Cloak Making: The Beginning

Standard

This weekend I decided to finally cut out the fabric for my cloak. It only took all of Saturday to get all of the pieces done – largely due to the fact that the only place large enough to accommodate the patterns pieces is my kitchen floor. Pro tip: the hard kitchen floor is not the ideal place to cut out fabric.

I started sewing the cloak on Sunday, and it was going very well. I was practically zipping through the sewing. Pressing the seams took a long time, but that was expected as the untrimmed length of the cloak is about five feet. So I was a bit disappointed when our block lost power for a large chunk of the day.

Boo! Our neighborhood seems to lose power a lot. Weekly, at least. I guess when the zombie apocalypse starts, we’ll have an edge on all those folks that live in neighborhoods with competent light companies. We’ll be prepared to deal.

Back on topic, my cloak remains in several pieces. Hopefully, I’ll have time to finish it this week. In the meantime, I have pictures of the cloaks and shirt I have finished for my spouse. (My cloak is going to be very similar to his.)

I made the cloak and shirt to give my husband another option for the Renn Faire.

I made the cloak and shirt to give my husband another option for the Renn Faire.

Wizard Robe

For many years, my spouse had been an orc or a gargoyle for Halloween. In our new neighborhood younger kids come by to trick-or-treat, so I made him a wizard robe. This way he doesn’t scare the little ones. Plus, it’s warm, which has been important. We’ve been here for four Halloweens so far, and it’s been snowing or raining on Halloween each year. Too bad, it took me four years to make him a new outfit.

Update on the Steampunk Corset Front

Standard

steampunkannaSo I said a few weeks ago that my daughter needed to wear her Steampunk Anna cosplay again on July 1, and I wanted to add a matching corset. I finished her corset in time, not the one I intended since no matter the size it just didn’t seem to fit. I didn’t have the time to make adjustments to the pattern to get the perfect fit, so I made a different one for her to wear. We still need to add some elements I think, and I want to make her a jacket before I call it done. I took a few pictures a few days before, so the ribbon is actually dark pink instead of the blue now. I’ll update when I have a chance, she wasn’t feeling well the day I took the pictures, so I cut the session short without the right ribbon and better staging.

The boring part of this post is that I am using my daughter’s computer until mine is fixed. I don’t want to clutter up her computer with software and documents or pictures that she doesn’t need. Plus, my camera and her computer did not initially like each other very much; I’ve made the settings on her computer very strict and that ended up being the problem with downloading photos from my camera card.

 

 

Let’s Eat: Naruto’s Ramen

Standard

NarutoRamenMany, many years ago, I was an original subscriber to the U.S. version Shonen Jump, and I met this little ninja that quickly became wildly popular in the states. I was happy to meet this scrappy little fellow, but my husband was blown over by everything about him. So much so when I started to learn to cook Japanese food, he begged for Naruto’s ramen. I learned to make Tokyo-style ramen, and this recipe is how I have refined it over the years to retain the flavor of the ramen, but save myself some hours in front of the stove. Fair warning, this is still a time-intensive process; I have simply reduced the number of steps and time spent directly in front of the stove.

Ingredients:

For 4 servings

Dried Ramen noodles: 2 bricks

Soup Stock:
Chicken or Vegetable Stock: 9 cups
Onion: 1 large quartered
Garlic Cloves: 4 peeled
Carrot: Large, roughly cut
Fresh Root Ginger: 3 inches quartered
Scallions: 4
Sake: .5 cup
Shoyu: 4 tbsp

“Cha-shu” (Sliced Pork)
Thin-sliced Pork: about 1.5 lbs
Vegetable Oil: 2 tbsp
Scallions or spring onions: 2 chopped
Fresh Root Ginger: 1 inch peeled and sliced
Sake: 1 tbsp
Shoyu: 3 tbsp
Caster Sugar: 1 tbsp

Toppings:
Hard Boiled Eggs: 2 sliced
Menma: Soaked for 30 minutes and drained
Nori: Sheet broken into peices
Scallion (spring or green onions): Sliced
Fish Cake
Shiitake Mushrooms*
Wakame: Re-hydrated and drained
Pepper
Chili or Sesame Oil
* Add or omit toppings as you see fit

Shiitake with Shoyu:
Shiitake: Dried whole or sliced, 20 whole or about 2 cups sliced
Vegetable Oil: 3 tbsp
Shoyu: 2 tbsp
Caster Sugar: 1.5 tbsp
Sesame Seed Oil: 1 tbsp

  1. Marinate the pork in pork ingredients for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 8 hours. Turn every couple of hours. If the pork marinade is thicker than desired add water 1-2 tablespoons at a time until consistency desired.

ramenbroth

2. Add stock to pot with onion, garlic cloves, carrot, ginger, scallions, and sake. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Continue to cook until broth is reduced by half. Skim off any scum while this cooks. This can take a couple of hours. Strain using a muslin (cheesecloth) or fine sieve into a bowl. This will take about an hour. Discard the leftover vegetables when finished and return 4 cups of the broth to a wok or pot. *You can use more, if you need more servings.

