Monday, August 31, 2009

Migh-TEA crazy!

You know they say not to shop when you are hungry, well, it goes without saying the corollary stands true for thirsty!

Honest Tea Mango Acai, Peach Oo-la-long and Agave Mate...Sweet Leaf Mango and Pomegranate Green Teas (we really liked the Mango)...Celestial Seasonings Green Teas - Blueberry Breeze and Raspberry Garden...

Found all of them at Whole Foods and some were even on sale.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Vogue 7903 Blouse

Vogue 7903 - aka "the blouse that took forever to sew!" I love the FINAL result, but jeepers - a little on the time-consuming side!

The styling is so cute - the notched cuffs, the notched collar, the nice long back darts. A definite step above your average short-sleeved camp shirt blouse.

But -- the front darts-side and center. What a PITA! This pattern runs large under the armholes, yet a little tighter near the waistline/hip. I had to move the side bust dart up 1" and remove the center dart of the three vertical front darts altogether.

I already knew to automatically add 3 inches to the front and back length. It was definitely needed, and I was still able to keep a 3/4" hem allowance.

The short sleeves themselves ran long. I pinched out and stitched a 1/4" tuck, which was covered by the foldback cuff, in order to shorten it 1/2 inch and bring to a less dowdy and awkward length. The pattern drawing shows it a little shorter than reality - it hit the top of a rather long-distanced reach to the crook of my elbow, for goodness sakes. The look on my daughter's face and her voice - "it looks...(pause)...okaaay" had me running back to the sewing room to tuck it up.

With this much time invested, I still plan to make it again in my white fabric, my original intention to have something to wear with the Burda WOF skirt. I'll wear it tomorrow to see if it needs any additional tweaking. I'll also try the longer sleeved version with the French cuffs.
This pattern is worth the extra effort and time. I hope Sandra creates more blouses! They are stylishly different and interesting.

Are these not the perfect "beachy" buttons? Style #87224, 3/4"...and affordable, too - $1.20 for the card of 3.

Previous blog post entry on August 23 --

I whipped up a trial run this morning of Sandra Betzina's Vogue 7903 and am excited about pursuing it further in a nicer fabric. There's something to be said about a pattern from 2004 which is still in the current catalog!

I need a blouse/top to wear with my Burda WOF May 2009 Skirt #104. Love the skirt, but not the tops/blouses I currently have in my closet. I'm hoping a blouse from this pattern will be a perfect fashion match.

Whack Job - Burda 7925

Updated! This Burda 7925 top has sat in my closet unworn most of last summer...and all of this summer. Yesterday in quiet desperation of laundry piles and something to wear, I pulled it from the closet. Somehow the length still didn't look right - especially with shorts or a denim skirt. I folded it to a more flattering length and decided to lose 5 inches right then and there. Unfortunately not from my body - that takes longer than running to the sewing room for a quick session with scissors, serger, sewing machine and iron. Less than 30 minutes later, I was out the door feeling fashionably recycled.

Newly discovered treasure - People Style Watch

I like how they show and how to duplicate today's style of what celebrities are wearing - not that I'm trying to copy them but the current trends. Since it is thinner and less bloated with advertisements and articles, it is much easier to flip through and get a quick bead on what's upcoming -- and what I should be sewing next!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Netflix Stars - Sunshine Cleaning

4/5! Quirky, oddly touching and funny, despite some rather graphic scenes. If you can get past that, you'll enjoy this Sundance Film Festival movie. Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin all add star power, but Clifton Collins, Jr., who endearingly plays Winston, does an excellent job. If you liked "Little Miss Sunshine,, you'll really like this, too - it's from the same producers.

Netflix Stars - Duplicity

2 out of 5 stars. I didn't like it! I don't particularly care for Clive Owen, so that may have been a factor, besides the jumping around and the smug "aren't we so clever" pretentious asides. It was also confusing to follow -- you really had to pay 100% full attention to the movie, and sometimes I don't like to be forced to watch that hard. Thumbs down. I only gave it a 2 because it was nice to see Julia Roberts again.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A few months ago's Costco Find!

Liking, really liking...Kashi Autumn Wheat. Which I bought several months ago at Costco, so I don't remember the exact price - around $7-$8 sounds about right. As I said, for the last few months this box has been falling on my toes from the top pantry shelf. Hint taken! This is really good. I didn't have high expectations because I've been addicted to Target's Market Pantry frosted version. But now I like this better. It's sweet, but not too sweet. (And I was feeling guilty about the white sugar crunch on the Target mini wheats.) I'll be restocking on my next trip to Costco. I hope they still carry it, it is Autumn soon!

