Monday, July 12, 2010

The Mouse That Made Cinderella's Dress

I have promised to post pictures of the dress I wore to this years' Zoo Ball. So sorry for the delay. The first picture is yours truly, a.k.a. The Mouse.I had the most wonderful opportunity to attend a Couture Sewing Class with Susan Khaljie this past June in Nashville. I had a blast and I knew it would be the perfect place to make headway on my dress. One of the best things is that for once I didn't have to fit myself. It was such a luxury to have Susan do my fitting for me.
Since last years' ball, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I have a wonderful little black wool knit dress from the 60's that I wanted to recreate. The original dress is short, sleeveless and has a small stand collar. The ornimentation is what makes the dress a knockout. Around the hips are ovals of gold soutache and around each oval is a row of rhinestones. In the center of each oval is a slit that a belt weaves through. The ovals sit exactly on the hips, so when you move, well, you can guess where the eyes go. I wanted my dress to be white, strapless and have a small trane.
The first challenge was finding the right cording, in gold, to make the ovals. There is a great fabric store in Nashville, Textile Fabrics. From what I understand, it's a favorite among the country music stars. I found the perfect cording. This picture shows the stitching from the backside.

The coding was sewn into ovals. Once I had sewn all my ovals, I stitched them to the dress. This was a bit of a complicated process. In order to make sure that the ovals would lay flat, I had to stitch them to the fabric from the back side and anchor the entire oval.
Once I had the ovals stitched to the dress, I decided that I needed to frame the ovals with a small black cord. Although the gold was a very strong color, I felt that it needed the black in order for it to have some definition.

In the following picture you can see Susan fitting me and the rhinestones around each oval. In the picture it looks a though the rhinestones are pulling, but that is only because the dress was still in the fitting stage.

I brought the hat that I was going to wear with the dress and everyone was very excited to get a glimpse of what the finished look would be. John Koch made the hat. I just happened to be visiting him as he was finishing this hat. He had made it for a client that lives in Florida. I wanted the hat as I knew it would be absolutely perfect with my dress. Since this client lives in Florida, he agreed to make another for me. This began a search for elongated pearl drop beads that are no where to be found. I was heartbroken as John felt that he really needed that particular bead in order to make this hat. But, lucky me, his client didn't like the hat and returned it. She has dark hair and the hat disappeared in her hair. Since my hair is light, it pops. Again, lucky me.
I didn't get the dress finished while I was in Nashville, but made great headway.
Finally, the night of the party arrived. A friend came by to take our picture. I had held up the dress to walk through the garden to get to the fountain. I didn't realize that I had not straightened out my dress, but you can get a good idea of what the dress looked like. There's a bustier under the dress that is like armour. I love it. Susan introduced me to the best metal boning. It's flexible from all directions and gives the most wonderful support. If you are doing any type of garment where you would like to use boning, I HIGHLY recommend getting this boning. Susan sells it on her website, www.susankhaljie.com. The boning comes in lengths from 2" to 16".

In closing I have to say that there is something so very special about attending a special party in a gown that you have made yourself. That evening there were designer gowns galore. There is no better compliment than to be in a sea of designer gowns and have complete strangers come up and tell you how beautiful your dress is. Little did they know, I made it!!


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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pesto Pronto

Todays post will be short and sweet.
My basil is growing like a weed. I went out yesterday and picked a big bunch and made fresh pesto. It was wonderful. For dinner we had a simple pasta of fresh pesto, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh chives.
Pesto is so easy to make. I found this recipe a number of year ago in The Silver Palette cookbook. It's the best recipe that I have found. I think the walnuts give it a very meaty taste. My Italian exchange student said that almonds also make a great pesto, so you may want to experiment a bit.
I grow my basil, tomatoes, and herbs in pots. If I can have a little garden, anyone can. Just make sure your pots get lots of sun.
So here's the recipe. Enjoy!!!

2 cups of fresh basil
1 cup of shelled walnuts
1 cup of very good olive oil
1 cup of parmesan cheese,freshly grated
1/4 cup of romano cheese, freshly grated
4 cloves of fresh garlic
salt and freshly ground peopper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Process.
Congratulations, you now have pesto.

The Silver Palette Cookbook is a great cookbook to have in your collection. Mine was given to me by a very special friend. This friend had just earned her doctorate and had been offered a one year position at the Field Museum here in Chicago. Rather than rent an apartment, we invited her to stay with us. She introduced me to so many wonderful new things. So now you can reap a little of her generosity with this recipe.

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