Sunday, December 27, 2009

Father and Son

Ok, I lied. Here's another post on my grandson.  I just couldn't  resist posting this terrific picture of my son Josh and his son Jakob. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009


NANA  is what I told my son I'd like to be called.  My mother's Mom was Nana and she was the most wonderful grandmother.  I hope that Jakob will think as highly of me when he's old enough to have an opinion.  He was born at 2:43 this afternoon and mother and son are doing well.  It's certainly exciting; even my husband who doesn't show excitement was teary eyed.  We'll go down for the brit milah, which if it is done according to tradition will be next Sunday.  He's a very considerate child so far.
Here he is at about 10 minutes old sent from the new Dad's Blackberry.  The hospital has wi fi, so we got regular updates during labor.

Isn't he fabulous!  Josh says that he has a full head of hair under the cap.
We called our daughter Alex in Korea when we found out Sarah was in labor, and she insisted that I call her even if it was the middle of the night her time, which it was.   You can see how excited she is if you read her blog entry, the link is over on the left in my blog roll.  AAA Alex's Adventures in Asia.
I promise that I won't post too much on Jake, but this first day is pretty special.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


It's officially a blizzard and a record snow.  We had 25" of snow and of course this is when my dh's old Ram Charger that he keeps going for the plow decided not to stay running.  We have a 700 foot driveway.  Fortunately we share it with several other houses and the main, shared driveway has been plowed.  But, getting my car down to it may be a little hard.  Ah, well I work at home.  I may get stir crazy, but hopefully I'll get a lot done. But, not the shoveling.  Here's my husband clearing a path for the dog. 

Friday, December 18, 2009


I actually got one of my prints cut and sewn into this terrific sweater coat.  Hot Patterns has some very nice designs for knits these days including this great  1018 Riviera Cardigan.
I've posted a complete review over on PR, though there isn't a lot to say about such a simple project.  It took me longer to match and cut it out than to sew it up.  
Hot Patterns Riviera Cardigan 1018 review

The pants are a wool blend with a small amount of lycra from Emmaonesock, as is the sweater coat fabric.  I used my trusty tnt Hot Patterns Razer pant that I narrowed down to an 18" leg at the hem.  I used this method from Threads,  a much better way to narrow down a pant leg than just drawing it in narrower as many books instruct.  This one does not leave you with excess fabric below the rear end or in the thigh.
Oh, by the way, I took this with my new camera.  It has a cool setting where the self timer recognizes your face when you enter the scene. It didn't work in front of my brick fireplace wall, but it did work above.  It's meant to enable the photographer to enter a group photo and it recognizes a new face, but it worked here quite well for my purposes.    You can also set the number of pictures it will take.  

Did anyone see the column in the NY Times yesterday? Altered by a Sewing Machine by Michelle Slatalla..  This is the third article I've seen recently about women who have decided to learn how to sew.  Michelle talks about learning that sewing is about process and she's all about product, though she does conclude that sewing is changing her.   I've been sewing for a lot of years and it's still about process to me.  I love the planning not only of wardrobes, but how I'm going to make something.  I make samples of techniques, even when I've done them before.  I fit as I sew and sometimes I still get surprised by the outcome.  It isn't about how fast I can make something or how cheaply I can make it.  I am not looking to save money by sewing.  I love the process of it all.  This is not to say that I don't want a great finished garment when I am done, but that isn't why I love sewing.  What about you,are you a process or product sewer?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Recently I was sorting through photos on my computer and came across this group of print fabrics.  For a woman who is a professed non lover of prints, I certainly have a lot of them! I do like an animal print and I am always on the lookout for another one.   I never know what to do with large, over scale prints and small ones bore me and make me think frumpy.   I am always striving for a wearable, cohesive sophisticated wardrobe where I have lots of choices and having  too many prints just doesn't work.   I do look for sophisticated, unusual prints and most of these fit into that category.  So why haven't I made them up yet?  Partly my plans are always bigger than my ability to get them  sewn,  Sometimes I buy with a particular pattern in mind and change my mind about the pattern.   Then I have  fabric with no clue what to make with it.  Plain fabrics don't go out of style, but prints do.  Most of these fabrics are spring or summer weight cottons, silks and knits  My New Years resolution is to get as many of these sewn up as possible.  No new prints until I get these sewn.  Yeah, right.  Of course if that gorgeous, unusual prints rears it's head you know it's going to come home with me.  Especially a good animal print.  I am much more selective these days and it  really needs to speak if I am going to buy it. This is a good thing.  At last count I had 363 yards of fabric in my stash.  This does not include linings.  That's  a lot of fabric!
All of these have plain fabrics in my stash to complement them.  Some even have garments already made that they would go well with.
I have a few more prints, but these are the  ones I like best and may actually get made up.

So where do you fall in the print debate? How do you use prints in your wardrobe?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I'm Working On

Playing with my new camera for one thing.  My old camera died a few months ago and I've been looking around for what to buy. I had already decided on a Canon Powershot S90 when the review in the Times clinched it.  It had pretty much everything on my want list.  It has a fast lens at f2 at 28 mm and it has a moderate telephoto at 105mm to satisfy my portrait needs.  I had an S60 which I loved, so it wasn't hard to convince me that this was the camera.  It's small!  That was the hardest thing to get used to.  At about 7oz with battery and card, it is easy to cart around and doesn't bother my neck. So far, I've just played and taken shots of Mr Nicky to send to Alex in Korea.  Now at 17 and a half, Mr Nicky doesn't do too much, so they all pretty much look alike, but Alex is thrilled to get photos of him no matter what.

