Saturday, March 29, 2008

BWOF 02-2008-123 & a muslin of Butterick 4985

Inspired by Christina's top, and deciding that Burda World of Fashion is not sewing room decoration, I made a version of BWOF 02-2008-123.

I'm so happy with this shirt! My fabric was a Fabricland remnant that cost less than $2.50. I think I had just under a meter? Anyway. Loving this shirt! Loving!

For those keeping count, that was 3 projects in a row that I loved. Had to jinx it, I guess. While in Fabricland, (in what is almost a daily pilgrimage, since its 3 minutes from my house) I found Butterick 4985 in the sale bin. I squealed a bit in excitement, and then snatched it up.

And bleah. How much do I hate this shirt - let me count the ways.
I think it makes my torso look really broad, the sleeves are way too puffy, it doesn't fit well, just all around not-my-favorite.

On the good side, I learned a ton with this shirt. First time ever with a collar and a collar stand (which came out really quite well, I think). Second time with the buttonholes. First time ever sewing buttons on with my sewing machine (I have a button foot that came with my sewing machine, I took it out and used it.)

This pattern, I made a size 10 in the top part, 12 in the bottom. Next time around, I'll make a 10 for half of the bottom portion, since it doesn't fit super-well under my bust. Also, the bottom part has 6 pieces, so, I won't use a striped fabric, since its near impossible to match lines. And I'll definitely do something about the sleeves, sheesh.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

In which I catch up on my comments, etc.

I had 7! comments on the St. Patty's day dress. Thank you! 7, wow! I feel almost famous. In a good, non-paparazzi way.

So, copying Cidell (and probably everyone else) I'm going to do a comment round-up, since I'm a bit shy about writing back to people who leave me comments.

Tany! & Christina! both left me comments, which honestly has me blushing a bit. These people are sewing super-stars! Their clothes and their blogs were a big part of the inspiration to get sewing. I'm flattered beyond belief.

Cidell said you should have friends that tell you stuff. So true. Especially since I'm still figuring out what sewing style works for my body, how to get stuff to fit me right, etc. (The blog community would do that, I'm sure, but I'm vain and will only post relatively flattering shots here.)

Sarah kindly commented that quilts should look hand-made, that makes them special. Grin. This one looked very special, then. (I've bought a new walking foot, so I'm curious to see if it was my fault, or the fault of the walking foot.)

Dawn tagged me for the random things. Will do. She's also just completed her entry for the wardrobe contest at PR, and, wow! I'm impressed and envious.

Sew Shy asked how I was managing without the beer. Well, I'm off the Joshi thing now, but when I was on it, after the first week, I didn't really miss anything very much. Also, though I do love beer, for me, its more about frequency and social interaction than how much I drink. I'm a total light-weight, so can't really drink much more than 2-3 pints without becoming sleepy and silly.

Gold lives in Michigan. I miss Michigan. Especially the $2 Bell tap at the Tap Room in Ypsi. (Umm, beer reference again. Hmm.)

Kristy has 587 patterns! I'm so envious.

If I missed someone, sorry! I read and love and treasure every comment, I'm just shy about writing back.

Up next: A couple of posts are in the works. A few posts have gotten me thinking - one is Carolyn's post on what to do with fabric scraps I save every piece of fabric over an inch (I'm not joking.) In January, I actually made a crazy quilt out of some of them. Need to take pictures and share.

Also, Cidell had a great post on telling people about your sewing. I was going to leave a comment, but realized I had paragraphs to write on this. So, that's in the offing.

More interestingly, project-wise, is a review of BWOF 02-2008-123. Great, quick, easy top. And, I'm finally using the BWOFs I buy as more than just eye-candy.

The next sewing project is, I think, this blouse-jacket - BWOF 03-2008-117. I'm making it in a yellow. However, this sewing project will be delayed for a while, as I've been volunteered into quilting a king-size quilt that my mom is giving her friend for her birthday. (She called it a labor of love. I quipped that she loved, I labored. Nonetheless. I have been volunteered.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Meditations on eating locally

As spring slowly creeps in, my thoughts are turning towards farmers markets (which don't get started here till May!) making my own jam and pickle, and, most ambitiously, planting a vegetable garden.

A few books have sparked my interest in eating better. One is, of course, Joshi's Holistic Detox,I've mentioned it here before. The other is one of my favorite books I've read this year, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. I'm embarrassed to say I've never read anything by Barbara Kingsolver, obviously this will change.

