Thursday, December 31, 2009

Recipe 911

This morning I received the following email:

Subject: Your chili Recipe we had at your House

Please send recipe

Bonnie has mentioned several times
So I better make it

Love Dad

Dear Dad,
Here's what I did:

Little Hunting Creek White Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 pounds(approx) boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used a bag from Trader Joes)
Cut into chunks, fat removed
4 cups chicken broth (I used whole quart of chicken broth in box)
1 small can chopped green chiles
2 cans white beans
1 teaspoon dried oregano or to taste
2 teaspoons chili powder or to taste (I used Penzeys chili powder)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt, pepper

First I chopped the onions and gently sauteed them in the olive oil on medium heat. Don't let them burn, we just want them soft. While they were softening I cut up all of the chicken thighs into bite size pieces.
Then when the onions were soft(about 15 minutes or so) I added the chicken thighs and garlic, and then the chopped green chiles. Stir that, let them cook a few minutes so that they don't look raw and then add your herbs and spices, salt, pepper etc. Add chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the two cans of drained white beans. I used cannellini beans, because that's what I had.
Simmer, taste and see if it needs more salt, pepper , or chili powder. Some people like it spicier, some don't. Chef's choice.
Then at the end, I mix a couple teaspoons of cornstarch with chicken broth , or beer or water (depending on what I have and my mood) and drizzle that into the simmering chili until slightly thickened. Taste again, just to make sure. This is the best part of being the chef.

We topped with fresh chopped tomatoes, grated jack cheese and chopped green onions.

Serve with tortillas, bread or corn bread. Leftovers are good on top of hot dogs or wrapped in a tortilla as a burrito.

Happy New Year!
Mrs. Hunting Creek

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Soup for Supper

There comes a time every holiday season when I just can't eat another French Truffle. No more Brie, no St. Andre Triple Cream cheese, no rib roast, no cake or pie. I just can't take another bite. That's the time when we make soup. It is super cold this week, and cold weather gives me soup cravings. In our household soup is a forbidden fruit: our daughter actively dislikes soup, and complains loudly whenever we have it. So Mr. Hunting Creek and I have to plan our soup for when she is not eating with us. This gives our soup suppers an appealing air of intrigue. Very seldom has bean soup been seen as a controlled substance, but around here, we have to sneak it.
I usually keep a package of dried beans on hand for soup purposes. You never know when you'll be able to make it! I did the quick soak method, (cover beans with cold water, bring to a boil, let sit for an this case a couple hours, because I forgot about them, but no matter). Now I'm not going to nag you about this, but whenever I cook dried beans, half of the time I sort through and find a teeny tiny rock or dirt clod. I always rinse them off and then proceed with soaking.

Here's how Mr. Hunting Creek and I made our:

Forbidden Bean Soup

1 lb. navy beans, sorted and soaked
3 tablespoons olive oil (or you could use butter, or vegetable oil.)
3 chopped onions
about half a cup of chopped celery (if you don't have any you could leave it out)
4 chopped carrots
3-4 cloves chopped garlic
8 cups of water
1 ham bone with some meat on it, or a couple ham hocks
1 teaspoon thyme (or your favorite soup herb - maybe oregano or marjoram would be nice here)
A Bay leaf is nice if you have one

(We baked a ham last week, since I wanted to make a big batch of ham salad for my sister for a present She loves ham salad. (I also made a loaf of bread and gave them both to her for Christmas. she was delighted). So I had a ham bone available. If you have a ham bone but don't feel like making soup, zip it in a plastic bag and stash it in the freezer for later, when you have time.)

In a large pan, saute your onions, celery, carrots in the oil until soft. About 15 minutes - then add the garlic, drained beans, water, ham bone, and thyme and bay leaf. Don't add salt yet.
Simmer for about two or three hours, or until beans are cooked. You will keep an eye on it and stir occasionally. I don't know if this does anything, but it make me feel better. Sometimes I add a little more water. After the two/three hours, when the beans are cooked, take the ham bone out, let it cool off, then cut off the meat and put the meat back in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Normally Virginia ham is so salty already that the soup doesn't need much more. I like it peppery, so I always add pepper. Serve with bread and salad.

I made popovers to go with our soup. I had never made them before, but I read about popovers on the King Arthur Flour baking blog, so I wanted to make them. I followed instructions and they came out perfectly on the first try. Mr. Hunting Creek was very impressed. I think he ate four of them. Then I had a clementine for dessert; Mr. Hunting Creek had cookies and ice cream.
I'd have soup every night if I could, but these darn kids won't let me (but they will go out with friends on New Year's Eve, so maybe I can sneak some more in!)

Is it time to make soup at your house?

Sunday, December 27, 2009


The period between Christmas and New Year's, (sort's really about eleven days) is what my mother always said was the epact. This period is the excess of days between the solar and the lunar year.
It always feels like filling time at work. You don't really feel like starting a new project. I clean out my desk, my email, start new files and delete old ones. It's an epact at work too. The New Year starts next week and mentally we all go back to work then. But in the mean time, we're all in the epact.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

p.s. the hot pad pictured is adapted from the pattern in Quilting Arts Gifts 2009.
Of course I used their idea, but did my own thing. I like to think is because I am so creative, but in fact I just may be incapable of following other people's directions. The nice thing about sewing/cooking/all creative endeavors is that there are hundreds of ways to do stuff and all of them are right.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Photo Gift Tags

Here is a last minute holiday idea for you. I made these cute Holiday Photo Gift tags with a free template from HP. You can too; just go to HP's website. They took less than a minute to make and they are so cute! You could customize with the picture of the recipient or a theme to give a can use your own photos so the sky's the limit.
Merry Gift Tags!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

White Christmas

It started snowing last night and shows no signs of stopping. Bob Ryan says we might get two feet. For the Washington DC area, that might as well be ten feet - people are seriously snow averse here. The stores are sold out of sliced bread, sandwich meat, potato chips and toilet paper. Do people here only eat cold sandwiches during snow storms? Being a California girl, I sometimes still do not understand the East Coast Mind. What's with the potato chips and cold cuts?
Chez Hunting Creek, we'll make soup and homemade rolls and salad, and watch football while we wrap presents. I might even sew some last minute gifties.
I feel sorry for the stores though. This is a big shopping weekend for them and now no one can get out on the East Coast to go shopping!
Is all of your shopping done? Mine sure isn't.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah to all!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Streusel-topped Cranberry Muffins

Admit probably have leftover cranberry sauce or relish lurking in your fridge right now. Cranberry sauce is not exactly the condiment of a thousand uses in most kitchens. My son puts it on his turkey sandwiches. But other than that it gets neglected for a while until you notice that it has gotten some strange furry mold on it, and then it gets thrown away. I had some leftover cranberry relish, the kind that is raw cranberries chopped up with a whole orange and some sugar. Delicious with turkey, great on turkey sandwiches, but I had about a cup left. I was brought up believing that it was a sin to waste food, and even if you don't believe that, it is a waste of money. When I woke up this morning I knew I was making these muffins, and the recipe details popped right in my head like a revelation.
My daughter said that they were the BEST muffins EVER.
Do you adapt recipes? I do it all the time. It is just like changing a pattern only you get to eat the results, which most of the time are delicious.
I adapted these from the Walnut-Strawberry Quick Bread recipe in my copy of the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.You can turn quick bread recipes into muffins easily - just put the batter in muffin tins and shorten the baking time accordingly.

