Baby Pennant Cake

So last week’s “Book Club” was a celebration of the new additions that will be coming to our neighborhood soon.  We’ve got two ladies who are expecting and we decided to go bonkers for babies in April.  Mary asked me to make cupcakes to celebrate, but I was in the mood for a cake.  And I think it turned out darling, if I do say so myself!

This cake is a two tier stacked cake construction – here’s the nitty gritty for those cake nerds out there:

Tier One

  • Two 9″ layer devil’s food chocolate cake
  • Basic buttercream tinted with Wilton’s Royal Blue
  • I used a 104 petal tip to create the ruffles

Tier Two

  • Two 6″ layer white cake
  • Basic buttercream tinted with Wilton’s Pink
  • I used a 103 petal tip to create the ruffles

This cake came together really quickly and I was super pleased with the ruffles!  The pennants add that cute little bunting touch.  I simply created them in Photoshop, cut them out and taped them to a piece of butcher’s twine.  I then tied the twine to two wooden skewers and stuck them in the top tier.

Here’s a little pennant printable for you to try on your next cake! 

–Martta


Kindle Fire Case – Lined Pouch

I’m on a “I pinned it, I made it” roll here folks.  My latest project is a Kindle case for my Mom.  

When I saw this adorable bunting zipper pouch on Pinterest made by Suzanne at Just Another Hangup, I knew I had to make one.  

But I already had a case for my Kindle….what I needed was someone who didn’t have a case for their Kindle.

Thank goodness my Mom did me a solid by not only receiving the new Kindle Fire for Christmas, but also by being too lazy to get a new case for it by the time her birthday rolled around.  Woot!  I’ll take advantage of that!

But you know, of course, I didn’t want to exactly duplicate the bunting case (although it is totally adorable).  I decided to go with a kite theme instead.

I rounded up the scraps from the reversible shopper I made for Mom – she just loves batiks – and I picked up a 1/3 of a yard of linen and a matching 12″ zipper.  I also pulled some medium weight interfacing and batting from my stash.

In all honesty I actually made this little pouch twice – I’m a chronic under-sizer when it comes to making sleeves for electronics.  Especially when I don’t have one in hand to test with (Hint, Hint ;)) …..Anyway, the first attempt was adorable!  And perfectly petite!  It *just* fit the Kindle Fire.  But it had to be persuaded to do so…..that’s no good!  I wanted to throw it into the pile of other not-quite-right sewing projects, but it’s cute as a pouch all the same so my Mother is enjoying it as a mini-purse

So here I am back at the drawing board with a few modifications to that original pass for this second round.  The first thing you’ll need to do is cut your pieces.  I’ve gone with 9″x7″ cut size on this pouch because that will be plenty big when you’re finished!  You’ll need to cut:

  • 2 Exterior pieces
  • 2 Interior pieces
  • 2 Batting pieces
  • 2 Interfacing pieces (optional)

The interfacing is optional, but my linen is so flimsy, I wanted to add body and hopefully prevent a few future wrinkles.

I wanted to jazz up the interior and really work with the kite theme so I didn’t just cut a rectangle for the interior pieces.  I actually pieced a kite shape together from my remnants.  But being lazy, I didn’t want to measure and cut all the pieces.  So I laid it out and played with it a bit before hand using one of my exterior pieces as a guide.  As long as you’ve got a square (or mostly) corner piece this lazy method should work for you.

I started with the top and once I had that in place, I added the bottom pieces.    

You can play with the angle until it looks kite-like enough for you.  Then sew all the pieces together and press the seams

I used one of the exterior fabric pieces as a guide to cut out my interior piece. 

Using this same method I made a little mini kite to attach to the outside of one of the exteriors.  My only recommendation here is to trim back the seam allowance on the points of the kite so they don’t accidentally sneak out when you’ve attached it to the pouch. 

Now on to the batting.  I didn’t want to get too fancy with the quilting here so I just stitched along the seams and added a border all around to attach the batting to the interior pieces. 

