Friday, 30 December 2011

Burdastyle Feature and Poncho-Cape Thing

Can you believe it's nearly 2012 already? I hope everyone had a great Christmas/holiday period - pictures of my epic Christmas feast will be posted soon. I received some lovely presents, and a pretty awesome one from Burdastyle. The sewing website made me its featured member this week. You can see it here, - the article includes some pictures of my past projects as well as a short interview about my sewing habits.  
I thought I'd try to tie that in with these photos of a poncho/kaftan/cape thing I made recently. I've actually made four of them, they were commissioned by the lady who runs a neighbouring stall at the Tea Rooms. If you're interested in them and in or around the London area, you can purchase them from the Tea Rooms or her Thursday stall at Spitalfields
These are extremely simple to make. In fact, they're great beginner projects for those wanting to dip a toe into the sewing ocean. You'll need two long scarves of the same size - they don't even have to have the same design on both if mismatched is what you're into. All you have to do is to sew one edge of the scarf together and leave a hole at the top large enough for your arm to go through. Do the same to the other scarf, then sew both scarves together about halfway up to join them together. 

I've just realised that what I wrote probably makes no sense to anyone else whatsoever...Is anyone interested in a step-by-step tutorial with photos?
In case I don't get around to writing up another post tomorrow - Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Cooking For Christmas - Candied Quinces

Regular visitors to this blog will probably be aware of my love of quinces by now. I strive to use them in a couple of recipes whenever they come into season, so I knew what I was going to do with them as soon as I read through this panforte recipe.

It does take a while to get the quinces candied to the right consistency, but it's not like you have to stand over them the whole time. Pop them on the hob and then go off and do what needs doing, but do remember to check on them every 10-15 minutes to see how they're going. *This is important, as I left my first batch for too long and they ended up burnt.* Once candied, they keep for up to a week, so you can always make them ahead of time too. 

The original recipe states that it only takes about 45 minutes to get them done, but I found that it took me about two hours to get them to the right consistency. I cooked mine low and slow to prevent the sugar from burning. 

Candied Quinces (from LA Times

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large quince
- Peel quince, slice in half and remove the core. Slice and cube the fruit into pieces roughly one inch wide and a quarter inch thick. 

- Combine water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and cook on medium heat until sugar dissolves. 
- Add cubed quince and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until fruit is semi-translucent (the quince and syrup will turn a vivid shade of pinkish-red). 
Remove from  heat and pour into a heat-proof container. Cool, then store the fruit in the cooking syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You'll have about 1 cup (8 ounces) of fruit.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Some Sewing Inspiration

There are heaps of photos of my recent trip to Glasgow to sort through, so I thought I would put up some pictures of pretty dresses first. These were all taken in the massive Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Manbacon and I spent hours there, and we didn't even see everything. It was fantastic, but exhausting. I felt rather 'museumed-out' at the end of our visit. Anyway, enjoy the dresses!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Gingerbread Trials

Tried out a gingerbread recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook as part of my Christmas dinner preparations. It's pretty tasty and includes treacle (one of my favourite ingredients), but requires more ginger, in this opinion of this ginger-lover. I know gingerbread man is the traditional shape, but gingerbread llamas are pretty fantastic too, no? 
The gingerbread tribute to Munch's Scream and the slightly misformed Bat Signal were both produced by Manbacon himself, budding confectionery artiste extraordinaire. 

P.S. Not really related but does anyone have a good recipe for creme brulee? I'm a bit obsessed after my trip to Glasgow and a visit to the Two Fat Ladies restaurant. More on that soon. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Winging It - Refashioned Man's Shirt

Men's shirts can be rather boring, can't they? I have a number of them laying around, thanks to Manbacon. The worn out ones have been turned into rags, but those in good condition are great for quick refashioning projects. 

