A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Author Archives: The Crafty Crusader

I started to feel a bit less grumpy about the coat after getting a bit more sleep following the second class. I have a ridiculous number of things on at the moment and it’s hard to stay on top of it all.

Homework 

I finished attaching the last piece of interfacing and sewed up some of the seams I was supposed to do in the first class. I managed to cut out all of my lining pieces. I had around 1m left (136cm wide). I was pretty lazy with the lining so could potentially have used less than 2m.

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Class

This week, I started to feel like I wasn’t miles behind everyone else for the first time. I attached the collar, which is very fiddly but the coat is starting to take shape.

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I have a lot of pressing to do in the next week, as well as making up the lining and doing some work on the sleeves. However, it’s half-term next week and I have the day off on Monday, so I will have some breathing space. I’m hopeful that I will be able to get everything done to be able to come out with a finished coat.

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I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to grow tomatoes given that they’re meant to be tricky, and I have a poor gardening track record. However, this is my harvest from two plants.

I decided to take all of them off the vine even though most are still green. It’s starting to get too cold and the vines are dying, which is affecting the fruit. With the experience I now have, I think I would get a lot more ripe tomatoes if I grew them again.

I decided to make some green tomato chutney with the slightly dodgier tomatoes. I followed Nigel Slater’s recipe, doubled. I didn’t have many jars left after my courgette jam exploits so had to make do with an odd selection. I ended up with seven jars of varying sizes- most of them quite large. 

Here’s 2kg of homegrown toms bubbling away.

I also made a simple salad inspired by my recent holiday to Greece. The tomato is combined with nectarine and ricotta with a basil dressing. It’s a bit like a twist on a tricolore. I also grew the basil. The plant was a bit of a casualty of the holiday, so I had to use it all up quickly.

Recipe from The Silver Island Cookbook.


Since I had only attended half of the first class at Sew Over It, I had a LOT of homework to do in the following week. I still had to cut out many of my paper pieces as well as all of the fashion fabric, lining and interfacing; test the fabric for how much steam it can take, test the interfacing, and fuse the interfacing to the fabric.

I had 1.2m of fabric left at this point- with one small piece to cut. Once more, I got fabric of a non-standard width from Goldbrick Fabrics. It’s 152cm wide. This is something to watch when fabric is over £70/m! However I’m kind of excited at the prospect of making a pencil skirt from the remnant.

I think that one of my pattern pieces is missing an alteration so most of the front pieces aren’t cut out. I also haven’t tackled cutting any lining yet. However, I cut and fused everything I was confident with.

After the class

Managed to cut out all of my fabric and interfacing, and fuse them together. The rest of the class was spent working on the pockets.

It’s quite nice to see my fabric and lining playing together.

I have to say I am not really enjoying coat class rn. I booked it before realising I was going to be crazy busy. Essentially, I have a stressful day at work, go and be stressed for three more hours, then get told to do a lot of stuff that I don’t have time to do during the week.

I do think it’s given me a bit more empathy for the kids I work with. Being stuck in a class, knowing that you’re behind and can’t catch up sucks.

Loads of homework again this week, and I’ll also be at a quidditch tournament in Edinburgh all weekend. We’ll see how I manage that.


I froze some grated courgette because I wanted to have another go at making the chocolate courgette cake that I baked a few years ago. It’s based on a BBC Good Food recipe. I think I made a few errors when I was plagiarising it (slap on the wrist to past me), so maybe go from the original! Here’s a picture of the second attempt.

Something that’s really nice about having this blog is the ability to look back on my previous makes, and my thoughts about them. So interesting to see me describing myself as a ‘lifelong loather of the courgette’ when just over three years later, I am eating it on a daily basis.

I felt that the cake turned out a little bit dry this time- I think I shouldn’t have squeezed the courgette. I also think I over-baked the cake slightly. However, my colleagues seemed to enjoy it and one even asked for the recipe, so it can’t have been that bad.