I am preparing to sew, as they say.  I loved Sigrid's post on production sewing but it takes a lot of time to get even 3 new patterns prepped.  I have the green Burda twist top from my Wardrobe cut out.  I am in the midst of cutting out Hot Pattern Riviera cardigan in a black and white sweater knit with black wool knit trim.  The next up for cutting  is my tnt t shirt in a green wool blend sweater knit for Emmaonesock. I also altered the Burda side gather t that Sigrid made and I haven't decided what to sew it in.  I have some red rayon jersey that might work.  Then I'll cut  the  tunic knockoff with the nailheads.  I altered my tnt t shirt, V8151, laid out the nailheads on the pattern, and whoops I am short a bag.   I ordered two just in case and to play with. I'll cut that out last while I wait for them to come.
I also want to cut out the gray wool and silk pants from the wardrobe plan.  None of it is very complicated sewing, so I hope that I'll finish and not have ufo's left at the end of winter! I do have the silk blouse from my plan cut, so I could sew that too.  We'll see what I sew first.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Need Some Input

A couple of posts ago I showed this tunic I am going to knock off.

I have a nice wool knit that I'll use without a lot of stretch.  I know how to draft the facing. I'll sew it on and before attaching the outside edges of it, I'll  apply the nailheads.  I was thinking that since the neckline will be large enough to go over my head without having to stretch that I might use some silk charmeuse for the facing instead of the wool knit.  I figure I need to sew it on before I attach the nail heads or I'll have difficulty sewing it on.  I'll interface the charmeuse, probably  with some silk organza..
What do you think?  
Also, does anyone have any suggestions on a good way to apply the nail heads?  Burda showed using a spoon to press down the backs of each nailhead. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finally, some sewing to show you!

I finished my leather skirt and my gray knit top in time to wear them to our sewing bloggers  dinner in NYC last weekend, but I didn't get any good shots of them  until today.  The top is Burda 113 12/08 in a very nice wool jersey from Emmaonesock.  The skirt is lambskin from Leather Suede and Skins in NYC. It's Burda 134 9/09.  It's one of their take one pattern and make 4, and they show them on dressforms.  It's really not the best way to see how a garment looks in real life. They describe this as a mini skirt.  I didn't add any length and I am 5'6" tall, the height they draft for.  Does this look like a mini to you?

I love  them with my motorcycle jacket as it was planned in my ill fated 2009 PR Wardrobe.  It's fun to wear and Cindy from PR day describe my outfit as 'Rock and Roll' .  I do feel chic wearing it. I have already gotten a lot of use out of it.  It looks great with my Tom and Linda Platt dress too and with the mild weather we've been having it works as  light weight outerwear.
I realize that I never posted a picture of my denim trousers.  They are in the wash and need a picture taken, so that will be later in the week.   I am still working on my McCalls jeans, 5894.  They are ill fated I think.  I ran the tab of the zipper off the top and had to rip it out.  This is why you should never sew a zipper in like Burda tells you to, at the end, with your garment already in the round.  If I hadn't already put so much time into them I might be tempted to chuck them, but they are flattering and the fit is good, if not perfect.  Of course, do I ever think I have perfect fit?  Not in pants anyway.  That flat rear end of mine is a pita  to fit.
Here are the links to my reviews on PR.

Friday, November 27, 2009


We had a lovely Thanksgiving on Alex's last day here.  She was off to the airport at 8 am with her Dad.  I had to take 2 guests to the train, so we said our goodbyes here.  She was teary saying goodbye to our very old, 17 years, dog.  Us she can talk to and video chat with, but not so the dog of course

Here we are dressed  in our Thanksgiving finery.  You'll notice my Tom and Linda Platt dress and my Hot Patterns cardigan.  Both have turned out to be favorite pieces.  I didn't think that I'd make the jacket again, but I love it, so I may make it with some red wool double knit from the stash.

Here's Alex with Mr. Nicky. 

On the sewing front:  I am finishing up my jeans.  Let me say how much I hate stretch denim with more than 2% spandex.  Note to self, never buy denim again with more than minimal stretch for comfort. It's a paint to topstitch across the grain.  .  I did  cut the waistband with  the straight grain going around the body, which helps, but below that I really had to take in a lot. 
When they get too irritating I have my green twist front Burda top on the cutting table.
After I finish my wardrobe plan I am going to make this knock off tunic from Tory Burch.  I already have the nailheads.

I'll probably make it from my tnt t shirt pattern. V8151.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meeting Bloggers in Real Life!

                              Carolyn, Robin, Marji,Mardel, Claudine, Lindsay T, NancyK
What a great night we had!  It was such a thrill to meet the people I know online in real life. Earlier in the afternoon I ran into Marji and Mardel in Pacific Trimming, which was serendipitous.  NYC may be large, but the garment district isn't all that big anymore.  They went back to class and I went on to B & J where I ran into Claudine.  I was standing next to her and recognized her by her jacket.  She rarely posts herself on her blog, but she'd just done a post showing herself wearing her clothes, so it was fresh in my mind.  A small world.  We went back to Mood where she bought some fabric she'd seen earlier, and I ran into Tom, from Pattern Review Day. I really look forward to meeting other sewers as they make their pilgrimage to the garment district.  There isn't anyplace else like it anymore.  It may not be the place I shopped in 25 years ago, but it's still fabulous.  The choices and the prices are better than anywhere else I've been. 

 Sewing:  I've decided that I will not be able to finish my PR Wardrobe in time to enter the contest.  I am planning on finishing the plan, so you'll see it here when I do finish it all.  I've got a top and the leather skirt to post.  Probably not till after Alex goes back to Korea.  Yes, she is leaving us Friday.  We have enjoyed having her home for so long but she took a great job in Busan, a big city the south coast of Korea.  She wanted a change and a place with less pollution.  I have to say that we have a wonderful relationship and that I am going to miss her enormously. 

