Sunday 25 November 2012

Kerry's Very Berry Christmas Cake

A rare departure from sewing into baking.  I am not a domestic goddess, apart from in my head, but I do like to bake.  Every year I attempt to make a great Christmas cake, starting early and feeding with booze, and every year come Christmas eve when I break into it I am a little disappointed that it is too dry or just not right, so this year did a test run and adapted a recipe so much to the point where it was completely different from the original and I was so happy with the result.  It is golden, sticky, fruity and moist.  I add marzipan cubes to the mixture which for a marzipan lover like me is glorious but feel free to omit.  It is not a bake ahead cake- I will mine in mid December for Christmas but like any rich fruit cake it will keep for a couple of weeks.  I made a half recipe to test it and it came out fine with a smaller tin and reduced cooking time.  I made mine dairy free with Pure Sunflower seed spread rather than butter or margarine but they will all work equally well.

200g Pure spread/butter/margarine
100g raisins
200g glace cherries halved
100g dried sour cherries
100g sweetened dried cranberries
200g sultanas
Zest and juice of 1 orange
50ml Marsala/sherry/brandy
250g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g Self Raising Flour
100g ground almonds
1 tblspn mixed sweet spice
250g Marzipan

1. Cube marzipan into 1/2" chunks and place on tray in freezer. 

2.  Heat oven to 160c/140.  Line 20cm cake tin with parchment paper extending the lining an inch above the tin.  (I used the same size tin with half the quantities and it worked fine for me).

3 . Place all dried fuit in a pan with alcohol, orange juice and zest, bring to the boil and cook briefly until the liquid has evaporated.

4. In a large bowl, cream sugar and fat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla.  Then almonds, flour and spice.  Then add fruit mixture and finally the marzipan cubes from freezer and stir well.  It is quite a wet mixture!

5.  Spoon into tin and level out the  top.  Bake for 1hour 20 mins- depending on your oven.   If your oven is fierce you can place a loose square of baking foil over the top of the tin to shield the top of the cake.  Check with skewer or use hard spaghetti to test the centre.  A half quantity mixture took 60 mins in my at 140c in my fan oven but it is a fast oven!  

Hope it works for you x
sib blog

Friday 23 November 2012

Pretty Patterns

I know many of you are tempted by fabric but I hae another weakness: patterns and the independent designer patterns have the ultimate allure.  I like supporting a single designer's vision.   I like the fact that most designers will run a sew along with the launch of their pattern so there is online help and tips for all the tricky bits and bonus extras.  And if the designers dont' do this, bloggers take the patterns and  run sew alongs themselves- see my Tova Sew along!  Annie has had a whole load of new patterns so here is a peek at just a handful of my favs- click pics to go to them at The Village Haberdashery and to see a selection of larger images.
I have been curshing on this design, the Ameila, since I saw it in Quilt Market photos months back.  And there are many other Green Bee patterns including quilts.  Diamond Ring  was in many Quilt Market photos again and really stuck with me, a great design.
I bought Megan Nielsen's Banksia from Annie for Megan's sew along. I am just on the brink of making this and everything is covered in the sew-a-long posts and there are extras- e.g making it into a dress. I am going to add long sleeves and I am thinking of trying it without a collar.
I am tempted by Megan's new Briar pattern which is due in soon, I find many jersey tops way too long so a little cropping could be good- I hasten to add not to bare my midriff, I am a strictly multi layer girl!
I had to include this Chloe pattern, so charming.  A litle indulgent perhaps but so many little girls would love this.
And maybe  more realistic for everyday wear, this Figgy's Banyan pattern for suitable boys and girls has huge appeal.
Sorry to tempt you all again, as I said, patterns are my weakness.  
If you still want a fabric fix, get the new Liberty Stile range before anyone else, only at Village Haberdashery!
sib blog

Thursday 22 November 2012

Adopting Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: a holiday that the UK would benefit from embracing.  I know we can't just borrow and copy cultural and historical celebrations wily nily but there is an awful lot of moaning and negativity that can go on and a holiday where we all take a step back and reflect on the positive could only be good, especially as it is accompanied by a giant meal!  So what better day to say thankyou to Rebecca of Sew Festive who sent me my Pillow Swap pillow!  She followed my hints for an Autumn colour way, my favourite Field Study print (Minds Eye in Toast) is in there and Heath for the background.  It is a happy addition to my sewing space which had sunlight today between the heavy rain.
And a quiet little nod, hugs kisses and thank you to my lovely husband who made this Moomin paper craft for me at the weekend and is an enormous support through my many moments of doubt and questioning.  He, Lula and our pets are my world  x 
sib blog

Monday 19 November 2012

New Sew-Ichigo pattern set!