Ok is almost time to assemble, but I need to decorate that exterior fabric first.  Here’s the hard part – you’ve got to pick your kite placement.  There’s really no wrong choice here.  So I picked a spot and pinned the kite in place.  I did some freehand sewing to come up with a kite string – retracing the path a few times to match the style of the pennant pouch.Then, I covered the end of the string with the kite and stitched it into place as well.  Finally, I folded up a few scraps of fabric and cut out triangles to use as kite tales, quickly attaching them on the string. 

Now it’s on to assembly!  There is a wonderful blog post over on Flossie Tea Cakes that explains how to assemble a lined pouch and I’ve used this method for my pouch.  It’s a little difficult to make sure you’re stitching the zipper straight as it is sandwiched between two pieces of fabric, but all your ragged ends get tucked inside away from potential catches on zipper teeth.

It’s looking great now!  Just needs a finishing touch.  I don’t have a nice matching navy ribbon so I grabbed one more remnant of batik and stitched two narrow rectangles. I cut out the rectangles and threaded it through the zipper to act as a perfectly coordinating zipper tie.  Excellent!  I hope this one fits – I’ll have to ask Mom to send me a picture when she gets the new pouch.

–Martta

Race for the Cure Wrap Up

We had an amazing time in the survivor’s tent at Race for the Cure this year!  I think it was all the details and hard work the entire committee put into the event that made it happen!

Some of the highlights on the decoration front included:

The hanging of all those paper pom poms and word phrases

They looked a little ragged on the day of, but the impact still came across.  I hung them when the tent was set up on Friday and in between then and race time we had 20-35 mile per hour winds….since there are no walls on the tent I was happy to see them still there at all!!

We had chalk artists come and draw a pink carpet that led survivors straight into our tent:

Once they arrived we had chalk directions on the ground that pointed to the highlights of the tent including: Goodie bag pick up (if they had missed out before the race), face painting, photo booth, massage chairs and of course, breakfast!

This was a great last minute add when we realized we were working with such a large area!  An improvement for next year might be to have the directions posted on a sign post for folks to check out when they walk in – that way it’s at eye level.

The photo booth was a hit!  I didn’t leave the area the whole time I was so busy taking pictures for people with their cameras or cell phones.  We did have two stations set up.  First we had a white backdrop with the fringey ribbon:

We miscalculated a bit on the white background fabric but saved the day with some excess table skirt.  One of the members on the committee had her husband build the structure out of PVC pipe – they were pretty genius.  The finished size was approximately 8’x10′.

So that one looked great, but this one…..we’ll not so much

So sad!  It was like a creepy haunted house crepe paper disaster!  The inspiration looked like this:

So effortless and wonderful…..yeah what a disaster!  It was SUPER humid on race day and you know what paper is not a fan of?  that’s right, it’s water.  On the one or two pictures we got in before it totally fell apart it looked GREAT.  But lesson learned.  Use fabric for this sort of backdrop outdoors!

It was the props in the photo booth area that made it so fun.  We had pom poms, tiaras, mustaches, crowns and lips on sticks, empty frames but by far the two most popular props were the year badges:

and the sashes:

On the year badges we went up to 22 and happily had to figure out a way to make a 34 for someone!  For the sashes we had two Survivor sashes, and one each of the following: My Mom, Co-Survivor, My Hero, Champ and Co-Star.  We’ll add a My Sister for next year’s race.

Loads of ideas and inspiration for next year!

–Martta

Candy Corn Brownies

What to do on Columbus Day with kids home from school? Bake! They love to help, and if I can keep my son’s hands out of the candy, sprinkles, chocolate chips long enough… we can usually get a finished product ready for a special treat or dessert.

I’ve had these mini muffin cup papers for over a year now, and haven’t used them… sad, isn’t it?

We used a boxed brownie mix… Ghiradelli if you must know (they are the best!). The left side of the pan has a candy corn in the bottom of the cup, and the right, well obviously had one on top. This was also an experiment… will the candy corn sink? Melt? Burn?

Fill the cups 2/3 full and bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes… depending on your oven. Let them cool a few minutes and then using a small offset spatula, pull them out of the pan.

Here they are… Beautiful candy corn brownies!!

