Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Making doggy biscuits with Sally

I love to spoil my dog and really, apart from cuddles and a warm bed, the best way to do it responsibly is with food that she loves and that is super good for her. Today, we had a baking session and I produced (under her strict supervision) some dog biscuits. I thought that the recipe may interest you too so here it is....

They actually taste quite nice and they can be used for training treats too.

Gather these supplies: 
1 can tuna in oil
2 eggs
3 teaspoons mixed herbs
150g plain flour
150g self raising flour*
150g rolled oats
2/3 cup cooked spinach
2/3 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated cheese

* this is optional. Using all plain flour will give a denser biscuit. If you want self raising flour but cannot buy it in your area, simply add 1 teaspoon baking powder to ordinary flour. otherwise, simply double the plain flour.

Preheat the oven to moderate and lay a piece of baking paper onto an oven tray.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash together with your hands until very well mixed. You may need to add a little more flour and this is fine. you are after a non sticky dough which can be rolled into sticks.

Pinch off about a golf ball sized portion of dough and roll it into a long thin stick. Sally is a Cocker Spaniel so she doesn't want huge biscuits. If you have a larger dog but want small treats for training, make them smaller too. The yield of this recipe depends on how big they are rolled.

Lay them onto the prepared baking tray and then lightly score them with a knife or something similar. This is more of a dent really and it makes breaking up a little more predictable later.

Cook in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Less if you want them softer (for an older dog) and longer if you want them really crisp. They will crisp as they cool so don't go overboard.

Next make sure that you have some one to watch the oven very carefully....

Turn them halfway through the cooking so that they cook and brown evenly and then get your helper back again....

When you both agree that they are ready, bring them out of the oven and leave them to cool before breaking into bite sized pieces.

This bit is fun actually and strangely satisfying, like popping bubble wrap.

Everyone deserves gourmet food!

Well there we go! I hope that your dog enjoys them as much as Sally does. As we speak, I am working on some doggy cupcakes with healthy things in so watch this space!

Thanks for stopping by

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Pretty Pincushion

Well here we are again and this time I have made you a pin cushion. It is a hexie shape and it has some pretty embroidery and my favourite red and white gingham on the bottom.

Now the sewing here is very straight forward but all the rage at the moment is patchwork combined with embroidery so I thought that I would walk you through some embroidery stitches. There are only two so please don't panic if you are new to this!

Here is what we are aiming to produce this time...

We will work with a french knot and a detached chain or lazy daisy stitch.

Okay, so what will we need? Gather a piece of pink fabric with a very subtle print. This is a new idea too. The old fashioned way of doing embroidery was to use plain cloth or linen. Using subtle prints is fresh and new.

You will need a couple of fabrics, 20cm sq. One of them is the subtle print (I have used a Tilda Nina pink) and one is a bold red and white gingham (don't ask, it just works!). You will also need some embroidery threads. I have used Anchor #1344 (variegated), #9046 (red) and #256 (green). Finally, you need some polyester stuffing, a small lace daisy, a little bit of ribbon for a tab and two buttons, red and pink.

You also need your usual sewing requirements including a water soluble marker and a small embroidery hoop.

TIP: keep your pins really sharp by stuffing the pin cushion with steel wool (the un-soaped variety).

So lets get started! Draw yourself a large hexie template. these are available online or you can draft it yourself. It will need to be 
3 3/4". This included seam allowance.

You will see by my photo that I have cut the hexies out of my fabric already. Don't do this until after the embroidery is finished if you are a beginner. It is easy to draw the hexie shape onto the fabric with the water soluble marker and then embroider and cut out afterwards. 

Draw the shape on and then draw the flower pattern. This is very easy. You only need to draw three small circles and then a few sets of straight, short lines for the leaves. position the sets of embroidery about 4 cm in from each hexie corner.

Doesn't look an awful lot to go on does it! Well, have a look at the finished work and then we will go back and construct the flowers a bit at a time...

It is super pretty and the red centres instead of the usual yellow pick up the red and white gingham nicely.

So how do we achieve this marvel? Let's look at it step by step.
Firstly, put the fabric into your embroidery hoop to keep it tight and draw a circle about 1 cm diameter with the water soluble marker...

If you need to, you can show the positions of the petals with five straight lines radiating out from the centre...

Next, thread the needle with your chosen colour (work with three strands of embroidery floss) and bring the thread up through the centre of the circle

Take the needle back right next to where you brought the thread up and then bring it up again on the outside of the circle. Loop the thread around it and pull the thread to make the petal.

Secure the petal by making a small stitch at the top (the outside of the circle). Begin again in the centre to make the next petal, using your lines as a guide.