This book was really inspirational to me, and I'm thrilled by the concept of eating locally. (Obviously, if I want to eat only Ontario produce, starting in March is not a good idea. Right now, the only Ontario produce available is cucumbers. Which I like, but need other vegetables to supplement.) I'm seriously considering eating local, canning and pickling and freezing over the summer to sustain myself in winter. If I do, I will blog about it, of course.

The two other food-related books in my library queue right now are In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, and Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. I saw Michael Pollan on TV about a week back, and I think his book would make a very interesting read. And of course, Alice Waters is the start of it all, isn't she? A biography would be really fascinating, I think.


I've been trying to eat better lately. Mostly because I want to lose weight, but also because moving to Toronto has meant the supply of plentiful, cheap, delicious, vegetarian Indian takeout, and the quickest way, in my mind, to get fat is to stop cooking and eat out.

In keeping with the desire to eat better, the other day I made an Indian-style, Curried, Ginger-Carrot Soup. Here's how:

1. Chop up some carrots.

2. Steam carrots (I added some salt to the water) for 5-10 minutes, until cooked but not mushy.

3. In the meanwhile, chop 1-2 onions, and grate 1-2 tbsp of ginger. (I like ginger.)

4. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan. Add 1 heaped tsp of cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp asafoetida, and a good handful of curry leaves. Fry till cumin seeds turn a golden brown, which is less than a minute, if your oil is hot.

Curry leaves and asafoetida powder are Indian ingredients, which will probably involve a trip to your local Indian grocery store. (If you live in a city of any size whatsover, you have an Indian grocery store. Trust me on this one. We Indian people are helpless without our spices.)

Here's my jar of asafoetida powder.

Piece of trivia - I think Afghanistan is the world's biggest producer of asafoetida. My mom, who is a dancer, visited there once, and brought some back. Strange kind of souvenir, then again, this is Afghanistan, it was in the middle of the war with Russia, pre-Taliban, and I'm sure the Afghani people had better things to worry about than their souvenirs. (Tourists are not exactly plentiful there, in any case.)

5. Add onions and ginger to the pan, and cook till onions are golden-brown (3-4 minutes, I think.)

6. Now, add 2 cups of milk/soymilk/coconut milk to the pan. Add carrots, and spices - 1 tsp of garam masala (try the Indian store, or use curry powder in its place), 1 tsp (or to taste) of red chili powder and salt to taste. Cook till flavors are well blended - 5 minutes or so.

7. Finally, blend everything together, and return to pan. Careful - wait till the soup cools slightly and don't overfill the blender. You'll do this in a few batches.

Dig in!

The soup was good but not brilliant. I attribute it to the fact that I used soymilk, and I do think coconut milk, though higher in fat, is probably best in this recipe. I'm going to keep tweaking this one till I get it right. You want a relatively watery
soup, with the fragrance of ginger and curry leaves.

If you do want to cook Indian food, my top two all-time, favorite cookbooks are - Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India and Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

I'm South Indian, and Dakshin is, hands-down, the best South-Indian cookbook there is out there. My cousins and me, all who did not learn how to cook until we came to America to go to graduate school, we all swear by this book. We would have been lost without it.

Madhur Jaffrey has written a ton of books. I bought this one after eating at a cousin's, who had made a meal following her recipes. There's recipes in it that aren't Indian. However, every Indian dish I've made from this book is easy and authentic. And I'm particular about my Indian food.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The St. Patty's day green dress...

I've been meaning to make BWOF 09-2007-117 ever since I saw Christina's version. So pretty! I'm sort of glad I held off though, since now, my sewing skills are (slightly) better, and stuff I make aren't automatically wadders.

Without further ado - the dress!!! Can I just rave about this dress a bit? I love this dress! It makes me look thinner, taller, and is so perfect in every way. (I do need to iron this dress.)

The back - it looks like there's a lot of puddling at the waist - but there isn't that much really.

This pattern was actually fairly easy to make - or atleast, not completely head-scratching in every way. It was good that so many people on PR had made it before me, I had lots of reference material.

Immediately after, flushed with the success of this dress, I jumped into my first ever jacket - Simplicity 3631. And I have to say, I'm so grateful for Isabelle's review.
I wasn't as meticulous as Isabelle, of course, who lined her jacket. However, I totally stole the cuffs idea, which is good, cause honestly, I attached the bat sleeves, took a look, and almost abandoned the project. In the end though, I think this jacket came out ok and wearable.

Apart from first jacket, this was also, first buttonhole. Scary beforehand, and yet, not that big a deal in the end.

(Close up of the cuff - so cool. Thanks, Isabelle!)

That's a very productive few days of sewing! Woo hoo!

