Friday, June 17, 2016

Best Oatmeal Ever! DIY Instant Oatmeal Packets

Breakfast is always a conundrum for me.  I know I need to eat a healthy breakfast, but I don’t want to take time to make it.  Also, I am not a big fan of eggs, and I am trying to eliminate wheat and processed foods from my diet.  I will sometimes eat yogurt and nuts, but what else is there?  My husband loves instant oatmeal, but most of the varieties are too sweet for me and the plain is just, well, too plain.  Also, I can do without the added chemicals and other additives.  So, I decided to look for a good DIY instant oatmeal.  After reading several, I decided to come up with my own.  Lucky for me, the first hit was a home run!  I am absolutely loving this oatmeal.  The flavor is unique and delicious!  Here’s how I made it.

First, take 4 cups of rolled oats and lay them out on a cookie sheet.  I used parchment paper so that I could pour them into another container more easily.  Toast these in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until they’re slightly golden.  (most of the recipes skip this step, but I think this is what makes it taste so good!)

Pour these into a bowl and mix with 1/4 c. maple sugar (I get mine here), 1 tsp salt (I used Kosher salt), 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon to taste.  I used maple sugar because it is less processed and has a good flavor without being over the top sweet.  You could substitute brown sugar, but the maple sugar really gives it a good flavor.

Next, I put about 2/3 of this mixture in a food processor and pulsed it 3-4 times.  This is what gives instant oatmeal its great texture.  I poured this back into the bowl and added 1/4 cup chia seeds.  

I store mine in a jar, but if you have a family that makes their own breakfasts, 1/2c. will fit into snack size ziplock bags.  Perfect and healthy instant oatmeal packets!

To make the oatmeal, you can use either of these two methods:
  1. put 1/2 cup mixture into a bowl.  Add 3/4 cup water.  Microwave on high for one minute.
  2. Put 1/2 cup mixture into a bowl.  Pour boiling water over top until desired consistency

I’ve been planning on using the following add-ins, but I’m liking this so much as is, I haven’t added anything yet!  Add ins:  walnuts or pecans, raisins, coconut, fresh fruit, slivered almonds, hemp seeds

 See printable version of recipe here:  Nancy's Instant Oatmeal

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Black Roses and Violins

Even though Three Rivers is a small town in the foothills of Sequoia National Part, we are fortunate to have many cultural opportunities.  One of these is Center Stage Strings.  The program began with the Colburn Institute in Southern California, and is now based out of University of Michigan.  Anyway, the quality of the musicians that come to our little town to do concerts  is absolutely amazing.  We had one of these concerts today, so I wanted to make something new to wear.  

When I was at PR weekend in Chicago, I picked up the Jalie Maxi Dress and Shrug pattern.  After reading Kyle’s review on the shrug, I knew I had to have this pattern.  I have other shrug patterns, but I just really like the way this one looks, and Kyle’s review sold me on it.  My arms are always cold and I can’t stand a fan on my shoulders.  It’s been over 100 degrees every day this week already, so that means air conditioning and fans.  I take a sweater, shrug, or shawl with me everywhere I go.  

So, I bought the pattern for the shrug, but needed a dress.  It took me longer to trace the pattern than it did to make it!  This pattern is quick to sew.  It will be even quicker next time because I realized after I finished the dress that I did not read the directions correctly for the binding, and I ended up making it more complicated and difficult than I needed to.  But, even so, I really like the way this dress turned out.  It skims the body and fits in the bodice without being too tight.  I ended up making a size larger than I usually do because I am now a size larger than I used to be.  Hope to rectify that soon!  Anyway, I made the dress yesterday and wore it to church this morning.  I cut out the shrug before church and finished it after lunch.  I was able to wear the dress and shrug to the concert this afternoon.  I’m really glad I had the shrug, because it was cold (to me) at the concert, but it was hot outside.  I was able to easily slip off the shrug for the wine and cheese party that was held outdoors at a home nearby.  

I definitely see more of both of these in my future!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Sugar Slip

This week I've been working on the Tina Givens Sugar Slip.  It should not take a week to do this, but it did.  First of all,  I did not have enough Fabric.  The pattern called for 1-1/8 yard, so I got 1.25 to be sure.  Well, I think I needed 3 yards!  Most of Tina Givens skirt patterns are cut with a bell shape, which uses most of the width of the fabric.  So, even though my fabric was 50-54" wide, I'm sure that even 60" wide still would have taken more - and I made the small size!

