Saturday, February 4, 2017

Knitted Vest for 18" Doll

I developed this pattern from the Beaded Sweater. Look for the directions for that sweater at the end of the post - Dolls for the Children. This sweater vest has directions for using 4 ply worsted yarn and for using sport yarn. I ordered sport yard in several colors from Red Heart to make sweaters for the 18" dolls but I have so much 4 ply worsted yarn, whole skeins, partial skeins, small balls, etc. Using the pattern I developed for sport yarn makes a sweater much too large when using 4 ply worsted. So I developed a pattern for the same sweater vest using leftover 4 ply worsted yarn. I like the product of both yarns, though, the sport yarn or DK yarn makes a more delicate looking vest.

When making this sweater vest, I learned how to make selvedge edges. I am still perfecting the method I like best. Also, using this site , you can learn several ways to make quick selvedges. For more detailed selvedges, visit this site. There are several reasons for using a knitted selvedge. I like them because it makes row counting easier and makes a sturdy flat edge, rather than a bumpy edge.

If you don't want to complete the selvedge edges, knit both the right and left edges, which would also be the first and last stitches on each row.

 It takes approximately 36 grams (1.3 oz) or  about 61 yards of 4 ply worsted to make a sweater vest and approximately 19 grams (0.6 oz) or about 52 yards to make the vest of sport yarn or DK yarn.

One pink vest sweater yoke, button bands, and hem was knitted using the seed stitch rather than the garter stitch. Since there are increases in the yoke, the seed stitch in the yoke is not a literal seed stitch. To accommodate, the increases there may be two knit stitches or two purl stitches together.

RS - right side
WS - wrong side
inc - increase stitch
dec - decrease stitch
selvedge stitch - selvedge
K - knit
P - purl
garter stitch - knit each row
stockinette stitch - knit row and purl next row
seed stitch - alternated knit and purl stitches (see link)

Sweater Vest using sport yarn or DK yarn (#2 or #3 yarn standard)

Using #6 needles, cast on 44 stitches

Row 1:  Knit across
Row 2:  (rs) 1 selvedge stitch. Knit across. In last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, yo, knit 1, 1 selvedge
              stitch (button hole)
Row 3:  1 selvedge stitch, knit 5, *inc in next stitch, K2, repeat across from * to last 5 stitches.        
              Increase in next stitch. Knit next 3 stitches, 1 selvedge stitch (56 stitches)
Row 4:  1 selvedge stitch, knit across to last stitch, 1 selvedge stitch
Row 5:  Repeat row 4
Row 6:  Repeat row 4
Row 7:  (ws) 1 selvedge stitch, knit 4, *increase in next stitch, knit 3, repeat across from* to last 7
             stitches. Increase in next stitch, knit 5 stitches, 1 selvedge stitch. (68 stitches)
Row 8:  (rs) Repeat row 2 (another button hole)
Row 9-10:  Repeat row 4 (2 time) (the length of the yoke should be approximately 1 1/2 inches) If
              you want the yoke longer, repeat row 4 until you get the width (length) you want.
Row 11: 1 selvedge, knit 10, cast off 13 stitches, knit 20 stitches, cast off 13 stitches, knit 10 stitches,
              1 selvedge (42 stitches on needle)
Row 12:  1 selvedge, knit 10, cast on 9 stitches, knit 20 stitches, cast on 9 stitches, knit 10 stitches, 1
               selvedge (60 stitches on needle)
Row 13: 1 selvedge stitch, knit 58, 1 selvedge stitch
Row 14: 1 selvedge stitch, knit 2 (front band), purl across to last 3 stitches, knit 2, 1 selvedge (front

Repeat rows 13 and 14 until under arm measure 2 1/2 inches. In last row at 2 1/2 inches, decrease a stitch at each under arm and in the middle of back. (Decreasing stitches is optional but the decreases keeps the bottom edge from puffing out.)

After decreasing row, knit each row until 5 ridges have formed (or the number of ridges you would like). Cast off on right side.

With crochet hook or finishing needle, tuck beginning and ending yarn tails inside. (The finishing needles can also be found in Walmart, Amazon, craft stores, etc.)

Lightly block the sweater to give it a nice finished look. Sew on buttons.

Sweater Vest using 10 ply worsted (#4 yarn standard)

Using #6 needles, cast on 44 stitches

Row 1: 1st stitch selvedge, knit across, last stitch selvedge
Row 2: (RS) 1st stitch selvedge, knit across, in last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, yo, knit 1, 1 selvedge
             stitch (button hole formed)
Row 3: 1st stitch selvedge, knit 5 stitches, *inc in next stitch, K2, repeat across from *, to last 5
             stitches. Increase in net stitch. Knit 3 stitches, 1 selvedge stitch. (56 stitches)
Row 4-6: Repeat row 1
Row 7: 1st stitch selvedge, knit 4, * increase in next stitch, K3, repeat across from * to last 7 stitches.
             Increase in next stitch, knit 5, last stitch selvedge (68 stitches)
Row 8: 1st stitch selvedge, knit across, in last 4 stitches, knit 2 tog, yo, knit 1, 1 selvedge stitch
             (button hole formed) 68 stitches
Row 9: Repeat row 1
Row 10: 1st stitch selvedge, Knit 10, cast of 13 stitches, Knit 20, cast off 13, knit 10, 1 selvedge
               stitch (42 stitches)
Row 11: 1st stitch selvedge, knit 2, knit 9 stitches, cast on 9 stitches, knit 20 stitches, cast on 9
             stitches, knit 11 stitches, last stitch selvedge. (61 stitches)
Row 12: Repeat row 1
Row 13: 1st stitch selvedge, knit 2 stitches, purl across to last 3 stitches, knit 2, 1 selvedge stitch.