And last - here's a photo of my expression (ok, staged) when my photographer (aka kid brother) actually liked my green dress. He NEVER likes any of my sewing - so, a compliment from him is a rare thing!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This pattern... (April issue of BWOF)

Plus this color combination... (from The Sartorialist)

Would that be a bit too much, or just the best birthday dress ever?

(My birthday's a good month away though, so I actually might get this done. However, the pattern, as best as I can tell with this picture, looks kind of complicated.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The green dress is half done...

Clearly, not in time for St. Patrick's Day though.

One of the things that intervened was this quick lap quilt. My mom had a housewarming to go to, and she was in the store looking for something to buy. I'm in a buy-less, lower-impact-on-environment, use-what-you-have mode, so I offered to help make a quick lap quilt from the entirely-too-large stash.

(That's my mom in the center.)

The Rail Fence quilt is super easy to put together (my mom did the hard work there, mostly) and I quilted the damn thing. I really hate quilting. I think its because my walking foot - a $10 generic, fit-any-damn-machine foot really sucks. My quilts always end up distorted and all crinkly (not in a cute way, crinkly in a bad, ugly, lumpy way).

Anyway - 3 hours or so to make the top, another 3 odd hours to quilt up, makes me wish we just bought a present. Still, the gift was super appreciated, I believe, and hey, the stash is just a bit lighter.

The back. The lower end is the one that came out all crappy.

The dress - most of it is done - I still have to cut out and attach the lining, widen the hips just a half inch or so, attach the collar and the upper facings, finish the slit, and hem. I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to bag the lining on this one, since I don't want to hem. Also, I'd like to avoid hand-sewing the lining to the zipper. I'm trying to work this out - in the end, I might still end up doing it the BWOF way.

Surprise, surprise, though, so far, the instructions are fairly clear! I'm not sure if its because I'm used to them, or if these are just clear instructions, but so far, I've had very few head-scratching moments. (And now, I've jinxed it - its going to be incomprehensible from this point forward.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Old sewing - my first ever BWOF project

Today, I dug up a dress I'd made sometime in September/October. I made BWOF 09-2007-121 then, my first ever BWOF project, after seeing and loving Cidell's version. It took a little work (and some ripping) to trace and make my dress, but I thought it was worth it.

I really didn't wear it though, because of the back view - I thought the pleats in the butt stuck out funny, and I wanted to fix it.

Then a really good friend came into town, saw me wearing the dress, and told me, kindly, that it kind of made me look pregnant. (I have a tummy - my mom thinks its a beer gut. Hee hee. I don't care, I love me some beer) So, the dress got shoved to the back of my closet.

But since I've lost some weight with the Joshi's Holistic Detox thingy, I tried this dress on again, and OMG!!! I actually look kind of good. At the very least, not pregnant. Sweet!!!

Now, the detox has been a huge pain in the ass. I've had to give up - you name it, I've had to give it up. I've given up wheat, yeast, any kind of alcohol, any kind of processed food, coffee, sugar, potatoes, dairy and a whole lot more. In its place, I've been eating a lentil-rich, greens-rich, low-carb diet.

Seriously though, trying on this dress - all worth-while. (And the back pleats don't even look that funny anymore...)

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I've an outfit!

I think this is the first time I've made a top and a bottom, and actually worn them together. Woo hoo! I'm very pleased with myself.

Without further ado, the pictures.

The top is Simplicity 4076. The pants are Simplicity 4135.

Simplicity 4076 is going to become a favorite pattern of mine, I can tell. I love this t-shirt. Its pretty, its simple, I can wear it over jeans, and its cuter than just a plain t-shirt. The fabric was a remnant I found at Fabricland for a $1.25. Woo hoo! It worked well as a muslin. (Its just a tiny bit too short, I'd prefer it to be an inch longer. Can fix that easily next time.)

I also really like the pants, though they might be just a little baggy? This is my second muslin - the first was a bit tight, this one's a bit loose, so maybe the third will be just right? (I feel like Goldilocks & the Three Bears right now.) Still, this is a wearable muslin, which makes me happy. The fabric was a Goodwill find, maybe $2?

Woo hoo for me.

SWAP info: I've thought about this over the past two days, and I've decided to pass on the swap. I do believe I can sew everything up in time, though it is an aggressive goal. I also really, really like the pieces I'd wanted to sew.

But, when it came down to it, I really, really want to sew from stash, and with this wardrobe, I'd have to buy the white fabric, and yellow fabric, both for the blouse and the jacket.

