Friday, December 19, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 12. Something special for yourself.

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. (Or, gifts for you to hint loudly at with your loved ones!)

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me... uninterrupted sewing time for myself!

(Hey, we can all dream, right?) In any case, 'tis the season to wear something a bit special and make every occasion more festive. Here's a couple of things for inspiration:

Liberty of London Tana Lawn, 'Daniel DJ' print, made into the Deer and Doe Aubepine dress (pattern available instore or by phone or email).

Nothing beats the feeling of Liberty Tana Lawn on a summer's day, especially in a dress with a bit of 'swish' factor.

Hemp/Silk blend Charmeuse in a vintage jacket pattern, just awaiting the perfect vintage button.
We are delighted to report that this Hemp/Silk washed beautifully (warm delicate machine cycle, liquid wool wash), line dried and is lovely to sew with. It also takes a hot, steamy iron very happily. Of course, we had to sample this new fabric so we could advise you, our lovely customers, on its properties! You're most welcome.

So go ahead, don't you deserve something special just for you?

Thank you for reading our Twelve Days of Christmas series for 2014. We're open today (Saturday) 12 - 4 and Monday the 22nd December 10am - 4pm, then closed until January 14th, although the online store will stay open throughout. We wish you all a wonderful, safe and happy festive season and new year.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 11. Organic cotton produce bags.

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. (Or, gifts for you to hint loudly at with your loved ones!)

This isn't the prettiest of projects but it's a highly practical one, and something you might consider making for yourself, if not for gifts.

These soft, lightweight drawstring bags are intended to replace the throwaway produce bags you find at the supermarket. You know, the ones you put your individual types of fruit and veg in, and things from the bulk bins? Usually they're plastic bags on a big roll but our marvellous local Foodland also has brown paper bags for the organic produce. Whilst paper is preferable to plastic, it still seems a bit wasteful to be using and tossing (or recycling) quite a few of these bags each week.

To make a useful replacement, we thought a bag needed to be:
- lightweight (won't add weight to what you're paying for, and also easy to pack)
- washable and not show stains
- natural fibres
- very quick and easy to make!

Enter our super-soft and lightweight organic cotton voile in black, and cotton piping cord!

I went to good old Google and looked up drawstring bag tutorials. The one I found was so simple and clear, I really feel there's no need to reinvent the wheel. So without further ado I direct you to this excellent post at 'Diary of a Quilter'.
Oh hello, it's those tomato pincushions again!
From a 50cm piece of fabric at 150cm wide, and two metres of piping cord, I made two bags approximately 32 x 42cm each.

Once I made these up, I was rather thrilled with how quickly they came together and I wanted to sit down and make drawstring bags out of all the fabrics. At the very least, I will probably whip up a few more of these and be able to feel very well-prepared next time I shop for fruit and veg!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 10. Furoshiki.

 Once more this year, we are bringing you twelve days of Christmas ideas - both handmade gifts and gifts for makers.

Today we present the simple but beautiful Japanese fabric gift wrapping technique, Furoshiki. Using basic shapes of fabric, you can simply dress a gift. Plus, the gift wrap is reusable, either as gift wrap again or as a tea-towel or napkins or any other fabric-y plan you may devise. So it's environmentally friendly, too - score!

For this project, we have cut a half metre of this 110cm wide Japanese linen/cotton gingham. We then cut one piece to 70x50cm, leaving the remainder piece measuring 40 x 50cm) and sewed a double fold hem around all edges. Here they are with bonus Lego man for scale, courtesy of my lovely 6 year old assistant.

Since there's plenty of wine changing hands at this time of year, we thought the wine bottle wrap would be a good one to start with. 

Take the larger piece of fabric. Turn it to landscape, then fold the bottom third of the fabric up over the bottle:

Scrunch the fabric in either side of the bottle, and tie a knot at the front. Too easy!

(No Lego men were harmed in the writing of this blog post.)

The remainder piece of fabric can be used to wrap smaller gifts like these Merchant and Mills wide bow scissors and needles.

Pop your goodies in the middle:

Fold up the bottom third of fabric, then fold the top third over the top:

Gather up the fabric each side of the gift and tie a single knot to secure.

This is an easy place to start, but if you just search the internet, there are loads of Furoshiki tutorials to be found online.

 Happy wrapping and giving!

