Sunday, March 20, 2016

Paprika Patterns Zircon

What seems like forever ago, Lisa of Paprika Patterns generously sent me a copy of their Zircon Sweater/Dress pattern to review.  I was really excited to get a chance to sew it up because the design details really intrigued me.  Then life happened.  And then Christmas happened.  And then more life happened.  And now here it is, the first day of spring, and I'm reviewing a top that I had initially planned as perfect for cozying up in through the long cold winter months.  Oh well.  Depending on your own fabric choices you could easily make this one for whatever season you wanted! So, lets get on with my better late than never review of this versatile pattern from Paprika Patterns!

Zircon, as I mentioned, has a some really neat design details. The geometric shaped yoke and insets look really challenging to sew, but in actual fact are no where near as bad as it would seem. It does take time to achieve nice crisp corners, but if you take that time and go slowly its well worth the effort!  Lisa walks you through it pretty thoroughly in the pattern instructions but if you're still hesitant or struggling, she has a tutorial up on the Paprika Patterns site as well which will guide you through.

Other than the yokes and insets - spoiler alert: the insets for the top are super easy especially since you'll be so practiced on the yokes by the time you do it.  It took me a few minutes and I didn't even use pins at all and they came out pretty darn good if I do say so myself! - the rest of the sewing is very easy to do.

Fit wise I have absolutely no complaints.  I chose a size seven based on my measurements (and previous Paprika Patterns designs) and only added a bit of length to the body for personal preference.  Zircon comes in the usual vast range of sizes for Paprika Patterns - sizes 1-10 or a finished bust of 35" all the way to 50 1/2" and I found it to be right in line with the sizing of the other Paprika Patterns garments I've sewn in the past.  I do really love it when I can trust that a new pattern by a favourite designer is going to give me the same great fit I've come to expect from their previous designs and Lisa does a fantastic job of delivering on this.  I've not been disappointed yet.

For me the biggest challenge of Zircon is fabric choice.  One of my delays was my initial choice of fabric.  As soon as I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric I realized what a poor choice I'd made.  I was on the fast track to resembling none other than an ill fated Star Trek "red shirt".  Thank goodness I realized it before putting scissors to fabric!  I quickly realized that my next choice was still pretty Star Trek-ish although at least I'd likely live to see another day, unlike the red shirts.  Don't get me wrong.  I am a Star Trek fan to a certain degree, but that does not mean I want to go through life looking like a Star Fleet wannabe.  So, back to the drawing board.  I eventually settled on using a somewhat texturized looking knit for the body and it's plain reverse side for the yoke and inset detail.  I'm not crazy about the fabric, but it's definitely better than my previous plans!

My only slightly negative thought, (and it has nothing to do with the pattern quality at all) is that the neckline feels a touch too high for me.  I've been mulling over this since finishing my top (ok - really I finished it just before lunch and it's only 2pm now, so it's not been a lot of mulling) and I feel that the high feeling neckline is just me and my preferences.  I generally sew/wear tops with a lower scoop or v neck as I find they feel a bit more comfortable and flattering on me, but I'm going to give it some more time to see if it grows on me before I change it up at all. I didn't worry about finishing the edge of the neckline at all, so if I do decide to change it down the road, I won't have to fight with removing serging.

I actually only serged the hem and the sleeves (and of course once I make a decision about the neckline I'll finish it off with some serging too).  The rest of the pattern was easier to just leave the seam allowances as is so as not to add any bulk on the corners.  The stable knit I chose doesn't curl at all at the edges and of course being a knit, it won't fray either, so I wasn't worried about finishing them off.  I just notched all the corners before pressing to get them to lay flat and smooth.  (holy cat hair, Batman!  Fluffy the very annoying feline sewing assistant was sitting on my fabric while I was working on it and it shows.  I guess he felt it the comfiest spot in which to chew on the thread as it passed by.  Damnable cat.  He thinks thread makes the best kitty dental floss ever.  Especially if it's moving through the machine at the time. Aggghhh.  Anyways.  Apologies for the frightening amount of fur in the photo!)

