Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing


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Please, No Old Looking Jeans

Him:  Where do you buy your jeans?

Me:  Why?

Him:  You need to buy some new ones.  All your jeans are starting to look old.

My husband can be brutally honest, even when no one has asked him for his opinion.  So today I made a pair of denim trousers.  I wanted a pair that would look good dressed up or down.

I brought the fabric about a month ago for the trousers.  The fabric is Sew Classic bottomweight- 4 oz dark wash denim fabric from my local Joann Fabric store.  The fabric for the pockets and waistband facings came from my stash.

I used Simplicity 2860 which is part of the Amazing Fit line of patterns.  I cut the front a size 14 and the back a size 16.  Since I wanted a close fit, I use the slim cut.  I redrew the center front line to be on the lengthwise grain and drafted on the fly extension.  I don’t like seams in the fly area; my abdomen is not flat and I don’t need any extra bulk in that area. I drafted the front pocket and fly facing as one piece.  I tapered the pattern in at knee area by ½” on the side and inseam seams for a slightly flared look.

I used navy blue thread for the topstitching since I wanted the look of dressy trousers and not jeans.  The inseam and crotch seams are welt seams with two rows of topstitching.  The side seams plain seams stitched twice for strength.  The hem, pocket edge and waistband have two rows of topstitching.

Daughter:  You didn’t put pockets on the back?

Me:  No.  I don’t care for pockets on my butt.  I don’t put anything in my back pockets.

Daughter turns around to show me that her phone is in her back pocket.  She’s funny.  She’s barely a size 2 and I am 45 pounds heavier than her.  Seriously, I am not putting my phone in a back pocket!

I did not make a muslin to test the fit before cutting the pants.  I like the fit, but I think I will tweak it a little on the next pair.  Husband likes the new pants, so I guess I am good for a while.

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“Blank” Velvet Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

My daughter came home because she had an interview for an internship for the 2013 summer. Wow, time is flying. She stayed the weekend in order to fill up on home cooked meals. Home cooked meals must be part of college students’ DNA! My husband is the cook and I am the baker. I baked up a batch of Blank Velvet Cupcakes using red food coloring. I call them Blank Velvet Cupcakes because they can be made with any color or they can be made without food coloring. My cupcakes have a little bit of butter besides the vegetable oil because I love the taste of butter. I use a 50/50 mixture of natural and dutched cocoa because I like the rich flavor of the dutched cocoa but I don’t like the dulled color from using all dutched cocoa. I used pomegranate infused vinegar for this batch, but use what you have (white, apple cider…)

I hit the top of the frosted cupcakes with silver jimmies which seem to have a chocolate flavor in my opinion. I thought it made the cupcakes look very pretty.

DD: Why did you put sprinkles on the cupcakes?

Me: To make them look pretty.

DD: I hate sprinkles.

Me: Well, scrape them off your cupcakes.

I thought everyone loved sprinkles. LOL.

Below is my recipe for Blank Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting. Click here for the PDF file.

ENJOY!

“Blank” Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pick your favorite color or leave the coloring out

Cupcakes:

The batter yields between 9 – 12 cupcakes.

¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup cake flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

½ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon food coloring (liquid) – optional

⅛ teaspoon food coloring (gel) – optional

2 tablespoons butter (room temperature)

⅓ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Position oven rack to the middle of the oven.
  • Put cupcake liners in cupcake baking pan.
  • Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder in a bowl, but not the mixing bowl for the batter.  Set the flour mixture aside.
  • Mix together buttermilk, vinegar, and food coloring in a cup.  Omit food coloring if you like.  Set the milk mixture aside.
  • Beat butter, vegetable oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Add egg and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until smooth and silky looking.
  • Add ½ of the flour mixture and ½ of the milk mixture to the mixing bowl.  Beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add remaining flour and milk mixtures to the mixing bowl.  Beat on medium speed for ½ minute. Remove beater(s) and scrape batter from beater(s) into mixing bowl.  Scrape down sides of the bowl.  Stir batter a few times with spatula to incorporate any streaks of flour.
  • Fill cupcake liners half full, which is a scant ¼ cup.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove from oven.
  • Let cupcakes sit for about 5 minutes then remove from pan.  Cool cupcakes completely before frosting them.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)

2 tablespoon butter cut into 6 – 8 pieces (cold)

1 teaspoon buttermilk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups of confectioner’s sugar

  • Beat cream cheese, butter, buttermilk and vanilla extract on medium speed for 1 minute.
  • Add confectioner’s sugar.  Start on low speed and beat for 1 minute until mixed well.  Scrape down sides of bowl.
  • Beat on high speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Frost cupcakes.


