Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Bring Back the Art of Tailoring

A year ago, while I was still president of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, the board met for our summer planning meeting. For a number of years, the club had been giving scholarships to aspiring designers who were graduating from design school. Sadly, the school that we had partnered with, closed, so we needed a new strategy. Three of our board members had been mentoring 3 high school students who were interested in pursuing a career in fashion. So, rather than try and find another school to partner with, we decided to promote these young ladies. As it turned out, we loved it, and the audience loved it too. 

The young woman (Pearl) who won our top award was also awarded a scholarship to study at the Art Institute's school of fashion design. Such a wonderful opportunity for her. Although, she was lamenting that the sewing aspect of the program was lacking. So, I decided to help her out. Over the upcoming school year, I will be working with her to create a stitch and technique notebook as well as construct a true tailored jacket. I was so fortunate with the school that I attended as there was a very heavy focus on fine sewing skills. While in school, I built an incredible stitch and technique portfolio. Sadly, our basement flooded, and I lost my book. Needless to say, I was devastated. 

Back in June of this year, I taught a class on seam finishes and fabric stabilizing at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference. That gave me the incentive to begin building a new stitch and technique notebook. So, work has begun on mine, and as Pearl and I work together, my notebook will once again come to life :)

As it turned out, the board member who had been mentoring Pearl also wanted to participate in building a stitch/technique book, and make a true tailored jacket. At this point, I have gotten the 2 of them started. Their muslins have been fitted, and we are beginning the work of tailoring. I too will be putting together a tailored jacket so that they can follow along. So...in essence, if you would like, you can virtually be a part of the class as I will be posting each of the steps of my jacket here on the blog.

I have decided to use the vintage Vogue pattern that you see below. I have been wanting to make the jacket for years! A fellow Haute Couture member gave me the pattern as she felt that "it looked like" me :)

I'll be using this fabulous piece of wool. The contrasting collar will be in a solid navy blue wool or velvet. I'll decide that once I get a little closer to adding the collar. 

I just love the instructions. Not something you see in many patterns today. While looking at the pattern, I told Pearl that this was a time when we used the term, investment clothing. 

On the label of the pattern it says;

Straight from Paris to you - the fashion in this envelope. Your Paris Original was selected by Vogue at the dramatic opening of the designer's collection, then flown to America where a line-for-line translation was put into pattern form. 

Each piece that is included in the pattern is quite lovely. 

I am especially excited about this new project. Anytime I get something lovely out of the deal, I'm happy!!! I'm excited also about being able to pass along a little of my knowledge, and hopefully help a new generation who has not had the opportunities that I had (home ec in high school) to advance her skills. And too, I hope that there will be a little something to glean for all of you who stop by the blog :)

Happy Sewing!

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Are Those Pants???

Over the weekend, we took my mother out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. At one point during the evening, I went to the restroom. As I walked in, I saw a woman peeking out from behind the door of a stall. She said, "I am so happy to see you. Can you help me?" With that, she walked out from behind the door and I could see that she couldn't get the center back zipper of her jumpsuit pulled up. She said that she had been struggling with it for quite some time, and was so aggravated with herself for having worn the outfit. I told her that she wore the outfit because it was cute, which seemed to calm her down a bit. I felt so sorry for her. Poor thing, struggling so to try and get her zipper up. 

A few weeks before Becky of Trail Balloons and I started our August pant challenge, she sent me a note and said that she was putting a little package in the mail for me and thought that we could use it for our challenge. I was quite delighted when I opened the package as it contained not only fabric, but some of the most wonderful vintage buttons, and some lovely lace trims that were handmade. Such treasures!

When I saw the fabric, I immediately thought of making a jumpsuit. Becky had initially thought, pajamas. No, this fabric needs to see the light of day.

