January 30, 2011

Slow progress on Simplicity 1906

Well, I haven't gotten much done on Simplicity 1906 (the 1940s blouse) but I figured that I would give an update anyway.
Here's what I have so far:
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I still need to attach the sleaves, hem, make button holes and attach the buttons and snaps. Oh, and obviously I need to iron this baby. I think the fit is a bit off but I'm not 100% sure, I know that sounds odd but it fits great in the waist and is really billowy above that, I can't quite tell from the pictures if it's suppose to be like that. I'll try to post a picture to show you want I mean later.

I have also decided to join the "Sewing through the Decades Challenge" from My Happy Sewing Place and Rhinestones and Telephones.


I am hoping to make a piece from the 30's, 40's, 50's and one from the 70's. 1970's isn't really my style or an era that I wouldn't normally pick but my mother has boxes of patterns from that era (the height of her sewing - her late teens and early 20's) and some of them are cute.

My top above will count a one piece for the 40's and I hope to make the pants from Simplicity 3688:For the 50's Butterwick 6582:

and that's as far as my planning has gone.

January 28, 2011

Jay – e –elle – elle – oh

My hubby has a huge sweet tooth and when he wants dessert it ends up being a whole big bowl of ice cream with cookies or a whole big chocolate bar. He just can’t go without, so I am trying to find desserts that are a little bit better for him, if he can have a little bit of sweet then he won’t go and binge, luckily he likes Jello, unfortunately Jello is made of sugar, artificial flavour and colour. I managed to find a recipe for “home-made” Jello (I think they called it Gelatin Dessert but same thing really). It takes the same amount of time and effort to make as the boxed stuff but uses juice and unflavoured gelatin; I used Knox and no sugar added juice (it’s white cranberry with grape & apple) since most juice is sweet enough as it is.

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Ingredients:
4 pouches of Knox Gelatin (unflavoured)
1 cup cold juice
4 cups boiling hot juice

Steps:
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice and stir, do this one pack at a time, it won’t all dissolve, just try to get rid of the chunkies.
2. Bring the rest of the juice to a boil, then pour into cold juice mixture.
3. Stir until al gelatin is dissolved and cool until set (the instructions said 2 hours but mine took longer).

I mixed the whole thing in the mold that I was going to use so I only used two dishes (one pot for the boiling juice). This turns out really firm, you could easily cut this into squares and eat with your hands; if you like your Jello less firm I would suggest using more juice. I also ended up cutting up some banana and pushing it into the gelatin once it started to firm up, I’ve never had jello with fruit in it but it’s awesome. My hubby gave it a thumbs up and said “it’s as good as Jello but not as good as a sundae” and I actually liked it better than Jello, it’s not super sweet which I liked. Next time I’m going to try layer different flavours.

January 24, 2011

I've been a bad blogger


I know, I know, I’ve been lame and haven’t posted in quite awhile. Frankly I’ve been tired, I was taking a course for work all last weekend, then because of the weather and it being year-end, I’ve been leaving work late, then I end up leaving the gym late and I’ve been struggling to catch up on my sleep all week. Uggg. I haven’t worked on my top at all. About the only things I seem to be doing are work, gym, eat, relax for a few minutes, sleep and clean, what a boring life I live. Well, I have a long weekend coming up and am planning on making the most of it. Until then, I’m going to try to be productive by decluttering my closet/dresser.

