Friday, March 24, 2017

Edible Thunderbirds - Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4 cakes

Sprog had a Thunderbird party. When asked what Thunderbird he wanted for his cake his reponse was "2 and 4". No amount of questioning seemed to get him to budge, so I gave in and made two.

The cakes were both made by the same method. A packet mix with food colouring, yellow or green, then cut and sculpted, coated with coloured buttercream, followed by coloured fondant, and features in more fondant. The Thunderbird two was a double cake batch baked in a lasagne dish, the Thunderbird Four cake, was a single mix in a loaf pan to get the height.



To set them off I made a Tracy Island using a round table, a blue tablecloth, a washing basket, and a green duvet. The final touches were the rocket toys we had to represent Thunderbirds 1 and 3. 



Thunderbirds are Go! - Costumes for Sprogs's 5th Birthday

We had a very important birthday this month. Sprog turned 5 and started school. A birthday requires a party, and the theme of choice was Thunderbirds are Go! Inspired in large part by a Thunderbirds dress up Sprog got as hand-me-downs from his bigger cousin Bruiser.

After the success of last years Paw Patrol themed outfits in lieu of party bags I decided to go that way again. I  requested the wearing of blue on the invite to go with the theme, and made hats and sashes for each party attendee. There was also themed cake(s). 

  

The hat I made using a free pattern from UrbanDon. Although this is a pattern for adults and I was making it for kids I didn't change it. Kids have big heads, and I didn't have time to futz about figuring out how to alter the sizing when I work full time and had 9 hats and sashes to make.

For fabric I used whatever I found cheap at the local hospice shop and supply store. I ended up with two fabrics, each in Thunderbird light blue/grey, and each appearing to be a cotton drill. I also bought a bunch of piping in as many colours as I could find, and lightweight cotton to match, more or less, the piping.

The pattern is easy to follow. I altered it a little as I didn't add the Petersham ribbon. It was a dress-up, and I couldn't spot any straight away when shopping so I dropped it. My other alteration was to topstitch the seams of the hat to get a crisper edge. If I was making this hat for regular wear I would reinforce it with interfacing, but topstitching gave a crisper edge for 4 and 5 year old purposes, holding it pretty much in place when hats were yanked onto heads. 


 




For sashes I basically cut 4 swathes on an angle. On the one that was going to be the front I ironed on an International Rescue logo I bought on AliExpress, then topstitched to secure it. When the four pieces were stitched together I summoned Sprog and pinned where to secure the top and the angle needed on the hip for it to fit him, then sewed where I pinned.

And done!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Another summer dress - the Leralynn in Linen

Months ago when I made a Leralynn dress I bought some linen to make another. It's such a comfy dress, and has pockets! and a hood!

This week I finally got around to sewing it together. The first take ended up a bit less tailored than I hoped. In fact, it looked like a maternity dress.

Take 1:

I took about 4 inches all around under the bust, an inch from the seam on each side curving from the dart out to the waist, and then back out for the bottom of the pocket. 

I still have work to do on mastering darts, but I like the new version
  

The photo's aren't the best, but you can see the slimmer version and the scoop hem. I hate having a dress too short at the back, but I also don't like it too long at the front or my calves get cut off at the widest part. 
It's a brilliant summer dress in the heat that we have been having lately.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Summer dungarees

Sprog and Widget loved their winter dungarees, but since I made them at the end of the winter, and we don't have much of a winter here, they didn't get a lot of wear out of them. I sized up so they should still be good for next winter. I had leftover digger fabric and plenty of it so Widget had another set of digger dungarees due, and Sprog chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

  



I altered the pattern slightly changing the fastenings. 

For the shoulder straps I added a loop on each side of the front flap instead of the button, and fed the straps through before looping them back to button up. The boys have had dungarees with straps like this that were really secure. It's really easy to lengthen or shorten the straps by moving the button. The hips were a simple switch from button and buttonhole to a snap popper.


Next up: matching dungarees for the new baby cousin, Nickname still to be determined. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part Two - The preschool cake, a simple themed Thomas cake

It is common at our preschool to bring in cakes to celebrate birthdays. Despite having invited what felt like half the preschool to Widget's birthday and having most of his buds, and many of his brother's buds too (as siblings of Widget's buddies) over to the party it was back into cake mode for the preschool cake.

This cake was much simpler, but stuck to the same Thomas the Tank Engine theme. I used the same Bin Inn packet mixes for two 20cm round cakes. I cut the top off one of them and stacked the second cake on top with green buttercream in between, followed by green buttercream all over.

To get the Thomas theme in I raided the kids toys and found a diecast Thomas train. For this I made tracks using licorice for both the rails and the sleepers.  Most tracks have shingle and rocks around them, presumably for drainage and keeping weeds down or something. I made mine using white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips. Dropping them straight on didn't have the effect I was going for, so I put them in the food processor and whizzed them. This powdered them a bit, and all the rocks became coated in dust as well as being reduced in size. The chocolate rocks and shingle made a great backdrop to the track. For the remainder of the grassy hill I covered with 'grass' using up the rest of the green buttercream. For this I used a multi opening tip like this one.
 
It took a flick of the wrist and a quick pull away to get little fronds rather than long strings.

