Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2009 New Year Wishes

With good wishes and thoughts for the New Year, the Holidays and the years to come.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Delicious Chocolate wafers with tex mex

These sweets are not only irresistible with a wonderful balance of a thin wafer of chocolate topped with "healthy candies" but are fun to make, pretty to the eyes and a pleasure to gift. This is a family favorite recipe. For success -- use the finest chocolate you can find, and top with colorful and the most delicious and fresh dried fruits and nuts you have available. Go exotic, traditional or luxurious -- whatever your style and your region.
--a package of the best (and your favorite) chocolate (I used dark and milk chocolate)
--a bowl full of nuts (I used walnuts, sliced almonds and a few cashews), dried fruit (I used slices of crystallized ginger, raisins and some coconut chips --but this is all flexible, it depends on your taste, if I had marron glacé I would have used it with walnuts)

Baking sheets or trays lined with foil.

Step by step:

-Mix all your nuts and fruits in a bowl.

-Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a bowl. This is what I learned from a Callebaut chocolate chef - make short, 30 second to 1 minute cooks in the micro, and stir in between to melt the chocolate evenly, until it's rich and creamy.

-Drop a small teaspoon of chocolate on the foil.

-Press a small spoonful of the nut mixture firmly into the chocolate. You will have a thin layer of chocolate as the base, with the top covered in the nut mixture.

-Repeat until the whole tray is filled with your chocolate wafers.
-Then place the trays in the refrigerator for about a half hour until the chocolate is firm.

-When it's firm, peel the chocolate off the wax paper.
Well, I'm going to soon be returning to fashion and diy projects, but this little interlude into foods was good for the soul and irresistible.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Marron glacé jam spread on homemade bread

Somehow there doesn't seem to be anything as luxurious right now as homemade bread. The time, craft and smells are delicious and I make it unique by adding dried cranberries and walnuts or peppered olives and sun dried tomatoes, it's salty or sweet, using whatever I have on hand that is colorful and inviting. The sweet one we spread with jams from Neuhaus, which are ultra rich, just like their pralines, with concentrated fruit combinations, we love the apples and cinnamon or raspberries - unlike anything else, it's not like candy, but also not like jams as we know them, something else ... or we spread on a friend's mother-in-law's homemade jams that we are privy to, from northern Italy, which are ultra fine, but uncommon combos like marron glacé with pecans. Otherwise I saute fragrant mushrooms, add a sprint of creme, wine, garlic and parsley to pile on top the farmer's bread. Everything simple but heavenly and I hope it inspires you.
(...and I just finally added -December 23rd- the photo below of the mix I added into the above baked bread - cranberries, walnuts and orange zest.)

Chocolate sandwiched between farmer's bread

When I find wonderful loaves of farmer's bread at the market, I love to cut them into thick slices and eat with a rich, black chunk of chocolate...or for kids, I toast the bread and insert thin slices of chocolate. The perfect chocolate treat.

...and these stuffed dough meals didn't last a day with their nutty, spicy fulfilling flavor.

Honey Nut cookie recipe - Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

Food is actually an integral part of fashion, so finally I succumb, and post a favorite cookie recipe. These cookies represent for me the feelings of the end of the year and the beginning of 2009. They have a splendidly homemade and earthy taste, take minimum time to make and stand out from all the chocolates and fluffy deserts that seem passe this year. The recipe in from one of my Gourmet cookbooks, but I found a link online --"Gourmet". It's no fail fun and there's plenty of room to improvise with what you have in your cupboards.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Knit hats with leftover yarns

I knitted up a bunch of hats to gift friends and family, in combinations of my leftover yarns -- angora, mohair, cotton, worsted wool, silk, nubs, everything soft, cuddly and appealing, pastels, brights, heathers, etc., … a textured smorgasbord of fun. The pattern is variations of the "Honey Bear Hat" by Laurie Kimmelstiel in "Exquisite Little Knits". Laurie has continually inspired me with her joy over gorgeous yarns, patterns and hand crafted needles --- and hats, just to watch as she knits a hat is gorgeous!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recycling to make "new" clothing for kids

