Sewing Pains

So I had my wisdom teeth pulled on Friday.   It was definitely not the most pleasant experience of my life and the week that followed was really hard on all fronts as well.  I wanted to get back to sewing and had gotten this lovely gauze type fabric that I could not wait to begin working with.  I cut out three of the same shirt in the same fabric from a trusted self-drafted pattern.  I planned on binding the edges in a cream colored stretch lace.  The first one I botched-I cannot even remember what I did to it-I think maybe I  sewed the bias tape onto the back instead of the front first.  The prospect of ripping that out while enduring my horribly swollen cheeks was not one I was looking forward to.  Depressed, I started in on the second shirt-and what do you know, I applied the lace as if the arm holes were the neckline!  Bleg, such a dumb mistake.

Finally, I took the last bit of the gauzy fabric I had and cut out a racer-back tee for myself.  At last some success!  This top was very easy to put together, although the armholes and neck do require quite a bit of bias tape if you choose to finish it that way.  The pattern was two pieces (front and back!)-I rounded out the bottom so it would curve up at the sides and then put in a couple of darts for better fit at the top.


I don’t know what it is-I think I must have some kind of sewing diseases.  After I finished this top, I continued work on a circle skirt I am making of brown crinkle voile for a friend for renaissance festival.  The skirt is split at the front and I thought it would be nice to finish the open edges with some satin ribbon.  Epic fail number 3.  I now have one lovely summer top and three things which I am dreading ripping out.


Over the past few years, I have gotten really good at making mistakes and then ripping them out directly-but I normally don’t make so many stupid mistakes in a row on multiple garments.  It is so hard for me in times like these-I do not want my frustration about these projects to hold me back from other things I have to finish.  And I also hate to leave a project feeling defeated, but I am seriously contemplating re purposing the fabric from those two tops into something…smaller.

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Thanks to my husband Woody for taking the pictures!  We took them at his grandma Linda’s house and her Clematis was blooming like crazy.  Does anyone else think Clematis sounds like an STD?  I can’t say that word without thinking it!


Maria Denmark Day-To-Night Drape Top

I have had my eye on this Maria Denmark pattern for a while.  Honestly, I do not buy patterns often.  I have been drafting so many patterns myself for Zoe and I that I really do have more sewing projects from those patterns alone than I know what to do with.  But I have seen so many cute variations of this top, and I do not have anything with a cowl neckline in my closet.


The fabric I used came from Denver Fabrics (I never actually go to their website, but I did want to post their link).  Anyways, I find the best stuff at their shop.  They had a sale which was 40% off of already discounted fabric.  They sell fabric by the pound too, so this lightweight gray jersey that I used came from several yards I bought from that bin.  I spent $3.00 total on several yards of fabric by the pound, so with the $6.00 I spent on the pattern plus the $.50 I may have spent on this fabric, I would say this top was a pretty good bargain.

The top took under an hour for me to sew.  I did not have FOE or invisible elastic as the pattern indicates, so I just made some  bias knit tape using the same fabric.  The longest part was just taping the pattern together-for some reason it printed up super light so I had trouble matching the corners of the pages.  I think i am developing a love/hate relationship for those pdf patterns.  My size was between a small and medium, so I a medium and then just planned to use a bigger seam allowance.  Then I actually read the directions which said you must add your own seam allowance (blegh I am so bad about reading directions).  But it all worked out since I had cut out the medium and stitched it up with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Whew!


…and a nice shot of the back.  I must be looking at a bird or maybe I am just thinking about how much I hate having my picture taken!  I am coming to realize that this is probably going to be the most difficult part about my having a crafty blog. I suppose I just need to embrace my awkwardness in photos.  Oh and that weird thing on my back is a batman band-aid.

I absolutely love this top-it is super comfortable and appropriate for me to wear to work in the summer.  Here is the other one I have made so far-I have two more cut out to make for my mom and sister (guys, if you are reading this, act surprised!)

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We all went to the zoo today-which makes it our third trip since Zoe has been born, and definitely the best visit so far.  Zoe was super excited to see all of the birds and kept saying ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ to all of the animals we passed.

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I have been sewing a lot of clothes for myself lately as well as clothing and toys for Zoe.  But it has occurred to me that if I am ever going to start selling things on Etsy, I really need to get moving.  So hopefully I will have some items to show you for my shop within the next few posts.

The Little Prince Embroidery Art

This is a project I probably should have posted a long while ago.  I made these for a friend as a  wedding present.  The text comes from the book Le Petite Prince and it means one sees well only with the heart. If you have not read this book, definitely check it out-it’s a classic!