Oh, you wanted to know the results of my experiment?

Are you sure?

It might not be what you expected…. (Or maybe it was….)

Why yes, candy corn do melt and sink into the batter! To be honest, they stayed whole & right on top for about 80% of the baking time. That last few minutes really did them in… boo. 😦 So I can clearly mark this as a combined FAIL & success. The brownies still taste amazing!! And the candy corn that was on the bottom? Well, completely melted and unrecognizable. Which altered my baking time due to extra liquid sugar in the bottom of the brownies! Again, still edible and very delicious!

So, my dear husband walked by, plopped a new-from-the-bag candy corn on top, and called it GOOD! So learn from my experiment (how can I call this a mistake?), and wait until the brownies are cooked before adding your pretty little candy corn on top. Your kids will love these, and so will you!

-Heather

Pattern Review – Simplicity 2270

Do you have those projects that you pick up and think to yourself, this is gonna be soooo easy.  That’s exactly what I thought when I picked up this dress pattern: it’s gonna be soooo easy!

Patterns were on sale and I thought Simplicity 2270 would be a quick summer dress pattern for some hot Texas weather.

I decided to make the dress in view B, size 4, without the ruffle on the neckline so I found a blue dot pattern and a crisp white.  I thought I’d make a contrasting collar with the white fabric rather than keep the dress all one pattern/color.

I unfolded the tissues and was rewarded with something every pattern sewer likes to see – the pattern doesn’t even fill a whole tissue!  This is gonna be a breeze.  I bet my dog could even sew this dress!

I quickly laid out my fabric and got to cutting.

Loads of fabric leftover.  Granted I purchased this fabric for another project so I shouldn’t be too surprised that I have excess.

I then dove head long into pocket making.  I think I read the directions on this section about three times.  And they still didn’t make a ton of sense.  But a fold here and a clip there and I had some adorable pockets!  Excellent, let’s move on to the collar and sleeves.

I gotta get this out right now: I think the sleeve treatment on this dress is funky.  Why did you make me do all that work on the pocket and then I’m just going to sew some seam tape over the sleeves?  It shouldn’t be too hard to make a real seam here – I’m sure that you could alter the pattern a bit by cutting a bit broader on the sleeve hole to make this happen.

I didn’t mind it too much as I had already decided to put on a white collar and white seam tape coordinated nicely.  However, if you are using a pattern for the dress and collar and you don’t make your own seam tape, it might be a bit odd/mismatched.

The other thing about the seam tape is that it’s really hard to get the tape to lie flat.  I clipped many curves and used loads of pins to make this happen.  But it did happen.

Excellent it’s really starting to look like a dress!  I turned it right side out to admire my progress and realized I had a bit of a problem.  Um, are the pockets supposed to be on the inside of the dress???

Well damn.

All my will power to work on this project is gone.

I’m going to set it aside…

you know for like three months and not think about it.

At all.

Stupid pocket.

When they said to fold the right side of the pocket, I didn’t realized the meant the right side of the pocket on the front of the dress….there are two right sides of the fabric when you’re working on it…..when you think about it.

Time passed.

I made like a bajillon other sewing projects.  Now I’m about to leave for vacation so I’m trying to work down my P.H.D. (Projects Half Done) and I realized that working on this dress would be waaaaay better than working on packing for my trip.

So I ripped out the side seams and the pocket seams, folded down the right side of the dress front rather than the right side of the pocket and I re-sewed the side seams.  Joy.

A pocket that’s on the outside of the dress…..rather than secret pockets which I’m sure Caroline would find a way to populate with dinner foods that she didn’t want to eat.  Ahhh, it’s all down hill now.  Until I worked on the collar.

Now I can judge a 1/4″ seam, but I have trouble folding up exactly 5/8″ all the way around a curved collar.  So I take to cheating.I stitched a line 5/8″ around the edge of the collar and then just folded along the line.

There: A perfect 5/8″ fold all the way around 🙂

It really was a breeze after the collar was attached.  Even with my screw ups, this project really only took me a few hours.  I could see making another dress, but perhaps I will alter that shoulder seam….

