Lavender O.

Well, I promised a report on my SIAB-night, the Sew-In-A-Bookshop-night ;-)

To understand what will happen next, a short explanation: Normally this bookshop, as most shops in Berne, closes at 7pm, on thursdays the majority of the city is opened until 9pm, that thursday was Ladies Night, takes place only once a year, shops closed at 11pm.

We installed my table with sewing machine, a little decoration and the book I was presenting at around 6pm. And until 7.30 everything was fine, lots of people in the shop, many curious clients asking what I was doing and so on.

Then it became a little quiet, still some people were passing by, maybe because I sat right next to the doors through which you can leave directly into the railway station. Some stopped and looked interested, I chatted a little, about my sewing, about the book, about whatever they wanted. It was sad it was comparably quiet, I had really hoped for a roaring night.
Only few were interested in the sewing, even less in the book. Most only gazed at the sewing machine and noted that her grannies had machines like this or asked if it was already electric.

At 9pm we had to close the doors to the station (contract conditions) and the last two hours were very quiet, because I sat literally at a dead end. The sentence I had to repeat most often in the last two hours was “No, sorry, exit closed, please use the main exit on the ground floor”. Every now and then somebody spotted me from the far end of the shop and screamed something like “oh, mum, look there” *teenage daughter with mum approaching*staring*smiling*leaving*.

At least this left me plenty of time to sew and I really nearly finished, only the zipper and the hem were missing.

That's how it looked. You will recognize my Bette Davis Dress.
That’s how it looked. You will recognize my Bette Davis Dress I chose to wear that evening.

To conclude, I assume a couple of things went wrong,making it less successful than we all had hoped it to be.

First, the event itself wasn’t promoted enough, neither the presenter nor the bookshop succeeded in making people aware that this night was to be meant as an event. A friend who lives in the city of Bern told me she wouldn’t have known of this Ladies Night without me (and this true friend stayed with me the whole five hours and made the long hours past 9pm appear much shorter as they could have been). So I fear the whole event hasn’t grown big enough yet to attract large crowds of clients and ladies, strolling through the shops on high heels buying lace underwear whilst drinking prosecco (we wouldn’t discuss this cliché here, would we? :-) ) The few clients who came were not what I would call the target audience of Retro sewing, in contrast, most knew the sewing machine or the dresses in the book from their own childhood or youth (one middle ages woman was gleaming with joy when spotting Farrah Fawcett in the book. Not because she liked the dress, but “Charlies Angels”) and had no interest in buying such a book.

Second, I chose the wrong approach. Promoting a book that is all about how cool, modern and timeless vintage and retro sewing is, well, you can’t properly do this when sewing in full 30ies attire, looking as if you stepped right out of a time capsule. The group of people interested in the latter one is even smaller than the few people interested in retro sewing. So a more Gertie-like approach with a stunning bombshell dress or a cool modern looking 60ies style would have been more convincing.

On the far right you see the book I sewed from.
On the far right you see the book I sewed from.

Which leads me to this night’s project. Because I was a little scared this would all end up in a catastrophe I chose a really simple design from the book without too many tricky details to pay attention to (well, I had hoped to chat a lot more with clients than I had the chance. Did I mention I did not sell a single book?).

Lets talk about the book for a second (I bought this copy already when it was published in German some time ago, this review isn’t sponsored by anybody. I just think when talking about a pattern in it, I can as well give you a short summary and my opinion on the book itself). The book Famous frocks, in German Stilikonen, presents ten women of the 20th century which are connected to a special and distinct style of dress and became iconic for the fashion of their time (the Link to the German version allows you to have a look inside, just klick the “Im Buch blättern” button left of the cover). It starts in the 1930ies with Bette Davis (now you know why I bought it ;-) ), the 40ies are represented by Rita Hayworth. Marilyn Monroe’s iconic 7-year-itch dress is included as well as Audrey Hepburns little black one from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Jackie Kennedy and Twiggy complete this 50ies/60ies group. The younger dresses are inspired by Diana Ross, Farrah Fawcett and Stevie Nicks (the only pattern I had realized from the book until now, you saw it in my Sicily-Post). The last and most recent one is Madonna’s corsage-and-petticoat-style. Each woman is accompanied by one dress pattern, that was inspired by her style. So you won’t find an exact reproduction of an Audrey-Dress in this book, rather the authors took what they considered the distinct features and lines of a style and translated it into a pattern. This makes a total of 10 different patterns, all of them come in a closer-to-the-original-version and a more modern variation.

The only photos in this book show the icons that inspired the patterns, the patterns themselves are only shown in drawings, a technical and a fashion illustration for each version.

All patterns are included in their original size, but because the sheets are printed from both sides, you have to copy the cut pieces. Sizes go from XS (79cm-62cm-88cm) to L (94cm-77cm-103cm) (so really not a wide range, in my opinion, you will see later that XS is already too small for me).
The instructions are very detailed with many drawings, so even beginners could cope with the simpler ones, as long as they know the basic sewing vocabulary.

To conclude: patterns are easy to work with, good instructions, nice layout. Unfortunately size range is very limited and the dresses are only inspired by historical patterns, some stay pretty close but some don’t (don’t expect to sew a 30ies gown with this book, what you get is a knee-length bias-cut dress, for example). The patterns are modern, not based on historical ones, at least that is my impression and I didn’t find a hint that they used actual contemporary patterns for this book.

So much about the book. The pattern I chose was the, who would have guessed after the title ;-) , Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The classic variant comes with a very high and stiff neckline I don’t like that much, so I chose to sew the modern version with a slightly lower neckline and pockets. Pockets not because I needed them (well, I do need pockets, but I try to avoid dresses with them because I tend to bury my hands in them and stand quite crooked), but because I feared to finish early without them.


As already mentioned, I chose to cut size XS, stupidly enough looking only at the waist- but not at the bust-circumference. Because I had no chance to try it on in the shop I only realized it was too small when I had inserted the zipper the next day and wore it for the first time.


