A Recipe and New Classes

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My sewing machines have been awfully busy lately. Plus, I have new addition to my little collection- a Janome 634D. It helped me finish up a few seams on my latest class samples for my Mad Men Dress class at Modern Domestic!

You’ve got to have a “Joan” dress, that is, unless you’re a “Betty” kind of girl…

Both of these dresses were  made using the same pattern. You can alter the original pattern, which is built like the Joan dress, to have wider straps, a more decorative neckline, and a fuller skirt to create the Betty pattern. It is SO MUCH FUN to change patterns so you can have the clothes you want- and it’s really not hard if you know how to apply your measurements.

And in true Betty fashion, here’s the Baked Oatmeal Recipe I mentioned in my last post! Mmm… I’ve got to try this one with fresh peaches- I bet it’d be amazing!

I usually have mine with a bit of milk, but if you’re feeling fancy, créme fraiche would be so good.

Stealing Summertime and How to Mark Darts

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Whoa. It has been incredibly busy here. I’m doing my best to sit still and write something while I’ve got 3 cups of coffee in my system, 3 dresses waiting to be finished, and a to-do list a mile long sitting beside me. This summer hasn’t exactly been relaxing, but usually what other people consider “relaxing”, I consider boring. I don’t want to watch movies all day, I don’t want to lay in bed, I don’t even want to spend my afternoon just basking in the warm sun. I want to SEW! TEACH! RUN AROUND! DRINK TOO MUCH COFFEE! PEE A LOT!

I think this is due to Portland bringing so much change into our lives, and it’s about to get a bit messier as I figure out a studio space. I’ll be sure to share before-and-afters, as well as some how-to’s as Rob and I rearrange things around here.

Otherwise, I’ve been spending some of my time getting ready for fall. I KNOW. Already? Sheesh. I lit up that Yankee Farmer’s Market candle at the first sign of cold weather! And pumpkin spice lattes? I’ll have 4, please. Yes, in a row. Don’t look at me that way, I’ve got a problem.

Mmmm- the baked oatmeal I’ve been making is an absolutely amazing way to spend an “I-wish-it-really-was-fall” morning. And it reheats beautifully. I’ll post the recipe if anyone would like to have it. You can put any kind of fruit in it that you have around, but I prefer apples and a bit of cinnamon.

It’s so good. I like that it’s not like oatmeal at all- the texture of the actual oatmeal changes. It becomes almost a fine crumb, and the brown sugar makes the toasted edges lightly sweet and wonderful. I put a bit of milk on mine, but that’s usually because it’s piping hot and I want it now.

I’m excited to share a few class samples I’ve been working on. I hope I’ll get to post them this weekend. Anyone who comes to the Friday Night Sewcial at Modern Domestic tonight will get a sneak peek though!

Speaking of sewing though, I thought I’d share a little tip for how I mark my darts when I’m sewing. I think it’s a lot faster than the traditional “get out your tracing wheel and tracing paper” route, and you won’t have that stupid chalk paper rubbing off on your nice project. All that you’ll need is your project, pattern, sharp pins, and an eraser pen. I wrote about them for MD here, and they’re one of my FAVORITE THINGS EVER. I have the blue one, so it erases with the white tip end or water, but the pink marker is nice too because it disappears with air.

Start out with your pattern piece pinned on your already cut-out bodice/front/skirt, whatever. My example here is a bodice front, on the fold. I’m going to be marking my dart on the left and right side of my bodice front at once with this little trick. I folded my right sides together before I cut out my pattern piece, so I’m marking my dart on the WRONG side of my fabric, or the INSIDE of my bodice. Make sense?

Put pins thru each mark on your dart, making sure that you go straight thru the pattern and both layers of your fabric. Don’t let the darts go in at an angle. The next picture only looks like they’re at an angle because the pins had to kind of lay on their side so the pattern piece would lay down. After you put the pins thru, flip the piece over, so the pattern piece is laying on the table.

Front with pins:

Back with pins:

Here’s where you start to use your handy marker (that will COMPLETELY disappear). At each place that a pin pokes thru, make a dot at the base of said pin. Also, on the edge of your pattern piece, you can mark your dart end notches by drawing them, instead of cutting them out. This way you will still be able to see them after you finish your edges.

After your back marks have been made, flip the piece over, and mark your dart notches, again with slashes. Or, you can draw the notches if you’d like. It’s completely up to you.

Slowly peel back the pattern piece, marking each pin area and you peel it up from your fabric. This is how you take the pins out and mark at the same time.

When you are finished, you will have lots of little dots on your fabric. You can now play connect-the-dots, or just match them up when you go to sew your darts.

