Monday, April 14, 2014

Asian Coleslaw Salad: A Plant-based Winner!

Quote du Jour
     Fat has a dulling effect on taste.
          ~ Cook's Illustrated Magazine, March and April 2013 issue, page 30

Oh yum, I got home first!
Colorful Asian Coleslaw is loaded with flavor!
I beat my husband home from a morning meeting, which means I had first dibs on last night's leftover Asian Coleslaw Salad. It's so good!


An Evolving Recipe
Beginning as Chinese Chicken Salad, my coleslaw recipe has undergone many iterations over the years. In 2009, when we converted to plant-based eating, I eliminated chicken as an ingredient. Deleting the chicken actually improved the salad, somehow, the taste was "cleaner." I renamed the salad Chinese Coleslaw. 

Because any fat I eat these days I end up wearing...
I decided to try make this salad without the vegetable oil in the dressing. Afterall, the salad oil could always be added back.

...why use oil if it doesn't add flavor?
It tastes terrific! Without vegetable oil, the bright flavors of ginger, soy sauce, pineapple and orange sing! I keep going back to today's Quote du Jour. It's true, fat blurs flavor.

Some of the fresh ingredients for
Asian Coleslaw Salad
This is the best version yet of Chinese Chicken Salad, Chinese Coleslaw, Asian Coleslaw Salad!

But first
What an odd name, Coleslaw
From Wikipedia: Coleslaw is a salad consisting primarily of shredded raw cabbage....The term "coleslaw" arose in the 18th century as an Anglicisation of the Dutch term "koolsla", a shortening of "koolsalade", which means "cabbage salad."

Recipe notes: A terrific salad for a picnic or potluck, and a cool salad for hot summer days, the flavor and textures improve while sitting, so make ahead. And maybe double the recipe for leftovers!

I like a chunky salad, but the look
of this salad can differ when the
ingredients are finely chopped.
Asian Coleslaw Salad

Main dish servings: 6
Preheat oven to 325*


Dressing 
    1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
    1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
    optional, 1/4 cup vegetable oil


Add all the above ingredients into a jar and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Give a good shake, then set aside.

Crunchies
    2 pkgs Top Ramen, any flavor (toss seasoning packets)
While still in the package, I hammer with a
meat tenderizer to break up the noodles.
     1/4 cup chopped almonds
    3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Break up ramen noodles while still in the package. Place dry noodles on a cookie sheet. Add chopped almonds and sesame seeds. Put sheet in the oven and toast to a light brown, 10-20 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so. Remove from oven and cool.




Toast the ramen noodles, almonds
and sesame seeds to a golden brown.
Veggies   
   1/2 head green cabbage, chopped 
   1/2 head purple cabbage, chopped 
   1 bunch parsley, chopped
   4 green onions, chopped



Fruit          
     Your choice, fresh or canned:
         3 oranges, skinned and cut into chunks, 
            or 2 11-oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
         1 small pineapple, cut into chunks, 
            or 1 20-oz can pineapple chunks, drained


Add the cabbage, dressing, toss then serve!
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, parsley, onions and fruit. Add the cooled toasted crunchies, toss with the dressing and serve. 

The salad only gets better as it sits. Any leftover salad makes a great lunch for the next day...if it lasts that long!


No cartwheels till I'm done!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Having a Fit with a San Francisco Master Tailor

Quote du Jour
     He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his
     head is a craftsmen. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is
     an artist. ~
St. Francis of Assisi

Signatures of a master tailor: careful edge
stitching and slightly elastic hand-threaded
loops to guide bra straps, Every stitch has a
purpose, each one carefully done.

Return to an old hobby
After 20+ years, I'm sewing again, inspired by the wonderful wedding dress experience with my daughter! Here's the story.

We started in the wrong direction...
One year before her wedding, my daughter found "the dress" at a bridal store in another city. Measurements taken, the dress was ordered. 

