Thursday, December 19, 2013



And now for something a little different! I've gone a little over the edge making macarons lately--not much of a surprise for anyone who knows me! A friend asked if I'd write a tutorial (saying I make things easy to understand, to which, yay!), so here it is.

First, the recipes I've been using. Please visit them for the amounts and good instructions--they taught me what I'm doing!

Salted Caramel Macarons at Cakecrumbs--This is the base recipe I've been using for all but my chocolate macarons. To change things, just add orange or lemon zest, a tablespoon of espresso powder, gingerbread style spices like these at Tartlette, whatever you can think of! I usually halve the salted caramel because I don't like a ton of filling.

Chocolate macarons at Chocoparis--My chocolate recipe! If you're afraid of overmixing your macarons, this is the one for you. The meringue is a very stiff one and takes more mixing than the above recipe.

Whatever base recipe you use, keep using it! Don't switch recipes when you want to try something different, just add whatever it is you want. If a recipe works for you, use it!

Below the jump, a fairly fully photographed macaron making session!

Monday, December 9, 2013

An 1880s Bustle Coat

In early November, my friend Sarah posted about a costumed tour of the Original Governor's Mansion in Montana, and who wants to come? Well, that would be me! Somehow, the stars aligned and it all worked out. And, since there would likely be snow, I, of course, needed a coat to wear with the bustle dress I was making for the event.

This ended up being a remarkably good decision, as one of the days I was in Montana, it was colder than it was in Antarctica. I don't own a coat in the real world, so ended up wearing this one all weekend! It's quite a toasty coat :)

I fell in love with this coat from the Met and used it as my inspiration.

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The coat is made of three layers--lightweight wool from Burnley and Trowbridge, cotton flannel from my local Hancock, and 10mm silk habotai from Dharma Trading.

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Construction is quite straightforward. I flatlined the wool with the cotton flannel, sewed it like any other bodice--right sides to right sides, sew the darts, set in the sleeves, and set in the collar (which is just a straight strip of fabric folded over with a little dart at the center back to give it a curve). Then I made an identical coat in the silk habotai (except without a collar), and put it in the coat, wrong side to wrong side.

I then folded the neck edge of the silk down and whipstitched it to the raw edge of the neckline/collar. Then I hemmed the sleeves by trimming the cotton flannel and folding the wool over the silk and cotton and used a tiny whipstitch that caught just the lining. The bottom hem came next--I hemmed the wool layer and silk layers separately. The wool is hemmed with a a bias facing sewn by machine and a herringbone stitch that just catches the cotton flannel so doesn't show through (like the sleeve, I trimmed the cotton flannel away at the hem fold). The lining is hemmed by machine. I then sewed a placket on. It's just a straight strip of fabric a few inches wide. I sewed it just to the wool, trimmed away excess lining, pressed it into place, and used whipstitches to hold it at the collar and hem, and herringbone down the middle. The coat then closes with hooks and eyes.

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And I of course needed a new muff! A very last minute project, I had been thinking of one, and then Jen Thompson made a faux fur muff which was just incredibly adorable making me want one even more, and Amazon Prime to the rescue, I made one the day before my trip. I used my 18c muff base and my tutorial to make the cover. Really. I used the tutorial. I forgot the easy way I handled the channels on it :)


As for the pattern, I used my standard bustle base pattern which is based on an original I made many years ago and can be seen on my website, here. All I did was add a little ease and lengthen and widen the pieces. Obviously this is shorter than the finished coat. I cut the lining first, continuing to extend the pieces, pinned it together, fixed the hem, and then cut the coat.

In the picture, my bodice pattern pieces are laid on top of the coat pattern pieces. As you can see, except for the center back piece at the waist, which I narrowed during fitting, each piece is just slightly larger than the bodice piece.


And the sleeve pattern. My lower sleeve pattern piece on my base pattern is slightly narrower than the upper sleeve, so I just made them the same width and shaped the bottom.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

About that one hour dress...

I still have plans to make the one hour dress, the fabric is ready and sitting on my shelf with the book, ready to go. However, I had a surprise event come up, and of course I needed a new dress, another new dress, and a coat for that. The 50s and bustle dresses are done, and I started the 1880s coat tonight. More on those soon!

Also, since every post needs a picture, I made macarons for the first time last Wednesday, and I may have a slight obsession-I've made nine batches in the past week and half (salted caramel, chocolate with salted caramel, coffee with salted caramel, orange zest with almond Swiss buttercream, vanilla bean with chocolate and chocolate/salted caramel, lemon zest with almond Swiss buttercream and raspberry jam, gingerbread with Swiss cream cheese buttercream, chocolate with white chocolate ganache and raspberry jam, and coffee with Swiss vanilla buttercream). So here are my coffee macarons with salted caramel filling. So good!


And for the sake of completeness, here are the recipes I used.

Salted Caramel Macarons at Cakecrumbs--I used this as the base for most of them, mixing in a tablespoon of espresso powder to the almonds and powdered sugar for the coffee, and lemon zest and orange zest for those. The only difference was I used the food processor to blend the almonds and powdered sugar and they take about 13 minutes to bake. This recipe includes the tip that I think made me successful--test a little batter on a plate and it should take about 15 seconds for it to smooth out.

Chocolate Macarons at . The only difference was I used two oven temperatures, as above. If it works, right?

Back to our regularly scheduled costumes soon!