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1  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Quickie Graffiti Quilt on: August 04, 2018 02:00:53 PM
I'm going to a friend's wedding next weekend - what they mostly want is contributions to their honeymoon fund, but I thought it might be nice to make them a lil quilted something, so I used freezer-paper templates of their first initials to create a small graffiti "art" quilt for them:



I found the trickiest thing was deciding what designs to quilt - I haven't had much practice with zen doodles.  Clearly I should do more random scribbling!



(I'm not home right now, but I'll add a label when I get back.)
2  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Wedding Quilt on: August 04, 2018 01:53:51 PM
This has been a loooooooong time in the making.  I started planning it shortly before my sister's wedding way back in 2011, but had no quilting experience and no one to show me how to start, so it got put on hold for a couple of years until I came back to Wales and joined a quilting group.  It's a Disappearing Nine-Patch pattern, the hearts seemed to take forever to piece, then it took me ages to get it basted and find the courage to quilt it.  I couldn't have managed it if I hadn't been able to borrow a friend's drop-in sewing cabinet while dog-sitting for her!

In its rightful place on my sister's bed:


Closer view of the quilting:


Strip of "spare" hearts on the back:
3  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Ty Cyw, Ty Cyw, tum-ti tum-ti tum-ti something-something TY CYW! on: September 02, 2017 09:33:11 AM
Ty Cyw (Cyw's House) is a Welsh-language kids program that my niece is really into - it's a bunch of random cartoon animals and token human Gareth all living in a house shaped like an egg.  (I suck at Welsh, despite having the most ridiculously Welsh name.)  It's her third birthday in a couple of days, so I made her a Cyw pillow (Cyw is the name of the chicken):



I used a sort of stretchy white velvety stuff for the body, plus some weird red metallicy stuff for the wattle and comb and some gold spandex for the beak and legs.  And sequins for the freckles.  (Why does a chicken have freckles?  WHY?!)


The back is some cuddly pink and yellow flannel:


For reference, the original image is this:
4  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Fabric Thread Pot on: May 31, 2017 09:35:06 AM
This probably goes here?  I've been meaning to make something like this for ages, to sit near when I'm sewing and hold odd scrappy thread ends.





Literally threw it together just now with some of the first fabric I grabbed hold of.  If I made another, I'd add a bit of stabiliser or similar to firm it up; in this case I made do with fairly dense quilting.
5  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / The Rainbow Sloth - LOTSA pics! on: May 10, 2017 03:45:20 PM
Here's a bit o' background on the mini art quilt I made for dfabbric in MAQ Swap 8.  Smiley



"Bright rainbow colours" and "sloths" were two things that jumped out when I read dfabbric's list of themes.  Who doesn't love a sloth?  Smiley  I looked up a bunch of sloth pictures on Google, found a pose I liked and did a sketch.  I've wanted to try doing a ticker-tape quilt since I saw sheepBlue's versions, so I filled in my sloth doodle with random ticker-tape shapes and then coloured them in like a rainbow:



dfabbric also mentioned an interest in a non-standard quilt shape, so I decided to make the quilt circular.  Initially I was hoping to dye some fabric for the background, but that didn't work out so I used some dark blue fabric with glow-in-the-dark stars on it because I've been itching to use it since I got it!  I scanned my doodle into Inkscape, tidied it up a bit and printed out a template onto card, then used it to cut out the basic sloth shape in Kona Graphite and to mark out the future placement of the branch:



Then I got completely distracted by leaves, lol!  I free-hand drew a bunch of leaf shapes on more card, then used the templates to cut out green leaf shapes and also brightly coloured backing fabrics for reverse applique:




After I'd created the reverse applique leaf markings, I used a couple of layers of interfacing to create a "faux-punto" effect under the coloured areas and the leaf mid-vein, and held it in place by couching green rayon embroidery floss on the top of the leaves:





I clipped the excess interfacing away from the coloured markings, then backed all the leaves with a different green fabric, turned them through, topstitched all the way around to close the gap, and did FMQ veins on each leaf:




Then I went back to the main body of the quilt and started by couching a variegated brown/gold rayon floss as the outline of the branch, then I filled the space with ticker-tape bits in "tree" colours:


(The leaves weren't actually attached until *much* later - I was playing with possible layouts!)

The branch got an extra layer of batting for more faux-punto, too.  Once it was all sewn down and zuzhed up a bit with some viney decorative stitches and more couched floss, I positioned slothy and secured him down with couched glow-in-the-dark embroidery floss and glow-in-the-dark polyester thread, and with his own layer of faux-punto wadding.  That done, I started filling in the sloth shape with a rainbow of scraps:




All the ticker-tape bits were first sewn down by stitching around each shape, then I added texture (and even more security!) by doing FMQ over the surface - a sort of wood-grain effect on the branch and a more "furry" texture on the sloth, matching the thread colour to each area I was quilting:





The face was a little tricky - I really wanted to show the distinctive sloth face markings but I didn't want it to look like a skull!  In the end I relied on more quilting to make it look "fuzzier".  For this, I used more of the glowy polyester thread, which proved to be really nice to quilt with, and it looks really cool in the dark!





