Monday, 11 June 2012

Shabby Chic Heart Garland - Tutorial

These hanging hearts make the perfect 'shabby chic' decoration, I have several around my flat, adorning book shelves and picture rails.  They make great presents, my favourite so far are the red and cream set I gave my mum for christmas ( I have seen similar decorations in shops for £15-£20. I will show you here how to make this garland in a few hours for just a couple of £'s!!

You will need: 

  • Two pieces of different material of your choice (To keep costs down look for off cuts in your local haberdashery or secondhand fabric in charity shops) 
  • Plain fabric for backing (I used a piece of white cotton from an old pillowcase)
  • Twine (about £1 in local craft shop or garden shop) 
  • Toy stuffing (£3.50 for big bag, of which you will only use about 1/10th for this project, so lots of projects for your money!) 
  • Needle and thread
  • Sewing machine

Making your Garland: 
Steps 1- 4

Steps 5 - 8
  1. Cut out 4x hearts from each piece of fabric. I always use a stencil so that the hearts are uniform in size and shape. 
  2. Cut 8x 20cm lengths of twine. Again measure each piece to make this accurate, otherwise your hearts will not hang at the same height. 
  3. Double the twine over to make a loop, this is how you will hang your hearts from the garland. Hold the open ends of the twine together and attach to the right side of the fabric (see picture 3 above).  The reason for doing so is to prevent the loop moving whilst you are sewing the hearts. You can attach it either by hand stitching or machine stitching. You only need a few stitches to hold it in place, but it is very important that the twine is central to the heart and you attach it as close to the top of the heart as possible so that the stitches don't show when the heart is turned right way out. 
  4. Secure the twine in the centre of the heart using a single pin (see picture 4 above). This is to prevent the twine getting caught in the seams when you are sewing the heart. The last thing you want is to excitedly turn your heart right way out, only to find yourself having to snip bits of twine from the seams...believe me, I've done it! And it means the heart has no hanger, fail!
  5. Pin the heart right side down on the backing fabric (so that the pattern is facing the backing fabric). I like to use as few pins as possible because I find pausing in the sewing process to remove pins prevents the stitches flowing. 
  6. Stitch around the heart leaving a 5mm-1cm seam allowance. I always line the edge of the fabric up against the edge of  the machine foot (about 7mm) because this ensures you follow the shape of the heart. Remembering to leave a 3cm gap along one of the straight edges of the heart to allow you to turn it inside out.
  7. Turn the hearts inside out and using your finger or a blunt pointed object push out the point of the heart. using the toy stuffing fill the hearts evenly so that they are plump but not so much so that the seams are stretched! 
  8. Using a needle and thread hand sew the 3cm gap closed to complete the heart. 
  9. Cut a 155cm length of twine. Loop over 5 cm at each end and tie a knot to make loops to hang the garland. Pass the twine through loops of the first heart and situate it 15cm from the end of the twine. When in the desired position make a knot to hold the heart in place. Place a heart every 15cm along the twine, there should be 15cm at each end. 
  10. Hang your garland and admire your hard work!! 

I got away from the oven and back to the sewing machine yesterday, as promised! I hope you enjoy the tutorial. I would love to see any pictures if you make these hanging hearts xxx

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Custard and Cinnamon Tart

I seem to be on a bit of a baking mission at the moment, and I know I have blogged a lot of cake posts recently... so for those of you who pop over from folksy, I promise I will get back to the sewing machine soon! But for now I am loving the baking bonanza. For my birthday recently my sister gave me the hummingbird bakery book and it is AMAZING! All of the recipes I have tried so far have turned out brilliantly. The photographs in the book are beautiful and really well staged with pretty china, flowers and ribbons; very inspiring! I think I need to work on making the photographs on my blog a little more staged and 'arty', but it is difficult to find a clear, white surface in our tiny flat!

My most recent 'bake' was this custard and cinnamon tart from the hummingbird bakery "Cake Days". I won't include the recipe because I'm sure it will break copyright but I have taken some photos, although they are not as arty as I would like! I have made pastry before but not for a long time so this was a nice refresher. The process of making your own pastry is a little lengthy (mostly because it needs to rest in the fridge several times during the process) but well worth it. And as always custard is SO much better when made from scratch, but again is a little time consuming!! See what you think of the pictures but I think the wait was well worth it!

Right, I'm off to the sewing machine now! promise!! xx

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Homemade Chelsea Buns

Upon my boyfriend's request I set about to make some chelsea buns for the first time this week! A very english bun, very fitting for the jubilee!! I love making cakes, but I haven't made any buns before so I wasn't sure how they would turn out. The process of making the dough was very similar to making bread, i.e. quite lengthy but well worth the wait!

The recipe I used came from the BBC food website; I find I always had good outcomes using their recipes and the instructions are very easy to follow. The only thing I changed was the glaze, the recipe recommended a milk and sugar glaze, but I found that this curdles and didn't look very pleasant! So I substituted a water and sugar glaze that is more commonly used as a bun glaze. This makes a lovely, sticky, toffee type glaze giving the buns a professional finish.

500g strong white flour
1tsp salt
7g sachet of fast-action dried yeast
300mls milk
40g unsalted butter
1 large egg
vegetable oil for greasing

For the filling:
25g unsalted butter melted
75g soft brown sugar
2tsp ground cinnamon
150g dried mixed fruit

For the Glaze:
2 tbsp water
2tbsp caster sugar


  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast.
  • Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the mixture is lukewarm.
  • Add the milk mixture and egg to the flour mixture and stir until the contents of the bowl come together as a soft dough. (You may need to add a little extra flour.
  • Tip the dough onto a generously floured work surface. Knead for five minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer feels sticky.
  • Lightly oil a bowl with a little of the vegetable oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn until it is covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • knock the dough back to its original size and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 0.5cm/¼in thick.

    • Brush all over with the melted butter, then sprinkle over the brown sugar, cinnamon and dried fruit. Roll the dough up into a tight cylinder , cut ten 4cm/1½in slice and place them onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each slice. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes

    • Bake the buns in the oven at 190 degrees/gas mark 5 for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown.
    • Meanwhile, for the glaze, heat the water and sugar in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
    • Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

    Finally enjoy whilst warm with a cup of tea! a perfect english afternoon xxx