Summer days crafts: tie-dye



There are some crafts that are just so much easier to do with children out of doors and anything involving pans of fabric dye are right up the top of that list for me! Haha, poor kid, I should give her more credit as she is sensible, mostly!


Oh, we do love a bit of tie-dye in this house. We don’t have fancy squeezy bottles and lurid rainbow colours; we just go buy a little sachet of warm water dye from the shop and chuck it in the jamming pan with cheap white tshirts strung up with elastic bands.

To make these circular patterns, we pinched up small bunches of fabric on just the front of the tshirt and secured them with elastic bands. We left the back plain and popped it all in a prepared pan of indigo dye. A pair of rather thin white shorts went in too and girly stood outside and stirred it for 20minutes. Then, we rinsed it all out and gazed in wonder at the beautiful patterns we had created!

If you’ve never done it, then do have a go at tie-dye with the children this summer; it’s really not the messiest of dye projects, it’s not too fiddly for young hands and they get to see the results pretty quickly.


Picnic season: gluten-free mini quiches


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Ahh, the sun is shining, school is out and picnic season is upon us! For most people that’s a simple matter of slapping something between two slices of bread, wrap it in foil and leave the house. For some of us it’s a bit of a nightmare and you find yourself grazing on nuts or fruit on days out. So why not make up a batch of gluten-free mini quiches and pop some in the freezer for upcoming days out.


These are pretty easy to make. I made up a batch of my shortcrust pastry recipe, though I found that the first batch was impossible to work with so I added a full teaspoon of xanthan gum to the second and it was much more successful.

I lined 6 well-greased deep tartlet tins and put them in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up the pastry. I don’t like making pastry on hot days but sometimes there’s no choice. Meanwhile, sautée a finely sliced shallot and a small packet of bacon pieces and lightly steam a few florets of broccoli, which you then dice into small pieces.


Next, beat three medium eggs with 250ml of single cream. Season and add your herbs of choice, oregano and basil were looking good in my herb pots that day. Distribute the bacon and veg mixture between your lined quiche tins and then pour over the egg mixture.

Put the tins on a tray and place in the middle of preheated oven at 160C (fan) or 180C (regular) and bake for 25-30 minutes until they are golden and set. Let them cool completely in the tins before you remove them. Gluten-free pastry is not quite as robust as regular, so do be careful when easing them from the tins.

You could, of course, make this as a regular sized quiche, I just like these dinky individual ones as they’re ideal for picnics or lunch boxes. As I’m the only gluten-free member of the household, it’s also very useful to have a few of these in the freezer for those occasions when the others request a pizza night.

Gluten avoidance – minced meat and an old fashioned solution



It’s everywhere, absolutely blinking everywhere! Virtually everything you pick up in a supermarket that has been through any kind of process could be contaminated with gluten. Not even the butchery section is safe – I was in our local store the other day and picked up a packet of pork tenderloin fillet and saw those telltale bright orange crumbs that match the ones on the breaded steaks just a few packets along on the shelf. You might not think that’s much but, to someone with a serious gluten issue, a few crumbs of contamination can result in an agonising few days! Mince based preparations are probably one of the highest risk meat products for gluten contamination, unless you have a very trusty butcher, and no mince knocks a lot of family favourites off the menu.

One thing I’ve acquired which has made life a little easier is an old fashioned meat grinder – I bet it’s a good while since you’ve seen one of these!


I say acquired, I actually purloined it from my mother who hadn’t used it in eons… I can remember using it as a child but it had lived in the back of a cupboard for a very long time indeed. For us it means that mince based meals are once again on the menu. By making our own, we control exactly what goes in it and it has also gone down very well with my daughter who cannot abide any scraps of gristle.

Apparently lots of food processors have a mincing attachments these days but I rather enjoy the whole manual process and, more importantly, I don’t own a food processor! My daughter also loves to help with making the mince; she sees exactly what goes into it, she can crank the handle and add the herbs, make her own patties and meatballs etc. I truly love the fact that she knows where her food comes from and, in my experience, getting children involved in making a meal is a simple recipe for reducing fussiness. So if you see an old fashioned mincer in a second-hand market or garage sale don’t dismiss it as another piece of junk, give it a try – it does more than just make mince!

Treats for the Eurokids!


My little girl just got big! Her birthday fell on a school day so the mandatory “traktatie” or birthday treats had to be ready on the day. Three children in her class have birthdays within a few days of each other so they get cake overload that week!

Here’s our contribution this year…handy that there’s 28 children in the class and bang on topic with the upcoming European elections! Unfortunately I couldn’t find any tiny yellow sugar stars anywhere and the cakes were too small to pipe onto so we have token yellow dots where the stars should be.


She also took a printout listing all the flags and which country they represent so they can make a little guessing game out of it, see if they can work out the more far flung ones and spot the difference between Holland and Luxembourg!

The friendly quilt-along: final installment


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It is finished! Only five months late but it’s finally finished!


As decided when I last posted about this quilt, I really didn’t like a couple of the blocks and the last one was giving me a headache. So I decided to ditch one row completely and use 9 of the blocks arranged with a dark grey sashing and backing fabric.


