Friday, 23 July 2021

Gooseberry polenta charlotte - vegan cakes

 


OK so I am not very good at food photos. To be honest I do not usually cook cakes with polenta either but I do seem to blog about it. Possibly cos its an experiment so I find that interesting.

Not yet anyway. Its not really something I decided to aim for but this was so nice in taste I decided to share it. Its up to you if you fancy making it. Sorry we ate half before I decided to blog about it!

We grow gooseberries and every year I struggle to find ways to use them. I make gooseberry chilli jam, gooseberry sweet jam, gooseberry wine and this year I intend to have ago at Gooseberry beer and my other half is currently using some to flavour gin though not to make liqueur because we still have loads of damson liqueur which we made for Christmas last year and do not drink it due to the sweetness and soon we will have this years crop of damsons to deal with too! I still have some of last years crop in the freezer!

So I made gooseberry jam/ pie filling. This is the bottom bit and when it cooked  the jammy bit has risen up the charlotte to mix a bit so maybe next time I need to make the jam and then add some whole uncooked goosberries? Or maybe apple pieces? Something with more structure and less jammyness.

I used some of this jam to make icecream (might tell you about that if it works!) and some for the base of this charlotte. The top of the charlotte is polenta cake similar to the one I made last year but I forgot the lemon. To be honest I thought it was lemon juice makes it rise but since I forgot it and it still rose it must simply be the bicarb. I will have to try a lemon version and take better photos - before we eat it!

It does taste good tho despite the rubbish photos and my decision to use gritty polenta. In all fairness I think its better with just the fine type of polenta!

Heres the recipe for the charlotte topping:

Dry igredients
175g of a 50:50 mix of fine polenta and gritty polenta
175g of plain flour
 2 tea spoons of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup of vanilla sugar - I make my own but a bought sort would do or just use ordinary granulated or caster sugar

Wet Ingredients
1 cup of sunflour oil
1 cup of soya milk

Other optional ingredients
 2 lemons - zest and juice  - which I forgot!!!!
 1 generous tablespoon of dessicated coconut

 Mix all dry ingredients first including dessicated coconut if using. Mix wet and dry ingredients vigourously with  a wooden spoon until well mixed.

I cooked the base which is just gooseberries and sugar in the microwave. It was bubbling hot and jamlike then I added spoonfulls of the mix over the top while it was still hot and cooked again for about 5 minutes letting it stand for a few minutes half way through the cooking. You will need to adjust the timing depending on your own microwave. I checked it was cooked by using a sharp pointed knife and it came out clean. If its not quite cooked the knife will not come out clean and will have smudges of mix on it so cook a couple of minutes longer.

Serve with (vegan) whipped cream or custard or just eat as it is. 


Enjoy!

Bracken

Bat print lounge shorts


 I made some basic elastic waist lounge shorts a few weeks ago and they have been very much worn so I decided to use some fabric I have had for ages to make a better job of these.

This is poly cotton printed fabric sold as halloween fabric. I bought it two or maybe 3 summers ago and its still unused and taking up valuable space so this seemed a great idea. 

Unfortunately, I cut them out late one night, I was tired and the print is one directional and I got it wrong. 

They still work and my other half seems to love them but I did find the print directions slightly annoyimg. Still despite the mistake they are better worn than stashed away as fabric. 

Because there are two fabrics - black on white and white on black I originally cut two pairs but then had the idea to use them like this so I ended up sewing up two harlequin legged shorts which hopefully does help to slightly hide or at least make the print directions less important!

This is also not the first item I have done this with. 

You would think I would have learned!

 

I still love my gypsy top from several years ago despite the print directions on that one!

Well maybe not a complete disaster, because if something gets worn  I would say its actually a success. 

I need to try to remember these items next time I cut things outin a hurry!

Have a good weekend

Bracken

Monday, 19 July 2021

Purple cotton hand knit jumper


This has taken me ages to sew up. I finished knitting it more than a month ago. I hate the sewing up part but decided I really should get round to it because I am nearing the end of another jumper now and its still there waiting for me. So I spent the entire morning sewing this and here it is.



