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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Simplicity 4047 - Pants & Blouse

This is such a cute pattern, and, I think, understated. As in, it doesn't SCREAM vintage. It's smart, and vintage looking, but not super obvious, which I like. It's Simplicity 4047, but last time I looked, it was out of print. I got my copy off ebay for about $15.

I sewed a blouse from it over a year ago, and really liked the fabric I chose, but I didn't take any detailed measurements as it was only my second proper sewing attempt and it was too big around & too short... and kind of reminded me of hospital scrubs. I still wear it on occasion, but when I recently sewed another version, I really fell in love. I added FOUR, yes 4, inches in length to this pattern, and sewed a smaller size, and I love it. I also lowered the neckline by about 2 inches, so it didn't feel so hospital-ish. I picked a nice material, and actually spent more than I would normally for fabric, but I am so glad I did. It's a light cotton, with small embroidered flowers on it. Because this fabric was lighter, I used a light-weight interfacing, and also made the neckline interfacing panel a lot narrower, as I didn't want to be able to see through the blouse and have my interfacing so visible. There is also a ring of interfacing along the sleeve edge to give it some shape, but I didn't add it, instead keeping the sleeves loose. They have less shape, but then they also fit nicely into the sleeves of a cardigan, not showing lumps through. I made the sash a few inches longer as well, so I had the option to tie it in a bow.



For the pants, they also fit well in a smaller size (always check finished garment measurements, not what your actual size is. Depending on how you like your clothes to fit, you will probably be a smaller size than the pattern suggests. Sometimes the pattern envelope will tell you the finished garment size, but sometimes those measurement are written on the pattern itself). I decided to use a jeans material, with little stretch. The pants looked to be a little bigger than I wanted, but I cut them out according to the pattern anyhow, just to be sure I knew how the jeans felt, as the material is thick & sturdy. But yep, they were enormous. The waist & hips fit perfectly, but the legs were a lot wider than I wanted. So, I sewed my side seams as the pattern suggested, then pinched in the sides as I was standing up straight. I ended up taking 4 inches on the circumference of each leg, tapering from the knee up to the hips. I took in 1.5" on the outside, and 1/2" from the inside seam to get the 4", and kept a straight line from the knee down. Taking measurements from a natural position (whether you need to add, or take out material) helps the garment sit, or hang, correctly. That is why I didn't take equal amounts off the inside and outside seam, or all 4 inches only out of one seam. The pants, or my body shape, dictated that I needed the excess taken out in different amounts to hang nicely.

So, after a day of sewing, I needed to test out the new threads, and we took our respective modes of transport to a local cafe.


Overall, I am very pleased with the results, and taken out on a test run, everything worked great! I could ride bike, sit & eat, and no seams fell apart :)

(We live near a regional airport & often get to see pilots in training, jets, carriers, all sorts of aircraft. today we got to watch these little guys fly in formation, though I only got the camera out as they were looping back for landing. Supposedly the fighter pilots train in these to practice formation. A few weeks back, I got to watch the new Australian fighter jets come and say hello to the guys in the tower. As much as living near an airport SUCKS, you do get to see some fun stuff every so often).


Monday, August 20, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake

I made a cheesecake last weekend for my wedding anniversary. My husband isn't a huge sweet tooth, so it's hard to make him a sweet treat, as he doesn't really care...I suppose I used my anniversary as an excuse to make cheesecake, didn't I? Either way, we both enjoyed it, one of us more than the other.

I used a recipe that called for the ingredients I had on hand, but wow, there are a lot of cheesecake recipes out there. I have a fabulous cookbook FILLED with cheesecakes, each one barely varying from the next, but I still want to try all of them. The recipe I ended up using was from this book. I did my own base, and my own topping.

This cake baked up amazingly. NO CRACKS! And then I covered it with a mess of strawberry sauce. I think I did this last time I made a baked cheesecake too :(

Base -
250-300g crushed Chocolate Cookies (Arnotts Choc Ripple / Oreo crumbs in North America, or whatever cookie you like best)
125g (1/2 cup) melted Butter

Cake -

500g Cream Cheese, softened
2/3 cup Caster Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
4 Eggs

Topping -
1 punnet (250g) Strawberries
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup Sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F
2. Prepare 20cm / 8" springform cake tin with baking paper, or grease. I always use baking paper, so I can get the cake out of the tin easier.
3. Melt butter & combine with crushed cookies / crumbs. I crush cookies in a large ziplock with a rolling pin. You can also use a food processor. Press mixture into your tin. Using a flat bottomed cup works really well.

