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Archive for April, 2011

Storing Au Bonheur Patterns

April 30th, 2011 5 comments

The last batch of Au Bonheur des Petites Mains patterns didn’t come in the marvelous card envelopes in which my first order arrived.   (See the sturdy envelope here; it’s at the end of the post.)  The newest ones came in a folder in side an over-sized cello sleeve.  Perfect to cut shipping costs, and to display the sprightly graphics, but not so good for long-term storage.

These are patterns I intend to treasure for a long time, so I needed something more practical.  First, I ended up laminating the outside folder: front, inside front, and back.  I do this at home, using a box of lamination sheets from an office supply store.

Then I attached a large catalog envelope to the blank page on inside back of the folder.  This gives me a place to store the original pattern, my traced pattern, translations and notes — although I can also write notes on the catalog envelope, too.

The catalog envelopes have a self-stick flap, so I removed a small section from the center of the flap, and use it to close the envelope.  The sticky stuff adheres to the lamination without damaging anything, and the flap can be re-stuck over and over again.

Au Bonheur patterns are printed on lovely, large, sturdy sheets and this is a relatively compact way of storing them while keeping them completely accessible.  The new folder/envelope combination fits nicely into the magazine files I keep in my sewing room, right at hand, just where I want my ABdPM patterns to be.

Categories: ABdPM, Tips Tags:

The Tyranny Of The See’s

April 22nd, 2011 4 comments

So, after meeting up with some sewing bloggers and consuming wonderful See’s chocolates with them, I got to thinking about the horror and deprivation of being too far from Mary See’s main stomping grounds.  Why, I asked myself, should those of us unfortunate enough to be stranded 3,000 miles away from Nirvana, be forced to suffer so?

Ah, sweet mystery of life.

Naturally, in spite of having read this article the very day of my search, I went online to find  a solution to this vexing problem.  And I found it, in several recipes allegedly replicateing my favorite-of-all-favorite See’s Candies, the Dark Chocolate Bordeaux.

I experimented, and fiddled, changed things up, and made a few pounds.  The first batch was messy:

But they still looked nice on a plate:

We ate them anyway.  The flavor?  Yuuuum, and very, very Bordeaux!  However, I’d crystallized the sugar a bit, so naturally I had to make more.

The second batch was neater, and dressed up nicely.  We ate it, too.  Mr. Noile thinks these are better than See’s, but Mr. Noile is a bit of a renegade.  I ate most of them, anyway, so perhaps his judgement is skewed.

It turns out that Michael’s, the ubiquitous craft store, sells candy boxes and foil cups:

Candy making, not unlike sewing, has its own set of tricks.  After the first batch, I realized that it was important to boil the brown sugar fondant at a relatively low temperature, and for a very short period of time.

A melon baller was perfect for scooping up uniformly sized centers, and a fondue fork — with snake-tongue prongs — was the right thing for dipping the centers into the chocolate.  The prongs held the fondant so that it didn’t slip off.  A common table fork was helpful to slide the dipped candies off the fondue fork.

Michael’s also has cute little gold elastics for closing the boxes (though you could probably buy any color by the yard at a fabric store):

Michael’s had seals, too, but I didn’t put one on this box.  (It wasn’t going to be long for this world.)  Any office supply store might offer a choice of those, too.

Tempering the chocolate in the microwave required some practice; it’s best to melt it in short bursts, not in longer sessions, which can make the chocolate lumpy.  I used Hershey’s Special Dark rather than a better European brand; it was just right with the Bordeaux-like centers, and, anyway, See’s is a quintessentially USA-American candy, so USA chocolate seemed appropriate.  The flavor was just right with the brown-sugar-coffee centers.

I used Wilton’s sprinkles — a travesty if ever there were one — but next time (that would be after we lose the weight we just gained), I’ll use these Dutch sprinkles.  They can’t be worse, and they sound a whole lot better than the rather waxy Wilton’s.  It’ll go better with the organic cream and butter.

