Friday, May 28, 2010

sewing for kiddos!

hannah has no shortage of clothes, and certainly no shortage of cute clothes. she probably has more clothes than i do. so of course, i needed to make her some more. because what if she ripped all those up and then had to go naked?? (maybe not such a bad thing... naked babies are awfully cute!)

kiddo clothes are FABULOUS. this might be my favorite sewing ever! they are fast and easy and there is virtually no fitting involved because kiddos don't have curves, and the curves they do have are generally fit with elastic. NICE. if you make something too big - OOPS - well, she'll grow into it. and you get to use all sorts of fun prints and do fun things that you'd never do for an adult.

i was not going to sew for her until she was bigger and everyone stopped by massive quantities of clothes for her... and then i found this beautiful paisley cotton. it's actually the same paisey as this dress, only in a different color scheme. besides the fabric, this was largely a free project as i had all the notions and the patterns came from my stash. my idea was light clothing that she could wear during the hot summer that would be easy mix-and-match.

most of the ensemble came from mccall's 5304 - that pattern gave me the hat, pink collared top, paisley top, paisley "capri" pants, denim cuffed shorts, and the bloomers for the dress. (the shorts are the capris just cut shorter with a contrasting cuff added.) the romper is an old discontinued mccall's pattern 8294, which i'm not 100% thrilled with - there's a lot of fullness at the sides and it looks kind of blousy and funny on her. it should be an easy fix except that i flat-felled all the seams with pink topstitching, so i have to pick out all that topstitching just to take in the seam and then re-topstitch it all.

the sundress and tunic came from another old discontinued pattern, butterick 4020. (the tunic was supposed to be a second sundress, but i cut it too short by accident.) the smallest size in that pattern is a 1 which is WAY too huge for her. i took in an inch on the front and back at the center fold - four inches total - and redrew the neckline to compensate. i also had to insert a keyhole placket in the back so it would fit over her head. i closed it with a small button and a loop of elastic.

remember how i had never done any applique-ing before? turns out kids' clothes look super cute with appliques. OF COURSE THEY DO. one of those patches on the romper is an actual pocket, but the rest are appliques, as is the heart on the tunic. and while my vintage elna doesn't do embroidery per se, it does have some fun stitches that look really cute on kiddo clothes.

speaking of embroidery and appliques, check this out!

that's the leg of a set of overall shorts that i made for a girlfriend's son's first birthday. they'll be too big for him now but he can grow into them. here's the overalls in their entirety (along with the little tee shirt i made to go with them).

i found a local embroidery shop that was willing to do my small little order, so i had the back of them embroidered as well. i wanted to do the words curling out of the back of the car like exhaust, but that would have taken more time and money and effort than i was willing to put in. this was really reasonable ($6!) especially given that everything else in this project except for the green buttons came from my stash, so it was free. the pattern was butterick 3961 (old, discontinued) though the car applique i harvested from the mccall's romper pattern.

i love these so much that i almost wish hannah were a boy, so she could wear them. who says boy clothes aren't fun?!

Friday, May 21, 2010

busy like a bee

wow. blogging seems to be just one of those things that has fallen off the table. this whole parenting thing sure takes a lot of time and energy. sheesh.

hannah turned one! ohmygosh, i am the mother of a toddler now. the original plan was to make a little cake for her to smash on her birthday, and then get a cake for her party a few days later. sam's club does small (6-inch?) cakes with "matching" cupcakes, which i thought was awesome because i wouldn't have to cut and serve cake. then - on the day of her birthday, good planning, mom! - i decided to see if i could manage cake decorating. as in, fancy cake decorating. as in, buttercream and piping (well, not much) and fondant and gum paste.

please note: i have never. ever. EVER. decorated a cake before.

but... there are bigger idiots than me who decorate cakes, right? (exhibit a: cake wrecks. i couldn't do much worse than that, right?) i mean, i'm a reasonably intelligent person and relatively crafty.

in the end it was actually surprisingly easy. (see, bigger idiots than me can do it too!) i did cheat and used store-bought fondant and gum paste mix (and i actually even cheated and used a buttercream icing mix so that i didn't have to make a separate trip to the grocery store). i picked everything up at joann's (though i hear this stuff is cheaper at wal-mart) as well as gel color and a small set of cookie cutters.

i was kind of scared to use fondant, but it was easy. maybe it gets a bad reputation because it is difficult to make? you just roll it out like pie dough, roll it over the cake (which gets pre-frosted with buttercream so the fondant will stick), and smooth it down and trim off the excess. the only problem i had was smoothing it down at the base of the cake, which is why there are small gathers... which i kind of think looks cute anyways.

the flowers, butterflies, and leaves are made of gum paste. after i made the mix, i just kneaded in a little bit of gel color and then rolled it out flat like cookie dough. i used the flower and butterfly cookie cutters to stamp out those shapes and cut the leaves with a knife. i used the end of a toothpick to make the veins in the leaves and the little slashes on the petals. i molded the flowers around a large rounded frosting tip and set them to dry on the tips of a bottle drying rack, and twisted and molded the leaves and set them on the counter to dry. the butterflies i just bent in half and set them over an accordion-pleated piece of cardstock to dry.

i piped a little bit of green buttercream frosting around the bottom edge in a squiggle to cover up my messy trimming job and to give the flowers and such a place to stick. when the gum paste decorations were dry, i used a little buttercream to "glue" them in place, piping in the "centers" of the flowers, and piped the writing on the top. i think i need to practice my writing a bit.

now that i know better, i should have used royal icing to glue on the decorations. apparently the fat in buttercream makes the gum paste soften. it wasn't so bad with the flowers, but by the next day the butterfly on the top had fallen flat. oh, well.

i was so impressed with myself that i decided hannah was not allowed to touch the cake until her party. that way i didn't have to buy a cake, and we just baked cupcakes to go with them.

for the cupcakes, i just made a bunch of extra gum paste decorations. i filled a frosting bag up with buttercream and cut the tip off so there was a relatively generous hole and piped it on in a spiral. it was really easy to do. then i stuck the decorations on. the night before, i had also piped a bunch of little buttercream flowers for the butterfly cupcakes. i piped them onto a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and let them dry, then "glued" them on with buttercream.

brian's birthday is next month, so i am planning to try my hand at cake decorating again. this was pretty easy and fun and i was very happy with the results, so hopefully brian's cake will be fabulous too!

what have you been up to lately?