew and Vac = New Toy for Me!
Yesterday, I took a road trip to Pocono Sew & Vac in Stroudsburg, PA to finally buy my very first serger! I really cannot say enough nice things about their friendly and knowledgeable staff. I've had a very good experience with them since buying my fabulous SM from them about 18 months ago.

My new toy!
After careful deliberation, I decided on the Brother 5234 that I first looked at in February. Most of yesterday afternoon was blissfully spent playing with this new toy. I threaded and unthreaded it (easy!), I serged a whole bunch of scraps (no tension issues or snafu's!!), and it made no mess since there is a (not-pictured) catch basin for the cuttings.

Now, there will definitely be a learning curve. I need practice "chaining off" the ends, I have no idea at this point why I would want to use a 3-thread overlock rather than a 4-thread one, and I have no idea what to do with the rolled hem stitch other than sew napkins (not likely). However, I'm incredibly excited to figure this all out and get going.

Hope you had a fun weekend, too!  And if you have any suggestions on books or articles on sewing with a serger, let me know!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Woo hoo hoo! It's A Welt!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present my first successful welt pocket!

My first non-disaster of a welt pocket
Is it perfect, no. Not yet. But it is such a vast improvement over my last attempt that I think we can call it a victory. Note the absence of puckering. The keys to success? Very sharp scissors and Gorgeous Ann's tutorial.

On the next version I will use thinner fabric for the pocket bag so it doesn't show through.

Hooray! And thanks for all the votes of confidence.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hard Week, Hard to Resist Sale

It's been a grueling week at the office with my boss here from London, a board meeting to run and all of the associated social functions (board dinner, donor reception...). There was not a second for sewing, which was incredibly frustrating, since the shops of the Garment District taunted me on my way to and from meetings (it's terrible to have to walk by one fabric store after another with lovely things in the window when you just don't have the time to stop and smell the rose print cotton voile). Therefore, I'm going to go easy on myself for adding to my pattern stash in the five minutes I did manage to carve out for myself. And, in fairness the patterns were on sale for $1.99-$3.99 at
Here's what I scored.

McCall's 6164 - A variety of tops

McCall's 5890 - Nancy Zieman - 10, 20, 30 Minutes to Sew

Butterick 5382 - Fast and Easy

The first three are patterns that I've seen other sewistas in the blogosphere sew up beautifully and thought "gee, I need to get me one of those". The other two just appeal to me. I tend to wear a fair bit of DKNY in RTW, so I have no idea why I haven't sewn up any of the Donna Karan or DKNY patterns by Vogue (duh).  And the Vogue wardrobe pattern (which is not DKNY) actually would have been perfect for a week like this one - board meeting by day, cocktail reception at night.

Vogue 2064 - Donna Karan

Vogue 1042 - Wardrobe

I've taken tomorrow and Monday off, so after a very long night's sleep, I will most definitely be up for some sewing - namely practicing welt pockets. Have a lovely weekend! 

Monday, April 18, 2011



1: complete or partial loss of function especially when involving the motion or sensation in a part of the body
2: loss of the ability to move
3: a state of powerlessness or incapacity to act
Used in a sentence: Clio found herself in a state of paralysis, brought on by her fear of the dreaded welt pocket. 

I tried to find a picture that was pink because it is less scary
Yes, I am exaggerating.  But not as much as you'd think. So you understand the severity of paralysis that I am experiencing when it comes to this project, here are all the other things that I convinced myself needed doing before practicing welt pockets: 
So, yes, you read that correctly: I would rather blind myself retracing a pattern from Burda than face my sewing machine and the welt pocket that awaits. 

 Now I could make excuses for why I shied away from getting going on the welt pockets, like there was a weekend guest inhabiting the craft lounge, or that I spent most of Saturday at a five year old's birthday party. But really, it all boils down to project paralysis. I really like the fabric that I plan to add a welt pocket to. And I really don't want to screw it up. So, paralysis it is.

