Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scraps: Scrunchies or Chou Chous? Green Sewing for the New Year

Two Completed Chou Chous
(along with a fabric covered book) I made for gifts
~ ~ ~ 
Web Resources 
Enchanted by Sewing Show Notes and Links to Shows

Audio-Only Link

What is a Chou-Chou or a Scrunchie?

Although I made chou-chous for holiday gifts, they are a perfect cleanup-for-the-New-Year or anytime, sewing cleanup/recycling project. You can't get more green than using up scraps of fabric that are too pretty to toss. You can also use the ends of stained or recycled clothing. You can even repurpose old worn elastic!

Here's the idea in picture form, to help you follow along with the Technicos segment of that show.

I can never toss really pretty scraps
But at some point, I need to use them!

I measure out 10 inches of 1/4 inch elastic

I fold a 20 (or slightly longer) tube of scrap fabric
This one isn't perfectly straight and it has one edge hemmed  as a result
of a long-ago project trim. No problem

I pieced on one extra scrap, to make the tube about the
right width
An extra seam at an odd place isn't a problem
when you are scrunching up the fabric anyway

 I cut a piece of string longer than the length of the tube

And lay it inside the tube, along the fold line

Stitch down one side of the tube and across just ONE open end
Make sure not to catch the string when you sew the long side
But DO catch it when you sew across the open end

At this point, I chose not to trim along the seam line,
to give a sausage-like look to the finished chou-chou

Push the sewn across end down into the tube

Pull the string end through the tube, so the outside pulls through
Note that this is a very thick, fabric like chou-chou
That's because I chose not to trim the seam after I sewed it,
to give that sausage-like appearance.
Remember, the chou-chou fabric tube should be about twice as long as the elastic,
so that the fabric scrunches up
You also want enough elastic to be able to double the band around the hair
Otherwise, it will slide off.

Open the sewn-across end, by snipping off the string
Now you have two open ends
Add a safety pin to your 10" of elastic
Pull the elastic through your tube
I set the zig-zab stitch on my machine
I caught up/secured my elastic end on both ends
with a zig-zag stitch.
Be careful not to lose the elastic ends  down either end of the tube, at this point!
Then I sewed the two secured ends together
When I doubled the finishing off seam back to get a neater finish
I broke my needle
So after that, I wrapped my second, neatening seam with a hand stitch
That takes less time than changing my machine needle!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fitted Red Tee in Time for Christmas, Valentines, and Any Day I want to feel cheerful (Vogue 8323)

I'm loving my "Princess Laurel" tee from Katherine Tilton's, Vogue 8323 so much that right after I made it up in floral velour, I repeated the deal in this Christmas'y/Valentine'ish light weight, red, interlock knit. This Katherine Tilton pattern, Vogue 8323, is a princess-seamed, very fitted, tee shirt.

There's more about my experiences sewing this tee in this month's December audio/podcast, Enchanted by Sewing - Festive Holiday Tees and Tea (#27)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Terminado! My Princess Laurel Tee

There's more about my experiences sewing this tee in this month's December audio/podcast, Enchanted by Sewing - Festive Holiday Tees and Tea (#27)
Hoping to get another photo where the center of the shirt 
doesn't pull up on me! It isn't really THAT fitted.
I've been wearing this princess seam tee 
quite a lot for a week (layered)
I call this my "Princess Laurel" tee because

1) It's named after myself
2) It has princess seams
3) When I was little, my older sister Trisha kept me entertained with stories about her flights to Treasure Land. Apparently she went there every night after I went to sleep. She had a magic plastic comb with genuine diamels that she used to transport herself! One day she brought me a pair of shoes decorated with sequins, that looked, oddly enough, like my old slippers that had gone missing! In Treasure Land, amazingly, there were two princess that looked exactly like us - Princess Laurel and Princess Trisha!

I was a true believer in Treasure Land, and begged her to take me along one night. She promised she would when I was a little older, but I think the comb was lost when we moved and I never got to go.

