Fermented Dill Pickles

Hello friends! It seems like the weekend just flew by and I didn’t get a chance to share my latest culinary creation, Fermented Dill Pickles! I actually have made two batches of these pickles, the first ones we ate immediately, and I must say they were very popular around here!
The second batch has just now become ready for sampling. We had quite a bumper crop of cukes considering how dry it’s been here. I am pleased that our basement shelves are full of crunchy pickles being stored for the winter. 
This recipe is adapted from food blogger David Lebovitz‘s blog.
Here’s what you will need:
3/4 cup kosher salt
3 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. black peppercorns
3 Tbsp. coriander seeds ( I couldn’t find seeds, and ended up using powder instead)
18 dried chilies, such as chilies de arbol (found in the Mexican isle of the grocery store)
3/4 cup white vinegar
9 lbs. medium cukes
30 gloves of garlic, crushed
10 sprigs of dill
6 large mouth quart jars
pieces of cheese cloth or burlap cut in squares to fit over the top of the jars
rubber bands or string
canning pot, ladle, and funnel
Cover the jars with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup white vinegar to the water bath if you have hard water to discourage water deposit on the outside of the jars. Sterilize the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile bring 3/4 cup water, salt, sugar, peppercorns, coriander and chilies to a boil in a large sauce pan. Remove from heat, add 4 1/2 cups each of water and vinegar, stir to combine, let cool.
Wash and prepare cukes by cutting 1″ off of either end.  You can slice them for hamburger style pickles or cut them longways for chunky dills. Remove jars from water bath. Put 5 small sprigs of dill in each jar, or you can use 2 tsp. dried dill in each. Add 5 cloves of garlic per jar, along with several of the chili peppers that you removed from the brine (depending on how hot you like your pickles). Fill the jars with the cukes next, being careful  not to touch the inside of the jar. Pack the jars snugly, but do not over stuff them or they will not ferment well. 
Ladle the brine through the funnel into the jars, leaving 1/4″ head space. Cover the jar with the cheese cloth or burlap and secure with the rubber band or string. Store in a cool dark place for 2-4 days. Use the shorter time for a “half sour” and the longer amount for a “full sour”.  After fermenting, remove the burlap and cover with a canning jar lid before refrigerating. The pickles do not need to be processed again for storage. They will keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.
The first batch I made disappeared after two weeks. I am sure that you won’t have any problem storing these pickles because they won’t last nearly that long!

Renaissance Costume Tutorial Round-Up

Hello Everyone! Time to put all the pieces of my Renaissance Costume together! Just in time for a Really Awesome Costume and Craft link-up! 
I am featuring Simplicity Pattern #3809.
My tutorial is really in four parts, here’s the round up:
My first post is all about the Renaissance Faire and how to choose styles and colors for your costume. You can read all the details here. Once you have your material, pre-wash all fabrics that are not dry cleanable before cutting.
Order your notions online, it will save you lots of headaches. This pattern calls for a LOT of notions. It’s much easier to order with a click of a button than to spend hours in line at the fabric store.

The Chemise was rather simple to construct, it only took about two hours to sew. I love the gathers this design has on the sleeve. I have lots of short cuts and tips, be sure to check out the full tutorial by clicking on the subtitle above.

On to the skirt! It’s a rather simple one, only three pieces. However, I love making things even easier than they already are. I made an elastic waist instead of the set in waistband. There is also a mistake in the manufacture’s instructions, be sure and find out what it is before you start cutting! Here’s the complete Skirt story!
By far the most difficult piece to construct is the Corset. It is supposed to fit very tightly which can cause some alteration issues on the pattern. Once you have a good fitting muslin (which is used as the inter-lining), it’s really not that tough to construct, but it is definitely a bit time consuming. 
Don’t let the boning or the grommets scare you away from making one your self! Click here for the complete tutorial.