Sloth's eyes, nose and claws were done with a slightly metallic-looking brown pleather:



The background was stipple-quilted very minimally with black rayon - mostly I tried to avoid crossing over any of the larger stars.  Then I decided there needed to be even MORE GLOW and covered the leaves with French knots in the glowy embroidery floss.  After some thought, I attached the leaves by sewing part-way up either side of the mid-vein, just enough to hold the leaf on but still allow it to show its shape and be folded back to see details underneath.



The binding is a pretty navy-blue bias binding I picked up 'specially and attached with a decorative leafy vine stitch pre-programmed in my sewing machine:



The hanging sleeve gave me a bit to think about - no corners! No corner pockets! So I made a sort of tube out of more starry fabric that followed the outer edge of the quilt and inserted a couple of very long buttonholes to allow the insertion of a hanging pole:



One of my favourite bits is actually the back - I made sure to match the colours of the top and bottom threads, so... Ghost Sloth is made of rainbows and stars!  Cheesy



This was tons of fun to make and I learned loads.  Thanks for looking!  Smiley
6  COOKING / Dessert / Croissant "bread" pudding w/ orange and cardamom on: May 07, 2017 02:55:15 PM


This is a yummy thing to make if you've got some croissants that have got a lil tired (or you found them in the Whoops! section at the supermarket!)  The recipe as written doesn't come out too sweet, so it's lighter and more refreshing than might be expected.  It's also fairly flexible because the custard can be made ahead of time if necessary.

Ingredients
4 normal croissants
300 mL double cream, plus enough milk to make up to 1-1/4 pints
5 large eggs
10-12 cardamom pods, slightly crushed (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
1-1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
Orange marmalade (home-made for preference, tends to be less sweet and more orange-y)
Brown sugar (for dusting)
Handful of flaked almonds
Butter for greasing

Method:
First, make a custard.  Start by gently heating the milk and cream with the cardamom pods in a heavy saucepan.  Keep an eye on it and stir regularly - no one likes burned milk all over the stove!  Meanwhile, separate the eggs (save the whites for another dish) and beat the yolks in a large bowl with the caster sugar, vanilla extract and orange zest until fluffy, pale and thickened.  When the milk and cream just reaches simmering point, remove from the heat, allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then pour into the egg yolk mixture with plenty of stirring to combine.  Transfer the custard mixture back to the pan and heat gently over a low heat to thicken - it will need frequent stirring to stop it catching on the bottom or curdling.  Once the custard has thickened, strain into a jug and set aside until needed (refrigerate if necessary).

About 1-2 hours before you want to bake it, grease a deep oven dish well and slice the croissants into angled rounds about 1/2" thick.  Spread half the rounds in the bottom of the dish and use a teaspoon to dollop blobs of marmalade over the croissants.  Be as generous as you like!  Add the rest of the rounds in a covering layer, then pour over the prepared custard and allow to soak for at least an hour or two before baking.

To bake, preheat the oven to 180oC.  Sprinkle the top of the pudding with the brown sugar and flaked almonds and bake on the lowest rung of the oven for 30 mins (check after 20 mins) until nicely browned and bubbling.

You could serve it with cream, ice cream, yoghurt, etc. if you wanted, but it tastes good all by itself too.  Smiley
7  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Leftover Duck Ramen on: April 19, 2017 02:26:09 PM
I made this last night and it worked rather well. Apologies in advance for the no pics - it did briefly cross my mind but I was too busy eating it!  Picture, if you will, a large bowl piled with egg noodles, crisped duck, boiled egg and chopped coriander, all covered with a steaming broth.  That's what it looked like.

Quantities are slightly hand-wavy because I kinda made this up as I went, with whatever was in the fridge/cupboard.  But it seems like a pretty forgiving recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2)
Leftover roast duck carcass
Stock veg (carrot, celery, onion, etc.)

Marinade
2-3 tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
~1 tsp ground coriander
Ground white pepper (to taste)
Chilli (to taste, I used ~1/2 tsp of lazy chillis out of a jar)

Soup
~1 to 1-1/2 pt duck stock*, aka "enough for two hungry-ish people" (see below)
5-6 dried shii-take mushrooms, soaked in boiling water (save the soaking liquid to add to the soup) and sliced
1 baby leek or 2 spring onions, finely sliced (I used a leek and did long thin strips)
1" piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced into strips
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
5-6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
Two whole star anise
Salt & pepper to taste
Egg noodles, enough for two people (or use your favourite noodles)

Topping
1 egg, medium boiled (yolk still slightly runny in the centre)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

Directions
Remove all the remaining duck meat from the carcass (we ended up with probably about half a lb, four of us had already had a good meal off it on Easter Sunday). Use the carcass plus stock veg to make a duck stock.* Slice the duck meat into smallish slivers, then mix with the marinade ingredients, cover and leave to sit in the fridge for at least half an hour (adjust the quantity of marinade ingredients if necessary - the meat should be nicely coated but shouldn't be swimming in liquid). When ready to make the ramen, spread the marinated duck evenly on a baking tray and crisp in an oven at 180oC for a total of 20 mins (check and turn after 10 mins).