Streusel Topped Cranberry Muffins
first make your streusel topping (see below)
Preheat your oven to 350

Streusel topping- this will make EXTRA - enough for two batches of muffins, or a 9x13 coffee cake. I always have some in my fridge for streusel emergencies.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but nice)
In a medium sized mixing bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. Melt the butter, (I melt it in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave) and add the extracts to the melted butter and then pour this into the dry stuff and blend with a whisk or fork until it gets blended into crumbs. (Don't eat it all! Save some for your muffins. It's tasty.)

Muffin batter:
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, but chopped almonds or walnuts would work too)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (cinnamon would be nice too)
2 large eggs
1 cup cranberry relish (the kind that is raw cranberries chopped with sugar and an orange)
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a mixing bowl, blend the dry ingredients together, then whisk in the eggs, oil, applesauce, cranberry relish, vanilla etc. If you don't have vanilla, you could use rum instead or just leave it out.

Scoop into muffin tins (I line mine with muffin papers) top with the streusel and bake for about 22 minutes.

Any muffins that don't get eaten will freeze nicely and be great for breakfast later in the week.
These were awesome with our coffee this morning, and equally good later in the afternoon with a glass of cold milk.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just Say No

Sometimes Mrs. Hunting Creek has to put her foot down and say NO.
No I do not want to develop a sloper for someone else. No I do not want to teach you how to quilt. As Christina said so eloquently a few months ago: "Hem your own damn pants."
I could not have said it better myself.
Others who say it better include the Selfish Seamstress, who inspires me to stop being so nice to people. What IS it with people who think just because I like to sew, that must mean that I would love to spend my precious leisure hours working in their sweatshop...I mean...sewing room?
This is not to say that I do not sew for others. I do. I make all kinds of gifts for other people. But I get to decide what I make. I will not make your curtains, ten identical placemats or maternity clothes.
Things I hate to sew:
Someone else's ripped pants, tears, someone else's buttons, worn out old pajamas, and hemming men's pants.(you know guys, they come sold already hemmed with certain lengths. If they don't have your magic number, don't assume I'll fix them up for you.)
There. I feel better now.
What do you hate to sew?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beginning to feel a lot like...

What do Grinches do when they are having trouble getting in the Holiday spirit?
They decorate! To the left you see a teeny tiny tree, for which I made a teeny tiny tree skirt. I made this tiny tree skirt by setting the lid to my All-Clad Saute pan on top of the red fabric and drawing the circle with tailor's chalk. I cut it out, folded it in quarters and cut out the inside circle so that the tree base would fit inside. I carefully measured by setting the little tree in top and eyeballing it. Then I did a satin stitch all around the edges and my mini tree skirt was done. Add tiny presents! "Do you think we can get away with this as the Christmas tree?". I asked Mr. Grinch, hopefully. "Nope", he said."You're dreaming."
I needed more Christmas spririt. Act the way you want to feel, right? So I made a Christmas stocking. Stockings are small and fast and fun to design, plus they make great gifts. This one is inspired by the stocking shown in Fast, Fun and Easy Christmas Stockings in the gallery. No instructions are given for this one, but that sort of thing doesn't faze Mrs. Hunting Creek. We don't need no stinking instructions, as my mom would say.

The little stocking is removeable, and hanging from the mantelpiece on the stocking. The Big stocking is hanging from my mantelpiece. Very meta, my son said.
The cardinal bird was my own genius addition to the design.
This sent the Holiday Spiritometer up only a notch. Clearly I would have to design my own stocking.

So I thought about doves, stars, snowflakes and the Holy Spirit, and came up with this one:

To make the doves, I traced a dove from last years Quilting Arts Gifts magazine issue. They had a dove tracing that was just what I had in mind, in the gift bag article. Well, I would repurpose their dove. Then I cut out the traced dove and then with the dove shaped hole in my tissue paper, gently penciled a dove on my white fabric. Then I cut out the two doves, but they were kind of plain, so I did a rubbing on them with a gold paintstick and the curves rubbing plate(but ONLY on the dove). I glued them to the fabric with an Elmer's glue stick and then when I liked the placement I zigzagged them on with gold thread. (Elmer's Gluestick is my secret weapon for applique. You could also use Steam A seam or Wonder Under. I like Elmer's for non-clothing applications.) I stood back and admired and then decided the blue fabric with gold stars needed more... I decided to stencil on some snowflakes with the silver paintstik.
Have you ever done a paintstik stencil? I never had before. I looked up the procedure in my copy of Paintstiks on Fabric, which tells you everything you need to know and then some about using paintstiks. The stencils are a nice weight of plastic, not too thin. I held them tight to the fabric with a little painter's tape. Scotch tape works too. Whatever you have so that the stencil does not move while you are painting. Then I used a little stencil brush to color in the stencil and when I was done I lifted it up and was careful not to smear it when I did the additional snowflakes by setting some wax paper over the finished ones.
Then I left the body of the stocking to dry for 24 hours and did the snowflakes on the cuff with my new sapphire blue paintstik. It's a beautiful dark iridescent blue that matched my fabric. Tonight I'll sew the stocking together and hang up and admire. I especially like how the dove at the top(done with just paintstiks to indicate a spirit dove) came out.
If you have never used the paintstiks before, I have to tell you that they are super fun and it is only because my family made me stop that we don't have multicolored (every color!) snowflakes all over the whole house. I can hardly wait to try the leaf stencils. Maybe I'll make a table runner...

Sometimes to break a creative slump it helps to do something totally different from your usual pursuits. I am thinking now of all kinds of fun and creative paintstik applications.
Here are some ideas:
A silk wrap with stenciled leaves or snowflakes or other designs, or rubbings
A table runner
painstiked appliques along the bottom of a skirt
On the bottom or pockets of jeans
On T shirt fabric for a custom design
I'm sure you could add more to my list.