..said eeks to a dress...
Six months later when it arrived, it was too short. Somehow, my daughter's 5' 11" height wasn't included in the measurements. The skirt didn't even touch the floor. We are so grateful that store refunded our money. However, by this time, the dress was no longer in production.

Phoning around, my daughter found that a San Francisco store, Novella Bridal, had a floor model sample that was very similar to her original choice. Provided it was long enough, and if the dress could be altered to fit my daughter's frame, she'd have a dress. Novella put the dress on hold.


...then navigated to a happy place
My daughter's wedding dress journey now took a happy turn into a world of very special clothing and highly skilled sewing. 

At the heart of the dress experience...
Carol Chu, who would manage the alterations of the dress, was a breath of fresh air. Easy to work with and highly skilled, we felt so lucky. Through the fitting process, I enjoyed seeing how the alterations were done, and learned a lot from Carol, she knows her craft!

...a Master Tailor
Fact-checking for this blog, I find that Carol Chu has been named one of San Francisco's best tailors for 2013. Read the article, 12 Master Tailors to Trust in San Francisco at this link, Alter Egos-12 Master Tailors to Trust. 
My daughter with Carol Chu, head of
alterations at Novella Bridal, in
San Francisco


Carol Chu, head of alterations at Novella Bridal, received training in fine sewing and tailoring as a young woman. Her specialty is becoming rare as mass produced clothing and stretch fabrics have become the global norm. 

What fun to join my daughter at her fitting appointments. Novella Bridal's location, next to San Francisco's Financial District, made it convenient to schedule appointments before work. 

We'd arrive just as Carol was unlocking the door to start her day. 
Part of the beauty of the dress is how the
lace at the hem seems to float on the floor.



Hem and ahah!
Four sizes too large, but it was long...with an inch to spare! Can you imagine how this dress would look...if it was too short?

Beyond Fit: Shaping
Taking a close look at both the design and my daughter's shape, Carol explained that it's important to understand what the designer wants to convey in a design. The design must be shaped to the wearer's body. 

Beyond Seams
To achieve the designer's vision, adjustments may be needed at various places around the body, not just at the side seams. Carol brought my daughter's dress to life.

The Construction
Deceptively simple, the dress is the sum total of many parts:
  • Multiple layers of fabric, this dress has 6...you can't alter only one layer
  • Each layer is a slightly different shade of ivory
  • Some layers have a slight pattern
  • Lace is intentionally placed to create a design throughout the garment
  • A wearer's favorite undergarments are incorporated for shape, comfort and ease in wearing - nothing stiff 
Design Changes
Changes made to the neckline, front and back, were re-edged with the lace.

A red tailor's chalk line marks the changes to to be made to create a
sweetheart neckline. Notice the hanging lace, which will be reattached.
Pieces of lace are strategically placed throughout the dress, and 

edging the neckline and hem, creating a special design.

  The back of the bodice will change to a V-shape.
In stitches...
Though not on a diet, my daughter kept losing weight. Carol advised her to get a bacon cheeseburger...which she did!


My daughter's smile says it all. Finally the dress! 
Her dad takes this photo while Carol determines
where the train will connect to the dress for 
dancing!
I can't remember how many fittings there were, maybe 4-6, each one with a purpose, and very enjoyable. Novella's bright, large and well organized work space for the sewing staff is an inviting place. I bet they have to wash their hands a lot...working with all shades of white.

...till finally...
Slowly, as the fit was perfected, the dress seemed to recede, and  the person wearing the dress came into focus. Clear as mud? The dress was not wearing my daughter, it was my daughter who was framed by the dress.

...it's "the dress!"
Carol's careful work produced a dream of a dress that fit perfectly, was comfortable to wear, and moved effortlessly with my daughter's body - almost like a 2nd skin - throughout her whole wedding day.  

I am so appreciative of people who take pride in their skills and their work. The alterations experience with Carol Chu was special and will forever be part of our happy wedding memories.


From the ceremony, to dancing, to hands up, the dress fit so well, that 
it moved like a 2nd skin throughout the whole event.


