Monday, December 16, 2013

Animal Print Wrap Top: Vogue 3879

This is a wearable muslim for Vogue 3879. It is very wearable... I love it. 

Since this was a super stretchy knit and just a casual top, I didn't do the facings, I just bound the edge with a wide piece of self-fabric. I stretched the binding a bit as I sewed to tighten in the edge. So far it works, no gaping.

It is the middle of winter, so a bolero top makes this wearable. I actually prefer all of my tops sleeveless right now... I'm STILL nursing my toddler, and those hormones are keeping me warm!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mod Zag Wrap Dress: Vogue 8379

It seems like the DVF wrap dress calls to every woman at some point in her life...!

Wish I could have found a copy of the original DVF for Vogue pattern, but I got the closest thing I could find: Vogue 8379. I used a gorgeous rayon zig-zaggy print knit from Emma One Sock. It is one of the nicest knits I've ever worked with, just deliciously soft and totally opaque. I wish every knit could be so well behaved! I was just barely able to eeek out a version of the dress with my 2 yards. One change I made was to taking a lot of the fullness in the skirt that I didn't want anyway- 20 inches out of the sweep of the skirt! And I shortened it considerably.

OH, and I also made the dress sleeveless. Not only does it save on fabric, but it also allows me to stretch my wardrobe out to all 4 seasons, and adjust to the wide variation of temperature variations in my environment (freezing office, overly warm classrooms, etc.) In order to make it sleeveless with a clean line, I drafted an armhole facing (this was the first time doing that and it was easy!). 

Sleeveless dress with a long-sleeve bolero made from rayon jersey.

To fit the pattern to my body, I cut an 18 waist and skirt and a 16 bust and shoulders, and still took out another inch around the bust (curved it in under the armhole). For reference, I'm  12 in RTW in both tops and bottoms. I also reshaped the front armhole... it had a very extreme curve, which I tamed down a bit. To fit the pattern onto my 2 yards I cut the belt in two parts-- not ideal but it doesn't look too bad.

With a simple wrap made from a lofty wool/mohair knit from Mood.

I interfaced the facings with lightweight tricot from Emma One Sock-- this is the nicest interfacing I have ever worked with. (UPDATE: tricot from Fashion Sewing Supply is also fantastic!) I also put some strips of interfacing in the shoulder seams to control stretch. I hemmed with interfacing... first time I've done that, and it is really a beautiful method. I tacked the facings down with fusible hem tape (I feel like this was cheating, but I tried hand sewing and everything shows on this fabric, and I can't stand spending all day tugging at facings).

Before making this dress I made a wearable muslin (will post pics later) where I skipped the facings and bound the neckline and armholes. This was okay-- a more casual look, I love it too! For this dress I tried the facings and love the clean, crisp look. This is also sort of a trial run before I make it in silk jersey, and my previous attempt at making another dress in silk jersey was sort of sad-- by the third wearing it has completely stretched out. It was also a b---- to sew, it kept wiggling out from under my needle. I think some very lightweight interfacing would help both problems.

An added benefit-- nursing compatible and adjustable for a changing body, for all those moms out there! I've been wanting this dress for soooo long, don't know why I waited so long! I plan to make it again in silk jersey! It would also be luscious in wool jersey, fully lined, with a thick belt.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Keeping track of all of Bug's words is becoming fairly impossible. But lately, favorite words include: heavy hot/cold She now can open some doors... the ones with lever-like handles that are at daycare and the doctor's office. She's added another gear to her running... she is very fast! She jumps with both feet, on the floor or down steps and curbs. When we were building a bed frame this weekend, she walked around the 2x8s turned on end like a balance beam, putting one foot in front of the other (holding onto my hands). She turns faucets on and off, if she can reach them. We read "Where the wild things are" last night and she pointed and said "Beasts, beasts!"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Words at 22 Months

Bug is now 22 months!