I am hosting Thanksgiving and I always look forward to it.  It's my favorite holiday,   I hope that all of you have a great day. 
Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Search for Patrones

Through Pattern Review and various blogs I was introduced to pattern magazines other than Burda, Patrones and Knipmode in particular.  I generally buy single copies on Ebay from Stoff-Art.  Their speed is less than stellar and  I waited and waited for September Patrones to be offered for sale.  Finally, it was up and I bought it.  I am still waiting for it to come along with the October issue of Knipmode.  In the meantime I noticed that Ebay had the October issue of Patrones up.  It was from a Dutch company they were a few dollars cheaper even.  I have my October issue and I am still waiting for September.  I'm glad I bought it right away, as they only had 3 copies, but if you want the September issue it's still up.  One of the attractions of Patrones was that all the garments were from various European designers including such luminaries as Prada on occasion.  This October issue is the first one I've bought in a few months.  The titles, white blouse for instance, just don't have the cache the designers names had.  There are some lovely designs, but the allure of being able to make a Prada is gone.  When did this change happen?  

Sewing: I have been busy with my wardrobe.  I only have 3 pieces done and unless I up my speed, it won't get finished.  I am still optimistic  because the jeans are my last time consuming piece, well only time consuming because I've ripped the topstitching out too many times to count.  My machine does not like to make nice, even topstitches.  It doesn't like to hold it's tension either.   I'll take it in again after I finish my wardrobe.  They fit reasonably well  and I may actually make another pair if I can get my machine to do a better job on topstitching. I finished the denim trouser and a gray wool jersey top, both of which I wore with my jacket to PR day. I  may photograph a few pieces this week if I get a chance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

PR Day in NYC

Johanna, me, and Cindy at Metro Textile. Thank you Peter for the pictures. I copied this from his posting, here of pictures of the day. Cindy and Tom organized the day and they did a great job, so a big thanks.
What a great day I had. It was so much fun to meet other sewers and people who read my blog! That was really a wonderful addition to the day. By the time I got to Metro Textiles at 10:30 it was jammed with people, but fun. Too much distraction for me to buy fabric there, but I can get in anytime so I was more interested in meeting everyone. After Metro we went down the street to Mood as Greenberg and Hammer was already committed to hosting the ASG group from Baltimore so we were scheduled for 12:15. They are the loveliest people and had drinks and cookies and goodie bags for all of us. Back to Mood, Eric, one of the owners, gave us a 10% discount because Rosie asked. I did buy a piece of fabric here, a gorgeous wool knit, I think that there is maybe some silk in it too because it has a really gorgeous shimmer on one side, in a deep green. It's better to hit Mood in the morning on a Saturday. Have you been there on a Saturday afternoon! The crowds are unbelievable. I do think that they've raised their prices. Emmaonesock buys some things here and in the past I've recognized distinctive pieces and the prices were always a few dollars cheaper. Saturday they were more money by a few dollars than Linda is charging. I don't need fabric, but I am always on the lookout for something that 'speaks' to me. Everyone was on the lookout for animal prints for me. There weren't many; either heinous, and suitable jokes were made about these, or polyester and I've sworn off polyester knits. They feel clammy to me in the winter and rip them off hot in the summer. I'll wear it in a blend, but not straight.
Next we headed off to Greenberg and Hammer and then lunch at a deli up the street that had tables upstairs. We put together about 6 tables for all of us. It was great. I sat near Terry and Liz and Peter, as well as several lovely people whose names I can't remember! I met a a lot of people whose names I can't remember! Maybe name tags wouldn't be a bad idea. It is really fun to talk to people about sewing and not have their eyes glaze over.
We went on to Paron, where I bought a piece of shirting and Lucy, who I have known for years, gave me a nice discount. I think that next time we should contact our favorite places and ask them if they will give a discount to PR that day. After that we went over to Rosen and Chaddick but nothing spoke to me there. We also went over to Pacific Trimming so that I could get another Riri zipper for my leather skirt. It was late by this time and Terry wanted to got to the Japanese bookstore opposite Bryant park. I had never been so I went along. They carry all those amazing Japanese pattern books. I am being good, so I didn't buy any, but I was tempted. Even in Japanese the illustrations are amazing. Twisted tops with the best pictures illustrating how to do it so that no words are necessary, even for twist challenge people like me. They do use the western alphabet for matching letters which makes it a little easier to navigate. They have those Bunka College design books that Cidell showed on her blog. Attention men who sew or women who sew for them! They have mens pattern books with very cool and stylish stuff. A whole book on coats and jackets with great illustrations. Of course you kind of have to be a small man or you'll have to grade them up a lot. Asian men tend to be smaller, not just in height but bone structure.
All in all, it was a great day and even the weather co-operated.
After that I was pooped and walked down to Penn to get the train home.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wadder, ah well

I am glad I didn't cut my Three Graces crossover t in my good fabric. Mind you, it wasn't cheap fabric, but it was a bit thin for my taste. The crossover, which I finally got right, was lovely. I finally got it when I watched the direction that Trudy twisted seam D. After I sewed in the sleeves, I pinned the sides together and tried it on. The twist looked great, but I should have cut the shoulders and armscyes 2 sizes smaller at least, it was that big. It looked terrible. The fabric didn't like being ripped and so it's a wadder, my first in quite a while. I'll go back to this after the PR wardrobe contest is over, but not now. I made some drawings of my tops with my skirt pattern, and I went back to my BWOF 113 from 12/08 top that was in my plan, with the pleated front, but not in the silver rayon. It made me cold looking at it. I chose a gorgeous darker gray wool and lycra light weight jersey from Emmaonesock that had been in contention, and in my stash, from the beginning. Maybe I'll bind the neck in black velvet. Hmm.

I need some advice. I cut out my leather skirt and decided that I didn't want to use an invisible zipper. Why not an exposed zipper so I looked in my stash, and realized, fortunately sooner than later, that I need a longer zipper because the skirt has a raised waistband. Since I was going to have to order a zipper, why not a matching gold tone Riri zipper. I ordered a 9 inch one from Pacific Trimming. The question I have is how to install it. I looked in my Sewing With Leather and Suede book by Sandy Scrivano and she has a lovely method for facing a light weight leather, mine, in a spot without a seam. But I want to put mine in the side seam. I've been thinking about this, and I could just fold back the seam allowances to expose the zipper, but how do I handle the bottom of the zipper at the top of the sewn side seam? If I face it, do I cut off the sas and, but them and hold then in place with tape from the wrong side and then just sew a facing on on and follow the directions for a faced opening? Suggestions please.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pattern Review Day in NYC

On November 7 Pattern Review is having a sewers get together in NYC. I'll be there and I hope that any of you who can make it in for the day will join us. I had so much fun last year meeting people I've only met online. Karen from Sewing by the Seat of My Pants was there and we both showed off our leather jackets. She also enabled me to buy some white stretch cotton poplin. Check the details over on Pattern Review. Deepika is asking everyone who is planning on coming to fill out the poll so that she has accurate numbers.

