Friday, July 20, 2012

DIY Reversible Apron

I often come home from work, or from the gym, and need to immediately begin cooking due to evening meetings, Bible studies, etc, and I'm always worried that I will get something on my clothes.  I have needed an apron for some time but couldn't justify the cost of the ones that I like (besides the fact that most of the standard ones would be huge on me).  I found a couple of cute fabrics at the craft store and decided to try making my own (try being the operative word because I am not exactly an experienced seamstress).

2 fabrics that work well together (1-yard each)
Large pad of paper
Writing utensils
Measuring tools
Sewing machine and thread

I started by creating my own pattern because I wanted to make sure my apron fit me. 

I used a measuring tape to measure the length of my arpon (I chose to create my apron so that it would begin just above my chest and end at my mid-thigh).  I drew a line on my paper that was the length that I measured (center line).  Then I measured across the top of my chest to get the length of the top of the apron, half of my waist to get the waist measurement, and half of my hips to get the length of the bottom.  I drew those lengths on my paper and connected them.  Then, to create a seam allotment, I added one inch to each side.  I cut both fabrics (which I will call flowered and green for the purpose of differentiating them) using the pattern that I created.

Next I created a pattern for the waist band (I would have preferred for the waist band and straps to be one continuous piece of fabric, but my fabric wasn't long enough), cut it (from both fabrics) and sewed seams.

Then I sewed the waistbands onto the fabric (green on flowers, flowers on green - for contrast).

Next I created a pocket (I chose to only create one pocket so the green side of my apron doesn't have one) using a pocket pattern that I created by measuring my hand.  I measured the width of my hand and the length so that I would have the necessary width and depth for my pocket (plus an extra inch for seams).  I used a compass and a ruler to draw the pattern then cut three pieces of fabric using the pocket pattern (I used 2 green and one flowered but as long as you have at least one from the contrasting fabric, it really doesn't matter which fabric they are cut from).

To put them together, I put the two green pieces back to back (front side of fabric out) and sewed them together (top only).  Then I added the flowered fabric (front side out - back side facing the green pieces that I already sewed together) and sewed all three together.  I flipped the pocket right side out and ironed it to flatten it out.  Then, I sewed the pocket (green side out) onto my flowered apron (remember not to sew the pocket closed at the top).

Next, I made the neck strap and the waist tie straps by sewing two pieces of contrasting fabric back to back (length and width based on requirements and preference - I used the width from my waist strap pattern from earlier), then flipping them so that they were right side out (this will take a few minutes and the thinner you make the straps, the harder it will be).  Also, while the fabric is still inside out, you will need to sew one end of each of the waist strap pieces.  I then ironed all 3 pieces to make flatten them out.

Then, I sewed the tops of the two apron pieces together (inside out), with the neck strap (each end positioned on each edge of the top - leaving room for the seam) and piping (the piping should be positioned towards the inside, right at the edge of the seam).  When you flip the apron back to right side out, the edge of the piping should show and the neck strap should be sticking out of the top.

I did the same with the two sides of the apron (of course sewing the edge of the waist strap in rather than the neck strap - one per side).  Be careful to position the waist strap so that the fabric matches the fabric that was already sewed onto the waist. 

To sew the bottom of the apron, turn the apron right side out, position the piping and sew (this seam will not be hidden).

And there you have it, a custom fit apron!

Outdoor Bench Cushion

I got a little ambitious yesterday and decided to make a cushion for the bench on our patio and an apron (post to come soon). 

We purchased this bench several years ago.  I like it, but it's kind of plain so I thought it would be nice to put a cushion on it.  However, it's a small bench, and I needed a custom cushion (I didn't think about taking photos while I was working so I only have photos of the final product)

High-density Foam Padding (2 in.)

How to:
I measured the bench and cut the foam padding to size (taking into account that the pad would actually need to be several inches smaller than the bench).  I used a small box cutter to cut the foam padding, though it probably would have been easier with a longer knife (I read about using a carving knife to cut foam padding on another blog).  I couldn't get the right fit with one piece of padding so I had to put two pieces together (other bloggers suggest gluing the two pieces together, but I didn't glue mine).