Seems like everyone is destashing and trying to clean out their homes (most likely because it’s the beginning of the year, similar to how the gym has been awfully busy of late). I found a neat new blog:

http://minus365things.blogspot.com/

Lisette is going to try to rid herself of something everyday. Sounds very difficult to me (that may be because I’m one of those people always wanting stuff, like patterns, seeds, random collectible that I suddenly find interesting, shoes, fabric, etc.). Her latest assignment is the wardrobe challenge. It’s based off of a list from this site:
http://www.livingonadime.com/articles/how-many-clothes.html

For me this would mean the following:

Women (who work outside the house)
7-9 work/dressy outfits
5-7 casual outfits
2-3 outfits for relaxing at home
3-4 pair work shoes (depends on your work. Only 2 if you wear tennis shoes or the like to work
3 pairs casual shoes


For everyone, you need:
1 winter coat
1 dress coat
1-2 pairs boots, short and long

I look at this and think are you kidding me? On the other hand, most of my clothes are now to large for me and I do have a small bedroom closet and I can’t seem to close the drawers to my dresser (and I have a clean basket of laundry waiting to be folded – ak!).

So maybe I’ll start working on this. It’s something I can do during the week too. Next weekend I’ll get off my butt and drop off the clothes at a local charity. I’ve been pretty lazy about this, especially considering there are bins at many local grocery stores.

I’m not going to include my camping type clothes in this since they are specialty type items and I wear them only for camping, they live in the basement waiting for the summer. I also think this list is clearly missing a summer jacket and spring/fall jacket. My winter jacket is made for -40 C weather (because it regularly get that cold and worse for 3 – 4 months of the year here), so when it’s hovering in the -5 C to zero range you need a lighter fall/spring jacket so that you don’t soak your clothes sweating in your winter jacket. Also, in the summer, while it may be +30 C during the day at night it often drops down to 10-15 C, which can be a bit cool, I guess a sweater or cardigan could work for this but jackets break the wind a bit better.

I am going to need to add clothes to my wardrobe since I am lacking several essentials. I am going to keep some pieces that are way too big with the intention that I will remake them in a smaller size, these pieces must be ones that I really love and are things that I will actually wear, and they must be quality items otherwise it isn’t worth the effort.

January 14, 2011

My January Sewing Project

As you may have read, I am going to try to sew more this year and set a small goal of 12 projects, one a month. For January I am planning on sewing a 1940s blouse (Simplicity 1906):

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I'm planning on making view 4 minus the little tie/bow around the neck. I've already bought and washed the fabric:

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and yes, I did buy this fabric the same night that I bought the fabric for my silvery space top. I was obviously feeling like my wardrobe needed some spunk that evening. The purple is brighter than the picture apears, but I do like it. I love bright colours but never seem to buy bright coloured clothing. I also bought it because it was crepe and I love crepe, it drapes so nicely and it always seems to wear and wash well, I'm a low maintenance type of gal so these are high scoring points for me. Anyway, stay tuned for the sewing details...

January 12, 2011

Goals for 2011/ What should have been my first post of the new year

Pearls before swine by Stephan Pastis

Comic: Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis

I’m not really the resolution type (normally my opinion is similar to Rat's...j/k) but I have decided to set some goals for myself for 2011, really the only difference is that they aren’t life changing type things, just things that I would like to do.
1. Be able to do one unassisted pull up before the end of the year.

2. Lean how to can foods and actually do some canning. (I received some supplies for canning for Christmas, yay!)

3. Take better care of my garden and produce more food than last year.

4. Eat more local food, I’m not really one of those local food type people, but I do want to eat more locally grown organic food. Organic food is better for you and locally grown stuff should have more nutrients because there is less travel time, for the majority of the year I’m still probably going to have to buy imported fresh produce though and frozen foods due to the climate here and the short growing season. Frankly I also love bananas and while I know it is probably morally wrong to buy them (due to the pesticides that get sprayed on under-paid workers in the fields), I just can’t give them up and there’s no way they would ever grown out here. When I eat out at restaurants I want to eat more locally too, by that I mean at the shops near my house. I live in an area undergoing “revitalisation” and I want to support the movement. See, where I live used to be nice little war housing on the edge of the city, due to growth and suburbs it’s now an older area, near downtown and filled with low income housing and in some parts, shelters. Not too far away is a main street that used to be filled with small grocery stores, nice little bakeries, and trendy restaurants and bars, over the years it became lined with pawn shops, cheap liquor stores and bars and cash shops (oh and don’t forget hookers and drug addicts). I actually live a bit north of all this mess, but every once and awhile some drunken criminals do make their way up here to break into cars, etc. The revitalisation project began about a year before we bought our house and things actually have improved, a lot. There are fewer crummy old bars and pawn shops and more cute boutiques and family run restaurants, I want to shop at these places more because they more money that they make, them more other nice businesses will move in and push out the crummy stuff. The city has offered incentives for business owners to reface buildings and put money into festivals for the street and it seems to be working. I feel that I should do my part too (plus there is a Vietnamese place there that make a decent bowl of pho and good vermicelli bowls - a bit on the greasy side but really inexpensive).

