Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Rag Doll: blog tour and my handmade doll

Hello friends,

I'm the next stop for Corinne Crasbercu’s new book My Rag Doll! Oh and feel like an excited little girl. I really enjoyed having a go and making my own doll.

The book teaches a variety of customisable dolls with 11 adorable outfits, including matching  accessories like shoes and personality props.  From London weather appropriated rain coat to a veil bride. 

The book offers only one basic pattern and is divided by stages: Making the doll, where you can pick 5 different faces and hair styles. Than follows by your choice of outfit. Meaning that you can make combination of faces, hair and clothes you desire. The book says "make 11 rag dolls", but you can make so many more with your own creativity.  
This book offers a fun a way to start on a rag doll making journey because it gives the tools to explore making  awww-dorable creatures.  You will find hard to give them away. I would say this isn't a total beginner project and be mindful of details like buttons when making for children under 3.

What I love the most is the quality of the details on each doll. The author inspiration of children's books like Beatriz Potter  and Sarah Kay really shows as the dolls have definitely a personally ingrained in them. 

I have found the aesthetics to be very pretty and clean. Every outfit more exciting than the previous.

The only negative about this book is the lack of illustrations. I would love to see the 'How-To' of the doll illustrated by pictures or illustrations. Only text instructions for a those with english as a second language can be quite confusing. 'Skeins'? what is that? Lol.. so many words I had no idea what they meant. Not much of a problem for the outfits because I just sewn them as I would my own clothes.

To do a honest review on books with patterns I always try to make at least one pattern because you cannot base a project book only by looking at it. I can really see myself making more of these dolls. The process was very enjoyable and was shared with Cris (and her sewing machine) as my mine was still on the her annual revision. (Ps: I have now bought a second machine #Sewaddicted)

The pattern requires to be enlarged 120% or bigger and do not including the seam allowances. My doll size was kept at 100% because I could print it directly.

Let me introduce you to Lady Godiva in her winter rose pyjamas.

The name was given by my crafty friend Trudi because I posted a work-in-progress picture of my doll and well, she wasn't dressed! For those not educated in English folklore you can read about it here. I couldn't give her another name... so catchy!

The basic doll pattern is clever because the 3D shape of the feet she can stand up. Her outfit was based on the blouse (page 24) with a gathered skirt. Used the basic shoe pattern with free hand cut bows to make her slippers.

Pyjamas with pockets, of course! The fabric was baby fleece scraps Cris had on her stash.

To be honest, she isn't perfect but I'm so proud of this first attempt. Don't use cheap calico because I used for the body and it was too thin. The embroidery stitches show a little bit. There are some imperfect corners on the curved seams but its all part of her personally.

I have an extra copy to giveaway but since there has been so many recent giveaways I'm keeping it to be part of a blog-anniversary giveaway bundle.

Book is available in May but you can purchase an electronic copy or the dolls patterns individually.

* Book Images used with permission by Stitch Craft Create. 

Disclaimer: Please note that i'm not paid to write book reviews or be part of a blog hops but I do receive a review copy of the book from publishers/distributors. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy Easter: How Brazilians gift homemade easter eggs.

Hello friends,

I have another sweet treat for you. In Brazil we love filling our easter eggs with Brazilian favourite recipes like brigaddeiro; prestigio; fruit; doce de leite; giving them to our friends during this time of the year.  

I made it for myself and thought you may like to have a go and is super easy to make with kids to give to teachers, serve as individual desserts after easter lunch...  You will find hard to resist not eating it all by yourself.

The flavours and decoration are really up to you and what you like eating. I'm teaching you to make: Brigadeiro Gourmet, summer fruits compote and fresh coconut prestigio. Make it one flavour, add fresh strawberries on the top, decorate with mini egg. Another big favourite is to fill with ice cream.

Gather your ingredients:

Brigadeiro Gourmet:
In a saucepan, heat half of the condensed milk can, 1 heaped tbsp cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter.  Stirring constantly with wooden spoon  cook  low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny and  you can see the bottom and side of saucepan when pan is tilted.  cool completely. To avoid get very thick, add 1 tbsp of double cream after you taken from the heat. It will be very creamy. Normally there is addition of sugar on original brigadeiro recipes but this would make it too sweet for me.

In a saucepan, heat half of the condensed milk can, 50  freshly grated coconut and 1 tbsp butter.  Stirring constantly with wooden spoon  cook  low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny just like brigadeiro. 

Summer fruit compote. 
500g mixed berries (blackcurrants, blueberries, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries) 
50-85g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
With all the fruit similar size, add all ingredients into a large pan with 2-3 tbsp water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 3-5 mins. Don't overcook, or the fruits will not hold their shape. Let it cool.

Layer your fillings
Rach's tip: Don't use hot fillings as it will melt the chocolate egg. This recipe will fill one 145g easter egg with fruit compote left over.

Gift them half in a cute box like" Maria gourmet".

Gift them whole by making a hard chocolate cover to protect the filling by melt half milk, half dark  (50g) chocolate and cover the filling. Let it dry complete. Put both halts together and wrap your gift in pretty fabric.

Too delicious to give it away, sorry not sorry..... yummmmmmm

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter favourite Bakes

Fat Bunnies Cut-Out Cookies 

400 grams plain flour ( Judy always ask for american conversion: About 3 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder 
150 grams of  sugar ( about 1 cup)
200 grams  (2 sticks unsalted butter) cold & cut into chunks 
1 egg 
3/4 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp  orange extract 

Preheat oven to 180 C (about 350F). Combine the dry ingredients and set aside. 