Here’s another useful tip: Really good candies don’t have either corn syrup or sweetened evaporated milk in them; you might get sweets that way, but you won’t get anything like See’s.  And never, never use the candy-making pellets on sale in craft departments.  They aren’t really food.  Honest, they aren’t.

Categories: Misc Tags:

ABdPM 60021: Pull A Col Revers “Muslin”

April 18th, 2011 12 comments

I used the wrong fabric, and so the garment’s a fail.  But the pattern isn’t, and now I know how to put it together.  Hey, that’s what a “muslin” is all about, right?

Here’s the picture on the Au Bonheur des Petites Mains website:


Cute, isn’t it?  It’s a “pull” or sweater (or maybe a “pullover sweater” — I’m not up on current French slang).  It’s a pretty simple-seeming pattern — back, sleeves, a decorative pleat in front where the two sides overlap.

This pattern’s been out since 2009, and I’ve only been able to find two other examples of it made up.  One was turned into a cardigan, and the other is a blog post with no notes at all.  (I’ve noticed that this is often the case with many French bloggers.)  That seems particularly strange since it’s relatively simple to put together, and it’s so darn cute.  Here’s my “muslin”:

This “pull” is meant to be made from a thicker sweater knit.  My fabric is “mystery composition” from Jomar, and I’m pretty sure it’s full of wool of the acryl.  It loves itself, and sticks together as if it’s made of hook and loop tape. See those sleeves?  They’re stuck that way.  Icky, really.

The material did have a nice hand on the bolt, and I assumed, wrongly, that it had a lot more rayon than it seems to.  Nevermind, it has served its purpose.

The pattern directions are almost non-existent, but they’re not really  needed.  Basically, they say to sew the shoulder seams together, and then attach the sleeves, sewing in one long seam under the arm and along the sides.

Then you are supposed to place the right front on the left front, and stitch down from point A on the pattern, matching the center front lines as marked on the pattern.  This is a less than perfect instruction due to vague lines that are the same for all sizes, and no matching points A.  On the other hand, it’s not difficult to figure out what’s meant.

This stitching line does not show on the line drawing that comes with the pattern, nor is it shown on the website.  However, if you look closely, I think you can see a hint of its existence.. The knit fabric is supported vertically to the left (as you look at the photo) of the angled flange.  (And, by the way, the asymmetry of the hem is far more exaggerated on the pattern than in the drawing, too.  That point is actually quite far left.)

On Stitcher’s Guild it was mentioned that it looked as if the model garment were pinned to the form underneath; it’s not.  That center front stitching line is what keeps the garment together.  This line would presumably completely disappear in the correct, bulkier fabric.

Though it’s actually pretty hard to see even in this thin solid.  You probably just barely can see the vertical stitching line to the left of the pleat.

Then you make a pleat, matching two lines that are not of corresponding lengths, and stitch along where the lines join.  Folding the right collar at the top of this pleat gives this top its distinctive style.  Although the directions have you make the pleat after stitching the front down, I found it easier to reverse the two steps, and form the pleat first.

The pleat is folded in toward the garment; that’s not stated in the directions, but it’s the only way to get the same look as in the line drawing.  I stitched-in-the-ditch to keep this pleat in place; without this additional step, all definition was lost due to my thin fabric.  I’m not sure it would be necessary in a sweater knit.

The neck, front, lower, and sleeve edges are left unfinished, or finished as you please (lettucing, etc.).  I used tape to stay the left neck edge and the back neck — a colossal mistake, as you can see.  These edges do need support, but clear elastic would have been a better choice.  Or maybe I just did this badly; by the time I reinforced the neck, I knew this was probably something I wouldn’t wear.

As previously mentioned, the back hem is far more asymmetrical than the line drawing indicates, and it also doesn’t work at all in this clingy fabric, since it just sticks wherever it lands.  If I ever wear this top, I’ll have to cut away the dip in the back hem.