Have you done anything fun lately to break a creative slump? Sometimes I think we don't let ourselves have enough fun. Maybe that should be my 2010 resolution: have more fun.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Green Bean Dystopia

We won't be having green bean casserole on Thursday. As a matter of fact, we will NEVER have green bean casserole in this house, by this cook, EVER. Green beans are a nice enough vegetable, but they are not traditional to my family's Thanksgiving, or Mr. Hunting Creek's. His family always had a nice broccoli casserole made with cream and sherry and parmesan and slivered almonds (no cans of soup involved); mine always had whatever my dad felt like making, (he never ever made Green Bean Casserole).
We never encountered this dish (abomination is not too strong a word) when we grew up in California. Californians are fortunate to have abundant fresh vegetables all year round.
It was only after we moved to Virginia that it made itself known. Our first year here, we were invited to Thanksgiving at the home of Mr. Hunting Creek's new boss. He was worried that we didn't know anyone and had no family nearby. We had never had Thanksgiving at a non-family member's home. It was here that we discovered that some people think that Green Bean Casserole is a food. We were troupers; we ate it. After we got home, Mr. Hunting Creek and I agreed to never let that dish darken our table again.
It was with shock and horror that I read this morning that about 30% of American families serve it for Thanksgiving.(Others hate it too!) With news like that, it is surely the harbinger of the End Times. People! Cook some broccoli, for Pete's sake! Or some fresh brussels sprouts. Or some nice creamed spinach. We'll be having roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and roasted chipotle sweet potatoes. The cream of mushroom soup will be where it a Tuna Casserole, on some other table, some other night.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All Cakes Considered

I read cookbooks all the time. I read them the way some people read trashy detective novels or the latest Twilight saga. When I was reading All Cakes Considered, I realized that Melissa Gray is a kindred spirit (as Anne of Green Gables would say.) Melissa is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered, but this book is about cakes. She bakes a cake every week for her office. She doesn't use cake mixes. She likes to make people happy with her baking - which is the best reason to bake something from scratch that I know of. Melissa (I feel like I know her personally now) is a good baker. She uses real chocolate and vanilla, and cares enough about results to "re-cake" again and again until she gets it right. Amusingly enough, we might be neighbors. It says that she lives near Mount Vernon and so do I. We might even shop at the same Farmer's Market or grocery store. Now that we know each other, if I see her I'll say hi, and ask for her autograph. (I think on the Sweet Potato Pound Cake page- or maybe the Tunnel of Fudge page.)
That brought back was the Tunnel of Fudge cake - from a mix- that got me started on my baking career. I remember that Pillsbury sold the mixes with an aluminum Bundt cake pan attached. I begged my mom to buy one and the rest is baking history. (I still have that pan.)
If you like to bake and make people happy, you won't go wrong with this book.
I think you'll like Melissa too.
Happy Baking!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Little Hunting Creek in Fall Colors

Here is an osprey platform on the creek. There are several nesting pairs all along the Potomac and we frequently see them carrying fish to their nests.

Yesterday was a beautiful Fall day, warm and calm, as you can see by the reflections on the water.

There were no mosquitoes and hardly any bugs at all. Just warm sun and still water.

Nature makes some beautiful abstract compositions; better than many works of art only a few miles up the road in the Smithsonian.

Here's a different view of the Potomac; you are looking at the bridge over Little Hunting Creek. North is left and south is right. Through the bridge and you go out into the Potomac. Turn right and go south to Mount Vernon and further south down to the Chesapeake. Go north about ten miles and you are in Washington, DC.
The land in the distance across the river is Maryland.

Here's is one of our neighbors dressed in his fall colors. He was eating a catfish and then took a walk.

All photos above taken by Mr. Hunting Creek from his canoe while on Little Hunting Creek yesterday afternoon.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fame, Fleeting but thrilling

If you're a wordgeek, can there be any more thrilling feeling than inventing a WOTD?
Check out how Spendorphins is a real word, which Erin says had recently been submitted. (Someone else had also thought of it at almost the same time. Sort of like the invention of the bow and arrow.) Mr. Hunting Creek is now hard at work inventing additional words.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Art date

It was a rainy gloomy weekend here, and our houseguests have gone home.
Mr Hunting Creek wanted to have Thanksgiving this weekend, since the house is so clean and perfect. I told him I was having an attack of inspiration deficit disorder, so he took me to the bookstore to get the newest Threads and Quilting Arts Stitch magazines. I'm a person who likes to wander around the bookstore. It is always fun to see all the new books and magazines. I think we were the only ones there. We got a parking spot right in front - that never happens! Then we went to the Crate and Barrel outlet to look for some new placemats for Thanksgiving. Mr. Hunting Creek is the kind of perfect husband who enjoys picking out new placemats for holidays. (Just so you know that I appreciate him) I'd rather make a nice new t shirt or some fun new silk pajamas than sew 8 identical placemats.
We were successful in our search for new Thanksgiving stuff, and Mr. Hunting Creek coined a new word for the happy feeling you get when you have searched and shopped victoriously: spendorphins.
(I feel so patriotic by spending a little money and helping the economy recover.)
I noticed that the Crate and Barrel outlet had Marimekko fabric by the yard for $4.95 a yard. It is very cheerful stuff, so if you have an outlet nearby it's worth a trip. They also have beautiful tablecloths that could be turned into something else - curtains? Skirts? pillows? (Let your inner Scarlett O'Hara inspire you.)
The Crate and Barrel outlet that we go to is about a block from the Old Town Alexandria -King Street Metro Station. Check their website for locations near you.

