Saturday, 25 January 2014

Half Square Triangle Quilt - Triangle Awesomeness!

I am in love with my crazy colour combination, and I really like that larger shapes emerge within the rows, and it has not been too stressful, this HST quilt of mine. Here is a little lesson in how you get started:

1. Four half square triangles.

2. Become two squares.
3. The two squares (right sides together) and pinned...

4....are sewn together.
5. And become a rectangle..

6. Don't forget to press the seams open with an iron as you go.

7. Add a square at a time until you get a row. Create the following row and sew together.

The completed patchwork was not big enough to create a quilt in its own right, so with the remaining white fabric, I created a border. With the added border, the quilt was 135 x 100cm, which is just the right size for throwing over someone who is feeling poorly on the couch, or wrapping round you when the sun goes down on a summer evening.

If you want to see the planning stage of this quilt, see here.  So, how do you feel about having a go now?

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Homemade Marmalade or Paddington Bear eat your heart out

Every year I think that this one will be the Year of the Marmalade. Last year, I thought it would be the one but then I couldn't find any Seville oranges -why are they so elusive? Maybe because all the marmalade makers out there snaffle them up before I get there! This year, I spotted a 1kg box in Waitrose and went for it there and then, and thus I was committed to make some. There is little else you can do with a Seville orange, except maybe, Duck a l'orange. Waitrose also have a recipe posted on their site for herb scented marmalade (Waitrose are clever like that). This is the recipe I followed sans herbs.

The first step is really easy - to chop off the bottom and boil the in water whole. I left the oranges in the pan overnight and the following day they were beautifully soft. Because the bottoms were cut off, the water and juices intermingled, and with a gentle scrape the innards came out easily.

So I lied a little when I said I was using the Waitrose recipe, because what I actually did was use a bit of a BBC one too! Mainly due to the fact that because I wasn't using any herbs, I didn't have a muslin bag to put the flesh into. Instead, I added it to the liquid and boiled it for 5 minutes and then passed it through a sieve and you are left with the most glorious liquid. 

For the next stage, you will need the biggest pan you can get your hands on. No bigger than that! I ended up using the bottom piece of my steamer and I had to discard about a quarter of the liquid even then. You add in your chopped peel (let's just say mine would be classed as thick cut) and sugar and boil away until the setting point.You can only tell whether you have reached this point by spooning a little marmalade on a cold plate, letting it cool a little and pushing it with your fingernail. If it wrinkles, you are there. If not, keep on boiling away and testing until you get there. It took about 25 minutes for me to reach this point.

Here are the links to the two recipes which I used:

Love Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bake: Ginger Jam Loaf Cake

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I made a Lemon Drizzle Cake at the weekend, at the request of my children, but what I really wanted to make was this Ginger Jam Loaf Cake. The recipe has been adapted from the Sticky Ginger Marmalade Loaf in Baking: 100 Everyday Recipes published by Love Food.

A note on the Ginger Jam
The jam that I have used is Mrs Bridges Ginger Preserve with lots of nice bits of ginger in. Waitrose also sell their own brand Stem Ginger Preserve.

175g butter
125g ginger jam
175g demerara sugar
3 eggs
225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground mixed spice (or ground ginger if you want more of a ginger kick!)

1. Set aside a dessert spoon of ginger jam in a saucepan.

2. In a mixing bowl, add the butter, jam and sugar. Whisk with an electric mixer.

3. Add the eggs and whisk again.

4. Sieve the mix of flour, baking powder and spice and mix with a spoon.

5. Pour this into a lined 2lb loaf tin (I always use the ready made liners). Level off and pop in a pre heated oven at 180C for 50 mins to 1 hour.

6. While your cake begins to cool, heat the ginger jam gently in the saucepan, and once it has melted, brush over the top of your cake.



Monday, 13 January 2014

Stuck in a Wardrobe Rut?

Are you ever tired of wearing the same clothes? Do you have items in your wardrobe that are too big or too small, too frumpy or too revealing for your style? I do.

Sarai Mitnick (of Colette fame) proposes a year long experimental project "Wardrobe Architect: Designing and Building Thoughtful Attire", which will combine guidance, creative exercises and discussions. Sounds great, and exactly what I need! If you want to join in too, follow this link.

The Wardrobe Architect


Saturday, 11 January 2014

Half Square Triangle Quilt: Planning and Progress

You already know that I received the marvellous Big Shot machine for Christmas. Well, I bought some quilting dies ( 5 inch HST (half square triangle) and a chevron die, and I was desperate to begin a new quilt! It had to be bright, bold and modern with no prints to disrupt the eye.

The Colour Palette
I ordered my fabric from the excellent Fabric Rehab who I have used several times before. The colours aren't particularly true to the original images, (which is why you should always order a sample!), but I am not too bothered. I ordered a fat quarter of each of these, plus a metre of white because my original plan was to have one half of each square in white. However, some time spent with Pinterest later...

Follow Emma Jones's board Quilt Patterns on Pinterest.

...I settled upon a random pattern with some of the triangles forming larger triangles or shapes just to give it a bit of interest. So, having cut all my triangles out, I laid them on a large sheet to determine how I wanted it to look. Don't think that the triangles are uneven, they actually cut with an extra bit so when two are sewn together, it makes a perfect square.
It will need a border of some kind I think, but I am not ready to think about this just yet!

The first row is sewn, and I anticipate sewing all the triangles by this time next week!! 

