Archive | May 2012

Pillowcase Dress

My first official sewing adventure on this blog is the “pillowcase dress.” I’m going to start by putting in a few disclaimers:

  • I am moderately knowledgeable in sewing. I’m not going on Project Runway anytime soon, but I know my way around a standard sewing machine.
  • I’m going to use pretty standard sewing techniques, so this project is not going to be a “learn as I go” craft. I will in the future try my hand at some new sewing techniques, so stay tuned for those!
  • I am not using a pillowcase to make this dress. I’m sure that’d be the easy way to do this. That’s just not my style. I seem to take simple projects and turn them into custom-designed nightmares for myself and, thereby, my family. I wanted more unique colors, and I wanted one to fit my littlest, miss Lady Bug, as well as a coordinating one for her sister, the Prima Ballerina.

With those points in mind, I’ll go through the process to make a non-pillowcase “Pillowcase Dress.” If you do decide to make it out of a pillowcase, you probably would be able to skip a lot of the steps that I’ll describe. I then applaud you for being less OCD than me.

Here is a list of supplies:

  • Two coordinating fabrics of your choice (3/4 yard for the more dominated fabric and 1/4 of a yard for the smaller used fabric)
  • 30 inches of ribbon (7/8″ width) that matches
  • Thread that matches so it blends in with the fabric
  • I also bought some medium rick rack to add a little detail, but this isn’t necessary (1/2″ wide)

I always tend to buy a little extra fabric than is probably necessary. I’m not a fan of multiple trips to the fabric store because I end up spending an hour going up and down the aisles, starting new projects in my head with items falling from my overfilled arms. This is where I succumb to the phone call to tell my husband that I understand that I was supposed to be home a long time ago but got sidetracked. Target also has this effect on me.

I made this using the measurements for my 4-year-old that is 42 inches tall. I measured from her shoulder to the top of her knee to get the finished length that I wanted for the dress, which was 22″.  I measured a standard pillowcase width and got 19″.  In the future, I think I will make it less wide because it was pretty wide for my daughter.  It still looked cute, though!

I kept the fabric folded in half with the wrong sides facing each other (you can see the nice side). I then measured from the fold and cut at 19 1/2″ to get the width of the dress plus an inch seam allowance.  Then I measured and cut lengthwise to desired length minus 7″ (which will be the other fabric) plus seam allowance of 1 1/2″, equally for my dress 16 1/2″.

If you were to unfold your fabric the measurement would be 39″ by 16 1/2″.

Cut the second fabric the same way but with the measurements 19 1/2″ (width) by 8 1/2″ (length).

two fabrics cut-notice the folded edge on the left

Next, you sew both pieces together and finish with zig zag stitch.  Zig zag stitching is a cheaper means of serging seams.  Not many people have sergers, anyways.

Two fabrics with nice sides facing each other, pinned, and ready to be sewed.

This is where I added my rick rack.  I pinned it very carefully on the seam of the two fabrics in order to hide the seam, and then sewed it.

rick rack pinned to seam

Then hem the bottom.  I used a rolled hem so that it gave it a cleaner finished look.  A basic explanation of how to make a rolled hem is fold the edge of your fabric and then fold it over again so that the edge is hidden.  I then pin it to keep it from coming undone and sew it.  This hides the edge and makes it look more professionally finished.  Ironing the folds make it easier to work and also keeps it an even hem.

What my rolled hem looks like before I sew it

Now sew together the sides.  The main thing is to make sure the seams of the fabrics match.  I line up the fabric with the nice looking sides facing inside.  Then I make sure that where the two fabrics were sewn together meets up at the side about to be sewn.  I pin my fabric to make sure it stays where I want.  Sew and then zig zag stitch to keep the edges from fraying and looking messy.

Keep the fabric nice side in for the remaining of the sewing.

Instead of using a pattern for the arm holes, this is where I get a little creative.  I took a large plate and placed it on the top of the dress.  I approximated arm holes (it was about 5″ down and 2 1/2″ across).  If you use the plate, you don’t have to exactly trace, but get an approximate curve.  What’s nice about these types of dresses is that it isn’t fitted so there is a lot of play room at the top to adjust to different children’s upper body frames.  Then cut.

use plate to get curve of arm hole

Then I use the rolled hem technique to do the arm holes.  Start from a side rather than the middle.  This lets your fabric “give” a little easier into rolling rather than if you start in the middle it tends to be more difficult to roll it.

