from the jazz age to the space age

Category Archives: karl cousteau


Oh hey, I’ve finally decided to use my Cal Patch book for something other than slash and spread tutorials.

Those lovely marks on the wall are from where my husband used to store his bikes. We finally got a bike rack so I’m able to sit in front of the window!





Karl is busy making dinosaur sounds.









I really love the gathered shirt and cuffed pants look.


I don’t know why there’s a raglan pattern. She doesn’t cover that. The instructions for patterns are: knit shirt w/ set in sleeves, button up woven shirt w/ set in sleeves, a-line skirt, and pants. The dresses are extensions of your shirt patterns. And there’s some fun beginning pattern manipulation involving shifting seams, and adding fullness in creative ways. My two favorites are creating a shirt with a pin tucked placket and creating a knit blouse with a bib? and then gathers around it. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s the purple blouse above.


The other thing is, she doesn’t give any yardage information. Since you’re creating a block that’s unique to you, that information would be different to each person.


She has a single page on grading and goes over the basics. It very informative for people who don’t know why commercial patterns are restricted to certain sizes.

IMG_0214 I really love this book. I’ve had it since it came out. It introduced me to the correct way to add fullness to pattern pieces, as opposed to just adding fabric to the sides (whoops!). It also has a great introduction to drafting knit shirts. It’s not a sewing book- at all. It’s strictly very simple beginner pattern making. She doesn’t even really talk about bust darts. I’d almost recommend it for the insane amount of measurements she has you get in order to make a sloper. Anyway, the information is great and works, although I added bust darts. I also tackled skirts in a slightly different way. Instead of choosing patterns from my widest hip measurement, which is my low hip, I’ve started choosing the mid hip measurement and then widening 3 inches down where my saddlebags start. Otherwise I end up with an excessive amount of fabric in the upper and middle hip region. I’ve been working on a new set of slopers for my post baby body.  Even at nearly the same weight my body is shaped differently, which is kind of fun. But clothes definitely fit me differently. The good news is I can wear different styles than I used to and like the way I look in them. Hello shifts!

Yesterday I went to the Colette Patterns Fall 2012 Launch at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. My husband, son, and I started off next door at James and the Giant Cupcake. Yeah, delicious cupcakes and an awesome low key atmosphere. They even had a table with paper and markers for kids to sit at. Unfortunately I ended up with blue frosting on my pants. What can I say, you can’t take me anywhere. Seriously though, if you’re in the area, check them out.

After the cupcakes, I went next door to A Verb for Keeping Warm. Their shop is lovely. I really wanted to see examples of the Colette patterns made up and I wasn’t disappointed. They were even better in person than in the pictures, as well as a little less intimidating. To expand on that- I discovered that they would also look good on my tall, small breasted pear shape and aren’t just for busty women.
It was interesting to see the fabrics chosen for varous designs. Quite a few were cotton/batiste/voile as opposed to a rayon or challis or other typical dress or blouse fabrics. I LOVE working with cottons so that was a big plus. The patterns have amazing details. Very vintage-y without being costume-y, which is important to me. I love vintage designs, but some clothing from the 40s or 50s, if done accurately, tends to make the wearer look upholstered and honestly, matronly. Beware, it’s a small step from Joan Holloway structured brilliance to looking like my Grandma’s ottoman. The Colette patterns sidestep this problem nicely by having small details like notched sleeve bands, tucks, small gathers, and clever, unobtrusive pockets without being fussy or overly cutesy. Quite a few would look perfectly at home on the set of Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” I fell in love with many patterns. There may be some Colette fan art from yours truly in the near future.
Despite my crippling shyness I did manage to meet Sarai & Kenn & have her sign my copy of the Colette Sewing Handbook. They were both polite and neither mentioned the blue frosting on my pants. I also ended up buying the “Anise” coat pattern. I was on the fence bc it doesn’t have bust darts and thought it would flatten me out more than I am. But, after looking at the samples I decided to take a chance. Worst case scenario- I add bust darts to the muslin.

I have something to admit: I am only a recent fan. Colette patterns are drafted for a c-cup {most patterns are drafted for a B} and I was reluctant to add another pattern alteration to the legion I already have. They also have their own sizing- I’ve written before about my loathing of vanity sizing as well as using random numbers to describe a size. My dead hobby horse is that sizing should just be measurements. Oh look, a 34″ bust, this is the one I buy. BOOM- problem solved. It is a little weird that on Colette sizing i’m a 2/4 when in tradtional sewing sizes, and my vintage clothes, I’m a 12/14. I buy a 6 or 8 in most stores (hello vanity sizing). It may seem obvious, but definitely double check your measurements for their size.

