Remember that time…

Remember that time I started a blog and then just disappeared and didn’t post anything for nearly a year?  Yeah, I remember that too…  Pregnancy has a way of doing that to you.  I don’t even think I told the blogosphere I was expecting… But last fall my typical crafting time became sip-gingerale-and-go-to-bed-early time.  I wasn’t doing anything that I thought would be especially interesting and therefore didn’t write about it.  The next thing I knew, a month became two, became 9, became I have a newborn, became I haven’t written in a year.  So, oops!

But, Caleb is sleeping through the night and life is starting to resemble it’s former self.  And last weekend I finished a project for the first time in months.  I thought I’d share:

While doing baking research for Emily’s birthday cake, I stumbled upon an awesome tip:  to make your cakes bake more evenly and flat, wrap a wet towel around them while cooking.  This works like a charm. I didn’t have a dome to cut off my cakes. They were flat enough to stack straight out of the oven, pretty cool!  Unfortunately, trying to safety pin two dishtowels around my cake pans was a bit of a pain.  I had an idea to make little adjustable cake-pan scarves.

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I bought an inexpensive dish towel and some large wooden buttons to make my scarves out of. Make sure you choose oven-safe buttons! It’s a pretty simple sewing project after that.

I cut the dish towel twice the width of my finished scarf, and sewed it into a long tube. I chose a width in between the sizes of my two pans so I could use them for either. But, you could easily make custom scarves for each of your cake pans. I stitched along the long edge top and bottom (kind of like quilting it) to keep the scarf flat. Then I added two buttons, one at the right length to go around my 8″ cake pans and one for my 6″ pans. The button hole was by far the most challenging aspect of the project since I had never done one before.

I was quite pleased with the finished result. Here they are, showing one around each size pan.

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I’m really excited to have these for my holiday baking!  And they’d make a cute diy gift for any bakers in your family.

 

Total Project Time:  about 2.5 hours (but, I’m really not much a seamstress and I spent at least half of that time trying to figure out the button holer on my sewing machine…)

Total Project Cost:  $5

Two Quick Projects

I’ve had a TON of craft and DIY projects floating around in my head and on my to-do list lately.  So, I wanted to share a couple quick projects I’ve crossed off in the last week.  The first is a diaper cake that I made for a baby shower last weekend.  I wasn’t initially planning on blogging about this (there are a lot of good tutorials out there) so, I didn’t take a bunch of pictures as I was making it.  What I like about diaper cakes is that it’s a good way to give the mom-to-be something she really needs (diapers) but in a way that still provides the “cute” factor.  I’ve made several and this one is one of my favorites, so I’ll go ahead and share a few tips:

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You will need:  One large box of diapers (I used a 96 count box of newborn sized Pampers), rubber bands (at least as many as you have diapers), ribbons, a “cake topper”, a few wooden skewers, and additional toys or small items to decorate the cake with.

For the construction of the cake, roll each diaper into a little burrito and secure with a rubber band.  Then take one diaper and put six diapers around it to form a circle and use another rubber band or plain ribbon/string to tie them together snugly.  Add more diapers around the circle and tie a ribbon around those, adding diapers in concentric circles until you have the size you want.  You may have to adjust your core size some (maybe starting with 3 in the center instead of just one) to make your number of diapers and tiers come out even.  But, don’t obsess about it too much, once it’s all put together it won’t matter if they are perfect.  Once you have each of your three tiers made, use the wooden skewers to carefully put beween the diapers and extend up and down through the layers to provide some stability and keep the tiers centered on eachother.  Be careful not to puncture a diaper.  Now you’re ready to decorate your cake.

I think there are two main keys to making the diaper cake look nice: 1) choose a color scheme and 2) fill the cake up visually.  I always start by choosing my cake topper, usually small stuffed toy or rattle.  I then use that as my jumping off point for the color scheme for the cake and make sure my ribbon and other toys coordinate with the topper.  Secondly, you want to make sure the cake seems “full” and “layered”, visually interesting.  Do NOT make the mistake of taking this to mean that you have to spend a bunch of money on lots of little toys and rattles.  Those things can easily drive the cost up.  Not that there’s anything wrong with spending a lot of money on a baby gift.  But, look for small items sold in packs to stretch your budget (like the 6 pack of socks I used).  I saw a can of small plastic bath toys that would have worked great, especially for a boy’s cake.  You can also create visual interest with non-gift items.  I used some cheap silk flowers that I already had on hand and I think it really gave an elegant, finished feel to the cake.  For a cake I made a couple of years ago, I had a really tight budget and didn’t buy any extra toys or items to decorate with.  Instead, I bought a couple of different width’s of ribbon in different colors (that matched the topper) and layered them to create a very minimilist but pretty look.  One last thing to keep in mind while you are choosing items for your cake:  it will look much nicer if you take everything out of the packaging (and you can sperate items and make your cake look more full).  However, that means the items most likely won’t be able to be returned.  So, make sure you buy things you know the mom needs, or items that don’t have much packaging so you can leave it on without it taking over your cake.

Once you have your items gathered, tie your pretty ribbon around each of the tiers to cover the rubber bands and string you used during cake construction.  Next, attach your decorative items.  Depending on what you have, this can be tricky.  I generally use double sided tape.  It won’t secure things really tightly but will keep them from falling off in transport and is easy to remove from the diapers and other cloth items.

And that’s pretty much it.  There are dozens of variations you can make depending on what you are including in your diaper cake. But, I’ve found that this is a fun way to give a useful baby shower gift even on a smaller budget.

Total Project Time:  about 45 minutes, plus shopping time

Total Project Cost:  about $50 for this cake ($25 diapers, $8 topper, $8 socks, $7 bibs, the ribbon, rubberbands, skewers, silk flowers, and two hair bows are things I already had on hand.  If I hadn’t, they probably would have cost an additional $10.) But, you could make a nice cake for as little as $35, maybe less if you find your diapers on sale.

The second project I want to share with you is a cover I made for the nap mat because the fitted sheet didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.  The cover is basically just an oversized pillowcase and as easy as it gets for sewing projects.  Since I’ve already written WAY more than I expected to about the diaper cake, I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.

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Total Project Time: an hour and a half

Total Project Cost: $15 (with quite a bit of extra fabric due to the way I had to cut it)

I just wanted to include this because I always feel so accomplished after a sewing project.  My first real sewing project was about 6 months ago and it literally took me longer to figure out how to thread the machine and get thread onto the bobbin than the entire rest of the project.  But, with each project I gain a little confidence and insight and realize I don’t have to be afraid of my sewing machine.  It’s opened me up to a whole new realm of crafting possibilities… and that’s a good thing!  Despite what my husband my say…  =)

P.S.  I have a DIY Christmas project that I’m hoping to start next week and that I’m REALLY excited to share.  So, check back in a week or two to see that.