Now time for the place to put the ribbon.  Start with one side.  What I do is fold my fabric to an inch and iron the fold.  Then I fold the edge like I’m going to do a rolled hem (essentially this is a rolled hem, but you are leaving enough space to put a ribbon through it).  Make sure you leave 3/4″ in order to put the ribbon through when you are finished.  Note that I’m using a 7/8″ ribbon but only leaving myself 3/4″ inside the hem for the ribbon.  I’ll explain this in a minute.  Sew the hem, leaving yourself 3/4″ from the edge to the stitches.  Repeat with the other side.

pinned hem with 3/4″ space for ribbon

finished hem with 3/4″ space for ribbon

This completes the sewing part of the dress.  Now turn your fabric back to show your finished work (nice side out).

Last part is inserting the ribbon into the hems at the top.  Cut a 30″ piece of ribbon.  Take a safety-pin and attach it to one side of the ribbon.  This makes going through the hem SUPER easy.  Insert the safety-pin into the hem and work it through with your fingers.  After you finish through one hem, continue with the other (make sure you keep the other end from going into the hem of the outfit).  once it has gone through both hems, take the safety-pin out.  Because I used a satin ribbon, I just cut the little edge off where the pin made a hole, but that’s because I’m a little OC about perfectionism.  This technique helps when using a wider ribbon than the hole you leave for yourself.  I did this because when the dress is on, the ribbon will naturally bunch anyways, so I didn’t want to leave a larger than necessary hem.

Safety-pin attached to ribbon through the hem in the top of the dress

I take a lighter and just heat seal the edges of the ribbon to prevent fraying in the future.  There are specific heat sealers for ribbon.  I just typed in heat sealer for ribbon and got this so seems easy enough to find if you want one.  I think a lighter works fine.  Just go back and forth by the edge of the ribbon with the lighter until it slightly melts and seals the edge of the ribbon.  Don’t put the lighter right on the ribbon or it will probably catch on fire.

Now just tie a bow on the side of the neck, and you’re done!  Congrats!  This whole thing with taking pictures and writing down information for this took me an hour.  I’d think it would take me a half hour or so to do now that I know what I’m doing.  I will definitely be making more of these!  Super easy and cheap!

Finished Dress!

Happy 2-2 Tu-esday!

Today is Tuesday, May 22nd!  This means it’s 2-2 tu-esday!  This is the only time it is happening this year!  Since I’m slightly obsessed with tutus, I consider this almost like a mini holiday.  Although I am excited, I haven’t baked a celebratory cake or dressed in a tutu to work because I doubt my co-workers would share my enthusiasm. 

I do want to do a little something special for the day, so I’m giving away a custom child’s tutu!  Go to my facebook page here, like it, and comment on today’s status on the “holiday.”  I will pick a random comment from a number generator, and make a tutu for them!  They can pick the size AND colors!  All I ask is that I get a picture of a cute little one wearing the tutu so that I can share it on my page. 

Good luck and happy 22!!!

Note: You must like my page or your comment will not count. Simply “liking” the status will not qualify you for a tutu as I cannot know what number you are based on the “like.”  Picture shown above has bows which will not be included in the giveaway but can always be added, and you would only be charged for the bows if desired.

Mother’s Day Thanks

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. 

My day started with breakfast in bed made by my two beautiful daughters, already dressed for the day with their hair done, homemade cards in hand, flowers freshly picked. 

Oh wait.  That was what I was dreaming about. 

My ACTUAL day began with rushing around the house, trying to make sure everyone got out of the house with clothes on, piling into the van filled with a day’s worth of mother’s day gifts, clothes, diapers, food.  As we back out of the driveway, my car feels…off.  I park.  Lo and behold, my tire is flat.  Of course.  What a way to start the day.

I am thankful that we have another vehicle, but it just wasn’t my favorite mother’s day beginning.

The rest of the day was spent with minor adjustments, but I had a lot of fun because I honestly am working on this concept of “no complaining.”  It’s not easy.  I can’t say I’m great at it either.  I’ve been washed up in negativity for so long, though, that I’m doing my best to see the good in things.  I hear a lot of excuses and anger from people everywhere, that I’m over it.  I almost tune out when someone starts in on mean-spirited topics.  So on this mother’s day (or day after mother’s day), I want to point out what I’m thankful for having in my life.  Hopefully we can all look at some good things in our lives instead of always pointing out the negatives.

