Always fun to try a new-to-me craft and even more so when it's a traditional Irish one! I was fortunate enough to get a lesson with the man himself, B's father, the basket maker. (I previously mentioned his hobby here). I have long admired his baskets, but never thought of taking it up myself or even to get the chance at a lesson. But my time had come! Perfect timing too, since B was headed back to the States for a work trip, where he could pick up the makings for a beginner's basket. Enter me. This past Saturday, we took over the mother's kitchen and spent the better part of the day making my first melon basket. Lots of practicing first, then soaking the reeds, cutting to shape, making mistakes (me), him instructing from his chair, her coming in to inspect the progress. I finally finished the one basket just in time for dinner! It's nowhere near perfect, but overall not bad for my first attempt. Plus I have enough materials leftover and the knowledge now to go off and make a few more on my own. Their round bottoms make them a bit useless in the house, but I think they would make lovely gifts, filled with goodies. Good to have a few on hand. This one I plan to hang outside and filled with flowers.Basket supplies ordered from here.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
When we first moved into our new place in Galway, I had a long list of house things I wanted to tackle- replacing the old bedroom curtains, recovering the ugly box springs, making new curtains in the kitchen etc. After time, those immediate impulses diminished and I realized most projects just weren't practical for us right now, time or money-wise, since we did not know how long we would be in this same house, or in Galway for that matter.
A duvet cover, however, is very easy to update and something we would no doubt carry to our next place. I have been wanting to recover our duvet from the second I laid eyes on the set B purchased when we first moved in. He had been responsible for getting the basics, while I had to make an emergency visit back home to the States. I should show you the hideous one he bought... My mother thought, well it's pink and purple, he was probably being sweet and thinking I would like it. But I knew better.. it was no doubt on sale or the cheapest option available! :)
I had originally had eyed up this chevron fabric for potential bedroom curtains, but after nixing a curtain plan & when it finally went on a major sale (fabric.com!), I bought 6 yards and decided it would work for the cover. I also used a white queen-size flat sheet as the backing and just cut it to size. I used this tutorial as a rough guide. Initially I found it difficult to work with such huge pieces of fabric and since I was trying to measure so exactly. But then I let my perfectionism go, because really duvet covers do not have to be precise. I just made sure the front and back sizes matched. Instead of the 1/2 inch for the seam allowance to each side, I probably added about 1-2 inches, also to make up for the thickness of the duvet. I like that the duvet isn't a super tight lump in the cover.
The major excitement was finally putting use to my machine's buttonhole attachment, it is so much easier than expected! I made covered buttons (close up here) and spaced them roughly 8 inches apart along the bottom. But I think next time I would add 5-6 inches to the length of the front, so the the bottom could fold under to meet the buttons on the backing. That way the duvet is fully enclosed.
The major difficulty I ran into was matching up the chevron print. To make up the width for the front, I had to make one larger panel in the middle, with two narrow panels attached on each side. Initially I matched the print with the print (gray with the gray, make sense?) but with the 1/2" seam allowance, it altered the print matching up. After much frustration, and then a little more thinking, I was able to figure a way to make it work. First I basted only a few inches with the two pieces of fabric meeting the end to end exactly with one another. Then I measured the distance between any chevron and the one that should've matched it that was off. I adjusted by moving one of the pieces of fabric up or down that same distance, pinned it and tried again. Thankfully that worked! Once it matched, I went back and sewed it at normal stitch length.
Believe me it's a definite improvement from our previous!
Thursday, March 22, 2012
I used this recipe and they turned out great! I halved the recipe, and it still made around 8 doughnuts, plus the holes! (Far more than the two of us needed.) They are a bit denser than your regular fried doughnut. I was worried it was going to be like eating french bread w/ cinnamon and sugar on top, but it's not. The bread is definitely sweeter and just right for this type of doughnut.