Fortunately, the pattern included 1.6cm seam allowance, so I shifted the side seams of the bodice as far as I could, approximately 1cm. These additional 4cm were what it took to fit, thankfully. It still fits quite snug, you see the pockets are slightly gaping, but it is ok, considering that I already had given up hope because it seemed to be so very much too small.


I don’t like  the fit in the back, but I don’t quite know how to get rid of these wrinkles. I tried to pin in different ways (normally I would remove some fabric from the waist seam in such a case), but still more wrinkles show each time. Now I will leave it like that, it is not that bad when standing upright, at least I’am trying to convince myself about this.


As a fabric I chose a lavender-coloured cotton (or viscose, I am not sure) from my stash. Facings and pockets I made from a gingham of the same colour, printed with little flowers. A leftover I had bought years ago, I used it to make headbands from it and sold them via Internet. It wasn’t that successful, so I quit and went back to work as a shop assistant to finance my studies^^


The matching bias binding was an old unfolded one that had lurked in my stash for a very long time, I must have bought it once with a sewing basket or something similar. It was quite narrow and, as I said, unfolded and I always considered it being too narrow to work with it properly. But then I saw the bias binding foot in The Sewing Machine Attachment Book, asking for 24mm wide, unfolded bias binding. That was exactly the size I had. It worked really well, only the very sharp curves around the armholes caused some difficulties.
But this explains a lot: When sewing machines do not come with these feet anymore, no-one will buy unfolded, 24mm-width bias binding in consequence. Or, vice versa, if you can only buy pre-folded bias binding, why should a machine include a bias binding foot? I don’t know what happened, I only know that such a foot is not to be found with modern machines anymore and that unfolded bias binding has become quite rare, I assume a connection :-)

Rhinestone-Pendant: a gift – shoes: antique/Amuse Brocante, Berne – fragrance: 4711 Acqua Colonia Lavender & Thyme

The upper bust darts end a little too high, maybe this was meant to be a really historic pattern after all and I should have worn it with period appropriate undergarments? Or maybe they just don’t fit my bust and I should adjust them ;-).

See you soon, love


I – wanna sew’n’craft all ni-i-ight…

…and party every day….well, kind of ;-)

I am eager to announce you something a little different, something huge for me:

Next Thursday, September 11th, Bern City is hosting a Ladies night. Many shops in Berne will be open until 11pm and most of them do offer special discounts, events and similar things.

And I will participate! I will be sewing with my little Singer Featherweight in the Thalia-Bookshop inside the Loeb department store. If you happen to be in Berne, I would love to meet you!I keep it a secret what I will sew and I can’t predict if I will be able to finish it, but be sure, it’s a classic, a pattern from the book Famous Frocks (well, the german edition).

I would love to see some of you!

love, ette

not quite convincing…

As promised, here is the only project I was able to finish in the past weeks (aside from some curtains for our staircase and the bathroom).
I bought the pattern, Vogue 2859,  already quite some time ago on sale, a 30ies set, consisting of a dress, a coat and a wrap blouse. When the HSF-challenge “#3 Pink” was coming closer I decided to realize the blouse in a pink, floating fabric I once had bought for my prom dress, but not used entirely (like the black fabric I used to complain about). After I had cut the pattern and the fabric something very unexpected and  devastating happened in out family and I was neither in the mood nor had I time to sew.  So I never completed the challenge, but was very amused (well, as amused as I was able to be back then) that some other participant had had the same idea: Black tulip made the exact same pattern from a very similar fabric.

But even this wasn’t enough to get me back on track, so the pattern pieces lay cut in my stash until I decided to get rid of this project before moving, because I was already suspicious if I would really like it and feared to never finish it. So close before moving into our new apartment I was able to fool myself, prohibiting me to start something new and so, forcing me to face this project.

The pattern is quite tricky. The pattern pieces do look very unfamiliar and you really have to stay concentrated not to make any mistakes. But after you have sewn the few large parts together  it comes together comparably quick.


A thing I did not like was the instruction to hem the ties, in my opinion you will always see the hemmed inside and never the right one, Murphy’s law. So I doubled them and turned them over instead.


Please note that the pattern is very short, as it is to be expected from a 30ies design. It is meant to be worn with the dress underneath, so at the moment it just sits on my sewing mannequin, waiting for me to buy or make a simple black dress to go with it (a problem I face with a beautiful antique 30ies blouse I own as well, I would so love to wear it but own nothing to pair it with).


But maybe this will never happen, because there are some other features I am not quite confident with: I don’t like that you see the seam of the scarf. My fabric is quite shiny so it is even more evident than in other versions I saw. A different fabric could help, but I am sure as long as I can see it, it will never be ok to me. If I am going to make this blouse again I will have to find an alternative to this way of sewing the scarf. But I would have to anyway, because the other thing I am not happy with, is that it sits too tight for my taste. I am very sensitive when it comes to clothing sitting close to my throat and this blouse is just too close to feel comfortable for me. So maybe it will never make its way into my wardrobe.

I am going to announce you something really exiting (at least for me) soon and it is connected with some new projects!
So see you soon, love,


back home

Yes, it’s been a while…

I am really sorry for having disappeared from the screen without saying anything at all.
It all began when someone else was chosen for a job I had so longed to get. This made me hit the ground really hard, not only because I had hoped to be the lucky one, but also because so many people had encouraged me to apply and had given me some positive signals regarding my success. Most of the weeks passed in a blur, I felt terrible, unmotivated and I have to thank my costiveness and my last bit of reason for not letting me buy my first pack of cigarettes in eight years.

The second thing that was really killing me was our apartment. I had to go by train so early each day and came back so late. It was dark, gloomy and because of its size and the little time I had left in the evening it was neither comfortably tidy or clean, in the end it was really a dusty mess. It was so loud, in the few quiet moments where no train or motor truck made it impossible to hear myself think I was able to listen to every word and every step of the landlord living above us. Our cat was so bored, being not allowed to go outside and having to wait so long until we came back from work. In the evenings, when I was barely able to cook dinner, she wanted the attention she had longed for all day. She even started to scratch herself until it bled because she didn’t know what to do with herself (not unlike me, my skin looks like a mixture of a mars desert and a volcanic eruption aftermath at the moment).

