Sunday, September 22, 2013

Unicycle Cupcakes

It's birthday time again for my husband and while we are not traveling to a Muni race weekend, I still had unicycles on the mind. 

I wondered about making home made sprinkles.  There are such recipes, but many of them are called confetti and can be cut in shapes. That is what I was looking for. Then one post I read just used fondant and cut out small shapes. Even better.

I did need a tiny unicycle cutter.  I took out my cutter making kit I had used before and found I was out of metal. A couple sites had instructions for making cookie cutters out of a soda can. Because my cutter would be small, this seemed like a perfect plan. I cut up a can and folded the metal onto itself and created a tiny unicycle.

Marshmallow fondant I had made before and felt confident making again. I made up a half a recipe, but easily could have made a quarter. I colored it purple and rolled it out. The mini cutter worked perfectly.  I laid the unicycles out on a cookie sheet and using a butter knife, made spoke impressions. 
For the cupcakes, I figured I would make a healthier version of the box mix again.  Instead of just Greek yogurt, I had added a bit of water.  But I also read about using coffee with chocolate cake to bring out the chocolate flavor.  Some people mention that the cake is a bit flat when using yogurt, so I added an egg white too. My recipe ended up being 1 egg white, 1 full cup of plain Greek yogurt (6 oz container plus a little), almost a cup of cooled coffee, and Betty Crocker Super Moist Fudge cake mix. It yielded 20 cupcakes.  They are just right in flavor and texture. I baked them in papers for 18 minutes.
Then it was on to the buttercream frosting. I made up a recipe using two sticks of butter, 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 TB of vanilla and 2 TB of milk. It was enough to thickly frost 17 cupcakes using a decorator bag with no tip.
Finally I added the unicycles and some confetti sprinkles. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Firetruck & Tools Tote Bag

The birthday boy is also into tools and Handy Manny, in addition to his love of firetrucks.  I thought a quilted gift bag might be fun, especially one that combined two of his favorite things.

One reason I enjoy making quilted tote bags is that I can try out different quilting methods on a small scale.  For this bag, because I was using two different prints, I thought using black and grey as accents on both sides would help tie things together. I used the slice and insert method for adding the strips of grey. 

Wavy quilting lines is something I had never tried for quilting.  Using my walking foot and winging it seemed to work well. I really like the effect on this bag. I used grey on the predominately grey side and black on the other. I did stick with black on the black bottom fabric and decided to use grey on the small grey strip too. 

The tool fabric was leftover from a baby quilt; I did purchase a fat quarter of the firetruck fabric.  For the lining I found the light denim to be a nice match and had just enough. When I heard the birthday boy was into Handy Manny and searched, I found this great ribbon.  I knew it would arrive later in the week.  The first steps were making the front and back and quilting each piece. For the whole project, my goal was to make sure the bag would appeal to a boy and I wasn't sure where the ribbon would come into play. Finally I decided to just use it in the lining, like a little surprise. I added ribbon onto a pocket too.

The finished size is about 15" wide by 10" tall with a 5" depth from a 2" boxed corner.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Girly Dance Tote

My little one is quite the dancer, but I had reservations about signing her up for dance class at age three. Finally I found a creative movement and ballet class at our Y during the day. The teacher has great energy and is very engaging.

ballet tote Even though it is a dance class, many children wear street clothes and socks or sneakers for class. The teacher did say that leotards and ballet slippers are good too. My daughter has worn a leotard every class and started wearing ballet shoes too. These are everyday clothes for her at home, why not wear them to dance class. 

A mini dance tote for a mini girl seemed like the perfect next project. 

Lately everything is about sparkles.  Fortunately, I had a little leftover purple sparkly fabric and some pink sparkly corduroy.  The ballet slipper ribbon was also in my stash. After looking around for some extra inspiration, I saw many dance bags have a tulle skirt on them. I thought a little tulle would make a nice accent. 

I started with a 10.5" square of the pink corduroy and added about a 2.5" strip purple sparkly on top. Then, I cut 7" from the bottom to add the tulle. The tulle was 4" wide and approximately four times the width of the bag. I layered two strips of tulle and then gathered them. Adding a silver ribbon on the seam helped bring out the sparkles. 

Before sewing up the sides and bottom, I trimmed the tote bag to 9" x 11". This would be the measurement for the lining too. The straps ended up being 3" x 22" and folded into the center so no raw edges are showing. I added ribbon here too to give the corduroy more stability. 

I forgot to add the ballet ribbon until the sides were together, so I ripped out a small area of one side seam and fed the ends through there. 

The bottom corner boxing was sewn in at 1.5".

And when trying it on her shoulder complete with ballet slippers inside, all she had to say was, "it's perfect."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Firetruck Birthday Shirt

We have a young friend who will be turning three soon. He has been really into firetrucks for some time. A basic number shirt didn't seem like it would be enough. While thinking about this shirt, I thought a shiny red truck would be cool. Fortunately red pleather goes on sale right about now for costume making time. Though I did have concerns about how it would sew and wash.