After we got home I read my new magazines while the guys watched football. I enjoyed reading the cool ideas in the Stitch Magazine. The whole issue was about world fabrics . I have always loved Japanese Fabrics and I liked the patterns for the totes and the pillows and scarves. It got me thinking about different things that I could do with my vintage kimono fabric. Lots of ideas.
I'll read Threads in bed tonight - my treat!
I may still have inspiration deficit disorder, but following the good advice many of you have given, I'll make something easy and tried and true, and go on from there.
Since my sewing area is all clean, it is begging to be messed up again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Venus vs. Mars

I know this will come as a shock to you, but men and women have different philosophies of housework. For example, my sister told me that when she and her husband were preparing for a dinner party, her husband started housecleaning by organizing the garage. She and I both agreed, this would not be where we would start cleaning.
I mentioned yesterday that we were expecting guests this evening. First thing this morning, Mr. Hunting Creek mowed the lawn (in the rain!) raked about sixteen leaves from the back porch and is now deep cleaning the laundry room. I'd be willing to bet money that no guest has ever white-glove inspected a laundry room, but he was brought up by a woman whose house cleaning standards exceeded those of Martha Stewart. (She used to clean up for the housekeeper! She used to iron underwear!)
Every woman I have asked says that they would clean the bathrooms, kitchen and living room first. Of the men I know, I think they'd say the attic, the garage, the garden shed and the laundry room. Then maybe they'd organize the junk drawer and sort socks before they moved on to the public rooms.
What would you clean first if the Queen/President/Parson/MIL was coming over for a visit? And what would your significant other clean first?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Foiled Again

I feel like sewing, but no sewing will happen here until after Monday. Mr. Hunting Creek is involved in a frenzy of cleaning as family guests (HIS family - my family is used to my sewing mess and would not blink an eye at it) are arriving on Saturday for a short stay. He keeps trying to get me to organize my sewing area by making maddening statements like: "What are all these piles of stuff? Does everything have to be in a pile?" and "Can this go away?"
In the interests of marital harmony, I have decided to humor him. (And after Monday, return to my regularly scheduled messiness.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kick Start

What do you do to quick start your creativity when you are stuck? When you are a little down but need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps (whatever a bootstrap is)?
Do you have a tried and true method?
I used to look at all my patterns and sort my fabric, but this time that ain't workin'.
I know once I start I'll be happy and working away on something, but right now I just can't get motivated. I had a rough summer of illness as mentioned previously, but I am bored with being sick and ready to work on something...anything...but I'm stuck in my rut.
What do you do to get started creating again?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feel Pretty

When my daughter was in elementary school, every Thanksgiving they would invite parents to come have lunch with the kids. We'd go every year and enjoy the cafeteria Thanksgiving turkey, corn bread dressing and green beans. One year her 5th grade teacher had the inspired idea of having a potluck and all of the parents brought something and then afterwards we all sat and enjoyed a lesson taught by the kids. One thing I never forgot was the teacher's method of teaching criticism: the best way is starting off with a brief review of what you liked. So after every report the kids took turns saying what they liked, finding something positive about every presentation. It was charming, it was sweet; it was also very effective afterwards when I stole the idea for use in my workplace. I took her great idea and used it to great effect in my role as a manager of a large team and doggone if that didn't improve our results from 67% to 99% in a very short period of time.
So in the spirit of Miss C's 5th grade teacher, I'd like to say what I liked about Vogue's fall offerings(since I was a little snarky earlier, with wisecracks about that dorky hat and weird Anna Sui dress).
I loved Vogue 8615. What's not to like? It hit all of my checklist: skirt with large swooshiness ability - check! Sleeves! - check! A discernable waistline- check!(Not a baby doll or empire waist - I hate those and am happy to see them go.) And best of all, separate pattern pieces for ABCD cups. This is a wonderful development- now do it on all of the other patterns, Vogue. (I noticed that they did it on some selected patterns, so let's encourage this development.)
I'm already thinking about what fabric would be best for my retro dress. Checked taffeta? Iridescent silk? Oh, the possibilities...
I would change the neckline a little; I don't like a boatneck, it makes me feel choked, so I would redraw it to be a scoop or a v neck. This is a minor quibble. This is my favorite pattern of the fall.
What was your favorite pattern?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I'll get you, my pretty...

...and your little dog, too.
Seriously, Vogue's for Halloween, right?
Ok, now we are all done kidding around. What's with the hideous Mrs. Roper Dress?

This is unattractive on so many levels...where to begin? That print! Those colors! I haven't see a wrist corsage since the Dark Ages when I was in college. That must mean that they mean for Miss Scarlett and the 60's den drapes to attend some festive occasion. Perhaps meeting Elvis in the Jungle Room?
And to think I was worried that my puffy sleeves might be over the top.
Trick or treat!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mutton Dressed as Lamb?

Finally I feel like sewing. Mr. Hunting Creek is going fishing tomorrow, so this is the perfect opportunity to make something. Dear Gentle Readers, please tell it to me straight: is this top too young for me? Is this the kind of thing that no fifty year old woman should wear in public? As I have confessed previously, I have the unerring taste of a circus high wire performer when it comes to fabric and patterns. I love those puffy sleeves, but the older more mature circus performer in me is saying, "Hun, those might be too much sleeve."
Does anyone else love patterns that are just not right for their age or lifestyle?
Have you ever made one and then put it on and thought, "Oh no! I look like a clown!"
I should probably make the plain sleeve version instead. Sigh...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where is Michael Kors?

And don't you think he and Nina would have voted for Epperson's gorgeous cowgirl fantasy instead of that floaty white princessy fluff?
And don't even talk to me about those awful judges! My daughter and I talked back to them the whole time. They gave a pass to that silly vampire bride monstrosity, for example. I miss Michael and Nina. They wouldn't be swayed by any silly Victorian vampire bride nonsense.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sewing with Knits Tutorials

Here are some interesting tutorials posted by sewing teacher and designer Marcy Tilton with some creative ideas on sewing with knits.
I am going to try the mesh idea this weekend. I especially like the idea of using the fold as the hem - brilliant!
Also don't miss her tshirt gallery for creative tshirt ideas.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not Interested

I saw so many copycat gowns at the Emmy Awards, I decided that the Global Fashion Cabal had infiltrated the League of Hollywood Stylists and enforced their version of a Style irade: "Wear a strapless or one-shoulder gown", their ransom note read, "Or we kill this miniature poodle!"
And after a long and puzzled look at contemporary fashion, I have come to the following conclusion: Fashion is no longer interested in dressing regular people.
For example, does Fashion really think the average working woman will go to office meetings with painted on tattoos and see through skirts? See-through blouses? Tedious floral prints? (Oscar de la Renta, how could you?) Of course the Fashion Apologists (they have also been infiltrated by the Global Fashion Cabal, don't listen to them) say, "Oh those designs are for the runway only! They look totally different when they get to the stores!" To which I reply, after hearing this reply for 30 years, "Bah Humbug", or as the kid said, "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it!"
The Global Fashion Cabal has made it abundantly clear that they are not even remotely interested in dressing women over 18. Even though we all know that women 12-30 can only afford to shop at H&M unless their daddy is Tommy Hilfiger.
Of course we read in the NY Times and elsewhere that women and their pocketbooks (last year's pocketbook, could not afford a new one this year) are staying away from stores in droves. It is like a big game of Chicken: the Fashion Cabalistas get more and more outrageous, and the buying public buys less and less. We all know who is going to win this game- except the Fashion Cabalistas are still in the Denial Stage of the BreakUp.(I know she still loves me! She's just busy, that's all. She didn't get my message!) Most women have enough clothes in their closets to last them until the Rapture, and as long as it is culturally acceptable to wear last year's fashions, and there are no cool new things to buy, they will continue to stay out of the stores. The Global Fashion Cabal thought that their little "Fashion's Night Out" event would tempt. Yawn. Or as Miranda Priestly might say, "Bore someone else with your fashions."

