Sunday, November 19, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday/The Cabbage Rose

Something a little sweet today, a beautiful cabbage rose. They look rather complicated, but are quite easy to make.

All it takes are a few rectangles and a circle.  

They look lovely on a hat, bag, pinned to a coat or jacket.

They can be scaled down. Decrease the measurements by 2" and you'll have a smaller rose. You can also increase the measurements by 2" for a larger rose. 

So, have a little fun and let your imagination run wild with all the possibilities. You can even make a bouquet for an arrangement that will brighten your home all winter long!


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thrifty Thursday/Super Cute Slouchy Hat

I have done a LOT of dumb things in my life ;) When I was in the 8th grade, I remember one particular day when it was so cold that I thought my ears would literally fall off of my head. Truth be told, had that happened, it would have been my own fault as I was just too vain to wear a hat on my head while walking to school. That day was a game changer though. As I walked, and my ears grew colder and colder, I vowed that I would never be this cold again, and yes, I would wear a hat. 

At the time, hats were just not the thing to wear, but after my experience, fashion or not, I was going to be warm. And so it has been ever since. I LOVE hats!!! If you were to look into my drawer, you would probably think I have more than 1 head since I have as many as I do. I have changed a lot since those days when I thought hats were horribly hideous. Having a hat for whatever the occasion may be is now just absolute fun! And soft hats fold down to nothing, so having a bunch is really not an issue. 

I recently saw a post from On The Cutting Room Floor for a free slouchy hat pattern and thought it was especially cute. A great little hat to wear, and when off, easily folded and stored in a coat pocket. It's intended for knit fabric, be it fleece, wool, or just a knit that you have left over from a t-shirt project. 


There are only 6 pages to print out, so quick and easy.

The pattern looks a little like church steeples to me ;)

I had a sweater that I had felted. I love the color and thought it would make into a fun hat. 

The sweater had side seams, so I couldn't cut the hat in one continuous piece, 

So I just cut it down the center and then added seam allowances to each side. 

I used the hem of the sweater for the bottom band. The instructions say to fold up the bottom 1 1/2". In the above picture, you can see that I placed the pattern right on the edge of the sweater, making it actually an 1 1/2" longer since I would not be turning up the bottom.If you aren't using a sweater with a finished edge, I would add at least 1" to the bottom of the pattern. You can always cut it off if you feel the hat is a little too long. But, it is supposed to be a slouchy hat, so a little more slouch is not such a bad thing :)  

I decided to have a little fun with the hat and add a tassel. All I did was take a piece of my sweater knit and cut it into fringe, leaving about 1 " at the top uncut. I then rolled the fringe around to make a tassel and stitched it securely together at the top. Once it was stitched together so that it would not open up, I then stitched it to the top of the hat.  

This is a very fast project, and something that would make a great, quick gift for just about everyone on your gift list. I made one for my husband, but shortened it so that there was no slouch. He loved it!

You can find the free pattern HERE

I plan on making a few more. A trip to the resale shop is on my agenda. Hopefully I'll find some fun sweaters that I can use. Our church usually has a request for hats, and or gloves at this time of year, so I thought I would use the pattern to make up a bunch. 


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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase/Creating Couture Embellishments

As I began my early morning writing today, I wanted to write about all of the things that I am feeling down about. Do you ever have those days when just EVERYTHING seems like a burden and more than you can bear? I think we all do. So rather than sit and complain, I decided, NO, NO!, I am going to focus on the good, and regardless of the bad, there is always lots of good :) 

I have been especially upset over my dog. The surgery was last Thursday. We were back at the vet's office on Monday and again yesterday to drain blood from her ear. I had been told to keep the cone on her neck for the next 3 weeks, but the poor dog has been shaking her head so much that it causes the blood to form and keep the ear from healing. So yesterday I decided to take the cone off and see what would happen. Ironically, she is not scratching at her ear, and is shaking her head less, so fingers crossed that we are on the road to recovery. Sometimes ya just gotta go with your gut instinct! 

Now for something truly happy! 

