Paunnet Birthday Giveaway

January 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello there!

Just a quick post to let you know that the lovely Anna, over at Paunnet, is giving away a Deer and Doe pattern in honour of her birthday today. Just pop over, wish her a Happy Birthday and be in to win!

 

Christmas Trees on the Run

January 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

The last piece of Christmas sewing was a table runner for Bif’s grandmother. She had specifically asked for something hand-made and the only thing I could think to make was something Christmas-y. I searched the interwebs for Christmas table runners that were a bit different and stood out, but most of them had backing or were set on to something. I struck gold when I found these two images;

By combining the two, I got this; a forest of trunkless Christmas trees

long table runner

I cut out four different sizes of trees, with a curved base so they didn’t look so stiff. I don’t remember the widths, but the biggest tree was 20cm tall, the second 17cm, the third 15cm and the smallest 10cm. I cut them out of two different fabrics, though if I would have done more if I had had the fabric on hand. I cut out a white cotton to sew on the back as well so the edges wouldn’t be visible.

IMG_1281

IMG_1282

The basic process was as follows;

  • Sew cotton and main fabric together, right sides facing, leaving a small gap at base to flip the tree inside out. Flip the tree  inside out. Iron.
  • Stitch around the right side of the tree, sealing the gap at the base.
  • Do this for all the trees and then arrange them in an order you are happy with.
  • Stitch them together, following the lines you have sewn on the outside to hide the extra stitching.

Simple, right? I imagine this would also be pretty easy to do with other shapes like this one. Maybe adding some interfacing would help it stay more stiff as well. We live and we learn.

Til next time!

Shortbread Galore

January 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

hearts

As an add-on to all the other gifts we gave Bif’s family, I decided to bake a bunch of Shortbread biscuits and put them in jars I had bought, along with some “burned almonds” (almonds with sugar burnt around them). As a kid, we were encouraged to make gifts rather than buy them. My grandparents loved it and my Opa (granddad in Dutch) always loved getting the biscuits we made. Along this track, my mum found out that making shortbread was by far the easiest with 4 sets of sticky fingers. This recipe is about as close as I can remember it to be and they tasted pretty accurate. I managed to get 72 out of one batch of dough.

big

heart and star

Shortbread Biscuits 

From The Telegraph website

200 g caster sugar

500 g plain flour

250 g rice or corn flour (rice flour makes more crunchy biscuits and corn flour give a more melt in your mouth result)

500 g salted butter, softened

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in which ever mode works best for you.
  3. Sift in the flours and caster sugar gradually, mixing quickly after each addition.
  4. Knead gently until the mixture is combined and smooth.
  5. Split in to smaller batches and wrap in cling film. leave in the fridge for 3o min. This makes it easier to roll but is not necessary.
  6. On a floured work top, roll out the dough to about 5 mm thick. This could be harder than thought and the dough may split a bit at the sides, but you can just push it back together.
  7. Cut out shapes and place on a baking tray with baking paper
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 min ( mine only took around 12 min so make sure to check them around 10 min) and allow to cool for 10 min before moving.

The Telegraph also has a bunch of flavour variations.

jars

And the finished product! The Danes loved them, though I doubt their waist line did with all the butter. What is Christmas for if not to eat unhealthily?

Til next time!

Polyester Delight

December 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

Who else loves real, cold, hard patterns? You know those ones you don’t have to try to decipher from a Burda magazine or just draw them from scratch. As much as I love the challenge of drawing my own patterns, when it comes to making a dress for your boyfriend’s mother, it is a lot less risky just to hand over the cash and get the wisdom of someone else who has been trained and has probably been doing it for years (technically I didn’t hand over the cash, my mother did, but that is a mere detail!).

As mentioned here, I decided to sew a dress for my boyfriend’s mother for Christmas, specifically one New Look 6000, which has had a lot of good reviews over on Pattern Review. I accosted a younger sister and we rifled through her mum’s closet, racking our brains to remember which dresses fitted the best so I could take measurements. I ended up with a 6 at the bust, graded to a 10 at the waist and an 8 at the hips. This is the first time I have ever needed to grade anything, I’m a straight size through my upper bust, waist and hips and I just do a FBA for the chest situation, so naturally, the pattern was separated in to 4,6,8 and 10,12,14 for some of the pieces and other pieces only had one size per line drawing. It was definitely a learning curve!

