Monday, May 30, 2011

Art and Fashion - Fashion and Art

I've got a new project that is just getting underway.  Can't wait until I have some pics to show you of the pieces being created for a new window display at the store later this month.  Erin Arsenault, Kinza Mae Baker and myself are all working on new designs inspired by the artwork of Rhoda MacLeod(Kinza's Mom).  We are meeting tonight for the first time to see each others sketches and fabric samples etc.  And Sheri Inman local crafty girl and photographer is tagging along to document the whole thing.  I'll be sure to ask Sheri to get shots of the paintings we are working from so you can look for your own inspiration in them.  This is a definite challenge for me as I'm usually way too literal with these things and I'm trying to just sit back and let Rhoda's work do all the talking.  The Buzz(our local 'Guide to What's Going On') was kind enough to print a short press release about us that you can read

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Granola Bar Fever

I've been searching far and wide for a good granola bar recipe.  I kept coming up against the same problems.  The recipes either called for corn syrup - not an option as  I'm trying to make healthy(ish) granola bars, or nut butter - also not an option due to nut allergies.  I contacted Sarah Forrester Wendt local cooking instructor and mom of three and she came up with an excellent recipe for me.  We've since been making them on a weekly basis, and they are so delicious and fast and easy to make that I decided to share.
Can you make it out?  Tip: I add an extra egg.  Another Tip: I'll print the recipe at the bottom of the post.  No one should be forced to decipher my handwriting.  Really the picture is just an excuse to show off my re-usable Superman sandwich bag.
Here's all the yummy ingredients gathered casually on my kitchen counter.
Please note - two of those bowls contain the same thing.  Only a handful of ingredients!  Amazing!
The best part of this recipe - aside from the awesome end product, is the ease of assembly.  If you choose not to put each and every ingredient in it's own separate measuring bowl you can use one 1/2 cup measuring utensil!   And everything gets dumped indiscriminately into the mixing bowl. Like so:
The ingredients like it better this way.

 You then take a parchment lined pan and press everything into it.  And because you used parchment paper you don't have to clean the pan!  You are so smart.

I sprinkled some chocolate chips on top mere moments after this photo was taken...

Bake for 20 minutes and voila!  granola bars!!
The recipe is super flexible.  You can add whatever you want for flavor.  We've tried it several different ways.  One of my favorites has been with raisins and apple chunks.  Though the kids tend to prefer anything with sunflower seeds and chocolate chips.  Maybe next time I'll put raisins, apple, sunflower seeds AND chocolate chips.  Let me know if you try it and what combinations of yummy-ness you invent.  Thanks again for the recipe Sarah!

Easy Peasy Granola bars

1/2 cup Olive Oil (or honey or maple syrup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg (I find they stick together better with 2 - but maybe if you use honey or syrup you don't need egg number 2?)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt - I usually don't bother with the salt
1/4 cup wheat germ 
2 3/4 - 3 cups oats
3/4 cup raisins, chia, etc.
3/4 cup nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, you name it.  Sarah had tons of suggestions including grated carrot and any fruit combo you can dream up.  

Throw everything in a bowl and mix it up.  Then press it into a 9x13 pan and cook for 20 min at 350.  And presto!  Awesomeness personified.  

Check out more of what Sarah is all about  facebook on her group Kids Can Cook, or on her blog(lots more great recipes!) Macromom.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Opinonaters VS Mom shorts!!

Everyone has an opinion on Mom shorts.  This season every second girl in the store is either looking for or wearing  a pair.  The only other shorts out there to be worn this year are the super duper short denim shorts full of holes.  And these I have yet to be seen on a pair of bare legs - I say if you aren't brave enough to wear them sans tights then leave them at the store!  Mind you we are still waiting for weather that is truly warm enough for bare legs.  Sigh.  But I have meandered off topic.  Mom shorts.

The Ask:
 Dearest Opinionaters,
Another challenge for you.  The Mom shorts.  High waisted, often pleated, and of an awkward length.  Love them or hate them?  Sexy or a turn-off?  Do they make Scarlett Johansson look frumpy or fabu?

The pics:
Our first Opinionater:
  The Comedian:

Mom Shorts are the antithesis of femininity. An abomination of fashion design.  
Here is why Mom Shorts are a failure as a fashion concept: 
Fashion should allure, entice and/or tantalize.  When a woman wears Mom Shorts, there is no possibility for allure, enticement or tantalization.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that, in Mom Shorts, a woman's lady bits cease to exist. At least from a viewer's perspective. Looking at a woman in Mom Shorts, it is impossible to be enticed by the body and bits hidden beneath the clothes.
Mom Shorts neuter sexual allure.

If you aren't concerned about representing yourself in a feminine way, and only care about comfort, by all means, wear  Mom Shorts.  But be forewarned, they are acceptable attire only for women stranded alone on desert isles, for nuns (who should be asexual anyway), and for plastic dolls.

