Saturday, 9 July 2016

Sewing Machine Cake

I challenged my daughter, Jen, to make a sewing machine cake for my friend, Steph's birthday. Steph is my sewing partner in crime. A couple of years ago Steph bought a Singer featherweight, so this was the obvious choice. Jen has never seen a Singer Featherweight so she had to look up some images on the internet to use as a guide. It's interesting to see what details she picked out.

When she made this cake, Jen was in a lull between finishing her graphics A level exam at the end of April and start of her remaining exams in June. So she had some time but not too much. I suspect given the opportunity she would have added a foot but the cocktail stick needle did add some structural support.

I was pleased that used this cake as an opportunity to try out some new techniques, such as the quilting round the side of the base cake. The roses were made a special rose cutter which she had been keen to try. The sewing machine itself was made using rice krispie and marshmallow technique she used the camera cake and the "Owl I want for Christmas" cake. It was so pretty to look at, it was 3 days before we could bring ourselves to start eating it.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Chrysanthemum Brooch

I made this brooch as a present for my friend, Steph's birthday. The design is from "Bead Metamorphosis" by Lisa Kan. The rivoli is Crystal Volcano. I also used bronze daggers beads  and purple iris gold rizo beads. The design of the back of this brooch cleverly incorporates the brooch pin. It took me a while to find the round brooch back the design required, but it was worth the effort. I found the daggers in the completed brooch were a bit too loose, which may have been my tension. To get around this I built up an extra couple of peyote rings behind the daggers to stop them getting pushed back.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

TV Projects

I almost called this post "So That's Where I Put It!". Earlier this year a couple of blogs I read have shown Anne's Orchard bead embroidery kits. I knew I had done one but I couldn't remember where it was. Then last month my friend Steph visited and brought 2 yummy balls of alpaca and silk yarn from NZ. When I put the yarn in my TV project bag, I found where my beaded fox had been lurking. Like most crafters I don't like watching TV without keeping my hands busy. My TV projects are usually knitting or cross-stitch but can be anything that doesn't require too much concentration.


This wasn't technically a TV project because I sat at a table to do the fox and only finished the background in front of the of the telly. But like many of my TV projects, unless it's done for a specific purpose, when it's finished it just gets left in the bag. It was a really fun project to do and I would recommend the kits.

This cross-stitch design is the Orangery at Dunham Massey Hall, a National Trust property near my parents. I bought the kit 10 years ago and it was on the go a fair amount of that time. I'm dreading taking those drawing pins out because I know they've rusted.

This bookmark is in better condition. It's the Sulu Islands Sash Panel from Travellers Tales. I remember starting this on holiday 2 years ago, but I bought the kit quite a while before that. 

 Finally here's the TV project bag itself. The pattern is Gracie from Lazy Girl Designs. Considering it's 10 years old I think's lasting quite well.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Camera Cake

Our friend Steve has a big birthday this year and as we were meeting up for a weekend at Center Parcs, we challenged Jen to make him a cake. As Steve is a keen photographer, a camera was the obvious choice. Jen used her own Canon SLR as a model. She included so much detail, on the front and the back. 


The camera was made using a mixture of rice krispies and marshmallows, so that it wouldn't be too heavy for the cake. This was the same technique she used on the "Owl I want for Christmas" cake.

Here's a photo she took with her own camera. It rather puts my phone camera shots to shame. She has started taking pictures of my beadwork and embroidery as opportunities to practice. So if some of the photos on my blog start to look a bit more professional - now you know why.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Purple Granada Pendant

It's almost six months since my last post with pictures of our Christmas tree. It seems wrong to post more Christmas pictures in June but I'd like to do one more Christmas related post to clear the buffers. Last year I taught my Mum how to braid with a Kumihimo disk. She got the hang of it and went on to produce a braid long enough for me to make a necklace for her. Then of course the necklace needed a pendant so together we picked out the beads for a Granada pendant. Granada is a Sabine Lippert design from her Beaded Fantasies book. The colours were so dark I found I got the best photographs by hanging it on the Christmas tree.

