Wednesday, 31 July 2013

First Sewing Project!

So here we have it... my very first sewing project. Since I've been reading Tilly and the Buttons' blog for a while now, I wanted to start with one of Tilly's own patterns, suitable for beginners. I can't wait to try the Mathilde blouse, but I thought that was rather tricky for a first piece of clothing, so I went for the Miette skirt.

I chose a red linen for the fabric which I slightly regretted later, as it frays terribly (all over the carpet!) and is really difficult to get (and keep) the creases out. Hence the dodgy photos due to wrinkles and my bad posture. Although I do love the colour.

I found the pattern simple to assemble, although my flat is barely big enough to lay out a sewing pattern on the floor! I initially thought I wouldn't include the pockets, but decided not to chicken out, and I'm glad I didn't as I love them. Tilly's blog has step-by-step instructions for each stage, in the minutest of details with pictures and everything. What more could you ask for. I've never been good at visualising things and working out how they fit together, so this was perfect for me.

There are quite a few mistakes, but with the tie and the wrap around style of the skirt, they are quite well hidden.

So there you go, my first dress-making project. It's already had several outings, and is very comfy, I don't think the photos quite do it justice!

Emily Kate.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

My favourite drink, especially in a summer like this, is elderflower cordial. My piano teacher used to make it
when I was young, but I didn't realise at the time quite how simple it is to make. Ashamedly, despite being quite the country bumpkin, I wasn't sure what an elderflower tree even looked like. I spent much of my childhood being sent out to pick blackberries, raspberries and other fruits, but never made anything with elderflowers.
So a couple of weeks ago when I was back in Somerset visiting my parents (and their puppy more importantly!) my mum and I decided to go and find some elderflowers, to make cordial. Given the price of the shop-bought variety, I assumed that elderflower trees were not very common, even in the countryside, but they really are everywhere! They apparently tend to grow not in the complete wilderness, but near to civilisation and often against walls. We found a lot either side of a footpath, up near to Cheddar gorge. Apparently they should be picked early on a bright sunny morning, and if they are starting to turn brown, then it's too late in the season for that tree. They flower over a relatively short period, from late May/early June to the end of July. (so it's not too late for this year!) The flowers are small and white and grow in umbrella shape formations.

I looked for a recipe for a cordial online, but found that each one I looked at was very different to the next, so I took an average amount of the ingredients called for. Unfortunately I couldn't get hold of any citric acid which is normally mentioned, but I found it worked just fine without, although it will last much less longer. However if you are making it for a special occasion, or plan to freeze any, that shouldn't be an issue.

 So here's the recipe I used:

30 heads of elderflower
2 lemons
2.5 pounds of sugar
1.5 litres of water

  • Put 30 heads of elderflower with the stalks snipped very short into a large, sterilised plastic bowl. 
  • Using a potato peeler, peel off the zest of the lemons, and then slice them and add all of this to the bowl. 
  • Heat the sugar with the water until it is completely dissolved. Wait for it to cool, then add to the bowl. Place a tea towl over the top, and leave for 24 hours. 
  • After 24 hours, sieve the mixture through a fine muslin cloth to catch all the flowers, and bottle it.

The end result is quite a sweet cordial with a more flowery taste than the commercial products, but really rather tasty! This amount filled 3 jam jars and a small plastic bottle. (the photo below is taken after a lot had been drunk already!) However if I was to make it again I would possibly make a few changes to the recipe, adding around 55g of citric acid, perhaps an extra lemon, and slightly less sugar, maybe just one pack of sugar (2.2lbs).
So it's not too late to make some yourself, but this lovely weather to drink it in won't last forever!

Emily Kate

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Sewing Machine!

On Monday last week it was my birthday, so on Sunday my family came to visit with presents. At last I have my very own sewing machine!

The last week or so it's really been to too hot here to do anything in the evenings but lie about. (Yes, I know how British is that, it's finally sunny here and we're already moaning about it) So I've only really just started having a go on the machine and so far I have to say it's not as terrifying as I thought, and it's possibly harder to impale yourself on a needle than I thought. I've started my first item of clothing...the Miette skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. So watch this space for pictures (hopefully) soon!

Emily Kate

Saturday, 6 July 2013

What's in the Box?

I have something a little different to share with you knitting box. When I first started getting into knitting and making things around a year ago, I kept buying wool without knowing what I was going to make with it. All this wool lived in plastic bags by the bed, next to the sofa, in the top of the wardrobe (where it fell out and hit me on the head regularly) and generally drove the boyfriend a bit crazy. So when Christmas 2012 came around and I had been knitting all winter, I requested some kind of box for all my knitting/crafting supplies. I was thinking of the types of things you see in John Lewis or other department stores with a funky fabric pattern, but which are actually rather small and impractical. What I wasn't expecting... was this. 

 This is an approximately 100 years old wooden knitting box/trunk. It's more of a piece of furniture than a box really. My mum found it in the depths of Shepton Mallet flea market for (i'm told) a bargain price.

After being initially a little bemused by my Christmas present, I've rather fallen in love with it. It has a shelf an inch or so deep which sits on the top for all your needles, pins and little bits and bobs and underneath is a good sized space for wool and fabric. Unsurprisingly it wouldn't have fit on the Megabus back to London with me so I had to wait a while for my parents to visit and bring it up.

So if you are looking for somewhere to keep all your sewing/knitting supplies and a modern fabric box won't cut it, I would definitely recommend one of these if you can get your hands on one.

Do you keep your crafty supplies somewhere a little unusual? Let me know!

Emily Kate