Monday, July 15, 2013


My man had to work all day Saturday, so my girl and I tried to keep ourselves occupied and out of trouble.

At the playground, she climbed.

While I stitched.

Back home for a hybrid pretend/real picnic.

Cafe visit.

A little more (rather frantic) stitching.

Wrapping up with Monday morning snuggles once again. Believe it or not, this photo is newsworthy. (That cat on the right, Daisy, haaaaates other cats.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dillpotatis (Swedish Potato Salad)

This is a dish that I first made for our Midsummer party, where it was very popular. My man asked me to make it again for the 4th of July, and when my brother-in-law arrived that day he said he was really excited to see it on the table again.

With that kind of endorsement I thought I shouldn't keep the recipe to myself.

The instructions below might seem overly specific, but I think it's helpful to toss the potatoes with the dressing while they are quite warm, to help the dressing soak in. Then, you want the potatoes to be cooler when you add the herbs, so that they stay nice and bright green rather than getting cooked just from the contact with the hot potatoes.

Dillpotatis: Swedish Potato Salad with Dill

Adapted from Scandinavian Cooking via

1 lb. new potatoes such as Yukon golds or banana fingerlings
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Fresh herbs: chives, parsley, dill

Wash the potatoes and cut them in quarters or, if they are very small, in half. Place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover, bring the water to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer until they are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly while you make the dressing: whisk the vinegar, salt, pepper, and oil together in a small bowl.

Place the potatoes in a serving bowl and pour the dressing over them. Toss gently so that all the potatoes are covered with the dressing.

Now set the potatoes aside to cool a little further and let the dressing soak in, while you chop the herbs. No need for exact measurements here, but I'd suggest about 2-3 Tbsp. finely sliced chives, 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley, and 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill.

Finally, fold the herbs into the salad. Chill for an hour or two and then serve.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Holiday weekending

No need to get too fancy, we're all family here.

Swedish potato salad, a new favorite. I'll get you the recipe later in the week.

Another (very carefully constructed) picnic.

Don't try to claim I'm not patriotic.

Backyard foliage.

Low tide.

Lakeshore idyll.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

OMG, shorts, you all!

Oh, don't mind me, I'm just hanging out here by my favorite geranium in my shorts. That I made.

My favorite photographer is not available tonight, so that's the best I could do for now in terms of modeling them. But I learned a ton from this project, and I'm pretty proud of some of the workmanship here, so indulge me a bit.

So this is the result of all my futzing with the Pleasant Pathways shorts pattern, made up in Field Study linen by Anna Maria Horner.

Muslin #2 revealed that I had gone a little overboard with the pattern alterations. So I added an inch back to the center front:

and I took 1/2 inch off at the hems (not pictured.)

Widening the legs took out the darts (not a problem for me, I haven't much of a booty), so I had to straighten out the back waistline.

OK, enough pattern alterations. Let's talk construction.

Have you seen my invisible zipper? (Ha!)

(I just bought an invisible zipper foot for my machine, and it is awesome.)

To finish the inside seams, I used the tutorials in this post by Made By Rae.

For the front and back seams, fold over seam allowances and topstitch:

For the inseams, flat-felled seams. Yeah, flat-felled seams. I went there!

On the outside:

For the side seams, I just fake overlock-stitched each fabric edge, then pressed to the back of the garment and topstitched. I couldn't figure out any other way to deal with the zipper:

Finally, I edgestitched along the top edge of the waist and the bottom edge of the leg openings, to keep the facings from showing on the outside:

And topstitched along the lower edge of the waist facing, to give the shorts a bit more  structure--a kind of a faux waistband:

Let us now begin the litany of things I will try to do differently/better next time:

First of all, the leg facings. I don't even know. I have a lot to learn about drafting facings, let's just leave it at that. (Attaching the waistband facings gave me some trouble too, but I think I mostly pulled it off.)

You can see in one of the pictures up at the top of the post that the waistband dips down at the center back. I'm not sure why that happened--maybe the grainline got messed up when I made the other alterations to the pattern?

Also, I feel like there's extra fabric at the inside of the legs. In retrospect, I think a better strategy for widening the leg openings might have been to just try to draw the outside edges of the legs straight down from the hips (you can see in the pics of the pattern pieces above that the outer edge of the leg curves inwards), rather than adding fulness in the middle of the leg by slashing the pattern piece.

All that said, I'm looking forward to wearing these tomorrow.

And I'm submitting this project to the "Shorts on the Line" contest, apparently just under the wire before the deadline. Mostly I am grateful to the bloggers behind Imagine Gnats and Small + Friendly for organizing this event, and motivating me to finish a project for myself!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Math, I can handle


--it's pants that are hard.