5. Sew more often (maybe even set it at one item a month?) so that I can improve my skills.
(click on image to go to flickr and therefore make larger)

7. Watch less TV. I’ve cut back in the last year but I really need to watch less, it’s unproductive.

I am not listing any general fitness or weight loss goals because I’ve been at it long enough for it to become a part of my lifestyle. I go to the gym regularly, it’s just something I do, a hobby that I enjoy.

Anyone else make a few goals for the year? Or think that resolutions are a load of b.s.?

January 9, 2011

Simplicity 1690

Today is the last day of my stay-cation, it's pretty depressing. I really, really don't want to go back to work on Monday, the last couple of day have been a bit lazy too, we've basically been snowed in. 20 cm of snow last night, it's ridiculous (I'll try to snap a picture later), plus it's cold and very windy, not really unusual for this part of the world (Alberta, Canada), but we all still whine about it, one day I'll move I swear! Anyway, I did manage to complete one more sewing project while stuck in my house, Simplicity 1690 - view 3, a pencil skirt pattern from 1956.

Here's the pattern:
simplicity1690

and here is my version:
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I love the way it turned out. This is a really quick and easy pattern and it fits really well, I am definately going to make another skirt from this pattern. Here's a better view of the fit:
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(notice that I cleaned the mirror a bit this time?)

I used leather buttons for the tabs; I've always like this style of button but I've never really made anything that they would match. I think they are made for jackets and coats, but I think they look really cute, hopefully they wash alright (I only thought of this point later, after I had completed the skirt).

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This time I did the zipper my way, rather than following the instructions (remember how badly "following" instructions worked out for me before?) and it turned out great. I also used a funky leopard print ribbon on the inside of the band to finish the seams.

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These last few sewing projects have been really encouraging for me, I finally feel like I'm learning from my mistakes and getting better!!

January 7, 2011

Let's Get Tropical

I have completed another project that has been sitting in my sewing room for ages (at least a year), a tropical/tiki inspired purse. It's not my usual style but I saw one online and thought it looked pretty cute so I figured I would try to make a similar one for myself. I modified an older pattern that I had used before, Simplicity 4759, to make it.

I used upholstery fabric that I found in the sale section of a fabric shop and some leftover cotton for the lining. I think it turned out really cute, I wish I could have top stiched the edges though, they aren't quite as crisp looking as I would have liked. I used a really heavy interfacing though and my old machine just couldn't go through that much fabric. I think with age and some weight it will straighten out a bit better.

Sorry that the pictures aren't that great; I realize now that I had the flash turned off on my camera.

Here is the final product:
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I also added studs to the bottom of the bag to make it look a bit more professional.
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A tip on studs, when going though thick fabric, press the prongs in to make a slight indent, then use a seam ripper to start the hole. It makes studding a lot easier, I once studded an entire leather jacket this way. Also, when bending over the prongs (on the inside), don't bend them in all the way or the fabric will pucker.

Here's a shot of the lining:
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I have a ton of old metal zippers from my punk days so I decided to use one of those, they are all black unfortuately, but I still like that look so I'm fine with the obvious hand stitching on the zipper, not for everyone I realize.

