Sunday, 29 July 2012

Summer Wedding Wreath with Ribbon Roses Tutorial

When I started this today, the sun was shining and I thought any Bride would be happy with the day... but then the rains came, then the thunder and lightening, and finally, to round it off we had hail.  The UK will certainly take the weather gold medal this weekend, if only for diversity!
One of the things I always remember about wedding is not so much the dress but the little touches, which is why this wreath is made from fabrics you might be making your bride and bridesmaid's dresses from.  I hit my Jane Means stash of ribbons to start off this week's tutorial, so get yourself ready and let's get started:

You will need:
A polystyrene form
Half a yard / metre each of  net, organza or sari fabric (basically a sheer weave fine fabric)
Rotary cutter with pinking wheel and cutting mat or pinking shears
2/3 yards or metres of organza wired ribbon 
Household scissors
Tweezers or small pliers
2 metres of plain ribbon
Well we have made wreathes at Christmas using this technique last year but this is a little bit different as the wreath is a little more blousey.
Start by cutting out three strips, three inches wide, then cut across them at three inches to form three inch squares. I found some fabulous organza with a sparkle diamante type detail.
Using your chop stick in the centre of the square, push it into the polystyrene form.
Continue to build it up, cutting more squares as you need them, you don't need to cover every inch... walk away from the wreath and turn it round as you can become a touch anal about there being no white showing!
When you are happy that it is covered, go an make yourself a drink and take a final look.
Something like this will do :)
Now cut your ribbon, you will need lengths of about 18", use you household / kitchen scissors as you will be cutting through wire and I will personally come to your house and remove all your dressmaking scissors if I catch you blunting them on wired ribbons!  Remember to flame the ends with your matches to seal them.

You will find fine wire running through the top and the bottom of your ribbon, gently tease the ends out of the top of the ribbon and pull carefully to start gathering the ribbon... do not tug, the wire is fine and will break...
Now from the ungathered side fold over one end, which will tuck it in when you start to roll up your rose.  Now you could use a match to wind the ribbon around but I find it easier to wind it free hand.
 You can manipulate your flower when you have finished winding.
Twist the two wires together a few times to secure your rose, then separate them.
Place the rose on your wreath, manipulate your wire through the organza and net, to the back of the wreath and use your pliers to twist the wire to hold the rose in place.  Tidy in the ends and cut away the excess.  Repeat the process to add as many roses as you wish.
Now use a loop of ribbon to create your bow at the top of the wreath and pop it on the front door to show everyone where the festivities are starting from.
And there you have it, a souvenir of a very special day.

Now let's go look at the Olympian efforts that the crafters have made over at Handmade Monday... I am predicting, items in red, yellow, blue, green and possibly black... what do you reckon?

And for those who are marrying this year... just a touch of schmaltz

Have a great first week of Olympic treats!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Knit and Natter Lunch

Today, I met up with lots of old friends, the ladies from our Knit and Natter group.  They meet up on a Thursday... and used to meet at one of my fave wool shops, sadly now shut so instead they now meet in a local florist.  The lunch is held at Cecelia's house... she owns the only table big enough to sit us all around!

I wanted to find an appropriate little gift to thank her for hosting the lunch and found this lovely little brooch in a new shop that I discovered in Carnaby Street, All the Fun of the Fair... it's very moreish!
So I found a natty little box to pop it into and then realised that I had time to put together a little bow from my new Jane Means ribbon stash.
I thought this weekend, we could do bow and gift bows 101... and I will show you how to make your own bow makers... so on Sunday, it will be you, me and your forgotten geometry skills!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Charlie is my darling... the dog bandana tutorial

Everyone should have at least one good friend who hears all their troubles, and mine is Charlie who is a rather handsome bulldog, who hears everything and says nothing... actually he fulfils this role for a number of us.  Recently, he has become quite the dandy about town sporting topical bandanas... he wore a Union Jack for the jubilee but I thought I would use one of the newly launched animal ribbons from the Jane Means collection... mind you, Charlie asked me to let Jane know he is available for modelling assignments when she realises that a bulldog would add that touch of macho doggy class to her great doggy ribbons!

