“Whether or not God has kissed your brow, you still have to work. Without learning and preparation, you won’t know how to harness the power of that kiss.”

Twyla Tharp

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Last Year I had posted about Bubbe and Grandma (my mother-in-law, Ruth). Sadly Ruth passed away on April 3. This is in her memory.....

When I married into my husband's family, Bubbe was an institution in her own right. I had Nanas, who were very, very different from Bubbe. Until Bubbe, I had never met an elderly woman who smoked, much less non-filter cigarettes! And, no one in my family would give an opinion if they weren't asked -- it just wasn't done. But Bubbe?!

When you visited Bubbe, no matter how little notice you gave, or how badly she was feeling (Bubbe's health was poor from the day I met her until she passed away years later), she greeted your presence by pulling a never ending stream of food from her freezer. There were fish cakes, Bubbe cookies, and especially strudel. Her strudel was legendary in the family, though since I wasn't a big strudel fan at the time, it didn't mean quite as much to me. I will diverge for just a moment to say that when Bubbe made fish cakes (which were my husband's favorite) she would go to the market and wouldn't dream of buying a filet of fish. She purchased the least expensive cut of fish and took it home where she pulled all the bones out herself with pliers! That was Bubbe....

My mother-in-law tried to get Bubbe's Strudel recipe for years, but Bubbe never wrote things down and never measured. So, one day, they made strudel together with my mother-in-law stopping to measure whenever Bubbe was about to add an ingredient. Interestingly, Bubbe ground her raisins and no one knew why until they made strudel together and Bubbe explained that Auntie Sylvia didn't eat raisins, so they had to be disguised! And, so, strudel passed down to my mother-in-law who made it faithfully for every family occasion. She was very proud of her strudel!

About three years ago, my mother-in-law entered the nursing home. So, there has been no strudel since then, and for some time before. She gave the recipe to my sister-in-law, but we never did what she did with her mother-in-law and actually make the strudel with her, meticulously noting every detail. Rosh Hashanah is next week and I am determined that we will have her strudel. It won't be the same, but I will try for their sake. I, too, will make adjustments for family members, this time for my son who won't eat coconut (I don't think I can disguise it -- he's pretty discerning). Next week, my mother in law will tell me if I've even come close. Here's to you, Bubbe and Grandma...

Monday, May 2, 2011

One Day Top - honestly!

While there is something very satisfying about slow and detailed sewing where you can incorporate many skills and couture details, sometimes you just need some clothes!

I needed some quick 'something to throw on over jeans' to start spring and I came across a pattern company that I hadn't seen before. At the Worcester Sew and Quilt Expo, I saw CNT Patterns and they had a number of quick and stylish pieces that I wanted to try. The one shown here is called "A Little Somethin' jacket" and is quick and easy. I did it in batik and was happy with the result.

The pattern includes a shorter version as well, with a shorter sleeve. It's cut generously and falls nicely and it would look different in each fabric, especially if you use your imagination in your embellishments.

The only construction technique I wasn't thrilled with was where you sew across the shoulder and then pivot across the neckline and to the other shoulder. I've seen if often, even in Vogue, when putting on a shawl collar, but I find it a bit tricky as you are actually cutting into your cloth to make a seam as opposed to matching seams. It did come out well, but only after I did it a second time.

It doesn't call for a button, but I found a wonderful glass button in the exact colors of the fabric, so I had to use it. It's a bit heavy for the fabric, so I have secured it with extra fabric on the underside. I thought a traditional buttonhole would be a bit boring, so I made 3 tubes by cutting 3 strips of one inch fabric, sewing and turning to form tubes, and then braiding them into a loop. I left the ends loose and hand-stitched it to the jacket.

Easy way to add a few quick every day pieces when you need to run out, but would like to look pulled together. Found matching red shoes -- way cool!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Carpet Bag

When I told my daughter I was making a carpet bag she asked if I would be able to pull a coat rack out of it. Alas, Mary Poppins, I am not, but I do like my new bag! I wanted to make up the pattern for work to show off both the pattern and fabric that is in the shop. The pattern is from Favorite Things and is simply called, The Carpet Bag. I made it out of quilt fabric, interfacing the lining with fusible fleece and the outer bag with a very light weight woven interfacing. I decided to embroider my initials on the bag which I did on the machine, hooped with tear away stabilizer.

I've wanted to work with suede for a while now and had sent away for a couple of pieces when Fabric Mart had one of their many wonderful 50% off sales. I loved working with the suede and used it for the handles, tabs for the shoulder straps, and a tab at the zipper end. I also made a change in how the handles were constructed. The pattern called for using a very thick cording and wrapping fabric around it and sewing with a zipper foot. Instead, I folded the handles over and sewed them and then inserted flexi-tube. If anyone wants more info on the flexi-tube, just let me know. Loved doing it that way!

For the buttons on the straps, I used vintage buttons I had in stock. For the tab that folds over, I used two buttons, a small vintage button sewn over a larger plastic button.

The bag has a zipper, an inside pocket, wooden dowels, and a shoulder strap in addition to the handles. And, it has lots and lots of room inside. Even though it didn't call for it, I did insert plastic canvas in the bottom to help hold its shape.

As you can see, the shoulder strap is attached with one end on the front and one on the back, with D rings. Although it looks cool, having one strap end on each side makes the bag sag a bit I thought. If I make it again, I would attach one on each side where the bag opens up. I think it will look more balanced that way.

All in all, it was fun to sew and I can't wait to use it!