4. Beat cream cheese until smooth with electric mixer. Add sugar, vanilla & lemon juice and beat until smooth.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.
6. Poor mixture over base & bake for 45 minutes, or until done (just firm to the touch). Turn oven off, and open oven door slightly. Allow cake to cool completely in oven, with door ajar. Once cool, refrigerate until time to serve.

7. To make strawberry sauce, you can use your favorite method, or this method, which I just made up; I don't know if there is a proper way to do this. I cut up all the berries I want to use, add some sugar, and stir over medium heat. Once the mixture is hot, I will sometimes crush some of the berries with a potato masher to make more of a sauce. I cook until just boiling, and then allow to cool. Do not allow to burn!


The Essential Dessert Cookbook

This is a cookbook I got a few years back for my birthday from a friend. It is a fabulous book, with lots of classic & lots of contemporary recipes, from pies to waffles, poached fruit to cheesecakes, low-fat to ice creams, it has a really nice selection of proper desserts (no cupcakes). Everything is classy, which I love. I have enough cupcake recipes.

You can get it here. It's from Murdoch Books.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mini "Pies"

I made a proper pie once. It was awful. But I've since learned that it was my oven's fault, not mine (my oven has given me a lot of grief). I guess I've been scared to go to all that work again in case I get let down. So, I've been making these little guys for a while, in different forms. It's not really a proper pie, but it's a quick & painless substitute when I want dessert without too much trouble.

I noticed my favorite Bakerella recently did a little something similar here. Her's look amazing!

1 Granny Smith Apple
I sheet puff pastry or shortcrust pastry
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Raw sugar for dusting

1.Cut your pastry sheet into 4 pieces & preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F (or whatever your pastry sheet instructions say.
2. Cut up an apple into small pieces (preferably Granny Smith, I used a Gala in this photo, as I didn't have any Grannies)

 3. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, and toss apples in mixture to coat

4. Spoon apples onto pastry sheet pieces, and wrap up & pinch pastry together to form a small bowl.

5. Sprinkle edges of pastry with raw sugar & bake for about 20 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dress - Butterick B5752

I've been doing a little more sewing lately, more than just make-up bags and baby bibs :) And I would like to start sharing it here, as I see myself making a lot more in the future, so hopefully it can become something I post about more regularly. It's a little scary posting photos of yourself online like this, but what the heck. This is something I enjoy doing. My favorite sewing blog is Gertie's New Blog For Better Sewing. She is who inspired me to get back into sewing for myself. She has tons of great tutorials.

This isn't my first dress. I sewed one a few years ago for a theme party, and since I've sewed another 3, which I will share here too. This is just the only one I have photos of.

I love vintage patterns & style, and try to buy it whenever possible. Most of my patterns are vintage or reprints. This is not vintage by any stretch, but most dresses are influenced from bygone eras, with nothing much being all that original these days. At least not in basic styles. I figured with the right material, and accessories (I have a gorgeous embroidered floral cardigan from the 60's to go with this) you could get a retro look with a modern pattern. This dress was made from Butterick, pattern B5752.

I lengthened the skirt by 2". I also had to add darts at the side of the bust area, as my bust is a little larger than allowed for in patterns. I first cut out my lining material and used that as a sort of muslin to work out where I needed to make adjustments. I really don't know that much about changing patterns, but I've picked up a bit from trial and error. The first dress I made to fit me, took a lot of sewing and re-sewing, but it was well worth it. I now take good measurements of myself, and of the pattern, and I usually only need to adjust the pattern once to make a good fit. It helps if you understand how your pattern will be constructed. Then you will know where the best place to make adjustments is.

My Favorite part of the dress is the small pleats in the neckline. Such a nice detail, I thought.

The back was supposed to use a hidden zipper. Well, I realized a little too late I don't have the right foot. So, not so much a hidden zipper. I think I will stick to my trusty way of doing zippers from here on out, called the Centered Zipper here. They always work nicely.

The material is 100% cotton, nothing special. It's a reprint of a vintage design. I thought it would make an excellent apron... but a dress? I did it anyways, and love it.