IMG_1246

IMG_1262

IMG_1267

 

I made the version with the pleats at the waist and the longer sleeves just without the collar and cuffs. I haven’t hemmed the dress yet. I’m planning on getting that done once she had tried it on and I have made any fitting alterations. Grading through the pleats stumped me for a while and they still don’t look perfect but I know no one else will ever be able to see it. I lined the dress by just using the plain darted bodice. The fabrics are a polyester crepe from my mum and a polyester lining . Polyester! Polyester everywhere!

IMG_1261

IMG_1260

Instead of using both a lining and a facing, which many people vote both for and against, I just cut the facings from interfacing and ironed the interfacing straight on to the lining. All the stiffness with none of the extra bulk. By accident, I swear it was and not just laziness, I ended up sewing the lining with the side seams of the fashion fabric. Whoops! Late night sewing never seems to do me any good. But I figure it will still work and she wears a petticoat. I’m safe, right?

IMG_1263

IMG_1258

This was also the first time I had to sew sleeves all on my lonesome. I haven’t sewn sleeves since high school sewing class when we had to sew a sweatshirt. They were a pain in the ass then and I just assumed they would be now too. As luck would have it, following the instructions included in the pattern (benefits already, people!) and careful use of ease stitching, I managed pretty easily and I think they look rather great, especially since we have been playing a very long game of Hide and Seek. Guess who was the hide-ee.

On an unrelated note, how sweet is this card that my little sister made for me?

IMG_1266

Two more posts to come before Christmas; one sewing related and the other is more edible. Santa Claus is comin’ to town!

Til next time.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

December 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

blurry candles

Christmas is coming! And I am getting quite excited! Being the second Christmas that I am spending in Denmark, I now know what to expect and I’m feeling rather like a child in a candy store. Christmasses here are like the big ones we southern hemisphere kids see in the films, where the snow is falling, everything is dark outside and lit by candles inside, there is far too much comfort food and everyone gains around 5 kg in just one day and, to borrow an overly used Danish expression, everything is just so cosy. There are a few extra traditions they have here that just make you think “What!?” until you actually participate in them. These include, but are not limited to, holding hands and dancing around the christmas tree whilst singing Danish christmas songs, and making far too much rice pudding with almonds broken in to it, or Risalamande, and forcing everyone to eat it all until it is all gone and the one whole almond has been found by a lucky someone who gets a gift to go with their incredible feeling of stomach ache. Strangely, especially for a serial 1st of December-er, the Christmas tree doesn’t get put up and decorated until the 24th. This also happens to be the day that this is all celebrated, though for quite a number of lucky families, a lot of these things need to be redone on the 25th with the other half of the family. I know this is how things are done in a lot of northern European countries, but I had just never thought of it. The 25th has always just been Christmas for me.

tree

This year, I decided to make a few more things than I did last year in the way of gifts. I’m getting up quite a stash of fabric after being sent a whole bunch from my Mum and getting a bit from Bif’s grandmother, who used to do a bit of home sewing. As well as the skirt I made for one of the sisters, I finished two cute little backpacks for the other sister and a small cousin.

This first one is for the small cousin. I can take none of the creative talent since I found a tutorial here and just adjusted it a little.

blue backpack 1

blue backpack back

blue backpack open

The fabric is just a plain cotton. I used three layers just to make it a bit more stable on the outside and used the same fabric on the inside. The straps are the blue cotton canvas left over from this skirt. I still have to add a dome/snap or a button, I just haven’t decided which one yet. I did buy some little trains from Ikea to add in to the bag. I had no idea they sold toys and they are made from wood so it was definitely a win!

trains

The second rucksack came from a mixture of two tutorials. This one over at Heart of Mary, is so great! She did a really good job with the instructions and I found it really easy to follow. The second one is from a magazine, I think, and I used this one mostly to simplify the other one.

front rucksack

open rucksack

back rucksack

Inside rucksack

I bought some wool and used that as a tie for the top of the bag and attached some pompoms at the end. It’s been years since I made pompoms and I don’t remember them taking so long to make or why on earth I made so many of them as a kid. My bedroom was like puff land and it would have used quite a bit of mum’s wool stash, which for reference, is just as big as her enormous fabric stash. Have I mentioned that my siblings and I never had wardrobes? Sure, they were in our rooms, but they were strictly used for storage of wool and fabric. We used to hide in it and not be found for hours during our many games of hide and seek with the neighbourhood children. Perfect place to bury yourself.

Anyway, the outside of the bag is a fabric I bought for a lining when I first started sewing here and I had just enough left to squeeze a bag out of it. It is quite thick and should hopefully stand up to the job. The inside is a viscose rayon which I had left over from this top and the flap is the very popular polka dot matte satin fabric that I have now used to make two skirts.