Now we moved last week into a much smaller appartment, but it is so bright and lovely, much more quiet and at the same time much brisker. You hear the street a little, but not a word from the other parties living in the house. If you open the window you can hear the distant humming of the motorway, but also chatting neighbours and playing children (the old house was completely isolated, only the landlord with his partner and us two).

Though it is smaller, all my stuff is so much better accessible (simply because I had put everything in a locker and had closed the door back in the old flat, now I had to think about how to organize my things with less space and worked a lot with boxes and magazine files on top on shelves, so I see them).

my book-shelves, a small poster I plan to hang above the flpwers still needs to be framed.
my book-shelves, a small poster I plan to hang above the flowers still needs to be framed.

I have only lived here for little more than a week, but it still feels more like a home than the old apartment did after a whole year. In this first week we did all the things we had planned since moving in the other apartment a year ago, bought furniture for the balcony and a barbeque, decorated the walls with photos and pictures, I even sewed curtains. Somehow we never had the motivation to do it in this dark cave of a flat and now it is as if we cannot wait to catch up with everything.
All this ill-feeling, moving and life as a whole made me forget about blogging, reading and posting. So I was welcomed by 5781 spam comments on my blog and 349 posts in my bloglovin-feed, please excuse that I won’t read them all, I am sure I will miss a lot. And please excuse that I didn’t answer your comments on my last posts, Jeannine, Jen, Draped in cloudlets, Amy and Anthea !

the chest of drawers contains UFOs, things to be repaired and the like. The old prints and textile pictures I put on the right wall on purpose, because it is protected from direct sunlight.

I didn’t have much time or motivation to sew in the past few week, but I finally finished a blouse I had already started in january (you see it on my sewing mannequin). I will show it to you in a separate post.

the chest of drawers contains UFOs, things to be repaired and the like. The old prints and textile pictures I put on this wall on purpose, because it is protected from direct sunlight.
still plenty of space for more pictures^^ And while everybody else registers at pinterest I finally decided to get my own mood board.

I have to confess, the title wasn’t chosen only because I feel like being home again, but because two topic related beauties also are. My Singer Featherweight went to see the sewing machine doctor for a check-up and sews like she left the factory only yesterday. And another sewing machine made its way into my collection. My father had found a 1920ies General Electrics Sewing machine in America earlier this. The seller claimed it to be the precursor of the Featherweight,   the patent being bought by Singer and turned into the now iconic small sewing machine. My father bought it and had it sent to his girlfriend’s son, who lives in the States. This was all a few months ago and when he wanted to pick it up last month he had to see, that the seller had sent the wrong machine, instead of the small early 20th century GE one a heavy and complex 1970ies Bernina record 730. All attempts to contact the seller failed and because he didn’t want to throw it away, brought the Bernina with him, back to Germany. Last week my brother visited, helped me with moving and gave it to me. I haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet, but it looks great. It is signed with “made in Switzerland”, so this, too, is back home. If the man who assembled it somewhere here for the American market could have imagined that it will find its way back, some 40 years later?

cheap substitute

Some weeks ago I strolled across the market in Berne. One seller is a little different than the others, his stand looks more as if he mistook the event for a flea market. All he sells is old books, fabric scraps,90ies pop cds,  more or less old and/or interesting haberdashery and some, mostly ugly, clothes. Fabrics and clothes are sold in umbrellas turned upside down and he always sits behind his goods smoking a incredibly large cigar.
Somehow I like it and I have bought multiple fabrics from him.

This time I found a red tshirt in his clothing-umbrella. Nothing special, but good quality and obviously only slightly too large (I hate altering shirts, especially the sleeves. So only a little too large means I can avoid re-modeling the shoulders and get away with shifting the side seams a little), for 1 CHF quite worth a try.

At home I altered it to my size only to realize it had some small stains on the front (yes, of course I had washed it before altering). Seemed as if it hadn’t been that good a deal at all.

Well, there is always room for improvement and I could still throw it away, so I thought why not give it a try and cover the stains.

My inspiration was Elsa Schiaparelli herself. The starting point of her career was a knitted jumper patterned with a large bow on the front, today in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Well, there is still this tiny little white spot in my crafting universe, I can’t knit! I tried it, it’s ok, it worked somehow but not good, maybe I will try again but I didn’t want to wait that long to make something inspired by this garment.

If you know me you already know what my answer to a lack of knowledge or time or patience is: fabric paint ;-)

A quick image search online supplied me with all I needed to draft a bow onto the shirt front, as you see a much cuter and gift-wrap-kind-of-bow Schiaparelli used, maybe this is the key to her success, I still like it far more than my own version.

I used black fabric paint, first drew the outlines and afterwards filled it with paint. You can see some brighter spots and dark areas, it is less evident in real life. In addition I wanted to see how it looks after having been washed to make some final corrections.

DSC_0149 (2)
shirt: ette/flea market, skirt: ette/Lutterloh pattern, shoes: New Yorker, bracelets: flea market

Next time I will insist on taking the photos again with our real camera, this mobile always changes the colours and produces a weird angle.

See you soon and enjoy the sun,

love, ette

I spotted Hollywood

Some of you might remember my slight obsession with Bette Davis.

Well, most of the time this makes me watch her films and read books about her. But sometimes I can’t resist and buy memorabilia. My most treasured item surely is an autograph my boyfriend bought me for my birthday two years ago.

The framed autograph on my vanity table. Note the box I showed you in my last post in its natural habitat.

But there is another kind of memorabilia that I am itching for. Do you know Hollywood Patterns? The company was founded in 1932 and sold patterns connected to stars and starlets (source). Simply by putting a little photo and the name of a movie star on the envelope turned a standard pattern into a collectible (a method that applies still today, though maybe not anymore for patterns). And as you can imagine, today they are worth even more.