Sunday, September 20, 2009


When I was at the Doctor last week for a check up, she said something that really bothered me. I should clarify here that I LOVE my Doctor. She saved my life. (After a year and a half of going to other doctors and useless tests and still being sick, I paid one visit to my gynecologist and she knew what was wrong with me, and sent me to the neurologist for treatment. Problem solved. Lesson learned - don't skip your gynecologist appointments - ever!)
But I digress. she was telling me about these cool key lanyards that some other doctor friends had, and I commented that making a lanyard for her keys would be easy! Matter of minutes! Piece of cake! And she said, "oh you're one of those crafty people!"
Crafty? Me? This from a woman who took a sledgehammer to a closet to do a little room remodel?
I don't know why I was miffed but I was. I guess the term "crafty" bothers me. I've made my share of quilts and decorations along with clothes and home dec. Maybe I shouldn't have been offended. Maybe we need to take back the term craft and
make it mean something special again. Like the old term craftperson. (I am NOT making little trees with gumdrops - ever. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Has anyone ever said something about your sewing that bothered you? Would it bother you if someone called you "crafty"?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Modellina Extra

Lucky for me, my daughter speaks fluent Italian. When she was in college she had to take a foreign language, and she took Italian; it seemed like more fun than French or Spanish and the classes were small. When she graduated her University offered a chance to study in Italy at the Universita per Stranieri. We thought this was a great idea and offered to pay for a couple months of school there, thinking that she might learn better Italian, and also learn something about the country. It turned out to be a life-changing experience - for all of us. She spent a month taking classes at the Universita, then for the second month she traveled around Italy by train, staying in hostels, meeting people and seeing the sights. There is no better way to practice Italian. While she was there, she met the Italian gentleman who is now her boyfriend. Now she visits Italy a couple times a year, and she always brings me European sewing magazines. This last visit she found Modellina Extra, which is their special issue for plus sizes.
Here is their size chart - click to make it larger. It is a magazine similar to Burda in that the patterns are stapled in the center and look like road maps.

I noticed that the longer jacket is featured in several of the recent European magazines; I saw similar in Burda, and also in the European lines from summer. This is a very slimming look if you have somewhere to wear such an elegant coat. Italian ladies probably wear it while shopping. I never saw such elegant people as the Italians. They would be cruising by on their little scooters, wearing Prada and looking impeccable. (They must have a gene I don't have.)
They offer several sleeve options (this is a late summer issue), recognizing that ladies of a certain age might not want bare arms for all occasions.

I've never sewn from Modellina, so I'll have to compare with the Burda sizes and see where I fit in. What I'll do is pick a size that seems closest to mine, trace a pattern and lay the pieces on top of a pattern I know that fits and compare them. Then of course, a muslin and we'll see what happens.
It's fun to sew something that's different from the usual Vogue or Simplicity. The European patterns have interesting details and a different sensibility. I feel more chic just reading them.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exhibit A - the 50's sleeves

My dad was kind enough to send a picture of my mom in her glorious dress. Doesn't she look beautiful? Please note the sleeves: cute, tasteful, totally appropriate for church and reception.
Also I love the hoop skirt.When I was a child I always wondered how the skirts poofed out like that. "a special petticoat", my mom would say. Oh, how I wanted one! But the dresses of the 70's were pretty much hoop free. Sigh - the 50's gals had all the fun. And no one would ever have suggested that they wear strapless or sleeveless dresses in the fall or winter. There were Rules back then. In some ways I kind of miss them. Without rules, the saying goes, we have chaos.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Lost Sleeves

My daughter has been to a few weddings lately and when she shows me her pictures (after the third wedding) I suddenly notice a disturbing trend: all of the dresses are strapless! What happened to sleeves? I'm a child of the 70's, don't get me wrong, I'm all for freedom of choice in what a bride wears. But I feel that sleeveless wedding dresses are inappropriate in church. Yes, it's true, I have turned into my MOTHER. Her dress, if I could find a picture of it (Dad, do you have one?) was very full and poufy and had cute little 1950's cap sleeves.
My dress had sleeves. But even a cursory look at the New York Times wedding pages shows the same sad story: the majority of the brides are wearing the bustier dress. It's as if a law was passed a few years ago and said all brides must now look as if they were attending the Oscars afterwards.
Then Tuesday morning the nice people at Nordstrom sent me an email and advised that they had new fall and winter party dresses in stock. So I looked, and 95% of the dresses were strapless or sleeveless! For Winter! I have nothing against sundresses. But strapless and sleeveless dresses for winter just seem wrong.
It was then that I realized that it was a Global Fashion Cabal at work. For some reason eliminating sleeves is part of their World Domination Conspiracy.
Join the Revolution! We have the right to Not Bare Arms!

Monday, August 31, 2009

'Tis a gift to be simple

Would it be churlish of me to say that I really dislike, nay, HATE is not too strong a word; I hate Simplicity's new website. The way the patterns are displayed is counter intuitive. The What's New section has everything all mixed together regardless of category, so I have to wade through the costumes and kid clothes to see the new women's clothes. And what happened to the line drawings? I used to display the line drawings and the back of the envelopes to decide if I wanted a pattern or not. Now I can't find those - if they are even still there they are well hidden.
Also the website is clunky, and it has so much going on it takes forever to move on to next thing. I used to like looking through the old site and deciding what new patterns I needed. It was quick and easy! SIGH - I liked the way it was before!
What say you, fellow sewistas? Do you like the new website? Or do we have to go back to looking at the books of patterns in the fabric store?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bundles of Love

Today my goal was to put together a bundle for Iraqi Bundles of Love. To read all about it, click on the name.
I espcially love acts of charity that are in the true biblical spirit of caritas; also as we know from the success of microloans, helping women directly is the best way to help a country get back on their feet in the world community.
I think I have more than one box of goodies for the bundles. Mr. Hunting Creek is packing the boxes now, and he will drop off at the post office tomorrow.
Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Since I can't go out...

