Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ench By Sew-15 Festive Time Fabric Quiz - Made for California (Winter Holiday)

Our Best Holiday Edition Ever!
The Enchanted by Sewing
Made For California
Festive Time
Fabric  Quiz
In California Toyon Berries are Natures Gift for the Winter Holidays

The latest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!
Two Ways to Listen
Option I)You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the this link
~ OR ~
Option ii)  Click on this link to iTunes  to download this and other Enchanted by Sewing shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes
Did I miss any links mentioned in the show? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me EnchantedBySewing AT gmail DOT com
~ ~ ~
This month I’m taking a leaf out of the book of some of the podcasts and columnists I enjoy, who run a themed quiz during the winter holidays. I’ve always enjoyed taking these kinds of mini tests,  and feeling like a smarty pants when I’m  able to answer their questions. I also get a kick out of trying to wow my family with my knowledge of trivia on various subjects. They are rarely impressed.

My own, Enchanted by Sewing holiday quiz is focused around four fabrics that work well for sewing, wearing and enjoying here in California’s temperate San Francisco Bay Area. So pull up a few bolts of your favorite stuff, plop down on top, and let’s get started .And don’t forget to keep score!

During the audio quiz... you will be ranking four fabrics in terms of their strength. At that time, I sing you a little fabric themed tune. Since cotton is one of the fabrics in the quiz, I thought you might enjoy my updated version of the old "Boll Weevil" song, Here are my adapted lyrics.

The Boll Weevil is a little black bug
Come from down south they say
Come all the way to California
Just a lookin' for a place to stay.

Just a lookin for a home.
Gonna get herself a home.

The Farmer said to the Boll Weevil
I see you on the Square.
Yes, 'mam, said the Boll Weevil
My whole gol durn family's there.

Boll Weevil said to the Doctor,
Better put away your pills,
When I git through with the Farmer,
She Cain't pay no Doctor bills!

Boll Weevil said to the Business 'Mam,
Sister, drink your lemonade.
When I git through with you, Gal,
Gonna drag you outta that shade!

Boll Weevil in yo field, gal,
It's just like shooting dice,
Work the whole gol  durn year around,
But the cotton won't bring no price

The Boll Weevil knocked on my front door,
She said I've come to eat,
I'm gonna starve you plum to death
And get the shoes right off your feet.

Ranking your fabric savy

There are 12 points possible on this important examination.

If you get:

0 - Fabri-Wanna-Be Hey, you tried hard! Go back and try again. (And that rayon date is pretty easy, so I say do that one first)
1-4 – Junior Fabric Fairy- I’m proud of you! You have definite potential. Next time through, you’ll be flying high onto the top of the fabric inventory pile.
5-8 – Fabraholic - Hey, good job! You are on the path to material excellence.
9-11 Fabric Wizard – You really know your stuff when it comes to the goods!
12 – Fabric Royalty – You are a genuine know-it-all, the queen (or king) bee of the fabric pile.

 * * *
When it comes to garment creation, Clare Shaeffer (in her Fabric Sewing Guide says of linen “Select patterns with tucks, gathers, pleats and gores” No kidding.

When it came to draping Lucy, those basic tucks that had created simple bodice lines in the muslin test garment, turned into lovely graceful swirls when I cut out the pattern in the natural linen fabric, and hung it on my dress form. Suddenly folds that hadn’t been there before sprang to life and Lucy was born!

Learning more about, and sharing knowledge of, the fabrics I love to sew, are the kind of thing that keep me…
Enchanted by Sewing.
~ ~ ~

Me Encanta Coser/Enchanted by Sewing is My Regular Sewing Blog.  Recent Postings Included: Draping HollyDraping Lucy, Christmas Tutu 1 (I did a few Christmas themed ballerina ideas in December). 

Thai Silks/Exotic Silks Buy in store or online

* I have a number of sewing related boards on pinterest. I pinned links to several sites I referred to when preparing this 'cast to my Gorgeous Fabrics pinterest board.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Draping Lucy - Terminado! New Dress and back to Rec Sewing

Lucy is the first garment I've
created  from a pattern I
made entirely myself, on my
custom dress form.

