Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sewing Savings - Black Friday Deals

I don't often post when sewing sales happen - as many stores aren't accessible to a lot of my readers, and I kind of figure that if you want to know when sales happen you will have signed up for a mailing list somewhere along the way.  But Black Friday is a bit different.  Keeping track of all the sales can be a bit crazy, at least if you don't know what you are looking for.  Some things aren't any better priced than at a normal sale, but might be worth picking up if you are at the store anyway.  Of course, some of my favorite online fabric stores will also get a mention.  Here are my top picks for Black Friday Sewing Sales this year:

Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts:
Friday Sales:
$1.49/yd flannel solids, $1.79/yd prints
60% Off Friskars Cutting Tools
50% Off Jewelry Making Supplies
60% Off Strung Beads

Saturday Sales:
$2.99/yd Anti-pill fleece solids, $3.89/yd prints
$1.99/yd quilter's showcase prints
$99 Dritz Sew Simple Dressform
$59.99 OttLite 2-in-1 LED Floor & Table Lamp

Weekend Deals:
$89.99 Guttermann 80-Spool Spinning Tower of Thread
5 for $7 Butterick Patterns
Buy One Get One Buttons
Buy One Get One Thread
50% Off Fur
50% Off Sew Classics
50% Off Simply Silky Prints
60% Off All that Glitters
60% Off Fall Fashion Apparel
60% Off David Tutera & SUEDESays Special Occasion Fabrics

Friday: 25% Off Total Purchase, 50% Off Regular Priced Item
Saturday: 25% Off Total Purchase, 50% Off Regular Priced Item

Hancock Fabrics:
Friday Sales:
Janome 134 Sewing Machine - $79.99 6am-noon, $89.99 noon-9pm (reg. $199.99)
Ottlite Wingshade Combo - $69.99 6am-noon, $79.99 noon-9pm (reg. $209.99)
Kozy Flanel Prints - $1.69/yard 6am-noon, $2.69 noon-9pm (reg. $5.99/yd)
Fleece Prints - $2.99/yd 6am-noon, $3.99 noon-9pm (reg. $8.99-$10.99/yd)
50% off sewing & quilting notions
Janome 3434D Serger - $179.99 (reg. $329.99)

Saturday Sales:
Wool Blends - $4.99/yd 7am-noon, $6.99/yd noon-9pm (reg. $14.99-$24.99)
Quilt Frame - $169.99 7am-noon, $199.99 noon-9pm (reg. $299.99)
$3.99 Poly Prints and Solids (reg. $9.99-$12.99/yd)
Janome 128/3128 Sewing Machine - $79.99 (reg. $139.99)
50% off Dritz My Double Dress Form
50% off batting by the yard
$2.99/yd Value Fabrics (reg. $3.95-$6.95/yd)

Weekend Sales:
$1.99 McCall's Patterns
5/$7 Butterick Patterns
$0.99 Simplicity Patterns
$2.49 Burda Patterns
$5.99/yd Licensed Fleece Prints (reg. $16.99/yd)
50% off casual knits prints and solids
50% off rolling tote sewing travel bag

Available Coupons:
Friday: 10% off total purchase (including doorbuster deals) 6am-noon only
Saturday: 10% off total purchase
Sunday: $5 off purchase of $35 or more
50% off regular priced fabric item
40% off regular priced notion

Fabric Mart Fabrics:
30% off entire store (excludes Julie's Picks and bundles)
35% off entire store for order over $100
Sale lasts through Monday

Dreamtime Creations Rhinestones:
20% off all day Thanksgiving Code: "THANKS"
25% off 12am-2am CST Code: "BF201325"
20% off 2am-6am CST Code: "BF201320"
15% off 6am-6pm CST Code: "BF201315"
10% off 6pm-11:59pm CST Code: "BF201310"
Time to reset the clocks to Central Standard Time!

