Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Snickerdoodles: #15cookiesin2015 part 3

Today I made cookies for my Bookclub meeting. Snickerdoodles, because I love cinnamon, I love chewy cookies, and they look so pretty all rolled in sugar. 

We are discussing Emma by Jane Austen. I haven't even broken 100 pages! What a terrible host! And what a terrible book. I keep falling asleep while reading it. I suppose I am just not into that old style of writing. The sentences go on forever! I made one last attempt to barrel through and finish in time, but alas, I gave up. But I did enjoy a little snickerdoodle taste test, and the cookies are delicious and go great with a cup of tea!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

First Rosette! (2015 project of the year)

I finished my first rosette for my La Passacaglia quilt! 

I used some of my Bluebird Park fabric from Kate and Birdie to put this cog together. It was definitely a challenge to figure out what direction I wanted to go with this. At first, I had a different centre to this cog. 
The original version
I just wasn't feeling it though. I tried auditioning other fabrics, but nothing was really working. 
Neither really works....
So I percolated with it for a while to figure out what was wrong with it. I looked through so many pictures of rosettes that other people had made, and thought a lot about what I liked about them. I realized that one thing I love about these quilts is the beauty in repetition. Another thing I love, is the distinct layers of each cog, like a bullseye. A bold star shape in the middle is a solid base to build upon. 

So when I looked at mine, I felt like it was strong in repetition, but weak in the distinct layers, especially the star. So I picked apart what I had so far and started over with the centre. I changed the middle to make a definite star, and changed the long diamond shapes to the green with a white flower instead of the dark grey linen. The dark grey just blended in too much with the bunnies/butterflies above. Also, the green tied in with the star points so much better. I like the final version much more than the original. 

In the making of this first rosette, I also realized the need for some fussy cutting templates. So I made some (and wrote a tutorial, in case you need some too!). And I also felt the need for a needleminder. I was inspired by @tinkerellen on Instagram to put together a simple magnetic needleminder made from a small wooden fox. 
He fits in well here!
And in case you were wondering what size these pieces are, here is a picture to give you an idea of the scale. 
I have really enjoyed working on this first rosette. The journey so far has been so enlightening, and I loved figuring out what works and what doesn't. I can't wait to keep making more!

To read more about this project, have a look at :

The Homemade Heart's La Passacaglia Quilt Index

Monday, 16 February 2015

Welcome little Ladybug!

My BFF is having a baby soon, which calls for a baby shower! Myself and another friend hosted this past Sunday, and it was such a lovely party. The mom-to-be received so many beautiful and useful presents, and everyone enjoyed some food and treats.

We decided on a ladybug theme, inspired by a cute ladybug cake I saw on Pinterest and was looking for an excuse to make. I designed and printed these invitations to send out to the invited guests. 

We stuck with the ladybug theme in our decor as well, using red and black streamers, balloons, tissue paper pompoms, and fans. We also had some banners and mobile hangers with ladybugs on them. I found these tiny wooden ladybug stickers at Michael's, so obviously I had to buy them, and we stuck them all over the place. So cute.

My co hosting friend made a diaper cake and a stroller out of blankets and bibs with ladybug accent ribbon. They turned out great! 

I crocheted a ladybug corsage for the guest of honour to wear using this pattern from one of my fave blogs, Repeat Crafter Me

We made a delicious apple punch in my mom's fabulous punch dispenser, and had coffee and soda available as well. For food, we had tiny sandwiches, stuffed mushrooms, mini caprese skewers, fancy cheese and crackers, taco dip, veggie and fruit trays, a plate of mixed cookies, and ladybug/baby girl themed sugar cookies from a local bakery. These cookies were also our take home favours. 

After eating and opening gifts, the guest of honour cut into the adorable ladybug cake. I made my favourite four egg yellow cake, filled with strawberry sauce, and iced with a quick vanilla icing. Then I used Wilton fondant to cover and decorate the cake.

I usually make my own marshmallow fondant when I make a fondant cake, and it is usually a little terrible. I find it difficult to work with, and you need to use so much icing sugar to roll it out, otherwise it turns into a big sticky mess. Also, it is so hard to tint a nice rich red or black, and it is so very sweet to eat. Like, teeth hurting sweet. 

So when I saw this stuff in black and red at Michael's, I figured I would give it a try. It couldn't be worse than the marshmallow stuff! And oh my goodness, it is a million times better. It was a dream to roll out, like rolling silk! It is so smooth, and the colour is so rich, and it even tastes good! And the best part? No icing sugar required at all!! I am officially a convert. I'm not sure I will ever use the marshmallow stuff again. Usually when I make a fondant cake, there is just a constant flow of swearing coming from the kitchen. My husband isn't convinced that I like making cakes, because it sure sounds like I hate every minute of it! But this time, he thought I hadn't even started yet because I was being so quiet! Amazing stuff, my sanity loves it. 

