10.29.2011

Knit a Cupcake


Cupcake! 
noun
a small cake baked in a cup-shaped container and typically iced.
an attractive woman (often as a term of address).

Webster’s definition seems simple enough… but the world of cupcakes has exploded the past few years.  A decade ago, cupcakes were simply a sugary treat that was standard fare for children’s school parties.  Whether they were baked at home or picked up at the supermarket or bakery; cupcakes had either yellow or chocolate cake and some way too sweet icing slapped on the top.  If it was a holiday, then they came with those funny plastic sticks that had a pink heart for Valentines Day, a black cat for Halloween, a Santa hat for Christmas and so on. 

How did we get from childhood treat to multi million-dollar industry? Did Carrie and Miranda really start this craze when they so innocently nibbled on cupcakes in front of The Magnolia Bakery in a 2000 episode of Sex and the City? By 2009, Slate ran a piece about “the cupcake bubble”. What happened? 

Then in January 2011 Business Week declared, 
“The idea of a cupcake shop filing for an IPO is baffling. But last week, Crumbs Bakery announced it would go public in a reverse merger worth $66 million. Crumbs, which is the largest chain of cupcake bakeries, did $31 million in revenue and $2.5 million in income in 2010. The company's top-selling product cost $3.75.”

We have become a society wild about cupcakes. Perhaps it is just that in this tenuous economy, the simple cupcake has become an affordable luxury.  Seems like most days at least one of my Facebook peeps mentions cupcakes.  It is either wanting one, needing one, making a cupcake run, treating herself to some sort of designer cupcake.  It’s become a new delectable vice.  The deliciousness of it all!!


Princess Beatrice certainly made us giggle when she wore a hat that looked like a cupcake. 

But what else can you crafters do with cupcakes?


Betz White felts sweaters and makes them into adorable ornaments. 






You can knit a cupcake pin cushion like this one from Spud and Chloe





Julie Williams created this darling decoration and shares her pattern at Little Cotton Rabbits



  

Inedible Jewelry takes the cupcake with this entire plateful of cupcake charms they sculpted in polymer clay! 






These cupcake fans are actually tooling around town in cupcake cars! What fun! 




If you are a fan of ‘everything cupcakes’ there are LOTS of choices not just to nibble on but also lots of craft ideas with cupcake themes.  What is your favorite?

10.26.2011

3 Ways to Make a Fleece Blanket


The air is nice and crisp and getting back into my fleece feels so good.  Jackets, scarves, blankets, I love them all.  I love working with fleece!  Here are 3 versions of a comfy fleece blanket.  A NO SEW and A LITTLE SEWING!  Easy… Easier and Easiest!

#1 - THE EASIEST, NO SEW

I wanted small lap blankets for the children to use in the car on those cold winter mornings.  Most fleece comes 58” wide so with just 1 yard of fleece I could make two lap blankets about 29” x 36”.  I love the economy of that! But you can make yours any size you want.

Cut the fabric to your desired size.  Be sure to make a nice clean cut.  The Olfa Rotary Cutter is a great tool for cutting fleece.

Fringe the edges.  For my lap blankets I only fringed two sides but if you want your fringe all around that is a great look too.  Use your creativity to decide on the look you want and determine how long and wide your fringe should be.  I cut my strips 1⁄2” wide and 3” long. 

One more decision to make!  I like the look of knotted fringe so I simply tie the pairs of fringe pieces together.  Just be sure you have cut an even number of strips.  EASY!!!
3 Different Looks for Fleece Blankets

Same 3 Blankets - Flipped Over


#2 - A LITTLE SEWING

With just a little sewing you can get an entirely different look by attaching some woven fabric to your fleece.  This way you get the decorative look of your woven fabric with the soft comfort of the fleece.  This little fella loved this military theme fabric but also wants to be cozy in his fleece.  We also made him a matching pillow case. Sweet Dreams!

Three Easy Steps:
1.  Prepare your fabrics. 
2.  Sew woven to fleece. 
3.  Create a fringe.
 
