Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spongy, Springy, Holey, So Full of Goodness

No, that's not about fabric. Nor me for that matter. Geez, I hope I can't be described as spongy.

It's about ciabatta bread. I love ciabatta and how you can rip it and scoop up mouthfuls of velvety olive oil in the holes. Sometimes we shred raw garlic in the olive oil and eat until it burns our mouths. I never do this on worknights. If I stink the next day, I'd rather just be in the house. Sometimes we shred fresh basil from the garden and mix it in the olive oil. Sometimes we dab the bread in 40-year balsamic vinegar, alternating with olive oil. Who needs to wait for a heaven when you can have that right now. We'll try different oils, usually ordered from Zingerman's. But the thing that never changes is ciabatta. Always with ciabatta.

Tonight, for the first time, I make our own ciabatta with this recipe. I will add chunks of asiago cheese inside, and drizzle enough asiago on the top that it drips off the sides and puddles and burns slightly so it's crispy. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.

Look at these loaves baked by others, posted on a ciabatta thread at The Fresh Loaf:

Hopefully my ciabatta will turn out like these. Full of holes. For scooping lots of good stuff.

It's rising right now. Hopefully a good photo will be posted before midnight.

Our bread, full of air pockets and asiago:

Kwik Sew 3115 Tank in Wool Knit

... sewn as an under-jacket tank for work rather than athletic tank.

I plan to sew it from this mottled knit with olive tones to wear with an olive jacket that currently has limited layering options.

Why a tank? There's not enough yardage for even 3/4 sleeves and I don't like short sleeves on me. Plus sometimes short sleeves make unsightly lines under jacket sleeves if they don't fit tight enough. So I'd rather go sleeveless.

The knit is too sheer as it fails the "see the hiding Patrones test":

So it will be underlined with a beige mesh:

Much better. Less show-through. I don't want to double up the wool because it would be too thick.

One more decision before cutting. Either side of the knit could work. One side is soft looking. The other side clearly shows a unique knit pattern but has less soft feel. I'm not sure which side is the reverse. Any way to tell? Although if the reverse side is more effective, I don't mind showing it. I'm stuck on this decision. Here you can see half of each side of the fabric:

Somebody is impatient with the staring at the fabric and indecision. There is a meowing sewing assistant standing on my back while I lean over to snap the above pic, trying to hold the phone steady. However, she offers no opinion or feedback. But I like her company anyway. She does show me that this top may look good with pants the color of her fur, with the benefit of hiding her fur stuck on me. She has a good point and has earned a treat for today's sewing assistance.

- Posted from my iPhone

Days are getting longer

My treasured Riesling vine knows this. Lots of new growth every day. Time to imagine new garden plots ...

This is a cutting from the Hermann Wiemer vineyard in Finger Lakes region, New York. Which we traveled to due to my love of Rieslings. Tonight we open a Riesling icewine. Love them, but rare indulgence. So excited.

I should sew something to honor this obsession with rieslings. What could it be ... Nothing obvious like a grape theme. Maybe it's the color, chosen for a top, and my secret while wearing during workdays that it was sewn with bacchanalian pleasures in mind. Maybe spaghetti ties ending with light green glass bead baubles above the knots.

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, February 21, 2010

When You Get Acid On Your Jeans

You get holes.

Years ago my husband and I were fiddling with the big battery contraption for our Basement Watchdog system. Acid must have gotten on our jeans. It certainly wasn't an intentional effect, but suddenly we both had holes in our jeans.

My husband's jeans turned out pretty nice, the holes look kinda cool and frayed appropriately and they are in no danger of showing anything underneath that they shouldn't. My jeans weren't so fortunate. They've spent a few years buried in a dark closet pile. They were new on their maiden wearing and they are Elie Tahari jeans. Purchased on discount, but, still. Upsetting. Then I saw the jean patching post on Outsapop. I like these best, because they'd be perfect on a cold autumn day with a big cozy sweater or a T and a leather jacket:

I like the mix of patches on top and patches underneath. My ruined jeans are very dark wash, so browns and reds would look great on them. I have these colors stashed so this is an easy project. In fact I have already tried to patch the jeans with brown velvet applique but it looked bad, maybe because it was too neat, ironically. It just looked like some appliques got static-y and stuck on my pants and I hadn't wiped them off. Because the jeans in the photo are messy and frayed, they are very upfront about what they are. And that makes sense.

Look for a project follow-up post soon ...