  • I’m thankful for my faith.
  • I’m thankful for my mommy 🙂 and my daughters.  Before I was a mom, I don’t think I understood all of the things my mother did does for me.  She is truly an amazing woman.
  • I’m thankful for my healthy family.  We all have our ups and downs, but we all are able to get out of bed in the morning.
  • I’m thankful for the support that I receive from my family and friends. 
  • There have been people that have come in and out of my life.  I’m thankful for these people, too, because they have taught me how to appreciate those in my life that have chosen to stay here.
  • I’m thankful for my husband.  He is my best friend.  The father of my children.  My biggest supporter.  I love you.

I could go on all day.  I just wanted to write down a couple of things that I appreciate for my sake and maybe to get others to think about things in their lives that they value. 

I hope all of the mothers enjoyed a day that was made a little more special because being a mother is one of the toughest “jobs” in the world.

Tangled Tower Cake

My almost 4-year-old, the Prima Ballerina, is in love with Tangled.  Everything about that movie has captured my daughter’s heart.  So when I asked her what theme she wanted for her birthday party, she immediately answered Rapunzel.  We had 2 parties, one for kids and one for family.  At the first, I bought a generic fairy cake from our local grocery store.  I’m not amazing at baking.  I am quite a crafty person (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about crafts, right?).  For some reason, my baking goes horribly wrong, ending in letting my children put sprinkles on it so I can shamelessly explain that it looks the way it does because “the girls helped.”  Now that I’ve said this, everyone knows my secret!  I doubt I was fooling anyone anyways…

So Prima Ballerina stated in her matter-of-fact, 4-year-old attitude that I will be making a Rapunzel cake for her next party instead of  a fairy cake.  Oh, really?  Am I?  Yes.  I would do almost anything to see her face light up.  One of these days I’ll post her sweet little angel face on here so you can see what I mean.  How could I ever say “no” to that happy face she makes?  My children are my biggest weakness.  They have me wrapped around their fingers.

I saw a tower cake here.  It was explained well with lots of pictures, but there were issues with the cake, and I think I made some good changes to it.  I just want to give credit where it is due.  Here is a picture of MY finished cake.

Here we go!  First, I needed to create a stable base so that the cake wouldn’t tip over.  I enlisted my step-dad’s help in this because this way I didn’t have to go through the home improvement store asking employees, “Where is something that looks like a rod and some of those nut and bolt thingies?”  I swear I’m not challenged in home improvement and know the difference between a nut and bolt, but whenever I walk into a store like that I feel that’s what people think I say.  I don’t look like I belong there. I used:

  • 16″ pizza pan that I have had for ages
  • 2″ PVC pipe that was then cut down to about 17 1/4″ in length
  • 18″ rod (I’m sure there is a technical name for this)
  • 2 “platforms” that can be screwed onto either end of the rod
  • 4 sets of nuts and bolts

My step-dad drilled the holes for the bolts on the pan, and secured the platform on the bottom, screwed the rod on the platform, then put the PVC pipe on, and finally screwed the top platform to keep the PVC pipe from moving.  Could I have not used the PVC pipe at all?  Probably.  I would have needed to use a lot more rice krispies later (which I’ll get to).  The price for all of these items (minus the pizza pan that I already had) probably came out to about $7.

I then covered the bottom in aluminum foil so my old pizza pan wasn’t visible and the bolts underneath the pan wouldn’t scratch whatever surface I had it on.

Now for the edible part!  Here is a list of what I used for this cake (it fed about 30 people):

  • 2 packages of cake (I used one chocolate and one white, but it doesn’t necessarily matter) and whatever goes into making those cupcakes and bundt cake
  • 1 box of Rice Krispies
  • 1 bag of marshmallows
  • 1 ice cream cone (I think sugar cone is the best for this)
  • graham crackers (I used about 5 making this)
  • flower sprinkles
  • 3 tubs of white frosting (and use food coloring to change some of it)
  • icing (I used green and a very small amount of black)
  • color food spray (I got purple to make the roof the color it is.  You could probably color the icing instead, but it was SUPER easy to spray it instead.)  You can get this pretty much anywhere in the cake decorating area.
  • yellow embroidery yarn for the hair

I made a bundt cake with 1 package of cake mix and cupcakes with the other.  There needs to be 1 JUMBO cupcake for the top and normal sized cupcakes for the base.  I looked at various stores and the cheapest jumbo cupcake pan was at Walmart for under $10.  I ended up going to my favorite bakery O&H Danish Bakery and got an unfrosted, jumbo cupcake for $2 instead of spending the money on a pan.

