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Saturday, June 13, 2020

FOAM FLOWER WEDDING SASH

In a previous post I shared how much I enjoyed learning how to make foam flowers!  I've made many hairpiece/haircombs for my Etsy shop.  This time I decided to apply that knowledge to a wedding sash. 

I began with a two inch double faced satin (champagne colored) ribbon.  I then added a really unique lace applique that had both champagne and off white threads; cutting and placing it onto the sash. 

To make the flowers, I start with just plain white foam.  While it does come in a variety of colors, they're extremely vibrant, and I like more subtle colors for many of my wedding projects.  In this case I wanted a blush color.

You can use pastels, stamp ink or in this case, I actually chose to use craft paint and a small brush.  I did that after I cut out the flowers, but before I began the process of actually shaping the foam.  
For additional embellishments, I hand sewed on pearls, crystals, and gold beads.  For some sparkle I added clear sequins as well.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  All my ribbon sashes are about 3 yards long, which makes for a beautiful bow with extra long tails to drape down the back of the gown. 

A sash is a great way for the bride to add a touch of the wedding color palette, while also adding a lovely accent to her gown.  Not to mention, it really shows off that waistline quite nicely!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

STUDIO PLASTER WALL

My love affair with all things vintage continues in my studio.  I have always been fond of vintage store fronts.  The type with old signage and peeling plaster.  Because of that, I've had a project in mind for my studio for a long time and finally found the centerpiece I needed to begin this project. 
It's a poster from the Empire Sewing Maching Company (est. 1861).  This baby is large!  54x36 to be exact.  My mission was to "age" her.  So the first thing I did was take it outside to my back porch along with a spray bottle of water, a pair of scissors and a rock from my garden. 
I went at it for about 30 minutes transforming her.....
 just getting started

The next step in the process was plastering.  I used DAP Patching Plaster.  There was absolutely no science to it, other than I wanted it to look as if the plaster had been falling off over time.  So, a combination of plaster, white washed brick and the red brick shining through in various spots across the expanse of the wall.                                                                                                               
 As I was putting up the plaster, I realized the print on the poster was still too vibrant.  Nothing that some sanding couldn't take care of!  Yup.  I literally sanded the poster.  It worked great.  Really fading the colors nicely.  Oh, and I also tore it some more since it needed more aging.
inside the dressing room
                 Then it was a matter of plaster, step back, add more, step back, etc., etc., White washing the (faux) brick was done with white paint and various sponge brushes, and regular brushes.  Some paper towel, water, a little bit of everything really. 

The final step was sanding the plaster not only to smooth it, but also to create some additional negative space where needed.

There's a couple more transformations that I'm still working on for this space.  The curio cabinet is being toned down from a pale blue to a grey.  Also, I have a neutral slipcover due in for the love seat.  Fingers crossed, it's going to work well since the floral pattern needs to go and I really don't want the expense of re-upholstering.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE

This coffee cake recipe comes together pretty quickly and the blueberry flavor is super satisfying.  It has a crunchy cinnamon streusel topping that adds a nice surprise.

STREUSEL TOPPING:

6 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
½ cup all prupose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes

CAKE:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs 
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1tsp. packed lemon zest
½ cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen may be used, but do not defrost)


Make the streusel topping.  Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, mix until no lumps of brown sugar remain.  Rub in the butter with your fingers until it reaches a cumbly state.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 375 and set an oven rack in the middle position.  Grease or spray a 9 inch square pan.

In a medium, bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, beating on low speed to combine.  Add the berries to the batter and fold gently with a spatula until evenly distributed.  Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the batter.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown around the edges and a cake tester comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes.

NOTE:  The cake is best eaten the same day since the topping is super crunchy.  The streusel softens the next day.  It still has a wonderful flavor, but the crunch is gone.  Since there's only two of us, I sliced up a bunch of servings and froze them to enjoy another day. 


Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.onceuponachef.com


Sunday, April 26, 2020

PASTA WITH SAUSAGE, BASIL AND MUSTARD

From British cookbook author Nigel Slater, this pasta dish has a very interesting combination of flavors.  Perfect when you want to put something together quickly and you're also looking for a pasta dish that's really unique!
Rated one of Food & Wine's 40 best recipes in 2018.  This dish takes just about 20 minutes to put together.   Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound penne, rigatoni or medium shells
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds hot Italian sausage  (I used mild)
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. grainy mustard
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 cup thinly sliced basil 


DIRECTIONS:
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add the sausage meat and brown over moderately high heat, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Add the cream, mustard and crushed red pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat, add the pasta and basil and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.



Notes:  
Since I don't like really spicy foods, I chose the mild italian sausage, and for me it had the right amount of spice.

I couldn't find fresh basil  when I was shopping for the other ingredients (and I wasn't going to run around the city to find it), so I used freeze dried and it tasted great.

We ate two servings and I froze the other two.  I found when we re-heated the frozen servings, the spices blended even further and it had even more "kick" to it the second time around.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2020

SOUR CREAM BANANA BREAD

I use this recipe exclusively for my banana bread.  I found it years ago (I don't remember where originally) and love how moist the bread is....can't believe I haven't shared it yet!
It's so easy and makes a nice big loaf, even for us high altitide folk.  No adjustments needed for high altitude.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup granulated sugar 
½ cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (usually 3....but I've been successful if you only have 2)
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.   In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar.  Add the eggs, vanilla, banana, and sour cream; blend well. 

Add the dry ingredients; stir just until the dry ingredients have been moistened.  Spread evenly into the pan.  

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes and release from the pan.   I usually cut it in half and freeze half the loaf (it freezes great!)......not this time. 

By the way.....I chose to add some mini chocolate chips to the batter before baking.  Whether you include them or not, it's still the best banana bread ever!!!!

 Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

MEDICAL FACE MASKS

In this amazingly unreal situation the world is currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I like many people was feeling a sense of helplessness.  My heart hurt for the healthcare workers and the concern over PPE (personal protective equipment), so when the opportunity arose to help by sewing handmade face masks, I was all in!  After all, that's exactly my skillset.
I learned that Boulder County Health was looking for masks and I was impressed by how organized they were.  They had laid out specs on how they wanted them constructed (prefered fabrics) along with drop off information.  


After I had made my first 18, I took off for the Boulder JoAnn store which was a drop off location for this grassroots effort.  I chose to go there since I also learned they were helping out in providing free materials to those who were sewing masks.  Perfect!  Because, I was ready to keep making more, but I was totally out of elastic, and I was having difficulty finding any online.

I did score on the elastic....I also bought more cotton for the inside panel....but I was sorely disappointed in their approach to providing materials.  They had "kits" available with materials for six masks!  I had driven 24 miles one way, so when I asked if I could have another kit, they said "sorry I can only give you 1".  I'm sorry.  But that's absurd, this wasn't a craft project,  where every participant gets just one.....I (along with every other seamstress) was participating because I wanted to serve the community.  I accepted my one kit and headed home.



Once I had another 20+ masks sewn, I decided to look up hospitals closer to me that might be accepting donations.....what I learned was the vast majority of Colorado hospitals were not accepting homemade masks due to the new CDC guidelines.   What????!!!  I realize this situation was fluid, and I definitely want our frontline healthcare workers to be safe, but I also felt that maybe there were other uses for these.   This new approach had happened in just a matter of a couple of days.  In fact, Boulder County Health was now only using these "as a last resort".  Frankly, I didn't want to continue using my time and energy if they weren't going to be used, or placed in some storeroom never to be seen again.   I had even begun making a few of the surgical type masks which allows for a filter to be added and includes wire at the nosebridge for additional safety measures. 
I posted my frustration on FB.....and I was pleasantly surprised to find there were individuals who absolutely wanted masks.  I've since sent some to New Jersey and Florida assisted living caregivers who were desperate for masks and several Texas pharmacists.    I'm so pleased these can help those front line workers.  I've also provided some locally to essential employees who work in grocery stores.....another group of people who I so appreciate in this difficult time.  I've made over 50 now, and have a few more cut out which pretty much depletes my supplies. As of last night's news however, the CDC may be suggesting that the general public should be wearing masks when we're out and about and the homemade variety would work fine in those situations.  We'll see how this continues to evolve.  For now, I'm just happy to have been able to provide some assistance to those very important individuals who are in the thick of this thing day in and day out!  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

