Archive for October, 2007

Tracing Patterns

I am about to start making a jacket for A.  I haven’t made a lined jacket since my senior year project in high school home ec.  I bought Butterick 4610 which is a multi-sized pattern. img_1594-1.jpg

I need to trace off the correct size so I set up my handy tracing table in the living room.  I pieced the table together with two TV trays, an old hollow door that the spouse cut in half years ago, and two plastic storage containers (full of sock yarn, but that doesn’t matter).  This raises the working surface to a perfect height.  I don’t have to bend over, and as an added plus, it is right in front of the TV.


I don’t put the paper over the top of the pattern piece, but I put the pattern on the top held down by a weight.  I use a fairly ‘wet’ pen like a Paper Mate Flair pen (my favorite) and draw right on the pattern.  The ink soaks through to the paper.  This only works with patterns printed on tissue-type paper.  My patterns are not collector pieces so I don’t mind if I mark them up.  If they were vintage patterns, of course I would carefully trace them without marking them.


A likes View A with the 3/4 sleeves.  She needs shorter sleeves for work, being a scientist and all.  No sense dragging your sleeve ends across killer chemicals and microbes.

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Fitting Class


I started my fitting class last week, and the instructor is a real pro.  I can get a blouse to fit except for across the front shoulders, and she showed me where the adjustment has to be made.  I am going to try it out on a new pattern, so have been doing the preliminary adjustments before I try the front shoulder narrowing.  It’s nice to know that when I do the muslin I can go to class and she will tell me everything I did wrong.

 I have cut out the Weekender Travel Bag and am in the middle of quilting the pieces.  This is turning out to be a much bigger project than I thought at first, but it is not difficult.  I am trying a technique I saw online of using painter’s tape to show where to quilt.  Pretty great technique.


Today’s Torte Thursday will be a recipe for coffee cake.  I have always loved coffee cake, probably because it was very rare in my life.  I can’t really remember my mom ever making one.  For that sort of thing we mostly had Mexican Bread (pan dulce) from the Mexican store.  In those days, there wasn’t the great variety of ethnic stores around here, and the folks would have to go into Oakland to the Mexican store there by the police station.  Now we have a great store right in the local strip mall.  But Grandma G. came from a midwestern German background, so I am sure coffee cake was a regular thing to her.


Crumb Coffee Cake

1 cup shortening (or 1/2 cup margarine + 1/2 cup Spry) Spry was a vegetable shortening

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups sifted flour

Cream shortening, sugar, salt & cinnamon.  Work in flour till it crumbs.  Take 1 cup out for topping and set aside.

To remaining cinnamon mixture add 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk with 1 tsp soda and 2 eggs. 

Fill 2 square 8″ pans or 1 large pan.  Grandma obviously assumes you know enough to grease the pans. Cover with crumbs and bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes for large pan (less for smaller pans).

Serve warm.

 This is an interesting recipe because the crumb mixture is used as the base for the batter. 

Now, back to my pattern wrangling.

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Didn’t sew this week so far, but here are a few vintage patterns that have been added to the stash.




I ran out of batting for the Amy Butler bag I am making so had to go down and buy one.  When did quilt battings get so darned expensive?  Lucky for me, though, the store was having a half off sale, so I can cut the rest of the bag out. 

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Both Grandma G and her daughter, my mother-in-law, kept their houses well groomed and lovely, a skill I have never really mastered.  Of course, neither one of them ever had to deal with six children at once, so I think that might make a difference.  The stereotype of people of German ancestry being good housekeepers certainly fit both of them (and still fits my MIL).  Things were kept in a certain place, especially in the kitchen.  My MIL once told me that she could go visit her cousin, who had ended up living in Arizona, and easily find anything in the kitchen because she and the cousin had been so well trained that they automatically stored things in identical places in each of their homes.  Grandma G was a really lovely woman, and I liked her very much.    And here is her recipe for Devils Food Cake.

DEVILS FOOD CAKE (with mashed potatoes)

1 cup milk

2 squares bitter chocolate (she must mean unsweetened)

2/3 cup mashed potatoes

2 eggs well beaten

1/3 cup butter

1/2  cup dates cut in small pieces

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup nut meats, chopped

1 3/4 cups pastry flour or 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Sift together the flour, salt, soda and baking powder.  Take out 1 Tablespoon of the mixture and mix into nutmeats.

Boil milk and chocolate together until it thickens, add mashed potatoes and the dates.  Let stand until cool.  Cream shortening (she means the butter), add sugar and cream together.  Add eggs well beaten, vanilla, and then the flour mixture alternately with the chocolate/potato/date mixture.  Add nut meats.

Bake in layers at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or in a rather shallow loaf pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake layers about twenty minutes and loaf about forty five minutes.

Several of her chocolate cake recipes had dates in them.  I have read about the custom during earlier generations for ladies to visit each other during the morning hours for a Kaffe Klatch, which means pastry and gossip.  This would mean that any housewife needed to have a repertoire of dessert recipes like coffee cakes, cakes and pastries so that they would have something available to serve guests every day.  Grandma G certainly did have a lot of this kind of recipe in her collection.