And now that I have confessed (and I do thank you for listening), I have no choice but to get on with it. Wish me luck. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Black & White Mini-Collection//Bottoms Up Challenge

As promised, here is my mini collection of black and white tops!  And since I have newly discovered how to create slide shows on Picnick, I've decided to make it a slideshow. 

I'm hoping that the flashing by of pictures will distract you from my mediocre-at-best modeling skills.

And since Faye has decided to morph the Over the Top Challenge from the first half of April into a Bottoms Up Challenge for the second half of the month, I will be getting back to this project:

Right now - thanks to my dreadful first attempt at a welt pocket - these Simplicity 2700 pants are in danger of becoming a UFO. So, my Bottoms Up challenge will be to complete them... welt pocket and all.

Happy Friday, everyone!


Mangoes are my all time favorite fruit.

That said, I don't think I have ever cooked with a mango. Occasionally I'll add them to a salsa or tropical salad. But my overwhelming sentiment is: why mess with perfection? Most times in my house, mangoes are devoured enjoyed slightly over-ripe, leaning over the sink and with juice running down my chin and occasionally my arms, too (attractive mental image, no?). If you have never enjoyed a mango this way, or wouldn't know how to eat one, I've created a handy slideshow, demonstrating the "hedgehog" method of eating a ripe mango.

Anyway, thanks to an article in the NY Times dining section heralding the arrival of mango season, last night I decided to break out my ice cream maker and actually try out a recipe.  The recipe itself is for Mango-Rosewater Lassi, an Indian yogurt-based drink. However, I felt the need to make some changes. First, I don't really care for rosewater. To me, it tastes like old ladies. Not that I've been tasting any old ladies lately. It reminds me of my grandmother's special occasion hand lotion. So, I replaced it with limoncello.  The other changes I made include using greek yogurt (2%) rather than regular and hacking up the mangoes haphazardly (I object to recipes that make you dice something into neat little cubes only to chuck it into the blender and puree it). And I followed the recipe's suggestion to put the lassi in my ice cream machine and make frozen yogurt out of it. So, here is my version:

Mango Frozen Yogurt
2 cups hacked-up-any-old-way ripe mango
1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tbsp limoncello
Pinch kosher salt
Combine the mango, yogurt, milk, sugar, limoncello and salt in a blender. Purée until smooth. Chill. Churn in ice cream maker for 10-15 minutes. Store in freezer. Makes about one quart.

Tangy frozen goodness.

Yum. Now, be forewarned, this is not "fro-yo" or an ice cream substitute. If you are into overly sweet frozen treats, this will probably be too tangy for you. But if you are a fan of the way frozen yogurt used to be - tangy, not overly sweet, adult-tasting, like yogurt that has been frozen - then this is for you. Honestly, I could see myself replacing the sugar with honey and eating this for breakfast during a heatwave. Mmmmm...

Anyway, I plan on using this recipe throughout the summer for a variety of fruits. The only other change I'll make, aside from the honey, is that I will probably increase the amount of fruit to three cups, depending on the fruit that I'm using. And if I wanted to make this more Indian tasting (not that I've been tasting any of them either) I would add a dash of cardamom.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Over the Top #2 or BUSTED! FBA Denial Strikes Again!

Burda 02/2011 - 102
Last night I finished stitching up my second top for the Over the Top Challenge. I'm fairly happy with it - it's a keeper, but I don't love it. And it is entirely my own fault for being in full blown FBA denial.

Yes, it is true. I thought I had come to terms with my bust.  But, apparently not. On Sunday afternoon, when I finished basting this top together to test the fit I realized that it was too big - at least by one size, if not two. Seriously, I need to NOT use my full bust measurement when it comes to choosing a pattern size. Ever. I'm always so worried about making things too small, that I chronically make them too big. 

Anyway, after some strategic pinning and marking, I sewed the top up quite a bit smaller.  And it fits pretty well except for being a little bigger than I would like at the neckline. Oh, and I am tremendously glad I lengthened by 2 inches at the waist and left an inch at the hem (I only used 1/2 inch for the hem), because I absolutely needed that length for this not to be a tummy top.

