Archives for October 2017

“Simple Sleeveless Top by Lauren Guthrie” pattern & book review

For this first book and pattern review, I though to create the “Simple Sleeveless Top” featured in the popular Laurie Guthrie book “Learn to sew with Laurie”.

I decided to choose one of the most simple projects as this is a book centrated on learning and while Kate is an experienced seamstress, I am still a beginner, so this review is written with this view and level in mind.

The book itself is nice, the techniques are in my opinion well illustrated. The patterns are many, and they space from homeware to cloths and gifts and it was quite easy to follow and understand.

If you are interested in buying the book you can find it on Amazon.

But I did come upon an issue while creating the first clothing related project from this book: the sizes. Something has gone quite wrong, as they are all smaller than what they should be, at least for the sleeveless top project, but probably if there is this issue for this simple pattern all the other dress patterns might share the same fate.
A size 16 is in reality a quite tight 14, and this applies to most sizes. They are all a very tight fit, the seams are not sufficient to make it fit in a becoming way on most body types, I am between a 14 and a 16 in all patterns I have created up until now, Kate is between a 12 and a 14, This top did not fit neither of us. The seam allowance in my opinion should of been a little more abundant too. So keep in mind to double and triple check the sizes and go for at least two larger than what you would normally do.

I chose a fabric I bought on Liberty during the sales. It has lovely apples in Black white, light green and grey. The cutting and transferring of the pattern was really simple, and so was the sewing. I have been lazy and just applied the binding on the collar and sleeves and finished the hem with the overlocker.

So, would I recommend this book? If you are a beginner and you are after techniques and clear instructions, this is a good book, The patterns for homeware and gifts are fine. But the ones on the cloths might have issues, I am not saying they all do, as I only tried one, but they might, so plan carefully.


Autumn Pumpkin Ravioli

I adore autumn, the leaves turning yellow, orange, red, the crispy winter air starting to tickle my nose. But most of all, I LOVE autumn and winter food. As a northern Anglo-Italian, most of both of my family food traditions are centred around these seasons. So I am very happy to be rid of the fresh summery pasta salads, light meals and fruit to make space for yummy roasts, toad in the hole,  risotto, polenta, soups and RAVIOLI among all the rest.

It is hard to give the ravioli an exact date and place or origin in the world, as forms of pasta stuffed with other things do exist though in different forms in many countries, for example Japan, India etc. It is certain, that in Italy they reach a level of culinary excellence that is exquisite. One of the first written sources  that talks about ravioli in Italy is Giovanni Boccaccio‘s “Decameron” (1353 circa), where he describes: “…these people do nothing else all day than make maccheroni and ravioli and cook them.“. Ravioli have different names and slightly different shapes and sizes in different italian regions, for example it is called “Agnolotto” in Piedmont, “Tortello” in Lombardy and Emilia regions, “Pansotti” in Liguria.

You can have different fillings in the ravioli, from the classic “Magro” with spinach and ricotta, to different types of meats, potatoes, cheeses. As this blog is about crafts and sharing what we do and love, we thought that cooking should be in here too! So today, I will share one of my all time favourites: The Pumpkin Raviolo. King of the Autumn table.

Ingredients for the “Pasta all’uovo”:

  • 200 gr of simple 00 flour
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 8 gr of salt

Ingredients for the pumpkin filling:

  • 250 gr of cleaned pumpkin
  • 200 gr of Ricotta cheese
  • 10 gr of crumbled amaretti cookies
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 15 gr of grated parmesan cheese

Ingredients for the butter sauce

  • unsalted butter
  • fresh sage
  • salt, pepper

Procedure for the “Pasta all’uovo” is simplified if you have a Pasta machine, such as an atlas, but you can, with a bit of hard work do this by hand with a proper surface and rolling pin, be aware, you will need much practice and strong arms! Mix all ingredients, starting by making a little mountain with the flour, create a hole in it and put in the eggs and salt,  working it in a lucid, smooth ball. Remember, once you have made the dough ball let it rest 30 mins covered in the fridge before dividing it in smaller balls to flatten it. The pasta layers should not be much thicker than 0.35 to 0.5 mm. If it gets any thicker than that it will not be nice to eat, so work it with the rolling pin or the pasta machine until it is of that thickness.

The filling is easy, just cook the pumpkin (i think oven baked  is better as it dries it too), and mix all together, adjust salt to taste. Once your pasta sheets are ready, you can either use a special Ravioli stamp, or a ravioli and pasta wheel cutter to start tracing (without cutting) the spaces where your filling should go, then you will simply put little balls of the filling on the sheets (see example) and then close with another sheet, cut and press the side with stamp or wheel, helping yourself with your fingers, should it not stick very well, use a tiny bit of water to seal them by hand.

Do not use messy sauces with Pumpkin Ravioli, remember the key to REAL italian cooking is simplicity, you should be able to taste the pumpkin not the sauce. So in a sauce pan, heat the butter with the washed and roughly cut sage leaves until golden. And please, no garlic. I am not sure where the idea that Italians cook with so much garlic came from, but it is not true 🙂

Ravioli needs to be put in a pot of boiling water (with a pinch of salt) and be cooked between 3 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the pasta. Take them out, pour the butter sauce on top, sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot.


Carlotta’s Pumpkin Ravioli

Welcome to Westhampsters

It was a warm breezy May evening in London, and as every start of the summer in England, sunlight lasts blissfully longer than usual.

Carlotta was having a house warming party as she and her husband George had just moved into the lovely Westhampstead neighbourhood. Across the fence that divides the common garden, Kate and Phil peeked up to say hello, like two little rays of happy light; they both had lived in NW6 for a long time.

Glasses of prosecco where exchanged in an interesting quantity, and over the bubbly spirits, Kate & Carlotta met. And never meeting neighbours has been so perfect. We share many things, above all a passion for crafts. Kate is an amazing sewer, Carlotta enjoys all that is yarny and thready…

Seven months later, we decided to set our minds on our first common craft adventure. “Westhampsters” was born to give a name to our first tiny Christmas market stall we set up in our area. We would like to say that from there forever more we have been participating to many more craft sale events. Truth is, we discovered our love for the maker world is better expressed by not planning our crafts, rather choosing projects with love.

All our items are therefor handmade with happiness; instead of “planning” we decided to concentrate on “making”. We craft special items for special people who order them or whom will be gifted with one of them. That is what this blog is about: love, care, crafts and sharing our own recipes, ideas and projects with you.

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