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?

A Love of Vintage

Do you have a love of vintage dresses?  This beautiful dress was worn by my Aunty........The 1940's styled dress was made for her by her husband.

The front of the bodice is very interesting........
I'm not too sure if that is a ruffle at the top of the bodice.....
Or if  the skirt part has another separate layer over it

Boiled Cake Baking

I have too many dried sultanas and I don't know what to with it's cake baking time!
This is a very old recipe I'm not sure where it came from....... it's just written on a messy scrap of paper  stuck in my baking book (it's not even in metric measurements). It must be fifteen years since I made this cake so I have forgotten whether I let the sultanas cool before adding the rest of the ingredients. I settled for warm sultanas and hoped the sultana cake wouldn't go heavy.......It didn't it was a success and looks rustic, messy, yummy and perhaps just little bit too too tasty!
Boiled Cake Recipe
1lb of sultanas
1/2 lb butter
3 eggs
1 teacup of sugar (I use 1/2 to 3/4)
21/2 cups flour
1tsp baking powder (mine was heaped)
1 tsp vanilla (I used a cap full)
Cover sultanas with water and boil 5 minutes then strain.
Cut in the butter (put in with the sultanas, it melts)
Beat egg and sugar then add in the sultana butter mix.
Then fold in the rest of the dry ingredients.
Cook at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 hours
I cooked my cake at 180 Celsius for 1 hour

Baked in a round cake tin

R.I.P. my Little Pinpicker

Today it rained for a great cat, this evening I buried my the pin picking cat, so sad he saw so much..........
At his best waiting to hunt prey......

Simply Simplicity

Well I've finally sewn something and yes it's another skirt.......I really like making skirts they would have to be one of my favourite items to sew........My pattern of choice today was Simplicity 2655 Simplicity easy-to-sew pattern, view E and as the pattern states it is pretty much an easy sew.  A very good pattern to have as it has six different skirt styles to chose from.......

I cut the sewing pattern out on a size 16 and then scaled the skirt back a size after the initial fitting. I'm no good at measuring things so sometimes I cut my fabric out to the bigger size pattern (just to be safe!).  I figure you can always make a skirt smaller but not bigger.......( that's the beauty of muslins that I don't have an idea of the sizing before you cut into your good fabric). This A frame skirt sits about and inch below the waist line ( I must say it's very slimming style). The fabric I used for the skirt is a fairly stiff printed linen with a slightly open weave. The stiffness of the linen made the skirt very easy to construct, press, and fit.

Easy to sew Simplicity 2655 View E
The fitting of the skirt on the dummy makes
the waist look very big......
This is a longer version of this style and is made in
an open weaved heavy cotton which was very hard
 to sew, my straight stitches started to look wonky.....

A Lovely Lull

There is not much sewing happening in my little patch of paradise.  That's because I think there hasn't been a lot of time lately or has it been because I'm so full of so many ideas that I'm getting nothing done..........I'm always just thinking about What will I sew next?.........If I wrote up my list for my sewing projects it would be so daunting (that doesn't include the heap of mending) I wouldn't want to look.........Where do you start?

But I just can't help adding to the 'I'm going to make this sewing pile' so my list of things continues to grow.........I  think I've become a bit addicted to acquiring sewing patterns.  I just keep buying them!  My latest one is for a rag doll, it's the Happy Chibi Doll by One Red Robin. You can check them out here.

Rag Doll sewing pattern with a Japanese influence

When you have no Needle Threader...

Anything white I kept a white card by the sewing machine
until I lost it .......Now I just rip any bit of white paper to
put behind the sewing machine needle.......

The Designer

Lately I have had a sewing fan ........Firstly it was......'Can you make me into a Zombie?' (for Halloween). It had to be a certain type of zombie and we achieved the look he wanted with muslin cut according to his instructions (all this done at the last minute).

Yesterday it was 'Can you make me a Sunflower cushion?' It had to be 'this small, stuffed with cotton balls' ( he stuffs everything with cotton balls).  I was presented with a drawn design carefully coloured in.  I did try to put him off but he was very persistent...........So after school I was expected to make the cushion......There was one little problem though when I went to get the felt.......A naughty black pussy cat had been using the box of felts as a toilet........what a smell! The bright yellow was the worst hit, it smelt totally of cat pee. Yuk!.......I had no other felt so into the washing machine all the felt went...... It fixed with a little squirt of detergent and disinfectant. Then all the felts came out smelling just fine. Once it dried I was ready to start......

I'm not a quilter or an applique sewer.....So I just did the best I could and hoped it would meet the approval of the designer........I did pass with a smile and one very happy chappy took his little aqua dacron stuffed cushion into his room.

What was the wee pillow for?  It was for SpongeBob. There's talk now about a Buttercup cushion.....but I'm just closing my ears!

It's five inches square it looks rather wonky in photo but it's not.....
The flower is made of felt and the cushion a polyester/cotton blend
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz......SpongeBob resting!

More Dolly Sewing...

This  time I was off to a better start and sewing these outfits were a lot easier than my first try (see earlier post). I was well into into the swing of things this time and didn't make many mistakes.....I'm getting used to sewing the small stuff now.......I even used the Juki for the first outfit. Miss Dolly's clothes are from the sewing pattern Simplicity 2458 view B....Here are some more pics modelled by the dolly in residence.....Poor thing she'll be naked when they all go.......