This floral velour tee shirt is named in honor of the royal garments that Princess Laurel once wore, 

I really like wearing this Katherine Tilton  Vogue 8323, princess-seamed, very fitted, tee shirt. I made this first version in a floral velour (I think that's what it is - the fabric was a freebie from donations made at school), that I think is probably mostly polyester with some spandex. I've been wearing the shirt over a pale pink turtleneck or a black turtleneck, as it's not very warm. It looks pretty without them though, and I look forward to getting a photo of those.

I embellished the shoulder seams with
pale rose glass beads and twists of fabric

I added some pink glass buttons and twists of fabric on the shoulder seams, for fun embellishments. Isn't it great sewing your own clothes and doing stuff like that? Impromptu embellishments like that are just one of many things that keeps me, enchanted by sewing!

The pattern work was harder than I thought - getting the fit lines to mirror my body. I've found that my dress form Conchita is pretty good for getting basic fit areas, but when it comes to absolutely fitted, nothing beats putting the garment on my own body and checking it out in the bathroom mirror (or with a buddy like the day Susan H came and she marked all over the inside for me). One thing I learned was, not to make the adjustments to the princess seams permanent before I added the sleeves! The sleeves pull the fabric back, over and all which ways. Baste, Baste, Baste!  Oh, I had some fun with Auntie Seamah Rippah and all the seams I thought were ready for regular stitching but really weren't!

I employing my lesson about basting while making another plain red version of this tee, which I look forward to blogging about. It's almost done. Of course being a different piece of knit - a kind of fluid interlock, the red knit had to be taken in a little more. And of course the self-fabric neckband had/has to be fit differently.

Getting the neckband on this floral version in right such that it didn't gap and wasn't too tight was a real challenge. I basted a lot with pins and by hand. I also laid it over my duct tape dummy (remember Helen?) to get a sense of how the neckline would fall on my actual body. Boy, no neckband is the same.

Also I think since this neckline mostly curves at the center, then shoots up almost straight, I think the trick is a slight stretch on the curvy center part, then less stretch as it goes up. 
Great tee. I have fabric for a few others that I hope to make soon, while the alterations and fit challenges are fresh in mind. Also I just love the way it looks on, so I want more!

~ ~ ~
Web Resources
My Early Pattern Work on V8323

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ench By Sew-027: Festive Holiday Tees and Teas - Our best holiday episode ever!

Crafternoon at Marilyn's House
We promised not to clean house when we get together, but we never agreed not to get out the pretty dishes!
The latest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!

Socializing at this time of year, sharing a cup of tea and a light meal, admiring something a friend has made, engaging together with a sewing project, and getting advice on it, that’s the kind of thing that keeps me . . . enchanted by sewing.

Our best holiday episode ever!
Of course, every year it's better than the last :-)

Listening Option I) You can listen to the show right on the web (while sewing perhaps?:-) by clicking on this link
~ OR ~
Listening 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 

The Enchanted by Sewing Podcast is, an extension of my regular sewing blog - Me Encanta Coser,  ( which,  roughly translated means, Enchanted By Sewing 

My blog is written in English. The name celebrates the historical and modern use of the beautiful Spanish Language in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where I live. 

This show is created, produced and brought to you by Laurel Shimer. 

This month’s show  is  *Festive Holiday Tees and Tea*

1) Holiday Tees and More 

* Crafternoon - Finishing my beaded cap, started in Vancouver

* Three Tees - Tee Shirts 
i. Rumpelstiltskin Cowl Neck Top (M6078 - tried and true pattern)
ii. Two versions of the Princess Laurel Tee V8323
FUTURE LINKS UNDER CONTSTRUCTION - When I blog them, I'll add them:-)

1. Floral velour (Test Garment - but I'm wearing it all the time!)
2. A plain Red version - still a little work to do finishing up the neckband. Perfect for Christmas and Valentines day, but it will see plenty of other use.

* Ivy –A new shirtdress from my tried-and-true M3623 pattern, Inspired by Mrs. Obama!

