Tag Archives: Homemade

The Blue Knit Dress

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I referenced this dress in my previous post, the thing I preferred to work on. I based it on this ‘Summer Shift Dress’ tutorial.

The tutorial basically instructs you to take a shirt that you like, make a pattern out of that and lengthen and widen to make a dress.

Something not mentioned in the instructions: making a pattern is not as easy as Ms. Barlow makes it seem.

2013-07-28 19.12.31I have a roll of tracing paper (sold as ‘sketch tracing paper’ in some places) and a fine Sharpie which I used to trace the shirt. Then I removed the shirt, and traced the pattern again, until the pieces lined up with straight lines.  I was really happy I’d reviewed  “How to Make a Pattern from an Original Garment” tutorial from Sense and Sensibility Patterns. I kept that article in mind when I was tracing the original shirt.

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It is almost that easy – there are (not counting the hem/trim) two seams. The neckline I lined with blue bias tape, and the hems I made by folding (two creases) and sewing about 2 inches of material. I made a long sleeved version (like the shirt I took it from) from a double knit (more folds) and store bought bias tape. It’s a rather thick, and very comfortable, so It’s my winter dress.

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Tiny Almond-Apricot Bonbons

2013-05-31 20.09.14When I was a child, I had a cookbook published by Nitty Gritty books, Yum, I Eat It! (I think) that had a recipe for “No-Cook Candy”. All I remembered was that it had a lot of confectioner’s sugar in it. Searching for that led me to this recipe at cooks.com. I substituted honey for the corn syrup.

The first time, I made the recipe mostly as it’s written.

And then I got carried away.

Since I live around the corner from a craft store, I hiked over there and got some candy coating to melt in the microwave. My sister gave me some ginger flavored sugar, so I used that instead of sprinkles. I chilled the candy in a roughly rectangular slab wrapped in plastic wrap. When I was ready to coat it, I rolled half of the pieces in the sugar. Then I coated according to the instructions on the package. Crunchyness aside, I thought they were a bit bland.

So–

Enter the dried apricots and almond extract. Because I have those things lying about.Apricot Bonbon

In addition to the ingredients (using honey again), I chopped up 4 dried Turkish apricots (the brown kind, I found them in the bulk bins) very fine. Instead of the 1/2 tsp vanilla, I substituted 3/8 vanilla and 1/8 almond extract. You might have to eyeball it with the 1/4 tsp measure. These went in before the confectioners sugar.  This made a slightly wetter dough that previous, so I added confectioner’s sugar until it was the right consistency. I chilled for a couple hours, then I melted the chocolate coating and dipped each square. I left out the sprinkles/granulated sugar. I would recommend getting better chocolate than I did. It would make a huge difference.

The original recipe is a blank slate to add dried fruit nuts, extracts or other stuff. I would love to hear from people who have experimented with this recipe in the comments.

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Strawberries, Rhubarb and… Cheese?

RhubarbStrawberry QuicheI had a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest, (p129) called “A Quiche Formula”.  I did a lot of summarizing when I copied it down. Essentially:

You need:

1 unbaked pie shell
cheese (1/4 -1/3 lb) cubed or grated (Swiss types, or cheddar or something semi-soft)
filling such as sauteed vegetables, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, or fresh herbs (or steamed veggies etc.)
3 eggs
1 C milk
sprinkling of paprika

Spread the cheese over bottom of the crust. Place the filling evenly over the cheese. Beat eggs and milk and pour this over the filling. Dust with paprika. Bake 35-40 minutes.

SUPER simple and very versatile. From that model I made up a rhubarb and strawberry custard pie.

There were  couple things I did to the recipe that might changed the outcome, but I’m pretty confident in Mollie Katzen’s quiche, so I used her methods and times.

I baked mine with a water bath (it’s a long story and probably unnecessary). It’s common to do this for custard things, but usually the quiche seems to come out fine without doing that so I skipped it in my instructions. Also I pre-cooked the filling. Again it might not be necessary, but I did not want to chance the filling coming up uncooked. Cook or no- cook, take your pick. My creation came out a bit runny, but not inedible.

I used “Arthur’s Italian Cuisine” Parmesan which is a strangely mild cheese I had on hand, but most Parmesan cheese might be too strong. Find something milky and only slightly sour tasting ( I originally thought I might use cream cheese or mascarpone as a crust sealer. It might work…).

This is on the tart side. I didn’t add any sweetener besides strawberries. You might want it sweeter, if so, feel free to add a couple tablespoons of sugar to the filling mix when you cook it or to the custard as you beat it.

If you make any of the changes I mentioned above let me know what you did! (And if anything is unclear or I left anything out, let me know that too).

Rhubarb and Strawberry Custard Pie

1 unbaked 9″ pie shell
Grated Mild Parmesan cheese (enough to cover bottom of pie crust)
a dusting of cinnamon

Filling
1 1/2 C chopped strawberries and rhubarb (about 1 1/2 stalks)
1 TBS butter (scant)

Custard
1 C milk
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375′ F. Keep crust in freezer until ready to use. Warm rhubarb and strawberries with butter, until butter is melted and fruit is wet.

Beat eggs and milk and add vanilla.

Pull crust out of freezer or fridge. Line the bottom of the crust with the grated cheese. Spread filling over cheese and pour custard over that. Dust with cinnamon.

Place the whole thing in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes.

FYI, I’m not a professional baker, and I’ve never even taken a baking class. I make no guarantees beyond my own meager experience (and I even wonder about that sometimes). Apparently I have some strange tastes, so I guess what I’m saying, bake at your own risk.