Penny and I have been working on a new pattern set, 'Sew Very Christmas', at Sew-Ichigo and I am pleased to say it is ready and available now!  Read more about it here.
These are beginner friendly patterns with minimal lines and sections, no curves and no Y seams.  Plus you can download our free paper piecing guidelines here (scroll to the bottom of the page).  

 You can buy the pattern here or at our Craftsy store.  May the seasonal gift making commence!
sib blog

Friday 16 November 2012

Seasonal thoughts

It feels like winter now, lots of dark and gloomy days making photography a little testing.  I am ready for the New Year with this journal via Christina on Instagram.  If you put 'Mon Journal' into ebay you will find  a big selection of sellers.  It is produced by a Korean company and if like you are a sucker for a good notebook, you will be truly spoilt for choice.  The Christmas pixies have been given a few hints.
As a little reward to myself, I let myself crack on with a seasonal quilt beofre I start on a marathon of pyjama making ready for Fat Quarterly retreat classes next year- i know it is a long time off but samples need to be prepped so I must press on.  I am not one for Christmas fabrics in a big way but Dear Stella's You've been Jingled caught my eye months back at The Fat Quarter shop and when it was reduced so I brole my usual embargo on Christmas prints and bought a couple of FQ packs to make an easy quick winter family quilt to snuggle under together. Yardage is still available here.   I never use fabric ranges without a few extras additions so a few stash fabrics have crept in.  The quilt pattern is the easiest design ever and available for free.
I love red in the greyness of winter.  My little dog Lottie wears her fleece on cold damp days and always makes me smile!  I find red a hard colour to wear but it is a big feature in my fabric stash and the perfect heat to add to a winter quilt.
Janet Clare's beautifully accurate embroidery pattern of a robin has caught my eye for winter projects.  She creates subtle illustrative quilts, you will find a free Penguin mini quilt pattern at Fat Quarterly for further wintery ideas.
Should you feel like making a quick winter seasonal quilt without going too Christmassy, I found all these prints at Eternal Maker.  They all capture winter colours and patterns.
Lucious woven French General for Moda Lumiere  de Noels- if I could wear red I would be sewing a Tova with this beauteous fabric!
 I have shown this print before and it went into my Paris Markets cushion (which ended up with Tacha from Fat Quarterly by the way!) It would make a great character print to mix with spots and stripes.  Michael Miller Any Cup Will Do
This doodle print reminds me of the tangles of Christmas lights, a very useable blender by Time and Beck for Moda
This Echino print would make a great focus fabric with its birds and berries
 Lecien make great reds and greens, this is from their Flower Sugar range.
This print makes me smile, Green Beans by Alexander Henry.  I even get hints of Christmas lights from this.  I haven't noticed this print before but I rather like its kitsch quality!
And Laurie Wisbrun's Brr range ticks many boxes.  This lacy snowflake print would also be great for English Paper Piecing fussy cutting and kaleidoscopic effect
And just in case I am repressing a need for full on Christmas imagery, here is a Christmas Time Sublime stitches pattern.  My daughter fell heavily for the penguins, high on the cute-o-meter

More Christmas patterns to come from Sew-Ichigo next week, we hope to release before USA celebrated Thanks Giving and it is a bumper bundle of quick and easy seasonal paper piecing patterns and projects perfect for gifts.
sib blog

