Tuesday, 30 April 2013

GUEST POST: Tips for Easy Appliqué

Today's author is Bridget Sandorford. She is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching baker pastry chef jobs. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

Tips for Easy Appliqué

Appliqué is a great way to dress up t-shirts, onesies, and other pieces of clothing. You can personalize them or add a little bit of flair. It's also a great way to cover up stains or to patch over holes. Of course, appliqué is also a great way to make beautiful and unique quilts.

There are many ways to appliqué, and this blog has already covered one of the most popular methods, which involves fusible webbing. Here are a couple of other tips to create easy appliqué so you can personalize your clothes or make your own onesies for wedding gifts:

Fabric Glue
Appliqué simply requires that you attach one piece of fabric to another, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to use fabric glue. Fabric glue is flexible enough so that when it dries, the fabric is still supple, not hard. You can dot fabric glue around the edges of your piece, and attach it to the surface. You don't need a lot -- just a small edging to hold it in place while you sew it down. You can use a blanket stitch or use your machine to do an overcast or zigzag stitch.

Sturdy fabrics like felt or microfiber do best with this technique. If you are using a fabric that will fray, treat it will fray check first and allow it to dry before you glue it and sew it.

Freezer Paper
Freezer paper is a great option that works in much the same way as fusible webbing. You simply draw your pattern onto your freezer paper and then iron it onto your fabric with the shiny side down. Cut out your fabric, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Then either spray starch onto the hem line or dab it on with a paintbrush. Fold over the edge and iron it back all the way around the hem.

When the fabric is dried and the hemline is ironed back, you can remove the freezer paper. It will peel off quite easily and your hemline should stay intact. Then just sew your appliqué in place as usual. You can pin it down or add a bit of fabric glue to hold it in place.

This method is best for thinner fabrics that are prone to fraying and need tidier edges in order to maintain their shape. It would not work for thicker fabrics like felt or wool.

Sewing Two Pieces Together
Getting a good appliqué is largely about preserving the hemlines. You can do this easily by sewing together two pieces of fabric to create a closed edge. You would cut two pieces of fabric for each shape and then sew them together face to face. Complete the edge all the way around, and then make a slit in the middle of one of the pieces. Use that opening to turn the pieces out to the right side, and then iron the seams flat. You'll have a nice shape that you can then sew in place on your fabric.

There's more than one way to appliqué. Use the technique that is easiest for you and that best accommodates the fabric you are using and the kind of shape you are trying to create.

What techniques do you use to create appliqué? Share your tips in the comments!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

DID YOU KNOW ...? (66)

silk weaving spider nephila
Photo Source
A spider commonly known as 'Nephila' 'The Golden Orb Web Spider' or 'Banana Spider' spins silk that is so strong that it is used to make fishing nets and shopping bags. 

The size of a female nephila is approximately 3 to 5cm for the toe and is about 20cm across from toe to toe. Female golden orb-web spiders are also more colourful than their male counterparts. The males, however, are less colourful and are much smaller, only 1/10 size of female nephilas. Their size is only about 5-6mm. 

Monday, 22 April 2013


This post was supposed to be written and published months ago but I have been quite busy and have not been able to get it ready to share with you any earlier. Most of the photos were also taken using my old Canon as my new baby, a Nikon dslr, wasn't born to our family yet. So, here is my excuse for the poor quality pictures in the post.

Months ago, I was desperately looking for a solution for my outdoor furniture. We have this beautiful wooden table and seat set that caters for 8 people (four 2-seaters). We also love spending time outdoors and it is just a perfect start to a nice breezy spring day or a sunny summer morning for us to have some breakfast at the backyard. However, we were hardly able to use the set up until I made some cover for the seats a few months ago!
Outdoor table/seat set
Easy tutorial for wooden seats

The reason we couldn't use them was because there is not much on top of the table and the seats to protect them from all those bird droppings that make you 'lucky' (Has it worked? Is this a nice-enough way of saying 'bird shit'?). I have tried using a huge piece of fabric (linen) to cover them all up when unused, tried using newspaper to sit on, used smaller pieces of fabric for each seat while using it and so on but none was a convenient, practical and pain-free enough solution for us. It was either too much work, took a lot of time and effort, caused a huge pile of washing or simply did not work.