Since I can't go out in the heat (MS sufferers can't take the heat; if it weren't true it would be an excellent excuse to crank up the air, but it is in fact, true) I might as well post some new patterns. I've put up 12 new McCalls and Butterick Vintage patterns with more to follow. Halloween decorations, costumes, classic dresses, tops, Home dec and more. Just go to what's new on the website and enjoy.

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's Always Something

Sometimes life is perfect and we don't realize how lucky we have it until fate gobsmacks us upside the head and changes everything. When my neurologist showed me the lesions on my MRI and started handing me DVDs about multiple sclerosis and booklets on auto-injectors, I just really couldn't take it all in. Then suddenly I was getting calls from a nurse named Maria to set up an appointment to teach me how to give myself shots. I joked that the only needles I really liked were sewing needles. The kind that you get shots with? Not so much. But Maria was very encouraging, and soon I was giving myself shots like a pro. I learned all about MS treatments in an intensive 2 week course. It's been educational.
I thank all of my Gentle Readers for their wonderful and thoughtful reading suggestions. I suddenly have much more down time to spend reading, since right now I am having trouble walking far. Through all of this personal turmoil, I'd like to note that sewing and reading about sewing has made me feel calmer and more in control of my fate.
Back when I was in high school, I took a Wilderness Survival class, mainly because the teacher said when they announced the class that it was for boys only and that girls weren't tough enough to do "real backpacking". I enlisted my mom to make a few calls to the school board, and suddenly I was going backpacking too. A few other girls signed up as well, and we proved on that trip that we could do anything that the boys did. (I'd like to also point out that we were also cleaner and brought better snacks.)
I have pictures to prove to my kids that I really did do rapelling, rock climbing and swimming in ice cold alpine lakes. At the end of the trip, the instructor told me he thought we had true grit. High praise from a sexist pig. I hope he learned something too. Grit and determination aren't attached to gender.
I learned that summer that when you are tired you can still go farther. You can do more than you think you can do. I am learning this summer that I need to pick my projects carefully. I only have so much energy and strength and so I need to choose wisely what I do every day. But really, isn't this a lesson that we all must learn eventually? Time's a-ticking. We won't always have unlimited time or energy or strength to do everything in our lives that we have planned. We must Choose Wisely.
If you do, you'll be prepared when and if fate gobsmacks you upside the head. Now where did I put my hiking boots...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Need new reading supplies

Oh no! I'm sick and the Dr. says I have to rest and stay in bed. Please send reading suggestions for a poor sick person, who needs to read something cheerful. Or a cool mystery.
Or a historical novel with lots of interesting characters. Mr. Hunting Creek will go to the library for me and bring back the goods.
Consider it a medical emergency. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fitting Issues

I love old patterns for both the actual patterns and also the anthropological aspects. Here we have the primary sources of an era, so to speak, with the attitudes of that time frozen for a moment and laid out before us. Who can not look at this lovely tableau and not know that women of that time were deeply concerned with their weight and appearance? (as my history professors would say, the more things change the more they stay the same). Whenever I read a statement that says, "Oh women in the 50's were lucky, they could have shapely figures," I want to laugh hysterically and point out that these are the people who brought you the girdle.
I have been thinking about weight and sizes recently because I have lost weight and now none of my clothes fit. And I was whining to a friend about how now I have to resolve all of my fitting issues all over again and how lucky she was that she was such a small size and could just buy off the rack. (every time I am in Banana Republic, it seems like all the cool stuff is in size 6. C. says whenever she is there, everything is size 14.) She quickly set me straight. She said that even though she is a small size, nothing fits her in RTW either. And my former boss, who is tall and slender (and looks like Malibu Barbie) also revealed that she has the same problem.
(So if these clothes fit no one, who buys them? A puzzlement. I am so glad I know how to sew.)
We discussed our sewing fitting challenges and it was a revelation to me that every single woman I know who sews had the same challenges. Even tall skinny people have fitting issues? I guess we are all in the same boat.
In my fantasy RTW design company, all of the clothes would come in every size. There would be no size apartheid as practiced now. The poor plus size people and petite people would not be made to feel like social outcasts. And the blouses and dresses would also be available in ABCD and DD cup sizes.
Oh yes, and while I am fantasizing, all of the patterns would come with these adjustments as well.

Simplicity made me cross recently by printing a super cute dress pattern without the bust adjusted bodices. They have a whole line of patterns with them. IMHO, all patterns should come that way. And this dress is so cute, but the way that the bodice is constructed it looks like it will be a Rubik's cube puzzle to figure out how to upgrade, so to speak, to a D cup. (Also they changed their website and no longer feature the complete line drawings. Grrrr).
It would be nice if we as consumers could put a little bit of pressure on the pattern making companies to expand their offerings to all include the bust adjusted option. I've given up on trying to change the RTW companies. I just make my clothes instead.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Are you happy now?

(Sorry, couldn't resist using the title of my favorite Richard Shindell song in a post about creative happiness.)

Nancy K wrote a post earlier this week asking if we were happy with our sewing, and if not, (or if Yes) why?
I'm happy now, but I haven't always been happy. When I was in college I was of course young and fit the patterns right out of the envelope with very minor tweaking. I liked to sew and made most of my clothes.
Then later on, when my kids were small I did not have much time to sew at all, so my projects were small and easy to achieve. I wasn't happy at all. I had almost zero time for myself and hardly any time to make anything. And I learned an important lesson then: don't bite off more than you can chew. Or, as my mom would have said, "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
So I scaled back. I made simple stuff, just for fun. I remember making simple wrap skirts, cute clothes for my daughter and her first communion dress. But after that I mostly made Halloween costumes and holiday decorations for a few years until the kids were old enough to no longer needed high intensity supervision (they no longer desired to eat glass or play with knives), AND I finally had a sewing room! Only then did I have a safe place to leave my things out, and make a creative mess. I admit it; I work messy. I have pattern pieces and fabric and scraps everywhere when I am in my creative frenzy and I don't clean up until I'm done. Then when that project is done I survey the wreckage and clean up. After I had my sewing space and room and time to experiment I was MUCH happier. I was able to work on more complex projects that stretched my skills. I had a few missteps, but being a former teacher, I know that mistakes are part of the learning process. I think most of my mistakes in garment sewing at first have been in not really understanding what would look good on me and why. This is difficult for many people to learn. What I like and what looks best are not always the same thing.
(I confess that I sometimes have the fabric selecting skills of a five year old, and that my inner five year old has to be restrained at all times. She wants Princess Fabric. If she is let loose all of my fabric would have sequins, or be shiny or gold lame or otherwise be appropriate only for circus wear. The practical grown up me needs a khaki jeans skirt. The five year old me wants a laminated linen one with metallic accents. You see the problem.)
Fortunately, any woman with a grown daughter and son has a built in "Fashion Death Panel". They are very strict. I once was admiring a black and white paisley knit with 3D sparkle dots.(Sparkle Dots! Yes! Shiny! says my inner 5 year old) One Death Panelist came over and said, "Are you going to wear that pole dancing? If not, you don't need it." (see how mean they are?)
Of course after a few failures I am better at picking my projects. (She says, while knocking wood), I think I do best when I try on a similar item of RTW and see if it looks good on me before I make something similar.

