Category Archives: Sewing Pattern

French Kiss Kiss – Sweetness Sundays

Standard
French Macarons Are A Sweet Trend, 4/6/2010. Photo Credit: Tony Bock/Toronto Star

In recent years, there is one sweet patisserie treat that is not only as beautiful to look at as it is to savor, and is also endlessly suitable to personalization. It synonymous with the luxurious life and real culinary credentials, simultaneously attaining an almost iconic image as well as a modern gustatory revolution. The French Macaron is just such a creation, with a deep rooted history, and a modern enthusiastic following at the same time. As early as 2010, they started popping up in my Toronto area bakeshops as something you could pick up on any given shop day. 

LOVE Ceramic Macaron Sachet – Fragrance Object by Hideminy, Etsy.

Valentine Jewelry Macaron Necklace by Miniature Patisserie, Etsy.

This is no easy feat, particularly for what is, when you come right down to it, a sandwich biscuit.  I somehow can’t imagine an Oreo cookie starting such a revolution on the European Continent as the Macaron has in the United States and Canada both, as of late.

Dreamy Macarons Facial Scrubs [2 Pack] by Mrs. Browns Bath Bakery, Etsy.

French Macaron Hand Soap [2 Pack] by JAKEALA, Etsy.

There is just something so fragile and special about a Macaron that cannot be mass produced. It is this fragility, the candy like colours, and the endless combinations that make up the lure of the Macaron. Movies like Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst have given a new spotlight to the over-the-top decadence and girly prettiness of this petite confection.

Blueberry Macarons [Box of 12, Custom Orders Welcome] by Madeline Bake Shop, Etsy.

Parisian Macaron Stand for French Macarons/Cupcakes/Wedding Cake – Peach Cake Stand 16″ by The Roche Studio, Etsy

 
If you look at a well made French Macaron, not to be confused with what North Americans call a Macaroon [a moist coconut based drop cookie], you will see the subtle beauty of the treat.  Put together from two smoothly topped baked round wafers, with a crumbled edge called the foot, these pieces share many of the characteristics of a meringue.  Powdered sugar, egg whites, and ground almonds make up the basic recipe, but endless flavor concentrates and colorings make them absolutely breathtaking to see.

French Macarons – Set Of Three [Felted Merino Wool] by woollyduck, Etsy.

DIY Felt French Macarons [Felt & Instructions For 18 Felt Cookies] by sweet emma jean, Etsy.

 
The exterior wafers of the Macaron have a natural opalescent shimmer over the surface, almost evoking images of fairy wings, and they are soft and moist and melt in the mouth in the most delicate of ways.  I rather predict that the cup-cake craze, while not over, will give way to the pleasures of the Macaron very soon. Similar to cupcakes, the filling, or ‘icing’ between the two wafers can take many forms.  It can be a delicious butter-cream, jam or preserves, or ganache filling.

French Macarons – Pastel Pink 10×10 Size [Home Decor] by Filamento TGS, Etsy.

French Macarons/Macaroons Fine Art Photograph 8×10 Size [Home Decor] by Keri Bevan Photography, Etsy.

While traditional flavors are vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry combinations, cutting edge pastry chefs are busy inventing brilliant alternative flavors from the familiarity of lemons to the sublime Matcha green tea flavorings. Whether flavoring the wafers or the filling, they are served in a sandwich mode, with two rounded smooth ‘caps’ with the foot facing the filling, and a thin but ample layer of filling piped or spread in between. 

Macaroon Cakes Upcycled Tea Towel Cushion/Pillow Cover by Emma Mount, Etsy.

French Macarons – Hemp And Organic Cotton Cushion 12×12 by Sarah Smile Design, Etsy.

The popularity of the French Macaron in North America is blossoming, and confectionery shops have windows full of towers of these jewel like biscuits and special long narrow boxes with ribbons, ready for Valentine’s day sales.  French Macaron are a much sexier and cleaner on the fingers ‘eat’ than an icing covered giant cupcake, with just 88 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 11 grams of carbohydrate for each delicate and sweet sandwich.  The average small specialty cupcake has 178 calories, 5.3 grams of fat, and a whopping 32.5 grams of carbohydrate in all that over-sweet sticky goodness.

Raspberry And Pistachio Ganache Macaron – Silver Plated Ring [Polymer Clay] by Pink Island, Etsy.

French Macaron Necklace With Eiffel Tower Charm by Plushable, Etsy.

 Macarons have reached epic popularity in France, being offered on the menu at McDonald’s restaurants in that country.  This new status of the french treat is making waves in the fashion world, as well as art, sculpture, and crafting.  Pastel colours are all over the runways, and the garments seem to look as delicious and light as the cookie itself.  There are heaps of photographs of French Macarons, in wild and enticing colours, as well as ‘fake’ props for your home, soaps, toys, and accessories.

Set of 2 Funny Macarons In A Pretty Box – Tea Party OOAK Art Doll Sculpt by Sandra ArteagaA, Etsy.

Sweet Treats Dessert Hand Embroidery Pattern [PDF] by Wild Olive, Etsy.

