Rescue to fill a need

It’s winter here, and I decided it was time to bring out my hand pieced silk cushion covers. However, I was missing one for the set of cushions I like to have in the living room. I didn’t want to take time to make another from scratch while I still have the lattice quilt in progress. Hmm. Then I remembered I had these little hexagonal ones I had fallen out with. The purple colours don’t work in the room. The right hand one has good colouring but made me thing instantly of a car company rather than the trefoil-esque motif that it was intended to be.

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After some thought, I decided that if I chopped that right hand one down the middle, split the two halves and did some sort of infill, it would serve the desired purpose with a relatively modest amount of effort.

This was the result:

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I’m moderately pleased with it. It does at least stop one’s brain going straight to the car company. I’d rather have used colours for the infill rather than black and brown, but I felt that heavy silk would perform better and these were the only two pieces I had.  It was still quite a bit of work, maybe a day’s effort all up? I make the fronts of these covers as tiny quilts. The batting evens out the texture and the quilting supports the fragile silk. They have proved more robust in use than I originally feared.

Anyway. It gives me the cover I wanted to work in with the other three and the original cushion gets to see some service. The red and turquoise one second right is not my work but that of a friend, made for me many years ago.

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Patchwork Milestone

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Look! My insane lattice patchwork is ready to lay out. After six months of almost daily stitching, all the blocks are made, nine sections of 16 blocks are assembled and a goodly down payment on the black joining pieces are basted to their papers.

I am so keen to lay it out and finish arranging things. I need to come up with some sort of system though, so I can do so and then stack it up in extractable order. I do not want it living on the cutting table for weeks or months. Hmm.

Out of Season

This is a summer garment even though where I am it’s now very much winter. Sometimes a length of cloth states so firmly what it wants to be, that one may as well just make it up. The last three times I opened the stash cupboard, this linen said “Ahem, I will be a summer shift dress please. See, I’m a lovely cool open weave in calm, cool colours. Really. You can even use that bodice pattern you are so keen on right now” *. So, I did as it said. I pressed the cloth and cut it out. Laid it aside while I had a lovely house guest. Then made it up over the last couple of days.

Yes, that’s the same bodice as the last few dresses, only this time with no darts and with the side seam angled out to dress cloth width (~112cm). Shirt tail hem. The front has a shaped facing and front slit for visual interest. The back has a deep, lined yoke with a centre seam. This way, the whole thing could be sewn by machine, using the turn-through-the-shoulder method. The neckline and shoulder seam have straight grain tape stabilising them. I’ve used no interfacing otherwise. That back pleat was not intended. I stuffed up when cutting the back yoke and forgot to angle out those short sides so I lost a little width. Oh well, the pleat looks good anyway.

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I did put some care into placement of the huge checks. There wasn’t quite enough fabric to allow full matching of the checks front to back. However it did work if I inverted the back skirt piece and matched the white stripe. Neater than no matching at all anyway.

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I won’t normally make pretend things on garments. Closures that don’t open, buttons that don’t fasten, pocket type trim without actual pockets. I broke my rule. These buttons are simply sewn on to close the slit and look pretty. It just seemed the thing that would lift what would have otherwise been a more boring garment.

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So now this fabric is happy and has stopped yelling at me, I can move on to the next thing.

*no, fabric doesn’t really talk to me. Not out loud anyway. It does seem to be opinionated at times though :-).

“Nothing” to wear

I had an appointment coming up in corporate land. Having gone to this office a few times now, I’m finally aware that it’s heated so much that I will overheat in anything more than shirt sleeves. I quite seriously had nothing in the wardrobe in which I was willing to be seen, in shirt sleeves, in corporate land. This was made to fill that gap.

It’s the same pullover pattern as the last few dresses, but with a deeper neckline and made out of very fine wool suiting. So a corporate friendly pinafore dress. I think I’ve cut it just high enough to wear as a dress alone, but it’s on the roomy side so I can wear a variety of shirts and/or jumpers under it.