When you have made all five, go to the next flower or, if there isn't one, fasten the thread neatly on the back and let's make the centre.

The centre is a classic french knot. You begin by bringing the needle up through the centre...

Then take it down again and bring it up next to the first bit....

Wrap the needle about three times and then, holding the wrap gently, draw the needle and thread up so that the knot sits on the fabric....

See what I mean....

Finally, take the excess thread back down and secure on the back neatly and out of sight.

There you go! Now remove the water soluble marker lines and it will look lovely. These stitches may take a little practice but they are worth it and they add a whole new dimension to your work.

Well, do the embroidery and then cut out the hexie shape and it should look something like this...

Take the little piece of ribbon, fold it in half and and sew it on half way along one side of the hexie...

Now place the two hexies right sides together and sew all the way around the edge, leaving a small gap for turning out. Clip across the corners to reduce bulk.

Turn out and stuff well. Slip stitch the opening closed. Now position your lace daisy and red button in the middle of the front and the pink button on the back and hand sew into place, drawing the pincushion in to give it a contoured shape as you go....

Why the button on the back? Well for one, it looks better because it hides the thread and more importantly, it stops the thread from pulling out through the fabric. It is under quite a lot of pressure because of the stuffing. Here it is from the back...

And the finished thing!

This doesn't have to be a pincushion either. Consider it as a lavender bag in your wardrobe or to freshen the air in your car. Very versatile indeed and super pretty!

Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial.

hugs and kisses

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Making Fabric Stamps

Hey fellow crafting friends!

I have been going through that famous scrap basket again and I have organised everything into piles of useful shapes. It is like money in the bank! I now have a pile of squares one size, a pile another size, 

some tumblers, dresden sections and wedges,

strips and so on. 

I have hexies in three sizes in another box so I am good to go. 

This method may seem a little anti creative but trust me, it works. I can save time now if I get an idea for a project, I just dip into the relevant pre-cut pile.

So what now, I hear you ask and, what pray is the point of telling us this?  Well I am glad that you have asked because what I am left with now is the smaller, less useful pieces in the scrap basket but I am still determined to use them.

I am going to make postage stamps! Not real ones of course - I can just see the look on the post office people's faces if you front up to the counter with a fabric stamp! No these are a cute way of personalising your work, kind of like a signature. You have seen tags and labels on craft I am sure. Well you can make things too and that is what we are doing today.

Here is a picture of what I mean...

And here are a couple of things that I have used them on....

Cute hey? They are easy to make with some basic equipment.

You will need to gather these supplies - 
small scraps
some pale, plain fabric in cream or white
pinking shears*
glue stick
small stamp set
permanent black ink

*pinking shears come in various designs. I have a regular zig-zag pair and also a scalloped pair for something different.

To finish the stamps, you will also need some realistic looking 'cancelling' stamps as used in post offices in times gone by (you know, when people actually sent a real letter....)

Here is mine...

It is a Panduro Hobby set and it is really good. I have just ordered another set from eBay for some extra variation. You can also use any small, round design which looks realistic. 

Okay, let's get going! Firstly choose your fabric. You can choose a random piece...

or you can go for a design element like a flower or a bird and then fussy cut it. Opt for lighter fabrics for this so that you can see the price on the stamp.

Cut the chosen piece of fabric to a square or a rectangle and paste it onto the cream background fabric with a glue stick. Make sure that you leave enough space around the stamp to pink. Your stamps can be any shape or size that you want within reason. To make them look more realistic, keep to normal 'stamp sizes'.

Now trim around the design with the pinking shears (about 1/2 cm) to make it decorative. Don't be too worried about the odd piece of cotton on the side. This adds to the homemade look.

Finally, we need to have a price on these! Get your stamp set and find a number stamp and a 'p' or a 'c' stamp depending on which denomination that you want. I live in England and we have pence so I am going for the 'p' stamp.

Put the amount onto one of the corners of the stamp. I have used a couple of examples to show you the flexibility...

There is even a special Christmas issue!

That's it! Now get a box to store them in and when you want to 'sign' your work just dip in and choose one. You can use them over a project in their own right too.

To use them, sew them onto the project with your sewing machine and then cancel them with the stamp that you have bought for this purpose.

This last step makes them look quite realistic. This is the sort of small detail that adds an extra dimension to your work. They are easy to make at home and you can do anything with them. They are a handy little embellishment to have around. You can layer a couple up too if you like.

If you have chosen a plainer fabric, you can also add more detail with other stamps like this...

The glue on the fabric makes a nice smooth surface to stamp onto. You get lots of detail.

WARNING: this is a highly addictive activity which can severely eat into your time!

I hope that you have enjoyed this little tutorial. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to leave a comment. I love to hear what you think.