Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Giving the Merchant and Mills Francine Pattern a Test Run

I can be a very bold soul ;) 
As I just typed that, I remembered an incident that happened last winter while out skiing. We had skied up to get on a chair. This particular chair is quite old, and a little tricky to get on. There was a man in front of us with his very young, and very small daughter. The attendant had asked him to put the child on the other side of him and allow her to load the child onto the seat. He refused, lashed out at the attendant, grabbed his daughter and put her on the chair. But, the child was half hanging off the chair. I gasped as I thought for sure that the child was going to fall off. The attendant quickly stopped the lift, came around and properly placed the child on the chair. She commented to the man that if he takes the chair again, that he must listen to her. He snapped back...and then I opened my mouth. He turned back to me and said that it was none of my business. I replied, "But it is, accidents affect everyone who is skiing on this mountain." At that point, the lift began to move, and off he went. The attendant thanked me for defending her. While I did defend her, my actual concern was for the child. 
When we got off of the lift, I was ready for a confrontation, but the guy had skied off with his daughter, and I never saw them again. 

My initial comment though, was in regard to sewing, not me trying to be the police of the world :/ 

I have never used a Merchant and Mills pattern, so before I started using the Francine pattern to design other pieces for the upcoming challenge with Becky of Trail Balloons, I wanted to give the pattern a test run. I had purchased a lovely remnant of wool from Fishman's Fabrics in Chicago. Such a beautiful piece, it feels like butter against the skin. 

To make the dress, the pattern calls for almost 2 meters from a piece of 60" wide fabric. I only had 1 2/3 yards. But, I played around with the fabric, and was successful. 

We had dinner a few nights ago with a friend who is a retired Navy submarine captain. He and my husband were commenting on the fact that the United States is one of only 3 countries that doesn't use the metric system, Liberia and Burma being the other two. I'll be honest, when it comes to the metric system, I can be quite lazy. Thank goodness for online calculators!!! But, I still managed to make a mistake with the measurement calculations, and cut a dress that swam on me :/ And too...I need to enter here that I did not make a muslin, but cut the pattern directly out of my lovely piece of wool. I know, I know, shame on me!

Thankfully, all was not lost, only the pockets. Here again, I was lazy, so instead of taking out all of the stitching, I simply took in the dress so that it no longer looked like a tent, and chopped off the pockets. 

Pictures of me in the dress will follow. I have actually worn the dress a number of times since I made it. It is so comfortable, and easy to wear. It has been horribly cold, so I have worn a wool t-shirt underneath the dress, a black one. It just peeks out from the opening in the dress and looks quite cute. The side seam pockets would have been nice, but in the end, I really haven't missed them. But, I will add them back with the next dress.  

A few other pattern notes;

*There is very little ease in the sleeve. But, with the wool, the seam steams beautifully.
*I found the sleeves to be rather wide around my arms and wrists, so I tapered them quite a bit. In all fairness, I do have rather thin arms and wrists and typically taper my sleeves.
*Measure the circumference of the top, or dress pattern against your own measurements. And, a muslin would be most helpful before cutting your fashion fabric, especially if it's a very nice piece of fabric. 

As I said, I really love the dress. The shoulder seams hang off of my shoulders a bit, but that is hardly the end of the world. I just didn't want to take the sleeves out and adjust the shoulder seams. When I make my next piece, I now know what size to cut, and the pattern will hang correctly on my body.

I have a number of fun tweeds that I will be using for my challenge pieces. As soon as Becky and I have nailed down a few particulars, I'll let you know the start date of the challenge. I'm so excited!!! :)   

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday Morning Inspiration/Fringe It!

I feel like this post should be entitled, "Great Expectations." I had the best intentions of doing so many posts last week...and then...I did nothing. Maybe it's winter, but, it really can't be that as I LOVE winter. Oh well, I'm here today, and I guess that's what counts :)

Some fun things, not at all sewing related...

