Friday, July 27, 2012

Cap Sleeve Basic Tee

I own quite a few basic cap sleeve tops from Shade Clothing and Modbe Clothing. What I really wish is that they’d make the basic cap sleeve shirt but with a higher back. The back neckline is just as scooped as the front. I don’t like folks seeing my swimsuit strap tan lines. Plus freckles galore. So a few years ago I decided to trace one of their tops to make my own out of printed fabric. I’ve made a striped one and here’s another one I made this week.

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Just trace your favorite cap sleeve top and add 1/2” seam allowances all the way around.

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Make sure you are using something with lots of lycra if your original shirt is also super duper stretchy. I used this awesome green knit I bought a long while ago on I have no idea what ITY means but I love this fabric. Just a yard is needed and at $5 or less what a deal huh?

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It will take you about 30 minutes to sew the top. Here’s how I do it.

Iron scraps of interfacing to one side of your top—doesn’t matter if it’s your front or back piece. This is to stabilize the shoulder seams. (You could use clear elastic—hold your horses—more on that in a second pardner.) In fact, look at the shoulder seams of your store-bought t-shirts and you’ll see they are stabilized with one of these two methods. Nobody wants stretched out shoulders.

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After you iron on the interfacing, you will then sew the front to back at the shoulder seams with a stretchy stitch like a zig-zag or use your serger, every sewer’s best friend.

Then sew the side seams of your shirt.

Now for the neck, you’re going to need some clear elastic. It’s $1-2 bucks. This stuff is mostly used on swimsuits. (You might even see some poking out on the ‘leg holes’ of your swimsuit.) You could bind the neckline. You could make self-ribbing out of the leftover fabric as well, but this is the fast and dirty way. And it looks great.

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For the neckline you are simply going to turn under the neckline your 1/2” seam allowance and “sandwich” in some clear elastic as you zig-zag all the way around the neckline. (I find it ironic that I have access to 1,000 stitches on my Bernina 830 and yet I’m sewing this with a basic zig-zag on my Bernina 131.) I love the vintage look of a basic zig-zag. Don’t stretch your fabric and don’t stretch your elastic.

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Do the same for the ‘sleeve’ and the bottom hem of the shirt—only you don’t need no stinkin’ elastic here.

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Not bad for 30 minutes huh ladies? Can’t wait to wear this with my navy blue blazer in the fall.

Polka Dot Tunics

I’m just so head-over-heels for this black and white polka dot fabric from Michael Miller called Ta Dots. Gonna buy more in case it it discontinued.

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I first fell in love with it seeing this fabulous dress from this fabulous etsy seller. Feanna from Kate Emerson designs is great and easy to work with so if you don’t sew, take a look at her shop for kids’ clothing. Amazing stuff. And the photography by Kara May just makes this dress irresistable.  I just realized my niece is holding a white dog above and so is the model below! Not staged, promise!


I made my 8-year old daughter Hallie a size 12 tunic using Simplicity 3743. I used this pattern many times, including here. Patterns tend to run small on bigger girls. This top, even in a size 12, needed a good 4 inches added to the length. And the elastic casing guide for the neck is way too long so I had Hallie try on the tunic and then I quickly cut off a good 6 inches of elastic from the neckline.


And for my 4-yr old niece Laura I made a size 2 for her using New Look 6956. Patterns tend to run large on younger girls. The only change I made on Laura’s dress was to gather the bottom of the sleeves and bind them using the same fabirc. Much cuter than those bows in the picture which will only wrinkle after washing.


Just kiding, I also opted for an invisible zipper closure instead of a centered zipper.

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You better believe come fall Hallie will wear her tunic with leggings and boots. My little niece is also stylishy organized with her lace leggings and neon sandels. Love those girls!

The Caribbean Dress

I like to take patterns that are simple in construction techniques and make them just a wee bit fancier with some added embellishments. I wanted to make my 11-yr old daughter a linen dress and sadly I didn’t have enough linen of any one color so I thought I’d make her a turquoise and yellow dress with orange accents. All the linen—yellow, turquoise, and orange is a 3.5-ounce weight linen purchased from Isn’t this orange magnificent? I used “ethereal blue”, “aurora” (yellow), and “orange pixie”. (All this weight of linen is on sale this week of July 27, 2012!!)

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I started with a basic tank dress, McCalls 6098, which is ugly judging by those sketches, and tweaked it a little bit. The first thing I did was alter the dress to have a simple cap sleeve. You can see below how I simply extended the “sleeve”.  Next time I will make the armhole wider as my daughter couldn’t get her arms in the dress! I had to undo the side stitching so she could have room to breathe. I drew with a white line how I’ll do the sleeve next time.

