Archive for December, 2007

My daughter, M, asked for an apron for Christmas since she frequently has dish duty where she lives.  She likes monkeys, so I found a fabric with monkeys on it in a decorator fabric.


This is the plain apron trimmed with a monkey from a fabric sample that I had been saving.  The fabric for the apron is a decorator cotton, and the pattern is my usual apron with the side tabs, except that I made one side with buttonholes and button making it easy to take on and off.


The pattern is the same for the red apron.  I cut my own bias bindings out of the green fabric.  I like making aprons out of decorator fabric because they protect well and hold up to many washings.  We have a nice discount fabric store here that carries beautiful decorator fabrics, sometimes for only $1 or $2 a yard in the sale section.

I have a few sewing resolutions for the new year, the same ones I have for my knitting:

1. Buy whatever fabric I want when I want it (budget permitting)

2. Make whatever project I feel like, when I want to, or put it aside when I want to

3. Have no, absolutely no, stash guilt

4. Make two or three dressy blouses

5. Try not to get caught in an avalanche in the sewing room

Happy New Year!

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Tote Bag

This tote bag was made for my sister.  After toiling over two Weekender Travel Bags, I found this tote a joy to sew.  I made View C.  The instructions were clear, and no sewing machine needles were injured in the creation of this handbag.



I used a very thick craft interfacing, not iron-on, to give the bag substance.  The pattern has instructions for an interior zipper inset into the sides.  I had never inserted a zipper this way, and I found it easy and interesting as well as attractive.


I am definitely going to make more of these.  It is a good size for a knitting bag, too.

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More Checkbook Covers

I used tapestry fabric for some of the checkbook covers.  I like the way it looks, and it is heavy so it doesn’t require the interfacing.  It is a little more difficult to turn inside out, but it still works.


The next one is made from a cotton decorator fabric sample. 



I think these checkbook covers would also be good for carrying coupons or receipts.

This year I got a most excellent sewing related gift: ‘Fitting and Pattern Alteration’ by Liechty, Pottberg, & Rasband.  A glance through the book shows me that it is really excellent, just the fitting book I was looking for.

 In addition to the wonderful book, A decided to stuff her dressmaker dummy, Betty, which has been lingering around hanging from a door since we made her.  I just never got around to stuffing her even though I had the newspapers all shredded and ready to go.  Now I have two dressforms, one for each girl, so I just need them to tape me up and our little army of dressmaker helpers will be complete.

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Another version of Butterick 4148 with a matching checkbook cover.



This fabric looks a little like an Amy Butler fabric, which is the style that M likes.


It is freezing here today, literally.  Every few years, here in California, we will get a very cold winter where the temps drop into the twenties.  At least there is no snow to speak of, ever.

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Weekender Travel Bag 2


I made this version of the Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag for my sister.  It is pieced together from decorator fabric samples and the trim is a microfiber.  It took about two weeks to make.  It is interfaced and also has batting between the outer layer and the lining.

I also made a zippered bag to go with it.


I had many horrible adventures making this bag.  I decided to eliminate the piping, put the seam allowances to the outside, and cover them with binding.  This was an OK idea, but after I had assembled the whole bag, it was too thick to fit under the sewing machine needle.  I tried my other sewing machine, too, but it was impossible.  I ended up having to rip the bag apart and remove the lining from the sections.  I resewed the bag, and then I sewed the lining separately.  I feel like I made two or three bags instead of just one.

Before Thanksgiving, I designed a checkbook cover to sew for gifts for all the nieces.  Here is one made from a striking dragon cotton fabric.  It is interfaced with fairly heavy iron-on interfacing applied to the outer layer.  It closes with a velcro fastener.



I am trying to decide on a fabric to make one of these for myself because those plastic covers that come with your checks always seem to split and break.  I need a bright one so that I can find it easily in my purse.

I have more presents to show in coming days, but right now I am going to go sew something ordinary and thin, a T-shirt for my daughter.

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Fire Candy

My daughter, A, makes a platter of cookies every year for Christmas festivities on both sides of the family.  This year she cut back a little, but the platter is still wonderful:


 She made fudge, macaroons, brownies with peppermint frosting, snowballs (my favorite), orange candied walnuts (an old recipe from my grandmother, Mimi), and fire candy.  Fire candy tastes just like excellent toffee, another favorite of mine, and got its name from A’s college roommates when A accidentally set the dorm room oven on fire making this very recipe.  She discovered that the pan you use has to have sides and a rim, because a flat cookie sheet will not do your oven any good.  Here is her recipe:

Toffee Candy

1/4 pound saltine crackers or butter crackers.  I prefer the butter crackers (Keebler Club Crackers)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup butter (real butter is best)

1 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup chopped pecans

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

A uses a professional half sheet pan that has sides and rim  about 1 inch high.  Don’t use a flat cookie sheet with no sides. Spray pan well with non-stick spray.  Line the pan with crackers in a single layer.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and the butter.  Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.  Immediately pour over the crackers and spread the mixture to cover the crackers completely.

Bake for 5 or 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and let sit for 5 minutes.  Spread melted chocolate over all the crackers and sprinkle top with chopped pecans.  Cool completely (about 1/2 day or more) and break or cut into pieces.  This candy is so delicious that it has never lasted long enough for A to determine its shelf life. 

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Forgotten Cake

I have been so busy sewing for Christmas that there has been no Torte Thursday for awhile.  Here is a dessert that I had never even heard of before I married into a family with a Midwestern background.  My husband’s grandmother, Grandma G., and his mom used to make this old timey favorite.  It is an unbelievably delicious meringue concoction frosted with whipped cream.  Alternately light as a feather and full of creamy cholesterol – a recipe for success!!  They also made it in a flat pan and frosted just the top.

Grandma’s Forgotten Cake

1.   Place 6 egg whites  from clean, fresh, undamaged  eggs in a large bowl. 

2.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Butter only the bottom of a 9″ tube pan.

3.  Add 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp salt to the egg whites.  Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until whites are foamy.  Gradually add      1 1/2 cups sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

4.  Add 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/8 tsp almond extract and beat until stiff glossy peaks form.  Spread egg white mixture into tube pan.

5.  Place pan in oven.  TURN OVEN OFF IMMEDIATELY.  Let stand in oven overnight.  Next morning, loosen edge of torte with a sharp thin knife and turn out onto a platter.  The cake will settle a bit.

6.  Frost with sweetened whipped cream (thickly is always good).  Refrigerate.

This is better after sitting a bit, because the cream will soak into the meringue a little, softening it up a touch.  Or if you like the meringue crispy, don’t wait.

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