Proof that with a pile of nothing, cast-off fur, sweaters, lace and net, everything gathered in this case from the "Les Petits Riens" ...but it could have just as easily fallen out of the closet -- a wonderful designer has created whimsical fantasy outfits that capture a child's delight! A strong push to recycle imaginatively.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A crazy mix of fashion for the December screensaver

December feels vibrant, courageous and whimsical. It's about borrowed jeans worn with fantasy shoes and brightly dyed hair -an Indian inspired fresco backdrop - expressing the eastern worlds enriching a western individuality. The Parisian dragonfly pins, and favorite men's hats and caps, seem to play into the right looks for the festivities as we enter with great hope the end of 2008 and into 2009.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dragonfly and diamonds in Paris

Translucent, glowing, fragile, mesmerizing, overtly precious, imaginative and simply beautiful!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jewerly as pens ... or notebooks

I fell upon a a chest of my brother's "bridge" and "dance card" pens last summer. They are like jewelry, and, especially the pens for the ladies's dance cards, to record who was promised which dance, had to be super chic and charming, to hang around the neck, the wrist, off a bag, or the dance card ... they are colorful, whimsical and lovely to hold. And I remembered these photos when I saw the tongue and check versions of notebooks as necklaces on Junk Jewelry...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rhinestone bows and plaid choker DIY

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Old worn denim can easily be recycled as the base for all kinds of fashion accessories. The softly frayed edges and sturdy structure of the cloth make it easy to use and hip when you combine it with contrasting textures, like in the photos on this post - the rhinestones buckles on the bows and the plaid trim on the choker. Just search through your button and fabric scrap piles for your favorite trims, and have fun making these projects - all the How-Tos are on:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Little Dorrit

BBC is showing a most sumptuous Charles Dickens's series - "Little Dorrit". The costumes, the settings, every detail in the hair and accessories (we're on a fashion blog so I will not start on the superb acting), all of it delightfully inspiring. It is worth staying in to catch the episodes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Edwardian Frock - diy from denim

One just needs to imagine, wish for it and then get to work. Turn your recycle bin and trim boxes upside down to find just the right mix and with with some sewing fun you can transform an old denim cast-off into a hip, eclectic look. I had an old denim coat. The simplest most basic one imaginable, that was too tight, I couldn't even button it closed. So I cut off the sleeves, and made some simple alterations with only scissors, so it would fit snug but fit, like cutting off the sleeves, and then I adorned it with all my favorites -- purple and burgundy velvets, gold braid, lime cotton (looks incredible on the burgundy) hand embroidery, frayed denim edges and delicious buttons and appliques. It is now a sought after pièce de résistance, to wear out tonight, layered over other royal threads and big, confident, decorative shoes and stockings.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My blog's almost one year old

... January 2009 will be one year, but the mood to celebrate is already in the air - and a new masthead was in order - it's a collection of fashion thoughts, impressions, sketches and inspirations of colors, textures and moods.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's all about Michelle O

Fashion is going to get a big lift from MO. Who can resist her feminine fashion play of dresses, oversized accessories and color - it's all so contagious in a big way. Watch her pop the status quo in the USA!

A little Mom and Pop sewing shop

Found these buckles from a little mom and pop "sewing and notions" shop. They cross many decades and are sincere in their design, and, though in a different hemisphere, are not less intriguing than these jewels I spotted from the window of a Paris antique shop.

Black and white on white

I love these lush white wool flannel 60s pants sunk into hollywood art deco furntiure.