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How to Make Shoulder Pads for a Jacket

I no longer buy pre-made shoulder pads.  The last pair I brought years ago consisted of expensive small wads that were not rounded like a shoulder.  When I make a jacket, I make a pair of shoulder pads using the jacket’s front and back pattern pieces.  I buy yards of fusible fleece when it’s on sale and use remnants of interfacing and cotton, so my pads are not expensive.  Customizing pads to accommodate fitting problems is easy.  A client has one shoulder that is higher than the other, so I make the left shoulder pad with 4 layers of fleece and the right shoulder pad with 8 layers of fleece, giving her a balanced appearance.

It takes me about 15 minutes to make a pair of shoulder pads.  Here’s a slideshow demonstration.

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Continuing to Live in the Moment

A cousin’s wedding (Hurricane Irene cancelled the original date). Thanksgiving at my nephew’s house. The death of a grand-niece. A new haircut. The death of a young cousin. A surprise birthday party for my husband. A new granddaughter. Visiting with my aunts and uncles. The death of my last great-uncle. High school and college graduations. Our annual backyard barbeque (during a power outage). A family tree quilt for the family reunion. A large family reunion (110 people) in South Carolina. My last child is now a college freshman. A surprise 30th birthday gathering for a niece. Plenty of family dinners. A lot of business traveling. A new client to design and sew for. Living in the moments.

When I have something to say, I say it. When I have nothing I want to say, I am silent. I haven’t had much I’ve wanted to say about sewing because sewing has been such a tiny part of my last year and a half. Rarely one of the moments in my current life. Now I have things I want to share. I have been inspired by a number of young women with an interest in sewing.

It’s nice to be back.


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Moments and Blessings

I haven’t posted in a long time.  I’ve thought out postings, but haven’t been motivated to write them.  At first I felt a little guilty about it; now I don’t.  I haven’t lost my sewing mojo; I just haven’t felt the need to blog.  I’ve been sewing, doing other things and enjoying life.

