Make Do & Mend – Star Elbow Patches

We’ve had a really productive weekend, hurrah! Appointments attended, girls met friends, pumpkin soup was made (Chris whipped it up before I could take photos, but it was delicious), horses were ridden, dog was walked, and I have finally started to address the mending pile which has been on a summer hiatus! I’ve also had to provide sympathy and chauffeur support to Chris after a minor nail-bending injury rendered him unable to do two-thumb activities. God only knows how he’s going to get to London tomorrow unaided…..


So the eldest kid has the loveliest cashmere sweater, but much elbow-leaning has taken it’s toll, and you could probably fit a small toddler through the resulting hole.


Time for patches – here’s what I did.

I didn’t want to do a bog-standard old-man patch, and had seen a lady a few years ago with heart-shaped patches, so decided that stars were the way forward. First I cut out a template.


Then drew around the template onto the fabric I was making the patches from using an air-erasable pen. I chose a patterned needlecord because it’s fairly hard-wearing and pretty funky. 


So that I didn’t sew through to the other side of the sleeve (I am constantly sewing things to myself), I slid the sleeve over a wine bottle. This also means there’ll be a little bit of give in the finished sleeve.


Next, I postioned the star where I wanted it to sit (cue much fannying), pinned it in place and then basted it in with long stitches.


Using a blanket stitch, I secured the patch to the sweater. I’m relatively new to hand-applique so this was a bit of a slog, but I did gradually speed up!


Pulled out the basting stitches, and ta-dah, one sweater, good for a few more years and one more kid!


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Easy Jam Recipe

When we moved to our country home, the first thing we did after unpacking was to shake the ripe fruit from our “new” damson tree. Our new neighbours probably thought we were mad; Chris stood on a ladder with an extending lopper to shake the branches, and the girls and I stood underneath making a hammock with an old curtain! Damsons aren’t very nice to eat raw as they make your suck your cheeks right in, but they’re perfect for making the loveliest jam! I thought I’d share our very easy recipe which you can adapt to take advantage of whatever seasonal fruit you get your mitts on!

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Firstly, check your fruit over for little maggoty friends! I like to give it a good rinse in a colander too, before weighing it and adding to the biggest saucepan you own.

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Now, weigh out the same amount of sugar and add to the saucepan. You don’t need any fancy sugar – I’m convinced it’s just a ploy to get you to spend more! If you’re using a fruit which is low in pectin, you can always add that later on. Pop a saucer in the fridge, you’ll need it later.

Turn your hob onto a medium-high heat and stir regularly until the sugar has dissolved. This is where I share my secret tip! Damsons are loath to give up their stones. The first time we made jam we sifted the jam spoon by spoon, removing the stones. It took forever! Now I use a potato masher once the fruit is nice and soft, which releases the stones to float to the surface where you can rescue them with a slotted spoon. Much easier 🙂

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Once you’ve got your jam to a rolling boil, reduce the heat for a bit and let it bubble. Scrape off any froth with a spoon. I use a sugar thermometer which tells me when it’s at jam temperature (105c). When it hits this point, fetch your saucer from the fridge and put a little dollop of jam on it. Pop it back in the fridge for 5 minutes, then push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles, you’re done! If you have done this a few times and your jam still isn’t wrinkling, you’ll need to add a bit of pectin. You can either add some pureed apple, or use bottled pectin.


Take some sterilised jars (wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water, and leave in a hot oven to dry), and pour in your jam. Quickly screw on your lid (using a clean towel, or your fingers will melt) and ta-dah, you’ve made jam! I love our damson jam on croissants, and to change up a Vicky sponge; it keeps a little of it’s tartness which means it’s great paired with sweet things. It also makes a nice hostess gift if you’ve been invited somewhere lovely!



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