Black, red, white and silver. The classic color palette is the most appealing, it's fresh, bold and beautiful - from the retro-window display to the romantically designed, here are some more images along the ModoBruxelles fashion walk.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sweet Pea toddler's denim jacket

This baby or toddler jacket, in soft blue denim with pretty pink velvet and crème lace accents is made from a pair of cast-offs jeans. Worn denim has a wonderful soft hand-feel and texture that can be re-made into “new” clothes for toddlers, giving the clothes a romantic, charming and very hip look for very little time and a tiny budget. I made this as a baby gift and it was inspired by photographs of antique doll’s clothing and my interest to re-cycle and make by hand. I really enjoyed making it!

The pattern is a size 92cm, and is sewn with ½” seam allowances.

A pair of cast-off jeans – adult size
4 1/2 yards x 1 3/8” crème cotton lace
1 1/2 yards x ½” wide pink crushed velvet ribbon
Thread to match the denim, the lace and also a shade deeper than the denim (I used black thread but ochre is another option)
The front, back and front side panel pattern pieces
Your sewing machine and sewing basket

Cut the denim:
Wash your jeans. Cut the jean legs off and cut them open along the inseam. Press them open and lay them flat on the table. Lay your pattern pieces on them to decide the best placements (the straight grain is usually down the center of the jeans.) When you are happy with the placement, pin and cut out your pieces.
--Note: I cut the right side pieces from one leg and the left side pieces from the other leg, and in this way I balanced the worn denim texture.
Soak the denim pieces and tumble dry to get the softly frayed edges. Press.
Sew the jacket:Sew the front side panel to the front piece.
Ease the side panel excess into two tucks. Sew dart.
Sew the center back seams.
Press all seams.
Sew the overarm seam and press.
Sew the underarm seam, clip and press.

Sew on lace:Cut off a 12” strip of lace and reserve for the back bow detail.
Starting at the bottom sideseam, pin the lace all around the outer edge of the jacket with ¼” tucks about ¾”.
--Note: Narrow the amount the lace extends beyond the denim edge to ½” around the neck to the waist point.
Baste in place, remove pins and sew with a zigzag stitch, ¼” from the denim edge with the denim thread in the needle and the crème thread in the bobbin. Repeat around the cuffs. Remove basting.
Finish with a row of hand running stitches, using the contrasting thread, ½” from the denim edge.

Sew on the Ribbon:Cut two strips of velvet, 12” long. Attach each strip, with a ½” fold back, to one end of the front darts. Sew securely with hand stitches using the crème thread. Cut the loose velvet ends on a diagonal.
Make a back velvet bow, with a 2 ½” spread. Tack at the center back waist with a 12” strip of lace folded in half, underneath. Cut velvet and lace ends on a diagonal.
Finishing:Trim any really gangly denim thread ends. Knot securely all threads.
The jacket is adorable layered over a pretty dress, or knit t-shirt and leggings with pretty boots.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More button and plastic glamour

I fell in love with this corsage, the interesting colors, simplicity of the plastic, the over sized proportions and the desire to make one myself ... once I find an appropriate plastic material - maybe re-cycle a shopping bag... . Anyway, it was the inspiration for my November calendar sketch, the artificial beauty of plastic flowers and deco-colors contrasting the natural, worn denim blues.

And I loved the big black buttons on this black beret - they're shiny and bold against the classic felted cap - creating stylish proportions that make black fresh and fun.

Structured knits at Modo Bruxelles 08

I love the modern strong quality of these knits discovered along the modo bruxelles '08 route. I don't know the designer's name, so if anyone does, I would love to post it, so please pass it along.

... and another, fabulous knit designer (again - want to give credits), with this endless length of meaningful black and white. It makes you want to get out your needles.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November screensaver

November is the last of the fall leaves and time to wear hats, capes and gloves, to layer it on and fend off any cold breezes. I have sketched the Russian Cloak, gauntlets and velvet paneled jeans from my book of recycled denim overlayed with a collage of different photos from travels -- hand painted frescoes, plastic brooches and crystals that were inserted between old lace ribbons -- that I played with in Photoshop to make this month's calendar.