I haven't done any regular, recreational sewing all semester (one semester = 16 weeks) because I've been focused on the class work and final projects for my two fashion classes at Cañada College. The first class was Pants Drafting, taught by Lynda Maynard (that's the woman who knows what we really want to sew, and teaches us how to do it!)  In that class, I used drafting techniques,  and many fitting followups, to produce inumerable muslin garments, tissue pattern drafts, and my first pair of jeans. Can't wait to use that pattern again and again!

My second class was Draping. This class is excellently taught by Judy Jackson. Again I went through a lot of muslin, this time learning to design my own patterns by draping them in muslin fabric on a dress form, then creating tissue patterns from those draped garments. You may have seen some of my posts this fall that showed off some of the basic garment shapes I created on a standard sized 10 dress form (I called her Babs, a name that seemed appropriate for a mannequin who came to life in the early '60's). I also began draping on my own custom dress form that I created over the summer. 

When I last talked about my custom dress form I was calling her Colette, but I've since realized that she is really a Conchita
I found working with Conchita even more challenging than working with Babs, and Babs wasn't an easy customer. Was it because Conchita represented clothing I actually plan to wear? I'm not sure yet. But if I figure it out, I'll let you know!

Starting around midterm time, I spent several weeks creating a muslin sloper (a fitted bodice and fitted straight skirt) for Conchita. For some reason I found this very challenging, though I had produced the same garments for Babs. My teacher seemed to think that there should be the same amount of challenge, if only I was careful with my measuring. I worked very hard to be exact but all I can say is that it was much harder for me and just took a lot of time, muslin, tissue and patience.

Another view of Lucy
As you can see, I moved on from my sloper to make my first garment. I had originally planned to make a traditional shoulder-yoked, dropped shoulder, shirtwaist dress with a collar and front button plackets. I was of two minds as to whether the dress would have a separate skirt joined by a waistline seam or be a one piece dress. I was planning to use a beautiful piece of deep forest green silk noil (raw silk) that I have for that dress. In my mind the dress I was planning to drape was named Ivy. I'm still planning to take up with Ivy in the not to distant future. But I got distracted by Lucy....

I'll be writing more about the process of draping Lucy in upcoming postings in this journal. One thing I know I'll be reflecting on repeatedly, is learning to read the fashion fabric's story. This lesson came from my experiences in both my pattern-creation classes this semester. In both cases I saw that constructing beautiful garments is not just about designing a piece in my mind or on a sketch pad. It really comes down to watching the behavior of the fabric I've chosen to sew with, after it's cut out and initially put together on me or my custom dress form. Creating a muslin test garment is an important part of the pattern making process, but once I start the ball rolling with muslin, I then really have to listen to the story the actual material for that garment is telling me. That's what is going to guide me to bring the garment I'm sewing to life.

Learning to listen to, and read the fabric's story really keeps me
Enchanted by Sewing
~ ~ ~ 


You can drape on a person or on a dress form. When creating for ourselves, it's easiest to use the dress form approach!

In the September Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast Dress Forms Episode, I described my experiences creating two different dress forms. You can listen to this talk either online on the web, or you can download the show to your mobile device (like an iPhone, Android, etc.)

I'm just beginning to learn the historic and modern art of draping. It's a very artistic experience !  I've begun to develop my skill set in a class taught through the Cañada College Fashion Department. I'll be continuing my draping journey by continuing to follow the richly illustrated draping tutorials and examples in our class textbook, The Art of Fashion Draping. This excellent, and highly regarded book, by Connie Amaden-Crawford has been in use for decades. both within the industry, and by home sewists. 

Thanks Sponsors! 
When you buy products through links in this blog, you support the regular work of this blog and The Enchanted by Sewing Podcast.

California Tree Spirits (haiku)

Click on the illustration above
to fully enjoy the details of our CA dusk
Tree spirits thrive 'round here.
They chat 'neath westering sun.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ballerina - Holiday Gift Tag

I got my final project done for my draping class - and my goodness what a lot of time that took! I'mm looking forward to taking some time to reflect on the project and show pictures in a few days.