Though the sleeves are a bit too long really.  Usually I aim for that with a winter jumper because I seem to pull them over my hands. Possibly its to do with having Raynauds and the yarn keeps my hands from going numb.



Its the exact same pattern as my orange fluffy jumper but this time I measured the length right so its not cropped. I actually think its better in a less fluffy yarn, though the pattern is made for mohair apparently. The yarn is Drops Paris 100% cotton and was bought new which is of course very unusual for me who usually buys Ebay second hand yarns Its a lovely dark purple ( darker than it looks in these phots actually, which I can see me wearing loads and is meant to be an aran weight hence I can get away with knitting this pattern. It does though feel quite a loose knit but I think personally I prefer to have looser and softer than that very tight hard feeling knitting you often get with cotton hand knits so that doesn't bother me, though of course it will wear out quicker than a tighter knitted one would. Its also less likely to get as dirty as the white one I made in cotton. I wear that for half an hour and it looks mucky! Hence I do not wear it very often which is a shame bearing in mind the effort that went into knitting that one.

 I really like knitting this. It is not a difficult pattern like the white cotton jumper I knitted - that was seriously difficult. I mean arans are easier than that pattern! It really stretched me to say the least. I enjoyed knitting this pattern though, because its not too simple - as in you do need to concentrate but its easy to find where you cock up and correct it as well, when you forget where you are so its a very rewarding thing to knit. Also its relatively easy to keep in the pattern as you increase at the sleeve seams which gives it a nice all over pattern not the usual stocking stitch sides and I like that. 

I may knit a few more of this one, because I enjoy it - but in other yarns. Its very effective but not too simple (like the blue one - I got bored knitting that one) and not too difficult like the white lace. Also which I have not shown here but you could turn this over because its just as good on the reverse giving two different patterns for the one instructions. I may try that next time. So I suppose it suits my ability. I won't repeat this jumper just now though because I need the variation of knitting something else, but its a good one for me to remember I think.I am on a roll with knitting right now as well, and don't want to spoil that. Having been unable to get going for years, I do not want to go starting something, get bored and stash it half made, because if that happens I am likely to stop knitting again and it could be 25 years or more before I start knitting again. It was actually 28 years the last time that happened, and if I had not had an operation I probably would still not have started up knitting again.

I am so happy how it turned out. I had the idea cotton would look good in this pattern and yes it does. Its from a Sanda magazine for the 80s - see my older post for details on that https://brackencrafts.blogspot.com/2020/01/orange-fluffy-jumper.html

 

I have more of the purple and the white cotton yarns and also a few balls of pale blue that I picked up yesterday in a charity shop in Coventry and some bright green I bought via Ebay, so I could make another cotton jumper or cardigan but I feel its getting too close to autumn now and if I make something else I probably will not wear it till next year. So I think its now time to do Autumn knitting and put the cotton back into the stash. I much prefer the softer yarns you make winter jumpers from rather than knitting cotton which feels so coarse on the hands and weighs far to much for my wrists.

My next jumper(s) then are Autumn / Winter ones which I need right now when its cold because I squashed the ones I already have into a vacuum storage bag so until I open it and get them back again I haven't any, I have only summer jumpers/ clothing. I do not really want to go delving into my winter clothing right now so they are lost for the next couple of months so I reckon time for a nice fluffy( maybe) winter jumper. As I mentioned I have one half made but its at the last few rows - its in the round too so very little sewing up.......... but I will show you in a few weeks.

 I am now though deciding what to begin. I usually start the next one before I quite finish the last one because when I am tired and need a rest, I can just do the ribbing which I find really tedius. Its not so bad though if done between other " more concentratey" things. Sometimes I even knit the ribbed edges for a differnt jumper before finishing the first one and then do the intersting bits all at once.

Well this one will be a good on for the end of summer and into autumn I think and hopefully will still be good for next spring.