I made mine out of a pretty dotted swiss that I got at Vogue Fabrics on my recent trip to Chicago - so obviously, I was not going back to get more fabric.  I did have some white batiste (also from Vogue Fabrics but online several years ago) that I used to cut out the top half of the back, the back facing (which for some reason she calls "interfacing" and the back of the pockets.  You can see here that I stitched and serged the two sections together.  Unfortunately, the batiste is not as white as the dotted swiss, but I am planning on wearing this under other garments, so it should be OK.  (you ca't really see the difference in color in the picture.

And, as you can see in this photo, it is a bit see-through - so it DEFINITELY will be worn under other things!

When I was serving the side seam, I accidentally nicked my fabric.  Arghh.  I put a little fray check on it, but it still looked bad.  Ended up making a tab and sewing it over the cut.  I made it big enough to look purposeful.

I like the way this pattern has you sew the facings to the front and back before you sew the two together.  However, it's really tricky to sew around the straps on the inside without catching them.  I think this is because the measurements are off.  Either the straps need to be more narrow, or the bodice needs to be wider where they attach.  Before trimming, there was only scant 1/4" seam allowance space along side the straps where they attach.

Here's another pattern snafu.  The pockets.  They are ridiculously large on the top and go above where they attach at the sides.  This makes an upper part that keeps falling down when the garment is warn.  I saw this immediately when I put the dress on the dress form.  I decided to cut the upper part off of the pocket and re-sew it.  Problem solved.

The pattern instructions have you do all the gathering on the sides and sew the rolled hem last.  I think it is much easier to sew the rolled hem before doing the gathering.  It took me a while to learn how to use the rolled hem foot with my machine, but I love what a nice clean finish it gives.  I did still have a couple of places where I had to re-insert the fabric into the foot, but I'm determined to master this one day!

Another problem was that the lines drawn on the pattern do not match the line drawing for view B, which was the one I made.  You are to gather the side seams at the hem and also a diagonal line on the pattern.  The diagonal lines are what were off.  They had diagonal lines going from the side and CF, but that is not what is shown in the line drawing.  Also, the diagonal lines on the sides are not nearly in far enough to the CF, so those needed to be redrawn.  Even still, they probably should have gone up even higher and angled down closer to the CF at the hem.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Seaside Sue (Stylearc asymmetrical top)

This week I've been working on finishing up my entry for the Endless Combinations contest at PR and getting ready for PR weekend.  I finished the last thing yesterday, which was the Seaside Sue top from Stylearc.  I'm really happy with this top and how it turned out.  Of course, I love wearing rayon jersey and I was desparately needing a couple of black tops in my closet.  So, now I've got one me-made solid black top!

This is the first time I've worked with Style Arc patterns.  I love the look of their styles and since they ship from Australia, I was happy when I found out that I could order PDFs from their Etsy shop.  What I didn't stop to think about was that they use size A4 paper, not 8.5x11.  It does make a difference in printing.  Although it didn't throw the pattern off any, I did make it more difficult to line up the pattern pieces.  As soon as I finished taping that thing together I went on Amazon and ordered a ream of A4 paper!

I love the look of this top.  V necklines are my best look and I especially like the asymmetrical hems front and back.  I used the cover stitch to finish these.

This pattern had VERY FEW directions.  Basically said "Sew the front and back together. bind the neckline.  Finish the armholes and hem."  No how-tos, no given seam allowance, no measurements on the pattern.  There are good registration marks for putting the pattern together and a map, but as far as actually sewing the top - not much.  I had to look up how to bind a V neck since I had not done it in a while.  I wanted to do a cross over binding, but didn't cut my binding piece quite long enough, so I had some problems with that.  Other than that, everything was pretty easy.  No darts, which I could have added, but I think its fine without them.  Linda Maynard's book has some great information on how to bind necklines.  Too bad I couldn't find it when I wanted to use it.  Sigh....

This was the last piece in the Endless Combinations contest. In this contest each piece needs to go with whatever the previous piece is.  I kind of rearranged my order since I incorporated the red jeans, but that was within the rules.  I'm glad to have made all of these pieces over the last 6 weeks.

 I've really been needing a black top and I like the way it goes with the red jeans.  Black tops go with just about everything, don't they?  I also want to make another black jersey top out of the Eureka pattern.  I have lots more to say, but I've got to finish laundry and pack.  My next post will be after PR weekend!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Red Jeans

it is getting close to PR weekend and I’m trying to get some last minute items made up for the trip.  There was a suggestion that we all make red jeans from the Jalie Eleonore pants pattern to wear on our shopping day on Saturday.  I just happened to have some red stretch leopard jacquard that I bought a couple of years ago originally intending to make a pair of Colette Clovers from it.  It is not really my first choice for making jeans, but I didn’t have time to order red stretch twill and our local JoAnns did not have any, so leopard red jeans it is!