In the meantime, I altered the ballerina I created as a little fantasy sewing project while I was working so hard on my project. I love to make my own holiday present tags. Feel free to print this tag and use it yourself. I print mine on postcard stock.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Christmas Tutu 2 - Romantic (Blue Sky Fantasy Sewing)

This ballerina is wearing a classic Romantic Styled Tutu
As I found the last time I blogged, fantasy sewing is a nice release from challenging project like the one I'm working on for draping class. And tutus are perfect fantasy sewing for December, a month when I'll definitely be attending the ballet.  After all, it's Nutcracker month!

When it comes to actual sewing work, I'm still working on my final project for draping class. And I'm not yet ready to write about those experiences in this journal!  I don't feel negative about what I'm doing, in fact I love learning about draping. I just can't stand back from the work yet and see where I am. Also my concept for my final project keeps changing as I move through this first full scale draping project. The fabric is telling me a story, and I'm still learning how to listen. I'm looking forward to being able to tell that tale in this journal a little way down the road.

Fantasy sewing for this Christmas tutu- togged ballerina helps to remind me that, no matter what challenges I encounter,  I'm still....
Enchanted by Sewing
~ ~ ~
I love to pin tutus and other ballet related pages. Check out my virtual bulletin board at ...

The problem in modern ballet is the problem of the color line. Scan the rosters of the nation’s top companies and African American dancers are rare, while African American ballerinas are nearly nonexistent. " Read more at

Cracking Nuts at the Opera House: A Nutcracker Visit

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Tutu 1 (Blue Sky Sewing)

A Christmas Tutu
Sewn in the Imagination of  LR Shimer
What I'm actually working on sewing 'wise, is my final Draping Class assignment. I'm at that hard point where I'm still creating a pattern and it looks nothing like what I originally planned to make. Funny how that is.

I'm under the pressure of a deadline to finish up that pattern and sew the garment it represents. It's just as well to have those deadlines from a class, of course, because it makes me quit changing my mind and focus on completion. Creating can be like that - Drape or cut bait* I guess.

A little fantasy sewing is definitely in order when I'm getting a little fussy about completing a project. I love daydreaming about all the other things I could be creating, but had better not be distracted by. The more impractical those projects are, the better they are for soothing any concerns over finishing up a challenging task.

Big on my fantasy sewing list this year, is a Christmas tutu. I actually do hope to learn to how to sew a tutu in the future, though probably not in 2014. One thing that inspires me to participate in this lush world of costuming is this youtube video from the costume shop at New York City Ballet.

My love of tutus is also inspired by daydreaming about the art of the ballet. When I was writing My Heart Beats Faster in Past Times, I was entranced by the scene where Larissa explores the beauties of the Lilac Fairy's classic romantic tutu, and helping the little ballerina prepare for that role in a performance of the Sleeping Beauty Ballet. It was one of those times when I didn't need to think about what to write, I just let the people in the story take it away, and the words came out.

One day I will sew a tutu. 
It will be worthy of dancing in the Sleeping Beauty. 
It's knowing that sewing fantasies can become real, that keep me...
Enchanted by Sewing

I love to pin tutus and other ballet related pages. Check out my virtual bulletin board at ...

* If English isn't your first language, I'm referring to the idiomatic phrase "Fish or cut bait." It means stop daydreaming and finish the task you're working on.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fairy House, Toad's Stool, or Simply Spoors End? (Haiku)

Fairy houses or merely seats for a toad
Fungi dwell on the path I often walk, along the railroad tracks
towards San Francisquito Creek.

Thread-like hyphae spread,
Find food decomposing here.
Your spoors drop and fly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Audio Podcast - Marie Antoinette Meets Betty Crocker (Aprons, Ench By Sew-14 )

Hey! The latest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!
Two Ways to Listen
i)You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on the this link

** * * 
~ OR ~
ii)  Click on this link to iTunes  to download this and other Enchanted by Sewing shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes 
Did I miss any links mentioned in the show? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me ,  EnchantedBySewing AT gmail DOT com
~ ~ ~

Apronology – Or Marie Antoinette Meets Betty Crocker

A good time of year to consider how rethinking of women’s societal roles and life choices has affected attitudes towards the use of aprons. Free apron pattern download and discussion of sewing techniques.

Porque Aprons? – Why study the social and technical science of apron creation in late November? (In some years Ramadan occurs in December. Due to the lunar and Julian calendar's not being in sync, that won't/didn't happen this year).