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First, you’ll sew the shoulder seam.  Second, you’ll simply fold under the sleeve twice and sew. Presto, easy cap sleeve.

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Third, you’ll sew the sides and once you reach the sleeve (marked with a white x on above photo, you’ll taper your seam off the edge of the sleeve.

Fourth, you’ll apply the facing. I usually prefer to finish a neckline with a bias binding, however, sometimes if my fabric is very lightweight the bound neckline makes it droop too much. So I decided to stick with the evil pattern instructions and use the included facing pattern.  Now if you don’t already use the “faced facing” technique I am about to change your life. 

First, you’ll pin your fusible interfacing to the fabric facing pieces. The right side of the fabric will be facing the non-gluey side of the interfacing, pin in place as seen below. You’ll be sewing a seam line along the bottom, or the part of your facing that would usually remain raw or serged.

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Sew in place. (Ignore how mine looks a little puckery, I used a longer stitch length so it was easing it a bit. I didn’t back stitch so it smoothed out fine.)

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Clip your curves. Now turn the gluey side of the interfacing, towards the back and iron into place. Now your facing is ready to apply. Doesn’t this look professional and perfect? I’ve been doing this for 10 years and wonder how many others do it this way now.  Curious.

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Gorgeous facings!!


While we’re still on step #4 of sewing this dress, notice I eliminated the back loop closure. It fit find over Ilene’s head so I eliminated it. In fact, it was so big that I added a few tucks to the front to shrink in the neck area just a bit.


Our 5th and final step (sort of) is to hem the dress. Done!

See how nice the facing looks through this semi-sheer fabric?


But, if you want to make this dress yummier, add a waistband. I used 2.5 wide elastic so I cut a nice long piece of orange linen approx 3.5” inches wide. Turn each long side of orange linen under 1/2 and inch and iron with lot of steam. I sewed it the dress and left one end open as a casing for the elastic. I fed the elastic through and then sewed the casing shut.

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The final embellishment was to use my “Windswept” embroidery design (for the jumbo hoop) and stitch that on in orange thread. Yummy! As I’ve said before about machine embroidery—I prefer to use simple  lightweight designs for clothing. Anything with a higher stitch count and this dress would’ve puckered under the weight of the stitches. As of July 27, 2012 I don’t have this larger jumbo size as an option but I’ll be adding it to the pack soon.

A nice cool  Carribbean-inspired church dress for these 100 degree days. (Hottest summer ever here in Utah.)  Ilene is kind of a Tom boy so it’s wishful thinking to assume she’d ever wear this dress during the week. I wish it fit me—I’d wear it for sure. (Hmmm….there’s an idea. Make me one too.)

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A half-slip was needed as that yellow is pretty sheer.


The pattern claims this is a one hour dress but I would say 2-3 hours is needed to add the casing and a little bit of embroidery.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roasted Beets, Fried Shallots, and Bleu Cheese Salad

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I read a blog post the other day about golden beets. Just reading the post made me crave beets. Mmmm, sweet veggie goodness, packed with vitamins and tastiness. But orange ones? I’ve only ever had purple ones. I now think I prefer the orange ones. Although maybe it’s just because I still have nightmares of canned beets even while eating yummy roasted purple ones. My hubby always gets beets at the salad bar in restaurants—knowing good and well they are canned. Gag. I still love him though.

I quickly searched “beet salad” on my Cooksillustrated  app for the iPhone and this recipe came up. Love that app. What I love is that I can save all my favorite recipes to the ‘favorites’ section. (Duh) I can’t tell you how often I am in the grocery store, see a certain ingredient that reminds of a favorite recipe, and then easily go to my CooksIllustrated app to find the recipe. Not being paid by the good folks at cook illustrated, just a big fan.

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I didn’t have arugula which will make this 10x tastier in my book, but I did have an heirloom lettuce pack. And those 5-minute fried shallots are like having mini onion rings in my salad. I browned mine too much but they were still yum. I already had a homemade vinaigrette on hand in the chill box so this was a 10 minute salad. (I roasted the beets earlier in the day at 350 degrees for 1 hour, wrapped in aluminum foil. Simply rub the skins off when cool.) So go ahead and give beets—orange or purple—a chance.

Click here for recipe

Texas Style Blueberry Cobbler

I saw this recipe on yesterday, pinned it, and made it today.That has to be a record from love at first site to tummy happiness. Here’s a double stack of the cake. Yes, I ate both pieces. I ran 4 miles today but I’m sure my hips don’t care.

