Tuesday 23 June 2015

Pattern Test: The Nina Skirt

I was lucky enough to be included to test the Nina Skirt and Culottes pattern for girls by the very talented Marte of Compagnie M.     She has some great designs, and I felt very honoured to be included to test this new one.

This pattern will be available in the Compagnie M pattern shop from 24th June (and there's a discount if you're quick, plus an even better discount if you want the Women's version of the Nina pattern.  This is definitely a great pattern to add to the stash.  It's very easy to follow, and you can tell this pattern is tried and true ... the amazing Ninas shared by the other testers are so inspiring ... there are some very clever ladies out there!

This versatile pattern includes options for an invisible zip or a fly-front zip, and this is for both the skirt and culottes.  For the fly-front you can also choose between a large button overlap (like the one I did) or a smaller overlap.  So, really there are tonnes of ways to make this one up, and with a different overall look each time.  Love a versatile pattern!

Anyway, at the time of the testing call, Marte specifically noted that she hadn't seen many fly-front skirt options tested.  So I decided that, in my continued effort to cure my zip-phobia, I'd give the fly-front option a go.  I'm so happy I did ... for my first ever fly-front I'm so thrilled with how this came out, and I definitely credit that to Marte's pictures along with the instructions.  It was very easy to follow, and I was surprised how easily this came together.

Given it's winter in Australia currently, I chose to make a winter-weight Nina for Bethany.  I had just enough of this gorgeous purple spotty corduroy left from a previous project, and thought this would look great as a Nina.  So, I made a cup of coffee and got to cutting.  I chose 2 sparkly gemstone buttons, because, well, they're sparkly.  Enough said, right!

Instead of hemming the skirt as per the instructions, I decided to use a piece of jumbo ric-rac from my stash, to make a kind of scallop-look hemline.  This ric-rac was totally meant-to-be.  It matched perfectly with the pink spots in the fabric, and the piece I had fit perfectly around the hem.  Can't get much closer than that, though I'll admit there was a moment of panic at the half-way mark when I realised I hadn't measured to check it would fit ... whoops, then phew!

In terms of constructing this hem, I totally just made it up as I went along.  It was about mid-night, and in true What's Mummy Up To style that's when some of my best ideas happen.  I'm really happy with how it looks.  To do this hem, I:
- Overlocked the raw edge of the skirt hem.  
- Then, with the ric-rac on the right-side of the fabric, I sewed it along the egde, lining up my stitching with the top edge of the overlocking stitching, and sewing along the middle of the ric-rac.  
- I then turned the ric-rac under to the wrong side, and topstitched about 1/4" back from the edge on the right-side to hold it in place.  

Pretty simple and quick, and a nice change to a plain hem.  I also liked that it added about an inch to the overall length of the skirt, seeing as this is a winter Nina and all.

I made a size 8 for Bethany, and was really happy with the fit.  Marte gave a suggestion of adding adjustable elastic to the waist, but given Bethany's measurements I decided not to do this.  The fit is great!! 

So Bethany is happy with her skirt and coupled with a pink top, and her matching pink coat, and some winter boots, this has made a cute outfit for these cold days we've been having.

I think my next Nina will be the Culottes ... for Hannah this time!

Saturday 6 June 2015

Recipe - Family Favourite Apple Crumble

Yep, as the name suggests, this is a real family favourite for me.  My Mum has made this Apple Crumble for as long as I can remember and now my girls love it too.  This crumble is not the same as you might buy ready-made, or even as I've had it in restaurants before.   The crumble is much more ... well ... crumbly, which I love.

Anyway, when I recently had some spare granny-smith apples that were going to spoil if I didn't do something with them, I decided this was the perfect use for them, and Daddy and the girls didn't complain one bit!!

Here's how I made it ...

This makes 4 individual-sized servings.

For the apples:
- 6 Apples ... I used Granny-Smiths, because that's what I had, but I have used pretty much any apple for this recipe and it works great!
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar (depending how much of a sweet-tooth you are!)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- water

For the crumble:
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- Optional extras: 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, or 1/2 cup flaked almonds lightly toasted 

To prepare the apples:
1. Peel and core the apples, then dice and place into a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the sugar and cinnamon, then enough water to just cover the apples.

2.  Simmer the apples over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the apple is cooked soft.  It will look something like this when it's ready...

3. Spoon the apple evenly into 4 ramekins or other oven-proof dishes.  You can totally use 1 large dish instead of individual portions.  I have a square pyrex dish that works great for this.

For the crumble:
1.  Place oats, sugar and almonds/coconut (if you're using them) into a medium sized bowl, and mix well.

2.  Stir through the melted butter until well-combined.  The mixture will still be relatively dry, and that is fine.

3.  Spoon the crumble evenly over the apple in each dish, and flatten the surface using a spoon.  

4.  Place the ramekins on an oven tray, and bake in the oven at 200C for approximately 15 minutes, or until the crumble on top is just lightly golden.

5.  Serve with ice-cream or custard.  We usually eat it as a warm dessert (great for our wintery weather in Australia at the moment), but this is also really yummy as a chilled dessert.  Just refrigerate after baking, and serve it cold!  The crumble soaks up some of the apple goodness, and it's just divine!  Enjoy!!