Marie Antoinette Meets Betty Crocker – How and why I got inspired to start making and wearing aprons, kinda late in life and despite strong family concerns about what apron wearing symbolized!

Technicos –A basic free download 3 Apron style pattern on the web. How I create and sew  my favorite style  apron

- Threads Three Free Apron Pattern Download

- Variety of vintage and other aprons that may inspire your own apron designs

Final Pensamientos - The Red Headed Chicken Apron
Aprons can tie into representing and reminding us of the emotions involved in a friendship.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Autumnal Drama Queen - Pistache Fall Foliage

A Pistache Tree in full Autumn Dress
Walking along the in-town path that leads to one of the bike bridges that crosses San Francisquito Creek (the middle bridge, closest to El Camino) I met up with this Pistache tree. She's full of airs in her fall dress.

You know how those Pistache sisters are, don't you? They are such drama queens!

~ ~ ~
Start out at Burgess Park, Ravenswood and Alma
Walking Path runs along the railroad tracks on Alma Street, Menlo Park. The bike bridge will take you into Palo Alto (if you turn left) or Stanford Shopping Center (turn right)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fall in California (Cornbread Recipe)

It takes until this time of the year to feel like fall here in our part of California. It was finally cool enough to wear a fleecy vest before dark and want to eat a hot supper - baked acorn squash, chicken sausage, tomato basil soup, cornbread (see recipe below) - you know a real fall meal. 

How long has it been feeling like fall where you live? In the Northern Hemisphere that is - OK, I know for you folks way down undAH we're talking springtime gamboling lambs...

* Cornbread from Scratch
Bake at 350 degrees

Dry Stuff
1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 T baking powder (yes really - Tablespoons)
1/4 cup sugar (more if you like it sweeter)

Wet Stuff
2 eggs
2 T butter melted
1 cup milk

* Mix the dry stuff together.
* Mix the wet stuff together
* Make a hole in the hollow of the dry stuff and mix the wet stuff in gently. Don't beat it - just till combined.

Bake in a greased square pan till done. Usually 20 - 30 minutes. Also makes good muffins.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apples Need a Home? California Apple Pancake To the Rescue! (Recipe)

Do you have some apples in your house that need a home?

The perfect California apples grow on a little tree overhanging our driveway. We planted it there because our yard is pretty shady and we have to tuck in the sun worshippers where we can. Kind of fun though, as we can share the produce with our neighbors.  If it's hanging down on their side, those are their apples!

It's a little golden delicious apple tree and that's perfect for us. Not being big time foodies, there's a limit to how many apples my husband will turn into sauce and can, how many apple crisps he'll make or how many California Apple Pancakes I will bake. Those pancakes are, however, a lovely, simple dish, something I can make quickly and easily. I've been making it since college days, and I never get tired of it. Here's how.

~ ~ ~
California Apple Pancake

Serves 2 -3

Leftovers OK, saved in refrigerator and reheated the next day


 * two skillets- one must be oven proof. I use a good old cast iron skillet for that. The other will go on top of the stove, so whatever works there.
* An oven
* Blender or wisk and medium large bowl

Locate your ingredients
* 3 (or more apples) whatever kind you like when they're cooked or that you have handy. Of course I prefer the ones that fall down into my driveway
* 3/4 cup flour
* 3/4 cup milk
* 3 eggs
* Some cinnamon
* For the apples - Sugar or Not to taste (maybe 1/4 of a cup or more, or none at all, depends on what you like, and the sweetness of your apples)
* Something to grease a pan with (spray on stuff, margarine, whatever works in your house)

Now do the work

* Turn on your oven to 410 degrees, so it will be ready

* Core and Cut up the apples into slices or chunks. I leave the skin on of course - good for you, and we like the taste.

* Grease the skillet that goes on top of the stove. (Grease the oven-proof one at the same time so she's ready). Toss in the apples and as much cinnamon as you like. As it heats up pour in a little bit of water. Sauté the apples and when there brown enough for you, turn down the heat to simmer, pour in enough water so that they will cook up into cooked apples, not be too wet, and not burn - a judgment call. My husband likes a little apple syrup left on the apples that top off his pancake, I just like the apple pieces.

Work Continues , While your apples are cooking...