Next time I would try to roll them out thinner so it's not as bready per bite, they poof up quite a bit in the oven! I also had a bit of trouble afterwards dipping in the melted butter and rolling in cinnamon/sugar mixture to get an even distribution of the topping. It is so messy! The next time I think I would only brush the tops & sides and then sprinkle lightly. Also I would suggest using caster sugar or maybe even powder sugar? instead of granulated for that part. The crystals were bigger than you'd want to be chomping on.
Despite all the changes for the next batch, they were still really good! I will definitely make them again, but only if we have people over to help eat them! You can make the dough in advance, so they are ready to stick in the oven the morning of. Like most baked goods, they are best served warm, straight out of the oven!
Monday, March 19, 2012
Pattern : Anna Tunic by Amy Butler, I did the dress version
Fabric : Loulouthi Clippings in Passion cotton print, by Anna Maria Horner
Notes : . My second dress! I made most of it in an afternoon class. I gave thought to the print placement of the fabric, mostly in the yoke piece, and luckily the main dress part worked out okay. I'm glad I made the extra fabric belt, I hadn't planned on using it, but it makes it look more fitted. I do like it without the belt too, looseness and all, but next time I would make the skirt part with not as much flare out (less of an A-line). The belt hides that a bit. I'm not sure this dress is work appropriate as I had previously planned, considering the shortness, but I suppose atleast it's wearable.
Adjustments : We adjusted the pattern to make the yoke scoop a bit lower, so it doesn't feel like you're choking! The teacher also suggested doing bias binding around the lower arm holes, as an easier way to cover the raw edges. I chose a contrasting print for this and made it show a bit more, which makes it kind of look like piping- a nice extra detail! (You can see a close-up here).
Review : Definitely found it to be an easy pattern, although it probably helped having a teacher! The only complaint is that the underarm (armpits) are uncomfortably tight, will have to make an adjustment for that on the next one! As always with having done one, you learn how to make the next one better.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
When the slim chance of a sunny day comes by, you gotta stop everything you are doing, run out and grab it before it's gone. Of course we had unfortunately slept in late on this rarest of occasions, so with only a few afternoon hours left, we decided to take a drive out toward Connemara (that'd be West) to take in the rock walls and green fields. We ended up in Barna however, which funny, is only about a 5-10 minute drive from our place. But when we found ourselves completely alone, with a neverending stretch of beach ahead of us, we stayed until sunset. Hopping between stones, searching for cockle shells, and watching the waves roll in, made this past Sunday a favorite. I can only hope the sun will show its face around here a bit more often.
Monday, February 20, 2012
I was very happy to find Pippablue, a cute sewing shop here in Galway. They sell modern fabrics, yarn, miscellaneous bits and bobs, as well as offer a variety of sewing classes in the upstairs of their shop. The shop owners, Ger and Eva, are super nice, and I am so grateful they are there! This past Saturday was an all-day workshop making the Anna Tunic Dress by Amy Butler. I meant to take photos throughout the day, but I was so busy trying to get the dress finished before the time was up. I still have the inside yoke to hand sew, a few buttons to add, as well as doing the hem, but then I will have a finished dress! It is a pretty straight forward pattern to make and the teacher was very helpful in adjusting the pattern and recommending easier ways to do things.
The fabric print I used is Clippings from the Loulouthi fabric line by my favorite Anna Maria Horner. It is probably a bit bold for me, kinda out of my comfort zone, but I figured it could work with a cardigan and tights for work etc. I am hoping I like the fit of it, because it is easy enough to make more. I hope to share photos soon! And yep, now #3 is crossed off my list.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I am still waiting for the day when I finally get an IPhone, mostly so I can join in on the Instagram craze and feed my love for square photos. Until then, this photo filtering program is tying me over, but not by much. Basically you use already taken photos and have a selection of filters and frames to choose from, and they get put a square format like Instagram.