Creative Finishing touches...
As the mother of the bride, the whole alterations process was unexpectedly magical and inspiring. After 20+ years, I've taken up sewing again!

I'd never have imagined that my daughter's wedding dress experience would bring me back to a former hobby. 

And it's a whole new world! All the new stuff...sergers, stretch fabrics, gorgeous tone on tone cottons...YouTube tutorials...sewing blogs...I digress...


It fit so well, I bet the bride could have
cart-wheeled down the aisle!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tamale Time

Info du Jour
  In the pre-Columbian era, the Aztecs ate tamales with these ingredients: turkey,

  flamingo, frog..., pocket gopher, rabbit, turkey eggs, bees, honey, fruits, maize 
  flour, squash and beans, as well as with no filling. Aztec tamales differed from 
  modern tamales by not having added fat.From Wikipedia

Not your Aztec's Tamales!
I've come up with a tasty tamale recipe that uses no frogs, flamingos or gophers and no lard! Cashew Cream provides a creaminess to the tamale dough. 

Gee Whiz 
This tamale recipe uses corn 3 ways: the husk, ground dried corn, and frozen (or fresh) corn kernels. Together, they bring a depth of flavor, texture, and even provide packaging!

Recipe Notes: To be pliable, the corn husks must soak in water for a few minutes. Start them soaking first, then prepare the dough and filling. Soak 2-3 extra husks to tear into strips to tie the ends of each tamale.

I particularly like the taste and texture of stone-ground cornmeal, the same grind used for polenta. This grind retains some of the hull, the germ, more texture and more of the corn flavor. For this reason,
I used 2 cups of medium stone-ground cornmeal and 2 cups of masa harina - masa harina is made from corn soaked in lime, dried, and then ground.

In place of lard, this recipe uses 1/2 cup of cashew cream. My standard recipe for Cashew Cream is on my October 12, 2013 blog, click this link:

Taste Each Time: Taste and season the tamale dough, then taste, season and adjust the heat in the tamale filling. Each element should taste great before assembling. This makes sure that the final tamales taste awesome.


Plant-based and Terrific
   Corn husks, soaking in tap water and 
   weighed down with a measuring cup.
Tamales

Makes 12

These freeze really well

Tamale Wrappers: Corn Husks

    13-15 dried corn husks


In a large bowl, submerge the dried corn husks in enough water to cover. Add a weight to keep the corn husks covered in the water. I used a glass measuring cup.

Cashew Cream replaces lard. Piggy, taking a 
personal interest, is happy to help with this step!
Tamale Dough

    4 cups water
    2 teaspoons salt

    2 cups masa harina
    2 cups stone ground cornmeal
    1 teaspoon baking powder

    ½ cup cashew cream


In a 2 quart sauce pan, bring the water and salt to a boil.

In a separate bowl, combine the masa harina, cornmeal and baking powder.

When the water has come to a boil, turn off the heat, remove from the burner and place on a heat resistant surface. Briskly stir the dry ingredients into the hot water. The dough will thicken, resembling play dough!



Roll the dough into 12 ping-pong size balls.
Piggy's around somewhere...
Mix in the cashew cream until combined. Let cool while the filling is being made. When cool, roll the dough into 12 Ping-Pong sized balls (this helps make sure each tamales has the same amount of dough). Set aside.

Bean, Corn and Pepper Filling

    1 small onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 red pepper, diced
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder

    a pinch of dried chili flakes

    1 15-oz. can black beans
    1 15-oz. fat-free refried beans
    1 4-oz can green chilies, diced
    1 cup frozen corn kernels (or fresh, when in season)
    2 green onions, chopped

    Salt to taste

Sweat the diced onion in a few tablespoons of water in a sauté pan over medium high heat. As needed, add more water to prevent sticking and scorching.

When the onions are transparent, add the minced garlic, then the diced red pepper. When the red pepper has softened, add the cumin, chili powder and chili flakes, and remove from heat.