- Fiona & Jane xx

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 9. The joy of good pins.

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. (Or, gifts for you to hint loudly at with your loved ones!)

Today, we're celebrating fine pins, and no, not a good set of legs. We're talking dressmaking pins, those fiddly little things you probably use all the time but don't give a lot of thought to. Then perhaps the pleasure of using Good Pins awaits you! Good pins like these:
(All available in store or online in the Tools & Notions section.)

Frankly, for far too long we'd both been using pins, at home and at The Drapery, that were more like this:
 Little did we know what we were missing! Now, we are converted to the fine quality pins from Merchant and Mills. In particular, for garment sewing, we have enjoyed the Toilet Pins and Entomology Pins. The adorable Wooden Map Pins are newly arrived (they're red! they're wooden!) and the Spanish Lace Pins, we imagine, would be good for small-scale, delicate little projects.

The Toilet Pins we pretty much ordered in so we could make our kids snigger at the name. And then we used them. So good! Pleasingly long and sturdy with black glass heads, the extra length makes them a breeze to insert and easy to grasp and remove as you sew along.

The Entomology Pins could, of course, be used to pin out your dead insect collection. But they're also perfect for pinning through fine, tightly woven fabrics like Liberty Tana Lawn. And they're more resilient than they look, since they are engineered, we suppose, to pierce crunchy bug shells.

Also, they both pass the test of The Horrible Pincushion, seen below, which will accept nothing but the sharpest of pins. Whatever they stuff in these ubiquitous pincushions is unyielding and hardly 'cushiony'.
 If you deserve a nice new pincushion too, we have these Heirloom Tomato Pincushions, handmade in the USA. Deliciously yielding!
Treat yourself or someone you love to some beautiful new pins.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Monday, December 15, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 8. Let's bake!

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. Except today we're veering off-course a bit. We hope you don't mind. Because, you know, cake.

Christmas and baking just seem to go together, even in our sun-baked summer. This recipe isn't specifically a Christmas cake, but its dense fruitiness and spices make it suitably festive. Served warm, it could even do a pretty good job as Christmas pudding.

Chunky Fig, Apricot and Prune Cake

(Adapted a little from this River Cottage recipe, published in River Cottage Every Day. Feel free to follow the original, it's delicious. This one bumps up the spice a bit, substitutes a couple of things I had at hand, and has tips from my cooking experience.)

200g soft, dark brown sugar
200g butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
225g wholemeal spelt flour
1tsp baking powder
2 heaped tsp mixed spice
150g prunes
150g dried figs
150g dried apricots
2 tbsp marmalade
finely grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
rosemary leaves from about 4 sprigs, very finely chopped
It looks like a lot of rosemary, but interestingly, when finely chopped and cooked, it adds only a barely discernible 'little something' to the finished cake.

Preheat oven to 155 - 160 degrees Celcius. Butter a 26cm round springform tin and line the bottom with baking paper. (If your tin is a different size it may alter the baking time - see note at end of recipe.)

Combine flour, mixed spice and baking powder in a bowl and use a whisk to mix well.

Cut dried fruit: each apricot and prune into about 3 pieces, each fig into 5 or 6, removing the hard stalks. Mix together in a separate bowl with the marmalade, orange and lemon zest and rosemary.

Beat butter and sugar very well until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour mixture with each and mixing very well. Gently mix in the rest of the flour, then the dried fruit mix, until just combined.

Spoon into the prepared tin and pop in the oven. After 35 minutes, check and if the cake is browning a fair bit on top, cover with foil. Bake another 10 minutes and test with skewer to ensure it's cooked through.

Note on cooking time: This is significantly shorter than the cooking time in the original recipe. This is at least in part due to my use of a wider tin; also perhaps my oven is hotter. In any case, do keep an eye on the cake because you don't want it overcooked or burnt on top.

Leave to cool on a rack for as long as you can resist. Enjoy!
No food stylists here, just happy tummies.
(Oh, and it's worth checking out the outrageous serving suggestion at the bottom of the original recipe, even if just to dream about it.)

- Jane & Fiona xx

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 7. Make a toy!

Once more this year, we are bringing you twelve days of Christmas ideas - both handmade gifts and gifts for makers.

If you have any little people on your Christmas list this year, why not make them a toy? Handmade toys make relatively quick projects, and are such a special, lasting gift.

