Thank you to Carol of Justletmequilt.com for another terrific blog hop. This annual cookie/blog hop tradition is how I first jumped into these fun blog hops. This one is for a “Boro” project and a cookie recipe so please read to the bottom for the browned-butter chocolate chip recipe.
I celebrate Chanukah and tonight is the second to last night. I recently gave one of these bags as a special gift and here’s the story. I have always been intrigued by the Japanese boro movement of patching and restitching over holes to repurpose clothing. The word “Boro” means ragged or tattered and was a way for people to repurpose their clothing to save money. Today, Boro or hand stitching has been borrowed by modern artisans to create a style that is folksy and handmade. We must remember that it was originally born out of necessity, and not meant to be just decorative.
My first attempt at boro was practice, but I still finished it into a pouch with two zippers. I learned a lot along the way. 1) The stitching does cause the fabric to bunch a bit. You need to add one extra inch of fabric all around your piece. Once stitching is complete, only then trim your fabric pieces down to the exact size you need. 2) In the spirit of Boro, it’s best to use what you have. I needed a few basic items for boro but tried to respect the intent of not overpurchasing. This traditional craft was about repurposing and not investing in new items. 3) Choosing scraps is best when not too contrived. I went with colors that play well together and nothing that would distract from the stitches themselves. 4) Do your hand stitching first and construct the bag and add any zippers as secondary steps.
You don’t need much in the way of materials to make a boro piece, but here are some of the basics.
Needle: A boro or sashiko needle (You can use a large eye, sharp-tipped embroidery needle if that’s what you’ve got on hand.)
Thread: DMC thread (I like size 5m) natural or off-white is the most traditional. The thread comes in many colors via skeins or even round balls. Of course, there is a specific, hand-dyed, traditional thread made just for sashiko that is available online. However, DMC thread is just as good. It won’t bleed when washed, comes in many different colors and you can find it everywhere. If all you have is 8m, you can use that too. If all you have is worsted wool, size #4 cotton or acrylic yarn, use that as well. In other words, do not fret. The string needs to get through the eye of your needle and be thicker than regular sewing thread.
Fabric: Traditional boro fabrics were indigo (blue), beige or brown. Occasionally you would see another scrap being tossed in with the mix, but clothing was usually hand dyed and so the coloring was limited (and gorgeous, I might add!) For your project, you’ll need a base fabric in a solid color to best show off your stitching. I used navy blue for mine, but anything will work and you need not be traditional. (Remember to make your base fabric at least one inch extra all around as the stitching will use up more seam allowance than simple machine sewing.) You will also need some scraps of fabric, in the colors mentioned or use your own design. Whatever I select, I like to add bits of denim, preferable without much stretch. The more worn and faded the denim, the better the results. You can even use denim for your base. Many experienced sewists like to do boro on denim pants or jean jackets. This is a project where I would limit your novelty and busy prints to let the hand stitches shine on their own.
Fabric Marker or Fusible Interfacing: You will want to mark lines or grids on the back of your fabric, so get yourself a chalk or fabric marker that works well. If you have none, another idea is to draw lines on fusible interfacing which you then iron onto the back of your fabric. This is a way to use a regular pen or pencil to get perfect lines.
Pins or Basting: It’s helpful to pin your scraps in place before beginning to stitch. One idea I found is to baste some stitches onto the scraps first to keep them from moving. If this feels like cheating, well that’s up to you. I have tried both basting and going without. Whatever makes things easy for you, that’s the best method! I am sure that some people would try glue basting, but I would worry about getting gunk on the needle.
Pick a running stitch to start with, or anything basic. Don’t worry if your stitches are uneven, wonky or weird. I aim for a handmade look, but not perfection. You will get better as you go, but if you never have perfect stitches, so be it. This project was about letting precision go and enjoying the journey. It was cathartic and fun…and I enjoyed trying something new. So how about that new recipe next!?
Lately, my nephew has become quite the foodie… with cookies becoming his new specialty. He swears by using browned butter in classic chocolate chip cookies!! I needed to try this for myself. I chose to make squares instead of individual cookies, but either way this works great. The house smells incredible from the butter and the cookies have an extra nutty and enhanced butter flavor.
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Squares (or cookies)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or less
- 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
- Brown the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter begins to foam and turns a golden brown, emitting a nutty aroma. Don’t overdo this part or you will get an extra dry dough (ask me how I know??) The minute you start seeing brown in the butter, you’re good and now remove it from the flame to cool. Pour the liquid butter into a measuring cup and put it in the fridge to stop it from cooking further. The browning shouldn’t take more than about 5-6 minutes but you must watch like a hawk…or else it will burn. (I suggest looking at a few videos online about ‘browned butter’ to show you what this ought to look like.)
- In a larger mixer (I love my Kitchen aid stand mixer) or use a big bowl, combine the cooled brown butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat until mixed together. Add in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. (I ran out of vanilla extract so I used some whiskey…another suggestion if you’re like me and don’t plan well.) Mix well.
- Add half of the flour until everything comes together. Add in the baking soda, salt and mix again. Finally, add the remaining flour, stopping if the dough starts to get too dry. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.
- Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least a half hour, or overnight. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees before you begin baking.
- If you want squares, line an 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper and spread the dough evenly in the pan til it’s no more than half filled . (Use any extra dough to make cookies but don’t overfill your pan.) Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool and cut into 16 squares.
- If you want to bake cookies, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a 1 ounce cookie scoop to scoop the cookie dough out into balls, placing them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Bake for 11 minutes* at 350 degrees or until the edges are just golden brown.
How did they taste? The flavor is great. (Full disclosure: I baked my batch with gluten-free flour due to family food issues, so mine were crumbly and a bit dry. I don’t recommend gluten free with this recipe. I’ll be remaking them with regular flour next time.) Using regular flour, your cookies will come out amazing and surely will taste better than ever!
Check out the other wonderful blog posts from this hop and find some really amazing recipes and projects to boot! Here are the other bloggers from today.
That Fabric Feeling You Are Here!!
Linking up to: Oh Scrap, Midweek Makers, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Peacock Party, Finished or not Friday, Brag About Your Goodies, Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, My Quilt Infatuation: Needle & Thread Thursday.