Bette Davis had a total of 16 patterns named after her. Every now and then they pop up on ebay or etsy. To the more or less high prices of the patterns themselves adds the postage from the US to Europe, so to buy one of these is alway quite an expensive pleasure. (Now please don’t link to any pattern you found for sale on the internet, I don’t look at the mentioned websites very often, simply because I don’t want to tempt myself to spend that much money too often ;-). If I am in the mood and the position to buy one, I will search for it.)


Last year in late autumn I spotted a beautiful one on etsy, Hollywood 1221, published in 1934. And my boyfriend was so kind to give it to me as a christmas-present (darling, I love you!).

I already copied the pattern a few days after the holidays (because the pattern is so old I don’t want to use the original pattern pieces anymore), but it wasn’t until before our Sicily-trip I finally decided for a fabric and started cutting (this is the mentioned dress I wanted to sew for the trip but didn’t finish).

The choice of fabric wasn’t that intelligent in hindsight. I used a white spotted green cotton print I bought a few years ago in the odds-and-ends-box of a nearby fabric store that doesn’t exist anymore. I had already planned to use it for my Fall-for-Cotton-dress, but I had too little of it (appr. 1,5m). I chose it because I thought it was close enough to the spotted fabric on the envelope drawing and could look good (but it is not really appropriate for this time, in the sewing magazines I own polka dots don’t appear earlier than late 30ies, in earlier issues I only found them to be used for children’s clothing).
For this project it was just enough, I had to cut the lower back in two pieces, otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.

Well, the resulting dress is really…dotty. The matching of the pattern is at some seams better than at others, unfortunately where it didn’t fit was in the centre front (in contrast to the text on the linked page, it is a two-piece skirt. There is no seam in the pleat and I didn’t think of adjusting the width of it to match the dots).

Can’t help it, but I absolutely love this photo!

The pattern asked for two zippers, on at the side and one in the centre back. I used a white nylon zipper in the neck and a light cream one in the side seam (because I had them in stock, I do know they aren’t authentic for the 30ies)  Both zipper-seams are hand-sewn as is the hem.


I used white thread for all seams, this seemed to be a better match than green one.

The size is a straightforward 12, only thing I changed is I shortened the hem by 7cm.

Because the pattern was too weird with the stomacher in between I applied a rest of white cotton ribbon after having already finished it, now it is a lot better.

yes, too lazy to match my nail polish

I used every bit of it. As you see, it wasn’t enough to attach it on both ends of the stomacher-part in the back as well, the rest I had was just enough to form the button-loop for a button in the neck above the zipper.


As I said, I didn’t change anything. Like the most american patterns, the seam allowance is  included, something still unusual for me, because it makes it difficult for me to imagine how large it will be in the end (and in this case it was difficult to match the pattern as well). When looking at the result it seems as if the bodice is a little too long, when making it again I should try to shorten the stomacher-part.

I decided to take the photos outside, because it was quite a strange light and the appartment pretty gloomy. The day had been hot and only a little later there was a huge thunderstorm. So this may explain why our camera changed the ISO to several thousands without me noticing it (don’t know why it was set in the automatic-mode) and why the white is so flashy.

Well, to end this post: I love it! It looks quite special and still I think the fabric wasn’t the best to use for this pattern and to make it suitable for everyday-use I should reduce the volume of the sleeves a little, they are a bit on the emormous side.

(dress: Hollywood Pattern 1221/ette, shoes: Siemes Shuh Center, fragrance: Stella McCartney – Sheers)

So much for today, love


chocolates and silk

It has been months since I participted at Beswingtes Fräulein’s Getrödelt gefunden gefreut.

First because the date always collides with the due date for the HSF-challenges and I didn’t manage to write two posts in such a short time, second because sometimes I can’t decide what to show you and plan too large posts in my head I never even start to write.

And since we know that we will move again in a few months, this time into a smaller flat, I suffer from a total flea-market-ban. I already have too much things to move into the new flat, it really wouldn’t be wise to buy much more (though it is so hard!).

But a few days ago when having a close look at old books and some incunable pages my favourite antiquarian bookshop had put out for me I couldn’t help dropping into a lovely antique shop just next door. The owner knows me and knows in what kind of stuff I am interested in.  When I asked him if he had something for me he said no, only a pin cushion box he would assume I am interested in. But I thought being already there I could as well have a look. Unfortunately I had to tell him that it wasn’t a pin cushion at all and the sight of the pins in the already very damaged silk really hurt. But it was so lovely I had to buy it.


It is quite large, maybe 25cm diametre. The motif is flocked or maybe painted onto the satin, which is, as cleary visible, very fragile and damaged, much of the warp thread is disappeared. On the bottom left you can see a small signature (it is hard to decipher, I assume it says “Chembine” but I can’t find anything online)
The bottom is covered with a patterned paper I am pretty sure is not original but was added in the 2nd half of the 20th century.

The inside of the lid proved my assumption it being not a pin cushion at all, but some kind of chocolate or praline box.

“Au Vieux Gourmet” in Nancy, a french city appr. 300km north of Berne.


I love love love this Robe de Style motif and the cute little doll the  woman is holding in her hands. This may be the main reason I couldn’t pass on this one, even if it was quite expensive with 30 CHF (appr. 25€).

And because this was really the only thing I bought this month I thought I could show you its little brother, another chocolate box I already bought over a year ago in another antique shop only a few metres away from the other one.


Silk, again. This one in a dark red and ruffled, topped with a tambour embroidery in silk and (fake?) gold thread, a golden lace attached to the side.


You see, the silk is damaged, too. The seller assumed it to be a little younger than the new one above, maybe from the 1930ies. And she gave me the hint of it being a chocolate box.

The inside is a little more interesting because there is some paper lace still in place, though very torn and dirty.


While the 20ies box looks great inside (but as I said, I assume it being changed later), this box doesn’t look as nice. Maybe this is the reason the seller asked only 10CHF for it (appr. 8€). I have to admit I never searched for these boxes, so 10CHF being cheap and 30CHF being more on the expensive side is a very subjective evaluation, I have no idea what these things cost elsewhere.