I am having the best time with Berkley! The very first night that I brought him home, he jumped up on an ottoman that rocks back and forth. Most dogs would quickly jump off, but not Berkley! He just rode it out. The thought came to me that he might enjoy an agility class. The only problem was how aggressive he became when he would see other dogs. So, I decided to have a trainer come and help me with the situation. Last Monday was our first session. He was a little shocked by the experience, but the techniques really work! I had him out for a long walk yesterday. We encountered 3 dogs. I could see that he noticed the dogs, but he just kept walking. I was so very happy. There's still hope for that agility class :) 

My husband's nephew had mentioned that I should find a cabinet for the Christmas Creatures that I have made. I thought it was a great idea, but I was a little stumped on what the cabinet should look like. It really needed to have the same funky aspect as the creatures. 

I found the cabinet pictured below, made from repurposed wood and an old window frame. Perfect! The only issue was that it would need shelves, lighting, and glass in the door/window. I took it to a carpenter/artist that I thought would do a nice job. He did :) Now the little creatures have their own home.              

We hung the cabinet last week. It weighs a TON!!! And, it was a bear to hang. But, it's up, and until the end of the world comes, at least for me ;), this is where the cabinet will stay!
What has been nice is that everyone who has dropped by has been drawn to the cabinet, and they have just stood and marveled at all the little guys inside. So nice :) It looks like there's a crack in the glass in the picture below. There isn't, it's just a shadow.  

Becky of Trail Balloons and I are gearing up for a new February challenge. We will be using the Merchant and Mills Francine top/dress to create woven wool/tweed sweatshirts. We have set our weekly challenges, so we have a game plan. Now to decide what I'll be doing. I did a little snooping around on Pinterest for some design ideas. As it turns out, I was really drawn to fringe. 

I love this piece from Chanel. Pictured on Anna Wintour on the left, I love how it was cut on the bias. With this piece, the fringe is not a self fringe, but feathers. Regardless, it's a great inspiration piece.  

Here's a tweed jacket that was given added attention with the fringe trim. So pretty. 

The fringe on the dress and jacket below looks like a purchased trim. But, the fabric could easily be fringed and sewn back on to the garment.

Another Chanel piece with self fringe.

Two rows of fringe on the jacket. It really pops due to the added black trim.

An extremely simple top given a little interest with the fringe hems. Love the added detail of the fringe on the skirt as well.

The center panel on the dress below would have disappeared had the fringe not been added.

Another super simple top made more interesting with the fringe on the sleeves and the hem. Love the added detail of the knitted cuffs.

The last two pieces are skirts and not tops, but I really love the self fringe on both.

Bubblegum 4 Breakfast did a lovely post on how she created this beautiful bias trim. You can find the post HERE.  

Here's another great post on making fringe from KBDesigns. 

So, if you find that you would like to embellish a garment, especially one that is made with a fabric that will fringe, there's no need to search and search for trim as you just need to pull a few threads!

Have a great week!

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Patty Cake Rice Cakes

My hometown is surrounded by rice fields. I can remember being amazed when the fields were flooded in the early spring. How could anything grow in so much water? And then, as if by magic, the rice would begin to emerge.

Rice has been a staple in my life from the time I could eat solid food. I grew up eating rice as a cereal, as a pudding for dessert, in soups, with butter, and smothered in gravy. When I would come to the table and see that rice was on the menu, I was a very happy girl. As long as there was rice, I could somehow choke down whatever else was there that I didn't care for. Just to show you how crazy I was, I would carefully move my rice to one side of my plate so that the other items on my plate that I did not like would not "contaminate" my rice. I know, crazy ;)

I still LOVE rice, and I am quite satisfied with a bowl of rice and a wonderful item that I get in Chicago called giardiniera. Here's a recipe for Italian Giardiniera that looks fairly authentic. As much of this stuff as I eat, I need to see about making a batch! Anyway...when I make rice, I always make much more than I can use at one sitting as I want leftovers. An item that I love to make with the leftovers is rice cakes. I love these things!!! I will eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...and all in the same day! 

The cakes are super easy to make. Just begin with 2 eggs, whisk them until frothy. 

Add the rice, shredded cheddar cheese, bread crumbs. I stir this mixture together and then add finely chopped spinach, onion, garlic, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.

Combine all of the ingredients, and then measure out 1/4 cup of the mixture and form into round patties. The mixture can be a bit sticky, so I just keep my hands wet with water as I form the patties. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place patties in the oil and cook for at least 3 minutes without touching. Turn and press lightly to flatten out and cook another 3 minutes, or more to obtain a golden brown.

For breakfast, I serve the patties with poached eggs, and sprinkle them with fresh chopped parsley.


