Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pep in my step...

Buoyed by my success with Tim's plaid Negroni shirt, I attempted a pattern that had been sitting on my shelf, staring me down and trying to intimidate me for months.  Three fears conquered on this project:  adjusting darts, installing a zipper and wearing peplums!  Woot!

This top, which looks like a whole lot of nothing on the hanger, was made using the Vogue 8815 peplum top pattern (view B) and this Bromley "Ikat Burst" fabric.  I bought it back in 2012, when the peplum trend was in full swing.  Hopefully it's still socially acceptable to wear peplums.  I wasn't sure I could pull off the peplum look, but Stacy and Clinton are advocates of the slimming silhouette, so here I am.

This shirt is ridiculously easy.  The only change I had to make to the pattern was to lengthen and angle the bust darts out a bit.  Other than that, pretty simple.  Even the zipper was not too bad!  It's not the most even zipper ever installed, but, hell, it zips and I am not embarrassed by it.  Black on black helps for camouflaging, too.  Thanks for the zipper encouragement, Colleen!

I would definitely make this pattern again, although I might consider altering the neckline, as this one is a bit strangle-y.  Next time I might try the view C option with the high-low peplum (aka the mullet peplum).  Perhaps a stretch or ponte version? We shall see.

Omg, I am pale.  Not sure this is the best color for me...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Flowery Prairie Dress

Another day, another dress for Miss Zoe...

This one is made using Simplicity 4203, view B, a little prairie dress.  Made from some flowered fabric from Joann's (Keepsake Calico, Flowers Tossed) and some navy bias tape treated like a ribbon trim (in lieu of rickrack).  Came out pretty cute, I think!

I think if I were to make this pattern again I might leave off the back ties... they're not really functional and honestly, they don't add much in the way of decoration either, with all the ribbon, etc.  Otherwise, quite easy to put together!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Painted Portrait Blouse: Two Ways

Another successful top made!  And immediately made again!

I've admired this cute blouse and dress pattern from Anna Maria Horner, the Painted Portrait, for a while now.  I like all of the possible variations, particularly the fun pieced yoke option.  I think it would be a pretty awesome use of random scraps from other projects.

The first version I sewed up this week is basically a wearable muslin made out of some machine-printed batik.  I love it!  The empire waist style fit is great and it was really easy to put together.   I'll definitely make it again, maybe using one of my fancier, hand-printed batiks, or perhaps some of Anna Maria Horner's beautiful fabrics.  The details of the blouse get a little bit lost with the busy print used for the whole blouse like this one...  Another idea: a solid yoke (perfect for displaying a cool necklace) with a patterned body.

My only complaint is that I am not a fan of facings... I find them bulky and awkward, even after I tacked them down on the inside of the blouse.  Thus, for my second version, I eliminated the yoke facings and use bias tape to finish the neckline.  Also, I skipped the button and slit in the back of the yoke- I don't need it to get the blouse over my head and the one I made on the batik version was pretty ugly (totally user error on my part).  Now that I've made the second version, I may go back into the first and replace the facings with bias tape.

So, my second version is made from some old school fabric that the Real Martha sent me... I'm not sure what you would call it.  Rainbow striped, funky textured, fairly sheer and flowy... I love it.  It is even better than I imagined in Painted Portrait blouse form.

I cut the yoke pieces so that the stripes were perpendicular to the remainder of the body to make it stand out.  The front looks great, but the back is a little funky because I forgot to pay attention to whether the two sides matched up.  Really I should have just cut the back yoke in one piece, on the fold, and skipped the seam since I wasn't making the back slit.  Live and learn.

I love how it turned out; love the fabric texture.  Perfect for hot Indonesian weather... flowy and light. It has a bit of a late '60s, '70s hippie feel to it.  As if Milla Jovovich might wear it in "Dazed and Confused."  Love it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Miso Peanut Butter Grilled Chicken

After buying a big container of miso for making my carrot ginger miso salad dressing, I was looking for other interesting ways to use it. I thought maybe it might go well with peanut butter since it went so well with the nutty sesame oil in the salad dressing, so I did some Googling and found this grilled chicken recipe with just those two ingredients featured. The recipe, which is from a famous Hawaiian chef, Sam Choy, is the subject of raves all over the internet and I had all the ingredients on hand, so why not? 

The photos don't really do it justice, but it was pretty awesome.  Super tender, a teeny bit sweet, but nice and salty and savory...  definitely some umami going on.  I served it with some rice and baby kailan (Chinese broccoli) sauteed in garlic and chili.  Yum.

Another potential peanut butter miso combo recipe: cookies?  I am intrigued.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's a Man's Shirt!

It's a man's shirt!
(Sung to the tune of "It's a man's world" if you're feeling sassy)

Tim gets to benefit regularly from the spoils of my cooking and baking habits, but he doesn't typically reap the rewards of my crafting skillz.... most of my crafting has been of the feminine and/or baby variety.   In order to remedy this, I decided to make Tim a shirt for his birthday (in addition to the hat, tie and awesome S'more Cake):  a Colette Negroni, to be precise.  Tim picked out (much to my dismay) a beautiful navy and turquoise plaid cotton shirt material from a shop at Pasar Mayestik near our house.  Plaid... hmmm.  I perhaps would have chosen a less risky fabric were it up to me (plaid matching = eeeek!).  The cool blue ombre buttons were from Toko Maju at Pasar Mayestik.

