I was at the train station few months ago, and saw the most amazingly dressed man. He was wearing a beautiful Liberty of London button down shirt, and the perfect pair of jeans. I was taken by the outfit as it traveled onto the train, through airport security, and all the way to Dallas…when the man walked off the airplane from few rows in front of me.

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When my sister suggested sewing denim Christmas stockings, the inspiration stayed with me.

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These stockings aren’t too big. Perfect for special treats, a walnut or two, and a tangerine. Maybe some marzipan, or little bar of chocolate.

There are 5 different designs, some right side out, some inside out. They are all unique, and mix and match well! Each of the different denim fabrics has a different Liberty print loop to hang on the mantle.

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I felt a little bit like an elf all weekend, with piles of fabric and stockings migrating around the room. Now the stockings are finished, and ready to go to their new homes. They are available in San Francisco at Beacon Coffee and Pantry, and online at Etsy.com, shop name: TorreyWitherspoon.

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kaisweater

I am lucky as can be to have the most adorable nephew. This spring I was inspired to make something for him to wear. I was traveling in a hot climate, and the only yarn I wanted to work with was linen. This sweater design came up in my mind. The Striped Linen Baby Sweater pattern is available for sale on Ravelry.com through this link.

StripedLinenSweater

The construction is simple. The front and back are knit separately. This was done to give a little more structure to the sweater body. For this reason, I do love seams and well sewn mattress stitch.

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The sleeves are picked up and knit from the body out. (There is less selvage at the armhole that way!) When I sewed the bottom of the sleeve to the shirt, I picked up as little material as possible to eliminate bulk.

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The first time around I didn’t add buttonholes, but when we tried the sweater on several children, the neck seemed a little too loose.

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The buttonholes give the neck opening a little more stability. The neck is also shaped using short rows. This creates a gentle curve. Linen tends to be sturdy and a little stiff. To keep the neck and sleeve edges flexible, I cast off using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Sewn Casting-Off.

sweateronporch

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Saturday I had a run in with some fruit at the farmer’s market and ended up with more than could fit in my  smallish fridge.

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I found some blueberries, and some lovely ripe yellow apples. I set the apples on the counter in a bowl, and my house started smelling like September…time to throw everything in the pot to jar and fill the pantry.

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I mixed blueberries, a package of frozen dewberries, apples, and the juice and zest of two lemons. I added some sugar, but not too much. I simmered the whole thing for about 20 minutes or so, and then let it sit for a few hours. Then I reheated it, and processed the jars in a hot water bath. Image

I am planning on making fruit tarts with pastry cream in the fall and winter. Nothing like opening a can of fruit dump pouring it into a pie shell and calling it homemade. Very easy later on down the line.

oats and pie

April 14, 2013

My friend Darin posted a picture of oatmeal pie on her blog a few weeks ago, and I have been wanting to make it ever since.

holding pie

I started to think about all the things that I like about oatmeal. Milky, sweet, buttery…

I found a few recipes, and altered them a bit to find something that I thought would work. I don’t like things super sweet, so I cut down the sugar a lot. I also really like the toasted flavor of lyles golden syrup (my mom carries it at the At Home Store), so I substituted it for the corn syrup I saw in many recipes. And I added a lot of chopped pecans, some cream, and a dollop of yogurt for good measure.

The final recipe came out  like this.

 

Pie dough for one 9″ pie crust, no top (1/2 the recipe)

 

Mix the following dry ingredients and set aside:

1 cup old-fashioned oats

2/3 cup roughly chopped pecans

a shake or two of salt

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In a separate bowl combine the following ingredients:

2 eggs

1/4 cup cream

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup lyles golden syrup

1 t vanilla

3 T melted butter

1 dollop (a healthy tablespoon) of yogurt or sour cream

mixing oats

Stir the wet ingredients until everything is nicely mixed together. Add the dry ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Pour into 9″ pie crust. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. It will be a little bit golden on the top.

Cool on a metal rack.

The pie isn’t very sweet, and is a little bit crumbly, but I like it that way. It is very rich, but can almost pass off as healthy because of the lower sugar content.

pie with path

photo credit Chloe Hennesy (My guest, and excuse for pie baking!)

Another hand-woven cotton and vintage fabric dress. The black fabric is hand-woven cotton, and the brown from a roll of fabric that I found nestled among countless delightful rolls in a quiet little alley. There is nothing like the feeling of pulling out rolls of fabric, each more wonderful than the next, and collecting them in your arms until you can’t hold anymore!

Initially I had planned on making a horizontal neck line for this dress. I tried the top part of the dress on and decided that it looked better at an angle. The line worked better with the strong vertical line of the brown section.

The brown fabric on the bodice is sewn at an angle onto the black bodice. The angles of the shoulder, neck, and front pull the eye into the waist and then opens up again with the skirt.

The brown section almost pours out of the waistline, and onto the skirt. I matched the brown panel from the bodice to the skirt. The black part of the skirt is gathered on the back to create more fulness in the skirt. It is a pleasant view to look at when sitting down…

The back of the dress is all black. Because there is so much going on with the pattern and embroidery on the front I left the back plain. It is important for me to have some major elements of simplicity in design. Things can get too busy.

I haven’t managed to buy bias tape to line armholes and the like, so I came up with some fabric left over from another project. So the armholes are lined with purple and black spots..

experiments on a theme

October 3, 2012

These dresses are all the same pattern, using different fabrics. Made with a combination of hand-woven cottons and vintage embroidered skirts, both from the hill tribes of northern Thailand.

There are three dresses. The first is red with blue and red embroidered bodice and trim. The red fabric is hand woven cotton. It is a thinner weave, and very soft. The embroidered fabric was originally a skirt. I took apart the embroidered and appliqued skirt, and only used one of the sections, pictured below. I have the bottom section left for something else. It includes a corduroy trim and more fabric patchwork.

The dress is billowy, and hits just above the knee (on me anyways). The gathered sleeves, cuffs, and bodice create a peasanty sort of look that I hope isn’t overdone…

The brown dresses are a little bit simpler. The bodice is all the same color. On the first brown dress I added a hem of another skirt. This particular skirt was all hand embroidered. I fell in love with the back of the skirt and used it instead of the front.

The above picture is of the “right side” of the dress, using the “wrong side “of the skirt border material. Below is an image of both the wrong side, top, and the right side of the fabric, bottom.

I am sure that some would prefer the right side of the hem, but I was really drawn to the muted colors and slight imperfections of the wrong side. I saved enough fabric to make another garment, and maybe the next time I will use the right side.

The third dress went along with the simple brown theme and was brown the whole way through, border and all. I made it simple to experiment with using only the cotton. I also wanted to try to belt this dress, and felt that the quieter brown would lend itself well to that. The plain brown one is also about an inch longer, to adjust to the belting.

 

It is delightful to me how two different pieces of fabric, with the same general format can inspire two different designs. By general format, I mean size, color scheme, etc. The difference in these two pieces of fabric was the geometric pattern printed in black. One piece of fabric seemed to be based more on squares, and the other on circles. From that difference came the two different dresses.

Circular vs square neckline, and on and on.

The second dress is also a tunic shape. A bit on the large size. Again, the patterning creates an illusion of shaping!

The sleeves are a little bit more interesting. I added little pleats on the cuffs, and they pouf out a little bit.

The sides of the dress match up nicely, with circles being created at the seams. I love how geometric this fabric is. The cutting and sewing are easy because of the patterns.

The rest of the dress is pretty much straight down. I am thinking that it would look good with a belt, but I don’t have one yet to try it with.

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