Thanks for stopping by! Check out the other bloggers costumes over at Really Awesome Free Things!
Also linking up at the following blogs:

Renaissance Corset Tutorial

 Here’s a tutorial for the renaissance corset that I made as part of my renaissance costume! I really loved sewing this outfit and seeing it come together in the end. 
Renaissance Corset Tutorial|Designers Sweet Spot|www/designerssweetspot.com
I am featuring Simplicity Pattern # 3809.
The first two pieces in this outfit went together rather quickly.

The Corset is another matter. There are lots of pieces with this one and I found the pattern directions very unclear.

The key to success in this piece is the muslin. Muslin is inexpensive. Designers always make a muslin of a garment first, fit it, then use the muslin to make the finished pattern and ultimately the finished garment. This corset pattern is very fitted (it’s supposed to hold your girls in place without any additional help!) and can be tricky when trying to alter it.

According to my measurements, I needed to add 3″ to the pattern. I spent an entire afternoon cutting and altering the pattern only to make up the muslin and realize it was too big. I suggest that you purchase the pattern closest to your measurements, cut out the muslin, baste it together and fit it before doing any other altering. You may be surprised, I sure was.

The other thing is that the seam allowance on this pattern is 1″ instead of the standard 5/8″. It is only marked in one spot that I could find on the pattern. Can you say CONFUSING????? DON’T YOU THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE PLASTERED THIS JUICY LITTLE BIT OF INFORMATION EVERYWHERE???

I chose to ignore the 1″ seam allowance and used the 5/8″. It does give you a bit of room for error, even though it’s rather annoying since the rest of the pattern making world uses a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Construction Basics:

There is a lining and an interlining (muslin) that are first basted together and contain the boning. This part is not hard.

This is the right side of the interlining. The back interlining pieces are constructed the same way, basted together and then have the boning added. It took me FOREVER to decipher the pattern directions. Why don’t they use color pictures???

Then you begin construction on the exterior pieces. The braid over the bodice seam is added next. Repeat on garment back pieces.

Put the interlining and exterior pieces together with right sides, sewing along armhole, strap and center front seams, leaving the bottom and side seams open to turn the garment right side out. Press, then baste raw edges together.

Top stitch the trim on to the neck and shoulder. The peplum gets added next with the same process as before, first sewing the interlining, then the exterior pieces get added to it. Repeat for back pieces.

Technically, the peplum can be added before the trim is put on and you can run the trim right down to the lower front edge, I decided not to do this and added my trim first.

You can see my trim stops at the waist.

The final step is to put front and back pieces together at the side seams, then add the grommets and lacings.

I will say that once I figured out what in the world the pattern was asking for, the sewing went rather quickly. However, it was VERY time consuming. If I make another corset it will be much easier because now I understand how it should work.
I will say that there really aren’t many short cuts to this one. You pretty much have to follow the directions, which are no doubt confusing. The only changes to the construction I made were to eliminate the bias tape used to enclose the inside lower waist/peplum seam. This is a costume after all, and you really don’t need to clean finish the inside unless you will be washing and wearing an item repeatedly. Corsets are not washable because of their delicate construction, but are merely aired out when needed.
Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. You can read more about constructing the Chemise and the Skirt by clicking on the link.
Off to link up to the Costume Linky party! Come on over and see the fun ideas at
Pin this post for later! 
Renaissance Corset Tutorial|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Renaissance Skirt Tutorial

Here’s the tutorial for my renaissance costume!  I had so much fun sewing this skirt and seeing this outfit come together one piece at a time.
Renaissance Skirt Tutorial|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com
Renaissance Costume Tutorial
Renaissance costume tutorial supplies
I am featuring Simplicity Pattern #3809, view A (on the left).