Repeat rows 12 and 13 until under arm measures 2 1/2 inches. In row at 2 1/2 inches, dec 1 stitch under each arm hole and middle of back. (The decreases helps hem of vest from bulging out and are optional.)

After decreasing row, knit rows until 5 ridges are formed with 1st stitch selvedge and last stitch selvedge. Cast off from right side.  With crochet hook or finishing needle, tuck beginning and ending yarn tails inside. (The finishing needles can also be found in Walmart, Amazon, etc.)

Lightly lightly block the sweater to give it a finished look. Sew on buttons.

The top sweater vest has the yoke, hem and button band in the garter stitch.
The bottom sweater vest has the yoke, hem and button band in the seed stitch.
Again, both sweaters are knitted with sport yarn (#2).


"How to Block Knitting: Wet Blocking and Steam Blocking Knitting Techniques." Interweave. N.p., 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 04 Feb. 2017. <>.

"How to Knit the Garter Stitch." Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2017. <>.

"How to Knit the Stockinette Stitch." Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2017. <>.

MarleneD1216. "Slip Stitch Edges - Knitting." YouTube. YouTube, 18 Feb. 2010. Web. 04 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Selvages." Selvages. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2017. <>.

"The 6 Best Selvedges for Finishing Your Projects." The Blog. N.p., 12 Apr. 2016. Web. 04 Feb. 2017.<>. 

"Yarn Weight (Thickness)." Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2017. <>.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dolls for the Children

I have loved dolls all my life. The picture of the cloth doll above is Betsy McCall. I made her by hand  (no sewing machine) when I was 11 years old. The pattern is now considered vintage. It was first printed in 1956. The pattern in the photo is a reprint of the original.

Since I retired in 2011, I have searched for things to do in which I can make the world a better place  . The first two years were spent taking care of Mama. After she died, I felt somewhat lost for something to do. I still missed teaching. I tried to volunteer to tutor in a few high schools but I never got "call backs". No one will ever convince me that there weren't a few students that needed tutoring in science or math. But that is neither here nor there. I am now a Durham County volunteer tutor through the North Regional Library. Love the children and tutoring. I also do science and science activities with middle school/high school homeschoolers through the same organization as a volunteer.

I found another way to spend my time that I absolutely love. I am buying and dressing dolls for charity. It is somewhat an expensive activity but there are so many rewards. I buy the dolls on sale. I also have purchased some at thrift stores and have restored them to original condition. There are several videos on YouTube to explain how to do the restorations. I am in the process of learning how to repair the dolls which have lost the mechanism to joint the legs and arms. There is a company that sell parts for repair.

 I do not buy the American Girl dolls because they are so expensive, even on sale or used, needing repair. But I must say that they are beautiful and well made. I can't afford to give them to charity. I have made sweaters for the American Girl doll for neighbors. Surely does bring smiles to the dolls' owners.

There are some dolls that resemble the American Girl doll that are nice. The hair is the problem. The hair of the American Girl doll is very good quality. The My Life dolls, from Walmart are nice looking dolls. The Springfield collection of dolls have beautiful faces but their hair is lower quality. The African-American doll in the Springfield collection should not be brushed. It comes out or becomes extremely frizzy. The Journey Dolls, from Toys r Us, are pretty dolls but they are out of my budget for charity. Another doll that I consider pretty are the Our Generation dolls at Target. Sometimes they go on sale and are somewhat more affordable, especially the regular dolls on sale. There are some Our Generation dolls that are as expensive as the Journey Dolls. Sometimes I find them for 3/4 the price at TJMaxx.

Another 18-inch doll that is reasonable in price for charity is the Dollie and Me dolls which can be found at Kohl's, Sears and Kmart. I don't think their face is quite as pretty as the American Girl, My Life or Our Generation but the price is about the same. There are the Madame Alexander 18-inch dolls which are also out of my price range for charity. They are beautiful dolls.

I have to keep my eyes open for specials, sales and dolls that need a little work. I found some Springfield dolls that had no box and knotted hair, thrown on a self in Michaels. I explained that I was giving them away for charity. I got a good deal on those dolls, no longer in a box, because the box got destroyed. It didn't take long to get them back in shape. They will be great delivered to an organization in a doll carrier or cloth bag.

I make an almost complete wardrobe and doll carrier for each doll. The wardrobe includes, underwear (some don't come with it), a couple pair of shoes, a night shirt, bedroom slippers, a short sleeve T-shirt, a long sleeve T-shirt, jeans, a denium jumper, a dress, short pants jumpsuit, a knitted sweater, socks, tights and sometimes a hoodie. I recently added shoes to the wardrobe, using old pocketbooks as a source of faux leather.

Making The Underwear

After the work of getting the dolls, the next job is to make the wardrobe. I start with the underwear.
There are so many ways to get underwear for them. I designed a way to make panties which don't require very much sewing. A recycled t-shirt can be use.