    In a small amount of water, sweat onions till transparent. Then add garlic, 
     red pepper and seasonings. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the beans,
     corn diced green chilies, sweated veggies and the green onions.
In a large bowl, combine the black beans, refried beans, diced green chilies, frozen corn and chopped green onion. Add the onion/garlic/pepper mixture and mix. Taste and correct the seasoning. (This filling is good on its own!)

Heat adjustment

Should you crave heat, add some chopped jalapeño or other source of heat 
to taste, to the bean filling. I prefer to have people add their choice of heat at the table, via Cholula, Sriracha, Widow Maker, whatever. To my tender tongue, too much heat masks flavor. But that’s just me…certainly not my kids!
Wrapping up

Place a large towel on the counter, then spread 12 of the soaked corn husks on the towel. 

Pat the corn husks with a dry towel to remove any excess water. 

Place one masa ball in the center of each corn husk.


Spread on the dough…
Here’s a method that makes spreading out the masa dough on the corn husk much easier,

Sandwich the masa dough with a 2nd corn husk... 
Place a 2nd corn husk over the masa ball, then, with a rolling pin, spread out the dough to the edges of the husk, leaving about 1 ½ inch of space at the top and bottom. 


Remove the 2nd corn husk.



Spoon on the filling…
Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the filling down the center of the rolled masa dough.






Roll and tie
Bring the sides together, rolling the dough into the husk. Twist each end of the rolled corn husk.

Tear a fiber strip of corn husk, and use to tie each twisted end of the tamale. 


At this point, you can refrigerate the tamales until an hour before serving, or wrap each tamale in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 weeks. (Allow extra time to steam frozen tamales.)



Tamales ready to steam
Steam…
Place a steam rack in a large pan. Add a few inches of water, not quite touching the steam rack. Bring the water to a boil. Place the 12 tamales on the rack over the steaming hot water. 


Cover and steam for 30+ minutes, adding more water as needed to maintain the steam. 

The tamales are done when they are hot and soft to the touch.

...and Serve

Serve with your favorite salsa and a southwestern salad of cabbage, grated carrots and green peppers tossed with your favorite vinaigrette.


Sabroso!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Denim: A Totally Plant-based Fabric

Quote du Jour
     One of the most fulfilling things for me is starting a pair of jeans and seeing it all
     the way to the end. There's a sense of completion, a sense of satisfaction. I am 
     trained as a tailor, every little stitch counts. The inside is as beautiful as the 
     outside. The entire process is intricate. ~ Ryan Grant-Hays, Levi's Master Tailor
This logo indicates
a non-food blog.


VeggieBound Mission: To reduce waste, use biodegradable products, and find creative ways to reuse and upcycle what we already have. 


Update
Denim Pocket Rug
In researching ideas for the denim pocket layout, I continue to be amazed and very grateful for all the wonderful information people and organizations share on the internet. 


Today's Blog: An Armchair e-Tour
Jeans: Totally Plant-based!
From cotton fibers to indigo dye, denim jeans got their start as heavy duty work pants during California's Gold Rush, are now worn around the world, and have risen to haute couture status.

Several great blogs and videos provide excellent information from the making of indigo dye, to sanding jeans to achieve a worn look, to hearing from a Levi's master tailor speak of his pride in a job well done.

Urine, a Myth 
I remember giggling with friends when, in 5th grade, we heard that urine is used in the indigo dying process. 

Urine has not been used in this process since 1897! Chemists determined what it was in urine that helped the extraction process from the leaves of the Indigofera tinctoria plant.

Chunks of Indigo dye, from the blog

Alchemy in Design
Read One: Click this link to Alchemy in Design to read about:

How indigo dye is extracted from the plant

A $40 billion Global Market
Video One: In the USA alone, 450 million pairs of jeans are sold annually. This 10-minute video takes you through the harvesting of cotton to the sanding of distressed jeans, in a factory in Mexico:



Every little stitch counts...
Video Two: Satisfaction and Pride in a job well done. I love this video:


Read Two: More about Tailoring...Masters of the Cloth, a brief article from Conde Nast Traveler:





A Fine Finish
A Rembrandt Masterpiece, Masters of Cloth
Even when I saw this at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I didn't realize these men were fabric brokers...too bad they had hadn't discovered the comfort of denim...then maybe they wouldn't have dressed like pilgrims. 

