Perfect-Every-Time Chili Recipe

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Do you love chili?  I do! I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for a long time.  I developed this chili recipe shortly after Davis and I got married.  It is one of the first recipes I came up with on my own, and I’m still a bit proud of it!

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Mom, take a picture of this!

What I love about this recipe is that it is inexpensive, easy, and always tastes amazing.  Those are three qualities that spell “family favorite” for us.   It’s also very versatile–you can make it with or without meat, add or subtract veggies, and spice it up or down if you like!

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You will have to let me know in the comments if you decide to try this recipe out!  I’d love to hear your thoughts. ❤

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PERFECT-EVERY-TIME CHILI

-1 lb ground beef (Leave this out and add an extra can of beans for vegetarian chili.)
-2 cans of beans, undrained (I usually use one can of kidney beans and one can of pinto beans, but you can use whatever you like!)
-1 Can diced tomato, undrained
-2 Carrots, chopped
-2 Stalks of celery, chopped
-About 1 cup chopped onion (or more, if you like!)
-3 Tbsp chili powder
-1 Tbsp cumin
-2 tsp salt
-Dash of cinnamon (optional)

Directions:  Brown ground beef.  Remove from heat and drain.  Return to heat, and add onions, carrots, and celery.  Let cook for a minute or two, until veggies begin to look tender.  Add spices to coat, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans and tomatoes; stir to combine well.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover, and allow chili to cook for 10-15 minutes.  Add cinnamon, if desired.  Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, crackers, cornbread, or whatever else you enjoy pairing with chili!  Makes about 6 adult-size servings.

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My First Military Ball

Davis and  I have been married for 6 1/2 years now, and next month will be the first military ball we attend together.  I must confess that I am quite excited.  I’ve always wanted to have an opportunity to make myself an evening gown.

My one qualm is that I am still a little heavier and rounder than usual right now.  I’ve been trying very hard not to let that bother me, but when it comes to sewing clothes for myself, the issue of my weight is a big discouragement.  I cling to the hope that I will eventually lose that 15+ pounds; in which case I will have spent the time, effort, and funds creating a beautiful garment that I won’t fit into any more.  That is why my go-to outfit lately has been a baggy T-shirt and leggings.  It’s a bit depressing.

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Maybe I need to try this method.

When I first heard about the ball, my thought was, “Oh, I need to lose this weight before then so that I can look nice in a ball gown!”  Shortly thereafter, I laughed at myself and decided that THAT was not going to happen in one month, with three little ones, no house, and a billion things going on in our lives.  So I have resolved to suck it up, and make a beautiful evening dress that fits my body as it is now.  It will be OK!

My budget cannot accommodate the asking price of most vintage evening dress sewing patterns.  Even if it could, I have a hard time paying over $40 for a single pattern, especially as one who finds and sells them.  I really do appreciate the rarity and value of these gorgeous patterns, though, and I begrudge the sellers not!

That said, I ended up going with a late 70’s pattern, while my initial thought was 30’s.  Here she is:

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Simplicity 9277–I’m making view 3!

I thought this gown (v. 3) would be flattering on my figure, as well as appropriate for a November ball.  I chose a burgundy chiffon for the over-dress, and a matching crepe for the fitted underdress.  Both fabrics ended up being on sale for 40% off, too–whoopee!  I’m going to do a peach-colored handmade flower for the waistband.  Or maybe a light blue flower.  I haven’t decided yet.  I am also going to alter the pattern to make a shallow V-back, just to add a little sha-bang.

When was the last time I got dressed up all fancy-like?  I can’t even remember, honestly.  These days I feel like a huge success if I manage to take a shower and not have bed-head.

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Today: Shower, kinda (last night); Bed-head, very much so.

I’m also a little nervous about wearing a fancy evening gown with this short hair-do.  I don’t know why I feel nervous about that.  I suppose I feel like it won’t be glamorous enough, and I’m not sure exactly how to make my hair look glamorous right now.

Have you ever made a fancy-shmancy evening gown?  Share your thoughts–I’d love to hear ’em!