If you have never met Ellen Miller of Creating Couture Embellishment, you are in for a great big treat! She is a wife, mother of 2, a sewist, teacher and an author. Sewing is truly a passion. Ellen loves the entire process, from taking a piece of paper or muslin, creating a pattern, and then moving on to the fabric. She loves the magic of giving voice to the wearer's inner vision, be it a client's, or her own. 

Ellen taught at Boston's School of Fashion Design for quite a few years. While there, she amassed a huge collection of notes which became the outline for her new book, Creating Couture Embellishments.  

Creating the book was a 7 year labor of love. Below is a small sample of the sleeves that were created to demonstrate each lesson she shares.  

There's an entire chapter devoted to creating exquisite flowers, as well as pleats, ruching, lace, grommets, and so much more. 

I was honored to have the opportunity to review the book. Needless to say, I loved it! It is a beautiful book with very detailed examples of each lesson. It is not a how to design book, but a guide to adding details that give a garment that special touch that so many of us love. She recommends the Reader's Digest Complete Guide To Sewing for those who are just beginning their sewing journey. In the video, I share my favorite book, The Vogue Sewing Book. I thought that a video would give you a better look inside rather than just taking a few pictures. 

In the video, I talk about how much I love cartridge pleating. You can find some fabulous inspiration HERE on this Monday Morning Inspiration post I did a while back. 

As I said, I loved the book, and I can't wait to start trying out a few of the projects. And what great timing!, the holidays are just around the corner. It would make a wonderful gift for any sewist on your list, and that might include you as well!!!

You can find the book at various sites;
Barnes and Noble

At the very least, check out Ellen's blog. I think you'll enjoy getting to know her :) And a little secret...she will be coming to Chicago the first of March to speak at the Haute Couture meeting!!! If you are anywhere near Chicago, by all means, come!!! We would love to have you :) 

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/Murder On The Orient Express, the Costumes

It's a cold, sunny morning in Chicago, 28 degrees. Fog has rolled in over the city like a blanket that promises warmth. The fog is a sign of warmer temperatures that will fool many into thinking that winter is still far, far into the future. But...winter has a wicked sense of humor, snow, and lots of it is predicted for the weekend!

I love a movie with gorgeous costumes. The new movie, Murder On The Orient Express will be one that I will see primarily for the costumes. 

A few weeks ago, I saw an interview with the director, as well as the grandson of Agatha Christie. The movie looked interesting, but it wasn't until I saw a post by Jill of The Denver Sewing Collective that I became determined to see the movie. 

The costume designer, Alexandra Byrne won an Oscar for her work in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, so is quite accustomed to working on period pieces. 

A tremendous amount of research went into creating the clothing for the movie. She said that as she thought about the characters, she actually had to look back and think about the lives that each lived prior to boarding the train.

Judi Densch plays Princess Dragomiroff, a woman who would dress many times throughout the day, and a woman who always wore a corset. Of course her clothing would be rather rich and opulent, like the piece below.  

Love the closeup detail of the sleeve.

In order for the clothing to be believable, great care was taken to recreate the types of fabrics used during the 1930s, and fabrics in particular that would be worn by an Englishman versus an American. The fabrics of the period had a spongy quality. The fabric for the coat below was woven in Scotland using old methods of weaving.

Look closely at the plaid coat below. Love the sleeve detail!

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Caroline Hubbard, a self-proclaimed husband hunter. Ms. Byrne uses the costumes to speak about who the character is.

With this piece, she portrays that Caroline Hubbard is a woman who will wear a snow suit and yet never ski. Take note of how the fur wraps around the sleeve. Such a gorgeous detail.

Another detail that I find intriguing is the use of patterns, and how they play with and against each other.

Another piece worn by Michelle Pfeiffer. Hanging on the dressform, I didn't think that much of it.

But I found this trailer from the movie. The dress is simply breathtaking and moves with a fluid grace.

Johnny Depp plays Ratchett, a wealthy American criminal who has been traveling as a bogus art dealer for 2 years. It was important that he look the part of an American, but with some wear to his clothing. I love how the leather coat has been distressed to convey his time of being on the road.

