Category Archives: Sewing And Dressmaking
Well, I have a few things to show you today one being the All British Car Meet that was held at the Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver B.C. I have always wanted to go to this show and finally, “my husband and I” (imagine it being said in a right royal “Queenie ” voice !)had a wonderful day out to the gardens, by the way always a great place to visit if you love flowers, trees and a vast expanse of serenity.
The cars show up early so being there by 8:30- 9am was a real plus and we could still find a parking space! The day was hot and sunny with a lovely breeze blowing. Now in truth I am not a car aficiando I go simply to see the few cars I like and remember fondly, but my nearest and dearest loves old british cars I’m not sure why but he loves them! So we spent a good portion of the day there. I wandered around some of the lovely gardens and enjoyed the glorious colours on show and the beautifully manicured lawns.
Now to a fabulous recipe that a friend sent to me: DELICIOUS Chocolately black bean brownies.
This recipe is from the best-selling new book Spilling the Beans (White-cap Books). Canadian authors Sue Duncan and Julie Van Rosendaal say these brownies are the real deal, and nobody has ever detected the merest hint of a bean. Use good-quality chocolate; you’ll be happy you did.
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 28 to 30 minutes
Makes: 16 brownies
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
11/4 cups pecan pieces (optional)
1/2 cup butter
2 oz. (60 grams) unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup all-purpose flour pinch of salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup good-quality chocolate chips, or a 3 ½ oz. (100 gram) bar of good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the rinsed black beans on a double thickness of paper towel and blot them gently to remove as much moisture as possible.
Leave them uncovered on the counter until later.
Spread the pecan pieces (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about six to seven minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan set over very low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate, taking care not to let the mixture scorch. Whisk to combine, then remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together and set aside.
Place the dried-off beans and cooled butter/chocolate mixture in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla; process again until combined. Scrape the mixture into the flour mixture and fold gently, leaving streaks of flour still visible. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and fold to just combine.
Pour the batter into a lightly buttered (or sprayed, with non-stick cooking spray) eight-inch square pan, and smooth the top. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes: the batter should no longer jiggle when the pan moves, but any toothpick inserted would be very chocolatey. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
I have yet to get hold of the book Spilling The Beans but from the LONG wait at the library I gather it must be popular and let’s hope really good. I love these brownies and in place of the wheat flour I used brown rice flour and just a bit more than the 1/3 cup. Next time I make them I think I will try using a blend of flours maybe quinoa and brown rice. Let me know if you like them too!
Not much going on in the way of knitting or felting I seem to run out of time and energy after work and household chores. But I have been reading mostly novels that I can pick up and put down easily during quick 30 minute lunch breaks and 15-20 minutes before I fall asleep at night.
I have been able to sew up a few skirts, one of which is my first Alabama Stitch Project trial. Very plain natural coloured organic cotton made with six gores instead of four. Stitched with purple thread ! I have not been able to take any photos of it yet but when I do I will post them 🙂 I promise.
I have three more different skirts ready to sew, one in a floral linen which just needs the waistband and hem to be finished. Another in dark purple organic cotton a different style again in A.S.P but I cannot decide on the stencil design for that one so it may be a while! and I completed a short A-line skirt in a lovely floral indian cotton. Can you tell I am hoping for warm weather here in B.C
I hope that you are enjoying whatever creative project you are working on at this time, that’s all for now.
With Love ❤
I have been meaning to write about this wonderful book for weeks now but somehow time seems to get away on me perhaps it is the beautiful summer weather that has me lulled into a stupor!
The book is by Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown both very creative felting artists. There is lots to chose from here from basic flat felting to more detailed works including nuno felt, clothing, vessels and bags to name a few. The instructions are easy to follow and there are lovely photos showing the steps along the way plus many helpful hints and ideas. Each of these talented artists gives a little insight into their felting experiences and their inspiration with lovely photos of their home area. Both Chrissie and Nicola have on-line sites; Feltingfibres and Clasheen respectively.
I have wanted to wet felt for sometime now and have played around with different types of wool. As some of you may know I have even washed and picked some of my own fleece, which by the way I am having professionally carded as I write! I am very excited about having beautifully carded batts of Romney and Merino.
I have been busy making flat felt pieces plus a few vessels and now I have more ideas for felted jewellery. I love this book and the fact that it is a delightful size and fits easily in my bag for shopping and doesn’t take up lots of space on the felting table. All in all I think this is one of the nicest felting books on the market especially if you are just starting out on the grand adventure of wet felting.
Here I am making another attempt at the Alabama Stitch project skirt. I have made one in plain oatmeal coloured jersey…but the waistline was a little big, I know that is a good thing !!! but to unpick all that hand stitching and re-do each seam, six in total seemed (pardon the pun!) daunting.
