/christmas macarons


Last weekend, I was invited to a little Christmas party and instructed to bring a sweet treat for sharing. You can't just bring chocolate chip cookies to this sort of thing and call it a day, so I had to do a little thinking.

If you scan as many sewing blogs as I do, then you'll already know that everyone loves Colette Patterns. Every one of their styles is named after something tasty (teas, spices, french pastries and now cocktails- a new men's pattern is for sale!), so that was naturally in the back of my mind. I also wanted a challenge in the baking department, and remembered that the cake pop lady Bakerella had posted something about macarons that looked thorough. Not to mention that they're also all over Pinterest, and they just look so pretty!

After much research, I was intimidated out of my mind and prepared for failure.

I found a recipe on Tartelette (I want to make everything there!) for peppermint and eggnog macarons, and went for it. Pretty sure I had nervous sweat on my forehead while folding the batter.

What are your favorite Christmas cookie recipes?

first, I blanched the almonds and took their skins off. some went flying into unknown kitchen territory.


LOTS of frosting so the candy cane shards had something to stick to!

rollin' rollin' rollin' rollin'. (limp bizkit, not wal-mart; remember that song? ridiculous.)

yum. maybe not quite Pinterest status yet... I think I'll need a new camera for that, and some powdered food colouring!

/neverending mending


For the last year six months or so I've started getting more and more mending/alterations/special request sewing jobs. A little more money is a great thing, but I must say it's a major buzzkill for any other sewing projects I have going. 

Once again, my navy pleated pants have fallen victim to my unwillingness to marathon sew. Besides, I can't decide whether to use gold or silver buttons on them and who knows how long that will take!  I've got a bajillion other projects (with deadlines! Christmas!) lined up, but after doing a bit of mending I just want to play with (/eat)  food!

So, here's what I made & what I am currently sippin' on. All recommended for being tasty.

 wild mushroom risotto, baby spinach with me-made blue cheese dressing

Evidence I've recently been to the Co-Op: my favorite soda on the planet.

/post holiday re-focus


I'm back from a little Thanksgiving road trip with the family, and ready to get productive! (I did manage to do a big chunk of gift crocheting in the car though.)

our view for Thanksgiving dinner. WOAH.

Today, it's back to real life.

First order of productivity: Pick up dog from the kennel, and pick up doughnuts from my favorite doughnut shop. It's (sort of) near the kennel, so I obviously had to stop. Obviously.

Second order of productivity: Make baguettes. Come to accept that I'll never be able to make them quite uniform. Add to Christmas list- bowl scraper, kitchen scale.

par-baked, fully baked.

Third order of productivity: Cut navy pants (finally). Further organize sewing space. Begin sewing pants on my new machine!

Yes, I just realized that I forgot to mention the fact that I have a NEW SEWING MACHINE. Ridiculous. It was an early Christmas gift from my generous Mom, and is perfect.
I wanted the simplest, most straightforward machine I could get my hands on, that was new and of reputable quality. I really can't stand even having decorative stitches available to use. Grosses me out. This Pfaff hobby 1122 fit the bill and was on sale! I could even trade in my rickety, completely trashed 5 year old CHEAP Brother for an extra $40! WHAT? So far, I've used it to finish my camel coat and to do some mending. It works beautifully and is lightyears better than my old machine. It makes me happy to sew again!

/whatta doll


Preface:  If you're one of those who find any and all dolls creepy, read no further.

A few days ago, I was reading up on teen sensaaation Tavi Gevinson's blog (I'm not even sure this qualifies as a guilty pleasure, although I'd like to say so). The current post  was all about her attendance at Fashion's Night Out at Barney's and artist Andrew Yang's way cool dolls, inspired by various actual runway looks. 

    Simon Doonan (creative director for Barney's) gives us a little peek here:
(more & better on style rookie)

Though Yang's dolls are beautiful, (eyes! hair! so good!) they just really made me want to look at two of my favorite designer-sewn doll collections with absolutely meticulous and amazing miniature clothes:

1. Théâtre de la Mode. This one just might be my favorite concept ever. All sorts of French artists came  together in a time France's fashion industry desperately needed to rebuild - in 1945, just before the end of WWII. French couturiers, artists, choreographers & set designers worked on this together to redirect the rest of the world's attention on French fashion.