Cream the sugar and butter. Adding egg and extracts slowly. Gradually start adding the dry ingredients mixed, beating just until combined.

The dough is not wet and should feel crumbly. Knead it together until you can start rolling it.

Roll on a anti stick surface to about 1,5 cm and cut into your bunny shapes. 

Rach's tip: Normally most cookies dough require a 30 min chilling time. Don't have that time, cheat by freezing the cookies already cut into shape for 5 min.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and use a cooling rack.

'Fast like a bunny' mini loafs

1 and 1/2 fresh biologic yeast tablet (about 22 g)
75G (Half cup) of sugar
1 egg
75 ml (Half cup) of vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
500g flour

In a mixer or a blender, blend all the wet ingredients. With the flour in a bow, make a hole in the middle and add the liquid slowing, mixing well until it forms a dough. Roll into small balls and leave resting for 40 mins. Bake pre heated oven 180C till ready about 25 mins.

Rach's tip:To make the bunny ears, just before baking, snip  twice with your scissors and with a tooth pick make two holes for the eyes.

Another big favourite in my house is cupcakes topped with chocolate nests.

The cupcake recipe is normally carrot but can be any you fancy. 

To make the nest "Brazilian way":
In a bow, add half cup of Cacha├ža -Brazilian national spirit. Vodka works just as well. Put this in the freezer. It will not freeze and get very cold.
Melt slowly your favourite chocolate, 30 seconds at at time on the microwave, mixing very well and letting the heat dissolve. Put the chocolate still warm in a piping bag and pipe over the very cold spirit, making the shape of the nest as you go along. The nest will firm immediately. Decorate each nest with some chocolate eggs. Delicious.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Freehand Cutting Dressmaking Workshop with Chinello (GBSB)

Hey friends,
April already been incredibly fun regarding to sewing activities. Last saturday started with me meeting with my sewing club at London:Walthamstow market for our first club outing.  My stash only been fattened by 4metres of fabric thanks to the fantastic selection of the man outside Sainsbury.

It is so much fun to sew with like minded girls. Club is doing really well that we are now oversubscribed and cannot accept any more members at the moment. My shopping trip was shorter.  I needed to meet Kerry and head to Chinello's workshop. 
Chinello wizardry on Sewing Bee wow me. Her unexpected method of cutting patterns directly on fabric made a really interesting subject to learn and when she announced her first workshop on twitter I couldn't resist.

The workshop details: "This workshop focuses on a stylish peplum top (or made longer, a beautiful dress to impress), you will learn how to transfer your measurements directly unto the fabric and dart your garment pieces to take the body's contours. This organic method of dressmaking will give you great fabric handling skills, confidence to start stepping away from commercial patterns or even using your new skills to enhance your favourite patterns. "

At first it's was hard to get my head around not having a template to trace but once I started to visualise what each measurement marking means it, the whole process made a lot more sense. The day went really fast and many times I was completely confused, which it's totally normal for me. I am highly energetic and excitable, always chatting and walking the room. 

During the workshop I meet Rachel and next to me was a lovely girl but my name holding skills is so poor, hopefully she will read this and say hello. I want to see her gingham peplum so fingers cross she will start a blog.

One of the biggest revelation was how close the underline methodology from Chinello's free hand cutting to the way I learned pattern design in Brasil (Methodo Iole). Both are purely based on personal measurement but free hand cutting is so much more organic. No fancy rulers, no pattern notches, just press (crease) in place and off you go. That's what I mostly confused during the day because when you sew without instructions, the instinct is to sew pattern based on notches and markings. After a fab night of sleep on my new bed, it all made sense.  All those clues were there but in a different language. 

The whole day was so fascinating. I need to do some homework and make a few more to practice so I don't forget what I learned. Chinello is a talent sewist and was a pleasure to meet her and learn from her. 

I will avoid over-sharing the method we worked on but basically you fold the fabric working with your front and back on top of each other, populate all your measurements regarding the design you want to make (We took 16 measurements of ourselves) and cut the back measurement on both layers. Separated the front and back, and then recut only the front. Then was to cut the circle skirt. The  cutting took most of the workshop time leaving only 30 mins to sew. I wasn't going to sew there. I was tired and my brain need digesting of all the information. At home I could review my markings against my notes before I sew and overlock the edges.
To sew at home was incredibly easy. I finished the dress in one hour. Dress? Well, we had to share fabric and in the interested of fair share we got the same amount. To avoid making my mini dress smaller, I tried a rolled hem with contrasting thread on the overlocker. We were told we could either repeat the process for facings or use binding. I closed my V neck and armholes with red pokadot bias. I'm thinking I could add either a contrasting fabric band or to shortener into a top but to be honest I liked in a tunic length as it is. The bust darts look almost like a princess seam.  Shame is hard for you to see due the african wax fabric print.
Chinello provided all the material for the class, tea and biscuits. I teased her about homemade cakes because she is also an avid baker. 
Working in inches on the day made me quite slow too, why when we change our 'normal' metric system all the instructions look a lot more scary... 
I wasn't sure how to style this make but didn't deliberate it. Since I was wearing those leggings when  sewing, I grabbed the first pair of shoes and coat and went of the door for the pictures. I'm not sure how much I will wear this but the skills learned will definitively last.
On tuesday I met the girls to watch the final. I really wanted Chinello to win. 
Who was your favourite?