Michael Levine:
20% off online purchases Nov. 28 - Dec. 2
coupon code: TURKEY2013

Fashion Fabrics Club:
End of year clearance on a wide range of fabrics through Dec. 2
Sale prices range from $1.99 - $5.00 per yard.

Happy Thanksgiving and a Burda Preview!

Firstly, for those of you celebrating - Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all have a great holiday surrounded by friends and family.

Secondly, for those of you not celebrating (or, well, even if you are), you can get excited about the early preview for the January 2014 Burda!

Or, well, ok, maybe excited might be too strong a word.  Some better options might be amused, confused, or bored.  January issues tend to be hit or miss for me, and next year's first issue looks like it might be more of a miss, at least based on the photos of the early preview.  Now, I don't want to ruin your holiday, but take a look at these:

What the...  How fugly is that?  A color blocked fur coat?
I suppose it is a good way to use all of your leftover fur scraps?
(Though part of me wonders if there is a good coat pattern under all that fur.)

Tying a piece of fabric around yourself with a ribbon
won't actually do much to help you stay warm...

At least this coat/vest looks somewhat wearable compared to the others.
Ok, ok, so the issue doesn't look to be all bad:

I am liking the look of this shirt -
nice to see something for a dressy non-knit.

This jacket!  Looks amazing!
I wish it wasn't a white-on-white photo so I could actually see details...

I am sort of digging the top (even with the asymmetrical hem).
Might be hoping that the pants are a pattern option as well...

This turtleneck top would actually be quite useful in winter.
The skirt... might be more useful next summer.
You know the party dresses are bad when I am hoping that the pattern in each photo is the man's blazer:

Her dress: meh.
Maybe I just need to see it in sequins and not poofy pink flowers.
His jacket: Sharp. 
Same man's jacket?  Do I get this pattern?  Please?
Oh, wait, I was supposed to look at the dress.
It looks like she threw it together an hour before the party.
I feel like Burda has done similar styles in the past,
but the older versions were more flattering.
 The plus patterns might be promising:

Oooh, I like this coat!

This dress is nice too!
(Also, didn't they use that print fabric last September?)

It was better as a jacket I think.
But that's not all!  It is time once again for the Burda carnival costume segment!!!  Are we excited yet?

You can be a flower!  Or a tree!
(Random side note - is that where Burda thinks my boobs are?
No wonder I am forever adding to raise the necklines of things.)

Ok, this mermaid costume is actually sort of great.
Who else wants to make the sea-shell bustier just because?
Actually, I could see it being used as part of a rather unique wedding gown...

And you can make your children act as supporting cast.
Or possibly dress them up for a holiday nativity school concert.

We have a spider man!
We are definitely dressing them up for a holiday nativity school concert.
I mean, after all, eight is an awful lot of legs.
Wait - there was no chicken at the birth of Jesus!
Lobsters and octopi yes.  Chickens, no, not so much.
So - there is our first look at Burda's coming year!  What do you all think?  Does the hard-to-see white jacket make up for the I'm-wearing-all-my-old-stuffed-animals coat?  Doesn't the Plus section look better than a lot of the regular stuff?  What do you all think about the costumes this year - anyone else feeling like they want to get the shit kicked out of them by love?  Or does the preview just make you want to inject heroin into your eyeballs?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pattern Review: BS-06-2012-121 Lightweight Linen Jacket

So a few weeks ago I published my not-a-pattern-review of my accidental steampunk jacket.  I was too excited to not post pictures right away.  But that was actually my second attempt at this jacket.  My original version was very much like the garment photographed by Burda - a lightweight cotton/linen combination that will be perfect for summer.  I had been obsessing over this pattern since the magainze came out last year.  And I finally got around to making it.  I have been wanting to add a lightweight jacket to my wardrobe for quite a while.  I expect my version will see quite a bit of use.  You know, once it is summer again.

