Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Because you asked...

Ok, so only Tropical Threads asked but I'm obliging. (I was going to respond in the comments but that would be one too long reply).  I can't stand buying stuff I can make myself and that includes food. I love Thai green chicken curry but at nearly $18 a takeaway container, I cannot afford it (lets face it, even if I could afford it I wouldn't pay it).

In this Thai green chicken curry is capsicum, broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas and carrots.

The key to good Thai curry (I thought) is to make sure you use good quality coconut cream/milk and good paste if you don't make it. (I don't make it). (too many parenthesis ;) ) Although I've been making this for a long, long time, I couldn't get that same flavour when I bought it ... it was good but just something missing. Well it was kaffir lime leaves. For some tight wad reason I wouldn't buy them as I thought how much could they add. Turns out it was the missing link. Now I get them when they are marked down, finely slice them and freeze them and they are ready to go. I freeze nearly all herbs except coriander (cilantro) as it is too delicate for freezing, but I do freeze the roots which I also put into the green curry.

So onto the recipe. In a fry pan put a small amount of oil of preference and fry off the green curry paste. This is to get the raw flavour out of the paste and I forgot to do it when I made it in the slow cooker one day and it wasn't as good. Then add the coconut milk/cream and bring to the boil and let it boil for  a few minutes - traditionally the oil in the coconut milk/cream should split leaving the oil floating on the top, but if you don't like that, don't do it. Put the chicken in now (or whatever meat you are cooking - prawns, pork or beef thinly sliced and of the best quality you can afford). I use chicken breast not thighs but either if fine. Put in your veggies - I use anything I have and I like lots of veggies. I use any or all - snow peas, capsicum, pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, baby sweet corn, fresh corn kernels, spinach, kale, mushrooms and anything you like even though they aren't 'traditional' veggies. Then splash in some fish sauce and a large pinch of sliced kaffir lime leaf and let the chicken cook and the veggies soften a little. For a long time I use to fry the chicken up first, take it out then fry the curry paste, (like a stir fry) but a Thai friend put me on the right track with putting the chicken into the coconut milk. That's why the chicken doesn't dry out as it doesn't get overcooked or cooked twice rather. Serve with coriander on top and a slice of lime with some steamed jasmine rice. YUM!

As for the curry paste I've worked out with my taste for heat and flavour, I use  a large tablespoon's worth for a can of cream/milk but this may be too hot or not for you. Go less for the first go if you don't like the heat as you can add more fresh chilli if it isn't hot enough, but there needs to be enough curry paste to give it flavour and this is a spicy dish by nature.

Sometimes I make a vegetarian red curry.... same deal except use red curry paste, boil the coconut milk/cream, add veggies (and meat if you want) and serve. Yum. Also I make both in the slow cooker too if I know I'll be out all day, but I do always cook off the curry paste otherwise it has a slightly 'raw' flavour.

While we are talking cooking, when I cook chicken pies or anything with pastry, I always use the scraps from the horrible but convenient square puff pastry sheets for making little apple puffs - I just put fresh chopped apple or pear or a mix on the pastry sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon, squeeze them closed and sprinkle a little more sugar and cinnamon on and bake at the same time. Bingo...dessert done too and those pesky shrivelled, not quite fresh apples and pears gone but used. No waste. Now to go and make some dinner... bon app├ętit.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Catching up.

The Brisbane Festival was on during the school holidays and my niece had a busy technical role there. This meant busy days and nights (till about 3am!) for about three weeks while the public was there and many weeks pre and a few post. The upside for us was we got to see two free shows and we chose three shows to see as well.

If you ever see that The Listies are in town, you must go see them. They were HILARIOUS..

Gratuitous Thai green chicken curry - I'm seriously addicted. That was the third one in two weeks. Of course they always work out a bit different due to the veggies I use but either way it's always great.
You can see sewing is never far away, with a pattern piece on the stove top!