Sewing. I decided not to hem the twist top I am making(including the front neckline), but I'd already attached the back neck facing. It looks kind of dumb next to the unfinished front neck. I kept thinking about this especially this morning before I got out of bed. Duh, take of the back neck facing and trim off the sas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Twist challenged

My next piece up is the Hot Patterns Three Graces twist t shirt. If Trudy had not posted videos on You Tube I'd still be twisting. I really have a hard time with tops where things twist over and back onto themselves. I guess I'm spatially challenged. I marked it very carefully with painters tape and labeled every seam. I watched the video at least 10 times and ripped the first seam at least 3 times before I got this right. I pulled over my dressform next to my computer so that I could do it step by step as Trudy was doing it. It didn't help that she uses letters to mark the seams and talks about seams 1, 2 and 3. The worst, frustrating mess. Then I decided to pin the front neck edge to my ironing table and connect the seams. It worked! I cut this out of a thin bluish gray rayon lycra knit from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's a pretty knit, but I don't love working in such thin stuff. It was described as medium weight and I wouldn't call it that. It also curls which I hate! Anyway, it was intended as a muslin for my expensive silk and rayon ombre knit but I think that I would like the ombre in the loop front top instead. It's kind of striped and I like how the stripe Trudy used looks on the loop front top. It also looks easier to arrange and sew than the twist front!
Here's the ombre fabric, which I haven't shown before. I'm using it instead of the silver jersey top on my storyboard. I think that the jacket is sparkly enough without adding any more bling to the mix. I also traced and altered all three of the Three Graces and I haven't traced that Burda top. I am running out of time to alter any more patterns if I want to finish this contest.

A recent purchase from Emmaonesock

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Burda 128 10/08 Jacket

I finished my jacket yesterday and enlisted my dd to take pictures. She's better than my husband and we had a nice photo session outside on this gorgeous fall day. If you'll remember I was knocking off this Oscar de la Renta jacket that retails for $1990.00 over on Net a Porter. My copy is more inspired by his than an actual copy. I didn't want to add a band at my hips, so I left that off. I also didn't add the bands on the sleeves, opting to keep it like the bottom of my jacket.

I used this BWOF pattern for the base, mainly because it had a very similar collar and front princess seams. You can see that I made a lot of changes! Even with those changes the great draft of this jacket comes through. I always love the way Burda set in sleeves ease in so beautifully and this pattern was no exception.

Now the jacket:

The under pocket is faced with the fashion fabric so that the lining doesn't show.

This jacket cost me considerably less than the original and at $200 it wasn't exactly cheap, but it is a whole lot more jacket than I could buy for $200 in RTW. It also fits, which is something I could never find off the rack. I love it. I love that it makes me feel good to put it on and yes, the fabric was worth the cost.
You can read a detailed review over on Pattern Review.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Burda Style sends out regular emails on new styles and the Karen Cardigan really appealed to me. Until I got to the instructions. Now, I don't really need the directions, but I do like to see the pattern pieces. It gives me a much better idea of how this is supposed to go together. I was trying to figure out how they expect you to finish the front edges. Finally I went back to the list of pattern pieces and apparently there are facings. Do you interface these facings, how big are they? Who knows because they don't show them nor do they mention them in the very abbreviated instructions. I really like the design of this cardigan, minus the strange belt, which is easy to leave out. Those of us who sew BWOF patterns from the magazine very often complain about the poor directions. Unless they give you more in the printout, these are about the worst I've seen. I will probably buy this, it's $4, but the question is do I print it out myself or take it to the copy shop? It seems to be more of a pain to put this together than tracing from the magazine. Have you had any experience in downloading these patterns? Sewing them?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I do seem to have screwed up the matching across the zipper. It's not so obvious in person fortunately. I do love the fit of this jacket and I am going to not see the matching issue since I can't do anything about it. I sewed up the sleeve muslin today and scooped out the front armscyes where it was uncomfortable.
I block fused my yardage with Pro-Sheer Elegance low temp interfacing from Sew Exciting which you can see in the zipper pictures. I only added some Pro-weft fusible to the collar stand. I wanted the jacket to have a little more body but not to be tailored. The low temperature of the Pro-sheer is perfect for my fabric because while the wool will take a higher heat, the lurex won't.
I solved my shoulder fit and am really happy about that. I have lots of fit issues as I've said before, but my forward shoulder is accompanied by a rounded shoulder too. Instead of sewing the back shoulder dart I eased and shrank it to fit the front shoulder. This eliminated the wrinkle I was getting running from the shoulder to above the hip.
I am really pleased with the zippered pockets. I used the faced or what Claire Schaeffer calls the Magic Window method. Marking the pocket on the outside you use an upper pocket of silk organza so that you can see the pocket mouth.
After sewing a box in small stitches it's cut open and the opening trimmed to 1/8". Each side is understitched, long sides first and then the ends.

Paper covered fusible tape is perfect for holding the zipper in place while stitching it to the upper pocket. The zipper is attached to the front by folding back the garment and stitching over the previous stitching for the window opening.