I started thinking of making covers for the seats but was not quite sure how to go about it at first. I asked for an opinion from my husband, my sister, from the very helpful ladies at The Sewing Library but nothing came through that I was totally happy to go with. Therefore, I had to come up with something that would work for me.

I was lucky that a few days after I had decided to make some covers and came up with a design on paper, a local fabric store had a sale on. That was definitely very handy. I picked up a large upholstery fabric that is easy to wash and dry, does not run colour, does not crease too easily and had a good thickness level for durability. Can you imagine how happy I was when I came back home with a lot of that fabric?

Outdoor furniture cover

I first measured my seats both vertically and horizontally. When deciding on the length, I started from the back of the chair, measuring up to the top of the chair, then down to the seat along the backrest, measured the width of the seat, and  then measured from the seat to about 15cm above the floor level. The width of the fabric was 1.5m and was just perfect for my project as I needed my seat covers to be almost 1m wide and wanted it to be 1.5m long. All I needed to do was to cut a meter of the fabric for each seat. The original fabric's width became the length of my seat-covers. Nice and simple. I cut four of those 1m pieces and then hemmed the sides of the fabric. To hem, I simple folded it once, then folded again and ran a zigzag stitch.

An easy furniture cover tute

Bench cover tutorial

Easy handmade furniture cover tutorial

After that, I folded one side in about 45cm over lengthwise, making the rectangle fabric piece almost a square, as seen in the picture below. This was to make a pocket to help it stay on the seat. It is to slide over the back-rest.

Easy and quick chair cover

I sewed only a bit more than halfway through to give it some flexibility rather than sewing it all the way down (Approximatey 25cm of it from top is sewn) and voila! The seat cover was ready.

Tutorial for chair covers

A quick seat cover tutorial

Easy peasy furniture cover

Quick seat cover tutorial

Enjoy some outdoor time in the cold, hot or warm weather that you have wherever you are on the globe!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

DID YOU KNOW ...? (65)

Inek Cows
Some cows at Collingwood Children's Farm (Melbourne, VIC)
There is a load of factual information about cows that is interesting (in my opinion). Here is some of it for you.
  • Cows don't have upper front teeth and that is the reason why they can't bite. They curl their large tongue around the grass instead to feed. 
  • A cow spends approximately 6-7 hours a day to eat cud and about 8 hours to chew it. 
  • They have almost 360-degree panoramic vision.
  • Cows can drink up to 35 gallons of water a day (that is about 135 litres which is almost about a bathtub-full of water)!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

MULBERRY (and Generosity)

Mulberry Dut Karadut
I was hoping to make a post on some boysenberries that I was generously donated the plant of a few months ago. The beautiful Rebecca from Piccaninny Rugs happily opened her doors to me and even gave me some boysenberry plants as well as a strawberry plant on the day we ever met. I am so grateful to have met such a trusting and generous person with a confident look and a warm smile on her face. As for the boysenberries, unfortunately, they didn't work out well for us but we were able to have a few mouth-watering strawberries from her plants. We may have to try planting boysenberries once again next year.

Strawberry plant cilekTalking about generosity... I think a lately found friend of mine can be awarded as one of the most generous people alive. Here is only one of the many examples that I have personally had with her: 
One day last year, as I was having some freshly picked mulberries from her mum's neighbour's garden at her place, I said "Mulberries are one of my all-time favourites since childhood". My comment triggered something and made her get up from her seat right away. She simply went to her backyard and brought a big pot with a newly planted mulberry tree in it. She told me that I could have it. I was not expecting it and wanted to turn down the offer as I thought it was too much to take from her but she insisted I would. I cannot thank her enough. We planted the tree on the ground and it thrived immediately! The whole family is in love with the much precious fruit! 