Thanks for popping over have a lovely day

Bracken

Friday, 16 July 2021

90s style Burda short skirt with self drafted 90s style halter neck top



After the success of my recent skirt and top that I made a few weeks ago I decided to use my other piece of scuba - also 1m only of this - to make a similar outfit. This is a tie dye star scape print so pretty summery fabric. I decided I should use it now rather than store for yet another winter and dream about what I can do with it!

 Yes a bit of a cop out repeating something but on the other hand I really like wearing it so why not have two the same. I had several identical except for colour versions of this in my youth and wore them till last year when they were just past it so time to replace. Also I suppose really both the other items were really muslins for this 😁

Being self drafted this top was a real experiemnt when I made the first one but I now have 4 of these so time to stop perhaps. At least for this summer anyway. This one is just a little bit longer than the previous versions. Though I may have to add a plain black halter neck on at some point. Though I do not particularly need a matching black short skirt because I already have several.

Anyway, again this is a fast drying polyester/ lycra scuba so great for a holiday outfit. 

I do not really have that much to say its the same as the previous version really. All overlocked and then twin needled on the hems. Both feel and look good with my grey sweatshirt.

Have a great week and thanks for popping by

Bracken

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Leopard print RaRa skirt


I have had my eye on this Burda pattern for ages. Its 129;06/2014 and has a shirring elastic ruched basque. Thats what scared me really but a blogger ( sorry I do not remember who) writes a few years back she found it easy to do which inspired me. Then I had to wait till I got the right fabric. This is not quite the same as the Burda version because I had scraps of fabric to use up left over from a different project so was constrained by what I had available and the weird shapes of the bits of fabric as well. So Burda had a basque thats almost twice as long ( Burda double it, I couldnt do that)  with three ruffles and I have just the two ruffles so the only thing thats actually the right measurements on this the the main skirt pieces that you sew the frills to!

 

Despite that its definitely inspired by the Burda version.

Using the shirring is very easy, unless like me you have arthritus in the hands. Then its pure hell and this small amount took me three sittings over 5 days, having a rest between each day to recover the use of my hands. I actually sewed more rows than Burda and I did not pull it in which they suggest. It gathered enough not to need the elastic I added at the edge anyway. 

If you are young and / or do not have arthritus this is a great way to make a skirt, though I am usually someone who avoids this style when buying RTW cos the elastic always fails and the skirt does not last very long next to one with a fitted basque. For the scraps I have though, for this summer, I am very happy with it.

Its edged with a cheap stretch elastic. I used a walking foot and was very careful not to stretch it because obviously being a non-stretch woven stretch lace is not really ideal but its what was available and it works well enough I think.

.

 There is some narrow elastic right along the top edge as well to stop the "frilly" edge you get from shirring. Thats just my choice rather than Burd's suggestion - though to be perfectly honest I found the instructions so confusing I just ad-libbed. 

Fabric is a silky woven viscose so very frayey and light weight but is ideal for summer. Its slippy to sew and I made the frills very uneven but it doesn't seem to show so I think probably I am the only person who will realise that. 

All in all I really do like this skirt.

 I very much enjoyed wearing this anyway😊

Have a lovely day and thanks for popping round

Bracken

Sunday, 4 July 2021

1996 Burda Style skirt

 I really wanted to recreate a look from my 1997  summer holiday clothes when I was still "young".

Despite my age I decided I can still wear this style and its the perfect holiday outfit when its nice weather.

 

I searched for weeks in all my hundred-odd ( I kid you not!) Burda Mags to find this pattern which is a very simple A line mini, and its this style that what I wanted to recreate. Despite owning so many patterns its a surprise to find the one thing I want is really hard to find. Possibly because its so simple you could easily self draft?

But I really wanted an accurate fast and easy pattern I can use and be reasonably sure it will work not one of my experiments because I had very little of this fabric and may not be able to get more and not every experiment works lets face it - thats despite not wanting to cock this up and waste time.

I also have hundreds of free patterns from all over the internet but it ended up that the only one thats the right style is a Burda girls pattern from 1996.

 

Though I bought my outfit which I have copied in the summer of 1997 from New Look in Newquay, Burda Style have it in the January edition of the previous year. It was a common look then though. Its style 133/ 01/1996  .


