Friday, 8 October 2010

Oilcloth tote

It is the season of rain, rain and more rain, and so last week I found myself in need of a waterproof bag for library books and the usual assorted overflow from the baby bag. I picked up this nice Boden-esque spotty oilcloth last weekend and had a go at making a) my first ever tote and b) my first ever anything made from oilcloth. After reading a few tutorials on sewing oilcloth I was expecting it to be difficult, but the body of the bag was absolutely fine. The straps were much tougher because the fabric just didn't seem to want to go through the machine.

I wanted my bag to be unlined but I didn't fancy sewing though 8 layers of oilcloth to finish the ends of the straps, so I copied another bag and made an interior border, attached like a lining and then topstitched 3/4" further down to secure. This was the trickiest bit as it just wouldn't lie straight whilst sewing, so the results aren't as neat as I would have liked.

But still, it's all useful stuff to learn, and next time I'll make sure I have masking tape to put on my presser foot as that's supposed to help.

And of course there was glorious sunshine today so I didn't really need my waterproof bag at all!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Lucy Love

I made "Lucy" as a present for my daughter's birthday, using the Wee Wonderfuls Kit, Chloe and Louise pattern. I used unbleached calico and she turned out a little pale so I added some pink cheeks.
She's a lovely-proportioned doll, very huggable, and El loves her! This was my first attempt at yarn hair, and it wasn't as difficult as I expected. Although, thanks to the baby, those Leia buns are already a little out of place...

Monday, 27 September 2010

How I made a pink disco glitter R2D2 cake

My eldest daughter is living proof that you don't need to be a tomboy to like Star Wars. So, for her birthday, a suitably altered version of R2D2 seemed appropriate. Here's how I did it.

To support the cake, I used the following set-up. A small plastic bowl upturned and blu-tacked to a tray, then a CD spindle (the sort blank CDs and DVDs come on) blu-tacked on top of that. Handily the CD spindle is just about the right size for the scale I wanted to work to. Before assembling this I (obviously) washed the CD spindle thoroughly, and I also covered the spindly-bit itself in plastic wrap and the bottom part in foil. I also used a plastic chopstick, trimmed to about 8", which fitted neatly into the hollow CD spindle, in order to form a backbone for the stack of cakes I was going to assemble.
I didn't want an enormous cake, so I used a 1-pint Pyrex bowl for Artoo's domed head and two batches in a 6-inch (by 3 inch deep) cake tin for the body. I used chocolate madeira cake, made by replacing the usual lemon with 1 oz of cocoa powder per 3 eggs (enough for one 6" cake), and a marble cake version of the same recipe, made by alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate -flavoured batter into the tin then swirling a bit with a skewer.

Artoo's legs were made using Nigella Lawson's rice crispy marshmallow recipe, which although utterly delicious turned out a little too gooey for this purpose, and so the legs ended up rather wobbly. I would choose a chocolate-based recipe if I were to do this again.

After baking, I let the cakes cool then made a hole through the centre of each one with my chopstick before wrapping and popping in the freezer. I took them out an hour or so before I wanted to assemble the cake.
I then trimmed the curved top off each cake so they would sandwich together neatly, then dry-stacked them on my board using the chopstick to position correctly and trimmed the lower cakes to the same circumference as the pudding bowl dome. Then I used chocolate frosting to glue the bottom cake to the stand, and then each layer to the next.
I also used the same chocolate frosting to cover the cake in a crumb coat, which was not such a good idea as it was subsequently very easy to smudge chocolate marks over my nice white fondant icing.

The basic structure complete, I marked the dome area with a blunt knife and painted with edible silver paint, then added a generous sprinkling of disco glitter. After cutting to shape and covering the rice-crispy cake legs in fondant, I stuck them to the main body with a generous blob of frosting.
By this time it was late, and I still had to do all the decorating. The fun bit! But not so fun if you're tired. The icing colour I'd bought turned out to be a rather disappointing muddy pink, but still it was PINK, the approved colour of princesses in every galaxy, and there were Smarties to be added.

Although I persevered with the body markings to get them pretty darn perfect, the squares on the dome turned out a little lumpy. And that little row of piped icing lines shows how lazy I was getting by this point. Sorry, Artoo.
Thankfully, he survived the night without toppling over or his legs falling off.

And the following day we had one very happy little girl, who couldn't quite believe that he was a cake. Yes, we really could eat him! And he tasted delicious.
(Please forgive my grotty dining-room wall; we're in the middle of redecorating. One day soon, it will be beautiful, I hope...)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The season of new beginnings

Autumn always feels like the true beginning of the new year, not only because I work at a university, but also because of my two girls, who are both Autumn babies.

Which means it is also the season of cake.

Lots and lots of cake.

I love Autumn.

(More cake coming soon!)

Friday, 20 August 2010

Luke and Leia take a trip to the park

I made these two by adapting Mimi Kirchner's hand-sewn felt doll pattern. Leia's dress is vintage (haha!) 1980's Barbie, and was supposed to be temporary, but aparently this Princess Leia is a fan of pink.

Friday, 2 July 2010

About me


From top left:

Name: Anne
Food: Spaghetti
Memory: Spring
Colour: Red
Muse: McGregor
Drink: Coffee
Vacation: Cambodia
Dessert: Pavlova
Inspiration: Amy Butler
Love: My Girls
Summary: Creative
Also: Scarlet

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