 


The train went on top and the cake was done. It was all gone by the time we picked Widget and Sprog up from preschool.


Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part One - The party cake

Widget had a birthday. It was his second birthday, and like his brother Sprog at age two he is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. For Sprog's second birthday I made the first of my fancy cakes, a Thomas the Tank Engine.

It took two baked cakes to assemble. I didn't want to do the same thing again, and it took a lot of prep time, although much of that time was due to it being the first time I had done a fancy cake. It was a tall cake and awkward to cut.

This time I again did a Thomas the tank engine, but with his carriages Annie and Clarabel. A total of three cakes. Given that Widget's birthday is in December, and so many people have other commitments we invited a lot of kids, not everyone could come, but including bigger brothers and sisters there were still 20 under-5's and assorted adults at the party. We needed the extra cake!


For the cakes I used packet mixes from Bin Inn. Annie and Clarabel were chocolate cakes, baked in 22cm square tin, sliced in two and stacked on top of each other to create a basic rectangular carriage shape.  For Thomas I used a Buttercake recipe and added blue colouring so Thomas was blue inside and out. I cut the blue cake in half, using one half for the base of Thomas, then cut pieces from the other half to mould his shape. Two smaller rectangles, a circle, a half circle, and an edge bit as the buffer. I stacked them together to check the shape was right. All the cakes, Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel were wrapped in baking paper and frozen, both so I could make them ahead of time, but also to make the crumb coating easier.



 The night before the party I pulled all the cakes out of the freezer, using blue buttercream, or chocolate buttercream I crumbcoated all the cakes. I did a thick layer of chocolate buttercream between the two halves each of Annie and of Clarabel. This was followed by a top coat of chocolate buttercream smoothed carefully. The roof was a rectangle of black coloured chocolate fondant. To finish I put a strip of thin flat licorice around the base of each of the carriages, and stuck on a face I had made from fondant.

The faces for Annie and Clarabel all fondant. Squares of grey, with a pointed nose pressed on. The eyes and pupils were each small balls of white cut in half then gently pressed onto the grey, then even smaller balls of black cut in half and pressed into the white.

At the same time I made a fondant face for Thomas using instructions found on YouTube. which made a big difference to the look of the cake and gave me great pointers used for making the carriage faces too.

The basic shape for Thomas was made from the cake blocks, stuck together with buttercream icing. This was smoothed over using a top layer of blue buttercream. Thomas has a red base plate. In my original cake for Sprog I covered this completely with red fondant then plonked the blue on top. This time I saved a lot of effort by simply wrapping the base plate in red fondant. The roof and windows were all cut from fondant. For the coal store I used whatever was lying around, mostly a couple of skewers and fondant shaping tools to create an impression on the black fondant to look more like coal. To finish him up I added a chimney, fondant over a bit of skewer, and the face, along with Letters of Widget's initial instead of the number 1 or 2 (Thomas' number, or Widget's birthday respectively)

The final touch was cutting train track from licorice, and linking the engine and carriages together.  The cake was a hit, and was all gone by the end of the night.
 






Saturday, November 19, 2016

Wee Boy Swimming Togs

Sprog has weekly swimming lessons. He has been wearing some very cool togs that he got from his cousin, but they were getting too far gone to wear. They had rips in the back  so it was well past the time we should find him some new ones.

I looked about for new togs, but to get some cheap meant ones that were just shorts and no inbuilt undies. To get ones with inbuilt undies was much more than I was willing to pay. Mummy-made to the rescue.

I chose the Saltwater Swim Trunks from Blank Slate Patterns I've sewn patterns by Melissa before and they have always been straightforward to follow. For the fabric I bought taslon, and chose colours like the shorts that Sprog loved and worn till they died. The Saltwater Trunks come in three patterns, plain, colour-block stripes and a swoopy colour block. I drew the options on a page with the colours that I had and Sprog picked the one he liked.

I had everything cut out, ready to go, but I hadn't got around to sewing and it was the night before Sprogs next lesson. In hindsight I should have chosen the simple pattern, it would have been quicker.

I found matching the reverse curves tricky. I probably need more practice to make it really good. I've got pretty good at matching sleeves to armscye's but this is a different sort of curve matching. I had to unpick one side and try again. The integrated underpants were easier than I expected, once I remembered to cut on the fold, and not just a single layer. I topstitched a flat fold, but I always think I am better at topstitching than I am and it was a bit wonky.  In an attempt to recover the prettiness I chose a cover stitch and went over it again. I took the star stitch along the join of the two colours, and then along the top of the pocket as well.


Then it was time to match everything up. This wasn't quite perfect, and I had a mismatch at the top. I trimmed it a little, and I think I needed some of that height, but there wasn't a way I could see to make it work. Next time I make these I'll be much more careful in matching my seams so the final steps fit together better.

The elastic I left till morning, to double check them against my boys tum and bum before encasing the elastic. In a repeat I would take longer to be more careful on making the elastic casing. It was late and I was tired and it ended up bunched and narrow in places. 

The pants fit well enough and Sprog is happy. There is room in the pants to pull them up a little higher when he wears them, but the integrated undies seem to have met their limit. That is where the matching seams better would likely make things fit a little better. 

Sprog wore them to his lesson this morning, and for a good long splashabout afterwards and they were great.

Integrated undies