Doneday: Baston Bag

Doneday (formerly known as Finished Things Saturday but now moved to Mondays) is the (usually) bi-weekly counterpart to my UFO Fridays. While there I show you what I’m working on, Doneday is about finished projects – I used to think that small things weren’t worthy of a separate post but now I just put them in this feature and feel less silly about it. They deserve it! For more Doneday, look here.

PA140068When I met my boyfriend he had been training modern arnis for quite a few years, wore almost exclusively black and thought carrying throwing knives was cool. Fast forward almost ten years and he’s long since switched to Jiu-Jitsu, wears a lot of tie-dye and took to sewing his own pants. The arnis sticks, or bastons, however, stayed.

PA140071When he upgraded from the sports bag he’s used for over a decade to a slightly smaller and more nowadays-aesthetics one they were the only training equipment that didn’t quite fit so he asked me for a sleeve to put them into and somehow fasten to his bag.

PA140069As mentioned above he’s quite colourful, more so than I and much brighter. He also likes paisley and swirling patterns, so after a bit of digging through my stash, I came up with this combination.

PA140073The main fabric used to be a small scarf that I’d bought at the thrift store on a whim – I do that sometimes just to discover it was meant for another person in my life all along and I was merely the messenger. The thicker yellow on the closed end is a leftover from a curtain someone in my family threw out ages ago, I remember sewing something from it in my teenage years. The dark red linen is a scrap from a pair of pants Scoundrel made for himself for a LARP character. It actually goes down to the yellow fabric, as well, and has an extra layer made from fleece leftovers for the quilting I did on the scarf.

PA140072I took the hardware and straps from the old sports bag that wasn’t exactly mendable anymore and measured the distance between the new bag’s handles. Now he can simply clip the baston bag on when he needs it, and the straps are tight enough not to sway too much when he’s on his bike.

PA140074I used an old shoelace and a bead from a (you guessed it) thrifted necklace for the closure together with the rest of the scarf – the border was too good not to use for this.

I’m really happy how this turned out. The boyfriend is happy as well, and I like the thought that it’s not just practical but also matches his aesthetics so well.

Do you customise your stuff to match your aesthetics when you need something new? Let me know in the comments!

Have a lovely week, Thistledown Gang!

Introducing Sewvember

Sewvember_transparentIf you’ve been here a while you know I love a good challenge. You might also know that usually during November I’m waist-deep in NaNoWriMo projects, but this year I decided to accept my own challenge, facing the fact that closing the doors of my fabric closet are getting ridiculously difficult to close…

the ideaThe idea for Sewvember was born out of frustration. I felt like all I ever did with my sewing was repairing stuff, patching things, some altering, doing lots of small projects, mostly for others. I felt like I neglected what brought me the most joy in sewing: creating something from scratch for myself, basically bending fashion to my will, or making something just for the fun of it. I felt like practical sewing took up all the space and energy I had for the creative use of fabric, and that bothered me. Even worse, I didn’t dare to start bigger projects anymore because I dreaded the chaos they would bring with them before I even made the first stitch. At the very same time, I saw all the potential in what feels like square miles of fabric in my stash and wanted to do something about it.

Through experience, I know that a challenge might help me with that. A month of creative folly, just sewing for myself, not just to keep things together but to create something new, and to finally get going on that fabric stash might be exactly what I need.

I’d like to invite you to join me in this challenge, maybe to hold each other accountable, or just to show off our new creations, but more on that at the end of the post. Before you get on board you might want to know what the rules are…

the rulesIt’s easy, you make your own. The only set thing is that every day you should work on something sewn, but if that’s hand- or machine-stitched, a piece or a seam a day, by weight or surface, an hour or ten minutes each day: that’s completely up to you.

Here are the “rules” (more like guidelines, anyway) I set for myself:

  1. Sew every day.
  2. Use up a square meter of fabric each day (on average)
  3. Alterations count for half their actual surface
  4. No new fabrics, stash only!
  5. Keep track of square meters, but also of lenght of ribbon, trim and lace used
  6. Make at least 5 pieces for yourself only

my plansOf course, there’s a list of things I want to make already. This is by no means exhaustive, just a few projects I’ve got on mind for this month:

  1. Quilt something onto my wool thow blanket I use in Winter
  2. An Edwardian walking skirt, inspired by Bernadette Banner
  3. Two stoppers to keep my balcony door open during Summer
  4. Wool pants for my Edwardian worker aesthetic needs
  5. A historical mystery project!

How about you? What are your projects this month, and are you going to join me in Sewvember (feel free to use the graphic on top of the post!)? I know, I know, I should have announced it earlier, but joining later is always a possibility (next year I’ll surely say something a week before or so).

Have a lovely month, no matter which challenges you face!

