Monday, August 25, 2008

The Almanac Knows

Our weather here in Northern Virgina has been amazingly pleasant the last few weeks - way too pleasant to sit inside and sew. My son and I were discussing this phenomenon and we both agreed, weather this pleasant MUST mean that we will get a horrible winter. We didn't get hardly any snow last winter and to a high school guy that's a big disappointment - no snow days! He saw that the almanac had also predicted a heavy snowfall for us this upcoming winter and advised me in his scientific tone of voice that of course it was impossible to predict the weather with any accuracy more than a week ahead. Which means that we'll get lots of snow, right?
I'll have to work on my coat muslin so I can finish my winter coat before it gets cold. Since our weather has been so wacky lately that could be any day now.
I'd better get started on my fall sewing before we are buried in snow!
What are you sewing for fall?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Only ONE month left of Summer

Hurry! only one month left of summer! If you hurry, you still have time to do the following:

Lie by the pool reading magazines
Sew a cute T shirt in your favorite color
Watch a blockbuster movie with your kids (if you don't have kids, you can borrow some.)
Eat outside
Squeeze in one more trip to the pool (ours closes on Labor Day)
Go to the Farmer's market and buy all the tomatoes and peaches and sweet corn they have
Make a Tomato Pie

Everyone loves this at our house. It's so delicious you won't believe how easy it is.

Make a batch of biscuit dough. I use the recipe in Fannie Farmer, which is almost the same as the recipe on the back of my flour bag. Two cups of flour, one stick of butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons baking powder and about 2/3 cups milk.
Divide the dough in half and line an 8 inch pie pan with that half. Then cover the bottom with a handful of grated mild cheddar cheese, 2 sliced tomatoes, snipped chives, basil, more cheese (another handful) and then take 1/3 cup mayonnaise, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and spread that over tomatoes and cheese and herbs. Top with remaining biscuit dough and bake until brown - about 20 minutes at 350.
Wonderful with a cold iced tea - equally as good later this fall with Roma tomatoes.
Better make two if you have more than 3 people who like tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why I Love Patterns

Some people find out how many patterns I have and they are aghast. Why do you need so many? (non-sewists just don't get it) Patterns, like recipes and road maps, are the directions to get you where you want to go. How can you have too many directions in this world? Say that you are watching the Academy Awards and you see the fabulous Helen Mirren. She was wearing an amazing dress, right? The sewist knows that they could make a similar dress with the help of a good pattern. Or you are in a great restaurant and you have a wonderful dish, delicious and unusual (like the carrot and ginger soup I had once at Zola in DC). You know that if you can find a similar recipe, you can make that soup whenever you want. A good map gets you where you need to go. Mr. Hunting Creek, armed only with the Rand McNally Atlas, once drove us from LaGuardia to Tuxedo Park New York for a wedding weekend, with no wrong turns, in the dark! All you need is a good map and decent directions, he said.
I very seldom make a pattern exactly the way the designer intended. Either I have adult attention deficit disorder, or I am incapable of following directions. I like to experiment and also, sometimes I think I know better than the designer. For instance, don't you think that this pattern would make a great top? That's what I'm going to do with it. And this Butterick Tunic wants to be a dress (it told me).
With quilt patterns I mix stuff up too. I take a little of this and a little of that and make something different. I like to take all of my patterns and mix and match ingredients to come up with something better. The first time you do this it will feel funny, but if you play around with test fabric first , you'll get the hang of it. And pretty soon, you'll be swapping the skirt of one Vogue Pattern with the bodice of another to the benefit of both. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pajamas and Bunny Slippers

I was on a conference call not too long ago, (at the Company-That-Can-Not-Be-Named) and the Vice President addressed those of us who were virtual workers, or as she said, "those of you in pajamas and bunny slippers". The IMs were flying back and forth like crazy between all of us after that statement. Were we all in pajamas and bunny slippers? (A good friend of mine feels that Business Casual has ruined the American workplace; people have been sighted wearing flip-flops at work! A sign of the End Times, he feels.) I did a quick poll of all of my fellow virtual workers. What did we all wear to work, since we worked at home?
The results: no pajamas, 2 sweats, 4 jeans and t shirts, 2 shorts and t shirts and no bunny slippers. While not a scientific poll, I'd like to speak in defense of my fellow virtual workers. While we don't wear business clothes at home, we don't wear pajamas all day either. After all, that hot UPS man comes to the door quite frequently and we don't want to give him the wrong ideas. What is this bunny slipper myth, and where did it come from? I don't even know anyone who HAS bunny slippers.
The image above is from Tesla Motors, and is shows their brilliant interpretation of the Bunny Slipper. Clearly they felt that all of the Hipsters at Burning Man would know what a bunny slipper meant. Is a bunny slipper just a slipper? Or does it mean Something More? There is even a , a jazz band called Fuzzy Bunny Slippers, and whole websites discussing their cultural relevance. They are the footwear of choice among Vampires. Clearly the person who wears them risks being seen as either ironic or a fool; such a lot of cultural baggage for something so small pink and fuzzy!
Dr. Freud said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; but was that Vice President implying that those of us who worked at home were slackers? Wouldn't you insult a candidate's work ethic if you implied that they wore bunny slippers? Then he or she would have to escalate the rhetoric and show that, no, they were tough on relaxation; they wore the Killer Rabbit Slippers instead.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear NY Times Fashion Editor