My stash has grown incredibly the last few months, and there's a ton of things I want to sew from it. This SWAP, while really calling to me, will be a distraction. I sew a lot anyway, I don't need a SWAP to motivate me to sew.

I will save the images anyway. Spring in Toronto doesn't really set in till May? So, perhaps, if I'm incredibly productive sewing-wise in March and April, I'll buy some fabric and get to this in May. Also, there's a mini-wardrobe contest coming up sometime later this year on PR, so maybe that will be when I do this.

Up next - sewing wise.

I'm going out drinking on St. Patrick's Day, of course. I'm wondering if I can make myself something green. I'd really like to wear a dress, but Toronto weather might hastily put that to rest. If it is nice enough to wear a dress, there's a couple of BWOF dresses I've been meaning to make for the longest time.

BWOF 09-2007-117 - see Cidell's, Christina's & other versions!

Or BWOF 10-2007-105 - some great versions of this...

Then again, we might be buried in a meter of snow (again!) in Toronto, so perhaps, I'll just make a t-shirt, and wear it with jeans.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

No guar gum here...

I've been doing Joshi's Holistic Detox. Its a 21 day detox, I'm on day 13, and have lost 6 pounds so far. I have to admit, losing weight was my primary motive. Its been good, the first few days were kind of rough, but better now. I'm pretty excited to be done soon, though.

In any case, I was cooking tonight, and wanted to make something I hadn't made before. There's a blizzard raging outside, so obviously, I felt like making ice-cream. Coffee ice-cream, to be precise. Both coffee and ice-cream are strictly against the detox rules, so of course, that's what I made...

I loosely followed a recipe from Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments, but added a liberal amount of Kahlua. I really like David Lebovitz - he writes an entertaining blog, and this book is awesome. Over the summer, I'd make a batch of ice-cream every day, practically. (Umm, is it any wonder I need to do things like 21 day detoxes to lose weight?)

Anyway, I couldn't really eat the coffee ice-cream, but I did lick the spoon clean - bad Reethi! But the ice-cream will be waiting for me when I'm done...

(The ice-cream's a bit melty in the picture - since its just out of the machine. And the flecks are coffee-grounds, since my strainer wasn't quite fine enough...)

If you want to make your own ice-cream, David has a free recipe here for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream. My ice-cream maker is the Cuisinart ICE-20 Automatic Frozen Yogurt - Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker, which I bought over the summer from Craigslist for $25. Its a bit noisy, but since I'm not really a heavy user of ice-cream makers, it works for me.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Black & White & Yellow all over...

I'm pondering about entering the Pattern Review Wardrobe Contest.

Inspiring me are these images from the Spiegel website. Evidently, I really like yellow.

And this bag!!!!

The contest needs 10 total pieces:

1. The bag - if not similar, then inspired by the bag above
2. A jacket - the yellow. I've been wanting to learn how to make a jacket, so this is good. Don't really know what pattern I'm going to use - but I'll make my jacket have full sleeves, I think.
3. White pants - using Simplicity 4135
4. Black or dark gray pants - also using Simplicity 4135.
5. White pencil skirt. I think there's a pattern in one of my BWOFs.
6. Black shirt - I've been wanting to make BWOF 07-2007 115 I've also never made a fitted shirt, so lots of adventure ahead.
7. Black tank top.
8. Yellow printed drawstring shirt. Kind of like this BWOF 03-2008-111 tunic.
9. Solid yellow shirt. Not quite sure what pattern to use.

Which leaves another bottom to plan. Hmm. Maybe a printed skirt - same print as the shirt?

10 pieces though is a really aggressive goal, and I do have other things to do between now and the end of April. I'm also seriously trying to avoid buying fabric, and I'll have to buy at least a little for this challenge. I'm not sure if its worth it... Thoughts?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Vote for me?

Thanks for all the nice compliments about the dress. I was laughing at the anonymous comment about me chickening out of wearing it - its well possible. Besides, I don't really do that many things that involve getting all dressed up - a nice blouse and jeans takes me through most of my social life.

Anyway, I did enter the dress in the RTW contest - so, shameless plug for people to vote for me?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Not perfect, but done!

Its not pretty. It won't win any neatness prizes. I will never show a picture of the inside. But its done!!!!!

Will write more later, but here are some pictures.

The dress:

Close up of bodice to show the incredibly painful ruching(and cleavage, evidently)

The back (I might change this around, but this will work for the moment...)

Incredibly painful ironing and steaming to get the cool pleating on the dress...

So much work for such a tiny piece...

Finally, side by side:

I learned a lot in this project... Will detail all those in an upcoming post.