While the duck is marinating, prepare the soup ingredients. When ready to assemble the ramen, place all the soup items (except for the noodles) in a pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for ~15 mins while the duck is crisping in the oven. Taste the soup during cooking and adjust seasoning as preferred. During the last ~5 mins, cook the noodles as directed by the packet.

To serve, peel the boiled egg and cut into quarters. Share the noodles between two warmed bowls, top with the crispy shredded duck, egg and fresh coriander, then pour the prepared soup over the top (remove the star anise first!) and drizzle with more sesame oil if you're like me and have a slight addiction to the stuff. Enjoy!


*Note: For two people, I didn't need all the stock made from our duck carcass. The remaining stock will probably become ramen v.2.0 or some other kind of soup in the near future.  Smiley
8  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Sticky Rice Lotus Leaf Wraps on: April 08, 2017 05:31:22 AM
First time I've posted a foody thing, but I'm ridiculously proud of making these!  Smiley







I (broadly) followed the recipe here and was very happy with the results.  I did make the effort to source some of the more authentic ingredients (had to order them online because there just aren't ANY Asian supermarkets 'round here), used five chicken thighs (mostly because there were five in the pack and I didn't want to leave one lonely!), left out the five-spice because it turned out we didn't have any and couldn't find any at the time, replaced ~half the scallions w/ baby leeks and a stick of celery (because otherwise we didn't have enough!), and used a mixture of chestnut, oyster, shii-take, and king trumpet mushrooms ('bout half chestnut mushies, other half was a mixed pack because they were literally the only "exotic" mushrooms my local supermarket had!  Days like that, I really miss the amazing mushroom stand at the supermarket in Ebina when I lived in Japan...).  Other than some Very British Grumbling about US cup measurements (sorry, I really can't get my head around it - certainly not for something like mushrooms!), it was super easy to make.  You do need to plan a bit in advance because they do take time to make, but most of that is soaking/marinading/steaming time - the actual amount of "doing stuff" is pretty minimal.

My mum was extremely impressed with them (especially with the flavour from the lotus leaves).  She helped out with the wrapping part and it gave her a bit of a lift after some really bad news she had a couple of days ago.  I'd been meaning to do these for a while anyway and I'm very glad that completely by chance I managed to get everything together to make them last night.  We still have half of them left so I'm going to put them in the freezer for another day - soon, I think!  Smiley
9  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / A Piggy for my Piggy on: February 26, 2017 04:21:47 PM
I keep pet guinea pigs, but sadly one of my girls died last month after an illness.  My remaining fluff-butt is mostly doing ok but does look a bit forlorn, bless her - piggies are social, herd animals and really need to be kept in groups of two or more.  Someone suggested giving her a teddy to snuggle with until I can find a new real friend for her, so I decided to make her a new friend in the form of a cuddly toy guinea pig!  It.... sort of worked?



The pattern was one I found online and tidied up a lil in Inkscape.  It made me realise how bad I am at handling fur fabric when I made this, and I think it would also have helped if I'd made the larger version I printed out first.  I did have fun cutting out lil piggy ears and feet from felt scraps, though!





I stuffed it with some of the endless wadding scraps I have and used a couple of small (purple!) buttons for the eyes, which would have been vastly easier to attach earlier in the process, not as literally the last thing I did.

Despite my efforts, I'm not sure Mommet is convinced:



Oh well.  Perhaps she'll warm to it when she realises it's not going to be competition for her precious lettuce leaves!
10  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Tragedy and Comedy Mini Quilt on: February 23, 2017 09:43:09 AM
It arrived.  IT ARRIVED!  FINALLY!  *flails*  I was really starting to worry about this one, but now I know it's landed at the proper destination, I can share it here.  Smiley



Thimbles71's swap info mentioned a fondness for red, black, white, grey and silver and one of her interests was the theatre.  I always liked the dual nature of the tragedy and comedy masks, so I looked at loads of pictures on google and saw one that had red and black diamonds on the masks that I wanted to riff on, so I doodled up a design in Inkscape and then converted it into a foundation-pieced pattern.



That was probably the trickiest bit, actually.  I've done a couple of foundation-pieced designs before, but nothing this big or complex, but after chasing polygons in circles for a bit I got something workable and started piecing.





For putting pieced sections together, I learned of the joys of using Wonder Clips instead of pins - they hold everything perfectly and without buckling up the pieces!  Not sure this would have had such a happy ending without them.



Once both sides were assembled, I backed it with a silvery-grey star-bursty sort of fabric and did the binding and corner pockets with the dark-grey variant of one of the background prints:



The quilting ended up being fairly simple - stitch in the ditch around the mask and diamonds, then sharp stippling on the coloured areas and regular stippling on the background:



This is one of those projects that I still can't quite believe actually worked!  XD
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