RE-STYLED WEDDING GOWN

As I've mentioned before, re-styling a wedding gown is something I really enjoy.   Obviously, I love creating custom gowns, but when a bride wants to wear their Mom's gown, I can't resist!  The creative challenge is preserving some of the original design so we can pay tribute to Mom, while also updating it so that the second generation bride feels just as beautiful on her wedding day.   This bride and her Mom came to me in February of 2019.    The gown has been finished for quite awhile, but since the wedding was just a couple of weeks ago, I haven't been able to share much up until now.
This is Mom's original Oleg Cassini gown.  It was in beautiful condition.  The hem lace was a bit soiled, but other than that, it held up very well over the years.  Hailey, the daughter was planning a beach wedding and had a few ideas of what she was looking for.
She wanted a strapless gown with a corset back and lots of lace on the midriff which would continue to about the hipline. 

There were obviously some beautiful elements on the existing gown that definitely needed to carry over into the new design.  For one......that train!   It was long, and had some beautiful lace medallions near the bottom.  Also, the hem lace was very pretty (I took it to the bathtub to get some of the grime out of it), and obviously the pearl detailing on the bodice was exquisite. 

The first step was to dismantle the bodice to remove the sleeves and modify the cut of the front and back bodice.                                           

I needed to change the shape of the front bodice to make it into a sweeheart shape, and remove the zipper portion of the back bodice to accommodate the corset back as well as lower the line.     

After I removed the bodice from the skirt, I took a closer look at the front panel of the gown.  The original gown had an inverted pleat from the empire waist to the hemline with a beautiful panel of lace and beading hidden inside the pleat.  I opened the pleat and took a picture of it and sent it to the bride and Mom.....my recommendation was to really show off all that beautiful detailing on Hailey's gown!                                                                           
I found some beautiful lace appliques to sew onto the bodice....I wanted to create a continuous line from the sweetheart neckline to the hipline, actually camouflaging the empire waistline.  I was able to re-apply a lot of the pearls and sequins (from the back bodice pieces I was no longer using) onto some of the appliques to create continuity.  I had a nice surprise when the appliques arrived realizing they had a shimmery thread running through them that helped catch the light.  Between the original sequins and the shimmery thread in the appliques, the bodice really looked beautiful in the sunlight.  I hand sewed on a total of 20 appliques to the gown.

I used some of those same appliques on the matching fingertip veil I made for her.  It created a beautiful cut edge veil with light gathering at the comb.  It allowed that gorgeous corset back to shine through.

I'm anxiously awaiting some professional photos, but in the meantime, here's a couple of cell phone pictures from the actual wedding day!                                                           
 
What a beautiful bride.  It must have been really special for Hailey's Mom and Dad to see their daughter in a contemporary version of her Mom's wedding gown!   Congrats Hailey and Cody!                                                                                                                                             

Monday, February 17, 2020

BRIDE & GROOM BIBS

I recently created some Bride & Groom style bibs for a client.  Considering the cost of a wedding gown, tuxedo rental or new suit purchase, it's not a bad idea to protect that investment with not only something stylish, but they're also fun, and functional at the same time.

They could be worn at the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception or both.  It could even be fun to gift these as a bridal shower gift!

I really had fun putting these together.  They're all made with remnants of great quality fabrics, trims and embellishments that I've used over the years, giving them an authentic bridal look.   They secure at the back of the neck with velcro, making them easy to slip on and off.

I created three different styles for the Bride and three for the Groom.  I can see these varying from time-to-time based on what I have available in the way of materials, and/or the introduction of new designs. 