Bessie

Doing Clothes Differently

 Preface to this blog post:
I am currently suffering from sleep deprivation.  As such,
I probably won’t do excessive internet research and link every statement I make to a relevant article, news piece, or blog.  I lack the energy right now, quite frankly.  Forgive me. 
Perhaps when I’ve gotten more than 5 hours of consecutive sleep, I’ll come back and spiff this up a bit; but for now, I humbly offer you a peek at what my brain has been pondering lately, and hope that you find it at least mildly stimulating and enjoyable.
Bessie 

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I’ve been convicted, lately, about the quality and quantity of clothing our family owns.  Last winter, I stocked up on cute things for the children from Old Navy (using my O.N. points, of course).  Shirts, pants, socks, underwear, dresses–the works!  The garments looked adorable, but did not hold up very well at all.  I bought myself some clothing from O.N. as well, and it held up even worse than the kids clothing–can you say holes galore in T-shirts that I’ve only worn 5 times, tops?  Jeans that get stretched out and ugly in less than a year?  Seams that rip in the wash?  Disappointing, to say the least.  This issue is not limited to Old Navy–many ready-made brands have become very lax in the quality department, and it is very discouraging.

On top of the quality issue, there is also the question of ethics.  The clothing industry is racking up ridiculous amounts of waste these days, which is piling up in less-fortunate areas of the world.  There’s also the uncomfortable fact that when I purchase a cheap piece of clothing, inevitably someone was paid next to peanuts to make it.  Am I OK with that?  No.  But if I keep buying cheap ready-made clothes, I am supporting those manufacturers and keeping those workers stuck–and also adding to the ginormous fabric waste piles across the globe.

Oh yeah, also, I recently read an article about how many of the garments we purchase that are “Made In China” are actually made in North Korea, or by North Korean people residing in China; the proceeds are, of course, going to support Kim Jong Un’s regime.  Definitely not OK with that, either.

Another angle of this whole clothes thing is the sheer amount of clothing my children (and also my husband and I) have.  My kids have clothes literally spilling out of their drawers.  My husband has so many T-shirts that we can’t even put them all away in the dresser.  And me?  I have a plethora of mis-matched, ill-fitting garments that I don’t really like that much, taking up space in my dresser and weighing me down.  [I feel that I must add, this does not include, of course, the several lovely pieces that I have made for myself over the years.  Unfortunately, none of these garments fit me right now; they are all packed away in storage, awaiting the return of my old figure.]

Taking all of this into consideration, I’ve decided I’m going to make a conscious effort to change the way we do clothes in our household, starting this season.

First, we are going to drastically cut down on the amount of clothing that we have.  I want to imitate our ancestors, and have a few staple pieces in our wardrobes that we can mix and match for day-to-day, and one or two nicer things to wear for special occasions.

Second, I’m going to try to make most of the kids’ clothes, and as much of my own and my husband’s I have time for right now.  I want to be realistic, here–three little kids are a handful, and we are mid-move, and I don’t always have a whole lot of time to sew right now.  However children’s clothing is pretty quick to make up, and I think it will be easy to at least make some basic items for them, if not for the adults in the house as well.

Whatever I am unable to make myself, we can buy second-hand.  We do a lot of that, anyway.  It is a great way to find good quality clothing for a lower price.  I can easily alter and tailor garments that I find for Davis and I that need a little tweaking.

I might also go ahead and buy a few things from this amazing company.  I’ve drooled over their Lydia Trousers for quite some time.  (Please take a few minutes to check out their website, read about their business practices, and be inspired!)
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Today I went Etsy-ing and bought sever cute patterns to use for the kids fall/winter wardrobe.  My favorite decade for kids clothes is the 90’s, because the styles were very comfy, classic, and simple.  Here’s what I bought:

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Above: This one is for both kids.  The pants are simple and look comfy, and I love that knit top. 

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Above:  I splurged a little and paid $7 for this one. 😉  I love the dolman-style sleeves, and the fabric choice in the photo is so pretty!  I want to make Evvie 3 or 4 simple dresses like this and the one below for the winter, as well as a few pair of pants, and some tops. 