We've got lots of great toy making resources at The Drapery - from wool flannels and wool felt, to natural linens, wool and recycled PET stuffing, plus loads of fun books & patterns.

Our Christmas Penguin above, is Arnold. The pattern for Arnold, along with 19 other toys, is in the book Hop Skip Jump, which we have in store. (If you were following our Twelve Days of Christmas last year, you might remember our tutorial for a penguin ornament too.)

We've also got a few single paper patterns, including this one: Poppy Doll. As well as the actual doll, this pattern has instructions to make Poppy a veritable smorgasbord of clothes including trousers and a couple of dresses.

There are still 9 making days before Christmas, so still plenty of time to get stitching!

- Fiona & Jane xx

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 6. Pillowcase with flat piping

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. (Or, gifts for you to hint loudly at with your loved ones!)

Today's handmade gift idea is a pillowcase - one of the simplest things to sew - but gussied up just a little with the addition of contrast flat piping on the front.
 Here's our sample one looking a bit over-stuffed at the shop, with two 50 x 50cm cushion inserts masquerading as a pillow inside!

  • 1 metre of 110cm wide fabric to make one standard pillowcase
  • narrow strip of complementary fabric (3cm wide x at least 52cm long) for the flat piping.
We think our range of Art Gallery cottons are perfect, featuring some really lovely designs on a cotton basecloth that is particularly smooth to the touch.
Our sample is made from a Leah Duncan design for Art Gallery Fabrics, and a narrow contrast strip of Oakshott shot cotton in 'Zug'.
I took all sorts of construction photos, some of which will feature below, but in the end decided the simplest way to show how to make this pillowcase was a hand-drawn diagram:
Got it? Good to go. But if you'd like more detailed instructions, read on!

Take your 1 metre of fabric and cut it into the pieces shown above: cut in half down the length then trim each half to be 52cm wide. One piece will be the bottom of your pillowcase and you can cut the top two pieces out of the other half: 62 x 52cm and 32 x 52cm.

Take the 32 x 52cm piece and press it in half so it measures 16 x 52cm, right sides out.
 Press your contrast strip in half along its length, right sides out, so it's 1.5cm wide. This will be your 'flat piping' which is basically just a narrow, folded strip of fabric poking out of a seam. Since it's just a straight line, we can cut this on the grain (would need to be bias cut for curves).
 Lay the strip along the raw edge of your 62cm long piece and place the folded piece you pressed first on top. All raw edges aligned and right sides together.
Sew together with a narrow seam allowance, then finish the raw edges together (zigzag or overlock).

 Open out and press well, with the piping pointing towards the folded end of the pillowcase top. Topstitch to keep the piping flat.
Make a narrow hem on one short end of your longest (pillowcase back) piece.
Lay the pillowcase top on the bottom, right sides together, raw edges aligned.

 Fold the long, hemmed edge of the bottom over the pillowcase top. Pin and sew all around the raw edges with about 1cm seam allowance.
Trim the corners and finish raw edges.
 Turn right way in and give it a good press. Voila!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas: Day 5. Felt sewing for kids

For the second year, we're bringing you a bunch of ideas for handmade Christmas gifts and also, lovely gifts for the makers in your life. (Or, gifts for you to hint loudly at with your loved ones!)

Today we're sharing a gift idea for the young makers.
These cute little 'Felties' are very appealing to young ones. The instructions are very clear and from about age six or seven, kids should be able to help trace, cut, sew and stuff the little characters.
By about age ten kids can probably achieve these all by themselves!

Pair the Felties book ($19.95) with one of our Rainbow Bundles of 100% pure new wool felt ($22.75) for a great gift. We also have an assortment of wool felt colours at $6.50 per 25 x 45cm piece.
Add a bag of stuffing - we have pure Australian wool tops for $12.50 a 250g bag or wonderfully springy recycled P.E.T. (from plastic drink bottles) at $4 a 200g bag.
For the stitching, we have a range of coloured embroidery threads at 70c a skein and perle cotton at $6 per ball, as well as regular Gutermann cotton thread.

More felt sewing ideas in these two great books, also!
And while we're talking kids and sewing, these books are full of excellent ideas to have kids picking up new skills and creating projects they'll be really proud of.
Is there a young maker (or potential maker) in your life who needs some inspiration this Christmas?

- Jane & Fiona xx