Oh my goodness...how would history be rewritten if the pilgrims wore Levi's! 

Actually, don't you feel lucky to live in the age of washable fabrics? Can you imagine?...let's not go there. 



That's all folks!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tamales Part One: Not Tah-Mail, it's Tah-Molly!

Quote du Jour
      Do you want to make a tamale with peanut butter and jelly? Go ahead! 

      Somebody will eat it.  ~ Bobby Flay

Be honest, now...
How did you first pronounce Tamale? 
I remember one of my children sounding out the word Tamale. Using the "it's a long vowel when followed by one consonant then an 'e' " rule...well, tamale became tay-mail. To this day I think of that pronunciation when I see the word Tamale.

My first batch were 
Not so hot Tamales
My first batch of 20 tamales turned out pretty well, but were much too mild for the likes of my husband. Next time I need to amp up the chili flavors and the heat.

Since I'd never made Tamales before, I did some internet research, looked at Wikipedia, watched several YouTube tutorials, which were mostly in Spanish, and scanned countless traditional recipes. Links to these sources are below.


My first batch of Tamales tasted too bland, but they were fun to make. 
They look somewhat Asian!
Lots of parts, but
Simple to make
Truthfully, they're pretty simple. What takes time is making animal-based fillings the traditional way, if using (and I am not) (you guessed that, I bet) then stuffing and tying the cornhusks. 

Working with cornhusks surprisingly enjoyable - something about the tying and making it look neat, gives a certain satisfaction of a job well done.

As I was tying the cornhusks, it occurred to me how many other cuisines cook items the same way: stuffed grape leaves, en papillote (parchment paper), or banana leaves, etc.

Tamales: A Mesoamerican Food
Wikipedia provides the history of tamales which can be traced back 8,000 years. Tamales were a "portable food" made with a cornflour dough - masa - filled with meat or vegetables which have been cooked in a flavored sauce, wrapped in a corn husk, then steamed until firm. 

The original Tamales had no added fat (lard)
The Aztecs did not add any fat (lard or shortening) as is done today. 

Looking through several YouTube Tamale making videos, I'm surprised at how often a cup+ of melted lard is poured into a perfectly delicious pot of beans. Why? I don't think it's needed at all!

A delightful true oral-history-type story
Feed
To feed their hogs, the young men of a very enterprising and hard-working family would get up at 4 am every morning, and head into the closest big city to pick up food waste from several big restaurants.

The food waste was separated into 3 groups, and fed to the hogs according to their age/need

  1. Vegetables: piglets
  2. American food (burgers, etc.): growth
  3. Mexican food: fatten up
Which came first, the lard or the hog?
I hadn't thought of Mexican food as "fattening up" food, until seeing lard poured into pots of beans, etc., in the YouTube videos.

Win-win
Hogware
Any knives, forks and spoons found in the food waste was returned to the restaurants. Many a fine restaurant meal was enjoyed by the family as gifts from thankful restaurant owners...who didn't have to keep replacing table ware that was accidentally tossed out.

Here are a Couple of YouTube Tutorials
The little girl narrating this video is adorable: How to Make Tamales

A Unesco 10:00 video,  Traditional Cuisine of Mexico will teach you more than a few things about the peoples of Mexico, definitely worth watching.

Coming Soon
Plant-based Tamales Recipe
I think I'll try the peanut-butter and jelly tamale, thank you!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

This little piggy...

