Sunday, August 28, 2011

Babies, Birthdays, Family and Friends. And some sewing.

Let's see...
crazy days...busy days. Since I last posted, I got a new job offer and start tomorrow.
That means, in those few days, I've been interviewed, drug tested, background checked, fingerprinted, ppd tested, application processed, transcripts requested and faxed.

catered a bridal shower on Saturday ( more on that in a later post...just have to say the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Baked French Toast is the stuff of hopes and dreams),

celebrated the reveal of Meghan and David's new boy arriving in December (that makes her fourth boy!)

celebrated Ben's birthday with a good old fashioned chicken barbecue and potato salad,

had a hang-out day with mom and sister Karen (which included a good dose of fabric) ,

breakfasted with Kate and Sofia.

thrifted, sewed and somehow managed to keep happy through it all!

So what else have I been working on? A newly transformed thrifted top:

It started as a size 2x rayon lycra knit top. Loved the fabric, loved the neckline, so I knew I could do something with it.
I cut out the sleeves and trimmed it all to size.

After stitching it all back together, I added a purchased pin embellishment from Joann's.

And ended up with a new outfit:

My thrifted striped top, a thrifted Gap turquoise cotton knit sweater, and a made-by-me black ponte skirt from Simplicity 2451. ( view D, without pockets or zipper...I was loving the ponte inspiration at Cabi. See that faux leather trimmed black ponte jacket? I'm SO going to make it.)

I just may wear my new outfit to work tomorrow!
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Butterick 5495 or The Perfect Knit Dress

I know, I know. There are many that claim to be the perfect knit dress...I've even made a few of them, and those patterns were pretty perfect at that time. But you want to know the best summer knit dress? The most perfect summer knit dress?

Along with Lori's stunning black dress, I scoured Pattern Review for more inspiration and tips on how to make this top/tunic into a dress. This particular style has been around in ready-to-wear and with the pattern companies for quite some time...and has been rather popular. Understandably so. This style is so flattering for so many different women. It could easily be added to the list of "must have's" in your wardrobe.

My version is made with a rayon lycra knit. Of course, I added some length, and did a FBA, using the same technique that I used with Simplicity 2181, which I detailed here.

The dress is so easy to throw on, and layer with a cardigan or jacket. I wore it to work and it was effortless and comfortable all day long. I just love it, and I imagine I'll put this one in the "make again" pile.

While we were at Black Lake last weekend, enjoying a very relaxing, do-nothing get-away, it was obvious that some of the trees across the lake were already turning. Makes me think of the cooler days ahead with just a bit of excitement.

I'm still determined to get a few last warm weather items checked off the queue. But after a bit of closet editing, and internet browsing, research and sketching, I've come up with some great projects for cooler weather so the fall sewing list is already reaching mountainous heights. What will there be?

Some Ponte knit garments, a jacket or two, and a dress for an upcoming wedding....and that's just the beginning!

What are you planning for Fall?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A $2.50 Striped Knit Maxi and a $10 Color!

No, you do not need to adjust your set. Or your bi-focals. What you see in the following photo is a woman of desperation, and, well, one who likes to save money.
My stylist is having a problem pregnancy, so she's not seeing any clients for who knows how long. But she was kind enough to share my color recipe, along with a good dose of encouragement and her blessings...affirming that I could do it myself.

And so, since I cut JR's hair every 4 weeks, I figured turn-around was fair play.

The best part of the story is that I got to go back to my previous stylist, who had moved to NYC, but now comes home every month to cut hair for selected clients. Mike was able to give me one of his fabulous cuts, and while I was in the chair, said, "did you color your own hair?"
I said, "sort of. actually JR did it."
To which Mike responded, " Well, he did a #$%@##$! good job!"
Now I have my own personal stylist and personal colorist! And I get to sleep with one of them as a freebie!