I have two more gifts to make before Monday, as well as baking around 60/80 shortbread biscuits to put in to biscuit jars as a small add-on gift to other presents. I should be kept busy! Will add posts on these items before I give them to their recipients.

Are you making any homemade gifts this year? Do you prefer to receive something homemade to something store-bought?

Til next time!

Three’s a charm

November 20, 2012 § 1 Comment

Sewing! Yes I’ve actually sewed quite a bit over the past week. But sadly, not for myself. Just before Christmas, 4 birthdays hit us and one of them is for Bif’s youngest sister who is forever requesting for me to sew her things. After over coming the language barrier, she quickly realised that, yes, I did indeed make that skirt I gave her for Christmas last year. Apologies in advance for terribly lit photos. Winter means no decent day light, unfortunately.

Two of the skirts are for the youngest sister and the third skirt is for Christmas for the other sister who is now, conveniently, the same size as I am so fitting has become a breeze.

The first is just a straight skirt with the left over piece of fabric from my polka dot skirt and a 3.5cm piece of elastic. Nothing major to write about there.

The second for the youngest sister, has the elastic in a casing and is around 120cm wide so lots of gathers for her 60cm waist. Actually, the elastic only just manages to stretch the width of the fabric. I only put one pocket on since I thought it looked cool and she likes clothes that are a bit different, and then stitched a bit of ric-rac on to it. It is also lined because the fabric rides up on tights during the winter and is incredibly annoying. I attached the lining by just sliding it in to the elastic casing under the elastic.

Aaaannnnd the third. It’s made out of really thick fabric like what you would use for curtains but I liked the print and thought it would look good with a few pleats. I originally thought to make gathers right around with a straight waistband but having a silly moment, the pieces I cut out were too small for her hips so I began to play around and came up with this.

Deep pockets on the side panels and pleats in the middle front and back. The zip runs down one of the back side seams and the waistband is just two straight rectangles from her waist measurement and a bit of wearing ease.

A few more Christmas sewing posts to come. Is anyone else starting to feel Christmassy?

Til next time!

Fruity

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Living with two boys seems to mean that if you buy fruit and you don’t eat it yourself, it will go off. Their dietary needs just don’t seem to encompass eating something healthy once in a while. That’s why, after a week of staying with my 10-year-old charge, I came home to one big mess of a fruit bowl. I was brought up never to waste anything that you could use so I was determined to use the fruit that was still in edible condition. Instead of sewing this week, I baked.

Normally, I am the worst at baking cakes. The don’t rise, they don’t taste that good, they are too dense. Banana cakes are my one exception. They’re too easy to turn out badly. In NZ, we have a cooking book called “Edmonds Cookery Book”. It has been around for ages and just about every household has one. I got this recipe from there and just replaced a bit of the flour with cocoa powder.

Chocolate Banana Cake

125 g  butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp hot milk

1 3/4 cups plain baking flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa

  • Heat the oven to 180
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs and beat well. Add the banana and mix in
  • Add the baking soda to the hot milk and stir in to the wet mixture
  • Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder in to the mixture. Stir
  • Turn in to a lined/greased baking tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a stick comes out clean
  • Cool before removing from the tin

Helpful tip from the book; This mixture can be used in two and baked for 25 min.

On the other hand, muffins seem to be my best friends. It’s the second thing we learn to make in school cooking class at the age of 10 or 11 and I swear that the apple muffins are the ones we made all the way back then. The first ones came from here and the second ones from here (this one is actually one of my favourite websites. Lots of good, easy recipes). Didn’t get any pictures of the apple and sultana ones, though, since I was in a rush to go out.

Pear and Cinnamon Muffins

2 cups plain baking flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 pears, peeled, cored and diced

  • Heat oven to 200
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar together
  • Combined the remaining ingredients and mix in to the dry ingredient. Be careful not to over mix
  • Spoon in to muffin trays and top with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar (optional)
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a stick come out clean

Apple and Sultana/Raisin Muffins

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup milk

2 cups plain baking flour

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups apples and sultanas/raisins (I just eye balled it. 3 small apples, grated, and a handful of raisins. I like lots of fruit)

  • Heat the oven to 200
  • Beat the oil and egg together until light and fluffy
  • Add the sugar and milk and continue to beat
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon and baking powder into the bowl and mix gently
  • Fold in the fruit
  • Put in to a muffin tray and bake for 20-25 mins or until a stick comes out clean

Til next time!