So much of what we eat, and crave, has to do with what it looks like.  Seeing the sheer volume of jewelry, trinkets, dollhouse sized treats, and non-edibles inspired by the lovely French Macaron, you can see that people have fallen in love with this iconic ‘cookie’, and though they may be a bit complicated for the baking novice to master, they are actually not impossible to make right at home. It takes a bit of practice with the piping bag to get the exterior meringues to shape up perfectly and match in size, but then you have the fun of eating all your ‘mistakes’, which may be the best part.

French Macaron Trinket Box – Mint Green/Pistachio Polymer Clay [Limoges Style] by The Mermaid Articles, Etsy.

Macaron Mercerie Sewing Accessories PDF Pattern [Pin Cushion, Needle Case, Scissors Fob] by Quilting Gems, Etsy.

So grab a great recipe for a French Macaron from a cookbook or the internet, flavor it any way you like, be it pomegranate and orange, or espresso and match tea, and whip up a batch of sweet French Kisses for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. Now if I can just sort out a vegan version of this amazing treat. That would be truly fabulous my darlings!

Vanilla Macaron Perfume AMUSE Perfume Oil [Spray or Roll On] by Theme Fragrance, Etsy.

French Macaron Water Transfer Nail Sticker Set by Js Utopia, Etsy.
Advertisements

Clowns Keeping Us In Stitches – Time Travel Thursdays

Standard
Fabulous Forties Costume Pattern – Clown Around Vintage -Style at Momma Black Sheep on Etsy.

My mother was always a crafty woman, where my dad had a ‘workshop’ in the basement, she had a ‘sewing room’. My dad’s workshop was filled with every imaginable tool, like most men he had multiples of many things that he forgot he already had, hitting Canadian Tire or Lansing Build All was a weekend staple destination for him back in the mid-1970s.  My father, no slouch in the fix-it department, actually build us a full ‘play house’ in the backyard of our North York, Ontario home. It was big enough to have the entire neighborhood’s children all inside it and still have room for a table and chairs.

McCall 2833, 1920s Girl’s Clown Suit Costume at Fripperie on Etsy.
Vintage Advance Clown Pattern 701 – Men’s and Women’s – Size Large 18-20 at Dream Weaver 1954 on Etsy.
Simplicity 4864 Clown Costume 1960s for Children Vintage Sewing Pattern at Mrs. Depew Vintage on Etsy.

My mother was someone who could sew, so it seemed absolutely natural to me that she would have a ‘sewing room’. I though every home had one, just like a kitchen or bathroom, little did I know.  My mother was famous for putting patches inside the knees of our worn-out play jeans, for shortening the cuffs on our hand-me-down pants, and for mending our cloth toys and blankets.  She also made costumes for us, for Halloween, for our endless themed birthday parties [there were four of us kids after all], and for our dance recitals.

Vintage 1950s Delightful Children ‘s Clown Costume Sewing Pattern – Hat, Neck Ruffle, Pom Poms – Size Medium RARE at Farfalla Design Studio on Etsy.
Kid’s Vintage Clown Costume Pattern Simplicity 6363 Size 12 at Kandiieee on Etsy.
Vintage Clown Costume 1976 Simplicity Sewing Pattern 9051 Medium at Claudette’s Vintage Vault on Etsy.

In the early 1980s, my mother actually stitched up a Care Bear costume for not only my little sister, but one of her dance class-mates. The were unbelievably detailed, and my mother still has the one she made for my sister. A full head-to-toe costume, the child’s face actually peeks out of the mouth of the Care Bear in question. A pastel mint faux-fur body suit with an emblem stitched on the white belly, and a giant ‘head’ that went over the child’s head, the scale was just as the stuffed dolls we had. Can you imagine an entire dance class of 12 six year-old girls trying to dance to “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” in that huge and likely over-heated costume. You have to love it.

Vintage 1984 Butterick Pattern 6814 Care Bears Costume Size 2-6x at Gran’s Treasures on Etsy.
McCall’s 1940s Clown or Jester Pattern at Retro Recycle on Etsy.
Vintage 1965 Simplicity Sewing Pattern – Clown Costume Boy’s Girl’s Size 4-6 at Oh Vintage Threads on Etsy.

My mom also made us costumes for Purim, the Jewish holiday where dress-up is part of the fun. This year it falls on Thursday, March 8th/2012, so there is still time to get your costumes ready. Clown costumes are one option for Purim, as are the characters from the story the holiday is based on, including a princess of course. One year my mother made clown costumes for each of us kids, I must have been around 9 or 10 years old at the time, because I know she made them for myself and my twin sister, my brother, who was likely 7, and my youngest sister who was maybe 5 in her kindergarten class.

Kids Clown Costume Butterick Sewing Pattern 3169 – Size 8 at Garden In The City on Etsy.
Costume Clown Simplicity 0664 Size BB 2-12 Children’s Sewing Pattern at NANCE’S NOSTALGIA on Etsy.
1972 McCall’s Sewing Pattern 3353 – Clown Costume Children’s Size 10-12 at Full Circle Studios on Etsy.