Here are the good-for-you stats: 1 cup has 140 calories, 1 g fat, 6 g fiber (1 g soluble, 5 g insoluble), 7 g sugar, 5 g protein, 45 g carb, 0 sodium (!), 180 g potassium, 8% iron.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Southern Living -- is Amazon's "Magazine Steal of the Week"

What a great deal from! Only $5 for a subscription to Southern Living magazine! Good for new subscriptions AND renewals! If renewing, just make sure the name on the Ship To box information matches the name on your label. (I "edited" mine to be the same). Extra bonus -- if you are looking to tip up your purchases to qualify for Free Shipping, this can help. (No shipping charges on the subscription).

Hurry! Offer expires this Saturday, 11:59 PM.

I found out about this special on Facebook. If you become a Southern Living Magazine "Fan" or join the "Group" (I can't remember which one it is), you'll get their posts on your Home page with links to articles, recipes and apparently, deals like this!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Labor Day Sale - September 4/7

Vogue - $3.99
McCall's - $1.99
BIGIF notions
50% off Red Tag fabrics

September 6/12 - Simplicity $1.99

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Burda WOF - May, 2009 - Skirt #104

I joined a local sewing group, "The Sewing Fashionistas" late spring. The first series of meetings were to acquaint ourselves with the Burda World of Fashion magazine patterns. I've actually been sewing with BWOF since 1989; but I'm always game for learning something new and honestly, I needed a jump start kick in the behind to get back to sewing these patterns. Boy, am I glad I did. We were tasked to finding and sewing a 2 or 3 dot difficulty skirt. While I could have easily gotten lost in the sewing room for days going through all my back issues, the spring issues were still on my living room coffee table. I picked up May 2009 and found #104 (2 dots: "Easy to sew, but more time-consuming") on page 7. It's a classic jeans-styled straight skirt with front slant pockets, single pleat on either side of the fly front zipper, perfectly placed back darts and front walking slit. There is also a shorter version, #105 on page 22.

One of the many good things about this sewing group is the feedback and expert fitting help from everyone. Many of these ladies sew for a living and they spotted in a second a little bit of fitting tweaking I needed -- taking out the back side seam curving which was causing the side pooching I kept wanting to slap down. My first run-through in an Asian linen print became a keeper, thanks to these ladies.

The directions were pretty basic and easy to follow, especially for a BWOF. A newly-minted beginner may want to get a few skirts under their belt or have Sandra Betzina's books next to the sewing machine for construction techniques. For instance, the things we do automatically -- interfacing the waistband, stay-taping the pocket edges, and using Sandra's great fly front zipper application.
As usual, Burda's great fit and styling were evident in this pattern. I now have a great skirt and am excited to make it again and again in other fabrics - including denim!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Netflix Stars - Gran Torino

5 stars! Well worth the 10 week wait on Netflix! An urban cautionary tale. Eastwood plays the unwilling protagonist as he defends his Hmong neighbors. Once again, scored delightfully well by his son, Kyle.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Star Bars

I discovered this recipe when I found a box of C&H Brown Sugar on the Target clearance end cap for 62 cents!
Here's the link to the original recipe. I thought two sticks of butter were a little too much for an 8 x 8 pan, so I reduced it to 3/4 stick of unsalted butter and 1/2 stick of Earth Balance shortening. I think next time I'll even reduce the butter further to 1/2 stick and keep the 1/2 stick of Earth Balance. I also used a little less brown sugar (sorry, C&H) as the white chocolate chips are very sweet -- And I only used about 2/3 of the bag. Hopefully I cut some of the fat and the calories with these changes!

Star Bars
Description: Chocolate Cookie Sandwich With White Chocolate Chip Center

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup C&H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 (12 oz.) white chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8x8x2-inch-baking dish. In large bowl beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, soda, salt and cocoa; stir into sugar mixture. Spread half of dough in baking dish. Sprinkle white chocolate pieces over dough; gently press into dough. Carefully spread remaining dough over chips. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack; cut into bars.
Makes 2 dozen

I will definitely add these to the recipe notebook. They are very pretty - perfect for a cookie swap party - and very yummy!

Netflix Stars - Rendition

A solid 3/5. Not bad, not great, not yankable out of the DVD player. Especially when it is storming outside and you've lost your Dish signal. A timely, political thriller with an all-star cast. Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaall, Meryl Streep, Alan Arkin, Peter Sarsgaard (isn't he married to Jake's sister, Maggie?)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Go "Gown Crazy" !

Update: TLC is RE-AIRING GOWN CRAZY on October 30 at 9:00 pm CT! With enough viewers and responses to TLC, Kayne can turn this show into a series!

Debuts tonight, August 14, on TLC.

Remember Johnathan Kayne Gillaspie, from Season 3 of Project Runway and the gorgeous gowns he created? Tonight is the Pilot episode of his show on TLC.

Gown Crazy stars Johnathan Kayne Gillaspie, the top 5 finisher of Project Runway 3. In the pilot episode, Kayne tries to fulfill his dream to be the #1 gown designer in the United States but time, resources and the Oklahoma weather stand in his way.

