Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sewing for a little friend

I wanted to make something for a friend who will be undergoing surgery soon. I tried to think of something I could make to make life more pleasant during this time.

The first thing I considered was a pillowcase. I have made pillowcases before to be donated for hospitalized children. Pillowcases are also a nice gift for any child in their favorite themes. I found out the child's favorite things are My Little Pony and Disney Princesses. 

After making the pillowcase, I had more My Little Pony fabric leftover and decided to make a quiet toy for her too. I made three "I Spy" bean bags with little toys and buttons I thought she would enjoy. 

After delivering our gifts and talking more with her mom, I learned that keeping her well is very important before the surgery and afterwards as well. I remembered seeing a child wearing a surgical looking mask at the bowling ally and wondered about making masks out of fabric. Fortunately, I found an amazing tutorial at Craft Passion. I also saw some people copy paper surgical masks which also seemed doable.  

The Craft Passion pattern was very easy to use. I did need to make the elastic pocket slightly larger after my first attempt. Also, I found it helpful to sew with the elastic tucked into the pocket area. The small fit the four year old well with an 8" elastic tied into a knot. The medium fit a six year old with an 8.5" elastic tied. I tried to cut the prints so the characters were visible on the masks. They came out really cute!
We have a surgical paper mask that is part of a play doctor kit. I copied it as a pattern as is and also made a smaller version. The smaller version is 6.5" wide and 5" tall. I pressed three pleats and then serged all four edges and turned them under. Adding the elastic was the last step and used 6.5" long pieces on each side. 
I wanted to make something for the big sister too. She likes Shopkins and finally has some wiggly teeth!  I made up a little tooth pillow with a felt tooth shape pocket on the pillow. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

50th Anniversary Cake

My parents were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and my sister and I wanted to recognize the milestone. Earlier in the year my family took a big trip togther to celebrate. I started thinking about a cake at the minimum. I hadn't remembered that my parents had a square cake for their wedding, but when my sister started pulling photos for a slide show of 50 years, I was able to see the cake.
My sister and I also planned to have a cake celebration after my parents' church service, so I knew I would need to have cake for about 100 people. 
My first impression of the cake was that it was very ornately decorated. I wasn't sure how much uninterrupted decorating time I would have, so my main focus was on the roses. I didn't have a rose tip or a flower nail, so I started there, even before making the cakes and was able to make 10 buttercream roses which I refrigerated. 

I looked at square cake pans and figure out how much cake I needed. I found great tools out there for how many cups of cake batter for different sized pans. I decided to use devil's cake mix and white cake mix and instead of the directions, I added just under a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt, 2 egg whites and 1 cup of water. Both mixes turned into perfectly moist cakes that baked level using the guidelines for 8" square cakes and 16" square cakes. I ended up making the four cakes separately. First the 8" and made some cupcakes with the leftover batter, then another 8" with leftover cupcakes. Then I make the 16" cakes using two boxes of mix each and had a bit leftover each time too. 

After the cakes cooled, I placed each cake on a cake board and wrapped them in plastic wrap. This sort of wasted some cake boards, but did keep my cakes level and prevented cracking when handling them. I cleared off and cleaned my top shelf of the refridgerator for the cakes knowing I would need a big space for once they were assembled and frosted. 

I spent some time watching videos and looking at tutorials for stacking cakes and frosting. I decided to start frosting the two 8" layers. One video I liked in particular was with Alan at Global Sugar Art. One thing he did differently was to use a lot of frosting on the top and sides (applied with a decorator bag) and then take off the excess. I used angled spatulas which were great and also a pastry scraper which also worked well. I also already had a plastic cake turntable which was able to hold the weight of all the cakes. 

The 8" white cakes sat on one 8" cake board and were layered with buttercream frosting. After frosting the 8" layer, it went back in the fridge and I went to work on the 16" layers. The devil's cakes sat on a 14" foil covered sturdy cake board with some frosting to stick it in place also layered with buttercream frosting. 

Once the cake stacking started happening, it became apparent how heavy the cake was getting. I had already planned on using dowels under the 8" cake with it's cake board. I bought 1/4" dowel from the cake decorating department and needed to cut them down. I measured one dowel in the cake and cut four. I read sanding can be a good idea too to minimize splintering in the cake. I did wash and dry the dowels afterwards. 

It was helpful to have the extra cake board I used for wrapping the cake layers individually and used that to figure out where the 8" layer would sit on the 16". I placed the extra board down and made marks with a toothpick. 

Once the 8" cake layers were on the 16" layers, it was time to decorate and make more frosting. I placed the big cake on my shelf in the fridge and hung a sheet of waxed paper up to keep it safe. 

For decorating the cake, I knew I had the roses. I also watched some tutorials which used the rose tip for making arches. another tip I picked up was to use half of a disposable cup to mark the arches. One more component I wanted to include were shells using a star tip. I did use the plastic cake turner I had and it seemed to hold all the weight well. The square cake was easy to decorate.

Finally I added a 50th cake topper I had purchased and I added extra roses on top. 

Other things I researched were how to transport the cake and how to cut the cake. I found a box we had and was able to slide the cake in one end and then make a card board barrier so it couldn't shift. Having the square cake for transport and cutting actually seemed to make things easier.