I had another skirt cut and ready to sew, this time I thought I would do the leaves stencil from the aforementioned book. No problem, I used my sewing machine to baste each seam plus the waistline to prevent bagging or stretching while working on the appliqué stencil work. Each panel was laid out to start the stencil, I then realized I had stitched each panel (gore) to the backing fabric. So I decided to draw around the leaf stencil with a Sharpie pen.
At some point along the way I made a decision to appliqué all the leaves. I started out with the creamy coloured fabric on the grey, but I wasn’t sure I really liked it. So I had some cream fabric that I had done some practice stencils on and so I cut out the shapes from this and placed them on the drawn leaves to see if that made it better or worse. I liked it and so began the process you see now.
My creamy fabric has been painted on with a mix of green and cream fabric paint and I used real ferns from the garden to get some leafy designs. I just painted onto the backside of the fern with a sponge and then lay it onto the cream fabric and pressed down gently. Pull off the fern and you have a very delicate imprint of the ferns leaves. Remember to heat set your painted fabric BEFORE cutting out you pieces. I cut my appliqué leaves out of this fabric, some have more defined leaf designs than others, I just went with what I liked the look of at the time!
As usual I cannot follow the basic design….my mind goes off at a tangent…I believe that is called being creative !!!
If you like let me know what you are working on that gives you pleasure, happy summer sewing to you 🙂
Here is my own design of the lovely market bag from the wonderful Alabama Studio Style Book by Natalie Chanin. I love the designs from this book and the previous one, aptly named Alabama Stitch Project.
The work is slow and therapeutic and uses old gently used cotton t-shirts. I had originally thought I would be making the skirt from the first book (ASP) when I designed this stencil pattern. But on closer inspection I decided that the pattern for the skirt would not fit me! So the fabric with the stencil painted on languished in the corner of my sewing area for a REALLY long time! Finally I hauled it out and planned a market bag shape and used the sewing instructions from the second book (ASS)
I will have used three t-shirts in total, one turquoise, one pumpkin with a Pennsylvania logo, and one for the lining. At this time I am not sure what colour I will use for the lining but I am leaning towards green, always one of my favourite colours. I do have leftover turquoise pieces from the skirt but I would have to piece them as I did for the front of the bag and I would rather not have to piece the lining, you will have to wait and see what I do! I still need to make handles for the bag BUT I am almost finished. Just a little note about thread, I used jeans thread which comes in a lovely array of colours, it is polyester and is made by YLI corp and comes in 200yard / 180m spools and is called Jeans Stitch.
As you can see from the photos I also made a hat band in the same method using small scraps of leftover t-shirting. I think the process so far as taken me about a month. But I also knit in between!
I have knitted up a green shrug to go with my blue dress that I made a little while ago. I didn’t use the Alabama style completely for the dress. I did however use the spiral designs in green and the rosebud stitching and I added pewter grey beads around the swirls. I am hoping to add more spirals and stitching to the dress before I wear it again. The shrug came about because the dress is sleeveless and I sometimes need a little extra warmth. I had thought I would make just a pair of knitted long sleeves but it morphed into a shrug. I have to say it is very cosy.
I have been feeling the urge to Spring clean lately…how about you ? I know this is the sort of thing one expects at this time of year but I am a great saver of things, hoarder! …we don’t use that word in our home. All my “saves” have wonderful plans, right! So I knew I was having a moment when I found myself checking out my fabric stash, I was just looking for the ” just right fabric” you know the one your sure you have somewhere if only you could find it !
Then my daughter and some of her friends came over for a night of …just chillin’. They started to look at the fabric stash as well and started to put different colour combinations together. I said please go ahead and have fun, well they had loads of fun and started to make piles of their favourite colour mixes. I was thrilled with all the choices they had made for me, sometimes I find a new set of eyes can produce wonderful and exciting results. They all enjoyed themselves and left with their personal choices listed on paper with small snippets of each fabric choice taped in order of preference.
Consequently I have been busy making many variations of my small string quilted purses. Each one a designer original.
As you can tell by the pictures they really are unique and fun. When I made each of these purses I cut small strips of cotton fabrics in varying widths and stitched them at an angle onto a base fabric. After this I made up the purse shape as I do with my other designs. How do you like the colour combinations? please leave us a comment we would love to hear from you. Maybe you have been stash busting too!
Here is the project I am working on for this Earth Day Challenge, so far so good but I am not sure about the tie! I read an article in the latest Threads Magazine about using old ties for bias binding. I found this lovely greenish one at the local thrift shop. ( See in the previous post pics) I noticed it is made of silk so I am not sure how I will incorporate it into my design ….I am thinking over the exposed seams. Hope you are able to make something too.