I actually really like this jacket, though I may love my second version just slightly a bit more.  But the different fabrication makes them appropriate for different events and different times of the year, so I think they will both see their fair share of use, given time.  The only thing that really held me up on my first version was finishing the bound button holes - well, that and the fact that this jacket won't be immediately wearable might have killed my drive to finish it.  In any case, it is done, so you can finally have a look:

My linen jacket - decidedly less steampunky.

Lightweight jacket will probably not be worn totally buttoned up. 
Love the fit on the back.  And this one has sleeve vents,
so the cuffs can be rolled up easily.
Close up - you can see that my interior has a lace print.
I think that might be one of my favorite things.
Or maybe my buttons.  I do love my buttons.
Sleeve vent.  I added stitching between the buttons,
but am rethinking that a bit.  Might use another technique next time.

Here (finally) is my official Pattern Review:

Pattern Description:  Lightweight jacket with asymmetrical front buttons and sleeve vent detail.

Pattern Sizing:  Burda sizes 36-44.  I traced a 38 at the shoulders, and graded out to a 40 for the rest of the body.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I thought they were for the most part, yes.  Once I got to the section describing the bound button holes I thought it would be best to proceed with caution, so I pulled out my Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing and used the patch method to make the buttonholes.  After looking through Burda's instructions, I realized they used the same method, and that the instructions were actually fairly clear.  The rest of the jacket instructions were quite good, especially for Burda, and I didn't have any problems.  Though I will say that there isn't a lot of complicated sewing in this jacket either, especially if you replace the bound buttonholes with machine ones, so it would actually be a really good first jacket pattern for a newer seamstress.

Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it?  Yes!  My first version actually used very similar colors and fabrics, so it looked very much like the one in the model photo.  My second version was different stylistically, but the pattern is fantastic and turned out great both times, despite very different fabrications.

What did you particularly like/dislike about this pattern?  Likes: The style and the details.  Also I found I had to do minimal fit alterations compared to some other Burda jacket patterns I sewed recently, despite having used the same sizes for both.  The jackets are quite comfortable to wear.  Dislikes: How long it takes me to finish bound button holes.  On my second version I used machine button holes instead, and it got worn much faster than my first version!

Fabric used:  On my first version I used european linen from for the outside, and a stretch cotton twill print on the inside.  My second version used a faux leather poly suede for the shell with a muslin underlining, and poly charmeuse with flannel interlining for the inside.

Pattern alterations or design changes you made:  I did a 6/8" swayback adjustment (less than my usual 1"-1.5"), I did a full bicep adjustment on the sleeve, and I raised the armscye by 1/2" for fit adjustments.  On the second version I left off the sleeve vents and I used machine rather than bound buttonholes.  My second version also used the same fabric for the front piece and the facing, and I used a more traditional lining type fabric for the rest of the inside, rather than having the facing and interior act as a contrast as in the original design.

Would you sew this again?  Would you recommend this to others?  Well, I already sewed two versions, so, yes, I sewed it again.  I could see myself returning to this pattern in the future because I really like it, and I think I have my fit adjustments just right, but I also think two versions are enough for me at the moment.  I would highly recommend this pattern to others - it is very stylish and modern, but also easy to wear.  It looks great in different fabric choices, and it fairly easy to sew, especially for a jacket.

Conclusion:  Love this pattern!  I don't think I have ever made two jackets from the same pattern before, let alone in the same month!  My second jacket is especially one of my favorite garments I have sewn this year, and I can't recommend this pattern highly enough.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Paleo Pumpkin Pie-ish Cupcakes

A little over a month ago Clio was celebrating a birthday, and posted a link to this very cool pumpkin pie cupcake recipe.  Well, I like cupcakes, but I love pumpkin pie.  A lot.  Like a lot a lot.  Like when I was growing up I didn't really like pie unless it was pumpkin (happy to say my horizons have expanded a bit since then).  So this easy to make cupcake-pie recipe should be perfect for me, right?  Well, there is one caveat - I have been eating gluten-free for almost a year and a half.

