Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Candied Lemon Zest

Candied Lemon Zest

Candied lemon zest is so pretty! It is so easy to make and keeps indefinitely, so I think everyone should have a jar hiding in the fridge. Any lemony treat you make will instantly look a lot fancier once you put a bit of this candied zest on top! It's also yum straight from the jar!

I topped my Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes with candied zest.


Candied Lemon Zest
makes about 1 cup

5 lemons
1 cup sugar
1 cup water


Wash the lemons well and pat dry with a tea towel. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in long wide strips, trying to leave as much of the white pith on the lemon as you can. If there is a bit of pith left on the back of the strips, scrape it off with a knife. Cut the lemon zest into fine strips (julienne).

Candied Zest Candied Zest

Put the strips into a small saucepan and cover in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and repeat with fresh cold water. This removes any bitterness from the zest.

Strain and add the zest back to the empty saucepan. Add the 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil, simmer until translucent, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Store zest and syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last almost indefinitely. The zest can be used as is, or coated in caster sugar (fine sanding sugar) to crystallise.

To crystallise, strain some zest, shaking it gently to remove any excess syrup. Place some caster sugar in a bowl and separate the zest pieces and drop them into the sugar. Toss zest to coat evenly in sugar. Carefully remove the zest from the sugar and place on a baking rack to dry out for about 30 minutes.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Build-a-Bag: My swatches arrived!

Spoonflower Swatches

Well it seemed like forever, but checking the mail box twice a day finally paid off when my swatches arrived this week! It is unbelievably exciting opening that package!

I'm very happy with how they turned out. They look very close to how they looked on the computer screen. I found the yellow on the petals looked a bit lighter than I wanted, so I've darkened and brightened them up a bit for my full order. I've tried to make these pictures look as close to real life as I can.

I ordered two of the the Linen-Cotton canvas swatches, one with the linen effect (above left), and one with a plain background (above right). The linen effect turned out great, so I've ordered my fabric in that.

Spoonflower Swatches

I also ordered a swatch of the Heavy Duty twill, but I prefer the Linen-Cotton canvas. The colours print out on the twill slightly more accurate as the twill is a stark white, but the difference is very subtle. In the picture above, you can see that the Linen-Cotton canvas border on the left is a creamy white, compared to the bright white of the twill. I can only JUST see the difference when they're next to each other.

Spoonflower Swatches

Lastly, here's a look at the lining design. I ordered a swatch of the Silk-Cotton blend and one of the Kona cotton. The Kona shows up the design a little better and sharper and the colours are a little brighter. The design is slightly blurred on the Silk-Cotton. I've ordered a yard of each, thinking I'll use the Silk-Cotton for the lining and the Kona cotton for some other projects. Maybe another bucket hat for Roman as I'm sure he's grown out of his old one.

Spoonflower Swatches

I also ordered a new colour guide (above right). The old guide is above left. I'm surprised how different they are. The colours on the old guide were a lot brighter. There's also a lot less yellow shades on the new guide.

It's difficult to compare them as the colours on each chart are different. I couldn't find any that had the came code! I tested a few in Photoshop to see how they look on screen compared to the swatch and some are more true to life on the old chart, some on the new. Either way, they've changed their printing so there's nothing to be done about it. I would recommend ordering a chart if you're wanting to print in a specific colour.

Also in the Build-a-Bag series:
Build-a-Bag: I've Finished! - take a look at my completed bag
Build-a-bag: The fabric - my fabric has arrived, but I've mucked it up
Build-a-bag: The little extras - take a look at all the other items you need to get when making a bag
Build-a-Bag: The Pattern - take a look at the pattern I'm using to make my bag
Build-a-Bag: Let's Start at the Very Beginning - designing fabric with Spoonflower

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Boy's Own Style Month at Cook Clean Craft

Modern Monogram Tee

Narelle of Cook Clean Craft is hosting 'Boy's Own Style Month' at the moment. For the whole month of July she is featuring posts showing you how to personalise clothes, particularly for boys. Boys clothes can be tricky, you can't simply put a frill on there to pretty them up, so you have to be creative to put a bit of style into it. I am super excited to be guest posting over there today.

I decided to take a modern look at Monogramming. When I think of Monogramming, my first thought is of rich people in country clubs with sweaters tied over their shoulders. But bringing the idea into the modern day, can bring a whole new wealth of ideas. 

Modern Monogram Tee Monogram - up close

Head on over to check out my tutorial and be inspired by Boy's Own Style Month

Boys own style

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Adding a Neck Opening to a Tee - Tutorial

 photo IMG_3214.jpg

Roman's head is off the charts big! This is not a figure of speech...it is literally off the charts. See, here's a chart!! I thought that as he got a bit older it wouldn't be such a problem, but he still grows out of his tops because the neck gets too tight to pull over his head.

headcirc

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to add an opening to the back of a tee. The technical term for this is a continuous bound placket. Fancy hey? This is a bit of a short cut version of a true continuous bound placket, but it cuts down on the bulk and does the job perfectly for a t-shirt. This might look tricky, but I promise it isn't and it's quick too. It will work on any knit or woven top. 

