Friday, January 29, 2010

shirt improvement

I wore this shirt exactly once, hated it, shoved it to the back of my closet, got hugely pregnant, and forgot about it.  Last month I reshuffled the contents of my closet, burned all the maternity clothing and danced on their ashes, and rediscovered this shirt.

Here's what I don't like about it:
  • The tunic shape does nothing for me.  I'm flat chested (apart from my temporary nursing boobs) and pear shaped.  This means that a tunic creates a very disappointing silhouette:  a wide rear end hanging out from the bottom of an empty bag.  Not cute.  I need a fitted top; either a knit or an aggressively tailored woven, that way the silhouette is more hourglassy and less dumpy.
  • Long sleeved wovens irritate me:  I cook, change diapers, clean, dig in the sandbox, putter in the garden, and wash my hands.  A lot.  I don't want to have to roll up my sleeves every time I do this.  Long sleeved t-shirts and sweaters can just be pushed up; wovens, not so much.
  • The neckline is too high.  I feel choked and I can't nurse the babies.  
Here's what I do like about it:
  • the fabric--a wonderfully soft cotton lawn, even though florals are not usually my favorite
  • the fact that I made it myself (and did a pretty fine job with the bias tape, if I say so myself)

So I cut the whole damn thing apart and remade it.  I lowered the neckline, opened up the placket so I can nurse the babies without completely disrobing, added another button, shortened the sleeves, added back darts, ditched the back ties, tapered the sides to fit my waist, and created a flared hem. I'm still not thrilled with the results (I think it needs cap sleeves, and something's wrong with the neckline, maybe?). But now at least I'll wear it, so that's an improvement.

While doing this I marked all the changes on the original pattern, so in theory I'll be able to duplicate this on other shirts that need fixing.  Or I can just donate my old shirts to goodwill and spend my precious sewing time making new stuff.  To hell with upcycling until I have more time on my hands to experiment.

I was rereading the post about the original tunic and noted my casual reference to "fetuses."  I was so innocent then.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Things are improving here:  the babies are sleeping for longer stretches of time, the weather's been good enough for Joseph to spend some quality time with his sandbox, we found a part time babysitter, and we've all learned to appreciate toddler television in moderation.  I've even been able to keep the house a bit tidier, which in turn makes me even saner.  I need to keep that in mind the next time I'm super stressed and crazy: I am happier when the house is tidy and there aren't mounds of sand and plastic dinosaurs scattered everywhere.   

Here are totally unrelated pictures.  Violet's wearing a navy corduroy jumper I made.  She has a goofy smile.  Harry has a goofy everything.  He's yawning, in case that isn't clear.

Joseph is modeling the green vest I knit while on bed rest. 

I was trying to get him to pose a la the Sartorialist.  Didn't quite happen, but I think he looks dashing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

vegan cookies for rich people

Almond butter + maple syrup + whole wheat flour.  Pricey, but delicious and not horrible for you.  Variations on this theme have been added to the weekly baking rotation.

This recipe was adapted from the treasure trove of wholesome goodness that is 101 Cookbooks.  The original recipe is wonderful, but since peanut butter and I don't always get along, I've been using almond butter, which definitely adds to the cost. Other changes I've tried:
  • I've been adding combination of random ground nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds--whatever I have on hand) to make up the cup of nut butter called for in the recipe.  
  • Tahini works too, which I discovered after raiding my pantry in search of something nut-like to use.  
  • I've tried cutting the amount of sweetener in half, but this makes the cookies too dry and crumbly unless you add some water.  
  • I've also tried substituting some turbinado sugar instead of turning to a life of crime in order to afford enough maple syrup; this works but again you have to add water to compensate for the dryness.
  • And just because I cannot leave good enough alone, I've substituted rolled oats for some of the flour.  You have to use about twice the volume of oats as you would flour.  I just add oats until the dough seems like it's the right consistency.
I've thoroughly corrupted the original recipe, but I swear it still tastes good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

haikus for my husband

You're right.  It does suck
When all three kids are screaming.
Good job noticing!
And another:
You say I look tired
I wonder why that could be--
I don't have a "job."
 I'm feeling bitchy and unappreciated today.  I'll be a better person tomorrow.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

holiday bread

Panettone is one of those things I never understood until I reached years of discretion--it seems to be a dessert, yet it contains zero percent chocolate?  No thanks.  Then you become a grown up lady and you realize that it's not dessert, it's breakfast.  A breakfast that happens to contain three sticks of butter and a dozen eggs and a goodly amount of sugar.  It's times like these I thank the DNA fairy that I have no problems with cholesterol. 

I'm so happy that that the geniuses behind Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day have posted their excellent panettone recipe online.  The only real change I make to the recipe is to boil the water and soak the dried fruit in it, and then add the fruit-water mixture when the recipe says to add the water.  This makes the fruit almost dissolve into the bread.  Also, I don't have special panettone pans so I just use plain old loaf pans.

Stale panettone makes killer french toast and bread pudding.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

patchwork goodness

A coaster and a trivet:

I'm digging the scrappy look of this trivet and coaster (even though I think I must have been drinking when I put the binding on the trivet--what the hell?? Do I not have a ruler? Or eyes?). Both are foundation pieced, meaning I sewed the scraps directly to the batting, one scrap at a time. I also quilted as I went. This process is very fast and intuitive (read: no advance planning) which exactly what I'm in the mood for lately.
Once I finished making the patchwork square for the trivet, I backed it with a towel and bound it like a quilt. For the coaster, I sewed a square of linen to the patchwork top, right sides together, then turned and topstitched. It lives with these coasters and some new ones I made using the fabrics from the table runner.
I got the idea for foundation piecing directly to the batting and quilting as you go from this book.  It also has lots of lovely square patchwork, and a few bags that make my heart skip a beat or two but which I will never make because they don't hold seventeen diapers and god knows how many toy construction vehicles (and also because you don't need a bag if you never go out).