Chocolate Refrigerator Cake – Yummm

Our family is well into the plans for the second wedding in 3 months.  Shaun and Deb’s wedding in early September.  I am making 3 more flowergirl dresses and am doing some minor alterations to Deb’s dress as well as hemming one of the bridesmaid dresses.  Tonight was fitting night.

Shaun and Deb and their friends Julie and Dave came for a light dinner.  The guys were then shuttled off to the deck while Deb and Julie tried on their dresses.  Unfortunately I can’t photograph Deb’s dress because Shaun reads this blog, so I’ll need to write about something other than wedding dresses.

Since we are always looking for great summer recipes, I have two of them which were a great hit.

Wasabi Cole Slaw

1 head of shredded cabbage – always better if you shred just before adding the dressing
1/2 c. Wasabi mayo (I use Trader Joe’s but another option is to use mayo and add Wasabi paste or powder)
1/2 c. Miracle Whip type salad dressing
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp rice or red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar (maybe a little more if you like it sweeter
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
dill weed – optional
Mix dressing ingredients and add to shredded cabbage.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.
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For dessert I tried a new recipe for me but one that’s been around since the 1930’s.  Thanks to my new favorite recipe site, the Smitten Kitchen, I found this incredibly easy to make dessert which is over the top with taste and calories.

Easy Chocolate Refrigerator Cake



Since the Smitten Kitchen has done such a great job of describing how to make this two ingredient cake, I won’t repeat it here. Who in the world can’t layer whipping cream and chocolate wafers?  And the result looked just like the one on the website.

I will say that the most difficult part of making the cake was finding Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies.  I couldn’t find them, so yes, I used another Smitten Kitchen recipe to make my own.  The alternative was to order from Amazon which would take days and the minimum order is 12 boxes.  Easy or not, that would be a lot of cakes.

At any rate, if you’re looking for a dessert that will “wow” your guests, give this one a try.

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Tutorial: Topstitched Self-fabric bias binding

Achieve a clean neckline or armhole finish

One of my childhood hang-up’s is to see clothing which looks “home made”.  That is, as opposed to “well made”.  Before I go any further, please don’t fear, this won’t be a psychology lesson and I don’t plan to dump on you about my childhood.   Coming from a family of sewists/seamsters, it won’t surprise you that my mother sewed my clothing until I became old enough to do so myself.  Unfortunately I didn’t appreciate the work my mother put into these garments and feared that others would know my clothing wasn’t purchased from a store.

For me, one of the signs of well made clothing is to see a clean  finish on a neckline or for a sleeveless armhole.   When not well done, if it’s hand made, it looks home made.  Of course if it’s mass produced, it’s just a poorly made garment and there are probably thousands like it. Please know that even after many years of sewing, there are countless times when my clothing turns out with this look.

Having just completed a tank top with a self-fabric bias binding, I took a few photos and put together the steps for you.

Tutorial:

1.  Start with the end in mind.  These instructions will give you a fairly narrow binding which folds over nicely and lays flat, even on underarm curves.


2. Cut 1-1/4″ bias strips which are long enough for the entire neckline or armhole you are binding.  If you don’t have enough fabric, you may want to use a different finish as piecing seams would be create bulk and would destroy the look.

Caution:  The bias must be exactly on a 45 degree angle.  If not, the strips will wrinkle and not sew evenly.

Cut exactly 1-1/4" wide

3. Fold the bias strip in half lengthwise and iron press carefully.  While there are lots of other times when sewing doesn’t need to be accurate, this is a time for being exact.


4.  Pin the binding to the edge of the garment, stretching slightly, especially on the curves.  Then sew into place – 1/4″ from the edge.  A quilting foot works well for this as the edge of the foot is usually 1/4″.

5. Check your sewing to make sure it is accurate.  If not, it’s time for a do-over.

6.  Cut the seam allowance 1/16″ from the stitch line.  Applique scissors work well for this.  In this example you can see that the fabric is linen and a narrow seam allowance worked quite well.

7.  Fold the facing to the inside.  Even if you dislike basting, this is a good time to do it.  Press the binding in place.

8.  Using a short stitch, top stitch very close to the edge.  If you have a foot such as the one in this photo, it works well to guide you in keeping the stitching line straight.

9.  Stitch a second line approximately 1/8 to 3/16″ from the first.  Again, if you place the guide on top of the first line of stitching, it will be a great help.

Congratulations, you have a beautiful edge that you can be proud of.

Best Ever Little Black Dress (LBD)

The Uniform Project LBD Pattern

Have you every had difficulty falling asleep because you’re obsessed with re-creating a clothing item you’ve seen?  For me, this usually occurs when I see a piece of ready to wear that I’d like to copy.  Since I saw the video of the Uniform Project Little Black Dress, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about what fabric I would use.  I have no desire to wear it for 365 days like Sheena but the project is easy to capture interest and surely is inspiring.

Then I found that the pattern would soon be available.   Within minutes I signed up for Uniform Project email updates so I would learn when the patten is released.   Today the message came –  the pattern became available for purchase, either with fabric or the pattern only.


Not only do I think about how much fun it would be to make this dress, I also am haunted about who I’ll make it for.  For a travel dress?  At my age?  Oh come on now.  Maybe for my daughters? For Angela who loves red, the dress will likely be a Little Red Dress and for Megan who loves gray…..   Well it won’t be black for her either.

If this wasn’t for a charitable organization, you can bet that I’d try to re-create the pattern however with such a good cause, who wouldn’t want to spend $20 on the pattern or even $50 on the pattern and fabric.

