Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday Morning Inspiration

Happy Monday Everyone and if you are in America, Happy Labor Day, the last official day of summer. I'm already looking forward to fires in the fireplace and hot cups of Chai tea :)
I recently came across a new to me design duo, Tata Naka. The name is a play on the names of Georgian born identical twins, Tamara and Natasha Surgaladze. They arrived in London in 1996 to study fashion design at Central St. Martin's and in 2000, Barney's NY dedicated a wall to their awe inspiring graduation collection. The Tata-Naka statement pieces regularly starred in the legendary series "Sex In The City," and were worn by Carrie Bradshaw on the cover of the official book.
Their pieces are vibrant, part pop art and lots of fun.
They enjoy color blocking and bright, bold colors.

The following pieces are from their Fall/Winter collection. I love the photography. If you go to their Facebook page you can see behind the scenes of the photo shoot.
I especially like their use of color with this collection, as well as the embroidery. I know that many of you will say, "oh my goodness, too much pattern!" Try to see the collection as inspiration rather than a head to toe look.

If you would like to see more,click here. And if you would like to see some of their fun spring/summer styles, click here.
Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Night Reflections

People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; 
looking for peace. 
They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people,
 hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. 
The irony is the only place they ever needed to search
 was within.
                                                         Romana L. Anderson

When You Have Lemons, Forget The Lemonade, Make Cake!!!!!

It's no secret that I truly enjoy Design Sponge, the blog for all things design related, written by Grace Bonney. They recently posted a Lemon Cake and Pistachio Cream Trifle that sounded absolutely delightful. Since my mother's birthday was coming up, I was looking for something new and interesting and this seemed to be perfect. You can read the article and find the recipe here.
One of the special ingredients in the cake is Limoncello, an Italian liqueur made from lemons. A splash of Limoncello in a glass of sparkling water makes the most delightful summer time drink. Make it pretty with a slice of lemon :)  

Here's the recipe, but be sure to stop by Design Sponge and read the entire article.

Lemon Cake and Pistachio Creme Trifle
-serves a crowd
-you will need two 9-inch cake pans and one 8- or 9-inch glass trifle bowl
For the lemon cakes:
  • two tablespoons of butter, melted, and a tablespoon of flour for dusting the cake pans
  • half cup almond flour
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • half cup whole milk
  • ⅛ cup limoncello (to brush the cakes with once they’ve cooled)

For the Pistachio Creme:
  • 1 cup raw unsalted pistachios
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup mascarpone
For the Whipped Cream layer:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ⅛ cup raw unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Butter, line with parchment paper, and flour your cake pans, being sure to tap out all excess flour.
Mix the flours and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer until very white and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice, and milk and blend. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the middle is set and the top is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in their pans. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and let cool completely before composing your trifle.
Make the Pistachio Creme:
Grind the nuts and sugar in a food processor until fine. Add the lemon zest and pulse. Add the lemon juice and pulse. Add the mascarpone and pulse until smooth. The pistachio creme should be at room temperature when assembling the trifle so that it is spreadable.

Make the Whipped Cream:
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the trifle:
Trim one cake to fit the bottom of the trifle bowl. Reserve the cake trimmings for the topping. Brush the cake with half of the limoncello. Spoon half of the pistachio creme on top of the cake, using the back of the spoon to spread it into an even layer. Spoon half of the whipped cream on top of the pistachio creme layer. Trim your remaining cake layer as necessary, and brush with limoncello, then repeat the layering of the cake, pistachio creme and whipped cream. Crumble some of the reserved cake trimmings and chopped pistachios on top of the final whipped cream layer. Refrigerate until ready to serve
And here's my finished creation.
My bowl was a little large, so the cake did not come all the way to the edge, but that's okay. We are celebrating my mother's birthday today, so I have yet to cut into the trifle, but I will admit to tasting along the way and if the sum of the parts tastes as good as the parts, this is going to be one over the top cake! One note, I brushed my cake with about twice the amount of limoncello that the recipe called for.
The cake is easy to make and it smells heavenly, that is if Heaven smells like lemons ;) I think this is going to become a new favorite recipe. The cake is by no means a diet cake, but hey, no one should be on a diet on their birthday or any special occasion for that matter!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sew News Giveaway Winner

