Friday, June 24, 2011

Tutorial: Toadstool stool covers...

Every year I make decorations for my kids' birthday parties, and where possible I like these decorations to be a little more "permanent" - ie:  made from fabric and usable as decor for their rooms afterwards.

I had this idea months ago to make these Ikea stools we had into little toadstools for the party goers to sit on.  My kids could then have a couple each in their rooms (and *sigh*, who knows, maybe one day we will have a dedicated playroom where they could live).

They are fairly simple to make.  I managed to make four of them entirely from fabric (an old red tablecloth) and scraps I already had, which pleased me no end!

To make a toadstool stool cover you will need:

* A stool (the Ikea kid's ones are ideal, but I know that my NZ readers don't have Ikea, so any round- topped stool will do)
* 60 x 60cm piece of red fabric (like thick cotton drill)
* Scraps of white fabric (thick enough to not be see-through, so again, cotton drill works well)
* White and red thread
* Cardboard (to make dot templates)
* Vliesofix tape or scraps of Vliesofix fusible web (this is the iron-on stuff that sticks fabric to fabric with just the heat from your iron)
* 70cm of 5mm wide elastic
* Fibre-fill

Measure the top of your stool.  Cut a circle from your red fabric that is 12cm wider than your stool's diameter.  I used the base of a pedestal fan to draw around :).  If the top of your stool is particularly thick, you may have to add some width to accomodate this.  Stretch your fabric over the stool top to check it tucks under nicely.

Onto some cardboard, draw about seven circles.  I didn't want mine to be too perfect so I drew them free-hand, but if you like proper circles you could draw around some circular objects.

Laying the cardboard circles out to check if they look alright...

Cut the cardboard "dots" out and arrange them on the red circle (leaving about a 5cm border around as shown).  Rearrange until you are happy with how they look.  I numbered my circles as I was going to make four of these stools so I wanted each one to look similar, but if you are only going to make one, you could even skip the cardboard template stage and just go straight to freehand cutting out the circles out of your white fabric.

Once you are happy with the look of your dots, secure them to the red circle using some pieces of Vliesofix tape or web.  This will hold them in place nicely as you sew.  If you don't have any Vliesofix you could pin the circles down.  I also gave mine a good blast of spray starch at this point, which also helps the dots to stay in place.

Using your machine and white thread, applique the dots to the red circle.  You could use any stitch you want - a tight zig-zag or in my case I used a kind of blanket stitch.

Change to red thread.  Zig-zag (or overlock) your red circle all the way around the edge.  You could do this first if your fabric is particularly fray-prone.

Start sewing the elastic on.  Sew it about 5-7mm in from the edge, and on the reverse side.  Use a zig-zag stitch that is slightly narrower than your elastic.  Start by anchoring the elastic in place by going back and forth a few times with your machine.

Now pull the elastic as you sew, keeping it as taut as possible.  You will probably need to grab the red fabric in front of you and behind the machine's foot as you go.  This can be a bit tricky, but as it can't be seen at the end, don't worry too much if it's a bit wonky!

That's the cover all done.

Now turn it upside-down and fill it with fibre fill.  Tease the fibre fill out so it is as lump-free as possible.  If you have concerns that a young child may take the cover off and get in to the fibre fill you could make a little round cushion to go under the cover or just leave it flat.

Flip it over and stretch it over your stool.  All done.

Find a little woodland fairy or garden gnome and make their day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So I painted a wall...

Just a quick post - I wanted to show you the difference a little paint can make.

Back in April we bought a waterblaster and cleaned up our very mildewy roof terrace.  After being blasted, this wall was begging to be painted, so I managed to negotiate a nice shade of charcoal in my (terrible) German at the local paint store.

We are really enjoying the terrace now and I have planted cherry tomatoes, basil, rosemary, bay, strawberries, parsley, chives, lettuce and a lemon tree, which are starting to yield some yummy results.

If you like the bunting or the toadstool stool, I have a couple of tutorials coming up that show how to make them...  Watch this space.

LM x

Monday, June 20, 2011

Toadstool Cupcake Toppers...

I have sung the praises of cupcake toppers before...  Easily made weeks in advance of a party, they can be stored in an airtight container, then bought out to be quickly placed on frosted cupcakes on the day.

As you may already know, my daughter's 5th birthday party is in less than two weeks and so I have been busy with various preparations including these little toadstool cupcake toppers.  I will ice the cupcakes with green buttercream, using a grass tip (like these rugby ball ones from Master J's party in April), and the toadstools will sit on top of the grass.  I'm hoping it will look as cute as I envisage it!

Here's a quick how-to including some pictures, in case you would like to make some toadstool cupcake toppers of your own.

For my Toadstool cupcake toppers, I used:

* White gum paste or Mexican paste (can be purchased from all good cake decorating supply shops)
* Red Fondant
* Sugar cel or gum tragacanth (optional)
* Edible glue, such as gum arabic with water added
* A Bodum coffee scoop
* Vegetable fat
* Edible shellac spray (optional)

Sorry - what a terrible photo!

To create the bases, just break off a piece of gum paste and roll it in your palm until it is completely smooth.  Then roll it so it becomes a little more elongated - like an oval.  Squash it down gently on your work surface so it is flat on the top and the bottom, with the bottom being a little wider than the top.

To create the tops, use a teaspoon of red fondant.  I kneaded a little gum tragacanth through my fondant and left it to rest (covered) for about 30 mins before using.  This helps it to go slightly harder than it would otherwise.

Using a measuring spoon to measure out the fondant will help them all to be a similar size - grease your spoon with a little vegetable fat on your fingers so it slides out easily.

Roll into a ball between your palms until it is completely smooth.  Place in your round coffee scoop which you have lightly greased with vegetable fat.

Use the pad of your thumb to push it down as shown then slide it out with your thumb.  Repeat until you have a little collection of tops.

To add the dots, break off tiny pieces of white gumpaste, roll them into a ball between your fingers, then squash them flat.  Make the dots varying sizes.  Stick them to the toadstools with a little of your edible glue.

Leave all the tops and bottoms out overnight to dry (cover loosely in clingfilm to keep dust and bugs off).

Attach the tops to the bottoms using your edible glue and leave to dry.  Spray with edible shellac for a nice sheen (if desired).  Store in an airtight container with a few grains of rice in it to absorb any moisture.

UPDATE:  2nd July, 2011 - click here to see these cupcake toppers on the finished cupcakes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Enchanted Forest Invites...

It's less than three weeks until Miss S's 5th birthday party and so last night I was up burning the midnight oil so I can get the invitations out today.

Way back in April I did this ink and watercolour painting for the invitation, so it was just a matter of choosing a font and putting it together.

I didn't have any envelopes that matched the size of the finished invites so I decided to make a paper wrap with the invitee's name on it (I am delivering these by hand since everyone coming lives in and around our village).

...all ready for delivery...

And in keeping with tradition, I made an invite for the birthday girl to add to her collection.

Tonight it's cupcake toppers - watch this space!
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