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

PumpkinCake8I absolutely love marble cake. Maybe it’s a remnant of my childhood, maybe I’m just intrigued by a cake that has two colours because I’m easily amused. Either way, on my noble quest for more pumpkin recipes I decided to tweak my Grandmother’s marble cake recipe to be a dash more autumnal.

I also decided to use pumpkin guts here – an often overlooked and thrown-away part of the pumpkin that is actually just as edible as the rest, and I don’t like to waste food.
I bake my marble cake in a traditional bundt cake tin but any other cake tin with a volume of about two litres. But off to the recipe!

PumpkinCake1You’ll need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 120g soft butter
  • a dash of salt
  • 175g sugar
  • 300g flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 100g pumpkin guts sans seeds or pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 20g dark chocolate, grated
  • 150g yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp or 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
  • 1 dash black pepper, cloves and ginger each, all ground

PumpkinCake2Cream the soft butter with sugar, salt and vanilla sugar until it is evenly mixed, then beat the eggs in. Mix flour and baking powder and sieve it onto the batter, add yoghurt and mix until smooth. Take about three scoops of batter into a different bowl.

PumpkinCake3Chop up the pumpkin guts so the strings won’t just cluster in one place and mix them with the bigger part of the batter. Add the spices, stir and fill into the tin.

Mix the set-aside batter with cocoa, chocolate and milk and add it on top of the spiced part. Marble and mix the batters with a fork.

Bake at 175°C for an hour – you might want to do a knife test after 45 minutes depending on your tin.

Let cool and dust with powdered sugar if desired (if not you might as well eat it while it’s hot, it’s delicious with the rest of that yoghurt).

PumpkinCake5My Grandmother uses crème fraîche instead of yoghurt but I found out that this works just as well and might leave the cake a bit lighter. But it’s still an option, just replace it 1:1.

PumpkinCake4If you don’t happen to have pumpkin guts around (like me when I baked this cake a second time two days after the first) pureed pumpkin does the job just as well. Chop it up into cubes, add some water – half of it should be covered – and let it boil for a few minutes. I just let it simmer while I prepare the rest of the cake which works quite well, but you might still have an eye on it, just in case. When it’s cooked just mash it up or use a blender and you’re all set.

PumpkinCake7I made another of those recipe cards for this cake! I really like them, they are endearingly old-fashioned in a non-threatening way. Feel free to print or pin it (there might be more at some point)!

rezeptkarte_kuchenLet me know if you try this recipe (I’m sure my Grandma would love to hear that people liked what’s essentially her recipe but pumpkin-spiced) and have a wonderful weekend!


(Life) Style Tips in October

October Life Style Tips

Apple season has finally fully arrived, and if you’re lucky enough to know an orchard nearby, go apple picking! Dry the peels for tea, and use them for divination, too, by peeling the apple in one long strip and throwing the skin over your shoulder – the letter it forms is the first letter to your answer.

Woman is at once apple and serpent.
– Heinrich Heine

Add a pinch of Folk Horror to your outfits by wearing chunky pentacles, old-fashioned black cat motives and ominous black hats. I personally like small bits of bone in my jewellery and silver hoop earrings. Hang a shawl next time you burn incense to take the mysterious scent with you.

Celebrate the Harvest with friends. Get together for a meal or two – it doesn’t necessarily have to be dinner, a brunch with a pumpkin pie, apple butter and self-made jam on pancakes is just as fine – and work in as much seasonal produce as you possibly can. Say your thanks to the deity of your choice or just each other and don’t forget about the immaterial harvest of the year, all that you have learned and achieved so far.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Wear chunky cardigans, thrifted or self-made. Get a plain one and alter it to suit your aesthetic needs for the season – needle-felt swirling pumpkin vines or cross-stitch folk patterns onto it or add leather elbow patches. If you can’t find the right cardigan at the second-hand store, raid it (or the closets around you) for oversized sweaters to cut open, hem with ribbon and stitch big buttons onto.

Make potpourri with the roses you dried in July, or with cloves, apple peel (see above) and cinnamon sticks. Or you could make your whole closet smell like Autumn by sewing little sachets to fill with your potpourris and tossing them in your drawers.

“But when […] strong Orion begin to set [i.e. at the end of October], then remember to plough in season. But if desire for uncomfortable sea-faring seize you; when the Pleiades plunge into the misty sea [i.e. again towards the end of October] to escape Orion’s rude strength, then truly gales of all kinds rage.”
– Hesiod, Works and Days

Go watch the Orionids! The meteor shower peaks on the 21st, but they are active almost all month long. Combine with the harvest feast above and have a star theme for your food (pretty pie crusts spring to mind), go to a secluded spot with little light pollution around and lay down on thick blankets to watch the shooting stars with your loved ones.

