New Year Lights

This is my bird tree....the last one up for the New Year....
This one is staying up till it's the time
to take them down......I don't want bad luck 
This one's so big it gets in the way!

Sewing in the Heat

It's very hot and muggy here today (really much too hot to sew)..... But I started sewing this skirt last night and so I had to finish it off this morning.......It's the Simplicity 2414 sewing pattern in view D.  I posted about this skirt earlier in 'Summertime Skirt by Simplicity'. This time the whole construction went well except for two things....I lost a pattern piece number 4 so I re-used pattern piece 5 instead. That worked out okay as the extra length is needed for the person I'm sewing it for......

The second thing I did was I sewed the band with one side on the wrong side of the material ( not enough light where I sew, well that's my excuse anyway). As there was too much stitching to unpick, I just re-cut the pattern piece and started again.......Otherwise this was a perfect sewing experience and the skirt turned out really well! Oh, and the material is from my stash it's a embroidered cotton/ lawn blend.

The fit is a bit looser at the top than I would have liked and the
skirt is sitting a bit higher than It should.......

Glass Jars & Earthquakes

One big glass jar has broken and thank goodness it wasn't my button jar ( I wouldn't have coped). Imagine trying to pick up buttons all coated in broken glass........It was my lace jar which I've had it for years. It's only an old gherkin jar, it fell from my sewing table when the aftershocks struck. I found the jar when I got home along with my Christmas tree which was down too. Lucky it wasn't my sewing machines sitting rather close to the edge of the table! Pretty rumbly now, a bit of rocking and rolling going on here. It will probably continue through the night.......

Actually there's not much lace in this jar....
Why do I call it a lace jar?

Kwik Sew Apron 3247

A couple of weeks ago I tried out a new apron pattern from Kwik Sew.  I made it out of a cotton fabric (curtain material actually) that I picked it up for two dollars a couple of years ago......It's going in my Christmas trivia sack......Of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't make mistakes.......I sort of assembled it in the wrong order.  I ended up doing a line of stitching at the top to try and keep the band in place on the sides.

I thought this was a very good apron pattern as it has self adjusting ties and this makes the neck band adjustable.........The only hassle I can see with this style of apron is that you might lose you apron tie in the washing machine. If that  happens you will have to re-thread it (I hate that job). Sewing a couple of stitches to keep the tie in place will stop this...or just wash it carefully!

Fits my dummy very well......
You can see my random row of stitching at the top......

Bakewell Tart or Linzer?

Are they the same thing? I had very good intentions of making Jamie Oliver's Bakewell Tart for Christmas. But somehow I ended making Linzer Cookies.

The biscuit mixture is very easy to make and very tasty raw (I licked the spoon to try it). The recipe I used was from Angie's Recipes. If you want to see her Linzer Cookies and many other interesting foody things look here. This is my Linzer biscuit adaptation, I couldn't help myself I added some almond essence (love that smell, it's so Christmas) to the mix, but only half a cap.......

The Recipe
200g butter
100g  sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp almond essence
A pinch of salt
150g ground almonds
180g plain flour
1/2 tsp of mixed spice or (any mixture of spices you like)
You will need icing sugar for dusting the cookies and jam for the filling. I used raspberry.

Putting it all together:

  • Cream butter and sugar together with electric beater (makes life easier)
  • Add the egg yolk and almond essence to the butter mix beat until combined
  • Then add the ground almonds, plain flour and mixed spice
  • Mix all the ingredients together (I kneaded the dough till smooth)
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours
  • Bring the dough back to almost room temperature and roll out
  • Roll the dough out between two pieces of baking paper on a flat board
  • Cut out half your cookies with a round fluted cookie cutter
  • Cut the other half with the round fluted cutter, then recut to make a hole in the centre
  • Bake at 350F or 180degrees celsius for about 10 minutes
  • Put jam on the flat side of the cookie, put the top on refill hole with some jam and dust with icing sugar
  • Separate the layers of cookies with baking paper and store in an airtight container

You can put any jam or preserve in between the cookies
 I used Raspberry jam but was thinking a Cherry jam would
be nice giving the Linzer cookies a real European taste
All dusted and ready to eat at Christmas

The Gingerbread House

It's Christmas so a little baking is in order. Who had the silly idea to create a gingerbread house? Did I not say 'Lets make Christmas easy this year'.......Now there is royal icing stuck to the table and a great big mess to clean up. But hey we're a house that loves creating mess and mayhem. We will all moan about the cleaning up, vowing never to do it again but we always do. So here we go.....'How to make a Gingerbread House' for a tiny gingerbread man.

