Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Refashion of a Refashion: Navy Linen Skirt Redux

One of my big misses last year was this navy linen skirt refashion. There wasn't anything exactly wrong with the skirt, it just didn't really work in my wardrobe. In my Top 5 Misses post, I mentioned that I would like to fix the issues I had with this skirt to make it more wearable for me, and I finally got out my seam ripper a few weeks ago.
The big change you can see right off are the buttons. As much as I love shell buttons, I it just made this skirt more beachy and casual looking than the rest of my wardrobe, so I was greatly limited as to what shirts I could wear with it. I knew I wanted to change them and I lucked out a little over a month ago when I came across a cache of 1/2" navy shank buttons on cards at a thrift store for 5 cents each. I grabbed all they had - I think it was 30 or so buttons, and they turned out to be the perfect size and color for this skirt. I spent some spare time removing the old ones and sewing on the new ones - easy peasy!
The next big and important change was the waistband. Originally I used a cheap polyester grosgrain ribbon as my inner waistband. It didn't seem like a problem when I decided to use it, but it was really scratchy against my stomach. Also, the skirt flares pretty quickly with the gored construction, and the ribbon was 1" wide but had zero give, which lead to some bunching up on my top stitching. I always wore my shirt untucked so it wasn't a big deal, and if it hadn't been scratchy I would've probably left it, but out it came. I picked a fun batik print fat quarter from my stash and cut some 2" wide bias tape. I needed to make sure the skirt didn't stretch out, so I used a poly satin ribbon as a waist stay inside my bias tape seam allowance - now it looks cute, stays the right size, and feels much more soft against my skin :) I also decided to actually cut a buttonhole in the bias tape and hand stitch it into the buttonhole on the front unlike last time where I was lazy and just folded the ribbon up to clear the hole, lol. It's much neater in there now. I did have one little snafoo with unpicking and I cut a tiny hole when I unpicked the ribbon waistband, which you can see at the top left of the waistband in the above photo. I just dabbed a bunch of fray check and called it good, lol.
Once I finished my two niggling changes that I had always planned, I started to think about pockets. This construction has no side seams, so adding traditional pockets wasn't really an option. Not having pockets really is a pain for me though - I wear skirts at work and I need to have my counter keys on me at the very least. Pockets just make life so much easier. So I pulled out the scrap pieces from when I cut the original waist off this skirt (because I'm crazy and keep everything) and they were just big enough to get some basic patch pockets out of! I just cut as large of a pocket as I could from the scraps and rounded off the bottom. I used my bias tape as a facing for the top and got that all enclosed, then I overcast around all the outer edges. Next I stitched around the edge of the rounded section of the pocket at a 5 stitch length and gathered it in to make a nice edge - such a life saver on a rounded pocket like this. Folding that over by hand would be a nightmare without the gathering. Then I just placed them where they looked good, measured to make sure they were evenly placed, and top stitched 2 rows to secure them.
It's amazing how much something as simple as pockets can change your whole outlook on a piece of clothing. I seriously love these pockets. They are just big enough to hold what I need in the day (actually they even fit my phone!), plus they look really cute. I'm so glad I had enough fabric to add them. Patch pockets - who knew?

So that is my refashion of my refashion :) This skirt integrates wonderfully in my closet now and I already have a bunch of things I can wear it with. The linen rayon fabric makes it super light and lovely, and I'm sure this will be a warm weather staple item this year. Hooray for saving something I thought was a failure!

Fabric: batik print fat quarter - $1.00, scraps from previous refashion
Notions: 12 navy buttons - $0.75 (thrifted), navy thread - $0.50
Time: 3 hours

Friday, April 6, 2018

Fantabulous Food: Banana Cake à la 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook

It has been an age since I posted any recipes on the blog, so when others showed interest in this cake on my Instagram I thought it would be the perfect way to lead back into some Fantabulous Food posts :) This recipe was brought to my attention through @stewardesstiffany on Instagram because she is always saying it is the best cake ever and I just had to check for myself, so she was kidn enough to send me the recipe. Thanks, Tiffany! Online friends are the best. This cake is definitely a winner - it sounded strange to me at first. Banana Cake? Really? Is it like banana bread? But no, it is not except that it is also delicious and contains bananas. The original recipe comes from a 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook, so the directions are old style. This one is not to be missed though, so I wanted to post it here for any other banana lovers. Anyway, let's get making a cake!
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas
2 large eggs
2/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 1/2 - 2 tsp cinnamon
 1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans. Sift together all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon) and whisk to combine.
2. Mash your bananas - I used 4 medium bananas, but depending on the size of your bananas it may take more or less. I like to put them in a bowl and just go to town with a fork until there are no large chunks.
 3. Combine shortening and buttermilk in a small bowl and combine slightly - it's kind of impossible to mix these thoroughly.
4. Add all of the bananas and half of the liquid mixture. Mix on medium high for  30 seconds.
 5. Add eggs and the rest of the liquid mixture. Mix for 2 minutes on medium high, scraping the bowl frequently.
You want your mixture to be nice and fluffy and smooth like regular cake batter.
 6. Pour equal amounts of batter into 2 prepared cake pans and bake at 350F for 30 - 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
 7. Cool on baking rack in pan completely, running a knife around the rim to release while they are still warm.
 8. Frost with American Buttercream frosting - I didn't grab that recipe but there are plenty available online.
And it's ready for your to slice and enjoy :) I like to keep the cake in the fridge just because I live in Florida and buttercream can be a bit slippery in the heat, but it's not absolutely necessary. I made this for Easter and it was a big hit.
This is what the original recipe looks like, lol. I'm so glad I was alerted to this cake. It really is so yummy and I never thought I would be making banana cake. I hope you enjoy, and let me know if you make this up! Let's keep the banana cake awareness going!