Lamb’s Lettuce & Pumpkin Salad

It’s Autumn at last, and Autumn means pumpkin time! So when my lovely Verdin suggested posting a pumpkin recipe each week of October I happily obliged, and here we are. It’s a nice warm salad that actually works as a main course when done with the amounts listed below, or as an entrée or side salad if you just make less.

Kürbis1Feeds 2:

  • ½ medium Hokkaido pumpkin
  • 1 apple, more sour than sweet (I’d recommend Gravensteiner or Finkenwerder Herbstprinz)
  • 2 hands of lamb’s lettuce
  • 1 hand of Welsh onion greens
  • 1 hand of rocket
  • sunflower seeds
  • optional: 1 block of feta
  • sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • dash of nutmeg, paprika, ginger each
  • small shallot
  • small clove of garlic

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Dice the pumpkin, add some sunflower oil and sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg, salt and cinnamon each. Bake for 30 minutes.

Kürbis3Wash the lamb’s lettuce – it’s notoriously hard to clean, and the easiest way is chopping off the part where the leaves grow apart and then just dump everything into a bowl of water to get the soil off – and rocket thoroughly and set aside. Chop the onion greens and, if necessary, the salads, and finely dice the apple.

Kürbis4In a small bowl, mix 50-70 ml (depends on your taste, and you can always add more) sunflower oil and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, paprika, ginger and honey. I find it easiest to mix in the honey last, but do whatever works for you.

Kürbis5Roast the sunflower seeds in a small frying pan without oil. When the seeds start turning brown add finely chopped garlic and shallots. Fry until the garlic starts turning light brown.

Kürbis2Do not, under no circumstances, combine the salad with still-warm pumpkin unless you want to eat right away. The salad will go limp and mushy, and you don’t want that. Add the pumpkin to the greens when you’re ready to eat, put on dressing and sprinkle with seeds, garlic and shallots. Add feta if you like.

Kürbis6I even made one of these neat little recipe cards for easier pinning (or printing, if you so desire). Let me know if you liked it in case you try this recipe, and keep looking out for more pumpkin recipes this month!

10 Things I ♥ in September

Umbrella Academy | GWOTD | Vampire Weekend | Unavowed | The Stranglers
  1. Umbrella Academy might have been out for a while now but I never claimed to be up-to-date with things like this. I finally was in the mood to start and I adore it. It’s very much like Wes Anderson directed an X-Men series with (of course) a dash of My Chemical Romance so it’s not just a visual but also a narrative treat. They also have TMBG in the soundtrack, so of course I’m sold.
  2. Grandiloquent Word of the Day is represented on almost all social media platforms – the links are here on their website, I follow them through Instagram – and one of my favourite features of this internet thing: It gives you really big, sometimes really silly and often antiquated words to fill out your vocabulary.
  3. It’s wonderfully rainy lately.
  4. My latest app obsession is Level Up Life. A bit like Habitica  (which I stopped using at some point) it helps me do things that are actually good for me, like going outside, learning new things and getting my paperwork done. It lacks Habitica‘s cute avatars but has the distinct advantage of not giving me penalty if I can’t log in for a day and already provides the things to do, rather than having me make my own to-dos, and levelling up unlocks new tasks and challenges, as well. I’m Hedgefairy there if you happen to play and want another friend!
  5. How could I not excessively listen to Vampire Weekend before now? I know I’m always late when it comes to things that are accepted in broader popular culture but seriously, how could I miss out on this audible sunshine? The song that got me hooked was Campus, by the way, and I sometimes use it as my get-out-of-bed song because it is so very danceable.
  6. Unavowed. Oh boy, Unavowed. I played through it within three days which is really little time for me when it comes to computer games. If you like urban fantasy settings and detective novels this is the perfect, bittersweet game for you.
  7. Learning Dutch, and while the owl is a bit creepy and annoying (I had to unsubscribe from – I think – three separate mailing lists) Duolingo is a really helpful tool for someone like me who thinks gamification is the best way to learn, ever.
  8. I’ve had a veritable surge in productivity lately, I’m getting shit done, the flat is making more progress than ever and I think I can still say that I’ve got a healthy social life! I have no idea where this came from, but I see it as a blessing and I hope it’ll stay for a while.
  9. Surprisingly I’ve lately found scented candles that I like. I’ve never been big on those in any way, but somehow Sand & Fog don’t only have a great name but also scents that aren’t as obtrusive (not sponsored, by the way, of course not, I found them at a trip to TK Maxx). I’m currently using their Autumn Harvest candle which just smells subtly divine.
  10. And last but not least I seem to have entered into a weird little 80s phase, complete with music and the lovely re-imaginations of historical fashions the decade brought with it. Now please excuse me while I listen to Golden Brown on repeat.