Thursday, 29 May 2014

VEGAN Victoria Sponge

 So, I made a Victoria Sponge. An Egg-free, dairy free Victoria sponge. AND IT WAS AMAZING. I got the recipe from this wonderful blog which I am totally in love with, especially the cookies, which I will likely do a post on at a later date.

But, for now, I shall discuss the cake! Now, I changed the recipe a bit, obviously I used dairy-free spread in place of butter, and soya milk in place of actual milk. I also replaced half of the milk with sparkling water, as I saw it suggested on one of the comments, and I’ve seen elsewhere that carbonated drinks are good at aerating cakes.

So, I gave it a go. Cakes aren’t really what I’m good at. I can do cookies quite well, the cakes, less so. But oh my GOODNESS this was AMAZING. Mr P was very pleasantly surprised. Very much so.
Please excuse my slightly grubby ironing board
I have but one criticism, which is more a criticism of me, than of the recipe – I didn’t take into account that dairy-free spread is so much softer than butter, and so the buttercream didn’t really work. Well, it tasted good, but when we cut into it the butter cream (mixed with the jam) leaked out of the sides and looked a LITTLE BIT LIKE BRAINS. (Please note, this was Mr P’s observation, not mine). But, it tasted SOOO GOOD. And actually, after a couple of days in the fridge the buttercream hardened quite a bit, and it worked as a functional cake.

Omnom braaaains
It lasted for 5ish days, and not because it went off, but because we ATE IT ALL. Nommy. Also I put a heart on the top, because I am a romantic, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. I have no idea what the “proper” way to do this is, but I figured I’d cut a stencil from grease-proof paper (freezer paper if you are over the pond!) and just place it on top of the cake. It worked pretty well, as you can see from my WORK OF ART.

Definitely going to make more of these. And I’m going to try out a chocolate version with some chocolate fudge icing too – I’ll let you know how that goes!

Katy x

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A TINY dress (It’s so cute)

So, back in January, my cousin had a baby! This was extremely exciting as she is the first of my cousins to be having children and also because I GOT TO MAKE BABY CLOTHES. Disclaimer: I made these and photographed them back in January, BEFORE the baby was born so I could send them straight away, I have not waited until NOW to give a baby-gift.

So, I decided to make a baby blanket, and stitch the little girl’s name on (as soon as we knew what it was!) which I did do, but I also stumbled across this dress pattern and this nappy cover pattern from sewmuchado (seriously, if you are unaware of this blog, rectify that… NOW) So, I figured the only thing I could do would be to make an ADORABLE TINY OUTFIT. Seriously, every five minutes when I was making this I’d hold it up and look at it and squeal, because it is SO TINY.

Let’s talk about the nappy-cover first, the pattern is for ruffled fabric, which means that my version looks plainer, but I just used it as an accessory to go with the dress really. It’s made from polycotton. The hardest part of this was feeding the elastic through the TINY HOLES. That was stressful. I need a bodkin.

I’m not sure what fabric the dress itself is made from, as it was just some that I had in my stash. I chose it because a.) I wanted to make something in grey and pink (you might have noticed last week  I’m kinda nuts for that colour combo) and b.) it is the softest fabric I have to touch. It’s actually what I used here which was kind of weird as I was sewing the dress, whilst wearing the skirt. VERY CONFUSING. Anyway, it’s really soft to touch and I knew I wanted to use it, but when it came to cutting out the pieces, I discovered I DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH. Or rather, I didn’t have enough for the length without blocking it. So, I did what any sane person would do, and added a cute little frill on the bottom. ADORABLE.

The whole thing is just finished with overlocking – I didn’t hem the bottom of the frill, just overlocked it to keep it nice and light, as it’s such a dainty little dress. (awwww so cute!) And I added on a decorative ribbon for no reason other than it was cute – I used a nice wavy, slightly random preset stitch on my machine, as I didn’t feel anything angular would work well for baby clothes.

I can’t tell you how long this took – I was doing it simultaneously with finishing last week’s project AND the baby blanket (which is pale blue/grey with a pink trim too), however it was really quick, I do know that. Also, it took longer than it should have because of threading elastic through tiny holes and that being challenging, and making me swear a lot, and eventually giving it to Mr P who has more patience than I do and letting him do it for me.

