Next Stage Lattice

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Wow, that went quickly. I’ve done all the extra blocks and joiners. 28 blocks and 30 blacks.

Below I’m laying out the new blocks to get a good spread of fabrics. I shifted a couple after looking at this photo, including softening the proximity of those two bright yellow pieces at top right. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but taking a photo, or even just looking through a camera gives one a different view and can show up things that might be better changed.

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Now the blocks are stacked in order and labelled so I have a better chance of not confusing things.

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Then I realised I’d better label the main section too. It’s square and I mean to hang it again shortly to release the cutting table for other work. I ought be able to tell by the orientation of the colour categories in the blocks, but this makes it easy to tell which sides I’m supposed to be adding to.

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A Remodeled Wisp

I was wanting another evening dress. I hadn’t been able to settle on a plan for any of the new lengths of fabric from stash. I was however suddenly struck with an idea for remodeling a frock that has been languishing in the wardrobe for a few years. In one day I had the inspiration, cut it up and remade the outer dress.

This is the bodice, firstly after I hacked the skirt off. Silly me forgot to take a proper before photo. Then with the vintage lace separated out for reclamation. That waist section was a little too tight when I first made it and is now even more so. Drat the effects of advancing years.

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The fabric is so lovely, it’s worth reworking it so I can wear it.

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I found enough left over fabric to cut a new bodice. Short waisted, cross over. Based on the T bodice pattern I’ve used for several dresses. Not sure if I’ve posted any of them here? I’ll look later and maybe update. Anyway. I sewed that up the same morning. Then I regathered and attached the skirt, with a facing behind to form a drawstring channel.

It’s crinkle silk chiffon again. Working with this stuff is sort of like sewing air. The sewing itself tends to go fairly smoothly I find. It’s the handling and fabric placement that takes extra time. I do recommend using silk sewing thread. It blends with the fabric, doesn’t fight it.

Here is the resulting wisp of a frock

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Obviously I can’t wear it like that alone. The original frock was fully lined. So I reclaimed the lace trimmed skirt from that and made a new slip on bodice from a coordinating rayon lining fabric with the reclaimed lace strips for the neckline.

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Silly me sewed the back of the slip bodice on inside out. I decided it wasn’t important enough to be worth unpicking. So if I haven’t got my hair down, the label will be visible through the floaty frock. Oh well.

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And here they are together. Floaty, comfortable, sleeved and less formal than the original, if a bit less flattering perhaps. One wearable dress from an unusable one.

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Micro Fortuny Shirt

Sheer stretch without knit in natural fibre even. Slim fit in luxe fabric but comfy. The magic of silk crinkle chiffon.

I’ve done this before by accident. Make a garment in crinkle fabric, wet it, the fabric texture condenses and becomes closer fitting and springy. One of these garments became a favourite. Another I didn’t like because it clung to bits of my anatomy that I didn’t want to show off.  I’ve been meaning to have another go for ages and here it is.

I cut a collarless shirt in black crinkle silk chiffon straight off the bolt. It’s much easier to work with pre wash. Otherwise all the little pleats get in the way and I think it’s harder to estimate the fit, though one could possibly use patterns meant for stretch fabric. Anyway. This is yet again my standard shirt pattern, cut with the centre front on a fold. I’ve left the shirt tails off, shortened the sleeves slightly, gathered the sleeve ends, faced a slit for the neck opening and bound the neck and wrists with straight grain strips of the same fabric. No interfacing, I wanted the fabric to be able to transform freely. The narrow bindings don’t need support and the straight grain prevents unwanted stretch. All sewn with silk thread so that it moves with the fabric and stays fluid. I wore it once before I washed it. Loved it! So I might also eventually make a similar top in plain chiffon.

Here are three before and after shots of the magic transformation wrought by wetting.

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The “before” shot below was prior to making the fastenings. The tie is a twist cord made from… silk thread of course :-).

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I wore it once before I washed it. Loved it! So I might also eventually make a similar top in plain chiffon. I’m also mostly happy with how it pulled up. The body fit is lovely. I hadn’t realised that one loses a little length too, so if I make another, I should add a little length to both body and sleeves. The post wash micro pleat version hasn’t been for an outing yet but I’m looking forward to that.

Oh, and extra bonus: with careful hanging after a wash (admittedly by hand), there is no need of ironing.