So let's get started, you will need:

A dog
A fat quarter
Scissors and pins or cutting mat and rotary cutter
Iron and ironing board
Fish knife

Iron the fat quarter and fold it on the diagonal to create a square, cut off the excess fabric.  If you have a smaller dog then you will need to cut out a smaller square, you could use Charlie's bandana as a tent for a Yorkie!
Now look at your dog collar and measure the width, Charlie's collar is an inch wide, so line the fold up and cut off a triangle from each side with a base of 1.5".
Open up the square, fold under a seam of 5/8" where you cut off your triangles, press with the iron and sew into place.  Pin the top ribbon .5" from the fold on the right side of your fabric,  remembering to seal the ends of the ribbon with your matches... Now pin the ribbon along one side, an inch away from the raw edge,  slip this ribbon under the ribbon running along the top so that it is not seen, repeat on the other side.  Now at the point of the triangle, you can either mitre the ribbon or cheat... keep one ribbon flat but fold the other one over to create a triangle.
Sew the ribbon in place on the inside and outside to secure it.  Fold the bandana so that right sides are facing, sew using a 5/8" seam allowance along the two sides but leaving open the seams you have sewn at the top.
Turn the bandana right sides out, having first trimmed the excess seam allowance, you can use either side of the scarf to pull it through, use the fish knife to ensure you get a nice point in the corner.  Iron the bandana from the reverse side... this will do two things, a) make sure you don't melt the ribbon and b) raise the ribbon.
Sew straight across the top of the scarf, 1.5" below the fold to create the channel for the lead's collar... I didn't do this initially but have done so since the pics were taken and it gives a much better finish and the bandana lies much flatter.  Slip the collar through the channel, whistle up your model and get out there for a walk.
I think that this has a much great chance of staying around Charlie's neck.  So there you go my first official blog as a ribbon stylist for Jane Means, hope you like it :)

Now if you have time, hop on over to Handmade Monday on Handmade Harbour... Wendy has some brilliant news, she is featured on the front page of Sewing World... isn't that fab?

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ribbons Have Arrived :)

Was feeling so disappointed because I had not received the ribbons from Jane Means at work, yesterday but there lying on my door mat, when I got home was my magic ticket, a card from the postie telling me that there was a package, which was too big to get through my letter box, waiting for me at the Post Office.  They were open at 7.00am this morning, but I showed real restraint, indeed actual, amazing self restraint by picking them up at ten past eight, I blame my mother for this indulgence in deferred gratification!

Straight round to Barlow and Fields, the best and tastiest coffee shop in Leigh and I waited till my mate Deborah arrived and then we had the grand opening... and boy, was it worth the wait!
This is what I found inside... Aren't they just lush?
Seriously, tell me that polka dots will never be passé... these are just stunning... am already thinking Father Christmas's braces with the red and white dots on a garland.
And these wired organza ribbons... roses, at the very least.
Now what about this pack... manly ribbons, look really manly ribbons... don't they remind you of striped blazers... actually I think I can hear strains of the Eton Boating song...
Cripes these ribbons have deck stitching and look in the corner, gingham... why, oh, why did I ever cut my hair? (Possibly cos someone in their 50s would look silly in plaits?)
I love this group, the deck chair trio, and boy if you could see how the lime green is made to really zing with the pink deck stitching... have you any idea how much my fingers are itching?

My head is just whirling with ideas to start working with the ribbons... although my first issue is storage but I think I have found a solution and when it arrives, I will show you.

Now, I must get going, I have a tutorial to write in my official capacity as a Jane Means Ribbon Stylist... If you have anything that you think I should take a crack at please let me know... 

And finally... for those who have not heard it, here are the wet bobs of Eton, with the Eton Boating Song... blazers at the ready chaps, floaty dresses for the ladies and off we go.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Egg and Sausage Loaf Recipe

I was going to wait until we had proper picnic weather to post up this recipe which I used at out Golden Jubilee Street party but as Bert Ford no longer does the weather I don't think we will ever see the sun again, so here it is.
You will need:

4 large eggs
A pack of tasty sausages (go mad and use the posh ones, either something really herby or my fave caramelised onions... yum)
3oz grated cheddar
3tbspn of Branston pickle
12 oz of shortcrust pastry (yes, you can use the readymade but seriously it will take you 5 mins to knock it up from scratch)

Take three of the eggs and put them in a pan of boiling water, stick in either a large pinch of salt or a dash of vinegar ... if you eggs crack it reduces the amount that spills into the pan and seals the eggs v quickly.  Boil for at least six mins and then plunge into cold, cold water... this stops the iron / sulphur reaction (yep, we do chemistry just like Heston) that causes that black ring to form.

Turn on the oven to gas no 4, electric 350 or fan 180.

Make up your shortcrust pastry and reserve a third and roll out the other two thirds to fit a 1lb greased and floured loaf tin, trim off the excess and set it aside.  Now pop it all in the fridge to rest for 10 mins.

Take four of the sausages, remove the skins and press them down into the base of the loaf tin to cover it, scatter half of your grated cheese on top of the sausages, then spoon on the Branston pickle... now I have not been mean, you do not need anymore pickle as it will leach through the pastry and look gross!
Remove the eggs from their shells and put them down the middle and scatter the remainder of the cheese over the eggs.  Take the remaining four sausages, skin them and press down over the eggs.  Roll out the remaining pastry to make your lid.  