When I made these (my computer tells me that was back in August…yikes!) I kept seeing such beautiful embroidery work with French knots, which are oh so fun and easy to make.  For a great tutorial on French knots, checkout Sublime Stitching’s website…which also has super cute hand embroidery patterns by the way.


I love these little dandelions, they went together really quick.  The text in that gold thread I used is, however, another story.  I hate to embroider words-it is just so difficult for me, and yet I keep doing it.


To be honest, I am just not very faithful to the art of embroidery; I just dabble in it when it suits me.  I am a seamstress at heart!

These embroidery hoops turned out so cute I really wanted to make a set for myself…they just looked so nice on my wall.


And here is the set hanging on my wall before being shipped off.  Sorry about my picture quality-I am a work in progress in that arena.  That, and my nice camera broke so I am down to my little Sony Cybershot until we can work something else out, which will probably take a while.


Domesticity: the new feminism?

The other day, I stumbled across a book on goodreads which is a website I use to track what I have read and what I want to read (I love it!).  The book is called Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity.  I am waiting to get it from the library and have yet to read it, but it did get me to thinking…

Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity

Many of you may not know this, but I was a Feminist and Gender studies minor in college (CC if any of you are wondering).  I wrote my final paper on feminism in the Bible.   Feminism and gender relations have become an interesting topic for me to observe in my line of work…I am always interested to hear the commentaries people make without even realizing about motherhood, male/female relationships, gender roles, etc.  I try to challenge people’s perspectives on the big F word when I can.

Despite being a self-proclaimed feminist, I love so many things that are stereotypical of docile female women.  I love being a mom, a wife, and a seamstress (sorry, I just can’t get on board with the whole ‘sewist’ thing).   My love of handicrafts did not start with the recent resurgence of crafts-I did not pick up sewing because my friends were doing it, in fact it was something I was made fun of for as a child. I began sewing before the age of 10 because I wanted to.  I have always loved creating. Radical and liberal feminists might criticize me because in many ways because it would appear that I conform to societies ideals about domesticity and beauty.  I know about social constructs and the male gaze; I know that many people would say that I did not choose to be like this.  But I am an agent in my life…I could go on to explain how I feel that I have come to be a lover of the domestic arts of my own accord, but I think that is a conversation for another day.  In the mean time, I am excited to hear what Emily Matchar has to say about it and I am happy that there is a conversation!

Some beautiful family photos, hurray!

Last weekend, one of Woody’s cousins got married.   Some of the Florida family came in to town, and we were lucky enough to have another cousin take pictures of us!  So finally, I have some family pictures I want to show off…where my eyes aren’t all squinty.

She got some great family shots…

Finally, I have at least one picture of just Zoe and I.  Normally I am behind the camera, and for good reason.

And finally, the showstopper:

I am so excited to have some really beautiful pictures of my family.  Thanks Debbie!

These aren’t your grandma’s date nut balls


I have had a hankering for truffles lately, but I just have not been able to find the time (or the energy, really) to make any.  Then I started thinking about dates…Linda always has them at her house, I assume she keeps for that time when you need something sweet.  Admittedly, dates are pretty high in sugar (16g for 1) but compared to a chocolate chip cookie made of white granulated sugar, sneaking one of these for that sweet tooth is not so bad.  So I had these dates in my cupboard…then I saw the unsweetened coconut chips sitting next to them and I got to work.  These date nut balls are a snap.  They go together quickly and there’s no need to heat up your oven or turn on your stove during this blistering July, which is definitely a perk.  I started combining these in my food processor while Zoe was going down for a nap (perfect timing, I know) but they were finished just as she was drifting off about 25 minutes later.

Chocolate Date Nut Balls

6oz pitted medjool dates
1/2 c unsweetened coconut shredded or flaked
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c dried cherries sweet or sour (optional)
1/4 c strongly brewed coffee
1/4 c+an additional 1/4 c for rolling unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process or natural)
2 c walnuts, finely diced

In the bowl of your food processor, place the dates, coconut, vanilla, salt, cherries, and 1/4 c cocoa powder.  Pulse for 30 seconds.  Add the coffee and pulse until combined.   Place the date mixture into a medium mixing bowl and add the walnuts, incorporating them thoroughly (at this point it is probably best to  mix with your hands…don’t worry, you will get even stickier later.)


Place the remaining 1/4 c of cocoa powder in a small bowl or on a salad plate.  Scoop up a tablespoon of the mixture using a small ice cream scoop (or just a spoon).

Roll the date nut ball between your hands to form a nice, even shape.  Then, roll it in the cocoa powder, shaking off the excess.