Love Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Three Dressmaking Books

I am making plans for more dressmaking in 2014 (see here), with the aid of three new additions to my seamstress bookshelf: The Colette Sewing Handbook, Stylish Dress Book: Clothing for Everyday Wear and The Vintage Pattern Selector. All three include patterns in various forms (tissue, paper and disc). 

I love the patterns in the Colette handbook (you will almost certainly have come across their patterns before). This is a great book for improving your dressmaking skills as the patterns increase in difficulty as the book progresses. Within the book, you encounter challenges such as invisible zips, which improve the finish of a garment.

My initial reaction was to want to sew the Liquorice dress first - it is gorgeous, but after playing with some colour combinations I am now going to make the Meringue skirt first with the scalloped hem. It is quite a playful skirt and I think it will be great for Spring. 

The second book, Stylish Dress Book is absolutely sumptuous to look at and with 26 patterns there is something for everyone. The overall look is fairly bohemian with smocks and tunic dresses, and I adore the Shirt Dress which looks like it has stepped out of the 1920s (second photo above). The photographs are wonderfully rich. I like the look of the Corsage Jacket (Pattern F) although it looks a fairly challenging sew.

The Vintage Pattern Selector has less patterns and is more a vintage style book. It compares vintage looks through the twentieth century with what is out there on the High Street, and gives details on how you can incorporate retro looks in the modern day. I desperately want the prom dress but no where to wear it (feel like Cinders!). There is even a pattern for a Pillbox Hat!!

Mrs Jones x

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Fabric Ipad Mini Case Tutorial

I have been lusting over this ipad mini case from Joules but I am not keen on the price tag! But I couldn't shirk away from the fact that my ipad needs a case, and although I am perfectly capable of making a sleeve for it, what I want is a case that works like one you can buy from Apple!This is the result.

Note: As you see, the front of my case is not flat, due to the thickness of batting that I have used. Because I want a case that can also be used to prop the ipad up, the front also needs to be able to be bent into position. 

Cardboard (I used a shoebox)
Exterior fabric width 35cm by length 25cm 
Lining fabric 2 x width 18cm by length 25cm
Elastic, four pieces 
Batting 2 x 18cm by 25cm
Double sided tape
Sewing Notions

1. Cut out and iron all the fabric and set aside.

2. Cut three pieces of cardboard as follows: 4.5cm by 20cm, 4.5cm by 20cm and 3cm by 20cm.

3. Cut a further piece of cardboard 13cm by 20cm. Put this piece aside for now.

4. Apply double sided tape to one side of the smaller pieces of cardboard. Bear in mind that if the cardboard is highly patterned it may show through your fabric, so you will want the brown cardboard side next to the fabric.

5. Mark the halfway point (like the centre of a book) in your exterior fabric. This will then guide you on placement on the three pieces of cardboard. Stick on to the back (wrong side) of the fabric.This is really just to hold them in place while you stitch, so it doesn't matter how strong the tape is. You need to have an even gap between each piece of cardboard.

6. Place one of the pieces of batting over the cardboard you have stuck down and align with the edges. Pin or baste between the cardboard, then using a high stitch length sew as straight as you can in the spaces through the batting and fabric.

7. Next, use the pieces of elastic and pin them to the corners of one of the lining pieces. You may need to pop your ipad mini on top to make sure that each piece of elastic will hold it in place.

8. With right sides together sew the lining pieces together, this will sew two of the pieces of elastic into the seam. Press the seam open. Place the side with the elastic to the right.

9. Your lining should now be placed right sides together with the exterior fabric. Pin the two sides and top and sew. Clip the corners and turn out - it may be a little difficult because of the cardboard on one half.

10. Insert the large piece of cardboard and remaining batting to the right hand side. Trim the batting if required.

11. Sew one or two straight lines down the centre seam. This should hold the batting in place.

12. Tuck the raw ends of the fabric at the bottom and press, then pin. Ensure that the two remaining pieces of elastic are tucked in also. Either hand sew or carefully machine stitch this closed. If you are worried about the elastic holding with hand sewing, then machine it!

13. Finally, run the machine down the gaps in the cardboard strips again so that it incorporates the lining. 
The Inside

14. If required or desired, you can add an elastic band as I have or add a tag with a press stud.

The rear

I will admit that half way through sewing this, I hadn't thought about how the elastic would fit, so this caused the ubiquitous seam ripper to come into play and a bit of fiddling!! 

By folding the front according to the cardboard pieces, it becomes an ipad prop!

Please feel free to ask questions, add in some suggestions, etc.

Mrs Jones x

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


What a wonderfully quiet festive period we have had here in Somerset, despite the downpours and gales! It was comforting having a cosy night in of game playing and film watching on New Year, even though I didn't make it past 10:45. 

I don't have any New Year Resolutions this year, but I have made a big wish list of things to sew, which is far more exciting than any resolution which frankly won't last anyway!! My To Sew List is heavily swayed by the three new Dressmaking books I have bought or been given over Christmas (but more about them in another post), and with the help of my new Big Shot, I am going to attempt to sew a couple of more complex quilts (I have a chevron die and a half square triangle die on order). This list is more of a moveable feast than written in stone - they are just things I desperately want to get on and sew!

  1. Meringue skirt : Colette Patterns (within The Colette Sewing Handbook )
  2. Sureau dress: Deer and Doe
  3. Esme top: Sew Liberated
  4. Kelly skirt: Megan Nielsen
  5. Iris shorts: Colette Patterns
  6. Jacket with Corsage : Clothing for Everyday Wear book
I would love to know what you are planning to sew/create this year. 

Happy New Year to you all,
Mrs Jones x