The costumes were amazing. She made these huge ruffled neck pieces that went with them, a startling white compared to the colorful two print combo of the suit, trimmed with a lovely bright rickrack.  We also had matching hats, yarn pom poms accents and all. Too adorable for words. My mother went on to make a couple for adults, and then for many friends of the family, they became famous. My mother somehow found time for this with four young children of grade-school age, going to a school with no busing, cooking every meal we ate, and being a full-time homemaker.

Vintage UNCUT Simplicity Sewing Pattern – Size Large 40-42 Adult’s Clown Costume and Hats – Dated 1980 at In Grandma’s Attic on Etsy.
Clown Costume Pattern Size Adult Medium – McCall’s 4944 – Circa 1990 at Miss32Act on Etsy.
McCall’s Crafts Boy and Girl Clown Costume Pattern 2623 UNCUT Size 2,4 at Lingonberries And Moss on Etsy.

People would call to ask to borrow them for all sorts of events, and they were generously sized so we got a good few years use out of them. I think it was quite an ingenious strategical move on the part of my mom to make the two oldest children’s costumes, mine and my twin sister’s, out of fairly gender neutral colors and prints, they lasted my siblings a long time in the years to follow. They pulled duty on trick or treat nights, Purim carnivals, and a themed birthday party where every child in attendance wore a similar costume.

Clown Halloween Costumes Pattern for Children Adults at Regency Cottage on Etsy.
1980 McCall’s Pattern 7230 for an Adult’s Clown Costume – Size Large at Lakeview Arts on Etsy.
Sewing Pattern Simplicity, Clown – Jester – Hobo Halloween Costume: Adult Medium UNCUT at Sew Alike on Etsy.

I could go on and on, but what today’s Time Travel Thursday post is really about is those envelopes of patterns that you could buy at the fabric store, along with all your fabric and findings. It’s about the days when people made their own clothing and costumes as the norm, and not the exception.  It is about those homes that included such things as ‘sewing rooms’, where magic happened in the hands of everyday people.  When your mother or grandmother would make you a costume that had never been worn by anyone else, that looked absolutely professional and fabulous, that no one else had, that was a treasured thing.  I have just gotten my first sewing machine, a very basic Singer model, just for making a few time saving stitches now and then.  My mother still has her first Singer too, it still works and she still uses it occasionally, and I know it is likely 40 years old, maybe more.

McCall’s 9212 Vintage Sewing Pattern Child’s Boy’s Girl’s CLOWN COSTUMES Size 6-8 at KatyBugVintage on Etsy.
Butterick 5073, Vintage 1990 Baby Jumpsuit Pattern UNCUT – Newborm – M at Vintage Vice on Etsy.
Halloween Costume Pattern Clowns Simplicity 7120 Size Small at AuntPittyPats2 on Etsy.

I would love to know how to use a pattern, to know how to use fabric so that the threads run the right way for stretch or fit, to know what seam technique to use, to  be able to create professional looking garments and costumes, just like my mother did. So few of us have the time or inclination to make things by hand, but I have found just the little bit of doll making I have been doing lately to be so therapeutic. To see a finished result, something tangible, something you can hold in your hands or give to a child to cuddle, it is a totally WOW moment. It’s nice to see something through to the end, there is so much in our world that has become conceptual or intangible.  Whether you sew, knit, crochet, scrapbook, cook, or have some other hand-made hobby, you know exactly what I mean. The ability to create something is just as satisfying as it ever was.

Vintage 1961 Girls or Boys Clown, Devil, Little Prince Costume Halloween McCall’s Pattern 2459 Size 6-8 at Lakeview Arts on Etsy.
VERY RARE 1960s Vintage Pattern UNCUT McCall’s 7912 Size Medium Girl’s Boy’s Clown – Bullfighter – Devil – Bandit Costumes at GREAT SCOTT on Etsy.
McCall’s Costumes Clown Pattern 6719 at KidLee on Etsy.

Today’s post features a bounty of amazing vintage sewing patterns, almost entirely Clown Costumes all for sale on Etsy, along with hundreds of other patterns for every look you can image.  They are fun to look at, collect, even stitch up for yourself or a friend. Take the links under the images to reach the shops and listings, and have a look around.  Even if you don’t have a dedicated sewing room, crafting room, or studio, any room can become one if you use it for that purpose.  This is a celebration of an nearly lost art, fabric stores are harder and harder to find, patterns for modern styles just don’t exist the way they did in the past, it is so much easier just to go to the mall when you need new clothing. Just because something is easier, doesn’t mean it is better.  As for these clowns, maybe one will be your first sewing project from a pattern. They are very easy to make and they are great for play and holidays alike. You can even get all your fabric and finishing elements on Etsy. Give it a think, and for now, sew long.

Butterick Kid’s Clown Costume Pattern 4154 at Gothabilly 13 on Etsy.
Vintage Costume Sewing Pattern 1982 Boy’s and Girl’s Clown Costumes and Hats, Simplicity 5740 Sizes 2-4 at The Half House on Etsy.