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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Fresh Market

George applied for a position with "The Fresh Market". Apparently they have markets all over the country. I have never heard of them before. They were scheduled to hold interviews last Friday and they suggested that everyone visit their store in Hingham Massachusetts to get a feel for what the store is like.  So off we went on Thursday. I am not a good navigator. We got a little frustrated with each other navigating to this location, but we survived because our friendship has been a long one and a good one. I am so glad I brought my camera. While George was talking to employees I was running around and taking pictures.

 They have two hundred different cheeses. 

  I have not seen this beautiful a selection of meat since we lived in Upstate New York and had access to real butchers.

My sister Denise would just die for these breads.

There must have been at least, at least 50 different types of fresh baked breads.

By the time I got to the pastry department, I was approached by management. a very nice woman, who introduced herself and quietly asked me not to take pictures. I apologized and told her that I was just thrilled about this store. We came here to see the store as they were opening a location in Manchester NH at the end of June and George was going to be one of the applicants. We have nothing like this in our state. Nothing! We are so starved for this. In Oregon we had Zupan's, Whole Foods and New Season's and Trader Joe's. We do have a Trader Joe's in Massachusetts but it is nothing like this. It is going to be phenomenal. We have Hannaford's, Stop and Shop, the big stores. We began a 20 minute conversation about how beautiful this store is. While we were talking, this man comes out to join us. He must have been watching us on camera. She introduces us as the District Manager and he joins in.

Look at these pastries. Just to die for! I told her that there is this program that comes on the local TV station just after the news call NH Chronicle that highlights business in the state and that once the market opens, I was thinking of calling them and having them do a piece on this market. She told me that they are not doing a mass marketing and she would be interested in this. It would be a simple thing to set up, especially with my enthusiasm.  People will be coming from all over the state to shop there. Their offerings of wine, coffee and, you should see the selection of chocolate from all over the world! Oh my god!!


In the end, she said I could continue with my pictures because I was not a competitor. I reassured her she would not have any competition. No. The Fresh Market will have a breath all of its own. Not to worry. And even on my limited budget, I will spend my grocery money there. And it is going to be just down the street. So perfect.

I think I made their day. And, She gave me fresh pastry to bring home which I brought to my mother's house and we indulged in it on Sunday. A rich chocolate cake with a hint of cinnamon. I got sick because I have not been eating chocolate. But it was worth it. Yes indeed worth it.

It Had To Happen

Long ago I had a baby sister, Linda. Linda has been my baby sister all of her life. It is just how I think of her.

It is how I talk of her. My baby sister Linda this. My baby sister Linda that. So when does she stop being my baby sister?

I am frosting her cake and thinking - is this when I stop? When she turns 50? 

Yes, blow out those candles, but it changes nothing. 

Do what you have done for 50 years - lick the candles as you take them off the cake.

Isn't it a pretty cake for your 50th? A three-color cake.  I have never made one of these for anyone else. No one. Just for your, my baby sister.

We have even imported a violinist (Great-nephew) to play the song.

We almost forgot the special wardrobe. I don't think I got this for my fiftieth birthday.  Just you, my baby sister. 

Oh, and I can see you are wearing my scarf that I gave you for your birthday. 

Just for you, the baby of the family who gets everything. Mom and I were talking about when she "kicks the bucket" as she puts it. I was telling her that all I want are her two bird bed spreads. And she said that I can't have them because, and why am I not surprised? - They are yours!!!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brocade Jacket

 It all began with this jacket. I thought this project would be simple. There are only five pieces that go into this jacket. My sister had this beautiful China Brocade fabric that she thought would be wonderful made up into this piece. I have worked with brocade quite a bit in my history and so I was happy to take on the creation.

There are no buttons even. Just a small slit at the under sleeve.


The back of the jacket has a slit with a piece of fabric sewn in which gives it a wonderful fullness while never looking full. A hidden secret. The original fabric is very soft, a large weave and sits right on the body. So it fits quite differently from the finished brocade jacket. Brocade has a breath all of its own.

