Monday, 28 January 2013

Puppy Cake

We've had a busy weekend here in the BK house.  It was Miss Missy's birthday (10.  Double figures! My how the time flies!) on Thursday, so we had a party on Saturday and I made a puppy cake.

As usual, my plans got more elaborate the more I thought about it, and they did have to get scaled back a bit when I ran out of time and energy (and also realised that some of my plans simply wouldn't fit!) but I'm very happy with the final result!

I've made a few cakes now with fondant figures, and it's lots of fun making them!  The shop I had been buying my supplies from has closed down, so I ended up using Pettinice icing which you can buy at supermarkets. I was a little nervous about using this, as my first ever attempt at cake decorating had been with that brand of fondant, and it was a complete disaster!!  I now realise that it was the food colouring that was at fault, not the icing.  Word to the wise: don't try to colour fondant with ordinary old food colouring!  It simply will not work.  You have to use gel icing colours.

I based the puppies loosely on a design from this book by Debbie Brown.  The instructions were really good and easy to follow, even though I didn't really follow them exactly!

 The flowers are cut with a plunge cutter, which is a real cinch, but I didn't want to spend all the time rolling individual centres for each flower like I did last time I made icing flowers.  I had a great idea which made the process so much quicker and easier!  I cut the centres with the end of a round piping tip and then used a skewer to pop them out and into place in one step.  It worked a treat! 

Miss Missy said the dogs were "epic" ~ high praise from a tweenie!!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Quilting Tutorial 3 ~ Adding a quilt border with mitred corners

A while ago I shared s couple of tutorials on cutting and piecing patchwork quilts.  Today I'm going to carry on with some tips on adding borders to your quilt.

A quilt border is a bit like a frame for a painting.  It makes your quilt look finished, and can add emphasis and definition to your design.  There are three basic styles of quilt borders (not including pieced borders which can be in as many different designs as quilts themselves).

The simplest border is made by adding long strips to all four sides, like this:

Or, you can add squares in the corners, like this:

Or you can mitre the corners, like this:  

This method is trickier than the others, but it looks great, especially if the fabric you have chosen is striped.

First, cut your border pieces.  They need to be a little longer than the width of your quilt top plus twice the width of your border.

Join the border pieces to each side of the quilt top, matching the centres of the quilt and border pieces.  Stop stitching a few centimetres from the corner, like this:

On both sides, pin border pieces to quilt exactly along the stitching line to the corner.

Press the border pieces outwards, then fold one piece along the diagonal from inner corner to outer corner.

If your fabric has a directional design, now is the time to check that the design is lining up nicely.  (As you can see, my border pieces are a little short.  I'll explain later how I dealt with that.)

Press the crease, then use masking tape to hold the border pieces securely in place.

Do not remove the masking tape.  Remove the pins, and pull the quilt top away so you don't accidentally catch it in the seam. Open out the creased border piece so that you can stitch the seam (the masking tape will now be folded in its place between the two pieces of fabric).  Beginning at the intersection between the crease and the seam line of the long edge of the border piece, stitch the border pieces together along the crease.  Try to keep the stitching exactly on the crease to avoid stitching in the masking tape, but don't worry if you catch it in a little.  Remove the masking tape (if you've accidentally stitched it, you should be able to pull it away easily because it will have been perforated, just make sure you get it all out, you may need to pull some out from the wrong side).  Press seam.

Start stitching at the arrow

Now join the border pieces to the quilt at the corners.  First you will join border piece 1 to the quilt, stitching from point A to point B, then you will join border piece 2 to the quilt stitching from point B to point C.  I hope this picture helps to make that clear.  (Clear as mud?)

Matching raw edges, stitch the remainder of the border/quilt seam to the corner of the quilt (stitching piece 1 from A to B).  Stop stitching right at the point where the corner border seam starts (point B).  This will line up with the corner seam-line of your quilt.

Stop stitching at arrow

Now, beginning stitching at the corner seam (point B), and matching raw edges, stitch the other border piece to the quilt (stitch border piece 2 from point B to point C).

Trim away the excess fabric at the corner.

And finally, press the border.

And now repeat for the remaining three corners.  And there you have it, a quilt border with mitred corners.

I started this quilt project a while ago (OK, it was over a year ago.  Ahem, make that nearly two years!) and because the fabric I chose for the borders has a directional design, I knew I wanted to mitre the corners.  I think mitred corners look much classier, especially when the border fabric is striped.  But I never worked out how wide my quilt was going to be and checked that I would actually have enough fabric!  Once I finished piecing the top, I realised that the fabric wasn't actually wide enough to do it.  I didn't have any of that extra length that I told you you needed right at the start.  You may have noticed in the photographs that my corner seams stopped a little short.  The quilt sat in my sewing room for months while I debated with myself how I was going to finish it off.  Should I mitre the corners but cut narrower borders so it would fit, cutting off some of that beautiful design?  Put a square in each corner instead of mitring them?  Or add a tiny bit of fabric to each corner?  But if I did that, what fabric would I use?  I didn't have anything that matched!  Oh, what a dilemma!!

Once I finally decided to just finish the darn thing and work it out, it was just serendipitous!  I decided that I was going to mitre it come what may, and as I cut off the triangle of excess fabric at the first corner, I realised that these off cuts would work perfectly to complete the corners.  Hurray!

Once the borders are on, it will look great!

I just wish I'd figured it out sooner, so that Grand-baby number two got it in time for her arrival, not at 1-and-a-half!  (Heck, I haven't even finished it yet, let's hope she gets it before her second birthday!!)

Monday, 14 January 2013

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

It's been ages since I posted (I hope none of you were holding your breath!) but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy crafting!  In fact, I've managed to get quite a lot done on several projects, not to mention writing numerous assignments for my diploma, and starting a new job.  Phew!  I have been busy.

The first project I finished was a Christmas stocking for the Young Lad.  I started this before last Christmas, but didn't get it finished, partly because I wasn't quite happy with the embellishments that I had bought.  I am pleased to say that it was finished in plenty of time for Santa to fill it up!

First of all, I wasn't happy with the star that I bought last year, because the only one I could find that looked remotely like what I had in mind had a loop for stitching at the top, and it was a little small for my tree.  Then one day I was at one of my favourite craft shops, looking for something entirely different, and I found these lovely star buttons.  I couldn't make up my mind whether to buy the natural wood one, which was just the right size, or the gold one, which was a little small, but shiny, which a Christmas star really ought to be...

In the end, I bought both, and stitched them on one on top of the other!  I rather like the way it looks! 

The other thing I wasn't happy with was the decorations for the tree that I found while we were on holiday, at another great craft shop.  Although they were very cute, I didn't like the way the shank on the back of the snowflakes and gingerbread-men made them sit.

After pondering about this for a while, I decided to just cut them off, they were just plastic after all!

This was very easily achieved!  I just used a pair of nail clippers, which allowed me to cut the shanks off flush with the back of the decorations.

Then I had to figure out how I would attach them.  The gingerbread-men had little dots for buttons, so I used these as placement marks, and then stuck a drawing pin in them to make holes.  This was surprisingly easy.  

I then checked that I could fit a needle through the hole, and there were my gingerbread-men, ready to go.  I didn't need to make holes in the snowflakes, as the snowflake design had holes in it anyway which I could easily use to stitch them on.

And there you have it.  The Young Lad was very happy with it, and he asked Santa to put a rubbish truck, Superman, and some chocolate in it!