It started as a dietary experiment born from curiosity after reading a few articles in the New England Journal of Medicine (one of the best things about grad school - access to so many technical journals!), but resulted in me realizing that gluten had been having quite a negative effect on my health (the disappearance of a mysterious long-term skin rash was the most immediate change at the time, and now if I do accidentally consume it I have intense stomach pains, so I have come to the conclusion it is just better if I avoid it).  On the upside I have been feeling much better with this dietary regimen, but on the downside it does require some creativity when it comes to baking.  So I was going to need to do a little adapting to be able to try these cupcakes.

Clio suggested trying a gluten-free all purpose flour as a one-to-one substitute.  Which I did - and it worked!  The cupcakes definitely needed to be chilled (they tasted sort of nasty just out of the oven), but they had that custard inside/cake outside dichotomy that was promised in the original recipe.  However, the gluten free flour (which is a mix of potato starch, tapioca, and sourgum) has something of a bitter aftertaste that I wasn't such a fan of.  And, honestly, I haven't been eating a whole lot of sugar lately either, so the sweetness was a bit of a shock.  So I figured a few more changes might be beneficial to the taste of the gluten-free version.

I have actually been enjoying testing many of the "paleo" desserts I have found on the internet.  (For those who haven't heard of it, the Paleo Diet follows the idea that recent changes to the human diet have outpaced our evolutionary adaptations to be able to healthfully digest these foods.  It focuses on a lifestyle where eating quality vegetables and animal proteins makes up most of the diet, and grains, legumes, and dairy are avoided.)  Most of my recent baking experiments have been using coconut or almond flour as a base, and maple syrup or honey as a sweetener.  So I thought I would try to adapt this pumpkin pie cupcake recipe to a paleo gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free version.

I replaced the half and half with coconut milk - it keeps the creaminess but removes the dairy.
This is, however, the first recipe that I have adapted on my own.  I have tested several other recipes that I have found that already used coconut flour, but I have never attempted to convert a regular recipe to a paleo version before.  I will admit that my version loses a bit of the cake/pie feel and is really more of a very moist cupcake.  I suppose it might be possible for me to play with the liquid/solid ratios to see if I can get more of a custard texture, though I just don't know if that will be entirely possible with the coconut flour.  But what my recipe lacks in texture it makes up in taste.  I think these things are pretty delicious!  I will say that if you are used to eating regular wheat flour and normal sugar, this might not taste as sweet as you would expect, and some people who aren't used to coconut flour complain of it having an odd aftertaste (though I don't have a problem with this myself).  It certainly doesn't behave exactly like wheat flour, but I do think the finished cupcakes have a nice consistency and I am really happy with my first recipe adaptation baking experiment.

Fill cupcake cups about half full of batter.
So, without further ado, my recipe adaptation:


Paleo Pumpkin Pie-ish Cupcakes

2/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp gluten free baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (McCormick is gluten free, but be sure to check your brand)
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin, no additives)
3/8 cup maple syrup or honey
5 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Line muffin-tin with paper or tin liners.

2. In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

3. In large bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract, and coconut milk until smooth and well combined.  Add in dry ingredients and whisk together until batter is smooth.

4. Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full of batter.

5. Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool in pan.  Chill before serving.  Store in refrigerator.

My first attempt yielded about 18 cupcakes, but your mileage may vary.  Also, the oven I was using tends to run a bit on the hot side, so you may do better with a slightly higher temperature than the one listed here, or you may need to bake for an additional few minutes.



