Blankets for Babies

Before I had b1 and b2, I had so many plans for making quilts, baby clothes, mobiles, cloth nappies. My children were going to be top to toe in Pipsie made. Alas it was not to be. Horrid pregnancy and premie birth meant all of my energies were focused on keeping my little two alive, and not making cute bits and bobs as originally planned.

b1 and b2 the originals

b1 and b2, the originals

But things have changed. Hooray! I (and Bruce) now have two superhuman balls of energy that only know quiet when being entertained by Almost Naked Animals (it’s a real TV show, although I don’t pretend to understand it, thank you ABC kids), reading (again this involves almost nakedness with Captain Underpants) or sleep, which when I think about it, also involves only underpants. I’m sensing a theme here…

Baby Blanket Work in Progress

Baby Blanket Work in Progress

So. One of my joys now is making baby blankets for the little beings of my dear friends. The original daisy shawls for b1 and b2 were made by me and my mother, Parjie, many years ago, and they are now realising their heirloom potential by being with their baby twin cousins. They will come back eventually, and maybe one day will warm the toes of grandchildren. In many, many, (plus 2) years to come, please and thank you b1 and b2.

Seconds after the final stitch was sewn!

Seconds after the final stitch was sewn!

The daisies themselves are very therapeutic to make. Set up on the couch with a pot of tea, Mad Men season 1 and Panda Wine, I can spend hours churning out daisies and batting away kitten paws. There are usually 500ish daisies made per shawl, which are then shipped off to Parjie for crocheted togetherness.

Baby Blanket

This shawl is for a much wanted and loved little boy. I started it not long after the announcement, however I managed to purchase only a third of the wool needed (I swear the balls of yarn looked bigger than they were, sneaky cardboard tubing and my inability to know much about wool…) and I was unable to match it when I realised my shortfall. Baby Blanket

So I got creative when it came back from Parjie, and have stitched it onto the softest flannel from Jiddies Patch, and bound the edges with a quilting fabric.Baby Blanket

I am a little delighted with the results. It is beautifully soft, warm as a nana’s blanket, and the colours sit together well for a little boy. The project evolved as I got closer and closer to its finish. I didn’t think ahead, just gathering designing and gathering supplies as I went along. And in order to finish it, for the past week I have not been allowed to piece together my next dress pattern (the Alder dress by Grainline Studio) until the final stitch was sewn. Sometimes the only way for me to finish a project is to deny starting the next. Panda Wine v's Blanket

I have another daisy shawl in the making. This time for a friend who has requested a nana blanket to warm her knees whilst perched on a wingback chair reading Scandi crime novels in the glow of the giraffe lamp light (you know who you are!).

Then I might make one for myself. Cream daisies with black crotchet, I think.

Curtsey, and keep warm!

Pips xxx

 

Wool from Woolsy Trading Post

Flannel and binding fabric from Jiddies Patch

Crotchet by Parjie

Daisies by Pips

Destruction by Panda Wine

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The Belcarra blouse and Gabriola skirt … (or Bel and Gabby)

Being a tall lady is fraught with challenges when it comes to 1800s architecture and clothing oneself. Head bumps on doorways aside, finding pants that are long enough, sleeves that go beyond the wrist and waist lines that don’t end up underneath the boob line in ready to wear (RTW) clothing; these have been a challenging aspect of my adult life. I understand that it is also difficult for the petite lady at the other end of the spectrum, however it is far easier to shorten than to lengthen. For reference I’m 184cm tall, and when I wear heels, I tower. And speaking of numbers and sizing, my wardrobe goes from a size 1 to a 14. These numbers just don’t mean anything anymore.

I once worked at a store called Tall Lady around the year 2000 where pants were left un-hemed and long so they could be taken up for each individual, t-shirts had long arms, bodices hit the true waist line (of a tall lady) and jacket sleeves were lengthier and could be lengthened further. You see were I’m going. Oh, and the shop fit was also designed with the tall lady in mind. A desk that I didn’t have to bend over! Suddenly I no longer had to wear mens 501 jeans just to have my ankles covered. American jeans became my friend. I also recall having to listen to George Michael on repeat. One album, 8 hours. Not my favourite part.