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Above: I lived in dresses like these when I was a kid.  I’m going to make at least 2 of version E for Evelyn.  My plan is to do one in a light-weight corduroy, and one in a heavier-weight rayon blend. 

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Above: I’m so excited about this pattern!  Living in Asia got me hooked on harem-style pants for little ones.  They are exceptionally comfy and easy to move in.  Plus, they are adorable!  This pattern is available from Suburbia Soup for free download here!  What-what!

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Tell me, have you ever considered cutting back on your clothing and practicing a simpler approach?  Where do you purchase your clothing?  Do you sew for your family?  Have you found other ethical companies similar to the one I linked above that you could share with us?  Let me know in he comments!
Bessie

Making Do

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I can’t lie to you, I’ve had a rough couple of months.  Actually, I’ve had a rough 11 months.

Unlike many women (who I try not to envy), pregnancy is very hard on me, and my third pregnancy was the most difficult to date.  Perhaps it was because I am just that much older (I just turned the big 30!), or because it was the third time my body had undergone such a strenuous challenge.  I don’t know for certain, but whatever the reason, I spent almost my entire pregnancy either sick, sore, exhausted, depressed, or hobbling (or some fun combination of all five).   I was so miserable, that when I went into pre-term labor at 35 weeks, I was secretly relieved.  Is that terrible, or what?  Of course I was very glad they were able to stop labor and keep my baby safe, but I spent the next four weeks hoping the baby would end up coming early like my other two.  Instead, she decided to stay in there right up to 39 weeks, nice and cozy.

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I’ve never had an issue with weight gain during pregnancy, and this one was no different.  I spent the entire nine months assuring the doctor I am eating enough, and trying not to get exasperated when they tell me I need to gain more weight.  My body just doesn’t naturally gain a lot of weight.  With my first two children, I lost the “baby” weight very quickly after giving birth, retaining only five pounds or so while I was nursing.  Not so much this time around.  I have actually gained weight.  None of my clothes fit.  I’ve spent the past two months wearing my husbands clothing and feeling like a complete frump.  After you have a baby, you feel so strange and exhausted (physically and mentally); feeling like you at least look nice can really be a boon to your mental health.  I’m not overeating or eating unhealthy foods, and I’m trying to drink lots of water.  I am breastfeeding.  Even so, this weight ain’t budging.  Whenever I mention my frustration to others, I’m met with, “Oh, you just had a baby!  Don’t worry about it!”  While these sentiments are kindly meant, I am worried about it.  What if this is the beginning of a downward spiral?  I’m getting older now.  What if my body is changing, and I won’t be able to maintain my weight easily like I always have?  I don’t want to have to think about it!  I don’t want weight to become an idol in my life, or eating a focus.  I just want to live my life–and be able to fit into my clothes.

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Anyway.

We’ve been staying in a very small rental house for the past 8 months, which is a bit longer than we were hoping to be here.  It’s looking like it will be longer still, as we have had some hiccups and delays with getting our home in the mountains built.  The house has some mold issues, which cause me to be constantly mildly sick and stuffy.  On top of that, it’s kind-of (extremely) out-dated.  I’ve tried my best to make it cozy, but there’s only so much you can do in a rental house that you’re not planning to be in very long.

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Lately it is always a mess.  Again, when I mention this as a stressor for me, I’m met with “Oh, you just had a baby!  Don’t worry about the house.”  While I know that these comments are coming from people who genuinely wish me well and want to help me feel better about things, the state of my home does bother me.  Sitting on the couch, nursing a baby, surrounded by a huge disaster is stressful and discouraging.

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This little house has become my world over the past several months.  It’s dark, a bit stuffy, and can sometimes be depressing.  I’m trying to get outside more, but it’s just difficult with two little ones to chase around plus a two-month-old to hold.  Sometimes I just have to put the kids in the car and leave to give us all a breath of fresh air.