Creative Problem Solving

What is this disease that causes me to think about sewing when I should be falling asleep?  My daughter tells me that this phenomenon is called “creative problem solving”.  One’s mind can’t stop as the brain is trying to process the details that will take the creative challenge to the next step.  For sewists it occurs when we try to figure out how to make a garment;  or for that matter, with any creative task.  Fun or crazy – you decide!

 


What does Spell-Check have to do with Self-esteem?

Why can’t Spell Check get it right?

I freely admit that I’ve never having been much of a writer, which of course is one of the reasons this blog is good for me as I am forced to write.  For some this might come easy however that’s surely not all of us who put words to computer on a regular or not so regular basis.  Unlike my limitations as a writer, minus the typos I’ve always been able to spell pretty well.  Apparently I can’t spell words such as “sew”.

Not surprisingly, the most time-consuming and difficult parts of writing a blog aren’t visible to the reader.  When you get to the very end and are ready to hit the “publish” button, with all good intentions, the system comes back and tells you that your grammar stinks and that you’ve spelled every sewing-related noun or verb incorrectly.  I have to ask if there’s a more salient message in the fact that “Spell Check” rejects any word which seems to describe the activities of this craft?  Is this really one more way of expressing the all to common message that sewing isn’t a worthy skill.  How can one feel his or her skills are valuable when a common verb such as “sew” isn’t recognized by a software program.



You may think I’m just complaining but in my other life I work in health-care, where Spell Check is continually underscoring words and like with the sewing lexicon, the word is a common word for the lay public, much less health-care workers.  Admittedly, I have a complex about computers rejecting what I compose.

Enough whining – I’m sure you’ve got the point.  I’ll never be a great writer or an editor but I will continue to promote the craft that we sewists/seamsters share.

Now that I’m done with this post, I can’t wait to hit the “Publish” button, for the system to ask me if it can tell me the errors of my ways and to again be told that “sew” isn’t a real word.

PS.  Yes, that’s what just happened!


A Tribute to Anne

Our hearts are heavy tonight as our soon to be daughter-in-law, Deb, lost her mother today.  With only weeks to go until Deb and our son, Shaun will be married, Anne lost a courageous battle with a devastating illness she could not conquer.

I didn’t know Anne well, but I spent enough time with her to know that she adored her children and her granddaughter.  I’ve also spent enough time with Deb to know that Anne instilled in her children the attributes one can always be proud to possess: kindness, gentleness, love, joy, personal strength and courage.

Through her many years of teaching, I am sure she touched hundreds of adolescents in ways we will never know.  She was a great cook and a wonderful host.  Tonight I would like to honor Anne, who was a lovely person to be with and a classy Southern Lady.

If there is happiness in my heart,
it’s because you helped put it there.

If there is gentleness in my beliefs,
it’s because you showed me how to care.

If there is understanding in my thinking,
it’s because you shared your wisdom.

If there is a rainbow over my shoulder,
it’s because of your outlook and your vision.

If there is a knowledge that I can reach out –
and I really can make some dreams come true –
it’s because I learned from the best teacher of all. . .
. . . I learned from you.

A mother’s heart is a special place where children always have a home.

author unknown

Do these fabric flowers look like Japanese Cherry Blossoms?

Tutorial:  Making Fabric Flowers

The fabric flowers on this dress are somewhat different from most of the fabric flowers I’ve seen.  With a light and wispy look, they were the perfect addition to a pink dress and a wedding with a Japanese theme.  Don’t they look like Japanese cherry blossoms?

Here’s a tutorial on how to create similar flowers.

Supplies:

Fabric: small scraps of white and pink polyester satin and white polyester organza.  For these flowers, it is important to use polyester.

Needle and thread

Candle

Instructions:

1.  Hand draw a pattern such as this.  The diameter of the pattern should be equal to the diameter of the finished flower.  In this case, the flowers will be approximately 3″ in diameter and about 1-1/2″ high.  As you can see by my drawing, the pattern doesn’t need to be exact.

Pattern

2.  For each flower, cut out 3 white, 3 pink and 6 organza pieces.  Cut around the pattern piece and on the lines between the petals.  For the base of the flower, also cut one circle which is 2″ in diameter.

Flower base

3.  Now you need to seal the edges of all of the petals.  To do this, use the flame from a candle.  Place each edge of the pattern piece near the candle flame (just “kiss it), rotating to catch most of the edges.  This isn’t an exact science but this method helps to prevent raveling on these delicate petals.  Don’t worry if it shrinks the edges slightly as it probably won’t show up.   Previously I did a post on making organza flowers.   For these Japanese Cherry Blossoms, you don’t want to curl the edges as with the organza flowers; just lightly seal the edges.  Also seal the edges of the fabric circle which will be used for the base.

4.  With a double strand of matching thread, hand gather the edges of the base, to make a “yo-yo”.  It will be approximately 1″ in diameter.

Now you have a yo-yo for the base

5.   Now you are ready to sew the petals to the base.  Fold one pattern piece into fourths and sew it to the base.

Hand sew the first petal to the base

6.  One by one, fold the petals in fourths and stitch to the base, alternating colors.  If you use organza, 2 pattern pieces can be folded together or they can be sewn separately.  There is no magic in how to arrange the petals – just so they look good to you.

Half of the petals are attached

7.  When all of the petals are attached, you can sew a snap to the back, or attach to the garment with a small safety-pin.

Completed Japanese Cherry Blossom

What a lovely addition to your favorite little girl’s dress or for your own.   For the dress above 2 flowers adjacent to each other on the sash.

Wouldn’t this flower be adorable in black organza and used as an embellishment for your Little Black Dress?