Take your last egg and beat it, using a pastry brush, paint around the edge of the loaf tin and lay the pastry lid over the tin, trim to fit.  Using the tines of the fork, work around the top of the pastry, pressing down to join the layers together ... to create a different look, you can use the other end of the fork.  Use your leftover pastry to create decorations with small pastry cutters or do it free hand, cut diamonds for leaves and score with a knife to create veins and roll up strips of pastry to create rosebuds.  Cut a cross in the pastry to allow the steam to escape when the pie is cooking so that you don't get soggy pastry.

Use the beaten egg to wash over the top of the pie, add your decoration and wash over them with egg.

Put the tin in the oven for 45 - 50 mins.
Take it out and allow it to cool, whilst it is cooling, run a knife (a small palette knife works well) around the tin, it will make it easier to turn out.  When it is quite cold, turn it out and start slicing... it is, I promise utterly delicious and a great treat for picnic... enjoy!
I live in hope...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Means Tested... The Upcycled Cardie

As I hinted last week, I have some rather exciting news, I have been asked to become a Jane Means ribbon stylist!  I am so exciting, as I have always loved her ribbons... and I have a set of her Easter Egg decorations that I use to decorate my Easter Tree, so it is really great to work with somebody whose products I admire and would have used anyway.  Now, the great thing is that I am going to be sent a selection of ribbons to play with (you're just a bit green aren't you?) in return for a couple of tutorials using them on my blog... I cannot tell you how many ideas I have written in my notebooks.
Well, the ribbons have not arrived yet but I did happen to have a 3 metre roll of ribbon tucked away and a cardigan that needed a lift... so it was game on!  I don't know about you but sometimes I get bored with my clothes, hate to throw them away but just want something new, so here is a quick fix for a plain but useful cardie.

You will need:
A cardigan in need of rejuvenation
Ribbon - length will depend on the number of buttons... I had 9 x 5" = 40"
Needle and Thread... contrasting colours work well
Matches and Tealight candle

Carefully snip off your first button and put it safely aside (if you place it on the arm of your sofa and it goes missing it will be down the side of the sofa and any loose change you find is mine... honest!).  Don't get ahead of yourself and snip them all off, the indentations from the button will act as your marker each time you sew the button back on.
I worked with small buttons, so decided that an inch showing under the button was well balanced and worked well, a bigger button may need wider ribbon and a longer length.  I cut two lengths of 2.5" and then sealed the end using the lighted tea light, if you are working with a lot of ribbons that need sealing to stop them from fraying, this is cheaper than lighting lots of matches to create a pile of kindling for a dolls house.  Hold the ribbon near the flame not in it, and you will see the ends melting.
Fold under 3/4" from each end and tuck it under, you won't need to use an iron as you can finger press it.  
The ends will overlap by 1/4", catch the loop together with a stitch, so up from the bottom and back down back up again.  
Take your other loop and place it on top of the first loop to form a cross, catch the top loop with another stitch.
Find the spot on the cardie where you removed the button, put the bow you have created on top of it.  Sew the bow onto the cardie, now sew the button on.  

If you have a two hole buttonhole button, sew it on so that the holes line up on the vertical, this will make your work look smarter... if you have four holes then do them in a cross to mirror the bow behind them.

I used a red and white ribbon and decided to add further interest by alternating with red and white thread.

Continue until you have replaced all the buttons.
And there you have it about 30 mins later, a one off piece that no-one else will have, with the little touch that lifts it above the rest... now go swank!

Isn't it amazing how something so simple can make such a big change?

Right, now it's time to go and take a look at what some of the other crafty bloggers have been up to on Handmade Monday... yes, I know that another evening gone surfing, but it is such good fun, isn't it?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

I stood in the drizzle and saw the flame!

Yesterday, I booked the day off work to watch the Olympic flame being run past down here in Leigh-on-sea  up to our local Olympic venue of Hadleigh Castle were they are running the Mountain Bike events up and down the cliffs around the castle.

High Vis Jackets were de rigeur with the organisers.

The Motor Bike Police were hooting and high fiving the school children.
Every vantage point was comandeered.
The local schools were so well behaved, especially Yr 3 from North Street.
My friends, Deborah, Sally and Tracey cheering the runners on.
And then came the coach with the next runners,
if you look in the window you can see the torch holders.
And here he comes... no, the drizzle has not extinguished the flame.
They were running at quite a lick!
And there he was gone...
It was a wonderful atmosphere and despite the rain everyone left with happy smiley faces... and then don't you know it, the sun came out!