So - have any of you tried alternative flour baking?  What was your impression?  Has anyone else used gluten-free all purpose flour?  Has anyone else tried paleo baking?  Also, if you try this recipe feel free to comment and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Newsflash: New Butterick Patterns Announced

The Butterick holiday patterns have been announced.  During the previous round of pattern releases I think we were all pleasantly surprised when Butterick had the least boring collection of fall patterns.  Sadly, their hot streak doesn't seem to have extended to the winter collection.  There are a few patterns I think are really nice, a few where I like the line drawing much more than the photographed garment, and some that are just frumpalicious.  All in all quite a mixed lot.  Let's take a look...

This collection mostly consists of dress patterns:

B5995 - A Lifestyle Wardrobe pattern.
I am quite enamored with the jacket, but the dress and skirt could be useful as well.

The pattern comes with a jacket, dress, top, skirt, and capri pants.
I am excited because the waist seam on the dress would help me with quite a few of my fit issues.

Here is a view of the top/pants combo.
Not sure how I feel about the scalloped neckline, but that could be easily changed.

B5998 - I wasn't super excited by this sheath until
I looked at the seaming in the line drawing...

Ooooh!  I don't know how the color blocking would actually look, but the curved
seams are interesting.  Also of note: this is a pattern for wovens, not knits.

B5981 - A gown/cape combo.  The evening gown is simple but lovely.

The dress is also available in a less formal short version.

B5987 - I am sort of torn on this one shoulder gown...

... I think I might like the alternate views better than the photographed one.
But do I need another pattern for a ball gown?

B5983 - I feel like this dress is supposed to be retro-inspired, and I sort
of want to like it, but I feel like the proportions of the top are just a bit off.

I love the drawing of it much more than the actual made up garment.
Maybe I will wait and see if anyone posts a stunner on Pattern Review before I buy this one.

B5984 - I feel like the more fitted bodice of this pattern would be more flattering
for me at least, so I might get this one instead.  And I really like the neckline detail!

B5982 - Cute, but simple.  Not bad, but not terribly exciting either.

B5971 - A See & Sew pattern.  I like the belt tie,
but the top might be slightly a bit too poofy.
This is the alternate view of 5971 - the top still looks a bit baggy.
Maybe this pattern will also be a pass.

B5986 - A kAthRine Tilton pattern.
Not something I would wear, but I can appreciate the draped detail on the skirt.
 Most of the other interesting patterns are jackets:

B5994 - Also a kAthRine Tilton design.  I actually quite like this jacket.
Casual, but stylish.  Also, it seems like big collars are quite the trend this year.

B5992 - This little capelet has an elegant drape on the back.
This could be perfect for finishing off an elegant holiday look.

B5976 - The basic cut of this coat doesn't really interest me (I have too many
similar patterns), but I do think Butterick did an excellent job of styling this pattern.

B5975 - Another See & Sew.  The dress and jacket are basic, but cute.

B5997 - Normally I don't go for overly blousey tops, but I am oddly drawn
to this pattern.  Perhaps it is the details and collar at the neckline?
And, the more important question - could I wear it and not look like a tent?
B6002 - A Waverly pattern for electronic devices.
There is also a pattern for a tablet purse.  Could be good for holiday gift sewing?
B5980 - Normally I don't discuss the children's patterns, but how cute is this dress?
I almost wish I knew someone with kids that I could sew this for.  Almost.
Oh, but then I promised you a good amount of frump, didn't I?  Well, here is the best of the worst:

B5985 - Ruffle frump.  This dress screams dowdy.

B5974 - An oversized See & Sew top.  Apparently baggy tops are a theme for this release.

The line drawing actually reminds me of that top from the February Burda.  Only sloppy looking.

B5972 - Flower Power Frump.
Do people still dress like this?  It seems like it should be a vintage 70s pattern.
The other patterns tend to fall towards the frumpy side, or are just sort of basic and boring.  Nothing overly exciting, but I think there are at least a few good patterns here.  I think there might be some stash growth at the next pattern sale.  So - what do you all think?  Anything to pique your interest?  Or does this look like a mish-mash of old trends and sloppily fitted bodices?  Feel free to discuss in the comments!