Next up is cutting out the sleeves and lining.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hot Patterns You Tube Video

Have you seen this great video series from Hot Patterns? If you are on the Hot Patterns e mail list than you already know about it. Periodically Hot Patterns has been posting videos on their new patterns with tips and ideas on how to make their patterns and how to change them to get more value out of each pattern. The latest You Tube videos, divided into three parts, is how to make their latest pattern, the Uptown/Downtown dress, an easy knit dress from start to finish. This is a terrific tutorial for sewing knits. If you are inexperienced or have never sewn knits than this will really be a wonderful help to you. I have been sewing knits for a while now, but I am still not comfortable in sewing the seam directly on the serger, so I really enjoyed seeing her put this dress together entirely on the serger. I also liked seeing her sewing order which is very different from most of the directions I've seen for sewing knits, or really for most instructions given in patterns. Burda is a really one of the worst. Not just for the clarity of their directions, but for the sewing order they suggest for their garments. I was always taught to keep it flat as long as possible and none of their instructions for knits or any garment for that matter, do this. I have long been baffled about the order they use to construct their garments. Do you sew in a zipper after you've put together your pants? I certainly don't, but that's how they tell you to do it. They even have you put in an invisible zipper at the end. This makes construction harder than it should be and more time consuming. For anyone thinking about sewing knits, or for those who are frustrated by them, this is really worth a look and a bookmark.
Here are links to the last two.
second clip
third clip

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts

Several people have asked for my chocolate mousse recipe. It is from Alice Medrich's book, Chocolate And the Art Of Low-Fat Desserts. It's a great book and if you don't have any dietary issues except wanting low fat dessert recipes there are other great desserts in the book. The chocolate souffles are to die for and very easy, but they call for some flour.


This can be eaten with a spoon, or used in another dessert.
For Weight Watchers, it is 3 points for a 1/2 cup serving or 127 calories.
Makes about 5 cups, or enough for 8 to 10 servings

1 tsp instant espresso
1 once unsweetened chocolate. ( I use Callebaut brand, but use the best you can find)
4 onces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. (I use at least 70% chocolate.)Chopped fine.
scant 3/8 tsp cream of tartar
5 egg whites
10 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instant read thermometer

Work time: 20 minutes
Chill time at least 4 hours

1. In a small heatproof bowl dissolve the espresso powder in 5 tablespoons of water. Add all the chocolate and vanilla. Set the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water and stir frequently until smooth.

2. Make the safe meringue.
Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a large skillet.
Combine the cream of tartar and 5 teaspoons of water in a 6-8 cup stainless steel bowl. I use one of the bowls from my mixer. Whisk in the egg whites and the sugar. Place a thermometer near the stove in a mug of very hot tap water. Set bowl in skillet. Stir mixture briskly and constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to keep from scrambling the whites. After 2 minutes remove bowl from skillet. Quickly insert the thermometer in at least 2inches. If less than 160 degrees F. rinse thermometer in skillet and return it to the mug.
Replace bowl in in skillet. Stir as before until temperature reache 160F. when bowl is removed.
Beat on high speed until cool and stiff.

3. Fold about a quarter of the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Fold the remaining meringue into the chocolate mixture ( I actually add the chocolate mixture, after the first amount of meringue because of the bowl size) use immediately in another dessert or scrape into individual serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hour, or until set. Mousse may be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day.

For company I will sprinkle chocolate shavings on top.

Enjoy. It really does only take about 20 minutes to make. Good chocolate makes a really big difference here. My favorite is Valrona for this one, but use your favorite. Whole Foods carries unsweetened Callebaut chocolate which is far superior to Bakers. They also break up the big 5 kilo bars of 70 % Callebaut to sell and this where I get the Valrona. When I was doing a lot of baking many years ago, a restaurateur friend used to get me that big bar of chocolate and is that amazing. It keeps quite well as long as it is well wrapped.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Guest Blogger!

As most of you know my daughter is home for a somewhat extended visit until she gets a new job in Korea. We are enjoying her immensely, but she is, as predicted, rather bored. She has all her paperwork done and has been getting a lot of responses lately to her resume. A skype video interview is scheduled for tonight for a job that meets all her requirements.
She has agreed to be a guest blogger here on Nancy K Sews. She doesn't sew, cook or garden but she does eat, so she was happy to talk about what we had for dinner last night.

Guest Blog for Mom 10/12/09


Perhaps you know me by one of the following monikers: dd, midget, long lost daughter in Korea, etc. My Mom doesn’t blog much about what she cooks in part I think because she doesn’t think what she prepares on a day to day basis is anything special. She thinks that whipping up a chocolate mousse from scratch (for a quick way to cheer up her daughter) is no big deal. As a child, people used to suck up to me in March to get invited to my birthday parties, not because I was popular but because the birthday cake was sure to be an out of this world concoction of amazingness.

A “simple” Sunday meal: sambal and idli. I hung out in the kitchen with her for part of the preparation to keep her company. However, I will admit that I contributed absolutely zero effort toward making this meal though I did put away some dishes and clean out the silverware drawer. Anyways, sambal is a type of curry like sauce** made from lentils and stewed veggies and seasoned with a spice mix. Of course my Mom does not BUY the spice mix. Oh no. First she roasted the hot chili peppers in the oven. Then she ground them up in the old coffee grinder that is reserved for this purpose (because let’s face it, chili powder coffee is a zing we aren’t exactly looking for in the morning) and then mixed in a bunch of other stuff. This is where I was (obviously) paying less attention. The idli is some sort of fluffy cake thingy made from rice flour and you eat it mixed in with the yummy sambal sauce. Apparently, it’s a traditional breakfast food in some parts of India but definitely more of a dinner food for the traditional Western palate. Leftover idli also makes an awesome dessert if you eat it drizzled with maple syrup.
**All knowledge is from staring/osmosis and not actually based in fact. Correct at will.

This is a meal that my Mother would consider ‘nothing special.’ It’s a vegetarian dish that is low fat, savory and exotic to boot. I will happily continue to do the plethora of dishes she leaves in her wake in order for the cooking to continue.

A little more technical information about my recipes might be in order, as I said Alex doesn't cook. But she does do the dishes with my dh, a routine that they have down, including complaining about how many pots I use.