* The graph paper is 1/4" per block

1. Be sure that a ballpoint needle is used on the sewing machine. Using a regular sewing machine, zig zag or straight stitch 1/4" seam to the left front leg side* to right back leg side*. I can't get the close to the left back leg but you should be able to see the general location. Seam allowances are included in the pattern though they are not shown.

The hemming is done with zig zagging or a straight stitch. The top of the panties are the bottom hem of the t-shirt sleeve. No elastic is needed because the hem of the t-shirt  fits perfectly as the panties top.

The pattern is on the left. On the right is a sleeve from a recycled t-shirt.

The pattern has been cut out from the t-shirt sleeve. At the bottom on the photo is the hem of the sleeve. It
will become the top of the pants.

2. Now make a small hem in each of the leg openings. The great thing about sewing dolls clothes, it doesn't have to be perfect and practice helps. I practice making the skinny hem on a scrap of t-shirt fabric first, especially if it has been several weeks since working on knit fabric.

3. Next seam the front and back crotch together. The back crotch needs to be eased into the front. The reason for that is that the back crotch must be larger because all the 18" dolls have large rears. I think the reason for that is that it helps the be able doll to sit.  Once the crotch is sewn, you are finished. It took no more than 15 minutes. The pants can be made more elegant by sewing lace on the leg openings.


There are more patterns for panties that are prettier but they take more time. They probably will require elastic at the waist and leg openings. If there are scrap pieces of lace, it can be sewn in the leg openings. ( My pattern doesn't requre elastic) .  Each doll will get a pair.  Simplicity pattern #4347 has a pattern for pretty panties.

Another method for making undergarment is using socks on sale. These girls show you how they make underwear for their dolls using socks.

Making Jeans and T-Shirts

The jeans aren't difficult to make. They will be a little more time consuming if pockets are on them but they are so cute with pockets. I use recycled jeans to make them. I've tried several patterns and many of the have baggy legs. The legs can't be too tight because they will be difficult to put on. I like the way I make them. I started with a pattern and ended up cuttin out the side seam allowances so that the pants weren't baggy but were easy to put on.

1. The pockets have to be sewn on first. Notice that I don't have to hem the jeans because I cut the jean pattern on the hem of the recycled pants. Saved a step.

2. Next the fronts and back are sewn together without sewing the crotch. On these jeans, I had used all the pre-hemed legs, so this section had to be hemed. They were hemmed when a front was attached to a back.

3. To hem them, I zig zagged the edges and then sew the hem facing over and stitched. Simple!

4. Once the jean sides were sewn, the crotch is sewn. The picture above shows the casing for the waist elastic be measure and pinned. 

5. In the photo below the waist casing for the elastic is being sewn 1/8 in from the top and about 3/4 inch from the  top of the casing fold. Important! Leave an unstitched space in order to thread the elastic through the casing.

6. Next, the 1/4" elastic is threaded through the casing, the ends of casing are stitched together and the unstitched space is stitched. The elastic is pinned near the opening so that the end is not pulled through the casing. If that happens, one has to start over pulling the elastic.  Jeans finished!

The Denim Jumper

The jumper is not a design of mine. The pattern is from Simplicity #  2506.   The jumpers, like the jeans, are made from recycled jeans, which could be mine, from a thrift shop, or could be yours, if you give me your old jeans. The knees and butt may be worn out but the back legs are most always good. At a thrift store I found two denim dresses in the bins which were $1.00 each. They were in almost perfect condition and I got 4 jumpers out of one dress.

I add an iron-on appliqué to the front pocket. The are no button holes because I use a square of velcro to the strap and bib. The buttons serve no purpose, except for looks.

I make them as assembly line. The pocket is completed first, with the appliqué; then the bib is made.

Next the shirt is made with the hem. There is a touch of elastic in the back of the shirt. Then the straps are attached. 

The T-Shirts

The T-shirts are made from recycled T-shirts. The sleeves of reused T-shirts are usually in good condition and the back is usually in good condition. A few of the shirts can take advantage of the natural hem of the reused T-shirt for the hem of the doll sleeves and the hem of the bottom of the doll T-shirt. After that hem runs out, I have to hem the doll shirts. The back of the t-shirt is closed with approximately 1/4-inch velcro. Finding 1/4-in and 1/2-inch velcro is indeed difficult to find. I buy the 3/4-inch and cut it vertically in half. It is then sewn by machine to the t-shirt.

Notice that I am using the original hem on the t-shirt for the hem of the sleeve.
The front and back are sewn together. Notice that the hem of the front & back are
the original hem of the recycled t-shirt. 
The sleeves are then sewn to the front and back and seamed down the sides.
Finshed long sleeved and short sleeved t-shirts. A 1/4-inch long piece of velcro closes the t-shirt in the back.

Usually the sleeves of the reused or recycled white T-shirts are used to make the undies.
It is so much easier to sew on T-shirt fabric using a #11 or #12 ballpoint needle.

The Dresses

 I don't always use this same pattern for the dresses. There are some simpler patterns for dresses and if in a hurry, I use those. They have a very simple bodice and skirt. This pattern is so cute. If I have the time, I knit or sew a shrug that will go with the dress.

