Archive for April, 2010

Sewing with Minky – A Simple Minky Blanket

April 25, 2010
Minky Fabric

Minky Fabric

I actually don’t know if that’s the proper name for this fabric but its the only one I can come up with. It seems to be most widely known as that. Its a synthetic, which I normally steer away from, but its Oh So Soft. I got given two Minky blankets when I had my first baby. When I received the first one I thought, “oh gross synthetic crap”. Then I received my second, I sort of tossed it aside with the same thought, although I did note it seemed thicker and less static-y.

Then bubs actually arrived. I noticed that when I took her out in the pram or popped her in the shopping trolley bassinet even with a soft blanket down her little head would bounce about. One day I was rushing to get out the door to the shops and I realised I needed a blanket. The little darling had spewed over most of the usual ones so I dug through her draw and laid my hand on the thicker minky and put it in the car, without much thought. I got up to the shops and laid her on it and realised just how lovely it was. She was cushioned softly by the fabric and she adored the feel of it. Ever since it has been my “pram blankie”. The one she sits on in the pram and in the shopping trolley. As a bonus its easy to just throw in the washing machine on cool.

I’ve decided that I love using it so much all new mums in my life must have one too.

Firstly let me say, its not the easiest fabric to sew with. It’s soft but very slippy and the machine seems to grab it in every which way. Its very annoying as you’re sewing along nicely and then all of a sudden it veers off course. Fortunately as it’s so plush your wobbly lines are nicely disguised as the fabric fluffs back up around your stitches. If you’re generally on the right course you’ll be ok.

I have an old machine, it was given to my mum by my grandmother before I was born (so its more than 30 years old). I love my Elna. Although there are certainly some advances in modern machines that I’m sure would help you sew minky with no trouble. If like me you have a basic machine or a trusty old gal then here’s a way to make a simple minky blanket

Sewing a simple Minky Blanket

Simple Minky Blanket

Simple Minky Blanket

These instructions are for a single thickness minky blanket. Its easier to keep the fabric from from slipping if there is only one fabric layer. I also think it gives you more flexibility when using the blanket. You can easily double it over for warmth and cushioney softness or just keep it single layer when you need some softness but not all the warmth.

1. Cut one rectangle of fabric 110cm by 90cm. If you can cut it with a rotary cutter, it’s easier to get square and makes less mess. If your fabric is 110cm just fold in half so the selvages match up, then based off the selvage use your ruler and cutter to square up the other two sides to make 90cm. Even if you need to cut the selvage edges they should stay pretty straight for you but the cross grain will stretch and move, these are the sides you need to handle with care, through the whole project.

2. 100cm by 80cm seems to make a nice generous sized baby blanket. I’ve allowed 5cm either side as a generous binding edge. Serge the edges. Dont be afraid to feed in up to 2.5cm overhang. I’ve found allowing the machine a generous amount to cut off seems to help the fabric guide through the machine better.

Overlock with a generous overhang

Overlock with a generous overhang, allows the fabric to feed better

If you don’t have a serger you’ll need to zig zag all edges but you’ll  only need 2.5cm for your edges. Although if your fabric width is 110cm just go with that, it’s easier than cutting, your finished blanket will just be slightly larger. Start by edging the edges that run with the selvage.

overlocking with the selvage

overlocking with the selvage - right tension

Whether you serge or zig zag you’ll notice the edges will go all ripply on the cross grain. As long as your selvage edges are smooth you’ll know you’ve used the right tension.

overlocking on the crossgrain leaves edge rippled

overlocking on the crossgrain leaves edge rippled

3. Turn the self binding over and stitch. Pinning will help with this next step, but I’m too lazy. If you feel confident, just wing it like me, but take it slow and steady, no lead foot sewing here. Dont get frightened and go wild adjusting your tension and stitch length either, I used a very medium tension (5 on a dial of 10) and medium to long stitch length (3 on a dial of 4). Starting with one of the selvage edges turn your edge over to the wrong side of the fabric and stitch along the outside edge of the serged or zig zag line. Stitching on this line helps stablise your fabric.

Stitch along the outside (Right Hand Side) of the overlocked stitch

Stitch along the outside (Right Hand Side) of the overlocked stitch

Go back to the top and stitch along the inside edge of the serged or zig zag stitch. Do this to both selvage edge sides.

Stitch down the left hand side of the overlocked stitch

Stitch down the left hand side of the overlocked stitch

4. Now you feel more confident handling the fabric do the same to the cross grain sides making sure you ease the fabric as you sew to compensate for the ripples. This should happen somewhat naturally. Again sew slowly and steadily.

double stitching creates corners like this

double stitching creates corners like this

5. Turn your fabric over and look how nice and neatly and professionally finished off your minky blanket looks.

Finished Minky Blanket

Finished Minky Blanket

Give to your favourite new Mum or pop it in your generously sized Mum handbag (I know you all have one) so that its handy for your next trip to the shops!

