Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Groovy Sewing

I told Mr. Hunting Creek that the best part of this picture is that the man is pinning up the hem! He kind of looks like an older Cary Grant, maybe from one of those madcap comedies. He's pinning up her hem, because he is pretending to be a couturier while in fact he is an international jewel thief in hiding from Interpol. And what better way to meet rich ladies with lots of jewels?

This fun book has lots of great information.(But nothing, alas, on pretending to be a designer while hiding from Interpol.)
I especially like reading fashion advice from 1967. From page 4, "A large collar, an unusual neckline or an interesting trim can draw attention to a pretty face. Out of proportion hips may go unnoticed."
Or this advice: "For Shopping: In the city, a simple dress or suit is most appropriate. Add a comfortable top coat if necessary, Pants are out."
And finally, my favorite: "The homemaker often makes the mistake of wearing old clothes to do her daily tasks. This is really not a good idea. Your morale is higher, your work efficiency greater when you are dressed in comfortable, becoming clothes." Plus, little homemaker, you must think of the example you are setting for the children! I started to hum that old song that went something like, "hey little girl, comb your hair, fix your makeup..." because of course you must put on a dress and makeup just before the Mister came home. (If I did that Mr. Hunting Creek would want to know where we were going.)
For an extra treat, tucked inside the book was a Simplicity Pattern flyer from Spring 1967. Look at the colors!

I realized what was bothering me about the retro looks nowawdays - they got the shoes wrong. These heels are sensible. In the 60's, you didn't wear high heels in the day time, according to my neighbor. High heels were for evening, she says.
Of course I am studying this like the CIA studies the yearly Kremlin Christmas Card photos.
Thanks to my Dad, who sent me this cool stuff. Soon I will be an expert on the covered button use of 1967.
(I might even try making that blue dress for this spring. It's been added to the inspiration file. But I'm NOT doing the hair.)
Happy Sewing!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Lesson from 1965

My Dad sent me some cool old patterns in the mail. He knows that I love old patterns. (Thanks, Dad!) I especially love the instructions. Unlike current instructions, the old ones do not SKIP AROUND. I know that I am not alone here in really disliking the current instruction sheets that skip around all over the place for each view. Do the pattern companies realize how much this discourages beginners? And makes old cranky experienced sewists like myself even crankier? If you're reading this, Simplicity, take a look at your archives from 1965. Sometimes the old ways are better.

Exhibit A: instruction sheet from Simplicity 6371 copyright 1965

Look how it calmly instructs, "Follow your progress from start to finish, put a check in the box after finishing each step."
1. Select the pattern pieces for the view you are making
2. PRESS the pattern pieces
3. Compare your body measurements with those on the back of the envelope.
(I don't mean to quibble here, but really, shouldn't THIS really be STEP ONE?)
CAUTION: Do not measure pattern tissue, for in addition to body measurements, ease is allowed in the pattern for garment style and comfortable wearing.
(I feel like such a renegade, because I always measure the tissue. Sometimes when I haven't,I have been unpleasantly surprised.)

4. if alterations are necessary, they should be made in the pattern before placing on fabric.
This is always good advice. And they go on with every tiny little step, including a zipper tutorial.
This dress could be worn as-is today. I especially like the yoke detail on view 2. I might steal that idea.
The pattern pieces have more detail too. In addition to seam lines, they also instruct which direction to sew the seams. I always do my own thing this way, depending on the fabric, but I can't recall seeing this direction on a recent pattern. Studying old patterns helps me to visualize different methods of constructing garments, and I can contrast older methods with current ones. Mr. Hunting Creek teases me because I read instruction sheets in bed, but what better way to see how things were done? Sometimes I actually learn something new.
Happy sewing!

p.s. Little Hunting Creek is having a sale, free shipping on patterns and fabric packs when you buy three or more. Mix and match!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tried and True

This always happens at night: "Would you make a cake for tomorrow?" Or cupcakes. For an office party, someone's birthday, last day at work, baby shower... When the kids were younger I got caught once or twice unprepared, but now I am on to their game. I am prepared for anything in the cake category. Here is my go to, never fail, tried and true, last minute suprise chocolate cake recipe. Keep the ingredients in your cupboard and no one will catch you unprepared either.

Surprise Chocolate Cake

Preheat your oven to 350

3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all this in a bowl with a whisk.

Then in a separate bowl, mix
2 cups cold water, or cold coffee (I always feel so frugal using up the leftover coffee)plus it makes the chocolate taste chocolaty-er
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 Tablespoon vanilla (or use dark rum, or Amaretto, or hazelnut liqueur)
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry and mix together. Pour into 2 9 inch round greased and floured cake pans or 1 9"x13" cake pan, or 24-30 lined cupcakes
Bake about 25-35 minutes. Cupcakes cook faster than a 9x13 inch cake.

This tastes like it is full of chocolate, butter and hard work, but only took a few short minutes of whisking. I won't tell if you don't! Notice that there are no eggs, butter, dairy products or other perishables in this cake. You can keep the ingredients on hand and no one can catch you unprepared.
Leftover cupcakes can be designated as muffins and eaten for breakfast. I hereby give you permission to have cake for breakfast. You deserve it!