The dresses may appear to be complicated but they are not. I choose coordinated fabric patterns, usually in bold colors. The bodice is simply trimmed with coordinated bias tape. The back of the dress is closed with velcro.

In this particular pattern, the skirt is made of three gathered tiers. The bodice is very simple and bound with bias tape.

Strips of coordinating fabrics are used for this dress.

Gathering the tiers of the dress

The front and backs of the bodice are sewn together.  The neck and arm edges are bound with
a color contrasting bias tape or some appropriate color of bias tape. 

The shirt is sewn to the top. The back is closed with 1/4" wide velcro.

The Nightshirt

The nightshirt in the photo above is simply made of three pieces, a front cut on the fold and two back pieces. The neck and sleeves are a simple hem stitch, as well as the bottom of the nightshirt. The back is inclosed with a strip of 1/4-in wide velcro. (Again, I cut 3/4-in or 1/2-in velcro in half, the long way.) The nightshirt pattern I used is Kwik Sew 3771.

The Tights

Tights are very easily made using women's knee socks. Each sock will make one pair of tights. From the top of the knee to the heel is used. Follow the directions on this website. I was able to get several pairs of knee high socks on sale at Walmart. I made the tights for $.50 a pair. These are good instructions for making the tights.

Not only did I get a pair of tights from this sock, I got a pair of socks from the toe.

It is important to remember to turn the sock wrong side out first. I have made  that mistake
at least one time and try not to do it any more. It is very difficult to rip stitches out of the tights.
lt is also important to use a ball point needle on the sewing machine to sew the tights.

The Sweaters

I've done several different sweaters. I will share my favorite pattern. I have done this pattern with and without beads. I really like the sweater with beads. The beads I like to use best when knitting this sweater are the 5mm Wee Pony beads or the smaller 4mm round bead. The method I like to useis strings the beads before casting stitches on a needle. The beads are moved back down the yarn until one is needed. It is then pulled up to the needle and then knit as a regular stitch. The bead will then be in the stitch just knitted. The beads stand out better is they are done on a purl row on the right side.

This pattern originally came from Janice Helge. I took off the last ridge,  increased the number of rows to the body of the sweater, added button holes, and changed the ribbing on the sleeves and bottom of sweater. I, also, knitted beads to the ridges.

I used yarn I had left over from other projects. If you use worsted yarn weight, the sweater will be almost too large. I used smaller needles and it made a usable, bulky sweater. Sport yarn works best but baby yarn works great if knitting with 2 strands, though, not all baby yarn needs 2 strands. Needles should be around 5 and 7 and the gauge will be 4-5 stitches = 1 inch.

Knitting Abbreviations:

k = knit
p = purl
inc = increase
pm = place marker
k2tog = knit 2 stitches together
yo = yarn over

Using a needle threader, push a bead on the needle threader down to bottom of loop. Then, thread the yarn through the loop of the needle threader. Pull the bead off the threader onto the yarn.  Sometimes more than one bead can be done at a time, depending on the size of the bead and needle threaderl. Do this to 40 beads.

If you have no needle threader, this method with needle and thread works the same way. Here is another method I like also. Using the second method with the wee pony beads requires a very small crochet hook and sometimes it splits the yarn. That is why I use the first method with wee pony beads. Beading will be done on rows 7, 11, and 15

Using size 5 needles (beginning at neck), cast on 44 stitches.
Row 1-3: Work the 3 rows in ribbing, k1, p1; change to size 7 needles.
Row 4: knit across row, until last 4 stitches. In last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, yo, knit 2 (button hole)
Row 5: knit 4 (right front band as wearing it), purl across to last 4 stitches, k4  (left front band)
Row 6: knit 4, knit 2,*inc in next stitch, k2, repeat from* across to last 5 stitches. Inc in next stitch, knit last 4 stitches. (56 stitches)
Row 7: (wrong side) Knit 4, *pull up a bead to the needle on right hand, knit 4*, repeat from * to last 4 stitches, end with pull up bead and knit 4.
Row 8: Knit row
Row 9: Repeat row 5
Row 10: Knit 4, *inc in next stitch, k3, repeat from*, across row to last 8 stitches, inc in stitch, k7. (68 stitches)
Row 11: (wrong side)Knit 4, Knit 2, *pull up a bead to the needle on right hand, knit 5*, repeat from * to last 7 stitches, pull up a bead,  knit last 7 stitches.
Row 12: Knit row.
Row 13: Knit 2, yo, knit 2 together (buttonhole), purl across to last 4 stitches, k4 (left front band)
Row 14: Knit 5, inc in next stitch, *K 4, inc in next stitch, repeat from* across row to last 8 stitches,increase in next stitch,  end knit 7. (80 stitches)

The placement of beads on this next row are place in the same position as the first row of beads. Because of increased stitches in rows 10 and 14, the beads could be slipped after the 5, 6, or 7 knitted stitch. The total number of stitches in row 15 will still be 80 stitches.

Row 15: (wrong side) K4, bead, knit 6, bead, knit 6 or 7,  bead, knit 6 or 7, slip bead, knit 7, slip bead, knit 6, slip bead, knit 5 or 6, slip bead, knit 6, slip bead, knit 6, slip bead, knit 6, slip bead, knit 6, slip bead, knit 6, slip bead, knit 6, bead,  knit 4.

