Tuesday, 25 June 2013

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The Teddy Dog

In my first post I showed you some personalised cushions that I'd made; one of them was for a cousin's baby and when my other cousin's daughter saw it she was quite taken with it so I said I'd make one for her and some other little girls in the family, but one of the girls decided that she didn't really want a cushion and would rather have, in her words, a teddy dog. This possibly wasn't the best request for me to be given being as I'm not particularly keen on dogs (controversial I know, but I have my reasons!), and when I was little I was much more of a fan of dolls than of cuddly toys, and on a more practical level I'd never made anything like this before, but I decided I'd give it a go and set about finding a pattern.

There are cute a few tutorials out there for making soft toys/plushies, and I almost decided on this one from Jenny Allsorts, but eventually I found Repeating Patterns on Etsy, and thought that their puppy pattern looked quite cute so that was the one I went with.

I was slightly daunted when I first started looking through the PDF pattern, but I soon realised that it was all very clearly explained and there's a photograph for each step so it's easy to see what you're supposed to be doing. So it was quite easy to go from this....

to this....

to the finished article...

I really would recommend Repeating Patterns if you want to make soft toys, I've never sewn anything like this before and all the little pieces, seams and darts were a little bit tricky at times but the pattern and instructions were so clear that you really couldn't go wrong.

Let's just hope his new owner will be pleased with him!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Business card holder

Recently I got some business cards printed for my Etsy shop from the brilliant MOO (if you're looking for business cards I'd definitely recommend them - they're more expensive than some of the other options online but definitely worth it, I was really pleased with mine) and thought that they needed a nice home to live in. I considered buying one as there are many nice options out there, but in the end I decided that as I'm using them to promote my handmade business, I really should try making one myself.

I found a great tutorial from The Crafty Cupboard which seemed pretty simple so I decided to give it a go, and here is the result...

I repressed my urge to use as many pretty prints as possible, and instead used denim for the outside with the reasoning that it'll tougher and will wear better if I'm carrying it around in my bag all the time, but I thought appearance was more important on the inside so I chose two contrasting spotty prints...

And here it is with the cards in their new home...

I'm really pleased - I'd definitely recommend using this tutorial if you want to make yourself a card holder, it was really easy to follow and as you can see it produces great results!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Brilliant BBQ bread

As England was basking under some long-awaited sun last weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity for some even more long-awaited BBQ action. And, never being one to let a reason to do some baking pass me by, I set about creating some great bread to have as an accompaniment.

I eventually settled on making some Olive and Feta bread from the WI bread book and, as it seemed to have gone well and there were a lot of people to feed, I decided to get a bit adventurous and use a similar method to make some Pesto and Parmesan bread. Here's how they turned out...

Pesto & Parmesan (l) and Olive & Feta (r) bread

And this is how to make my Pesto & Parmesan Bread

350 g strong white bread flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
225 ml water
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for greasing)
50 g Parmesan, grated
4 tsp pesto

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl, keeping the salt and yeast separate. Make a well in the centre and add 3 tbsp and most of the water. Mix together to form a dough, adding the remaining water if necessary.
2. Turn out onto a work surface lightly greased with olive oil and need for 8-10 mins until smooth. Flatten out and work in half of the Parmesan and pesto, then flatten out again and work in the remaining Parmesan and pesto. Divide the dough into two and place in an oiled polythene bag. Leave to rest for 10 mins.
3. Grease a baking sheet.
4. Take one of the pieces of dough and stretch it into a teardrop shape measuring about 20cm long and 15cm at the widest part. Place on the baking sheet then repeat with the remaining piece of dough. Cover and prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
5. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
6. Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden then cool on a wire rack.