And now you might ask how I use this box without completely destroying the paper lace (because I do use it, I try not to collect things I can’t use because I have neither enough room nor enough money to buy everything I like).

I use it to keep some of my jewellery. To protect the paper lace I covered the whole inside with a sheet of acid free wrapping paper. Like this nothing touches the inside and the lace and the material doesn’t harm it either (if I would use standard, acid, paper it would make the old substance brown and brittle, it would disintegrate sooner or later as you can see with old books, who sometimes just fall apart because of the acid in the paper itself)


Though I do already have so much boxes and old tins I really love these silk covered ones and I can’t promise that I won’t buy some more if I find some.


And I really hope the next post will be about some sewing project again. ;-)

See you soon, love,






warm beer with cinnamon

As I already announced in my last post, I planned to participate in the Historical Food Forthnightly. Normally I don’t pick the recipes I cook, but use a random number generator, so I will have to try things I do not know or not like. As you can imagine, this can’t work with given challenges, so I will actively pick my recipes for these challenges (and after all, it should be fun and interesting, no matter how I pick my meals, right?).

The first challenge, food inspired by literature, I had to skip. first because I was in Italy most of the time, second because I had no clue what to make.
But I did cook something for the 2nd challenge “Soups and Sauces”.

Frothy Beer-Soup
(the german name is “Schaumbiersuppe”, so literally translated it would be something like Foam-Beer Soup, I assume in contrast to beers with little to no foam like ale)

A recipe from my 32nd edition of the “Praktisches Davidis-Holle Kochbuch” from 1891 (yes, in very bad condition)



The recipe:



1 litre non-bitter beer, best is brown or weiss-beer, as much water, 2 tablespoons fine flour (but no potato flour), 4 whole eggs, sugar, 2 slices of lemon and cinnamon to taste are beaten with an egg whip on a hot stove and brought close to a boil, then poured in the tureen. Zwieback or white bread roasted in butter is added. As a particularly agreeable addition often a “bread-hill” is added, for which leftovers of old bread can be used. The brown bread is ground, mixed with sugar, some pounded cinnamon and soaked currants. Roast the bread in butter until brown, press it firmly into a large cone and turn it out into the tureen.

well, the one main thing I didn’t mange to was to put the soup from the heat before it started boiling, so unfortunately it clotted. Before it really was very frothy. And yes, the turning out of the “bread-hill” wasn’t really ideal either.


The Challenge: #2 Soups and Sauces
The Recipe: Schaumbiersuppe, in: Praktisches Davidis-Holle Kochbuch, 1891 (32nd ed.) (scan and transcription above), p. 66
The Date/Year and Region: 1891, presumeably earlier, because it is already the 32nd edition of this book. Unfortunately I don’t know any earlier version, so I can’t check if it is included in other issues. The cook book is german, because weiss-bier is used the recipe may derive from the south of germany, although the preface was written in Bremerhafen, a city in the north of the country.
How Did You Make It: In fact it is as easy as the recipe tells it. Whithout any heat you have plenty of time to mix all ingredients, you only have to pay attention to the flour, I used a sieve to prevent clotting. Same applied to the “bread-hill”. I mixed all ingredients in a small bowl. Then I heated butter in a pan and put the soup on the stove at the same time. This was in fact a little hectic in the end because the soup started to boil while I was trying to turn the bread mixure out of a cup (I don’t have a cone).
Time to Complete: Maybe 15min? I made only half of the portion given so it heated really quick.
Total Cost: I assume the most expensive ingredient is a can of beer, really not more than a few Euros.
How Successful Was It?: As already said, unfortunately it started to boil so it didn’t look really nice, but clotted. I had no idea what it would be like, I mean, beer, currants, cinnamon, this isn’t a combination I eat every day. But it was surprisingly tasty. For me a little too watery, so maybe a little less water or more sugar would be good. And the combination with the brown bread was delicious and made it a really filling meal.

How Accurate Is It?: I didn’t make many alterations. Because I wasn’t sure what brown beer was supposed to be I used weiss-beer. I used standard wheat flour, maybe other flours could be a little more thickening. And I used cinnamon-powder, but I don’t think that this influences the taste. As brown bread, I used pumpernickel. Oh, and I used Sultanas instead of currants, simply because I don’t eat neither of them very often and I didn’t want to buy currants when I still had sultanas.


As a resumé I have to say: Yay, a great recipe. It is sweet, it tastes like beer, it is filling with the brown bread. Maybe nothing to eat for dinner (as I did) but for lunch or even in the afternoon a beautiful dish!

Have a nice day, love



Island of fire

Dear all!

Thank you so very much for your comments on my pink ballerina dress, both here and on facebook!
(to those who came here via facebook and may wonder why my post don’t show in their RSS-feed anymore: I had to change my url a few months ago, so when you started following before it can’t work anymore. The bloglovin-link at the bottom of the page was updated, so please renew your feed if you want to keep updated).

a beautiful balcony, somewhere in Taormina
a beautiful balcony, somewhere in Taormina

Sorry for my radio silence here since the last post. I was on holidays and hadn’t had any time to prepare some posts in advance. And as you can imagine, I didn’t sew very much, either (though I tried to make myself a dress for the holiday, but I didn’t finish it in time).

The Naumacchia, a wall with niches of still unknown purpose
The Naumacchia, a wall with niches of still unknown purpose

Normally I have a very strict policy when thinking about blog posts and holiday-photo-posts aren’t what this blog is about. But because I have nothing else to talk about and because I visited a city with a lot of history and art (so there is the connection to this blog) I decided to give you a little glimpse of what my holidays looked like.

Me wearing my Stevie Nicks dress next to Via d'Orville
Me wearing my Stevie Nicks dress next to Via d’Orville (the post presenting it doesn’t exist anymore, sorry)

These were the first holidays since a short trip to Florence 2012. Because all the holidays my boyfriend and I had had together were domitated either by sightseeing or art and museums I had to promise my boyfriend to accept bathing-relax-holidays this time. For this reason we chose Taormina on Sicily, a beautiful little city directly above the mediterranean sea with lovely old churches and enough art to keep me entertained, but not large enough to seduce me with loads of museums and giant cathedrals (the reason we didn’t go to Palermo).