The movie was shot in 70mm. Ms. Byrne said that this made her work all the more challenging as you can see every wrinkle, crease and seam.

There's something special about a movie that can capture our imagination and at the same time make us dream of another time. I think Murder On The Orient Express will fit that bill. If nothing more, I want to see the costumes on a big screen!

If you would like to read more about the costume designer, and the costumes, there are 3 great articles, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Wishing you a wonderful week full of delight!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Roasted Cauliflower with Arugula

Whew!, it's been a while since I last checked in. In my last post, I shared that my dog Gracie had a ruptured blood vessel in her ear. Well, it resulted in surgery last Thursday. She is better, as better as one can be with a cone around their head ;) But, the cone is needed as she wouldn't have an ear at this point. The cone keeps her from scratching at her ear, but I can't keep her from shaking. UGH!!! I never realized that the dog shakes her body as much as she does. 

In the meantime, I came down with a cold and have been a running temperature. Oh well, it's my yearly cold, so hopefully I'm getting it over with and will have a super fun winter, full of winter sports! As I type, I'm drinking a cup of tea with a little whiskey, actually Grand Marnier(my favorite). I'm telling myself that the orange flavor of the liqueur is vitamin C ;) Regardless, the warmth of the tea mingled with the liqueur is very soothing to my throat, so...good enough for me!!! 

I did manage to make a wonderful soup this week. I wanted something simple, and I wanted a little extra warmth as I've been so cold, so I decided to do a little roasting. If you haven't roasted vegetables, by all means, give it a try. Roasting gives the vegetables a slightly smokey taste and I think, enhances the flavor.

I wanted a big batch, so I used 2 heads of cauliflower. The recipe will be for a smaller version using just 1 head of cauliflower.

Begin by breaking the cauliflower into small florets. Slice a purple onion and garlic cloves. Line a baking sheet with foil. I laid out my cauliflower first, and then topped it with the sliced purple onion and slivered garlic. I then sprinkled olive oil over all of the vegetables and added salt and black pepper. My absolute favorite salt is pink salt. I purchase it in a large grinder and use it for almost everything.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the vegetable mixture in the preheated oven and roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. The bottom of the cauliflower will be nice and brown, and the edges of the onion will be crinkled and brown. 

I then put my vegetable mixture in my pot. Added vegetable broth, and pureed the mixture with a handheld mixing wand. If you don't have a handheld wand, puree the mixture in a blender. I like to say that there's almost always another way to do just about anything ;)

Once the vegetables were pureed, I added the chopped arugula. Love the spicy taste of arugula. I then added thyme and oregano, and adjusted the salt and black pepper. Brought the mixture to a boil and then reduced to simmer for about 10 minutes to give the arugula time to flavor the soup. 

As is, the soup is the perfect vegan soup.

If you would like, and you don't follow a vegan diet, top the soup with a little shredded parmesan cheese and chopped green onions.

If I may say so myself, the soup is delicious!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Arugula

printable recipe

1 large head of cauliflower broken into small florets
1 medium purple onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic slivered
2-3 tablespoons olive oil sprinkled over vegetables
4 cups arugula before chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme  
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6-8 cups vegetable broth for desired consistency of soup 
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Break cauliflower into small florets and place on foil lined backing sheet. Top with sliced purple onion and slivered garlic. Sprinkle olive oil over vegetables. Top with salt and black pepper. 
Roast in preheated oven 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Once tender, place roasted vegetables in a large soup pot. Add vegetable broth. Begin with 6 cups and add more if needed for desired consistency. Using a handheld mixing wand(or blender), puree the soup mixture.
Once the soup has been pureed, add the chopped arugula, thyme, and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for approximately 10 minutes to allow the arugula to flavor the soup. Adjust salt and black pepper to taste.

Soup may be topped with grated parmesan cheese and chopped green onions. Serve and enjoy! 

I have SO enjoyed this soup. It will freeze well and be great for an easy dinner in the future, or a fabulous, warm lunch. Or, you can be like me and double the recipe and share...or maybe not ;)


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