Minky Blanket Baby Gift

Minky Blanket Baby Gift

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Long Weekend – what are you doing?

April 23, 2010

So far my long weekend has involved a lot of this

Baby Food Galore

Baby Food Galore

I’m hoping it will also involve some of this

minky fabric

minky fabric

and the finishing off of this

simply purple

simply purple

I hope your long weekend is full of getting things done, having fun, and remembering. Just because you can’t eat Gluten doesn’t mean you can’t have an ANZAC biscuit to celebrate this great nation that was fought for, for us.

Gluten Free Anzac Biscuits

Gluten Free Anzac Biscuits

Check out my Gluten Free Anzac Biscuit Recipe.

Kitchen Quandries

April 17, 2010

So today I’m thinking about kitchens. Before we bought the house this was the kitchen, how the old owners had it

Kitchen 'Before'

Kitchen 'Before'

By the time we got it we were left with 1.5 meters of sink with some old 40’s cupboards and a crappy old stove, that’s it. For someone who loves cooking that’s just not good enough. So we did this (as you saw yesterday)

removing the chimney breast and kitchen cupboards

Now there will be my ‘dream’ kitchen in the new extension but that’s some years away, although it could be something like this:

something like this

something like this

or this

or this

Ha ok maybe not, but a girl can dream, I might take some ‘influences’. Of course there is the kitchen inspired by ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ which I fell in love with the second I saw the movie but I’ve already dedicated a whole post to that!

So for now we’re going to put in something cheap and cheerful. Here cheap means white cabinets, its the Henry T Ford approach to kitchens. You can have any colour you want as long as its white. So white cabinets it is, thanks to IKEA. At the same time I want something appealing, fresh and bright, how do I achieve that easily for the lowest possible cost?

I started searching out ideas. Choosing a colour was daunting me so I thought what if I really went with the white idea and had white everywhere, a bit like these all white kitchens:

All White Kitchens

I really like all these kitchens but I think partly what makes these work is the details in the cabinetry. The white is there to ‘show off’ the quality and details. My white cabinets are very plain, I’m worried all that white might just show off that there isn’t anything to show off! So I searched out ways to ‘help out’ a white kitchen and realised I could introduce colour and detail by focusing on the shelves and the back of the overhead cabinets:

Introduce Colour with Shelves and Overhead Cabinets

Ways to Introduce Colour into a Kitchen

I love the idea of painting or wallpapering the back of the overhead cabinets. If you can’t afford overhead cabinets open shelves allow your fun crockery to do the decorating for you.

The other thing I found that kept drawing my eyes as I searched was dark counter tops in white kitchens, even simple ones seemed to give white kitchens an elegance and a focal point.

Dark Kitchen Counter tops

Dark Kitchen Counter Tops in White Kitchens

I still can’t decide. Finally here’s a round up of kitchens I thought were fun.

Fun Kitchens

  • Grey – I’m really into grey at the moment and I’m loving how they’ve included it in this kitchen without it feeling cold.
  • These oversized wall cabinets are fantastic. Overall this isnt a very fancy kitchen at all but those top cabinets make it stand right out.
  • Ok I’ve said it before, I love yellow, I would have such fun in this kitchen, I also love the way it embraces the galley kitchen.
  • I know that last one is in here again but…well I love yellow, I love that yellow kitchen stool, you may see this again.

These images can be found at Decor Pad, Apartment Therapy, or kitchenisms

and the walls came crashing down

April 15, 2010

So here’s our house, the day we got the keys

we got the keys

we got the keys

Since then we’ve been busy little bees. The demolition is done

removing the chimney breast and kitchen cupboards

extending the bathroom

extending the bathroom, oh and replacing everything

giving ourselves a tiny bit of storage in the master

this was already a cupboard that opened into the hall, we’ve just turned it around into our bedroom.

my husbands so tough...

...he pushes trees over with his bare hands!

replacing gutters

My brother (with a bit of our help) is even replacing the gutters for us

yes, the trades have moved in

we’re now in the process of building everything up again, and repairing the whole house – I’m not exaggerating!

Best Gluten Free Brownies

April 14, 2010

To me the perfect brownie is moist and fudgey and dark, with a crunch to the top. This is the recipe for just that brownie. I’ve finally mastered the holy grail of the perfect gluten free brownie. Be warned, it is full of sugar and fat, just the way it should be.