 Full-sized clothes are great (and actually functional), but these 1/3 size clothes show incredible handwork and were genius advertising to boot. Plus, the war had caused supplies of fabric, thread & needles to dwindle dramatically, so mini fashion was the perfect solution! 

Parts of the collection have since been traveling the world, and it is now owned by the Maryhill Museum. Oddly enough, it's just a few hours from where I live, though I have never been there. I was however, lucky enough to see some of the dolls in The Golden Age of Couture exhibit at V&A in 2007. If you have the chance to see an exhibit of Théâtre de la Mode, do NOT hesitate!

A sampling of the contributing designers of Théâtre de la Mode - (there were over 55)

Madame Grès
Jean Patou
Jeanne Lanvin
Nina Ricci
Pierre Balmain
Elsa Schiaparelli
Charles Worth

2. I am a HUGE Viktor & Rolf fan, so when this book was released and came in at my university's library I couldn't wait to get my hands on it (I watched and waited as the librarian applied the barcodes & stamps). It was in this book I found that Viktor & Rolf had made a mini version of one look from each of their collections since 1993, when they started the brand.  There are gorgeous photos of the dolls & their life-size counterparts, which made me super giddy after learning about Théâtre de la Mode. 

A Dutch dollmaker made the dolls to V & R's specifications, which I think adds to their fantastic campy flavor. The miniature clothes are so incredibly meticulous it's almost scary.

 Lots more photos & a great article here.

t magazine

t magazine

So... is it weird to be so fascinated with dolls? They're pretty cool right?

/camel coat


I'm finally done with my coat!  This was the design I'd originally downloaded from BurdaStyle, but I wanted to shorten the sleeves and lengthen it. There were already markings for those alterations on the pattern, so I took a second look and it's essentially the three quarter sleeve coat. There's nothing too fancy about it, but I very much like the lining and the buttons! The dark green covered buttons came out of an old fruit cake tin full of buttons my grandma used to keep.

As you can see, it can be worn all the way buttoned up, or with the lapel down. The most amazing thing about this pattern is the integrated sleeves; no sleeve-setting!! 

Yesterday, my mom said that pretty much "everyone and their cousin" had a coat just like this in the 60's, which is exactly what I was going for! Point Emily.



I have a confession to make. Sometimes I'll read my favorite college textbook, Fabric Science in bed before I go to sleep.

I suppose it's actually a binder.

Sometimes I'll go to sleep reading a binder of laborious information on fabric. And it soothes me.

That said, onto today's good event:

As unassuming as these boxes may seem, their contents (lots & lots of different fabrics!!!!), return address (L. Marshall!) and the prefacing information about me (complete textile nerd) tell a different story! I was absolutely GIDDY to find them on my front porch tonight!

THREE boxes filled with fabric and a sweet note. Wools, cottons and silks in felts, loose weaves, organzas etc.- (LOTS!- I'll need to take a longer look tomorrow) all chosen & used by a really talented and inspiring  designer! Holy cow. I love all the colours in the boxes and would have chosen them myself! Perfect.

another shoddy photo. maybe someday I'll have beautiful photos of finished garments?

Needless to say, I can't WAIT to get past tons of alterations/mending jobs and half-finished projects and use up all these pretty pieces.

Maybe feel and stare at them for a while too. And run a few tests. Yeah, I'm weird about fabric.


I've been procrastinating once again on sewing stuff (but busy with Christmas presents!). I have a ton of projects lined up that I pretty much have all the materials for, but am not moving forward with- for one excuse, my terrible iron! Bad bad BAD. Spitting, no- spewing water, drenching everything in sight! I seriously avoided sewing projects altogether because of that thing. The thought did cross my mind to turn off the steam, and not refill it. One problem: I'm obsessed with steam.

Today, that horrific thing was demoted to no-steam craft projects only and this came into my life: 

A Rowenta DG5030 Pressure Iron!!!!!!!
It's the best thing ever, because I am obsessed with steam. Must have steam. See that big thing the iron is resting on? That's where the steam lives. This thing can steam vertically, horizontally, and upside down without spitting! It's truly a steamy miracle.

On a completely unrelated note, if you have access to pumpkin butter, you MUST 
whisk it with maple syrup and toasted walnuts, warm it in a saucepan, then put it on a waffle.

I found a recipe for pumpkin butter, but got mine at a fruit stand in Eastern Washington. It looks like they also sell it at Trader Joe's which is super exciting because I've eaten most of our stash. It is SO good.