Very easy to make...The top and pants are
in a stretch cotton knit and dress in a cotton fabric......
Trim too of course is cotton....
The headscarf I made a bit loose but it's still okay.....
Next time I'll use less elastic......

Lov'n my Doll

Here is dolly wearing her outfit Simplicity 2458.....she looks so cute!
All dressed in her clothes I  finally made for her
Looks like she needs a little hat
Next project maybe!
One smiling very happy little girl.......
A special moment loving my dolly.........
This doll is almost baby size.......

Making Dolls Clothes

Have you ever bought a doll and promised you would make it clothes? I I kept putting it off  all that dolly sewing.......Firstly I couldn't find a pattern for the doll, then I couldn't find material. Then I finally settled for a remnant and a pattern, Simplicity 2458 (one size 18" or 45.5cm).......I chose this one because it had a kimono like outfit and I thought it might look like a Japanese style outfit suiting the Asian doll I had bought.

Well I must say this was a real experience for me trying to make dolls clothes....There was cotton everywhere and I kept making mistakes....It took me three days to get it right. Who tries to overlock tiny seams with a wide 4 thread?! That was my first mistake, my second was not knowing the right or wrong side of the material and the third was not being able to follow instructions........There was a lot of unpicking........The fourth biggy mistake was I clipped a curve and it went too far into the seam and it was too late to unrip it all,  I had made the whole jacket........I darned it (sort of) but I was so annoyed with myself for not seeing my mistake before I overlocked the seams!

My next problem was I didn't have the doll to gauge the fit. I had to rummage around through the garage to find my daughters old doll which I hoped was a close fit. I must admit she looks quite smart in the Kimono outfit, it matches her blue dolly eyes!

Overall the Simplicity pattern is fairly easy.......Of course you just have to be able to follow written instructions which I must say is not my strong point......The material I used is pure cotton and I sewed the outfit on my Bernina. I managed to finally fix the stitches and it stitched okay. Oh.......but was it so so tiny to sew, I kept thinking 'this is not going to fit that doll'..... I was all fingers and thumbs sewing the outfit.......But in the end I  got there and was happy with how it looked, only I will notice my mistakes a little two year old won't........ Now that I have had experience of sewing something so small I'd like to make it the outfit again and hopefully not repeat my silly mistakes!

She looks so cute with clothes on.......
Simplicity 2458 view D
The ribbons are just bits I had in my ribbon jar.....
I sewed the bows down so they don't sit as well as they should
I also lined the jacket with the same material
Another version of Simplicity view D......
This one was made a bit better and was much  easier to
sew this time around.....the fabric is cotton

Funny Lunch

The last couple of days there was a lot of baking going on.........something for the wee man to take to school to share. His mother did it all, I just supervised and gave my opinion whether it was needed or not......If your keen for the Banana Cake recipe (which can be used for cup cakes too)  just email me and I'll forward it to you.

All the cupcakes were well hidden from the black cat.........My cat always eats Banana Cake he bites the cake and licks the icing......If you bake a Banana Cake and leave it on the bench wrapped in plastic and covered up on the bench overnight a surprise awaits you in the morning........When you get up you  find the cake half gone........This cat is so quick, you can just walk out the room and he's on the bench with his nose imbedded in the cake. Hmmm.......that black cat can smell a Banana Cake a mile away!

The Banana Cake cat in his wildness!

Can you fix it yes I can.......

I've sort of managed to fix my straight stitches on my Bernina 801. I cleaned out the bobbin race (that was oily and dirty), oiled the machine in the right places and changed my cotton and needle. I cleaned out under the sewing plate  (yes there was a little bit of fluff)....I put in an old needle ( I keep my old needles) put the thread through the left side of the tension disk and now it's sewing straight stitch again! I don't think it likes my other German brand of sewing machine needles or the right side of the tension disk........I think the Bernina prefers Schmetz,  better yet Bernina brand needles. My one problem there is I don't know where the Bernina shop is anymore.......The city is not quite the same anymore!

Anyway for know it is sewing okay........but I think the machine is on it's last legs, my ruffler refuses to work with it. There seems to be no power in the sewing machine to make it go....It just whines and clacks ruffling days are over for now.

Wonky Stitches

Oh no my Bernina 801 is sewing wonky stitches.......She never sews wonky straight stitches! Must be the three major earthquakes she survived, she just sat on the table rocking away....... Now I'll have to take her in to be fixed.......what will I do if they say she's stuffed? I couldn't live without a mechanical machine.....just like I have to have a manual car, I like the control.....I know I have the Juki but I'm still learning to use it!

I've sewn a whole skirt  for my daughter skirt with wonky stitches (and she'll notice!).......I need not have worried though because all she said was, "It reminds her of an apron" (now it reminds me of an apron too). The fabric I used was an inexpensive striped  black/blue denim with no stretch.......The pattern I used was New Look 6789, a great pattern I have used many times.......I changed it slightly and just added some length to the hem and I also made a waistband and patch pockets. The fabric is fairly stiff so washing the skirt a few times will hopefully soften it........

The wonky Bernina 801straight stitch.....Grrrrrrr!
The apron like skirt....dark/black blue and cream fabric....
I'm not sure about those pockets...too late to unpick now!
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