Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pleated girl's skirt

Hi! Long time no post... the school holidays have kind of thrown me off routine lately, as they always seem to. And a heap of other little things have been getting in the way (that I won't bore you with) but also a not-so-boring fabric-based exciting crafty project has been sucking my time up. I'll share it with you as soon as I have some decent pics... but for now I thought I'd show you a skirt I made for my big girl a while back...

I had pinned this cute tutorial from Madame Zsa Zsa a while back, and finally decided to try it. The instructions are not in english but there's a cute little hand drawn diagram and pics, so that was enough to get by on.

Basically it's just a rectangle of fabric, measuring about 3 times the circumference of the child's waist, plus a few centimetres added on for the side zip. The length is up to you. To make it up you insert the zip, pleat the waist, finish the waist with a length of bias binding (long enough to hang over and tie into a bow). Then finish the hem however you like. I folded it under twice and hand stitched it, but you could machine stitch or use more bias binding.
I love the cute, simple styling and the lovely detail that the binding gives, and in my opinion it's a perfect little skirt for an active girl. Mine went scootering in hers after our photo shoot (not such a successful shoot though - oh well!). It could also be dressed up for a more formal look, using different fabrics and bindings.

I'm very keen to make more of these skirts. They'd be great for using up spare bits of stash fabric (a colour block panelled version might be nice). And seeing as it's KCWC time again soon - woo hoo! - I'm positive there will be more. Are you participating in KCWC this time? The timing is good for me so I'm planning to. Fingers crossed for no sick children or disasters of any kind that week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Simplicity 2226 no. 2

Thank you for your comments on my last post regarding crazy crafting, I'm glad I'm not alone in my frenzied creative pursuits!

Recently I made another version of the popular skirt pattern Simplicity 2226 (see the last one here), this time in denim. 

I'd been picturing this pattern in denim for ages but the denim I used was a bit too heavy for the design, resulting in a very 'pouffy' kind of look (and quite uncooperative gathers in the sewing process!). I'm hoping as it's washed over and over this will settle a bit. But overall I'm pretty happy with this skirt and have worn it quite a bit already. It's got a bit of attitude and personality, which I like, but is also simple enough to pair with strong colour and accessories.
A little feature I had fun with was putting in an exposed zip, which I did partly because I wanted to use a nice chunky metal zip and also because I lazily thought it would be easier than setting it in properly, which it was ;-). And being dark, a lot of imperfections like wonky stitching are hidden.

My enthusiasm for blue and red is still going strong, as you can see and I thought I'd show you my favourite accessories at the moment: A ring with bamboo on the base and resin on the top (don't know the brand unfortunately) and a set of beaded bracelets from the talented people at Elk. And my top is an old favourite from Metalicus, just in case you were wondering :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brownie camp bag

It's been a bit quiet on the blogging and crafting front around here lately - we've had colds and chest infections first and then tummy bugs (pass the Dettol, someone!). But I do have some pics of projects lurking around that I hadn't managed to blog in the pre-sickness busyness...

My big girl, who's 7, joined Brownies (the junior version of Girl Guides) earlier in the year. It's great, and we feel it fits her personality well. And over time it will probably help to fill a few 'gaps' for her - like the fact that as we have no family close by, there are no obvious older female role models (mum's don't count, as we well know ;-) - and also the fact that we're not campers, etc etc. Anyway, that's a whole other story, but what I wanted to show you was a bag I made for her to take to a recent 2 night camp.

Just 2 days before she was due to leave I looked at her checklist and pile of things to take and said to The Mr "well, I'll just have to make her a bag". He pointed out that no, I did not have to, surely we'd have something that would do. Or, hey, I could go buy one! But me being me I started mentally planning the design in my head and off I went...

I modeled the style on several pics I saw online, and the size of the pile of stuff. I used stash fabric, interfacing (to give it some body) and zip and bought the webbing for the handles. So it was pretty cost effective. And not too time consuming afterall. 