There will probably be extra beads on the yarn. Keep pushing them away as you knit. It is better to have more beads than not enough. It is difficult to add more beads on the yarn.

Row 16: Knit row
Row 17: Repeat row 5
Row 18: K 4, inc in next stitch, *k5, inc in next stitch, repeat from * to last 9 stitches. Knit 4, inc one stitch and end K4. (93 stitches)
Row 19: Repeat row 5
Row 20: Knit row
Row 21: Repeat row 5
Row 22: Place markers and increase as directed: K 14, inc stitch, pm, inc stitch, K16, inc stitch, pm, inc stitch, K25, inc stitch, pm, inc stitch, K16, inc stitch, pm, inc stitch, K 14. (101 stitches)
Row 23: K4, p12, slip marker, p20, slip marker, purl 29, slip marker, purl 20, slip marker, p12, knit 4
Row 24: Knit across increasing in the stitch before and after each marker. (109 stitches)
Row 25: Knit 4, purl 13, slip marker, purl 22, slip marker, purl 31, slip marker, purl 22, slip marker, purl 13, knit 4
Row 26: Repeat row 24. (117 stitches)

Row 27: (Wrong side) Knit 4, purl 14 front stitches, place next 24 stitches on a holder (sleeve), cast on 2 stitches, purl across back stitches, cast on 2 stitches, place next 24 stitches on a holder (sleeve) purl across 14 front stitches, knit 4. (There are 73 stitches for the body of the sweater on the needle.)

Work in stockinette stitch for 1 1/2 inches, continuing to knit 4 at beginning and end of each row. On last row k2 together under each underarm and in center of back. Change to size 5 needle. Work 3 rows, k1, p1 ribbing. Bind off in ribbing stitch.

Sleeves (Work with wrong side)
Slip one set of sleeve stitches from stitch holder onto a size 7 needle. Work in stockinette stitch , increases 1 stitch at each end of first row. Work in stockinette stitch for 12 rows.

On row #12 for sleeve, Decrease a stitch on stitch 1, stitch 13 and the last stitch. Change back to size 5 needle and work 3 to 4 rows of k1, p1 ribbing. Bind off in ribbing stitch. Follow same directions for completing the second sleeve. Sew Sleeve seams together. Weave all ends in entire sweater with plastic needle or crochet hook.

I have edited these directions many, many times but there could still be a error in the directions. If so, please let me know if you find one.

The Knitted Bedroom Slippers

These are a relatively easy beginner's project using the garter stitch (knit every row). A couple of pairs can be knitted in one night. They look great with the night shirt!

I use #3 or #4 circular needles with two strands of baby yarn or sport weight yarn or fingering weight yarn. I usually use scraps of yarn left over from other projects.  (Regular worsted weight will make the slippers too big for the 18" doll.) Straight needles work fine also.

Cast on 31 stitches.
Row 1-8: Knit
Row 9: Knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 12
Row 10: Knit 11, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 11
Row 11: Knit 10, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 10
Row 12: Knit 9, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 9
Row 10: Knit 8, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 8
Row 11: Knit 7, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 7
Row 12-23: Knit


Row 12: Knit row
Row 13-23: Knit 1, purl 1 for ribbing (on every row, knit on knit stitch and purl on purl stitch)

Or (my favorite) Seed Stitch

Row 12: knit
Row 13: *knit 1, purl 1, Knit 1*Repeat to end of row
Row 14: *Purl 1, knit 1, purl 1* repeat to end of row
Repeat rows 13 and 14  for 15-23 rows

Bind off. Sew the bottom together and the back of slipper together with tapestry or plastic needle . Weave in loose ends with needle or crochet hook.


These are quite simple to make. I first cut a faux brown leather pocketbook (some people say purse) apart and disposed of all the unwanted parts. I got 7 pairs of shoes from the pocketbook. I purchased a braided trim and glued it to the opening of the shoe with a glue gun. It took 1/2 day to cut out  4 pairs of shoes and sew them together.

To make the black shoes, I purchased 1/4 yard of black faux leather for $2.45 --- the sale price.
I bought a a black trim with "silver" discs and glued on the shoe opening with a glue gun. Fun and more fun!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lemon Pound Cake Gluten Free

I've been missing pound cake! I tried making it gluten free one day and it was a flop. A family member made a request for vanilla cake. That recipe I have not shared yet but it is based on Bob's Red Mill Magically Moist Almond Cake. That cake is so very nice in moistness, taste and texture. My daughter was so disappointed when I brought the pound cake rather than the almond cake.  I made the lemon pound cake because I wanted to try a lemon pound cake using lemon puree. I had made tangerine puree before and was guessing I could use the same procedure for making lemon puree.

I found several recipes for lemon puree but many of them called for heavy amounts of sugar. I was making this pound cake low sugar. I thought it wouldn't hurt to experiment not using granulated sugar. I made the lemon puree without any sugar. I suppose I could have used a sugar substitute, but first I wanted to try it without any sweetner -- as I did with the tangerine/clementine puree.

Directions for Making Lemon Puree

It takes two lemons for each cake. I usually do about 6 lemons because 6 aren't much more trouble nor anymore messier than pureeing two lemons. I freeze the extra puree for another time.

1. Place the lemons in water (just covering the lemons) and bring to a boil. A few recipes state to boil for 45 minutes to get rid of the bitter taste in the peel. Another said to boil for 2 hours. I boiled for an hour, poured out the water and boiled again for 30 minutes.