You know, I've really been noticing the long striped maxi trend this summer. And liking it. I was seriously thinking of buying some striped jersey ( but seriously thinking that I cannot buy any more fabric for a Long Time).
Then, I came across a dress at the thrift store.
( I was supposed to insert a picture of the "before" here. I think I deleted it.) The dress had a much higher neckline, and needed a bit of shaping at the side seams. But I had a feeling I could make it work.

After scooping out the neck and re-ribbing it in a solid ( I actually cut the the hem off of a thrifted tee shirt...sewed it right side together with the wrong side of the neck edge, then turned it to the outside...topstitched with two rows.

Pleased as can be! I wore it last weekend to Sofia's birthday party and got the thumbs up from both of my daughters....which is a pretty big deal, in my world.

Not bad for $2.50 and an hour's work!

JR and I spent last Saturday browsing some local antique malls that we had never been to before. At the last and favorite spot, we met Patricia, with whom I instantly fell in love. We hit it off in a big way, and honestly, when I grow up, I want to have a store just like Patricia's White Linen Mercantile. We struck up conversation about our shared love of vintage, eclectic style, and about my sewing and JR's carpentry. We were excited to discuss what may be a delightful business relationship in the future! I'll keep you posted!

Anyway, enough of that. My big purchase last weekend? A $2.00 pot which now happily holds fresh basil on my kitchen counter.

Tomorrow, we are going away for a weekend in the Thousand Islands with some friends. I am so looking forward to the road trip, leaving the week behind, mile by mile...with only relaxation, euchre and margueritas for the next few days at Black Lake!

Hope you get to have a nap, enjoy family, and make someone smile this weekend.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Delicious Things

Help. There is chocolate cake in my house. Yesterday, we celebrated Meghan's birthday. And it's not a birthday in our family without homemade chocolate cake...the special, homemade, delicious birthday cake. I had a piece yesterday.

And there is still cake in the house.
Over the last year, about 15 pounds have snuck onto my bones without me looking. Menopause, laziness and lack of control have been my master. And now, it is time to get serious. Along with reading a great book this summer called Made to Crave, I have just completed one week using My Fitness Pal. Being able to have the app accessible on my phone has been just what I needed to get focused. It's like having my own diet conscience right in my purse. My own accountability partner. So I planned accordingly, and yesterday, I had cake.

Then, tonight I had cake. Maybe because my phone was no where near the kitchen when I opened the refrigerator and entered into the mindless lure of cake temptation. Maybe because I made the foolish decision not to send the whole cake home with Meghan. Maybe because cake and I can't be in the same county together when I'm at this place of vulnerability.

But, tomorrow is another day. As long as that cake is out of the house.

This weekend, among a zillion other things, I made another delicious confection. A homemade body scrub! There are oodles of recipes online, but I sort of concocted my own.

Lemon Lavender Body Scrub
Equal parts Neutrogena scentless body oil and coarse Kosher salt.
Fresh lemon zest and a little lemon essence oil.

To make it even more special, I thought of lavender. And
remembered that my neighbor had some in her garden.
I went begging, and threw in some chopped blossoms
and leaves to the mix. It gave a lovely scent and made it
even prettier.

Wrapped it all up in a pretty container to give as a gift. And, you know what? It really works! I'm thinking of trying a sugar/oatmeal/ cinnamon scrub for Fall.

And just so I can get goodies out of my system for the night, I will share my best pound cake recipe, which I served when Lori visited. With berries or on it's own. this cake is my go to recipe for dessert that is always perfect.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Beat together 3 cups of sugar with 1 cup of butter. Add 6 eggs,
one at a time. Blend in 1 cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon of
good vanilla. Add dry ingredients ( 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon
baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt) Beat until well blended.
Bake in a greased and floured tube pan at 300 degrees for about
an hour and 15 minutes or until done when tested.

Isn't it pretty all served up on my vintage Heller plates? One of my Michigan thrift finds!

So, now that I've got all that out of my system, I have a fresh outlook. Tomorrow IS another day, and I am going to get up early for a fast walk and a healthy breakfast. And my Fitness Pal will not leave my side all day!

