Anna Allen Clothing: Spring Sale!


Today through April 30th, everything in the shop is 40% off! Use code SPRINGSALE at checkout or contact me if you are interested in a custom order. 

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Sewing Project: Summer Dress Vintage Vogue 9732


The other week I found this vintage Vogue Pattern Book and I decided to get it. I'm always so inspired by those old pattern books and this one looked like a fun one for the summertime! Funny, because when I looked up the pattern for the dress on the cover, I thought it looked familiar. I rummaged though my vintage patterns and found this exact design in my collection, plus it's in my size! Funny how I never thought about making it in a casual cotton. I think I like it best as a breezy summer dress. I haven't decided what fabric I'm going to use yet or even when I'll have time to work on it, but I hope I will have the time to make it soon. It's really starting to warm up around here and summer is just around the corner! It always goes by so fast!

I'm planning to trace the pattern out on tissue paper first, which is what I always do whether it's a vintage pattern or new. I know I'll have to make a few alterations since I want it to be more comfortable to wear and not quite as tight around the waist. That will be easy, because I noticed the front dart was rather large, so I'll probably end up letting out a little bit in that area. I don't think I'll make the petticoat with the ruffle either. It should be a quick sew with minor fitting issues, but I'll make a mock-up of the bodice before cutting into the fashion fabric just to be safe.

Does anyone else like sewing with vintage patterns? What era(s) are your favorites and what pattern companies do you like? My favorites hands down are McCall's and Vogue from the 1960's. I also like the late '50s, 1970's and even some of the early '80s patterns I think are fantastic. I find that these eras are pretty simple to incorporate into a modern wardrobe. I also have a fondness for even older patterns (1920s-'40s), but I'm mostly inspired by the 1960's-'70s fashions. Some of the artwork on those old patterns are really phenomenal as well!

Here's a vintage Vogue pattern I made up a few years ago. It's one of my favorite blouses. I've since made another in white dotted swiss cotton with 3/4 length sleeves and lace insertions (sorry that pic isn't a great view of the blouse!).

Hot Cross Buns


I've never made hot cross buns before and I don't remember the last time I had one. I think they are more of a British roll, as I haven't seen them in the shops around here. But I could be wrong. In any case, I thought I would try my hand at making a batch for Easter this year. I couldn't wait for them to cool before piping the icing cross, so I split one with Jed and it was mouthwatering good! Perfectly sweet without the added icing. I think these would be great rolls to make for other occasions as well. I believe the more traditional hot cross buns have a cross made out of a flour/water paste which is piped onto the unbaked buns before going into the oven. I decided to pipe mine with icing after they were baked, however. Maybe I will try making them the more traditional way next year.

I scoured the internet to find the perfect recipe for hot cross buns and after looking at several, I decided on the one over at Simply Recipes. I can pretty much always count on that website to find exactly what I'm looking for. And after trying this recipe for hot cross buns, I can definitely recommend it. They really aren't hard at all to make. Very similar to a cinnamon roll dough (video). I used a pumpkin spice mix from Trader Joe's in place of the recommended spices, since I like their spice mix (it includes my favorite spice, cardamom). I also made it slightly different than what the recipe instructed. I scalded the milk and added the cold butter, which melted in the hot milk and then mixed in the sugar. Doing this brought down the temperature of the milk so there was no risk of killing the yeast. I then added the yeast and eggs and mixed it around a bit before pouring the liquid into the dry ingredients and continuing with the recipe. I really think the orange zest adds so much flavor to these buns.

Let me know if you make these hot cross buns and what you think of them. I am looking forward to having one for breakfast. Bon app├ętit!

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe


Everyone has their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and this one is mine. I've been making it for years and while I've tried many other recipes, I just keep coming back to this one. It's an old Better Homes and Garden recipe from 1963. It's a very basic recipe that produces the perfect chewy cookie. Just the right amount of chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Of course you can omit the nuts if you don't like them, perhaps add more chocolate chips or just omit them altogether. I usually use walnuts because they are my favorite, but use whatever nuts you like or have on hand.

The original recipe says to use part butter and part shortening. Now, I've made these with all butter more than I have with part shortening. I personally have no issues using vegetable shortening in my baking, but I know some people think it's unhealthy. I don't really think it's a problem in moderation (as with practically anything). But I have to say, the shortening does make these cookies extra lovely and chewy. The all butter can make the cookies spread a bit more, which is okay but not really what I look for in my perfect chocolate chip cookie. Either way, whether you use all butter or part, I think it produces a lovely cookie. In this batch I added 1 stick butter with the remaining 3 1/3 tablespoons shortening. Even that little bit of shortening made them just the way I like them without sacrificing any flavor.

When I make a batch of these cookies, I keep a few in our cookie jar and the rest in the freezer. Mom used to freeze balls of cookie dough and then bake them directly from the freezer when needed. That works as well, but I have found they don't spread as nicely when you bake from frozen. So I just bake the entire batch and freeze any I don't think we'll eat in a day or two.

I hope I've inspired you to keep your cupboards stocked with all the ingredients to make these. Because you never know when you'll get a hankering for chocolate chip cookies!

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup shortening (I used 1/2 cup butter and 3 1/3 tablespoons shortening for this batch)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 oz.)

Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Mix butter/shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. Stir dry ingredients together and blend in the butter mixture until just incorporated (don't over mix). Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop in teaspoonfuls about 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until delicately browned. (Cookies should still be soft.) Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet. Makes over 2 dozen (I used a tablespoon cookie scoop).