Pom P'on

The shops on and around the hip area of rue Antoine Dansaert in Brussels were turned into a showcase for fresh and emerging designers last weekend, with clothing stores to galleries, filling their windows with ideas to sell or just to inspire. There were lots of witty ideas, like the girl above, making pom-poms while dressed in a knitted pom-poms dress by Laura Van Neygen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More exquisite and colorful button style...

Further on the button mania of my recent postings -- I'm crazy for these necklaces I found today in a shop window. They had several, each unique, a delightful play on pattern and shape.
I am off to make my own version!

More button jewerly

At my Seattle event, a fellow craft-nik shared with me some of the pieces from her exquisite button collection, including the above photo of a button bracelet - where she linked them together with a crème cotton crocheted stitch. She is a button collector, following in her grandmother's footsteps, and among the charming pieces kept in felt-lined compartmentalized boxes, my favorite was a hand embroidered covered button that her grandmother had made, with a 3" wide diameter, ... wouldn't it be lovely as the closure on a velvet clutch...!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

DIY button cuffs and my button passion

I simply am crazy about buttons, always have been. They are my faux jewels, my carefree, downtown chic accessory. I pile them on - they are never garish or boring - but soaked in nostalgia, history and imagination. Each button has its own story, where I found it, or who gave it to me, or what I cut it off and I’m always on the hunt. I first laid eyes on Schiaparelli’s legendary insect buttons as a student at the costume archives at the Met and FIT, where they were generously brought out for us to examine, and which are paradise to button lovers, but never to be seen except in museums. But I have always adored buttons (and also buckles, zips, and other hardware) since childhood rummaging through my mom’s collection of mix matched, lost and found, to ones I found as a student, designer or a notions lover, in shops, like Tender Buttons in NYC, La Droguerie in Paris, or any other number of miscellaneous notion shops I where ever I find myself. I store them in big plastic boxes (so I can see what I have and keep them dust free) by color and type, and then put my- favorites of the moment- in cigar boxes, valentine’s chocolate boxes, wicker containers, cookie tins which are as whimsical and diverse as the buttons.
With little monies and little time you can create decorative, interesting style and have quite a lot of fun. I made a pair of denim based cuffs loaded with buttons and am wearing them all the time, dressed up and down. They look terrific because they are a PAIR, and the colors and textures are so swimmy. Here is the DIY DNA.

2 strips of denim 8”x 3” or to fit smoothly around your wrist with a 1” overlap
2 pieces of lining fabric, 1” longer and 1”wider than your denim strips (I used navy pinstriped silk)
2 pieces of iron-on interfacing same size as the lining
4 x ½” diameter snaps
Assorted buttons
2 x 2 ¾”x2” buckles
Thread to match denim
Straight pins, sewing needle, scissors

Prepare the denim:
Machine wash, dry and press the denim (so you have frayed edges)

Attach the buttons and buckles:
Slip one buckle through each strip of denim.
Lay the denim strip on the table. Place a large button on top of the buckle and then scatter and play with your other buttons until you have a color/texture/size balance that you love.
Stitch on the buttons, using a long continuous double thread and knot securely after each button.
Construct the cuff:
Press the interfacing to the back side of the lining.
Fold the edge of the lining back ½” all around and pin it to the denim with back sides facing.
Baste, remove pins and hand stitch all around the edge. Remove basting.
Catch the buckle through the denim and lining, and stitch it firmly in place.
Fold cuff around your wrist and mark overlap.
Sew two snaps securely at each overlap.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cosy embroidered vests

Traveling in central Romania I discovered wonderfully colorful ways to bundle up as winter descends upon us. They make these snugly fitted vests out of shearling with elaborate embroideries or from down with inventivly trimmed patterns - all with a fresh naivity, creating a warm and cosy protection from the darkest cold winter days.The patterns don't stop with the vests, they are as cheery and delightful on the ceramics, building facades, and even the bathhouses...

I ended up with a pile of inspiration! The people were warm and friendly and I look forward to a return visit.