Saturday, June 28, 2014

DIY Customized Square Skirt Tutorial (in which all the geometry is already done for you)

Hello everyone!

Last week I made a sundress that featured a square skirt (also known as a handkerchief skirt, which sounds fancier)

 and I promised that later this week I would post a tutorial. Here it is!

Making a square skirt is really easy! It's literally a square with a big hole in the middle for your waist. The corners of the square create long, bias-cut triangles that can give your gown a dreamy and ethereal look.

Here's a line drawing for a square skirt, adapted from the line drawing for Anna Sui's Vogue 2968
This tutorial is based on the assumption that you want a skirt that will fit a certain waist measurement and be a certain length (either at its highest or lowest point). From there you can come up with a pattern that fits your specifications.

Let's get started!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunset Dress

It's summer! And as you can probably tell from the setting of my most recent blog posts, I'm enjoying it.

I love summer sunsets. The quality of the light in the late, late afternoon, when the sun has mellowed out from its bleached, midday glare but is still powerful enough to drench everything in a rich, coppery glow, has this beautiful, latent energy that reminds me why I look forward to summer so much.

That was the inspiration for this dress.

My fabric
I remember being hesitant about buying this piece, because I have an automatic (and, I know, undeserved) bias against orange fabric. I don't really find orange a pretty color, and I can't imagine that as a color family it goes well with my skin tone, and it just seems a counterintuitive choice. And yet I keep finding myself drawn to orange textiles.Orange is a very rich color, especially when mixed with other shades, like gold or magenta, when it can take on the natural, luminescent gradient of the sunset.

As you can see along the fraying edge, this gentle tangerine color is created by weaving orange threads in one direction and yellow threads in the other.
This specific fabric is an orange chiffon. It's delicate, but resilient at the same time. The threads are interlocked so loosely that the fabric had the tendency to snag or leave visible holes if I had to remove a seam, but by gently massaging it I was able to pull the threads back into place and it looked as good as new.

The fabric is composed of two different colored threads running opposite directions, which give the textile a beautiful multi-hued sheen. Depending on the angle at which you view it, it can appear fiery dark orange or shiny yellow. It makes the color (and the slight sine of the textile) very dynamic.

The orange chiffon with the lining fabric under it
After buying this fabric, the design of the dress fell miraculously into place. I was driving home with about three new textiles to add to my stash, none of which I had a very good idea what I would do with, and discontent with having beautiful unassigned fabric, so I dreamed up an ideal garment to go along with my orange chiffon.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Father's Day Miracle: a Vegetable Inside a Dessert that Actually Tastes Good!

Guys, I have to nip this in the bud before I disappoint you too badly.

...I didn't actually take pictures* of how I made this dessert.

I know, I'm sorry! Picture courtesy of
*Update 7/5/14: Guess what! I made it again and took pictures

The reason I didn't take pictures is because I didn't actually think it would be any good (, was I pleasantly surprised!)

Making rhubarb pie was not even my idea. I mean, the whole premise seems kind of messed up. You're taking a vegetable that's like a cross between celery and chard, containing it, dousing it, and heaping it with butter and sugar, baking the heck out of it, and calling it dessert. Leaving a final product that is neither healthy like a vegetable, nor appetizing like a dessert that...well, doesn't contain a vegetable. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Anna Sui in Time for Summer

I know summer has started...

...when I have time to sew again!

Welcome to my first project of the summer! Even if it's a blouse that I've been imagining for a good year and whose commencement dates back to before APs...(how tragic!).

Well I'm finally done with school, tests, and don't have to think about summer reading for a solid two months, which means that I'm going to be pumping out garments for the rest of summer!

The first time I picked up this fabric, I said to myself, "This is kind of tacky but it's soooo cooooool." Well you should have been there to see it folks, because that is a once-in-a-lifetime-statement from Anelise Newman whose attitude is usually more like

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gourmet Mud Pie (It's a real thing!)

I remember the first time I made mud pie.

My grandparents were visiting from Idaho, and it was my grandpa's birthday. I wanted to make him something special for birthday dessert, because baked goods are how I show love <3

My grandpa has this story (that I definitely have heard more than once) in which he was served an extra heaping slice of mud pie "on the house" because the former "didn't look big enough for him". In a moment of original, sentimental inspiration, I decided, how sweet would it be to make him a mud pie for his birthday!

Unfortunately, I soon realized that in its most common form, mud pie is less about "baking" than it is about "assembling". Ground-up Oreo-cookie crust, filled with store-bought coffee ice cream, slathered with jarred ice cream fudge. And maybe some whipped cream.

So began the epic ideological clash between pre-made-cutting-corners nonsense and Anelise's overachieving pastry-snob stubbornness.

First I decided that I would make the Oreo crust without Oreos because I wanted to avoid the chemicals and trans fats that go into them. I ended up having to make the crust twice because the first time I added too much butter and my "crust" looked more like soup than pie dough and I ended up adding eggs and making brownies. :/

I reconciled myself to having to buy some coffee ice cream. First I almost had to start protesting the Ralph's ice cream isle because for all their bizarre flavors I could not find a single carton of standard coffee ice cream. I finally unearthed a couple of absurdly tiny tubs that were so expensive that at that point I might as well go buy a whole mud pie. And then I took them home, and found out that one of them was half-melted, and I had to haul it back to the store and demand a replacement.

When I went to make the fudge for the top, I was sure that the type of mud-pie fudge I liked had a caramel-like texture, so I raked the Internet until I found a chocolate-caramel sauce that I thought would work, and peppered it with some roasted almonds.

Finally, my mud pie masterpiece was done.