Becky is quite tall, with lovely long legs, the kind of legs that I always dreamed of having :) But, just as I said about round bottoms and flat bottoms...those of us who have round bottoms think the flat bottom girls have it made when in reality they struggle with fit just the same as those of us with round bottoms. And so, the girls with long legs also struggle to find pant legs that are long enough. Becky shared that she hated having pants that were just a little too short. But, the style of late is to have a pant leg that shows off the ankle. So, with a little bit of hesitancy, Becky jumped in and made the cutest jumpsuit with a cropped pant leg.

You can see her full post HERE. Be sure to take a look as she used 2 patterns, and then did a bit of drafting to put it all together. The back is absolutely adorable!

Once I received the fabric, I left it laying out so that I would see it multiple times a day as I knew that I wanted to make a jumpsuit, but what kind of a jumpsuit? I finally settled on a self-drafted piece, but then as I was looking for something totally unrelated, I came across the Amy Jumpsuit pattern from Closet Case Patterns.

I had intended to make it over the winter in a light weight wool, and wear it with a turtle neck sweater, but then I broke my arm :/  Oh well. I looked at the yardage requirements, 3.75 yards of 45" fabric. I only had 3 yards, and the print is a directional print, so every piece had to be cut in the same direction. Well, I wasn't going to give up that easily! I carefully laid the pieces out, 1 piece at a time, and low and behold...I could just make it happen!!! Well, the facings were cut with the print upside down, but who's looking?! ;) In the end, I literally had just a small pile of tiny pieces left over. I rather love it when that happens!

Here's my version of the Amy Jumpsuit. It's like wearing a jumpsuit, a pair of culottes, and a dress all wrapped into 1 little garment.  

My thoughts for the next time I make the piece:
1. I will lengthen the crotch 1". I have always had a problem with jumpsuits being just a bit short in the crotch. This garment is fine, but a smidge more room would be nice. 
2. I took about 3" out on either side of the waist at center back. The jumpsuit does have a side zipper, but it is only a 7" zipper, so it opens the garment to allow one to get into it, but not enough to have a closer fit. The garment is meant to be rather free and breezy, but the next time I make it, I will put a longer zipper in the side seam. This will mean working around the pocket, but that's doable. What I took out does not keep me from being able to comfortably get into the garment, but for a closer fit, a longer zipper will be needed.  
3. For a future garment, a belt would be great. I just didn't have enough fabric left to squeeze out even a strip of a belt. I love the Sobi Belt from Pattern Union. You can find the pattern HERE along with more pictures of the belt.  

Before I go, a funny story...
I got the jumpsuit to a point so that I could try it on. Rather than open the garment up between the 2 straps, and slide into it from the middle, I tried to squeeze in from the zipper opening side. I thought, "how am I ever going to get into this garment?!!!" Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was slip in from the middle. I felt like a nitwit ;) 

And 1 last word of advice...
Try not to put a zipper in the center back of a jumpsuit. You just might get stuck in the bathroom, and I may not be there to help!!!

Our final challenge is a fun one. Stay tuned:)

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday Brunch/Whole Grain Turmeric Corn Cakes

After a lot of just plain ick in my life of late, I had the best news this week. My optometrist told me that unless I notice a change in my sight, I no longer need to see him on a six month, or even a yearly basis. I do need to continue seeing the retinologist so that he can monitor any growth of the moles on my retinas, but other than that, I am in great shape! WooHoo!!!

Since I was diagnosed with moles on my retina, I have become all the more conscious of eating foods that are high in vitamins that are good for the eyes. Believe it or not, turmeric is a spice that is great for so many things, but eye health is near the top of the list.

This morning I decided to try my hand at a pancake recipe that contains turmeric. The pancakes have a delightful orange color. 

Turmeric, on its own can be rather bitter, but paired with ginger, delicious! 

I began with 2 cups of cornmeal, 1 cup of whole grain wheat flour, 3 tablespoons of baking powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. 

3 eggs, along with 2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger were added.

The final ingredient, 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder.

The griddle was greased with oil, and 1/4th cup of batter used for each cake.