I'm doing it on a completed tee, but it would work just as well if not better if you are making the whole tee from scratch. In that case, add the placket before adding the neck binding/ribbing.

You can finish the placket with KAM snaps, hammered snaps, sew in snaps, buttons or even velcro. The strip of fabric for the placket will not show from the front, so you can use any fabric you like. Make sure it has been pre-shrunk. I happened to have a piece of the knit I made the tee from originally, but you can use any tshirt weight knit or quilting weight cotton. It's a nice place to add a fun fabric!

Ok, now here's the tutorial.


Adding a Neck Opening to a Tee

You'll need:
A t-shirt
A scrap of fabric
A scrap of medium-weight iron on interfacing
Snaps or buttons
Sewing supplies


01-Button Placket 02-Button Placket

To start, decide how long you want the opening and make a line that long down the centre back of the tee. I used 6cm (3.5 inches). Remember this measurement. Next, prepare your placket strip.

The length will be: 2 x (measurement above) + 2.5cm (1 inch)
The width will be: 3cm (1 1/4 inches)

03-Button Placket

Cut your fabric and a piece of interfacing the same size. Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric strip. Finish both short ends and one long side of the strip with an overlocker. If you don't have an overlocker, finish with a suitable stitch on your sewing machine. A wide and fairly short zigzag will do.

04-Button Placket 05-Button Placket

Stay stitch along the seam line using a contrasting coloured thread and a short stitch length. Take one stitch across the point of the line. Cut the slit along your mark being very careful not to cut the stitching.

06-Button Placket 07-Button Placket

Hold the slit open and straight. Pin the strip to the slit right sides together, lining the centre of the strip up to the point of the slit.

08-Button Placket 09-Button Placket

To stitch, put the strip down so the stay stitching is up and stitch on the inside of the staystitching keeping an even 6mm (1/4") seam along the strip. The raw edges will line up only at seam ends.

10-Button Placket 11-Button Placket 12-Button Placket

Turn to the inside of the tee and press. Fold the ends under and press.

13-Button Placket 14-Button Placket

Edgestitch on the outer half of the placket, along the seam line, and then across the top to close in the end of the strip. Stitch across the end of the strip on the inner half of the placket.

15-Button Placket 16-Button Placket

Add buttons or snaps and you're done! I used KAM snaps because I already had them, but I think the hammered in metal snaps would work the best.

Button Placket

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Melt and Mix Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

I love melt and mix cakes! I often get the sudden urge to bake and my butter is always in the fridge, so melt and mix recipes usually come to the rescue. I have one baking cookbook that I've made up an additional index for that lists all the recipes that don't need softened butter. It comes in very handy! This recipe has been adapted a fair bit from a recipe on taste.com.au. I always head to taste when I need cooking inspiration.

This recipe makes only a small batch of cupcakes, which is good when you have a sweet craving, but don't want too many cupcakes calling your name!

Feel free to substitute the lemon juice and zest for the same amount of lime or orange.


Melt and Mix Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes
makes 9 or 10

1 cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
2/3 cup (140g) caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemons worth)
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp lemon juice


Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Line a 12-hole regular muffin tin with cupcake liners. I put silicon cupcakes liners onto a baking sheet.

Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly. Put the flour, poppyseeds and caster sugar into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add all remaining ingredients and fold through gently.

Spoon mixture into prepared liners. Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

I have served mine with plain glaze icing and some candied lemon zest (recipe here).

Monday, 16 July 2012

Build-a-Bag: The Pattern



So while I'm waiting for my fabric swatches to arrive in the mail, I thought I'd tell you about the pattern I've chosen for my bag.

At first I thought about making my own pattern for the handbag. I like my current bag, so with a few mods I could make up a pretty good pattern. But I quickly realised that I would have to make at least 1 prototype, probably more and that it would be a long time before my sunflower bag was hanging from my shoulder. It was an easy decision to defer to a real sewing pattern.

It was an even easier decision to go with The Emmaline Bag pattern. I can't remember how I first discovered Janelle's blog, but I've been following along for a while and The Emmaline Bag pattern ticks all the boxes of what I like in a bag. Just check out the Flickr pool of bags made from her patterns. I like that it's big, but not too big, there's lots of pockets and it looks so professional! There are so many options for personalising this pattern too. Contrasting straps, pocket options, strap length, contrasting fabrics... the list goes on. There's even a leather version in the Flickr pool...yum!