I gave the butterfly rag quilt to my BFF for her baby. The butterfly fabric is so perfect for her, and who doesn't like that cozy minky? I made a little label (which I had a heck of a time addressing, as I don't know baby's name yet), and hand stitched it on the back of the quilt. Then I folded it all up and tied it with a ribbon and a button. 

So after such a lovely party, momma has everything she needs for her new little gal. I can't wait to meet her!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A cozy butterfly rag quilt

I had bought this fat quarter pack of pretty butterfly flannel a couple years ago, and have had it sitting in my closet ever since. It was going to turn into baby burp cloths, but instead I decided to make a rag quilt. I got some grey minky for the back, and cut everything up into 9 inch squares. 

I paired each flannel square with a minky square and quilted a simple X in each. Then I laid out a 5x6 patchwork top and sewed all the squares into strips, and the strips into a quilt. I used a half inch seam allowance throughout and around the outer edge, and kept the seam allowances on top, to get that signature rag quilt ruffle look. The seam allowances and outer edge have to be snipped with sharp scissors every quarter inch, which resulted in a blister and a hand cramp. 
After a quick wash and dry, the seams fray and fluff up, making the quilt look so cute! 
Post wash
I learned a few things about sewing with minky. It is hard to cut because it has a lot of stretch. It is also hard to sew because it has a lot of stretch. So to keep everything lined up, don't be afraid to use a ton of pins. And if you have a walking foot, go ahead and set that up. It helps a lot. I had to do a bit of seam ripping with this quilt before I figured out the pins and walking foot combo. Squares were shifting, seams weren't lining up. I wanted to be as precise as I could with this, so I ripped and fixed when needed. 
The back is a little all-over-the-place
Also, something I would take into consideration for next time I work with minky, is the nap of the fabric. I didn't even think of it at all until it was all put together and I flipped it over to see if the quilting all lined up. That's when I realized that the nap of the squares was going in all directions. If I made another of these, I would make sure that the nap was going in the same direction for all squares. 

So despite the frustrations of working with minky, I do think this quilt turned out pretty cute. And it sure is cozy!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

DIY: Fussy cutting templates tutorial

Since starting this La Passacaglia madness as my 2015 Project of the Year, I have realized the great necessity of reusable clear templates to use for fussy cutting. I see lots of people buying acrylic ones online specifically for this project, but I figured there must be a homemade way around spending $38 (plus shipping) on five pieces of plastic. And guess what? There is! 

Step one: Gather supplies

You will need:
- a sturdy plastic report cover (mine is from the dollar bin at Walmart)
-a ruler
-scissors (but not your fabric ones!)
-a sharpie pen
-a razor blade
-the paper pieces you need templates for

Step two: Trace 

Trace your paper pieces onto the smooth side of the report cover

Step three: Add seam allowance 

Use your ruler to measure and draw a 1/4" seam allowance (or whatever size is your preference) all the way around the tracing. 

Step four: Cut them
Cut out the piece on the outer line of the template. 

Step five: Etch them

Use the razor blade to etch over the inner line. Don't press too hard, you don't want to cut all the way through. 

Step six: Clean them 

Using a damp tissue, wipe clean the marker lines from your templates. 

Step seven: use with confidence! 

To use these templates for very precise serial fussy cutting, place the template over the fabric and centre the area you want to feature. Then use your sharpie pen to trace a couple features of the fabric onto the smooth side of the template. Use this tracing to line up the next piece and cut around it. This way, you can have all of your fussy cut pieces look exactly the same! 

I am so happy I figured out a DIY homemade solution for these templates.  Especially with the Canadian dollar dropping so much right now, I just couldn't justify spending the money on importing the acrylic version.  If you use this tutorial to make a set for yourself, I would love to hear how it goes!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Black Adam likes to eat cake!

My nephew loves Black Adam, a rather obscure super villain from the DC universe. And he recently turned 3, which means Birthday Party Time!
Of course he wanted a superhero themed party, and what better cake to fit the theme than Black Adam? I had seen this version on Pinterest, and I thought it could easily be adapted to look like Black Adam. 
The inspiration
The realization
I've never been able to successfully make black icing, which I thought may have been a real wrench in my plans. But up until now, I've always started with a white icing. Tip: start with chocolate icing! It takes much less food colouring to get to black when you start with dark brown! 

I made a buttercream cake with a chocolate/butter "quick" icing (which took me an hour!), and a vanilla quick icing to tint for the face and yellow accents. The party was expecting around 40 people, so I used two 9x13, double layer cakes to construct the body, arms and head. 

The cake was a hit! My nephew loved it, and one of the young party-goers couldn't stop calling it awesome. Compliments from small children are the best! 
That's his Black Adam face