I made the fabric sleeve out of one continuous piece of fabric (I purchased one yard, which worked perfectly).  I opted to use the fold-over method, rather than using a zipper.  I've done this with pillow cases before, but the rectangular shape of the foam padding added new challenges.

I began by sewing a seam onto the two edges that would be exposed on the back of the sleeve, then sewed the corners so that it would fit the rectangular foam padding.  There are several ways to sew corners (check out some of the online tutorials if my method doesn't make sense).  I began by measuring and using a permanent marker (on the back-side of the fabric) to mark the edges of the fabric.  I was trying to minimize seams in this case so I folded the corners into a triangle (rather than cutting my fabric into 6 pieces) and sewed straight down (I'm not exactly sure how to explain that, especially without photos - to me it made sense when I wrapped the spot where I wanted a corner around the corner of the foam padding).  The next step was probably the most difficult, I had fabric from several different directions that all needed to be hidden under my fold-over flaps, while also covering the sides and back of the pad.  Eventually, I came up with a method to make it work (again, I'm apologize for not taking photos).  Once that was done, I sewed the two fold-over pieces together on each end (6-8 inches) so that the cover would fit tightly over the foam.  Lastly, I stuffed the foam padding into the cover!

I will admit that this was not the easiest project, but I like the way it turned out!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cardigan Organization

From this....
South Floridians like air conditioner and most churches, restaurants, theaters, etc. turn the AC down so low that I must wear long sleeves while inside. So, when I wear a tank top (or even a short sleeve shirt) out to dinner, to church or to a movie, I like to grab a cardigan to put on in case I get cold inside (and most of the time I end up wearing it).  Since I'm often not actually wearing the cardigan when I leave, I just grab one from the pile as I'm walking out the door, then throw it back into the pile when I get home.  My "pile" of cardigans was in desperate need of some organization (as you can see in the photo above).

I came up with a super simple solution.  I picked up some 3M Command Strips and stuck them to the wall inside my closet where I wanted to hang my cardigans (I had to do some shelf reorganization to allow the cardigans to hang the way that I wanted them to), and that's it - a super easy way to organize my cardigans.  Now I won't be searching for the cardigan that I want in my super messy pile.  They are all neatly organized so that I can easily choose the one that I want!

... to this

Friday, July 13, 2012

Embossed Painting

Though recently I have blogged about nothing but desserts, this blog is supposed to also include crafts and artwork.  I got this basis of this idea from a pin that I saw on Pinterest (I didn't repin so I don't actually know where it came from).

Materials Needed:
Elmer's Glue All
Paint Brushes

I began by using the Elmer's glue to draw on my canvas.

Canvas with glue drawing

Once the glue dries (I left mine overnight), it leaves an embossed look on the canvas.  I then painted the canvas one solid color.  I typically mix basic paints to achieve the color that I want rather than buy tons of specific colors of paint.

Originally, I was planning to end the project here, but I felt like there was something missing so I decided to add bronze paint (actual bronze paint - I didn't mix this one myself) to make the glue drawing stand out.  The bronze doesn't have to be painted perfectly (I actually like more in an imperfect state though I truly have a hard time leaving my projects alone when they aren't "perfect").

Note:  I didn't like the way the flat green looked so I went back and added some bronze (shown in the completed photo).  When I did the next two, I actually added the bronze before painting the embossed drawing bronze.   

This could be done with many colors (I'm actually think all-over bronze would create a pretty cool look), and you can draw anything you want on your canvas (flowers, swirls, geometric shapes, etc).  My final creation is below.  Hopefully I'll get them on the wall soon.  Have fun creating!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Very Chocolate Cupcakes

Very Chocolate Cupcakes

I love chocolate and have recently had a fetish for making cupcakes.  A few weeks ago, I needed to make a dessert for a church event so I tried using a chocolate cake recipe to make chocolate cupcakes.  They didn't turn out (though I still haven't figured out why) like cupcakes.  They were more like chocolate muffins (still tasty but not what I was expecting).  Fortunately, I also made my Strawberry Cupcakes for that event!

