Archive for May, 2008

Grandma G must have never left the house without her pen and scrap paper because a lot of her recipes were written on scraps of paper when she was at meetings or visiting friends.  Today’s recipe comes from her friend Mrs. Hy.

Ice Box Cake

Use crumbs made of rolled coconut (Washboard) cookies.  Do they still make these?  I used to love them.

Melt 1 # ( pound) Marshmallows in 1 cup orange juice.  When cool, fold in whipped cream and fruit to suit. (Agnes used peaches and sliced oranges).

Top with whipped cream.

Grandma must have known what she meant by these sparse directions, but it certainly leaves a lot out.  We must assume that the crumbs were sprinkled into a cake pan, then the marshmallow mixture was spread on top.  Sometimes half of the crumbs were saved to put on top, then spread with whipped cream.  Or spread with whpped cream then sprinkled with a few crumbs for decoration.

This is a typical fifties sort of recipe using grocery store items recombined to make a dish.  It sounds pretty tasty, but anything with whipped cream is bound to be good.

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Embroidery Progress

I got the front embroidery finished and am now working on the yoke. 


After the several weeks it takes to embroider one of these tops, the actual construction only takes a few hours.


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Holiday Sewing

I found a bag full of embroidery threads stashed on the sewing room shelves.  These must be the haul from some sale in the past, so I took a picture of them next to the cotton thread.

After sewing all the stems and leaves using a hoop and Solvy, I decided to try a flower using the leaf stitch and others.  You can see the remnants of the Solvy.  I am practicing the satin stitch which I have never been good at, but hopefully will get better.  I did find a stitch to use for the stems, and though tricky to stitch, it turns out nicely if I pay attention instead of speeding along in my usual way.


I like the way this blue flower turned out with the scallop stitch around the center. I filled in the flower centers with chain stitch done by hand.

Besides stitching leaves for hours, we spent the holiday in the garden.  I got my many basil plants set out, so with a little garden luck there will be lots of pesto in our future.


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I got the second MPB cut out and marked.  This time I am using some Solvy to stabilize the stitching and a hoop, and so far, so good.  The machine doesn’t really have a good stitch for the stems, so I am using a very narrow, close zigzag in some places.  The leaves are stitch # 876 on the Elna 9000.

This is my box of cotton threads and some embroidery threads I threw in there for the time being.  I am going to try these cotton threads for the embroidery even though I originally bought the spools of thread for hand quilt piecing.

Back to the sewing machine…..


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I sewed up the first attempt at a Mexican Blouse.  I used the upsized Vogue vintage pattern, and all I can say is that Vogue and Peasant Blouse do not a happy marriage make.  The armholes were too high and tight, which may go with a Vogue Pattern, but sort of wipes out all the benefits of wearing a peasant blouse.  I took the sleeves off, which were difficult to sew in, I might add, and cut some sleeves following the measurements of the Mercado Dress.  I cut down the armhole curves on the dress and sewed on the new sleeves.  The blouse became instantly more comfortable with the added width of the gusset section.  M came over after work to try it on, and requested a sleeve with a gathered cuff, so I undid the stitching a little on the sleeve hem and put in some narrow elastic.  The Vogue pattern also had the back yoke shorter than the front for some reason, and the yoke on the Mercado Dress is more attractive.

This picture is the only one that shows the true green color of the fabric.

This was just a practice blouse using inexpensive broadcloth, so now I am about to cut out the cotton cloth in a pretty orange and start the embroidery.  I am going to draft out a pattern using the Mercado dress as a guide for the yoke measurements. Since M wants gathered sleeves, I have to add a little length to the sleeve piece in a curve at the bottom (overarm) so that the sleeve will hang straight at the hem.  These blouses are so cool and comfortable that you can see why they have been worn in Mexico for hundreds of years.

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I have been working on a practice piece of embroidery for the yoke of the first blouse.  I drew out a pattern and sewed the leaves with my Elna computer machine, which finished them all, then died.  I had to pack up the machine to take it to the shop for a much needed overhaul.  I hadn’t really used the machine in 5 or 6 years which I guess wasn’t too good for it.  I did the rest of the embroidery by hand to see how it would look combined with the machine-made leaves.  I think it worked out really well.  Next time I will pay more attention to the tension of the fabric so I get less puckering.  The blouses that I have purchased have the embroidery done on two layers of fabric which probably would help.

There was a pattern sale at Joann’s this weekend.  Here are several patterns that could be used for MPB’s with minor alterations:

This pattern has the basic shape.  You could just eliminate the armhole shaping and add the gusset and sleeve, and you could lower the neckline to the depth you wanted.





The pattern below definitely has the look and even has a pleated front bodice.



I never thought of making a MPB that buttoned up the front, but it is an idea.  Or you could just put the center front line on a fold and eliminate the opening.







Here’s how the garden looks after a week of very hot weather.  Things are coming along nicely.





Here’s the view inside the Starterhouse with all the plants that still have to be planted out.


I just came in from the backyard and the temperature has dropped considerably, so cool days have returned, thank goodness.

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This dress is very different from the older blouse.  The seams are unfinished, the yoke is one piece, the fabric is different, and there are no gussets.  It is very comfortable to wear and would be easy to reproduce since most of the pieces are rectangles, squares, or variations of squares.

The body portion is attached to the yoke with tucks.  This gives a slimmer line and is certainly easier to sew.  The yoke is a single layer with a double turnunder at the neck edge which is  held down by the crochet trim.

All measurements in the diagrams are WITHOUT SEAM ALLOWANCES, including the neckline turnunder.  These measurements would have to be added when fabric is cut out.

Following are closeups of the diagram for easier reading:

The sleeve length (from top of sleeve to bottom of sleeve)  is 5 1/4″ without seam allowances and hem allowances.  I usually add 5/8″ for the hem, with a 1/4″ narrow turnunder followed by a 3/8″ hem.

The neckline is the same depth in the back as it is in the front.  The shoulder length (not counting the sleeve) is 6″.

The tucks were spaced about 1 1/2″ apart, measured out from the center tucks.  The tucks had a variable depth of from 3/4″ to 1/2″ (meaning that if you stuck a ruler into the tuck, that is what it would measure, but twice that length of fabric is actually tucked up).  Nothing seemed very exact.  There were 6 tucks in all, ending 3 3/4″ from the side/armhole seam.

The dress has side slits that measure 9″ long on both sides of the bottom width.  The dress length is pretty long, hitting me below mid-calf, but I am not a tall person.

You wouldn’t have to have good embroidery skills to produce a beautiful Mexican Peasant Blouse or Dress, because you could use commercial trims available in any fabric store.  You could combine trims with machine decorative stitches to make a wide trim on the yoke and sleeve tops.  If you are lucky enough to own an embroidery machine, you could use that, of course. Since the yoke is basically a square with a hole cut out of it, you could use quilt piecing to decorate it too, and of course, applique would be gorgeous.

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