Favorite things to say this week:
"What is it?"
"Where did it go?"
Oooooh noooo!
Put it away.
Mine! It is mine.
Nooooo. (in answer to most everything) (Rarely, "Yes," clearly annunciated.)
Let's go!
Stuck (I stuck, it's stuck)
Whoa! It's a Whoa! (whenever balance is required... like walking on a bed, or a curb)

Baby, Mommy, Daddy, Julian
Dog, Bird, Cow ('ow) (and even, this morning, "Cat"). Of course every four legged creature is still a "Dala" first.
Choo-Choo. Trains, seen or heard, but also trucks.
Down! Jump! (once or twice, "up")
Potty (and Big Potty)
Water (for all liquids, or anything in a cup), (lately, "wat-y")
Sock, Shoe
Eye, Nose
Feet, Toe, Belly, Body
Yellow (and she points to the right color)
Watch (said once, with confidence, pointing to a watch in a book)
Wet, Rain
Appy, Apple (for apples and pumpkins)

Twinkle Twinkle (loves "up above the world so bright")
ABC song.
Ring around the rosies ("all fall down!")

She understands far more than she says. This morning I told her to go get her jacket from the bedroom, and she came back with it promptly.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Words like Water

The words flow out of her now... every day new ones, things that surprise us. This morning, she reached for the brush, and said "brush." Quite clearly! She looked at the room we are painting, to be her room, and said, "yellow." The babysitter said they practiced that one last night. Yesterday evening when I picked her up, she pointed to the swing on the porch and said, "swing." I asked if they had been on it, and they had not.

Favorite words:
"Noooo." Said with emphasis and inflection, and shaking her head, to nearly everything she is asked.
All done!
Uh-oh. It's uh-oh.
Mine! It's mine.

Other words:
dog (although all animals are still "Dala" first)
Banana (or 'nana)

She will mimic lots of words, repeating after us.

Monday, October 14, 2013

21 Month Words

Favorite word: Mine. Is it mine? It's Mine! Mine, mine!

When she wants milk: mi? mi?

Put it on? (can mean put it on, or take it off).

Is it ot (hot)? (can mean is it is hot, or it is cold).

All animals that walk on four legs are "dala" (the name of our cat).

Words heard more than once: bird, nose, nana (banana), water, baby, potty, tissue, bottom, shoe (one syllable), Dada, home.

Words heard once, mimicked: Julian, elephant, Thank You.

A Glorious Fall Afternoon

A glorious fall afternoon. We picked ripe orange cherry tomatoes, clinging to the late fall vines. Bug smushed them in her mouth, and sometimes her hands, slippery seeds clinging to her shirt and chin. We picked peppers from bushy, vining plants-- bell, italian sweet, poblanos, and brilliant red thai hot peppers. A few curling late season string beans, Little Bug picked a fat yellow one and crunched on it. I cut bunches of herbs for drying. We lay on our backs in the grass, looking at the clouds. A monarch butterfly fluttered past, the smell of the herbs fragrant around us. Bug lay on her back next to me, her head pillowed on my arm, content, giggling at nothing in particular, commenting on this or that with complete sincerity, in Bug language, twisting to look into my eyes to make sure I was following. I was, every word.

Later, we went dancing, the Sunday milonga at Oasis. Bug and I went early, we had dinner there. When our pizza and quesadilla came, she was eager, climbed up onto her chair, reaching above her head to her plate, munching happily on pieces I cut for her. When her hunger was assuaged, she climbed onto my lap, watching me eat. Then she wriggled down, reached for my hand, and led me onto the dance floor. We danced, forwards and backwards, her giggles filling the room as she pulled us in circles until we were dizzy. Dad came later, her face lit up when she saw him, and she leaned her head on his chest, their faces so alike. They danced together, a dance of silly colgadas and volcadas and lots of laughter. She fell asleep on his shoulder. She looked at us when he put her in the stroller, but closed her eyes again. Seeing me free another tanguero took my hand, and I didn't refuse. My sweetheart took another partner. But the next tanda we danced together, and the next, and then the compacita without letting go of each other. We kept dancing through the song after the compacita that wasn't tango at all.

