You don’t have to live in a big city or go to a fancy fashion school to get top notch sewing instruction. Read my column about online sewing classes here.
Learn, Baby, Learn: The best of online sewing instruction December 4, 2009
Domestic Goddess – Old School October 12, 2009
By Julia Pantoga
You may harbor the fantasy that your domestic goddess spends her days cooking and reading cookbooks (I sometimes entertain that fantasy, too), but that is far from the case. Actually, I am in graduate school and I spend most of my time reading and writing. Truthfully, those of you with children or spouses at home probably spend more time cooking and planning meals than I do.
Anyhow, once every two weeks or so, about six of us students take a break from our studying and watch two episodes of “The French Chef” starring Julia Child, from the DVD set I was given for my birthday. This is high entertainment, especially for those of us who scrutinize cooking shows regularly and spend a fair amount of time in our own kitchens.
The first thing I noticed when we started watching is that the age spots on Julia Child’s hands are plainly visible. Does the Food Network use hand models or do all their actor-cooks have perfect hands? The next thing I noticed is how Julia Child dresses in the kitchen: she wears her glasses and an apron and tucks a towel into her apron ties. Hey, that’s how I look in the kitchen! I thought I was the only one who doesn’t wear fashionable clothes that flatter my figure and reveal cleavage when I bend down to taste the broth.
Speaking of tasting, we just about died laughing when Julia Child tasted her potato dish, then returned her tasting spoon to the drawer!
Not only does Julia Child wear a sensible apron in the kitchen, she wipes onion juice off the counter, splashes milk on the stovetop when she pours it and has to put a casserole on the dryer to cool because she has run out of counter space. Remember, this was the first cooking TV show, before the invention of such familiar TV tricks as turning the camera off for clean-ups, multiple takes and advance space planning.
The best cooking show on TV today (in my opinion) is America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). Although the chefs wear appropriate attire in the kitchen, even they edit out their mistakes. I once saw one of the ATK chefs live at a bookstore, where she was promoting a cookbook and she summed it up this way: “Of course we always cook 10 of the same things at once. Turkeys are cheap. Television crews are not.”
You wouldn’t watch “The French Chef” today to learn how to cook; it’s really dated. For example, no one, but the most skilled professional, would cut ten cups of onions by hand today. Most of us would drag our food processors out. The amount of butter and cream used is laughable to our cholesterol conscious eyes and Child talks at length about how to take care of a carbide steel knife, which I have never even seen. But these old shows are amusing and I can pick up tips from watching anyone in the kitchen. (Did you know you can poach eggs ahead of time and store them in water in the refrigerator for future use?) Most of all, it was terribly re-assuring for me to see that other people look a bit dorky in the kitchen and spill, drop and splatter things too.
Vintage restyling and recycling October 1, 2009
Canadian Flare September 20, 2009
Here’s one for you magazine junkies out there. I’m in Nova Scotia, Canada, this weekend and noticed Flare, a fashion magazine on the newsstand that appears to be solely Canadian. To me, it very exciting to find publications that aren’t just American spinoffs. Take a peek at Flare.
Sewing musts: How to cut out a pattern September 17, 2009
Find all sorts of great resources on how to cut out a pattern in the latest DIY Design column. Discover here.
No invites for Fashion Week? Try these … September 9, 2009
Just as we were dithering about what to do, Newsday.com comes up with solutions:
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week – that very exclusive, invitation-only (sorry, you’re soooo not invited) fashion takeover of New York City – kicks off Thursday morning. But, don’t feel left out, because Thursday evening it’s “Fashion’s Night Out,” an open-to-the-public fashion invasion of epic proportions. Starting around 6, with most participating stores open until 11 p.m., think celebrities, designer appearances (Oscar de la Renta sings at his Madison Avenue store), free stuff, lessons (cha-cha at Kate Spade?) and all-around wacky happenings (ping-pong with Stuart Weitzman). More than 700 retailers in the metro area are participating, along with events in other fashion capitals around the world. …
Barney’s Warehouse sale this weekend in NYC (through Sept. 7) September 5, 2009
Walk, don’t run to the Barney’s Warehouse sale at 17th btw Sixth and Seventh Avenues. You’ll find Valentino, Burberry, Armani, Givenchy and more at prices up to 75% off. Find it here!
- Survival tips:
- Bring only your purse and enter via the downstairs men’s department so that you can bypass the bag check line!
- Wear leggings and a close-fitting shirt so that you can try on in any aisle without stripping down (the dressing area is a tiny cramped vortex of naked women and flying couture—once you enter you may never get out.)
- Use the mirrors in the men’s department and pay down there, too. It’s cooler and more civilized. (No man would ever survive the pandemonium of the upstairs women’s department at the Warehouse Sale.)
Fix furniture nicks in a flash July 6, 2009
I’ve been moving a lot lately, as I transition from an apartment into a house, and the moving invariably involves a lot of stressing about furniture protection. It seems that no matter what you do, something always gets nicked, particularly nice wood pieces. I may be the last to know, but I recently discovered a cool repair trick. Guardsman makes a nick repair magic marker in all shades of brown, plus black and even white. It’s the coolest—you just color in the knick with a marker that matches your wood (test on a hidden area first.). Voila, stress gone and many dollars saved in refinishing costs. Buy Guardsman markers here ($5 for a multicolored 3-pack) or at Bed, Bath and Beyond stores.
Last week in my haute couture embellishments class we learned hand-smocking, and oddly, it’s a skill that I took to right away. It’s not the smocking is anything to mock—it’s just not something I considered myself to have an affinity for. But as my professor, Kenneth D. King, pointed out with great practicality, I can do it on the train. I’ve found a great link on smocking, but it includes a machine pleater.
If you prefer to pleat by hand, it’s easy. Mark a dotted grid on your fabric piece to be smocked, spacing dots 1/2 – 1 inch apart. Then sew a running stitch along each horizontal line in the grid, connecting the dots. Once you’ve stitched the parallel lines, pull the threads to gather the fabric into pleats. You can anchor 2-3 threads with a figure-8 shape around a pin. You’re ready to start smocking. Learn the technique here.
Passementeries June 10, 2009
Tonight in my embellishment class, we learned passementerie, and I thought I might try to find a nice passementerie video to post, but instead stumbled across Athena’s Parisian twin: an academic girl living in Paris thinking about style, interiors and culture. If that doesn’t just sum Athena up in a nutshell. And wouldn’t you know she named her blog Passementerie. Read more about this new fab Athena friend here.