Thursday, September 29, 2011

Circle Skirt Sew-Along - Hem

Ahem.  I'm delighted to say that my circle skirt is finished!  And ahead of schedule.  I'm quite impressed with myself...giddy, in fact.  This is a minor miracle.  If you could see the half-finished projects cluttering up my workroom...well, let's just say you'd understand.

Here is the finished hem and applique.  I hope you can see that I've embellished the velveteen vine with flat black sequins, black bugle beads and seed beads.  I wanted to add a little sparkle...without being flashy about it.  This was my first attempt at beading.  I didn't plot out the design...because I wanted it to look casual and not too I just kind of eyeballed it as I went along.  And it worked.  It's not perfect!

I used a purchased black bias hem facing to finish my hem.  I wanted a little bit of subtle contrast to show as the skirt moves.  This is my favorite way to finish a full hem...the bias allows any excess fullness to be steamed away...and the hem lies flat.

I considered horsehair braid...but I found that it added a surprising amount of body to the hem.  I was amazed at this, because the tweed is quite heavy.  A lovely effect it was, but too much fullness for me.  If I was 30 years younger...heck yeah...DOUBLE horsehair. 

I hand-stitched the skirt hem...and I finished the silk lining with a narrow double-fold hem...stitched by machine.  

This lining fabric is not very photogenic, I'm afraid...or maybe it's the photographer.  Ya think?

Now, I have to decide how to style this for the Circle Skirt Party...and persuade The Mailman to take my picture.  I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sweet Tango

                              If you see this apple at your market...BUY IT!!! 

So yesterday, I went to a different grocery store.  I dunno.  I was bored with my usual Kroger and wanted a change.  I went to the brand-spankin' NEW Kroger in Rochester.  I was looking for ingredients for a crock-pot recipe...among them, Golden Delicious apples.  Well, they had 'em...but they were very green...and not very appetizing.  So I started shopping the other apples. 

So I'm looking at the different apples and I notice they have a TON of a variety called "Sweet Tango."  On sale...and free samples, too.  So I tried a piece...and OMG!  Now, I'm not an apple-lover.  I mean, they're OK...I have nothing against them...but give me a peach any day.  So I was absolutely shocked at the deliciousness.  I think my eyes rolled back in my head.  Crisp...sweet...JUICY.  The BEST apple I've ever eaten.  Truly.  This is what all apples aspire to be.

So...go buy yourselves some "Sweet Tango's."  Do you hear me?  

By the way...I have no idea where these apples come from...or who grows them...but, if they want to send me a bushel or two, I won't turn them down.     

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


A couple of days ago, my "niece" Sammy came over to spend the day and have a sleep-over with her brother and sister.  She was so exhausted from playing that she fell asleep on the couch.  When she sleeps deeply, she sticks her tongue out like this.  She had just opened her eyes when I snapped the picture.

Isn't she adorable?

One question.  How come nobody thinks it's cute when I sleep like this?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Circle Skirt Sew-Along - Zipper and Waistband

The Zipper Is In!  I don't know about you...but this zipper-phobe is always delighted to have this particular step in the rear-view mirror. 

That said...I am once again astonished at the wonder of modern technology that is the Invisible Zipper.  I LOVE these things...(well, as much as I can love a zipper anyway).  I've probably used them just a half-dozen times...and the process is always preceded by much trepidation...but I must say that I've never been disappointed in the result. 

Now, I know that many of you don't use them because they're a fairly "recent" invention.  You're after an authentic vintage look...and that's OK.  But, I do believe that if these had been available to our fore-mothers, they'd have been all over them.  I know MINE would've!  

Here's my zipper, inserted into the left side seam.  My skirt has a contoured waistband...and the zipper extends through I had to complete the lining and construct the waistband BEFORE inserting the zipper. 

This is how it looks, unzipped...and you can see the paisley silk lining.  I faced the waistband with the silk, as well...figuring that it would be less bulky and more comfortable to wear.

Next time, I'll move the top zipper stop down a bit more.  I used the recommended 3/4 inch...but after turning, I found I had no room to attach a hook-and-eye. 

And here it is with the zipper on the side, as it will be worn.   

Courage, Circle-Skirters!  The hard part is behind us!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

True Love

                                                   September 21, 1996

                                                        And they said it wouldn't last.*

*Actually...nobody said that.  Everybody recognized...from the git-go...that we're pretty much perfect for each other.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Circle Skirt Sew-Along - Applique

Following along with Casey at Casey's Elegant Musings, I'm happy to say that I have my circle skirt cut out and the applique is nearly finished!

To create the motif, I used my tried and true "what the heck, let's see if this works" method.  I knew I wanted a vine-ing design...utilizing some flower and leaf shapes that I drafted several years ago.  I don't have any fancy drafting tools...and I needed help with the curves.  So I poked around a little bit and came up with a Fiestaware saucer.  Perfect!  I drew the design directly onto my pattern pieces.