Little Bug was asleep when we got home, and the bed was ours.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Homemade Animal Crackers and Goldfish Crackers

In the last couple of years I've been trying to cut packaged and processed foods from our diet. But I don't want Bug to miss out on yummy and cute things like animal crackers and goldfish crackers. I had been buying those super-overpriced organic bunny snack crackers, but Bug was pretty lukewarm about them. So one day I tried them- they taste sort of like cardboard! Bleck.

One day it occured to me- why not make our own? Somebody has to have done it. And sure enough, there are lots of recipes out there. I tried a few, and have now come up with a couple that work really well for us.

I also spent far too much time searching for a goldfish cracker cookie cutter. The only one out there that looks like the pepperidge farm one is seriously overpriced for a tiny cookie cutter, and I haven't yet gotten around to enacting the DIY goldfish cookie cutter directions that are out on the web. Clever, but I don't have any soda cans lying around, and haven't been inspired enough to dig one out of someone else's recycling bin.

In the meantime I fell for the super-cuteness of all the other mini-cookie cutters out there- how cute are those little frogs, turtles, dolphins, and dragonflies! I've decided that I don't need my cheese crackers to look like Pepperidge Farm goldfish afterall. Bug doesn't seem to mind either.

So here is my Animal Cracker recipe. It makes me feel good that it is full of good stuff like ground flax (high omega 3s!) and oatmeal flour. There is a lot of butter in it... but I don't think that milk-fat is a bad thing for kids, especially as a treat. This is an adaptation of the King Arthur flour recipe:

Omega-3 Animal Cracker Recipe 
3/4 cup (12 tbsps) butter
1/8 cup organic cane sugar
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup of oat flour (I grind up rolled oats in an old coffee grinder)
1/2 cup ground flax (I grind up flax seeds in the coffee grinder too!)
2 tbsp water

I make it in a food processor. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the honey and vanilla. Mix the salt, baking powder, ww flour, oat flour, and flax. Add to the food processor, and pulse until it resembles coarse, wet sand. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time and pulse. Empty the food processor bowl into a ziplock or onto a piece of plastic wrap, and press together into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll out to 3/8 inch thick on a floured surface, and cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake at 350 until the edges get a touch of gold on them.

Omega-3 Goldfish Recipe 
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
In the food processor, grate the cheese into the bowl of the food processor using your grater attachment. Switch to the usual blade, add the butter, and blend until the large chunks are gone. Add the flour, flax, oat flour, and salt, pulse until it resembles coarse, wet sand. Add the water one tbsp at a time, and pulse until just combined. Empty the food processor bowl into a ziplock or onto a piece of plastic wrap, and press together into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll out to 3/8 inch thick on a floured surface, and cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake at 350 until the edges get a touch of gold on them. 

They are totally fun to make too! Of course I get lots of help, some of which includes poking holes into my nicely rolled dough and tossing handfuls of flour on the floor. The cookie cutters themselves fascinate her, she loves picking out the cutter and handing it to me, and washing them up in the sink afterwards.

They are soooo yummy. And they make good play too.



It is pretty satisfying to start the week with full jars of yummy snack food to put into lunches!

Friday, September 13, 2013

20 month vocabulary

Bug's words at 20 months:
(things she says all the time)
Shoe (two syllables "shoe-ah")
Stuck and "I stuck"
Mommy (mumma, mama, mommy)
Dala (all dogs, cats, and sometimes other animals)
It is a bike/ball.

(heard them once or twice)
That is a bike.
Spudder (spider)

Maybe she said that?
Dropped it.
I'm fine.

Her own words:
mi-i, mi-i (pronounced with a long "i" as in "my", with the second i sound rising in question)- when she wants things-- food, milk, a toy

From our 20-month studio pictures.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"It is a bike."

