Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Chenille Blanket Beginnings

My craft area is almost ready, well ready enough to start using. I've decided that the first project I do should be a fun and special one and I've settled on a Chenille Quilt. It'll be for the new baby and I'm excited to be doing some 'nesting' sewing.

I'm sure I don't have the patience for a real patchwork quilt, but this seems like a good intro to quilting. The idea of cutting the channels to make the chenille is quite fascinating. I'm looking forward to running my hands along it once it's done. Not only will this be my first go at a quilt, but it will also be my first go at making bias binding and also binding a quilt (or anything for that matter). It'll be good to learn some new skills.

If you're not sure what a Chenille Quilt is, check out this fantastic tutorial form Aesthetic Nest. It's what I'll be referencing while I make mine.

I picked up all my fabrics on sale and I'm in love with the robot print! It's one of those 'meant to be' projects I think. All the colours match perfectly and I got the chenille cutter on sale. I wasn't going to get one, but I've read it can take many, many hours to do the cuts with scissors, so I thought it was money well spent, especially at half price. The plain blue and green fabrics are homespun that I picked up for the binding. I'm not sure what colour I'm going to use yet. I think I'll have to wait until the quilt is ready to bind before I choose.

*If you're wondering, we are STILL waiting on our internet. A technician is coming tomorrow, so hopefully it'll get sorted out then. Our roof has been leaking in the rain too, so I'm starting to feel like the new house doesn't like us.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A Work in Progress

We are all moved and pretty much unpacked, but things are still a work in progress here. The biggest thing at the moment is that we are still without internet! Does anyone remember life about 15 years ago when that wouldn't have mattered?! Now, I'm just going mad! I feel so out of touch with the world. I haven't been checking blogs or reading the news...I feel like I don't know what's going on. Hopefully it will be sorted out in the next few days. Right now I've got the laptop tethered to hubby's phone so I can quickly write up this post.

Now onto more exciting news...I'm going to have an actual craft room! The pic above is how it looks at the moment, but hubby is on the case to make it pretty! The 2 storage cubes will be the sides of a cutting table/work space. No more taking over the dining table. Since we moved, we've actually been eating at the dining table which is a nice change to the past 2 years. Hubby is pretty happy about it as he's never been a fan of eating on the couch. The table on the right is for my machines. I'd like a table that isn't so deep, as most of the space behind the machine is wasted, but that's not a priority just now. I just managed to squeeze all my fabric into the chest of drawers! A paint job for the drawers is also on the list.

The light in the room is great! The roof is offset and has windows along it, so the light is just everywhere. Even on a fairly dark day it is bright. It's such a change from the old place. I can't wait to do some sewing without having to put every light on!

Hopefully I'll have some pretty, Apartment Therapy worthy before and after photos to come soon!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Coconut Cardamom Barfi

Coconut Cardamom Barfi

Hubby and I were watching an old episode of Food Safari and they cooked up a batch of these sweet little Indian treats. They looked so easy and delicious that I made them up the next week to take to a BBQ. All you need is a saucepan, which worked well for me as most of my kitchen was in boxes at the time.

Coconut Cardamom Barfi
makes about 40

200g desiccated coconut*
50g desiccated coconut, extra, for rolling
395g can sweetened condensed milk
10 cardamom pods (or 1 tsp ground cardamom)
50g shelled pistachio nuts

Crack the cardamom pods open and take out the seeds. Crush in a mortar and pestle or using a spice grinder. My mortar and pestle and spice grinder were packed up in boxes, so I put the seeds in a ziploc bag and whacked them with a hammer. It worked perfectly.

Chop the pistachios fairly finely. You don't need to get it all uniformly sized though.

Mix the 200g of desiccated coconut, condensed milk, cardamom and pistachios in a non-stick pan.

Put the pan onto low heat and stir until the mixture starts to dry and rolls easily into a ball. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes until cool enough to handle.

Place the remaining 50g coconut onto a plate. Wet the palms of your hands, and roll mixture into fairly small balls. Roll them through the coconut to coat the outside. You may need extra coconut if your balls are small (oh, that sounds rude).  

Refrigerate for a few hours to firm up. The barfi can be refrigerated for up to a week.

*I didn't have any desiccated coconut, so I put some shredded coconut through my blender. It worked well.

Coconut Cardamom Barfi

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Stamps Bag

British Stamps Bag

This was originally posted over on Emmaline Bags as a guest post while she was moving halfway across the world. We are now in the middle of moving, but only a few suburbs away. Right now I'm crazily unpacking boxes.

I've always loved the British postage stamps. They're all the same, but so very different. I love the variations in colour! I still look at the bag and try and pick my favourite stamp.

A Very British Stamps Handbag

The amount of materials you need will depend on the size of bag you want to make, so I'll just explain to you how to go about it.

To make a 'Stamps Bag' first you need to buy a bag of stamps. I went to a stamp and coin shop and got a big bag for a few dollars. They were all still attached to envelopes, so I soaked them off in cold water and laid them out on tea towels to dry. Don't soak them in hot water because they'll curl up.

The bag itself is made from black velvet, with the velvety side facing in to make the lining of the bag. I used less than a half metre (half yard). The stamps are glued onto the back of the velvet with mod podge. I just kept gluing until I was happy with the size.

Then I cut out the velvet panels leaving a seam allowance of about 1cm (3/8") around the sides. The bag is a simple box shape with an open top. So I have 2 panels the same size for the front and back, then 2 the same size for the sides and then the bottom. I also cut out pieces of thin tablecloth plastic to go over the top of each piece.