- Fabric from a favorite local and online store – Exotic Silks/Thai Silks
- Wrap-up posting about my first shirt dress project, "Peaches and Cream"
* Julia Morgan – Arts and Crafts movement architect
YWCA Hostess House in Palo Alto, built in 1918 and later to become the site of the MacArthur Park Restaurant[17]
*Technicos – Green Sewing Gifts* Covered books and chou chous
Use up those beautiful remnants and scraps
FUTURE LINKS UNDER CONSTRUCTION - When I blog them, I'll add them:-)

I created a pattern for my fabric book cover from a paper bag first. 13 step tutorial

*Come on over for holiday tea and sewing* In the show, I share lighter holiday offerings, inspired by three sewing and tea parties I've gone to or been hostess at recently. I wish you could have come too!

a. To drink I'd offer Roibos tea with milk and  Easy Microwave No-Sugar Cocoa (you can have sugar if you want!) made with soy milk or non-fat milk 
  I like these cocoa powders (non-sweetened varieties) Cadbury, Schafen Bergen, Ghirardhelli, Trader Joes, Droste
b. Laurel's Holiday Lights Pumpkin Gingerbread 
c. Blueberry muffins (Whoops! Not the Mayo Clinic it's from the Harvard School of Public Health - chock full of blueberries!) 
I substitute white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose. Love the texture of the almond meal and the flavors of the orange zest and blueberry. Made them twice in short order. Very popular with my family.  

d. Persimmon oatmeal cookies - I didn't have the psyllium husks and substituted some applesauce for the persimmon when I ran short. They were great anyway!

e. Laurel's London Loaf - A very light schoosh-of-oatmeal and lemon peel bread

f. Harry Potter's Bath Buns, like Hagrid never made
I have the The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook  this Bath Bun recipe came from  (someone else has typed up on this page) and I made these buns for supper one night, along with a nice meaty beef stew. I used golden raisins. Many recipes in the book are heavy on the butter, but this much less so. Delicious, very holiday tasting with the caraway seeds.

g. Laurel's Dried fruit truffles
Quick Recipe Recap, For more description, listen in to the later part of this month's podcast
Food processor -  Take out all pits! 
- 12 dried apricots, 6 medjdool dates, 6 dried plums/prunes
- 2 full graham crackers, 2 t almond meal (optional)
- zest of one orange or lemon 
Pulse the food processor till all broken up
- drizzle in enough honey to get mixture to hold together (maybe 1 teaspoon?)

- Press plain cocoa powder (no sugar or fat added) through a sieve so that it's all a fine powder
- Roll mixture into a lot of little balls
- Roll balls in cocoa
- Store in your cutest tin!

A local very tasty cocoa
Cadbury Cocoa is sold in London
Haven't found it closer to home

Holiday Lights - Laurel's Pumpkin Gingerbread Recipe

Laurel’s Pumpkin Gingerbread
I was inspired to create a gingerbread using pumpkin several years ago, by a PBS series called “Footsteps”. Though the young woman in the  show, tricked her die-hard, non-vegetable eating brother-in-law into saying he liked vegetables when he ate her pumpkin gingerbread, I could never find a recipe for it. So I created one myself by changing the ingredients around in somebody elses. I love it and make it regularly for festive, winter holidays.

It is also delicious topped with some Bosc Pears that have been cooked up with cinnamon and no or sugar or just a tiny bit of sugar. Bosc Pears, which we eat regularly in our fall salads along with crisp persimmons, get over the hill so easily since they are really only good fresh when they are crisp
 This is a major variation on a recipe in Cooking Light 11-12/94 (substituted pumpkin/squash for oil, substituted whole wheat flour and buttermilk for liquid))

Note: this is very tasty and better for you if you make it with whole wheat flour (more fiber in our diets – yeah!), but you can make it with regular all-purpose if that is all you have.

Mix up wet stuff well in one bowl. Measure up dry stuff in another. Combine bowl contents and get them thoroughly mixed, but don’t beat the results. Bake at 350 degrees. Cut into eight pieces. Each piece is probably about 190 calories.

I commonly double this recipe so that it fits into two round cake pan. This recipe is the SINGLE cake pan recipe. Spray the cake pans with good old PAM.