Once the bubbles began to pop, the cakes were turned and allowed to brown on the opposite side.

I served the cakes with good maple syrup. But fresh cooked applesauce would be great too!

Whole Grain Turmeric Corn Cakes
4 hearty servings

2 cups corn meal
1 cup wholegrain wheat flour
3 tablespoons baking powder 
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3 teaspoons ground turmeric powder
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
Add eggs, ginger, and coconut milk to dry mixture. Beat well until the batter is smooth.
Heat griddle over medium heat. Use a vegetable oil of choice to grease griddle. 
Place 1/4 cups of batter per cake on hot griddle. Bubbles will appear. When bubbles begin to pop, turn cakes to opposite side and cook for another minute, or until golden brown. Place cooked cakes on plate and repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with warm maple syrup. Fresh, warm applesauce would be another delicious option.  

If you give the recipe a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Happy Sunday!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Getting To The Bottom Line...The Barb Pant

I am now claiming that nothing else will go wrong! I spent yesterday morning in emergency care due to an infected thumb. How it happened, I have no idea. They asked me if I had had a manicure lately. Not for a few weeks. At this point, the why really doesn't matter, the thumb has been lanced, and I am on antibiotics. But, adding to the whole knee, thumb extravaganza, I leaned over to kiss my husband goodnight. Just at that moment, he grabbed the blanket to pull it up over him and popped me in the mouth. Of course he didn't mean to, but I went to sleep with a fat lip. Oh well ;)

In my last post,I talked about the Barb Pant from Style Arc Patterns. I really love the pattern. It's a great casual, slip-on pant. Especially great for everyday wear.

The pant was drafted for a full bottomed girl...like me :) I included the picture below to show just how much higher the back is from the front. I love it as there is no issue with feeling like the back will slip down when I sit.

Although the pant does fit well over my bottom, there are a few fitting issues. The front has a very sleek, nice fit. While the pant fits well over the bottom, I do have some drag lines below the bottom.  

Of course, different fabrics are going to fit a little differently. The pants below were made from the same fabric that I used for my first pair of cargo pants. I had just enough left for a pair of Barb Pants, so I felt that I might as well use up the fabric. 

Again, a sleek, nice fit from the front. I moved my leg during this shot, but I went ahead and used the picture. The back pant leg creases under my bottom. 

With a very fitted pant, you will lose some of the fit in order to have the pant hug the leg. With that said, I may not make any alterations on the pant. If it were a pair of slacks, I would most definitely want to alter the pant leg so that it would hang straight from the bottom and down the back of the leg. I see it as a little like dealing with your children, or your husband, sometimes you just have to pick which fights are worth the effort ;) For me, the fight that was won with the Barb Pant is that it fits so comfortably over the bottom, and stays in place when I sit.

If by chance you missed it, you can find the link to download the Barb Pant for free HERE

In case you haven't heard, StyleArc is having a great sale on all of their PDF top patterns, 25% off. Just use the promo code,


At check out. The sale runs through August 23, 2019.

Happy Sewing!

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pants...Getting To The Bottom Line

Best laid plans...
Four weeks ago, while at an agility class with Mr. Berkley, I somehow managed to catch my shoe on the rubber tile, and I went flying, landing with all of my weight coming down on my left knee. The trainer ran over and asked if I was okay. The impact was so powerful that I actually felt like throwing up. All I could manage to say was that I needed to take a break. (Silver Lining...I didn't re-injure my wrist!) But, me being me, I sucked it up and stayed through the rest of the class. By the time I made it home, my knee was the size of a large softball. I iced it, and sent my husband to the pharmacy for Arnica cream. It took about a week for the swelling to begin subsiding, but there was a big sack of fluid on my knee. Finally, the fluid began to disappear, but last Friday morning while making the bed, I once again managed to trip and fall, landing on my left knee. I now have an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor. I'm walking on the knee, and it doesn't hurt to walk, but it's extremely painful to touch, and going up and down stairs has been a great challenge. So, with all of that, I am a few days late with my next pant post.