The Sambar is a south Indian dal and vegetable mixture usually served with Idli, a steamed rice cake formed in a stacked metal mold that is put in a steamer to cook. I use a mix for this. It's a pretty elaborate preparation to make this from scratch. Sambar calls for sambar powder, which you can buy ready made, but I didn't have any more in the house, so I made it from scratch. Not hard to do. Three kinds of dal, fenugreek seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, curry leaves, peppercorns, brown mustard seed and dried red pepper are toasted with about a tsp of oil and then after cooling is ground in the coffee grinder Alex mentioned. I stored the excess so next time I make this I can skip a few steps! The Sambar is made with toasted dried coconut, cumin seed, red peppers and brown mustard seed browned before adding the red lentils and turmuric and water. After it is cooked to mush, the vegetables are added along with tamarind juice and some salt. I used red peppers, zuchini and cauliflower, a pretty standard variety, though if you have fresh okra that can be added too. When we were in Madurai in India, this was served at the breakfast buffet along with idli. Yum.
We had leftover chocolate mousse for desert. I make a low fat recipe that is 3 points per serving and is absolutely delicious and no one ever thinks that this is a 'diet' recipe. It has no dairy in it and no gluten, so it meets the dietary requirements of the house.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What I like, the new Vogue Patterns

There have been plenty of negative comments about the new Vogue patterns, and some of it is definitely justified, but there were some good things too. I like how Vogue patterns are drafted. I used to sew them almost exclusively, and made a ton of designer patterns back in the 80's. I remember fondly my Karl Lagerfeld black silk sheath dress, an Emanual Ungaro dress in a gorgeous wool challis (the moths got to this one), a Geoffrey Beene jacket that I wore to death, a Bill Blass black and white linen sheath that was gorgeous. Do I have them? No, I am not a saver, though I really regret having letting these go. I made Anne Klein, and Issey Miyake. I made a Calvin Klein suit for my son's Bar Mitzvah from Calvin Klein fabric that I found at the now gone Trebor Fabrics. I made non designer things too, but these stick in my mind more vividly, probably because I remember where I wore them. I still make Vogue patterns, but I discovered Burda World of Fashion about 10 years ago and fell in love. There are also more independent pattern companies these days, and I am a big fan of Hot Patterns.
Back to Vogue. The Cynthia Steffe dresses appeal to me, the black one in particular would fit me, as long as I add a few inches.

I like exposed zippers, but for this I'd probably buy a Riri zipper with the satin tape and skip the fake leather trim. It definitely needs a few inches for my body!

If you remove that drape the pants are a very nice cut, but the drape? Not so good. BWOF had a pair of pants like this a few months ago and was similarly slammed. The blouse I really like. It's different but wearable as long as it's made in the recommended fabrics.


This is not a dress for my lifestyle, or even my figure, but it is very current with those shoulders and I think that for some women it will be very flattering.

I cannot resist one slam. I am not a big fan Marcy Tilton's mixed fabric or decorated clothing. My aesthetic is more minimal and structured. This is just a mess. Dropped shouldered tops are so unbecoming on anyone who has narrow shoulders or a large bust. Sure they are easy to fit, but all that extra fabric at bust level just adds pounds. If you are thin it hides your body and adds pounds too. Who want to look bigger anyway?

Will I buy any of these? Maybe at the next sale, but I have a lot of patterns to work my way through first. I've finally altered and fit all my patterns for the Wardrobe contest. I know that I am a bit behind, but with all the patterns fitted, the sewing should move along nicely. I need to finish cleaning up my cutting table; tracing and altering a lot of patterns creates a huge amount of paper scraps!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

October Burda has Arrived!

I read the end of books before I get to them, so it shouldn't be a big surprise that I can't keep from looking at the Burda previews online before I get the magazine. It really spoils the enjoyment of getting a new issue, but I can't seem to keep from doing it. I had already incorporated a blouse from the new issue into my yet again revised wardrobe plan for the Pattern Review contest. It came today, and aside from the rather lame, again, crafts, it's a pretty good issue. You know how designers often use strange accessories on the runway for showmanship? Well most of us wouldn't wear them even if we could afford them so why choose to make them into a craft project? How young do you have to be to wear pompoms? I know my 23 year old dd wouldn't wear them.

As you can see I have made a couple of changes. Again. I went back to my tnt pant pattern which I refitted anyway. I am a little anal about fit. I am making two versions of it, neither of them having the side front pockets. (I do not need any more width in the hips!) I narrowed the legs, added a contour waist and front welt pockets for the black denim trouser. I'll sew it as a faced pant for the gray silk and wool in the wider width.
Most directions for narrowing pants just have you draw them narrower. This doesn't always work well, leaving excess fabric below the front and rear crotch. Threads had a terrific article on a better way to adjust pants width years ago and they have reprinted it on their website.
I am going to sew one of the 3 Graces t's and the white blouse is next to it above.
I know that I am really behind, but I decided to do all my pattern alterations before I started cutting out and sewing. I do a lot of pattern alterations. It must be wonderful to not have to make adjustments. Sigh. I have the two blouses to trace and fit and that's it for patterns.
I also decided that there was no way that a straight waistband, which the McCall's jeans have, will fit me, so I used a contour waistband from an earlier Palmer Pletsch jeans pattern.
It is now 4 pm and I have spent the entire day working on pants patterns. I am exhausted.
How extensive are your pattern alterations? Do you make a lot of changes for fit or style or both?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Still no Sewing going on

I am still working on patterns for my wardrobe. The jacket is ready, as are the jeans. I am reworking my formerly tnt pants pattern, the HP Razer at the moment. I also broke my little toe yesterday. How? I walked into a chair without shoes on. Painful to say the least.
I am enjoying having Alex home and spending time with her. She is sort of gimpy right now too, having fallen in Taekwondo and re injured the ankle she hurt last fall in a fall while rock climbing. She was complaining about being bored with inactivity and I said "you need a hobby". So what did she do, being 23 she googled hobbies and decided on scrapbooking. She is planning on taking the boxes of memorabilia from her travels and making a multi media journal out of them. Perfect.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Midget Returns

