I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

I still haven’t been able to get out in the garden to take photos of the clothes I’ve been making. A combination of holiday and constant rain has been getting in my way… However, I’ve quickly knocked up a couple of cushions – one for my be-hind, to keep my ass comfortable when I’m sewing, and one for outside in the garden.

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Home sewing is easy. Or so they say.

After my first attempt at an envelope cushion (for my spoilt cat’s bed, I could count the number of times she’s used it on one hand) which wasn’t so much an envelope, more a rectangle with a flap, I decided to actually follow some instructions this time.

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Here she sits. Here. Not on my lovingly made cushion though. Oh no.

I found a straightforward tutorial on A Beautiful Mess – and now I’ve done it once, I can see how easy it is. Will definitely be making more. I do love a cushion. Through this tutorial, I also discovered the existence of waterproofing spray – which is perfect for my outside cushions. I don’t think I’ll be testing it by leaving it out in the kind of downpours we’ve been having this past week, but they should survive the odd shower when I’ve forgotten to bring them inside.

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I love the fabric I’ve used for this – isn’t the one for the sewing cushion (on the left) just perfect? Both patterns are by Alexander Henry. I got them both from fabricyard.com, with only a pound delivery charge and I got them just a day and a half after I ordered them. Fantastic service – will definitely use them again!

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Cushions in situ. Grim weather outlook model’s own.

I’m particularly proud of the pattern matching I did on the sewing cushion. It was perfect – until I put the cushion pad in. Ah well. I couldn’t pattern match on the outside cushion as I didn’t have enough fabric – I did eke out two covers for 50×50 cushion pads out of one metre of fabric, which makes me very happy.

Pattern matching? Nailed it.

Pattern matching? Nailed it.

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Pattern matching. How I miss you so.

 

Now we just need some sunshine!

Today’s quote is by Henry David Thoreau

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Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.‏

Well, I tried.

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Erm. Yum?

Given how sewing heavy this blog has been lately (and there’s still more to come – just waiting for Hurricane Bertha to chill out a bit so I can go and get some photos), I thought I would mix it up a little by throwing some baking in the mix.

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It totally looks like this cake has been thrown somewhere alright. Ain’t no need to try and get this in focus, it won’t help any.

And to welcome the return of Great British Bake-Off to our screens, I thought that I should take this as my cue – and will theme my baking accordingly. For example, this week (the first week back), the contestants were asked to make their own take on the classic swiss roll.

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This is a swiss roll. Honest.

As this was my first attempt at a swiss roll, or anything like it (I know, right, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the photos. Professional.), I went straight to the source. The Mother Ship. AKA Mary Berry herself. Or at least, her recipe on the BBC website for a chocolate roulade (it’s not cake if it’s not chocolate).

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This is how I imagine Ms Berry herself would react if she saw what I’d done to her creation.

The recipe itself is straightforward, although very different to the cake I’m used to. It uses 6 eggs – separated and whisked) , no other fat and no flour. Just sugar, melted chocolate and cocoa powder. And you still get a magnificent rise.The filling is simply whipped cream which you spread on the cooled cake before rolling it up/smashing it to smithereens.

I think this may have been my problem when it come to rolling it up, actually – the cake rose so well and therefore was so thick it really just didn’t roll very tight. Or maybe it still needed to cool down a little. Or maybe I needed to be a bit more forceful in the rolling. Who knows. One thing I do know is that you need to spread the cake all the way to the sides, otherwise you end up with two end slices with no filling.

Whatever it is that made it look like it came off the wrong end of one a Hulk Smash, it still tastes delicious, so I certainly can’t blame the recipe!

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Proof that someone found it tasty.

I could have pretended this never happened and not put it on the blog, but to be honest, I laughed so hard about the end result that I had to share it wide. Also because I had been so smug in the rolling process, imagining the beautiful photogenic outcome – only to instead end up with this…

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It didn’t even deserve a proper plate.

So, although this wasn’t a complete disaster (as it is completely delicious – I feel like I need to keep repeating this in order to retain a semblance of dignity), it’s certainly not one of my finest moments. What’s been your biggest disaster in the kitchen?

Today’s quote is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Lee. I bet he could roll a fine roulade in his time.

I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors.‏

…And finally from my world-cup induced sewing extravaganza (and from this rather embarrassing “photo-shoot” was Tilly’s Picnic Blanket skirt.

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You may recall that this has been on my to-do list since the end of time. I first started making this with some vintage fabric from The Shop, however this was before I knew a thing about fabric and stretch and weight etc (I still know next to nothing, so just imagine how little I knew a year ago), and not only was the fabric an absolute b*tch to work with and cut out, it absolutely refused to gather – instead defiantly causing me to snap thread on a minute-by-minute basis.

Needless to say it soon went to the Great Basket of Unfinished Objects in the Sky (the GBUFOS for short), but the guilt of never finishing that first project remained.

So, with this new burst of sewing enthusiasm that the football inspired, I decided to revisit this pattern, this time with a far more suitable fabric. I have no idea what the fabric is  – I got it for the grand total of 20p at a craft stall that my WI ladies were manning. It’s a lovely pink colour, fairly heavy weight (but not upholstery or curtain heavy – a key point!) – and if you look really closely, every 30cm or so there’s a gold coloured R embossed on the fabric, which I only noticed after I’d bought it… You have to really want to see it though, so I’m not that bothered. At the very least it will make a good talking point.

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Now I had a more suitable fabric, this pattern came together like a breeze – even the gathering was fun to do – nothing like the headachey clusterf*ck of last time. I changed nothing, apart from to sew the button holes parallel with the length of the dress (rather than parallel with the waist, as suggested by Tilly) – this was mainly to stop me having to do more maths to work out where to place them. And me, a maths graduate. I should be ashamed.

I think I still need to do something about the top button though, it’s sitting kinda funny. To sort out later…

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Because the dress has a folky theme, and I liked the contrast of the white thread against the pink fabric, I hemmed all the way around in this lovely decorative stitch on my new machine.

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Pretty but slow.

Why did no-one tell me decorative stitches take approximately 3 years to sew?

Anyway, I think it was just about worth it in the end – apart from the fact I think this is a little short, no? Could do with about an inch longer – it kinds of risks all sorts of flashing, and given that this is a picnic blanket skirt, made to be worn at picnics, sat on a blanket, it might not leave much to the imagination. I’ve left enough in the hem for me to sort this out, but right now (if ever) I can’t bear the thought of unpicking all that lovely stitch and re-doing it. We shall see! 

Today’s quote was said by George in Enid Blyton’s Five Go Off in a Caravan

(I found a nsfw quote from Christopher Hitchens about picnics, but decided I was too ladylike to choose it. Feel free to look it up at your leisure…)