I seriously can’t think about this outfit without smiling, I have found a new found love for making baby clothes – thankfully, I know a few other people who are expecting, so I can indulge this passion lots!


Thursday, 15 May 2014

A LARP Costume (Simplicity 2172)

So, as a few of you may know, one of my main hobbies is LARP which stands for Live-Action Roleplay. I’m not going to go into what it is right here, google is your friend. I’m also not really going to post a lot about the costume I make for it on this blog – not because I’m not proud of it, I am, but because I am trying to move away from making costume for LARP… frankly, I HAVE ENOUGH OF THE STUFF. Seriously, I have enough outfits. I do not need anymore.
There was one exception to this rule however! I had originally planned this outfit to be the main outfit for a character I have, but the other people in my group said it didn’t fit – after I’d already bought the pattern and the fabric, SO HELPFUL. Anyway, I wore something else – it didn’t matter much. BUT I had fallen in love with the idea of this outfit, and knew I needed to make it, and eventually, over TWO YEARS LATER, the opportunity arose.
I’m terrible at working without a deadline, REALLY TERRIBLE, so this sat in the ‘in progress’ pile for nearly the entirety of that two years. BUT, now it is finished, I am SUPER PROUD OF IT. The pattern is Simplicity 2172 – however I made quite a few adjustments. Design-wise I took the pleat off the bottom of the skirt – I also did not lengthen the skirt any, despite the fact it is floor length on me, in fact I shortened it. A LOT. So yes, with the pleat on I imagine it is made for a GIANT. I also didn’t add any ruffles – they aren’t really my thing. As you can see from the picture, the coat actually ends just inches above the floor too – I left this because I like the look of the hem of the coat echoing the hem of the skirt, but I’m pretty sure in the pattern pictures it’s a LOT shorter than that.
In terms of fit, the jacket was an easy enough fit, I had to make my own waistband for the skirt, and then graded the yoke to fit it (buying patterns that are large enough to fit my bust occasionally means that there aren’t sizes for my waist). I also did a LOT of adjustment to the fit of the bodice. A LOT. I’m talking 4-6 inches from the waist. I sew with a really narrow seam allowance, so that doesn’t help (I’ve since learnt to be a bit better about that), and I’m a freaky shape.
In terms of finishing the insides, the skirt is French seamed, because I made it before I got my overlocker, the top I’m pretty sure is just pinked, but as the whole thing is entirely lined, I’m not so bothered about that. The jacket is overlocked, AND fully lined. The edges of the top are finished with bias binding, which I hand stitched into place – don’t ask me why, I wasn’t busy at the time, I had no deadline on it and it seemed like a good idea. It was. It looks ACE. I cheated a bit with the jacket and the skirt, as the skirt needed hemming, but there was no way I was going to hem THAT MUCH FABRIC by hand. I think it’s like 4 metres. Anyway, so I hemmed the skirt with a straight stich, and then added ribbon on top of it with a decorative stitch. Using my fab new ribbon foot on my janome, which makes sewing narrow ribbons SO EASY. You’ll see some more of that next week too! I also did the same to the coat instead of top stitching it to hold the lining in place – I think it’s given it a really professional finish.

LETS TALK FASTENING. This pattern introduced me to the beauty that is hook & eye tape. Prior to this I would have sewn on 30 hooks and eyes by hand. That’s MAD. Instead, it was really easy to add some hook and eye tape to the back of the top. The skirt is fastened with a regular skirt zipper, and a skirt hook at the top. The jacket was another excuse to use my new machines fancy tools, I made keyhole buttonholes, and then covered buttons to go through them. Looks pretty suave I think. The pattern called for the lacing down the back to be made of the same fabric as the coat itself, but I liked having it in a contrast ribbon, and life is too short to make loops out of fabric and then turn them right-side out… it’s too short I tell you.

I’m reasonably proud of this. It looks OK on (it looks better on the dummy than on me #awkward #Iforgotaboutarms) and the finish is pretty good. People were kind and admired it a bit when I wore it too, which is always lovely. Mostly, I am proud of this because I FINISHED IT, and also because of the finishing techniques I’ve put into it.