Thursday, March 27, 2014

Narrow Rolled Hem Tutorial

 Above are two projects using this technique: my sparkly Anna Sui blouse, and Frankenpatterned Sunset Dress. Both made out of chiffon.

Hello readers! This brief explanation on how to make a subtle, itsy-bitsy rolled hem was actually part of my post on Sparkly Springtime Separates, but I use this technique so much I thought I would put it in a separate post for ease of reference. Enjoy!

Subtle, Drapey Rolled Hem Tutorial
This hemming technique is a pain in the butt (like most nice hems) but it's great if you want a really small, subtle hem that won't interfere with the draping of your fabric. Ideally, try to find a thread that precisely matches your textile or would provide a nice decorative border to your hem.

Here's the basic process. In this example, I used black thread so you can see what I was doing, but really you should be using thread as close to the color of the fabric as possible.

Stitch 1/2 away from the raw edge of the fabric.
Trim as close to the stitching as possible WITHOUT snipping the thread

Using the thread for leverage, roll the fabric over the thread (you can think of it as making a very very very small narrow hem that encloses the thread.

Stitch in place

Works like a charm! Go ahead and leave any questions you have in the comments!

Sparkly Springtime Separates

There's this event at my school called Founders' Day. It's this big schoolwide ceremony that is deemed so important that the students are instructed to forsake their uniforms in favor of semi-formal "mass dress".

Lots of people "hate" Founders Day, because we get out late and you have to sit through an outside mass with all its unpredictable weather. I pretend no such reserve. If I can wear something I've made to school, I'm sold!

I realized two days before Founders' Day that the garment I had been planning on wearing instead was asking to be stopped by the deans on account of "modesty". Under other circumstances I might have braved spaghetti straps, but not bright yellow ones.

Here's a conversation between me and mom about this grave issue.

Me: My yellow Cynthia Rowley dress won't work, it's got exposed shoulders and it's too short.
Mom: What are you going to wear, then?
Me: Um, that sparkly green Anna Sui blouse.
Mom: *Gasp* You have fabric to make a skirt to go with that! You haven't made it yet!
Me: Yeah, well, that's ok. I'll wear the blouse with some nice pants.
Mom: When is Founders' Day?
Me: Tuesday.
Mom: That's in TWO DAYS!!! You have to get started!!!
Me: Well I don't really have time, I have homework and I'm making you a pie for your birthday.
Mom: Forget the pie! Forget homework! You should make that skirt!
Me: But I want to make you a nice dessert! And I don't really have the pattern figured out!
Mom: Leave those limes and get started for the Love of God!

I love my mom :) We have the same sewing sensibilities.

As you've probably gathered if you read the above dialogue, this outfit is not a dress, it's actually separates. The whole outfit together is actually cobbled together from FOUR different patterns :O

The main blouse is an Anna Sui pattern that I made a while back at the end of summer, shortly after purchasing this SUBLIME sparkly sea-green silk chiffon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Freezer Cooking: Sausage and Marinara Polenta

We went skiing...yeah that was three weeks ago. I have been very irresponsible about maintaining my blog!

(Panorama pranking! Start out on one edge of the picture, run around the back of the camera while it's panning, and end up on the other side. Voila, you're cloned! Now try doing it while waddling around in skis.) 
My family goes to this tiny little ski resort in Yosemite. It's a far cry from those big commercial ski resorts like Big Bear or Mammoth, which is nice though because I don't have to focus on avoiding people faster and more competent than me. :)

The material point is, because we were staying in a national park as opposed to a big commercial ski resort, we weren't going to have access to restaurants, or supermarkets, or food in general. Which means we had to bring with us pretty much everything we planned to put in our bodies...

---Who do you think I am?!?!

My mom and I did some freezer cooking!

"Freezer cooking" is actually a real culinary term, not to be taken as a pun except when I put it in my title. It means when you cook a *healthy *natural *delicious homemade meal, package it yourself, and freeze it in preparation to pop out of the freezer and have for dinner some night down the road. It's like creating your own convenience food! Or at least, for those of you who believe that convenience food is about not having to cook, it's at least like dinnertime fungibility. Some examples that pop to mind: stuffed or marinated chicken breasts that can be frozen in plastic bags, defrosted, and then cooked/grilled, frozen burgers or veggie burgers, pretty much anything in a casserole dish, and even certain desserts like ice cream (haha yes I'm being a smart ass).

For those of you who are immediately prejudiced against anything remotely resembling fast food (I empathize), never fear: this dish was well-loved in my family even before we figured out we could extend its lifespan. Polenta was originally an Italian peasant dish. The essential nature of this plate is hearty, savory, comfort-food-esque. Admittedly it doesn't have the most elegant presentation, but its designed to feed a hungry family, not impress guests.

Here's it's basic composition: a thick layer of polenta (thick-ground cornmeal that has become thick and gooey from absorbing milk), topped with sausage, swamped in tomato sauce, capped with a layer of golden, melted mozzarella. The ingredients are distinct, but I love the way their combination gives the dish a simple richness.

The original recipe was titled "Polenta, Sausage, and Tomato Layers" ("Could I have a few more polenta and tomato layers, please?"). I think I'll go with sausage and marinara polenta ;)
Once the ingredients are stacked in the casserole dish, the polenta can either be baked immediately, or the dish itself can be wrapped in plastic wrap and/or covered in foil and put in the freezer for later! Either way, it makes a delicious, hot, filling dessert after a long day of exercise!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Perks of Sewing: A Perfect Outfit for Every Pair of Shoes!

Let's be honest, there is nothing more bitchin' than topping off a stunning outfit with a perfect pair of shoes.

Black-on-black checkerboard created in squares of different fabrics, like leather, velvet, satin, all molded around your foot...TOO AWESOME
Most people try to match their shoes to their garments; but a seamstress can match a garment to her shoes ;)


I pretty much had to get some of this just so I could wear it with my boots. Don't get me wrong--the fabric is inherently gorgeous; it's slippery, shiny, fluid silk, with this subtle but intriguing pattern; it almost reminds of Alice in Wonderland, in the most sophisticated sense possible. But yes, it really caught my attention because of these boots. When I went to show my mom the bolt, she pointed out that she had extracted it from the heap of surrounding silks in the first place on the strength of the same correlation. (She was also quick to remind me that the boots are actually her boots, and I just borrow them occasionally because she is the best mom in the world and shares my shoe size.)

I rushed home to choose a shirt pattern from my mom's stash.