A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Author Archives: The Crafty Crusader

My most recent Oddbox arrived during the busy final week of Veganuary.

I made some sticky sesame cauliflower. Since I didn’t have any sesame seeds, I added in some cashews. It was pretty nice- possibly some of the enjoyment was lowered because I didn’t reduce the sauce enough. I’m not sure if I would make this again because it really was not filling. I still struggle to remember that just because something looks like a decent amount of food, vegetables simply do not fill me up.

I haven’t eaten a turnip (to my knowledge) in years so I decided to roast it. The roasted turnip was okay. I wasn’t sure if I like turnip but I think that it’s swede that I really hate. I don’t tend to like bitter vegetables. The leftover roast swede was slimy and inedible so I stuck that in with the remaining cauliflower when I made some meatless balls. I’ve made this recipe before. It’s quite easy, filling and a good way to get rid of cauliflower.

The kale, cucumber and fruit went into either smoothies or lassis. I decided to go with a lassi as a non-vegan treat but I made the regrettable decision to try kefir rather than using Greek yoghurt. I will certainly not be doing that again. I juiced the carrots as I did with the beets last week. I am going to stop juicing until I have found a responsible way of disposing of my food waste. Even though I am ‘using’ the veg, in reality most of it is going in the bin.

Overall not the most interesting week but things have been so busy and hectic that I’m just pleased to have managed not to waste much food.

Weekly tilt

I stayed in a hotel at the weekend and remembered anew that sachets of instant coffee and individually wrapped tea bags are the status quo at most chains. I need to start travelling with my own sustainable solution. At home, I have vegan flat whites made from package-free beans and oat milk (tetra pak but not much alternative at present).

Weekly triumph

I have managed to convince my aunt to stop wrapping presents for me in foil gift wrap (it’s my birthday on Thursday). Even though there is still tape, at least I know that it’s reused paper rather than virgin material.

Advertisements

I fell in love at the London Knitting and Stitching Show around a year ago. The second I saw Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly anorak, I was gone. I immediately bought the pattern, zip and some of the beautiful waxed cotton they had in stock.

I had this Liberty tana lawn in mind for the lining from early on in the process. I think it’s a cute print but since buying I’ve felt that it’s a bit twee for a dress (even for me). However, I think the cotton lawn below goes better with the main fabric so I will use that instead.

I felt a bit weird asking to have photos taken in someone else’s coat, but also necessary.

Lauren made the 6 and I initially thought that I would do the same even though my measurements are closer to the 12. I am going to compromise and go with the 10.

I can see that the fit of the 6 across the shoulders is good, which means that what I probably ought to do is a full bust adjustment (FBA). I was reading someone else’s blog post in which she mentioned not liking making FBAs. I thought that was silly until I realised that I am exactly the same. When I first bought my sewing machine, I was quite keen on the old FBA and made one on my Bettine dress pattern. Since then… nothing. I think part of it is the fact that none of my RTW clothes have FBAs and yet they fit fine. Although, realistically, whenever I buy a shirt I have a choice to get a size that fits in the shoulders but risks gaping at the bust, or is slightly large in the shoulders with less risk.

For me personally I think it relates to my perception of my body. I was quite a bit larger when I was in my late teens and early twenties. My bust was absolutely enormous- I wore G cup bras. Since losing weight a few years ago, my bust has reduced a lot in both back and cup size. This has been such a relief and a big part of the reason I feel so much happier and more comfortable in my body. So, to me, I don’t have an especially full bust anymore. At the same time, most clothing and pattern companies draft to a B or C cup, so an E cup certainly is still an outlier.

When I wiggled around in the jacket a bit more, it was clear that I would need a bit more room. You can see in the side photo especially that the fit isn’t quite right. I’m so glad I risked social awkwardness to get the pics! I will also need to lengthen the sleeves and shorten the body. I really like the length of my purple SuperDry raincoat, which is shorter than the Kelly.