There has been sewing but I think I need to make two posts so I'll start with the stuff I made for my son. The last thing I made him were some sleep boxers from this one piece pattern. It's sized for men, teens and boys and he's moved into the teens size. One pattern piece makes it super quick and easy - it even has an opening fly, with elastic all around. The fabric is some cotton I bought years ago at Spotlight - pure cotton with red light bulbs and "I've got a big idea" printed on.  Hmmmm as I write that sentence, I just get some boxer innuendo.... unintended! When I bought that fabric it was for kindy sheet sets I was making and selling and there was (and still is) such limited fabrics for boys (teen boys even less) I thought it was suitable.... not really thinking about using it for boxers... anyway the pattern was op shop bought and it  has no instructions but really it's such a simple pattern you don't need them and these were whipped up in 30 minutes including cutting out.

Here's the boxers and three pairs of shorts I made also. The shorts bottom left are some I made a while ago but were way too big and now they would have fit but for the way too long elastic I had put in so that was sorted and now they can be used. I can't remember what pattern that was but I like those pockets (like jeans). The other two pairs I used a Burda board shorts pattern leaving off the fancy board shorts fly and just added pockets. I bought the black and white fabric from East Coast fabrics and it's a cotton blend. The other fabric  is part of the Star Wars fabrics I bought last year. There is another Star Wars shorts that are at my son's Dad's place at the moment. I made a pocket pattern piece and cut pockets and lined them just placing them on the front. I also added a back pocket to each too.

 I'll leave you with a photo of my son on some 3D chalk art that was drawn on the walkways at Southbank during the Brisbane Festival. There were 2 others but I liked this one the best... looks like Alex is taking off on that paper plane.

Oh and another highlight during, but not part of the festival was pouncing on meeting Bernice (and her sister) from Raindrops and Bellyflops. Of course I didn't think to take a photo but I recognised her blouse (number 4) and then realised it was her. She lives up north nearly 2000 kilometres away  and was just leaving. I hope I wasn't too big a fan girl - she actually asked me if I knew of her other sister who sews  - HA! of course, that's the very talented Katherine from Blooms Endless Summer.  Two of my favourite blogs.  There's more sewing to show but that's for next time.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Make a plan and stick to it!

I decided that I need to write a plan of the things I need to make before moving onto other things. I wrote a plan, which you can see below and then immediately cut and made a simple vintage top, as you do.  It is made from a cut up cotton voile, strappy summer dress I bought last year for $10 that was too voluminous, to my ankles, lined in plain cotton voile which basically made it unflattering and way too hot for our summer. I love the bright colours and I love the cotton voile. You may notice that this top was not on the plan. 

I'm excited about this top for two reasons. One it worked out and fits and the other reason is because I thought it was a size 14 but it is a size 10. That actually makes more sense as the shoulders, neckline and length is perfect (if just a smidge tight in the bust but I am an E cup). 

No gaping in the back either which is something I really struggle with. I'm really pleased with this little top and will make more. It's actually a great starter pattern as it went together in an hour, everything matched perfectly and mades it instant gratification.

Here's my list that I immediately ignored. That's not necessarily the order to sew, just the order I thought of them.  I have muslined a Vogue dress (V8871) a few weeks ago but got distracted by the last two Burda tops. I'll go back to it soon. The Vogue 8650 top has been cut out for a number of weeks and should be next I think and I have two pairs of togs (swimmers) cut out, one needing just elastic but is not the right shape for me so may scrap or finish and give to someone. I need togs so I should get onto them too.

This Vogue 8926 pattern above is my 'Morris' blazer pattern. As you can see nearly exactly the same but for the straight hemline.... you can see where I have cut the corner of the front hemline to replicate the Morris. I have a stripe ponte knit I'll try and make this up with but being a size 14 it may be too big. It is only 4 pieces so it's pretty simple.

Here's the 1980 Simplicity pattern for the top jumping the queue! Oh, it's pretty straight from the arm down to the hip so I widened it about 6 cm each side to give it more 'A' shape and to cover my hips. I see more in my future. That line drawing showing some potential colour blocking was done by the last owner. Can you tell making a plan doesn't come naturally to me?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Burda 2/2015 Model 104 muslin.

I really love the unusual style of Burda Kenzo shirt copy. Chanel No 6 blog person has made this top and as I had it out of the library I thought I'd give it a go as mentioned in the previous post. I never make muslins (toiles) as I get bored making the same thing twice in a row but that's probably why I don't have a good fit, and I really wanted to see if this would suit me before cutting into some nicer fabric. 