I made a muslin first according to my hip measurement and it was too small!  I could barely get those things pulled up.  I decided to try again using a bigger size and adding 1” to the crotch length (depth?  I always get them confused) front and back.  I like the details on these pants and they definitely do not look like pull on pants.

The next size bigger did fit, and it turns out I did not need to add that 1”.  Even though I took the waist in a total of 1-1/2 inches, I still need to take it in more.  I’ve worn these all day today and it seems like I keep tugging them to pull them up.  I’m not sure if they are still to tight in the thighs and that is what is pulling them down, or if it is some other fit issue.  I have had this same problem with RTW stretch woven pants before too.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Tina Givens Gypsy Jacket

The Gypsy Jacket is finished, and I do have a lot to say about it :-)

This is only the second Tina Givens pattern I have actually made, although I own several now.  Her website is like eye candy for me and I love seeing the details (on the ones  you can see) on the clothes.  To really get a good idea of how the garments are worn and accessorized, you want to visit her designer website, and the Facebook page.  That said, you are not going to get any of these directions in her patterns.  In fact, the patterns do not even have the same names as the ones she sells.  However, as many have said on the  SG thread, there are a lot of “design opportunities” in her patterns.  Let me add that there are also a lot of fit and pattern making opportunities.  Hmmmm…..

Fit - basically, there is no fit in TG patterns.  I will have to say that by using her measurement guidelines, I fit into a small and it fits me in the shoulders.  Now, on this pattern, the shoulders go straight across.  No one has shoulders that go straight across, so I had to draw in the slope of the shoulders.  Also , these patterns must be drafted for an A cup, so if you want any shaping at all, you will need to do a FBA.  I did NOT on this pattern because I knew it was so loose fitting.  However, if I want to make it again, I will so that it does not pull up in the front.  Even though this fits in the shoulders, that’s where this ends.  I could wear this if I were 9 months pregnant.  Both the front and the back are way-oversized.  I would have to say that TG patterns are not well-drafted in the least, but I do like her aesthetic.

Sleeves:  There is no notch for the top of the sleeve and there is quite a bit to be eased in.  The shape of the sleeve head is a little odd and caused more curvature in the front and back and less at the top.  I will probably redraw this if I make it again.

Pattern:  These patterns come with minimal and sometimes missing instructions.  For example, there are two bands in the front.  The pattern says to cut 2 on the bias, but does not tell you how wide or how long to cut them.  You have to read the pattern to see where they are going, measure the back facing piece and length of the front piece and go from there.  There was a problem with this pattern, and I understand that this is typical on her patterns.  The side front and side back pieces are off by more 3/4 to 1 inch.  The curved part does not line up at all with the concave curve on the CB and CF pieces.  This is something you would have to measure yourself and see how much you need to adjust.  I added 3/4 to both CF and CB, and could have gone a bit more. Another problem was that the shoulder seams are cut straight across, perpendicular to the CB line.  I added some slope, but I should have done more.

UntitledInstructions:  as I said earlier, they leave a lot out.  Also, things are out of order.  For example, they have you measure and prepare the ruffle before you have even sewn the side seams.  Then you set that aside and sew it on later.  There are hand-drawn diagrams, and sometimes these are helpful, and sometimes confusing.  A lot is left up to your own interpretation.   

Fabric:  This pattern calls for a woven such as linen.  I used a double knit I had in my stash instead.  This also meant that I did not have to cut strips on the bias, but needed to allow enough length to cut them on the width of the fabric.  Instead of cutting 1” strips of self fabric for the ties, I used ribbon.  The ruffle calls for a layer of main fabric and a layer of gauze.  I used lace and tulle instead of the gauze.  
The ruffle.  Be aware if you make this pattern that one 8” cut the width of the fabric will not be enough.  I made the small, and one width did not give me any more than an “ease” allowance,  Not a ruffle at all.  This is good in this fabric since the over layers of ruffle I made are ruffle enough (You cut 2 widths of each of those).  Even though I chose a taupe colored lace, it looked like a bright ivory against this fabric.  That is why I decided to layer it with an dark gold tulle.  This is the first time I have worked with tulle.  Well, I looked like I had a tutu on when I first finished that ruffle!  Not the look I was going for.  The first thing I did to combat this was to hand stitch the seam allowance to the upper part of the bodice.  This helped a lot.  Next, I pressed the ruffle.  Be VERY CAREFUL when pressing tulle.  You need to use a press cloth and low heat.  Even doing this, I did melt a hole into a little piece of the tulle ruffle.  After pressing, I put a couple of clappers on top of the fabric to let it cool completely before removing.