Here’s how:
Prepare your fabrics: 
Gently rip all four sides to the size your want the woven fabric.  Do not CUT!  Machine wash this prepared piece of fabric.
Cut your fleece piece 4”-5” wider than the woven on all four sides.

Sew woven to fleece:
Smooth the fleece out on a large work surface. 
Center the prepared woven on top with wrong sides together. 
Pin generously around the border.
With the woven fabric on top, use a zigzag stitch to sew the two layers together. Stitch about 5/8” from the cut edge of the woven fabric. This “raggedy” woven edge will become even more attractive with additional washings.

Create a fringe:
Clip the fleece edges to make the fringe.  I like my fringe pieces to be about 1⁄2” wide.  Cut the fleece to the raw edge of the woven fabric.  Although not essential, a fringe cutting template is a great help in creating a nice easy fringe.  There are several available on the market but I like the Fring’ez Adjustable No Sew Fringe Cutting Template.

At each corner, cut and remove a square of the fleece then tie a strip from each side together to make a finished corner. Tie pairs of fringe together for a great looking blanket!

I like to clip and tie a small section at a time.  This way, as you near a corner, you can judge how many strips you have left to cut and if necessary, “fudge” the width to be sure to have the proper pairs to tie.

Tips and Tricks
Knotted fringe gives your blanket a little more stability.  If you don’t knot it, and it will be getting some “wear and tear”, consider running a line of straight or zigzag stitches just above the fringe cut.

100% Cotton for your woven fabric works best.

To rip fabric, use scissors to make a small “start” about 1⁄2” into the side.  Now GENTLY rip so that the fabric tears along one thread of the weave of the fabric. 

Working with a large piece can be challenging if you don’t have a huge work table.  The floor works of course, but certainly not ideal.  Might you have a ping pong table?  A large kitchen island?  A firm bed?  Be creative and save your back.  If you don’t have a suitable work surface, carefully fold your fabric accordion style to minimize the bulk and keep the fabric from shifting.

# 3 - A BIT MORE SEWING, BUT STILL PRETTY EASY
When I spotted this yellow fleece in the fabric store a while back, I knew I had to own it.  So it has been tucked away in my fabric collection just waiting for the right idea to pop into my head. 

Today was the day!  I knew I wanted to pair it with this blue dotted cotton but I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  The star appliqu├ęs gave it enough dimension and interest that I didn’t really want to fringe it.  So I decided to wrap the woven cotton around the fleece to create a border effect.

You can use this same method for any size you desire.  I like to be as economical as possible with my fabrics so I used the entire width of the woven and cut the fleece so that I would have a little left over. (There might be a yellow fleece scarf in my future!)

Prepare the woven fabric:
Pre-washed 100% cotton is preferable. 

Cut or rip so you have a rectangle with clean edges. This should be your desired finished size plus 1 3⁄4” on each side.

Iron the entire piece.  Turn under and press each edge 1⁄4”, then turn under another 1 1⁄2” and press that edge.

Spread out on a large flat work surface with the wrong side (and the folded edges) up.

Add the fleece

Start in a corner. Unfold the pressed down edge of the woven and place the fleece, right side up, on top.  Smoothing out both layers, place the cut edge of the fleece at the crease line of the 1 1⁄2” fold down two sides of the blanket.
Fold the woven over and on top of the fleece so it creates a nice finished edge.  Pin in place.

If you are experienced and confident in your sewing skills you may want to proceed to fold and pin all four sides of your blanket.  I do however think it is ‘safer’ and easier to sew these first two sides then come back to your work surface, smooth your fabrics into place and make any adjustments to the cut of the fleece before sewing the next two sides.

Managing the corners
I finished my corners with what I call a “fake miter”.  On the fleece side it looks like a miter but on the woven side it simply looks like the fabric continues around the corner.  I don't stitch the corner to create the miter, just fold it.

Fold the corner of the woven in, forming a triangle.  Now fold each long border edge together so that they meet on a diagonal line from the corner forming a mitered look.

Now sew the woven to the fleece.  I used a straight stitch but a zigzag or other decorative stitch would be very attractive as well.