3. Bring soup stock back to a boil and add the shoyu. Add more shoyu if more seasoning is needed.

mushrooms4. Soak shiitake mushrooms over night; a plate will hold the mushrooms down if they continue to float to the top. Save 1/2 cup mushroom broth and drain away the rest. Discard any stalks from the mushrooms. Heat sesame seed oil and stir-fry the mushrooms over high heat for about five minutes. Stir continuously. Reduce heat to low and add mushroom broth, add shoyu and sugar. Cook until almost all of the moisture is gone. Remove from heat, let cool. If using whole mushrooms, slice before serving.

5. Hard boil eggs. Let cool slightly, then peel and slice. Salt eggs slightly and set aside.

pork6. To cook pork, place in shallow pan and cook for approximately 25 minutes at 350. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and thinly slice.

7. Cook ramen noodles according to package directions. If sticking is an issue, stirring constantly will eliminate this. Drain well.

ramen8. To serve, place approximately half a brick of ramen noodles in each bowl. Add 1 cup of the broth. Top with sliced pork, egg, and other toppings as desired.

Enjoy!

Nutrition facts follow, but keep in mind that these will vary based on toppings.

Nutrition Facts 

  4 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 548.1
  Total Fat 24.9 g
  Saturated Fat 9.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 4.8 g
  Cholesterol 320.2 mg
  Sodium 1,442.7 mg
  Potassium 631.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 29.0 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
  Sugars 8.2 g
  Protein 39.4 g

 

Review: Spoonflower Fabrics

Standard

spoonflowerfabrictestsSpoonflower provides a marketplace for emerging fabric designers to create textiles, decals, wallpaper, and wrapping paper. When a customer orders an item made from a specific pattern, the designer receives a small portion of the sale. Currently, Spoonflower offers 15 different fabrics and the aforementioned decals, wallpaper, and gift wrap. These items are only printed in the quantity requested when ordered, and the prices reflect this nature. I consider these fabrics premium due to the price. A yard of fabric can range in price from $17.50 for the basic combed cotton to $38 for silk crepe de chine. While the price can be prohibitive for many budgets, the range of fabric pattern options makes the site attractive.

For my test, I purchased a fat quarter of retropopsugar’s Skyrim design in basic combed cotton and a half yard of the Mass Effect icons made from Kona cotton. I, also, had a free sample of the faux suede in Paragon Polka.

Basic Combed Cotton: Cost: $17.50/yard; $10.50/fat quarter This fabric washes and presses easily. I didn’t lose any noticeable amounts of fabric in the wash. This fabric is very thin, but unlike other brands of combed cotton it still seemed to have some strength to it. The colors were a bit more muted than I expected, but overall still attractive. I made two items from my swatch. The first was a dice bag with external pocket. For the first work, I did interface the fabric to give it more strength. On the second item, a frame purse, I did not. While, the fabric is inclined to fray as soon as it is cut, it did adhere well (obviously as it is cotton) to interfacing eliminating that problem. I was, also, a bit concerned whether the pattern would be printed correctly on the grain. Happily, this was not an issue. However, due to the cost and flimsy nature of combed cotton, I will not be purchasing it again.

Kona Cotton: Cost: $18/yard; $11/fat quarter. If you’ve worked with Kona cotton before, then this fabric will offer no surprises. It washes and presses well and shrinkage was minimal. As with the combed cotton, I was worried about the pattern being printed on the grain line. My concerns were again unfounded. The colors of the print were vibrant and true. I made this fabric into a little zipper bag pairing it with the faux suede. It mixed well with the other fabric and sewed as one would expect a premium cotton to sew. The Kona is much better quality than the combed cotton, and due to this I would purchase this over the combed cotton every time. I will most likely be adding more of this to my fabric stores when I need something a bit more geek.

Faux Suede: Cost: $34/yard; $17.50/fat quarter.The directions said this fabric is washable, but I only steamed it due to time constraints. The fabric creases easily and definitely falls into the medium-weight category and is very soft. However, the pattern in this case printed slightly askew of the grain line. Correcting that did not make for happy fabric. Once cut slightly off-grain, the threads led quickly to fraying. While attractive, I am not sure I am happy with the price.I do own patterns that ask for a home dec weight fabric, and this would fit the bill, but I am just not sure I could part with the money for this particular fabric.

Spoonflower offers 12 other fabric choices and thousands of designs. I am fairly certain that whatever my geek and gamer heart desired I would be able to find. That alone makes this a great resource for geek crafts. I also like that I can order an 8×8 test swatch of any pattern and fabric offering for $5. I like the idea of not having to commit right away. I find their printing and shipping turn around to be very reasonable. For my original order of the Mass Effect icons and Skyrim fabric, I waited three weeks for printing, but received my fabric within 3 days of shipment. It took less time for the faux suede to print, probably because of the promotion, but due to my post office derping it took weeks for me to receive the fabric. That was definitely not a Spoonflower issue though. I think next time I order, I’ll try at least one other fabric type and more designers.

Sewing Machine Trade Cards

Gallery

Vintage sewing machine trade cards from the 19th century are something to enjoy. They had a practical purpose – a business card advertising a specific salesmen of a particular type of sewing machine. And they were pretty; sometimes depicting everything but what the card was meant to sell. They were traded much like we trade Magic: The Gathering cards or baseball cards. In many ways they are like the ACEOs that can be found on Etsy and other marketplaces. I rounded images of some of the ones I enjoy. If you want to learn more about them check out ISMACS International.

Despite my somewhat catty comments on these, I actually really love American art of this period. Some of these card are good examples of that. I just often wonder at the message that the advertisement company was trying to get across with some of these images.