Photo courtesy of Chanel No 6 blog.
I was looking for something else in the stash that lives in the boxes under the house and found this quite stiff poly/cotton (I think) fabric which is really perfect to see drape of the flounce. They are not good photos - using the selfie stick and the mirror at night. Not a perfect scenario but the best I can do not having a photographer at home at the moment.

I love the flounce on the front. I'm surprised it looks ok. I made the muslin with no sleeves yet and I haven't attached the collar either but I will to see the fit. It's my first two piece sleeve.

I'm not sure of the back view. It's a really terrible photo and you can't see the details so I'll finish and try and get better photos. The right side is sitting funny as I caught a pucker in the seam but otherwise the flounce is really nice. I think this will look nice in a plain fabric. I'll talk about attaching those very curvy convex and concave seams as my computer is running out of battery any second.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Done with no struggle - Burda 2/2015 106 Blouse - Edited with photos wearing blouse

Edit - I've taken photos with me wearing the blouse as requested some commenters. Sorry they aren't great - I've just used my 11 year old's selfie stick but you see what it's like on. It fits nicely around the bust and shoulders but is very loose and could be smaller by two sizes easily. My sister says it looks like I'm wearing Mum's pyjamas - huh, what does she know. It doesn't sit too low but low enough. So pjs or top, what do you think?

I should have remembered to take off my glasses or cut my head off... when I cropped, that is.

Yay! I finished something that went smoothly!! Not cutting errors, no machine problems... nada, nothing. Just smooth sailing and done in a couple of days. Plus, I love it.

I made blouse 106 from Burda Style February 2015 - the cover blouse. (borrowed from the library too - love that).

Here's my top on the dress form, just freshly finished (hmm... this looks unfocused now, rats).  No photos on me as it is pouring rain right at the minute and dark (I didn't even notice it got dark!) but it looks really nice on.  My fabric is a remnant from Spotlight bought just recently for $4, there was about 3 metres with a huge gash in the centre where I think it was used for dressing their mannequins for display. I said it was a Japanese voile but when cutting this out I saw on the selvage that it is actually a Japanese lawn. It has a lovely hand.

The blouse has raglan long sleeves and the pattern calls for bands cut on the bias for the sleeve hems and the waist band. I didn't want the waist band so I just cut it a bit longer.  The neckline has a bias cut band attached where you thread the tie through. The tie is also cut on the bias. My two bias neckline pieces were both pieced. Isn' the fabric pretty... I love the colours.

I didn't want the elastic bands on the cuffs, so I just gathered the end of the sleeve and finished with a bias band on it. I really like this neat finish.

I used French seams for this top simply because I was too lazy to set up the overlocker (set up means I didn't want to rethread with a lighter colour), but I like how they turned out. I had to do the first seams (side seams) twice as first I went auto pilot and put the two right sides together... doh!

 I made a wide hem and stitched it down. I like the wider hem. I really love this top, it has a really professional look to it. Next time I made a size 42 but next time I'll make it without the seam allowances as I think it will be a bit better with less volume. I have to say, even though this is a simple top, the drafting is spot on, the instructions less so (no surprise there) but it just fits.

There are a lot of great things to make in this issue and I've cut the pattern out for this top but in a size 40 after measuring the pattern pieces and reading a review somewhere that it was quite voluminous.  I really love the look of the bottom peplum ... I didn't get into the peplum bandwagon when it came out (although I do have some patterns with detachable peplums) because I don't think it is particularly flattering on my shape, but this one is so interesting it may distract from my tummy. I haven't decided if I'll make the sleeves long now that summer is coming. I also have jeans on my radar. I made some Vogue ones last winter out of some vintage corduroy but they didn't fit (still don't and they are still unfinished - just hems and belt tabs to go) and so I'll go up a size as I am sick of the ones I'm wearing that are too big in the waist to fit my hips.

I seem to have more focus on what I'm making lately... probably because everything I have is ill fitting or cheap bought stuff. This is partly because I don't buy good stuff because "I can make that" attitude added to "my fabric is too precious to cut" idiocy. I've decided that I'm just going to make things out of my nice fabric and be damned. What am I saving it for? I mean, when I think of it, I don't have too many wadders (I can execute the sewing no problem but it's the fitting that gets me) and I have 4 sisters, a Mum and a niece so I have lots of takers it something doesn't fit.  Do you save your fabric or just go for it.