Homemade butter and other weekend projects

I picked this book up years ago (Borders bookshops were all the rage at the time), thinking it may come in useful some day then put it on a shelf and pretty much forgot about it for a few years. Typical, have lots of books like that. Then I remembered it had a recipe for elderflower cordial, which I’m making at the moment and off the shelf it came. It also tells you how to make butter – did not realise how simple making butter is so thought I’d try it. Last night was as good a time as any – words fail at the excitement and joy I got from this tiny little pat of butter I produced.

Am sure lots of people make butter at home – have never really thought about it before but so glad I did this. Here’s what to do:

– pour double cream into a jam jar and shake until it separates into a lump of butter and the remaining liquid is buttermilk.  The cream should be a few days old, not fresh.

– pour out buttermilk and reserve if using for another recipe (e.g. pancakes), then rinse the butter by pouring water into the jar and gently swirling until water runs clear.

– press butter with the back of a wooden spoon to squeeze out any remaining buttermilk and do this properly or butter will go rancid. Add salt if you like salted butter (apparently it also keeps longer) or just put in fridge if you prefer unsalted.

That’s basically it. I probably had only about 100ml double cream left and the jar in the back of the picture is 500ml – gives you an idea on how much butter you get. The shaking didn’t take too long – perhaps around half an hour, was making dinner at the time so would just pick up the jar and give it a few vigorous shakes every now and then. Lost crafts book says some people make this in a food processor but I really see no need to do that.

Going to have my little bit of homemade butter for breakfast with yesterday’s black pepper rye bread.

In other bread news, I now have my first sourdough starter!! Am following Dan Lepard’s instructions from Short and sweet and have had a little dough ball (rye flour and water) for 5 days before mashing it with more water and adding more flour to make this mush last night. There are already bubbles in it this morning and it doesn’t smell particularly nice:

Can’t wait to make first sourdough but obviously still a while to go. Am likely to burst with excitement prior to actually producing any bread…

Last project this weekend – elderflower is currently steeping in sugar syrup so will be bottling my little batch of cordial later this afternoon when I get back from Taste of London where I’ve a little work to do. Shame the weather is rubbish, will probably get soaked…

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Dress finished, yay!

Sometimes my vintage dress pattern purchases from ebay are a bit questionable. I’ve built a nice little collection of them but some I am not sure that I’ll ever make. I wasn’t too sure about this late fifties (I think but could easily be wrong) shift dress with a fitted midriff but then I thought below the knee length is quite big for winter and then I had this very soft charcoal wool with a bit of stretch that I thought could work. Anyway, for the past two weeks I’ve been working on the dress – again decided to make entirely by hand, otherwise would have been done in a day or two and, I finished it this afternoon. Here is the result: 

Gathered front panel, fitted waist, pleated skirt (darts in the back) and a pocket on the right hand side too! Totally impressed with that. Also rather like the photograph – turned black and white and then applied lomo.

 

Side and back views.

Side front closer up.

The pattern also featured a cummerbund and a detachable collar. I originally really liked the idea of a cummerbund but now quite like the austerity of the dress so not sure if I’ll make one – should be in a different fabric anyway. Collar idea I really like. Beaded or sequinned so shall have a rummage through ‘crafty cupboard as am sure there are beads and sequins about.

The Guardian’s measure this weekend had a rather good idea of wearing below the knee skirts/ dresses with bare legs and ankle boots – it actually worked quite well when I tried it on. Beloved thinks it’s quite sophisticated, don’t you know.

In the works – getting there

So the late fifties fitted dress is coming along nicely. Top part is done:

Pinned to the dummy as fitted midrif too fitted to go over dummy (no collapsable shoulders, dummy a bit old). Was a bit worried that it wouldn’t go over me either as forgot to buy a longer side zip but have tried on and looks fine so far.  Working on the skirt part now, finish this weekend is looking doubtful, never mind, the weather is still too warm to wear anyway.

While searching for best light in flat this morning to take photo, this nice little accident happened, love the colours:

In the works

I’ve built up a nice little collection of vintage dress patterns from ebay, mainly 40s dresses but, this summer I got a few late fifties and early to mid sixties dress patterns too. I get obsessed for about a month at a time, looking daily for anything with an interesting front, good cowl, draping, and so on but also try to control myself and not spend a fortune. This recent addition to my pattern collection:

is not what I usually go for but I liked the very fitted waist and the simple shape. I also loved the fact that it has a cummerbund. I’ve always wanted a cummerbund! Such a brilliant word that.

I’ve started making it in a charcoal wool mix – not sure of the fabric content, it’s definitely wool and has some stretch in it. Bought it last summer for a pair of trousers but never got around to making the pattern for them so when I looked at recent ebay purchases, it seemed right to forget the trousers and use the wool for this dress.

Making just the dress, not the cape, shortening the length a little – not mid calf but it will be below the knee. Also making it by hand. If I work v.v. hard I may finish this weekend but perhaps not – it’s quite hard going sewing dark fabrics by hand. Machine would have done it in a day (I started last Sunday). Undecided on what to make the cummerbund in and also thinking of possibly making the detachable collar – beaded or something. That would make a good transition from day to evening and also not make it look too plain. Think I’ll decide on that once I’ve made it up.

‘Works’ finished – 40s top

Last night I finished the 40s top I’d been hand sewing for two weeks in a lovely flower print chiffon. Although it takes ages, I find hand sewing very relaxing and a great evening accompaniment to crap telly. Actually, not all telly watched while making the top was crap – decided to watch all of Twin Peaks again as it’s been a very long time since I’d seen it.

Anyway, here’s the top:

Think I need a taller dummy stand as this pic makes it all look a bit squat – current dummy stand is old tins of paint. Think I need 3 instead of 2.

Love the fabric and the shape, it has a gathered front panel and a high cowl neck. Tiny bit loose in the back – pattern came from a vintage 40s dress pattern that had a sort of belt for the back but I decided against the belt. Lengthened the hem too, otherwise would have been too short.

Another soft side view:

Resisted temptation to pull clothes out of wardrobe and try it on with everything – only because I worked out what I could wear it with while making. Think it could prove quite a useful little number, as long as I don’t make it look to vintage-y.

Started a dress today, thought it best to get on with as much as can make before my next course starts in a few weeks time.

In the works

I suppose I haven’t been that interested in terrace watch this past week because I’ve been working on something else. Finally, after a fairly long ‘contemplation’ period, I’ve found use for this marvellous flower print chiffon.

Apparently, it was an old Paul Smith fabric – at least that’s what the label in the shop said. Bought it last summer, thinking I’d make a top and it’s been neatly folded among growing mountain of fabric ever since. I didn’t really fancy making my own pattern for this so decided to see if one of my vintage 40s dress patterns had a top part I could use instead. Settled on this:

Have had the pattern for a couple of years, from ebay. Lengthened the hem by a couple of inches and decided to make it entirely by hand. It’s looking pretty good so far, have neatly finished all seams although that might not be the case once the sleeve comes in. We shall see. Actually, making it by hand, although time consuming, has been a pretty good idea as chiffon + sewing machine don’t like each other all that much.

Making the short sleeved version and the sleeve has darts! You don’t see many of those anymore. The front is lined too so it’s taken a bit longer to make the whole thing, have been working on it for a week now.

Coming along nicely – just need to finish hemming, then make up and set the sleeve in, add some buttons on the back neck and poppers on the side + press. Side view:

Definitely needs a bit of pressing. Hopefully I’ll get it done by next week and then let’s also hope that the weather doesn’t get too cold to wear it, actually that’s never stopped me before… Rather excited about wearing it soon.