Monday 25 May 2020

Foraging and Fancy Feet

The strange new life we are living continues and like most of you, I suspect, we have adapted to the restrictions and settled in to a new routine.

On our permitted daily exercise we wandered into a "New to Me" small wood not far from home and discovered an abundance of wild garlic.

Wild Garlic in woods
Well, it was too good an opportunity to miss!

Foraging complete we returned home and dug out the recipe books :)

Bowl of wild garlic soup with bread
Wild garlic and courgette soup for lunch and enough left over for two more lunches in the freezer, a good and delicious result all round.

Our shopping habits have, necessarily, changed in the last few months too, so we now have vegetables, milk and that lovely oatmeal bread you see in the photo above delivered from the local farm shop every week.

Cheesecloth vegetable bags
The vegetables that are delivered are not the clean, shrink wrapped produce that you see in the supermarket, so I needed some way of keeping them neat in the vegetable rack that didn't involve plastic bags. I ordered some cheesecloth tubes (I can't think of a better way of describing it!) and stitched up some vegetable bags. I used scraps of solid fabrics to distinguish the bag contents, so orange for carrots, brown for potatoes, yellow for lemons, etc.

I had never sewn with cheesecloth before, it was an interesting project as the stuff frays like nobody's business. I overstitched everything! Fortunately, as the cheesecloth was already sewn up at both sides all I had to sew was a seam across the bottom of each bag and then attach a coloured casing at the top for the drawstring.

In the absence of hugs for the gorgeous grandsons I have been stitching up some summer clothes for them instead. As you know I love Pox Couture's summer shirt pattern   and have made several of them already. On my last attempt blogged here   I had problems with the buttonhole foot stopping when it reached the shirt pocket and shortening the length of the buttonhole. So, to make sure that didn't happen again I treated myself to this!

Bernina Fabric feeding aid sewing machine foot
It is called a fabric feeding aid and it attaches to the buttonhole foot as you can see below.

Bernina buttonhole foot with fabric feeding aid attached
The feeding aid consists of an upper and lower fabric holder, which hold the fabric as it feeds through the machine.

Fabric feeding through Bernina fabric feeding aid
You can see here how that the fabric is held between the plates of the feeding aid and the buttonhole foot will glide over the fabric without needing to compensate for varying thicknesses of fabric e.g. seams or pockets! (I forgot to take a photo whilst I was actually sewing hence the lack of buttonholes in this photo!)

Boy's short sleeved shirt
I am pleased to report that it worked! Now all I have to do is find a way to actually see the buttonhole markings when the shirts are being lined up for stitching and I will have perfect buttonholes :) I am blaming the glare from the machine light rather than my eyesight for that problem!

I have a couple more "New to Me" projects on the go too, but will leave them for another day's post.

Friday 1 May 2020

By Her Own Hands

It is time to reveal our projects for The Endeavourers Quilt group for this quarter. The theme was "A scene from a book". No shortage of inspiration there then :)

When I was clearing out my parents flat last year I came across my Mum's old recipe books.

Tucked inside that battered notebook of handwritten recipes and magazine cuttings was this little recipe book from Be-Ro, a leading flour miller in the UK. The book was published in the 1950's, and as my parents were married in 1954, I am assuming that my Mum was a new bride when she got it. The front and back cover are missing but the rest of the pages are still intact if a little worse for the wear!

These inner pages were my inspiration for "By Her Own Hand"

I intended to make a small quilt, but it never felt right so then I thought about making a quilted tea cozy as cups of tea and cake are indelibly linked in our family (!) but that didn't appeal either.

Looking through my patterns I came across the instructions from Made for Mermaids for an Oven Mitt that I had intended to make at Christmas, and everything fell into place :)

The front of the mitt is inspired by the line drawings in the recipe book.

So, as well as the appliqued 50's style oven,scales, rolling pin and sugar jar there are recipe instructions and an egg box embroidered across the surface. The mitt itself is made from a tea-dyed old teatowel lined with heat-resistant wadding and a cotton backing. The binding is a strip of afternoon tea fabric left over from a previous project.

The sentiments expressed in the foreword to the recipes are typical of their era, so somewhat jarring to a 21st Century reader.

My oven mitt, therefore, presents an idealised domesticity on the front of the mitt, with a more subversive message on the back. The quilting on the back of the mitt uses machine embroidered words and phrases from the recipe book. They start with baking terms at the bottom of the mitt,

move in the middle to the roles the publishers expected of their readers,

and finished at the top with the expectations and sentiments that 50's society placed upon those readers.

I have no idea what my Mum thought of these sentiments but I do know that she was an excellent home baker, who went back to office work when I was small so that she and my Dad could save up to buy their own home. Later, when I was almost a teenager my Mum went to college to get the qualifications that she needed to apply for (and get) a job with the local council. I suspect that she knew that sentiments such as

 "There's no more pleasing sight than that of a happy family around a well-stocked tea-table, all enjoying their food; and the mother who is responsible for the good cooking, and who has prepared it with her own hands, has every right to survey the results of her culinary skill with pride and satisfaction"

were not grounded in a reality that she, or many of her peers, were experiencing.

So, this is my Endeavourers project for this quarter. As always, I have had enormous fun deciding on the project for the theme and then working out how to get what is in my head into a practical form. Thanks, as always too, to Catherine and Janine for organising our group so well and providing gentle reminders of looming deadlines to keep us on track :)

Head on over to The Endeavourers blog to see what my fellow Endeavourers have created for their "scenes from a book" you will be impressed for sure!

Linking up to TGIFF too

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