Friday, February 19, 2010

That Loud Lucy's Fabric

Review at

This LOUD and BIG knit from Lucy's Fabrics was popular a few years ago. I hopped on bandwagon for 2 yards. Boy is it bright. Garish, even nightmarish, I thought. No offense to those who've worn it. Keep reading, the joke is on me.

So, it wasn't "me" because I don't do color like this. It languished in the "sell or donate" pile.

This week signs appeared on walls at work. Something about "wear bright colors" on Friday. hmmmmm.

So I sewed this from Simplicity 4020 view A -- the big pieces show off the huge print -- as a joke. I'd wear it to work on a sort-of costume day but otherwise no way would I get caught in this.

Well. I got so many compliments. Whoa, people said it looked good with my coloring, and I looked like I was going out on a fun summer night. Yeah it's February in Chicago -- that was the point of a bright color day.

I've invested heavily in RTW wardrobe of coordinated solid browns, black, gray, red, blue, etc always put together appropriately. Appropriately risk-averse. And no one compliments those clothes. They certainly don't look fun.

So today was a surprise as big as this print.

You know what, this is fun to wear! I like it! I want to wear it again tomorrow and hope I don't run into anyone from work. I want to wear it all weekend. Who knew. Lesson learned today -- step outta your comfort zone!

It also pays off to pay for good quality fabrics. Despite needing to rip out three seams due to constructing too fast and making mistakes, the fabric did not stretch out. It showed no signs of the seam ripping.

- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Inspiration Anywhere

So I'm drinking Sat morn coffee and set the mug on a cheapie wicker stool from Target. That simple action led to some photo play. I love the chevron/herringbone texture of the stool. This image is modified in iPhone Photoshop app to look like a drawing. And to hide the low res of iPhone photos.

I was wishing it were a fabric. Well it could be! Experiment! Print your photos & designs on fabric. You can print any image on fabric. Make a collage of abstract images. See what happens. Design your own fabric and print it at Spoonflower.

YouTube video showing how to print on fabric.

Video showing how to print Photoshop photo onto fabric. This is a quilting demo but think about this for T-shirts, tote bags, etc.

A photo of the entire top of my stool could make an interesting tote bag fabric, with thick rope and leather handles. But I'm on my own today. My sewing assistants don't look prepared to help. Here's what they're doing right now:

"Leaning Kitty" like any adolescent guy, he's real proud of his hot rod car:

"Shelf Kitty" spends all winter in this spot where warm baseboards are running under her. Smart kitty:

Maybe Hot Rod Boy likes blog attention. As I post, he comes over next to me which he rarely does. I like his handsome attention too:

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Underline Sheer Knits With Knit Mesh

A bathroom mirror shot. This iPhone so convenient, can pic & post without a computer. I'm wearing a Textile Studio Santa Monica tee sewn on the long side with a see-through knit. I believe knit is from EOS years ago. It's very unique fabric when seen up close. Looks like knit ribbon. But has wide space between each stitch, making it unwearable without something underneath. I don't like camisoles on me under sheers, too busy looking. So I underlined this with cream color knit mesh, which keeps it lightweight and makes it opaque.

Here's a hem shot showing mesh lining:

I hand-sewed neckline and all hems.

Should note, I had choice of brown or light mesh lining. The brown made everything murky. Cream color was needed to highlight and see the unique knit.

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First There Were Zippers, Now There Are Chains

... on my mind.

Outsapop turned me on to this idea over at Luxirare -- stitching seams with chains. In this case, with leather:

To see more pics, scroll down past the barbed wire teddy. Yes I said barbed wire teddy. It's not what you might think, but there is barbed wire effect.

As if stitching seams with chains is not an interesting enough idea, check out this eye-popping work of art at Luxirare, a chain jacket:

Believe, what is at the chain jacket link is astounding.

Clearly, I've been posting inspiration from works of others, rather than any creations of my own. Been tired. Seems like I have two full-time jobs -- 1.) my own full-time job which is meaningful particularly right now as I'm involved in seeing public health change happen that I never thought I'd have the chance to witness, and participate in so close to my job, in my career. So this is a special time and a treasured opportunity. 2.) Helping hubby with his business start-up. I enjoy exercising marketing skills with that because despite my commitment to public health, I do miss marketing. But overall, the total picture of keeping a foot in two professions every day for so many hours is very tiring.