The interiour of San Pancratio, built on the ruins of a greek temple
The interiour of San Pancratio, built on the ruins of a greek temple

Our hotel wasn’t located in Taormina itself, but in Mazzaró, a district of it directly by the sea, connected with Taormina via a funicular or a staircase.

The Centaur-Fountain in front of the Duomo, built in 1635
The Centaur-Fountain in front of the Duomo, built in 1635

This wasn’t only a decision saving money and nerves (because we had rented a car and parking in Taormina is really not relaxing at all), it also enabled us to go to the beach whenever we liked to, the beach being a small natural reserve with the really beautiful Isola Bella. On the island is a very small museum, showing photos of the surrounding reefs and with beautiful terraces from which you have a spectacular view over the mediterranean sea. Unfortunately large areas and even some rooms were closed, but in hindsight I should be lucky that it was open at all.

La Isola Bella
La Isola Bella

Taormina itself is famous for its beautiful buildings and its long history. The oldest buildings to witness this history are the greek ruins like the antique theatre. Today it is often called the roman theatre, because the romans enlarged and altered it, leaving no visible trace of the greek predecessor. This place gives you an amazing view on mount Etna. Unbelieveable, but the Romans built a brick wall behind the stage, so the view onto the island (as the greeks wanted it to be) was completely blocked, fortunately not much of the wall is left today and the vulcano is visible again.

Theatro graeco
Theatro graeco

Most of the town shows medieval and younger buildings, but some of the old looking landmarks are in fact reconstructions from the 19th century, so you have to be careful when judging them.

The Porta Messina, restored in the early 19th century
The Porta Messina, restored in the early 19th century

Now the maddening part of this city. I said it is famous for its history, its art. Is has rare and beautiful antiques, lots of interesting Palazzi and Churches. And it has a Saracen Castle on the hilltop above the town as well as two museums, an archeological Museum and an Antiquarium next to the antique theatre (website tells me that there are two more museums, I didn’t visit any of them and apparently they are smaller, because they didn’t appear in any of the guides I had). All three, the castle and both museums, are closed. Not for maintainance or because of anything special, in fact I have bo idea why and my guide writes that they have been closed for quite some time now.

Castello Saraceno - the locked gate
Castello Saraceno – the locked gate

So although I expected them to be closed, I am quite disappointed by this. I mean, this is a city famous for its antique heritage, attracting thousands of visitors each year and they don’t manage to keep at least one of the antique museums running?

Antique mosaics, hidden in a smelly hallway leading to the stage, that is installed inside the theatre in the summer months
Antique mosaics, hidden in a smelly hallway leading to the stage, which is installed inside the theatre in the summer months

At one day we made a trip to a nearby village called Savoca. I was confused to see numerous tourist groups stroll through it, not because of the cute little town or its monuments, but because they made guided “mafia”-tours, visiting some film-locations of F.F. Coppola’s “Godfather”. All you heard were things like “And here Coppola shot this scene” and “Look, this is the church where the marriage was filmed”. I overheard a german-speaking tour-guide telling his group that in this area of Sicily your risk your life when photografing people on the street, never knowing who they really are. Well, yes, I know that the Cosa Nostra is active in Sicily, no doubt, but still this sounds like a story a tourist guide wants to tell because it sounds so threatening.
And before someone asks: I wanted to visit this village, because there is a small Capucin convent. The rich and noble men of the village had themselves mummified and burried in the curch’s crypt, you can see their bodies, fully clothed in 18th and 19th century attire, until today (photos of the mummies can be found in the italian Wikipedia-article about Savoca)

Savoca. The church on the rocks left is the chiesa de San Nicolò, where the marriage in "The Godfather" was filmed. And the little silver car between the two busses is our hired car
Savoca. The church on the rocks left is the chiesa de San Nicolò, where the marriage in “The Godfather” was filmed. And the little silver thing between the two busses is our hired car

Savoca has a little museum, too and this was open! Though my italian is so bad that I didn’t understand a word it was really cute and I was happy to pay the 2€ entrance fee to support it. Beside an old loom and an (to me undatable but presumeably 19th century) table carpet I especially loved this little room.

Sorry I don't have any better photo of the whole room
Sorry I don’t have any better photo of the whole room

The damask on the bed is painted with some cute figures and additional ornament.

love this mermaid!
love this mermaid!

But the oddest thing is this hook rack. In the middle an antique corset (I don’t even dare dating it. The cut seems to be 18th century but I don’t want to imagine something this old hanging on hooks like that), framed by some priest’s stoles (18th as well, I fear). What a combination! And all in deplorable condition, but the women at the counter didn’t speak anything but Italian so I did not want to start a discussion with them.


Some of you who know me a little better might know that I love art, but that I am absolutely fascinated by nature. I mean, nature is everything, we are nature, art is nature (ok, we are not talking about Jeff Koons’ sculptures here) and no matter how beautiful the things are we create, seing a plant grow from a tiny seed or a small bee working as a part of a whole state is simply breathtaking to me. And so the one thing that impressed me most in this holidays is not man-made:

a little shy, hiding its face in the clouds
a little shy, hiding its face in the clouds

We visited mount Etna on sunday, it already being very active and throwing lava and rock into the air, covering us in a thick smoke smelling like sulphur. If you ever have the chance of visiting it: Do it! Standing in front of a spitting vulcano and listening to the sound of exploding lava is one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever had.

