Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter Baking

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend - we spent the weekend in North Wales, where it was beautifully sunny if not a bit windy.  We did the British thing of having a picnic on the beach even though it was slightly too cold to be sat there!  It seems that my husband now expects some sort of Creme Egg themed baking for the Easter weekend - last year I made Creme Egg Rocky Road, which were scrummy.  This year I stumbled across a new blog: Taming Twins, and found the most amazing idea for Easter Cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes with a whole mini Creme Egg hidden inside!

The trick it seems is that you have to freeze the creme eggs before hand - I unwrapped mine and put them in a tubberware box to freeze, so that I wouldn't have to handle the frozen eggs too much.  I also made a huge discovery about my Kmix - there is a creaming paddle for a reason - it was AMAZING, and created the correct consistency and I shall be using it in future!  After making lots of American style cakes recently - it was nice to have a bowl full of cake mixture that didn't pour into the cupcake cases.  Trust the recipe, I nearly doubled my mixture, as I thought it didn't look like enough, but it is the perfect amount.  My cupcakes only took 15 minutes (I think I need to invest in an oven thermometer, as I've yet to bake a good cake in this oven).

The icing was spot on too (even a bit left over to have the necessary taste test).  Although next time, I think I would make slightly less of the yellow, as it merged into the cream icing and there wasn't a clear divide between the two colours.  They were a great success over the Easter Weekend and I'm looking forward to having the last one with my cuppa this afternoon.

The other obligatory Easter bake are Easter Nests.  Although ours were a bit too 'healthy' this year, as I think I put one too many Shredded Wheat into the melted chocolate!  Still delicious though and I found some little pastel chicks in Home Bargains that looked fab.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

March's Garment - Practical Pattern Dress

I thought I'd do some more sewing for my March garment and had a look through my pattern stash to find something suitable.  I decided on this lovely pattern, before looking inside to find out that there were no markings on the pattern pieces at all - not even holes!  However, as the back of the packet assured me 'not even the youngest beginner need have any doubt as to her ability to succeed at the first attempt'.

The thing that I found most difficult about the lack of pattern markings was that there were no grain lines to help you when pinning and cutting out the fabric.  It has just dawned on me that I should have just drawn my own lines on the pattern pieces - ah well, I will for next time!  As this pattern was pre-cut, I measured myself to compare against the measurements given - although the bust was fine, I needed to add an extra two inches to the waist and hips, thankfully there were detailed instructions on how to do this in the pattern.  This meant that I added a 1/4 inch to each of the bodice and skirt pieces by cutting into the bodice piece and expanding as needed to add the 2 inch waist increase.  To add the two inches for the hips, I pinned an additional paper piece to the skirt, adding a 1/4 again.  I wasn't too sure about whether these adjustments would work - but they did and although I did a bit of alteration around the back of the bodice - thankfully it was a process of too much fabric rather than not enough.  Here is a picture of the other ways it suggests making alterations:

I bought the material from a fab shop in the centre of Birmingham called Barry's - it's a bit of trek to walk to, but completely worth it - absolutely stuffed to the rafters with lovely cotton prints at the moment.  I bought the pink fabric for a bargain of £4.95 a metre and although it frays terribly, I think I will be back to purchase it in different colours to make a whole array of these dresses.  I also bought a metre to add to my Quilting project - still in the process of collecting the material.  And also even though I haven't a clue what I'm going to use it for, I couldn't leave the cute fox fabric behind!
The dress was fairly simple to sew together, even if the instructions were a bit on the brief side in places.  I decided to completely line the dress, so cut out each piece again in the lining material.  After putting in the necessary tucks and darts I sewed the lining to the main dress wrong sides together as close to the edge as I could.  Then I used the facings (which I used the dress material with lightweight interfacing ironed on) to create the seams and top stitched the pieces together and then hand stitched the facings inside hem to the lining.  Instead of putting a pleat in the lining, I just hemmed the edges and ended the middle seam just above the pleat of the main dress.

I made a bit of a mistake with the zip - getting an invisible zip - not realising that you need a special 'invisible zip foot' to sew it in.  Therefore, I used the zip but did a normal insertion - thankfully my thread matched my dress material perfectly, so it doesn't really show up.  But I shall know for next time!

I added some button decoration to the belt - but it had it closing by press studs - maybe next time I will tackle button holes.

April is going to be a knitting month - I'm hoping that with the Easter Weekend and the fact I may have already started that I shall finish by the end of April!