2. Let the lemons cool, place them on a cutting board (with raised edges), cut the ends off the lemons and open the lemons to get out the seeds. (Mine slightly split open while boiling.)

3. Place lemons with peel and any juice on the board in a food processor. Process until a paste is formed. Freeze any left over in a zip plastic bag. Press the puree flat (letting out air), freeze on a metal pan. Then the bags of  puree can be stacked. I stacked them with the clementine puree.

4. I found that there was no need to add any sugar to the puree. The sugar or sweetness in the recipe for the cake was enough. Add a sweetener of choice if you find it needs to be sweeter.

The Pound Cake

Several of the gluten free pound cake recipes stated to leave the cake in the pan until it was cool. I understand why because gluten free cakes are very delicate while hot. But the first time I made it and left it in the pan to cool, it sweat and the bottom of the cake was slightly wet with water dripping off the parchment paper. The cake needs to be removed from the pan about 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven. Lining the pan with parchment paper lapping over the side helps with removing the pound cake. The second time I made the cake, I removed the pound cake with the parchment paper. It had not sweat and it didn't fall apart. Just make sure that it is lifted with the parchment and let it cool in the parchment paper on a cooling rack.

Flavoring and Variations

This pound cake can be given any flavor you want. So far I have made it lemon, clementine and chocolate. All three flavors were great. Another time I may make it just vanilla or spice. Chocolate chips would be great in it. This cake will be very moist and will last several days in the fridge. The last slice will be as a good as the first -- within limits. The cake will need to be sliced and frozen to last longer than a couple of days. I wrap each piece in a paper towel or parchment paper and then in a plastic zipper bag. They can be stacked better if parchment paper is between each slice. I prefer the parchment paper but the paper towel absorbs moisture as the cake thaws.

Anything gluten free will usually dry out quickly. You can notice that this is a small pound cake. There are a couple of reasons for that. The cake doesn't keep on the shelf for longer than a couple days because there are no preservatives in the batter and gluten free batters just dry out quickly. Another reason the cake is small is gluten free baked goods rise better when in smaller amounts of batter. The baking pan can make the difference, also. Pans that have straight, not slanted, sides help the gluten free dough or batter rise better. I notice a big difference, especially in bread dough rising, when I bought Big Daddio's small straight-sided loaf pan. Lining the pan with parchment paper gives cake and bread batters a help in rising.

Since this cake is not made with wheat flour, do not expect it to have a tremendous smooth texture. It is smooth but not as smooth as when made with wheat flour. This pound cake is made from almond flour and will have the texture of almond flour. Purchasing super fine almond flour will help with a smoother texture but it will be more expensive. I found that grinding the almond flour in a coffee mill helps to make it finer. Be careful and not grind it too long or it will become almond butter.

The Tangerine/Clementine Puree worked very nicely in this recipe, also.

Clementine Pound Cake

I made the cake lower in sugar but it doesn't have to be. Substitute the Stevia in the Raw for regular granulated sugar and the Truvia brown sugar for regular brown sugar.

Chocolate: add 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (or more if wanted) cocoa to the dry ingredients plus another
       tablespoon of brown sugar
Vanilla: use only the vanilla flavoring as stated in the recipe
Spices: ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, allspice
Extracts: any that you like can be used

I haven't tried it yet but I think that the pumpkin puree can be substituted for the lemon puree. With the pumpkin spices, that would make a wonderful pumpkin pound cake.

Gluten Free Lemon Pound Cake

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup cream cheese (4oz), softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw (or granulated sugar)
1 tablespoon Truvia brown sugar blend (or regular brown sugar)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup lemon puree
2 cups almond flour
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a 4x8-in loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving ends so that the cake can be lifted easily out of the pan.

2.  Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, salt and any dry spices used.

3. With electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, sugar substitute and brown sugar.

4.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and lemon puree or any other flavoring being used.

5. Gradually add dry ingredients to egg mixture while beating on medium speed. Pour into parchment lined loaf pan.

6. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let rest and cool for 5-10 minutes in pan. Remove the cake from the pan using parchment paper. Do not cut the cake until cool. Otherwise, it may fall apart. Remember, gluten free products are more delicate.

7. Serve with ice cream, berries or whipped cream, if desired


"Almond Flour Pound Cake." How Stuff Works. Publications International, LTD, n.d. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2015. <>.

Andrews, A.J. "How to Line a Loaf Pan?" EHow. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <>.

"Culinary Parchment 101: Lining a Loaf Pan." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <>.

N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <>.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hamburger, Hotdog and Sandwich Buns

Have I longed for hamburger and hotdog buns which are not hard as a rock or rubber like or not made from rice flour. Most of the commercial rolls are dry or rubbery. At a restaurant, I ordered a hamburger with a gluten free bun and ended up just eating the hamburger and leaving the bun on my plate. Disappointing and a waste of money.

I'm pretty sure that those commercial rolls or buns were good when they came out of the oven but as they sit in the restaurants or grocery stores, they lose their appeal. That happens with all gluten free bread, even homemade gluten free bread. Gluten free bread has a very short shelf life.

