All dressed up and nowhere to go

My brother-in-law just held a reception to celebrate his recent marriage. This triggered a rush to the closets to see whether there is anything halfway decent that fits anyone, as, well, smart casual is a step above what normally passes for attire around here. My daughter was in-between dresses. Even though she gets several hand-me-down dresses each year from her cousins that do not get worn as, well, jeans and shorts are just so much more practical. Especially for a girl more likely to be found hanging upside down from a climbing frame than playing tea party. So I knocked out something on the quick, for cheap.
Yep, just a longer version of the smock top. With fewer pleats as I changed my mind about which side of the fabric was the 'right' side halfway through. I estimated instead of measuring the pleats. And did a horrific job on hemming the lining, as I was rushing it at the last minute.
Still, it turned out ok.
Then we arrived at the reception and it was whipped off her, as apparently they had a dress for her that matched her cousins'. It turns out that they had bought some little girl dresses for the cousins back when they were considering a church wedding. So, I had a late night of sewing for nothing. Still, at least I was spared the stress of having my daughter be a flower girl in front of a crowd of people. I didn't even know that they had been considering it. I wouldn't have put it past her to cartwheel down the aisle...
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I might shorten it into another top. Otherwise it will probably gather dust like the other dresses.
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Regarding the flour: it's not that 'English flour' is a special variety, it's just that American flour is made in a different way to English flour. Something to do with the weight of it or whether it is bleached or how much protein is in it or the amount of salt or whatever - so that the same recipe will turn out differently depending upon whether you used the American variety or the English variety of self-raising flour, for instance. I had been wondering why everything that I baked over here turned out awful, when I happened to see it mentioned that a cookbook author travelled to England to use their ingredients for the English version of her book, because of the differences. Now the difference in the sugars is fairly easy to see, but I had been unaware that there was a difference in the flour.
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So I did more research and came across a wonderful article that went into the exact composition of the different types of flours in each country and how they differed and what you should add extra / how you should adjust the weight etc. to compensate for the difference, so that your baking will turn out as planned. Then I forgot to bookmark it. I have been searching for it ever since. So, in the meantime, I am just buying the imported flour, as that is the one my English cookbooks have been written for. Hopefully I'll find that article once more - or will at least replace my English recipes with American recipes that use the American ingredients on hand...
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I'm supposed to cleaning the house, so no translation of the day today...
Take care.

32 comments:

  1. Love the simplicity of the dress.I hope it does get worn.
    Thansk for the info on the flour.Very interesting. I always wondered why some of the supermarkets mke a point of saying their french baguettes,croissants etc are made with 'real French flour' Maybe it does make a difference. It also explains why some American cupcake recipes haven't worked for me without a little tweeking. I'd offer to send some flour over for you but imagine the P+P would be sky high.

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  2. Gorgeous dress!

    I had no idea the flours were different. It does explain a lot ...

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  3. Hello! Delurking to say that I've loved reading your blog. You've made some lovely things. Your daughter's dress is very sweet and doesn't look rushed at all. Shame communication wasn't the best.

    Re. flour - does it have to do with gluten levels maybe? Like with the difference between plain flour and bread flour? Anyway, if I come across such an article I'll be sure and send the link on to you. Jane Brocket wrote a book about baking, well two I think, and there was a UK edition and a US edition. If you could get hold of a copy and compare it via email to the UK copy... might help. I've not *actually* read it myself, so I'm not sure if there would be a recipe for fairy cakes in it, but she does lots of traditonal things. Art of Domesticity and something about Ginger Beer.

    Sorry, if I'm waffling.

    Anyway greetings from Scotland and more power to your needle!

    Cheers,
    AJ

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  4. such a nice dress! sort of sad she didn't get to show it off but I guess it all worked out in the end!

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  5. I have the same issue in Holland, I have to buy the extortionate SR Flour from the expat shop cos the SR flour is different. Hey ho!