But if you care, even a bit, about the opinions others form about you, and you would like, even in the smallest way to be considered a sexual being, then you must lay off the Mom Shorts.

Up next:
The Shoe Lover:
There is a reason we make fun of old men who wear their pants up under their looks stupid. Same with the shorts. I think maybe the designers and seamstresses got confused when they heard mom's asking for longer shorts...why would they want to cover their legs they wondered and unsure what to do with the extra fabric added it to the top of the shorts.

No one rocks 'mom shorts' no one.

And last but not least:
The Skateboarder:

There is no way that these could be re-branded by fashions' spin doctor mechanism. Mom shorts is the ultimate and conclusive definition regardless of fabric choice or detailing.

It is hard for Scarlett Johansson to look, what was the word; 'frumpy', but this kind of anti-fit re-proportions the body in an unconventional way. Sure, a good belt seems to help but I bet many women don't have immediate access to a wardrobe that backs up a high waistband.

Rebecca { Ghost World } might have been able to deal with the stigma that is surely attached to adorning such dubious apparel but Silken Floss couldn't even entertain the idea and I think that says a lot..

 So to sum up the Opinionater`s opinions,  An abomination of fashion design, looks stupid,  anti-fit.  Harsh.  Any other opinions out there?  I personally think they look comfy and kind of cute.  I mean come on not everything a girl wears has to exude sexuality.  Sometimes maybe  we want to be sexless. So that's my opinion: Sexless and comfy.  For those that love the look take note, your fashion sense may just run along the lines of man repeller.  To find out for sure take a gander at The Man Repeller blog here.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Dress - Vogue Dress

I have been sitting on a piece of amazing fabric for quite some time now(not literally).  Unsure of what to do with it I've been frozen with cutting fear.  We've all had the fear before...what if I make a mistake? what if this fabric is wrong for this project? what if this is the last piece of fabric I ever like again - very unlikely sure, but when you've got the fear rationality goes out the window. 

Here are just a few reasons this fabric kept giving me the fear:
Reason #1: man bowing to a cow(?)
Reason #2: man juggling plates, balancing an umbrella on his nose WITH a chicken on it!

Reason #3: Monkey Band
You see where I'm at?  Fabric like this doesn't come along every day.  And when it did come my way I only bought 2 meters.  Why only 2 meters you ask?  I DON'T KNOW!  I don't know what was wrong with me.  I should have taken the bolt and run straight out the door.  I'd blame it on some sort of pregnancy brain fog(I blame everything on this), but I found it before I was pregnant, so I'll just blame it on a non-pregnancy related brain fog. 
So for several months two meters of the most awesome  fabric I have ever beheld(exaggeration? maybe, maybe not.) sat on the shelves in my sewing room.  As did a dress pattern I picked up on the same shopping trip.  Now, I don't buy patterns very often.  I generally drape fabric on my mannequin and create my own patterns for my own designs, but for whatever reason on that fateful trip to the fabric store I flipped through the Vogue pattern book and found this:
Vogue pattern #8280
So cute.  Great lines, great fit, and several different ways to finish it.  I bought it.  And I did nothing with it.  It sat, along with the fabric.  Untouched.  For months.  Until suddenly it dawned on me!  I should combine the super cute dress pattern I picked up with the super awesome fabric!
So after a few struggles - I attached the right back side of the dress to the left front side of the dress and vice versa.  Twice - the first time I blame on confusing directions in the pattern notes, the second time I blame that damn pregnancy fog - I created a dress!
Thank-you to my lovely model Kinza who showed up at the store NOT expecting to be modelling.
The dress fits her to a 'T'.
The amazing monkey dress is now on display in The Green Man window if you want to come by and have a gander for yourself.

Monday, May 9, 2011


It's a very rainy, cold, contemplative day here.  I've been washing the window and changing the mannequins.  I'm a little sorry to see the latest window display go, but it was time for a change.  The window -one of our first ever guest designs- was created by artist and designer Erin Arsenault.  We recently started carrying her one-of-a-kind dresses, shirts and skirts, and I love them all!  Her palate tends to stick on the earthy side of things, but with some lovely little splashes of unexpected color.  Erin often incorporates old scarves and shawls into the necklines of her shirts, and uses vintage and re-purposed fabrics whenever possible.  She is also very clever at creating pieces that can be worn in more than one way, and that can fit more than one size!  And that's not all, she also has a book!  Stay-Stitched is a workbook for any aspiring designer/seamstress.  She takes you step by step through the process of creating garments built for your body.  No patterns required!  I kind of feel like I'm gushing a bit here, but her work is great,  the book is awesome, and we're very happy to have her work here at the store.  To find out more about Erin and her work check out her blog here: staystitched. 

So Erin's window is down, and another is beginning to take it's place, but I do have a few snaps from the day she put it all together two weeks ago.
Erin working on pins and needles! 

Her trusty assistant Jeff.  Also the designer of the green man logo!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Set Design -

I've been working feverishly the past week and a half to gather set decoration, props, and costumes for a local online production. I've been working with my good friend Overman to create what looks like an old Audio-Visual room turned catch-all storage space that's been taken over by a group of high-school students.

I can't say much as shooting hasn't totally wrapped yet, but here's a quick glimpse inside the world we created.

 I'll post more pics and the link to the site when everything goes live.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How To - Hem a Dress by Hand

The first step is finding a dress or skirt that needs to be hemmed. 
A little too frumpy as is.
I really love black dresses.  And this one has some nice details.  The lace on the sleeves and neck are great and the sash at the waist is super flattering.
The cute details.
Now you have a dress picked out, but please leave the scissors where they are.  We have a few more steps before we make the big cut.  Next comes hem assessment.  How easy/hard is this job going to be?  For most hobby sewers there are two types of dresses you want to avoid hemming. They are:

The lined dress.

As you can see in the above pic.  This dress is fully lined and where the hem is turned up hem tape is used to attach the lining to the outer shell of the dress.  While not impossible to hem it is a bit more painstaking involving more complicated measuring, and more precise stitching.

A bias cut dress.

Any full skirted dress or circular skirt is cut on the bias.  What this means is that the fabric was cut horizontally to the grain of the fabric, so it can't be turned and folded the way we usually assume fabric can be.  On a bias cut hem the hem itself is very tiny.  The fabric must be tightly folded and the folded again on itself catching as  little fabric as possible to avoid buckling.  As soon as you cut this fabric it will start to fray and as you try to fold the hem and stitch it down you will start swearing.

It's also important to pay attention to the fabric.  Chiffon, silk, and anything slippery is hard to sew with, and anything pleated  can be very problematic.  So what's the easiest fabric to hem?  Polyester, or any other non fraying fabric.  The hem should look similar to this.  No over-lock or hem tape to be seen.  This hem is a simple case of cut and stitch.  Pretty much.
Note: A fabric that frays simply adds one more step to the process, but it's not insurmountable.  Take heart.

So after the dress has been selected you need to put it on.  Put a few pins through the dress where you would like the hem to hit.  And then remove the dress and lay it flat on the floor or table.
From one of the pins measure down toward the existing hem the amount of the new hem.  A good way to determine how much fabric you need for this is to measure the existing hem.  Heavy fabrics usually have a wide hem to help weigh them down.  Make a chalk mark at this point.  If your fabric frays you will need to add an extra half inch to this measurement so you can turn it under.
Now measure from the existing hem to your chalk mark.  This will be your cutting line.  Using this measurement work around the skirt working from the hem up.  Waistlines on dresses and skirts are often slightly curved so measuring from the waist down can create an uneven hem.

Keep working your way around the entire dress.  It might be tempting just to mark one side and cut through the front and back at the same time, but trust me, it rarely works.  As soon as the scissors lift the fabric it starts to fold and bunch underneath and you end up with an uneven cut.
Finally the cutting!  Follow you chalk line all the way around and presto.  A much shorter dress!  Go try it on and make sure it falls nicely.  Keep in mind how much you'll be turning it up.  Cut off too much?  The only thing you can do at this point is turn up less fabric creating a narrower hem.
This is the step I'm always tempted to skip.  But don't.  It makes all the difference.  Iron your hem!  Take your measureing tape and slowly make your way around the dress turning up your hem and ironing it in place.  In this case my hem is two inches wide so I turn the dress up to the two inch mark and iron it in place.

If your fabric needs to be turned under you would turn it up two and a half inches and iron in place.  Then  go over the hem again and turn half an inch of fabric down inside the hem - and iron that.
Though all the measuring and ironing at this point can seem a bit much it will ensure that you have a really nice smooth hem line and it eliminates the need for pinning.

Now it's time to sew!

With needle threaded - I'm using yellow thread here for contrast, usually on a black dress I'd use black - loop through the seam twice.  This eliminates the need for bulky knots.  Pick up the fabric from the seam on the skirt as well and you have a good solid base to work from with your thread securely anchored.
Next pick up just a strand or two from the base of the skirt where the top of the hem hits.  The smaller the amount you pick up the less noticeable your hem job will be from the outside.  
Then pick up the edge of the hem, about a cm down, and repeat.  Around you go picking up a few threads on the dress, and then about an inch away diving down into the hem about a cm -I'm mixing my measurements again, sorry folks.  Don't pull the thread tightly, you want everything to lay nice and flat with no pulling or puckering.  Match up your seams as you go - they help keep things straight and honest.
A few inches of hem from the inside:
And from the outside:
 Even with the yellow thread you can barely discern where the stitches are.  When you've made you're way around the entire hem back stitch through the seam again and Voila!  You're finished.  Go try it on!

See - totally unfrumped!  Super short and super cute.  I love how the sash now hangs below the hem in the back.
Have fun hemming!