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I didn’t mean for this post to become so depressing!  My plan was to post some photos of my house in its current state, and talk light-heartedly about making-do when you’re in a transitional phase (with three kids, in a small, ugly rental house).  Instead, it has become a bit more real.  Maybe that is a good thing.  Lord knows we all need a little more realness in our lives.

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In life we have to take the good with the inevitable bad.  We really can’t have one without the other.  As much as I’d like to wish away the bad right now, I can’t and I won’t.  I’ll remind myself to find joy in the many, many good things in my life right now, and rely on God to give me the strength of mind (and body) to get through each day with a shred of my sanity left intact.  I forget sometimes that He is the only one who I can rely on for that strength.

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Sincerely,
Bessie

The Pregnant Vintage Home Sewist

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One of my goals for 2017 is to start working on my blog again.  I really have missed blogging.  Part of the reason I stopped for awhile has been general business–children, lots of moving, lots of business-related projects and orders.  But the other reason is because I feel a little intimidated by what blogging has become.  When I first began blogging back in 2008 (wow, almost 10 years ago now), it was an entirely different beast.  People mostly blogged because they were passionate about something and/or loved to write and share their thoughts with the world.  I blogged for both of those reasons.  I was sewing up a storm back then, and fascinated with garment construction and vintage fashions, and it was just so dang fun to document it!

Nowadays blogging is a business.  If you don’t post X-amount of times a week, have 100 social media accounts, professional camera equipment, and sponsors out the wazoo then you are pretty much a blogging failure.

To be honest with you, I don’t want to blog like that.  It stresses me out.  I’m just a girl (ok, I just turned 30, so I guess I’m not technically a girl anymore–sniff!) who loves to sew, loves to homestead, loves her family and loves her goats and also happens to love to write.  So instead of feeling overwhelmed by the monster blogging has become, I am going to choose to blog anyway.  If you like it and want to follow me, then that is wonderful!  If I’m not quite fancy enough for you, I totally understand and you can probably find a zillion better blogs out there to follow instead. 😉

Now that that is out of the way, I wanted to fill you in on what I’ve been sewing lately!  This is my third pregnancy, and it is the first time I’ve actually sewn maternity garments for myself.  It seems funny to me that I didn’t do more of this with  my first child, when I had hardly anything to do, but I am sewing my butt off now with a 4 year old and a 2 year old running around being crazy.  Maybe the craziness pushes me to delve more into my creativity?  Who knows!  But I’m going with it!

So far I’ve made three garments.  All three were made using early 1960’s maternity patterns, because I just think they are the best.  The 60’s ushered in a different look for pregnant women.  No longer were they basically covered with a fluffy, ruffled, gathered sheet of fabric with a hole cute out for their head and arms. No, now we begin to see more fitted bodices (lots of empire waist) and more sleek designs.  Don’t get me wrong, I think some of those flouncy floofy 50’s maternity tops are pretty cute, but I don’t want to go around looking like this all the time (although Ethel’s dress is pretty amazing):

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So here are the three garments I have made thus far, for your viewing pleasure!

1. McCall’s 6995, circa 1963 (Here is one on Etsy!).  Middle view. img_3491

This top is amazing.  I’m actually wearing it right now, and I want to make a bazillion more.  It was very easy to make.  I used a shorter zipper than the pattern called for, because it seemed a bit extreme to use such a long zipper on the blouse (I understand for the dress).  The zipper is exposed, which is not something I usually do, but I bought this gorgeous zipper in Korea and thought it looked really lovely with this fabric and the style of this blouse.  And because I make baby toys and accessories and have a plethora of KAM snaps, I just used some matching KAMs for the sleeve cuffs.

Here’s a totally unprofessional photo (ahem, Photo Booth) of me wearing it.
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2. McCall’s 6686, circa 1963 (Here is one on Etsy!).  View A. 

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This top was not quite as simple to put together, but the pattern was so nicely designed that it went together with ease nonetheless and turned out super beautiful.  It’s a little more on  the dressy side (I actually made it for Thanksgiving–posted about that, too!).