I’m hoping that I can try to enjoy the process of making this jacket. I’ve commented before that this has been something I have always found difficult- I am very outcome-oriented. However, this jacket will require a lot of patience from me. I will need to do extra things that are not in the pattern booklet. I will probably need to learn from mistakes.

Lauren’s blog post contains a lot of helpful information. I had a few dilemmas about this project, like whether to line or underline, how much to shorten the body. I paid £10 for a 26″ zip but really I want this jacket to be around 24″ long. I’m reluctant to spoil the lovely zip by shortening it.

Eventually I decided against buying the lining expansion pack. The main reason I would have bought it would be to tidy up the guts of the jacket.

I was also a little heartbroken to see that Guthrie&Ghani are now stocking the waxed cotton in yellow. Owning a yellow rain jacket is a small dream of mine. It’s definitely in the back of my mind that I may make a second version… Perhaps with a simple cotton lining for warmer days.

After doing some prep in early January, including buying the technical fabric to quilt my lining, I hit a roadblock. I didn’t have any thread in the correct colour. My work finally took me near the Goldhawk Road and I was disappointed to see that the shop where I normally buy my notions was closed.

I remembered that some stalls in the market sell bits and pieces and I managed to find some thread that matched my lining fabric. I didn’t feel comfortable using this random non-branded thread for sewing the shell of the coat, so I will probably wait until I am in the Oxford Street area to visit John Lewis or Liberty. But at least I can now make a start on the lining.

It has just hit me- have I become a thread snob???

I popped to Liberty but forgot that they have gutted their haberdashery section. I will have to make a trip somewhere else before I can start sewing the main fabric.

I found some time to quilt my lining recently. I followed the directions in Lauren’s blog post (linked above). I will say that it was quite tricky to get the lining to sit flat on the insulation. I found it helpful to roll the fabric up as you can see in the timelapse below. It’s also important to press your fabric before putting it on the insulation.

As Lauren says, the quilting is a time-consuming process. It took me several hours. But I enjoyed it- it’s quite meditative.

I am now ready to cut out!

Costs

  • 2.3m waxed cotton from G&G £65.55
  • Liberty tana lawn £22.50 (I have a feeling I actually paid less since I bought 1.5m of this fabric, but I have no idea what I did with the receipt)
  • Pattern £16
  • Zip £10
  • Extra insulating material and snaps £30.60
  • Thread £3

Total £147.65


Day 29

Our Finnish friend brought us some rye bread that she recommended for avocado toast.

It was very nice indeed. I had the last serving of white chilli for lunch. I was still hungry after eating my energy bar when I was finished with my school visit. I got a Crosstown doughnut.

I had some of the pea soup I made last week for dinner. It was quite spicy! Maybe I added too much pepper.

Day 30

Had avocado toast first thing, then some leftover hummus and oatcakes after the gym. I had an early lunch of pea soup before heading to a meeting. We went for a couple of drinks after the meeting and I ate a lot of the crisps on offer. I had a patty on the tube home and then some (more) oatcakes with almond butter because I was still hungry.

I also figured out how the use the juicer because I wanted to get rid of the last giant beetroot I had. I made beetroot, apple and celery juice with some turmeric and ginger. It was pretty nice, but I am just not that crazy about beetroot.

Day 31

I had the rest of the juice and a banana and almond butter toastie for breakfast. I didn’t have any chocolate to add, but it was still tasty.

I was already peckish on my way back to the office at 11.30 so I decided to try the Gregg’s vegan sausage roll. Overall the experience was pretty identical to eating a normal sausage roll, i.e. initially pleasurable but overall regrettable.

I had the last of the satay-style noodles for my proper lunch. For dinner, I went to BoxPark with some friends to see Veganuary out in style. I had my first experience of seitan courtesy of the Athenian. My flatmate and I split a doner kebab.

And some jackfruit ‘wings’ from Biff’s Jack Shack.