Quote du Jour
         As children, we all live in a world of imagination, of fantasy, and for some 

         of us that world of make-believe continues into adulthood.
                                                                                             ~ Jim Henson
My Three Little Pigs
One thing leads to another! When I put together a family cookbook - with recipes revised to be plant-based - my husband encouraged me to take a course in Adobe Illustrator. That led to learning PhotoShop, which led to learning all the ins and outs of setting up a book for print, in this case, putting my own cookbook into Adobe InDesign. I wanted to be proud of the final look of the cookbook.

Hog Wild
Having this opportunity gave permission for my imagination to go crazy!  Themes, titles, language, colors, fonts, tables, graphics - and somewhere along the way, without a thought, my three, now adult-children turned into the 3 little pigs. 

My 3 little pigs, who brought such love into our lives, along
with imagination, fantasy, make believe...may it never end!

The Heart of Life
There is something special about stepping away from our crazy paced adult lives and entering into a child's world. Somehow, children bring into focus on what really is most important in life. It's a joy, a privilege, to experience the magical world of young children. 

Young children work very hard at playing. Well, it may look like play, but it's creative play that will someday transform them into capable, resourceful adults who will work hard to make their world of tomorrow a better place. Give children plenty of time to play. They, you, and our world, will be happier for it.

From the time I kissed my first son's toes, and played "this little piggy went to market," I've never let go of the pleasure of being in that special world of young children.

Too Soon, Little Pigs Grow Up...
Good thing there are still some young folks in the extended family. I had fun with my nephew's toes!

and Marry...Yay!
But, unlike my own children, I will ask permission of my son and daughters-in-law first, before transforming them. 

And now we have a grandchild - a piglet...with a kewpie...oh my goodness. If I was a pig, I'd squeel!


      Clockwise, beginning at 12 o'clock, Happy Piggy,    
        Chop Piggy, Hog Wash, Market Piggy, Saute Piggy,  
       and save money in a bank, not in a piggy's back!        

      
Gettin' serious
Cholesterol has a Face
To illustrate that cholesterol is only in animal-products - and animals have faces - after brainstorming common sayings, pig-out jumped out at me. I came up with a ridiculously simple piggy face graphic, then piggy took on a life from there.


This awesome ornament was under the 
Christmas tree! I can't come up with the
words to say how much I love this gift!






A Miracle
Piggy Morphs into 3
Piggy started to act in ways that resemble each of my 3 children. It soon became apparent that I really had three pigs, one for each of my children, 2 boys and one girl. Thus, you have the story of my own Three Little Pigs.

Now, a DIY Project
I Googled Pig-Out to see what other images are on the internet and found a clever pattern for a knitted dishcloth. This pattern, by Elaine Fitzpatrick shows imagination and skill. Here's a link to her blog, where I found this pattern, Pig-Out!:

It's nice to keep my hands busy when watching TV (otherwise I'll be looking around for toes to decorate) in this case, I knit this Pig-Out! dishcloth while watching the Sochi Olympics.

Don't look too closely
My knitting is obviously not perfect
Hmmmm, it looked square until I took this photo. Anyway, how 'bout you just focus on the really cute pig. (Knit with 100% cotton Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn)

                Isn't this a cute pattern? Loaded with personality, it's 
                by Elaine Fitzpatrick.   

Thank you, Elaine Fitzpatrick, for sharing this terrific pattern!


This little piggy...cartwheels all the way home!
     (My daughter cartwheeled nearly everywhere        
                when she was 8 or so years old)                                    

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Threads: From Wedding Dress to Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Quote du Jour
    Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, 
    in the streets, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what's happening.
                                                                                            ~ Coco Channel
What a special joy to re-design such a dress!
From wedding gown to rehearsal dinner dress

Raising our daughters to know who they are and what makes them happy whole people, to be positive, contributing members of their generation...it only makes sense that they get to choose their own wedding dress, duh!

So, how cool is it, that some daughters are interested in using elements of their own mother's wedding dress for their rehearsal dinner dress. Threads of tradition, honor, love...it's all there...along with some happy discoveries!

