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Mulled cider winter warmer

According to most people I know, January is the worst month of the year. The Christmas holidays are long gone, it’s dark, it’s cold and summer still seems like a long way off. Fortunately my birthday at the end of January usually cheers me up, but even if you don’t have presents to look forward to there’s still a way to cure the winter blues (clue: it involves booze).

Blackberries in autumn

Foraged Blackberry Cake

Autumn has well and truly arrived, and the hedgerows around here are dripping with blackberries. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably collected enough to sink a small ship, but fortunately I’ve found an easy (and tasty) way to use them up.

Plaid Shirt: Basting and Sewing

On to the fun part – actual sewing!

Obviously when starting to assemble your garment you need to pin or baste your fabric pieces together first. I can be pretty lazy when it comes to basting, so for the ‘simpler’ seams (i.e. long straight edges) I tended to just pin the pieces together. To make sure I’m getting everything lined up, I find an ‘intersection’ or corner in the plaid and stick a pin straight down through the fabric.

I then lift…

Plaid Shirt: Laying out and Cutting

Hopefully you’ve got your fabric and pattern all sorted out now, so it’s on to the fun part: cutting out your pattern pieces! This stage is worth really taking your time over, as it will be the foundation for your garment’s success (personally I see it as a good excuse to marathon episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while I work).

My first step was to take a good look at my fabric. I could see pretty easily that the…

Plaid Shirt: Working with Plaid

When working with plaid, it’s worth taking a bit of time to study your fabric before you set to with the scissors. The various colours and structures of tartan designs mean that there are a few things to take in to consideration when working with this kind of fabric.

Balanced vs Unbalanced Plaids

First you need to establish whether your chosen pattern is balanced or unbalanced, as this will have an effect on how you cut out and construct your shirt…

Sewing a flannel shirt

Getting Crafty: Plaid Shirt

Going through my wardrobe recently I realised that the two plaid shirts I own were both pretty ratty, which is probably unsurprising when you consider that I’ve worn them for everything from Duke of Edinburgh expeditions to painting a stable roof. They’re also one of my go-to clothing options when I’m heading out for a leisurely ramble in the countryside. Unfortunately a trawl through the high street failed to turn up any acceptable replacements, so I’m turning to my trusty old friend the sewing machine to make myself a snuggly hiking shirt.

Sloe Berries

Foraging for Sloes

Its getting towards that time of year when everything begins to feel autumnal. My thoughts are already turning towards knitwear, cosy nests made of blankets, and curling up in a windowseat with a cup of tea and a good book. It’s also nice to imagine cold, crisp mornings walking along paths scattered with crunchy russet-coloured leaves, seeing your breath spiralling into the air. It also happens to be the best season for a bit of foraging.