The theme of our second week of our pant posts is all about the bottom line, literally...our bottoms :/ Not something that most of us want to talk about. 

Becky of Trail Balloons, my fellow challenger has a flat bottom. She absolutely loves the Flat Bottom Flos from Style Arc. While those of us who have a round bottom...like me, we tend to think that those with a flat bottom have it made. But it does pose fitting issues that are just as dire to the flat bottom girls as the round bottom girls. Becky has done a very detailed post on fitting a flat bottom in THIS post. 

My favorite pattern for my round bottom is the Barb Pant from Style Arc Patterns. And to make it all the sweeter, you can get the pattern for FREE just for signing up to receive the Style Arc newsletter. HERE'S the link!

The pattern photo for the Barb Pant looks like it was drafted for a thin and rather flat bottom. But, that is not the case.

Here's what the pattern actually looks like;

The front is on the left, and the back on the right. Look closely at the front. The crotch curve is minimal. The back has a very deep curve, and looks to be raised at the center back line, as it is. So, with the Barb Pant, the full bottom adjustment is built into the pattern. Score!!! At least score for us full bottomed girls ;)

Another aspect that I love about the Barb Pant is that it was designed for a stretch woven. With a stretch woven, you will get a much more fitted pant, and especially for a pull-on pant, that's really nice.  

Now of course, the pattern has been designed for the middle of the road full bottomed girl. Some of us have rounder bottoms, and some not so round. I really love the tutorial that was done by Colette Patterns. You can find it HERE. The tutorial walks you through a full bottom adjustment as well as adjusting for a flat bottom. A great tutorial to keep on hand.

I have made quite a few pairs of the Barb Pant. I will be back tomorrow, Monday with a fashion show of Barb Pants.

If you haven't downloaded the free pattern,be sure to do so!
Happy pant sewing!!!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Pants...All Month Long!

You may remember that last summer Becky of Trail Balloons and I did a fun challenge making woven tees. Believe it or not, those tees have been a staple of my summer wardrobe. It was such a great challenge!

We teamed up again to do woven tops for winter, but I managed to slip on the ice, break both bones in my arm at the wrist, have surgery, and basically be incapacitated for 3 months. Oh well,best laid plans :(

This summer, we thought it would be fun to do something a little different and spend the month talking about pants. Becky and I have very different shapes. She is very long and lean, where I have curves. So we thought that with the 2 of us doing pants, with our different shaped bodies, we would appeal to most everyone. 

For our 1st week, we are showcasing our favorite pant pattern. Becky loves the Flat Bottom Flo from Style Arc. It's as if the pattern was designed with her in mind.

By far, my favorite, or at least most used pattern is the free pajama pant pattern from Martha Stewart. This is a very basic elasticized waist pant pattern. I love it because, it's super easy to fit, and it's also easy to manipulate into lots of fun designs.

You may be looking at the picture below and thinking, "this is not a pant, it's a skirt!" It does look to be a skirt, true enough.

But see, it is pants!!!

All I did was use the basic pattern, then cut 2 rectangles, my favorite thing ;), and attach those rectangles into the right side seam of the pant. Because this is a border print, I had to be careful in lining up the print, but other than that, the pants were a snap to make. 

I added ties to the rectangles so that the rectangles could be tied and held in place at the waist. 

The pant has an elegant look, and yet it's made casual with a pair of fun sandals.

If you have shied away from making pants, get an elastic waist pattern and start having some fun. Typically, the only adjustment you will have to make is to either lengthen, or shorten the crotch. 

Becky gives lots of details on how she altered the Flat Bottom Flos to fit her beautifully. You can see that post HERE

Out next installment for the challenge will be Getting To The Bottom Line. With our first post, Becky was early and I am late, but we should both be on schedule for this Friday! :)

Hope we can encourage you to give pants a try!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Scarf to Celebrate My Celtic Heritage

My first weaving class came to an end yesterday, and I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. I did very little planning, but just allowed the piece to speak to me and take on its on life.

