Thursday, October 24, 2013

BurdaStyle Magazine

A while back I ended my subscription to the German edition of BurdaStyle magazine in English.  I was at B&N this past Monday and saw this in the magazine section:

It's a completely different magazine in English for the US.  I picked it up because it's kind of interesting and I wanted to give it a really good perusal.  I'm not a huge fan of though I did buy their book and read it fairly thoroughly before passing it on since I deemed it a decent skill building sewing book.

As you can read from the cover, there are 20 patterns in the magazine and another 20 available for download (something I'm not likely to do).  I did like the 20 that they put in the inserts more than the 20 available for download.  I don't know the decision making process that went into the choices, but if it's consistent I can see myself subscribing.  It's four times a year instead of once a month and a subscription is not unreasonable (though I lost the card so I don't have the exact amount).  This was the winter edition and if I like the spring, I'll probably sign up for the next year.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review of Sewing Kit HD

I had been debating over buying a pattern keeping app for some time when I received an email from McCall's indicating that they had partnered up with Vesta Software and put their name on the iPad app 'Sewing Kit Hd'.   I know a lot of people use Evernote to keep their patterns and I tried to put a few patterns in there before I decided that that wasn't going to work for me: too much work to put all the info in and too much info that I would like to be able to sort by.

I read through the negative reviews and the only real complaint that I could see was that there wasn't a way to keep your info from the previous version 'Sewing Kit', but they had a fix for that right on the info page and the link is here.  I was still a little put off by the $9 app as I hadn't even purchased an app for me on the iPad, which was purchased for learning apps for the bear cub and I haven't even paid that much for any of hers yet.

I finally bit the bullet yesterday and started inputting patterns.  I probably have a couple of hundred patterns in there already and figured that was enough to give my review so that others could get a good idea of what they might be purchasing.

There are a lot of good things about this program.  You can input so much information and for the most part current McCall's, Butterick, Vogue, and Kwik Sew patterns will pull up all the pattern info.  For Simplicity and Burda Style, it will often pull up the picture or line drawings from the pattern name and number, but you will still have to enter sizing.  You can also enter indie pattern companies or the like, but I suggest that you enter all your Simplicity patterns before doing so that you don't have to scroll to enter them later.  I absolutely love that there is a place to store the location.  I have a lot of stray pattern pieces and after I'm done inventorying, I'll be able to locate the pattern to reunite the pieces to the pattern.  There is also a way to add extra pictures and notes about the pattern.  It really is a very solid database for keeping your pattern info, and it also allows for tracking fabric, books, machines, notions, threads, and the like - though I have not used any of those other features as of yet.

There are also a lot of drawbacks to it.  I've already sent three separate emails to the company with at least 10 suggestions, and my first qualm is that there is no way to know if they were received or pull the suggestion back up to know exactly what you said.  Another issue is that if you have a vintage pattern that has a duplicate number for a current pattern, you will sometimes have some issues.  For a lot of mine, I could simply delete the older pictures and replace it with pictures taken as I put the pattern in, but there is no way to delete the yardage info and if the current pattern has locked sizes that differ from your vintage pattern, there is no way to enter the new sizes.  You could make a pattern number alteration, but you shouldn't have to do this.  If you try to enter the pattern number with the letter instead of selecting the company first, it will crash every single time.  It will also often crash after taking a picture, especially if you are removing a picture there before.  You will have to enter sizes each time as it will not pull up any pre-given sizes to select from.  Also, when you sort, it is going to sort 10-14 as a different category than 10, 12, 14 which means that even if you are super careful about your own consistency, the pre-filled ones for McCall's and their affiliates will still sort differently when they were inconsistent.  The categories for types of patterns were clearly decided by one person with no input from anyone else and are not consistent with any company out there, though it is easy enough to enter your own, I do wish I could delete some of their choices.  There doesn't seem any way to change the order of photos which is okay normally, but if they have pre-filled line drawings and you want to add your picture, sometimes it adds it in front and sometimes it adds it behind and I haven't been able to figure out the possible coding logic for this.  While I love the location feature, you cannot search by location, which is kind of a drag.  There is also no way to compile statistics from your info.

Most of the things I've listed here aren't even the things I emailed them about so there are a lot of issues.  I really think that the app is way overpriced for the number of flaws that are still in it.  It was clearly thrown together without proper software design or any sort of verification or validation of the app or consideration of the human factor.  I don't, however, regret purchasing it, as I really did need some way to track my patterns and this program is much better than any of the alternatives that I've looked into or seen available.  There is so much potential here and I sure hope they get on the ball to clean up all the issues.  Let me know if you have any questions or comments about features I might have missed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ottobre 6-2011-3 Take 5 and tutorial

Yesterday, I posted about this sweater and told you I would do a tutorial.  This morning Darth Baby woke at 3:30 am and decided that she was done sleeping so I decided to work on another version of the sweater that I already had cut out.

This sweater is made out of an old sweater of my mom's.  The tag was ripped out so I'm not sure of the content.  The ribbing and the jersey lining is cotton.

 First, cut out all the pieces as directed and also the clear elastic tape according to size.

Next, sew the clear elastic tape to the wrong side of the cuffs and collar pieces.  I used a two step elastic stitch with a length of 3.

Sew the front to back right sides together for the outer sweater (the shell) and lining.  For the lining I always use the softer side, if there is one, for the 'right' side.

Sew the  underarms of the sleeves right sides together (this is different from the Ottobre instructions).

Turn the sleeves right side out.

Sew the sleeves into the arm openings of the shell and lining right sides together.

Hem the shell according to pattern and the lining 3 cm.  I didn't hem the shell because I cut the pattern pieces at the bottom of the sweater I cut the pieces out of so that it was already hemmed.  I'd love to tell you that I used purple so that you could see the stitches, but really I only have 4 off white spools of thread and I didn't want to switch it back and forth from the serger to the coverstitch machine and back to the serger, so I used the lavender from the previous sweater.

For the cuffs and collar, stitch side edges together forming a circle, right sides together.

Fold the collar and cuffs with the clear elastic tape on the inside.

 Place the cuffs and collar on the shell, right sides together.

Pin and stitch.

From the outside the sweater will look complete at this point.  Now to add the lining.

Turn the shell so that the right side is in and turn the lining so that the soft side is out.

Slip the lining in the shell with the collar sandwiched between the two pieces.

Pin and stitch.  Again, I used the two step zigzag stitch.

After checking the collar from the outside to make sure that I did it right and there are no showing seams, I flipped it back and then serged over the stitching.

Here is the complicated part of the piece that I have to think about each time I do it.  You want to slip the sleeve lining around the cuff to meet with the seam of the shell sleeve edge.  I took two pictures to try to make it clear.

Then pin and stitch.

Again, I flip it right side out to check to make sure I did it correctly and that no seams will rub against the wearer.

I flipped it back inside again and serged it.

The completed lined sweater, where you can glimpse the lining and see that the seams are all sandwiched between the shell and the lining.  This is a great way to make a lined sweater for kids with SPD.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ottobre 6-2011-3 Take 4

There is a great Ottobre sweater pattern for babies that I made for the bear cub three times at the beginning of last year.  Here and here are the two posts.  The sweaters that I made for her were the largest size of the pattern a 92 (which is roughly a size 2 toddler).  Since the bear cub has jumped two growth curves so far this year, I needed to make it significantly larger.

It's a five piece pattern, consisting of the front, back, sleeve, collar, and cuff.  I added 1/2 inch to the center width to all five pieces.  I also added 1/2 to the length of the arm hole and another half inch to the length for the front, back, and sleeve pieces.  I was a little worried about the amounts, but it seemed to be the right amount and here is the resulting sweater.  The only thing that I might change is the width of the sleeve cuff, and if I do, I will have to adjust the width of the sleeve opening also because I had to stretch the cuff to capacity to fit the sleeve.

The sweater fabric is a very thin silk sweater fabric that I got in a Fabric Mart mystery bundle.  The lining is a simple off-white cotton knit from Jo-Anne's.  I love this sweater pattern and since the bear cub doesn't have very many warm clothes and is very sensitive to temperature extremes, I will be making a number of them in the near future (a few less tunic length since I'm remaking some adult sweaters and am limited in the length).  I will be also trying this on the nerdlet to see what further changes I will need to make to the pattern to make the new pattern fit her.

This pattern can be very confusing especially to new sewists and when originally looking for reviews, I remember that practically no one was lining it because of it, so I will try to post a tutorial on how to make it so that no seams are rubbing against the child wearing it when it is done.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger

I'm posting this because the girls' babysitter liked it and asked how it was made.  I've been wanting to eat soup lately and I couldn't find my Taste of Home soup magazine that I bought a few years ago, so I dropped by Half Price Books and bought 'Williams-Sonoma Soup' which surprisingly (at least to me) was the only cookbook dedicated to soup that they had.  I let the nerdlet choose the soup and not as surprising since carrots are one of her very favorite foods, she chose the carrot soup.

Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger

3 T olive oil
2 leeks, including tender green parts, thinly sliced (mine were very large)
1 lb carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 1 1/4 lb)
1/2 lb red potato, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 3/4 pound various fingerling potatoes and didn't bother to peel them)
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 t orange zest
salt and freshly ground white pepper (I used black pepper)
garnish with thin orange slices and fresh mint sprigs (I didn't bother)

Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sauté leeks until slightly softened.  Add carrots, potato, & ginger until just softened (~5 min.).

Add the stock, cover partially, and simmer 'til the veggies are completely soft ~20 min.  Remove from heat.

In blender, purée the soup in batched, leaving some texture and return to pan.  Return soup to medium heat, add orange juice and zest.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 4-6 servings (according to them).

It really tastes like carrot with a little more tangy-ness and bite.  I was worried it would be sweet, but it was equal to or less sweet than a fresh carrot.  I will likely make it again at some point in the future, even if as I suspect, the nerdlet and I are the only ones that end up eating it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Simplicity 2745

I follow quite a few sewing blogs and one that is definitely by a fabric artist is Myrna Giesbrecht's.  A short while ago, she made five beautiful toddler coats (that I link at the end of the blog) that are really worth at least $250 and while I would love to buy those for my girls, it's not exactly in the budget.  I did buy the pattern that she based hers on and let the nerdlet rifle through some fabric to choose one for a coat for her.  She picked out the pink and I added the maroon.

Here is the pattern - Simplicity 2745.

I made the straight size four and turned mine into a reversible version.  The nerdlet also picked out the buttons though I had to veer her away from some neon pink plastic ones.

It came out pretty well and looks better in person.

Trying out the spin.

And so you can view my inspiration, here are links to each of Myrna's coat posts.

Isn't she brilliant?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Meeting the New Baby

I've shared the picture of the Nerdlet meeting the bear cub a couple of times and they took to Darth Baby almost as readily as that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Bear Cub Roars

The bear cub has her daddy's disposition and rarely gets too upset about anything, but when she does get angry, she definitely lets you know.  In this picture, she is about five months old (my mom took the picture and she hadn't figured out the date on her camera yet which is why it is dated before the bear cub's birth).  We were practicing rolling over which she never really enjoyed but tolerated and was mad that my mom kept flashing the camera in her face.

For practicing rolling over, I put a pillow under a long board so that there was a small angle for her to roll down and covered the board with the quilt folded over a couple of times for padding.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tea Cup Bear Cup

At four weeks

At 10 months

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

It's Down syndrome awareness month, and instead of inundating you with facts about Ds (and/or breast cancer), I thought I would share some of my favorite pictures of the bear cub.