The Recipe
6 cups of plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
4 tsps of cinnamon
4 tsps of ginger
200grams of butter
1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup of golden syrup
1-2Tbsp of water

Making the Gingerbread:
  • Sieve or whisk your dry ingredients in a bowl (I whisked)
  • Beat the softened butter and dark brown sugar with electric beater until creamed and fluffy.
  • Next beat in your eggs one at a time, then the golden syrup and water until the mixture is all blended well.
  • Mix in the remaining flour I used my beater until it would do no more (couldn't find the dough hook).
  • Tip it all out onto a floured board and knead well. If it's too sticky just add a little more flour.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours (I left mine overnight).
  • Take out of the fridge and let the dough come back to room temperature.
  • Bake 350 F or about 180 degrees Celsius for about 10-15minutes (the time will depend a lot on your oven)
  • Take the gingerbread out when it is slightly brown round the edges (remember little pieces will take a shorter time to cook).
For instructions, the original recipe and how to put the gingerbread house together click here.  I didn't use their template for making a gingerbread house. I wanted something bigger, making a template of my own was way too complicated for me at this time of the year......The gingerbread house template I used you can find here.

Royal Icing
Egg whites and Icing sugar and easy is that?  It can't go wrong but it did. I have never made royal icing that way before......I needed lots of egg whites to make it soft. I must admit the gingerbread house did stick together well. But for decorating it was chaos the stuff went everywhere (so now I have a snowfall gingerbread house). I should have used the family recipe for royal icing, but too late for that now...... Decorating the gingerbread house was fun to do but someone kept pinching the lollies......

Granny's Royal Icing Recipe 
  • Icing Sugar
  • Can be a large amount you just adjust the lemon juice to get the consistency......
  • Egg whites 1 or 2
  • Lemon juice 
  • Sieve icing sugar add egg whites and mix in lemon juice (strained) to required consistency.

What did the gingerbread taste like?
It was very hard on the day of baking, by the third day the gingerbread was divine....the spices were all mulled and mingled which made it really nice to eat. House of Pinheira has a really cool gingerbread house and a recipe with a difference. It uses condensed milk plus lots of spices. Take a peek at their very yummy gingerbread house.
Cookies made with left over mixture.....
The back of  the house......
The wine cork that never made it......
In memory of our year living through the earthquakes
Outside was the only place to go......
All finished it's a snow house now.......
The window is made with crushed lollipops

Easy Xmas Placemats

Occasionally I will make cheapo placemats for Christmas and other celebrations.  I just use Christmas wrapping paper. For me it does depend on the design, but getting a better quality wrapping paper is usually the best. I then use a laminating machine and preferably use a stiff grade laminating slip (makes the placemats quite firm). This is a cheap, quick and easy way to make placemats especially when you've run out of dollars at Christmas time.......

You can make them A3 size too......
Just colour coordinate with the placemats to enhance
 your other table decorations..

Making a Pin Cushion for Xmas

My first ever flower pin cushion turned out not so bad I even surprised myself........The idea was to give it away for Christmas, I'm the Christmas trivia officer ( I appointed myself). All the questions are in a sealed envelope on the Christmas tree and no one has seen them except me.......The pin cushion's will make a great prize (except nobody sews). You always need a pin cushion right!......I just couldn't bare to give my first one away. It was that red button you and my buttons!

I must admit I did make a few mistakes making the flower pin cushion, but any messy parts were easily covered by the button.....I traced around my kiwi bird dip bowl to make a circle pattern. I also referred to Tammy Times blog for the construction of the pin cushion.  Click here for the tutorial of  how to make this flower pin cushion.

If you interested in taking your flower pin cushions to another level for Christmas, check out House of Pinhiera's Christmas Garland's fabulous, wonderful and very effective. Something very different from the usual garlands you put on your door for Christmas.

First one.......
My favourite pin cushion I love the fabric.......but I'm not keeping it!
A few more flower pin cushions.......

Little Ones Love Playdough

I always lose my playdough recipe) so now I'm writing it here.......My best recipe (uncooked) for huge quantities of playdough is long gone. It was a great dough recipe, it was all mixed in a large bowl and you just added the boiling water to it.......Then you would mix it all up and what a tactile experience that was!