I used felt for all the other details and glued them on before stitching. Then I satin stitched most parts before placing the truck on the shirt.  Finally I added some heat and bond and very carefully ironed the truck to the shirt. Using some batting in between didn't damage the pleather, but also didn't really adhere the truck. Finally I flipped the shirt inside out and ironed through the back, which worked pretty well. 

Using the new Teflon foot may have helped in some instances, but I wonder if it slipped too much when I was sewing on mainly felt. There were a couple places where the satin stitches looked less than perfect. 

I am thinking the birthday boy will just see a firetruck with a yellow number three.

Firetruck Birthday Shirt

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Even Easier Luggage Tags - A Tutorial

After making a few luggage tags with multiple layers, I decided I wanted a simplified method and after making a few of these and tweaking the design a little, I thought it was worth sharing.

These luggage tags are the perfect size for a business card or just a name.  Different prints can be used or a combination of pieced fabrics with or without some ribbon.

Luggage Tag Tutorial

Step 1 
  • two 3.25" x 5" fabric or piece together for a different look
  • two 2.75" x 4.5" of heat bond craft interfacing
  • one 5" x 1.25" strip for bias
  • one 1.5" x 12" strip for the handle
  • one 3.25 x 4" of clear plastic vinyl
Step 2
Center interfacing on the back of each 3.25" x 5" rectangle and adhere

Step 3
Make small bias tape.  The strip is 1.25" x 5" which is pretty narrow.  Making it a big bigger would work too.  Iron in half, then open, iron each long side towards the center line, then iron together making a bias tape.

 Step 4
Place bias on top of clear plastic sandwiching one of the 4" sides, sew close to bottom edge.

Step 5
Layer pieces for sewing.  With right side up of print, add plastic with bias on top, then with right side down, place other print on.  Right sides are then together for each print and the clear plastic is sandwiched in between.

Step 6
Sew around edges with a 1/4" seam allowance being careful not to have the plastic slip.  Begin near top corner, leaving a small opening for turning.  Clip corners and any bias or plastic not lined up.

Step 7
Turn right side out.  This is certainly tricky; the materials are stiff and the opening is small.

Step 8
Push all four corners out with a pencil or chop stick.  Being very mindful of the plastic, give a quick iron on the back and all edges.  Turn under the open edges and iron.

Step 9
Take 1.5" x 12" strip and iron in half.  Open back up and iron each long end towards the center line.  Then fold in half and iron again.  Sew down the long edges of the strap close to the edges.

Step 10
Insert both raw edges of the strap into the luggage tag.  Center the strap.  Insert about 1/2" of ends.

Step 11
Sew a box around the ends inside the luggage tag.  Then top stitch around the whole luggage tag being sure to catch both sides of the opening at top.

Luggage Tag

It's tricky to sew over the plastic.  Tissue paper can be used under the presser foot or a special teflon presser foot can be used.  I've done both and the new to me foot is worth it.  Holding the presser foot up a bit while sewing helps going over bumps and at the corners.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Luggage Tags

My daughter started the flute this year and it is a used flute.  The flute case had a plastic luggage tag on it that broke after one trip to school.  I suggested making a luggage tag for her and she finally warmed up to the idea.  I found many great tutorials, but this one from Sid's In Stitches stood out from the rest.

While my daughter was still deciding on fabric, I made up a black one to practice.  It was good to see where I could be more precise and that all the guidelines I made make a difference.

Round two did come out better and it matches her recorder bag.  We were happy to find that there was just enough left over.

More Heart Pillows

More heart pillows are ready for delivery!  I enjoyed doing wonky stripes and then using the leftovers for piecing.  The pieced hearts look like crazy quilting.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Letter "K" Pillow

After playing around a bit more with the Slice and Insert quilting method, I thought the letter "K" might work for it too.

My three year old chose purple sparkly fabric for the "K".  After I cut out 3" strips and arranged them into a K shape, I realized that piecing together made more sense.  She then chose the Minnie Mouse print for the background.

I started with the top diagonal, then the bottom and added to both sides.  Then I added the bottom diagonal to the top and finally added the straight piece.  I added borders, then batting and quilted through the top and batting.

I added batting to the back piece too to give the pillow a better form before stuffing.  It is about 13" square.

Slice and Insert Mug Rug

My daughter is very excited about her new fourth grade teacher and even asked the teacher her favorite colors.  I was enjoying the Slice and Insert quilting method and mug rugs are a nice place to practice new things.

Lining up a diagonal "slice" was much harder than when it's parallel to the raw edges.  Finally I ended up lining it up and then placing it 1/4" higher and basting first to double check.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mended Fabric Organizer

Due to the fact that backpacks are not allowed in school, my son keeps trying out different methods to stay organized and carry all his necessary things along.

This year, he plans to reuse this fabric accordion organizer and tuck his agenda in the front. This was what he did other years which caused the elastic to rip off and the button to pull out. 

I bought some new silver buttons and a flat black button for the reverse side. Thin elastic would work for the front and back. 

The buttons sewed together better than I expected.  I thought it might be hard to get them attached to each other through the firm material and still be held together tightly. The elastic tucked into the existing layers.  I just heat sealed the ends first. Everything was sewn by hand and I hope I put in enough stitches that it will last. 

For the back, I added elastic in a "V" to help hold his pencil case.