Tuesday, February 17, 2015

hotdog buns 2.0!

I seem to pick long holiday weekends to do my potato bun testing... this will be a short post, because it's just a tweak of the original. But I do have pictures!

Sourdough sweet potato hotdog buns that are vegan (dairy and egg-free), soft and have a bit of a protein boost. I incorporated some tweaks from last time: besan flour, which is ground-up beans, has 7 grams of protein per ounce, and a nice pale gold color; sweet potatoes, which aside from giving the dough color, provide a bit more moisture and sweetness; freshly-fed active sourdough starter and reduced amount of yeast; and white whole wheat flour and high-gluten flour.
The tweaked proportions:
Make Sponge: Mix together in a mixer bowl:

150 g. cooking water, 10 g. dry yeast, 100 g. besan flour, 100 g. white whole wheat flour.
Let sit at least an hour. Add:

300 g. high-gluten flour
100 g. white whole wheat flour
Mix just until incorporated, then let rest 20 minutes. Add:

365 g. active starter (6 hours after feeding)
365 g. mashed boiled sweet potato (two medium-sized potatoes)
60 g. kosher margarine
15 g. salt
50 g. dark brown sugar
Switch to the dough hook and mix 10 minutes on low speed. At first it will look too wet, but as the moisture distributes and the gluten develops, the dough will come together round the hook and clean itself off the bowl. If it doesn't after about 5 minutes, add a handful more of either white or whole wheat flour.
Once it's smooth and silky and passes the windowpane test, round it out and cooking spray the top or brush with margarine. Cover and let rise 2 hours, turn out and give two 3-folds, then let rise another 2 hours (or what I did: ferment 1 hour, 2 3-folds, then overnight in the fridge.)

We made mostly hot dog buns, 75 g. each, but also two burger buns (4 ounces/ 113 g. each) and two soft pretzels.

Let them rise, covered with a towel... 

it only took about 30 minutes -- they should just touch....

and into the oven. 

Bake at 360 until nicely golden.

Look how yummy and golden!!!

Nice and soft, but substantial enough to hold up against juicy burgers and condiments. The buns, minus two which we just had to sample, get to live in the freezer for hot lunches... yum!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Flying monkey jackets!!

For this year's full-length ballet, the dance company did The Wizard of Oz, and they asked if I could make jackets for the flying monkeys. Of course the answer was yes! At first I was searching for costumes or bellhop uniforms, but those were either too heavy, too expensive or needed to be altered to be practical to dance in.
So from scratch it is! They needed 21 costumes for various-sized girls. This is what I used to go off of: 

And this is what I made: 

plus hats, of course. 

I chose poplin for the fabric; unfortunately I couldn't get it in the grey-blue that would match, but royal blue looks pretty good I think. I found this in the NYC Garment District, at A&H. 
The raglan-sleeve jacket pattern was tricky... I had a hard time finding a pattern for tween/teen sizes that would work. Eventually I combined the Field Trip and Nature Walk patterns from Oliver + S to make a raglan-sleeved cropped jacket. The size 12 worked well enough for the 27 inch chest, but for the other sizes I graded the pattern pieces. I left the collar off because they were smearing makeup as they turned. For wings, craft foam worked well -- I drew 3 pairs onto each 12x18" sheet and cut them out.
For the red and white design, at first I thought I could just stencil it onto the poplin before constructing the jackets. I made some stencils from plastic, cut with an x-acto knife, and tried it.
Straight-on fabric paint (actually screenprinting ink from dickblick) didn't work because the blue showed through. I realized that i needed a white background to paint the red onto, then still applique that onto the blue main fabric. I found 60" poly-cotton broadcloth in white from Fabric Wholesale Direct (a great online store, I wish I'd found them before hauling 15 yards of heavy poplin on the train!) Back to the art store I went as well, to get a silkscreen and a consultation... the trial also showed me that I needed to mix two reds to get the color I wanted.

After measuring my stencils, I figured out that if cut into 14" widths, the 60" broadcloth could lay over my kitchen counter and fit 7 of the back design at a time.
After screenprinting the design on, I had nowhere else to let them dry so I hung the pieces on the wall; I didn't want red splotched walls so I taped them straddling corners.

I then ironed them to heat-set. I did the same for the sleeves and the hats.

For the front pieces, I decided to make a stencil that could do two at a time and just flip it for half of them... after I'd made quite a few ;D! I figured out an alternative way to heat-set is with a low oven for 10 minutes -- just watch the time or they melt :(
After the fabric strips were heat-set, I cut out the pieces with a generous white border. 
Pinning, pinning, lots of pinning. 

Using the edge of the presser foot as a guide, I stitched the appliques on with a wide satin stitch and black thread.

Then the jackets could be put together, with the wings sandwiched into the back seams.