Have all your supplies on hand for this project including the trim for the hem. I made my own trim by layering two ribbons together and topstitching them with a decorative vine stitch. This is the same trim that I used on the bows of the sleeves for the Chemise.
You can read about how I made the Chemise here.
Some Tips:
I used 1 1/2″ elastic for the skirt waist instead of having a fitted waist band. I added 1″ to the top of the pattern where the waist band would have been sewn. If you go this route, please be aware the pattern needs to be straighter at the top and side seam to accommodate the sewing of the elastic, it will not be as curved as for an inset waistband.
Also, I did not use a zipper for the skirt. I cut the back piece on the fold of the fabric where the zipper would have been instead.
I shortened the hem by about 1″. Generally speaking, the longer the skirt, the narrower the hem should be. A small rolled hem is much better and takes much less time than the wide hem allowed on the pattern. In fact, you could just serge the hem, this is a costume after all. No one will notice what your hem width really is. I have seen costumes at the Renaissance Faire that aren’t hemmed at all and I thought they looked very appropriate.
There is a mistake in the cutting layout on the manufacture’s directions for View A. It reads to “cut 3” panels for the skirt. Even if you use a zipper you only need two panels (front and back) for view A. Three panels are needed for view B, not for view A.
I do not use the pattern instructions, but have my own method of construction. Here’s how it works:
Step One:
Sew the left skirt side seam together. Overcast edges if you wish, but this is not generally necessary for a costume.
Turn down the top of the skirt waistband 1/4 and stitch. Use your presser foot as a guide instead of using pins.
Step Two:
Cut elastic to fit your waist. Anchor the end of the elastic at the side seam with a few single needle stitches. PULL the elastic as hard as you can while you sew in the middle of it, all the way over to the other side seam. The elastic should stretch the entire length. The fabric will be naturally gathered underneath the sewing needle by the feed dog. This photo above shows the back of the waistband elastic.
Step Three:
Using a zig-zag stitch or stretch elastic stitch, sew two rows on either side of your first stitching. This will evenly space the gathers and be very durable. You will not have to re-stretch the elastic at this time.
This is what it will look like when finished. Sorry about the poor photo, who knew photographing black satin would be so hard?
Step Four:
Make a rolled hem on the skirt by turning over 1/4″ and stitching with a single needle stitch.
Roll the hem again and stitch on top of your first line of stitching.
Step Five:
Sew the trim to the skirt using a single needle topstitch. Do not pin the trim to the skirt if you are using satin or taffetta, pins can cause snags very easily. Instead, measure the distance from the trim to the hem as you sew. Mine was 12″ from the hem. Sew a few stitches, measure correct placement, then sew a bit more. It gets easier with practice, you can do it!
Step Six:
Sew the remaining side seam, tacking top and bottom edges. Overcast remaining edges if you wish.
That’s all folks! Tomorrow we tackle the Corset! See you then!
Pin this post for later!
Renaissance Skirt Tutorial|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com

Renaissance Chemise

Here’s a tutorial on how I made my chemise for the renaissance costume I am sewing.  I had a lot of fun working on this project! 
Renaissance Chemise Tutorial|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com
Featuring Simplicity Pattern # 3809
This is part two of a four part post on how to make an entire Renaissance Costume. For info on what pattern I am using and a few costume tips, check out yesterday’s post. The skirt and corset are yet to come, so be sure and stop back cause you won’t want to miss them!

At this point you should have your chemise cut out. Let me tell you that this is not a real fitted pattern which makes it rather easy to work with. On the down side, the sleeve is just GARGANTUAN! I ended up tapering my sleeve at the wrist because it was way too large for me. I will explain more on this later in this tutorial.
The pattern has only three pieces, front, back and sleeves. I will show you how to make this garment in less than two hours with a few minor adjustments to how it is sewn. I do not use the pattern instructions.
Why does this matter? Well, it’s like driving a stick shift car. If you learn to drive on a stick shift with a clutch, you think that’s how all cars are made. Until, one day, someone comes along and says “Why don’t you drive an automatic? It’s so much easier?” Then you drive the automatic without the stick shift and you wonder why no one ever told you how much easier it was. That’s how I feel about pattern directions. They are not helpful, but make each project longer and more complicated than it needs to be in my professional opinion.
My methods are professional, simple and quick. You decide what kind of car you want to drive.
I recommend this method of construction:

Step one:
Begin with the sleeves. Make a rolled hem 1/4″ wide at the bottom of the sleeve. Use the width of your presser foot as a guide. Turn the fabric over 1/4″ one time, stitch. Then turn it again, 1/4″ and stitch on top of your first row of stitching. You will have a beautiful flat, even seam. No one will know that you stitched it twice. Also, do not be tempted to use pins to hold the fabric in place. Pins slow you down and break needles. You will be a better sewer without them. Trust me on this.
Step Two:
Mark the placement of the elastic on the sleeves by notching the sleeve on either side where it is marked on the pattern. Cut 1/8″ elastic according to your upper arm measurement plus 1″. Place the end of the elastic on the notch, directly under your sewing needle. Back tack in place with a single needle stitch.