 

Here we go again

Remember the Liberty lattice patchwork that I thought was finished back in July? I was concerned when I realised that the way I’d had it hanging for months was starting to distort the fabric because the whole thing had gravity pulling at it on the bias. I decided to move on and work towards finishing it. While handling the black fabric to cut the border, I got suspicious. Belatedly suspicious. I did a burn test on the black and found the ruddy stuff is polycotton!! Horrified I was. Still am, though I’ve calmed down a bit a week or so later. Several friends pointed out that polycotton is likely to stay black longer than pure cotton. Which is true, but I’m still sad.

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I’ve solved the bias drag by hanging the quilt on the diagonal, which puts the fabric on the straight. I could just fold it up I suppose, but I’d have to press it before layering. On the other hand, it’s lighter now that we are past spring equinox and perhaps I should put it away to prevent fading before it’s even finished.

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I can’t do anything about all those black squares except live with them. I am however unwilling to feature the black any more than this, so I’ve stepped away from the plan for the bold black border. I checked the measurements of the patchwork as it stands against the bed. If I make another two rows of blocks and add them to opposite sides of the current square it will make a usefully sized rectangular quilt. This needs 28 blocks plus the same number of joining squares. I think I’m up for that. Checking my remaining fabric stocks said there was enough to cut the pieces from 6 different fabrics of the 4 approx colour categories. Hopefully that’s enough variation to prevent the new rows looking like add ons.

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It’s been long enough since the previous efforts that I actually quite enjoyed this little bit of basting.

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Rosewater Beret

Long time no post. I’ve been working on presents that I can’t publish yet, things I don’t normally post here like gardening and brewing. Also, fiddly knitting. This is the most difficult lace pattern I’ve knitted yet. It gave me a bunch of trouble until I found a needle arrangement that worked for me. I started on a circular with magic loop, which was fine for the rib band but I quickly got muddled after I started the lace. I moved to the only dpns I had of the right size, which happened to be slippery metal ones. I was better able to keep track of where I was at with the dpns but the weight of the work+needles dragged a bunch of stitches off the next needle in line. Horror. Picking up dropped stitches in lace knitting isn’t easy! A clever friend suggested using one needle per pattern repeat, and lighter, more grabby bamboo ones. She even loaned me the needles. This worked much better, and looked pretty amusing.

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Here it is finished, but not yet blocked:

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Steam blocking over a tailor’s ham shows off the pattern. It’s by Tin Can Knits and the rose motif is inspired by the art of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

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And on. The fit is good. I made the rib band bigger than the largest size by 8 stitches but the rest is to pattern. I’m not happy with the gathering at the top of the crown, but it’s a nice warm hat and pretty. Very warm actually. This is 8ply yarn and is thought to be alpaca, or alpaca rich (It’s from Bendigo Woolen Mills back room, unlabelled clearance stock). I’ll need proper cool weather to wear this comfortably.

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I’m amused that this photo inadvertently shows evidence that I do actually possess eyelashes, they are just too fair to be seen usually.

Shopping Bag Mk II

The floppiness of the Mk I version did not please me. Looking again at the synthetic original, it has bound edges which act as stiffening. I’ve made up the same pattern again with a few significant changes:
1. The seams are done as inside out french seams for the stiffening effect
2. The base reinforcement only extends to the fold line, not beyond
3. Stiffer fabric. This is a pretty linen canvas (or so I conclude) remnant from Laura Ashley. Good fabric for the purpose.

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This folds nicely more easily too, which pleases me. If I make the handles a cm shorter each side, the folding will work even better. Hurrah, I have a workable pattern and several bags to be going on with.

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Pink Quince Chutney

and some other things.

I’ve had a lovely time the last three days, working on making things out of quince for the first time.

Back in June I bought some quinces. I’d been thinking on things that could be used to give character to cider made from boring commercial juice. I got all excited when I thought of quinces! They are in the same botanical family as apples. I’m not alone in this thought. At least one of the Tasmanian cider houses makes a cider partly from quinces. So given we were just past quince season, I thought I’d see if I could still get some. Yes! I bought 4 crazy knobbly yellow quinces. Roughly peeled cored and chopped, rested in water until all were done. Gave 1.5kg (admittedly wetted) quince flesh. I put that in a bag in the freezer to begin the juice process.

Then two days ago I took them out of the freezer, let them defrost a little on their own until the pieces could be broken apart. Put them into the slow cooker, added ~100g sugar (the last of the dextrose I had), a kettle of boiling water and a litre of cold. Left this cooking on slow for 10 hours. Yellow fruit flesh turned pink.