Things in RTW have changed a little, but we still shop for clothes based on out-of-date sizings for body shapes that are perhaps suitable for 2% of our population. When I previously stumbled across a top whose fit was close to good enough, I’d often invest in 2-3 just so I could have something that was comfortable and didn’t display my belly to the world. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s your style. It’s just not mine. Go the belly.

And in re-engaging with my seamstress ways, I find myself with the confidence (developed from reading other blogs and tutorials and trawling the Internets) to alter all of my patterns not just in length at the hem line, but by making proper and true adjustments of lengthening by 2.5cm at the waist line, extending shoulder seams and grading between sizes. It’s not quite couture, but my goodness it fits! And when something fits, one always feels a little bit more fabulous.

Enter the Bel and Gabby combination from Sewaholic.

The Belcarra blouse pattern can be found here and the Gabriola skirt pattern here. Also check out some of the other gorgeous versions that have been popping up around the Interwebs just over here.

the Alannah Hill Bel from #mmm2014

the Alannah Hill Bel from #mmm2014

I’m currently experimenting (fabric wise) on my 5th Bel blouse. It is such a well designed pattern, again specifically aimed towards the pear-shaped ladies so that removes one adjustment I normally need to make. My only alteration was to lengthen the bodice at the waistline by 2.5cm, and this blouse is the perfect fit. Past season Alannah Hill fabric win! This fabric also won my heart and is destined to be another Bel for Parjie, and a Saltwater Spring maxi for myself.

the skirt evolves into blouse

the skirt evolves into blouse

I was also recently talking to Jen from A Piece of Cloth, lamenting that my favourite skirt made from a 1920s silk cotton is no longer wearable due to my waistline no longer reflecting that of a 18 year old Pips. She suggested I make it into a top, and oh my delight when I discovered I could cut out both the front and back pieces without adding a seam, and then use silk crepe de chine for the raglan sleeves. I also managed to do a very questionable job of binding on the sleeves with very limited scraps.

the Bel goes to work

the Gabby goes to work

Happy days and a little dance. Possibly my most well worn skirt is now reincarnated into my favourite blouse. With matching head band of course.

the back of Bel

the back of Bel with bonus crinkly Gabby

The beige Gabby was my first toile, and for some reason I needed a serious size down from the size 8 I originally cut. (I’ve previously cut a size 8 in Sewaholic for dresses and tops, and I’m sure my measurements corresponded to the 8 at the time of cutting the skirt, but I don’t trust my memory at this stage. Not when I keep finding glad wrap in the fridge…..) so the seam matching isn’t great. For my next, I cut a size 6 pattern which is better sized for me. I also added 7cm to the hemline. I have obtained full swish factor 10. (I did try to lengthen at the “lengthen or shorten” line, however it threw out the lines to much, and I was happy to have a little extra volume at the hemline.). The skirt really hugs the hips and then does a gorgeous flare at about knee length resulting in wonderful volume. Kittens and small children could get lost under there.

vintage Japanese cotton Gabby

vintage Japanese cotton Gabby 7pm on Friday Night

I originally attached the waistband, but then I remembered waistbands had never really been my style and this was no exception, so I whipped it off and created a facing using the top yoke pieces, the result of which I was very happy. Attached, under-stitched and then hand-slip-stitched down, it is a neat and tidy finish that also sits a little lower on the hips, which I prefer.

always happy in a bay window

always happy in a bay window

I’ve also put together a lace Bel, flatlined with a lining, and sheer at the sleeves, with bonus threads! A vintage Japanese cotton Gabby, a floor sweeping black viscose Gabby that swirls and twirls like nothing else (I will blog this one later, along with the top I made). And there will be many more. The skirt is great for winter with tights underneath, and I’m looking forward to some summer versions in lighter cotton, to shade my pins from the sun.

that thread!!!! Embracing the zen.

that thread!!!! Embracing the zen. And white bra straps to finish the look…

Just for reference, I’ve managed to make the skirts out of 3m of fabric, I think the pattern recommends a little more.

the casual look

the casual look

Do you have a specific pattern crush at the moment?