Going to sew now, WITH STEAM!

/to prove I'm not procrastinating (that much)


A little update beginning with a couple obligatory costume shots! I threw together a Columbia from Rocky Horror in a few hours, thanks to my sequin dress from 8th grade. I bought that thing at a second hand store in Florida for $10, with an original (almost $300) price tag still on! I have worn it sooooo many times!

Nigel as Dogzilla. The costume was a little small and he looked hilariously uncomfortable in it, but I had a puppy-dinosaur hybrid on my hands for a few hours- what could be better?

Also, an attempt to prove I'm still sewing:

I need new pants!  Here's the muslin- I need to take 3" off the hem, and take in the waist a bit. Fake-out back pockets (I remove all back pocket bags on pants I buy anyway, so I feel no guilt) and PLEATS! Anyone who knows me will be very surprised that I'm digging the pleats on these. Really. The wool gabardine will be much more drapey, so I'm counting on very anti-Docker pleats... I'm SO excited to make these! Excuse my chaotic chambre : /

A little coat preview.

/crafty christmas club!


In an attempt to get a handmade present to everyone on my Christmas list this year, I've already started making presents. Although I'm keeping busy, sharing these treasures here (on this blog) would be mighty risky. I'm a big fan of preserving surprises! Anyway, Tilly over at Tilly and the Buttons had an amazing idea. Bloggers talking  about crafting Christmas presents sharing ideas in a beautiful, special wonderland known as the:

So, if you're out of ideas (or haven't started thinking about Christmas yet, is is only October) take a peek at the CCC. If you've got a few ideas, then you should probably join in on the fun! (The button is in my sidebar)

Lastly, if you think you may get a Christmas present from me, don't click on the button! You like surprises too!

/pumpkin how-to


mmmm I LOVE to carve pumpkins! The thing is, if you're actually making a lantern-like cut-into-the-pumpkin sort of jack-o-lantern, the logistics of having bits and pieces stay attached to one another and not cave in can get to be a little much. I tried doing some surface carving with my lino-cut set a few years ago and it worked like a charm! This method is really pretty easy, and you can choose pretty much any image you'd like. Two years ago I did Pete Doherty, and last year it was Edward Scissorhands (I forgot to take a photo of that one. How is that even possible?). This year, I decided on Count von Count from Sesame Street!

Here's how do do it, if anyone should like to know:

Find your image. Paste it into a program where it can be blown up, and make it an appropriate size for your squash. You can either print it out, or as I did, trace it straight onto a piece of paper off of the computer screen, mimicking a lightbox. Shade in the areas that will stay pumpkin-coloured, or whichever way makes sense in your brain. Remember it's a negative-positive situation- only two tones, orange & light orange.

Open and scrape out your pumpkin! You could really skip this part because the inside of the pumpkin won't be exposed, but I love the squishy-ness and roasting the seeds! I separate the seeds directly into a strainer and rinse right away so the guts don't dry onto them.

Cut around your design, leaving a margin and tape it onto your pumpkin on the flattest side. Make little folds so it shapes around the pumpkin nicely. Transfer the design using a tracing wheel (sewing supplies always seem to come in handy in other areas of my life), along with any pointy object you find around the house for the intricate areas.

Now, take the largest scooping blade in your linocut set, and  scoop away! Reference your tracing or drawing on the positive/negative space.

Use smaller blades for intricate areas, and the flat blade to smooth out the ridges created by the scooping attachments. Keep on tweaking until you love it!

I think the Count is a little more friendly looking than 'ol Pete.

/ad candy


This came in the mail and made me laugh. It's a flier for some Bernina dealer in a neighboring city. Apparently, selling $12,000 embroidery machines is a rough business nowadays; they had to bring in the big guns. (ha.)
I mean really, I doubt this guy knows the first thing about ironing. Look how he's crumpling the fabric! I'd rather iron my own shirt, thank you.

/autumnal shrug


I've actually finished the project I surmised I would! It is warm and soft and amazingly drapey. Since I'm wearing it in Autumn and will take every chance I get to employ the word "Autumnal", it is henceforth the Autumnal Shrug.

I started using the Acorn Shrug pattern on the Lion Brand site, but switched it around a bit. I didn't want it to be super big (it was definitely swallowing the model whole), but to still keep the drape factor. I also wanted to put in some stripes.

