Nov 25, 2012

Buy a pattern for $5 and make bags forever

It's been a weekend for bags.  And pot holders.

The big guy asked for a bag - one for his Pokemon books of course.  He dug through the plastic fabric tubs and decided he wanted the monochrome fish.  No worries - white is such easy going fabric choice for a six year old.

Anyway, the fishy fabric is from Spotlight.  It's cotton drill that I bought about six months ago just because I liked it.  The bag is almost as big as he is.  Spotlight has some really amazing drill fabric prints now by the way.

No pattern, just a couple of rectangles for the body and leftover strips for the wide handles.  Sewn with French seams (so no fraying!).

The next bag is the Grocery Bag from Michelle Patterns.  I bought this and the Two Zip Hipster pattern during the week on sale for $5 each.  I love her patterns (remember the Messenger Bag addiction I had?).  Thank you for the bargains (and great patterns) Michelle!

This is the second one I made,  I think this might become a teacher present.  I say might because I really love the fabric.  It's Summersville by Lucie Summers for Moda.  I have a little bit more so I could possibly make another.  I love the fact it's reversible.

It just makes you want to colour it in hey?
The black fabric is a remnant from Big W -  you know those bundled up ones that give you no idea about the fabric content.  I liked the swirly white spots on black.

This is the first one I made.  It has windmills and little red pigs on it.  It fits quite a lot of stuff in it.  At least as much as those 'green' bags you get at the supermarkets.  I will be making a few of these to replace my current set (which are not washable).  I wonder how the checkout people will like them in Coles?

And lastly, I made a couple of pot holders from the book Zakka Style.  I actually bought the book only for this pattern.  They're not too bad (except I got lazy and machine sewed the bias binding - which then turned out a little ugly because I never end it properly).  I think these might be sized for men's hands though, as they seem a little bit big and the hand holding pockets at the back are a little loose.  Next time I'll make them smaller.  I even added some insulated batting to the quilt sandwich so I can use them as trivets instead.

There you go.  It's amazing the things you can sew when the kids mostly behave nicely on the weekend.  I just need to get stuck into my bed quilt as it has gone nowhere!

Nov 14, 2012

What I've been cooking lately: Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

Another biscuit I can't stop making.  Just like the Walnut Crescents they taste better as they get older!  I love the combination of slightly sweet dark chocolate and sour cranberries.  I also make these with white chocolate and cranberries (which the kids love) or dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts (use about 150g of roasted and chopped nuts), yum!

These being nut free make them great for a school lunch box treat.  You can easily reduce the amount of sugar (to about 3/4 cup), especially when you use white chocolate.  I'm thinking of making dried apricot and white chocolate next.

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

80g butter
1 cup castor (superfine) sugar (or 3/4 cup if you use a very sweet chocolate)
grated rind of one orange (or lemon)
few drops of vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups of plain flour
1 and 1/4 cup of self raising flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
150g dried cranberries (or roasted and chopped nut of your choice)
200g dark chocolate chips (use less if you wish)

Beat the butter, sugar, rind and vanilla together for a minute in a mixer (or by hand if you're feeling up to it).  Add the eggs followed by the rest of the ingredients.  The mixture will be sticky.

Divide the mixture into 4 and make logs with them on a lined baking sheet (see the photos above).  Flour your hands if the mix is too sticky.  Bake the logs at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes, or until it is lightly golden brown and mostly firm.  Leave out to cool for a few minutes.  Lower the temperature in your oven to about 150 degrees.

Remove the logs onto a cutting board and slice them about half an inch thick.  Replace back on the tray with a small space between them.  Let them dry out in the oven for about another 20 minutes.  Open the door to the oven regularly to let out steam and don't let them burn!

Cool and enjoy the next day (if possible)!  They last for ages in an airtight container.

Nov 10, 2012

What I've been cooking lately: Walnut Crescents

I can't stop making biscuits lately.  These are biscuits I ate on special occasions growing up.  They're beautiful to look at and taste better the older they become.  My eldest has become addicted to them.  They go great with a coffee as well.

Here's the (lovingly handed down family) recipe:

Walnut Crescents

200g butter
80g castor (superfine) sugar
350g plain flour
200g finely processed walnuts (or pecans if you like)
few drops of vanilla extract
rind of one orange or lemon
2 egg whites (medium sized)
icing sugar (powdered) for coating at the end

I also like to add half a teaspoon of cinnamon (I sneak this into most recipes) but this is optional.

Mix it all together (except for the icing sugar) in a mixer or by hand.  Roll small walnut sized balls into crescent shapes - make them as small or as large as you like! Place them on a baking paper covered tray.

Bake them at 170 degrees until they are lightly brown and firm (time will vary depending on the size you made them).  Leave them to cool for a couple of minutes and then smother them with icing sugar.  Let them cool on a plate.

They taste pretty bland on the first day, so try to wait.  They last for weeks in an airtight container (if they're not all eaten first).

My other favourite biscuit recipe will be coming along soon, and it's much lower in fat!

Nov 9, 2012

One pillow is dressed

Yeah!  I've done my first quilted pillow sham.  It was super easy - quilted top piece with two squares of overlapping fabric for the envelope back, sandwiched between some regular binding.  All sewn right side out, so no hard to turn corners!

I added a little red binding to the back edge to add some interest.  It fits perfectly, but I forgot to make it a little bigger to allow for shrinkage in the wash.  I'll remember for my next one - it's going to have little owls on it.  

This is all the sewing I've done this week as my Janome has gone crazy.  It's been sewing on its own, without my foot on the pedal.  The only way to stop it is to turn it off.  Sigh.  I've pulled apart the pedal and it's all clean, so I don't know what the problem is.  I don't think I'll ever buy a computerised sewing machine again - too much to go wrong.  I might make it jealous and use another machine for a while to see if it gets better... doubt it though! 

Nov 1, 2012

Quilt Complete

The Lumiere de Noel sofa quilt is now finally bound, washed and complete!

It's 57 x 77 inches in size.  It needed to be a couple of inches bigger to fully cover the sofa seat cushions.  Oh well.  I'm going to make another quilt for the wing back chair with the same design, but it won't be any bigger as I've run out of fabric.

And now for a little look at my baby quilt progress.  I've been thinking about setting up an Etsy or Madeit store but I've been procrastinating.  If you search for baby quilts on Etsy you get over 22 000 results, so hmm I might just see.

Here are some in various stages of completion:

The pink hourglass quilt is ready for the binding to be hand sewn.

And I know I wasn't going to buy more fabric (and use what I have) but I couldn't pass up 40% off quilting fabric at Spotlight on the weekend.  These half metres of solids came home with me and a bit of camo drill for some boy shorts too.  I could have gone crazy but I was there with the kids.  There's only so many bolts of fabric you can balance on the sun visor of a Maclaren stroller.

And this little lamb was shorn, poor thing - I never know how to do his fringe (or now lack thereof).  I think kids hair grows too fast!