Good Morning!!!
The Sew News Colette Patterns Clover Pant sew along will begin this upcoming Tuesday, September 2nd. Monday is a holiday in America, so the first post will be postponed by a day. If you would like to join along and post pictures of your fabric and or your progress, join the Flickr group. You can find it here. I have a few things up my pant leg ;) that I hope you will enjoy, one of which will be a refashioning of the pattern into an active wear pant.
So without further ado.....
the winner of the magazine is Jackie Thompson! Congratulations Jackie!!!!! One of these days I am going to join the computer age and do these drawings electronically. At least there's no discrepancy as to who the winner is with this method :)
Jackie, if you will email me with your address,, I will get the magazine out to you ASAP!
In the meantime, you can order your Clover pant pattern here directly from Colette Patterns.
I think this will be a fun sew along!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thrifty Thursday

I've had this jacket in my line up of free patterns for a while. Although the weather has not changed, fall and winter are fast approaching, so rather than put it off, I thought I would go ahead and get it together.
The jacket is an unlined jacket meant to be made out of boiled wool or a heavy weight knit. You can find the free downloadable pattern here.
The instructions are in the December/January issue of Sew News. Back copies are available here. There is a print version as well as a digital version available. The instructions really aren't necessary for this coat, but the magazine has so many wonderful projects, so you might want to go ahead an order one if you do not already have one. Click here and you can see the other projects that are available in this issue.
Here's my coat. I had a piece of wool that I have wanted to felt, so I decided that this would be the perfect project.Sadly, I did not take a picture of the wool prior to felting.
A little note about felting wool, especially a piece this light in color. If there is any lint in your washing machine, it will get caught in the fabric as you can see below. I was able to pick this out of my fabric, but it does take a little time. Also, I have a front loading washer. I set the dial on the hottest setting and the highest spin. It took 3 tries to get the fabric to where I wanted it to be. So felting is possible in a front loader, it just takes a little longer than it would in a regular washing machine. One last note, your fabric will shrink considerably. This fabric was 60" wide and by the time I finished, it was 42" wide, so keep that in mind if you decide to do this.
The only change I made to the pattern was to enlarge the sleeve. The sleeve on the model looked to be rather close fitting and I want this jacket to easily slide over a bulkier garment without being too tight. My picture is not as clear as I would have liked for it to be, so hopefully my explanation will be enough. To enlarge the sleeve, I drew a line from one armpit to the other. Off of that line, I squared a line to the hem of the sleeve which gave me a straight sleeve rather than the tapered sleeve that comes with the pattern. I also wanted a cuff, so I added 2". My arms are rather short, so if you decide that you would like a cuff, please compare your arm length measurement to the length of the sleeve pattern prior to cutting the sleeve.
The seam allowances are 1/8". Rather than sew a normal straight seam, I zigzagged all of my seam allowances. The foot was put right along the edge of the fabric.
Just to give you an idea of how long the jacket is on me, here's a very bad picture. Look closely and you'll see my pajama pants :)
The collar is quite pretty. I had initially thought that I would round off the edges, but once I got it together, I rather liked the square corners and how they drape over the sleeves.
This is only pinned in place, but I also decided to create a tie closure. Since the wool will no longer ravel, I cut strips for the ties. I played around with a frog which I think I'll enhance. 
There are 3 pieces to the pattern, front, back and sleeve. The coat takes absolutely no time to sew. There's the center back seam for the collar, the shoulder and neck seam, the sleeves are set in and then the side seams sewn. Voila, your finished. Since the wool has been felted, there's no need to finish the edges. After I got the coat together, I initially thought that I might bind the edges, but once I started playing around with the frog, I decided to cover the collar and the cuffs with passementerie similar to this coat that I did some time ago.  I plan to make the passementerie out of strips that I cut from the  leftover fabric.
Since I'm going to embellish the coat, you'll see it again once I've finished. I think it is going to be such fun!
This is a great coat pattern that is easy to put together, fits well and could also be lengthened into a dress length coat. If you do decide to put one together for yourself, one last note, there is a small dart that is intended to help the collar lay in place. I did not use it as I didn't think it was necessary.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Frabjous Couture's Me Made Mondays

