New Bias Cut Halter Dress!

Love my new dress! It also marks an end to months of unproductive sewing and creative fun time (I have been under a lot of stress lately!).

Kwik Sew 3308 Bias Cut Halter Dress

Of course, now that summer is over, I only have a few weeks to squeeze some wear out of it. I used Kwik Sew misses’ top pattern 3308 and made View “A”. The length was extended to make this bias cut halter dress.

Kwik Sew 3308 Pattern

The fabric was from Kirsty of Rocket Sews as part of the One Cool Thing/One Strange Thing sewing swap. The fabric was a hand-printed Australian aboriginal print fabric and I wanted to find just the right dress design for it.

I picked up the Kwik Sew 3308 pattern at the Pattern Review NYC weekend pattern swap and thought it would look cute done up in an ethnic print.

I still need to hem the dress. Because the length may grow over time due to the bias cut, I will hem it after a few days. I also need to add some buttons (still looking for the right one!).

Here is the back view.

Kwik Sew 3308 Back view of dress

Here are some pattern adjustments and tips I used to sew this dress:

1) Cut a small on top and graded to medium at the hip. Extended length by 15″ to create desired dress length.

2) Made sure I had enough fabric since this is cut on the bias. I was grateful to have enough to cut the dress. I did not have enough fabric to match the print though. It still turned out cute.

3) Experimented with various types of interfacing for the collar using a muslin. I did not want it to be too floppy nor too stiff.

4) Raised the armhole by 1-5/8″.

5) Took in side seam under arm by 1/2″ but 5″ under the armhole let seam back out for a comfortable fit.

6) Re-cut front and back facings to adjust for armhole changes. For the back facing, trimmed 1/8″ at arm to help keep the facing from showing when turning out the final piece.

7) Raised the back keyhole by 1-1/8″. Check to see if this causes any problems. I raised the keyhole too much initially and was not be able to get my head through the opening.

8) Steps 7 & 8 were a bit confusing at first. I followed the drawings and it worked out fine in the end. Be sure to fold the back of the dress so that it does not get caught in the seam while sewing the collar.

9) Hand slip-stitched the inside of the collar rather than stitching in the ditch.

10) Hung the dress for a few days before hemming to allow for any change in length.

I love this dress! It was an easy project and practically free!

Posted in Kwik Sew, Pattern review | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Patterns and Postcards in the Mail

I haven’t been able to sew lately due to the demands of life but I have been able to blissfully build my pattern stash.

One enabling event that allowed me to do this was ThePerfectNose’s Patterns and Postcards swap. It was also amusing to see all the virtual horse trading going on among the participating blogs.

The first set of swap goodies arrived last Friday. This swap package was from Canadian blogger Symon Sez. I was so excited to see her beautifully wrapped package!

I happily ripped open the wrapper to reveal these lovely vintage patterns.

I also swapped a pattern magazine with Australian blogger Tj at The Perfect Nose. Tj sent this Spanish Patrones Extra magazine along with a bonus La Mia Boutique traced legging pattern. Winter is coming and I can use some new leggings. Tj also sent this wacky postcard. I’ve been to the Louvre a few years ago and I don’t recall seeing this bizarre painting!

My birthday was earlier this month so I also treated myself to more presents. I took advantage of a recent sale at the Sewaholic web site to scoop up these goodies. I would like to experiment with more indie patterns and I have heard good things about Sewaholic.

I also stopped by my local fabric shop and couldn’t resist picking up these new Colette patterns too.

Whoa! I have enough to keep me busy for a while. Thanks Amanda and Tj for the swap goodies!

Posted in Colette Patterns, Pattern shopping, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing Fun, Sewing Inspiration, Swaps | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Loco for Locro (Potato and Avocado Soup)

I have been on a soup kick lately and recently discovered locro, a hearty mountain potato chowder from the Andes. Mr. Dashing’s aunt made locro during her stay here a few weeks ago and I just loved it! Here in the midwestern U.S., the nights are getting colder and I have craved hot bowls of this thick nourishing soup.

Determined to duplicate the recipe, I made the soup below to rave reviews of family.  In South America, there are many variations of locro. This is the Ecuadorian version that is typically served with cheese and avocado.