  • January – It’s a new year and my birthday month.  Reflection time.  What do I want to change and what do I want to remain the same in my life?
  • February – An extended weekend with my girlfriends in Vegas.  Enough said.
  • March – I make a black lightweight wool dress for myself.  I guide Kira through the construction of a prom dress for the daughter of a close friend of hers.  Can you believe it, she’s making prom dresses!  A long conference in Washington, DC brings many of my team members to my area and I enjoy the time.  One manager leaves, another is onboard, I reread “Who Moved My Cheese” and I am ready for the change. A business trip to Chicago to close out the month.
  • April – Spending time with my girlfriends; either dinner or a party.  In the middle of the month, a business trip to Jacksonville.  Time to bake and decorate the annual birthday cake for the young daughter of one of my girlfriends.  This year she wanted Phineas and Ferb on her cake. WHAT?! WHO?!  Rounding out the month with Easter dinner at my house.  How did we wind up having a large dinner? A nephew calling looking for dinner, a niece in town for an alumni gathering, a cousin texting “Happy Easter” after learning from my niece that my husband and I are cooking, another niece get informed by the nephew, my sewing student looking for her favorite cookies.  I laughed at them all and enjoy the time. I closed out the month donating the gowns Kira and I made to a project called Operation Pretty and Polished, which gives away gowns and tuxedos to prom-goers.  I also did alterations on site during the giveaway.  There were a couple of gowns that I couldn’t alter that day because they were not quick alterations, so I did them in my studio after the giveaway.  One of the gowns was a strapless gown with a ruched bodice, draped skirt and beading.  When I opened the gown to alter it, I was fascinated by the construction.  This was not an off-the-rack, ready-to-wear gown.  I am in the Washington, DC metro area, so a lot of the donated clothing was first-rate!
  • May – I finished the prom dress for D, the daughter of one of my girlfriends.  It’s amusing how a girl starts out wanting to be a Goth princess for prom, which we (mother, grandmother and I) temper through persuasion, and evolves to a full-fledge princess with a tiara and a girly-girly evening purse on prom night.  Prom night for D meant festivities for everyone else.  It was a party for us, food and drinks, while she got ready to make her grand entrance.  I am sure her date did not expect that many people when he arrived.  FUN!  My first Mother’s Day with two children away and one at home.  Very soon they will all be off on their own and Mother’s Day will be phone calls.  My daughter’s home from her freshman year in college. I make a yellow lightweight wool dress with a pleated skirt for myself. I take my daughter and one of her friends to New York with me to attend the first alumni fashion show at my high school, the High School of Fashion Industries.  I saw classmates I haven’t seen since we graduated.  I look forward to next year’s event, and I am thinking about showing a couple of pieces. We’ll see.  I close out the month with a business trip to Jacksonville.
  • June – A week-long conference in San Diego, and I am one of the meeting planners, which means LONG days on top of a three-hour time difference for my body to deal with.  My sewing room gets a new paint color, light gray, and new lighting. I make the wedding gown for the future daughter-in-law of one of my friends.   I closed out the month with my huge annual BBQ.  I love it!  I have a large extended family and this year cousins from Atlanta and South Carolina came for the first time.  This was the first time a set of cousins that always come couldn’t make it due to a graduation, but it was also the first time other cousins from New York were able to come.  The first year the BBQ turns into a sleepover for my daughter and a few of her friends.  The first year my teenage son actually invites a few of his friends.  On top of that, a friend from work came with a surprise; another team member who I haven’t seen in years!  For me, the best picture of the day is a shot of my daughter, son, nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family.  I love that picture!
  • July – I altered a skirt for a customer who learned about me from her daughter who helped at Operation Pretty and Polished.  Word of mouth in action.  My youngest son now has a driver’s license and his first job.  Car insurance rises.  I make a couple of two-piece knit dresses for myself.  A weekend get-away in Washington, DC with some girlfriends.  We stop for a dinner party at my nephew’s before a night on the town.  It’s nice to be in a location where you can have a fun and relaxing get-away that close to home. 

 Time passes quickly; made up of a million moments and a million blessings.  My silence doesn’t mean I am not sewing.  I am just embracing the moments and the blessings.


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Creative Sewing – Chapter 6

I have a new battery charger. Yippee! 

I am working on the evening gown.  Today I applied the trim to the bodice, attached the bodice lining and the skirt.  I am very pleased with the look.  I will be finished soon since all that remains is installing the zipper and skirt lining and finishing the hem.  This project has been fun and I need to keep the fun going, so I need to start thinking about the next project. 

A quick note about attaching the trim, please take a few minutes to hand baste it in place.  It takes less time than picking out machine stitches.   I baste the trim in place and then do a row of machine basting using a long machine stitch. I remove the hand basting and continue with the garment construction without worrying about the trim shifting.  It may seem like extra work, but it’s worth the results.


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In Search of Pineapple Coconut Cake

At the beginning of this year I received an email from WordPress with the subject line: Your 2010 year in blogging. It provided me with wonderful stats regarding my blog. Most of all it confirmed what I had suspected about the most popular search term bringing visitors to my sewing blog, which you can guess by the title of this posting. PINEAPPLE COCONUT CAKE! Okay, how funny is that. I know I laughed for a long time.

So for all my visitors searching for a recipe for pineapple coconut cake, here’s one of mine.

Click here for the recipe.

To my family, sorry, this is not Aunt Nora’s recipe. My mother made a fabulous pineapple coconut cake and I failed to write down the recipe while she was alive. I watched her making it once and I remember that she used cream cheese and sour cream in the frosting, and use pineapple juice in the cake batter. One day I’ll start experimenting and maybe I’ll be able to replicate that cake.

This recipe is a combination of things I have learned over the past 35 years from family, friends, cooking shows and cookbooks. This one has fluffy frosting, pineapple ginger filling and coconut pastry; but it’s not a difficult cake to make.

Let me know how your cake turned out. ENJOY!