If you like a more finished look, you can 1) hand sew a blind stitch to close the corner 2) zigzag the corner to secure the "gap" or 3) sew a decoration like a bow, a fabric yo yo or a fleece embellishment to the corners.

I was lucky enough to find this yellow fleece with the star and moon applique.  I've never seen it again.  But it is really quite easy to do and makes a really nice finish on a plain fleece.  Simply cut the shapes you desire, stack them, then tack them onto the fleece.  Yes!  It really is that easy.  


10.20.2011

Upcycle Ice Cream Cartons into Cute Containers

I don’t know how I could possibly have missed this one but I JUST discovered Mod Podge!  Why did I not know the joys of this fabulous substance until now?  After all it has been around since 1967.  In case I am not the only one in the crafting universe that didn’t know, I’ll explain the basics.  Mod Podge is an all-in-one glue, sealer and finish.  It is waterbased, easy to clean up and works on a variety of surfaces.  You can select from several formulas for the look you want; matte, gloss, outdoor, and more, it even comes in glow in the dark!

For my first Mod Podge project, I turned ice cream cartons into adorable containers.  At first I was really excited that I HAD to eat the entire container of ice cream!  But once I started spreading on the Mod Podge I knew that my crafting life would have lots of new possibilities. 


Here is how my ice cream container project evolved.  A few years ago, my very clever and crafty sister gave me a present “wrapped” in this adorable cowboy container.  It actually took me a little while to figure out that it had started life as an ice cream container. But the little ones and I have enjoyed keeping our collection of finger puppets in it and it has held up well.

I had some wallpaper leftovers that I’ve been hanging on to – not enough for any walls but definitely too cute to not use somehow.  I was having some ice cream cravings and that’s how good ideas get started!

1.  Eat the ENTIRE container of ice cream.  Wash it thoroughly and allow to dry.
2.  Cut the paper to fit around the body of the carton with about 1” of overlap where it meets.  Outline the lid on the paper and cut the circle.
3.  Use a craft brush to spread the Mod Podge on the back of the paper.  Starting at the seam of the carton, wrap it around, smoothing as you go.  Be sure to push the paper up and under the lip around the top of the carton.
4. It is okay if it overlaps a bit, so trim the seam so that your pattern is attractive. 
5.  The lid needs a little more finessing.  You will want to trim your circle so that it will tuck under the lid without the cut edge showing.

If you’re not happy with the results the first time… eat some more ice cream and start over.  Not too bad a plan!

Tips and Tricks
I like the brand of ice cream that has cute strips on the sides of the lid, but you could use ribbon or trim to cover this part as well.

I tried papering the bottom of the container.  I glued a circle on the bottom.  Then cut the body about 1/4” longer, scored the 1/4” and it wrapped under nicely.  But in the end it was more difficult and I found it really didn’t matter.

I do like the trim I used on the bottom edge.  Cut a length of grosgrain ribbon and rickrack and glue it with the Mod Podge.  Just be sure to let the paper on the body of the carton dry thoroughly before you apply the trim.

The wallpaper scraps worked perfectly but you could also use fabric or heavy wrapping paper.  Just be sure it is heavy enough or dark enough that the ice cream graphics don’t show through.

If you are new to Mod Podge, as I am, just go ahead and buy the big gallon container.  You will find lots of things to use it for!

I found lots of good advice and information from Amy at Mod Podge Rocks.

A cute, fun, inexpensive and functional craft project!  What more could you ask for? Actually... I would like to ask YOU a question.  What is your favorite craft use for Mod Podge?


10.14.2011

A Recipe for Dirt? Dirt Cake!


What would your grandmother say if she knew you were reading a recipe for dirt?   Dirt Cake has become a family favorite in this house.  Here are two different versions.  An extra simple no cooking version and another that requires a tad more effort. 

Both begin with a brand new 8”-10” flower pot and a hand trowel. 

