Jul 14, 2012

I'm a sucker for all things French

Look at these lovelies, my first Creme Caramels made last night to be devoured today on Bastille Day.  I'm not French, but who can resist a French dessert?  Ok, it may be Portugese and not truly French, but let us pretend. I was planning a whole French banquet but decided to go to the hairdressers instead for a much needed haircut (think: giant hairball rats nest knot at the back of my long hair).  It's at least 6 inches shorter now and we had burritos for dinner instead.  Who needs Cassoulet?

Back to the Creme Caramels - well they were quite delicious, and only a little eggy (if you know what I mean).  The recipe came from the Taste website.  The only thing that went bad was a little of the toffee/caramel stuck to base of the tea cups I used instead of ramekins.  I also might try it with 5 eggs instead of 6 next time, and I used vanilla bean instead of the essence as I like the black spots.

I also found a little time to finish off some quilted placemats I started this week.  The Janome went a little silly and started to make a loop on the bobbin thread every fifth stitch so she went to the repairers.

In the meantime I tried to use this big and heavy beauty:  My Singer 201.

Pretty black paintwork.  Unfortunately not much good at straight line quilting without a walking foot.  I should buy one in the future as it does a beautiful stitch.  It used to be knee lever operated but that part kind of died one day and so instead of spending more money on it (after I just spent heaps on an unnecessary service and motor check) and be worried about it breaking in the future, I bought a new motor with foot pedal instead for less than the cost of the repairs.  The motor is unfortunately white, but you can't see it front on, and I could have re-attached the light but I never used it anyway as it was hot.

The new motor gives me a lot of piece of mind as I know these machines can become live with old/faulty wiring and give a bad shock or kill (said one repairer I got a quote from, as he was almost killed by a Singer 201 - crazy I know!).  I know a lot of vintage sewing machine enthusiasts would look down on me changing the motor, but I didn't throw it away, and I don't really care as I'm now happy to use the machine and not be a little scared of it as I once was.

Lucky for me the Janome was a quick and cheap fix as it was just a burr (from a broken needle) on the needleplate and bobbin case doing the looping, and that was easily filed down.

I'm about to start piecing my lounge room quilts made from (fittingly for Bastille Day) Lumiere de Noel fabric by French General fat quarters that I bought last year. Lots of deep red and cream.  I can't wait to see how that turns out.

I'll leave you with photo of my crazy kids, the little one has a thing for hats.  It's supposed to be the middle of winter but it was hot today, hence the t-shirts and shorts.  Makes me wish it was Spring!

Jul 5, 2012

The quilt bag

By waking up to a beautifully clear sky this morning, I knew I would spend most of the day outside with the kids and doing the washing, especially with rain forecast for the weekend.  Hubby asked in the middle of the night whether we had a warmer quilt (doona/duvet call it what you will) for the bed as he was freezing.  So this morning I got a chair and grabbed the wool quilt, tightly packed inside a clean garbage bag from where it lives - on top of our linen cupboard (ie. old wardrobe in the little one's room) and shook off the dust.  I live in an old 1880's worker's cottage and the only built-in cupboards in the whole house are the kitchen ones, I didn't get a built-in pantry though...

Anyway, I thought there must be something better than a green garbage bag to store my unused quilts, so I decided to create a giant cotton drawstring bag that can be washed and reused!  It kind of looks better as well.

I'll give you a quick tutorial for making one of these, but you'll have to use your own measurements to make yours (or just make it really big!).  The one above fits a cotton queen sized quilt folded into fourths lengthwise and rolled.

Starting with some fabric (mine was cotton from IKEA 122cm wide x 90cm long or 48 x 38 inches).  I didn't prewash as it's big enough even if it does shrink and I'm going to keep the selvedge on just so I don't have to worry about stopping the fray.

Now lets create the casing for the drawstring.  Place fabric right side down on the ironing board, fold the top down 1cm (3/8 inch) and iron.  I'm folding the122cm wide side down by the way.  Then fold it down 3cm (1  1/4 inch), iron and sew it down a quarter inch in from the fold.

Fold in half, right sides together, and sew down the side starting from the last seams stitches all the way to the bottom.  Leave the top part unstitched so you can thread rope through.

I'm not quilting so the selvedge can stay!
I'm going to do a French seam at the bottom as this will encase the raw edge to prevent fraying.  I could use an overlocker or a zig-zag stitch, but this is nicer and stronger I think.  Turn it right side out and stitch the bottom using a quarter inch (or less if you like) seam.

Turn it inside out again and sew the seam again using a lager seam allowance (about 1cm) so the previous seam is encased.

I'm bad at sewing straight
Turn it right side out and press if you want.  Thread through some thin rope for the drawstring - I used a hair pin.

Knot the end and admire your new gigantic drawstring bag, perfect for a quilt/doona/duvet!

You could remove the corners to give the bag a square bottom but I couldn't be bothered
Here it is in it's new home above the 'linen cupboard'.  Much nicer than the not so 'green' bag to its left.  I should have probably used off white fabric to match the walls and make it disappear altogether.

Oh, and if you made it too short, you could always cut it widthwise in half and add an extra section (with French seams if you want) to make it longer.  Not that I ever needed to do that...

... and you could make it with knit fabrics as they stretch and don't fray or an old sheet or some cheap calico with the type and size of quilt stencilled or embroidered lovingly on the front.  You get the idea.