However, since several family members are lactose intolerant, this version was made without milk. The soup was thickened by mashing the potatoes. Cheese may be added to individual soup bowls for those that want it. This soup is also a great base to add spinach or other ingredients.

Locro de Papas (Potato and Avocado Soup)

Potato and Avocado Soup (Locro de Papas)    Serves 3 – 4

  • 2 teaspoons of annatto (achiote) seeds (available in a Mexican/Latin American grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes (Yukon gold or similar)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 quart of chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • avocado slices for garnish
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 3/4 cup of queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese) or mozzarella cheese, diced


Step 1: Peel the potatoes and dice roughly half of the potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes. Cut the other half of the potatoes into 3/4 to 1 inch cubes. Store the potatoes in bowls of cold water until needed to keep them from discoloring.

Step 2: In a small sauce pan, simmer the annatto seeds in the oil over low heat. Strain the seeds from the oil and discard the seeds. The annatto oil will be a bright red-yellow color.

Annatto seeds and oil

Strain annatto oil

Step 3: Heat the annatto oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions in the oil until soft.

Step 4: Add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5: Drain the bowl of diced potatoes and add to the pot. Sauté the potatoes with the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.

Step 6: Add the stock and bring to a boil at medium high heat. Then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer on low heat, partially covered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Step 7: When potatoes are soft, smash them in the pot with a spoon.

Step 8: Drain the bowl of the larger cubed potatoes and add to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered on low heat until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Stir soup occasionally while cooking. Add additional stock or water if the soup gets too thick.

Step 9:  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup in individual bowls. Add a handful of diced cheese to the bowl. Garnish soup with sliced avocados and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Posted in Cooking experiments, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Patterns and Postcards Swap

TJ at The Perfect Nose is hosting another pattern swap on her blog and I decided to join in. I participated in her last swap and scored some cool stuff. The summer months have flown by and sadly due to family health issues, I have just not had time to devote to any of my hobbies. However, I did have some time this week to sort through my stash and toss a few items in the inter-blog swap bucket. My items are posted on my flickr account here.

If you are interested in participating, the rules are here. Just leave a comment on The Perfect Nose blog so there is a central place for the list of swap participants. TJ-thanks for coordinating this swap!

Posted in Sewing Fun, Swaps | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

The Healing Power of Soup

Hi – I’m back again! I haven’t been able to blog the last two months because of a family crisis. My father and mother-in-law were in a serious car accident in July. Their car was T-boned on the passenger side where my mother-in-law was sitting. She sustained severe injuries which included an open fracture to both bones in her left leg and a fractured right arm. My father-in-law suffered fractured ribs and a torn rotator cuff. Needless to say, Mr. Dashing was extremely distraught after the accident. I was also anxious because I am close to my mother-in-law and consider her like my second mom. There were long stretches of weeks where we spent more time in the hospital or nursing rehabilitation home then we spent in our own home.

Fortunately, Mr. Dashing’s parents are now at home and slowly recovering from their injuries. There has been an outpouring of support from extended family. Several of Mr. Dashing’s aunts have traveled across the country to stay with his parents and help them out. One of the aunts is an exceptional cook and I learned some amazing dishes from her. One of the dishes is a delicious chowder that I will blog about next time. Soups were very popular during the recovery process and consumed in large quantities by all.

I have also stayed over and cooked several meals for my in-laws the past few weeks. One day, I made my most comforting chicken soup for them and they were eternally grateful. What it is about chicken soup that nourishes our soul and soothes our agitated spirits? There is certainly magic in tossing onions, celery and carrots (the sublime mirepoix!) in a pot of hot water along with a bone-in-meat of your choice. Add some salt and pepper and you have an ethereal soup worthy of serving to company.

I have posted details on how to make my favorite version of this soup. I like using smoked turkey leg instead of chicken because turkey adds so much flavor to the soup. It is also a great use for Thanksgiving Day turkey leftovers. If you don’t have access to smoked turkey, then an uncooked turkey leg or bone-in chicken can be used. The turkey will take longer to cook than the chicken.

Smoked Turkey Vegetable Rice Soup

The recipe for this hearty satisfying soup is below. I love the brothy, soul-lifting fragrance that fills the kitchen when I cook this soup. For all those that suffer from food sensitivities, you will be happy to know that this soup is also gluten and dairy-free.