3. Vogue 5423, early 1960’s.  View B with 3/4 sleeves.

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Oh, oh, oh.  This dress.  I had been hunting this pattern down for a while, and happened to stumble upon two copies of it online while we were living in Korea, which I promptly purchased.  This era of early 60’s Vogue maternity was just…just amazing.  So stylish and lovely and different from everything else that was available from that time period.  I’d love to collect as many of them as I can.

So, I made this as a Christmas dress, super last-minute, figuring I could also wear it pretty much any time and dress it up or down accordingly.  I love pretty much everything about it.  It is comfortable, stylish, flattering, and fits like a dream!  There is cased elastic at the front bodice/skirt seam (I used some yellow bias binding because, well, why not?), which makes for more ease and comfort as your belly grows.  One thing I don’t think was necessary (at least for me and my body shape/size) was the side zipper.  What with the elastic waist and back button closure, I haven’t used the zipper once.  It was kind of a needless effort.  But that is ok!

Here’s a flashy (haha) photo of me wearing it.  I wore it with a navy grosgrain ribbon as the belt, as I haven’t decided what I want to do with the the permanent belt yet.

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Aside from making another one or two McCall’s 6995, I also want to make this Butterick top up in a plaid flannel (and I am totally going to try wearing it with a bow, too):
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I am also loving this McCall’s pattern, and might try and make up view C before March comes along:

What are your thoughts and experiences with sewing vintage maternity?  Let me know in the comments!

Bessie

Finally: A Finished Maternity Top!

I’m currently growing baby number 3 (due in March!), and this is the first time I have actually completed a maternity garment.  I’m slightly ashamed of this.  However I must not be too hard on myself–I really dislike being pregnant, and typically feel pretty awful most of the way through it, so I guess it’s understandable that I haven’t felt like whipping up garments left and right.

Also, I’ve been pretty occupied lately working on baby toys for my business, Sweet Cozy Baby.  I am grateful to have had several orders over the past few weeks, and sold a bunch at a local craft show, so that has kept me busy!

We’ve also been moving, moving again, and in the process of building our own home on our own property up in the mountains, which is a little time-consuming as well.  But I digress.

I have to tell you guys, this pattern was a dream to sew up.  It was so nicely designed, and everything just fell into place beautifully with little-to-no need for improvisation.  The garment went together easily, and was a pleasure to sew.

Part of this was because I took it slow and made sure to hand baste my way through the process.  Have I mentioned before how wonderful it is to actually baste things together BY HAND when the pattern suggests it?  It makes your life so much easier, guys.  And your garments much more lovely.  This is especially true with setting sleeves.

This top was made using McCall’s 6686, version A.  I should have worn it with a strand of pearls.  And gloves.  Just like the envelope illustration.  Alas–I have neither right now (everything is in storage!), so a pair of gold hoop earrings had to do!  The collar is very wide-set, and really a perfect frame for a pretty pearl necklace.

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River and I posed for some photos outside at my parents’ place today.  You can see their Angora goats behind the fence.  Our goats are in the other paddock, healthy and happy (and two of them pregnant, hopefully!).

Here are some photos on the dress form (sorry, our house has horrible lighting):

Up-close of the buttons (I spent way too much money on these) (the fabric was thrifted, though, so I guess it balances out…):

I didn’t have any “matching” hem tape, but I have SO MUCH HEM TAPE that I felt I really ought to use some from my stash.  I opted for this pretty dark teal-ish color lace.  It’s one of those nobody-else-is-going-to-see-it-but-I-know-it’s-there splashes of color that are fun to add to garments.
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Just for fun, I put in a cute tag that I bought in Korea.

So there you have it!  My fist actual completed maternity garment, worn to Thanksgiving dinner 2016 with baby #3.  I am dying to make myself a beautiful Vogue maternity Christmas dress.  We shall see if that actually comes to pass or not.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Bessie

The Advance Wrap Dress

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This one has been in the “To Make” pile for about a year now.  Advance 7753.  Cute 50’s wrap dress.  Simple, easy, very adorable.   I bought a pretty blue plaid seersucker for it, and it seemed like a quick, easy project.  I was super excited to make myself a dress for the spring!

