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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Making Ouma Marietjie's Ginger Beer

In the previous blog on making Ginger Beer, I told you that both my grandmothers used to make it. I shared my paternal grandmother's recipe with you, but today I want to share my namesake's recipe with you. This grandmother did not wait for Christmas or special occasions, but you could almost guarantee that there would be homemade ginger beer on the farm when you went to visit. I'll show you how to make Ouma Marietjie's Ginger Beer in today's blog. And with this blog being published on the last day of 2015, I'll raise a glass of ice cold ginger beer and wish you all the best for the year ahead!

The recipe has been used over and over again and has become quite faded with time, but I managed to take this photo of the recipe in her own handwriting.

I will be doubling up on the recipe to use 10 litres of water, instead of the prescribed 5. I therefore wash and fill 5 2 L bottles with water. I also wash another 1,5 L bottle, as I know that the quantity will increase with the addition of the other ingredients.

Empty the water into a bucket. Add 6 cups of sugar (1,5 litres).

Add 2 sachets (20 grams) of instant yeast (or any other yeast will do. Adjust accordingly).

Add 2 heaped tablespoons of ground ginger.

Add a whole bottle (20 ml) of Jamaica Ginger.

Stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

Pour the mixture into the bottles. It filled the 11,5 litres beautifully. Allow some space at the top of the bottle for the fermentation process.

Add a couple of raisins (about 5-10) to each bottle.

Screw the lids on lightly and set aside for the fermentation to take place overnight.

I came back two hours later and you could already see the instant yeast at work. The raisins had already lifted to the surface. Once they start racing up and down the bottle, you know that it is well fermented. This process will continue until consumption.

Refrigerate after 24 hours and enjoy it ice cold. Allowing the fermentation to develop for another week will improve the sparkle in the ginger beer.

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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Making Doll's Clothes - tricks for dealing with those small spaces

I am being taken advantage of by my nieces ... and loving every moment of it! Yesterday my youngest niece arrived with another of her dolls in tow and informed me that she needed a new dress. Well, I had some fabric left over from my Elsa projects and figured it would not take too long anyway, so I might as well make the doll a dress. Doll's clothing are very similar to clothes made for humans, but the tiny necklines and armholes make them tricky to sew. In today's blog I show you a couple of tricks for dealing with these obstacles.

When I was handed the doll, I realized that she was in need of a whole makeover, not only a new dress! Her hair was so wild that it took me a full half hour to get the knots out.

I then set to work with some Handy Andy on a cloth, cleaning up the little face. With the doll now more or less presentable, I could move on to the sewing.

I used the doll's own dress to get the size right for cutting. I added extra space for seams and traced the outline of the dress on the fabric with Dressmaker's chalk.

I then laid the doll on top of the dress to determine how long I could make the new dress.

I then folded the fabric in half to make sure that the two sides would be equal. That meant that I was cutting four layers of fabric at once.

The cutout dress.

I wanted to add a train and laid the pattern on the fabric for the train to get the length right.

The train is basically just a long rectangle.

I decided it would be easiest to dress and undress the doll if the train was removable and cut a band for it to make it removable.

The train for the band needed to be reinforced with iron-on vilene.

I cut two small strips of Velcro and pinned it to the band.

The Velcro was sewn onto the band.

Sew on both sides of the Velcro (top and bottom) to secure it properly.

I then folded the band in and sewed the sides.

Hem the train on three sides with a rolled hem. Sew.

Tack the top of the train.

Fold the bottom seams of the band in. You may even want to iron them flat to make it easier to work with.

Tuck the train deep into the band and pin it in place. This part is tricky. Make sure that there are no loose ends slipping out.

We will be doing top stitching and lengthen the stitch length on the machine as this is much neater.

Sew along all four sides of the band for a pretty finish.

The train is now complete and can be put aside.

Cut down the center of the back panel of the dress, from the neckline.

Set your machine to zigzag.

Pull the cut seam straight and finish the ends.

Fold the opening over only the width of the zigzag stitching. Pin in place. Sew.

Turn the fabric with the needle in the down position when you reach the end of the opening and sew back up to the neckline.

You now have an opening at the back to make dressing the doll easy.

Determine where the train will come and pin the Velcro to the appropriate spots.

Sew the Velcro onto the back of the dress.

Pin the front and back together at the shoulders and sew.

Fold the neckline over as you did the opening at the back. Pin.

Sew the neckline.

Fold and pin the armholes in the same way. When making clothes for humans, we will not finish the hems on the arms before closing the sides. When making doll's clothing the armholes are too small to work with the machine once the sides are closed and so we reverse the order here. We attached the Velcro earlier for the same reason. The principle to bear in mind is to do whatever needs doing while there is still space to do it in.

Sew the hems for the armholes.

Put tiny pieces of Velcro at the top of the opening at the back and sew them on to the dress to close the opening.

You can now pin and sew the side seams.

Pin and sew the hem of the dress.

The dress is now finished, except for needing some ironing.

Dress the doll and attach the train. Front view.

A view from the back.

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