 

I already recreated the halter neck top a few weeks ago so now here I also have my matching skirt. I think I am getting into matching separates! You can read about that one half way through my #MMM21 post here:

https://brackencrafts.blogspot.com/2021/06/mmm21-22nd-may-to-31st-may-and-holiday.html

This is not at all pattern matched because I had a metre for the entire outfit so it just had to be made from what there is available which I have to say is really far more environmentally friendly that wasting loads of fabric to make it all pattern patch though in this case its a shame because it would be a very easy print to get to match up. Still maybe next time if I manage to get something similar in this kind of fabric.


I was in my early 30's when I wore the original of this design, so not a kid and this fashion was, in 1996 -1997, an adult look as well as child's!

In the Burda magazine though it is in child sizes - though they are really teen sizes so nearly adult though not as big a range as normal women sized patterns. This though would be an easy one to grade up.



Burda show this in satin which was a common look in the 90s but I had a T shirt jersey skirt to match my halter neck. And a few more photos this time with Roger the dog.

This whole outfit is actually scuba so ideal for camping because its a quick dry fabric and very lightweight. Burda make it with a side zip. I just used elastic because thats what my 90s version had. Perfect! The girls sizes actually go bigger than me too so I will have to start looking more at the childrens section. Kids clothes tend to be less fussy and more fun I find. More my style. Its practical and easy to wear.

The pictures are taken by St Piran's Cross. This is in the sand dunes of the Quarry fields near Crantock in Cornwall.  Unfortunately the photographer was not at his best that day so here is an old photo of the cross from the last time we visited it.

We went there years ago as is seen by the date on this photo, and we have looked for the monument/ relic every year since, but never found it. Its my now long dead lovely Ronnie dog's head you can see there. If I had not already take a photo of this relic I would have doubted my own memory of ever finding it at all, because there is also a modern cross there and thats all we have found since - till this week. The modern one is a War Memorial cross there thats easy to find but this ancient relic is more hidden, but this is the original photo from 2006 so I had proof we did really find this place even though it has eluded us ever since then.

Possibly we could not find it because of the shifting sand dunes? I cannot see any other reason for it. This time we also found the ruined church and St Piran's Oratory as well so a bonus. I never noticed them previously but you can see the church ruins in the background of this old photo. We found them by accident this year as well.  This year you can see St Piran's Cross from accross the dunes if you happen to be in the area so its easy to find it!

Have a good week

Bracken

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Vest tops

 


As explained in my post a last week what I discovered after this years # Me Made May was my need -  like really urgent need - for small vest type summer tops / winter underwear.

I spent last weekend putting several printed patterns together and tracing others. 

This is the Durango tank from Hey June Patterns. Its a free pattern and its about time I actually made this since I downloaded and printed it several years ago and never got round to it. I missed out the CB seam on this and removed the seam allowance so I could cut on a fold as one piece.

This is a size 2, so I thought around a UK 8, but it turned out a bit bigger than I want, so next time I will make a smaller size. Its not quite a racer back despite it being described like that, though is cut in at the shoulders.

I never bound the edges on this one just overlocked, then twin needle hemmed and turned them under. The pattern does come with pieces for the bindings though if you want to make this and I think its a really nice top so worth having especially since its a free pattern. The neck and armholes are pretty good but the hem went a bit wavy. I am not so worried as I used to be about this, having recently visited a sports wear shop selling RTW (addidas) tops with wavy hems!

 

Next I tried a burda pattern. this I traced from Burda Style 06/2014 and style 125. Now normally I am a perfect Burda size 36. This top is huge. I checked the fit on the model before writing this post in case its meant to be a baggy fit, and its supposed to fit tighter and more how I wanted it to. Stupidly I never checked before binding the edges so its my own fault. I should have checked and I could have taken it in a bit. I am going to try remaking this as well but smaller. I am wondering did I trace the wrong size? Or add too much seam allowance? 