I began with navy blue, a light green, light blue, and lavender. A purple was used for the warp.

As I went along, quite honestly, I did get a little bored, and I felt that the piece needed something more, so I added the green plaid.

When I finally finished the piece, and took it off the loom, as I said, I was pleased. Well, once again, to be quite honest, I could be more pleased. There are places were the tension is a little off. But, it is my first piece, so I decided to relax and give myself a break.  

As I looked at the scarf, I realized that it reminds me of the beautiful purple thistle blooms and the green of moss.

I have a great piece of mohair coating that will make a perfect companion to the scarf. 

I've decided to carry on. There's more that I would like to do and learn. I am so amazed with what some of the other students are doing in the class. 

If by chance you are in Chicago, and would like to give weaving a try, check out The Chicago Weaving School. You can even take a class on basket weaving! Natalie, the owner is wonderful, and truly does her best to help each student walk away with a piece that they can be proud of. Hey, I'm hooked!!! :)

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday Brunch/Decadent French Toast with Maple Caramelized Apples

We said goodbye to our precious Gracie this past week. She has been a part of our family for the past 11 years, and will continue to be a part of my heart forever. Below is one of my favorite pictures as I think it shows her gentle spirit. She was my constant shadow, always near by, but never intrusive. Going back to my studio has been so very difficult as she was my only dog who would come down and hang with me. But then too, I think she loved the cool tile floor :) I'm so very grateful for all she added to my life. 

I haven't cooked all week, but this morning, it felt right.
A number of years ago, we always went out for breakfast after we had been to church. We then began going to an evening mass on Sunday, so I started making breakfast. I am now at a point that I would much rather eat at home as I always enjoy my own food far more than anything I can get in a restaurant. And...truth be told, I also get to stay in my pajamas ;)

This morning I made a kinda sorta new recipe for french toast. My husband loved it and I think you might enjoy it as well :) Decadent French Toast with Maple Caramelized Apples. 

For the french toast, begin with 6 eggs. Beat them well with a fork.

To the egg mixture, add 1 cup of almond milk, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix all until well blended. 

For the apples, peel and slice 3 medium to large apples. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add the apples and stir well to coat with the butter. Cook until apple slices begin to brown. Add 1/2 cup of maple syrup. Stir well. Reduce heat to low and simmer until apples are tender.

Place bread in egg mixture and allow it to soak up the mixture until the bread is quite moist. Heat another pan, and add a little butter, a teaspoon or so. Place soaked bread in skillet and cook until golden brown, then turn and allow other side to become brown. Continue soaking bread until egg mixture is gone.

Serve the french toast with the caramelized apples. A nice addition to the apple topping would be toasted walnuts. Yum!

Decadent French Toast with 
Maple Caramelized Apples
serves 6
downloadable recipe

For apples
3 medium to large apples, peeled and sliced 
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for cooking french toast
1/2 cup maple syrup 
For french toast
6 eggs
1 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 slices of hearty bread

For apples;
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add apples and stir to coat apples with butter. Cook until apples begin to brown. Add maple syrup, stir and reduce heat to low and allow apples to simmer until tender. About 5 minutes.

For french toast;
Beat eggs with a fork until well blended and frothy. Add milk, extract, nutmeg and cinnamon and stir until well blended. soak bread in mixture until bread is well soaked. Heat another skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 teaspoon of butter per 2 slices of bread. Place soaked break in skillet and cook on each side until golden brown. 

Serve french toast with the maple caramelized apples. Sit back and wait for the compliments to come rolling in! :) Be patient as it may take a few minutes before their mouths aren't full!!!


We have a tendency to live our days as though this life will go on forever. Take a few moments to pause, look at your loved ones, your pets, think about how they have enriched your life. And then, take another moment to say thank you. It only needs to be in your heart. One thing that I have learned is that what is in our hearts comes out in everything we do.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019