Monday, December 24, 2012

and to all

 
happy merry to all, to Every One and All, whatever and wherever you might be celebrating: may your days be full of color and sparkle and light.
 
love! oona
 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

brighter than I think I am


okay, lemme clarify something for alla y'all speed readers out there.  in fact, lemme put it in big bold red letters:

THE BY HAND LONDON ELISALEX DRESS PATTERN IS NOTHING SHORT OF PERFECTION AND IT WAS ONLY THROUGH MY HAIRBRAINED MACHINATIONS THAT I HAD ANY TROUBLE WHATSOEVER. RUN, DON'T WALK, TO BUY THIS PATTERN.

ahem.  we now returned to our regularly scheduled post.

i wrote a bit about this dress last week on my blog; it was giving me fever and i was not happy.

mainly, i'm mad at myself. i did everything i could to second guess this pattern, the elisalex dress from By Hand London.  i made my usual modifications on the fly, thinking i'd head possible problems off at the pass.  turns out, there were no problems to head off.  this baby fit me right out of the exceedingly lovely box. (i'm talking about the packaging, peeps, soon to be drooled over--these patterns are something you'll want to display in your room, totally bookshelf worthy.) if i would have spent less time second guessing the exemplary drafting, and more time on pattern placement, a much happier kalkatroonaan camper i would be.


alas, i was too smart for my own good, and in thinking ahead i didn't concentrate on the cutting task at hand. Aal of the gorgeous lavender and orange bits of this pixelated wool print from mood were lost on the back bodice, arms, and dear god, remnants. at one point, deep in my regret, i cut out all the best parts of the bits and pieces and appliqued them to the neck line of the dress.

that did not go well.

i resigned myself to bright accessories instead.


let's not talk about the specific smart ass moves i made that bit me in said ass here. let's just say that at one point, i realized every precaution i took was ripped out in favor of doing it EXACTLY AS THE PATTERN SAID I SHOULD IN THE FIRST PLACE.

let's also not talk about my choice of fabric. can someone please keep me away from the jersey aisle at mood? maybe joshua should take that detail. he actually forbade me to buy this yardage, would not take it to the cutting table until we found something for ruggy! THE NERVE.

don't get me wrong, i obviously love me some stretch, but when i was handed this golden ticket, i decided i was going to play with ALL THE FABRICS. dive into some fascinating stranger every month, learn about new materials...but this marks my second jaunt with a novelty wooly stretch, and truth be told, there's one more jersey knit a'comin. (joshua found two bolts of shirting for ruggy, so obviously i walked away even steven.) but then! no mas, peeps! it's time for some boucle and washed silk and cotton voile and guipere lace...



i am literally. starting to salivate.

i also think this pattern cries for a sturdier fabric. so do the lovely ladies at BHL. read the envelope much, oona? this pleated skirt asks for something more substantial to create that lovely tulip shape. my first attempt at a fix for this was to serge all the edges of the pleats and the side seams of the skirt...on the outside. three passes for each edge, to be exact. i thought i could make the fabric stand up by sheer force of thread. i could not. see that chartreuse edging on the neck and sleeves? that's all thread, and the only bits that survived the attack of my seam ripper.

after that botched experiment, i hacked off about twelve inches of length, hoping for an intentional look rather than a droopy hang, and i almost succeeded. wouldn't quite call it a cigar... maybe a cigarillo. i'm going to chalk this one up to a learning experience, and a total V-8 smack by By Hand London. you will see the elisalex dress again...


but not until next year. the happiest of holidays to you and yours. may you be well, warm, and bright.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

bourbon baking bling

hello all.  i'm about to hop on a plane for the holidays, after spending several days tromping around the city, trying to buy thoughtful gifts and be nice to everyone i see.  at the moment it's feeling right to be NICE. so i'd like to be nice to you and share a recipe i first posted about at sarah's sparkly joint, rhinestones and telephones. i hope you enjoy it, and if you do cook it up, share it with someone you love!   

