Birthday and Saint’s day cakes

It is a long time since we last published a post on cooking or food. Nevertheless we try to keep planning our meals weekly (see our current or older meal plans) as it helps us to keep a budget and stay organized. When coming home tired from work, it always helps to know what to cook. Otherwise we may just end with a quick pasta or salad. They are good choices but after some days the menu lacks variety. We always like to try a new recipe and from time to time we also have some special treats.
Today I will post the last two cakes we made: the first one was a birthday cake and the other one was baked to celebrate a saint’s day. They resemble each other and that is because when we ask our daughter about her cake preferences, the answer is now: “A strawberry cake”. So we just make modifications of the same theme:-)

For the birthday we had to have an Italian treat: a crostata. It is by far my husband’s favorite and go-to cake. The crostata consists of a pastry base (pasta frolla) and a top layer of jam or in this case of pastry cream (crema pasticcera). For the recipe of the pasta frolla I had no choice but to follow Artusi’s book. My husband would not have approved it otherwise ;-). This is an Italian book first published in 1891 (it is also available in english), and full of nice recipes. They are not very precise concerning the quantities needed and sometimes quite old-fashioned terms are used, but with a bit of practice the results are worthwhile. He has three slightly different versions for this crostata dough. If you google Artusi&crostata you will find them all. One of them is used here, or you can also follow the link of one of our posts. This is the recipe I used for the pastry cream. On top we just arranged some strawberries and blueberries.

2013.06.14_Crostata

For the second cake we used the recipe of sabl├ę breton galette from the book “Around my french table”. Then we put a thin layer of strawberry jam followed by a layer of whipped cream. Sara decided to make a sun with the berries, and it looked quite nice at the end. The smaller strawberries in the middle are from a couple of plants we have at the window sill. They are delicious but scarce :-).
We were actually not so fond of the biscuit layer. It was rather hard. But we baked thinner and the day before, which may count for this extra hardness. Anyway everyone enjoyed it!

2013.07_TartaSanto

KCW: Dress and swimsuit

The Kids Clothes Week (KCW) is over. Last week was the summer edition of KCW, a week to carve out a little time each day to sew. I had a pattern (Burda Style 06/2011, number 133) and the fabric cut before the week started, and with a bit of time in the evenings at the end of the week I had a new summer dress for Sara ­čÖé

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Sara was very pleased to get to wear it on the weekend. It is so nice to get such enthusiasm back.
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The dress is made with a linen in fuchsia. It is very fresh and summery. I specially like the back, with the crossing stripes.
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As you can see, I also made the coordinating hair tie.

So let us do the pattern review:

Pattern Description: Summer dress with shoulder stripes crossing at the back.

Pattern Sizing: I made size 116 cm for a four years old. It fits well and at the same time it has a lot of room for growing. I bet we can also use it next summer.

Did it look like the original photo/drawing once sewed?: Yes, though the frill seems bigger than in the drawings.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: The instructions were not very clear. Specially the first step concerning the armholes. It took me a lot of time until I figured out that the bias stripe was supposed to be a kind of facing (and therefore you cannot see any seam in the inside).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?: I still have my problems with yokes.

Did you learn anything new from this sewing project?: It has a pleated frill, so I learn to make the pleats. I used french seams except for joining the frill, as it would have been to bulky. There was also a lot of gathering to be made, which is something I did not do so often until now. I covered buttons for the first time for this project. They were quite small (11 mm in diameter) and it was impossible to cover them with the kit they come with. At the end I had to stitch the outer circumference of the fabric circle and pull the thread. In this way you get the fabric to lay down flat in the interior of the button and it can finally be closed using the tools in the kit.

Fabric Used: Linen.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?: Yes, but I think I would make the frill a bit smaller (in the circumference).

Here a detail of the frill:
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After finishing the dress I still managed in the weekend to finish a project I wanted to do for some time: a bikini for Sara:
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I used jersey knit and plain elastic band, things I had at home. No swimwear fabric, no swimwear linig nor any special elastic. I just wanted to try out a new technique: sewing with elastics. I followed the instructions found here. It is not easy and for sure requires much more practice. But I was happy with the result of this kind of muslin. It was a kind of experiment, but I┬┤m sure it will get to be used at the lake this summer.

Pants for Pablo

Pablo is needing some summerly clothes, so I started making some shorts. This one here is the first one, but there are still two to come (at least that is the plan). They are made using the same linen fabric I used to make my shorts. And though very different, we have now coordinated shorts ­čÖé

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I used again some facing to finish the hem and also the waistband. It is a kind of vintage fabric which I like a lot. The pattern is from Burda Style, from the issue 07/2012, model 144 B in size 80. It is a very quick sew (though not as quick as my shorts!).

