Pearl Shift, Reading and Books, Sewing

Fall 2016: Checks and Plaid, Muffins and Soup

Fall has come to Connecticut in all its glory. The view from my front porch last week:img_3922With the cooler weather, I am turning to the Pearl Shift which I previously made, and lived in basically all last winter, in heavy cotton flannel plaids from Jo-Ann. You can see those versions here. When I saw the new Checkers fabric from Cotton and Steel, I thought it would be perfect for a Pearl. I was inspired by a similar dress, an Esme tunic which can be found in this bookimg_3685-1When I make changes to patterns, I write notes to myself on the pattern pieces. Ironically, sometimes I forget to read the notes until after cutting out the pattern as I did here. I did not actually add enough to the seam allowance to allow for french seams. Note to self: read notes to self. img_3686-1This is a very straight-forward pattern and if I didn’t insist on adding a zipper, it would be even quicker but I think the zipper adds a lot so I used one here. I sewed it using a techinique I modified from Dana by watching this video of how to sew a lined zipper pouch. It was this video that inspired me to use wonder clips which work well. The picture below shows where I lined up the top of the zipper but I think I will move it up a bit on my next version because there is a bit of a gap at the top in the finished version. img_3879Sewing the first side:img_3882After sewing one side, I do the reverse and then top-stitch. I find it works best to sew the zipper initially going from top to bottom but I have better success with the top-stitching when I start at the bottom of the zipper and sew to the top maintaining some tension on the fabric to prevent puckers.img_3885Lining up the second side.img_3881Ready for top-stitching.img_3888After top-stitching. It took three tries to get this. Sewing from the bottom of the zipper to the top was the key in the end.img_3891I used my usual hem facing technique. I cut up an old muslin into 3 inch strips. I have described this technique in my prior Pearl posts here and here. It is very straightforward.img_3943I am able to use the metal plate edge as the perfect guide to sew the hem when I use the 3 inch strips.img_3958Since I had extra of the 3 inch strips, I finished the sleeves the same way. I bound the neck using 1.5 inch bias binding leftover from my Checkers Gemma Tank. The hem and sleeve facing is not cut on the bias since there is very little curve to the hem and the sleeves are cut straight across. It worked well and was very quick to finish,. img_3956Finished dress on the front door.img_3985Back of dress.img_3990And as worn. Although I thought I cut it the same length as my previous versions, this one is a little longer. I am not sure how I feel about it. I really like the way the linen one fits but I also find that when there is less heft to the fabric as in my Alison Glass version, the tunic rides up. I will have to wear this for a while and see what I think about the length. I think on me, the shorter version is a little more flattering but time will tell.img_3972Side view.img_3975Back view.img_3965Linen version for comparison.img_3705One more picture with fall foliage.img_3969Other things we have been enjoying here in Connecticut: a tour of a new craft brewery in our town which is expanding. It was fun to go on the tour and great to see a new successful local business. img_3939A beautiful sunrise. I love watching the sun come up and I miss the sunrises when I have to leave for work in the dark. (I am not a fan of shorter winter days.)img_3876My nasturtiums finally bloomed (in October). Note to self: plant earlier next year. They were cheap and maintenance free and pretty. img_3712Fall is soup and muffin weather chez Nursebean. My usual modus operandi is to make what I call refrigerator soup. It is when you open the refrigerator and see what you have and make soup. It is a great way to take those leftovers and make a meal. This post from one of my favorite bloggers is a great description of how to do this. I also made this Broccoli and Dill soup which was enjoyed by all (from one of my other favorite bloggers).img_3660 I have had this pot and this bowl for over 25 years.img_3691 I get nostalgic cooking on Sunday afternoons thinking about how many pots of chili, soup and even lasagnas have been made in this blue Le Creuset pot which was a wedding gift over 30 years ago. I remember buying the bowl as a young broke new mom. It was a big splurge at the time. I don’t think it was actually very expensive but all purchases felt like big purchases at that point in my life (and in many ways still do). I still love it. Many muffins and cookies have started in this bowl. Mr. Nursebean has found that he feels better when he avoids gluten so I made some adjustments to the cornmeal muffin recipe from this book which is one of my go to cookbooks and which has excellent muffin recipes (they all start with a stick of butter so it would be hard to go wrong). Here is my version. I  actually think they are better this way, sort of nutty and you can convince yourself that they are healthy because of the nut flour and the yogurt. They are great right out of the oven with butter and raspberry jam but I also freeze them and then zap them in the microwave for a minute and they are perfect for breakfast.

Cornmeal Muffins:

Pre-heat oven to 375-I use convection setting.

Melt a stick of butter in a big bowl. I usually microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool a bit

In a separate bowl combine: 1.5 cups each of cornmeal flour and almond flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and a dash of salt

Beat two eggs into melted butter and combine dry and wet ingredients. Don’t over-mix.

Add one 6 oz lemon, plain or vanilla yogurt to the mixture. Add approx 4 oz milk (or as much as you need to make the mixture mixable and about the texture of wet scrambled eggs.

Bake for approx 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Serve hot out of the oven with butter and rasberry jam or next day-I find they reheat perfectly with 30 seconds in the microwave or 1 minute if frozen (I often freeze them so they don’t disappear too fast. They make a great breakfast.)