The Colette Sewing Handbook is the best modern sewing book for beginner/intermediate seamstresses I’ve read. Even better than my beloved Burdastyle {book, not magazine. The magazines are a totally different beast and are not for beginners} and Built by Wendy. The Colette book takes you through five projects of increasing difficulty. Everything is laid out in an easy to understand way and there are profuse photographs of everything. After reading through the whole thing, I started the “Licorice” dress at the end {I’m already an intermediate seamstress} and shortened it into a blouse. It’s almost finished despite me and my son Karl battling this ridiculous 2 week cold. The pattern was wonderful. First of all, the size 34″ bust fits my shoulders and arm scythe perfectly. I had to do a front & back gaping neck adjustment, move the bust darts down an inch, lengthen the sleeves & torso… and that was it. {That may seam like a lot to you, but trust me, I’ve had patterns where nothing fit correctly.} I only sewed the bust darts and omitted the waist darts bc I wanted it a little blousen. I think bc of this I didn’t have to do a small bust adjustment, which was a nice surprise. I’ll post photos when i’ve finished.

My sweet Karl at the beach.

Perusing my Colette Sewing Book {now signed!}

The Anise Coat pattern

The little book of instructions inside the pattern

a place for your notes

my son celebrated his 2nd birthday january 5th. we threw him a super birthday party. i made felt masks and sewed elastic to them. i also made karl a yellow cape for derring do!
the day before i made an yellow cake from an amazing recipe i found {see below}. it recommended using shortening in the place of butter and an extra yolk to keep the cake moist. i half and halved the shortening with butter bc i wanted a little more buttery taste.
the frosting was an orange buttercream that i’d made before by winging it. again, it uses half shortening and half butter for perfect whippyness!
the silver cat took pictures
super karl is on the scene!
waiting for the heroes
wonder woman, grey owl, orange owl, red phoenix~ older children’s masks younger children’s masks
crimson star, twilite cat, solar flare, grey hawk, green lightning, blue devil

sugar cookies and caramel cookies {recipes below}

yellow cake with orange buttercream frosting {recipes below}

ok, so this picture took a while to take. i usually take the photos so my husband isn’t familiar with our camera 😉 do you see my smile? my smile asks, “diiiiiiid yoooooouuuu taaaaake it yeeeeeeet?”

green wolf is on the prowl {for snacks}
mr. and mrs. owl, twilite cat, and the red phoenix. unfortunately i didn’t get any clear pictures of wonder woman 😦 and after this i put the camera down to socialize.
singing happy birthday to our wonderful little man!

good-bye til next year~ same cat time- same cat channel!

caramel cookies*
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c packed dk brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

preheat oven 400* F
with mixer, cream butter, sugar, egg, vanilla together. add remaining ing and beat thoroughly. Scrape dowl from bowl on plastic wrap. roll into log abt 2 1/2″ wide and chill in fridge an hour {i put mine in the freezer for 20 mins, then transfer to the fridge.} cut dough 1/8″ thick and arrange on ungreased cookie sheet. bake 8-10 mins. cool cookies on sheet 1 min then transfer to wire rack to cook completely.
*my mother in law got this recipe from weight watchers.

yellow cake
i used this recipe:
it was fantastic, except i used 5 egg yolks instead of 4. I beat the heck out of the mix while it was sugar, shortening, and egg yolks and then barely mixed it once the flour was in.
orange buttercream frosting
1/2 c butter softened
1/2 c shortening
4 c powdered sugar
2 tbspn milk
3 tbspn fresh squeezed orange juice {from an orange}
cream butter and shortening until super creamy. sift in powdered sugar slowly. cream well to prevent lumps. add milk and orange juice. continue to mix for at least 3 minutes until creamy. really, really creamy.
the biggest mistake you can make with homemade frosting and yellow cake is to skimp on mixing. baking from scratch is different from getting something out of a box. but when done correctly the texture and flavor of your cake and frosting will have a depth missing from commercial mixes. good luck!

halloween was wonderful this year. karl loves to wear dish towels as capes so we figured he’d get a kick out of being superman. while matching halloween costumes are not in our future, the all black garb of the evil kryptonians was an easy one for us.

daddy, karl, and mommy as general zod, superman, and ursa.

kablam! superman vanquishes general zod!

when he was just a little boy, my husband’s family hosted an exchange student from japan. she became close friends with them, especially his older sister and they’ve visited over the years.

recently, i had the good fortune to meet her for the first time. she was very lovely and kind.

she brought karl a pair of pajamas! she says the pattern is called “daruma” and means good fortune or victory.

{karl also received a xylophone from nicaragua, but i’ll tell you about that soon!}

i ordered hot cross buns from “all of the above bakery” in temecula. they’re a gluten free bakery, among other things, & they’re fantastic. check them out if you’re in the area!

where are my hot cross buns?

the fluorescent light in the previous pic was bothering me so i used a yellow gel. karl’s eyes are actually hazel. 
… but what do i do with it? 
getting ready to color eggs
needless to say, this didn’t last long. he grew tired of coloring eggs and decided to color his hands. 

renegade sf pretty cool. there were a lot of artists there & it was cool to see their prints in real life. i have some new ideas for packaging as well. it was incredibly hot so karl & I had to take frequent breaks outside. unfortunately, i was too shy to take any photos.  

some of the art/artists i saw~

this print was exquisite in real life

not only were her prints beautiful, her packaging was top notch!

& this guy’s art was really well done. i love sharks in suits. i wonder if he’s a lawyer?

karl outside the renegade craft fair

now i have to get back to work. i have 2 commissions from the band “novacriminal”. i have a mountain of past paintings to edit & put up as well. whew!