Here is the recipe I now use, it can be doubled for a bigger quantity if needed. Playdough is very easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for a very long time.......Just keep it in a snap-lock plastic bag or sealed container.

It's also fun to add glitter to the dough mixture or a nice fragrance to the mix to make a scented play dough. Plain play dough can be fun too.......Just rip up pieces of coloured crepe paper and mix it in after the kneading stage. When the children start to use the dough it will take on the colour shade similar to the crepe paper. This also gives the playdough an interesting texture for the little ones to touch. The possibilities are endless and it's good to let children be involved with the blending of the colours too......just watch out for boiling water or too hot playdough (they might burn themselves).

I guess it's really better to wait until the dough's just warm before the children can get there hands on it.......Nothing feels nicer than hands in a big bowl of warm playdough. Makes you feel all fuzzy and warm especially on a cold day!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup of salt
3 tsp cream of tarter
1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 TB of cooking oil
A few drops of food colouring
Mix all the dry ingredients an put into a saucepan.
Mix the water and oil together and pour into saucepan.
Then cook until dough on a low heat, add colouring. It's ready
when the dough thickens and leaves the sides of the pot...........
Knead very well on a board until smooth........all ready to use!

A Summertime Skirt by Simplicity

I had a bit of fun making this skirt (Simplicity 2414 1 hour skirt). It did turn out a lot better than I thought it would considering my put together effort was hit and miss!. What looked  to me like a simple project was not and I have made this style before......But the young lady in question was just a little girl then.....less material, much easier to gather, therefore much  easier to sew......Did I make the 1 hour deadline sewing this gathered skirt....No!

To start with I muddled up all my pattern pieces and then forgot to mark my O's. The fabric made it hard to distinguish the right and wrong sides so I muddled up that as well......... I  did mark all my notches though but the numbers and pattern pieces got me all confused. To add to the confusion I couldn't understand why number 7 pattern piece had no notches.....Which was the bottom and which was the top??? I did learn later that the top was where the O's were printed (but I didn't mark them). Why didn't they print notches on pattern piece 7? I do love notches...... just match up the notches, that's my motto when sewing and all will be good!

The other mistake I made was I put the buttonholes in the wrong place. They are at the top of the skirt, I also inserted thin elastic in the casing because at that stage I wasn't having a tie. In the end I did make one out of the scraps of fabric I had left and it looks okay even though it is not in the right place.

Overall though I did get annoyed with all the gathering.......But the skirt was a great success and it looks good on. The material this skirt is  made out of is a patterned cotton lawn, a very light summery fabric. It was a little bit more difficult to sew because of the fabric weight. But guess what?  I'm going to be making this baby again and it should be a breeze because I will have learnt by my mistakes!

Looks an easy skirt except it can take longer than 1 hour....
The skirt finished Simplicity 2414 View D
Looks good when wearing it.....
The tie is rough edged on one side...just something different
Would have been nice if it was in the right place though!

Easy Christmas Sewing

I just sewed some Christmas socks for the man in red so he can leave some edible goodies for the little children. Any one can sew these as they are perfect for beginner sewers......You just cut them out and stitch not much can go wrong. I lined the socks in red to give them more form.

What I really wanted to make was McCalls 2991 elf boots......But I wanted an easy sew, so this was it. I even progressed to making a Santa sack as well......Although simple to sew and make up, the fabric panel is not cheap @$17.00 a panel. Best time to buy these fabric panels is in the sales which I missed.

During my search for an Elf boot patterns for Santa, I found this cute tutorial on Maya Made blog for elf slippers for children. They are just so cute that I thought they were worth a mention. Click here if your keen to see these. They are now on my never, never list :)

Here is another website sew4home I found. This one has a free pattern click here for a elf stockings and a very good tutorial on how to make them. 

Fabric panel just cut and sew.....
All finished and lined in red cotton faric
Hanging and ready to go..........
McCalls sewing pattern 2991
Next year maybe......

I'm Having a Weird Font Day.....

Can I get my original font to work on my browser? I've changed it for now. But that's okay I will figure it out eventually with a little help I suspect. So if you see lots of font changes it's me trying to fix things LOL!

Finding That Elusive Freezer Paper

For all of those sewing and quilting bunnies out who want Freezer Paper you can find it at Spotlight........Just ask for it and you are able buy it the metre..........How handy is that? It's way too expensive to buy off e-bay and the postage just makes it not worth buying! I don't know why we don't have Freezer Paper here?
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