Pattern Description: 
Little’s girl’s sundress with option for jacket and bag

Pattern Sizing & Selection
3, 4, 5, and 6.  I made size 4.  After fitting this on Caroline, I think it’s just a bit snug….or the girl is growing.

Finished Product As Advertised?
Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Pocket instructions needed some help….or I needed some help.  Either way, pocket fail on the first attempt.  Everything else was very straightforward.

Pattern Adjustments:
Consider making your own seam tape for the sleeves or modify the pattern to sew a proper arm hole.

Fabric Used:
Lightweight cotton

Conclusion: 
Recommended!  How can I not recommend it with less than one tissue of pattern pieces to cut out?!  Just don’t screw up the pocket and you’ll have this knocked out in an hour or two.

Here’s a peek at the final product:

Personalized Ring Bearer Pillow

My cousin is getting married this weekend and she asked me to make a ring bearer pillow for her.  To start, we brainstormed a few ideas.  Since she lives so far away, it was a flurry of emails – sending a few pictures back and forth.  I was thinking bigger, she was thinking smaller.  But we narrowed in on a few ideas that we liked including this pillow with the personalized calendar detail: 

But I also like the use of burlap in this pillow – her wedding is on a farm and I think burlap has a nice rustic quality to it. 

So taking that all into account, we settled on a pillow made of burlap that is somewhere between 4″ to 6″ decorated with a calendar that has an embroidered heart on her wedding day.

This plan involves getting a calendar on the pillow.  The sample looks like it is handwritten, but I’ve seen several tutorials like this one out in blogland that show you how to print on fabric using freezer paper.  And you know how I love for freezer paper!  I had to give it a try.

For this project, I started with a 1/3 of a yard of burlap, a remnant of muslin, some fiber fill, embroidery thread, ribbon and the freezer paper. 

I might as well dive in and get started on the part that is concerning me the most – the fabric calendar.  I cut out a sheet of freezer paper 8 1/2″ x 11″ and then fused a piece of muslin to it.  I then realized that I probably should have fused first and cut second as I had to then cut the fabric to exactly match my sheet of paper.  But there she is in all her glory:  

That’s right – it’s a piece of fabric paper.  Now all I needed was a calendar.  I made a quick one in Excel and played around with different fonts and sizes to get the look and feel that I wanted with the right size.  I was shooting for a finished calendar block of about 4″ x 3″ once I’d stitched it to the pillow so I needed my actual calendar to be slightly smaller than those dimensions to allow for a border and seam allowance.  I ended up with Cooperplate font in 16 point, with an extra space between each of the letters in the month to give it a bit more gravitas.  In minutes I had a calendar on my fabric!  I know, I couldn’t believe it either. 

A couple of pointers here, go ahead and center your calendar on the page or at least increase your margins so you’ve got enough border room and seam allowance – I just barely made it with my calendar (shoved all the way in the upper left hand corner!).  Print multiple calendars – because my calendar was offset, I could print a few samples to dial in exactly the printer settings that worked best.

Let’s cut out some pillow fabrics!  I thought I’d make a 6″ x 6″ pillow with 1/4″ seam allowance so I cut my burlap into 6 1/2″ squares.  The burlap was a bit too open weave for my tastes so I stacked two layers on top of each other and zig zag stitched them to a 6 1/2″ square of muslin – I didn’t want any fill to come poking out of that burlap!

I picked the square that I thought looked “best” of the two and cut out the calendar from my printed fabric .  I peeled off the freezer paper backing which left the fabric a bit curled.  That was fine as I was just going to press under the edges anyway.  I smoothed it out, pressed the edges and pinned it to the pillow square. 

I then zig sag stitched around the edge twice.  I was only going to do it once, but going around again covers a lot of little minor imperfections. 

I picked out an embroidery color that coordinated with the wedding colors and free hand stitched a little heart around their wedding date on the calendar. 

Now I was ready to assemble the pillow.  I pinned the two sides together and stitched a 1/4″ seam around the edge, leaving a reinforced opening at the bottom for stuffing.  I then turned the pillow and was ready to stuff.