I wasn’t that keen on all of the flavours. I liked the sweetest one (I think it had bourbon in it. If I go back to BoxPark (and I’m sure I will at some point), I would like to try their burger.

Final reflections

Overall Veganuary was a positive experience after a difficult start. As hoped, it has opened my eyes to the amazing array of vegan options on offer in London.

My friend Emma used the term freegan, which I prefer to flexitarian. Overall my intention is to remain mostly plant-based, especially at home. However, it’s important for me to give myself permission to occasionally choose animal products if that’s what makes sense or what I want in a particular situation.

I was a little bit concerned that I would gain weight because I have been eating so much more than normal. In fact, I have lost about 1-2kg over the course of the month. While our society normally celebrates women taking up as little space as possible, I’m not sure if this is a good thing. I was already a healthy weight so I hope this does not mean that I have lost muscle mass.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4


I haven’t posted about anything I’ve made in what seems like forever! I am still working on my galaxy spindrift, which is growing but taking her time. I am also planning another project (post to come soon) but I haven’t had any sewing time at all since finishing my blue macaron.

It was so nice to get invited to an event by the lovely Shelley, who I know through #craftblogclub on Twitter. It was hosted at Drink Shop Do near King’s Cross. I went through a phase of going there a lot, but it’s been a couple of years. I love the space.

I’ve tried to make space for more drawing in bullet journal but that’s quite hit-and-miss. So it was great to take the time to be artistic. There were little tableaux on all of the tables.

I was taken with the skull in the party hat as well as the watermelon. We were encouraged to be quite free and expressive, which isn’t so easy for me. I tried to let go of my perfectionism.

The final exercise was with coloured chalk pastels. I tried even harder not to focus on detail.

The event was in honour of dry January. I haven’t tried that out- I think Veganuary was quite enough of a challenge! J2O, Teissiere and Britvic provided various ingredients to make non-alcoholic cocktails. It was fun to taste some different drinks, and I definitely would have struggled even more with the drawings if I had imbibed.

My friend Paula and I proudly showing off our artwork.


Day 22

Had some more of the porridge I made yesterday morning for breakfast. Again I was severely lacking in time in the morning so I heated the porridge and took it with me in my vacuum flask. I ended up eating it on the bus after midday. I had my two beetroot brownies at lunchtime.

I took the final serving of the vegan stew I made a couple of weeks ago for lunch. Since I had breakfast so late, I didn’t eat that until around 4pm. Just as well because it ended up being one of those days and I got booted out of the office at 8pm.

Popped into M&S on the way home. They had some vegan items heavily discounted, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to try their meatless balls. I also got some extra firm tofu and some vegan coleslaw. The slaw was delicious!

I ate it with another vegan patty. Juici beef is a well-known patty brand in Jamaica so I got a good wave of nostalgia from this one. The stew peas (which I believe in Patois is pronounced ‘stroo-pea’) is a change from the other brands, which basically contain mixed frozen veg.

The reason I went to M&S was to get the few bits and bobs I needed to make this ‘white chilli’. It contains quite a bit of nutritional yeast, an ingredient I have mixed feelings about. However, it does give the dish a rich umami flavour.

Day 23

Apple pie porridge for breakfast again and then I had the ‘white chilli’ for lunch. I find the term white chilli dumb. It’s stew. It probably doesn’t help that the chilli peppers I used turned out to be super mild. Also the squash, though beautiful, isn’t as sweet as a butternut. Some tomato would actually liven it up.

Overall I rate the dish 3/5. It tasted fine, I didn’t dislike eating it, and it filled me up. I bulked it out with some brown basmati rice. I only got about 1kg of food from the recipe and the rice stretched it to three 500g servings, which was a decent amount. I also ate two of my beetroot brownies.

I needed to eat some snacks so had this protein/granola bar and a packet of crisps. Dinner was another patty with the remaining coleslaw and a big bar of dark chocolate.

