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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Designing and Making a French Beret with Cap Part 4

We have been designing and making a french style beret with a cap over a span of three blogs already and this is blog is the last in the series of four. In the first blog we conceptualized the idea. The second blog saw us designing the pattern. In the third blog we worked on the fabric layout and started construction on the cap. In today's blog, we take things quite a bit further by finishing the cap and attaching the head band. From there on out it is a few short steps to the finish line. Let's get started.

Attaching the Cap to the Head Band
Having constructed the cap in the previous blog, the logical next step is to attach the head band to the cap. Start by finding the centre of the cap. Now find the centre on both of the two head bands. Line the centre of the cap up with only one of the two headbands. Pin the cap to the head band as illustrated.

Pin the centre of the second head band to the cap as illustrated and continue to pin this head band in place as well. This is a bit tricky, so be patient. Don't pin the rest of the head band yet, only pin as far as the cap stretches.

It is time to sew the cap to the band. There is a 1,5 cm seam allowance worked into the pattern. It is tough sewing, but try to stay as close as possible to the 1,5 cm seam allowance. Sew only the pinned section of the head band.

We now need to close the head band. Pin as illustrated, so that the two head bands form two circles, and stitch, allowing a 1,5 cm seam allowance.

Iron the seams open before you continue, or the hat will not look neat when finished.

Pin the head bands together as illustrated. We will start sewing where we ended on the cap and end where the cap starts again. Make sure you start exactly on the stitch line and end exactly on the stitch line.

Iron the stitch line flat. It will be difficult to get in here again if you don't iron this now.

It is already starting to take shape, isn't it?

Construct the Lid of the Beret
We are going to put the band and cap aside for the moment to concentrate on the beret. Place sections 1 and 2 of the beret lid side by side.

Now lay them face to face (right side to right side) on top of each other. and pin the connecting sides only.

Sew the pinned side.

I know it is tedious to jump up and iron first, but it really does result in the best quality work. That said, I strongly recommend you iron each small seam open before moving on to the next.

Repeat the same steps with section 3, attaching it to the first two sections.

You have now constructed half of the beret lid. Lay this half aside and sew the leftover three sections together in the same fashion. In the end you must have two halves as illustrated.

For some inexplicable reason I did not take a picture of the next step, but let me explain. Pin the two halves right side to right side and sew one straight seam down the centre. When you open it up the beret lid is finished.

Attach the Beret Lid to the Beret Ring
I started on the lining. Lie the beret lid and the beret ring right side to right side on top of each other as illustrated. Pin it in place. Use enough pins, since fabric cut on the bias will move quite a bit. Since the beret is circular there will be large sections that are cut on the bias.

Repeat the same steps with the fabric lid and ring.

Allowing yourself a 1,5 cm seam allowance, sew right around the outer edges of both the fabric and lining berets.

The lining is not going to be turned inside out, but the fabric will. We need to get rid of the excess fabric. Cut small triangles in the seam line on the outer edge of the beret.

Trim the seam to about half of the 1,5 cm allowance.

Turn the beret right side out and finger iron the edge to smooth it out.

Now iron it flat. It will not be easy to iron this seam again and this is the best time for it.

We now need to insert the lining inside the beret. Trim the seam of the lining to about half the seam allowance so it will fit better.

Insert the lining wrong side to wrong side in the beret. Turn the lining until the short side of the lining lines up with the short side of the fabric and the long side with the longs side. Pin it in place.

Attaching the Head Band to the Beret
You will remember that when we drew up the pattern for the beret, we added 1,5 cm seam allowance to the inside hole of the ring, effectively reducing the space where the head fits into. At the time I told you that I would show you a trick to recover that lost space. This is it. Cut approximately 1 cm into the beret at regular intervals. These small cuts will open up just enough to be able to fit the head band to the beret and your head in the hole. Do not cut so deep that the cuts run into your seam line (the seam allowance is 1,5 cm).

Attach the head band to the beret. Pin only one layer of the double, open head band to the beret as illustrated. In other words, pin one layer of head band to both the beret and the lining.

Fold the head band open and sew all along the pinned edge. Take care not to catch anything else in the stitching.

We now need to fold the open side of the head band in and pin it in place. Turn the beret inside out for easier access.

Hand stitch this seam with small neat stitches. You can also stitch this with the machine, using a top stitch, but it seldom has neat results and I strongly recommend doing this by hand.

When you are done, the finished product is so neatly finished off that you might as well wear it inside out, as well as right side out.

Thank you for following with me. Please leave photos of your own berets in the comments. I'd love to revel with you in your success.

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Monday, 30 March 2015

Amasi Rusks

Today I will show you how to bake my famous Amasi rusks. These sell out as quickly as I bake them and I am sure they will be a great hit for you as well. If you want to try them, but are not into baking, you can buy them ready-baked or place an order here.

Let's first take a look at the ingredients and then I'll walk you through the steps of baking it:
  • 5 kg Wheat Flour
  • 175 ml Baking Powder
  • 20 ml Salt
  • 30 g Aniseed (optional)
  • 1,5 kg margarine
  • 3,5 l Amasi
  • 6 Eggs 
  • 1 kg sugar (5 cups) 
The first thing to do is to melt the 1,5 kg margarine. I simply pop it in the microwave to speed things along.

I then neat the 6 eggs in a bowl before adding the 3,5 litres Amasi to the eggs. I mix this well. I will add the melted margarine to this once it has cooled down, but in the meantime I will mix the dry ingredients.

I empty 5 kg wheat flour in a large bowl. I add 175 ml B=baking powder and 20 ml salt. If I make the aniseed version, I add it to the dry ingredients. I also add 5 cups of sugar.

Mix the dry ingredients well.

With the margarine cooled down, I add it to the egg/amasi mixture. I do not add it unless it has cooled down, since the hot margarine can cook the eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix. This will be gooey and stick to your hands, but keep at it.

You know that the dough is ready when your hands come out clean and the dough forms a neat ball that releases from the bottom and sides of the bowl.

It is time to set the oven to 180°C.

Spray your rusk pans with non-stick coating or use the empty paper from the margarine wrapping to coat the pans.

Fill the pans about 2/3 to the top. This is how many pans I fill with the dough.

Put the pans in the oven, but do not crowd them. You can rather bake a second batch than to put too many pans in the oven at once. Simply cover the ones waiting to go into the oven with plastic to prevent them drying out and pop them in once the first batch comes out. They will bake for about an hour and a half. Once they turn golden brown on top and start to loosen from the sides of the pan you can test with a skewer to see if they are done. If the skewer comes out clean, they are done. If dough sticks to the skewer, they need to bake some more.

Once they are done you can remove the pans from the oven and place them somewhere to cool down. When the pans are cool enough to touch with your bare hands you can slide the rusks out and let them cool down further on a wire rack.

When all the rusks are baked, bring the temperature on the oven down to about 100°C. Cut the rusks into thick slices with a bread knife and cut then cut the slices into thick fingers.

Arrange the fingers on the wire oven racks, leaving space for air flow between each of the rusks.

Put the oven racks back in the oven and wedge the door open slightly. The rusks will take approximately 8 hours to dry this way. Before taking them out, break one of the rusks in two and check that it is bone dry in the middle. They may appear dry on the outside without being dry on the inside.

Dried rusks will keep well for months in a cake tin at room temperature. Dip the rusks in coffee and enjoy as a breakfast snack or at tea time.

For more crafty ideas and great products, visit
Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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