For lunch, I will place the patties on salad, or I just top them with giardiniera. For dinner, I like to make a mushroom or tomato sauce for the patties. So, they are quite versatile, and delicious anytime of day.

Patty Cake Rice Cakes

2 cups cooked rice
1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs ( I like bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste
Enough oil to cover the bottom of cooking pan

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add rice, cheese, bread crumbs and mix well. Combine onion, garlic spinach, oregano, red pepper flakes and stir into rice mixture. Add salt and black pepper to taste. 

Heat oil in large pan over medium heat, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Measure out 1/4 cup of the rice mixture and form into patties. Keeping hands wet will help to keep the rice mixture from sticking to your hands. Place patties in hot oil and brown on each side for at least 3 minutes, until golden brown. Turn patties, press lightly to flatten out and cook on opposite side until golden brown.
Place cooked patties on paper towels.

Leftover uncooked patties can be place on waxed paper and frozen to cook at a later time. 

Patties can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast, top with a poached egg. For lunch, place on top of salad. For dinner, top with a mushroom or tomato sauce.

I grew up eating plain ol' regular white rice. When I cook rice these days, I typically use brown rice, but I also love red rice, forbidden rice, and wild rice. I just love having the opportunity to try so many wonderful varieties of rice :)

If you give my rice cakes a try, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Bag To Pop Over!

Last Friday and Saturday, I had the opportunity to take a class, and make the Poppins Bag by Auntie's Two Patterns. It was a lot of work, but so much fun! 

As with any project, the big question is, what fabric should I use? You may remember the watercolor I did last summer and had made into fabric on the Spoonflower site. 

I had a piece printed in a 2 yard piece of cotton, just to see how I would like it. The quality was fine for basic cotton, and I had thought that I would do a skirt, then I changed my mind and thought of a kimono jacket...and then...I did nothing with it. I am so happy that I didn't as it became the focus fabric for my bag. Below you see the front of the bag once the quilting had been completed. Look closely as there is a pocket in the center panel.  

The bag has made some progress below. Rather than put another pocket on the back of the bag, I elected to do a strap so that I can carry it on the handle of my rolling suitcase. 

My finished bag. There is a frame inside the top of the bag that folds in when the bag is zipped.

 And then pops out when the bag is unzipped.

Here you can see the inside of the bag. There are 2 pockets, and loads of room! I think I could pack my entire wardrobe into this bag. Not really, but it is quite roomy.

I used this super fun rainbow zipper. 

And I love the stars that were provided for the zipper pulls. 

I made the bag at the sweetest store in Granby, Colorado. Tina, the owner is just the best! If you would like to make a bag of your own, you can order the pattern from her. The frame for the top of the bag comes with the pattern. If you do decide to make the bag, I would also order all of the foam pieces that are needed for the structure of the bag. You can find her website HERE. Just tell her that Rhonda sent you :) Don't worry, I get no compensation for this, I just love to pass along great projects, and great people :) Tina also carries the rainbow zipper and the fun star zipper pulls. 

If you do decide to make the bag, just a little word of warning, it is labor intensive. It took 2 full days to complete the bag. But, in the end, it was so worth it!

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A New Year of Learning and Improving!

Creativity is good for the soul :) 
And, it has been a very creative week for me! I began a pottery class on Thursday night. I felt like I was 5 years old again, playing with clay, feeling the squishy mud in my hands. This is my first experience with doing pottery, so it's a brand new world for me. I told the teacher that I just want to learn the basics, and then we'll see where it goes.

I spent the day yesterday, and will again today, taking a class on doing a fabulous travel bag. While I could have done it on my own, I so love being in a class where I get told what to do, and all I have to do is do what I'm told ;) I can't wait to share my bag with you! It has been a lot of work as it involves a huge amount of quilting. I say quilting, it's really just sewing straight lines, but it's still a lot of work. 

While quickly putting something together that you can throw on is lots of fun, and I think, good for the soul, it's also good to slow down, and use more refined skills. I signed up for the Susan Khalje Sewing Club on Facebook. Initially, I was curious, and then, I was quite pleased to see how Susan has formatted the group. The first project was the couture skirt.