Day 24

Felt rough all day (unrelated to veganism). Ate my remaining porridge with fresh blueberries.

I also had half a vegan yoghurt. It was horrible compared to the other brand I had the other week (bright yellow lid).

Lunch was a tiny bit of white chilli and two of my beetroot brownies. After going to the gym, I had a protein shake and a tofu steak. I used the extra firm tofu I picked up for cheap at M&S the other day. I followed this recipe and used some Panko that I’ve had for years. I love Panko, I just don’t use it at home much.

It was crazy good. It was definitely more akin to fried chicken than steak but I was surprised by how much I loved the texture. Worth pressing the tofu. This was my first time ever cooking it! I ate it with some of this blueberry bbq sauce that came in my first ever OddBox. It’s been a blueberry-heavy day!

I got invited to a blogger event in the evening and they put on a spread with lots of vegan options.

I was also more tempted to break my Veganuarian vows than I have been all month.

🧀

I held firm.

Day 25

Had some of my flatmate’s pancakes for breakfast. I had white chilli for lunch and a protein shake as a snack. I ate the other tofu steak when I got home, then prepped some pea and potato soup for next week. The potatoes from my OddBox were starting to sprout. I also cooked satay-style noodles for some friends.

We were going to make apple crumble but ran out of time! We did have some ice cream, though, which was very nice.

Day 26

This weekend was the European qualifying tournament with my quidditch team. I woke up very early to prepare a protein shake and coffee to take with me. I also had a vacuum flask with some of yesterday’s noodles.

It was a tough day and we went to Westfield for a team meal afterwards. The vegan options in the ‘world food court’ were surprisingly sparse. I ended up having the vegan pizza from Franco Manca, which was very tasty. If a little painful to eat due to having a cut lip.

I bought some fresh turmeric when I visited a greengrocer on Friday. I tried making golden milk. I shout a lot at tournaments and my throat is normally really painful in the evenings. I think it’s a nice evening drink with no caffeine.

I took this pic to show the difference before and after steaming. I left the other half of what I made in the jar overnight and the colour had developed by Sunday.

Day 27

Day 2 of EQT. Prepped another protein shake and coffee. I had some coconut yoghurt with granola on the way to the venue.

I find it very hard to eat on tournament days. We have games at times we don’t always know in advance- roughly every two hours so you can’t eat anything too heavy. The combination of adrenaline, emotions and tiredness mean I don’t feel hungry. I had no appetite all day. I’m purely fuelling my body.

We went to the Markethall in Fulham on the way home. I had half of this different vegan pizza (the place has dough in the name). It was delicious too. Also had some guac and chips. I was disappointed because the menu offered vegan churros but they weren’t actually on sale for another week. That’s the concession’s loss since they will miss Veganuary.

Had some more vegan ice cream and the rest of my golden milk when we got back.

Day 28

I had planned to work from home in the morning because I am always exhausted after a tournament.

I had a toastie with banana, almond butter and chocolate for breakfast. It was so nice to feel hungry again after being a bit ill last week and then the tournament.

I had another serving of the noodles I made on Friday and enjoyed them a lot more. I find cooking for others very stressful.

I ate both of these during the day because I realised they were out of date. They were fine, nothing special. I had yet another patty for dinner.

Reflections

Few reflections this week. I essentially have accepted veganism as a part of my life.


Day 15

I had a banana, almond butter and chocolate toastie for breakfast. Following on from Sunday’s food prep, I had a roasted vegetable, hummus and quinoa salad for lunch.

I also had a bit more of the salted chocolate I bought yesterday. It made a big difference to eat it at room temperature rather than cold. I much prefer the texture when it isn’t cold.

I went to the gym straight after work. Got home and had a protein shake and another hotdog. I was quite hungry so I ate a lot of nuts too.

Day 16

I started feeling like I was coming down with something yesterday. I woke up feeling dodgy so worked at home rather than going to the office as planned. Had my final hotdog for breakfast.

