Thumbs down (I think) on this ruffle skirt

The Coastal Curtsy Skirt first came to my attention when Carolyn made her version of it. It seemed like my ideal sewing project: relatively low skill, but looking like something I’d happily buy off the rack.

Best viewed at a distance

I ordered the ruffle fabric and some wide elastic to go with it, and finally got around to putting it together last weekend. The part that took the longest, by far, was pinning the fabric together to match the ruffles. The fabric is pretty heavy and slinky and I found it difficult to control. The actual sewing part was extremely quick, since it’s just one straight seam.

I need to redo the waistband, since I followed the directions without really thinking about it. Lack of critical thinking will always come back to bite you in the ass: when will I learn this? She calls for making the waist a little smaller than your actual waist, but since I have a pretty significant differential between my natural waist and my hips, an even smaller waist that needs to be pulled over those hips means popping stitches every time I put it on or take it off, so it needed to be mended before it was even 100% complete. Also, I think the applied elastic that the pattern calls for looks cheap, even when turned to the inside. So, if I’m going to get any wear out of this skirt, which I would like to, not least because the fabric was not inexpensive, I need to make the waist opening larger, which also means it’ll sit lower, and figure out a way to put the elastic on that doesn’t make me sad.

Unsurprisingly, I guess, it turns out that I feel about novelty fabrics like this the same way I feel about novelty yarns: sure, they’re high impact and can boost a beginner’s confidence in her ability to produce a wearable project. But they both leave me cold. At this point in my life, I’m just going to be happier making things that    may take longer and require more of an investment in skills development. Basically, I finished this project and instead of thinking, look at this great skirt I just made!, thought, I really need to step up my game and improve my sewing skills so I can turn out clothes I’m actually proud of having made. I’d like my handmade projects to be more couture than Forever 21.

My favorite potato salad

Now that we live somewhere with a little outdoor space (a sweet little tiled deck), Rob and I have joined the ranks of People Who Grill. I’ve always been envious of people with grills, not least because all of the food magazines and websites are filled with grilling recipes and ideas and how-to articles starting in April or so and continuing all through the summer.

But one cannot live on grilled food alone, though lord knows some people try. I’ve been making a lot of this potato salad, since it goes with everything, can be made well in advance or right before you eat, is easy to throw together even if you’re distracted by a kitchen full of guests, is good hot, cold, or room temperature, is delicious the next day on a pile of arugula, and, since it doesn’t use mayonnaise, can be left out of the counter for hours or taken to picnics or the beach without risk of food poisoning. And it’s easy to scale up or down, depending on how many people you need to feed.

I’ve made a variation of this dish for years (inspired, most likely, by something Laurie Colwin wrote about), but this year I’ve started adding basil.Initially it was because I have some basil in my little container garden and I’m in a race to use it before the snails eat all of it, but I also really like the basil with the lemon and mustard.

A couple of tomato plants, lacinato kale, basil, mint, rosemary, lavender, and one lettuce that I need to repot before it keels over entirely

Mustard Potato Salad

  • potatoes, at least one large per person, scrubbed and cut into even chunks; I don’t bother peeling
  • grainy mustard, one heaping spoonful for every three people
  • juice of one lemon, plus the zest if you’re organized
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • handful of basil, chiffonaded

Put the potatoes on to boil. In a large bowl, whisk the mustard and lemon juice/zest together, then continue to whisk while adding olive oil in a thin stream until the dressing is the consistency you like. I like a high mustard-to-oil ratio; you may not. Salt to taste.

When the potatoes are done to your liking, drain them and add to the dressing. Stir to coat all of the pieces. Stir in the basil. Let sit for a few minutes to soak in the dressing.