Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Me Made March 2011"!

It's on like Donkey Kong!

I was jealous, jealous, jealous of everybody's cute clothes on the last round of "Me Made Month", so I'm going to play this time! The fact that I now have enough clothes that I've made to wear is amazing all by itself. I will also post a photo roundup each Friday to show you how it all turned out!

'I, Darci of darcidoodle-do.blogspot.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March '11. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment, refashion or accessory each day for the duration of March 2011'.

Want to know more? Check out Zo's challenge at http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/2011/02/me-made-march-11-join-me.html

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blocks of Sunshine | Summer Duvet

Time for a summer project to brighten up a dreary winter! 

I have a confession to make.

I've been hording scraps of fun cotton fabric for the last two years. Any time I've got remnants that could be cut down into a 6" or 12" square, I held on to it. Wadders, ugly men's shirts from Goodwill, project leftovers... I held on to EVERYTHING. As you can imagine, when you're thinking about making a pieced duvet covers, that's a lot of stash to hoard. It was time for a little summer sewing!

Duvet, back. The original cover was all horizontally striped. Cute, but boring after ten years of use. Time to switch it up!
I've been using the original, cabana striped duvet in the summertime for over 10 years and I love it! The cabana stripes are so fun and they make me think of warmer weather in Mexico or Hawaii. I enjoy the bold colour scheme. Those stripes even inspired some really fun art that I hung elsewhere in the house.

Duvet, Front... or is it?
I enjoy the new combination even more than I thought I would. The addition of the new scrap fabrics adds a lot of interest, and because the back had to be pieced as well, the duvet is now reversible. So if I get bored of one side, I'll just flip it. Yay for unintended coolness! Yay for using up what I had in the stash, too!

This wasn't a fast project by any means, but it's a very satisfying one. I'll be proud to have it cover my bed for at least the next 10 years.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Good Eats || My Favourite Mac and Cheese Recipe

Can you smell it from there? Deeelicious!


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 3 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (2c for sauce, 1c for topping)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (more if you like it feisty!)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked to al dente (with a little bite to it)
Serves 4


Heat oven to 350º.

Heat a medium, deep skillet over medium heat. Add butter and let it melt. In small batches, whisk in flour to combine. Gently cook, whisking constantly, until it's smooth and flour has had a chance to cook (about three minutes).

Slowly add half and half while continuing to whisk. Gently bring milk to a bubble while stirring frequently. Allow the milk to thicken a bit, then stir in two cups of shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time.

Season sauce with nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Taste and add a little salt, if you like. Combine cheese and pasta and coat completely by turning the pasta over and over in the cheese sauce.

Transfer to a baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Place baking dish in oven and brown the cheddar cheese on top. Check at 15 minutes.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Twinkle Sews || "Take Manhattan" Overblouse

I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island too...
(I was whistling this Sinatra tune the whole time I was working on this top!)

Pattern Description: Short-sleeved, raglan-sleeve overblouse with cowl collar and tie. Lined or unlined are options.

Pattern Sizing: 2-6-8-10-12-16. Mine is a 12.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly. See more on this below...

Were the instructions easy to follow? As many reviewers on amazon.com have said, "Twinkle Sews" would be challenging for the new sewist. The writer makes many assumptions regarding construction details, and this could be very confusing to some. That being said, I barely read the instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Boy howdy, you'd better REALLY like the patterns in this book. The book comes with a CD that includes all the patterns as .pdf or .ai files at various sizes. This simple pattern was over 65 separate sheets of 8-1/2  x 11 paper and took more than 3 hours to tape together. (I have performed this level of tiling in previous employment, so I'm fast.) Also, the author could have chosen an "on the fold" layout vs. cutting the pieces flat. Separate, designated lining pattern pieces were unnecessary as they're only .5" longer than the fashion fabric pieces. Altogether, this was pretty wasteful.

After taping, I also had to re-draw the pattern on tissue for pattern fitting before even cutting out the fashion fabric. I'd read other reviews of the clothes in this book, and knew that other sewists have have trouble with sizing running far too large. Altogether, the prep/cutting took 5 hours and the sewing took 3 hours. That's a lot of work for this top. I would HIGHLY recommend taking the CD to a large format print house and let them print it out for you. It'll save a lot of frustration. I'm hoping if Twinkle has a 2nd volume, she'll consider including the paper patterns, like Burda and Knipmode do.

A few more things to keep in mind:
1) The size 12, when laid out on-grain would take nearly 3 yards of 60" wide fabric.
2) The collar is far too long for the neck opening. I had to gather the collar to fit the neck and even then, there was way too much ease when it was attached. Another reviewer mentioned that she'd made her cowl 1/2 the size of the pattern piece for her size. I'll start there with the re-draft.
3) The author alternates between 3/8" and 5/8" seams. I used 5/8" throughout. This made it easier to do the specialty seaming.
4) If you're not planning on lining this top, use flat-felled seams for the sides and french seams for the sleeve and cowl.
5) Make sure you're comfortable with the sleeve length. They're really, really short.

Fabric Used: I bought the recommended 2 yards of 60" wide fabric, and really should have bought 3 yards.
My 100% polyester mid-weight fabric has a lot of body and won't hold a crease, which is perfect for traveling, but horrible when you want it hang flat on body. I used the cording in the hood to gather up the hood and really like this look in this fabric. I think I look like a little modern flower. However, I'll buy  fabric with less body next time, so that the cowl drapes instead.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: Removed 4" from hip width, added 2" to length. Next time, I'll add 3-4" to the sleeve length. In lieu of a self-fabric tie, I used 1/2" flat black cording from the stash.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I worked FAR too hard on this top not to make it again. A summer version is in order. Possibly in the hot pink linen I have in the stash.

Conclusion: If you're willing to make a considerable time investment,
this hip, modern silhouette is worth the work.