Details:  I added some extra details.  I added some vintage lace to the side front pieces at different heights.

There is hand ruffled tulle with topstitching around the neckline.  I used Coats and Clark button and craft thread doubled and an embroidery needle to do all of the hand stitching.  When I did the hand stitching around the bottom of the bodice, I had to use pliers to pull the needle through all of the layers.

My little bird is sitting prettily on a cherry blossom branch in the back.

As noted before, I used ribbon instead of self-fabric ties.

I wanted this to be a comfy but cute jacket, and I think it is.  I’m not really sure of my choice to use the tulle as I am afraid that it will be too delicate.  If it should rip, I’m not sure how I would repair it as it will be beyond my patience point to take apart the whole skirt on this thing and do it over.

I would like to try this again in linen, but I would make several changes to improve the fit. Even when something is not "fitted" it still needs to fit and not hang terribly.  Even though the fit is not great on this jacket, I think I will still wear it.  I wore it to church today and got lots of compliments.  In fact, one lady (who I don't even know) saw me walk by the kitchen and said "Wow!  You belong in a magazine"  Yes, that made my day :-)
Gypsy Jacket finished

Thursday, April 21, 2016


If you are a fourth grade teacher in California,  you know that "Eureka!" means "I have found it!"  And what have we found?  Gold of course.  Well, Eureka is the name of this pattern by The Sewing Workshop, and that is the way I feel about it.  I would have never chosen this pattern based on the line drawing (just kinda blah) but I'm loving this top!  Now, I'm not sure if that is because of the pattern, or because of the fabric, but either way, it's definitely a win!

I was looking to make an overshirt for my Jacqueline slip, and originally I was going to use another knit and another pattern.  But, for some reason, I decided to do this one instead.  The fact that this top only takes one yard of fabric made it a little challenging.  I hate to cut one yard out of a longer piece unless I know something else I want to make out of that fabric.  Do any of you get stuck like that?  It's kind of ridiculous because that fabric is just sitting there waiting to be cut, and yet, I don't want to do it!

Any way, I found exactly one yard of this fabric in a drawer.  It's a beautiful rayon double knit/ sweater knit and I have no idea where I got it!  It looks like something I might have gotten from Casual Elegance, but I really don't remember.

This pattern was fast and easy to make.  I love how the neckline is done, although I didn't follow the directions in the pattern.  They have you mark a line on the band and line that up with something and it just sounded complicated to me and an extra step.  Basically, if you sew the band to the neckline with a 5/8" seam you'll come out with the same result.  I can see why they do it the other way, and maybe if I had done it that way my band would be exactly the same width all the way around, but I'm OK with a little imperfection on something like this.  I still think it looks pretty darn good.

The sleeve bands are sewn onto a kimono/cap style sleeve and give it a nice look.

I did use my serger to put this top together, but on the neckline, I sewed the binding on with the sewing machine first and then trimmed it with the serger.  I'm really loving this top!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Tina Givens' Jacqueline

Lately I have really been intrigued with Tina Given's Patterns and the whole Lagenlook trend.  I've steered away from it before because I know someone who REALLY likes this look, but most of the time it looks like she found everything she could and threw it all on at the same time.  Not the look I'm going for.  However,  I've really been liking the looks of Vivid Linen, Eileen Fisher, and a few others that have a little more classic look on this trend.  So, I bought the Jacqueline pattern, which I think is just lovely.

Before summer hits, I would like to make the slip part of this pattern in a light weight linen, as shown.  Since I am doing the endless combinations contest on PR, I wanted to find something that would go with the LH pants I made recently, AND I wanted to use fabric that was ALREADY in my stash.  I found this sort-of batik print rayon challis in my cupboard and knew it would be perfect.  This pattern needs something that will drape and flow, and this fit the ticket.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.  (It was a little windy when I took the picture, so you can see my skirt blowing out on the left or my right)

This pattern is available as a PDF or printed pattern. I ordered the printed because it was on sale. Unfortunately, I still had to tape the pieces together, which was a little annoying. Granted, the sheets were about 3 times the size of regular paper, but still!

The armholes were REALLY low on this pattern, so I basted the shoulder seams 2" lower and recut the neckline, I want to be able to wear this as a top without another top or cami underneath during the summer. I should have made that 3", so I will correct that on the pattern.

The neckline and armholes are finished with self-bias, which is not unusual and my preferred method for finishing. What was interesting is that the hem is also finished with bias binding. I have never done that before, but I like how it turned out.  I have more pictures in my Tina Givens Flicker Set. (Click on the picture of the cat and it will take you there.)

Tina Givens