Repeat until you have a nice full plate of chocolaty date nut balls like this:


These are very rich and I definitely feel satisfied eating just one.  I love that bitter chocolate taste! If you do not share my opinion, however, feel free to go without rolling them in the cocoa powder.

An eighties party and an ugly dress

So about a month ago, we went to an 80’s party for my friend Sarah’s birthday.  Zoe went as Yoda (Zoda).  I just had her wear a little green dress that she had,  Sarah provided me with a Yoda hat, and I made a tiny Jedi robe for her.

All she was missing was the light sabre, although I don’t think they hand those out to padawans.   To make the robe, I simply made a pattern from a t-shirt that fit her (there is a great tutorial on how to do this over at Craftiness Is Not Optional).  Instead of placing a seam down the front center, I extended both of the front pieces so that they almost touched the side seams.  On the inside, I added a little tie and on the front, a beige button to fasten it.  I also added a little flare to the bottom of the sleeves.  In retrospect, I probably should have made it a couple inches longer to cover those chubby legs, but overall I would say it turned out well.

Woody went as John Cusack from Say Anything (much to his chagrin…everyone always tells him he looks like John Cusack). But mine was the best costume really.

I took the opportunity to dress up as Molly Ringwald, whose movies I just adore.  My favorite film of hers is Pretty in Pink, so naturally I made her infamous prom dress.

People seem to either  love that dress or hate it and before I made this dress, I would have fallen in the second group.  But Woody really loves this dress, and I hate to admit it, but I think I have also been won over.   I started with a pattern I had made of a batwing sleeved shirt I had .  The front and back were both cut on the fold.

I widened the neckline so that it would hang off of the shoulders and then lengthened the entire thing.  I did cheat a little bit by adding a dart on either side of the lace at the neckline, but that was only to keep the dress on (there were kids at the party, alright?).  The lace was by far the most difficult part.  Working solo, I had to hold up the dress which has no way of staying up without that oh-so-flattering pink dog collar.  But in the end I made it work.   I actually was surprised at how well this dress turned out and now I have a great costume for Halloween this year…I must figure out an easier way to do my hair next time though.

Ginger cake…the ungingerbread

So, the other day, I was poking around Pinterest and was struck with the urgent need to bake.  Muffins, I was thinking…something different-which for me probably means something without chocolate for once.  I stumbled across this recipe for Ginger Spice Cake with Dried Cherries which I saw on  My Madeline.  My husband loves ginger, but oddly enough he does not care for gingerbread or spice cookies (which I love).  But I was not thinking of Woody when I saw this recipe…I was thinking of dried cherries, coffee, and GINGER, lots of ginger!  This recipe calls for dried, fresh, and crystallized ginger.  I know not everyone likes food with lots of spices, but I do and this cake was calling my name.  So here it is, a very gingery cake:


Ginger Spice Cake with Dried Cherries

(originally from Canal House, although I used the recipe from this page and made a few minor changes)

3/4 cup dried, tart cherries
1/4 cup currents (the original recipe called for 1 cup of cherries…alas
I used the majority of my stock for some delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made, hence the currants)
½ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup hot, strong coffee  (Molly from My Madeline suggested using a French press, which I thought was a grand idea…and what do you know, my mother-in-law had just given me one for mom’s day on Sunday!)
2 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup xylitol*
3 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 6 – 8 cup Bundt pan. Dust the pans with flour and tap out the excess.

In a medium bowl, combine the cherries, crystallized ginger, fresh ginger, and Dijon mustard. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and set the bowl aside.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon, and pepper.

Using your electric mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy, on medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add the xylitol and beat for a couple of minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Then beat in the molasses.

Return to the cherry mixture and strain it into a small bowl, reserving the soaking liquid. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the soaking liquid, blending in between. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the cherry solids. Scrape the batter evenly into a bundt pan.

Bake the loaf pans for about 30 – 40 minutes (for loaf pans), checking carefully. The bundt pan should bake for about an hour. The top of the cake will spring back lightly when pressed in the middle. If you insert a toothpick into the cake’s center and it comes out clean, the cake should be done.

Let the cake cool in its pan on a wire rack. This cake is great by itself or maybe with a sweet glaze drizzled on top.

My very tired helper

I thought this cake turned out a little bit dry…next time I might add a little bit of yogurt.  In my case, I think the dryness is probably because of the xylitol which tends to suck the moisture out of things.  I served this with a dollop of lemon flavored whipped cream, which in retrospect may not have been the best choice. I think what it needed was a hefty handful of chocolate chunks…or maybe bourbon, as we were sampling some last night.

*I bake mostly sugar free these days for a lot of reasons. If you are not so inclined, you would use 1/2 cup dark brown sugar instead of the xylitol and increase the molasses to 1 cup.