Easy version: 
Fill your pot with your favorite ice cream. 
Crush the Oreos in a food processor or a blender until they are the consistency of dirt.  Spread the crushed cookies on top of the ice cream. Sink a fat straw all the way down into the center of the pot.  Don’t trim the straw yet.  Store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Alternate version: 
Cream together:
8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter/margarine, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
Now mix 1-2 minutes until blended:
2 pkgs (6 serving size) instant vanilla or chocolate pudding
3 1/2 cups milk
Fold pudding mixture into cream cheese mixture with rubber spatula.
Fold in:
12 oz cool whip.

Crush the Oreos in a food processor or a blender until they are the consistency of dirt.  In the pot, alternate layers of cookie crumbs and pudding cream ending with cookie dirt.  Sink a fat straw all the way down into the center of the pot.  Don’t trim the straw yet.  Chill several hours or overnight.

To Serve: 
Trim the straw even with the crushed cookies.  Place the stem of the flower down through the straw.  Garnish the top with Gummy Worms.  Serve with the hand trowel.  What fun!

Tips & Tricks
Run the pot and trowel through the dishwasher before your first use.  (For extra assurance, you could also line the pot with parchment or plastic wrap.)

I love to crush the cookies in my Mini Food Chopper.  You can also crush the cookies by placing in a plastic bag and crushing them with your hands.  This is very fun for children.  If you don’t care about the precise consistency of the ‘dirt’ it is a great alternative.

Make individual serving size pots with Mini Clay Pots and small flowers.  Great for entertaining the garden club ladies!

Wait until serving time to put the gummy worms on top.  Frozen gummy worms are hard on the teeth.

What you need:
8”-10” flower pot
Hand trowel
A Fat Straw (treat yourself to a thick milkshake at your favorite fast food place and save the straw)
Pretty stemmed flower(s)
Pack of Oreo Cookies
Gummy Worms

Ice Cream (enough to fill your pot)
OR
8 oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 stick butter/margarine
1 cup powdered sugar
2 pkgs instant vanilla or chocolate pudding (6 serving size)
3 1/2 cups milk
12 oz cool whip

10.13.2011

4 Steps to Make a Pretty Ironing Board Cover

Dress up your craft room with an attractive cover for your ironing board. Sew a casing around a length of your pretty home decor fabric.  Add a drawstring.  Now you have crafted a beautiful ironing board cover.

1.  Measure your ironing board.  Cut fabric into rectangle 8.5” wider and 10” longer than your board.  Taper slightly at one end to mimic the shaped end of ironing board.

2.  Press raw edge under 1/4” all the way around.  Fold again 1/2”.  Leaving 1” open at center of short square end.  Stitch down to form casing.

3. Using large safety pin, feed string through casing.

4.  Pull to distribute loose but even gathers.

Position on top of ironing board.  Tighten gathers.  Secure loose ends by simply tying into a bow.

Materials List:
1 3/4 yard heavy 100% cotton fabric
3 yards cotton string

It makes your ironing so much more fun!

Tips and Tricks
For extra cushioning, this pretty new cover can be placed right over your existing pad.

A tabletop ironing board cover is the perfect choice for your craft area.  It is smaller and easy to store.  Just adjust the dimensions to make the cover.

I love my Rowenta 1500 Watt Steam Iron.  Next to my sewing machine, it is the workhorse of my craft room. 

10.11.2011

How to Make a Stuffed Pillow with a Child


Fun Craft Projects with Children
One of my favorite things to do is crafting with children.  I love to share my knowledge and experience with them.  But even more, I love to watch their eyes light up as they discover how something is created.  I love the unique way they take an idea and turn it into a craft that is uniquely their own. 

Here are a couple of the craft projects I did with a nine-year-old boy.  This kind of project can be done with hand or machine sewing.  This boy was excited to be able to have a lesson on the sewing machine! 

He likes penguins, so we looked through my fabric scraps for black and white pieces.  Then he drew a basic shape of the penguin on paper.  It took a few pieces of paper until he was satisfied with the shape.  He then cut it out and used it as a pattern for the fabric body.  The shape of the pattern was slightly irregular. He learned that we could cut both the front and back at the same time with just one pattern but the wrong sides need to be together as we cut.

We especially liked the fish bead hanging out of his mouth as well as the slightly different size and shape buttons used for mismatched eyes.  This guy is loaded with personality!