I’ve wanted to take part in the series of sewing workshops to make the 1960s coat for ages, but the time was never right. At first, I was not an experienced enough sewist to undertake such a complex project. The workshop then became unavailable for an absolute age. So, when I saw that it was up and running again, I booked straightaway. I’ve been wearing some incarnation of a red coat for more than ten years now and my current version is really threadbare. I would have liked to replace it two seasons ago but red coats are not easy to come by. Now I’m going to try and make my own.

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Photo taken from the Sew Over It website.

The course notes state that 3m each of fashion fabric and lining, so the first step was to go shopping. My job semi-regularly takes me near the Goldhawk Road and I hoped that this was where I would find the perfect red wool. I didn’t have a huge amount of time, so I just headed to my best-loved shops. I was tempted by a bolt-end of red crepe in Misan West- £50 for 5m was a bargain, but wool crepe isn’t really right for a winter coat. They also had some nice red wool with a sort of herringbone pattern (£35/m) that was my only other option.

Goldbrick Fabrics is my favourite shop on Goldhawk Road. They have a great selection, good customer service, which is very important to me, and they didn’t let me down. The woman who helped me pulled out a sample of a wool and cashmere mix that was utter heaven. A stunning shade of pillarbox red that felt as beautiful as it looked. I balked a little when I saw that it was nearly £80/m, but I had to have it. Yolo. The lady was willing to negotiate, so I thought it made sense to buy my lining there too. I am a huge fan of a jazzy lining, so I had to have this patterned purple viscose.

All in, I spent £220 on the fabric for this coat. The course was just over £160, which means that by the time I get buttons and interfacing, I will have dropped more than £400 on my new coat- double what I spent on my last (red wool and cashmere mix) coat from John Lewis.

I like to be clear about prices because people often don’t realise the cost- both financial and in terms of time- associated with being a maker. On the other hand, this is a wonderful opportunity. I will spend twelve hours in the company of an expert dressmaker learning how to make something that is literally tailored to my body and my style. It makes sense to invest in fabulous fabric when I have someone so experienced to guide me through the process of creating this garment.

I had to leave the workshop early (for very exciting reasons that I hope to be able to reveal soon) so only managed to alter the pattern. 


I think my whole Sunday will be spent cutting and ironing!


I finally got something other than courgettes out of my garden since I pulled my carrots and beetroot. It’s weird growing root vegetables as you basically have no idea what’s lurking under the ground.

For some reason only one of my beetroot grew to a decent size. I’m not too upset because I’m not that crazy about beetroot anyway. Turns out that I grew a lot of vegetables that I’m not too fond of. The fact is, I used to eat vegetables because they were good for me and not for pleasure. I have to say, though, growing my own has given me a new appreciation for veg.

Anyway, the small yield scuppered my plan of making chutney so I just roasted the beetroot in the oven. This was my first experience with raw beetroot. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recommendation of eating it warm on toast with horseradish. It was okay, but not sure I would make it again.

I was very pleased with my purple carrots because my dad’s girlfriend, who is a gardener, said that carrots are notoriously difficult to grow. I wanted to enjoy them in their raw form so I made some red pepper hummus with which to eat them. I followed this recipe, which produced by far the best hummus I’ve ever made, rivalling store bought. Hummus is one of the few things that I’ve found very difficult to improve by making from scratch.

I increased all of the amounts by 50% due to the ingredients I had on hand, so I now have an enormous quantity of hummus to consume. Fortunately it’s really good with the carrots.


I went to a peculiar crochet event at the Natural History Museum recently. In order to celebrate replacing the famous dinosaur skeleton in their great hall with the bones of a blue whale named Hope, Toft designed a special kit to make a crocheted version. Here’s what we were emulating.

And here I am hooking underneath her.

In terms of amigurumi, I’ve only ever trial crocheted some simple spheres before, so the whale was quite a step up. I made a few mistakes, especially with the decreases, but I remembered my friend Anna’s advice that crochet is very forgiving and ploughed on. I don’t think the errors notice too much.

This is actually the bonus pattern, Blue the whale calf. I’m pretty pleased with it as my my first crocheted toy. I’ll probably have a go at the full size whale one day.

Kits exclusive to the Natural History Museum in London.

Pattern not currently featured on Ravelry.