Very often, people look at my outfits and say something along the lines of “I could never pull that off,” which is usually followed up by a quick, “but you definitely do.” Truth is, pulling something off is 95% about just wearing it. The other 5% is in enjoying the fact that you’re wearing it, embracing the bemused, surprised, admiring, or even bewildered looks that you may get. One of my most recent projects, velveteen patchwork pants, are good practice for this:
It’s probably worth noting that I’m fairly tall (5′ 11″) and long-legged, so these equally long pants stand out quite a bit, even more so than my usual colorful attire. But—and I know I say this about nearly everything I make but that’s the beauty of the homemade—I love them. They’re perfect for the holiday season, and wonderfully warm. This is the third pair of pants that I’ve made using very rudimentary self-made patterns (that consisted of one shape cut four ways) that looks roughly like this:
I realize it’s not a very sophisticated approach, but it works. One of these days, when I have more time to spare, I’ll probably try to figure out some slightly more subtle shaping—at the same time, I rather enjoy this straightforward approach. As if these weren’t eye-catching enough, I wound up with quite a bit of leftover fabric (discount fabric stores are deadly; I buy yards and yards when it only costs $1.99 a yard to begin with) so I decided to make a matching hat:
You should never be too cool or grown up to wear a Santa hat around the holidays, but naturally I couldn’t let mine be just any run-of-the-mill red-and-white version. I wouldn’t normally get too matchy and wear both the pants and hat at the same time, but sometimes the Christmas spirit is strong, and when you’re spending time with friends and family who know you well and love you unconditionally, why not?!? So yes, I wore them both together this past Sunday when Kyle and I went to pick out our Christmas tree at Wilson’s Farm and I think I was mistaken as a Christmas elf by one or two little children.
It also snowed this weekend, and it probably goes without saying that there are few things I love waking up to more on a December morning than a beautiful layer of the white stuff outside my window. There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is that a chilly, snow-covered day is the perfect excuse to stay inside and sew (not that I need excuses), which I did quite a bit of this past weekend as well. I was in the middle for something small but different, a new technique that would expand my sewing repertoire. Fortunately, I work for a quilting magazine (Quilting Arts Magazine, in case you’re a bit behind) and the newest publication to come out of our office, International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene, is loaded with contemporary sewing techniques (I realize this is a bit of a shameless plug, but really, check out this magazine—I promise you won’t be disappointed!) One of them is a “Mini Hexagon Quilt,” by Malka Dubrawsky.
Remember that lovely antique beauty I bought at in Concord Center last year?
Well it planted the yearning to do some hexagon piecing of my own long ago, but I hadn’t found an appealing approach until I read (well, edited) Dubrawsky’s article which describes a machine piecing technique. Anyway, I made a mini hexagon quilt of my own:
It’s roughtly 12 by 18 inches. Most of my quilts thus far are large, functional bed quilts, so I was surprised and delighted by how much I loved doing this. Completing a quilt top in an afternoon? Fabulous. And I have more free wall space than bed/sofa space these days anyway. I can’t wait to quilt it, bind it, and hang it up.
This week’s nine-patch? Snow-inspired, but of course:
I’ve also come up with a quick-and-easy holiday fool that I thought I’d share. To me, white chocolate and cranberry is a distinctly Christmas flavor combination. It’s also delicious: super-sweet white chocolate and bitter cranberries balance each other out nicely. A mild whipped cream backdrop is just right.
White Chocolate and Cranberry Fool
1/4 cup milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups cranberries
16 oz. whipping cream
Warm the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the white chocolate and stir until melted. Add the cranberries and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook until the cranberries have softened, about 5-8 minutes, stirring continuously. Immediately remove from heat and let cool completely but not too far past this point or the mixture will begin to firm up a bit. About one hour should do the trick.
Whip the cream (using a KitchenAid unless you are very patient/strong-armed) until it is thick and holds its shape as the whisk passes through. Fold the cranberry and white-chocolate mixture into the whipped cream and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or longer; I find overnight is best) before serving.
Truth be told, I most often eat my fool out of oversized mugs, but for a slightly classier affair, serving it in cocktail glasses is far more elegant.