Today when I picked her up at daycare little bug pointed at a tricycle and informed me "It is a bike." she then pointed to a ball and said, "It is a ball." The instances when we think we hear her say something are also multiplying. Yesterday she was throwing a fit in her car seat and I said to her that I didn't know what she wanted. I had just given her a peppermint a few minutes ago. She thought about this then said something that sounded very, very much like "I dropped it." Twice in a row. Also yesterday she suddenly burst into tears in the living room and David asked: "are you ok?" and she seemed to say, "I'm fine" which David thought might be like her yes nod, which usually means no.

This weekend when I was away in Tallahassee David texted me that she had just pointed at a spider and said, "spudder."

Ready to face the day with her babydoll, a purple stuffed animal that Julian made, and her sparkly blue canvas sneakers (her choice!)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall Wardrobe... A Work In Progress

Just last week it was looking so grim that I actually ordered some clothes. A girl just has to have a few new things for a new school year! For example, I gave been ridiculously envious of all of the cute stripey dresses out there this year... And after noticing bulgy-ness showing with some of my jersey tops, I was really wanting a sleek ponte knit top that might be a little more forgiving.

I received my order the Friday before labor day. What a disaster! On three out of four, the fabric was just so plastic-y that it made my skin prickle just thinking about it. Worse than those horrible poly knits of the 70s. The forth (a ponte knit top) had a nice hand, but the fit was terrible... Perfect on the hips, but the chest looked like it was made for a DD, and I'm nowhere near that well endowed.

That was the catalyst... I cranked out 2 tops and a dress this weekend! Added to the few items I managed to make so far, and things are looking rather respectable:

Black denim stretch blazer (finished this summer!)
Marcy tilton raglan 3/4 sleeve top
Princess seamed polka dot knit top
Princess seamed black ponte top with silk chiffon trim
Striped sheath dress

Summer Sewing Projects

Summer went by in record time! Add to that a totally unrealistic list of projects, sewing and otherwise, and I feel like I hardly got anything done. These are the sewing projects I got done (this will start out as a list, and I'll add details as I find a free minute here and there)

Bridesmaid dress with Chris Palau technique frayed chiffon.
Lilly's princess dress (also for the wedding)
Polka dot linen dress (so this was finished in the spring, but I made it to wear in the summer!)
Drapey linen top
Sorbetto top in linen
Black button down cotton top
Stretch linen pants with zip fly (started over a year ago!)
Turquoise linen button down dress with embellished neckline.
Silk jersey skirt with comfy yoga waistband (remake of a failed dress)
Hot pink Milly silk jersey drape neck dress
Chevron stripe skirt with yoga waistband
Replaced the tattered acetate lining of my fall wool coat with blue waves silk charmeuse

Listed all together, it doesn't look too bad!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Black Denim Blazer

I finally finished my first ever blazer this summer. It spent over a year in my unfinished projects bin, and I would work on it here and there. But I was determined to finish it this summer.

It is super-comfy, with sleeves that actually fit. One of my biggest problems with RTW jackets is that they all seem to be made for women with skinny arms. I have muscular arms... a legacy from my climbing years, kept up lately by carrying around Bug, who has to be almost 30 lbs now! It is also comfortable to button, while most of the other jackets I own look terrible buttoned for one reason or another.

The jacket fabric is black stretch denim. My feeling was that it was a cheap fabric so I could have lots of extra in case of mistakes (and I did have to remake one of the collar pieces). At the same time, it is a durable and comfy fabric suitable for many occasions-- the black is dressy enough for most any event I'm likely to have to attend, but also goes great with jeans.

I also despise those polyester-acetate linings that are everywhere in RTW, so this one has a luxurious hot pink stretch silk charmeuse lining, with an interior pocket! I never understood why men get those, and women's jackets almost never have them. I also did a bound buttonhole and double-welt pockets.

It was definitely a learning process. I had to re-cut some of the collar pieces, and I unpicked and resewed the lapels several times. I tried my best to emulate fine tailoring- the lapels are pad-stitched hair canvas with cotton twill hand sewn on to define the roll-line. The sleeve headers are wool felt, and the shoulder pads are handmade from wool felt.