I didn’t want a completely square quilt so I made up a bunch of HSTs and added a row to the top and bottom just to extend it a few inches, enough to make the finished quilt rectangular. It’s about 105x125cm, so is a small lap quilt I suppose, it’ll be taking up residence on the sofa where I’m sure it will soon be put to use in den construction!


With regards the actual quilting, I’ve never done traditional stippling before; I usually go for patterns that add structure or else totally random scribble quilting. As this project was using traditional patchwork and it is essentially a bargain quilt made from scraps, I decided that I should just give it a go. I can’t say that I particularly like the stippling but it’s been a bit of a learning curve and that’s what it’s all about for me.


So there you go – my scrappy colour palette friendly quilt-along quilt. Job done!

Friendly quilt-along: nearly there


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Yes, I’m still at it. Yes, it was supposed to be done by Christmas. Yes, it is now Easter and no it’s not finished!
But here’s another couple of blocks…



The final block is giving me a headache and I’m not convinced that the brown one sits nicely with the others. So I’ve decided to ditch a couple and make a different size and shape of quilt than the original pattern we were meant to be following. I figure that I’m the one that is going to have to live with it and, if there are blocks in there that I dislike, it’s going to bug me every time I look at it!

Cuteness in miniature: baby wrap dress



When my daughter was a baby I didn’t sew, I didn’t even own a sewing machine. It’s strange to reflect on that period now but I suppose I was rather busy, mine was a wakey baby! As a result, this is my first foray into tiny baby clothing.


Recently a family member welcomed a baby girl into the world and I wanted to make her something unique, something that would stand out in the sea of pink that swamps the girls section in baby stores. In the absence of having a handy newborn to draft a pattern from, I had to go looking for one and found a sweet pattern for a reversible wrap dress on craftycupboard.

I recall my daughter having a dress like this when she was newborn and it was so much easier to wrestle her into than those with buttons down the back. I hope that this will fit the little one, it’s hard to mentally size baby clothes after so many years but it looks about 0-3months. Hopefully it will fit through spring and into early summer.

Sweet little citrus sponges



I had a bag of lemons and limes that were looking in need of using up…so decided to make some little citrus sponges. For a little extra decadence they have a spoonful of delicious lemon curd tucked away in their centres.


Here’s my recipe…

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
125g gluten free self raising flour – I always use Doves Farm
50g desiccated coconut
Finely grated zest of 1 lime and 1 lemon
Lemon curd, a couple of tablespoons

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, zest and coconut and beat very well.
Fill a deep cupcake tray with cupcake papers. Put a generous spoonful of cake mixture in each, then put a small blob of lemon curd in the middle of each. Top them off with the rest of cake mix. The lemon curd will sink as the cake rises around it but the coconut will help to hold it up. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C or 160C fan oven for about 15 minutes until the cakes are well risen and lightly golden. Allow them to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar.

If you don’t like lemon curd you could omit it and then mix the juice of the lemon and lime with some granulated sugar to make a syrup to drizzle over your cupcakes for citrus drizzle cupcakes.

Spa quilted bed runner


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After a few weeks and several interruptions (story of my life!), I have finally got my quilted bed runner quilted, bound and on the bed.


It’s been a bit of a journey of self-belief if I’m honest, as I haven’t done any kind of free motion machine work since I was a fearless 16 year old sat in Art Textiles class. Back then we were frequently testing the limits of hundreds of pounds worth of fancy embroidery machines by running all manner of stuff through them, quite blasé about it… it’s a different matter entirely when you’re older and wiser!


So I decided, as a FMQ novice, to come at this project with an organic approach – here read “there’s no such thing as wrong”. I wanted a different pattern on the tiles to the sashing and that was my only guideline. I went for a simple wave pattern on the tiles, then let the lines on the sashing meander irregularly. Overall I’m incredibly happy with how this has turned out, I think the fabrics look stunning pieced in a simple tile pattern and, whilst there are hiccups in the consistency in the quilting, I really like the patterns and movement I’ve created.


Next up….some scatter cushions featuring the same prints, the sea of white at the head of the bed needs breaking up. I love this range so much, there will not be a scrap left for the scraps bag!

WIP after a busy weekend


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There’s been a hint of spring in the air this weekend and we’ve been out in garden and out on the bikes trying to boost the Vit D levels and getting a blast of fresh air! However, I have found some time for crafting and have started a couple of new projects.


Firstly, this is a quilted bed runner in the making. The fabric is from the Moda Spa range, which I fell in love with last year, bought, and then wasn’t quite sure what to do with. I’ve finally decided on a runner that will lie across the foot of the bed over a fresh crisp white cotton duvet. I love the strength of these cobalt shades, there’s a touch of Delft in there and then the piecing in these tile blocks gives it a hint of Morocco. I just love love love this range of fabrics and I cannot wait to get this quilted now.

The second project is a scarf for the hubby. I made one for him for Christmas but it wasn’t the best quality wool and shed fibres all over his coat. I’ve since bought some lovely fine weight merino Lana Grossa yarn from my favourite yarn shop, Breirijk, which is situated just outside the beautiful city of Gent. I love the feel of this scarf already, the quality of the yarn is just superb.


So there you go, that’s what I’m up to at the moment. Plus this week I have to run up two skirts from the most hideous yellow crushed velour that you have ever seen…it’s Carnival Week…say no more!!!