Thursday, 26 September 2013

I ♥ Orla Keily Designs

Last week I had a mini art project on the go where I had to choose an artist to study. Out of the list of names given, I was immediately drawn to researching Orla Keily. And the more I looked at the items online, the more I liked them! Here is some of what I wrote:
Orla Kiely is an Irish fashion designer based in London. She has a shop in Covent Garden, and exports to Europe, America and Asia.
Orla received a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art where Harrods purchased her exit collection. Although she started work on hat design, she moved into design work on handbags with the new idea of using laminated cloth.
She worked with a lot of different companies before setting up her own business. Her designs are now featured on a variety of items, including a car and water bottle! The Orla Kiely brand produces ready-to-wear collections, homeware, furnishings, luggage and accessories, all emblazoned with her instantly recognisable graphics. The clothing and bag designs feature in London Fashion Week.
Her signatures are “Colour, pattern and texture with a 60s twist.” Her designs are graphic and bold. She has desgined coats, knitwear, skirts and dresses in striking arrangements. One of the key fabrics has perfect rounded flowers sewn on top. Her signature patterns are ‘Stem’ which has teardrop leaves coming out of a stem, ‘Acorn’ which has leaves with ‘acorns’ interlocking, flowers, and pears in different patterns.
I created a collage of some of my favourite items designed to show the variety that the shop offers. If you like these, look on the Orla Kiely website. I have also linked to items stocked on the John Lewis website. If you click on the picture you will be taken to the webpage.

Squirrel Intarsia Sweater Light Grey

Squirrel Intarsia Sweater

Buy Orla Kiely Printed Tote Handbag, Linear Stem Online at
Printed Tote Handbag
If you want to see more of Orla's fashion designs, here is her page on London Fashion week, which includes a video and downloadable lookbook.
What is your favourite item?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A Quilt in the Making

I have been saving fabrics in blue or pink for a while to make a quilt. The idea is to match each floral fabric with a spotty fabric, and have them in a large squares of 9 pieces of fabric. I worked a lot on different patterns and decided to have 18 large squares. The small pieces are 5'' squares. I want the finished quilt to fit a single bed. Before being sewn, lain out on the floor it measures 45''x 90''. My bed is 40''x80'' and the quilt will shrink down to that once all the seams are sewn. I'm not sure how I'll quilt it!

I've decided to go ahead and start sewing the squares I already have fabric for. I'm doing strips of three, alternating between 2 spotty and 1 floral and 2 floral and 1 spotty square. 

Now I'm sewing 3 strips together to make one square, alternating the strips. It is essential that the squares are cut neatly, I'm having to measure and cut almost every square again so that the lines will match when it's all together.

Now I've been told that different weight fabrics aren't good in a quilt! I don't plan to try washing this so I'm just hoping that it will work with my two weights: thinnish cotton and thick cotton fabric from Clarke & Clarke (one of my favourite designers.) 

I need to go the fabric shop to buy more matching fabric for the rest of the quilt. I'm planning on having more blue spotty fabric and pink roses. I'll update as the quilt progresses. I'm actually quite excited about this!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Chocolate and Pear Cake

The other evening I really wanted to bake a cake, so I used my moist chocolate cake recipe and decided to top it with softly caramelised pears. We ate it warm before I took any good photos. I liked it a lot, so it was made again, this time with a few improvements, and eaten before I could take any photo too!. So here I present you the finished article, triple tested and enjoyed every time: my chocolate and pear cake.

The cake is dark, chocolatey and moist, with a soft texture. The pear is soft and slightly caramelised on top, and adds a lovely extra taste and texture hidden in the middle.

This makes a Big cake, like family sized 24cm round and deep too! So halving the mix makes a nice 18-20cm cake that is still deep and makes about 6 portions. I have put the quantities  for a smaller cake in brackets.

Chocolate and Pear Cake 

4 small pears                                                (2 small pears)
185 butter, melted                                         (90g butter, melted)
300g brown sugar/muscovado sugar               (150g brown sugar/muscovado sugar) 
3 eggs                                                          (1 large egg/2 small eggs)
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)                       (1/2 tsp vanilla essence (optional))
160ml water                                                  (80ml water)
3 tablespoons cocoa powder                         (1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder)
225g self-raising flour                                    (110g self-raising flour )
75g plain flour                                               (40g plain flour)
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda                           (1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda)        

  Preheat the oven to 180ยบC. Line a deep 24cm (18-20cm) round cake pan.
  Peel the pears and slice them. Place in a small shallow pan and cover with water. Simmer over a low heat until just soft. Keep an eye on them while you start on the cake.
  Beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, beating each one in thoroughly. Mix in the vanilla essence.
  Drain the pears through a sieve over a glass jug so that you save the water. 
  Return the pears to the dry pan and add 15g (10g) of butter and 20g (10g) of sugar. Place on a low heat to slightly caramelise.
  Measure out 150ml (80ml) of the pear water and mix in the cocoa powder until dissolved. Add to the bowl of eggs, butter and sugar and and mix until smooth.
  Sieve the flours and bicarb into the bowl and beat until combined. 
  Pour half the mixture into the cake pan and arrange half the pears on top. Then pour over the other half of mixture in and arrange the pears in a spiral pattern on the top.
  Bake for about 40 minutes until a cake tester comes out almost clean but is still moist. Leave to cool slightly. 
  Enjoy a slice of the cake with a cup of tea!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Heart Needlecase

Needle-cases make sweet gifts for those who sew, and are quick to make. Give them with a set of sewing pins or needles and your gift can be used straight away! You can add embellishments and decorative stitches to make something unique. It is also a perfect project for a sewer who is starting out, as something so easy produces nice results! 

I used two pieces of coloured felt for the front and back of the case, and two pieces of white felt to hold the pins or needles. Cut them together using the same template so that they are all the same size. Before you sew them together you can decorate the front. Here I stitched a small heart of pink felt onto a larger heart of Aida (fabric used for cross-stitching) and sewed it onto the front. A small line of stitching at the side will hold it all together and allow it to open out flat. Now all you have to do is decide weather you can bear to part with it!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

this week in my garden :: September 5

We've had loads of plums this week from our tree. They are very soft and sweet and juicy! We have been getting lots of produce from the gardens of friends and neighbours: elderberries for jam, courgettes for dinner and figs and blackberries for dessert. Summer time is still here, for now. 

I always feel a little out-of-place when I see the garden link up, because it's not so much about what is growing for us, but what I'm seeing in the garden. But that's okay, because I like what I'm seeing.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Raspberry Victoria Sponge Sandwich Cake

I had to opportunity to make this cake with my younger cousins last week. It was fairly quick and fun to make and tasty really good! The recipe was on the Waitrose site, which has loads, I mean about 5, recipes for Victoria sandwich, so it was hard to find the one we made. Here's the link: Victoria Sponge with Raspberry Jam and Buttercream.

Using buttercream icing in the middle with nice raspberry jam was, in my opinion, better than using cream. To finish it off we added fresh raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar. I was inspired by the cake on the intro to 'The Great British Bake Off' which is covered in raspberries. Speaking of 'The Great British Bake Off,' it really makes me want to bake whatever they're making, as I woke up the morning after watching with a desire to bake bread! 

What is your ultimate Victoria sponge filled and topped with?