No Bake Honeycomb Crunch Bars

honeycomb crunch bars

Inspired by all the Great British Bake-Off baking I’ve been watching recently I felt it was time to make something sweet. I turned to past winner of the Bake-Off Jo Wheatley’s book Home Baking for Inspiration and came across these delicious no bake treats. They are perfect with a cup of tea and an episode of the G.B.B.O.

To make 12 large bars you will need:

  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 25g soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 400g milk chocolate
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 8 Crunchie bars

 honeycomb bars recipe

1. Put the melted butter, sugar, cocoa powder and golden syrup into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.

2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over simmering water.

honeycomb bars recipe honeycomb bars recipe

honeycomb bars recipe honeycomb bars recipe

3. Place the digestive biscuits and Crunchie bars in a sandwich bag and roughly crush with a rolling-pin until you have bite-sized shards in a variety of different shapes. Add to the bowl and mix together to combine.

honeycomb bars recipe honeycomb bars recipe

4. Spoon into the lined tin, press down firmly into all corners and top with the melted chocolate.

honeycomb bars recipe honeycomb bars recipe

5. Chill for half an hour and slice into bars with a hot knife. Return to the fridge to firm completely.

honeycomb bars recipe  honeycomb bars recipe
honeycomb bars recipe
~ Laura xx ~

How to Make a Ruffle skirt

little girl ruffle skirt tutorial 2I’m a big fan of making clothes without a pattern. I’m just not good at following instructions. The last two patterns I followed were for skirts, and both of them came out too small (what did I do wrong? Did I just get too fat in the making process?! Blame the pattern, blame the pattern…). Its really easy to make kids clothes without patterns because they don’t need a lot of shape. I made Amelie a little ruffle skirt and it took less than an hour – this is a really simple little project. The same principles would apply for making an adult version. All you need is a button and some fabric – half a metre would do for a toddler.

How to Make it

1. First take the waist measurement and double it. You could add more, or less, depending on the amount of ruffle you want. Now cut a piece of fabric to this width by the length you want the skirt to be (plus an inch for the hem). Now cut the waistband – this should measure 3″ by the waist measurement (plus 2″)

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Do the hem and seams first. Take one of the long edges and turn under twice. Press, pin and sew. Do the same with each edge of the fabric so that only the top of the skirt has a raw edge.

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Now to ruffle and gather the fabric. Oooh this is a fun bit! Set your sewing machine on the longest straight stitch length (3 or 4). Pull the machine thread so there is a lot of excess.

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Sew two lines of stitching along the top of the skirt 1/2″ and 3/4″ from the top of the fabric. When you get to the end, cut the thread so that there is a long tail once more (at least 4″).

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Now take the top threads on one end with your right hand and pull the fabric towards you with the other hand. Do the same on the other side. Once the length of the fabric has reduced by half, tie each of the ends to secure.

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Adjust the ruffles so that they are even across the skirt. Secure them in place by sewing once more over the bottom row of stitches (set your machine back to a normal stitch length for this).

Take the strip of wasitband fabric and press a fold 1/4″ along each length. Fold again, in half lengthways, and press once more. Position and pin along the top of the skirt, leaving an inch at each end of the skirt.

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Sew in place with a neat stitch.

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Okay, this is the hardest bit of all. Get your toddler to try the dress on for size. For me, this took about an hour. And a box of raisons. Place pins on the edges of the waistband based on the fitting to work out where to put the button. Tuck the raw edges of the waistband in and sew. Sew on a button and button hole.

girl ruffle skirt tutorial 1

 Take the two side seams and place one side over the other. Sew the two sides together with a neat top stitch.

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If you like you can finish the hem with some pretty embroidery stitches (I have a new machine… EVERYTHING now has pretty stitches on it).

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You’re finished! Get your toddler to try… no, put it in the cupboard and go and have a cup of tea.

Tia x

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p.s. the final look isn’t as puffy as it looks in the picture… it was a windy day!

 

How to Make a Retro Telephone Soft Toy

retro telephone toy tutorial

My toddler is a little bit obsessed with our retro red telephone at the moment. She wanders over to it, picks up the handset, says ‘hello’ then wanders off. So I thought I’d make a matching telephone toy for her room so she can catch up with all her chums and hopefully leave our real telephone in working order.