Update: Oh, I loved it! Kayne comes across great. And the gowns? - Wow! His sewing magic? Wow again! Even though he has so many things on his plate, I hope it gets picked up for a series or at least another follow-up special. Try to catch the repeats - I know I want to see it again!

Here's a link to an interview with the SheKnows website.

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Super Weekend Sale - August 21/23

BIGIF all Thread
50% off all rotary cutting blades
Simplicity patterns - 5/$5

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gutermann's Thread Tins

Not only do you get a cool tin, but four spools of thread inside! And who doesn't need more red/navy/black/white to keep on hand? Jo-Ann's now has these and four other designs half price for $1.99.

Bringing Home The Birkin

Bringing Home The Birkin, by Michael Tonello
ISBN 978-0-06-147333-3
Perfect summer reading. Bringing Home The Birkin is an easy and entertaining read from cover to cover. And educational - I learned lots about Birkin and Hermes. I applaud his ingenuity!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I have missed my blog...

As you can probably tell from today's postings, I'm back!

New Sandra Betzina Patterns

1124 Long sleeved or sleeveless cardigan and vest
1125 Two styles of pants
1131 Three different bags

Hmm, all I can say is I want to see Sandra's versions and write-up. Vogue pulled 1017 for one of these?
Also grabbed Marcy Tilton's 8582 - the tops are OK, I really love how she does the collars and I'll probably use it on other patterns, too.

And the cool new Issey Miyake 1114 - Love this outfit!

Netflix Stars - Man on Fire

2.25/5 It could have been a 3, but it is pretty bloody and graphic. Even for us. We had enough, even before the 2 1/2 hours ended.

Sewing For Teens?

Then check out these three appealing to older teen blouses - my daughter gave them the thumb's up. She feels McCalls is more on trend with RTW. She's become a McCall's fan - click see her Prom dress here.

Now to find suitable fabric. Jo-Ann's had nada-zip. But go ahead and grab the patterns there - the McCalls $1.99 sale ends today.

McCall's 5929
McCall's 5664
McCall's 5522

Netflix Stars - Run FatBoy Run

A strong 3.75/5 stars. Hank Azaria is funny, as usual. But we really took a liking to the lead character's friend, Gordon (Dylan Moran). Good ensemble cast for a funny romantic comedy - nice ending!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hitchin' a Ride!

Need a ride and a ticket to the Houston International Quilt Festival??

The Texas Extension Education Association of Fort Bend County is organizing a bus trip to the George R. Brown Convention Center from the AMC Theater-First Colony Mall in Sugar Land on Thursday, October 15. Avoid the traffic, gas guzzling, parking craziness and mob scene at the ticket windows!

Bus boarding begins at 8:45 AM, departing at 9:00 AM. Return trip boards at 3:45 PM, departing at 4:00 PM.

Cost including Quilt Show ticket is $35. Call Rose at 281/545-8763 to RSVP and get info where to mail your check or money order to hold your place. Deadline is October 1.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1017 - View B - times 2!

After I did the trial muslin of Vogue 1017 - View B, short sleeves -
I turned right around and made it not once but twice. And I have a third version in black linen awaiting cut out! I can't believe this great pattern is already OOP, out-of-print. You can still order it online, and you may luck out and find it still tucked away in the pattern drawers.

Like most of the recent Today's Fit patterns, this pattern runs a little short. Great if you are petite; if you are slightly or greatly taller than average or long-waisted, be ready to add to the length. I added 2 1/2" in the length, 1/2 inch of that was following Sandra's suggestion of adding 1/2" above the armscye helps get those princess seams and darts in perfect alignment. I also added 2" to the bottom for a 1" hem to get the perfect length for me. I cut the largest size for the tie belt so it would be long enough to tie in a bow instead of just knotted.

My first version was View B in a green and white floral print, which I thought looked very Banana Republic-y. I was happy to see the puffed sleeves were not that puffy, mainly because they are not tight fitting. It was a nice variation for a short sleeved summer blouse. An interesting and not expected bonus - the asymmetrical flap piece added to the button placket. It gives the illusion of sexy/blouse falling open look without the risk of revealing too much.

Second time around, I used a lighter weight cotton and tried the ruffle. While I had my doubts - others gave their thumbs up to this one. I think if you want to do the ruffle, make sure your fabric is thin enough so it will fall closer to the body. I'm still on the fence if I will use the ruffle with the black linen. I'm leaning towards not, but I'll gather a scrap and see how it behaves first.

What else did I like about this pattern? The back pleat was a nice touch and because it is seamed at the upper and lower back, it stays in place nicely. I liked the front and back princess seams - that subtle curving and fit makes this even more flattering. The collar and plackets are easy to do -- Sandra's instructions are wonderful throughout.

If/when it ever cools off around here, I am definitely looking forward to sewing View A's longer sleeved version. (I loved Sharon's/Adventures in the Sewing Studio's in gray with pink topstitching.)

I give this pattern 5 stars. If you have it in your stash or come across it, buy it and sew it!