Staff Tips & Tricks: October 2007 Archives
One of my duties is to stay on top of the trends and up to date on the latest fabric lines and it is a my favorite responsibility. While performing the usually hunting techniques last week, I discovered a very happy finding! The host of One of my favorite blogs and children's clothing designer, Sandi Henderson of Portabellopixie, has announced her first cotton print fabric line produced with Michael Miller Fabrics, Ginger Blossom. You really need to check out this new cotton line; it is fresh, bright, happy and everything you want a quilt, skirt, dress or top to be. Here is just a little bit of what Sandi says on her blog about her new line: "I am a huge lover of textiles-I have literally every genre presiding happily in my stash. Retro, vintage, modern, shabby chic. I enjoy it all, and eventually I found a style that was all me-a little bit of everything. Eclectic and Happy". You can read more here. I am so excited about the great shapes and hues that Sandi has so artfully combined in some wonderful prints. This is definitely the look I envisioned for my new sewing room. I can't wait for December!
P.S. Be sure to check out Sandi's whole blog. She has some really great photos!
FASHION TRENDS TRANSCEND TO THE GYM
By Karen Howard
There was a time, without revealing my age let's just say around 20 years ago, when dressing to stay in shape, maintain your health or step up one's active lifestyle was all about oversized cotton or poly/cotton tees, sweatshirts, jackets, pants and shorts. Colors were drab and silhouettes were loose and unflattering.
Well, in the last 7 or so years things have REALLY changed .... Fashionable styles, silhouettes and fabric trends have invaded the active/gym wear industry. With the huge surge of everyone, from 5 - 100 years, looking to maintain their health and fitness .... Top designers and active wear brands have transformed the industry attire to include more fashion forward fabrics like washable silk lycra blends, cotton lycra spandex, quilted broadcloth, quilted nylon, decorated/printed fleece, stretch fleece, lycra knits, poly lycra knits, nylon lycra swimwear, stretch velvet, cotton flannels as lining and stretch velour.
Silhouettes are following the current fashion trends ranging from tastefully fitted and revealing to loose, very fashionable less revealing looks, empire waist tops and leotards, short and long shorts, various pant lengths from extremely long yoga pants to extremely short running shorts.
Famous sports, movie and designer personalities are launching their own high-fashion active wear lines .... adding even more fashion flair and trends to the once drab apparel industry ...thus taking active wear apparel beyond the limits to carve out its own place in the fashion industry.
Now is the season for marathon training and running. Die-hard fitness enthusiasts never let the cold or the approaching holiday season keep them from accomplishing their fitness goals. Now they look forward to touting their physiques in fashionably layered, cold weather active attire highlighted in with layered, lined or accented as trim with quilted faux suede, faux fur / minky accents, spa minky and various unique trims.
Athletes and wannabe athletes are not only now inspired by the motivation to get and stay fit, but by the fashion inspired attire that now allow them to personalize and individualize their active persona.
Sew News is offering a free purse pattern that I think is the cutest! This is perfect for the stock of fun new cotton prints we have in stock. Dick & Jane, Look & Learn & Fresh Air by Moda.
Sew News also features an offer for a free McCall's Pattern. Don't miss out on the free embroidery pattern by Heather Bailey!
Quilt Magazine offers over a dozen free web patterns, including small projects like pillowcases, fabric stash blocks and quilt patterns. See the small projects here.
McCall's Quilting is also offering lots of free quilting patterns such as: Golden Quilts, Holiday, Patriotic and Blocks. Check them out here.
Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay (Workman Publishing)
When I found out there were entire books dedicated to T-shirt makeovers, well, my little creativity-cup not only overflowed - it nearly erupted. Although definitely aimed at a younger audience, this one is my favorite of the few t-shirt books I have seen. Using primarily T-shirts as your materials, projects range from simple top renovations to skirts to swim suits - even a complete wedding dress! There are even a couple projects for men's shirts, and t-shirt trivia throughout the projects is a fun distraction. This book is perfect for any crafter whose style has a bit of edge to it.
Sew What! Skirts: 16 Simple Styles You Can Make With Fabulous Fabrics by Francesca Denhartog & Carole Ann Camp (Storey Publishing)
This book has just about everything you need to know about making a skirt without a pattern, and then some. It starts with a pretty thorough guide to the basic techniques needed when starting a project. The writing was detailed enough for a beginner to understand, but still informative enough to give an experienced sewer a refresher without boring them. Once you take a few measurements (the book shows you which ones) you can begin whipping out adorable skirts that are tailored to your taste, without the hassle of confusing patterns or aggravating tissue paper.
Making Vintage Bags: 20 Original Sewing Patterns for Vintage Bags and Purses by Emma Brennan (Guild of Master Craftsman Publications)
This book is perfect for the handbag enthusiast. Using clear instructions and photographs, this book shows you how to make handbags fashioned after trends from the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's. Many of the bags have smaller matching purses, all of which you can find the pattern for in the back of the book. Even if you aren't making of the bags featured in the book, the instructions and photographs make it a great reference for techniques and styles that can be used in your own creations.
Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects by Amy Butler (Chronicle Books)
Ever a Fabric.com staff favorite, Amy Butler's book appeals to a wide audience with its varied projects. There are projects for just about every room in the house, but don't be fooled into thinking that this is a strictly home décor book. The "Bedroom Projects" section has instructions for an absolutely beautiful duvet cover, as well as some for comfy and stylish wide-leg lounge pants. This book works well as an inspiration for gift making, but would also be a welcome gift in and of its self. You can even see a couple of the projects on her site. I personally cannot wait to find the time to make the patchwork handbag on page 162 - too cute! But, hey, it's Amy Butler; how can you go wrong?
One of my favorite fall recipes is my great grandmother's pumpkin cookies. I'm not a huge sweet fan, so I love how these lovely, little, bite-sized morsels have such wonderful flavor without putting me into sugar overload. I particularly like them topped with a dark or semi-sweet chocolate ganache (which I have included here), but I also found a pretty good cream cheese frosting recipe that compliment's them well (Laurie's idea).
My Great-Grandma's Pumpkin Cookies
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Next, add the pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add dry ingredients until fully mixed.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop cookie dough in blobs about 2 inches apart. Grandma's recipe called for "teaspoon-sized dollops" but I am impatient so mine were more like "Tablespoon-and-a-half-sized dollops." If you use Granny's way, bake them for 14-16 minutes; 18-20 minutes my way. They should be firm and slightly golden (don't over bake them or they will become dry).
Grandma's way yields about 5 dozen or so smaller cookies. My way gets you about 3 dozen (try not to eat too many between batches).
(this recipe will make enough to cover all your cookie and then some)
1/2 cup of heavy cream
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chips work fine, but you can be decadent and use one of those fancy bars, too)
1 tablespoon butter
Put your chocolate and butter in a bowl. Heat the cream up to boiling and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until smooth.
(Note: while certainly not the most healthy idea, you can mix a couple spoonfuls of the leftover ganache into some heated milk for an absolutely sinful cup of hot chocolate)
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages of cream cheese (8oz.)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Blend the cream cheese in a mixer until fluffy. Mix in the powdered sugar, and then add the milk and vanilla. Mix everything until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk a little at a time.
For the chocolate ganache, the best way to apply it to the cookie is to just dunk the top of the cookie in (giving it a swirl for good measure). You can do the same with the cream cheese, or you can use a spatula or pipe it on.
I am all moved in to my new house and I am loving it. However, I need a bit of a break from home decorating but can't get it completely out of my mind. With the promise of fall around the corner (in Georgia that means the temperture comes down to only 80 degrees) I am distracted by thoughts of new fall clothing. Being surrounded by home decor fabrics all day but thinking of apparel allowed me to find inspiration in using home decor fabrics to wear, Amy Butler's Nigella not withstanding. Here is what my wandering mind has come up with. See if you don't agree.
Coat, Trench & Blazer I am all about the coats this fall. Heck, I am all about the fall period! I cannot wait for crisp mornings, cooking stew and wearing sweaters and coats.I am cold blooded by nature so according to my family as soon as the temp reaches 69 degrees I reach for outerwear. I figure they are just jealous that I get to wear my awesome coats before them. More for me!
We have some really great options no what what your coat preferences. However, let's step outside the norm just for fun and look at what home decor fabrics have to offer for coats. I think this embroidered microsuede is so beautiful and different. It would really great with a trench pattern or if you prefer something classic and demure. Try this pattern with our Faux Suede in dark grey that is so popular this season.
Finally, don't forget about the fuschia this fall. Our Fall Forecast predicts this is one of the hotest colors this fall. And all too rightly! Who says we must bundle up in darker colors the rest of the year. Carry your favroite spring and summer colors with you to brighten the shorter days. Perfect for this task is this combo of Fuschia Polka Dots (Who doesn't love Dots!) with a fun, funky for fresh jacket pattern by Favorite Things. The non-tradional closure and new spin collar coupled with classic dots in a feminine color make this combination a sure thing and a staple.
I have recently been watching reruns of Sex in the City and fell
in love with Charlotte's entry, whose walls are covered in a blue plaid. Ever since I have been on a plaid kick. It reminds me of so many things I love, Family, warmth, crisp weather and Scotsmen (wink). It is not tricky to wear and is a must for keeping warm and sheik this season. I love this print with this dress pattern.The modern cut and details make it perfect to take the 'school marm' image out of this plaid. The shorter hem makes it so tempting to wear tights in either a trendy or classic color. This dress is also perfect for either boots, heels or flats, your choice but you can't go wrong with this lovely plaid.
Another great trend this season are bright colored or patterned tights. This simply shaped retro style dress is perfect to show off your fashionable legs in the best colors or patterns. I used Simplicity's Retro Pattern 3833 with our new Ultrasoft Sueded Twill in Rasberry. I paried it with dark grey tights. It looks so comfy but so sleek. Great for a lunch with friends, shopping or to wake the weekday doldrums.
I can't wait to get started on my Fall Fashions and I hope you will join me. Be sure to post your pictures in our Sew and Tell Gallery so everyone can admire and be jealous! And remember "If you don't look good, we don't look good."
Oh wait, wrong slogan, but still true!