Friday, March 30, 2018

*Testing*: Otari Hoodie by Scroop Patterns

A little over a month ago there was a call for testers on a new Scroop Pattern. I submitted and was very lucky to be chosen :) I made this several weeks ago, working on it in secret from the sewing community (and man that was a much faster release than I would've thought possible - Leimomi was on it!), and now that the pattern was released I can officially show it here. So everyone - meet my Otari Hoodie!
The Otari Hoodie is a classic zip front sweater with pockets and a hood, but with some quirky options. The pattern has two hood choices - traditional rounded (like mine has) or a fun pointed back - as well as two pocket choices - traditional scoop opening pockets or Art Deco inspired cloud pockets (like mine has). The options are easy to mix and match, so technically I made View A but with the pockets from View B. I went with the rounded hood since my fabric has circles all over it, but I would love to make the pointed version as well some time.
Going by the size chart, I made a size 44 bust and 46 waist to hip since the pattern advised that there was a tighter fit across the stomach area and I usually have to make this type of adjustment on every pattern I make. My resulting fit is pretty good - a little loose, but I think that makes it more possible to have additional layers underneath. Part of my loose fit could be my fabric choice. Since I live in Florida and we have just finished our mild cool time of year, I knew a sweatshirt style hoodie would sit unused except for maybe 2 times a year. I wanted a "Florida appropriate" sweater, so I dug this neat cotton interlock out of my stash. The gray fabric with the circles is Amy Butler Gray Quarter Moon and I grabbed 2 yards from Fabric Mart in a sale a while back not having any project in mind. The fabric is a medium weight interlock and very soft. The melon colored contrast fabric is just a poly spandex lightweight jersey I picked up in clearance at Hobby Lobby a few years ago. Originally I was going to use this for the lining only and I tried dying some cotton ribbing in an acid green/yellow to match the circles on the main fabric, but after 2 bottles of fabric paint and over a week of soaking and drying and soaking again, I threw in the towel and just decided to go with the melon since it was already a good color.
I even had all of the rather random components in my stash for this project - I used a separating handbag zipper that I shortened to the necessary length, a few grommets for the hood, and cord I bought for knitting bags. The only thing I had to purchase was melon colored thread :) Can we all just stop to appreciate that the hood is the perfect size?! I was thrilled when I sewed up the hood pieces and tried it on. It's loose enough not to mess up your hair but tight enough to stay up. This is no small feat even in rtw hoodies, so I was particularly happy it turned out this was on mine.
Other than grading between two sizes, I also lengthened mine by 1" - another standard adjustment. I loved the cloud pockets as soon as I saw the pattern and knew I would use them but I think they would've been lost on my busy print, so I decided to extend the lining pieces to peak out just a bit like piping. I love this effect and it was an extremely easy touch to add. Nicely the pockets are fully lined, giving not only a clean finish but also helping keep your hands toasty.
My one niggly fit issue is that the shoulders drop slightly on me, but keep in mind this was the tester version and this specific issue has been changed on the larger sizes to make the shoulders more narrow. This dropped shoulder caused my sleeves to be slightly long, but really in a hoodie it doesn't make a bit of difference since extra sleeve length means extra hand coverage in the cold. The overall fit is a bit loose, and I may take it in a bit, but again that is probably due to my lighter weight fabric. The pattern suggests a heavier sweatshirt fabric, which would certainly take more space and be tighter fitting.
The hood has a draw string that is held in place by a casing you sew connecting the lining to the main fabric. My tip would be to place your grommets exactly where the pattern states and then sew all your seams at 3/8" like suggested or you will run into problems. Mine were close, but maybe not exact, and it caused some grief sewing over the grommets since you have to install them early on in the hood construction. The grommet insertion order has changed since I made it, helping make this an easier process.
The hood is fully lined and there is an inner neckband to close everything up inside - it's' such a nice finish, seriously. This part was definitely the most fiddly, particularly in my light weight poly knit that loved to roll. I starched the neckband before insertion, which helped, but this is an area that takes further precision to make sure you enclose everything that is going on there. It's worth the effort though because it looks so clean and professional afterward.
I did all of my top stitching in contrasting melon thread for an added touch of fun. Here you can see how close you sew to the grommets on that hood - be aware there. Also apparently YKK handbag zippers don't come with pulls? I have yet to decide what to attach to mine as a pull, but it still functions just fine without one. You definitely want to be aware on all of the top stitched seams - I pulled out a few of the lines of stitching around my zipper because they were slightly off and it's' glaringly obvious since it runs right down your middle. This is definitely a place for precision and taking your time, even if you don't use contrasting thread.
The zipper is also enclosed with a twill tape facing inside - a lovely touch as it looks clean and adds stability for easy zipping. I've had this ruler printed twill tape for a few years now so I decided it would be a little sewing joke inside my sweater and it makes me ridiculously happy when I see it. I could actually use my hoodie to measure things in centimeters should the need pop up. How cool is that?
And here's a close up of the pocket area -my top stitching isn't perfect here, but I don't think anyone will have their head at the same level as my abdomen like this, so it's not a big deal here. The zipper looks good and the pockets line up across the zipper, so I'm happy. The pattern gives lots of words of advise on where you need to be super accurate with your stitching, which was nice. The pattern also lets you know which seams should be sewn with a stretch stitch and which with a straight stitch - sure you could technically puzzle this out on your own if you've sewn a few knit garments, but how nice it was to take the extra thinking out of it and just be able to sew by the directions. That's a sign of a good pattern in my eyes.
So that's my Otari Hoodie :) This was my first time ever testing a sewing pattern and I an super honored I got the chance. This was a very fun project that included a few new-to-me techniques, but the pattern was written in such a way as to make these new steps easy to accomplish. I would call this an intermediate pattern because of the zipper and neckband, but a confident advanced beginner could certainly make it if they were dedicated and good at following the instructions. They will get you there even if you are not super experienced. I'm really happy with my fun hoodie and now I have a great pattern on hand when the mood strikes to make another one (or if I need a unique gift!). It was so nice to test this pattern - Leimomi was very attentive with questions I had and really took our suggestions into account and made small changes to make this an even better pattern. It's so nice when your issues are taken into account by the designer and I would love to test for her again anytime. Thank you so much, Leimomi, for choosing me to test, and thank you for a terrific pattern!

*I was given the Otari Hoodie pattern to test free of charge in exchange for my critiques. I was not required to post about my results, but I am just so happy with my sweater I had to share. All opinions are 100% my own. This is just a great pattern :)

Fabric: 2 yards Amy Butler Gray Quarter Moon print Cotton Interlock (53" wide) - $7.50, 3/4 yards tangerine poly  spandex knit - $ 0.50
Pattern: Otari Hoodie by Scroop Patterns
Notions: 2 grommets - $ 0.50, knit interfacing - $ 0.50 , acid green fabric paint - $2.55, peach thread - $2.99, gray thread - $1.00, 1.5 yards measuring print twill tape - $2.50, 28" separating zipper (cut to 25") - $2.60, 1 yard cotton cord - $0.50
Time: 8 hours
Total Cost: $ 21.14

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dress Like Your Grandma Challenge: Planning