I'm wearing glasses and no makeup because I once again have an eye infection. It's better, but no makeup is the best thing right now.
So this is the Sweeping Rectangles Tee that I made for Fabulous Free Pattern Friday. It is such a comfortable top and so easy to wear.
 You can see the 2 lower rectangles that form the drape.
And my crazy shoes. I've had these forever, shoes that I hope will never wear out, but of course will one day. My shoe repair man and I are best friends :)
I think that I would rather pair the top with a pair of black pants, but it's almost Labor Day, so the white pants are seeing their last hurrah for the season.
Be sure to hop over to Frabjous Couture to see her Me Made Monday outfit in the event that you haven't already done so. Remember, she's hosting a year long link party for those of you who would like to participate in Me Made Mondays. The outfit doesn't have to be worn on Monday to qualify, that's just the day that she puts up the link. It's a great way to celebrate your me mades all year long.

The Wednesday Showcase

Good Morning Everyone! My day is off to an especially good start. I just spoke with a friend who had some rather bad luck a few years ago, at least it seemed like bad luck at the time. But as it turns out, the bad luck set him up for a much better opportunity. I just love stories like this!
Another nice thing that happened, actually happened yesterday. You may remember the two salad recipes I posted a couple of weeks ago. Well, I received the loveliest message from Renee, "I wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much your tomato/basil/feta summer salad was appreciatedI came home late this evening and was looking for something simple to make. I made your salad, and was just starting to eat, when my husband came downstairs for a drink of water before turning in for the night. He saw the salad, thought it looked wonderful, and wanted a bite. He liked it so much that I had to stop and make a plate for him, too! We both agreed that it was something that you would expect in an upscale restaurant." It really makes my day to know that in a small way I was able to do a little something nice for someone. Thanks Renee :)
So on to the Wednesday Showcase. As always, I have two fabulous ladies to introduce you to. First up is Suzanne of Here's a little about her,  
"Like most people I keep pretty busy.  I have a cool job, a great family.  But one thing I’ve learned (slowly) since becoming a mom, is that I have to do something for myself.  Thus, I indulge in the creative side of things.  It helps keep me grounded.
My passions are cooking, gardening and sewing. I’ve been engaged in all three for as long as I can remember.  I remember canning the harvest with my great-grandmother, pulling weeds in my neighbor’s garden, and learning to sew with my great-grandmother, grandmother and mom.  My ability to spend time on these indulgences waxes and wanes, and often one activity dominates.  Right now, I only have time in the late evenings, so I sew clothes." And she sews very cute clothes, like this vintage Pierre Cardin dress. 
Here's her finished project.
IMG_0854                  IMG_0860
This is Vogue 8944
and here's Suzanne's perfect rendition. Such a pretty dress.
I had to include this picture as this was the project that really got her back into sewing. She had borrowed her mother-in-law's sewing machine to make curtains.Her mother-in-law in turn bought her a sewing machine. Suzanne's husband has always been very supportive of her creative endeavors, encouraged her to make the costumes and the rest is history. Nothing better than a supportive husband :) 
I'm so happy that Suzanne has rejoined the sewing world and I know you will enjoy getting to know her as well.
Next up is a lovely lady that I had the opportunity to meet this past spring. Not only does she love to sew, she is also an artist. Her name is Pat and her blog is Her goal is to simplify her consumption and accumulation of stuff, especially clothes, one step at a time. She's into her 4th year and going strong.
When you scroll through Pat's blog, you'll find a number of dresses that's she's made from vintage tablecloths. This was one of my favorites. 
She purchased the Rose Hips tights pattern from Seamster Patterns and check out the incredible tights she's made. 
You just never know what wonderful little treat will be in her blog post. Maybe a pair of fingerless gloves,
a beautiful necklace and bracelet made from fabric scraps,
or a piece of her wonderful artwork. This is a self portrait that I think she did while she was in college.
Pat is so talented and such a gracious and lovely lady. I know you will enjoy her blog.
So.....I'm pumped and ready to go!!!
Have a wonderful day and I hope that something lovely and special happens for you today!