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I’ve put a tab and buttons on each side to make it follow the figure a little more.  This basically replaces an underbust dart. If the fabric were any heavier, this closure would be too bulky I think.

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This picture shows the fabric better. It’s a pleasing teeny tiny woven check in chocolate brown and black. I’ve stab stitched the neckline to preserve the nice soft edge. Machine top stitching would have squashed the character out of the fabric.  The lining is top quality Bemberg rayon cut from a too small petticoat I made years ago. It’s wonderful stuff to wear but the slitheriest fabric I’ve ever sewn.

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Here it is, with my serious face on. Only sometimes do I remember to smile for these pics.  It’s lovely to wear. Really comfortable and nicely swishy with it’s full circle skirt. After the meeting, still in town, I collected a welcome compliment on the ensemble, from a lady who turned out to be a fellow dressmaker. Sweet.

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New Nightshirt

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This feels a little like showing pictures of my underwear. It’s quite decent though really. It’s a modest garment and I’m not even modelling it.

Some people like pyjamas, some people prefer nothing. I like voluminous white nightgowns. I find them comfy, and I can pretend I’m a historical figure or a character from a book :-).  I’ve been making them myself for years, because although one can buy the sort of thing I like, they are jolly expensive. My current favourite winter one is just a loose, ankle length shirt. So I decided I’d make another like it. It’s my standard shirt pattern cut a little wider under the arms and with the side seams angled out to use the full (only 112cm wide) fabric width. I’ve learned finally not to put lace on the hem, it ends up too bulky to be comfortable. So this is just a shirt tail hem with the back intentionally a bit longer.

The fabric is a flannelly cotton/linen blend (or so I presume, it’s certainly cellulose fibre and feels very much like some cotton/linen I had years ago). It feels a little heavy initially but goes beautifully soft on working.  I have a bolt of it from a warehouse closing sale. So if I like it, I have a lifetime supply of winter nightgown fabric.

If I’d thought more about the lace placement before I made the button placket, I’d have done a matching point. Oh well. Ah yes, the placket is a different fabric, a plain shirt weight linen. I was concerned that the flannel would come out too bulky with all the folds that this sort of placket generates.

I must say, applying that lace at the end of the cuff, enclosed in the seam was a rather more complicated affair than I expected. I’m happy I made it work though there was a bit of unpicking and changes of plan needed before we got there.

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a few steps back

but a decision has at least been made on the lattice patchwork. I’d stalled for a week or so, trying to finally decide whether to use the sun block or not.  I was never sure it was the right thing and for some reason a couple of the edge pieces refused to line up. Then I found that I had stuffed up and made it about 7mm too small in both dimensions. That’s it. Three strikes and you’re out. Three bits of dubiousness or disappointment and that element I’m trying to make work is rejected. I won’t throw it out, I’m sure it will find a home in another project eventually.

So. The new plan is to replace the sun area with more lattice blocks. Not a huge issue and I’m feeling much happier about this. I just need to make 16 extra blocks, which I’ve just cut the fabric for.  I now need 196 blocks in total, of which I’ve made 160. 36 to go. Quite doable.

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Raspberry Sauce and Jam

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I reserved a kilo of locally grown raspberries months ago but only picked them up on Saturday. However, I’ve turned them into bottled things within 48hrs from then.

The sauce is a version of one I’ve made before. This is my first ever raspberry jam though. So I looked about for recipes. I’ve used bits from each of these two. The first one uses a neat trick of including a juiced lemon half in the mix until it’s come to the boil, for both flavour and pectin I suppose. The second precooks half the volume and puts that through a sieve to reduce the seed content. I’ve done both of these things, the latter for the sauce also. So this looks really fiddly, but a) I’m doing two recipes at once and b) you could omit the sieving part if you want.

Prep:
Take 500g raspberries, add juice of one lemon (reserve half the juiced lemon*) heat until mooshy, mash, boil/simmer 5min, push through a sieve.