Will you try either of these recipes? What is your weakness?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kwik Sew 3856 (the dress that should have been a maxi)

When I saw this fabric, I knew it would be something special. When I saw Patty's many versions of Kwik Sew 3856, I knew I had to have a maxi from this pattern. But the vision in my head was that fabric with that maxi pattern.

So I searched high and low, and could not find more of this pretty, semi-sheer cotton silk ( from Joann' kidding).

And because of my impulsiveness, and because I had the fabric and I had the pattern, I forged mini-maxi:

What do I love about this pattern? I love the ease of style, the ease of wearing, the fact that I made it in about an hour and a half. It could be dressed up, dressed down, worn as a bathing suit cover-up, worn to walk the dog. Or worn to run errands and go to an auction. It's a cool style and adaptable to modifications.

So that brings me to the part I didn't love so much about this pattern.

I cut the X-L so that I had enough bodice space without doing a FBA....I figured I'd save myself some time. That being said, while I got my extra for boobage, I had way too much extra for the skirt and sleeve. So back to the machine to take in the sides and a sizeable chunk of the underarm seam...just to bring it in closer to my body. I would say that the way the pattern is cut, with the kimono-type sleeve working itself right into the elastic high waist did not make for a flattering fit ( at least for me, anyway). In hindsight, I also would have lowered the empire waist a couple of inches. But I just squeezed enough from my yardage to do even this much. And I'm impulsive. No muslin.

It has a very deep neckline, so that called for more fiddling. Actually, does anyone else have an issue with pattern companies and their plunging necklines? Good grief!

Overall, had it not been for the drapiness of my fabric, the ability to make some modifications, and adding a chunky belt, I would have been VERY disappointed with this dress.

Will I make it again? Perhaps. If I find just the right fabric and just the right yardage to make a maxi. But, life is short... and there are so many other patterns, and so little time....

Going antiquing with JR today! Happy Mama!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Let's go Thrifting...again.

In an attempt to be as frugal as possible, to recycle what I can, to scrimp and save, I now have Wednesdays marked on my calendar. Because even the local thrift store has sale days...and Wednesday happens to be half-price day.

I would rather spend an hour in the thrift store than an hour at the mall. Seriously. I scour the racks with projects in mind, seeing all sorts of fabric to use, and garments to reconstruct. Just a few weeks ago, I found this shirt....a boxy, nothing special shirt. What I liked about it was the color and the weight of the fabric. These summer days, I am all about anything that I can make that is as weightless as naked on my over-heated body. If it weren't this pretty coral color, I might think it was a men's shirt...that's how square and boxy it is. With a breast pocket, even.

I started by deconstructing the shirt...taking out the sleeves and the side seams, and removing the back from the back yoke. I wanted to eliminate that pleat in the back. So, if you can picture this, because I forgot to take a picture of it, I simply flattened out that pleat and restitched the back to the yoke.

Then I had to redraft the arm hole, using a shirt pattern which has a fit that I like. I redrafted the top of the sleeve to match the same shirt pattern sleeve. There. A nice flat back. No pleat. Sleeves that sit nicely on my shoulders.

To give it more shape, I added darts in the back and front, and sewed the new sleeves and side seams in place.

The breast pocket was removed and placed lower on the shirt.
The sleeves were shortened to a more flattering length.

And after, I have the cutest little summer shirt...custom made for me! My cost? A mere $1.50!

Wait till you see the incredible striped knit maxi that I re-fashioned for $2.50!
Stay tuned!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sofia and her Thrifted Dress

Happy Birthday, Sofia! Two years old, has a mind of her own, already loves lipstick and purses, Woody and Buzz, can count to ten and knows her alphabet ... and does not like the song "Happy Birthday." I love her so.

And I've been hit with the trifting bug again. Sof is wearing a little dress I made after one of this weeks' thrifting adventures. It started like this:
A flannel shirt, cut off at the underarm, and adjusted for length. This shirt happens to be flannel. Sof will wear this as a jumper for fall. Perhaps with a black tee and some leggings...we'll see what she decides.