Its especially annoying since I used a double layer of black fabric on the front - meaning besides the wasteage it much harder to sew it up though the walking foot was well worth having for this - because I decided its was a bit transparent so I would not feel uncomfortable wearing it with a double layer,  and I used a shiny swimwear very stretch fabric for the back so I have a nice shiny/ matt contrast going on here with the edges bound in contrasts too  - the neck edge is matt, front is matt and back is shiny and arm holes are shiny. 

 

Though I suppose at least the black top does not have wavy hems!


The burda top will either work as a PJ top or I can wear over a small top like I am in the the photos here for a layered look, but its not really what I was after. The top underneath is my self drafted camo top tho this link will take you to all the undies I made a few weeks ago.

So now instead of moving forward to better quality fabrics I am still in the muslin stage for vests. I will wear both of these and will make more so all is not lost but I have not managed to make what I thought would be simple and pretty boring to sew tops. 

I am actually considering using the burda back with the Durango front - both in smaller sizes- because I prefer the higher front neck of the Durango since want to wear these for work tops as well as play. And I also prefer the proper racer back of the burda top. Maybe? I will let you know what happens and if this works. Alternatively the blocks from "Make your own Activewear" at least make tops that fit me so maybe I should make my own pattern and trace the racer back part? Not sure yet but this venture into boring basic tops is now it seems going to become a project. Still that will at least end with a few tops that fit and I usually enjoy this kind of challenge.

You can see here how it gapes at the armholes!

At least these were both made in relatively cheap fabric so I did not waste anything very good. Proves a muslin's a good idea - as is trying it on before you actually bind edges and while its still easy to make adjustments.

Ah well you can't win em all!

Bracken

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Check skirt

  

I made this last summer and took the photo then. Then it got far too cold for this look. I got the skirt out of storage though now its getting warmer again and that made me decide to blog about it. Its nice to wear at this time of year. This was really quick and made from left over fabric from my coat. Its really not very warm so has been in storage for the spring since last winter. The skirt is made from New Look 6230 -  the front skirt pattern piece only - cut twice. 

I made several similar skirts back in the spring of 2020 during the first Lockdown and love them all so this will be worn, but it does need the weather to change a bit because even with thick tights this lightweight fabric will be too cold. These photos were taken back in August 2020 and it was very hot then.

 It will make a very good summer skirt though and was possibly the best way to use the last decent sized scraps of this fabric before I throw the rest away - I am being ruthless now in my clearance because I have bags and bags of very small scraps which yes they could make a pair of knickers or something but I really do not have space to keep all of it and I generate similar sized pieces pretty much whenever I sew. I also bought some new pieces of fabric from Minerva and I want to make that into things so my scrap bags really must go.

  The waistband is just a scrap left over from something I made at some time - I am not sure what! Its ribbed stretch fabric

I added a buttonhole at the front to thread a pull cord through and put a toggle on this and voila! Sporty short skirt thats actually wearable in the office. Its shown here with my camo Noelle which I wear as underwear all the time and wore loads last summer with lightweight tops over it. Probably this get-up is not really very age appropriate but then I was just in the garden when the photo was taken and not going out anywhere in public. I reckon over the next few weeks I shall enjoy wearing this now the weather is getting a bit warmer.

 Stay safe now.

Bracken



Sunday, 20 June 2021

Planning my sewing

 

So as usual Me Made May really was useful for showing me the big gaps in my wardrobe. I think really I already knew what these were but forcing yourself to wear as much me made as possible and if possible wear ALL me made, means you really notice what you do NOT have. What I need to make is not particularly interesting which is why it does not get done. I need vests.

Running vests, racer back vests, ordinary boring vests and maybe some halter necks and strappy vests as well. I have tons of patterns and spent yesterday and much of my evenings this week, finding, printing them and tracing them and then putting the printouts together, and my back hurts because of this from bending over the table for hours, and despite this I did a couple of tests where I had drawn round another halter neck from my youth and made two testers from two old dresses.