* In blender, or with your whisk, beat/froth up all those other ingredients - eggs, flour, and milk
* Turn the heat on the stove top on medium high, pop on your oven-proof skillet, and pour in the mixture. I just leave it on there for maybe 30 seconds, so it helps make a tiny bit of a bottom to the pancake, don't over do that. You just want it to kind of stick on when you swirl the pan. Better to under do this step.

* Pop the skillet into your hot oven.

* After 15 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees (with the pan still in the oven). Back another 10 minutes, but check it occasionally to make sure it's not overdone, since ovens vary a bit, don't they? (If you forgot to preheat the oven, you might just bake it a little more. This is not a picky item.)

* When it puffs up into a beautiful ever so slightly golden brown - but mostly still egg colored - it's done!

* Take it out, cut into 2 or 3 wedges and serve with the cooked apples.

~ ~ ~ Variations ~~~
Clearly you can use other seasonal fruit. You can also experiment with baking the fruit and batter together in the oven. I have a version for one I do in the microwave, where I use 2 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup flour, and I bake it over a piece of cut up fruit. I have to take that out and loosen it up several times during the microwaving process, and how it bakes depends on what fruit is in it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Persimmon Plunder (Haiku)

There for the picking.
When fruit hangs over the wall,
How can I resist?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Moss Landing Power Plant (CA Field Trip, Monterey area)

Moss Landing Power Plant, Castroville, CA. On a field trip with mah belle seour. We went there to go to Succulent Extravaganza, for the sake of our gardens, and we stayed on for the scenery. 

Never been there? It's not far from Monterey. Ocean, nearly deserted soft sandy beach, harbor, and loverly farm land - California at it's bestEst.


If you're a succulents fan, you can't do better than to stop in at Succulent Gardens. 
Check to make sure they're open and bring cash/checks - no credit cards.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Free Grub(s) - Chicken Haiku

A few neighbor gals
Stop by unexpectedly
Guess the grubs were good

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Antique Threads - Up to Dating Ruffles and Teacups (Historic Inspiration)

If you listened to my July podcast from the fashion gallery of the Victoria and Albert (V&A) in London, you'll recall that I was in sewist heaven when it came to studying fashions in the V&A's collection.

I haven't even finished blogging about some of my ideas from that trip yet - thoughts on creating new looks based on gorgeous antique and retro garments I talked about and photographed in the V&A - before a new book purchase*  get me heading out to search the free on-web collection at the V&A museum, to look up more details from several historic beauties mentioned in this delicious book.

What's the appeal? Not only are were the
edges of these silk strips left raw, the gathered band
was also twisted in a sinuous pattern.
As a result, I have fallen for a dress. 

It's one of those sewing danger things, right? Bad enough when the inspiration garment is something I might wear only once to a wedding or a performance at the opera, but I had to get knocked over by an embroidered silk doozy from the late eighteenth century. 

We're talking here about twenty or thirty yards of silk. We're talking about major ruffles and teacups. We are talking about something that would not even fit through the door of the mini van!

It's the pinked and scalloped strips of silk on this gown** from the late eighteen century that have me itching to come up with a modern way to use this style of embellishment. But I haven't been able to see past the style of this lovely, but totally impractical for modern times (!) sack-back gown. I couldn't see it in a vest, jacket or skirt. OK, I could but the look would have been waaayyyy too fussy. 

I had forgotten, however, about this outfit*** I pinned on my Pinterest Historic and Retro Sewing Board. Me oh my, it gives me ideas for deploying that really cool ruffle. 

Can't you just see that snakey, raw edged, twisted, ruffle in a very light weight denim? I can. It's slithering along the edge of a nicely flowing denim shirt or jacket. Perhaps it's just a touch narrower. And in combination with something like this floral skirt in a lovely, fluid voile - or maybe a homespun style check or plaid like the trim on this skirt -, it would really hit the spot.

I bet you know how it goes. Historically inspired, modern fashion is the kind of sewing daydream that keeps me....
Enchanted by Sewing!
~ ~ ~


* Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Fashion in Detail, by Avril Hart and Susan North 

Search the V&A Collections

** Details on and photos of the glorious gold sack-back gown at

I have several Pinterest sewing theme boards at You don't have to join Pinterest to look at them.

*** I'm not sure of the original context for this garment. I saw it on someone else's board. The only link that comes up for it is