For this project you will need:

  • Red ric rac – 50 cm
  • Red material for phone receiver and red circle (40cm x 35cm)
  • White material (60cm x 30cm)
  • Scrap of red felt
  • White felt (30cm x 15cm)
  • Red and white thread
  • Rattle/bells
  • Toy stuffing
  • Small piece of velcro

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1. Using the template above cut out your pattern pieces. Using the red fabric, cut out two phone handset shapes and one red circle. Using the white fabric, cut a front and a back piece for the phone’s main body. Finally, cut two dials out of white felt, slightly smaller than the red circle, and a stopper out of a scrap of red felt.

telephone cushion DIY telephone cushion DIY

2. Pin the handset pieces right sides together. Pin the ric rac into the bottom right-hand corner in between the two pieces of material. Sew with a 0.5-inch seam allowance leaving a two-inch gap to turn the fabric out. Snip the corners and turn the handset the right way out.

telephone cushion DIY

3. Pin the red circle on the right side of one of the pieces of white phone fabric, about two-thirds of the way down, and centred horizontally. Sew with red thread as close to the edge as you can.

4. Pin the two pieces of phone body fabric right sides together. Pin the other end of the ric rac into the bottom right-hand corner of the fabric. Make sure the phone handset and the rest of the ric rac is tucked out of the way, inside the phone, so they don’t get caught when sewing. Start at the bottom of the phone and sew with a 0.5-inch seam allowance. Leave a 3-inch gap at the bottom, snip the corners and turn it all the right way out.

telephone cushion DIY

5. Stuff the phone handset and body of the telephone with toy stuffing so it is nice and cuddly.  Add bells to the body of the phone for a ‘ringing’ effect, pushing them into the centre. Sew up the gaps of the phone and handset using a slip stitch with white thread.

6. Using bondaweb, iron the two white dial pieces together. This is to make them stronger. Cut 11 number holes out of your white dial, each around the size of a 5p piece, using a small pair of sharp scissors. Using backstitch, hand sew the red stopper piece onto the white dial.

Telephone cushion DIY

7. In the centre of the white dialling part, cut a line about one cm long. Pin the dial piece onto the red circle on the front of the phone.

8. Pin the red button over the white dial piece and sew in place. Check the dial can turn with ease; if it can’t, make the hole a little bigger.

telephone toy diy

9. Finally, add a little piece of velcro to both the handset and the body of the phone, so that your Little Button can hang up when she’s finished her call. Happy dialling!

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~ Laura xx ~

 

This month….

We’re excited to be featured in two magazines! We’re really grateful for people who read the blog let alone be in a magazine and we’re not ashamed to say we did a collective squeal with delight when we picked up our copies.

We’re Crafters of the Month in Essentials Magazine, which features our song lyric artwork project, and our clay and embroidery ring has been featured in Mollie Makes’ Hoop-La Magazine too. Hoorah!

essentials little button diaries

hoop la magazine little button diaries

Tia & Laura xx

 

 

Make a Top from a Bedsheet

make a top tutorial 18

Where I fail at finding jumble sale gems, my mother in law is a pure expert. I’m always envious of the wonderful old treasures she brings home and I’m lucky that she often hunts out beautiful vintage fabrics for me. Its part of the reason I have a sewing pile up to my bum – and I love it. She gave me a beautiful, but torn, 1950’s bed sheet that I’ve been wanting to turn it into something for ages, so I decided to make a top.

This doesn’t require much sewing skill, just a good bit of copying. You’ll need another top to use as a template – the rest is simple. Make sure you try it for size at various intervals so you can adjust if needed.

You will need:

  • Around a metre of fabric
  • tailors chalk
  • Basic, loose, non-stretch top (as a template)

To Make:

1. First create the back piece of the top. Iron your template top (yes I know… I skipped this step. I wish I’d ironed it. Iron it!). Fold the top in half and place a pin at the top and bottom of the centre line. Now unfold it and pin onto the fabric. Using tailors chalk draw an outline along one half (the side half, not the bottom…) of the top to the pinned centre.

make a top tutorial 1

2. Unpin the top and fold the fabric in half along this centre point. You could outline the whole thing, but this method ensures a symmetrical finish. add an inch for seam allowance (and amendments!) and cut the back of the top out.

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3. Use this back piece as a template for the front piece – in this case I just made the neckline a little lower and cut a small section from the arm hole as per my template top.

 make a top tutorial 7

4. Snip along the curved neckline of both front and back pieces, press and pin. Sew along the neckline then cut the excess fabric away. You can finish the seams with facing if you want a more professional finish – but with my fabric this would have shown through so I kept it simple. I’m all for simple…

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5. Now pin the tops of the arms together and sew to create your neckline.