did you know i bake?  or, much to ruggy's dismay, i used to bake before sewing took over in the extra curricular activities department.  i made key lime pies with eight inch high meringues, flourless chocolate tortes with glass ganaches, triple layer guinness cakes that could knock a horse over.  now i've got one standby that meets three important requirements:

1. it can be made quickly.
2. it makes the house smell delicious.
3. it has alcohol.

i adapted this recipe from emeril's chocolate bread pudding, and the ingredients (down to the brand name) are important for its success.  don't sleep on the thai kitchen full fat coconut milk!   i will allow room for alcoholic improvisation, as the inclusion of alchohol on hand is more important than the exclusion of alcohol.  you're welcome.


the brand names are also important if you are, like moi, apprehensive of the hormone wrecker that is soy.  me no likey the soy. and chocolate, bread, even eggs have gone the path of Soy World Domination in the form of lecithin and stabilizers and fillers... i tell you what, i downright loathe that crap.  long and tested story short, bumpy hormones make bumpy holidays. so the ingredients below have been checked and approved, but you can bet your ass i read that label every time i buy even a trusted brand.

that is your public service announcement for the day.

1 tsp unsalted butter (president)
4 large eggs (pete & gerry's heirloom bleu are wonderful)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (sunspire)
1/2 cup bourbon (knob creek.  lightweights can use grand marnier.)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (thai kitchen)
8 slices organic white bread (the supremely healthy kind that looks like it would be cardboard in your mouth. trust me.)


so, you've got your nasty looking organic hippy crunchy white bread. take eight slices out and leave them on the counter while you do the rest of the prepping.  that ever-so-wholesome perservative free bread will be stale in a matter of minutes!  huzzah for the hippies!  if your bread is nice and fluffy and edible right out of the package, you lose, and you must leave it out to sit on the counter for a couple hours to a whole day.  EEK.

next, melt ONE cup of the chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of the coconut milk over low heat, stirring constantly, and set aside to cool while you measure out the next ingredients.  listen you, don't go telling me that'll take too long. step away from the microwave, yo, it takes all of sixty seconds to melt this on the stove.  I SAID BACK OFF.


whisk together your eggs, sugar, spices, vanilla, and bourbon in a large bowl.  try to mimic the excellent wrist work of sarah jessica parker in The Family Stone (a most wonderful holiday movie, we watch it every year, sometimes twice).  pretend for a moment that you are SJP, wearing a foofy tutu and skyscraper stilettos. it makes the kitchen time go by ever so much more quickly. (having a good slug of that knob creek doesn't hurt either.)  next, add the rest of the coconut milk (1 cup) and the melted chocolate, mixing till it's looking smooth and happy.  then take your magically stale organic bread and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes, removing the crusts. and the bread cubes to the wet mixture and let it sit for 30 minutes.

during this li'l bit of marinating time, i like to clean up the area while sipping on a bit more of that knob creek, contemplating the gorgeous teeny all clad saucepan ruggy got me years ago.  it's my favorite part of a whole set, he had the bottoms etched with the maze at chartres!  ah, ruggy.

if you don't happen to have such a pan to ponder, you can preheat the oven to 350, and get the loaf pan ready, greasing it with that exquisite president butter.  now, and this is very important: at this point you need something to soak up the bourbon you've been sampling. throw a slab of that butter on a piece of that discarded crust. MERDE THEM FRENCH COWS MAKE GOOD BUTTER!


it's time to finish that puddin'.  pour half of your mixture into the buttered loaf pan, and sprinkle the remaining 2 cups of chocolate chips over the top.  eat a few if you must, then pour the rest of the bread mixture over the top. later, when you serve this, you are going to have a molten chocolate center in that baby.  oh yes. yes, my friends.

now bake for one hour.  did i say one hour?  HELLZ YEAH I DID.  YOU HAVE A WHOLE HOUR TO SEW.  GOOD LORD GET CRACKING. THAT EVENING GOWN WILL NOT MAKE ITSELF.

and that's about it.  let it cool for a mo before cutting, or you can premake and reheat for 15 minutes at 300 degrees.  best to keep it in the fridge, if you don't finish it all in one night.  extra points for dressing up in your evening gown while devouring.