It's time for a sewing challenge that I have been looking forward to since last year - the Dress Like Your Grandma Challenge! Tanya of Mrs. Hughes started this challenge last year and the idea is to recreate an outfit from a vintage photo - it can be a relative or just a random old photo you like as long as it's vintage. I really wanted to participate last year, but it came at a time that I just wasn't able to get anything done. This year things are busy, but I feel like I can make something happen in the time given. As soon as Tanya announced this challenge, I started looking through old photos to see what garments I might have to choose from. These were some of my contenders:
 The first 5 photos are of my mom's mom- this is my lovely Grammy :) I have a lot of digitized photos of her from her funeral, so I had lots of inspiration. This pictures is from the late 1960s. This white shirt dress was a big contender - I love the collar and the tie and the belt combo. All white just looks so classic. If I wasn't such a total klutz, I would probably have jumped on making this up. Alas, I would definitely soil a dress like this and pretty quickly. So I kept looking...
This is my Grammy (right) with her parents (left two adults), her uncle (right), and two of her brothers. In love Grammy's outfit here - she looks so cool, doesn't she? My grandma appreciated a good button-up shirt, and this is a great example. I could even take a page from my great grandma's book (left) and make myself a capelet if I felt I could pull it off, but I don't think my day to day life is quite glamorous enough to call for one. This pictures is probably from the late 40s or early 50s.
This is my grammy with all her kids - my mom is the one with the absolutely enormous collared dress, lol. I'm digging her cuffs though. If I was a suit person, this suit would be epic - I believe it's a skirt suit. I love the neckline, the sleeve length, and the bias cut button placket. This must have been on Easter or some other holiday for my uncles to be so dressed up, lol. Doesn't my one uncle look like PeeWee Herman?
This is another picture from the late 40sor early 50s - possibly on the same day as the family shot above. I suspect this is the same outfit, but doesn't the skirt look epic draped over that car? She looks pretty badass in this shot, no lie.
This is from the early 50s and I really love the patch pockets on the skirt she's wearing (she's on the left). Also another great button-up here. 
This one is from 1985 and that is me on my blessing day between both my grandmas :) I actually really like grammy's outfit here, and I was very tempted to choose this picture, but I did not have any appropriate red fabric for the shirt and I wanted to keep this in stash to save on time. I love the skirt and shirt in this one though.
 This is a shot of my dad's mom in the mid-1950s. I'm really liking that neckline on the shirt, but I'm not quite sure how I would replicate that without a pattern. I love the button tab on the skirt too.
 And this is actually my husband's grandma, but I love her outfit. Isn't ths shirt cute? Again I'm not sure how I could replicate the collar without a pattern, but I love the whole thing.
After examining my stash possibilities and looking through all of the photos, I decided to go with this one as my outfit inspiration. This picture is from the early 1960s and I feel it's pretty representative of grammy's style - a button-up shirt with a flares skirt. Also can we just pause for a moment and appreciate that my uncles are dressed like tiny Colonel Sanders? lol
For the blouse I'm going to use the Mimi Blouse pattern from Tilly and the Button's book Love at First Stitch. I've wanted to make this pattern for a very long time, so this will give me the perfect kick in the butt to figure out the fit and get some made. I'm going to make it up in this nice white rayon challis that I grabbed when Hancock Fabrics closed down a few years ago. I think it will be a great wardrobe piece that will go with everything, so I'm pretty excited about getting this one going. I think the pattern is perfect for the neckline and collar, but I will be going with the longer sleeves of the pattern instead of the cap sleeves on my grammy simply because I hate cap sleeves. Give me a real sleeve, please thanks.
For this skirt I am still deciding on a pattern. At first I thought I'd make a Hollyburn (mostly because I usually always want to make one because I love wearing them), but when I look closed at the photo, it looks the there is an angled pleat front and center (or maybe it's a circle skirt and creating a fold there? I like the pleat idea better, so I'm saying it's a pleat, lol). This made me think of Gertie's Butterick 6285 skirt since it has fancy double pleats - but the pleats are at the princess seam lines, so not exactly the right placement for my inspiration photo. Then I thought of the skirt on Simplicity 2444 which has very similarly angled pleats across the front. Now I'm contemplating a merge of the 2444 skirt with the Hollyburn pockets and a waistband. As far as fabric, I have a nice bright red linen look I grabbed at The Sewing Studio a few years ago that would be perfect for a skirt. I also have some red poly satin lining should I feel it needed.

I think this will be an outfit my grammy would appreciate if she were here to see it. Honestly grammy was always encouraging in everything I made and would praise it no matter what, but in this case especially I like to think she would be happy with my choice. She would probably have a blast showing me other good outfit photos to help me decide. I just hope this all turns out as well as I think it could.

Are you joining in the challenge? Let me know! I'd love to see others' inspiration photos :)