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6. Pin the side seams together and sew. Press open. Then snip, press, pin and sew your arm holes in exactly the same way you did with the neckline, cutting off the excess once more (again – you may choose to line the arm holes here).

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7. Finish the hem of the top by turning under twice, pressing and sewing. To add a more unique finish I chose to taper the edges of the top and sew a patterned top stitch over the hem and neckline.

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make a top tutorial 17  make a top tutorial 19make a top tutorial 20

Tia x

How to Make a Piped & Appliqued Pillow

applique and piped pillow tutorial

A couple of weeks ago I was very happy to be asked if I would be godmother to a beautiful little baby called Olive. She is such a joyful little girl, I decided I’d make her a little colourful cushion to match her personality. I’ve never piped fabric before so I thought I’d give that a shot. Its easy! I’m piping everything from now on…

Here’s how I made it:

you will need:

  • 2 x 12″ squares of fabric for cushion
  • scraps of fabric for applique
  • bondaweb
  • 40″ of cord & 42″ strip of fabric for piping
  • toy stuffing

1) begin by cutting your front and back pillow fabric. As this cushion is stuffed (rather than made with a pillow form) it can be any size you like. I chose to make mine 10″ so cut two 12″ squares to allow for a 1″ seam.

2) sketch out your design. Here I chose to make a little caravan, sun and some colourful balloons. Cut out the paper design to create your template. Select the fabric for your applique and iron on the bondaweb as per the instructions. cut the fabric shapes using your template.

applique pillow tutorial 2 applique pillow tutorial 6

3) The fabric shapes can then easily be ironed in place onto your pillow. Bear in mind that this is the point of no return… once its on, its glued fast. To make the caravan, I took some scraps of fabric to go behind the window and door and sewed on some personalised words. For the door, two pieces of fabric were adhered with bondaweb and then blanket stitched.

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4) Once your pieces are in place you can then sew around the edges with blanket stitch, either by hand or machine (if it has the function).

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5) Now to make the piping. Take your cord – this should be the length of your pillow sides added up, so in this instance 40″. Allow a little extra. Cut a strip of cord to this length, 2″ wide. Place the cord in the centre of the strip – ensuring there is excess fabric at each end – fold over and sew along the edge of the cord using a zipper foot if you have one.

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6) Place your front pillow piece flat, face up and pin the piping along the sides, with the rough edge of the piping lined up with the edge of the pillow. When you get to a corner, snip into this rough edge. when you reach the end, take one end of the piping fabric, fold it under and tuck the other end inside – you will probably need to snip it down a bit. Sew in place.

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7) Now place your two pillow pieces right sides together and sew along the line of the piping, feeling it with your finger.  Leave a 3″ gap for turning and stuffing. Then snip the excess fabric away, to reduce bulk.

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8) Turn the pillow the right way out and fill with toy stuffing. Sew the hole shut by hand.

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This isn’t the speediest of projects, it takes time and patience – but once you’ve done one applique you realise you could literally applique any shape. Ooooooh….

Tia x

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Amazing Tomato Ketchup Recipe

tomato ketchup recipe a
As a big fan of Ketchup I once switched from Heinz to another brand of organic tomato sauce, assuming it would be better. Big disappointment. It was basically passata in disguise… not so good on my chips. So I loyally returned to Heinz and I haven’t looked back since. That is until I stumbled upon a Jamie Oliver recipe the other day – I had loads of tomatoes that were going to get souped (its too hot for soup!) – so I thought I’d give it another go. Surely homemade trumps Heinz, especially when its Jamie?

I discovered that this is THE best ketchup on the planet. It’s amazing. I want to put it on everything, I even dolloped it on my salad yesterday. I seriously recommend you make it immediately. Its really easy and keeps for 6 months.  Thank you, Jamie.

Recipe (adapted from this one by Jamie Oliver)

Ingredients

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
handful of fennel, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
olive oil
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
500g cherry or plum tomatoes
500g tinned plum tomatoes
200 ml red wine vinegar
70 g soft brown sugar

tomato ketchup recipe 1

Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.

 tomato ketchup recipe 2

Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 350ml of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.

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Add the basil leaves, then whiz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender and push it through a sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny and remove all the skins and other bits.

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Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.

Pour the ketchup into sterilized bottles (you can sterilize easily by placing the items in a container with a couple of inches of water, covering with clingfilm and microwaving for 3 minutes), then seal tightly and place in a cool dark place or the fridge until needed – it should keep for six months.

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Tia x