Wet Stuff: 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup cooked squash/plain canned pumpkin, 2 T honey, 1 egg white or 1/4 cup egg substitute

Dry Suff: 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup whole wheat (or white whole wheat) flour, 1 t powdered ginger, 1 t cinnamon, 3/4 t baking soda, 1/4 salt, 1 t cloves (If your baking soda is a little old, put it through one of those little hand strainers and grind the lumps through the mesh into the bowl)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Crafternoon Tea - Finished my Beaded Cap (Terminado!)

First Marilyn made us a lovely festive tea! Doesn't she set a lovely table? And then we watched "Miracle on 34'th Street" (the original with Natalie Woods and Maureen O'Hara of course!), and worked on our craft projects together. OK, we also talked non-stop.

 I finished beading my faux-tapestry cap. You remember it? That's the project I started in Vancouver. I talked about sights, sounds and sewing inspiration in Vancouver in my (Episode 26) November, Enchanted By Sewing audio/podcast. You can find out more about that episode and listen right on the web, or download it to your mobile device, by clicking on the show notes at

Oh It Don't Snow Here, Stays Pretty Green - Christmas On My Street

"Oh it don't snow here. Stays pretty green."
Joni Mitchell, "River"

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rain Dancin'

Sure, Drought ain't over.
Still rain dancing does pay off.

Spinning Straw Into Gold - My Rumpelstiltskin Cowl Neck Knit Top (McCalls 6078)

My  Rumpelstiltskin Straw-Into-Gold Top looks best tucked in!

Oh I love wearing this straw-into-gold wool jersey top! Yes, you're right. The longer hem that worked for my polka dot cowl, is too long for this fluid wool jersey. I may hem it shorter, but I've ended up tucking it in most of the time anyway. What a difference the hand of a fabric makes, eh?

Do you recall a few weeks back, when I finished my reworked Retro Polka Dot cowl-neck knit top? I'm just starting to buildup my pattern wardrobe of tried-and-true patterns, and I love having a pattern I can turn to late one night, and finish off before breakfast.

I pulled out my version of M6078 (the version I traced, altered and know fits me) and a light weight, gauzy , golden wool jersey knit from my fabric inventory one night last week, and the next day I had a great new top to wear. I didn't stay up late making it either:-)

I can spin straw into gold.  I know just how that German gal  in the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale felt. You remember her? She was the one-time commoner who found a husband by practicing her domestic skills with her spindle and a hunk of straw.*   

This is already proving to be a great top for our not too cold, California cool season. It's good under a long sleeved top, or on it's own. I can wear it with jeans, a denim skirt or my brown stretch-velvet jeans. And yes, I'm tucking it in :-)

I'm so ready to make more. Sewing tried-and-true is the kind of thing that keeps me . . . 

Enchanted by Sewing!

* Honey, I highly recommend a degree in Computer Science as a better option.

Web Resources
My Retro Polka Dot Knit Top  (also blogged about as "Why I don't love Lucy")
Who's Rumpelstiltskin?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dungeness is a Local Treat

Dungeness Season -
Monterey or Half Moon Bay?
~ ~ ~
You can include it in cioppino or toss it in pasta. 
We like it best plain on salad with a Louie dressing. The Half Moon Bay fisherman I chatted with at our local Farmer's Market likes his best on salad with an olive oil and lemon dressing.

The season is always too short for me. Nothing beats Dungeness Crab!

~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Friday, November 28, 2014

Terminado! - Ivy's Ready for the Holidays - Raw Silk Shirtdress

I'm really happy with my new shirtdress, Ivy. She's perfect for holiday occasions, and can also be accessorized for a variety of more casual situations during the year.

I created Ivy from deep green raw silk, also known as silk noil. I purchased this fabric last year from Exotic Silks/Thai Silks in Los Altos CA. They have an online store as well.

I used the same pattern I used for Peaches and Cream. I talked about altering and using this pattern extensively in my September Enchanted by Sewing podcast.

~ ~ ~ Web Resources ~ ~ ~ 

Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast- Shirtdressing
Includes pattern links and a number of blog postings about altering and creating my first version of this shirtdress.