I miss creating. It is as essential as water and air to me. I've tried to convince myself that creating tangible materials to support behavior change and advocacy in my "day" job is enough. Although it's meaningful and can be fulfilling, and there is creativity involved, it is not enough. I've tried to convince myself that designing print materials, lead nurturing email campaigns and websites for my husband's business is a creative enough endeavor. But it is not. Something is missing. Why must I create with my hands, like with sewing or scrapbooking or any of the other visual hobbies I've done? But why is typing on a keyboard and moving a mouse to produce a tangible visual result that takes creative thought, not enough? I really don't understand the difference other than the obvious, one involves a computer and the others do not. But beyond that, I'm lacking the insight.

Anyway hubby and I argue tonight over things that are related to this conflict I have, over wanting to contribute to help the business, but something in me is drying up and blowing away in the snowy winds if I'm not doing something "creative." But what is "creative" and why does one type of creativity fulfill me and another does not? Bottom line, there is thought that these hobbies and non-money-producing creative endeavors don't matter. Painful to hear.

I have thick dark brown leather and some vintage-style golden chains that could make an interesting bag, using the Luxirare seam stitching idea. But right now I'm reluctant to take the time to play with the idea. But one way or another, it's gotta come out ...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Stylin' Retreat from Winter

Many of us are surrounded by white snow. Got a workout tonight blasting through 8" with the snowblower down a long driveway, and when I thought I was done, there was already 1" gathered where I started. It was coming down fast. So now I present another form of white -- white summer clothes.

The previous post about the lust-worthy goods at Anita Pavani Fabrics got my mind whirring. What would I do with a  cutwork cotton fabric?

Well, I'd get this fringy cutwork cotton from Anita Pavani fabrics. Sew it with an underlining of plain white cotton voile or batiste.  I've purchased these from Gorgeous Fabrics in the past. I love the feel of two layers of light cottons in the summer.

Sew the fringy cutwork cotton into a simple tunic, like Vogue 8452 View A. I would have sewn a dress, but I'm not crazy about white dresses. White tunics are OK because they could be worn with a different color pant, skirt or short.

I'd wear it with:

-- white nappa leather sandals with some metal studs, at
-- this crazy bag. Is it ugly? Kind of. Kind of interesting though. My preferred tailored classics could make this white n' beige outfit really boring. This surely would wake it up.
-- sand color bell cropped pants. Even though Stacy and Clinton just eviscerated cropped pants on WNTW. Whatever. Not as bad as knee-length shorts.
-- earrings from Carla Caruso Jewelry.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Be Mine, Dear Ribbon, Be Mine

If it were socially acceptable to celebrate Valentine's Day with a sewing item, my choice would be this ribbon:

Bestill-my-heart beauty.

Of course if 10 ribbons were laid before me, without knowing prices, I would fall for the most expensive. Why oh why. So this is the object of today's obsession. And it will remain that, a fleeting visual obsession, like a beautiful face glimpsed in a speeding train going the other way ... sigh ...

Check out this site, Anita Pavani Fabrics, for much more beautifulness in natural fabrics. Someday I will treat myself to something timed when the dollar is stronger; there are unique things here I've never seen anywhere else. Cutwork cotton? Could be interesting layered with cotton voile for a summery tunic. And oh my, a very pricey knitted cashmere with ribs if you wanted the most luxurious casual garment ever. But not a drop of sweat from Bikram yoga should touch that. You could replicate the look with twin needle stitches spaced wide apart on a lightweight knit. And, um, Stinging Nettle Fabric from Nepal? I suppose there is a purpose for all fibers. Personally I like the ring of "bamboo fabric" better, if someone were to ask what my garment is made of.

This is pretty linen/cotton towelling fabric, in my kitchen colors too:

I must go now, before I give in to temptation ...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

iPhone Sewing Assistant

I'm now a happy owner of an iPhone. It was not an intentional acquisition. The phone was for my husband's business partner but long story short, things didn't work out. It's not about the partner, he's OK, the phone was a problem. So we got it, and I played with it. Resulting in rapid abandonment of my relatively new Samsung Instinct smartphone after falling for the intuitiveness and user-friendliness of the iPhone. And all this, for someone who isn't a technology buff, and never got into cell phones despite having them because I need a phone number.

The iPhone just works for me. Like how?