I finished off the edges of the velvet on the sewing machine so they don't fray. Then, I sewed the tablecloth plastic on top of each piece. Then the bag was put together by sewing all the pieces together, with the bottom going on last.

I wanted the stamps to be the whole feature of the bag, so the straps are also made of tablecloth plastic to keep them invisible. I cut 2 long strips and sewed them onto the front and back panels of the bag.

British Stamps Bag British Stamps Bag

Do you feel like adding some postage stamps to your next project? Take a look at my pinterest board full of stamping inspiration.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Banana and Walnut Loaf

Banana Walnut Loaf

About 18 months ago, hubby had to go on a business trip to the US. With a very unsettled baby permanently attached to my hip, I decided I wasn't going to miss out on the fun AND be on my own with Roman, so we went too! While we were in Seattle, I got a bit obsessed with the Starbuck's Banana Bread. This recipe is meant to be the same, although I can't quite remember what the original tasted like and I've changed it a bit from the recipe I found.

Banana and Walnut Loaf

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal (whole wheat) flour
1 tsp bi-carb (baking) soda
3 medium bananas
160g (3/4 cup) sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F). Grease a loaf tin and dust with flour, or even better, use your Pan Coat

In a medium sized bowl, sift the flours and bi-carb soda together. Give it a light stir to make sure it is all evenly combined.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Add the sugar, egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla and fold it all together. Add the flour in 2 batches and then finally fold in most of the walnuts. Leave some of the walnuts for sprinkling on top.

Pour the batter into the loaf tin and smooth it out. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts. Bake for 1 hr - 1 hr 15 mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then remove from the tin and cool on a baking rack.

Banana Walnut Loaf

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Saucepan Handle Cozy

Saucepan Handle Cozy

Here is a guest post I originally posted over on Craftstorming.

I love my Cast Iron skillets. They cook food beautifully and look cute sitting in a little stack. The handles can get pretty hot though! I don't like using a tea towel to grab them because the tea towel is usually wet so I burn myself or I use too much tea towel to grab the handle and set the tea towel on fire!! Little mitts or cozys for the handles are perfect! They are a great scrap busting project and come together really quickly. Here's how you can make your own.

Saucepan Handle Cozy

You'll need:
Insul-bright batting or wool batting or a wool blanket
Lining fabric
Outer fabric
Sewing supplies

Saucepan Handle Cozy 1

To start, measure around your handle to get your width. Take your measurement and add 2 cm (1") for ease to allow for the batting thickness and another 2 cm (1") for seams. My width measurement is: 10 + 2 + 2 = 14cm

Saucepan Handle Cozy 2

Measure along your handle to get the length you want. Add 2 cm (1") for seams. My length measurement is: 15 + 2 = 17cm

Saucepan Handle Cozy 3

Cut a piece of your outer fabric, batting and a piece of your lining using your width and length measurements.  I am using an old woollen blanket for my batting. If using a blanket, make sure it's 100% wool.

Saucepan Handle Cozy 4

Layer your fabrics. Place the batting on the bottom, the outer fabric on top with the right side facing up and the lining on the top with the right side facing down. Your outer and lining will be right sides facing.

Saucepan Handle Cozy 5 Saucepan Handle Cozy 6

Working with the batting uppermost, stitch a seam along the width (so in my case one of the 14cm sides) using a 1cm (1/2") seam. Press the seam towards the batting and then top stitch the seam to the outer fabric and batting, using a 5mm (1/4") seam.

Saucepan Handle Cozy 7 Saucepan Handle Cozy 8

Trim 1cm (1/2") from the end of the lining. This will stop the end seams from laying on top of each other.
Fold in half along the length and pin together the open sides.

Saucepan Handle Cozy 10

Stitch all the way around to close it all up, leaving an opening about 5cm (2") in the side of the lining for turning.

Saucepan Handle Cozy 9

Trim the seam allowance of the batting down and clip all the corners. Turn the cozy right side out.

Saucepan Handle Cozy 11

Sew the opening in the lining closed nice and close to the edge. Push the lining inside the cozy and you're done! Let's celebrate with some Warm Buttered Apple!

Saucepan Handle Cozy 12

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Cotton Sweater to Baby Wash Cloth

Sweater Wash Cloths

I had some pieces of an old cotton knit sweater lying around... and by pieces, I mean the back of the sweater and an arm. I have no idea what happened to the rest of it!

Anyway, I thought they would make lovely baby wash cloths. The knit has gotten soft and absorbent after lots of washes...perfect for wash cloths. I had a scrap of flannelette laying about, so this was an easy project to put together. You've gotta love a bit of stash busting/upcycling!

Sweater Wash Cloths

To start off, I cut out squares from the sweater. I made them about 25cm (10") square. I used the ribbing from the bottom of the back piece on one of them. It adds a bit of texture to the finished cloth.

Sweater Wash Cloths

Next, I overlocked/serged one raw edge of the sweater pieces. I did this to secure the knitting so that it doesn't come undone when turning the cloth the right way out.

Pin a piece of flannelette to the sweater, right sides facing. I rounded off the corners with the rotary cutter.

Stitch around the edge, leaving an opening about 5cm (2") for turning. Make sure the opening is on the side of the sweater that you stitched earlier. I overlocked/serged around the edge, but I think a wide zigzag would work too. You want to make sure the knitting is secure so that the cloth doesn't unravel over time.

Turn right side out and fold the edges of the opening in and pin shut. Topstitch around the edge, closing the opening as you go.
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