June 09, 2016

How to make an ever so cosy T-shirt scarf

I am currently going a little mad with the sewing machine. A young friend cleaned out her cupboard and gave me 4 bags full of old clothes. After that my husband and I did the same. Now my sewing niche looks like one big messy pile and I can hardly walk around the desk to get to the sewing machine. I really need a few mornings to get organised in there! Have you got any tips? What works for your sewing room? How do you organise all your materials, zips, buttons and other utensils? I would love to hear!

Anyway as I had 2 kids on the mend at home, I could only do something basic that wouldn't need too much concentration on my side. Our workshop is not exactly toddler safe, but the two guys love being down there as it is one big adventure park to them. Which also means I am in a constant high-alert-mommy-modus.

So I started this project working out how to cut up old T´s in the most efficient way to get enough stripes for a nice length scarf. I took 3 of the softest shirts and turned them into scarfs. Two of them I made as presents and one is for myself.

My next planned project is making hats for the boys out of old T-shirts. I have a basic plan in my head, I will just have to figure out how to get it out of there.

As for those scarfs...let me introduce ROARY to you. He kindly volunteered to be my model as I am a little camera shy due to some childhood trauma involving my dad and his very trigger-happy finger. ROARY is my boys piggy-bank dragon. He also thought my youngest walking, by holding on tightly to him while being pushed round after round through our living room. I am just mentioning this, so you know this guy is not just someone random, but has become a well established member of our little family.

My first attempt was a birthday present for my mum. And I tried the lazy way using the sides of a T-shirt to save myself a few seams. I used an XL shirt.

So here is what I did: First I made a straight line from the shoulder line down to the bottom of the shirt.

Then I cut it (front and back at same time). First along my pink line, then I opened the sides. Here I used a zick-zack scissors. I first thought it would make it look nicer and wouldn't frazzle. But later I cut them off and made them straight. I prefer the straight look, I think. But what you use is entirely up to you.  Once you unfold front from back you have one long stripe. You do the same with the other shoulder part of the T-shirt.

When you reach the sleeve while cutting the sides open, just cut along the seam very closely, for now it doesn't matter if there is a little seam left on your scarf side of the material, as you will later have to straighten the sides anyway. I also had a little of the print left on one side, as you can see in the left middle of the picture below. That two will fall away later when you clean the sides. So don't worry too much about these things when getting started.

Now before you pin your two parts together consider this: If you leave the seam at the shoulder bits, your scarf will be slightly curved, which looks a bit unusual when you hold the scarf in your hands, but if you fold it the right way around your neck it fits perfectly. But you can open the seams, straighten the material and sew them together straight if that is what you prefer or you can follow the second tutorial that will follow later and leads to the scarf ROARY is wearing in the first picture. 

Now take your two parts and pin them together. Right side should show outside on both sides! We will leave the sides raw.  You should try to put them together that printed parts you want to cut away stick out on that side, same for seams left from sleeves. It sounds more complicated than it is. 

Next step would be to check your scraps for a wee bit of colour to add. I decided that this one includes all the colours my mother has in her cupboard and gives her lots to mix and match. I made the scarf for her as a cosy one to wear when walking the dog, nothing fancy. And her Raincoat is black. So it is very easy to match something to it. 

Now I had come up with two possibilities for decorating this little present. I tried them both, but couldn't make up my mind. So I asked my sisters and some friends and took votes. I first thought that the material might be a little loud and I should only use it in small doses, esp. considering I was sewing this for an mid sixties lady. 

So this was my first design. It got one vote out of eight.

This one got 7 votes.  I would love your input! Which design would you have gone for?

And I got one voter saying I should not use this material unless I was sewing a clowns costume. My hardest and most honest critic went for the last version, so this was another reason why I went for the "louder" version.

Now that I had pinned down my design I just sewed all the bits together and then cut both sides straight which also removed the printed bit, and the little bit of seam from the sleeves.

While this is the fastest method, it will not give you the longest scarf. but it will be very cosy anyway!

June 07, 2016

DIY Muesli /Granola that even my kids go mad for

Lets talk Muesli or Granola!

Buying organic ones can get pretty pricey and honestly I still have to find one that everybody in this house likes. Plus our kitchen and dining area is too small to have 4 big packs standing around. So I came up with the idea to do a basic Muesli with ingredients that we all like. And in the mornings everybody can mix their own little extras into their bowl and all are happy. Most mornings it is just a little cocoa powder, a few cranberries or maybe some small chunks of dark chocolate.

This is what I came up with, what works best for us.

Basic Muesli/Granola

4 cups porridge/oats flakes (the old fashioned ones, not the super fast microwavable ones)
8 cups of mixed flakes (mine have wheat, rye, spelt, millet, buckwheat, barley)
1/2 cup linseed
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chia
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 cups millet flakes
1 cup popped Quinoa
1 cup popped millet
1 cup oat-pops (look a little like Smacks but are not sweet)
2 cups cashew nuts
2 cups ground hazelnuts
1 cup almonds (whole or shredded)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
a fair bit of fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
and 350-400 ml of our yummy homemade canned applesauce (it acts as a sweetener (here no one has the urge to add more sugar to it) and it also makes the crunchy bits, once it was baked in the oven)

Mix all well in the largest bowl you can find. I first mix all the dry parts with my hands, and add the applesauce in the end and mix it with a pair of salad spoons.
Spread thinly 2-3 salad spoons per baking tray. Do this for 3-4 trays, depending how many you can fit in your oven. Preheat oven to 150C/300F. Put in the first 3 or 4 sheets. Set timer for 10 minutes, then stir well and spread out thinly again. Bake for further 10 minutes. Feel the crunchy bits carefully. If they still feel the slightest bit moist bake a little longer. Otherwise fill hot into a canning glas or other air tight container (I would not use anything plastic!) I use the Ikea ones. They have been doing a great job for the past few years, and they are not very costly. Once you have enough trays baked that your Glascontainer is full, close while still hot! This way it will seal with vacuum.

The longest I have tested shelve life was 6 months and it was fine after that. Will it last longer? I guess yes, but I never got the chance to test it. I have been making this Muesli for about 3 years now. We now have 4 regular eaters and the amount won't last 2 months. So shelve life here is not really an issue anymore...
A little side note and out of my own experience... you know those rubber seals with the little pull-thingy on them to break the vacuum seal easier before opening the glas for the first time?

Make sure that is somewhere on the side and not caught under the back bracket! It is incredibly hard to get a proper grip of it to pull!

I very much like the taste of buckwheat, if you haven't tried it, do! Millet contains a lot of iron, Calcium and Vitamin B, but can taste a little bitter, so you might want to play around with the amount of flakes if you are not to gone on the taste!

You can now vary this basic Granola every morning to your taste, try adding dried fruit like apricots, dates also dried cherries and strawberries. Or if in season fresh fruit, or simply a banana and some cocoa... chocolate chunks... the possibilities are endless and help not getting fed up with it, even after 3 years....you can eat it the classic way with warm/cold milk, or try in yoghurt either natural or with flavour