All things DIY

New Look D0721

One of my New Year’s resolution is to sew more clothes. The new year started off right because I sewed another dress! I started this project during the winter break. It started out as a dress for my daughter, but actually ended up being a shirt.

We were in Joann’s and she saw this pattern and asked me to make her this dress:

New Look dress, so hip

She asked me to make View D (the one the model on the envelope is wearing). She picked out a black knit fabric. It had speckles of white in it. It kind of looked like splatters of white paint. It was the perfect fabric for her dress.

Sewing this pattern started a little rough since it was my first time sewing with knit fabric. I had a little bit of difficulty cutting out the pattern pieces. There was so much stretch in the fabric, I had to make sure that it didn’t stretch out too much before cutting it. I just let it sit for a little bit before pinning the fabric to the pattern and then cutting it out. Luckily, it all turned out well and I was able to start sewing. Sewing the dress together was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Mostly because I finally purchased a walking foot and what a difference it made!

The cowl neck was easy to sew. The sleeves were also easy. I was happy with how everything was turning out until I got to the gathering at the bottom of the skirt. I tried gathering it the old fashioned way but I wasn’t having any luck. I was having difficulty because of the stretchy knit material for some reason. After that, I remembered that I have a gathering foot so I set out to use that. I have used it before without a problem, but this time around, I ran into a lot of problems. For one thing, it wasn’t working properly. So I spent a lot of time trying to fix the gathering foot. Eventually I gave up and decided just to sew the bottom without gathers. That didn’t work out too well either. So I told Sabrina she would have to settle for a long sleeved cowl shirt. She liked it. I even made made her a matching scrunchy for her hair. I was able to finish this project before she left to go back to London. But I promised her that I would make her a dress, just without gathers.

I used the same material and it turned out great. I pretty much sewed View B but with the tight sleeves not the bell sleeves.

Here’s how it turned out:

I did a test run of this dress and wore it to work. I was surprised to receive a lot of compliments on it, even from strangers. My friends were surprised that I sewed it. I guess I did a good job on this homemade dress.

I hope Sabrina likes it too. I’ll just have to wear it a few times first (wink, wink).

Today I am grateful for pretty dresses, creativity, sewing, compliments from strangers in the elevator and homemade dresses that pass off as store bought dresses.


Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes


This recipe belongs to Paula Deen. I’ve made it many times as pumpkin bars. I adapted it just a bit for pumpkin cupcakes. You can find the original recipe here.

For the pumpkin cupcakes, you will need the following ingredients:

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line up your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. This batch made 30 cupcakes.

1. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

2. Stir together the flour (don’t forget to sift the flour, very important!), baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

4. Fill cupcake liners about halfway. Bake for 20 minutes. Let completely cool before frosting.


Ingredients for the icing:
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin cupcakes.


Ingredients for the topping:

7 oz. of sweetened shredded coconut.

To make the topping, lightly toast the coconut: Spread coconut in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently in between.


Top the cupcakes with toasted coconut and enjoy!


I entered these cupcakes in a Halloween cupcake contest and it won first prize! That’s why I call them Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes.


Feeling coco-nutty…


My adaptation of the Caramel Apple Poke Cake


I tried making this Caramel Apple Poke Cake  from (a recipe by Lindsay Funston). It was definitely delish!

According to, here are the ingredients that this recipe requires:

2 tbsp. butter, plus more for pan
All-purpose flour, for pan
1 box spice cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter
5 Granny Smith apples, finely chopped (peeled if desired)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 c. jarred caramel, plus more for drizzling

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 tbsp. butter, softened
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

My dilemma? I couldn’t find spice cake. My other dilemma? I didn’t want to make the frosting from scratch. So I bought a yellow cake mix, added some spices to make it a spice cake and I bought ready made cream cheese frosting.

So here is my adapted list of ingredients for the caramel apple poke cake that I made:


1 box of yellow cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter (which in my case was 3 eggs, water and vegetable oil)
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
one jar of Smucker’s caramel flavored topping (12.25 oz.)

-Butter a 9-x-13″ baking pan or dish.
-Mix the yellow cake mix, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg together.
-Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions (i.e. add eggs, water and oil) and pour into the prepared pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool, about 20 minutes.
-Prepare the apple layer: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the brown sugar and white sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and stir until combined. Add the corn starch and lemon juice and stir until combined. Remove from heat.
-When cake is cooled, poke holes using a thick straw or the end of a wooden spoon, all over the cake.
-Pour the caramel all over the cake, especially over the poked holes.
-Spread the apple mixture on top.
-Spread the cream cheese frosting over apple layer.
-Dust the top of the cake with cinnamon.

I have a great idea on how to adapt this recipe into cupcakes. After the cupcake has cooled,  poke one big hole in each cupcake and fill it with caramel. Instead of spreading a layer of apples and then spreading the cream cheese frosting on top of that, mix the apple mixture and cream cheese frosting together to make it an apple pie cream cheese frosting. Sounds pretty good, right?!

I must admit that I was a little hesitant about this recipe. It sounded like it would be too sweet with all the spices, the caramel, the cream cheese frosting and the sweet apples. But actually, it was the perfect combination together. The spices blended well together with all of the other ingredients and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. It reminded me of an apple pie with caramel on top.