And here is the happy toddler in action with his new shorts:
2013.07.12_Sommerfest_withPants

I want to start introducing a small review of the patterns to keep track of the problems that had to be solved on the way. I borrow (with modifications) the template that Merche from Aventuras de Costuras is using:

Pattern Description: Toddler pants with elastic waistband (with casing).

Pattern Sizing: I made size 80 cm for my one and a half years old son.

Did it look like the original photo/drawing once sewed?: Pretty much.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: The instructions were fine. I did not follow the part of the hem nor the part of the waistband casing, as I wanted to add some contrasting fabric, but I guess they were straightforward to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?: It is easy and fast and gives a well-fitted pair of pants for everyday adventures.

Did you learn anything new from this sewing project?: Not from the pattern, but I made french seams for the first time.

Fabric Used: Dark blue linen and a retro-looking flower print with bright colors.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: As said, I added a facing at the waistband and hems.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?: Yes. But as 80 cm was the biggest size, I guess I will not be making it again. But I do like the final result.

Sew-along: Shorts for the CC (sew-along) MRdM

I got again involved in a sew-along organized by MiRinc├│nDeMariposas. I have sewn the first piece of garment for myself: a pair of shorts for this summer. The pattern is really flattering and the elastic waist makes of it a very comfy wardrobe piece. If it would not have been for the sew-along I would have never made the reinforcement top-stitching, and it is great: it gives a professional-looking finish.

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Thanks to MRdM for this sew-along and for the final push to make something for myself:-)

The fabric is a dark blue linen. I did not include any pockets as I wanted to finish as quick as possible. I have several running sewing projects, that I would like to finish before the holidays. I might include later on a small snap pocket though. The hem was done using some contrasting fabric to make a hem facing as explained here. It adds a nice touch of color.

Here a detail of the hem:
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and of the top-stitching for the reinforcement of the seams:
2013.07_CosturaRefuerzo_ShortsCC

Practical life: sweeping and a new apron

In the Montessori spirit the kids have their own broom and dustpan sets and from time to time they love to help cleaning up in the kitchen. When we seem to sweep in all different directions, undoing the work of the other, we use a trick: we agree on an area where to collect the dirt. Here we marked it with washi tape. It is really a good practical life activity.

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The apron she is wearing is a new one I have sewn for her following the pattern of SewLiberated. I added a pocket and the piping, which I used for the first time. I really like how it came together. The best of all is that Sara can put it own on her own. No ties what so ever. She really likes that. The pattern is very nice, the only problem I had was the length of the elastic neck strap. I did not try it on her before assembling everything together and I had to undo it as it proved to be much too small. We have big heads over here:-) I will remember now to check such things before sewing together and even topstitching!
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First scribbles

Our youngest pays day by day more attention to the art material at home. Mainly he is busy emptying the boxes of crayons or pencils and partly putting them back in place, but from time to time he actually sits and tries to draw something. It is just great to watch these first attempts!
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Just for the records I put here the first work of art signed by Sara herself. It is from last November and since then we had a lot of letter work and she really enjoys now “writing” very much. She writes long lists of letters and she loves bringing these sentences to us. We try to do our best reading these impossible words and we all have a laugh.

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One can see in the picture the process of drawing the letters by copying signs. She still keeps this way of writing her “R”‘s (a circle with two sticks). It is so funny, I would not dare to correct it.

First sew along: leggings

I joined my first sew-along by naii. It has been a motivation for sewing for the first time with knits. I used a ball-pointed needle and it worked just fine. I chose an elastic stitch which has a kind of honeycomb shape and it worked without the help of tissue paper. The knit fabric was a bit boring, all in gray, so I put a small touch of “color” by adding some decorative stitches by hand: a dandelion. I was not sure how to go with an applique, but I will try another time as I have seen now a tutorial explaining it. The pattern worked fine. I used a size 110 cm, but reduced it in the middle by nearly 2 cm, as the knit was very stretchy. They are nice for gym, but next time I would make them wider and try to adjust the front, where the fit is not perfect.

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I lost for sure the “fear” of using knit fabric and I’m sure that I will be making more leggings in the years to come. We made also several flowers by rolling up thin stripes of the scrap fabric. They look really cute!

Lazy days skirt

Lazy days skirt

We have let the blog resting for a while. Not that it needed it, but well it is not easy to have a proper balance of all to-do’s and all wishes. And well the blog comes always last. But for sure we were not resting here. Apart from the work and home duties we have made several projects with the kids and there was also a lot of sewing in the rare spare time. This is one of the first sewing projects: a skirt following the simple and free pattern of oliver + s. The fabrics were actually scraps from a cushion I made for the morning circle of the Krippe of the youngest. Nice sewing project to start with and the result is quite neat.