But. Really... designing and making something from scratch just before it's needed, spending many waking moments planning and making it when I should have been doing other stuff - what the hell is that all about??? I tried to psycho-analyze myself on this crazy behaviour (other examples seen here, here and here). Obviously there's an element of making something for my family to show my love (see the bunny sticking out of the bag in the last shot? - another previous example). But am I trying to control each situation? Or do I like to set myself seemingly impossible tasks to give myself a challenge, given that the rest of my days are largely filled with laundry mountains and cooking marathons? 

Hmm... OK, psych session over. Look at the colourful bag :-)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wool sweater slippers

One of the nice things about getting older, I find, is that I appreciate the small joys in life a lot more than I used to. And one of those for me is taking my shoes off when I get home and putting on my slippers. I love slippers.

I've worn to death my old zakka house shoes. They've been fantastic and I'm sad to see them go, but I'm not up to the effort to make a new pair at the moment. I remember that making them was pretty laborious.

So when I found this pattern for wool sweater slippers at the Fiber & Twigs Etsy shopknew I had to try it. It uses upcycled materials, is quick & easy and cute. And the pattern is a PDF download, forwarded to me a matter of minutes after I bought it! Which meant I could indulge my desire for new slippers that very evening! Woo hoo! (yes it's true, I don't get out much :-)

For my first pair (I'm sure there'll be many more) I used an old grey (thrifted) cardigan that I'd accidentally felted previously by throwing it into a load of washing. As the cardigan had shrunk so much (oops) I couldn't get a whole top pattern piece out of a panel so that's why you see seams in the pic below. Obviously it would be better to use a larger garment to avoid this but it still worked fine.

For the soles I used my old scraps of thrifted leather so that they'd be more durable and I could wear them out into the back yard to the washing line (and maybe for the occasional trip to the corner shop, hee hee).
And then I embroidered an 'l' and 'r' onto them to avoid a frustration I'd had with the zakka house shoes.

I love the cute details that have been put into this pattern: binding around the openings, encased seams inside, cute little finger tags at the back... ah! In fact, I'm wearing them right now... argh! this is getting creepy. Let's just say that I love these slippers :-)

Head on over to My creative space for more obsessive crafting.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weekend cooking: Beetroot brownies

The weekend's a time when I sometimes get the opportunity to cook something different or fun, a change from the quick and easy routine of weeknights. Come and see what I've been up to this weekend.. 

We were invited to a party this weekend (grown-ups and kids) and a friend and I took along dessert for the kids. Before the party we had fun thinking of all the different things we could make. Meringues had been on the top of my list (my big girl was away so no allergies to cater for) when suddenly as I was flicking through a cooking magazine I saw a picture of brownies containing beetroot and I was sold - and found a little amusement in the fact that I would be serving up a hidden vegetable, hee hee ;-)

I've been wanting to try a choc/beetroot recipe for a while and am so glad I did. I'm not sure if the kids were that over the moon about them but I thought they were delicious - moist and chocolatey but with that beautiful earthy flavour that comes with beetroot, and a lovely deep pinky/red colour instead of the usual straight brown.

And of course I had to do a little decorating... for the stars I put some icing (powdered) sugar into a tea strainer and shook it over a coffee decorator stencil thing. Which was the most fun of the whole thing really - apart from eating the few that didn't fit on the plate and stayed at home ;-)

*And by the way, happy Fathers Day today to all the fantastic dads!

- - - - -

Beetroot brownies

500g whole raw beetroot
100g butter
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tsp vanilla essence
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

Wear a pair of rubber gloves to stop your hands from staining, then top, tail and peel the beetroot. Roughly chop and put into a large bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of water, cover with cling film, then microwave on High for 12 mins or until tender (you could also bake the whole unpeeled beetroot until tender then, when cool, rub the skins off).

Heat oven to 180c and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin with non-stick baking paper. Roughly chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes then put them into a food processor along with the vanilla essence. Drain the cooked beetroot  then add it to the food processor and blend until the mix is smooth. The chocolate and butter will melt as you do this.

Put the sugar and eggs into a large bowl, then beat using an electric hand whisk until thick, pale and foamy, about 2 mins. Spoon the beetroot mix into the bowl, then use a large metal spoon or a spatula to fold it into the whisked eggs. Try to conserve as much air in the mixture as you can. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, then gently fold these in to make a smooth batter.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 25 mins or until just risen all over. Cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.

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