The Midget is how our older son refers to his sister. He is 6'2 and she is 5'3 1/4"(the 1/4" is very important!) tall. She never thinks of herself as short though, especially not after a year in Korea where she is often taller than her students mothers. But, even before, she has a large, strong personality and most people are surprised to realize that she is actually short. I picked her up at JFK on Thursday afternoon and I don't think I stopped smiling the whole drive home. The only problem is that I don't know what she's going to do with herself here. When she asked me what she used to do, we looked at each other and both of us said homework. There is not a whole lot to do on Long Island without driving other than shopping(well shopping too needs a drive), and she can get most of what she wants cheaper in Korea. Her two good local friends moved away and her college friends are, if still in the NY area, working. She is going to take the cheap China town bus up to Boston to visit a good friend for a few days. At least when Jes is working she'll have museums to explore. It's good to have her home.
I am working on patterns. The jacket is ready for a second muslin. I have two pairs of pants ready to cut out too and need to make a muslin for the leather skirt. It's good to have a plan, not only on what to make, but the order I am going to work on it. I am trying to make the most time consuming things first and saving the easy, tnt tops for last to hopefully avoid stress at the end. I also still like my plan, a major accomplishment.
I am of course cooking. Alex has to have "Mommy food". Though she loves the food in Korea, she misses my cooking. She could cook you say, but she'd rather not. It actually costs them less to eat out than to cook. Kind of strange.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yes! Alex is Coming Home!

Our daughter Alex is coming home from Korea for a few weeks. She didn't find a job she wanted to take and so now she needs to come home to keep looking and also to do her paper work for a new visa. If she had found a job before the end of the last one, she could have just transferred the visa. We are thrilled that she didn't get a job and has to come home. She has also decided that she'll go fabric shopping for me before she comes home. This is a big deal for she who hates to fabric shop. She has ADD and it is kind of overwhelming for her. Someone on PR and written detailed instructions on how to get there, but she couldn't find it. It moved and it's not open on Sunday. But, a friend of hers sews and she's taking Alex on Wednesday.

I did not have to wipe my computer! Or rather Dell didn't. Friday was the day from hell, let me tell you! I was typing and the blue screen came up again with the same stop code that I've been getting. I call Dell. I wait 20 minutes for a human to take over my computer and do a scan, only to have them tell me my computer needs to be wiped and that it's a a software issue and to call another number. Of course, software is not covered under the warranty. I back up everything that I haven't backed up, call my son to ask him how to back up itunes which he does. I had lunch and then called the number. I wait another 20 minutes for a human being. The guy talks in a monotone with a lisp and an accent. Can I understand him? Not so well. I explain yet again what the problem is and he starts telling me how much and we are cut off. I call again and another 20 minutes later I get another human, but this time it's a woman who is absolutely fabulous. I explain to her what the problem is and what has been suggested. She asks me lots of questions, she does a scan. The blue screen happens again, so she asks me more questions. She takes my number in case we get cut off. Nothing, so she sets up this long scan and tells me that it will take quite a while and that she will call me back in an hour. She does, it's not done yet so we wait. I have her on speaker phone thank goodness! Nothing is wrong. To make a long story short, she is unwilling to accept the conclusion of someone else. She says she thinks its my usb hub that's bad and has me plug all my usb devices into my computer tower. So far so good and she'll call me back in a few days. She also gave me a direct number for her and that while I'll get her voicemail, she'll call me back because she doesn't want me to have to start all over again with someone else! Well all this took hours to say the least and her supervisor wants to talk to me. I tell him how she has saved me a weekend of aggravation because she can actually think. She was just wonderful, and I hope that her boss appreciates her. She was so pleasant and patient. A bad situation made a lot more palatable by a thoughtful woman.
Sewing going on! Well pattern manipulation and drafting. The jacket is going to be fabulous I think. I think that the sewing will be a lot easier than the pattern making!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gorgeous Leather!

Wednesday was the perfect day to go into the city. It was a precursor of fall; sunny and crisp.
DH dropped me a couple of blocks from Leather, Suede and Skins which is on 35th. I chose them because they were the only one who responded to my question about samples and Karen said that she had bought her leather there. I had traced a full pattern and brought it with me. The saleswoman was happy to lay it all out for me to get the most efficient layout. Three skins, in varying sizes of gorgeous lamb leather are now mine. Black of course, but if you want color or printed leather, or exotic skins they have an amazing selection. They also have leather trims and cording. Want to make a round handle for your handbag? They have it in a large number of colors. Want the same lazer cut leather that Donna Karan used for tank tops? They have it. Very nice and helpful. I didn't buy any more fabric, but I bought invisible zippers at SIL I think, or maybe Daytona, but anyway they are a regular brand at half the price you pay at Joann's. What's the difference you ask? No packaging. I also visited Botani Buttons for the first time and bought great plastic oversized snaps in a great mottled black. I'll use it for the DKNY sweater coat. I stocked up on some other notions too.

My jacket pattern is coming along, albeit slowly. There are 15 pieces in this pattern and I am combining them to eliminate the separate upper, lower and waist panels. I have everything traced but the left front panels, and the facing. Wheh! I normally don't have issues with tracing Burda, but this is a plus sized starting at size 46 which is 2 sizes too big for me. On the top at least. It's fine on the bottom. I usually cut a 42 in the shoulders and upper body and blend to a 46 in the hip for the back. The front I cut a 42 all the way down and use my fba as the extra room I need. It works with maybe a little bit extra at the hip. But, it is a complicated pattern to see on the pattern sheet and I am grading it down on the sheet first and then tracing it. I walked away a lot of times! I really find that walking away for a bit helps me mentally to see it better when I come back to it. One size is easy, but 2 really made me have to think about it. Obviously I will make a muslin. I also shortened it about 3" so far. I have to make a lining pattern as there is no lining, but I always do that anyway, even if one is provided, after I do my pattern alterations. It's easier than starting from scratch.
I was planning on having a total sewing weekend, but I am going to have to reinstall all the software on my computer after Dell wipes it and re installs the operating system. Don't ask, but after 6 hours on the phone with them on 3 separate occasions and having my motherboard replaced(that was perfectly fine) they have not fixed my problems and have decided that this is what has to be done. Can I say that I am not looking forward to this?
Have a great holiday weekend.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sewing plan

Here's a more concise sewing plan for my wardrobe.