Curtsey.

Pips xxx

PS. as you would expect, there is much raising of the skirts when ascending and descending stairs, and I’m constantly stepping on my skirt when trying to stand up which results in me bobbing up and down and doing a strange dance to try and locate some fabric free floor. All completely worth it. And as such long skirts are not on trend at the moment, I get lots of remarks, and have had people ask if I was an opera singer based on my dress. If only they could here me sing…

Cherry and White Chocolate Blondies

“People who don’t know me think I’m quiet. People that do know me wish I was.”

This is one of my favourite quotes from the Internet, although I don’t know who to credit it. So thank you, Internet.

 

tea, cake and owl

tea, cake and owl

 

Leading on from that, people who know me also know that I love baking and cooking. I wear an apron but I’m also a feminist and I’m doing it in order to non-conform to my own conformity which was non-conforming in the first place. Actually, I bake because I like doing it. Nothing to do with gender roles or conformity. And because it tastes good. The day I bake using a packet mix, is the day I retire.

And whilst sewing is a major love, I thought it might be nice to be more inclusive (and less exclusive?!) by including some of my favourite recipes on this blog.

 

picture perfect

picture perfect

 

I’ve been following Steph from Rasberri Cupcakes for years, admiring her new and amazing take on cakes and macaroons. This particular recipe has become my go-to for a quick but fancy looking slice and I thought I’d share it with you today. I have made the Rhubarb and Ginger Blondies as per the original recipe, however it has quickly morphed into a Cherry and White chocolate number which I think I’ve been making every week for the past month.

 

in the making

in the making

 

I’m not sure how I discovered frozen cherries, but for some reason I found a packet in my freezer (I’m assuming I bought them…..) and when rhubarb was running low in the garden, I thought these would look good on a blondie base instead. And they do.

 

out of the 900ml stainless steel beast

out of the 900ml stainless steel beast

 

When they come out of the oven, it’s like molten cherry jam with dollops of white chocolate fondant mixed through a chewy blondie base, all with a gorgeous warm hit of ginger to chase away the cold and winter blues. Perfect with a cup of tea and book in front of the fire.

 

having a little crack at styling....

having a little crack at styling….

 

Cherry and White Chocolate Blondies (adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes who adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 115g butter, melted
  • 175g packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 125g plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100g Lindt white chocolate squares
  • frozen cherries
Melt butter in a mixing bowl, and add brown sugar. Using a hand beater or electric mixer beat to combine. Add egg and vanilla and mix again until incorporated.
Sift flour, ginger and salt (I will admit here that I don’t sift. I just can’t bear making more mess. So sift if your flour is lumpy or you are that way inclined, but otherwise it’s ok just to toss it all in and rely on that mixer to be rid of the lumps!) and gently mix into butter mixture being careful to make sure it is just combined.
Stir in chopped white chocolate and pour into a slice baking tray lined with baking paper. Spread the mixture out with a spoon (mine always appears rather thin at this stage) and then randomly pop your cherries into the mixture, pushing down until they hit the bottom of the pan but not so they are covered with the mix.
This will also have the effect of filling out the pan, as your cherries displace your mixture.
Pop into a hot oven, 180 degrees Celsius, for 30 min. Then enjoy the baked goodness.

I’m also a big believer in having everyone pitch in to help bake. Here my little helpers have both managed to crack an egg successfully. Hopefully Bruce will tackle the dishes later….

 

b1 and b2

b1 and b2. Look at that concentration!

 

Happy baking Saturday.

 

 

blondies7

 

 

Curtsey.

Pips xxx