My flatmate got some vegan Magnums so I had one as an afternoon snack. Overall the experience was similar to eating a normal choc-ice, but both the ice cream and the chocolate coating had peculiar flavours. The ice cream tasted too strongly of artificial vanilla and the chocolate tasted like artificial sweetener, though the textures were spot on. I didn’t dislike the Magnum, but I found the flavours a bit distracting.

Day 17

I woke up early to go to the gym before work. I wanted avocado toast but the only bread I had was two leftover hotdog buns. I decided to try something different. We have a kind of panini press in the flat and I used it to fry and refresh the buns, which were getting a bit stale. I cut the buns in half and spread both sides with a thin layer of coconut oil before put in the press. I have to say it worked incredibly well. The delicate taste of the coconut was delicious with the avocado.

I had a protein shake as my mid-morning snack and the final serving of quinoa, roasted vegetable and hummus salad for lunch.

I met a friend at Farmacy for dinner. It’s in an area of Westminster I hardly ever visit. We both went Mexican. I went for corn tacos stuffed with mushrooms. They were delicious, with lots of refried beans, some kind of vegan soured cream and guac.

My main priority was the dessert. I went for the staff recommendation of a brownie sundae, which was not what I envisaged at all. It was massive! But the brownie was really tasty and there were lots of interesting textures.

Day 18

Repeated yesterday’s successful breakfast. I also got a few minutes to photograph my OddBox. That arrived yesterday too.

I’m going out for dinner again this evening so I’m not quite sure what I’ll end up doing with some of this veg.

I was in a school all day and didn’t bring any lunch because they normally feed me. I was unsure if they would have vegan options. I ended up with the hearty staple of a jacket potato with beans. I always imagined that it would be depressing without butter and cheese but actually I enjoyed it more than I thought. The potato itself had a butteriness to it.

I had a pre-made vegan snack (kind of like a package-free Nakd bar) in the afternoon before meeting Glory and her gal pal for dinner at Mildred’s in Soho.

Winner winner vegan dinner.

I was really full from the two starters and dessert (similar to yesterday). I feel like plants fill me up in a different, less uncomfortable, way to meat.

Day 19

Had quite a boring smoothie for breakfast. I’d forgotten I am out of frozen blueberries, which would have jazzed it up.

I had a good look at the OddBox veg and weighed the items to see what I can do. I was thinking of a soup with the Jerusalem artichokes, but I have less than 200g so it’s not worth it. I decided to oven roast them because I’d never tasted them before.

It was nice! I also roasted a beetroot and some carrots at the same time. I very nearly incinerated the lot!

I decided to try making brownies using some of the beetroot. I had a lot in the house considering I don’t really like it.

The brownies are ok. I would probably try a different recipe if I wanted to make beetroot brownies again. The texture is good, but there is nowhere near enough sugar, so there is a bitterness to them. Thank goodness there are plenty of chocolate chips mixed in.

I also struggled with the chocolate glaze that went on top. Because I wanted to make the brownies sweeter, I added quite a bit of maple syrup (stevia was recommended in the recipe, which I don’t have). However, that made the glaze too wet. I added some coconut sugar in an attempt to balance. The result isn’t bad, but I think it could be better.

I had a stir fry for second lunch using the purple sprouting broccoli. I find lettuce a massive pain- I’ve come to think that salad leaves are a bit of a waste of space- so I just ate that on its own.

You might be wondering why the noodles are red. I cooked them in the water I saved from boiling the beetroot. The water was so red, I felt it must contain some nutrients. I added some water chestnuts and cashews to bulk the stir fry up a bit. It was delicious.

I went to meet friends at Draughts board game cafe. I was uncharacteristically early (I thought the booking was half an hour earlier than it was) so picked up a Crosstown doughnut on the way.

I had the vegan offer on option at Draughts on the waiter’s recommendation. It was ok. Actually the biggest issue was that the patty wasn’t warm enough.

