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!