I've been working on making a pair of shorts for myself. I started out with the Pleasant Pathways shorts, a free pattern designed by Anna Maria Horner. The operative word here is "free"--I've been tempted by a couple of shorts patterns that have come out recently (the Iris shorts by Colette Patterns and the Maritime shorts by Grainline look especially nice), but didn't want to invest in a pattern that might be cut totally wrong for me. Like just about every other woman on the planet, I have a hard time finding ready-to-wear pants that fit right.

(In particular, I'm short, very short waisted, and prefer to wear pants pretty low on my waist--so I like pants with what others would consider a ridiculously low rise. Both the Iris and Maritime shorts are described as "mid-rise," which I read as code for "waistband will surely hit at my ribcage if not higher.")

But I figured, free pattern + thrift-store muslin fabric = let's give it a whirl.

The first muslin turned out...unfortunate, to say the least. That's a photo up above. I'll spare you (or rather, spare myself) posting a picture of me actually wearing them.

I think they fit, but they didn't fit at all like I wanted them to. I wanted the rise to be about three inches lower, the inseam about three inches longer, and the leg opening about three inches wider.

I could have predicted this--in fact, I did. Here's a pair of ready-to-wear shorts that fits me fairly well laid on top of the pattern. Pretty different, right?

I know what you're thinking: girl, you need a different pattern. (And yeah, you might be right. But again, I'm not confident that there is one, or that I could preemptively identify one, that would be just right out of the envelope.)

Or, you might be thinking: why not just go up a size or two? That would enable me to wear the shorts lower on the waist, which will also make the hems longer, and probably give wider leg openings too.

Well, true, but that would also give me slouchy shorts. I didn't want to sacrifice the otherwise good fit, I wanted to change the cut.

So--adventures in pattern alterations.

First, I lopped two inches off the back rise, and three inches off the center front rise tapering to two inches at the side seam. Yup, just lopped it straight off, based on this advice. The fact that these shorts don't have a separate waistband greatly simplifies things here.

Then, I lengthened the shorts according to this method. It's interesting to see that this also widens the legs a bit.

Step three, add width to the legs according to this tutorial from Threads magazine.

Checking my work: the side seams match up.

And the crotch curve is still true.

Oops, the inseams aren't quite right. (I fixed this by cutting off the excess of the longer piece, tapering out to nothing at the side seam since that was already the right length.)

Then I compared to the original pattern sheet again. You can see that what I've arrived at isn't just a larger size, it is indeed a different cut. Hopefully the right one.


Muslin #2 is on the docket for tomorrow, and if that turns out well I'll draft new waistband and leg facings according to this tutorial from The Coletterie.

What do you think? Anyone out there have experience with altering pants or shorts patterns? Any predictions about what I've done wrong or right? Suggestions of good how-to's for making pattern alterations?

(And yes, I guess this is an odd post for July 4, but let's just say that I'm celebrating my freedom to get in over my head with fabric.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Weekending breakfast: strawberry dumplings

While driving in the car one afternoon last week I heard a segment on All Things Considered in which a woman told the story of her family recipe for blueberry dumplings.

The story tugged at my heartstrings and the recipe sounded great too. I thought: I've got to make that, and it occurred to me that we had some not-so-great supermarket strawberries in the refrigerator that could probably benefit from the dumpling treatment.

So when my girl got up early (so early. too early) Sunday morning the two of us got busy.

This is probably the fastest I'll ever go from inspiration to action, so don't get used to it.

It's a great recipe for young sous chefs to help with. (Yes, that's a strawberry-stained "Eat More Kale" shirt, which is kind of cracking me up.)

Especially extremely detail-oriented young sous chefs. Lots of chopping!

Mix up a quick biscuit dough.

Bring the strawberries and a bit of sugar to a boil, and drop the dumplings on top.

Steam for a bit. The recipe really doesn't take any more time or effort than making a batch of pancakes.

And serve. Sure, it's supposed to be a dessert, but there's scarcely more than a quarter-cup of sugar in the entire recipe. (I've rarely met a dessert I didn't want to eat for breakfast anyway.) We did eat it with plain yogurt instead of the suggested heavy cream--you know, as a nod to good breakfast nutrition.


The original recipe is here. Changes I made:
*I used two 16-oz cartons of strawberries in place of the blueberries. In truth, I think the recipe could use an even higher proportion of fruit to dumplings.
*The recipe says steam for 12 minutes but it took more like 20 for my dumplings to cook.