Saturday, May 18

Mending a vintage silk blouse

I was recently asked to mend this silk blouse. The owner did not know exactly how old it was, but my guess is 1930s. The amazing thing is that virtually all the stitching is done by hand and as you can see from the photos below, there is an awful lot of it! Every single seam, all the pin tucks, the attaching of the lace......... it must have taken hundreds of hours.The photos are not the best - I'm still having trouble with my camera..... but I hope you get the gist of things.

The pintucks -

The collar -

The under side of the collar, showing the hand stitching -

French seams at the sides - 

There were various parts of seams that needed mending. On the far right of this sleeve seam you can see the original stitching, and to the left is my repair; not quite as neat and small -

This is where someone had mended it before, using backstitch instead of the running stitch that was used originally, and which I used. The backstitch is a bit thick and lumpy - 

Previous repair

An underarm seam, a bit sweat stained........ I did think of asking the owner to wash the blouse before I mended it, as there were other dirty marks on it too, but I refrained, and just got on and did it. I have read that you should mend old garments before washing them but personally I don't like mending grubby things and won't do it again.

Another previous repair

There is a button missing from the bottom of the blouse now as I had to use it to replace one on a cuff. I also had to make a new button loop, seen here at the top, and looking rather white compared to the one at the bottom. That might be due to a different coloured thread or just that the old one is grubby -

New button loop

Here there was a tiny loop attached to the shoulder seam, with a popper fastening, for holding in place the straps of undergarments, and this is a bit of a mystery, because - the stitching you can see is done by machine! The photo is not that clear but I can assure you that that bit of stitching is done by machine. It's the only bit of machine stitching that I found on the whole blouse, and how strange to find it here on this tiny loop! -  

It was a privilege to work on a lovely vintage garment like this.

Monday, May 6

Savoury flapjack recipe

A somewhat different sort of post for me! What inspired it was an episode of Dragon's Den earlier this year, in which the founders of a snack company called Oatein pitched for investment by the Dragons. I have since looked up their bars and have not been impressed with their ingredients.

As I watched the programme, I thought about snack bars generally and in particular the ones that Husband and I keep in the cupboard (from Aldi) and realized that delicious though they are, and very good for bike rides, most of the ingredients are grown abroad. Also, the wrappers are not recyclable. Then I wondered - could I produce something that was based on oats but which would not be very sweet and which would contain ingredients which were grown in this country? Something that even contained vegetables perhaps? So the next day I set to work, and this was what I came up with!

Savoury Flapjack

8 oz oats (I used rolled)
8oz hazelnuts
8 oz grated carrot
4 oz butter
2 oz honey
2 eggs, beaten
A large pinch each of salt and pepper

Melt together the honey and butter and mix it all up. Talk about easy.....

I put it in a tin which is about 9" square I think, and cooked it at 150 degrees C (fan) for 45 minutes.
Cut it up when it has cooled slightly, then leave to cool in the tin completely before turning out.

I kept it in the cupboard when I first made it but it went mouldy after a few days so I now keep it in the fridge. And I think it's delicious!

The only ingredient which was not from this country was the hazelnuts, but I chose them because you can obviously get them in this country in the autumn, as you can walnuts or almonds but I'm not sure that their flavour would go so well with the carrots. It's not unlike a nut roast recipe - in fact you could probably make it as that.

It is excellent for taking on bike rides as it is pretty filling stuff and is very quick to just get out of the fridge and wrap up - in something reusable. I think it is a good balance of carbohydrate, protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals. It is actually a lot more than a "snack" - I have taken it instead of sandwiches and it has kept me going for a long time.

If anyone would like to test this out, do let me know your opinions.