Here is how we did it:
  • Draw a general shape on paper and cut it out. (Either add a seam allowance on to the paper before you cut it or estimate a seam allowance as you cut the fabric.)
  • Place front and back fabrics with wrong sides together. Pin the pattern on and cut back and front together.
  • With pieces of felt, buttons and other craft trims we gave the penguin some personality.  Lay it out first to get the look you want. 
  • Sew the face features in place.
  • Adding the wings, feet and ‘hair’ provided another lesson. We placed these elements on the flat front side FACING IN!  
  • Pin the back side to the front side with RIGHT sides together.
  • Now sew around the entire edge of the penguin about 1/2” from the edge.  Be sure to leave an opening at least 2-3 inches.
  • This next step felt like magic to this boy!  He turned the penguin right side out and our crafted creation just came to life!
  • Stuff with poly fiberfill and stitch the opening closed. That’s it!!!  What fun. 
What fun it is to take bits and pieces of trims, ribbons and buttons and craft them into an adorable expression of a child’s imagination.  And the bonus is that along with all the fun, you have had an opportunity to introduce the child to many learning concepts including:
Math and measuring
Drawing
Abstract thought
Visualization
Estimating
Spatial relations
Upcycling
Recycling
Hand Sewing
Machine Sewing

This craft was so much fun, we got started on another one for his sister. 
He chose a simpler shape this time but it still has loads of personality.

For a positive and rewarding craft experience be sure to use good tools and supplies.   
I would love to hear some about your projects and any special tools or supplies you use.




10.10.2011

Craft a Knitting Needle Case




The first chilly days of fall always inspire me to get out my knitting.  When my knitting and craft supplies are in order and easy to find it makes getting started even more fun.   Here is a great craft project you can make for yourself or it will make a lovely gift for your favorite knitting enthusiast.  Using Quilted Fabric, Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape and some ribbon you can craft a beautiful and practical case for your knitting.

Shopping List:
1/2 yd. Quilted Fabric (42” wide will work fine)
2.5 yd. Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape
1.5 yd. Ribbon – about 1/2” wide (width does not have to be precise)
Optional - Embellishments such as Ribbon Roses

Here's How to Make Your Knitting Needle Case
Click on the Illustration to Enlarge











 Now you are ready fill your new case with knitting needles.  Fold each side toward the center; then fold again.  Hold it together by tying two bows. 


 Beautiful!

Variations
Make little pockets where the ribbon is attached; an extra space to keep some of your knitting notions.

Use Ribbon Roses or other small craft decorations to embellish your knitting needle case.

10.04.2011

Fabulous Fabric Yo Yos


It’s simple!  It’s easy!  Learn how to make a fabric yo yo.  To start this craft hand sew a simple running stitch around the edge of a fabric circle.  Pull thread to gather.  Now you have crafted an adorable fabric yo yo. 

1.  How big do you want your yo yo?  Cut a fabric circle twice the diameter plus 1/4” of desired finished yo yo.  For a 1” diameter finished yo yo, cut a 2 1/4” circle.

2. Thread needle with single strand of all-purpose thread.  Knot end.

3.  Holding fabric with wrong side up and folding edge in 1/8” as you go, make long running stitches around edge near fold.  Start with needle going from top to bottom. 

4.  When you reach the starting place, make one more stitch ending with the needle on top (the wrong side).

5.  Here comes the really fun part:  Pull gently to gather until tight all around.   End off, hiding your knot.  Your fabric yo yo is finished.

Tips and Tricks
  • Use round coasters, bowls, plates, etc. as patterns to trace circle shapes on to fabric before cutting.
  • Use a cotton fabric for your first project, as it is easiest to handle.
  • For very large yo yos, fold edge 1/2”.

Variations
  • Add a pompom or a button in the center of the yo yo.
  • Branch out to other fabrics such as taffeta, organza, silk, lightweight wool.
  • Use your yo yos to embellish clothing, accessories and linens. 
  • Place a small yo yo upside down atop a larger one for a “rosette” effect.


I love my fancy fabric yo yos.  They are fun and easy. 
U can do this 2