Eruption of the south-eastern crater, seen from appr. 2550m, near the funicular hill station
Eruption of the south-eastern crater, seen from appr. 2550m, near the funicular hill station (shot with zoom lens)

You can go by car or rent a bus tour to the Refugio Sapienza, where you will find a large parking place and dozens of souvenir shops and restaurants. From there a funicular brings you to 2500m heigth. If you want to, you can walk from there or you can pay 30€ for offroad-busses to bring you as close as possible to the top. Because of the ongoing outbreak this busses stopped much sooner as normally, so you have to decide if you are really willing to spend the money when the vulcano is as active as it was last week.

in case you assumed you would be alone up there - you aren't. Photo taken at 2700m, above the Valle del Bove
in case you assumed you would be alone up there – you aren’t. Photo taken at 2700m, above the Valle del Bove

Our guide advised us to have a look at the vulcano from Taormina when it is dark and so, after having watched the football match on monday evening in a bar we stayed in Taormina until it was dark. And oh my god, I was completely overwhelmed!

Erupting Etna seen from the Piazza IX aprile, Taormina
Erupting Etna seen from the Piazza IX aprile, Taormina

I assume I stood there for over an hour, doing nothing but staring and taking photos (only for the record: from the 665 photos we took, 322 show the Etna, mostly because of the many continuous shootings I made from the eruptions). It was just too beautiful to leave. And though this outbreak endagered our departure flight, I was so grateful to see something this beautiful.

Me on the Corso Umberto I, the main street of Taormina (wearing New Look 6789 and the handbag I won from Goldkind)
Me on the Corso Umberto I, the main street of Taormina (wearing New Look 6789 and the handbag I won from Goldkind)

I hope I will be able to sew something in this remaining days of my holidays. but I definitely will cook. Inspired by the HSF, two bloggers created the Historical Food Forthnightly. And because I would like to revitalize my historical recipes on this blog, I hope I will be able to join some of the challenges.

I wish you all a lovely weekend, yours


Cheating doesn’t pay, HSF #10

Well, this month’s challenge was art. Now you may think, me as an art historian, I might love this challenge and burst from ideas.

mh…not at all. Though I love art and have many works of art in mind I am sure would be a great project to recreate, I had two major problems:

1st: I only very occasionally work from the finished project backwards. I do not tend to recreate garments. I chose a pattern and a fabric and test were they will lead me. Most of the time the result does not meet the expectations I had beforehand, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse.

To use a garment or a piece of art as the first step and trying to recreate this, makes me feel very uneasy. I desperately try to match what I see or want to reproduce with a pattern I have in mind, so I don’t have to create one on my own. I am really cowardish when it comes to experimenting with patterns.

To spoiler you only a little, this was something that pushed me while working on this challenge and I discovered very new ways of creating garments. So this aspect really did pay.

2nd: My fabric-cupboard bursts with fabrics as does the built-in closet next to it. Additionally we will have to move again soon, so buing new fabric was strictly forbidden.

Now let’s come to the cheating in the title: Knowing I would panic when having to recreate a costume without a pattern, first thing I did was flip through my patterns and pattern books. I so hoped that Janet Arnold may have written “comparable to the dress depicted in xyz” next to a pattern she traced or that I may recognize a famous painting or an engraving in one of the dresses in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”.

Well, neither was the case. So I put these books aside and had a look at all the coffee table and art books I found on my bookshelf. Because it had been months since I read the description of the challenge, I first searched only for some loose inspiration, finally deciding to catch the structure of the fassade of Santa Maria Novella in Florence in a skirt.

Fortunately I re-read Leimomi’s post before I started and realized that she aimed for a much closer connection between the work of art and the project. So my search started anew.

Soon I had to realize that my prohibition of fabric buying was a much larger hurdle than my pattern-paranoia and very quickly I used the fabric question as my main criteria to chose an artwork.

So when I finally found a painting that suited some paticular fabrics of my stash….wonder oh wonder…. the question wasn’t anymore “oh help, I don’t have a pattern” but rather “what can I do to recreate this”.

Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, La danseuse, 1898, in: Moderne Kunst in Meisterholzschnitten, around 1904
Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, La danseuse (?), 1898, in: Moderne Kunst in Meisterholzschnitten, around 1904


Now you might say: what, are you kidding? No, not at all. For years I had some light pink cotton velvet in my stash I once found in a charity shop, as well as two Ikea-mosquito-nets, one in white I had bought for my room when I was 16 and a 2nd one in pink I bought from a fellow member of the online sewing board I am registered at, still wrapped.
They had all moved with me twice and I had no idea what to make from them.
And though it is very likely that the top of her dress is satin, it could as well be velvet in this reproduction.

This leads me to the picture itself: I found it in the 1904 (not dated, but dates in the texts suggest this)  issue of “Moderne Kunst in Meister-Holzschnitten”, the translation already says everything: Modern art in Master-Woodcuts. While the majority of the pictures are black-and-white and indeed woodcuts, this is one of the few coloured plates inside. It can’t be a photographic reproduction in colour and it doesn’t seem to have been coloured afterwards, so I assume it is a copy after the original. While searching for the original I got quite confused. The artist, Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, painted a lot of ballet-dancers and the title given in my book, “Er liebt mich nicht”, that means He doesn’t love me, didn’t  show any result at all.
But after some searching online I still hadn’t found the one original, in fact I had found four! All in different sizes, different styles and some undated (there wasn’t a date given in the book, 1898 is the years the dated originals were made).

La danseuse
Forth Position
Forth Position II.

Well, I won’t start arguing about attributions here, but especially the third painting is strikingly different from the other, don’t you think? The version I have printed in my book seems closest to the first and the last link, but I can’t tell for sure.

Now, enough talk about art, let’s come to my dress.
As I already meantioned, this project pushed me out of my comfort zone, giving me not only a period I had rarely worked in, but also the task to reproduce a dress without any pattern at all. I consulted the above mentioned Nora Waugh book and studied the dart placement and the cutting lines of late 19th century garments.  After this I took a piece of cotton and started pinning on my sewing mannequin. And it worked! I am still a little baffles that I had to face neither any disappointments nor catastrophes, as I was so sure they would come.

After I had completed the cotton version, I pinned this to my velvet, using the cotton as my lining (you will laugh when you see a photo of it below. It is the rest of a baby quilt I made for my boyfriend’s cousin, whose wife had a baby in january. Therefore it is a light pink cotton printed with white bunnies and ducks).

