Sunday, February 2, 2014


I've been playing with a bit of patternmaking lately.

A few Christmases ago I received Patternmaking for Fashion Design, but didn't have a lot of time to play with it. The basic blocks take a bit of calculation. Nothing major, but I'd been biking a bit and losing baby-weight and didn't want to put a lot of time into making my own blocks, just to have them change before I got to sew up some clothes.

Recently, however, I came across an article talking about some new open source pattern-making software. I played with Valentina a bit, but I was really drawn towards the Tau Meta Tau Project. Susan, from TMTP is currently working on Valentina as well, so I expect the whole thing will be quite awesome in a year or two.

I'm not patient, though, and don't mind a bit of hacking, so I've been making TMTP do what I want it to and have had quite a bit of fun with it. All I've done so far is make the basic bodice, skirt, and dress blocks, but in the process, I've done quite a bit of work to get things more streamlined for myself. Also, I had to find a new source for pattern blocks, because, having done all of this work, I wanted to be able to share! So I did some research and came across a wonderful, copyright expired book by Esther Pivnick, that had been scanned by The Perfect Nose.

Anyways, the basic idea is, once you've got the extensions saved, you open Inkscape, load and extension, enter your measurements, and you have a block custom fit to your body. If you don't want to bother with your measurements, it can also load up standard sizes, but then it isn't quite so perfect.

If you want to play with it yourself, click on the "Open Source Patternmaking" link at the top of the page, or go here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kimono-Style Doll Shrug

I've been working on this design for a little while.  The idea is similar to a sweater that one of Maddy's grandmother's helped me make for her.  It is a Kimono Style Shrug that allows for a lot of creativity.  It comes together in two pieces each of which can be either knot or crocheted.  Since they can also be worked in different colors of yarn, the possibilities are quite numerous.

So, anyway, the pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry.  I'll also be selling it in my Etsy store.  I may start charging for it on Ravelry in the next month or so, so if you want it, be sure to add it to your Library now and it will stay free for you.

If you aren't a Ravelry member (you should be!) you can still use this direct link (PDF):  Kimono-Style Doll Shrug.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Dress for Maddy

Maddy has been in love with my ladybug fabric since I made her a doll blanket out of it a couple of months ago.  In the meantime, I've been trying to develop a tunic pattern to go with the Big Butt Baby Pants that I make (a Made by Rae pattern).  So when it came time for a true test pattern, I figured I had the perfect match!

Don't you just love the linebacker pose?

The pattern is almost done and I have a great pair of reversible pants waiting to be matched with a new tunic.  When I get them done, I'll list them in the shop and let you know!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I've had lemmings on the mind since CRAFT linked to a PlanetJune pattern two years ago.

The only problem was that I didn't know how to crochet and the lemmings are a bit fiddly for a first projects.

I picked them up and abandoned them about a year ago, but with my knew interest in crochet they are back again and they are fantastic!  Here is the simple walker lemming, but I'm sure others will appear in time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Once upon a time a good friend was placed on a gluten free diet.  I wanted to give her a treat when she came over for dinner one night so I made her this flourless chocolate cake from Epicurious.  I had reason to resurrect the recipe again recently when another friend was diagnosed with Celiac's Disease.  This time I added a simple raspberry coulis to dress it up a bit.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)

Raspberry Coulis

1 lb frozen raspberries
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (I prefer raw or brown)

Thaw raspberries and blend with sugar in food processor until even in consistency.  Serve over flourless chocolate cake, ice cream, yogurt, or something else.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chocolate Apricot Sourdough Bread

A friend gave me a sourdough starter recently and I've been trying out all things sourdough. I recently came across this Chocolate Cranberry Sourdough Bread and thought to give it a try.  It was ... lacking.  For one, you might notice that it has no real source of sugar.  Well, cocoa really needs some sweet to give it any flavor.  The bread is also completely lacking oil.  Finally, well, I admit to not liking cranberries so much.  So I tweaked it.

My version is still pretty sour.  I think that is to be expected from sourdough.  If you want to cut it a bit I would use sweeter apricots.  I might also try some dried cherries in the next round.  If you've never worked with sourdough before, I recommend starting with this recipe to get a good understanding of the process.

Chocolate Apricot Sourdough Bread

2 cups dried sour apricots
2 cups orange juice (or water)
1 1/2 cups active sourdough starter
2 cups bread flour

1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter), melted
3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey, or something else sweet)
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour
1/2 bag chocolate chips

The night before:
Boil the apricots in the orange juice for around five minutes.  Drain the apricots reserving 1 1/2 cup juice.  Set aside the apricots until morning.  In a non-metallic bowl mix juice, 2 cups flour, and starter.  Cover and set someplace warm and moist overnight.

In the morning:
Transfer your sponge into your mixing bowl and add oil, syrup, and cocoa.  Mix with your dough hook until consistent.  Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is workable but still quite moist.  You don't want to be able to pour your dough, but you don't want it as dry as a traditional yeast bread, either.

Add your apricots and revisit the consistency of your dough.  You may find that with the added moisture in the apricots you need to add a bit more flour. Mix with your dough hook for another 5 minutes.  Add the chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed.

Divide the dough into two parts and place in bread pans for rising.  Once the dough has risen to about double, bake at 425F for 35-50 minutes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Bit of Crochet

As Maddy grows a bit older I find that I'm losing my patience for long knitting projects and am more interested in using my yarn stash to make food and amigurumi for her to play with.  With that in mind I have decided to resurrect the crochet hooks and take a second (or third or fourth) go at crochet.

I've found it to be much easier this time around and am having fun with the speed at which the projects are completed.  Right now I am sticking to other folks' patterns so that I can learn some of the art of shaping amigurumi before I branch out into my own designs.

My two recent favorites are a cute little apple by June of Planet June and the Angry Bird Cardinal (pattern link) from Karla of Itsy Bitsy Spider.  What do you think?