Day 20

Avocado toast for breakfast. I added a little spirulina today. Took a protein shake, leftover roasted veggies and an apple to snack on at quidditch training.

Got home and had another broccoli stir-fry. Glory and I went to a friend’s for dinner and she made us a nice vegan chili. I wouldn’t have thought to cook that dish, but I liked it. She also had a vegan mozzarella that was pretty good. We also had some of the brownies for dessert.

Day 21

I made a big pan of apple pie porridge first thing, which was a pretty dumb move because I was very nearly late for my hand therapy appointment. However, the porridge came out really nicely and I have enough for the next three days.

Took two vegan brownies, some sweet potato soup from the freezer and a small serving of leftover chili from last night to work.

Picked up a doughnut from the new Crosstown in Hammersmith. I love the filled one with elderflower. Also grabbed another veg patty. Pretty much identical to the other brand I had last week.

Thoughts/reflections

I’m feeling much more comfortable and happy eating a plant-based diet. Up until this week I’d been envisaging going on an enormous meat binge once February rolls around. I am starting to see the vegan diet as less impoverished and just different. It’s such a privilege to have such a variety of fantastic vegan restaurants in London. Eating out has helped to open my eyes much more to the pleasures of plants.

Something I find interesting is the pressure put on vegans. They/we are given a really hard time and held up to a bizarre standard of dietary perfection. If a vegan makes a choice to eat something non-vegan, a lot of people really seem to revel in being proven right that the vegan diet somehow isn’t good enough.

I’m still not decided on what diet I will follow once Veganuary comes to an end. Flexitarianism does feel like a bit of a cop-out, but at the same time I would like the flexibility to occasionally eat animal products while following a primarily plant-based diet.


Overall, I’m very happy with how my plain version of the Colette Macaron dress turned out.

It felt good to be able to use my skills to make the changes I wanted to this dress. I did look for some guidance on line, but when I couldn’t find anything about altering the pattern, I decided to go my own way. I was aware that my sewing improved a lot over the past couple of years, but I don’t consider myself an especially advanced sewist. I had a lot of help with my most complex projects, including the only thing I have ever lined properly (my coat). However, I definitely have picked up tips and tricks from Julie that helped me.

That being said, the guts of the dress turned out to be a bit of a mess. Even though it felt good to follow my own instincts when it came to the lining, this remains something I am not experienced at doing. Next time I want to line a garment, I will follow a proper tutorial.

I kind of went halfway in between lining and underlining the dress, when I probably should have just stuck with one method. Another problem was the fiasco with the skirt (described in my last post, which has a lot more details about what I did). I had already used a French seam (definitely incorrect in this situation) on the side with the zip. I decided to slightly fudge the redo of the seam, which doesn’t affect the outside but looks like a dog’s dinner inside.

On the plus side, I have been reminded that a lining (however inexpertly installed) makes a garment feel so much more luxurious. This dress feels much more ‘proper’ than any of the ones I have made before.

I haven’t covered up the waistband seams yet. At some point I plan to slip-stitch some ribbon over the whole waistband area. But I decided to leave it for now. If the lining overall had been more successful, I would care more about how the inside looks. Life just feels too short at the moment. I’m not one of those people (yet) who needs the wrong side of their makes to be as beautiful as the right side.

While I was making this dress, it occurred to me that sewing is a form of 3D puzzle. I am generally a bit bemused by adults doing things like Lego, but dressmaking really does use a similar skillset- lots of spatial problem-solving. Spatial awareness is definitely a weakness of mine, though it’s improved in leaps and bounds during my adulthood. It feels pretty good to exercise those muscles.

Coming in at under £35, this dress is one of my cheaper makes. The viscose was quite inexpensive even though it seems like nice quality to me. I suppose it is quite thin. I don’t understand fabric costings at all! I feel like this is the kind of dress that would sell for £60-70 in Oliver Bonas.