All in all, I give the Zircon Sweater/Dress pattern a two thumbs up and highly recommend it! It'll be a great addition to any wardrobe and depending on fabric choices can take you from season to season.  I feel it could easily be dressed up or down too, depending on the fabric from downright comfy weekend sweatshirt to something much classier and going out or office appropriate.  So a big thank you to Lisa for sending me the pattern!

*Just a quick reminder that although I did receive the pattern for free all opinions expressed here are my own, so you can feel confident that if you choose to sew up your own Zircon you'll really be getting your money's worth with this pattern.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Breakfast Poutine

It's been awhile since I have posted any recipes at all, but after posting a pic of my breakfast this morning on Facebook and Instagram a few people have been asking what it is and what was in it so I figured I'd toss it on up here on the blog for everyone's enjoyment.

There's a restaurant across the street from the school that the little boys go to and one of their claims to fame in their little country town is the different variations of poutine that they serve.  (For anyone who might not have ever encountered poutine, it's a Canadian dish that originated in Quebec and traditionally is a big old helping of fries mixed with cheese curds - or as we often call it "squeaky" cheese and topped with brown gravy.  YUM. YUM.)

So last fall I ended up at the restaurant for breakfast with some of the other "grade one moms" and I spied Breakfast Poutine on the menu.  As soon as I read the list of ingredients on the menu I was in.  Hook. Line. Sinker.  There's no gravy involved in their breakfast poutine and actually there's no squeaky cheese either, but there is hollandaise sauce and quite frankly I get weak in the knees over hollandaise.  Can not resist it.

I went out for breakfast again last week and came home raving about my breakfast poutine at which point my hard working, never get to go out for breakfast hubby inquired as to why he hadn't been served this dish of deliciousness yet, so I promised that on his first day off I would make it.

Today was that day.  Here is how I copied it

(PSA:  Wear stretchy pants and make no plans for the rest of the day.  This is the sort of meal that a) you should probably actually plan to run a marathon afterwards to burn off the badness and b) you will in all reality be so full that you will not want to move for the rest of the day.)

Breakfast Poutine

Prepare the following:

Fried cubed hash browns (I do my hash browns in the deep fryer.  Sorry, I did warn you didn't I that this is definitely not in the health food category, right?)
Scrambled eggs
Bacon, cut up into bite sized pieces
Grated cheddar cheese
Hollandaise Sauce (Sssshhh... Don't tell anyone.  I use the International brand packet one from the grocery store - but on a very slightly healthier note I use about half the margarine called for on the packet and it turns out just fine)

Build your poutine:

Now that you've prepared your ingredients it's time for assembly. In the bottom of your preferred deep styled dish (I used my smallest casserole dishes - it was all I had that was sort of suitable - my bowls were too small...) start layering like so:

1) hash browns
2) scrambled eggs
3) bacon
4) sprinkle of cheddar cheese
5) hollandaise sauce
6) top with cheddar cheese

That's it.  You're done.  Breakfast is served.


Monday, March 07, 2016

Zamora and Seville

A couple of weeks ago Kennis of Itch to Stitch* put out the call for testers for her new four piece collection of patterns.  Given that I love the patterns I've already made of hers, plus having tested for her before, know how awesome she is to work with I didn't hesitate to sign up and then cross my fingers that I'd be accepted.  I was pretty darn excited to get the email letting me know I'd been chosen for the testing group for both the Zamora Blouse and the Seville Skirt.

Like all of her patterns, Kennis has obviously put a lot of thought into both the design and sizing.  They have a wide range of sizes, plus as an added fitting bonus, the blouse has a great choice for cup sizes as well.  Yay!!!! No fiddling about with trying to do FBAs or SBAs (full or small bust adjustments for those that may not have been around the sewing block for long).

I decided my first task would be Seville - a classic fit and flare design - it was pretty straight forward looking and I figured I'd get it done and out of the way so I'd have the majority of the test period remaining for the blouse, which I knew would take significantly longer.

I didn't bother with measuring - I know what size I am after all, right?  WRONG.  I blended sizes between the waist and hip and all was looking good theoretically.  Until I tried on the skirt.  Holy stuffed sausage batman.  I was pretty sure, knowing Kennis' patterns the way I do, that chances were good it wasn't the pattern at fault.  A quick date with my tape measure and I knew for sure the pattern wasn't at fault.  Oops!  I've got to cut out all those cups of tea and scones that my MIL and I have been enjoying a little too regularly I think. (that or switch from Grandma's scone recipe to mom's at the very least...)