To transfer the design to the tweed, I traced the vine onto plain white tissue paper...and pinned this to the skirt pieces.  I then straight-stitched along the traced line with black thread...and tore the tissue away.  This left me with a easy-to follow guideline for my vine...that would disappear into the final satin-stitching. 

Next, I traced the applique shapes onto a sheet of "Heat N Bond Lite" fusible web...fused them to the back of a remnant of black cotton velveteen...and cut them out.  Now, we're ready to applique!

Working in sections, I backed the entire design area with Sulky "Totally Stable" tear-away stabilizer.  Then, I satin-stitched along the vine line with black thread.  Using my skirt pattern pieces as a guide...I positioned the leaves and flowers along the vine and fused them in place.  I outlined each piece with black satin-stitching.  (I LOVE to applique...but I think it may be awhile before I do any more!)

You may notice that the finished motif is more "leafy."  I thought my original design was a bit I added more foliage.

I appliqued the front and back pieces separately, before sewing the side seams.  I debated long and hard about this, and I'm glad I decided on this way.  Maneuvering HALF a circle skirt through my machine and around all those bitsy curves was difficult enough!

Next, I'll sew and finish the side seams...and complete the applique design as it travels over those seams.  Then, I'll add the beaded accents to the flower centers and leaves...something I've never tried!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer's Last

This long, HOT Summer has been hard on the garden...AND the gardener.  And yet, these amazing plants continue to bloom...and while some of them are not exactly flourishing...they're still beautiful enough for me to do a little bragging!

This is the Autumn Clemitis (actually two) that grows on our perennial garden arbor.  FINALLY...we have bloomage up and over.  And I cannot tell you how WONDERFUL it smells!  It's taken me probably 8 to 10 years to get it to look like this.  And guess what?  NOW I have seedlings of this everywhere...growin' like weeds!

Late season ground-cover roses in pale pink.  

"Clara Curtis" Chrysanthemum.  This is a great "weaver" grow among taller, spindlier plants.  Next year, I'm going to try this under the roses.

"Immortality" Bearded Iris (a re-bloomer.)  Usually, my re-blooming Iris show up much later in the Fall.  This recently transplanted beauty didn't bloom this past I think it's making up for lost time. 

 of the most reliable plants in the garden.  The butterflies love this. 

Gaura "Whirling Butterflies"...

...and Russian Sage.  I struggled for years to grow these last two...unfortunately, they don't like our heavy clay soil.  However, I'm pleased to say that they seem to be happy in their home in the front last!

And here's Rusty...peeking out from under the Plumbago that grows by our front step.  I've heard that if you can't grow Plumbago, you'd better move to the city.  Well...for awhile there, I thought I was city-bound!  Thankfully, it seems to have taken hold...and now it's my favorite Fall bloomer! 

And there you have early Fall garden tour!  How did your garden fare this year?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


                                                  September 11, 2001

I've been walkin' my mind to an easy time,
My back turned toward the sun.
Lord knows, when the cold wind blows, it'll turn your head around.
Well, there's hours of time on the telephone line
To talk about things to come.
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.

                                                                      James Taylor
                                                                      Fire and Rain

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

Let me be clear.  These are NOT Atkins-friendly...nor are they organic...not even "all natural."  What they are is...quite simply...the BEST chocolate chip cookies in the world.


3 1/3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 6-serving package butterscotch instant pudding
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnut pieces

Sift together flour and baking soda.  Combine butter, the sugars, pudding mix and vanilla in a large mixer bowl.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Gradually add flour mixture, and beat on low speed until well combined.  Dough will be extremely stiff.  Remove beater and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts with a wooden spoon.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an un-greased baking sheet.  Bake at 360 degrees for 10 minutes.  Leave on baking sheet for a few minutes before removing.  Cool on racks.

Makes about 3 dozen.

It's cool and drizzly outside today.  The Mailman (on staycay) decided to head out to the links sans wifey...and so I have the house to myself.  This kind of weather always compels me to bake something...and I DID Jazzercise this morning...and TM loves these cookies...and I AM going to freeze most of them...and...OK...I'm rationalizing..........

Oh, man.  They are so GOOD! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Casey's Circle Skirt Sew-Along

I learned to sew as a pre-teen...under the guidance of my extremely patient Mother...and by the time I hit high school, I was a fairly proficient seamstress.  Home Economics classes (required, back the 1970's) were a revelation to me.  I was astounded to learn that not every girl knew how to sew.  In fact, most of them didn't. 

In the years that followed, most of my peers steered clear of the so-called "womanly arts."  And I must admit, so did some extent.  Sadly, I think that sewing and needlework were devalued for awhile...and anything created with your own hands was given that oh-so-subtle-put-down:  "home-made." 

Happily, this is changing.  The popularity of such television shows as "Project Runway"...and the booming site for handmades, Etsy...give witness to this.  And the WONDERFUL bloggers out there...most of them very YOUNG women...lead me to believe that the future of home sewing is in very capable hands.  They call themselves "sewists"...a term that I just love! 