I've now made them available on my Etsy shop as well.  I'm anxious to see what kind of sales they generate!




Saturday, January 18, 2020

FLOWER GIRL DRESS

I recently had the pleasure of creating a number of wedding related items for a bride.  The first item I can share is the flower girl dress.    It's always a treat for me to work on flower girl dresses!    The white satin, matches the bride's gown and the mauve is a close match to the bridesmaid dresses, so she's going to look awesome.
Personally, I love a grand candybox bow....so,  when I include one, I like to add a "ready made" version.  This way nobody has the added pressure of trying to tie a good looking bow on the wedding day.  This one is tacked right onto the back bodice. 

The other thing I always do with my flower girl dresses is add a lining with a full crinoline skirt.  It's what gives the skirt the extra volume that looks so adorable.
 
I have more goodies from this wedding to share, but it will have to wait until after the wedding day in February.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

CRANBERRY ORANGE CRUMB TART

I realize in early January most everyone has devoured enough sugar to choke a horse, but I have to share this tart recipe.  Just bookmark it and pull it out at a later date.
I've always wanted to try my hand at a tart recipe, but first I had to get myself a tart pan.  So, I did just that this past summer and started looking for recipes in the fall to bring to our holiday family dinner. 

I landed on this cranberry orange tart and I'm so glad that I did.  It was sweet, but also tart.  Totally enjoyed by the entire family.

INGREDIENTS: 

CRUST:
2 cups crushed cinnamon graham crackers (about 14 whole crackers), divided
½ cup sugar, divided
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
¼ cup flour
¼ cup cold butter, cubed
¼ cup packed brown sugar

FILLING:
1 large navel orange
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
2 Tbsp. brandy or cranberry juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix 1 3/4 cups crushed crackers and ¼ cup sugar; stir in melted butter.  Press onto bottom and up sides of an ungreased 11 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.  Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.

For topping....in a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, and remaining crushed crackers and sugar.  Cut in cold butter until crumbly.  Refrigerate while preparing filling.

Finely grate enough zest from the orange to measure 1 Tablespoon.  Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of the orange, stand orange upright on a cutting board.  Cut off peel and outer membrane.  starting from the top.  Holding orange over a bowl to catch juices, remove orange sections by cutting along the membrane.  Squeeze membrane to reserve additional juice.    Cut orange pieces in half.

In a large saucepan, mix sugar, tapioca, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice.  Add cranberries, brandy, grated zest and reserved juice; toss to coat.  Let stand 15 minutes.    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring cranberry mixture to a full boil, stirring constantly.  Add orange section; heat through.  Pour into crust; sprinkle with topping.  

Bake 10-15 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  Cook on a wire rack.

Remove sides of pan and slice into pieces.

Enjoy!


recipe c/o:  www.tasteofhome.com

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

GOLD COCKTAIL DRESS

I was originally considering making a cathedral veil from some gold lace, so I made an online purchase of a lace that caught my eye.  When I received it I realized it wasn't right for a veil....it was much too heavy.  So instead, I thought I'd use it to make a pretty cocktail dress.

Sometimes the beauty of a dress is not only in the design, but in the fabric choice.  While this design has some unique features, like the midriff panel and the open "v" shaped back.  To me, what truly makes this dress special is the fabric.
I used a sandy/taupe satin for the underlayer and really worked on engineering the layout of the motif on the bodice so it not only highlighted the gorgeousness of the lace, but left enough empty space to see the beauty of the underlayer as well. 

I chose to use an invisible zipper to minimize the impact it would have on the motif....because it's hidden, the motif flows nicely right across where the zipper lies.

Finally, I fully utilized the curves and cutouts of the motif to make a totally unique hemline!  Because the underlayer is a good 4 inches shorter, you can really see the florals, branches and abstract patterns. 

The bodice is fully lined and I used french seams for a custom couture finish. 

The dress fit like a charm, and my client was thrilled with it......I'm looking forward to getting a few pictures of her in the dress when she heads out to the NYC theatre district with her husband in just a couple short weeks from now!