My daughter made these for her Italian class party yesterday and says that they were a big success. She also notes that carrying a large Tupperware cupcake carrier around town is a sure fire conversation starter, and that if you want to meet people, just carry around decorated cupcakes. On her way home from class, she says that several people at the Metro station and the Old Town trolley stop struck up conversations. Some rough looking young men approached while she was waiting to change trains and asked what she had, and she said "chocolate cupcakes, want one?" All of a sudden they were all smiles as they each took one. There's a moral there somewhere.
Happy baking!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holiday Sewing:Tote Bags

What a week it's been! I'm glad to get back to the calm in my sewing room. This week I've been working on tote bags as gifts. These are easy to make and very practical, since many people and businesses are trying to get away from plastic grocery bags.
I found this great tutorial on besewstylish.com called Two-Hour Tote Bag by my friend Ann from Gorgeous Fabrics.
Here is my first one. It is made out of some embroidered denim that has been aging nicely in the stash for several years and fell out on my feet while I was looking for the green toile canvas that I know I have somewhere. The denim said,"What about ME?" And I agreed. When the fabric begs like that I'm a pushover. I still haven't found that toile! (That's how you know you have enough fabric - when your fabric can hide from you) I put a little quilt square in the pocket for contrast so you could see it.

These are super easy to make and don't take much fabric. From the tutorial it says
you will need:
• 1/2 yard of denim or canvas (60 inches wide) plus equal amount for lining if you want
• 2 7/8 yards of 1-inch-wide nylon or cotton webbing
• Thread to match
• Sewing machine
• Iron
(BeSewStylish is a fun website too, check it out when you have a few minutes)
While I was cutting out a second bag, I had the idea to line the bag and make a contrast pocket, so I cut some lining pieces the same size as the bag pieces basted on the pocket, sewed the lining pieces to the bag outsides, right sides together, keeping the bottom open, and basted the contrast pocket on. This finishes the sides and top. Then I press and zigzag finish the bottoms. My contrast pocket was 11"x22" because I cut it on the fold so the top would be the finished edge. Here is the pocket basted to one bag side, and ready for the strap to be sewn on
Then I attached the straps per Ann's tutorial, and finished the bag. Not bad for an experiment! The Variety store near our house had lots of colored strap webbing, so along with the red, I bought bright yellow, olive and blue. These are fun to make and a nice break from making my top for our neighborhood Christmas Party. They make a fast and fun gift, especially if you add a couple treats inside. (and since all I had to buy was the webbing they were almost free, right?)
The strap bottoms really do match on both bags but they are folding in in the picture - honest! (not that it matters for a tote bag, but I have my OCD side)
Now back to that Christmas top.
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted

There's still time to vote if you haven't yet.
We got up before dawn today, my husband and our daughter and I, and drove down to the elementary school that serves as our polling place. Both our kids went to that school and I always find it sweet to wait in line while looking at the artwork.
There was no parking available, the lot was FULL and cars covered the streets nearby. The line went out the door and around the building. I could still see the stars as we took our place in line. There was a table selling coffee and doughnuts nearby. Everyone in line was cheerful, and seemed happy to take part in this historic election. No one complained about waiting. It wasn't too cold. As we waited, the line moved slowly. The people in line were all ages, all races, some had small children, some were in business clothes, some were retired. Everyone was polite to the Democratic and Republican helpers who were offering sample ballots.
As I waited I reflected that when my grandmother was born in 1904 in Punxsutawney, PA, women did not yet have the right to vote. Less than 70 years later, when I voted for the first time in 1976, my parents took a picture of me coming out of my old elementary school with my I VOTED sticker. I haven't missed an election since. Don't miss out on your chance to make history.
Happy Voting!
(and I am SO GLAD that this is all over and I can get back to sewing Christmas gifts and clothes)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Sign Update

Someone stole the signs AGAIN! And replaced our signs with their candidate's signs! These people are shameless! So Mr. Hunting Creek went and got MORE (twice as many) and placed them all along the road. However, he did not remove their sign, because that would be wrong. (We were tempted, but our better angels said no) But their sign is now surrounded :) Only 1 more day...

Did I mention the free single scoop of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream if you VOTE?( I think I'll get cinnamon bun ice cream)

The whole world is watching, so let's all go and show them how it's done.

Mr. Hunting Creek and Ms. Hunting Creek and I will go at 6a and vote early. And make sure that our signs are still there.

Happy Voting!

Your Vote DOES Count

Anyone who remembers the 2000 election knows this. Your vote matters. Every vote counts. Please make sure you go vote tomorrow, and don't let anything stop you. Don't let rain, or lines or lack of transportation stop you. Someone at the local campaign office has a ride for you, just ask them.(Especially if you are in Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina, Missouri, and Pennsylvania)

To encourage you, Krispy Kreme, Books a Million and Starbucks are giving out freebies if you Vote.

So enjoy your free coffees and doughnut, you deserve it! Ben and Jerry's single scoop! FREE! (No calories on Election Day!) But only if you VOTE!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Virginia Election Story

I read in the paper this morning that Fairfax County, Virginia is the bellwether county in the whole United States in the 2008 Election. As Fairfax goes, so goes the nation? Emotions are running pretty high, and there has been all sorts of mischief. Here at Little Hunting Creek, our property is half an acre of woods that goes all the way to the highway. The campaigns have lots of signs back there along the road, but someone kept stealing the signs. So Mr. Hunting Creek would get more to replace them, but it kept happening. A couple days ago our daughter was drinking her coffee and looking out the window and she saw a jogger stop and take the signs! She ran out the back door shouting, "Put those signs down! What do you think you're doing?" He ignored her and kept going, so she ran out the door, jumped in her car and tailed him, yelling out the window at him that he was stealing and violating our neighborhood's First Amendment rights. He dropped the signs. She said, "I have called the police and reported you!" and then she put the signs back. It was an older man, with gray hair and a moustache, someone old enough to know better. The police were very impressed with her law enforcement skills. They offered to come and arrest him, but we both felt that he had learned his lesson. No one has touched the signs since. Don't mess with our First Amendment rights at Little Hunting Creek when Ms. Hunting Creek is around! And on Tuesday, don't forget to VOTE!