Saturday, 30 May 2009

fabric scrap heart

Hurray for an old-fashioned advert in this week's radio times.

And, a film I've been waiting a year and a half for (since I missed half of it) is finally being shown again on film4. Woohoo! 'The Gentle Sex' is a black and white documentary style WW2 film, with a good measure of patriotism and propaganda. It follows a group of young women from different walks of life as they join the forces. It's on Monday at 11am

Couldn't resist making my sister a mini-birthday present out of a scrap of fabric in my stash (after all, there's not much soul in a Nintendo DS game is there?). Added some scented rose buds to the centre so it keeps her wardrobe fresh.

Friday, 29 May 2009

quilting ~ beginners tips

helpful advice I've found from various places, including Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts ~

  • plain weave cotton is easiest to sew with, so best for beginners
  • buy batting thats at least 4" larger in all directions than your quilt top
  • if the manufacturer indicates shrinkage, and you want to avoid puckering when you wash your finished quilt, pre-wash your batting

  • pre-wash your fabric, so any shrinkage/colour bleeding occurs now, now when the quilt is finished
  • press fabric, don't iron it, to keep the grain of the fabric's weave straight ~ the fabric will retain it's size and shape better when washed
  • cut pieces of fabric carefully with accurate seam allowances, so the finished quilt is the right shape and size ~ use the seam allowance guide on your sewing machine
  • press seams, pressing to seam to one side rather than open will prevent the batting escaping through the stitches
  • use a clear straight ruler to cut straight and accurately. use a fabric marker and scissors, or a rotary cutter and mat
  • backstitching at the end of each seam isn't necessary, as most of the seams will interlock with other seams
  • pin-basting with bent-arm safety pins is quickest, though you can't sew over them. start pinning in the centre and work your way out, with about 3" between pins

and boldly ignore this statement from sewsewsimple

"It is easy to get discouraged when your first project turns out bad, something that is bound to happen no matter how many quilting tips you follow or books you consult."

good things come to those who wait

Here we have an excellent example of washed-out, frayed, patched, worn-down grey trousers, with the single redeeming feature of being very comfortable.

Who knew the dying process was so lengthy? Place dye and salt in the washing machine, place fabric on top. Wash at 40 degrees C, then wash again at 40 degrees C with detergent, then, run the washing machine again at 40 degrees C without the dyed fabric. This is to cleanse the machine of all dye remnants. Meanwhile, dry your newly coloured fabric.

It's like a totally different pair of trousers...

Interestingly, the dye doesn't work on the synthetic fibres, so the lilac stitching and scrap of pink ribbon bias binding inside are both intact. The colour also lives up to it's name 'black velvet', the black is so velvety you can almost feel it.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

pie, cake, and fabric too

The latest attempt at a new recipe; sausage pie. I'm trying to create nice party food with the main criteria being that it can be eaten with your hands, and isn't messy. I don't own a dining room table, and my guests have to eat their dinner on the sofa.

This has a layer of red onion, a layer of butternut squash (cubed and steamed first), a layer of grilled, sliced sausages, and some basil leaves and slices of goats cheese on top. The filling is a basic egg and milk quiche filling. I realised too late that I shouldn't have lined the tin with baking paper (duh!). It tasted ok, but kind of fell apart a little when sliced and plated.

And a new pudding; lemon gateau. I discovered this great website called which is jammed with desserts to die for. To make the lemon gateau I made the frosted lemon cake but baked it in two tins, then sliced each cake in half lengthwise. I then layered it with homemade lemon curd (very easy to do) and topped with lemon frosting. This cake actually tastes much better after a night in the cake tin, as the flavours intensify.

I took a trip to Country Threads in Bath today, it's an amazing little fabric shop, absolutely packed with gorgeous quilting fabrics, notions, fat quarters, ribbons, etc. I spent an hour choosing, eventually picking out the five fabrics below for my rose quilt. My next quilt will very probably be blue, it was difficult to walk away from some of those bolts.

I also got some fabric dye from the Stitch Shop in the podium, and some salt (apparently this is required when dying in your washing machine). I'm going to dye some old grey trousers black, before and after pictures will be posted tomorrow.

Monday, 25 May 2009

nice things that are cheap

Tulips from a street market, just £1.50 per bunch.

Expensive clothes on ebay start at 99p, I just discovered the thrill of finding Boden and Jigsaw clothes at bargain prices, I won this Boden stripey top last night, and also bought a white v-neck Jigsaw top with silk edging for £4.20.

Curly wurlys, just 20p, and half the calories of an ordinary chocolate bar. Plus they take longer to eat, yum.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

postcarte and tarte

I found these cute postcards in town...

This is a magazine insert from 1910, illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell. 'Lux soap flakes arrived in 1899. Intially called Sunlight Flakes, it was reintroduced the following year as Lux'.

I've always like the name Lux, but wonder where it comes from?

This one is a 1930s Knitting Pattern, part of a Children's Wear Series, again illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell. 'Gustav Jaeger believed it was healthier for people to dress entirely in animal hair, such as wool. The company did not use synthetics until the 1950s.'

Note the use of 'Jaeger Knitpack's to keep the yarn from tangling, and the price of the pattern; just six old pence!.

My work situation is not so good at the moment, the large national company I work for has had to cut my, and many others, hours dramatically, to try and reduce the number of redundencies. Thoroughly depressing, but I know I'm lucky to still have a job. My deep sympathies to anyone reading this who has lost their job in recent months, I have a glimpse of your pain. So, of the many hours I've spent idling away at home, when not job-hunting, I've been trying out recipes.

This is a 'everything-you-like-in-a-tarte tarte'. It has chicken, leek, and butternut squash, in a quiche-like egg and milk filling with goats cheese on top. Decadent yes, but surprisingly budget-friendly, and serves four, or in my house serves 2 with a generous portion left over for Mr HH's lunch the next day.

And my first attempt at bread...