Lordy, did I have trouble with this dress!

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It was all my own fault.  The first thing I did wrong was to sew one of the skirt front panels on backwards.  Grab the seam ripper…

Next I realized I had made the side hole (which you pull one of the waist ties through) on the wrong side.  Whoops.  Thankfully I noticed this after I sewed the skirt on, tried the dress on, and realized that it did not fit AT ALL.  The front panels were way too long, even though I had adjusted the pattern for my short waist.  So off the skirt came, I shortened everything, re-pinned the skirt on, basted it to make sure it fit right, and then stitched it again.

Aaaand caught a bunch of the bodice back up in the seam.  Had to rip almost the entire skirt seam out again.  Re-pinned, re-stitched.  This time I did it the right way, with the gathers on the underside.  Why had I not done that before?  I have no clue.  I know how to sew.  I must have just been distracted.

Oh, let’s rewind to before the skirt came off the first time.  I also realized that the shoulders were gaping, and ended up making darts at the shoulders, which actually look great.

I was hasty with this garment, and didn’t make a muslin–I figured the usual alterations to the pattern would apply here, but this was a very different design and I absolutely should have made a muslin first.

Also, the pattern instructed to sew seam binding into the waistline seam, which I skipped, but later realized I needed because it’s a heavy skirt and needs the extra support.  So I went back and sewed in some sturdy ribbon by hand.

While trying this dress on, I noticed that because of the large plaid this dress really needed to be worn with a belt to define my waist, otherwise I looked very wide.  So I changed the waist tie design a little, knowing I would be wearing a belt with this dress and not wanting a big bow in my way.  I eliminated one tie completely, and stitched up the side hole, and sewed a piece of ribbon on one inner side seam and the front edge of the bodice that I did not add a tie to.  That way I could fasten that side on the inside, like a robe.  Then I used a wide, sturdy hook and eye on the one waist tie.  The eye is on the outside of the tie, near where it attaches to the bodice front, and the hook is on the opposite end.  This way I can wrap the tie around and fasten it in the front, with no bulk.

My little photographer took some great pictures of my in my dress today.  She shows much promise.

I think the plaid still makes me look a little wide, but I like it anyway.  Definitely looks much better with a belt.  Here’s a picture without:

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And yes, technically the side with the ginormous pocket is supposed to be on the outside.  That was my final mistake, but I couldn’t bear to take anything else apart and I think it looks fine the way it is.

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You definitely need to wear a slip, underskirt or petticoat (or some shorts) under this one.  If it’s windy outside, you might reveal a little more than you want to.

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I love the top of this dress.  I might try to make a few blouses from it.  The dress is very comfortable and easy to wear, if a little on the full-skirted side for me!  I’m typically a 40’s girl, but I think I can live with this one. 😉

Bessie

50’s Apron Cuteness: Simplicity 1359

Guys, I’m so sorry.  I have completely neglected this blog.  I never intended to do that.  I re-vamped it, re-named it, had tons of great ideas for it…and then it just fizzled.  Well, I shouldn’t blame it, the blog, I should blame myself.  I have let it fizzle.  I’m just not great at having lots of irons in the fire, and this particular iron has not been quite as important as the others I’ve been juggling lately.  Hopefully that will change soon!

We are getting ready to make the big move back to the ol’ U.S. of A. in a couple months, and I have hoarded so much fabric over the past couple years here (because it is SO INEXPENSIVE!!!), I figured maybe it would be a good idea to try and take some orders and cut down on my stash a bit before moving.  I put up a little post on Facebook inviting people to place orders and help me de-stash and save some money for moving home, and I was delighted to have several toy, apron and bow-tie orders that very day!

This weekend I’ve been hard at work finishing up the first batch of toys and one of the aprons.  Here are four of the toys, which I must say turned out extremely adorable:

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It was so nice to make toys again.  I’ve been so fixated on garments this past year, and my toy business has kind-of been on the back burner for awhile.  I forgot how fun these are to make!  That bunny–if I had more of that fabric, I might have to make one for myself.  Or River.  He picked it up while I was working on it, with a delighted look on his face, and said “My bunny!”  So hard to say no to that!  Guess I’ll be making a bunny for that little bugger, too.