Sauce:
Take half the resulting liquid, add half the remaining whole fruit(250g) and about a teaspoon more lemon juice. Heat until mooshy, mash. Add 250g sugar. Heat over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolved. Boil gently 5min. Bottle**.  This is wonderful on icecream, or pancakes, and many things I expect.

Jam:
Take the other half of the liquid and the rest of the whole fruit. Heat until mooshy, mash. Add the juiced lemon half and 450g sugar. Heat over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil until set. For me that was only 5-10min. Bottle**.

 

*which I put into the weighed sugar ready for the jam until I got up to cooking that. I don’t know if that had any effect or not.

**sterilised containers of course.

 

 

Paisley Printed Pinwhale Popover

I’ve enjoyed wearing this dress so much that I wanted one for winter. I had 2.1 metres of this great paisley printed pinwhale cord, so I decided to squeeze as much dress out of it as I could.

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I cut the bodice then an eight gore skirt from the rest. Yes cord has a nap. I’ve gone with the trick of using one nap direction for the front and the other for the back of the dress. The little scraps from the neckline etc were used to make pockets. There are only tiny slivers of fabric left!

The bodice is lined with a gorgeous spotted rayon:

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All was going well, until I realised I had miscut the skirt and the waist diameter was too small. Oh no! I could either take in the bodice, or cut the skirt shorter. Being winter, I wanted knee coverage so I boldly put some casually placed under bust darts in the bodice. It’s now barely big enough to pull on, but still works.

From a distance, the fabric reads darker than I would like

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Still. It works, and I can accessorise it with brighter things. I’m pleased too that it makes another outfit base to go with these cute and comfy boots.

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Here it is on. Loose and comfy and fun.

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Tamarillo Kasundi

10 days ago, more random free fruit came into my life. In this case, 800g of home grown tamarillos that needed a good home. Now I am really not familiar with tamarillos. I think I’d only ever handled and tasted one once before, around 20yrs ago. I had a vague memory that they were a bit like tomatoes. So I thought I might make a chutney or something from them. A bit of reading confirmed the tomato similarity. In fact they are called “tree tomatoes” in some places. That made me smile.

Here is my lot, with their ends slit prior to being covered with boiling water and peeled.

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See, they do look tomatoes inside, though the outer flesh seems a bit starchier. Here are a few peeled and halved:

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Then yesterday, a friend was talking about the indian pickle “kasundi”, usually made from tomatoes. Add to this that there was a preserve I used to love that was sold as “Indian tomato pickle”. I’ve long thought that might have been a kasundi relative. So I started looked for recipes. I couldn’t find a straight tamarillo kasundi recipe, but this recipe suggests one can use tamarillos as a substitute for some of the tomatoes. I decided to use their recipe as a base, and bravely make it up with my 800g tamarillos plus white grapes and green apples to make up the other 700g. Well, one can substitute all over the place with chutney, so why not try?

So I’ve used:
800g tamarillo flesh (peeled, destalked and cut into eighths)
~500g white grapes, halved
~200g green apples, peeled, cored and chopped
hing powder instead of the garlic to make it allium free (3 good shakes from the jar)
20 of my tiny thai chillis
crushed ginger from a jar

Otherwise, I’ve followed the recipe attached above.

Below is the mixture after all was in the pot, before bringing to a simmer.

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Those apples refused to break down and needed to be mashed late in the cooking. The grape skins also didn’t break down as well as I’d hoped. Still, it smells amazing and if I make it again, it will most likely be from tomatoes, unless more tamarillos materialise.

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Patchwork piecing progress

I suppose I’m writing this more to celebrate the piecing progress than to show you anything much new. I’ve now made 160 of the 180 coloured blocks in the plan. Again I’ve run out of papers, so it’s back to assembling the 16 block sections. Below are the first four sections laid out. Woo Hoo!

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Here is the fifth section nearly completed

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and the latest stack of blocks waiting assembly.

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I’m still loving the look and enjoying the process. Just as well eh? All those hours, and many more to come.