We like wine so I am loving the Wine Enthusiast Wine Guide app which shows ratings for years as well as informing you whether a wine is in decline and undrinkable, drinkable right now, not yet at peak, at peak, etc. It caused us to run down to the wine rack and pull a bottle, a recent gift from a friend. According to the Wine Guide, it was unfortunately not drinkable anymore. Indeed, instead of vibrant, it seemed dull, like disease in a wine glass. The iPhone app was right. Yuck. This app will be useful to check in a store before buying bottles.

2010 is the Year of Better Spending Control, and the SpendingLite app (free) lets me quickly enter every expense immediately after spending, right down to buying gum in the vending machine at work. Somehow, I focus on writing better while chewing gum. Although I agree it's not the most professional look. Tracking expenses is a new habit and SpendingLite makes it easy to remember.

Of course I love the app and its zoomable runway shots!

And the and apps know my GPS location and allow an efficient peek into nearby homes for sale. I like to see photos and compare home amenities and current market price with my home. With today's home values, that's often painful like poking myself in the eye and I'm not sure why I keep doing it. At any rate, iPhone makes it much easier to do that.

Next time we need to tell a taxi driver in India who speaks Hindi and no English to stop honking so much or please slow down, I can look it up in Hindi. I even have a Turkish dictionary app (all free) because I'm currently obsessed with going to Istanbul. Somehow putting an app on the iPhone makes that trip feel a little closer even if it's all just a mirage. See how psychologically useful the iPhone is!!

With Fandango app, I can be cooking lunch and think, whoa what time is "Up In the Air" matinee at my local theater? How fast do I need to eat lunch? Grab the iPhone, look it up, and whew, no big hurry. There's time. It's fast because with GPS it immediately shows the closest theater first.

The eBay app lets me bid and try to score a great price on a dress form during work hours, without worrying about IT dept knowing that. (Believe me, I am not a fan of people doing personal internet surfing during work hours but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do when a great auction expires at 1:30 pm on a weekday!)

I've already used the Convert Units app to convert something important that my husband and I were trying to figure out. Forget what now.

If the iPhone had a "Read My Mind" and "Remember Everything" app, I would just have to hook it directly to my brain with an IV. Maybe we'll be able to do that someday. Hope it happens before my memory keeps declining.

What about sewing apps?
Because my two feline sewing assistants, no matter how much I adore them, they have yet to prove their usefulness.

CoudreMODE posted about the Yardage Calc for iPhone & iTouch. Its icon is now on my phone. Very useful to compensate for my questionable math skills!

So what other iPhone sewing apps have you found truly useful?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Avoiding Fuddy Duddy Final Product

Sometimes I'm not sure why I'm not happy with the final result my efforts. All I know is, it doesn't pass the "would I buy this off the rack?" test. I wonder if it were hanging on a retail rack, would I know why I flip past it. Surely when making things myself, I'm way too close to the project. Was the misfire a major miscalculation or just a sublety that could have easily gone one way or the other?

I think about this more now when beginning a project. Sometimes I feel really confident about a project that suddenly struck out of nowhere, and other times I overthink it and then think some more.

Once in awhile, I'm too afraid to push further than just looking at the folded fabric and thinking "I really should do something with that." This is one of those fabrics, currently at Fabric Mart but I purchased it at Gorgeous Fabrics:

In real life it's more cinnamon-y or nutmeg-y than this color. I like the texture and prominent horizontal pattern. But I've been afraid to commit with this one. It could easily turn out with all the flattery of a grocery bag. What factors make the difference between yuck and yay? I don't know, that's why I'm afraid to do much other than look at it.

But check out this Fabric Mart drawing as a suggestion for the fabric:

Well, I never woulda thought of this. I even know the button I would use, and exactly where it is on a rack in the store.

But there's another fear factor. Is this design and proportion right for me? My shape, my height? Would it look good with pants? How is this much different from a Marfy drawing? Everything looks stylish on Marfy drawings. Maybe not so stylish on me.

Gorgeous Fabrics suggests Loes Hinse's Cowl Top, but I foresee a big dowdiness factor with that one on me. Maybe adjust the pattern so it's shorter and curvier? That's what I mean, sometimes little snips here and there can make a difference in the outcome. But I want to be assured before cutting and sewing that the result would be a top I'd wear. Another suggestion is Kwik Sew 3360, which actually, lengthened significantly could be similar to the Fabric Mart drawing.

I am truly stuck.

To get unstuck, I'll Google "sweater coats" and analyze differences between what I like and don't like. I need an analytical approach to choosing a pattern. I know that's not fun and creative, but it could help lessen risk of a disappointing result.
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