Dead or worth saving?

I made this coat as a present for a good friend over 6 years ago.

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It has just been returned to me looking like this. The owner hopes for refurbishment. I’m trying to decide if that’s worth doing. At least I know it’s been worn and appreciated!

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I’ve cut out what remained of the lining. In places, the cotton velvet had disintegrated and felted up in the seams. Below is the cuff after the lining was cut away. Interesting, but icky enough that I cut again just above the stitching and brushed away as much of the felt as I could.

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The wool outer is in the machine now on a handwash cycle. I’ll see what comes out before deciding what can be done. IF the wool survives the wash, I’m thinking I’ll face it with hardwearing fine wool suiting but not do a full lining. Oh, and sewn by machine not by hand. That will be fine for the purpose.

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Fettiplace Pickled Mushrooms

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Based on “To pickle mushrooms” from Elinor Fettiplace’s receipt book. This welcome survivor holds extensive treasures of 17thC cooking.

400ml white wine
6 peppercorns (should be white, I used black being what I had)
half a nutmeg
a blade of mace
3cm ginger root, peeled and sliced

Simmer all above, covered, for 10min. Cool.

600g button mushrooms (one full standard mushroom bag)
heaped teaspoon salt

Heat gently in a wide pan, shaking or stirring frequently. They will release moisture. Continue heating slowly until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has almost all gone. Cool.

When all is cool, load the mushrooms to a sterilised jar and pour the spiced wine over. The picture above shows the entire recipe in one pickle jar. Mushrooms sure shrink when cooked!

They came out really well and kept happily for the couple of weeks needed. The flavour is much milder than regular pickles. Slightly salty. They made an excellent lunch component. I’ll make a lot more next time. A fellow cook tells me these are amazing in a toasted cheese sandwich.

Out of paper error (or method in my madness)

Some of you are going to get really sick of this quilt, some probably already are. Others might enjoy the progress updates. I feel like sharing my excitement about this next stage. Look away if you are bored.

At 125 blocks, I ran out of papers. So I decided to be brave and start joining the blocks so I can liberate papers for the next blocks, rather than cutting yet more papers. This is exciting but a bit scary because I want to have a fairly even distribution of fabrics, and if I introduce any more before I finish making blocks, I might end up with a concentration in a section. So… I decided to make sections of 4×4 blocks so they can be switched about and there will be gaps and edges to add to later. Each of these sections will liberate enough papers for another 9 blocks.

The next decision was how to arrange the blocks. There is a system of fabric/colour arrangement within each block. I’ve learned over my years of patchwork, that to achieve a pleasing balance of colour, one needs there to be order. Random doesn’t deliver the look I want. So my initial set of fabrics were split into four sets. These are very roughly designated as Pales, Reds, Oranges and Blues. One of each has been used in the same order for every block. This spreads the colours out and makes it easier to avoid having the same fabrics adjacent.

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As block production progressed, I also decided to make four blocks of each fabric arrangement and split those into four sets of blocks, from which I build the sections. Just another contribution to achieving a good spread of fabrics.

After several trials, I decided to arrange the blocks with each one in the same orientation. It puts each “colour” furthest from it’s fellows and was the option deemed least likely to cause a stuff up. Here is the first section assembled. So good to see it all neat as well as madly colourful:

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and then with the tacking threads removed on all but the edge most pieces. It looks so crisp!

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and again after the papers have been removed. Softer and more like it will end up. Still gorgeous if I do say so myself. Tee hee, without meaning to, each of these pictures has the section a different way up.

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A pic from the back, with the stack of liberated papers ready for reuse.

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Collar Issues

Sometimes it is brought home to me that I’m not as good at this game as I’d like to be.

This poor shirt has been lying part made, crunkled into a ball, since early January. The fabric is vintage Liberty Tana, bought from a shirt making firm closing down their Melbourne city workshop. I had wanted to make a fully classic shirt, including two part collar. I didn’t have such a collar to match my current shirt pattern, so I used one from my previous shirt pattern. I thought I’d checked the seam lengths, but it still ended up a couple of centimetres short. Boo. Once I’d convinced myself I couldn’t make it work, I threw a minor hissy fit, unpinned the failed collar and put the shirt bits aside. For months as it turned out.

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Today, I decided that I would at least drape the constructed body/yoke on me to try to see what was going on. Aha. The neckhole is way too big. Why did I not see that before? It doesn’t look too bad in this pic, but that is the cut edge, not where the seam will end up lying.

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Given the neck edge was already clipped, I decided to revert to a narrow straight cut collar. Sad. Not what I wanted, but I’ve learned something.

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See, too big. Pretty colours though:

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I did at least make my first set of proper cuffs for ages, narrowed to better go with the narrow band collar. Also, my theory about making one of the wrist pleats a continuation of the sleeve crease seems to work. Hurrah. I thought that would make neat ironing easier.

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Here is the whole thing:

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and a sexier, more insouciant pose

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Still Patchworking

I’ve been neglecting the blog. Sorry about that. I’ve been sick for the last few weeks and spending an awful lot of time on the couch with the patchwork. We now have 121 blocks made!

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I’ve also done another round of thinking on the overall design. I thought just the lattice alone might be a bit dull, so I made a sunny centre:

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I mean to add more detail, sunrays etc when I eventually get as far as quilting it. The current plan is to have this in the middle with a lattice surround 5 blocks deep and one block worth of black border, in which more quilted detail can feature. 180 lattice blocks needed for this. 121 is therefore a tiny bit over two thirds. I did know this would take a while. The current lurgy means it’s advancing faster than I expected.