Its has to be done else I must waste money and good fabric if they don't work, and making my own patterns is not something I have done that much of, though it does seem to be a direction I am starting to move towards. Also one thing about this is, besides its boring to make these small tops, its also very easy and to buy new ones will cost me at least £4 for each top, and probably more unless I buy from supermarkets and lets face it what they make is fine and functional but does not last very long. Also I know if I go clothes shopping I will end up with 2 or 3 very expensive lovely new small tops which will probably really not be better than the ones I intend to make.  I also, do get real favourites which I tend to kee for years even when I buy new ones and the new ones end up thrown away and I go back to the old ones, especially in small tops so thats why I am trying to remake tops from the 90s which I am still wearing all this time later. I prefer to wear something I realy like thats a bit old and worn rather than buy a new ill-fitting top. Hence the lack of good summer, small tops in my wardrobe!

Even more boring I need mostly black vests. They go with everything and can work with summer and wnter work clothing so they are a definite must for me to make. Though I am going to make some others as well just because - like the underwear projects its just as easy to sew an extra 5 or 6 while you do the one item. To make this easy I intend to cut lots and sew them all at once so for example all the overlocked bits at once on several tops and then all the twin needle bits. However the two I made as testers are both bright and fluorscent - and summery! But then it is upcycling so never mind and I actually wore both this week.

OK so thats what I have been up to. 

The dresses these are made from were both quite nice fabric but just not very wearable - too much brightness maybe?? 

These are the original dresses made back in 2019.

I virtually never wore the yellow one after the summer I wore it but I did wear the pink dress last winter, but underneath things like tracksuits so it got all caught up being too long but I like the colours of both so decided to reuse. In fact the fabric is perfect for this kind of summer halter neck top.

 Both of these photos were taken when I needed a hip replacement - you can tell by the poses. Weird how you see it after, but not at the time. The bent leg is bent because it hurts to straighten it. Still all fixed and sorted now! 

Aren't doctors amazing! In a different world I would be an old lady unable to walk by now using a walking stick to even move around my own home. My ancesters lives would have pretty much have been over, but because I live in this time, I am sorted and back to being " young" again. We all have these romantic notions of olden days - of Napolean or of vikings and things like that, but when you think about it really, the reality is we are very lucky to live in this world now. I remember several films where an old warrior wants to die as a warror. Now I can understamd why a 50 something would choose to die defending their people, and die a hero, rather than stagnate and be stuck unable to do anything because they wore their body out. Because of the doctors I am able to cycle and walk miles! And I do!

Anyway back to my world! I also want to make some short summer skirts and shorts in something like stretch scuba so when next I am camping its easy to get everything washed and dry. Holiday clothes! It was a real problem when I was camping the other week. I took far too many clothes for one,  and then I just wore the same stuff over and over because it worked for camping, but that meant having to wash it. Two weeks is a long time to have dirty clothes and althouth washing turned out to be relatively easy, with most sites having washing machines, I did not want to tumble dry my good me made clothing and trash it, so dried it in the air, and this takes ages with things like cotton sweatshirts - I never notice at home, but when you want to travel about its a real pain having lots of wet washing with you!

So after this weekend, I have the fabrics and the patterns so here I go.

These are my self drafted halter necks then - pattern made by drawing round my old one !

Excuse the closed eyes it was seriously bright and sunny that day!

These shorts are not me made and are very low waisted making the top looked cropped. It isn't. I think the shorts are circa 2007-8. The look does not suit me these days but I only wore them like this for the photos to show the top. The tops are constructed different to each other because I wanted to know if sewing the neck edge first or second - so having the neck tie as part of the front or back was the best way to go. My old tops do both depending on where bought from. It seems not to matter anyway. Both tops work.

I did do a high low hem on the pink top to see how it looked - rubbish and probably I should do it with the low bit at the front to hide my belly! Still you learn by these kind of experiments. It does not show with higher waisted trousers like the bugs ones I wored with the yellow top.

The end result though despite sewing up differently is both tops do work and I am glad I recycled / upcycled my old dresses rather than send them to charity. I actually do still have some left over bits of this fabric n both colours, which has never been made up, but might make some matching knickers in the future or another top. Both of these could also be worn as tankini tops of I had matching knickers. 

I will show you my next smalltops once I actually make them,

Have a lovely week and thanks for popping by,

Bracken