Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reclaimed space and the kids' favourite

Now that the house is pretty much finished on the inside, I have to start putting things in their places.  I need to create some spaces too.  The kitchen bench had been collecting clutter aka the kids' stuff for ages.  I decided to reclaim the bench.  I really should have taken a before photo, but I don't tend to think "Oh I'm going to blog this, so I should take photos of every step."  My brain just doesn't work that way and I really do appreicate people who can do it.

Here's the bench

kitchen bench

And it's been a while since I've shown a photo of the kitchen.   This is the kitchen as of yesterday.   Col just had a look at the photo and asked why the kitchen is on a tilt.  He told me that i need to stop drinking before I take photos.  Photographic composition is not my strong point.


One of the benefits of clearing the bench is that I can also use it as a work space.  It's a good space for cutting as a downlight is right above it.  Normally I'd use my cutting table, but it's covered with knit that I need to dye and cut.

work corner of chaos

Do you see that bookcase with the glass front doors?   It is full of cookbooks.  Before I started sewing a lot, I used to collect cookbooks.  I still buy them from time to time, but I am more selective these days.  I still enjoy cooking, but I find that the creative cooking brain and the creative sewing brain can not co-exist.  Tonight the kids requested their favourite, Cottage Pie.  Excuse the picture...it was before it was baked, so it's missing the nicely browned top.  I was too hungry after it was done to set up some nice shot.  I am NOT Donna Hay although I used her recipe.

cottage pie

When my mom was here, she actually asked me to make it a second time, and I promised to give her the recipe, so here it is.

Shepherd's Pie from Modern Classics book 1 by Donna Hay

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
600g (20oz) lamb or beef mince  (I use beef which is why I called it cottage pie)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400g  (14oz) can peeled tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
ea salt and cracked black pepper

potato mash
1kg (2lb) potatoes, peeled and chopped
75g (2.5oz) butter
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) milk  (I usually use more like 1/2 cup milk)
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese  (50g, Mom, use the microplane that I bought you.  It makes super fluffy grated cheese which blends easily into the mash.)

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F).  Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the oil, onion and carrot for 5 minutes or until soft and golden.  Add the mince and cook for 3 minutes or until browned.  Stir through the tomato paste, tomatoes, stock, bay leaf and thyme.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the peas and simmer uncovered for a further 15 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated.  Add the salt and pepper and set aside.  
To make the mash, boil the potatoes in water until soft.  Drain and mash with butter and milk then stir through the parmesan.
Spoon the meat mixture into a 4 cup capacity ovenproof dish.  Top with the mash and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 4-6

I would say that it definitely serves 6.  We can easily get two meals out of it, and the kids eat as much as Col and I do.  Also I put salt in the mash.  I know the parmesan is salty, but it's not enough in my opinion.

Oh and since I'm talking about food.  If any of the lovely ladies from the Sunday Craft Room visit my blog looking for the chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I thought I'd link to it here, so you don't have to search for it.  Thanks for a lovely day.  Sorry I don't talk much at first.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm it!

The lovely Michal over at Noni and Looli has tagged me.

1. Which pattern/vintage style have you been thinking about lately?
I think about making a lot of different patterns.  I really, really want to make the new Farbenmix pattern, Elodie, but I don't have it in my hands just yet.  I also really want to make a Manhattan dress from the Sewing Clothes Kids Love book.   Right now I am working on some custom orders.

2. What's the one place you want to visit that you've never been to before?
There isn't just one place.  I'd love to go to Mexico.  I've been to an unexciting bordertown, but I want to go to Mexico City.  I grew up in Texas and find it funny that I never really visited Mexico, and I took Spanish classes all through high school and even at uni.   I'd also love to visit Spain. 

3. How do you relax?
Sew something for me or the kids, read, surf the net (aka spend too much time on Crafty Mamas), watch mindless tv

4. What is your favourite holiday.
We don't really go on many holidays.  We tend to go visit my family for our 'big' holidays, but I wouldn't call those favourites.  Our holiday to Tasmania with our best friends rates pretty highly.   We had some really nice meals in excellent restaurants, but gosh we had some shocking food too (Elephant Pass Pancake Parlour)!

5. What is one sewing skill you want to learn/try out?
I would have said zipper, but I recently put a zipper in a dress, so I can't say that.  I've drafted my first pattern, but I'd like to do more!

6. Can you knit/crochet? Other crafting talents?
I can do basic knitting.  I think it's a Steiner/Waldorf parent prerequisite.  I learned to knit at Steiner playgroup.  I'm not very fast, and I don't really have the patience for it.
My other crafting talent is dyeing.  I love colouring fabric.

7. What garment/accessory do you wear the most?
Like Michal, I wear t-shirts a lot. 

8a. How much time do you spend reading blogs?
30 minutes to an hour a day.  I tend to skim through my blog reader each day.

8b. Your motto/mantra
I'm not a motto/mantra kind of girl.

Tagging other blogs...
Clo at Sew2bHappy  I like reading about Clo's life in Oman.
Carolyn at My Favourite  I'm always amazed at what Carolyn can get done with four children close in age.
Peta at One Little Stitch because she knits things for me and makes pretty things, and now she's muttering something unpublishable because I've tagged her.
Lis at Handmade-Homegrown because Lis just hasn't been posting enough photos of her gardens...along with her fabulous creations.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The t-shirt trial and other bits

As you know I was not happy with the rainbow Zoe top that I made for Moo, so I got out my Metric Pattern Cutting for Children book. 

I chose the close fitting T-shirt block which I drafted in Moo's size.  I thought I should start with a basic tee before moving onto a raglan.