Now, lets move onto the mulberry fruit and look at it in more detail. 

Mulberries come in a variety. Some of the most commonly known varieties are the white, red and black mulberries. The white mulberries come originally from China and the black ones are believed to have originated in Iran but they have all travelled and made home in many other countries and continents in today's world. The main reason it was used initially was not for its fruit, but rather as a food to silkworms. Silkworms seem to enjoy the plant's leaves quite a bit. It was mostly later on that the mulberry fruit became more known and desired. The bark of the mulberry tree is also used for making paper but this post's highlight will be on the fruit. 

Mulberries are refreshingly succulent, tart and sweet in taste. The ripen mulberries just melt in mouth. The immediate look of mulberry fruit is similar to a blackberry. They can be consumed raw or cooked. Mulberries make great jams and syrups but our family favourite is still the raw fruit.

Dut mulberry
Mulberries' health benefits are as follows.

  • contain high amounts of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
  • have significant amounts of anthocyanins which have been proved to work against cancer, ageing and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections. 
  • contain antioxidants that protect against stroke risks
  • are low in calories
  • are an excellent source of vitamin-C
  • are rich in B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin K. 
  • have vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid. 
  • contain small amounts of vitamin A and E
  • have the types of antioxidants that protect the retina from harmful ultraviolet rays through light-filtering actions.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


This year, Mr. Junior has shown an increasing amount of interest in mathematics (you can read more on it here). It is such great a time for us to work with his curiosity and add on to his skills whenever possible. The other day, he learned how to add numbers between 1 and 9 (inclusive) to 10 and 20. It took him less than 2 minutes to do it. We were about to park our car just outside of a store when we started talking about it and by the time we came out of the car, he already knew how to do it, with almost no mistake at all! 

I will tell you about this picture at the end of the post. For the moment, lets not get unfocused and continue on with our preschooler maths secret. 

Handmade homemade bow tie bow-tie bowtie papyon

Here is our trick: If you are using the number 10, then whatever number you are adding to it (only 1-9), use that number with a 'teen' at the end (with a few exemptions which you need to inform him of. ie. numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5). 

So, it goes like this;

1 + 10 = 11 (eleven- not covered by the rule above)
2 + 10 = 12 (twelve- not covered by the rule above)
3 + 10 = 13 (thirteen- not exactly covered by the rule above)
4 + 10 = 14 (four-TEEN)
5 + 10 = 15 (fifteen- not exactly covered by the rule above)
6 + 10 = 16 (six-TEEN)
7 + 10 = 17 (seven-TEEN)
8 + 10 = 18 (eight-TEEN)
9 + 10 = 19 (nine-TEEN)

Then comes the twenties (and the thirties and so forth) which are even easier! First say 20, then say the number you are adding to it and it makes the total number.

20 + 1 = 21 (Twenty-one)
20 + 2 = 22 (Twenty-two)
20 + 3 = 23 (Twenty-three)
20 + 4 = 24 (Twenty-four)
20 + 5 = 25 (Twenty-five)
... and so on. 

This exercise gave my 4 year old son a great sense of achievement and made him even more excited about numbers and all the tricks that Mummy knows about (!). The next day, we were invited to his uncle's place for dinner and he wanted to impress his uncle and aunt with his newly learnt maths skills as well. He only shares the secret to it with particular people though, and leaves the rest to wonder how on earth a 4 year-old can do addition so quickly, so perfectly. 

I suppose you have been wondering what these two photos are about. The photos are all about Mr. Junior and some of his favourites. He LOVES his fruit, his books and bow-ties. Approximately a month ago, we were invited to a party and the night before, I decided to surprise him with something that I knew he would appreciate well and would be useful and made him this black-and-white bowtie which was such a success. He was extremely happy with it. I mostly used this tutorial with a few minor changes to make this impressive bow-tie.