Here is this year Christmas cake, which is another masterpiece by our daughter Jen. It's based on a design from the 2015 winter issue of Cakes and Sugarcraft magazine.
This year, Jen got our younger daughter, Christina, involved. I think there maybe another budding sugarcraft artist in the house. At some point on Christmas Eve, Christina created this cute little chap.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Getting ready for Christmas

Over the last couple of years our daughters have put up the Christmas tree and decorated it. Usually that meant the tree was as colourful as the girls could make it. Every decoration they could find went on the tree. This year Jen decided the tree should have a colour theme and the chosen colours were purple, green and silver. I had a hunt through my beaded decorations and found a few that fitted the theme. This filigree crystal angel was kit from Bead Merchant and I think it is my favourite.

This angel, also a kit from Bead Merchant, was the first beaded decoration I made and was the one that got me hooked on beading.

There was even a place for the scary fairy, also a Bead Merchant creation.


I posted a picture of the Starry Night bauble, a Spellbound Beads kit, a couple of years ago but it looks so much better in its natural habitat on the Christmas tree.

The second Spellbound Beads kit is the Emperor bauble which I made about two years ago.

Last but not least there's the angel who sits demurely at the top of the tree. I must have made her about 15 years ago. I think she looks a little sad perhaps I'll have a go at cheering her up for next Christmas.

This year I haven't got a lot of festive stitching done because I have been concentrating on bigger projects. I've also been distracted by a new toy, a Silhouette Cameo, which was a birthday present. I made this vinyl window sticker using the Cameo. It was a design I bought from SAS Creative Designs on Etsy. It was quick to make but "weeding" out the unwanted vinyl took a bit of patience and an ultra fine pointed pair of tweezers, especially in the pine cones.

Finally here is the Christmas stitching I did manage to do - a felt redwork star. The design is from "Stitch with Love" by Mandy Shaw. I used the Cameo to transfer the design to the felt and once I'd done that, stitching it was a breeze. Unfortunately it doesn't fit this year's colour theme. Perhaps I should make a bid for a red and gold scheme next year!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Once Upon A Time Cake

Once upon a time - well last month to be precise - I decided to make a birthday cake for my eldest daughter's 18th birthday. Jen loves the TV series "Once Upon A Time", so I decided to use this as  a theme. The image that stuck in my head was the end of the opening credits with trees silhouetted against a night sky. I thought about stencilling the trees and then I remembered Karen Taylor's "Little Red Riding Cake" in Cakes and Sugarcraft magazine. I knew it would be a challenge but thought I'd give it a go. Like the path of true love in a fairytale, making this cake did not go entirely smoothly!
It all started well. I made the trees out of floral sugarpaste a couple of weeks ahead of time.
I was worried there would be some breakages, so I made a lot of trees!
I made the letters out of yellow florist paste and dried them around a cake time so they would fit on the finished cake. I smeared white vegetable fat on the tin to make the letters stick.
Then I painted the letters using a mixture of vodka and powdered gold food colouring. This was as far as I could go ahead of time.
This was where things started to go wrong. I made the cakes the evening before construction day, hoping they would be tall enough. I made a 9 egg Victoria sponge mixture, thinking that was sure to be enough. I was wrong - I was one inch short on the bottom tier. If I was doing this professionally, at this point I would have baked another layer. I'm not professional so I bodged it! After levelling the layers, I used the cake tops to patch together another layer. I knew I would be using dowels to support the forest canopy and as long as the dowels were held firmly, the squishy middle layer would only need to support the top layer.

A generous covering of buttercream filled in the gap at the outer edge and at this point I called in the cavalry.
My hubbie, Graeme, has a skill at smoothing buttercream which I need to learn when I'm not working to a deadline. 
The sugar paste covering was Cosmic Blue from Squires Kitchen. It reminds me of lace pillow cover cloths. At this point I remembered I had intended to cut my nails before I started. I looked at the thumbnail imprint and hoped I'd be able to cover it with a tree.

From this point it started to come together quite quickly. The first layer of trees went on.

With the second layer of trees, the bottom tier was finished. I added the top tier and stuck on the letters. The hug Jen gave me when she saw the cake made it all worthwhile. It was quite an investment in time and sugarpaste. but as Rumpelstiltskin says - "Magic always comes with a price"!