Making the pattern was a challenge. First challenge was that I am not able to find the right paper here. Working at Fabric Depot in Portland Oregon, I was terribly spoiled. They have this pattern paper that is actual paper with a grid. I can lay a garment component on the paper, pin it in place, and then, using a heavy pin upon which I have glued a pretty bead, indent pin marks all around that pattern component leaving marks in the paper. Then I connect the dots, create a seam allowance, and voila! ~ a pattern piece. Here, all I can get is this sheer polyester fiber paper that is sold by the yard that does not show the pin pricks nor does it show pencil marks very well. I am sure there are thousands of seamstresses out there who swear by this product, but it is hell for me. I suppose if I was able to disassemble the garment and lay each piece down and trace around it, it might be a good paper. But I never have that option. I have copied hundreds of garments for customers and I have never been able to take them apart in order to create patterns.

I finally broke down and ordered some of my favorite paper from the store. I wish I had it for this project. I think in storage here I have a huge roll of paper that I bought from UPS that weighs a ton and that is what I used to use before working for Fabric Depot. I will have to go to the space and see if it is still there.

It took quite some time to make the pattern. Then there was the seam allowances. The original jacket only had a 1/2 allowance, but of course, I like a little more room, so mine was 5/8th inches.
It took about four hours to get the pattern to fit each seam properly. It was a difficult armhole and side seam that was well designed but a challenge. Not ordinary.

If you have worked with the brocade fabric, you know that the width of the fabric is only 36 to 39 inches wide. And most of the weaves have a nap, meaning that it has an up and down. These fabrics are not printed. The designs are woven in. So the fabric has very loose threads that are exposed on the back that you have to really take care of when working with it.So every pattern piece has to be cut individually and takes up a lot more room than a fabric that folds in half and can be cut two sides at a time. This was a huge challenge.  I ran out of fabric. The front piece also included the front of the sleeve and the back of the collar.. This took up a lot of fabric. I had enough fabric also to cut the back piece which turned inward to create the back pleat, and the underarm pattern piece which had to be cut on the bias. But there was nothing left for the front facing which also included the collar, and the piece that finished the back pleat. I spent two weeks online looking for more of this fabric. Even my old supplier in California, Thai Silks,. that had everything I ever wanted when it came to silk, did not have this. I was shocked as they had at one time, every silk brocade ever produced. I was sure they would have this. But it has been ten years since I have done any business with them and, well, things change. At some point, I will have to invest in their complete sample package to see what they are carrying again. My god, I was sure they would have it. I sent out about ten scraps to different vendors in the hopes they would have this. All I needed was another yard. Nothing. I came up empty handed. 

One day, I went to JoAnn Fabrics on a whim. I was shocked to find they have a rather decent supply of brocades. They didn't have what I was working with, but they did have this golden brown that complimented the green. I called my sister and put to her that I thought it would look great in the facing and the pleat. So I bought a yard.

Finally, the fabric was cut and I began to work the garment.

Firstly, every time you handle it, it frays and you lose fabric. So I began wrapping the seams immediately. I had a silk cotton that I cut on the bias in one inch strips. It was a small piece and I cut the whole piece. It took about eight or nine yards  of this bias to wrap all the seams. I stitched it to every seam a little less than a quarter inch in. Then I wrapped it around and hand stitched it closed to bind the seam.

Everything was fitting rather well. I couldn't put in the pockets but my sister had told me from the very beginning that they were not necessary. I wrapped and wrapped. I kept running out of bias and the pieces got smaller and smaller. I used a tiny stitch to make the bias so the connections would disappear better. All the hems, the collar, the way the sleeve connected under the back of the arm, in the end, when pressed, it all looked pretty good.


I love this type of project. This is such a challenge. It take a lot of hours, but when the last stitch is tied off, and it goes on the mannequin, you just smile. It looks good. It just looks good.