More and more gluten free bakers are beginning to use or make flour blends using whole grain gluten free flours, other than rice.  Many of the other flours have a wonderful taste. Those could be sorghum flour, oat flour, millet flour, teff flour, corn flour (masa harina, not corn starch), quinoa flour and many others . They give bread a great flavor as opposed to the cardboard taste. Adding flaxseed meal and chia seed also help flavor.

Flour Combinations for Gluten Free Buns and Rolls

I have tried more than a dozen recipes for rolls and buns. Most of the rolls or buns were not even worth saving for bread crumbs or cubes for stuffing/dressing. Finally, I've found a combination of flours that works! Variations of the combination can be found on several bloggers' sites such as Chrissy Lane's site, Linda Daniel's site (especially flour blend 2), and Carol Fenster's Book, 1000 Gluten-Free Recipes.

Another gluten free combination I like is Jules Gluten Free Flour Mix recipe. Her mixes can be bought on line but I like to use her recipe for flour choices. I am currently working on a combination of her recipe that I like. See her combination here. The combination of flours can also be found in her book, Free for All Cooking. I will blog later about using this combination of flours for making bread, rolls and buns.

Carol Fenster's recipe is similar but contains no almond flour. Her first recipe for a similar recipe called for corn flour. I like the taste and texture of the almond flour. The almond flour helps improve moisture and tenderness and acts as a stabilizer.  Corn flour (not corn starch) or bean flour can be substituted for the almond meal. Cornstarch can be substituted for the potato starch but the potato starch helps retain moisture and gives a light consistency to the bread.

When baking, this bread smells just like the bread I made with wheat flour. At first I was disappointed because it was rubbery out of the oven but the taste was fantastic! I broke the rule! Gluten free bread should always be left to cool before cutting or eating. If the bread is left to cool, the texture improves and can be compared to wheat bread. Also, remember that gluten free bread is always better toasted. It helps improve the consistency, adds moisture and helps seal the bread from crumbling. The University of Nebraska's Extension agrees with this. These buns or rolls can be served if warm, but not hot out of the oven.

Several bloggers use this mini cake panel pan for baking rolls and buns.  I ordered the pan through Amazon and it works ok, but the height of the wells are only about 1 inch. Since gluten free batters need straight sides in which to climb, this pan doesn't give the buns much room to climb. The buns only rise up just a little over an inch. Remember, gluten free products usually shrink while cooling, which makes the buns thinner. If I'm in a hurry, I might use the cake/bun pan. If I want higher buns, I use the muffin tins with the aluminum foil collars.

I make sourdough English muffins and use muffin rings to make them. The rolls rise beautifully in these rings. To help the rolls be higher, I wrapped the rings and formed a collar to help give the buns height. Notice, I enclosed the bottom of the ring with the aluminum foil. The foil seemed to work better than the parchment paper. I placed the rings on a sheet pan.

On the left and middle are 4" muffin rings. On the right are
4" cake springform pans
Another pan I used was 4-inch springform pan. The pans are non-stick. There is a problem with them in baking gluten free products. The buns were rather flat. Gluten free batter needs a straight side to climb and the slick non-stick side offers no help to the batter. The pan needs to be lined with parchment paper. In the photo, one pan is lined by pressing the parchment paper in the pan. Another has a circle cut for the bottom and a strip for the sides. Despite all that, the bread did not rise as much as the bread in the muffin rings.

The collar on the muffin rings worked great. The batter rose up to the collar and was perfect!

Second rising

Four-inch buns for hamburgers, sloppy joes 
or sandwiches

After all the experimenting, my conclusion is that the muffin rings wrapped in aluminum foil worked the best and make the best shaped rolls. Wrapping the rings isn't that much trouble so I will continue using this method until I find a better method.

Notice one of the photos states that it is the second rising. Usually gluten free bread does not have a second rising. But the dough  comes out ot the refrigerator and is scopped into the muffin rings. It needs time to come to room temperature and in that time (about 15-20 minutes), it rises a little. If left too long, the bread dough will collapse.

Also, notice that the tops of the buns are not smooth. The reason is that batter breads have lumpy tops. Kneaded breads usually have smooth tops. To smooth out the tops of my English muffins, I wet my fingers and smooth out the tops. It works somewhat with this bread dough also. (The buns in the photo were not smoothed). An egg wash can be used on the top to hold sprinkled seeds such as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, sunflower seeds or your favorite seed.

In the recipe for these buns, seed dust was used rather than gums. The seed dust was a lighter color version made with light colored ground flaxseed, light ground chia seeds and ground psyllium husk. The darker version would work just fine. If you don't use seed dust, you can use xanthan gum or guar gum.

A teaspoon of vinegar helps the yeast. Yeast likes a slightly acidic environment. Do not over-do the acidic environment. A pinch of powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) could substitute for vinegar, though, vinegar is never tasted. A teaspoon of organge juice or lemon juice could also be used rather than vinegar.

Dry milk was added to the dry ingredients because dry milk gives flavor, acts as a tenderizer for a tender crumb and adds color to the crust as the bread bakes. The milk adds protein and sugar. The combination, when baking, add a more complex flavor.

Hotdog Buns

The hogdog nuns are only slightly more difficult. I made a hotdog bun form with aluminum foil to help me shape the bun pan. I used a disposable aluminum muffin tray to make the 6 muffin cups into e large hotdog nun shapes. (Do not throw it out. Wash it and use it many times(. Also, small disposable aluminum loaf pans can be reshaped into hotdog bun shapes.