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Clownfish Earrings (or, Toys on Wire)

Amongst my stable of crafty things to make are pendants and earrings out of toys. For Christmas, I made a My Little Pony pendant for my roommate’s daughter. (I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but she is actually in their demographic). What I made for her was from an Applejack figurine but it was similar in execution to this one:

MLP Pendant

You can use basically any small plastic toy, as long as you can poke a hole in it. Be careful that it isn’t too heavy, or it will pull on the wire or your ears.

I found the clownfish  toys at the toy store for about $0.50. The My Little Pony was in one of those foil packets which you can’t see what you are getting and cost more like $3 (They’ve moved on to glitter versions of the ponies, and I’m not sure how to prevent those from shedding glitter everywhere).

Here is more of a break-down.

  Clownfish Earrings

Clown Fish EarringsYou need:

  • 2 soft rubber clownfish toys
  • 2 lengths 24 gauge wire or slightly thicker (maybe 4.5 – 5 inches each, and that sounds generous, but you want more to work with rather than less)
  • 4 blue seed beads  (mine are in three different shades)
  • 2 jump rings (I wrapped mine around a wooden chopstick — apparently it was not round…)
  • 2 ear wire thingies

To keep the lower bead from falling off, make a little spiral in the end of the wire. Load a bead onto the wire.

With a thick needle, poke a hole through the fish where the wire should go. Carefully thread a length of wire with a bead on it through the hole in the fish. <—- this part can be quite frustrating, especially if the wire you are using is soft, as mine was. Be patient, and don’t try to force it.

Once the fish are threaded on their wires, load the other bead on top of the fish. Make a wrapped loop above the bead and trim the excess wire.

Attach the ear wire with the jump ring. Ta-da! Fish ears!

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Deep Fried

I haven’t been doing much crafting these last two weeks, but I have been cooking. Nothing too extravagant, mostly meals.

I have several recipes that I go back to, using a substituting some of the ingredients– a seed cake, pancakes… and something called ‘Corn Oysters.’

I originally found the recipe in Samantha’s Cook Book, a publication made to accompany Pleasant Company’s Historical Doll of the same name. I’m not sure they are in print any more, but Amazon has listings for the Cookbooks.

Basically it a batter with stuff in it.

The batter is:

1/4 C milk,

1/3 C flour

1 egg

with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.

Mix this with 2 C frozen corn kernels (rinsed to remove ice crystals) and fry spoonfuls of batter in 2 TBS each of  butter and veggie oil. Flip midway through to make sure they get golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Rather than use corn, I use whatever’s on hand — stir fry veggies, frozen fruits or even canned peaches — though those retain a bit too much liquid. The smaller the pieces, the better these little fritters cook.  With the fruit I omit the pepper.

I also made these with fresh apples, which I chopped into bitty pieces (about 1 CM)  and measured out 2 cups. It was about one large apple or two small. Instead of the pepper, I used cinnamon.

Bananas… Or frozen strawberries, retaining the pepper… I can think of a million more variations.

One last note: they need to be eaten right away, not left in the fridge to get soggy.

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The Dress, Part 1

Ugh. I know this post is late, but I thought I would have this project done by now.  It’s basically done, but It needs decoration.

I made a dress! And a chemise and short stays.

Short Stays and Chemise

Blue Regency DressThe patterns are from Sense and Sensibility Patterns . The patterns were super easy to put together, even for someone of my modest sewing ability. The chemise and the outer  lining is of cotton muslin (muslin in the modern sense), the stays are line with reed boning, and it’s all tied together with ribbon.

The dress is modeled after dresses circa 1810 (according to the website). The pattern had a train, but since I didn’t want to worry about mud and twigs and dog poo, I removed it. The bodice is also lined with muslin. That’s a pillow case over the dress-form, blue on blue doesn’t show up so well.

Since this is only meant as super comfortable costume (though I may start wearing it around town) and I don’t do re-enactments, almost none of it is hand-sewn. Only the cuffs and the button holes in the back:

Hand Sewn Buttonholes Pic

I can’t say I had prior experience with buttonholes.

I have one more piece to make (after I decorate the dress– I’m thinking ribbon applique), a brown Spenser with gold buttons. Oh, and the hat, but I’m not using a pattern for that, just modifying a cheap straw hat.

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Itty Bitty Pincushions

I would really like the title of this post to be some sort of euphemism, but it isn’t.

2012-12-23 20.45.53I made tiny pincushions for some people for Christmas, following these instructions. The method is pretty basic, but the variations are infinite. They can be very simple,  or elaborate.

All the cloth is felt, they are stuffed with 100% wool roving (antibacterial, people tell me) and all the non-embroidery sewing is blanket stitch. They are built around re-purposed plastic bottle caps (like plastic soda bottle size — but I bet it would work with any smallish plastic bottle cap).

The pincushions are: A hawk in flight on a blue background. I basically made the bottle cap covering out of blue felt and appliqued a hawk in flight silhouette on with darker thread. I put a little embroidery at the shoulders and wingtips to give the illusions of feathers.

The two with embroidered diamond are inspired by temari.

The pincushion in the middle is brown bottle cap covering with ‘cushion’ part made from white. I appliqued the dripping icing as strip on the side. The strawberry was a miniature of this tutorial, though I appliqued the green leaves, and it was too small to stuff or add seeds.

The orange is a persimmon — orange felt with appliqued/ sculpted leaves.

The last is the night sky is blue ‘cushion’ with a black cap covering and stars embroidered in french knots and single stitches. The tree silhouettes are cut as part of the side strip.

Most of these I gave away as presents at Christmas, or I would take and post a better picture.

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