Smoked Turkey Vegetable and Rice Soup    Serves 6-8

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 to 4 ribs of celery, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped (may also add a few sprigs of fresh chopped herbs such as thyme or oregano if desired)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (optional)
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock
  • 1 smoked turkey leg (may substitute bone-in chicken breast if smoked turkey is not available)
  • 1/2 cup of brown rice (my favorite is Lundberg Golden Rose medium grain brown rice, may substitute white rice if desired)
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste


Step 1: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaves for about 5 minutes to soften the vegetables and enhance their natural sugars.

Step 2: Add the stock and bring to a boil at medium high heat. Then lower the heat to a simmer.

Step 3: Add the chopped herbs and stir. Save a bit of parsley to use as a garnish.

Step 4: Then add the smoked turkey leg to the soup.

Step 5: Add the brown rice and stir into the soup.

Step 6: Heat soup back to a simmer. Cook for 75 minutes or until turkey is tender and rice is desired consistency. About 35 -40 minutes into the cooking time, remove turkey leg from the pot. Cut the meat off the bone and slice into bite size pieces. Return the chopped meat to pot. Stir soup occasionally while cooking. Add additional stock or water if the soup gets too thick.

Step 7: Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add chopped parsley for a garnish and serve. Enjoy your hearty homemade soup!

Smoked Turkey Vegetable Rice Soup

Posted in Cooking experiments, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

So Cal Dreaming and Burda 7/2012 Inspiration

Before going back home from our Vegas trip, we decided to drive to Southern California for a weekend. It was refreshing to get away from the scorching desert weather.

While walking along the beaches of So Cal, I felt pure joy and gratitude that I was there, living in the moment. There is something healing about being near an ocean. We rarely experience that feeling living in the landlocked midwest.

Laguna beach, Southern California

Dana Point, Southern California

We also visited the Mission San Juan Capistrano, a historic Spanish mission in Orange county. It was soul lifting to walk through the mission and its 10 acres of gardens.

Over a week later, I am now back at home and struggling to be productive.

I really don’t feel like sewing or doing much of anything. I am just exhausted from the past few months of classes and then non-stop traveling.

My Burda Style July issue came in the mail today. I eagerly flipped through it hoping to be inspired. I also wanted to find a quick and easy project to ease myself back to reality.

Well, slim pickings this month. I was not crazy about the dropped waist styles featured in this issue. Many of the styles were downright hideous. For example…

Burda Dress July 2012 #111

After thumbing though the pages, I did flag a few designs for potential projects.

This vintage dress is cute. I don’t particularly care for the “cross your heart piping” though. Without the piping, it could be a lovely summer dress using my newly acquired lawn.

Burda Vintage Dress July 2012 #133

I also like this unisex shirt. I love that there are both men and women pattern sizes.

Burda Unisex Shirt July 2012 #132

This summer top is cute and easy to sew.

Burda blouse July 2012 #116

I revisited the featured dropped waist dresses. I was intrigued by this dress on second look. I am strangely attracted to the chiffon godets. I do like 1920’s style, even though I don’t think this is the best silhouette for me. Maybe in a different color…

Out of curiosity, I asked Mr. Dashing to have a look at the magazine and pick out any styles that he thought I should make.

“I think this one is really cool! You should make it!” he said of this number…

Burda Trousers July 2012 #128

Ack!!! What was he thinking?! Does he not notice the poorly placed keyhole opening? Or maybe this is why he likes it so much? Note to self: “He is not allowed to shop for clothing for me without my approval.” What do you think?

Hopefully your summer/winter (or whatever season it is in your part of the world) is going well and more productive!

All images are copyright their original owners and are being used for purposes of review.

Posted in Burda, Sewing Inspiration, Travels | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Vegas Eats & Sweets

This post is a continuation of my series on favorite places to visit in Las Vegas (Warning: picture heavy).

I know I mentioned in my earlier post that I avoid the Strip as much as possible but there are some exceptions to this. If you are a foodie or enjoy fine dining, most of the best restaurants are on the Strip.

There may be some controversy about this but I find it difficult to recommend anything off the Strip that can surpass the quality of dining that can be had on the Strip. Anything cheaper? Yes. Anything better? No.