My daughter and I have been trying to walk most days. The trees along our walk have been beautiful.img_3818I have been doing a lot of reading. I inhaled this novel and this mystery. I highly recommend both. This fall is the 10th anniversary of the fall that this sweet puppy joined our family. She still greets me with love every time I come home. A gift to us all.img_3914Next up are two more Pearl shifts in plain flannel purchased last year at Jo-Ann’s. img_3689This time I remembered to add the extra seam allowance for french seams. This is why I often make more than one of a pattern in a row. It takes a couple times to work out the bugs! One of these will be for me and one for my daughter who I will see (yay!) for Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for. Wishing everyone a beautiful fall!

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Sewing

A Linen Pearl Shift for Spring

imageIt’s all about the zipper.imageI originally bought this cotton-linen blend fabric because I was inspired by the beautiful version of Anna Maria Horner’s Painted Portrait Dress posted by Miss Make during Me Made May 2015. If you click on her blog post, it is the short sleeved version in the 3rd row on the left. Perfect dress. But then last winter, I found that I was wearing my plaid Pearl shifts so frequently that I thought the fabric would be perfect for a spring version of the pattern. Since then, I also saw a great version of the Inari Tee dress on Instagram using this same fabric so I may need to get more. In any event, this is a great simple pattern that sews up fast. Here is the finished shift hanging on my new place to photograph my projects: my front door.  I came to appreciate the importance of natural light taking all those selfies for Me Made May and it already has a hook which is not currently occupied by a holiday wreath.imageHere are some tricks/shortcuts I use when making this pattern. First, I size up for french seams:  I cut on the next size up cutting line for the sleeves and side seams to allow room for french seams. I don’t seem to be able to capture the fraying threads with just one seam and always end up with two, no matter how well I think I have trimmed the threads. Since this happens every time I sew french seams, I am trying to just roll with it and know that my seams are very strong (ha!) and I need to plan for it. I cut on the Large seam line although I am generally more of a medium. This gives me enough space for my double seam and have the dress still fit. By the way, I only use french seams for the long seam from the wrist to the hem. I am not confident enough to attempt them at the shoulder seam. Those I sew using a regular seam and then zigzag to finish. image I don’t gather the sleeves:  It may sound funny but I don’t gather the sleeves. I have only made the Pearl with heavier fabric with some stretch/give. I line up the center of the sleeve with the shoulder seam, pin it, and then I sew from the top down in one direction and then from the top down on the other side without using pins, just holding the fabric in place as I go. I get a nice clean shoulder seam with no puckers. Then I sew the sleeve and side seams in one long seam. I generally end up trimming a bit of the sleeve before sewing the long seam in order to make everything line up but I end up with a nice looking sleeve that fits the way I want it too. I am happy with the somewhat close fit I get doing it this way and it is quick and easy. I wouldn’t try this at home using your nice fabric. I would try it first with a muslin to see if you like the way it fits,  but I did it this way the first time and it has worked for me ever since (this is my 4th Pearl shift.) Picture of finished sleeve seam below. imageI use a contrasting lighter-weight fabric to finish the neck, hem and sleeves:  I finish the neckline, hem and sleeves with facings similar to my technique with my Washi’s and Beatrix blouses. In this case, I used two different fabrics since I only had a quarter yard of each. I like how they harmonize. I got these at The Cloth Pocket and the Stitch Lab during trips to Austin. Both are great sources for fabric and inspiration. Choosing facing fabrics is a fun challenge each time I sew. I try to use something I have in my stash. This is less of a challenge these days because my stash is growing. I sew the neckline binding by topstitching about an inch down which I think is a nice look for this simple shift in the heavier fabric.

Word to the wise: measure at least twice and make sure you are looking at the right numbers on your ruler:  I used the Brumby Skirt zipper technique as extensively described in my prior post about a Beatrix tunic. I generally make two similar garments at a time. It is often quicker to cut out and sew two similar things. However, a downside to this approach is that when you make a mistake, you sometimes make it twice as I did in this case where I sewed a zipper opening that was not the same size as either of the zippers I had purchased  (I realized later that I had lined up the wrong end of the ruler so I was off by an inch without realizing it) and had to delay finishing my projects while I waited for a new order of the right sized zippers to arrive.

Make a muslin and check the fit, even for this simple pattern. I have narrowed the shape of this shift just slightly to make it a bit less triangular which I think is more flattering for my shape and I grade the hemline slightly so that the back is a bit longer than the front, as I do when I make the Beatrix tunic.

That is really all to say that is new. Here are some pictures of the process.  A sad zipper that is too small for its opening as seen below.image I blame the ruler that has different numbers on the two sides. Of course, I was looking at the wrong side when I measured. I took this picture May 19th and then the project sat as Me Made May sped by and then it was June. More pictures of the Brumby zipper opening technique.imageHem facings in process: step 1imageStep 2imageStep 3imageSleeve facings

Many views of the neckline. I like the tiny bit of color peeking out.imageNeckline with zipper. A little wonky but the nubby fabric hides all.imageNeckline selfie. It’s a little higher than the Beatrix, a little 60’s looking. I like it with the linen. That’s my dad at a young age in the background. My sewing room walls are covered with my favorite pictures.imageFront of finished dress once againimageBack of  finished dressimageInside of dress frontimageand backimage

 

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