Monday, December 17, 2012

how are you right

 
on saturday, it didn't seem right to be blogging about sewing, it didn't seem right to be playing christmas music, it didn't seem right to watch an endless parade of santas and elves walk down our street, on their merry way to santa con. i had planned to catch pictures of them for y'all, but that didn't seem right either.
 
there are so very many things wrong in the world.
 
on sunday, i decorated a christmas tree with my parents and beautiful nephews, and that did seem right.
 
and maybe if we do enough things right, the wrong will get better.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

i want to love you

 
several hours of my day were spent on the mess you see above you. at the time, i did not think it was a mess, and took this very picture so that i could include it in a post full of crowing and thest chumping.
 
turns out it is indeed just a mess. of the most hot sort.
 
the longer i worked on it, the more angry i became. i'm a Finish It kind of gal. if something goes wrong at any point, i usually grit my teeth and hammer forward. I'LL FIX IT IN POST, i whisper scream to myslef à la ed wood, grabbing something sharp and attacking with gusto. usually that works in my favor in a marie curie sort of way (at least in my opinion). but after collapsing in defeat at the end of the sewing day to play word games with ruggy, i felt the tunnel i'd been in for the several hours clear. whilst chuckling over a particulary delicious wordplay (i believe it was "tidbits" to "bitties"), i glanced over at my ironing board, and suddenly my brow darkened. i wanted to set fire to the area with my eyes.
 
i totally know how to do that.
 
is it possible... could it beeee, el guapo... sometimes you have to step away from the garment and decide, for the health of yourself and the safety of those around you: it's a wadder? i hate wadders. because i refuse, in every aspect of life, to admit defeat. I. WIN. AT. EVERYTHING. so if i can somehow salvage a project, even if it means something is fundamentally off in some way, i count it a victory. like the steelers of late, it ain't pretty, but it's a win. yet, if i walk into a retail store, i scoff at a wonky bias cut or a wavy seam. the horror! how do people buy this junk?! how utterly beneath my skill and prowess! i turn up my nose, turn on my heel, and prance home to my sewing queendom! where i'm probably working on a dress with a twinned back bodice and a lumpy thrice inserted zipper.
 
maybe making something passable doesn't make it good. maybe it just makes it on par with the RTW that i used to shrug my shoulders at, thinking it fit well enough for the price. this frightening thought will keep me up tonight: no one knows you made that slightly off garment you're parading around in, unless you tell them. and if it's wonky, you're not going to tell them. so really, as far as anyone knows, you're just wearing another poorly made off the racker.
 
SLEEP NO MORE...
 
what do you think?
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

boozy tips

 
what's up y'all! if you haven't been getting your fill of holiday sweets, skip on over to rhinestones and telephones, where i'm delighted to be saucy sarah's guest today. i've got some bittersweet bourbon chocolate bread pudding for ya.
 
you didn't think i'd forget the alcohol, did you?
 
and it occurs to me i never mentioned, the lovely kristiann of victory patterns did a sewing spotlight on me! egads! i was honored to be in the company of some of my favorite sewists sporting one of my favorite indie pattern lines.
 
and yes, meg! ruggy is indeed sporting a steelers cap, knitted by Sister Beast, who's getting all fancy and displaying her wares in a gorgeoug pop up brick and mortar. AND HOLY COW. BROTHER BEAST OF BULLDOG RADIO IS BACK. i would not call this a pg 13 podcast. i'd call it a howl in laughter and/or rage while slamming whiskey and sewing up your (frigging) christmas list podcast.
 
links. i haz them.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

material girl


 
these are my new comfy Do Everything work clothes. they've been worn trekking to the subway five o'clock in the morning, at the ballet barre five o'clock at night, and the home bar straight after. happy work, all, deserving of something more than beat up jeans and pilly yoga pants.