My rules for successful garment sewing follow (your mileage may vary)

1.Make a muslin. It matters.
2.When you make a successful garment, make more of that same pattern and change it up each time. No one will know it is the same pattern.
Plus you learn new skills every time you make a change.
3. Read all about the skills required to make your garment before you start. Read the directions. Make sure you understand them. Read sewing books to amass more skills.
4. Practice new skills on scrap fabric before you cut the crazygood stuff
5. Sometimes things don't come out the way you want them to. This isn't a failure, it's a 'design opportunity'. As Tim Gunn says, "make it work."
5. Sometimes if you set a problem aside, you'll think of a solution later.
6. Be nice to yourself. This is supposed to be fun!

Also when I am stuck in a garment sewing rut, I mix it up and make a shirt for Mr. Hunting Creek, or a baby quilt or something super easy to build up my self esteem. Then, afterwards when my kids aren't looking, I sew something shiny.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mastering An Art

I loved the concept of Julie and Julia. Who hasn't cooked their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one recipe at a time?...What? you haven't? Oh...I have. (Except for the recipes that contain liver, which Mr Hunting Creek refuses to admit is a food. I had to adapt those) It was back in the Dark Ages, when the internets were but a teesny gleam in Al Gore's eyes. I was home that summer of 1988, because I had no job (the company I worked for had gone out of business) and there were few new jobs to have (during the Reagan Recession). I had a 3 1/2year old to watch. I did not watch daytime TV except for Sesame Street, Mr Roger's Neighborhood and, yes, Julia Child.
There is nothing like copious amounts of butter, fresh cream and galettes of potatoes to help mend a broken heart. My mother had passed away that spring, after a long illness, and we were all still recovering from that. Concentrating on making dishes like Poulet Roti a la Normande, with perfect stuffing, a first course, sauce, vegetables and dessert every day is an excellent way to move on with life. I did not cook my way through the book the way Julie Powell did; it would never have occurred to me to just plow through front to back with such single-mindedness of purpose. (all soups one week, all chicken the next, step by step.) Also, Mr. Hunting Creek would have objected to Tarte Tatin for dinner and nothing else, no matter how delicious it was. (He is pretty much stuck in that traditional balanced meal must-have-meat-and-vegetables mindset. This is why I don't have a book deal, I tell him.)I made actual meals, with courses. It was fun, and what with doing that and keeping an eye on a young child, there was no time for brooding. Every day was scheduled: breakfast, clean up, job search during nap time, lunch, clean up, and then cooking all afternoon. It was fun. It was educational. (How many people do you know who have made real boudin blanc?)
This book is serious. It does not talk down to beginning cooks. The authors assume that you take the subject of mastering French cuisine as seriously as they do. If you cook through it and follow the excellent instructions, you will have something wonderful to eat. And maybe feel better about getting on with your life. (That's Julia's genius. You thought that this was just a cookbook? Au contraire!)
Bon appetit!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Future Shock

When I went away to college about 30 years ago, there were no laptops, no ipods, no Apples, no GPS systems. Mr. Hunting Creek and I had to find our way to Berkeley alone. Our parents did not drop us off or attend any orientation functions. We were on our own. Parents in those days threw some money at you and expected you to figure stuff out. Sink or swim, people!
Of course among the many things I packed, besides clothes and sheets and towels, were cookbooks and my sewing machine and patterns. I forgot to bring scissors, so one day I walked down College Avenue and bought a pair of Gingher shears that I have to this very day. I am reminded of this by articles in the paper today of how expensive it is to send a kid to college. I didn't have anything that the kids have now except sheets and pillows. (If I had had a computer, I'd have my doctorate today, because I was world's most reluctant typist and only the fear having to type constant twenty page papers held me back from a life of academia.)
We liked to cook our own meals, so we shopped and cooked from scratch. We entertained our friends. We came from families that cooked, so we believed that if we could read, we could cook. Just follow the recipe. Michael Pollan writes in today's New York Times that no one cooks any more. Can this be true? He didn't ask me. I cook. My husband cooks. My dad and brothers and sister cook. My daughter makes the best Toll House cookies on the planet. My son specializes in amazing sandwiches. He took a cooking class in high school, and would report back that they used Bisquik to make their pancakes, "Not like you, mom." (And of course, that the pancakes weren't as good as mine.)
Is it true? Does no one cook any more? I know lots of people who do. The only takeout that ever graces my kitchen is Virginia barbecue from the Virginia Barbecue company in Ashland, VA, or (lucky, happy day!) barbecue from Pierce's Pit Barbecue in Williamsburg VA, when Mr. Hunting Creek makes it his business to find business near Williamsburg.
If Michael Pollan would like to come to dinner, we'd be happy to make whatever he'd like. In the interest of journalistic integrity of course, to show him some people still know how.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sour Cherry Cake

My original plan was to make a peach cobbler, but Mr. Hunting Creek brought home a basket of sour cherries. They were so pretty, like little rubies. They looked just like fairy tale cherries, in twin stems and almost glowing in their sour redness. We each ate one. No lie, they are sour. But sour in a nice way, and super juicy. I decide to adapt a recipe I noticed for cranberries.

First I had to pit the cherries, so Mr. Hunting Creek set up Pandora for The Red Hot Chili Peppers and friends and I sat down for the pitting with my trusty Italian cherry pitter. I pitted them over a bowl because they were so juicy. It is sticky work; your fingers and your hands will be sticky, but amazingly, not red. The juice was palest pink. See how pretty they are in the baking dish? Of course I used my favorite Bennington pie plate. Things somehow taste better in a pretty baking dish.
It only took about six songs to pit them all. Then I poured the juice in the bowl through a strainer and got the few tablespoons of juice into the baking dish from the pitting. I felt so frugal saving it.
The recipe I used is adapted from Laurie Colwin's Nantucket Cranberry Pie
from her wonderful book, More Home Cooking. Adapted of course, for Sour Cherries and my own preferences.