It’s currently one of their free recipes although I think that will change eventually. Love all things related to


And the recipe did not disappoint. You make the easiest buttery cake batter in the world (no eggs, curiously), pour it into the 9x13, and then spoon the crushed blueberries over the top. And the hint of lemon zest sure comes through in the final cake. I’m in love, and this cake is now part of my repertoire. For sure. Fast and easy. 10 minutes I think.

Next time I’ll try it with frozen berries (thawed first) and see how it compares to fresh ones. And peach season is coming….oh the possibilities!


Don’t you love recipes with a little bit of magic? The batter goes in first, then the blueberries but they kind of ‘reverse’ that order by the time it’s done cooking? The berries end up on the bottom and the sweet cake is on top. Fancy.

Click here for recipe

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Kwik Sew #3766

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kwik Sew patterns are the best. They’re never on sale but I don’t care—they’re worth every penny. I used to think $10 was a lot for a pattern but you figure that good patterns save you hours of frustration not to mention the wasted fabric you ruin with other patterns, they’re worth it. Kwik Sew 3766 is no exception. I’ve used it a few times to make me some t-shirts.


I know, I messed up—I didn’t even match the stripes at the side. An oversight. Now it just looks like a store bought shirt. Yes, that was a dig at cheap t-shirt companies.  I don’t usually think making t-shirts is worth it but I do find it hard to find cute printed t-shirts in the store. And I love me a good stripe.

As is typical of Kwik Sew, I didn’t alter this t-shirt pattern at all. The cut is perfectly fitted without being too tight. I’d love some tips on great online sources for t-shirt knits. I bought this black/gray striped knit at but I’m always looking for more sources.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Burda 9545

What do you do when your daughter prefers to dress like a Vegas show girl and you prefer to dress her like J.Crew? For several years I’ve been making my daughter beautifully simple dresses in linen and cotton with little embellishments other than some embroidery. And for years she has been avoiding these dresses on Sunday morning (most of the time) in favor of anything that has sequins, glitter, ruffles, etc. I’d buy her a dress here and there at Costco that fit her criteria and sadly those are her favorites.

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I decided to finally compromise. And this pattern was the one to do it.

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I used an Amy Butler cotton print and dressed it up to Hallie’s liking with a taffeta slip and sash. The taffeta/toole even has glitter sequins on it. She picked out the turquoise taffeta at the fabric store. The dress pattern calls for the toole/taffeta to be sewn onto the hem of the dress. I wish I had done it that way as the slip I made her just won’t stay in place. You can see the uneven-ness of the slip at her hem. Grrrr. I’ll either sew it to the dress at the waistband or accidentally throw it away. Kidding!

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I love Burda patterns—they have that simple European cut, with true sizing,  and have easy directions. I love to sew with European patterns like Onion and Burda. Simple classics.

I sewed the belt to the dress as I think having a removable belt will mean she’ll take it off and on all day in church. I see it every week in Sunday school—little girls in church chew on their dress ties and little boys use their clip on ties as whips. Lovely pious children.

I made two other changes—not pleating the hem of the sleeves—too lazy and using an invisible zipper instead of a centered one.

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The dress only took about 2 hours of actual sewing, minus all the glitzy additions. I made a size 10 which is the actual size for Hallie. Most american patterns are way off on sizing but not Burda. I think I hit a home run as Hallie has been wearing that tacky  slip and saying she feels like a mermaid. Have mercy.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Lime Pie & Happy Independence Day

I went for a run early at 6:30am even though it was a holiday. I wanted to eat dessert this day. You’ll know why when you keep reading. Then I came home, ate my bowl of cheerios, and quickly began baking pie crusts before the infernal heat of the day set in. They aren’t too pretty—but speed was the name of the game.


One became “key lime pie”. Although once it was made (and taste tested by yours truly) I realized it was just a lemon meringue pie but with lime juice and lime zest instead. It was a recipe in my new kitchen aid cookbook. But I’m not a fan of traditional key lime pie—too cloyingly sweet—so this one hit the holiday spot.

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The recipe called for a teaspoon of zest. Sheesh, why bother adding any if you’re only gonna use a teaspoon? I added this whole pile—I’m guessing it’s 2 tablespoons.


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Pretty darn tasty. Along with coconut cream, the day was all set for desserty goodness.


The family guests arrived, carne asada was grilled with fresh corn, and fireworks were launched. God Bless America, land that I love!

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This is my sister with my girls. She always spoils them with sparklers. And this year with aerials. I can’t believe they’re legal considering the whole state is on fire. We kept a hose ready in case. As if.

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