Pull the elastic taught all the way over to the other side of the sleeve. Using a zig zag stitch, or decorative stretch stitch, stitch on top of the elastic while pulling it taught. Ease the extra fabric evenly under the needle as you go. It will naturally create perfectly spaced gathers.
This is how it looks when you have done all the rows of stitching. One word of caution, my sleeve was far wider than the elastic was capable of stretching. Most elastics can stretch a maximum of about a 2:1 ratio. If your sleeve is 24″ wide, you may use 12″ of elastic and this method will still work. I ended up tapering the sleeve so it was narrower at the wrist. According to my pattern, I would have had 36″ of fabric gathered up at my wrist which only measures 8″. This is a ridiculous 4:1 ratio, so I altered my pattern to be a 2:1 ratio at the wrist.
Step Three:
Attach the sleeves to the garment front and back at the armhole seam. Do not sew the under sleeve seam, leave it open as well as the garment side seams.
At this point I suggest trying on your garment, make sure it fits through the upper arm, elbow and wrist areas. Also check the fit across the bust. Don’t worry about the large neckline, we will get to that next!
Step Four:
Now for the neck. Open 1/2″ single fold bias tape. With right sides together, sew a single needle stitch in the narrow fold closest to the raw edge of the neck. When finished, turn the tape to the inside of the garment.
Make a single needle topstitch catching the seam allowance underneath to the body of the chemise. Sew as close to the seam as you can. This is called under-stitching. It will keep your tape from twisting and showing on the front of your finished garment. It also makes a professional looking, flat seam. It will not be visible on the finished garment.

Fold the tape over to the back of the garment, completely encasing the raw edges. Top stitch the other edge of the bias tape, 1/8″ from the edge. This stitching will be visible on the outside of the garment. It should be easy to sew if you have already under- stitched the tape. The fabric will remain flat and even, giving you a smooth surface to stitch upon. When you get to the point where the ends over lap, tuck the top one under and tack in place. Be sure to leave a slight opening for your elastic. Using a safety pin, insert the elastic that you have cut to size according to the pattern directions. Then hand sew the casing closed, and arrange the gathers evenly around the neckline.

Step Five:
Sew one sleeve and side seam closed. Generally, it should be the left side of the garment. Over cast the seam if desired. Then make another rolled hem at the bottom of the entire chemise (hemming back, and front) as in step one.
Step Six:
Close the remaining sleeve and side seam making sure all elastic ends and rolled hems properly line up. Overcast if you choose. You are now done sewing the garment. You may press the hems and side seams at this point if you have not already done so. A well constructed garment should require very little pressing, and only at the end of the construction.
How does that feel? Pretty easy, huh?
On to the trims!
Step Seven:
The pattern calls for bows where the gathering is on the sleeve. I made my own decorative trim by layering two ribbons on top of each other and stitching them together with a decorative vine topstitch. (I am playing with my new sewing machine, LOVE it!) This is optional of course, but it has a very rich look to it and it didn’t take me long to do. Then I tied the ribbon into bows and pinned them in place for effect before I hand stitched them.
Here are some other tips on sewing the chemise. I chose to keep mine rather short, some patterns have a long chemise that is as long as the over skirt. I wanted mine short for comfort, however if you want a long style it’s easy to just continue the side seams to the desired length (you may need to add a bit more room for walking at the side seams, about 2″ on each side should do the trick).

I really like how this turned out. I may even wear it with a pair of jeans and cowboy boots around town! Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you have any questions!
Tomorrow, it’s on to the skirt!
Pin this post for later!
Renaissance Chemise Tutorial|Designers Sweet Spot|www.designerssweetspot.com