The pattern is very thorough with heaps of big colour pictures. Janelle also has the hardware required for the bag in her shop, so I picked up a set of that while I was there and it's great quality.  I can't wait to get sewing!




Emmaline Bags & Patterns
Please note that this post is not sponsored. I bought the pattern and hardware with my own money. Just in case you were wondering!

Also in the Build-a-Bag series:
Build-a-Bag: I've Finished! - take a look at my completed bag
Build-a-bag: The fabric - my fabric has arrived, but I've mucked it up
Build-a-bag: The little extras - take a look at all the other items you need to get when making a bag
Build-a-Bag: My swatches arrived - so how do my swatches compare?
Build-a-Bag: Let's Start at the Very Beginning - designing fabric with Spoonflower

Friday, 13 July 2012

Printing Fabric Labels Follow Up

Spoonflower Labels

It's been about 6 months since I had my fabric labels printed with Spoonflower, so I thought I'd do a follow up to show you how they look today.

You can see my original post here, but basically I made up a logo and had it printed onto some quilting cotton*. The tricky thing I did was print them on the bias (at 45°), the idea being that I wont need to press the edges under before sewing them on. It does leave a little wastage, but I got about 600 labels out of a yard, so I'm not too fussed if a few aren't any good.

The label above is looking really good. It is on Roman's Winter-weight sleeping bag and has probably had about 5 runs through the washing machine. It goes through on a gentle cycle.

Spoonflower Labels

The label above is by far the worst looking of all the labels I've added. It was sewn onto a pair of toddler jeans I made for Roman and they've been through the wash at least 10 times. They go through a long wash too. I also used some really old double sided fusible web on this label and the glue came through to the front, so it looks a bit wax stained. I think it has faded a little, but my washing powder is only 'low phosphate' and Spoonflower says to use a 'phosphate free' washing powder. Maybe that's why the label on the sleeping bag looks a lot nicer.

I have to say that just sewing them on with raw edges has gone really well! They do look a little bit ragged, but because they're printed and cut on the bias, I can sew close to the edges and there's no chance of them fraying and then falling off. I like the slightly frayed look though. I was thinking of trying some fray check on the edges to see if it stops them fraying, but I haven't gotten around to it. My fingers are also happy because I like to burn them on the iron when doing fiddly things like press little edges under.

All in all, I would definitely use Spoonflower again to print labels and I would get them printed on the bias again too.


*This is not their Kona cotton, but the old quilting cotton they used before they got the Kona.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I Spy Bag Toy

I Spy Bag Toy

I've made up a couple of these and they come together quickly. The tricky part for me, was trying to find all the little toys and trinkets to put inside. So, rather than posting a full tutorial on how to make one, I thought I'd tell you about where to look for the little trinkets.



If you came here hoping for a tutorial, then here is a link to one on Homemade by Jill (pictured above). It even has a handy pocket on the back to keep the search card in.

Not into sewing? Then simply fill an empty plastic bottle or clear tennis ball tube with your goodies and some rice or clear plastic beans and glue the lid closed.

The smaller your plastic window and the trinkets, the harder they are to find. Also, using coloured beads or rice makes the toys harder to find. This makes them good fun for older kids too.

Now, if you're all set to make one of these, but can't figure out what to put inside, here are some ideas.

I Spy Bag Toy


1. Pieces from board gamesScrabble letters, Chess pieces, Monopoly pieces, dice. Find cheap board games at thrift stores at garage sales. 

2. Craft supplies - Googly eyes, plain or novelty buttons, beads, mini spools of thread (those useless ones that come in repair kits are good), scrapbooking buttons (these come in all sorts of cool shapes), fake jewels, mini pegs, little bells, sequins, pom poms.

3. Stationery supplies - erasers, mini pencils, paper clips, bulldog clips.

4. Toysmarbles, lego pieces, party favours, trinkets from inside Kinder Surprise toys or old Happy Meal toys, Barbie shoes or hairbrushes or other little accessories.

5. Other - beer caps, sea shells, those tiny useless padlocks that come on your luggage, the key to the rubbish padlock, coloured pasta, coins, the terrible trinkets from Christmas crackers.

Great places to look are discount/variety/dollar stores, newsagents, fabric shops, craft supplies stores, office supplies stores, toy shops, the supermarket, thrift stores, garage sales or your kids current toy box. If you are making them for your own children, then they may want to pick some of their own little toys to put inside.

Keep in mind that you don't want to use anything with sharp edges that might pierce the bag. You may be able to file the sharp edges away with an emery board. You might also need to glue things to keep them secure, such as the thread on a spool so that it doesn't unravel.

If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Capsicum and Tomato Soup

Chilled Capsicum Soup

I love this soup and when I'm feeling like something healthy, this is one of the first things I make. The best bit about this soup is that it's awesome hot or cold! Having this soup in your recipe box is great, because you can serve it year round. If serving it cold, add a little extra seasoning at the end to make the flavours really shine.