Dear New York Times Fashion Editor,

What were you thinking? Oh, weren't thinking. (or thinking like a five year old girl who wears her ballet tutu even to bed, she loves it SO MUCH!)
What sane woman, what normal American gal wants to wear tight black sequined leather leggings? Or as one male member of the Little Hunting Creek Fashion Advice Team put it, "what gal wants sequins on her butt?"
Dear Editor, in future, please show some pants that non-pole dancers would wear.
These pants are shown with the model reclining. This is because she had to lie down and suck it in to get them on, even though she is a size negative zero, and also because she could not stand up in those shoes. Also, they are described as a "bargain" at $245.00. After we were all done laughing hysterically, we decided that perhaps there were places where one COULD theoretically wear them. For instance, if one were able to drive ones' silver DeLorean back in time to the 80's disco Studio 54. Or to Rat Pack concert at the Sands hotel in Vegas, baby. One MUST be careful to wear them in appropriate venues; however, one would not wish to be mistaken for a Pretty Woman kind of girl. We are pretty sure that designing these pants would result in elimination from Project Runway

The Little Hunting Creek Fashion Advice Team

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Creative Obsessions

I saw this coat back in Dec 2007 in the Sunday New York Times and I was so taken with it I wanted to make something like it. You know the feeling, that, "I could do THAT!" feeling. Not a copy (so call off your lawyers, Diane von Furstenburg), but instead something in the same spirit. I was delighted to find creamy heathered Italian wool coating at Gorgeous Fabrics, and even placed an order. But alas, Ann wrote me back later that day saying some designer had bought the entire bolt from her. In the nature of obsessions, I knew that MY coat had to be cream colored; no other color would do. (Curse you, anonymous designer person!) So I've been waiting, and thinking all year about how I would make a Narciso inspired coat. I wanted it to have clean lines, no collar, and double breasted. I wanted to start with a commercial pattern, because I did not want to draft my own. (Drafting my own was more work than I wanted to do. Obsession does not do away with laziness.) I bought some patterns, I studied articles on coat making, I made notes in my Idea Notebook. Months went by. Then this week, I saw the pattern I wanted to make.
Vogue 8520 - look! Vogue even obligingly showed the jacket in cream! They were trying to tell me: MAKE THIS COAT. Of course, I did not notice this pattern while they were having their sale. They buried it all the way at the end of their new fall patterns, and didn't even show one made up in the magazine. So I didn't notice it at first. But this pattern has possibilities. It is double breasted. It has no collar. It has princess seaming for easy fitting opportunities, and I love the shaped hem. It calls for Lightweight Tweed, Double-sided Fleece and Boucle. Oh Vogue, you teasers, I sure hope you don't mean POLAR FLEECE. (Cause THAT ain't gonna happen - what would Narciso say?). And they even say that the pattern is VERY EASY. Now I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, Vogue pattern people. I am pretty sure that a pattern described as a, "Loose-fitting, lined jacket has sleeve and hem length variations, yoke, raglan sleeves, princess seams and snap closures. B, C: side front seam pockets. C: tucks at sleeve hem and shaped front hemline" is not MY idea of VERY EASY. (My idea of very easy is making pajama pants or a T shirt.)
Also this project would require BUYING FABRIC. I don't have any cream colored wool boucle, or creamy lightweight tweed just laying around.(This is not to imply that there is no wool coating in the stash, oh no. But no coating this color!) Would it count as falling off the Fabric Rehab wagon if I only bought fabric to make this coat? So practical, and THINK of all the money I'd save, since the original version was many thousands of dollars? Why, I can't afford NOT to make a new coat! (You see how addicts can make excuses to induge their weaknesses?) To Be Continued...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Where would you wear THAT?

Sometimes my customers call me with a sewing or quilting question and that's always fun. I love talking to people about sewing and they always have something interesting to say. Yesterday a nice woman named Alicia called me to ask about some of the Vintage Vogue Patterns we have on the website. She wanted to know what kind of fabric to use for one of the dresses and how I would go about making it. I offered my suggestions and she said, "what about that Mrs Peel Jumpsuit? Where would you wear THAT?"
Now normally most people don't ask for guidance from me about where to wear their creations. Usually I leave this up to your discretion. But I realize that some people might appreciate my guidance; after all, it is commonly assumed that we lead pretty glamourous lives here at Little Hunting Creek.
Let's about at a meeting with James Bond, after dark at Rock Creek Park to snatch up a dead drop from a double agent before the other side gets wind of the documents? In gorgeous iridescent silk, in a New York bar? Don't forget the killer heels! Or there's that wedding on a windy beach in Northern California - the wind would blow a skirt all over the place, but a Mrs. Peel Jumpsuit might be just the thing. Riding in an open jeep on the road to Hana. And helping out the Ferrari Pit Crew! Or parachuting into Bhutan. Where CAN'T you wear a jumpsuit? Better order that silk now!
Next time you need advice, our highly trained Fashion Advice Team is standing by.
Happy Sewing!