The pattern is a basic pencil skirt, but it offers 3 options for the waistband. This is a fabulous option because...we aren't all created the same :) There's a traditional waistband, a contoured waistband, and finally, no waistband.

In the Facebook group, Susan has posted step by step videos on how to create a true couture skirt. Once you begin your project, you are then invited to share your fitting issues. Susan will comment on the fit, and what she feels you need to do to obtain a perfect fit. I have been very impressed with the before and after photos of those who have completed their skirts. Just amazing!  

The second pattern is this beautiful Boatneck Top. I prefer to call it a ballerina top, as that is what I think of when I see this neckline. It is such a lovely neckline for women.

Take note of how the pattern was developed. There are 2 darts radiating from the side seam, and a dart at the top of the sleeve. The sleeve options are many. You may choose the little cap sleeve, or the various lengths of a straight sleeve, short, 3/4, or long. You may also cut the sleeve on the bias. 

I am so very excited about getting started on both projects!!! And you'll be able to share in my progress :) So stay tuned :)

If you think you might be interested in the Susan Khalje Sewing Club, there are a few options. If you think you would just like a taste, there is a 3 month membership. For those who think they might want to jump in a little deeper, there is a 6 month membership. And finally, a year long membership for full immersion. You can find all of the options HERE.

Here's a little video from Susan, explaining what the sewing club is all about.

A friend of mine was recently out skiing, fell and broke his arm in 2 places requiring surgery. Another friend commented that when he was younger, he would set goals for each year, hoping to get a little better with each passing season. He said that all he hopes for now is to stay out of the clinic :/

I think that many of us have had sewing related accidents. I have sewn through a finger more times than I would like. But one thing about sewing, most likely, our accidents will not land us in the clinic!!! And as long as we see, we can improve. Here's to a fabulous year of learning and improving :)

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

A New Challenge

A very belated...
Happy New Year! 

A new year. As the calendar rolled over to 2019, I thought back to a math assignment that I was given when I was in the 1st grade. We had to figure out how old we would be in the year 2000. Once I figured out the problem, I looked at my age and thought, "Well, that's like dead!!!" Now, here we are 19 years after the year 2000 rolled around, and I don't feel anywhere near as old as I thought I would be in the year 2000, and especially, not dead! Such a blessing :)

A friend of mine and I began having weekly check-ins in January last year. We began the year by sharing our goals, and then would check in each week to see how we were doing. Neither of us accomplished everything on our lists, but it was such a great way to help each of us stay on track, and I think we both accomplished more by having to check-in than we would have if we were left to ourselves. If you have a friend that you love and trust, I highly recommend doing this. It's such a great way to feel as though you aren't alone in the world, to have someone else care about what you would like to accomplish, and then to hold you accountable. 

As for blogging...

You may remember that Becky of Trial Balloons and I challenged each other last summer with 4 weeks of woven tees. I so enjoyed the challenge. Each week we had a different theme, and neither of us knew what the other would be creating. Below are the pieces I did. Each was done with the free raglan sleeved tee pattern from Fabric-Store.com

Since we both enjoyed the challenge, we have decided to do another for the month of February. Once again, the pieces will all be woven, but this time around, we will be doing tweed shirts. We will both be using the same pattern, the Francine top and dress pattern from Merchant and Mills.

 I like the nice basic lines of the pattern.

Becky has made the top a number of times and has been quite pleased with it. Check out THIS post to see the top she made for her son's girlfriend. Lucky girl!!! I have not made the pattern, but I am very excited about giving it a try and seeing what I come up with for my challenge pieces.

If you would like to purchase the pattern and follow along, you can purchase the pattern from Oak Fabrics in Chicago. I had initially looked up the pattern online and thought that I would order it from Merchant and Mills. Believe it or not, I awoke one morning at 4 a.m. and the thought occurred to me that Oak Fabrics just might carry it. So, I looked, and sure enough they did! Since I live in Chicago, it was easy enough for me to just pop over and pick up the pattern. So, if you are in the United States, and would rather not pay the shipping from the U.K., pop over to the Oak Fabrics site and she will get it out to you quickly. 

I have chosen a number of fabulous tweeds from my stash of fabrics. It's a win, win for me, I get some fabulous new pieces, and delete a few pieces from the stash.

I have another fun project that I will be working on this year. More on that tomorrow!


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Sunday, January 6, 2019