The story of UpCycling my own wedding dress into my daughter's rehearsal dinner dress is shared in my blog, titled:
Upcycling at its Best: A Story of a Special Dress

A Dress Tells Its Story
My daughter's dear friend is getting married! She's given me the pleasure of remaking her mother's wedding dress - her mother is my friend, too - into her rehearsal dinner dress.

Coco Channel was right

The style reflects what was happening...
I love the design of this dress. It has a gossamer lightness and happiness to it. Perfect for exchanging solemn vows, it has a joy that makes me think the bride, and her groom, must have twirled around in it more than a few times! 


It was a time of granny-gowns, of the Free Speech Movement and Vietnam protests, when we dreamed of saying our vows while barefoot in a meadow blooming with wildflowers... This dress - beautifully - brings to my mind the best of its day. 

Basic description 
lined, floor length dress, with close-fitting bodice, raised waist, flared skirt and back zipper, long sleeves and trimmed with lace, there are only 2 darts; a clue of the designer's excellent skills.
       This lovely wedding gown tells a story, its narrative 
       revealed through its design and skillful construction.

The sun lights up the design
Preparing to photograph the dress - a visual tool to help me with re-positioning the lace and to match sewing techniques - we hung it in a doorway to take advantage of natural light from a window behind it. Then, pop! The subtle design became apparent.

Note the beautiful placement of the lace, especially the way the lace winds around the sleeves. 

Princess lines...
Generally, a dress with princess lines is closely fitted with parallel seams that run from the bust down the length of the dress, to the hem.

...but not a traditional princess!
In the photo to the left, notice how the princess lines begin as vertical placement of lace on the darts of the bodice, then turn into pleats where the bodice meets the skirt. The pleats then continue the princess lines, that gradually blur into the skirt, down to the hem. The skirt is nearly a full circle...with only one seam, centered on the back.

This gown was designed by someone who knew how to use non-traditional techniques to create a princess style, then fit, and finally skilfully construct a dress.

The Story is in the Seams
It isn't until close examination, that the dress provides a snapshot of the way clothes were constructed when the dress was made and worn 40+ years ago.

Unions: Turning the dress inside out, reveals a label we'd find in most ready to wear clothes...well 4 decades ago. I haven't seen an ILGWU label - International Ladies Garment Workers Union - in ages.

#1 Economics, patriotism, vanity, construction skill: it's in the seams!

Size: Look at the size label. It's a misses size 15/16...well 40 years ago it was a 15/16. Today it's probably a size 4 or 6.

Mind you, the dress still measures the same. Clever manufacturers, creating a term "Vanity Sizing," lowered the size designation, that is, gave the size a smaller number, to help us feel that we're skinnier than we we really know we are...

I've always heard that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. Well, today, she may have been a size 4!


Zipper Placement: Not centered in the seam, that is, the fabric on the label side of the zipper is 1/2 inch wider than the seam allowance on the right. This probably means nothing to most folks, but it jumps out at me. This is how I learned to install a zipper. But gradually, over the years, this changed. Zippers are now centered in the seam. And it's difficult to center one correctly, at least for moi.

Finishing Techniques: My needle graphic, in photo #1, points to how the seam was "finished," meaning the edge of the fabric was turned under, then machine-stitched to prevent unraveling. 

#2 The needle graphic points to a hand stitching 
technique that tacks, then secures the seam in      
place.
Hand Stitching: Though difficult to see in photo #2, my needle graphic points to a hand-stitching technique that tacks, then secures the armhole seam in place

Strap Holder: For the comfort of the wearer, a snap loop conceals bra straps. 

A dress beautifully...Unfinished!
This dress's story is not over. Now that its story has been read - and its wearer has raised a truly lovely daughter - it's ready for editing for its next chapter. This wedding gown is soon to be a rehearsal dinner dress!

Themes in the next chapter of this dress's story include using today's tech-tools used to bring this dress into 2014, stretching, resourcefulness, preserving the elements of the design while making sure that today's wearer feels comfortable and beautiful, including threads of love, happiness, blah blah blah...so, stay tuned! 



Don't worry about size. Go for fit!