Friday, May 28, 2010

Butterick 5386 • Knockoff Sweater

I loooooove catalog shopping. I get great ideas for future sewing projects and get to scoff at the prices because, as a sewer, I know I can make it: 1) cheaper than the listed price, 2) to fit me perfectly, 3) quicker than the catalog company can ship it (when I'm inspired).

This $89 sweater called to me from the pages of a Gap-owned athletic catalog, and I knew I just had to own it. I'd never worked with sweater fabric before. Heck, I never knew they MADE sweater fabric before this project, but I'm here to say, this project was quick, easy and with a few mods, perfect for me.

I'd also never rusched with elastic thread before. With some practice, it was surprisingly easy. I plan to use this technique again in the future as a design detail.

Pattern Description: Multiple options for a fitted top. I made view A that has a V-neckline and long sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: BB (8-10-12-14) I cut a straight 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? It's definitely in the ballpark. I think a less busy print would highlight the center ruching better.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I don't think I even read them. I inserted the sleeves flat and they went in like a dream.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? When Butterick says a pattern is Fast & Easy, they really mean it!

Fabric Used: Lightweight, loose weave polyester-lycra blend sweaterknit from JoAnn Fabrics.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: This pattern required very few changes.
• 1/2" added for the high round back
• Deepened the V-neckline by 3"
• Added slight bell curve to sleeves, lengthened 1".
• Added 2" to side seams below bust to allow for looser fit and accommodate ruching with elastic thread.
• Skipped the facing and used self-fabric to enclose neck seam.
• Didn't feel like hemming so used roll hem on the serger to finish off sleeves and hem.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm going to make it again in a solid sweater fabric. I plan to wear the heck out of it when I travel.

Conclusion:  I love it! You will, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spicy Bean Salsa (or Cowboy Caviar)

'Tis the season for pignics and get-togethers! This is a quick, healthy dish that satisfies the masses (and has them begging for the recipe.) It can stand on its own as a side salad, tops grilled chicken with panache and can hold its own on a sturdy tortilla chip. Extra bonus: you make it the day before the event. How's that for stress-free?

  • 1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas or pinto beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (green, red, white)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced (optional)
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1/4 fresh lime juice (3-4 limes)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3T olive oil
  1. Rinse and drain beans.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all beans, onion, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients, add to rest of salad; mix well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.   
  • 150 cal./serving. Serves 24.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Get Popping with DIY Microwave Popcorn

Fake microwave popcorn butter has to be one of the grossest smells wafting through my office on a regular basis. It's right up there with Korn Nuts for me. (blech!)

Did you know you could make your own microwave popcorn? I came across this idea the other day (thank you, Alton Brown!) and thought I'd share. No more fake butter smell! It's less than 200 calories! And it's cheap, cheap, cheap to make. Hurray!
DIY Microwave Popcorn
  • 1/4 c. popcorn
  • 1 tsp. olive oil or peanut oil (optional, but it makes the toppings stick to the popped corn better)
  • 1/4 tsp.  salt
  • Paper lunch bag
Toss the popcorn with the olive oil and salt in the paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over twice to close. Place the bag in the microwave and microwave on high for 2 minutes to 3 minutes, or until there are about 5 seconds between pops.
Other topper options:
  • Kettle Korn: 2 T. sugar
  • Chocolate popcorn: 2 T. powdered sugar, 1 T. cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon 
  • Cajun: 2 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 T. garlic salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1 pinch cayenne pepper

    • Southwestern: 1-1/2 tsp. chili powder, 2 T. salt, 1 T. ground cumin 
    • Italian: 1/4 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • Curry: 1 T. curry powder, 2 T. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 pinch cayenne pepper

      Wednesday, May 5, 2010

      McCall's 5974 • Mosaic Print Dress

      Does this fabric look familiar? Why of COURSE it does. I bought seven yards of this ITY mosaic-print knit when it was on a killer sale (like $4 a yard). This is the last project you'll see with this fabric, I promise!

      Pattern Description: Dresses A, B, C, D have bodice variations with front pleats, neckline variations, self-faced midriff, pleated skirt front, back zipper and sleeves in three lengths; dresses A, B have scoop neck; dress A has short sleeves; dress B has long sleeves; dresses C, D have wrapped bodice, “V” neck and self-ties; dress C has three-quarter length sleeves; dress D has long sleeves; dresses A, B, C, D length is 1" below mid-knee.

      I made view C.

      Pattern Sizing: B5(8-10-12-14-16), RR(18W-20W-22W-24W)
      Mine was a straight 14 (woo-hoo!)

      Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Better, I think!

      Were the instructions easy to follow? Super, super easy. I like that the pattern included tissue fitting instructions. I took the pattern alterations class thru the Palmer Pletsch school of sewing and found the pattern instructions to be like a mini-course. This would be VERY helpful to folks who haven't tissue-fit before.

      What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? That darn zipper! Who puts a zipper in a knit dress? I mean, really. That had to go. Also, the ties extend from your armpit down to your high hip. That wasn't going to work for me.

      Fabric Used: ITY Knit Jersey. This busy print covers up a multitude of sins. A solid might not be so forgiving.

      Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: This dress required far fewer adjustments than I normally do.
      • 1/2" added for the high round back
      • Added 8" to the ties to ensure that they'd be long enough to wrap around me
      • Cut the side tie width down 2" so that it would focus attention on my high waist, not my high armpit
      • I left the waist markings at the skinniest part of my waist (high waist?) so that the fabric would flow out from there. It makes me look thinner and I love that!
      • I cut the back piece on the fold, ensuring that the neckline wouldn't gape. This reduced the amount of fabric in the hem of the skirt. It may not be as twirly, but I like the streamlined back a lot.

      Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I HIGHLY recommend this pattern. It only took about 3 hours to sew, once the pattern fitting was completed.

      Conclusion: Just make it. This is a great go-to dress!