After the debacle that the original chocolate cupcakes were, I found this recipe from how sweet it is for Chocolate Lovers Cupcakes so when I needed to make cupcakes for a youth bake sale, I decided to try it.

I used the cake recipe from the blog, but slightly modified the icing using another cream cheese icing recipe that I have (mainly because I was making cream cheese frosting for my Watermelon Cake Pops and only needed half of it).

Chocolate Lover's Cupcakes

1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons sour cream
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, cream and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth. Add in melted butter and stir until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Line a muffin tin with liners and using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to each cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 

I actually only added the chocolate to half of the recipe because I was using the other half for something else (I'm giving the chocolate measurements for the entire recipe).

16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold.
1/2 cup cocoa
2 oz. milk chocolate (melted)

Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the cream cheese mixture, cocoa and milk chocolate into the whipped cream and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

I have to say that these turned out way better than the last chocolate cupcakes that I made and sold quickly at the bake sale.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Watermelon Cake Pops

Finished Watermelon Cake Pops
I saw a recipe for watermelon cake pops on Pinterest (from hearttreehome) and thought, "I can do that."  It turned out that the blogger had used a picture she found for inspiration (with no recipe - which means that she had to make one up).  She used strawberry cake mix and store bought cream cheese icing.  I like to make everything from scratch and wanted to try making a fresh watermelon cake.  Below is my recipe and my adventure!

I chose to use fresh watermelon in my cake.

Watermelon Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening (I use coconut oil)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites
1/2 to 1 cup of fresh watermelon (chopped or crushed)
Red food coloring

Combine dry ingredients in mixer bowl.  Add shortening, milk, and flavorings.   Mix about 1 minute at low speed.  Stop and scrape bowl.  Add egg whites.  Mix at medium/high speed about 1 minute.  Add watermelon and red food coloring and mix at medium/high speed until smooth and fluffy.

Bake in two greased 9-inch round cake pans for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).  Cool.

The cake turned out ok.  I would add more watermelon next time because it didn't really have much watermelon flavor.  I would also add a little more red food coloring.  My cake was pink, and I would have preferred a deeper red.

Creating the Cake Balls

Once the cake cools, crumble it into a bowl.  Add cream cheese icing and semisweet chocolate chips.

Cake, Cream Cheese and Chocolate Chip Mixture

I used homemade cream cheese icing using a recipe that I found at Not So Humble Pie (recipe below).  I used an entire 12-oz package of chocolate chips, which turned out to be too many so if I do this again, I will use fewer!  You will want to half the cream cheese frosting recipe for the cake balls.  (I made the whole recipe and turned half of it into chocolate cream cheese frosting for cupcakes - post to come later).

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

16oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold.

Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

Make the mixture into balls and chill in the refrigerator (this step could possibly be skipped if you're going to dip them on the same day - just put them in the freezer).

Cake Balls in the Refrigerator

Dipping the Cake Balls

 From most things I read, it seemed like this step would be pretty easy.  Put the sticks in the cake balls, melt the chocolate, dip, done... it didn't work out quite the way that I had hoped.  The cake balls fell apart and the sticks wouldn't stay in them.  I became frustrated but persevered (with my husband's help).  I decided to use melted chocolate to "glue" the sticks into the cake balls and my husband suggested that we put them in the freezer.  When we took them out of the freezer, the sticks were "glued" in and the cake balls were holding much better!

Melting the chocolate wasn't so easy either.  I used Wilton Candy Melts (which come in colors - much easier than using food coloring to get the right color - purchased at Michael's) and used the microwave directions on the bake of the package.  I could never quite get the chocolate thin enough for dipping and had to use vegetable oil to thin the chocolate.

Once everything was in order, dipping wasn't so bad!  We first dipped the cake balls in white chocolate (some, like the one in the photo below, we dipped in light green instead of white because I ran out of white).  We put them in the freezer for 10-20 minutes (then transferred them to the fridge to wait for the next step) then dipped them in green chocolate.

Once they dried, I used a homemade piping bag (made from parchment paper) to pipe the "details" onto the cake balls.  All in all, I think they turned out pretty well for my first try at making cake balls.

They were a big hit at the Generation Church Fourth of July Celebration Youth Bake Sale!

Inside View