Then just hems and they're done! Hats are the 9-12 month Bucket Hat (from Little Things to Sew, and from the o+S website, under free patterns) without the brim. 4" rolls of interfacing and grippy clips from toptrimming... (they don't have them on the website, but do in the store)! 

and here they are in action. 

whoohoo! one of my biggest sewing undertakings yet. And that was just the jackets. There was also 40 red poppy dresses that took 4-5 appliques each,

skirts for the Scarecrow, Tin (wo)man, and Lion, 

 14 Emerald City tutus with 6 appliques each,

and trims for Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch. 

A good time was had by all... they even gave me a thank-you card and a show circle shoutout. Happy girl, looks like they have me roped in for the next 10 years!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

wool-blend plaid ftw....

Christmas clothes, with a country bent if you will.
I do love yarn-dyed plaid -- P chose this one from my stash for a shirt for the Christmas show, Christmas in the Country. He had two lines so of course I wanted to make sure he looked presentable...
Sketchbook  (Oliver + s), suspenders, and wool blend pants from the year before.
I'd fully planned to use another pattern for K's dress, but it was nearing dawn and my eyes fell on the Little Lisette pattern i'd gotten at a discount.  So rayon velvet in a great red, and just enough left of the wool blend plaid for a gathered skirt.... 
A little fancy stitching for the neckline instead of a pierrot collar and along the snap back, along with the belt from those long-ago costumes and her new jangly boots, and we have two "country" outfits that match.

Friday, November 7, 2014

now for the boy...

Abomasnow is not really the Abominable Snowman, but a Pokemon who is close enough to that. He looks like a large amount of snow on some green fir.

At least P didn't want a generic costume! and it was easy to make this nice and warm... I already had a fluffy/fuzzy knit, super-comfy and soft, that I had planned to make a cape with. But it was perfect for what was basically a tunic and pants. (I only realized we didn't take pix of the front when we were already in the car!)

I used the Nature Walk pullover and knit pants pattern from Oliver + S, just like last year's ninja pants, cutting the top using seam allowances for a woven so it would be suitably over-sized. 
Patches in green cotton for the tail, feet and arms, supplemented by foam triangles for hands and back fins. Also, white fluffy squares on the chest that I had him cut as he saw fit.

back view... tail can't really be to scale!

The principal said no masks, so that kiboshed my plans for a finned/upward fringed attachment to his glasses. All in all, a good time was had and P was satisfied with the accuracy (and comfort) of his costume.

(I still want to reinforce/stabilize that neckline for pajama wear tho.) Win for Team Mommy-made!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Girly costume for halloween... long live circle skirts!

This year we convinced Kikay that Avatar Korra would be the best costume evaaar. Because look, they even have the same hair.

and I was excited about the mandarin collar with contrast facings, and princess seams, and gauntlets that would help her stay warm. Plus furry bandeau skirt, leggings and boots. 
Alas, about 10 days before, she succumbed and reverted back to wanting to be Elsa like the rest of the little girl populace. 

Not that Elsa isn't awesome and a strong female, but... anyway, I decided to challenge myself to put all the costumey elements (glittery cape, spangly top, etc) in one piece, and a functional dress separately that she can use later on its own sans glitter/sparkles. A spinny skirt is both warmer and more age-appropriate than a slitted pencil skirt.
Shopping for materials at several stores -- snowflake glitter organza at Hartsdale Fabrics, bamboo rayon and sparkle dot fabric in the city (25th and 8th, can't recall the store name even if I'm there all the time), cotton for the main dress and fleece for the wig at Joann. The broadcloth for lining I already had, previously earmarked for a chef-coat for me (story of my life...).

So, step one, the hair. I followed my costume guru LiEr's awesome tutorial and made a fleece wig. I just pointed the pieces at the ends and had some tendrils in the front. (I sewed some foamie snowflakes on for embellishment after this pic.)

Step two, the top. Bamboo rayon, supersoft and kind of see-through, was perfect for the yoke/sleeves. Sparkly dot fabric, also see-through, for the sweetheart bodice part... I made a full T-shirt because both fabrics are so sheer. On the back, I sandwiched the cape (just a half-yard of the snowflake, cut in half width-wise and seamed, then gathered at the top. Elsa's cape flows onto the floor, but Kikay informed me that it would not be practical for the parade or trick-or-treating) in between the seam. I pinked the edges of the cape with my precious scalloped pinking shears. Glitter is absolutely everywhere, btw....

Last step, the dress.  She's not curvy enough to need full princess seams, so a regular fitted bodice -- with tiny 1/4" darts front and back -- sufficed. I reworked her bodice block for sleeveless armholes, a square neck and the drop-waist, and joined it, after lining, to a full circle skirt. There's a bit of patching in the back since she's getting too tall for a 44" fabric to yield a full circle. Matching silver and seafoam cupcake snaps close up the back.

So, the full look -- this was taken as we were dashing out the door for the day. She and I were really pleased -- it moves, it's pretty and reasonably warm, and we had fun.

side-note: Fail at the shoes! I didn't think about footwear, so i made some quick and sloppy silver shoe covers for some gold Toms knockoffs. You can't see them under the skirt anyway.