Today’s big project to finish was an extremely adorable apron, made from vintage Simplicity 1359.

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For this apron, I decided to go with version 1.  I love the waistband and big pockets on that one.  In my opinion, where aprons are concerned, the bigger the pockets the better.  We made a trip to Dongdaemun over the weekend and I picked out some very cute medium-weight cotton in a colorful leaf-looking print for the body of the apron and a cute
brown tiny gingham for the contrast.

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The only thing I should have done differently (ahem, or shall I say, I should have actually followed the directions on) is the way I sewed the bias binding onto the pockets.  The end result turned out great, but the way I did it took waaaaaay longer than it should have.  The directions say to sew the bias binding to the wrong side of the pockets, trim seams to 1/4″, fold the binding over the edges, and then top-stitch.  I did it the opposite way, and slip-stitched the binding down.  Like I said, looks fine, but took way longer.

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It was a unique design, and fun to put together!  I like how the waistband was sewn on, and how the middle-most end is actually stitched into the dart!

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When I first tried it on, I didn’t like the way the bib pooched out on the sides.  Then I realized, since this is a one-size-fits-all apron, they designed it that way on purpose to accommodate different sized people.  The way the waistband is sewn on, you can easily adjust the sides of the apron to fit you by tucking the excess down before tying.  It’s hard to explain, but here are some photos:

The buttons are vintage ones from my collection.  They were in a humongous jar of old buttons that I found at an estate sale one time.  The buttons are actually supposed to be hidden on the underside of the waistband, but I thought they looked way to cute for that so I put them out the outside instead.  The buttonholes were bound using a quick and easy method that is suitable for things such as apron straps, and that I’ve observed in many of the handmade garments I’ve found around here from Korea and Japan (namely shirt dresses and blouses).

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I did take a few horrible bathroom selfies wearing the apron to send to the customer, but…well, they are just horrible bathroom selfies.  However, in the spirit of transparency (and because my son ran in wearing a Bart Simpson mask yelling “Look Mom, I Bart Simson!” and it was hilarious), I will share them with you, pile of dirty laundry and all.

So that’s what the vintage home sewist has been up to this week!  I still have several more toy orders to complete, another apron (this time in a red and white polka dot, version 3!), some headbands and baby bibs, and a couple bow ties to make, so I’ll be pretty busy.  But busy doing what I love, so I’m not complaining!

Bessie

Another Old Dress

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I went to VinPrime again yesterday and found a few noteworthy vintage dresses that were MAJORLY on sale.

My favorite one, however, I paid full price for.  A whopping  ₩15,000.  That’s only about $13.00, so I felt like it was a pretty good deal.

This dress is from the 60’s or early 70’s.  Handmade, and gorgeously tailored.  I took some photos for you of the inside and the outside so that you can drool over the details with me!

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First of all, THAT FABRIC. Secondly, THESE BUTTONS!

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They were covered with foil when I bought the dress, which I have never seen before.  If you have any idea why the owner might have done that, feel free to comment and let me know.  I’m super curious.  Maybe just to keep them looking nice while it was cleaned?

The front buttons to the waist and then has a zipper that goes down about 7″.  At the bottom of the lapped front there is a snap, which has broken and I will need to replace.

All of the buttonholes are delicately bound.

Now let’s take a look at the inside!

The skirt lining  is secured to the dress by hand with tiny stitches.  The dress skirt itself is pleated in the front and back, but the lining is simply darted.

Here’s a look at the zipper:

And I love how the maker reinforced the shoulders!

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Bra strap holders are in place, which is uncommon (at least in my experience) in shirt dresses but super cool!

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Most seams are finished with pink bias binding.

But blanket stitch was used to finish the back yoke seam.

A simple hem.

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The lining back seam was machine stitched and then hand stitched before being pressed.  I’m sure this is a tailoring technique that I have not learned yet!