For this blouse, I started by taking apart all the seams of the original shirt, so I was left with a number of flat pieces of fabric. I then traced out a bodice pattern and re-sewed the blouse, turning it around so the buttons were on the back.
The shirt cuffs and collar came from a rather baggy 1980s dress I'd cut up a few months ago. It was going to be a sleeveless top so I had no real need for the cuffs. However, I decided to stick them on the shoulders of the blouse in a fit of fancy. Voila, wings! Or wing-like structures...
The collar turned out to be that bit too small for the neck of the new blouse ('measure twice, cut once' evidently not one of my favourite phrases). I got around the problem by attaching a length of vintage seam vintage to each side of the collar to function as ties.

And there you go - an easy refashioned blouse!
Blouse - refashioned, skirt - selfmade (available on Etsy), 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Melody Makers

Manbacon's father is a pretty damned awesome accordion player. We, unfortunately, are all filler and no killer. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Winter News

Here are a few bits shop-related news for winter - 
I recently purchased a few bags of remnants from a factory, and inside the bags were lengths of these rather fantastic snowflake-printed knitted fabric. How wonderfully festive! I've sewn up a couple of pairs for sale at the Tea Rooms, but may make a few more for the Etsy shop. Is anyone interested? 

Secondly, I have finally set up a Folksy shop, with a number of prints and postcards for sale. The above prints are now available on both Folksy and Etsy

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cheese and Garlic Scones

Made some cheese and garlic scones this week by following Frugal Feeding's recipe. The original called for cheddar, but I only had Comte in my fridge and went with that. I accidentally on purpose grated more cheese than was necessary and topped the scones with it before baking them, for extra-cheesiness.

These are best eaten straight out of the oven, cut in half with dollops of butter melting on it. I had them for lunch just after I made them, but they are also pretty good as a snack when cooled down. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Giant Cat Project Exhibition Opening

The Giant Cat Project exhibition and auction officially opened on Monday night in St. Botolph's Church, beside Aldgate Station. The eponymous Giant Cat is the first thing to greet you as you step inside the church. 
Anne and Petra worked hard all day setting it up, and the donated items all looked beautiful together by the time I got there at 6pm. The warm interior made a perfectly cosy retreat from the drizzle outside. 
Cat Mask by Saskia 'Wild' Doornbos and Graciela Abicher

Cat Tapestry Skirt by Ali Wall

Hummingbird Bakery provided lots of cupcakes, and there was plenty of wine, coffee and tea too. 

The exhibition will be open til the end of this week, so do drop by for a look if you're in the area. The auction will end on Friday, so there's plenty of time to put in a bid if something catches your eye. You can also pop in to stroke the Giant Cat and pose for pictures with it too!

Saturday, 5 November 2011


Aldona and I (as Inadot) are donating this cushion to help raise funds for the Giant Cat Project. Do pop along to the exhibition in St. Botolph's Church next week if you're in the area!

Friday, 4 November 2011


For Halloween. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Rusty Pencil Skirt

When I was in Poland this past summer, my mother-in-law decided to offload some fabric and asked me to pick out some that I thought I could use. This velvety soft needlecord was one of the ones I choose - I was  feeling ambitious and thought I would use it for a 'light autumnal jacket' but then of course I realised that I probably wouldn't be able to make it in time for cooler weather so shelved the idea for a bit. 
Feeling the need for a casual skirt recently, I set about looking through my stash and remembered the needlecord. I love corduroy skirts and trousers - as a teenager I owned a particularly soft pair of jeans in builders's-tea-brown that I could hardly bare to put in the wash, I loved it that much.
This skirt is basically a shortened version of my pencil skirt pattern - minus four inches at the hem, and with a thinner waistband. It has a lapped centre back metal zipper and a vintage plastic button to close the waistband. The short length also meant I didn't have to put in a vent at the back to help with walking. 
The skirt isn't lined, because I plan on wearing it even in the summer - it's definitely thin enough for that. However, I did try to make the insides extra special with some minty-green cotton bias binding around the raw edges and hem. I've become quite a fan of Hong Kong binding recently - it just seems to finish off items so prettily and it feels like a little present to yourself everytime you put on the skirt/dress/whatever. It's an immensely comfortable skirt  that will see quite a bit of wear from me. 
Jacket - found on street, blouse - Toast, skirt - selfmade, tights - supermarket, shoes - Converse, brooches - vintage