although i already had leggings on the brain, i must place the 80s vibe of said leggings squarely on the shoulders of mood. hits from that pop-piest of eras were blasting the day i strolled in, and i gave in completely to the invitations from a-ha! and duran duran. there was no other choice. the object of my desire was a pair of forever 21 ikat leggings, bought years ago before they were trendy (i have a knack for picking up the one non-trendy thing in stores before it is trendy. TASTEMAKER WALKING, YO). but screw shopping for RTW. i had the maniacal serger and a city block worth of jersey, what was stopping me from knocking them off?
 
 
elastic, mostly. the f21 leggings had the usual band of elastic 'round the waist, producing the ever pleasing muffintop effect we women love so dearly. good lord. more on that later. i consoled myself with the inevitably lumpy result by picking out three of the craziest prints i could find, with the invaluable help of my good friend marlon, a gent who works (quite hard, i might add) in stock. it was hotter than a bananarama summer in the joint, the sheer amount of shoppers increasing the degrees, but marlon was happy to wrangle bolt upon bolt of goodness down while waiting for a free cutting crew. marlon, i said, so my idea is to photoshop myself in five pairs of leggings like I'm hanging out with myself, punctuating my words with a doofy pose here and there. he gave me a fist bump and we were off.
 
 
 
we were having a hard time finding five patterns that wanted to play in the same photoshoot, stalling at three. marlon! i yelled, the tunes sinking ever deeper into my brain, i need a flashdance sweatshirt to tie it all together! he nodded solemnly. yes. yes you DO. Magic Marlon deposited the bolts on a cutting table and we marched up to knits. the obvious and immediate choice was this grey sweatshirt knit complete with purple sparkle sheen. i'm sorry eighties throwback, did you just hop into a deLorean and pop into existence while we were in jerseys? i think you did.
 
as marlon bid me adieu and left me in the capable hands of michael, we discussed the tunes. you should be here when the Snoop Dogg / NWA station is on, michael breathed, not without some horror. i raised my eyebrows. for real? uncensored? i wonder what I'd gravitate to in that scenario....
 
 
while we're on the subject of horror, hell, while we're on the subject of the Doggfather, can we talk about the booty on the ikat pair? not my best pattern placement. the front, she is not much better:
 
 
EGADS. long slouchy sweater on this pair.
 
returning home with my bounty, i didn't give myself time to think, i just laid my RTW leggings down on a piece of paper and traced my one (ONE! HALLELUJAH FOR LEGGINGS!) pattern piece. it took a muslin to get the waist height right, and by "muslin" i mean the red and blue pair. my neverending refusal to do the safety dance that is a toile actually helped me in this case: i had to finish the pair, as it was part of the project. but the waist was too low, and my overflowing stash of elastic apparently existed only in my brain...so i used the excess yardage to create a tall fold over band, thinking it would make them somewhat wearable...
 
 
and holy animotion! a comfy waistband! WITH NO MUFFINTOP!! my obsession growing, i lunged for the rest of the jersey and finished all three pairs in mere hours. the midnight oil was already burning, no bed in sight for me, so i grabbed an RTW sweatshirt, traced that too, and clacked away on the serger.
 
i've worn the animal printish pair so much i'm in danger of becoming a one hit wonder. the costume department at work is in love with them, especially the waistband, and i'm actually going to attempt to make some for them. GET ME. i can see sewing for others in jersey, it's just so easy. (she said blithely. don't you be asking me for no leggings, Hot Mama. oh all right but you have to give me your hip measurement.)
 
have you worked with jersey? how do you feel about the stuff? if you haven't yet, run, don't walk, yah mo be there for you, this wonder stuff is nothing to be afraid of. it is the don henley of fabrics giving you forgiveness all OVER the place.
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

three dimensions

 
i fell asleep last night thinking about texture. the dress languishing in pieces on my ironing board ordered me to go to bed: oona, don't COMPLETELY ruin me, at this point you've emerged victorious. quit while you're ahead. tomorrow is another day. insert more cliched phrases here, but really, just go your ass to sleep.

