Friday, 25 February 2011

I sometimes sew: tale of a handmade pram liner

pram liner detail

Can you tell what it is yet?

I bought the fabrics for this make way back last April, in a final nesting impulse before the baby was born. My babystyle oyster pram was already chosen (not without a lot of deliberation - I like to research things thoroughly!). I could have had the pink, knowing already that I was having a girl (not that a baby boy would be likely to object to the colour of his pram), but then, I didn't like the idea that people might judge me for buying a pink-for-a-girl pram (shallow, aren't I?!) so green it was. Problem is, even though I like green, I never quite liked this actual shade of green, hence my idea of making a pretty pram liner to neutralise it. I already had the Sandi Henderson Farmer's Market apple dot in the red and pink, and thought the green version would be perfect. Of course, buying from the USA (from etsy seller Material Gal), I was obliged to add a whole lot of other fabrics to my basket to justify the postage - the first time I have ever been stung for customs, but it was worth it!

It took a whole eight months for me actually to make the pram liner; I couldn't just jump into it without thinking very carefully about bindings/backings/battings, could I? That kind of thing always takes about eight months.

handmade pram liner

Basic pram/pushchair seat liner how-to:

1) I roughly cut out an offcut of Warm & Natural batting to fit around an inch inside the seat of the pushchair (I did this in situ by laying the batting on top of the seat). A word to the wise - always better to err on the side of caution and to have to trim away a bit extra than to cut too small - the liner will sort of sink into the seat with baby on top, so it will pull in quite a lot.

2) Removing the batting from the seat and laying it in on the floor, I folded in half lengthways to make sure each side was even and rounded the corners, then placed the folded batting on top of the folded apples and pears and used it as a pattern to cut around for the front, then the same for the back.

3) I quilted the lazy way, straight lines using the edges of the rows of apples as a guide and sewing by eye (as I didn't bother to match the pattern when cutting out the back, the quilted lines cut through the motif, but I don't think it matters either way). I did pin lots though, with bent quilters' safety pins.

4) The binding was handmade by cutting strips of this lime-y green solid cotton on the bias and joining them until long enough to run around the perimeter of the liner. I machine-stitched the binding to the reverse of the liner then handstitched to the front (there's a great bias binding tutorial here which shows how to finish the join neatly).

5) The holes for the 5 point harness were made with the 3 step buttonhole stitches on my machine, positioned by just sitting the finished liner on top of the pushchair and marking the placement with a water-erasable marker.

Lesson learned for the next time:
As much as I love the feel of the warm & natural batting, it doesn't have quite as much weight to it as I would like for this project. It does tend to get squished up behind the baby when my husband manhandles her into her pushchair (he is less precious about the need to stretch and arrange the pram liner prettily than me!). A double layer of batting might have been better, or maybe interfacing the front and back panels.

I'm now planning another in a cute beige and lime green frog print fabric (bought from another etsy seller, fabricsgalore, who I now see has another gorgeous print which might just work with my green pram, maybe for Summer?). I think the cotton canvas should be a nice weight for the liner, and I might try a fleece backing this time, partly for weight and partly so that it sticks to the pushchair a bit better and doesn't slide around.

I have more sewing to share, believe it or not, so back with another post in the week. Strictly small-scale projects only though.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Not taking photos of my lunch

I seem to have slipped into a fallow phase, blog-wise. There are so many things that I meant to blog and just haven't. I know it's got a lot to do with the small baby and her (and therefore my) sleep patterns, but I've got to the point where it feels like it's forever hanging over my head yet I haven't got the get-up-and-go to do anything about it. You know, suddenly I almost feel like people may not actually want to read about what I had for lunch yesterday.

Thing is though, it's either blog about my lunch and such or not blog at all, as it's only really the small day-to-day stuff that's actually happening around here. And I think, on balance, my lunch is probably slightly more interesting than the fact I cleaned the floor, or scrubbed the kitchen tiles, so let me tell you about a really good lunch I had the other week. I have long been a huge fan of wagamama's chicken katsu curry - I'm so obsessed with it that it's really the only thing I'm prepared to order if I go there, as I don't want to waste the opportunity of a meal out on something I might like less. So a long while ago, when meeting up with Florence, Joanne and Lisa in London, Joanne helped me to buy the wherewithal for my own homemade version in the Japan Centre on Piccadilly.

So with my shopping list of S&B golden curry, some K&K panko breadcrumbs, and a pack of free-range chicken breasts, I got cooking. Dipped the chopped chicken breasts in flour, in beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Shallow fried them briefly in batches in sunflower oil, then baked them in the oven on a greased tray. Meanwhile, I cooked my rice, fried onions and chopped 4 curry cubes (half a pack) and added them to 750ml of water on the hob which my veg had been boiling in and stirred a bit till it thickened.

When I'd dished it up and was just about to carry it to the table, my husband asked in frank amazement 'Aren't you going to take a photo of that?'
'Why?', I asked.
'For your blog,' said he.
'But it looks like a pig's dinner,' said I.
'Go on, you know you really want to,' he replied.
And so I did.

chicken katsu curry-ish

It may not look much, and I did add in lots of random fridge-vegetables (courgettes and green beans), and it's missing the lovely pickles, but it wasn't half bad!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I seem to have mislaid my baby ...

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