Wednesday 14 November 2012


There are times where I can't believe the friendship and generosity that comes from blogging and the online community.  I have been blogging for a while now and I am still humbled by the kindness of my sewing friends and words are hard to find.  Chase sent me a little post birthday goodness of feed sacks and chocolate and the cutest little drawings on the packaging.  If you haven't visited her blog go now for the prettiest photos and slice of her life. Thankyou Chase xxx
Anna made me a house block bursting with eye spy moments and fabric goodness for my Ringo Pie house block theme.   It arrived yesterday with the most beautiful assortment of scraps, lace and goodies. She really brought tears to my eyes with her little card.  Thankyou so much Anna xxx
I cannot express how much I value my sewing friendships, they really help some tricky moments in life in the way that nothing else can.  Sewing is my salve and my sewing friends are part of that.  
Further thankyous for the Liberty scrap challenge ideas, I have handed the baton to Amy (During Quiet Time) and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with.
And if I haven't stirred sufficient emotion, take a read of this.  It was a very special moment to be a part of through the wonder of Skype.  This is a special photo.  I know it is a blurry screenshot but Penny and Tara are smiling the biggest smiles and I am there at home in the bottom corner sharing it with them!
Quilt presentation: via Skype!
sib blog

Monday 12 November 2012

Saints and Pinners

I have a new sponsor, Jo from Saints and Pinners.  Her online fabric shop is practically on my doorstep so to have her as a sponsor is perfect!  I first ordered from Jo a few years back , the shop was new, Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks Voiles had just come out and Saints and Pinners was amongst the first to stock it in the UK.  Jo runs the shop with her mother-in-law, Fran, in between another day job, two young children and sewing projects.  The customer service is excellent and she runs regular flash sales and discounts- follow her on Twitter and Facebook to catch these first!  I have put together a little gallery of some stand out pics from her shop. 
Starting with fabric packs, this is my favourite and my best: 'Fancy',  a disarmingly simple combo of Flea Market Fancy and Klona cottons 
For those of you who are on the low volume kick, there is this subtle stack of Klona and Kaffe dots.
 You can also find charm selections cut and packaged by Jo to dip your toe into a fabric collection and save a few pennies. Anna Charms,  Field Study: 28 x 5" squares already and waiting...
Jo stocks some  hidden jems I have not seen elsewhere including this beautiful cotton bamboo blend.  Shirt weight and begging to live in my wardrobe, you will find this in the well stocked Organic section and there are other colours too.  I know what you are thinking, Organic so it is going to be at least £3.50/1/4m- you are so wrong, in fact I had to double check the price, £2.50!
And a little festive extra, in the Gifts section, Jo has just added these paper beauties by Nancy Nicholson.  Little City- flat packed buildings and trees
And retro inspired 60s Angels
Getting your Christmas shopping done whilst buying fabric, perfect!
sib blog

Friday 9 November 2012

Paris Markets Pillow

I have just finished my pillow talk pillow and it has been packaged and posted along with some goodies to its mystery recipient.
I have enjoyed the journey on this pillow although taking pics in gloomy light has been tough so I have had to employ electric light and a little photo editing so you can the prints and colours.
I like to challenge myself in swaps like this one which are of such a ridiculously high standard and the construction was all about the inset seam: 8 in each block, 4 blocks and then 4 around the centre square so 36 in total.  I found the block in this 163 Patchwork (details in the link).
The Yuwa Paris map print was the inspiration for this pillow.  I don't know the name of this block but it reminded me of pathways.  I imagined my swap partner, French newspaper in hand, wandering the streets of Paris, starting in a central square...
and walking through shops and markets picking up treasures along the way, a little kitchenalia here, 
a decorative item pour la maison...
a coffee pot...
and of course, les boutons!
I kept the quilting light and simple, and used the indispensable fusible fleece, Vilene H640 which is a must for pillow making, it gives softness and structure and can cope with zips and binding without being too bulky.  I get through a lot of this stuff, I cannot recommend it more highly!

Straight-line quilting, vibrant Liberty Bloomsbury prints and an inset zip for the back.
Vintage diagonal check for the binding, the look of bias without none of the tricky cutting.  My swap partner has been a pleasure to sew for, easy preferences and lots of creative ideas.   Bringing together all those fabric scraps, new and old, gifts and swaps and weaving a narrative together has to be my favourite creative process.  This pillow is 20 x 20" and is winging its way to a new home!

sib blog