Just looking at this bag makes me think of summer, ahhh, spring is only four to five months away ;)

January 5, 2011

Space Pajama Top/ Simplicity 3688

I have completed the top from Simplicity 3688 in my "metallic grey," I was obviously trying to kid myself because after looking at the fabric in bright daylight (and the pictures), it is clearly silver, shiny, shiny silver. That's what I get for letting someone else pick and sway me on the fabric, I guess I could have just vetoed it but then who could I pin the blame on? Anyway, I've ended up making what is clearly a space pj top.

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I do believe that my sewing skills have improved somewhat though, this came together quicker, easier and I think better than my last few sewing attempts. Practice makes perfect right? Truthfully I will still wear this top out, I think it still looks retro when worn with a high waisted skirt, or very '80s when worn with high waisted jeans (like in the pictures) and frankly I love the '80s (the tackier the better).

I must have short arms though because the sleeves seem a bit too long and I thought I hemmed them up to a nice length. I really like the pleats along the waist, they look really smart and help with the baggyness of the top (it is suppose to be a bit of a loose top).

This pattern also had a great tip in it for darts: run the seam to the end of the dart (the point) and don't backstitch; instead leave plenty of thread and hand knot at the end, this prevents the dart from bubbling. This method worked out really well for me, I've had trouble with those little dart bubbles before.

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This one's not a great photo (I really need to clean that mirror), but you can see the fit a bit better.

I also ended up sewing my own button hole for this top, I used the advice from Colette Patterns.
My machine only has one button hole foot and it required button twist to use it. They don't sell button twist at my nearest fabric store (not sure if they even make it anymore) and I wasn't sure if tiny cording is a good substitute. Anyone else know (and what size of cording to use)?

January 4, 2011

Stay-cation

Well, I'm off from work this week. My husband and I are taking a bit of a staycation (he doesn't go back to school until next Monday). So far it's been a fairly lazy vacation, yesturday we shopped, watch a couple of movies (we had to watch a couple, we had just bought them) and read and today we went to the gym (for a couple of hours) and I started sewing the blouse from Simplicity 3688. It's a reproduction vintage pattern that I bought a long time ago but haven't yet touched.


I originally wasn't that thrilled with the blouse, just going by the picture, but after seeing Debi's version (from My Happy Sewing Place) I changed my mind. Her's turned out great!

My version is in a shiny, metallic-y grey. I'm about 3/4 finished so hopefully I can post the completed version tomorrow. I plan to eventually make the whole suit (jacket, pants and skirt) but I'll leave that for when I have more time and money.

January 2, 2011

Finally, a healthy dish

Well, Christmas and New Years has come and gone. I haven’t posted as much as I had planned to, it’s been a couple of busy weeks filled with baking, wrapping gifts, visiting and food, way too much food. Now it’s time to get this blog, and life back on track. Let’s start things off with a healthy and simple recipe. This serves two.

Lemon Salmon with Asparagus and Wild Rice

Ingredients:
2 Salmon Steaks (fresh is best)
1/3 cup Lemon Juice
½ cup thinly sliced onion
Pepper to taste
¼ cup wild rice
Low sodium bouillon
Asparagus

1. Line an oven proof dish with parchment paper, wash salmon and place in dish. Cover with onion and top with lemon juice and pepper. Place in 350 F oven, cook until done (will depend on the thickness of the salmon, it’s done when it flakes easily, I run a fork across the top to test it).
2. Put rice in pot with water and bouillon and boil (until done- about 25 min – but will depend on the type of rice).
3. Place asparagus in a steamer above the rice after about 10 minutes of boiling.

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I served this with a nice salad, this one goes pretty well. It's not a very exciting meal but it's fairly healthy. Fish fat is really good for you and good fats can help you loose weight, plus who doesn't need to eat more whole grains?

Now I just need to step up my work outs at the gym and I'll be back on track. I have the next week off from work too, so I'm hoping to get a few things done around the house and do a little sewing.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and are ready for the new year as well!