Chewy, Moist, dense, fudgy gluten free brownie

Chewy Moist Dense Goodness

200g dark chocolate broken into even pieces

250g butter chopped

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup raw (low GI can be used) sugar

¼ cup sugar

4 eggs

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup of plain flour

1/3 cup of coca powder

Preheat oven to 160C line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper. Melt butter and chocolate over a very low heat on stove top and cool to room temp. Alternatively you can carefully melt chocolate and butter in the microwave by being very careful and stirring a lot. Start by doing 3x 30second intervals, stirring well between each. The residual heat should essentially melt the chocolate.

Combine, flour, sugars, coca powder, baking powder and eggs. Stir in chocolate butter mix until just mixed through. Pour into tin and bake for 50mins until just set in the center.

Eat as is or serve warm with vanilla icecream.

brownie and icecream

serve warm with icecream

Happy hand me down

April 9, 2010

Today, as the cooler weather slowly settles in over our city, I was searching for something to dress my rapidly growing baby in. She is born the same time of year as her sister but growing at a much faster rate so hand-me-downs are a bit difficult to match up. However, I came across a little grey stretch shirt I’d made that my oldest never really fit into. It fits bubs perfectly! So it seems I didn’t waste my time two years ago!
Aren’t the little puff sleves cute?

Time to Craft

April 6, 2010

Finally, time to craft. We have been crazy busy with the renovation of the new-old house. I’ve had no time to craft and I desperately wanted to. Easter thankfully brought a forced, but welcome, break to all the rushing around and I got in two and a half projects! (The half project being the Japanese!)

I managed to make a baby blankie for a friend who’s just found out she’s having a boy. It needs a finishing stitch but its that minky fabric, boy is it slippery. Once I’ve worked out how to nail that I’ll post photos.

Winter is starting to give summer a little kick up the pants. I mean its going to be 24C all week (I actually find anything less than 25 cold) wowee! So I also made a jumper for my eldest.

Toddler Jumper, non raglan sleves, contrasting rib details

A new jumper for winter

I overestimated how big she actually is so it SWIMS on her but she looks cute and its great to wear with leggings. Plus hopefully she will be able to wear it for a while. I guess that will teach me and my non-pattern using ways – it wont stop me though! I tried to make it look a bit more professional and less home-made by adding some over-locking details.

Contrasting ribbing, overlock detail

Contrasting ribbing and overlock detail

I wish now I had used raglan sleeves but in reality I didn’t have enough fabric. I was just using up leftover fabric and being easter Nothing was open. I made the sleeves so long the cuffs have to be turned up so that you can see her hands. I think its a pleasant mistake.

easy neckline

easy V neckline

This V neckline is super easy. The best thing about it is you put it on the person and cut the neckline how you want it to look when its finished. You then stitch on the ribbing using a seam the same width as the ribbing and you have the perfect neckline.

When I said nothing was open, I mean nothing was open. I had planned to get some things for the house but apparently everyone left the city, shop owners included. As a consequence tomorrow is a really busy day. I doubt my little Japanese project will get a look in this week. Such a shame I’m dying to see if I’m clever enough to finish it!

Kids Sewing + Japanese Pattern Book = ???

April 5, 2010

turning Japanese, oh yes I’m turning Japanese, I really think so, da daa da da da dah daaaa…  I’ve had that song stuck in my head since I started this project.

Ondori Pattern Book

Pattern I'm making from Ondori Pattern Book

I’m super excited about it, but its a little harder than I thought.

no english!

no english!

See that “g” its the only bit of English in the entire book. Sorry I lie, the word Simple is in English too. Here’s hoping!

Japanese Pattern Book Confusion

A head scratching moment

So I’m standing here with all this and even trying to figure out which piece goes with the pattern I’m making is difficult.

Japanese Pattern Book Diagrams

Japanese Diagrams

The diagrams are few, I have to rely on them solely because I have NO IDEA what any of that says.  To me they say, “sew this to that and then you’re finished!”. Somehow I think there are a few more steps than that!

Regardless of all that I’m hopeful I can figure it out, and I’m no way put off buying the book. I’m already searching for what other books I want to buy!

Handmade For Children Japanese Pattern Book

Handmade For Children Japanese Pattern Book

This one for these patterns

Cute Japanese Pattern Book Skirts

Cute Japanese Skirts

Cute Japanese Pattern Book Jacket

Cuuuute Jacket!

Or maybe this

Lets Go Out Japanese Dress Pattern Book

Lets Go Out Japanese Dress Pattern Book

For these Patterns

Japanese Pattern Book Dress

Pleated Bodice Dress

Japanese Pattern Book Winter Jacket

Winter Jacket

I must see if I can use the one I’ve got first!