Can't really call it 'altering', because the pattern in itself wasn't really complicated at all. Just a giant rectangle folded in half and sides stitched together, leaving armholes. I simply did the lazy crocheter's version. First, I decided that I'd have to switch around the way it was folded because of the way I wanted the stripes to lay. Then I changed pretty much all of its dimensions. The official Acorn Shrug folded measured 38"x21". Mine was 32"x13" (32"x26" before folding & seaming), and was much less engulfing.

 I used Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Bamboo Ewe yarn in mercury and geranium (stripes). 55% viscose from bamboo/45% wool. Unfortunately, this blend isn't more eco-friendly than other inexpensive craft store yarns, but the bamboo does allow it to have much a nicer hand than most other synthetic/wool blends. Don't be fooled by the sustainability of "bamboo" because it's a quickly renewing resource, it's still a chemically processed viscose fiber! (read this article for more) In the end, me being poor and the $3.99/skein sale still made for a good match despite the questionable fiber content.

 My face shows just how much I like this front-pinned-together look. Not very. I was actually facing the sun, but the expression manages to tell all. I just wish those seams would disappear, but like the way the stripes are circular and match up.

On a totally different note, I caught Nigel either mid-bark or mid-pant. Haha, he's so furry! I am off right now to take him to get a haircut; his hair is starting to grow over his eyes! oops.

/diversions from failure


So, the dress I'd planned to have done a few days ago (from the last post) is a no go. In fact, it has annoyed me so much that I've decided to put it away in my buried plastic box and when it is meant to be found again, I'll take a deep breath and finish it. I know it's fixable (a pretty easy fix), but it will be shunned. Too many distractions.

distraction #1: My new shoes came! Very Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, a little moonwalking MJ (next: sparkly white ankle socks, obviously). I love love LOVE them, even though they're a little different than I expected. More crinkled, and a bit lighter than pictured. Good thing I'm a huge fan of gray and the slouchy/polished look. I've never bought Matt Bernson shoes before, but they seem to be really well-made & comfy! I've already started to buy awesome socks to wear with these, but I think a Happy Socks spree will be in order in the near future.

distraction #2: Making a shrug. This one is quite distracting, because I'm almost done! Need to FINISH! It's definitely the largest crochet project I've ever made (by mass), but I do like following more involved patterns that are more instantly gratifying, eg. hats, amigurumi & slippers. Those are cheaper too. This pattern does let me totally space out and focus my brain on something else though, which is nice. My preference is
my favorite podcast, Stuff You Should Know. Chuck and Josh are kind of awesome. They'll teach you a thing or two about Voodoo, roller derby, crime scene clean-up and much more. With their help, I'm actually getting this thing done in a timely manner!

distraction #3: I should be getting a bunch of fabric in the mail soon! Printing patterns, altering patterns, making muslins and all that gobbledygook is so time consuming! All planned garments will be good for fall & winter only so I know I better scoot.

/dress by thursday


This month, I gave in and decided to participate in Grograin's Dress by Friday. (See button below for the true name, it's just weird for me to use the f-word in reference to a modern daytime dress. Although it technically works, I suppose I've simply taken too much costume history.) Anyway, I've always found sew-alongs where everyone goes off of the same pattern a little weird. I mean, it's fun seeing tons of sliiiiiight variations on the same pattern! Right?

Yeah, not really. Not as fun as you'd think.
BUT, I feel like Burdastyle's Gail has the potential to be different.

It seems that there's a lot more room for variation & beauty in this one than some other dresses. The yoke is suggested as a lace or sheer, but really a host of dressy fabrics would do. I'm using a cotton/silk sateen for the yoke. BurdaStyle originally used guipure lace, which is always really beautiful. The more formal & flowy fabric suggestions also give me a slight confidence that there won't be any dowdy mid-weight cottons camouflaged in cutsey prints.

I was thinking of adding a waistband, but realized that it would make me look weird and saggy, much like what happened with my prairie dress. If you've got a decent sized chest, this relaxed top/cinched-in at your natural waist look is terrifying in a dress. Much better on little wispy girls. I'm altering the neckline and adding ties, so I'll be counting on them as the focal point. Probably a little more dramatic than in my drawing.

Left: purple poly lining. Center: black cotton/silk sateen. Right: blue & purple silk/cotton lawn.

Black and blue. TOGETHER. What insanity!

I'm hoping to be done by the end of today. Suppose it will still have been done 'by Friday', eh? Totally counts.

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