Mount Vernon Sour Cherry Cake (inspired by Laurie Colwin's Nantucket Cranberry Pie)

Pit about 2 cups of cherries. In the bottom of a 10 inch pie pan or springform pan, place the cherries, and 3/4 cup of sugar. (Mine were very sour, so I used 3/4 cup of sugar. Peaches would only need 1/2 cup, I think.)
In a bowl, mix 2 eggs, 3/4 cup melted butter (that's a stick and a half) 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir til smooth. Pour over cherries and bake for 40 minutes at 350. Eat with ice cream.

This may be the easiest summer fruit recipe you will ever see, and no one thought to convert it to a summer recipe until I happened to think, "hey, that would be good with cherries". This is another reason why reading cookbooks in bed is such a valuable bad habit.

In sewing news, I have been working on and off on that baby quilt, and when I have some visible progress I'll show you a picture.
Auntie Allyn, you won the Amy Butler Velma Bag drawing, so send your address via email and I'll mail it to you. My address is a post or two down.
Have a great weekend and bake a summer fruit cake. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Timtex Experiments

What can you make with Timtex?
Hat brims, boxes, place mats, baggage tags, art quilt projects, gift cards, bowls, purses and much more.
Here are some baggage tags that I made last Christmas.

There was a project in Stitched in Time that used Timtex to make placemats, using printable fabric, that gave me ideas.
What if I made placemats with family pictures on them for a gift? Place cards for a holiday dinner? A printed recipe card with a picture as a gift card for a food gift? I think I'll try the placemat idea after I finish the baby quilt.
What else can you think of to do with Timtex?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I feel a quilt coming on...

There's a new baby on the way in my daughter's boyfriend's family. My daughter has asked me to make a simple baby quilt. (She does not sew...yet. Give her time. She is already tracing Burda patterns.) I've made many a baby quilt in my day; they are the crack cocaine of quilting. You make one, it's small, you finish quickly and you think, "I can so handle this quilting stuff! Piece of cake! Next project King Size bed quilt!", which of course, takes seven years to finish if ever. Almost every sewista I know has unfinished bed quilt pieces hidden away somewhere that they inherited from their grandmother/aunt/mom. There might be more unfinished quilts in the world than finished ones.

I only have three unfinished quilts in various stages of unfinishedness. No wait - four. Two need only the binding, and one needs the final quilting. The last is in quilt top only phase. I am at peace with this situation; UFOs no longer haunt my sleepless nights. I have limited sewing time, and it's the law of the jungle in here.

So starting a new quilt might seem like folly, right? If you were OCD, you'd say - NO - STOP! finish those other quilts first! But then there would be no baby quilts ever, if we finished all of our other work first.
So this weekend, Ms. Hunting Creek will bring me the fabrics she has selected. It seems to be a requirement when persons other than myself desire baby quilts that they are pink and blue and Winnie the Pooh. I have given up on suggesting that science shows that babies prefer bright colors and high contrast. No one listens.

The top quilt shown is a wall hanging called Batik Cabin, made and quilted by me when I was in my batik period (like Picasso's Blue Period, but not as remunerative). It is finished. I took it out recently from storage and it has fold marks, so I will dampen it and hang them out. Also pressing helps too.
The second one down is Some Blue Thing, a raw applique bullseye quilt, that needs final squaring and then binding. I think I'll do a raw edge binding too. I like the frayed edges. The last is a Halloween quilt, Witchy Woman, done just to be silly. The black spider web fabric glows in the dark! This one just needs the binding finished. These are shown draped over the couch; when they are hung up officially, they look much nicer of course. But I knew you wouldn't mind.
Are you interested in my lazy, slacker quick and dirty, speedy baby quilt construction methods? Stay tuned, I'll ask Ms. Hunting Creek to be photojournalist.

p.s. don't forget to sign up as a follower and comment if you want to be in the drawing for the Amy Butler Velma bag pattern, seen yesterday.
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pattern Drawing winner

Venus de Hilo ( I love that name!), please send me your address and we will mail your pattern to you. Our email is the name of our blog then little symbol gmail dot com. This Friday we will draw for Amy Butler's Velma Bag. Make sure you comment by Friday at 5p ET.
Good Luck!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Burda Tracing Time

Today I have a rare couple hours to myself, so I'm am tracing a couple patterns that I need to make from Burda's latest issues. The dress on the cover of the latest caught my eye. I am tracing it as a top, as I don't need the long sleeve top option in Virginia in the summer. It must be cooler in Germany than here. They show lots of long sleeved options for summer. (I'd faint from heat stroke if I wore some of their ideas: sequined pants and long sleeved silk high necked tops? In the summer? Really, Burda? It must be a cultural thing.)
Then I have to do an FBA, using my trusty copy of Fit For Real People, adjusting dolman sleeves. It looks pretty voluminous in the picture, so it may not need much at all. Although, on the other hand, that model is a wisp of a thing, whereas I am considerably more voluminous than she is. I'll lay a pattern piece on top of of the traced pattern of a similar top that I have already adjusted and see where I need more room.
The blue fake wrap skirt from last month's issue caught my daughter's eye, (as well as about every other thing in that issue. If you want your daughter to get interested in sewing, show her that issue. Lindsay T says the same. She made a dress for her daughter that is awesome.) My daughter has begged me to make it for her. So I will trace that too. Plus from this month's issue she likes the shirtwaist dress, the two high waist buttoned skirts and another dress. I hope I have enough tracing paper.
The other choices for me are this blue dress
and the red one.

I can't decide which I like better. Mr. Hunting Creek likes the blue one but also expressed appreciation for the red one. (I would also like the lace bedspread, and the diamond necklace in the box but that's not an option. What story are they telling here? Are they lying on the bed contemplating unwrapping that dress because of the fancy diamond necklace?) Their photographers and stylists have an interesting sense of humor. Maybe if I were German I'd get more of their visual jokes.

Don't forget that tonight we will do a drawing for the purse pattern featured earlier this week. Drop a comment on that post if you'd like to be in and sign up as a follower of the blog to be eligible for this drawing and the following ones later this month.
Happy Sewing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

July Pattern Drawings

Once a week - every Friday this month- starting this Friday July 10th - we will give away a fabric pack, or a purse pattern, or a quilt pattern. Just sign up as a follower of the blog and leave a comment before Friday and we'll do a random drawing. My son will officiate, as he has no interest in blogs or sewing and he is truly objective.
This Friday we'll give away a cute purse pattern from Mary Hiney's Silk Adaptations line.
These patterns turn into beautiful purses, whether made in silks or in other fabrics.
Happy sewing!