I'll be honest: I was quite intimidated by this pattern... buttons and facings and yokes and pocket flaps and flat-felled seams?  Oy.  But in the end, using the lovely and thorough directions provided in Colette's pattern while cross-referencing the sew-along over at Male Pattern Boldness, the process was actually pretty easy.

There is only one step that I was 100% confused about, 100% sure I did it wrong, but 95% sure it's not the end of the world: connecting the inner back yoke to the shoulder seams.  Also, I cheated a bit by making the short sleeved version of the shirt.. the thought of adding those sleeve plackets was just too much.  Next time.

However, I did amp things up by cutting the back yoke and the pockets on the bias for visual interest (check it out, dudes!).  Plus, I made sure to cut the fabric in a way that the plaid matched in the front (only in the front... don't look at my side seams... baby steps).  I'll admit I had to cut one of the front pieces twice to get them to match up.  Yay for extra yardage!

Once Tim tried it on we realized we had to make a few changes:
- Shorten the sleeves significantly, maybe about 4 inches (otherwise it had a bit of a Tony Soprano feel to it)... this lead to the sleeves being a little too wide looking relative to the length.  Hmmm.
- Shorten the body length by about an inch
- Omitted the top button tab thingy because it's just not Tim's style

Ideally I would take it in a bit in the body for Tim- he likes his shirts to be more fitted. Also, there is a little weirdness in the shoulders.  Tim says that the Bangkok tailor who makes his formal shirts says he has sloped shoulders...  maybe one day I'll know how to alter a pattern to deal with that!

All in all, I am quite proud of the shirt, but I think next time I sew a shirt for Tim I may have to use a different, more fitted pattern.  This roomy style shirt is not really his style- he wants something a little closer at the waist and with smaller sleeves.  Perhaps Vogue 8759 or 8889McCall's 6044? Kwik Sew 3883 or 3506, Burda 7045 or 7359?  (P.S.: when looking for other men's shirt pattern options, I noticed that all that is offered for men at Butterick is a series of pajamas and strangely cultish robes, what up with that?)


When I was back in the States, I picked up this pattern book of cute children's knit hoodies since it was on clearance for $1.97.  Cheap is good.  Cute is good, too.

With plenty of beachside knitting time last weekend on Bali and Gili Air, I was able to knit up this little hoodie for Zoe pretty quickly.  I like the hem details- it actually has you knit a long hem on the hood, sleeves and bottom, then you turn it under and whipstitch just like a sewn garment.  The edge is really professional and sturdy.  In comparison, though, the placket neck seems a little flimsy.  Oh well.

The hoodie in the booklet is knit up for a little boy in a camouflage colored yarn.  The only time my version, knit in Lily Sugar n' Cream "Crown Jewels Ombre", would camouflage Zoe is if she wore it while standing in her great-grandmother Theresa's old dining and living room with their deep purple and green walls.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spicy Lemon Date Dip

My date obsession continues unchecked.  This iteration: a spicy, lemony date dip/spread

Dates are simmered with spices (cumin, red pepper flakes, ginger and lemon) until soft and stewy, then served up with toasted pita bread.  Sadly mine did not turn out to be the pretty deep color of Joy the Baker's, it was sort of pallid and reminiscent of refried beans.  It definitely didn't taste like refried beans, though... zesty, sweet, and quite spicy, for sure.  

I like this dip, but it's not my favorite date dish thus far.  My favorite still falls firmly in the salty-cheese stuffed category.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ginger Miso Carrot Salad Dressing

After boozing and indulging over the weekend on Gili Air, Tim and I were craving a big healthy salad...  we remembered loving the crispy sesame and panko crusted chicken from this recipe, but I wanted to switch up the dressing a bit.  I decided to go with a ginger, miso and carrot dressing like the ones they sometimes put on those little crunchy salads at Japanese restaurants.

Good choice.  This dressing is fresh, zingy and pretty.  It's also easy; everything is just thrown into the food processor or blender and whizzed up.  We served it on a salad of mixed lettuce, cucumber, tomato, cilantro and sprouts.  I had wanted to add avocado, too, but mine wasn't quite ready for prime time.  Next time... would be good with edamame, too.  Tim requested some pickled veggies for the next salad.  Perhaps radishes?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Skinny Knit Tie

Another handmade gift for Tim: a skinny knitted necktie. 

All the cool kids are rocking knitted neckties these days and Tim wanted in on the action.  I stepped up to the plate to fulfill that wish, but I think I was only mildly successful for a number of reasons, so I'll have to give this tie a big ole "meh."

The good: color, shape, seed stitch texture.  The bad: the yarn feel, the stretchiness.

I generally followed this pattern from Lion Brand yarn, but made the following changes:
  • I used size 3 needles and this Japanese fingering weight acrylic yarn I found at the local craft store (I can't imagine using the aran weight yarn and size 8 needles the pattern calls for! I would have ended up with a bib, not a tie with yarn that thick!)
  • I did three sets of decreases and no increases, leaving the tie tail nice and thin so it could hide behind the main part of the tie.  
  • I made the tie 58" long, holding it up against one of Tim's other ties to get the proper length.
  • I sewed in a small tie clip/label thingy on the back to hold the tail in.

In the end, I think it looks pretty cute, but it's impossible to tie because it's far too stretchy.  It gets really bent out of shape and stretched out, so I may have to frog the whole thing.  It looks like many of the ties available at stores are made from silk or wool, which is probably much less stretchy than the yarn I worked with.  Sigh. Try, try again.