I'm going into NYC to buy leather tomorrow. I was going to wait and go in with dd, but my husband is driving in tomorrow, so I'll save train fare. She and I will go in regardless, to go do some museums, but she hates to fabric shop.
Karen was good enough to recommend a place where I might even be able to use my bargaining skills for the leather and a fabric store that is going out of business on the same street with some good bargains. I may avoid that store depending on how much the leather costs!
I am also making a list of notions and zippers that I need. I need some good shoulder pads too for the jacket. I am going to make the shoulders a bit stronger than it was designed. I don't think that the pattern called for shoulder pads, so I'll have to check that. Back to tracing patterns!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Version of the Tom and Linda Platt dress

I finished Vogue 1091, the Tom and Linda Platt dress. I like it even better than the first version. For a woman who isn't all that into prints, that's two print garments in a row. Must be a record! I won't write a whole review here. If you want to read my updated review, click on the photo of it on the left under PR reviews. I did remove the fba and you can see that the fit is fine. I wore it to a party yesterday and it was cool and perfect. Of course this particular party was at a house on the bay and the breeze was wonderful. Gorgeous day.

I'll start tracing patterns and altering them today for the Pattern Review wardrobe contest. I have 8 patterns to work on . That's a lot considering how much I alter everything. But, I know that if I am focused and don't make too many changes, I can do it.

I am planning on going into NYC to shop for the leather for my skirt and combine it with seeing the Isobel Toledo show at FIT before it closes on the 26th. I'll be going in with my daughter! Yes, she is coming home for a few weeks! We are thrilled that she didn't take the latest job offer and has to come home. You can tell we are so sad that she has to come back to the States for her visa. She'll have no problem getting another job, but she is being picky. She went down to see the school and meet the administrator and teachers and one of the first things the man said was "You are so beautiful" . Alex was not amused. She has said that the treatment of women in Korea is akin to the 1950's here. Here's a link to her blog. She just got her yellow belt in Taikwondo. Very cool Alex! She also thinks that we are the best parents ever! Isn't that a day maker?
She isn't thrilled about fabric shopping with dear Mom, but she is willing to go to one place for leather and then a couple of Museums. We'll also go to MOMA . We love going to Museums together so that will be fun.
She did make one attempt to shop for fabric for me in Seoul, but couldn't find the place that someone on PR had given directions too. I don't think that she is going to be willing to try again.
I know, I have enough fabrics already!
Have a great day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Finally, a Plan I Can Be Excited About

I've been doing a little sewing and a lot of drawing and planning work on my Wardrobe for the Pattern Review Contest. For anybody who is interested in participating, go to Pattern Review, message board and click on pinned topics and you'll find the discussion for the contest.

It has been hot and muggy here and I've been washing and wearing my Tom and Linda Platt dress. A lot. So, I figured that I should make another one. I had this great animal print rayon knit that I bought to make a top, but the scale is just too large. It does however, really work as a dress and it will be a great transition piece for fall with black tights and my black leather jacket and later with my gray sweater jacket.

Wardrobe planning:
I am going with the black boucle motorcycle jacket. I love the fabric and the pattern, with a little reworking, will be the perfect knock off for the Oscar de la Renta jacket that inspired me. This is really a true black, but the limits of photographing it make it look gray.

That's the Oscar de la Renta jacket out of a black plaid boucle that's a dead ringer for my fabric, which is Oscar de la Renta bought from Fine Fabrics last winter. The pattern is Burda 128 10/08. The collar caught my eye. The zipper on the Oscar jacket is backwards? it seems, but I don't thing that I 'll change that on the pattern, it's easier to leave it as is. It's meant as an outer wear jacket so it may have a bit too much ease for what I want, so a muslin is in order for this one.
The next change was to use a silk charmeuse print with all the colors in my wardrobe, which is what I didn't have in the first plan. I bought it at Metro Textiles on Pattern Review day last fall. I have fabrics in all the colors. It has the kind of acid, apple green that I love, and white, gray and black. It's a lot more vibrant in real life.

I'll make it up in Burda 119 10/08

This piece of rayon knit is the same green.

I am going to use it to make a long sleeved version of my newest twist front top from Burda 134 7/07

Next is a white blouse, inspired by this great Donna Karan wrap blouse, using this Burda wrap blouse. 137 12/06 in cotton lycra from Paron annex from PR day. The collar and the wrap need some changing, but not a lot.

This Burda 126 12/08 will be made up in a silver rayon knit.

The fifth top will be a white rayon long sleeve scoop neck t. A variation on my tnt, V8151

The bottoms will be 3 pairs of pants.
Black denim trousers Burda 118 4/09. Gray wool and silk wide leg trousers, possibly HP's Razer

Gray denim jeans M5894 I ordered the denim from Marcy Tilton.

Black leather skirt Burda 133 9/09. I need the leather for this one.

I didn't put up the black, white and gray fabrics because, well they're just as easy to imagine as photograph.
That's my new plan and I am actually excited about it. The leather skirt gives it an edgier feel and I'll wear this. It works with pieces in my existing wardrobe, and I can continue with a secondary plan that will also work with the bottoms.

I will make the sweater coat as originally planned; a burgandy HP Three graces t and a pair of houndstooth black and cream wool pants and a dressy pair of black wool pants to expand on the wardrobe. The pieces also work with my gray sweater jacket. A couple more knit tops with fabric I have will also work in a more limited plan.
I need to get all my patterns worked out over the next few days and be ready to cut out near the start date of September 1.