Which leads me to the point of this post.  One such blogger is the adorable Casey Brown, of Casey's Elegant Musings.  When I stumbled upon Casey's blog earlier this year, she was in the middle of her Swing Dress Sew-Along.  I was fascinated...and I told myself that if she ever decided to conduct another, I would join in.  

Well, Casey has generously offered to head up a Circle Skirt Sew-Along...and I am happily following.  This is not my first circle skirt...I made one just last June...but, it's one of my favorite silhouettes...and I can always use another.  Truthfully, I'm MOST excited about sharing ideas and drawing inspiration from a diverse group of talented sewists.  I'm sure I'll learn something!

I've chosen to make a Winter skirt...with some brown herringbone tweed from my stash.  I'm thinking of something mid-calf-ish...long enough to wear with my favorite black boots.  At 5'10" I should be tall enough to carry this off...we shall see.  I'm planning to embellish the hemline with a vine-ing black cotton velveteen applique (also from my stash)...accented with some subtle beading.  And since I LOVE a pretty lining...brown and violet paisley silk crepe de chine...for the part no one sees!  

I found this fabric at my neighbor's yard sale last year...$6.00 for 4 yards of wool!  And since this...and the velveteen...are from my stash, I didn't feel TOO guilty about splurging on the silk lining! 


In a break from the Sew-Along, I'll be using this Simplicity pattern, an old favorite of mine.  Although it IS a circle has a contoured waist that sits a bit lower on my hips...more comfortable and complimentary to my short-waisted-ness than a traditional waistband.

I'm probably going to do a bias hem facing.  I used this technique on my Summer skirt and was very pleased with the result.  And I'm entertaining the idea of adding horsehair braid to the hem.  Not too sure about this.  Hopefully, the weight of the wool will calm the braid down enough to give me a nicely shaped hemline...without coming off as too vintage-y.  Not that there's anything wrong with vintage.  It's just that we "women of a certain age" have to be careful.

Well, I'm off to begin cutting.  The Mailman has the entirety of next week off from my sewing time will be limited, I'm afraid.  I have a feeling I'll be sewing like a madwoman the following week...trying to finish on time.  To be honest...I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Heaven, Help Me!

Well, my friends...I said it would never happen...but I now have one of THESE in my possession.  (Big pause for those of you who've fallen on the floor from shock...or laughter...or whatever.)  Yeah.  The aliens have invaded.

So far, I'm not sure what to do with the thing except stare at it.  All my life, I've had a love-hate relationship with the telephone.  During my growing-up years, my parents would NOT have one in the house...totally unnecessary, they said...which probably explains my lack of a social life in high school.  And once the offender made it's way into our household, it was rarely used.  Honestly, I never understood...and still don't...what everyone is talking about!

I am not a talker.  To those of you that are...please don't be offended.  Some of my best friends are talkers.  My of my favorite people on the a world-class yak-er.  Give her a subject and she's off and running.  Me...not so much.  I'm a still-waters-run-deep kinda gal.  I prefer to think carefully about what I want to say and how I want to say it.  So...a free-wheeling seat-of-the-pants telephone conversation is sheer torture for me.*

I can hear ya now, "Why the heck did she get a cell phone, then?"  Well, The Mailman and I travel quite a bit...short day trips and weekend getaways...interspersed with longer vacays.  And we leave behind our house and garden...TM's parents...and (usually) our two aging weenie dogs.  And we worry about all of them.  So...this little technological wonder is meant to alleviate our guilt in these situations...and nothing more.

I'm not going stand in the store and talk about dog food.  I'm not going to discuss the details of my friend's hysterectomy while at a voice loud enough to be heard three aisles over.  I'm not going to call TM from inside the bathroom stall at Walmart...even if it IS just to say "I love you."  And he has promised not to call ME from in front of the urinal.  I'm not going to text while my dinner companion stares at the paintings on the wall.  I'll turn OFF the phone during Jazzercise...I'm too out-of-breath to talk to you anyway.  I'm not going to scream obscenities into it out on the golf course (much as I may want to).  I'm not going to pace around in my side yard and have a raging argument with someone while my neighbor tries to weed her garden.  And I'm never...EVER...going to start a conversation with "Where are you" or "What are you doing."**  It's none of my business.  

All ranting aside...I'm happy to have the phone.  I think.  Although I'm still a little intimidated by it...and being accessible at all times is going to take a bit of getting used to.  Of course, I can always "forget" to turn it on! ;o)

*There are exceptions to everything.  When TM called me for the first time...I talked with him for FOUR HOURS!  In spite of the fact that I had NO IDEA who he was.  I knew right then that he was special.

**These are real examples of bad cell phone behavior that I (or TM) have actually witnessed.  Really.  A guy called his wife while using the urinal in the men's room!  And they say men can't multi-task.

In spite of worrying about my new cell phone, I managed to make some Halloween ornies for my Etsy shop.  I can't believe that Fall is nearly here...although it certainly doesn't feel like it.  They're predicting 98 degrees in the Hoosier state today!  Yikes!!!