I think weddings are all about details and shouldn’t my ring bearer pillow have a little detail too?  So I thought I’d put a little heart in there with the bride and groom’s initials.  I grabbed a scrap of red fabric and quickly stitched in a CS + LG.  After that was done, I picked up one of my heart cookie cutters and traced the shape with a bit of a seam allowance.  

I cut out two hearts and stitched them together leaving an opening for stuffing.  I sealed up the heart and tucked it into the pillow. 

I then finished stuffing the pillow and stitched it closed too.  A quick ribbon detail to hold on to the rings and I’m done!

OK, well maybe I’m not done.  The finished pillow didn’t quite turn out as big as I thought it would be – it’s about 5″ x 5″.  The burlap, especially two layers of it plus a layer of muslin, was pretty bulky and a bit difficult to turn so I think that plus the stuffing ate a bit of my pillow size.  The calendar looked great, but overall I wasn’t wowed.

I don’t want you to think that I’ve abandoned my OCD ways.  I had just enough burlap to cut two 8″ x” 8″ squares and plenty of muslin.  Oh, and one of my extra calendars that I had printed…..so it just called for me to make another pillow! 

I followed the same process as above, just with one layer of burlap on each side rather than two.  I even made a second little heart to tuck into the pillow….It’s much faster to make something a second time 🙂 

This time, I love the size – I think the proportion is right.  Now the only problem is that the bride has to choose which one she likes better!

Congrats to Laurie & Chad!!

–Martta

Linking up here:

HookingupwithHoH

Slytherin Cake Pops

This year for his birthday Jack is all about the Slytherin house from Harry Potter.  More specifically, he’s all about his favorite character in the series, Draco Malfoy.  Jim theorizes it has to do with the fact that Jack relates to Draco because he looks a lot like the actor that plays Draco, Tom Felton.  There is definitely a resemblance so we just go with it…..we’re assuming that Jack won’t go bad.

It’s a low key birthday this year so rather than the production of last year’s Indiana Jones cake (maybe I’ll blog that one day….) or even a batch of cupcakes, it’s cake balls all the way.  These things take so much less time than a traditional cake and they turn out so fantastic looking!

To get started, I picked up a few candy making supplies.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law, Heather did all the hard work by baking the cake!  By the time I arrived, all I needed to do was crumble the cake, whip up a small batch of icing and mixed in about 1/2 C to the cake crumbles.  Then I threw mixture in a Ziploc bag to chill out in the ‘fridge over night.

Now to the fun stuff.  I rolled out each of the cake balls and melted the dark green chocolate.  For the full cake, I was able to get 30 good sized cake balls.

Since I was making pops, I dipped each stick in the chocolate and inserted it into a cake ball.

I dipped a few pops into the chocolate, but they were all coming out with terribly clumpy results.  (yes, I wanted them to be *perfect*) This chocolate just set up so quickly!  I’m sure it would be great for molding, but it didn’t give me enough work time for what I wanted to do.  Lesson learned: stick with the Wilton candy melts!  After a few notable failures, I added a bit of shortening (about 1T) to the chocolate which gave me a bit more work time, but still not as much as I would have liked.  Thankfully, the plate of failure tasted delicious and I was able to ward off hungry taste testers with failed samples.

I finally decided that these pops just weren’t going to stand up straight and once I decided to lay them on their side (ugly side down) I breezed right through the dipping of the rest.  The first ones were set by the time I finished the last pop and I was ready to dust with luster dust.  I used Wilton’s dark green pearl dust which gave the cake balls a great snake skin effect.  You can see the ones on the left are dusted and the ones on the right as waiting to be dusted.  It turns out, the bumpier the texture, the better the look….wish I’d known that when I started!

I pulled out the silver luster dust and mixed up a small bowl with a bit of vodka to put on the final touch – a hand painted silver snake.  Painting these cake balls would have been impossible without the luster dust – there’s just too much wax in this particular brand of chocolate (Candy Wafers from Hobby Lobby).  Once I got the stroke down, it was easy to work my way through all the cake balls.  We put them on a tray for display and Jack loved them!

There are definitely more cake balls in the future!  Happy Birthday Jack!