Case in point: name a famous chef. Wolfgang Puck. Emeril Lagasse. Bobby Flay. Jose Andrés. Yes, it is highly probable that they have a restaurant on the Strip and it rivals any restaurant in cities like NYC.

On my bucket list is to someday have the 16 course Degustation tasting menu at Joel Robuchon’s at the MGM. Robuchon’s french cuisine will set you back $425/person but it does include a complimentary limo ride to the MGM if desired.  I mention this because it puts everything in perspective. That $28/person buffet meal now sounds like a bargain.

You can easily drop a lot of dollars in this town if you want to. Of course, on the low-end are the $5.99 buffets. We mostly avoid them because you get what you pay for and I also became violently ill at a cheap buffet once.

For entertainment, Mr. Dashing, mom and I like to explore the newest casinos on the Strip.  We have been to most of the Strip casinos and I’ll tell you, there are definitely high-end and low-end ones. We prefer to saunter around in the high-end ones.

For this trip, we decided to investigate the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. The Cosmo opened on the Strip early last year to great fanfare.

The Cosmo has a modern, sleek, hip vibe. Suspended from the ceiling were curtains of strung glass baubles. There was this huge red stiletto near one of the entrances.

Inside the Cosmopolitan

Inside the Cosmopolitan

We decided to check out the Wicked Spoon, the buffet at the resort.

Now, I am partial to the buffet at the Wynn resort (love that they label top allergens at the food stations). I was curious how the Wicked Spoon would compare.

Well, the Wicked Spoon is a very close second to the Wynn buffet (Mr. Dashing declared it his new favorite). The presentation was clever. Everything was served in individual tasting plates or pots.

A good strategy here would be to go with a group of people and have everyone get different dishes. Then share the dishes among the group, tapas style.

After eating, we dropped off mom at the casino slots and ventured to the shopping area of the hotel. I was instantly drawn to this store with a floor to ceiling display of vintage sewing machines!

All Saints Spitalfields Store Front

This shop is All Saints Spitalfields and is based in London. Is anyone else familiar with this store? This was the first time I have ever been in an All Saints and I have never heard of it before. The clothing there is edgy. Steam punk or vintage romantic gothic would be my best attempt of describing the style. However, I was a real geek and scarcely looked at the clothes. I was fascinated by the brooding early industrial post-apocalyptic décor . This place is worth a look around just for the dark aesthetic.

There were lots of industrial machines that looked like it came from a shuttered textile mill. And check out this manual powered Singer machine.

I wonder what this machine is for? A loom perhaps?

Mr. Dashing, interrupted my reverie. “Can you make this for me? It would be a great anniversary present!” He was holding this Coimbra jacket with narrow notch lapels and double welt pockets on one side. I looked at the jacket. “Sure. We’ll see. I guess I know how to tailor jackets now.” I wonder if he realizes the number of hours it would take to tailor a men’s jacket and that there is a risk that it will go out of style. I do admire his adventurous sense of style though. I’ll give it a shot. The things we do for love…..

We then walked over the Aria resort and stopped in Jean Philippe, a nearby sweet shop. The Jean Philippe patisserie is one of our favorite places to stop for a sandwich or sweet snack. Aren’t these miniature wedding cakes wonderful? Also love this chocolate dragon sculpture. I will end with these amazing images of candied art!


Posted in Dining, Shopping, Tailoring, Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vegas Fabric Stashing Part 2

This is a continuation of my last post of my favorite Las Vegas haunts. One the stores I like to visit when I am here is……..

………brace yourself………

Quiltique, a quilt fabric shop in Henderson, Nevada.

Now, I feel the need to explain myself. I like to mainly sew garments. I like to stalk  all the major garment sewing blogs. I have yet to visit any quilting blog.

Additionally, in the area where I live, there are both quilting groups and garment sewing groups and their members really don’t mix. In fact, I have met many excellent quilters that absolutely despise garment sewing.  They hate every aspect of apparel sewing- from fitting to inserting zippers.

But I do have a soft spot for quilting, in particular, modern contemporary style. Maybe this is because I first learned to sew by quilting. Learning to quilt helped me immensely with the quality of my garment sewing. I was taught to quilt by an award-winning quilter and she ingrained in me the need to press obsessively (press seam flat first and then open or to one side). Careful cutting of fabrics and matching intersecting seams are also critical when quilting. All these skills have served me well when sewing garments.