So here is the plan, take three items of clothing and use all of them or parts of them to re-create a new item. This is my challenge, would you like to join me ?
For example: take an old wool sweater ( no surprise there! ) one used cotton T- shirt and one no longer “cool” tie. Now get creative and see what you can come up with. Some ideas to get you started might include, hats, scarves, mittens, pillows, toys, games, bags, purses, slippers etc.
A few titles of books that may help spark your creativity:
Sewing Green and Warm Fuzzies both by Betz White
Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt By Megan Nicolay
The Sweater Chop Shop: Sewing One-of-a-kind C… by Crispina ffrench
Heartfelt: 25 Projects for Stitched and Felted Accessories By
If you would like to participate just send me a note and if we have enough people we can set up a flickr page for all to see!
See if you can get it done by April 22nd Earth Day.
Good Luck and have FUN 🙂
I basically draw out a shape on paper that I think will work for a felted purse, I sometimes cut out a cardboard copy of this if I think I will make more than one.
Then you need to find a sweater of your choice from the thrift store…go for 100% wool whenever possible they felt up a lot better than other types. Take this cool find to your washing machine and do all the things you have been told not to do to wash your wool sweater! Hot water, lots of soap and agitate! when you have done this rinse out the soap using cold water, spin and place in the drier…this should now be a few sizes smaller ! and felted. Once your sweater is felted you can cut open the seams, now you have your working fabric. Your decision as to where to place your pattern happens now. Choose a part of the design you like and see how it will look folded or turned the other way. When you are happy with your choice, cut out and hand sew the side seams. I use strong buttonhole thread which comes in a mass of different colours.
I use an easy envelope style flap on the front of the purse. This design lends it’s self to a few variations, make a point like a regular envelope, angle up to the left or right side and round out the point as seen in the pictures. I sew on a large snap closure making sure to sew a small piece of felt underneath each part of the snap. This gives stability to the closure. Decorate the top if desired, I used a knitted, crochet and felted flower with two wool leaves. You could use recycled buttons, embroidery, loops, lace or whatever comes to mind. Let your creative juices flow.
If you are unable to find a wool sweater try making a swatch from your many scrap pieces of yarn. The multi coloured purse with the gold coloured flower was actually a test swatch that I made to see if I could knit with two yarns. I knitted in a round and found that the join looked kind of nasty so I decided to felt it. After this I cut it open were the join was and TA DA! a lovely working fabric to design with. If you need to flatten it out, just use an iron on hot and steam for a few seconds.
I love the versatility of this project. I am sure that I will be making more. I hope you will give this a try and if it helps.. you are making an eco friendly project by saving sweaters from the land fill.
Thank you for your support this year and continue to keep being creative whatever you enjoy doing.Wishing you all a very healthy, creative and peaceful year for 2011.
I have been busy bottling peaches and apricots for the winter and will do some plums later. We all enjoy fresh fruit crumble/crisp during the long wet wintry months so this is my chore during the summer when all the fruit is abundant. Most of the fruit is grown in the Okanagon Valley here in B.C. The jars of fruit lined up in the larder look very pretty and I am always thankful when the job is finished. I sometimes give a jar of fruit as a gift and my friends are very pleased.
We enjoyed a quick trip to Oregon last week, literally a flying visit. We dropped off our daughter and her friend in Eugene then headed out to the coast. We stayed in Reedsport and travelled around the area going to Winchester Bay, Coos Bay and Cape Arago. We hired a dune buggy and went for a drive on the dunes near Coos Bay. My husband had a wonderful time driving me around the dunes but I was squealing most of the time because of the steepness of the dunes and the speed we were travelling. On the last day we headed up to Florence before collecting the girls from Eugene and heading back to Canada. We travelled the equivalent of the length of England at least once on our long journey over 600 miles in one day ! Thank goodness for knitting projects, some of which I was able to complete. Of course, I just had to go into the fantastic yarn shop in Coos Bay and yes, I bought some yarn!
My latest work is a lovely hand-knitted, lace-edged, wool shawl made with 100% Canadian yarn from Briggs and Little, a company in Nova Scotia. I chose a very pretty lilac colour and used two skeins to make this size which is approximately medium to large. I knitted the main body in garter stitch and finished the edge with my own lace design which is a combination of crochet and knit stitches but using knitting needles to do them both. I have a few smaller shawls in the making but would like to finish them with a lace edge so wanted to finish the larger one first. Now that I have worked out how to do the lace edge, I can get them all finished for my Fall sale.
I have done very little spinning since my last blog post but hope to start again as soon as I have knitted a baby gift for a friend who lives in Australia. I am thinking of knitting a little fruit cap; you know, the cute ones that look like strawberries and cherries. I made a pumpkin hat for my her first baby so think I will choose a blueberry hat for baby number two; they are both boys!