While the cakes were baking, I started on the Rice Krispie treat tower.  There are a few tricks to molding rice krispies.  You have to keep your hands from getting sticky in order to mold your treats.  I just kept rinsing them with warm water, but I’ve heard that coating them in butter works as well.  Also, I compressed the treats to get rid of a lot of air, making it easier to mold into the shape I wanted.  I just did this by taking pieces of the treats and pressing them in my hands.  I then flattened it and went around the PVC pipe, starting from the bottom and working my way up little by little.  I’ve read that putting a layer of marshmallow puff on the surface helps the treats to stick more easily.  I didn’t need to, but I figured I’d suggest it if you are having trouble.  I also waited 15 or so minutes after I made the treats to cool it off a little before working it on the tower.  It will tend to sag until it’s cool.  After I finished getting them all on the tower, I wrapped the entire thing in Saran wrap and let it sit for about an hour.  I had ZERO sagging after it set.  This was the problem with the previous blogger using the pecan pinwheel rolls as her tower.  Rice Krispies seemed to be a perfect substitute.  After everything was cooled, I thinly frosted it with white frosting (also make sure to frost the platform above the krispies).

After finishing the tower, I started on the bottom cakes.  I cut the bundt cake in half and also made a bigger center hole to be able to more seamlessly fit it around the tower.  I wrapped the cake around the tower and then used the remnants of the cake that I cut out and placed them under the cake in order to lean it against the tower (otherwise the cake tended to lean away from the tower and not hold).  I then put the cupcakes around the bundt cake.

Next, I colored the frosting green for grass (leave some for the top of the tower, though).  I put it in a parchment bag with a decorator’s tip that said to make grass.  I frosted the entire bundt cake and cupcakes using that.

I then placed the sugar cone on top of the jumbo cupcake and frosted the entire top (leaving the paper on the cupcake).  I used the purple color spray to spray the frosting.  I refrigerated that to keep the color from bleeding.

I then created the top of the tower.  I used graham crackers and took a sharp small knife and worked slowly to cut 2 full graham crackers, stacked next to each other, into a circle.  It was easier to make a slight line indent in the cracker and keep doing that over and over than try to cut it right away.  It cracked if I worked too fast at it.  I took a little frosting and placed it on top of the platform.  I then took other crackers and cut them to look like little supports for the tower’s edge.  I used frosting to “glue” them on the tower.

Then I took the yarn and braided a long strand to make it look like rapunzel’s hair (just so there was a smaller chance of the yarn getting all over the place and not looking neat and clean).

I used a little frosting to stick the “hair” to the center top of the tower and put the cupcake on top of that to hold it in place.  I then crafted a “window” out of the graham cracker (pretty much rectangles) and frosted those in place on the cupcake.  The hair should look like it’s coming out of the window.

I used a tube of green icing for the vines, but you could probably have used the same frosting as the grass with a small decorator’s tip.  I went around the window, up the tower, under the graham cracker “supports”, and just wherever it looked appropriate that a vine would grow on a tower.  I took the black icing and used it to make the “window” look dark on the inside.

I took the flower shaped sprinkles and placed them all over the vines to make it look like flowers were growing.  Then I sprinkled them all over the grass.

ALL DONE!  Phew!  It took me about 4-5 hours to make.  I didn’t think that was too bad of a time frame.  Everyone loved the cake.  Even the rice krispies were yummy for the next week!  Considering how previous cakes with much less intricacies have left me in the past, I was pleasantly surprised how this turned out.  Now I just have to figure out my next baking adventure.  I’ll be willing to give it another shot.  Hopefully this will help explain how to make a tower cake to others pressured by their adorably, insistent young tangled fans!  Good luck!

And It Begins…

A friend of mine suggested that I start a blog to get my business Bobbin’ Along up and running.  At first, I was skeptical.  I’m not a writer.  I wasn’t a fan of english classes in high school.  I’m a hands-on and visual learner.  Would I be able to put down into words what I am thinking?  Would anyone care?  Then it hit me that my main reason doesn’t HAVE to be my business.  Although it’d ultimately would be great to run my own company and work from home, I would love to document all my trials and errors and my experiences to show my children when they are older because they are the inspiration for much of what I do. 

Also, it is often difficult to find exactly what I’m looking for online.  I’m not super tech savvy.  My 4 year old can work her way around an iPad better than me.  Even my 1 year old has mastered unlocking my phone and using the remote for the tv.  I try to find a certain craft idea, and I end up frustrated and on page 40 of a search engine, still lost in my quest.  Pinterest has greatly helped me, but even that has drawbacks when I’m trying to recreate a craft.  Hopefully, I will help some crafter by explaining my processes with fun pictures and a story or two.

So with that, the blog begins…