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  6. Oh! I was wondering why everything I've baked in this country hasn't turned out right! Good to know.

    (Found your blog via Smoothpebble. I'm a California girl living in the UK.) :)

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  7. I find the same problem here in Canada (the flour is stronger) although there is pastry flour these days which is a little lighter I believe. Gorgeous little one in her dress!

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  8. And the butter in the US is completely different from the European/Australian kind we use back in Singapore. Everything baked in either place with the other's butter just turns out all wrong. I hope you find that article, too!

    That smocked dress is beautiful - classic and bold and beautiful.

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  9. Adorable dress! Love it. I too have a daughter who would rather climb trees. She however, still loves dresses. So my new fasination is bloomers to protect the eyes of everyone from her more adventurous activities.

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  10. LOL about the dress! I hope she gets to wear it another time! You did a beautiful job of it.

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  11. The dress is gorgeous! Have you checked your history to see where you were looking that day to find the article?

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  12. As I've said before, your smocking is gorgeous. I love it.
    Hopefully she'll wear it again soon.

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  13. How about closet vs cupboards?!
    Well I never, who'da thought flour would be so taxing?! I'm sure we'll all keep a lookout for the article for you!
    Love her smock, gorgeous.
    x x x

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  14. That's a beautiful dress you whipped up. What a feeling it must have been when it was whipped off. You always seem to take everything in stride. Fascinating flour facts.

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  15. What a lovely blog, love it! I am putting together some links/tutorials on my blog (it is in swedish)and added your tutorial on how to make a dolls house. I hope this is ok. If not, please let me know and I'll remove it straight away. Have a nice rest of the weekend, Emilie

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  16. Thanks heaps!! I will mane one of those houses for my daughter, they are gorgeous....

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  17. This looks so cute - don't shorten it...

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  18. It' a lovely dress, it sits beautifully, if you shorten it, don't make it too short, a pair of legins or some bloomers might be good for cartwheels though.
    Thank you so much for the Tutorial for the Fabric Dolls house - I have made one for my daughter - I have added to the flickr group and it is blogged at http://happy-dacks.blogspot.com/2009/10/endless-bithday-party.html
    Do you mind if I leave a link to your tute on the side bar of my blog?
    Chele x

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  19. Another smocking triumph! Do you have a pattern or is it your own design - I love it's simplicity.
    He he - my word verification is scons!

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  20. I love this dress and I also hope she will wear it while doing cartwheels and showing off her knickers. Very couture for such a rush job of sewing. We have the same problem here, about once a year the boys have to dress up and I have to scramble to find decent shirts, pants and shoes. Most days they just look like urchins!s

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  21. Hi
    Love the dress and was facinated by the flour thing in your last entry so looked into it myself.
    Found this...hope it's helpful.

    http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/convert.html

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  22. The dress is amazing! I tried honeycomb smocking once but it didn't turn out so beautifully. I say keep the dress long, with the holidays coming up a red dress could get lots of use- or the idea of only shortening it slightly and wearing it with leggings, that would be precious.

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  23. complimenti sei davvero bravissima...il vestitino rosso è assolutamente very chic!!!

    ciao
    Elisa

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  24. Cute dress! I'm wondering if smocking a shirt for an adult would look ridiculous or fabulous? I might have to find out soon!

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  25. Cute!

    It would have been fun to see her cartwheel down the aisle-- my son roared like a lion at everyone at my brother's wedding.

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  26. I really like the dress; I like that you have relatively few pleats.

    I'm an expatriate in the US too (Aussie) and didn't know about the flour.

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  27. Here is s blog with pastry/flour information:
    http://joepastry.com/index.php?cat=143

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  28. Such a beautiful dress! I can barely sew at all...so I am quite envious.

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  29. The dress would have been darling on it's own ... but the smocking? Smashing.

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  30. Hi - LOVE the red dress, in one night, really? I see on a later(earlier) post that you made a blue-top version. Unique and beautiful. Worth it! :)

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