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I’d never cooked quinces before. I was a bit surprised that they taste and smell so marmelady. After musing on that flavour for an hour or so I decided to add a bit of honey. Then added pectinase for juice extraction and clarity. Also a camden tablet to sterilise. Keep it warm 24hrs, then filter through a bag to extract the juice. Combine with commercial apple juice and pitch some yeast to make a cider

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After juice extraction, I was left with about 500ml of pink quince pulp, less than a quarter of the original fruit volume.

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What to do with it? Chutney I concluded. I decided to try to keep the pink colour though. I had fun coming up with a recipe I thought might manage that, and keep the flavour to the elegant, floral side of things. This is what I came up with:

500g quince pulp
6 granny smith apples and one pear, grated (~1.2kg)
~120g strawberries, chopped.
2 handfuls currants
white peach pulp, dried (was from 1kg fruit, used to make cider previously)
500g white sugar
500ml white wine vinegar
1t pink peppercorns (picked locally), coarsely ground with a mortar and pestle
Seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, a bit bashed
1t powdered ginger (because I have way too much in the house)
1/4t rose water
One cassia stick
One whole star anise
Split vanilla pod used twice before
Apple and quince juice from the cider density sample

The spices looking pretty before addition:

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The mixture before cooking:

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Bring the lot to a simmer. There was not a lot of liquid, so I cooked it for half an hour or so with the lid on, then with the lid off for maybe an hour? Until one can expose the bottom of the pan briefly by dragging the spoon through. Turn off the heat and rest for 10 min, then bottle to sterilised jars

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Yay, it stayed pink! Here’s hoping it tastes good too in a month or so after it’s had time to mellow. As is traditional in my kitchen, some of the mostly exhausted spices are doing last duty in stewed fruit for breakfasts. This is 4 large pears, half a punnet of strawberries, about a dessert spoon of sugar, half a glass of white wine and the vanilla and cassia from above.

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Prosaic Project

This isn’t fascinating but I’m still pleased to have done it. I’ve been meaning to replace my collection of synthetic shopping bags with cotton or linen ones. This is a good start. I like the shape of the supermarket issued ones, so I copied the measurements. Mine are floppier which might be a bit irritating in use. They sure feel nicer to the fingers though. The fabric is a brushed, dense cotton twill suiting left over from a pair of trousers.

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They look neater folded flat. I doubt this will happen often though. They may never look this neat again.

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I’m a little disappointed that I miss positioned one of the handles. Oh well.

These are done with my first thought on construction. Front/base/back is all one piece for strength. There is an extra layer in the base for reinforcing. The sides are separate pieces. I have a few other different thoughts and plans to make a few more. Patterning and/or construction decisions might well be influenced by the shape of the fabric pieces.

Of course I had to put labels on.

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Strawberry Sauce and Parfait

It’s a while since I’ve posted food things here. Some of my more experimental recipes get recorded elsewhere. I suppose this blog feels like it’s becoming focussed on fabric, fibre and sewing. I’ll mix it up today with some food.

It’s strawberry season here. I weakened and bought another three punnets a few days ago, so I had to decide on something to turn them into. I settled on a paired set of recipes where one uses the leavings of another, and happily consumes leftover ingredients I happened to have in the house.

 

Strawberry sauce

500g strawberries, washed hulled and halved
200g sugar
~3T lemon juice
the vanilla pod left over from a brewing adventure.
~1/2c white wine

Bring all slowly to a simmer, take off the heat. Mash the fruit until it’s pulpy. Put the lot through a sieve but don’t get too fussy about getting all the juice out. Put the pulp aside and chill it. Put the juice back in the pan and bring back to a simmer for 5min. Bottle into sterilised containers. This made ~400ml.

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Strawberry Parfait/Semifreddo

This is inspired by a Cassata recipe much loved by my family. It’s easy and tasty though one needs to be willing to eat uncooked eggs. I make lots of versions of this.

3 egg whites
small pinch salt
heaped half cup icing sugar
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks
the strawberry pulp from above

Beat egg whites with the salt to firm peaks, slowly beat in sugar. Put aside. Beat cream until firm. Beat in egg yolks. Mix in strawberry pulp. Fold together with the egg white mixture. Freeze.

One can stir it during the freezing so that it doesn’t set so hard, or just leave it and serve in slices.

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