As stated before, gluten-free batters need a side on the pan or parchment lined pan in order to rise correctly. Regular bun pans do not give support needed for gluten-free batters. There are several ways to successfully shape gluten-free hotdog buns.

The New England hotdog pan can be used. Not all have sucessfully used it but when it works, it makes beautiful buns. It is a great heavy pan, but it does cost a bit. The problem I find is that one has to choose to cut the buns very thick or very thin. The pan also needs some type of weight on it as it bakes.

The blogger in this blog has used disposable aluminum grilling trays to shape hotdog buns. These are hard to find in the store but they can be found here on Amazon. 

You will need to find what works for you. There are several suggestions at this site.

Gluten Free Sorghum Flour Blend 

This gluten free sorghum flour blend is great to use for yeast breads, quick breads, muffins and scones. My favorite combination of this flour blend is sorghum flour, tapioca starch potato starch and almond meal. There is no hint of the almond flavor in the bread.

Ingredients for flour blend: 1 1/2 cups (185 grams)  sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups (186 grams) tapioca starch
3/4 cup (125 grams) potato starch or cornstarch (98 grams)
3/4 cup (84grams) almond meal or corn flour (87 grams) or bean flour (90 grams)
2 cups (246 grams) sorghum flour
2 cups (250 grams) tapioca starch
1 cup (165 grams) potato starch or cornstarch (130 grams)
1 cup (112 grams) almond meal/flour or corn flour (116 grams)

Notice that most of the substitutes are similar in weight except the potato starch and the cornstarch. I haven't tried the cornstarch substitution suggested by Carol Fenster. Her years of judgement and knowledge of gluten free flour far out weighs mine but I am sure that the consistency of the batter with corn starch will be different than the batter with potato starch.

Sorghum Flour Buns and Rolls

Dry ingredients:
3 3/4 cups sorghum bread flour blend
2 tablespoons sugar
2-3 teaspoons instant yeast
3-4 tablespoons dry milk (can be omitted, if necessary)
2 tablespoons seed dust (or 2 1/2 - 3 teaspoons xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients:
1  cup water, room temperature
1/4 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon vinegar


In a small bowl, whisk wet ingredients together. Set aside

In a large non-metal bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put the bowl in the refrigerator. The dough needs to hydrate at least 12 hours -- better 2-3 days. While in the refrigerator, the dough not only hydrates but develops flavor.

Next day or days:

Preheat oven to 350℉ (convection oven to 325℉).

To bake the buns or roll, place the batter (removing from the fridge) in the container you choose to bake the buns or rolls in. I use an ice cream scoop to fill the pans. It helps keep the buns or rolls the same size. 

Let rise about 15-30 minutes. Most of the time, I heat water in a glass bowl for 3 minutes in the microwave. I place the pan on top of the bowl, close the microwave door and let the pans and dough warm about 15 minutes. If you choose not to use this method, the let the pans and dough come to room temperature about 30 minutes.

Bake about 15 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 205℉. Remove from oven and let cool in pan about 5 minutes. Remove the buns or rolls from the pans to a cooling rack. They can be served warm.

These rolls, as most gluten free bread, are best served the same day baked. On the second day, I have warmed them before in a damp paper towel in the microwave for 10 seconds and they were OK but not as good as the day baked. I have frozen the rolls individually and warmed them and they also were OK but not as good as the day baked.


These gluten free rolls and buns are quick and easy, especially, making them the second day out of the fridge. They take 30 minutes out of the fridge. If you don't let the dough spend the day or night in the fridge, you might be disappointed because it has not hydrated properly nor developed the wonderful yeast flavor yet. Try this simple method, you may like it. 

If you have other methods to share, I would like to hear about them. We all learn from each other.

As stated  before, Jules Shepard has a wonderful recipe for gluten free bread flour also. I will be posting a recipe using that flour blend later.


"America's Test Kitchen Gluten-Free Flour Blend - Cook's Illustrated." N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2016. <>.

"Bread Machine Ingredients." Baking Tips: Bread Machines & Ingredients. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2016. <>.

"Carol's Sorghum Flour Blend." Savory Palate Blog RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Jan. 2016. <>.

Fenster, Carol. 1000 Gluten-Free Recipes. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.

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Shepard, Jules E. Dowler. Free For All Cooking. Cambridge: Da Capo, 2010. Print.

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"The Maillard Reaction and Foods." Cooking and Eating for Health The Maillard Reaction Reconsidered (2015): 1-2. Web.<>

"Top 30+ Best Gluten-Free Hamburger Bun, Hot Dog Bun, and Sandwich Roll Recipes." Gfegluten Free Easily. N.p., 23 June 2014. Web. 08 Jan. 2016. <>.

Written By Beckee Moreland, Make It Gluten Free, Llc And Jean Guest, Phd, Rd, Lmnt, Reviewed By Jamie Kabourek, Ms, Rd, Unl Food Allergy Research & Resource Program;, Barbara Kliment, Executive Director, Ne Grain Sorghum Board;, and Alice Henneman, Ms, Rd, And Jenny Rees, Ms, Unl Extension Educators. Gluten-Free (GF) Baking Gets Better with Sorghum (n.d.): n. pag. Web.