She wore the whole getup two days in a row (Friday for school party and trick-or-treating, Saturday for grandparents' visit), I consider it a success.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

everyday dancewear

I am such a sucker for nice print knits. Lately my focus has been on Spandex-y/Lycra-infused ones for dancewear. I have amassed an embarrassing number of them and i do intend to make them, some with matching tulle skirts.
My first attempt was based on a baby onesie that snapped between the legs... it was way too short in the body so I had to add a bit of rib knit to the midsection. But look at that harlequin/argyle!
Second attempt: I actually bought a pattern this time; overpaid a little at a brick-n-mortar store for Kwik-sew 3507, but all in all it has worked out; I've made two of the simplest possible version, short-sleeved leotards, one in a periwinkle solid and one in a very soft floral.

Bolstered by the requirement for black dancewear for practices with the dance company in the winter, my third try was a long-sleeved zip-neck with a snap opening between the legs. I tend to do this, mess with a pattern to incorporate all the features that I want... in this instance, moving the zip henley-style to the front instead of the back, making the back one piece instead of two, and lengthening the bottom to make a snap opening.

This one actually came out quite good, the sleeves were way too large for some reason but that was quickly remedied. She's worn it once already, so far so good!
(More to come: I've extrapolated another pattern from diagrams and hope to work on that next, in black stretch velvet.)
I've been way late on the pettiskirt train, but this is what I have to show for my struggles with nylon chiffon tricot and gathering on the serger: 

Two layers of plain indigo and one gold-spangled layer over top, but I could have done with another small tier on the bottom so it doesn't angle strangely at the hip. I might still do that... if somehow I can color-match it 2" wide pre-cut strips. The cutting was by far the most tedious part!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Back to school! Book.... shirt? A tutorial with pictures

I had never heard of Book Sox until my new fifth grader told me he needed them. Checked two stores and they were all out -- they are apparently some kind of stretchy book cover that comes in all kinds of patterns. Gimmicky, until the reason becomes clear: they protect the hardbound book so it can be used year after year without damage. Environmentally sound and economical for the school and thus the students. I would be on board if I could find one of the darned things.

But alas, it would take 2-5 days to ship them from one state over, the shipping being more than the cost of the covers. Can't have that, really. Must.make.clothing.for.textbook. So in an even more eco-friendly way, I asked the previously-mentioned new fifth grader to give me a  T-shirt from his outgrown stash to create one. Voila, I give you a T-shirt to Book Sox tutorial.

This is a S Youth sized shirt, and the book that it needed to cover (the book is 8 1/2 by 11, so this would be the equivalent of a jumbo Book sox). I  figured that the maximum stretch of the fabric should be running across for a taut cover, but I don't think it really matters -- especially if you have a design on the shirt you want to lay vertically versus horizontally across the front. As you can see, it's not quite enough to wrap around to the inside because the rounded cutout for the neck makes it not a rectangle. We can fix that! 

So the first thing I did was rip out the side and armhole seams, and all the hems, have a single layer to work with. That leaves a nicely rounded piece from the sleeve to patch the neckline with, and the stretch even runs the same way. So pin and stitch that in place.

See how you now have enough to wrap to the inside. 

We'll stretch and pin each corner -- working with the wrong side facing out so that it is ready to sew. Don't worry about bunching up on the spine for now, just pull until the outside is nice and taut. Pin each corner. If your shirt is big enough, it will come all the way to the spine. Pin in a diagonal to end at the corner.

Close the book to check the fit once all the corners are pinned. Note that the spine still has the extra fabric at top and bottom.

Take the fabric off the book, making sure the pins stay put and aligned pointing to the corner. 
Sew each corner -- the line marked to the left of the pin. I used a serger to sew and trim at the same time, but use whatever stitch you use for knits or stretchy fabric. Trim the seams if you haven't yet.

This is what the cover will look like once the corner seams are sewn and trimmed (still inside out.)

Measure from edge to edge, and mark the middle of the top and bottom.

Make slits at the marks for the fabric to wrap up from the bottom and down from the top, to take care of that extra fabric at the spine. After doing that, I serged all the edges to neaten and reinforce them. 
Sorry this pic is so blurry, but you can see the inside corners are not quite stretching enough, because the fabric didn't go all the way to the spine on the inside. 

To take care of that, I sewed elastic between those two corners to pull them together. (and the same for the back too.) I used clear 3/8" elastic because it's very flat, but it doesn't really matter what you use. If the T-shirt you use is big enough to wrap completely over the inside, you won't even have to use the elastic. 

This is what the book shirt looks like finished (right side out this time.)

And this is what it looks like on the book. 

hurray for upcycling! And of course for a one-of-a-kind, easily recognizable book protector. Actually there is still the back of the T-shirt for a whole other bookshirt -- bonus if you use a shirt with designs on both back and front!

 Best of all is Popoy's comment: "It will be nice to have something that my mommy made in my school locker." I am such a sucker for appreciation.