From the block I created the pattern.  (sorry not a very exciting photo)  The initial difference between the block and the pattern is that the pattern is slightly tapered at the waist and has a very slight curve at the hem.

So my first ever t-shirt from my drafted pattern
I'm mostly happy with the shirt, but I don't like the neckline, it's too high.

Next I end up dropping the neckline 2cm and taking 0.5cm off the neck at the shoulders.  This resulted in a much nicer neck.  This top is also part of an outfit that I made for Moo.  It's the Farbenmix Caroline pattern which is the skirt and leggings as one, and the Brooklyn shrug from the Sewing Clothes Kids Love.  I was feeling bad that I hadn't sewn anything from "the book", but in reality I actually have sewn plenty of the patterns from the book.  I've made heaps of Imke tops, several Insa skirts, a few Lore tops which is very similar to the Brooklyn tank, a pair of Dortje pants and a couple of Feliz dresses. And while I haven't made the Rivera leggings, I've made leggings before.  I have Manhattan in my sights, but as it's cold here, I might as well wait until it warms up. 

Oh yeah, you want to see the outfit?
Just a note about Caroline...the skirt is meant to be knit fabric.  I made it out of cord, and it's a tad snug on Moo.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rainbow Raglan v.1

After making that raglan top the other day, I thought I might like to make a rainbow version.  Since I'd want to sell it, I thought I was start with the Farbenmix Zoe pattern.   I've made Zoe before.  I used it as a pj top for Will.  That was when I learned that to make the neck opening narrower to take 1cm off the raglan seams.  So that is what I did when I constructed this top for Mollie. 

I do not like the top around the neckline.   Now I think it's too narrow!  It doesn't lay properly.  
rainbow  zoe 2

As a design note, I also wouldn't use pink on the front as it's hard to see the pink of the sleeve versus the pink of the top.  I think it looks much better from the back where you can see the contrast.
rainbow zoe 3
See how the shirt is bunched up around Moo's neck?  She says she's fine with it, but I'm not.

Her rainbow Antonia (although this one is getting too small!!!) looks so much better.
Rainbow Paula Pants & Antonia - front

I think I might try tweaking the pattern at some point because it must be good.  There are loads of Zoe tops on KlickundBlick.  Or perhaps I wonder if I should have a go at drafting my own pattern?  I have that Metric Pattern Cutting for Children book here.  I'm cool with math and drawing lines. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This and that

My mom often sends me email with this subject.  I thought it was appropriate as I have three different projects to share.  They aren't related, and I couldn't think of a witty title.

First up a birthday present for a friend of Will's.  
Pattern:  Ottobre 01/09 #22
Embroidery:  Supahero by Hamburger Liebe
Fabric is my fave "Stella" cotton/spandex knit in Quattro, Nu Kelly, Orange and Blood Red.

Next I have a couple of jounal covers.  I've made a few of these in the past, but I never sat down and properly calculated the cost of making the covers.  Let's just say that I had a rude shock when I discovered I sold them at a loss!  I've decided that these two covers and matching key fobs are going to be gifts for a couple of MY friends who have birthdays coming up.  I need to be giving more handmade goodness to my friends and not just Will and Moo's friends!

Gnome journal cover.  Embroideries are designed by Luzia Pimpinella and are available at Huups.   Gnomes in love on the front and a lucky mushroom on the back.
gnome journal cover

More great embroideries designed by Luzia Pimpinella.  Same sort of design, denim on the outside and poplin on the inside.  Matroishka on the front and love birds on the back.
babushka journal cover
Do not fear.  The journal covers aren't disappearing from my repertoire.  I am probably going to downsize to an A5 size and only have an embroidery on the front.  Front and back is probably a bit over the top, but sometimes I can't help myself!

And last, but not least...an Imke top make of hand dyed fabrics.  My friend, Nathalie, wanted a top with a star on the front out of my dyed fabric for her son.  It's the same combination that you've seen before, turquoise and orange.  The embroideries are from the Little Devils set by Jolijou available at Huups.
Her son just happens to be one of Will's good friends at preschool.  Will and Dylan have know each other since they were babies at playgroup.  When Dylan was born, we gave him a silk/flannel blanket which was very loved until he lost it a couple of months ago.  Nathalie asked me to make him a new one.  This time I embroidered his name on it.  Hopefully he'll have this one for a long, long time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's also a hat!

Mollie saw the fabric bowl on the kitchen bench this morning and went straight to it.  She then proceeded to put it on her head.  I think it complements her outfit perfectly!  Do you think she could wear any more rainbows?
rainbow brite
Today is Tuesday.  Tuesday is French day.  They play at game which involves the colours in French, so it's advantageous to wear every colour of the rainbow.  Just not sure that she needed rainbow x 4!  (rainbow redondo skirt, rainbow sleeved top, rainbow pieced short sleeve top, rainbow leggings)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Playing around

Some hand dyed fabric strips, a double cord foot purchased during the last Bernina sale, and a tutorial for making fabric bowls resulted in

fabric bowl

I found it was a bit hard to start because I couldn't get the fabric to feed, and I missed a few spots, but as I started going, it got easier and easier.  I found figuring out how to space the handles a bit difficult.  They aren't even.  The bowl isn't perfect, but it's nice to do something different.  I think I might make a trivett with the bit of piping cord that I have left.   Not sure if it will be rainbow.   The annoying thing about rainbow is that no thread matches. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Muriel for Moo


Huups embroidery on the front


Some birdies down near the hem


And I conquered my fear of zippers!


pattern: Farbenmix Muriel
fabric: Robert Kaufman cool cords
size 134/140

Moo and I both approve of this pattern.