Other than my own mistake and the short length, I think this is a really great pattern. I will definitely be making it again soon, but in a smaller size. And I will probably make it a wee bit longer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Over the Top #1

Finally! I finished my first Over the Top Challenge top on Saturday. This top was incredibly easy to sew. I will definitely be making it again. There are enough variations - different necks, sleeve treatments and different lengths - to make a number of unique looking tops.

New Look 6915

This top is just so loose and flowey, that fitting is a breeze. I decided that it was a bit large in the size 14 that I sewed, so I scaled the side seams back to about a size 12, which is where I will start next time.

I think the most challenging part for me was using my narrow hem foot. Basically this foot rolls and stitches the fabric into a 1/4" hem. You only have to press the first inch or so to get it going. However, using this foot takes some practice and my hem is probably a bit wavy from where I didn't quite feed the fabric in evenly.  On such a drapey top, I don't think it's noticeable. And it was really good practice using this foot. 

I've also made a lot of progress on the Burda top that is my second piece for this black and white mini collection. I should be done before the challenge ends on Friday. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

World Peace Cookies: The Way to Phin's Heart?

It's a rare day when I don't eat something chocolate. Yesterday, it was a cookie after dinner; today, I polished off a few remaining cocoa dusted chocolate almonds from Whole Foods. But Phineas doesn't feel the same way. He could go an age without anything chocolatey at all. Or, at least that was true until a few weeks ago when I made Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies, so called because one of Dorie's neighbors asserted that they are all that is needed to "ensure planetary peace and happiness".

I made a batch and froze them, as I normally do. That way I can defrost one or two at a time whenever the chocolate urge strikes. About a week later, I went looking for my nightly cookie and was shocked to see that there were only a few left. I didn't think that I had eaten so many, but how could I argue with the evidence - a mostly empty freezer bag? I harumphed my way back to the couch where I fretted all evening about having apparently gobbled up a batch of cookies in a week, thinking that I should definitely not eat any more for the time being and feeling rather sorry for myself since I had really been looking forward to a cookie just then. It was not until Phin asked about my change of heart about my evening cookie - and I explained my harumphing - that he confessed: he was the cookie-eating culprit responsible for the rapid dwindling of the cookie stash. 

This is a very different chocolate chip cookie for me because you roll it into a log, refrigerate the log, and then slice and bake (as opposed to being a drop cookie, which is my favorite kind). And the texture is also different from your usual chocolate chip cookie. It is a bit sandy, the way a sugar cookie is - in an appealing way.  And the flavor is great! They are definitely a dark chocolate lovers cookie - not overly sweet, deep with cocoa, and a bit salty from a liberal hit of sea salt. Yum!

At this point, the cookies are gone and Phin has asked that I not make another batch too soon, out of consideration for his waistline. But he added that nuts would be a nice addition. Anyway, would the world be a better more peaceful place if more people ate these cookie?  I don't know. But they are so very good that even my non-chocoholic husband loves them. And there was definitely an increase in domestic harmony and wedded bliss at my house with these cookies around.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going Over the Top

Some people have finished tops already, which is totally inspiring, even though all I have is a pile of parts at this point.

Burda top. Cut and darts pinned.

I began my Over the Top tops on Friday by cutting the New Look pattern and tracing the Burda one. Honestly, I would sew more Burda if I didn't have to trace and then add seam allowances to the patterns. I'm convinced that there's a ring of hell where this is the eternal punishment. However, the up side is that this gave me an opportunity to increase some of the seam allowances to 1" instead of 5/8".  I'm hoping that this gives me some wiggle room for getting a really good fit. I also added 2 inches of length to the pattern at the waist since I heard that this top is a bit short and I'm already a "tall" in Burda.

On Sunday, I cut and marked fabric and began pinning. And last night, since I was taking a day off from running, I got down to work on the New Look top. I had cut a size 14, graded out to an 18 at the hips. But after basting the side and trying it on, I've decided that I probably could have just gone with a size 14 or maybe even a 12. This pattern has LOTS of ease. But it looks good that way. So I will be taking it in a bit.

