Saturday 31 March 2018

A Hare-y box and a pinafore

I made a hare material box for my friend Maria who was visiting from Canada.  Unfortunately, the unseasonable weather curtailed our plans for meeting up, but we did manage a day visit which was lovely.  I  made her a fabric box using this hare fabric - light and squashable for taking back on the plane.
 I have also made myself a needlecord pinafore using this pattern, 'Cleo' from 'Tilly and the Buttons'.  The pattern is really well done with both written instructions and photos too.  I made the knee length version and put the split in the back rather than the front.  I used the automatic buttonhole on my sewing machine for the first time too - I had a few issues and had to unpick a bit, but this was because I couldn't find the 'buttonhole lever' on the machine.  Eventually, thanks to the internet, I discovered where it was (up inside the part where the needle mechanism is held - but this wasn't obvious from the machine handbook).  Thank goodness for the internet!  I made a toile in calico first, just to check on the sizing.  The pinafore is designed to be loose, but I wanted to be sure the size would fit my hips.
 Here it is - success!   I had bought the needlecord a couple of years ago and it had been sitting in my material stash ever since.  I used buttons rather than the dungaree clip option.
Here's the back too.  I'm really pleased with it and have worn it to work several times.  It is really comfortable too, which is always good.  A denim one and another needlecord version (a very floral pattern) are being planned next.  For my pinafore (size 12), I needed two metres of material, which is a bonus as there are some lovely needlecords out there... 

Saturday 24 March 2018

Just when you think it's Spring...

 There were definite signs of Spring.  Crocuses...
 more crocuses...
 the last hurrah of the snowdrops...
flowering away with the cyclamen coum...
 more crocuses...
 and more...
 and daffodils...
 then, last weekend, this (again!)
 Those poor plants - they wouldn't know if they were coming or going.  Luckily, the snow had gone by last Tuesday and today...
 anemone blanda...
 camellia flowers...
 cardamine quinquifolia (I bought this last year, so this is the first time I have seen it in flower - so pretty)...
a self-sown sweet violet...
 bright and bold primulas...
 lovely blue scillas...
and a blue hyacinth (Blue Magic).  Is it Spring now?  Well, it looks like it today but there have been mumblings about a cold snap over the Easter weekend, including more snow.  I am really hoping they are wrong!

Thursday 15 March 2018

A Fox box and cushion

It is our friend Rachael's birthday at the end of the month and as she is very busy then, she came over last week.  I had got myself organised and made her presents in good time, so it all worked out well.  She likes foxes, so I bought some rather gorgeous fox material in colours I knew she would like and made a fox box.  I enjoy making these fabric boxes, as they are quick to make and are useful.
I also used my screen printing set to print the fox panel for this cushion.  It is a lovely print and printed out really well.  I mixed the shade of grey ink I wanted too.  I made the cushion cover with the fox fabric and was pleased at the way it turned out.
I made an envelope back, which is a really simple way of finishing the cover.  Rachael really liked the box and cushion, which I was delighted about.  I have a cat screen print too and some cat material so I would really like to make a cushion for myself now.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

I was asked to post the vegan chocolate cake recipe, so here it is:

220g/7oz plain flour
200g/7oz caster sugar (I use granulated and it works fine)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
half a teaspoon of salt

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
250ml/8 fl oz water

1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas 4.
2.  Lightly grease a 13 x 23 cm loaf tin or 20 cm round tin (I line my tin with baking parchment).
3.  Sieve together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
4.  Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water.
5.  Mix together until smooth.
6.  Pour into cake tin and bake for 45 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean). (I usually have to leave my cake in, covered in foil to prevent burning, for an extra few minutes).
7.  Remove from oven and leave to cool.

100g/4 oz icing sugar (You can make more, depending how much icing you would like in the middle of the cake - the proportion is half spread to icing sugar)
50g/ 2oz vegan spread
2 - 3 teaspoons cocoa powder (depending how chocolatey you would like the icing)
a tiny drop of vanilla extract

1.  Mix the spread in a bowl to soften it.
2.  Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl.
3.  Mix together until smooth. 
4.  Add the vanilla extract to taste.

Split the cake if you are having icing in the middle and spread half of the icing.  Place the top half of the cake onto the base and spread the remaining icing on the top.  Slice and enjoy! 

Sunday 11 March 2018

Recently I have been...

 ...making a vegan chocolate cake for a colleague's birthday...
...spending an afternoon making cards using paper piecing (using some of my ever growing card making stash), where I die cut the same shape in different colours and types of card and then pieced them back together in different combinations. 
...finally getting my MDF 12 x 12 storage unit (bought as a kit and put together by Chris and me - it was a two person job!) painted and decorated to organise my 12 x 12 papers more efficiently.
 I used the same paint as the other units - Orpington Duck Egg - and the same or similar papers too. (the other projects are here and here)
 I did include a different one for the back.
 I particularly like the Chinoiserie look of this one
 This unit is now full of my papers and makes me feel happy!  If only I could organise my other stashes - jewellery making equipment, sewing, polymer clay, art materials...a never ending list!

Sunday 4 March 2018

A rather snowy week

 I am rather pleased that this week is over. While I can appreciate the beauty of the snow, after a day or two of the disruption it always causes in the UK, I am heartily thankful to see the back of it. I think we have so much difficulty when it does snow because we are just not ready for it every year.   Last year, there was only a bit and this year, up to this week, a light dusting occasionally.  So when it descends on us in any quantity, everything grinds to a halt. Countries who get the snow every year are much better prepared for it precisely because they expect it and are ready.
 My Magnolia Fairy Blush did look very pretty with the frozen water droplets on its leaves.
 I hope it has survived the cold snap.
 This was Tuesday - not too bad, although cold, but the snow melted quickly.
 This was Wednesday.  Yes, very pretty and I love the way that snow muffles all the sounds.  We walked to work but were sent home at 12.30.  Having an extra day or two off work was a really welcome bonus!
 I did take pity on my box bushes and removed the snow as it was pressing the branches down.
 My poor plants!  However, the dustbin and compost bags look better with their snow hat.
 Impressive icicles on next door's guttering.
Some more impressive icicles on our guttering (this was yesterday).
Even the pots at the front door had icicles of their own.  I am pleased to say that the snow has melted now.  I am not sure how much damage it has done as I haven't insulated as many pots in the back garden as in previous years, but I hope plants have survived. We shall see.