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Weekender Travel Bag


My daughter M wants me to make this Amy Butler bag for her.  I am going to use the batik that we bought in San Francisco at Fabrix (shown below) and pad and quilt it.


I was able to find a lovely pattern drafting magazine at the Japanese store, Kinokuniya, when I went there on my birthday last week.  The whole magazine is full of blouse and shirt patterns and directions on drafting the sloper as the base for all the patterns.  I am going to have to get out my Japanese dictionary and give it a try.


I like the blue blouse below with the interesting ruching.



We are having rainy weather here in the sunshine state, which is a little early in the season.  Some years we get no rain at all until March, and then it can rain for 40 days in a row.  This area is peculiar in that we don’t worry about the rain so much as the snow up in the mountains.  If there is a big snowpack, there is enough water for all.

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Double Duty

Today I have two interesting recipes from Grandma G.  But first, here is my latest new pattern acquisition:


I just really like this jacket, with all the fitting tucks and different sleeves. 

And my latest old pattern acquisition:


This will be so handy to throw on during those hot hot summer days.

Now, on to Torte Thursday. Here is a really old offering from Grandma G which she has noted came from her friend, Esther K.


Lightning Cake

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 large teaspoon Baking Powder

Sift the above into a bowl.

Put in a cup:

2 eggs

Soft butter the size of an egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fill the rest of the cup with milk

Beat well.

That is all.  Grandma knew how to make a cake batter and assumed the reader would know too.  But in case you don’t, beat together the liquid ingredients and add all at once to the dry.  Beat until smooth.  Cakes usually took 200 to 300 strokes with the wooden spoon.  Don’t overbeat because the cake will be tough.  Bake in a smallish pan, I would try an 8″ cake pan, that has been buttered and lined with waxed or parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees until it tests done.  Probably 20 to 35 minutes.  Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then take out of pan to cool on a rack.

Here’s a recipe that she typed on accounting paper for a topping for your cake:

Orange Cream

2 egg yolks slightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

Juice and rind of one orange

Mix above ingredients and cook over slow heat until very thick.  Chill thoroughly and fold into 1 cup whipped cream.

Now that sounds yummy.

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Torte Thursday

Just got back from the Costco with my dad buying some tamales and taquitos for a birthday dinner coming up.  As a thank you for helping him, he bought me a slab of salmon, so I guess it will be salmon tonight and fresh green beans from our garden.

I have decided to give the world another strange or delightful torte, cake or dessert recipe from the collected works of Grandma G every week.  Grandma belonged to a variety of women’s clubs and organizations in Wisconsin and in California, and obviously carried scraps of paper with her at all times to write down recipes given to her by the other ladies.  The time period for this recipe collecting would have been from the 1920’s to the 1980’s.

Pineapple Torte (it doesn’t say who gave her this recipe)

1 large can crushed pineapple (no reference to size of can)

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 or 3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Line torte pan with graham cracker crumbs mixture, keeping 1 cupful for top. (Doesn’t say what graham cracker crumb mixture, must be similar to the one in the previous recipe, 22 graham crackers, rolled,  to 1/4 # butter melted). 

Heat Pineapple and water.

Mix sugar and egg yolks with water and stir.  Pour into pineapple, cook until thick, add sugar. (Hmm, she has you add the sugar twice, puzzling)

Cool.  Pour into pan.

Beat 4 egg whites, add 1/2 cup sugar, put on pineapple mixture, sprinkle with the reserved crumbs.  Bake 1/2 hour.  (No reference to temperature).

And there you have it.  Seems like a lot of these tortes have meringue or whipped cream on the top.

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Best New Cookbook

 My current favorite cookbook is  KING ARTHUR FLOUR WHOLE GRAIN BAKING.  Everything I have tried out of this book is just excellent.  I regularly use the recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread to make rolls and hamburger buns.  It is an interesting recipe using a little orange juice to cut that ‘wheaty’ flavor.  It makes a light delicious product.  I have also tried the Pumpkin Bread, using the recipe as a base for muffins and often substituting another puree (such as banana) for the pumpkin.  The spouse loves the Chewy Oatmeal Cookies for which I use dried blueberries instead of the raisins, and the wonderful Glazed Raisin Bars.  This book makes the switch to whole grains an easy and tasty task.


                  Oatmeal Blueberry Cookies

In sewing news, I finished the Fiesta Shirt.   Now I have to start a new project with some of the new fabric I just got in SF, so I think that today I will cut out some t-shirts for A and get started on that.  I also have to press all that fabric that I pre-washed.


Here is Madam Merp sitting on a wooden bar stool, a very inexpensive one from Walmart.  I just have to think of some way to fasten her down and I will be able to move her around easily, and the clothes wil drape better without bunching up around the lower edge.

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