I see quilting as an art form and truly admire the handiwork that goes into making a award-winning quilt. Furthermore, outside of major cities like NYC, you are more likely to encounter quilt shops when traveling cross-country.

OK, enough with the proselytizing. Moving back on topic, Quiltique primarily caters to the contemporary quilter and is one of the best quilt shops in the Las Vegas area. The shop is fresh and bright with many cheerful fabrics.

Mindful that I would have to carry any purchases back on the plane ride home, I picked up only few small trinkets on my last visit. Here is my haul from Quiltique: a Amy Butler gum drop pillow pattern, 2 bags of lavender and a pack of Kaffe Fassett fat quarters in pink and red joyful colors.

Quiltique goodies

The pillow pattern will be great for stash busting. I succumbed to the Kaffe Fassett fabric pack because I admire KF style quilts but I am too lazy to break out my color theory guide and find color coordinating fabrics. And who doesn’t like lavender? I am currently sleeping with a little bag under my pillow.

I am curious to hear your thoughts on quilting, particularly if you sew mainly garments. I am always the youngest person in any quilting group so perhaps it is a generational thing. I often feel out-of-place because I have so little in common with the quilting ladies with the exception of quilting. So, I prefer to be a solitary quilter. (I love social garment sewing though!)

Posted in Fabric shopping, Quilting, Travels | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Viva Las Vegas Fabric Baby

With only a little over a week break from my recent NYC trip, I am back on the road again! This time in Las Vegas…..

My parents retired to Las Vegas a few years ago. I frequently travel there to help them out with general upkeep and maintenance of their home. In the past, sometimes there was so much maintenance that it was ALL work and NO play. And it feels like working in an oven!

It’s 101 deg.F in the shade here

I am in Las Vegas so often that I feel like a semi-local. This means that I behave like most locals do and try to avoid the Strip most of the time. It’s a different world there….

Elvis still lives

I have mixed feelings about Las Vegas. Vegas has the reputation as a place heavy with indulgences and excesses galore. If you want to (over)eat, drink, smoke, shoot machine guns or gamble, Vegas can readily accommodate you. On the other hand, the fine dining and high-end shopping options are impressive for such a small city.

As a semi-local, I thought it would be fun to post my favorite places to visit while in Las Vegas. So, when I am not pulling dry, prickly weeds from the rock garden or fixing leaky faucets, I like to (surprise surprise!) scope out the local fabric stores.

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of fabric stores in Las Vegas. Big box JoAnn’s and Hancock fabric stores are options of course.

However, one place I visit frequently is Heddy’s Fabrics, a small, independently owned fabric store. Heddy’s is one of the few stores in town that carries apparel fabrics.

It is fun to browse at Heddy’s. They have an unusual selection of ‘show’ fabrics. Check out all this sparkly, glittery eye-candy:

Heddy’s Wall of Bling

More Bling

Shiny, hairy fabric anyone?

Heddy’s also has a good selection of conventional fabrics like knits, wools, silks and cottons.

Last week, I picked up these goodies at Heddy’s: a sparkly knit from the clearance rack and a Liberty-like cotton lawn.

Heddy’s fabric goodies

Doesn’t the lawn look like this Liberty Tana Little Mari fabric? At $12.49/yard, I doubt that it is true Liberty fabric but it is a nice quality lawn though. I’ll probably make a summer top with the lawn. The sparkly knit will be a fancy wrap top.

After a long day of hard-core shopping, I like to explore the Chinatown neighborhood for some delicious Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese/Korean or Filipino food. The Chinatown in Las Vegas is much smaller than the ones in San Francisco or NYC but at least there is one here.

More to come…

Posted in Fabric shopping, Shopping, Travels | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

La Mia Boutique Bonus Giveaway Winner Announcement

June is now here and the special May bonus giveaway that I co-hosted with TJ of theperfectnose is officially over.

The winner of the La Mia Boutique Bonus Giveaway is Velosewer of How good is that?

Are universally entertaining. Rock on lady!

Please contact theperfectnose with your details so your winnings can be shipped to you via the awesomeness that is Ozpost. May your weekend be tolerable and your mail delivery person polite and attractive.

All images remain copyright of their respective owners.

Posted in Giveaway | Tagged , , | 3 Comments