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Vegan Summer Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter (. . . feeding my "inner fashionista" hand sewing Alabama Chanin and joining Sew-a-longs)

July 28 2015 Vegan Thyme 

Vegan Summer Heirloom Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter (. . . feeding my The tomatoes have been piling up here. I had to do something. So I did Italian of course. Not that I needed a recipe to create a perfect fresh tomato sauce with pasta dinner. I didn't. But I believe anything Italian made well can be made even better with little pearls of wisdom from Marcella Hazan. Made with 2 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes, a half stick of vegan butter, an onion (peeled and cut into quarters), five cloves of garlic and cooked this according to Marcella at "a very slow but steady simmer for 45 minutes . . . until the fat floats from from the tomato". Her basic sauce omits the garlic and I can appreciate that option. But as far as I'm concerned, it's not really edible Italian Sauce without the garlic. I tasted the sauce while it was simmering without the garlic, it was "okay". As the sauce simmered, I thought it needed some umph: so I also added a fresh zucchini, a carrot, some celery and a can of garbanzo beans. This was a scrumptious meal.  And an even better leftover the next night.  I also added fresh basil and oregano from the garden, too--but toward the end of cooking.  Finally, I hit it with some balsamic vinegar. Perfecto!  The comfort of creating an Italian sauce completely from scratch was exactly what I needed.  The aroma filling the house was intoxicating.  (Regardless of the fact that it was a blistering 110 degrees outside!) (I hope Marcella would have loved me for riffing on her basic sauce recipe in creating this dinner. Surely she would have "loved" knowing the ingredients were grown right out my back door.) The bounty from my garden has been overwhelming. With all the rain and horrid growing conditions, I was concerned my tomatoes wouldn't produce.  I moved them to a new location this year, and obviously they LOVE their new home.  (In the old asparagus bed.)  Asparagus + Tomatoes = Love. This is the largest tomato of perfect shape and size I've EVER grown.  I was giddy when I picked it. So. Delish. I've been sewing a lot lately. Not every single day, I can't "mentally" take it.  Sewing still intimidates me.  Don't ask me why.  Nevertheless, the creative sewing forces driving lately have taken me to try my hand at completing a tank top I ordered from Alabama Chanin--and hand sewing a garment.  I sort of can't get enough of the Alabama Chanin "looks" and styles, plus this cotton fabric made from plants only a few states south of where I sit!--It boggles my mind, really.  Take a tour of her offerings and tell me that her fashions aren't the most brilliant, comfortable, easy living you've ever seen.  It's eye candy for my sewing soul. (*Plus I have to tell you, Rosanne Cash is one of my favorite people--love her music, love her passion, loved her dad, Johnny. . . she LOVES Alabama Chanin, too. Small World.)  I have three of Alabama Chanin sewing books in my collection. I've been picking them up here and there over the course of a few years now. I never knew quite where to start. I was going to try my hand at buying some cotton fabric myself and stencil and applique it with one of her designs, but the thought of narrowing it all down: figuring out what silhouette I wanted, what stencil to apply, what color. . . well, it was too much "deciding".  So I ordered one of the more affordable pieces I could find on her site. This is the V-neck tank with the Magdalena stencil.  I ordered it in all black. It's a color I happen to love.  There are sewing techniques you need to be familiar with in sewing her seams. The books help a lot in that arena.  On the shoulder here, I have double sewn my seams in the manner she describes, using a flat-felled seam: stitch the seams together, then tuck under and stitch again.  Brilliant and leaves a much cleaner looking finished seam. The part I am working on now is the stencil. Now I may have done this incorrectly. I am embroidering the applique to the top of my tank. In the photo, you can see where I cut away the top layer of fabric around the applique--which gives this very hip, natural "layered" effect to the otherwise fairly basic black cotton. It's brilliant. And like I said, I have a crush on these clothes right now.  My "inner fashionista" sews s-l-o-w-l-y. But I sew because I want to, not because I have to.  Having spent nearly twenty years in fashion retail, my DNA is forever altered. I love clothes. However, I dread shopping. I would rather find a few sewing patterns/­­silhouettes I absolutely cannot live without, and recreate them over and over in several colors and fabric choices vs. having to schlep through racks of ready-to-wear, only then have to schlep again to the fitting room to "try on". Ugh.  Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap. (My sewing supplanted my knitting in the evenings. Who can hold wool in their hands when it's 110 outside? Um, I can't. Don't worry yarn gods, I'll be back, I promise!) Anyway. . .So far, I love how the tank is turning out. It will be a cross-seasonal wearable top. In the fall, I can wear it under a denim jacket.  A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Aster Sewalong sponsored by Colette Patterns.  I have no idea how to sew a top like this.  I've never sewn a front button shirt!   I hope I don't screw this up.  Just in case, I bought two different fabrics for my project--I figure making two will totally "up" my learning curve in the area of attaching sleeves, adding buttons and working with shirting material.  This is my fabric for my first go-around on the Aster shirt.  I love this print. I bought it at Hawthorne Threads Fabric and it's from Amy Butler.  LOVE. IT. Well, now I just need a job in an optometrists office and then I'll have somewhere to wear it. My sewing philosophy: It's all about that fabric. My second Aster shirt will be made with some fabric I picked up on sale at JoAnns--it's Gertie's fabric! I loved this chambray looking cotton.  I decided I'd pair with pink buttons and pink bias tape for the hem and collar.   Finally, I wanted to show you a McCall's pattern 6510 I made with a jersey knit I picked several years ago. (Or maybe last year--it's difficult to recall exactly.)  First of all, I LOVE this pattern--this is totally my silhouette:  flowing, drapey and casual. I used gray bias tape around the collar and it sort of flips out when I wear it, which is fine. I mean, it's casual and comfortable. It really gives it that "organic/­­handmade look" which works for me. I plan on making another one. It's so simple--a giant circle, with a seam up from the bottom to just under the arms. Used my serger for blind hemming the whole thing (which is a HUGE hem)-- but it worked. Next up:


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