Capsicum and Tomato Soup
Serves 4 - 6 hot (more if served cold)

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika (sweet, smoky or hot, whichever you prefer or a mix of all)
2 red capsicums (peppers), chopped
2 x 400g (14oz) cans chopped tomatoes
1 long red chilli, seeded and chopped (optional)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
handful coriander leaves
salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, sugar for seasoning


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the cumin and paprika and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the capsicum and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the canned tomatoes, chilli, stock and water. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree the soup. I use a stick blender, but a regular blender is also fine. When the soup is smooth, add the coriander leaves and blend for another 30 seconds to chop up the coriander.

Serve now with crusty bread if you want it hot.

To serve cold, chill in the fridge for several hours. Taste for seasoning before serving. You may want to add some more salt, a bit of red wine vinegar for tang, or a pinch of sugar for more sweetness. Serve in shot glasses or espresso cups.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner!

Books

Now I get to play Santa! And because I'm in such a great mood today, I thought I'd have 2 winners!! So... The winners of the Blogiversary Book Giveaway are:


Eva Kadar!! and Jess Briggs!! Congratulations!  

I have sent you both an email requesting your details so please keep a look out. If I don't hear from you by the 7/7, a new winner will be drawn.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered. If you weren't lucky enough to win, then pop in to your local library and borrow the book instead. The library is a fantastic resource and I definitely make good use of mine. I always have some books out and some on hold waiting to come. I like to think of the library as my own personal free drive-through book store!

Have fun reading!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Build-a-Bag: Let's Start at the Very Beginning

sunflower-scanned

I've been wanting to make my own handbag for a long time. Not to do things by halves, I thought  it would be pretty cool to make the fabric for it as well. I thought I'd do a mini series showing you the whole process from designing my fabric, all the way to the finished bag...it could take a while. So here's Part One: Designing the fabric!

Thanks to Spoonflower, us regular folk can do some fabric designing. I've used Spoonflower before to print fabric labels, but nothing this scary/fun/big! I was given a voucher for Spoonflower so I figured I might as well go for it and do my fabric design and a lining design too!

I love colour so I knew I wanted to do something bright. I decided to go with a sunflower pattern. Now, I am no artist, and I've never been any good at drawing, but armed with a few tools, I figured I could do a good job of it.

First, I grabbed a thick and thin Sharpie and some paper. I used a plain old sheet of A4. Then I found a few pictures on Google images to get an idea of the shapes. Then I traced around some tins  onto a blank sheet of paper to make guides for the centre and the edge, like a target. I put a new sheet of paper over the top and then used the guides to draw my flower. The tiny seeds took ages and gave me a hand cramp!

Then I coloured it in with watercolour pencils that I've had since I was a kid and ran a wet paintbrush over it to give it a watercolour finish. The finished sketch is above.

Next, I got hubby to scan it for me and upload it into Photoshop. I played around with it a bit getting the colours how I wanted them and upping the contrast. I like the idea of using a linen effect, so I made a sample with it on the background, and one with a plain background. I've ordered a swatch of each on Spoonflower's Linen-Cotton blend.

Sunflower-linen Sunflower-flat

Then, onto the lining design.

Roman really loves colouring in, well scribbling, and I thought it would be fun to use one of his scribbles in my design. I hand drew a grid on a piece of paper and gave him the page and some crayons that coordinated with my sunflower. He had lots of fun! See pic below left.

Once it was scanned into Photoshop I got very comfy on the couch. First, I cropped the picture down and used the transform function to stretch my grid to make it square. Then I played with the liquify tool to get the lines to match up.

To get an image to tile nicely on Spoonflower, you need to make sure it is seamless. To do this, you offset the image, so that the outside corners end up in the middle. Here's a tutorial showing you how to do it. Then, I played with the liquify tool some more to get the rest of the grid to line up.

I decided that I wanted each tile to have a different part of the scribble in it, so I cut bits of the scribble up and moved them all around. See result, below right. It was a lot of work, but worth it. I know I'll have a smile on my face whenever  I open my bag and see Roman's messy scribbles all over it!

Romans-drawing lining-tile

I've ordered a swatch of this in Kona cotton and one in their Silk-Cotton blend. When they all arrive I'll show you how they look.

Next in the series, I'll tell you all about the bag design.

Also in the series:
Build-a-Bag: I've Finished! - take a look at my completed bag
Build-a-bag: The fabric - my fabric has arrived, but I've mucked it up
Build-a-bag: The little extras - take a look at all the other items you need to get when making a bag
Build-a-Bag: My swatches arrived - so how do my swatches compare?
Build-a-Bag: The Pattern - take a look at the pattern I'm using to make my bag
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