Friday, 30 December 2011

Burdastyle Feature and Poncho-Cape Thing

Can you believe it's nearly 2012 already? I hope everyone had a great Christmas/holiday period - pictures of my epic Christmas feast will be posted soon. I received some lovely presents, and a pretty awesome one from Burdastyle. The sewing website made me its featured member this week. You can see it here, - the article includes some pictures of my past projects as well as a short interview about my sewing habits.  
I thought I'd try to tie that in with these photos of a poncho/kaftan/cape thing I made recently. I've actually made four of them, they were commissioned by the lady who runs a neighbouring stall at the Tea Rooms. If you're interested in them and in or around the London area, you can purchase them from the Tea Rooms or her Thursday stall at Spitalfields
These are extremely simple to make. In fact, they're great beginner projects for those wanting to dip a toe into the sewing ocean. You'll need two long scarves of the same size - they don't even have to have the same design on both if mismatched is what you're into. All you have to do is to sew one edge of the scarf together and leave a hole at the top large enough for your arm to go through. Do the same to the other scarf, then sew both scarves together about halfway up to join them together. 

I've just realised that what I wrote probably makes no sense to anyone else whatsoever...Is anyone interested in a step-by-step tutorial with photos?
In case I don't get around to writing up another post tomorrow - Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Cooking For Christmas - Candied Quinces

Regular visitors to this blog will probably be aware of my love of quinces by now. I strive to use them in a couple of recipes whenever they come into season, so I knew what I was going to do with them as soon as I read through this panforte recipe.

It does take a while to get the quinces candied to the right consistency, but it's not like you have to stand over them the whole time. Pop them on the hob and then go off and do what needs doing, but do remember to check on them every 10-15 minutes to see how they're going. *This is important, as I left my first batch for too long and they ended up burnt.* Once candied, they keep for up to a week, so you can always make them ahead of time too. 

The original recipe states that it only takes about 45 minutes to get them done, but I found that it took me about two hours to get them to the right consistency. I cooked mine low and slow to prevent the sugar from burning. 

Candied Quinces (from LA Times

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large quince
- Peel quince, slice in half and remove the core. Slice and cube the fruit into pieces roughly one inch wide and a quarter inch thick. 

- Combine water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and cook on medium heat until sugar dissolves. 
- Add cubed quince and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until fruit is semi-translucent (the quince and syrup will turn a vivid shade of pinkish-red). 
Remove from  heat and pour into a heat-proof container. Cool, then store the fruit in the cooking syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You'll have about 1 cup (8 ounces) of fruit.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Some Sewing Inspiration

There are heaps of photos of my recent trip to Glasgow to sort through, so I thought I would put up some pictures of pretty dresses first. These were all taken in the massive Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Manbacon and I spent hours there, and we didn't even see everything. It was fantastic, but exhausting. I felt rather 'museumed-out' at the end of our visit. Anyway, enjoy the dresses!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Gingerbread Trials

Tried out a gingerbread recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook as part of my Christmas dinner preparations. It's pretty tasty and includes treacle (one of my favourite ingredients), but requires more ginger, in this opinion of this ginger-lover. I know gingerbread man is the traditional shape, but gingerbread llamas are pretty fantastic too, no? 
The gingerbread tribute to Munch's Scream and the slightly misformed Bat Signal were both produced by Manbacon himself, budding confectionery artiste extraordinaire. 

P.S. Not really related but does anyone have a good recipe for creme brulee? I'm a bit obsessed after my trip to Glasgow and a visit to the Two Fat Ladies restaurant. More on that soon. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Winging It - Refashioned Man's Shirt

Men's shirts can be rather boring, can't they? I have a number of them laying around, thanks to Manbacon. The worn out ones have been turned into rags, but those in good condition are great for quick refashioning projects. 

For this blouse, I started by taking apart all the seams of the original shirt, so I was left with a number of flat pieces of fabric. I then traced out a bodice pattern and re-sewed the blouse, turning it around so the buttons were on the back.
The shirt cuffs and collar came from a rather baggy 1980s dress I'd cut up a few months ago. It was going to be a sleeveless top so I had no real need for the cuffs. However, I decided to stick them on the shoulders of the blouse in a fit of fancy. Voila, wings! Or wing-like structures...
The collar turned out to be that bit too small for the neck of the new blouse ('measure twice, cut once' evidently not one of my favourite phrases). I got around the problem by attaching a length of vintage seam vintage to each side of the collar to function as ties.

And there you go - an easy refashioned blouse!
Blouse - refashioned, skirt - selfmade (available on Etsy),