Oh, and sorry for choosing yellow fabric for this. I know, I know, bad choice. But it will make sense when you see what I’ve been up to!

4 Years

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A gift from my bridal shower; the gift-giver said her grandmother would say this all the time.

And FYI, so not true.

I know I’m not a food photographer. I can’t even properly work Rob’s awesome camera. It’s so much easier for me to just bring it to him and say “It’s not working. Why won’t it just do what I want it to do?!” And he’s usually pretty patient with me. He explains that I need to read the manual if I’m going to use it, while he adjusts the setting so that I can take pictures. Then I get to skip away, snap a few shots, and bring the camera back to him when something needs to be adjusted.

I know this makes me a complete whiner. I’m not debating that- I totally need to read the camera manual. But it’s one example of how Rob does all of these little things for me, even though there’s absolutely no reason he has to.

He takes the dog out to pee at night (most of the time) because the park behind our place is creepy when it’s dark, and all I can picture are zombies coming for me. He does the grocery shopping so I don’t end up mauling someone in a fit of “YOUR CART IS TAKING UP THE WHOLE ISLE” rage. He makes sure I’m not the one driving in heavy traffic- but that’s probably just for the greater good of society. And I don’t know many people who would go out and get a job in Portland, Oregon, just because it would make their wife ridiculously happy, even though it means leaving everything (including all of their furniture) behind.

I love this funny, geeky, cute man named Rob. Happy 4 married years, honey.

How to Sew: Blueberry Summer Top

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I’m more than happy to give you lots of pictures and diagrams of how to put together this top, but if you managed to read thru all of those instructions and you still want to move forward, then I’m going to assume that you can probably figure out how this goes. If you do happen to need a bit more visual guidance though, I’ll take lots of pictures and arrange them as need. Only if bribed with cookies though- almost forgot that part.

Otherwise, my little Mr. Chicken Leg needs tended to.

How to Sew the Blueberry Summer Top

  1. Cut out 2 fronts, 2 backs, and 2 bottom pieces, all on the fold. I say 2 fronts and 2 backs because it’s best if this top is lined. You don’t have to do this, but it does lay better if you do. This is how I layout my patterns to make the most of my fabric when I have several pieces that need to be on the fold.
  2. Set the bottom pieces aside- we’ll get to those. Put the right sides of the front and back top pieces together, and sew them at the shoulder seams and side seams, on both your lining pieces and outer pieces. You should be using a ballpoint needle so that you don’t make a hole in your knit fabric- or you can serge your seams. Since you’re using the same fabric for the lining and outer pieces, they are exactly the same, but make sure you’re making two separate bodices, and NOT stacking them. After you do this, go ahead and slip one of them over your head. Do the shoulders need taken up? Do the sides need taken in? If either of these things need to be done, pin it, sew it, and repeat it for the other top piece.
  3. Turn one of the bodices right side out, and put the other one on top if it (the second one is still wrong side out). Their right sides should be touching, and you should have them lined up at the shoulder seams. Make sure you have the front lined up with the other front piece. Sew the neckline together (you’re making a big circle), making sure that the shoulder seams lay in opposite directions so your shoulder isn’t bulky. After you sew this, turn the pieces right side out, letting your lining lay on the inside.
  4. Now that they’re lined up, you can sew the armholes. Then turn the armholes under about 1/4″-3/8″, lining up the side seams, and sew them using a twin needle, so you’ll have plenty of stretch.
  5. Sew the bottom of the bodice pieces together to close it up and make it easier to attach the bodice. Shuffle thru your stack of fabric, cookies, and notions and find your two bottom pieces. With them right sides together, sew up their sides.
  6. Using the same ball point needle, sew directly below where your seam allowance is on the bottom piece, using the widest stitch length possible. You are creating a gathering stitch, so leave long thread tails at the beginning and end of your stitch. Gather the bottom pieces, and place it over the bodice with right sides together, so you can match up the side seams and sew it on. Distribute the gathering along the waistline and pin it in place.
  7. Since you’ve chosen a light-weight knit, you can break out the fancy elastic thread. This stuff is fun! Wind your bobbin with it BY HAND, and don’t stretch it out at all while winding it. You will only use it in your bobbin! If you chose a heavier knit, you may need to sew elastic into your seam allowance, as the elastic thread may not do a very good job of pulling the fabric in around your waist. Sew the top and bottom together, and then remove the gathering stitches. When you steam the elastic thread- MAGIC!- it shrinks and is instantly and wonderfully gathered and stretchy.
  8. Hem the top 1″ from the bottom, and sew on any trim that you wish.
  9. Email me a picture of your top so that I can post it here!