If I were attempting this in another lightish knit, I’d probably cut the shoulders a bit narrower, as my dummy is larger than I am, and this is pushing the limits on the large end of my personal scale.  This size would probably be just right for a sweater, though.

Here’s the cardigan version, from the French blog Passion Plaisir in wool:

She hasn’t sewn the pleat in; she’s created the effect with a pin, and she’s not sewn the center vertical line, either, of course.  It makes a very nice cardigan, doesn’t it?  You can see in this example, as well in Au Bonheur’s model, how much better the thicker knits work.

The verdict:  Pattern success; execution fail.  I’ll bring this pattern out again in the fall, once I’ve found a bulky knit I like, preferably in lovely, luscious wool.

Categories: ABdPM, Tops Tags:

Oh Say, Did We See . . .

April 15th, 2011 6 comments

If a bunch of sewing bloggers get together, you’d expect them to discuss sewing, right?  And fabric, and style, and color, and patterns and a hundred other relevant things, right? And when a few of us met up recently, that’s exactly what we did.  but that wasn’t all we did.  Shams generously brought a huge assortment of  See’s Candies with her from California, and we consumed them enthusiastically, but not without a little trauma.

See’s, for those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to know it, is a regional candy company, started long ago by the iconic Mary See in her kitchen.  Many of those of us who no longer grace San Francisco’s hills mourn the loss of easy access to See’s almost more than no longer living in that glorious city .   .   .  See’s candies are just wonderful. So there were four of us slavering over the box when Shams opened it, and three of us gasping in horror (I think this is no exaggeration) when Shams took a large knife and rent each candy asunder with a mighty blow!

Yes, Shams committed See-icide.  That woman has lived in San Francisco so long that she takes See’s for granted!  Shams seemed to think this was a practical means of checking the interiors, but, I ask you, where is the reverence???

If you check her blog, you’ll see that she’s posted a picture of Peggy holding the weapon.  This was obviously an attempt to cover her  tracks, and (dare I say it?) frame the innocent Peggy.  You’ll also note that I am still in shock, moments later, as Peg is attempting to graciously move past the scandalous moment.  I can’t prove that Carolyn was as stunned as I was, but it’s my recollection that she was, as any right-minded person would have been.

I should have traveled with my laminated See’s guide.  I keep it by my desk at all times, and yet, in this, our time of need, I left it at home.

We did shop, but that was later, after we were very, very well fed.  And yes, we ate every bit of the See’s, every single delicious bite.

Categories: Adventure/Travel Tags:

Paper Modness

April 14th, 2011 4 comments

Shams, of Communing With Fabric, has a post up today about two surprisingly chic dresses made from candy wrappers, which reminded me of this post, which has been languishing in my queue since February.  This particular dress isn’t exactly made from wrappers, but it is made of paper — more or less.  The image is, of course, Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s soup can:

I saw it in the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.  According to its website, the Heard is “one of the world’s finest destinations for learning about American Indian arts and cultures”.  Where Polish-American Andy, or, for that matter, Campbell’s soup, fits into this mission is unclear, but nevermind .  .  .

In the late 1960s, soup lovers could acquire this dress by sending in a couple of Campbell’s labels and a small fee (a dollar, I believe).

Note the dart — both placement, and construction:

It’s sort of an interesting take on a one-dart-fits-all approach:  The dart is really just a pleat.  This works on a mannequin, but I suspect it just “poufed” in the wearing.

The late 60s were a great era for paper clothing.  I have a paper sari from around that time which was given to passengers by Air India; it’s rather charming, actually, though, of course, completely impractical as a garment.  How times have changed!  Now the best you can hope for on a plane is a cardboard sandwich.  If you’re lucky.

The Heard Museum seems less like a museum and more like a showcase for contemporary artists whose work is on sale, but that’s not all bad; it’s filled with interesting artifacts, and worth a trip if you find yourself in Arizona — which I hope you don’t, at least until the state legislature acquires some semblance of sanity and does a little productive soul-searching.

Categories: Misc, Vintage Tags: