Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Burda and Gertie

No two sewing books have caused more hype in the sewing blogosphere in the past few years as The Burda Style Sewing Handbook and Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.  The Collette Sewing Handbook was and is also quite popular.  I bought an advanced copy and was quite pleased with the projects I completed.  But when these other two books came out, I thought I would wait and check them out at my library before I purchased.  

Finally, after months and months, both books were available to me at my local library, and I didn't even have to put them on hold.   

The two questions that need to be answered are:
1) Do I like the styles enough to complete a project, and
2) Do I like the book and the styles enough to buy the book?

Let's begin with Burda.

Burda seems to be geared toward a more intermediate sewer.  The focus is on individual variations of their original patterns.  Even with this focus, there is not a lot of information on fitting a pattern.  It also appears to be geared to a younger audience.  In other words, skirts were short, and dresses were sleeveless.  I'm not going short and I'm not going sleeveless.  It is easy to lengthen a skirt, but I am shaky on drafting a sleeve pattern and adding it to the garment.  As far as I can tell there is nothing in the book to help with the addition of sleeves.  


I did like that each pattern had three variations and then several examples from sewists who had made their own variations. 


There was nothing in the skirt section that I particularly liked.  And skirts are easy to make and adjust to your own style.  

I only liked the main blouse in the blouse section.  

I liked the dresses but they were all sleeveless.  

Loved the main coat patterns and variations.

I didn't care much for the handbags.  

As many of you know, Burda patterns are printed without the seam allowances.  So you need to add a 1/2 to 5/8 inch allowance when tracing your pattern.  And you have to trace your pattern because the pattern pieces are printed on top of one another. Although you get to use one of those cool double tracing wheels! (Sewing nerd alert!) 

Are any of the styles calling out to me to take the time to trace a pattern, add the seam allowances, and sew?  Even though I like some of the styles, not really.  I've seen some cute renditions of these patterns on the internet, but I still won't be buying the book.  

However, I do like some of the free patterns from the website, and I may be trying these soon.  Did I say free?  Free is good!



Might need to change the poofy sleeves on this one!
 Ahhh, Gertie.  The queen of the sewing blogospere. Everyone loves Gertie. I love Gertie.  I love her retro style.  I love her success in the sewing industry.    Do I love her book?  Let us see, shall we?

My Book

This book has excellent instructions that even a beginner can follow.  It is loaded with great tips on retro style and sewing techniques.  There is an excellent section on fitting a pattern.  The illustrations are fantastic.  I have only one criticism of the photographs.  Some of the clothes just don't look like they fit as well as they should, and some appear as if they could use a good pressing.  Is that just me, or has someone else noticed that as well?  Oh dear, I just criticized the queen!  

Now, let's get down to the patterns. There are 20.   I would make two of the blouses,  and 4 of the dresses including the coat dress.  

Gertie's Coat Dress

Gertie's Shirtwaist Dress

That is 6 out of the 20 patterns that I like enough to make.  The book is $25.60 on  So a little over 4 dollars each for 6 patterns.  That's a pretty good deal.  Will I purchase the book?  Yes, eventually, if I get through the list of projects I already have on the docket!  Therefore, tomorrow I am sewing and not blogging. Probably.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Babies, More Showers

When we moved to our current neighborhood, it was fairly elderly, to put it mildly.  We, with 2 out of 3 children who were teenagers, were considered a "young" family.  Now more and more truly young families are moving in and that means babies.  And babies means shower and quilts.  

I made this quilt for my friend Julie from the Moda Marmalade collection of flannel fabrics.  I had also used these for  a pinwheel quilt a few months ago.  

Don't you love how a quilt will pucker up and soften a bit after the first washing?  Do you wash your quilts before you give them away?

Because Julie is the Young Women's youth leader in our church, the girls were invited to the shower, and they made these darling onesies.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright, Deep in the Heart of Texas

Oh how I've been up to my neck in studies lately!  I finally took that blasted Praxis (ooh, bad word--teachers will know what I mean) test on Saturday.  To celebrate what I consider was a successful finish, I went to a "Texas" party hosted by my neighbor.  Her son has been called on a mission to Dallas, so the neighbors brought over some good Texas/Southern food.  

Photo by my neighbor, J. Williams
Care to know what was on the menu? Brisket, black-eyed peas cooked in bacon, corn and avocado salad, corn bread, fried chicken, seven layer dip, and banana pudding.  I contributed a few of our Texas favorites.  Chili rellenos,  fried pickles with cilantro ranch sauce, pecan pie and buttermilk pie.  I wish you could have all been there to taste all that Texas goodness.  But since you couldn't be there, I will share my pie recipes with you.  These recipes are modified by me, but originally came from the Threadgill's Cookbook.

Buttermilk Pie
Makes 2 pies

2 pie shells.  I use refrigerated, store bought shells, but feel free to be fancy and make your own.

3 cups of sugar 
1/4 cup of flour
2 sticks of butter, melted
6 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbs of water
1 to 2 tsp of lemon juice to taste--I use 1
1 to 2 tsp of vanilla extract to taste--I use 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the pie shells by placing them into two, 8-inch pie plates.  9-inch will also work.  
Melt the butter and whisk the sugar and flour into the butter.
Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Mix in the liquid ingredients.  Mix well
Pour the filling evenly into pie plates.
Place on a cookie sheet and bake for one hour until filling is set in the center.
Cool on a rack and refrigerate fore several hours before serving.  
Sprinkle with a light dusting of cinnamon, if desired.  I like mine without. 

Photo by J. Williams

Pecan Pie

1 to 2 ten-inch pie shells, store bought or homemade
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 TBS of butter, melted
2 1/2 TBS flour
5 large eggs
1 1/3 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 to 4 1/2 cups pecans (pieces or halves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare at least one pie shell in a pie plate.
Whisk together the sugar, butter, flour, and eggs.
Whisk in the syrup, molasses, and vanilla and keep whisking until smooth.  
Place three cups of pecans in an unbaked pie shell and pour the liquid mixture over the pecans until just covered. 

Do you have extra syrup mixture?  If so, this is where the extra pie shell and pecans come in.  You can make another pie in an 8-inch pie plate by using the second shell and 1 1/2 cups of pecans.  The extra filling should just cover the smaller amount of pecans.  I don't like pecan pie that is more gelatinous filling than pecans, so I always use enough pecans to go from the bottom of the pie to the top without having any floating pecans. This always leaves a little extra syrup mixture.  You could also use the extra to make little tart-lets.  I just make a slightly smaller pie. (Notice one very full pie in the photo and one that is not so full.)

Bake the smaller pie 50 minutes, if you have made one, and the larger pie 60.  Bake a few minutes more if the filling does not appear to be set in the center.  Cool on a rack for at least an hour.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  

Yum, Yum!  Five stars for a great dinner.  


Linking with I Gotta Create and What's Cooking With Ruthie

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I Do For a Study Break

I have been busy studying for a test. Not fun! But here is a brief review of what I have been up to when I'm sick of studying.

Mr. Foster Reviews It and I went to see the Magic Flute.  I'd forgotten what a totally weird and crazy plot this is.  What was Mozart thinking? So why go?  The music of course!  All the main characters were wonderful with the exception of Sarastro who didn't produce enough volume on the extreme low registers.  However, the famous Queen of the Night solo in the extreme high registers, was spot on and amazing.  4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

I've begun my seasonal gardening.  Yay!  This photo was taken only a week after taking a photo of my "auction quilt" next to the snow.

I've also done a little shopping at Decades, an amazing vintage clothing shop in downtown Salt Lake City.  I took some photos before I noticed the "no photos" sign.  Ooops.  Decades can contact me if they want me to remove the photos and I will oblige.  Although this is free advertising!

Such a wonderfully fun store to browse and buy!  5 out of 5 stars.