How to make fabric bunting

For her arrival, I made my lovely Goddaughter a baby quilt in the fabrics of the Very Hungry Caterpillar (bought from Spotlight).  I was really happy with the result.

Her mum (my friend!) came to visit me recently, and while we chatted and drank tea we made some matching bunting to decorate the nursery using the scraps from the quilt and some coordinating colours.  We chose the spots from the Very Hungry Caterpillar range, and then some yellow and orange fabric (which has small spots on it) with red binding.

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I used this pattern from chickbug.com as our guide, and we used the 7.75 inch triangles (although, the method is the same no matter the size).  There’s lots of different sites on the internet offering patterns and instructions, but I found the chickabug pattern good.  Here’s the method we used.

Cutting the triangles wasn’t hard, but we found it was easiest when we cut the fabric into 7.75 inch strips before we applied the pattern.  That’s something I didn’t read in the instructions I had seen elsewhere on the internet.

We then pinned together pairs of triangles, pretty sides facing towards each other, and sewed along the two longer sides of the triangle.

Once they had all been sewn, we turned them around the right way, and pressed them.

We lined them up in the order we wanted them assembled, and then prepared to use bias binding to join the triangles together.

We used the medium-width bias binding available from Lincraft.  It puckered a little bit, but I don’t think that’s a deal-breaker.  It just reflects the little bit of stretch and strength you get with the bias.  I found it helpful to press the bias binding in half before pinning the triangles in to the binding, as this meant I didn’t have to wrestle with small, unruly strips of fabric.

One long seam along the binding, and it was done.

It’s pretty, washable, and personal.  I think it makes a lovely gift for a child’s room.  It was also quick – we made a bunting 6 metres long in less than 3 hours.

Most importantly, we had such fun catching up and sewing the afternoon away.

JF

Cheap, easy and delicious pancakes

When I was young, the first dish my Mum taught me how to cook was pancakes. Her recipe was never written down, and I’ve known it off-by-heart for years.

The ingredients are ridiculously cheap, and this amount makes about 5 pancakes of a diameter of around 30cm.  Perfect for one person (but you’ll be ridiculously full) or for two people to share with some more substantial accompaniments, like chopped fruit or ice cream.

I should mention that these are crepe-like pancakes, not the thicker American-style pancakes.  While I’m on the subject, the American love of bacon with pancakes confuses me terribly.  Sweet and light with fatty and meaty?  It’s not a combination I like, but hey, each to their own.  I can’t say I understand it.

Here is my family recipe.  It’s such a reliable winner.  Note that the very first pancake you fry in a batch will be your weakest – unless you really enjoy your butter.  I tend to skip eating the first one (I feed it to my dog… I’m sure that doesn’t meet the vet’s recommendations) because all of the rest are clean, not greasy at all.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (rice bran oil is my preference, but vegetable or olive oil will do)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Butter for frying

Method:

Whisk together the flour, egg, oil, milk and water in a big bowl, until all lumps are removed.  This should be quite a quick process.  You’ll get a feel for the right consistency with practice, but the batter should be quite thin.  The final result you are looking for is a crepe-like thickness of about 1 millimetre, so a thick batter won’t give you the best result.

Near the stove, collect your tools:  a frying pan, ladle, flipper, butter knife and the butter.  I also like to line up a plate, and switch on the oven in case I need to keep the plate or the pancakes warm (it’s just a matter of practice how fast you cook, and if you are cooking a very large batch, you might need to keep them warm if you want to serve everyone at once).

Switch on the stove, heat the pan on high.  Take a small knob of butter, pop it in the pan and lightly grease the whole of it by swishing it around the pan as it heats.

As soon as the pan is greased, take a ladle-full of pancake batter and pour it into the pan.  Working quickly, swirl it around the pan until the surface of it is covered.

Leave the pan on the stove to cook, but don’t walk away!  The pancake should be flipped over (another talent you’ll master with practice) as soon as you can see the exposed side of the pancake firm up.  Another good indicator is when the pancake moves easily when you shake the pan gently.  If you’re still not sure, take the flipper and have a peek on the other side of the pancake.  If it is golden, it is time to flip.

Fry the other side of the pancake.  This will be quicker, about a minute.  You’ll know it’s ready when it slides in the pan easily, or when it looks golden.

Use the flipper to remove the pancake from the pan, and put it on to your plate (warm it up in the oven in advance, if you think you need to).  If you aren’t serving immediately, sit it in a low-temperature oven until you’re ready to serve it.  The oven should be a temperature less than 100°C or the edges might crisp up.

Repeat for as many pancakes as your batter allows.

Serve with creativity!  Goes well with lemon and sugar, or strawberries and ice cream, or bananas and honey… use your imagination.  As a child, we used to just have them with a teaspoon of sugar, and I still love that simple pleasure.

Enjoy!

JF