New Look - Neck done and sides basted.
I opted to use some black satin from my stash for the neck band and facing and the tie belt. I thought it would be a nice contrast to the busy pattern. So, at this point, all I really have to do is hem the sleeves and bottom, and make the belt. Since I plan to use my rolled hem foot for the hems, this should come along quickly and then I'll be done with a top, too!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Destashing: 5 Down, One to Go

All the patterns I'm looking to pass on to others are now spoken for, except for this last one:

Butterick B5216: Size L-XL

If you would like it, simply comment on this or Friday's post saying so, and how I should get in touch with you to get your address.

I hope the rest of you who "won" these patterns (really, since it was first-come, first-served, I'm not sure what to call you: awardees? winners? quicker-than-the-others typists?) will post about what you make or send me an email about it. 

Diane, Angela and Andrea - Patterns are in the mail as of this afternoon.

Barb - As soon as you email me your address, I'll get yours out, too.

Happy sewing!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stashing and De-stashing

Last weekend, I sorted through my pattern stash and did some organizing. It's funny to look back at the patterns I bought as a new sewista - what I thought I would be sewing vs what I actually sew. Although there weren't really any patterns that made me say "Gah! What was I thinking!?!?!", I've selected a few for de-stashing anyway. And if any of you would like any of them, please raise your hand* and I will be happy to mail them off to you. Here we go:

Kwik Sew 2589 (S-XL) - Lingerie

I would be so very pleased if someone would take this Kwik Sew pattern off my hands - I feel a need to banish it from my sight. It's a good pattern that seems to have worked for just about every other sewista out there, but it truly just doesn't work for me. But luckily for anyone who may want it, I traced the pattern. So, aside from a battered envelope, it is in near mint condition.

Vogue Easy Options 8138 (size 20,22,24) and Butterick 5216 (L, XL)

Again, there is nothing wrong with these patterns and they are in perfect condition. When I bought them, I was on the fence about what size to buy. I went with the larger size envelope and then lost weight. Typical.

McCall's 3416 (M-XL) and 4364 (M-XL)

Why did I ever think I would sew for the children in my life? They grow way too quickly for my snail's pace of sewing.

KS 2935 (S-XXL)

This is another tried-and-true pattern. And, thanks to a flub at, I received two copies and they didn't want the extra one back. So, I thought one of you might like it.

And now for the stashing! As I mentioned, I dropped in on Metro Textiles the other day and they just had so many beautiful new fabrics that I went overboard, which seems par for the course for me. Here's my haul.

First, two poly knits. The black and white one will be used right away for the Burda top I'm making for the Over the Top Challenge. The other will be used for another top at some future date.

Left for the Top Challenge and Right for stashing.
Then - and these are the ones I hadn't planned to buy and am giddy about - 3 pieces of gorgeous cotton. I don't know about you, but I'm really bad at identifying cottons - are they voile? batiste? lawn? I just don't know. They're all very lightweight to semi-sheer and will need to be lined or underlined. 

Big blue flowers and two beautiful border prints.

The one on the left is the most sheer and has giant flowers in shades of blue. I think it will be perfect for something beachy. And since I just booked a cruise with just about all of my family to celebrate my parent's 40th Anniversary, it should get sewn up fairly soon. The cruise isn't until August, but I'm already feeling warmer and sunnier just knowing that I have a vacation planned. 

I am thoroughly in LOVE with the two pieces that have border prints.  Aren't they just perfect for some kind of summery dress or skirt? Particularly the one with the giant turquoise flowers. I'm going to have to be very strategic about using these.

Anyway, all this is to say that although I am getting rid of 6 patterns, I am replacing them with 5 lenghts of fabric. Not really much of a space-saving trade. LOL.  But oh, well.

Lastly, today starts the Over the Top Challenge! Wish me luck that my patterns actually do turn out to be the fun and easy projects that I am hoping for, and that I'm not an April Fool for including a Burda top in my plan. Happy sewing and have a great weekend!

* By "raise your hand" what I mean is comment on this post saying which pattern(s) you want and how I should get in touch with you (email?) to get your address. This is strictly a first-come, first-served offer.