I have seen many 19th century costumes in the past weeks and most of them had one thing in common: Today we tend to sew the lining and the outside fabric seperately and connect them only on the edges and maybe a few spots to avoid shifting. The 19th century costumes are usually sewn in one layer, so darts and seams are stitched through all layers, leaving you with the seam allowances inside and not hidden between the layers. Normally the seams are finished with hand stitching or bias binding to avoid fraying.
So this was my method to go: pin the lining, at the same time my just constructed pattern, onto the left side of the velvet, close all seams and darts, stitching through all layers at once. I had cut the lining at the edges where I wanted the bodice to end, so all I had to do was to flap the hem and neckline allowance of the velvet to the inside and sew it. I used boning in the front darts and the side seams or should I say “cable tie-ing”, because that’s what I used (I once bought a package to try it and this were the last six I had, not that I am a large fan of cable-tie-boning, it really isn’t stiff enough for my taste)?

Inside the bodice, the white thread forms the loops to close with hooks
Inside the bodice, the white thread forms the loops to close with hooks, the boning is covered by the darts and the seam allowance, the black hooks keep the skirt in place. The white square is in fact a short ribbon with press fasteners to hold the shoulder straps in place, you can attach it to your bra’s or what else’s shoulder strap you wear below.

The painting doesn’t show very good, how the bodice closes, but it looks like a wrap bodice to me, so I made the front edges a convex shape and closed it with hooks and thread loops, made from white crochet yarn.


I didn’t know how to make the shoulder-straps, because there was quite a lot of fabric and a sharp curve from the darts. While I could have made a real princess seam and seperating the front into a middle and a side part, I went for a little pleat in the strap.

here you see the only fitting issue I have, the gap below the arms. It wasn’t there when I first pinned it and when I wear it, it is even worse, maybe two cut parts would have worked better

I don’t have a seperate photo from the skirt. I just used a white cotton ribbon tied around the hips of my mannequin and pleated the mosquito nets onto it. I started at the top of the net and after having finished a round I cut it where I wanted my hem to be and starting anew, always using pink and white alternatingly. I also had real, stiff tulle, but that wasn’t pink and I could have only put it on top of this skirt to have to effect of a real ballerina’s tutu. But when I had finished my mosquito net slaughter I already didn’t know when to wear such a pink tulle skirt, so I assume I would have even less oportunities to wear an even larger tutu.

Because only for the record: I don’t dance at all, the ballet lessons I had in my life can be counted on one hand (I think it was four, I desperately wanted to learn it, but the teacher was just so bad, I didn’t even stayed during the cancellation period my mother had to adhere to).
But: I love ballet slippers and wear them at home all the time. And yes, it is always quite funny when buing them, “oh, you don’t dance…ok” :-D

Oh, I assume you finally want to see the result? Here it is:

tights: Rumpf, ballet slippers: Katz
tights: Rumpf, ballet slippers: Katz

I have to apologize, it was very bad light today and not even photoshop could help that.

Because I didn’t know how the back was meant to be, I went for a simple v-neckline as seen in some of the patterns I had looked at beforehand. When seing it now I have to admit it would have been better to include a centre back seam.


To avoid a gap between the very low hanging tutu and the bodice, I attached hooks and eyes to connect them (I only had black ones left in this size and didn’t want to buy new ones only for a fancy dress).


Now, after having finished it only this morning I have to say, the project was much larger than I wanted it to be, I made a dress I will presumably never wear but at a fancy dress party, I spent so much time making it (everything but the side seams and the skirt is hand sewn, because I didn’t want any seams to be visible outside). But I got rid of some large chunks of  my fabric stash, I learned very much and it is so much fun jumping aroung in it :-D This is for all the ballet lessons I never took.

And only a very little fun fact to close with: Nina has a blog series called Upcycling-Dienstag on her Werkeltagebuch. Every tuesday she or guest bloggers present and collect ideas on how to turn waste into something creative, useful and beautiful. Last week, guestposter Katja shared her idea, how to turn old wooden curtain rings into small picture frames.

Both of the mosquito nets had small metal rings to attach them to the ceiling. While the used one’s resembled more an egg than a ring, the brand new pink net had a still intact one. So when I started driving crazy pushing all this tulle under my sewing machine, I stopped and made some little crafting to calm down again. The search for a matching picture ended when I found an old promotional package of a famous role play game I had never played and will never play (but hey, you can’t throw away cards, maybe there will be an occation to use them, someday).

The tiny foggy and mysthic contrast to this pink ballerina overkill





The Challenge: #10 Art

Inspiration: Pierre Carrier-Belleuse – La Danseuse, 1898

Fabric: light pink cotton velvet, printed cotton, pink and white soft tulle, aka two Ikea mosquito nets

Pattern: None, I only looked briefly at period patterns to check dart placement and the like

Year: 1898

Notions: pink and white poly-thread, pink silk thread, white cotton ribbon, white cotton crochet thread, hooks and eyes, press fasteners, cable ties

How historically accurate is it? I have no idea. I don’t know how dancing costumes were constructed around 1900, if they were boned, if they were worn with a corset etc. Some of the fabrics and materials are possible, some not, the lining is just silly. The sewing itself and the closures are accurate (though I used modern press fasteners, the early ones worked with a different technique).

Hours to complete? Maybe 15-20? I could as well say 2 episodes of “Sherlock”,3 of *The big bang theory” and the first season of “Hannibal” including bonus material (do I have to mention that I love Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal even more than Anthony Hopkins’?)

First worn: Today for the photos (though I wore the skirt for a few hours after I had finished it last weekend)

Total cost: Direct costs, nothing, I had everything in stock. The velvet was bought in a charity shop, can’t have been more than a few Euros. Same applies for the pink mosquito net, bought online. The white one was bought new, but already had had a live above my bed, so I would call this recycling. Notions I usually buy on flea markets, too. The book I found the illustration in cost me 2 CHF. 


Talking about accuracy: The letter I am holding is old, but not old enough, dating from 1921.

See you soon, love,