It's too bad, because although I had just used an old remnant of fabric that my sister had given me well over a decade ago it had really grown on me as I was sewing and I was picturing it going perfectly with my Penelope cardi.  Oh well.  Maybe once I shift the few pounds that have crept on I'll be able to wear it and not feel like a sausage.  I certainly won't get rid of it!

Having used my remnant up, the only other suitable piece in my stash I had was a bit of fairly lightweight suiting that was left over from my winter Emery dress (that I may or may not ever finish at the rate I'm going...).  I like it well enough though and it does go nicely with my Vianne cardi, so that was a nice bonus!

So then I started in on my blouse.  With only a few days left to go and not much time at the machine I was starting to feel the crunch of the deadline coming up quickly.  Instead of using my ever so slippery fabric that I had originally intended I went with a safer more easily managed crepe back satin (using the crepe side as the good side) that has been sitting in my fabric bin for eons.  I've sewn with crepe back satin enough in the past when I used to sew for the Ena Sutton Highland Dancers that I know exactly what to expect and how it'll behave.  Going in with the attitude that my first run would be a (hopefully wearable) muslin, I knew I wouldn't be heartbroken if the crepe back satin version didn't pan out.  I'm always a bit nervous with blouses that are fitted.  There's just so many things that can go wrong.  So many adjustments necessary.

I have astounding news though.  NO ADJUSTMENTS WERE NECESSARY!  I'm telling you the Zamora Blouse fit me straight out of the envelope. (Ok the printer, if we're splitting hairs).  After the bodice fitting disasters I've had lately this felt like a miracle of epic proportions and cemented my love of Itch to Stitch patterns even more.

Once I got through all eight release tucks, all six fish eye darts and the pleat at the back neckline, I heaved a big sigh of relief and forged ahead.  In all reality those tucks and darts were the only challenging part of the blouse.  And if I'm being truly honest?  It wasn't the sewing of them that was the challenge.  It was the darn marking of them.  That, dear readers, was a whole hell of a lot of work.  But so worth it!  I love the fit of the blouse!  Comfy, feminine and versatile.  What more can a sewist ask for?

I was in a bit of a panic when I realized the night that the test was due that a) it was the night the test was due - I had in my mind that I had an extra day somehow and b) I didn't know if I had any suitable buttons since I hadn't planned on making the blue crepe back satin version.  I was surprised to find that I had five perfect blue buttons in my button tin.  They've been sitting in my button stash since 1988 when I bought them in the Fabricland that used to reside in the basement of the Hudson's Bay Co.  for a dress/suit/whatever it was supposed to be that never got made.  Lucky me!  They match so well, don't you think?

And purely for your entertainment, my MIL now thinks I'm absolutely stark raving mad.  Of course she may be right in that assessment...  I'm  pretty sure that she feels strongly that I am the one on the verge of dementia and needing help, certainly not her given the evidence at hand.  On Thursday last week when I took my photos it was about -12C. Colder when I took the blouse ones - I had to come in and have a good strong hot cup of tea to thaw out before running outside to take the skirt ones.  Although the sunshine was glorious, it was a brisk one in any case and I kept sinking into almost knee deep snow.  For the rest of the day she would shake her head an say things like, "Running around outside without any clothes on" and "lucky if you don't catch your death of a cold".  When she relayed my morning's antics to her homecare worker later that afternoon it sounded as though I had been cavorting about my yard, naked, in the dead of winter.  I assure you all, I don't cavort naked in the yard in any season, despite what it may sound like if you should happen to be talking to Nan...  Poor woman.  Hopefully her faith in my sanity is restored soon.

Anyways, on that note, I do highly recommend both the Zamora Blouse and Seville Skirt!  You can find them both on the Itch to Stitch website.   The best part is, if you hurry, you can snag quite a deal! Until March 13th, you can use the code 4releases to get 20% off your entire order!  It counts, not just for the four brand new patterns, but for any pattern.  I may have to take the opportunity to stock up on the few I don't have yet myself.  You can check out all the details by clicking through here.  Happy sewing everyone!