30 January 2014

Nigella Cookalong, January 2014: Mini Pavlovas

For some reason, I decided to start making pavlovas last summer.  I think it's because they appear so frequently in the cookbooks and blogs I read, and I was curious about them.  Also I'd finally located a place to pick berries, so I had tons of them all summer.  They're pretty simple affairs:  meringue shell, whipped cream, fruit--and yet I've never seen them here in the States.  What gives?

Well, probably what gives is why on earth would anyone choose to eat a meringue?  They are basically lumps of sugar, without any of the delicious squicky butteriness of a real cookie.  However, as I discovered during my pavlova-making period this summer, slap some lightly-sweetened whipped cream and good fruit on that bad boy and you've got yourself a darn-near-perfect dessert/snack/lunch/whatever.  I AM OBSESSED.

I haven't done a cookalong in a long while--part of the reason this blog has been so tumbleweedy of late. I haven't seen one that really caught my fancy and I don't really have the time (or the kitchen) that I did when I was doing the original Tuesdays with Dorie.  I'd noticed that there was a monthly cookalong at Nigella.com, but never really paid attention to it till I saw this month's choice was Mini Pavlovas.  I AM THERE.

(more after the jump!)

22 January 2014

Third Finish: Modern Mondays, Blocks 1-6

My third finished project was these six blocks for the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild's 2014 quiltalong, featuring the Modern Mondays blocks from Jenifer Dick's 42 Quilts blog.  Jenifer led the Modern Mondays quiltalong some time ago, but we've picked it up this year as a little project for our group.  I decided to join up because

1) I feel like I almost never participate in anything, despite being an officer.  We've had a lot of fun things:  a couple of retreats, a quilt bee, swaps and challenges, sewcials...and most of the time I have to pass.  I don't even bring things to show most of the time.  Granted, that's because most of what I make is clothing, and this is a quilting group, but sometimes I don't bring the quilts I've made--or I bring them and don't show them (I brought the Birthday Cake quilt when I finished it, but didn't have the nerve to show it till the very end, and then it was too late.  It went on my bed the very next day.)  Plus my workload has been very unpredictable in the last year or so, so I don't like to commit to doing things I'm not sure I can follow through on.  We're co-sponsoring a regional sewcial--the Mid-Atlantic Mod Retreat--in April, and I'm not going because I have a client meeting the next weekend, and am on alert for another client meeting sometime in April. But this is just six small blocks per month, so I figure perhaps I can get these done...?

2) It gives me an opportunity to practice making different kinds of blocks.  Each block is a modernized variation of a traditional quilt block.  I feel like I don't spend nearly enough time familiarizing myself with the nomenclature and history of various blocks (which is so unlike me!)  But this a nice little introduction to different skills without the commitment of a full quilt. Jenifer also offered traditional versions of each block in a Traditional Tuesdays quiltalong--I think I'd like to try that sometime, too.

3) It's a low-pressure way to get another top done.  I tend to want to crank crank crank and by the time I'm about halfway through a top, I'm bored, it's no longer fun and I'm ready to move to the next project.  That's why I have three tops sitting around here right now--one half-quilted, one sandwiched and pinned (A YEAR AGO!!!!!) and sitting, and another folded away waiting to be sandwiched. argh.

So here I am.  On to the blocks! (jump ahead)

21 January 2014

Second 2014 finish: Lekala 4149 (The Jailhouse Frock)

My second finished project came hot on the heels of the first!  Heartened by the success of Lekala 4315, I pulled out another long-languishing bolt of interlock knit and sewed together a new dress from another Lekala pattern.  I present to you below what I am calling The Jailhouse Frock: (image after the jump)

20 January 2014

First Finish of 2014: Lekala 4315 (The Cheerios Dress)

After a full week of sitting home reading Edith Wharton novels (I'm kind of bingeing; don't mind me) I decided it was time to get goin' with the sewin' again.

You may recall that back in 2012 I bought myself a little Kenmore 1040 for my birthday.  I originally named said Kenmore "Midge."  She has been renamed, and she is now "Jolene," because really, she ain't no good.  That machine has given me nothing but trouble, and I've yet to have it serviced to my liking.  So I decided to cast about for something else--I still have and love Phyllis, my Kenmore 1217, as my primary machine, but let's face it:  she's a boat anchor.  Way too heavy for me to take to classes and sewcials. And no stretch stitches (though she does a mean zigzag) and limited foot options (due to being a left-homing machine) means she's not quite as versatile as I'd like. 

So I maybe came home one day with a third machine, a Viking 100Q:

Not fancy, but it is my first electronic machine.  It has what I needed (all the basic stitches and a few deco stitches) and is light as a feather. I am not pleased with the cost of Viking feet ($129 for a walking foot?!) , but it came with enough feet to get me going. 

Of course I had to justify this purchase, so I pulled out a roll of knit fabric that had been sitting around forever and ordered a new Lekala pattern. 

If you're not familiar with Lekala Sewing Patterns--they are a little different from other pattern companies.   With most, you order a pattern and cut and adjust to fit.  With Lekala, you choose patterns that interest you, send in your measurements and get by email a pattern pre-adjusted to fit you.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Especially if you are already fully accustomed to doing all kinds of redrafting and adjusting to get a proper fit. And the pattern catalog is HUGE, and they are super inexpensive, to boot!

I was, honestly, skeptical, so I have several patterns of theirs already that I haven't had the courage to try.  But when I saw the line drawing for 4315, I HAD to try sewing it up. Plus I needed something simple but good-looking to get me back into it.

This also gave me a chance to try out the stretch/overlock stitch on the Viking!  So I sent in my measurements, plus a little more info about my figure, and had the pattern within a few hours. Details after the jump!

18 January 2014

Surfacing again--finish #4: BurdaStyle 02/2011 #101

*blows dust off blog*

Boy.  I'm kind of surprised Blogger hasn't revoked my blog-owning privileges.  It has, indeed, been a very long time.  Being crazy, insane, absurd busy (I'm really starting to hate that word) at work meant no energy for cooking or sewing.  After the last post, I only completed one other sewing project in 2013 (though I made a few more):  a dress I made for a tea party in September.  Check it:

The dress is a very simple one from a BurdaStyle magazine pattern.  The bodice has cap sleeves and is lined with cotton batiste, and the skirt is just your basic gathered rectangle skirt.   I'd made the bodice lining way back in the summer of 2012 and never got around to finishing the dress.  So when I found myself needing something for a tea party, I figured why not finish this?  Since I'd made the lining I'd already tweaked the fit.

I only got to wear the dress once, due to it being late September and getting too chilly right after.  So I didn't get to test it too much, though it did withstand hours of eating and tea-drinking and chatting quite well.

If I ever make this again, however, I think I'd like to move the zipper from the side to the center back.  Side zippers are a pain. in. the. butt for the large-busted.  Every time I am afraid I'm gonna get stuck in that thing.  And why have a center back seam if you're not gonna put a zipper in it?

But I've already finished a few things for 2014!  Those will be next :-)

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