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All-in-all a lovely dress.  I can’t wait to wear it.  It needs a couple repairs–one button is broken (I will replace it with the button from under the collar, which I will not use and you will not be able to notice is missing), and then the snap that I mentioned above.  Once everything is fixed, I’ll be sure to take a photo or two of me actually wearing it!

Here are the other gems I found at VinPrime:

The “Trees and People” shirt:

70’s Tailored Dress with Yellow Buttons:

Cute go-go-esque dress, which looks like it’s from the 60’s:

Have you found any cute vintage garments lately?  Do tell!

Bessie

Making The Perfect French Press

 

I’ve always preferred my French press to any other method of home brewing.  However lately I had begun to feel like my pots were lacking in depth.  This point was brought home in a big way when I stopped by my favorite local patisserie for a pastry and the most delicious French press that had ever danced around my taste buds.

I knew at that moment that I was doing something wrong.  I had to figure out how to make a French press like that.

So I went online and did some learnin’.  One thing I learned was that it is beneficial to help the wetting process along by giving your grounds and hot water a 20-30 second stir before letting your coffee brew.  I use a chopstick, and gently swirl the coffee until a lovely, yummy foam forms on the top and then cover and let brew.

The second thing I learned was that I was not brewing my coffee anywhere near long enough.

When I was younger, I worked at Starbucks for a bit.  It was a fantastic place to work, and I loved it.  However, I don’t believe they can be looked to as the best resource for coffee brewing expertise–at least not on every level.  I was taught that if you let your French press brew for any more or any less than EXACTLY 3 minutes, it would be ruined.  THREE MINUTES!  Three. Minutes. Period.

Turns out, if you let those grounds soak for 7-8 minutes, your coffee will taste amazingly better.

Today I took some pictures of my coffee making process, and without further ado I will share my little step-by-step Amazingly Awesome French Press Coffee tutorial with you!

Step 1: Beans, grind ’em.
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Obviously you want to use good beans.  I’ll admit, although I’m sure they are not the fanciest of beans, I absolutely LOVE Dunkin’ Donuts coffee beans.  Turn up your nose at me if you will–I’m not ashamed.

Anywho, put them in your grinding device (we use a Magic Bullet-type blender) and grind until your beans look about like grits.  In case you are not from the south and have no idea what grits are, here’s a good example:
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I use about 1/3 C of whole coffee beans per 4 C French press.  Some people like to use more than that.  I personally like a rich coffee that is not too strong or bitter, and 1/3 is perfect for me.  Feel free to experiment!

You can also grind the beans a bit finer, if you like.  However your coffee might end up a little bitter, and you might see a few grounds in it.

Make sure you take the time to inhale the intoxicating scent of freshly ground coffee.  Forget smelling the roses.  Smell the coffee, people. SMELL THE COFFEE.
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Step 2: Put the beans and water in your French Press

I had a helper this morning.  See above how he deftly demonstrates the emptying of the blender contents into the French press.  I then allowed him to pour boiling hot water over the grounds.

Just kidding.  I did that part.

I learned at Starbucks that boiling water was actually a little too hot for a French press, but have since read elsewhere that it is acceptable.  I haven’t noticed a difference when I use slightly cooler water, so boiling it is for me.

Step 3: Swirl, swirl, swirl!

Next, take a spoon or chopstick or something of the sort and give your coffee and hot water a few nice, slow swirls.  When a fine foam floats to the top (that is carbon dioxide escaping from the grounds), you’ll know it’s ready to start brewing.

 

Step 4: Let Brew
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Place the lid on top and set your timer for 7-8 minutes.  IMG_3406

 

Step 5: Plunge and enjoy!
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Gently press down the plunger of your French press.  Pour yourself a delicious cup of coffee.  If you have a delicious French pastry to go with it, all the better.

Oh, and I must share my awesome mug with you.  My sweet friend and sewing buddy over here bought this for me.

Do you like my little coffee “splash” on the counter?  Yeah, this is real life people!  Sometimes you spill a little coffee.  And that is ok.

What type of coffee brewing method do you employ?

Bessie