A pattern for the bodice, and a coordinating cotton fabric from the stash (you could certainly use any toddler bodice pattern you have laying around. I happened to sort of make one up from a pajama pattern).

Next? Sew up the bodice. This one is lined in solid black.
Gather the skirt section to fit.
Attach the skirt to the bodice.
Then the fun begins.

With a coordinating black dot cotton, I cut a piece 6" x 45", folded it in half and stitched the sash. It's pleated and attached at the side seams, and tied in a knot in the back.

On the front, I added a store bought pin back embellishment:

And completed? A very cute little dress, which cost me all of about $5 to make, including the price of the shirt.

for my cute little Sofia. Happy Birthday, Sof!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I've got the blues.

Last week, my mom picked blueberries. I love that she brought them to me. I love that she was thinking of me when she picked them. So I made Lemon Blueberry Bread, because I just happened to have a few lemons in the house. The recipe was a. maze. ing. Really. And the loaves were so pretty! You can make it, too. ...get the recipe from our good friends at Taste of Home.

Well, I found out that I cannot wear denim to work. Not jeans, not denim skirts, not a denim ball gown, not a denim jacket. And I can't imagine not going the week without wearing a denim jacket. After all, I have a serious collection started....from the white one on the left, to the darkest denim on the right, I counted ten. Ten denim jackets. They just work with everything.

Now what am I supposed to do? Well, it is the self-proclaimed year of the jacket for me, so I started evaluating my stash and patterns. Next up, to finish out the summer will have to be this
Vogue 8692. Earlier in the year, I scored some Vera white stretch sateen . I saw one on someone's blog somewhere at some time and thought I couldn't live without it, even though it's a more advanced pattern.
Then I was thinking about knit dresses, and what might be fast and easy and cute and blue:

Butterick 4789. The pattern has been around for awhile, and since I have already figured out the FBA for this type of twist top style, I guess I'll go for it! How hard could it be?

I guess my only issue with the twist tops that I've already made ( New Look 6940...I don't think I've ever shown you that top!), is figuring out how to raise the neckline. It's a stumbling block for me. I wonder if I'm just going to have to wear a cami with it? If anyone has any suggestions on modifying the neckline on this pattern, let me know! I'm thinking of taking up the shoulder seams and then scooping out the arm hole maybe? I'll have to fiddle with it and see what I can come up with!

Happy day to you tomorrow!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Peachy Beachy Cover Up

Well, here it is, August 1st. And next week, it will be Christmas. I keep telling myself that we have a good couple of months of good weather left to enjoy. Lately it's been sunshine city around here so I'm going to love every minute that I can.

When we were in Michigan, my poor white cotton beach cover-up had it's final showing. The side seams were frayed, and it had suntan lotion stains, and well, it had seen better days. Thing is, I loved the style very much, so it was without hesitation that when I saw the Peachy Beachy Pool-side Cover-up FREE pattern (thanks to the good people at Hotpatterns and, I had to make it! It's an almost identical match to my sadly discarded former cover-up.

So here she is, all made up with the cotton crinkle eyelet knit that I bought at Field's Fabrics.

It took about an hour to make. I cut an 18 so that I had plenty of room for boobage, and it ended up being too big, so I had to cut it down in all sorts of places...the shoulder seams, the underarm, the sleeve length. But, I'm happy with it now. Very happy. One of the other things I did was make a solid back instead of drawstring all my new version matches my old cover-up. In other words, it only gathers in the front.

And the last modification? I changed the neckline a bit, so that it was just a straight slant on each side, and no button....again, just like my old girl.

I think I'll make another one! But first I have my sights set on Kwik Sew 3856, which I have been lusting over since seeing Patty's many varieties on her website. I have a pretty cotton silk voile, but not enough for the maxi, which I really, REALLY wanted. So, I'm thinking of just doing a shorter version, which will end up being pretty much like the Peachy Beachy, which leaves me to conclude that I really didn't need to by the Kwik Sew pattern after all...

Unless, of course, I can find more of this fabric.....