Rational Dress was right, i had done an ABYSMAL job of pattern placement, and all the best parts of her print were lost in the remnants or on the back. not that folks don't get a kick outta gazing at le boo-tay, but i would have liked some orange and purple sharing the wealth between face and behind. but! i had an a-ha moment and started some fancy (cotes du rhone) cutting, layering some texture on the neckline. it reminded me just how much i love texture, and how little i use it in sewing.
 
 
these shots were taken in seattle's sculpture park. for real, i saw inspiration everywhere i walked in that sunny town. ruggy has learned not to give me the side eye when i'm taking twelve macro shots of a panel of rust, god, yoda and yaweh bless 'im. often, i will exclaim I WANT TO SEW THAT!!! while my man nods calmly and whatever friends we might happen to be with step quietly and carefully away, eyes widening as i take it down to a dull roar iwanttosewthatiwanttosewthatiwanttosewthat...
 
but, i can't say that i do sew that. i'm inspired by craggy textures and mossy growths and sweeping architecture, stuff that physically reaches out to you, but i think my makes are mostly one dimensional. i'd like to get more 3-D with it. make a dress that one requires special glasses for (besides the mandatory cocktail glass). tasia's latest jacket and the peplum craze come to mind, both beauties i'd like to try.
 
 
as for Rational Dress, we went for round two today. she may tell me it's time for bed again soon.
 
do you sew dimensionally?
 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

that's not a star, that's a satellite

 
ruggy told me to be ready to leave by 5:45 last evening. destination unclear. on such occassions i am instructed only on dress and departure. we got on a subway and then a bus across the river, separated by an aisle on the second leg of our trip. i tried to tune in to the general noise of the bus, rather than a specific conversation: are you checking in?-- i hope we hear that-- i want some cornbread--. at various points, i thought we were going to 1) a college basketball game. 2) a wine expo. 3) neil diamond. but then, as we pulled up to the izod center, i heard a piercing soprano tone in the back pipe out so how many daves does this make for you?
 
WE'RE GOING TO SEE DAVE MATTHEWS i yelled smiling across the aisle. my knight grinned.
 
we watched a sixty-four year old jimmy cliff roundhouse kick and stomp and spin his way though an amazing opening set, over hot dogs and dave matthews' wine. (no, seriously. dreaming tree wines. click on the link to be whisked to an appropriately dreamy shot of dave enjoying a bottle in the backyard of the vineyard. i'd like to be in that picture, i breathed just moments ago. ruggy shook his head. yeeeeeaaaaah, i think i'd lose that battle. no, ruggy. no you would not. not for all the dave in china.) our reggae enjoyment was only marred once, as i stopped to lean back and chastise the extremely drunk couple just arriving behind us please baby PLEASE i'm begging you i love ya lemme hear the song. the smoke piled higher as dave and crew took the stage.
 
the thing that i love most about dave matthews: he sings like he's going to die. DIE RIGHT HERE AND NOW. he is actually going to pass out, keel over, expire from a consuming desire for whatever he is singing about. that subject is often a woman. as a member of that gender, i'm all for it. to me, there are a handful of people who sing that way: ray lamontagne, otis redding, thom yorke, john legend, bjork (though her subjects of passion are varied as the fabrics at mood). i simply cannot get enough of that kind of singing. can you call it singing? it's closer to wailing. not that riffalata wailing that drives me screaming for the eject button-- a wail that comes straight from the center of your body and shreds you and everyone lucky enough to be in earshot.
 
near the end of the concert, the band (who had jammed for over three hours) quieted, as he breathed one line again and again: that's not a star, that's a saaaaaatellite, a soft smile on his face. and although my lungs were pretty full up from the general exhaling of the surrounding vicinity, my heart was clear and happy.