Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I have for you, a Post of Substance!

I have not been feeling well for going on two weeks now, and I took a day to stay home and sleep and take cold medicine…..I feel better right now than I have in days!
Which brings us to The Post of Substance…..(I apologize in advance once again, for my severe lack of photography skillz.)
I’m going to talk about pinking machines!IMAG1479
While Other Noelle was here, I gave in and purchased one of the swanky versions of the Simplicity rotary cutter.  Because I’m a ‘go big or go home’ kind of gal, I purchased every cutter blade I could get my hands on.  (I am really hoping for more styles…..wouldn’t it be lovely to have something that would do pinked scallops?!)
I would very much suggest buying the machine and blades on sale, while it is a fantastic machine, it’s on the pricey end, for what it does.
I was kind of surprised as I started playing with it to realize that you need a Phillips head screwdriver (oddly enough, not included in the package) to unscrew that clear plastic piece every time I wanted to change the blade.  There is a safety switch that doesn’t allow the machine to run without the cover, which is kind of silly.  I’m sure I can resist the urge to stick my fingers in a rotating cutting blade.  I’ll be thinking of a way to keep the safety switch engaged all the time, so I can operate without the cover, or a way to quickly snap the cover off and on.
The adjustable width guide is pretty flippin’ awesome.  There’s also a pedal and a separate speed adjustment knob which is pretty helpful.
Ok, on to the cutting blades!  Well, the term ‘cutting’ is a bit misleading….the ‘blades’ aren’t at all sharp; pinking is achieved by squishing and stressing the fabric fibers until they break apart….which is the same way my antique pinker works.  The antique pinker and the modern motorized version work surprisingly similarly, in fact!
The antique pinker has the blade on the bottom of the plate, and the blade is adjusted up/down;
Whereas on the Simplicity cutter, the blade is stationary, and the solid cutting wheel is adjustable underneath the plate;
Here is a sampling of the cutting blades currently available for the Simplicity cutter:
Small pinking:
Medium wave:
Large wave:
Medium scallop:
There’s also a straight cutter (awesome for cutting strips!), and a deckle cutter, which I didn’t purchase.
My antique cutter (which I purchased on eBay some years ago) has a much more decorative cut:  (although it needs to be cleaned and tuned for a better cut!)

My Favorite Toffee Recipe

1 lb Butter
1 c.  Water
2 c.  Sugar
1/4 c. Karo Syrup
OPT. 1 Tbs. Vanilla
(this recipe scales up really well. One batch will make a roughly 11x17" sheet of toffee)
Boil all ingredients in a heavy pan on med-high heat. Stir *gently* with a wooden spoon. As the consistancy changes, test by dripping into glass of ice water; toffee will be ready to pour out when hot toffee makes brittle strands in icewater.
There are temperatures you can track for readiness, but I prefer the old fashioned icewater method. After making toffee a couple of times, you'll be able to guess fairly accurately when the toffee is done, the color and consistancy changes quite dramatically when the toffee is ready.
Pour onto parchment paper lined pan.  (I like to pour mine on my parchment paper covered marble counter.... The thickness is perfect by just letting it pool) After cool, dab the top with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
OPT: melt chocolate while boiling toffee. Pour over cooling toffee. Add toasted nuts, or whatever sounds delicioso.
When completely cool (factor in at least a couple of hours!) break into chunks, eat, and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I did sewing! (and candy making....)

My sister and I got down to business and nearly completely finished the doublets for the boys' christmas gifts. We're down to buttons and ties now, exciting!
Last night, I also taught Astrid how to make toffee (or at least I was trying to be a bit informative while making it! )
It is also my birthday this week, hard on the heels of my first 'real' paycheck in nearly a year. The point of this story is that I want to buy myself a present, and I can't decide if I should get
A) Some books that have been taunting me from my amazon wish list/other various and sundry 'wants' from the land of Internet.
B) Fabric (my stash *desperately* needs some fleshing out after the last two years! Mostly basics, but I want something new and inspiring! )
C) Bias tape maker (the super fly kind.... That would go with my awesome strip cutter. Hm, I should post about my strip cutter, it's awesome!)
D)  1820's-ish corset. That time period is severely lacking in my wardrobe, and I'd like to at least *try*
Because no post is complete without pics, here's one of my recently (mostly) reorganized costume closet. I just need to find the time + energy to go through one last room of sewing/costuming/book/craft horror show, and I'll be feeling much, much better!