For next time, I'm thinking about narrowing the shoulders a bit... it feels just a bit wide on me. But I think I'll wear it around awhile to see.

If you are interested, the pattern is Simplicity 2446.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Missoni Wool Cardi-Coat

This was actually one of my first major sewing projects when I got back into sewing, and it is still one of my favorite garments to wear. The fabric is a gorgeous wool Missoni chevron-knit sweater fabric from Emma One Sock. If it isn't the real thing, the fabric is gorgeous enough that I am happily fooled. It is soft but still has that warm-woolie feel, and there are pretty feathery yarns and some that have some glossiness, without being glittery. I haven't seen a fabric like this since, I'm glad I made the splurge then.

The pattern is improvised from a cardigan sweater, and modeled after a Missoni design. I used the selvages for the sleeve and bodice hems, and crocheted an edge with a wool yarn. The shoulders and armholes are stabilized with weft interfacing cut on the bias.
The Inspiration

Considering everything I know now, it is sort of remarkable I pulled this off. Cardigans are definitely one of my favorite things to sew, they are so forgiving and satisfying.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Drapey linen tunic-top

Here is my favorite top of the summer. A little rumpled in this picture, and not perfect, but definitely my go-to top for a hot day. It is an adaptation of Simplicty 2404, and by this time looks nothing like the original, having extended the bodice of the dress into a full princess-seamed tunic-top. I made it in a gorgeous digital print linen from Marcy Tilton, the same one she uses in her new spring dress pattern. I bought the pattern, but really I think I envied the fabric! Finally one yard showed up in the roll ends, discounted enough that I could justify purchasing it. I've remade this pattern several times in knits this fall, subtracting width to create negative ease and taking in the neckline a bit to reduce the bit of gaping that is going on here.

It may not be the most polished top, but I sort of love the way linen wrinkles, it is cool in the hottest weather, and the princess seams combined with the drapey-ness make me feel like I have a figure even when I'm not in the mood to show it off!

Friday, March 29, 2013

DIY Missoni Skirt

I got bit by the Missoni bug, so when some genuine Missoni fabrics showed up at my favorite online fabric store (Emmaonesock... just fabulous stuff!) I purchased just one precious yard of this fabulous fabric to make my very own Missoni skirt.

The fabric itself is amazing. It is a viscose knit, and has an incredibly soft hand. The pattern is very intricate, and the colors are vibrant and highly unusual... a great addition to my mostly BW wardrobe. I've seen many Missoni look-alike fabrics for much cheaper, but I have yet to see an imitation that has the lusciousness of the real thing.

I searched for the perfect pattern, but I couldn't find anything simple enough. With a stretchy knit and the strong zigzag pattern, I really just wanted a very basic pattern-- lightly shaped for my curvy body type, with minimal seams. I also thought I would like a seam in the back so that I could put a zipper in, and maybe a vent. So I ended up just drawing up my own pattern, with the help of some online tutorials and a tape measure.

I added a shaped waistband that is interfaced with a tricot knit for some body and stretch. I thought that if the knit ended up being excessively stretchy, a shaped waistband would help it stay on my hips!


The back has a zipper and hook and eyes on the waistband. I should have used an invisible zipper... instead, I used a regular zipper I had in my stash and tried my best to hide it. This is the one thing I sort of regret, so I may fix this someday.

For some extra luxury, the skirt is lined in a luscious nude silk jersey, and the edge is finished with a crochet edge done with a thin 100% wool yarn.

Real Missoni Skirt: $890 At Net-a-Porter.My DIY Missoni $105+: $50 one yard of Missoni flame stitch fabric, $40 for 1 yard of amazing quality silk jersey, $15 for the wool, and many (fun) hours of sewing. Working with gorgeous fabrics is such a joy, and matching the zigzags is totally fun!
It is also just amazing having a skirt that fits me perfectly. It is the perfect curve, form fitting but not binding. Also a really nice length, perfect for wearing with boots and knee socks!