Lately with all the hype of Instagram, there are loads of products coming out based on your Instagram pics. StickyGram is one that tops the list- a website you can get your Instagrams turned into fridge magnets. Pretty fun! You get 9 two-inch squared magnets for $15. While that isn't outrageously expensive, (although they are pretty tiny), I couldn't help but think it's a really easy thing to do yourself.
In the States, most big craft stores have magnet sheets with the peel-off sticky back for pretty cheap, which would make this project super easy. In Ireland, I could only find the magnet sheets with a clear pocket to slide a photo into.
First I chose my photos based on our currently, a random selection of mostly Irish based pics. I setup a 5x7 new document (set to 300 ppi) and dragged my square photos onto the canvas.
Once I had my pics, I ripped off the clear plastic sleeve from each magnet sheet and adhered each full print to a magnet sheet with a gluestick. The magnet sheets were 5x7 too, so I didn't need to do any cutting before glueing. Makes for a bit of wasted magnet, but you could perhaps use that middle piece for something else! After they dried, I used my (already-blunt) rotary cutter and ruler to carefully cut out each square. And that's it! Put on your fridge and enjoy!
Supplies & Cost
2 5x7 developed photos : 2.40 Euros
1 two-pack of 5x7 magnetic photo sleeves from EuroStore : 1 Euro
TOTAL : less than 3.50 Euros for 12! vs. paying $15 for 9
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Lip balm makes a lovely and perfect holiday gift for the cold winter days ahead, not to mention you can make so many at once! I filled 40 tubes worth, giving out most to our friends and family, and we now have 10 tubes leftover, which should last us for the next few months. I went with this recipe, but there are tons out there with varied ingredients and flavors! (Note : If you are looking for a recipe similar to chapstick (very waxy), this one would not be your recipe. This is a lot softer, almost melty to the touch. But I like it, it actually does what it should! I only think to reapply once or twice a day, where as with chapstick you are constantly reapplying.)
If we owned an electric measuring scale, this would have been way easier. Instead I grated and mashed the ingredients in the teaspoons, which I'm sure probably caused some inaccuracy. But once you have your ingredients ready, it's a really simple process- you melt the beewax and oils in a double broiler (or a glass measuring cup in a pot w/ boiling water), immediately take off the heat, add in flavorings and/or vitamin E oil, stir well, and pour into containers. I did add Vitamin E drops, by cutting the end of a gel capsule and squeezing it into the mixture (once melted & off the heat). This is said to add quality to your balm, plus the extra healing benefit! Although this recipe doesn't, I also added in a flavored oil, peppermint for the holidays!, about 5 drops per batch. They ended up not overly minty, but a subtle hint is there.
A few notes...
1. Do not reheat your lip balm if it hardens while you're filling tubes. It will cause it to be grainy. I filled 40 tubes in 8 seperate small batches. It took quite a bit of time in result, but I didn't want to risk it hardening.
2. Do not try to use a glass eyedropper when filling, because it will immediately harden because of the cold glass! If you can find a plastic eyedropper/small funnel, that is best (turkey basters are too big though). I did not have any, so I carefully had to pour from my measuring cup into each tube. Made for a few messes! but not too bad. I did lose about a tube worth of each batch, since a hardened trail was made from the pouring from a glass measuring cup, so use a plastic one if you have it!
3. Luckily I found all my ingredients at a natural health store in Ireland. If you are in the States, this website is highly recommended for all sorts of homemaking projects- they have a lot of options! and you can buy what you need in varied amounts, so you aren't buying more than you need. Most supplies websites offer free recipes as well. There are so many to try!
4. I bought my tubes on Ebay here- 50 for $11.75, and free shipping! Cheapest clear tubes I could find.
5. I had planned to use HP clear labels (#8667), hence getting the clear tubes, which probably would've looked more professional, but I didn't order them in enough time. Instead I made my design in Photoshop, printed on regular computer paper and adhered them with a glue stick. But this way I was able to add the ingredients on there as well. (Note: pog means kiss in irish)