Mrs. Obama's arms inspire shirt dress sewing

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Still Life With Sprouts

Brussels sprouts, who knew,
That I was partial to you?
With cranberries, yum!

Recipe: A delicious, and easy, way to make sprouts with fresh cranberries.
My beautiful daughter makes them this way.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ench By Sew-026: Embellishment Via Vancouver B.C., Canada

The latest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!
Listening Option I) You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on this link

~ OR ~
Listening 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 


The Enchanted by Sewing Podcast is, an extension of my regular sewing blog - Me Encanta Coser, which,  roughly translated means, Enchanted By Sewing 

My blog is written in English. The name celebrates the historical and modern use of the beautiful Spanish Language in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where I live. 

Recently I was in western Canada, in Vancouver BC for a six days trip. My husband attended a conference for GSA. Not being a geologist, I went along for fun!

I’ve taken four trips to Vancouver in the last six years. It's a place we really love to go. We are all really drawn to the city and the vicinity. We identify with the city as fellow westerners. There is a strong bond of shared history and culture, between people in the western Americas, particularly down along the coast. There's also a lot of ross culture with my home in the San Francisco Bay area. 
That said, there is a spice of difference and Canadian feeling. We feel both comfortable, and excited with the sights sounds and smells(!). 

In the show I discuss . . . 
On my slow travel trip, I kept embellishment in mind when I

- Shopped
- Looked for inspiration for sewing projects
- Designed and Worked on a small sewing project

I also included a lot of travel notes in the 'cast. You'll hear about how my interest in very accessible forms of Native American art in Vancouver, the out of doors, and local city life affected my sewing ideas and my travel style.

~ ~ ~
Web Resources
Sunset Inn and Suites – Burnaby St, West End, just off Davie

Button Button - A Unique, Artistic Button Experience

Button Button is on the edge of Gas Town. It's where the Steam Clock is. Yup, it was being renovated when I was there!


Bead store on Granville Island
In the Net Loft building

5 - 1666 Johnston Street, V6H 3S2
T: 604.682.2323 | F: 604.682.1303
" Located in the Net Loft Beadworks is the ultimate destination for all of your jewellery making needs. Choose from thousands of different beads; from pearls to shells to glass and everything in between, and materials for making earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and more. Ask the helpful staff for tips, and you can even create your one-of-a-kind accessories in-store. We also offer classes."

From Nature, City Walkings, Fantastic Museums and People I meet

Stanley Park is a huge fantastic city park. Wonderful views of the water, water activities, biking, walking. Woods too - take your pick.

- Native American Art Good locations there
- Behind Maritime Museum Mungo Martin Totem Pole
- Totem Poles, Spirit Park in Stanley Park
- Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at University of British Colombia (UBC), carvings, crests on totem poles, bentwood boxes, modern and ancient sculptures
o Explore the MOA Collection Yourself - Images, Info, etc.
o First Nations Collection at MOA

Vanier Park
Museum of Vancouver (MOV)

Exhibit - From Rationing to Ravishing Through early March 2015,

Maritime Museum - nearby the Museum of Vancouver
Exhibit - Babes and Bathers, History of the Swimsuit

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Embellishment: Buttoning Up Vancouver B.C. - A Sewist Travels


On my recent trip to Vancover B.C., I stopped in at Button Button, a unique embellishment mecca for the sewist who just thinks she's already seen it all.

Browsing Colleen's collection of gorgeous, handcrafted buttons  is like visiting an art galley full of tiny gems - except that these jewels are more affordable than Tiffany's!

I purchased the lovelies above for future embellishment projects. Likely I'll attach them to one of my caps, or on the lapel of a jacket or shirt. Can't you just see that terrier doggie surrounded by a circle or oval of tiny seed beads, or seed pearls? 

I'll be talking more about my experiences shopping for embellishments and looking for sewing inspiration in Vancouver, in my (free) November Enchanted by Sewing audio podcast, which I'll be publishing by the end of this month. You can signup to get an email  each time these monthly audio shows are available.

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Web Resources

Christmas In the Air: Making Magic

Feeling the power.
We have all got the instinct
For making magic.