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11  SEWING IN GENERAL / Machine Embroidery: Discussion and Questions / General Sewing Featured Projects January, February & March 2012 on: April 20, 2012 07:15:28 AM
Congratulations to our featured projects for January, February and March! There's been a lot of activity around here lately, and this is a great opportunity to recognize some of our favorite crafters! Thank you for your wonderful contributions to our small corner of the Craftster community.


Happiness is Easy Peasy tissue case in the hoop by Lique


My First "In The Hoop" Project by NicoleMarie


Bag for my mummikins by mrsflibble


Keep the stitchy goodness coming!
12  COOKING / Dessert / White Chocolate cupcakes for spring! on: April 15, 2012 09:44:58 AM
We were having company and I thought it would be nice to bake something for them, and it just happened to coincide with this challenge!  Yay!

I found this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and it seemed perfect: http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2006/07/white-chocolate-mud-cake-recipe.html

I'm not really big on decorating, but I love baking and trying new things.

Here's how they came out.



I died half the icing green and used robin's eggs left over from Easter to be a little festive.  The white ones are the original icing per the recipe, with silk flowers.





And here's the recipe from the website, with my own modifications/interpretations.

White Chocolate Mud Cake

300g white chocolate (I used a bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips, less about a tablespoon)
200g butter (two sticks less two tablespoons, and I added 1/4 tsp salt to my unsalted butter)
250ml (1 cup) milk
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar (I couldn't find superfine sugar, so I just pulsed granulated sugar in my food processor)
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g (2/3 cup) self-raising flour
150g (1 cup) plain flour

Sour Cream and White Chocolate Ganache
200g white chocolate (I used 2/3 of another bag of ghirardelli white chocolate chips, or 1 1/3 cups)
88g sour cream

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius (about 305 F).

I used regular sized cupcake pans with liners.

Place chocolate, butter, milk and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when chocolate and butter have melted, and stir mixture until completely smooth. Allow mixture to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Add vanilla and eggs to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.

Add a cup (I just estimated) of the liquid to the flours and stir to make a paste.  Add another cup of the liquid and combine.  Add remaining liquid.  --  I can speak from experience, this helps keep lumps from forming, and it works great.  The batter ends up being rather liquid-y.

I baked each pan for about 27 min.

For the icing, melt the chocolate over low heat.  Remove from heat and add sour cream.  The result tastes really cheese-cake-y.

I iced the cupcakes almost immediately, which is how I got a pretty smooth, almost fondant look for the white ones.  You can let it set up and whip it and then use it like normal icing, but I fail at using bags and tips, and I wanted these to look a little nicer, and this seemed a good way to do that.

The result...delicious!
13  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / Horns! on: April 09, 2012 06:16:07 AM
Hi everyone!  I've started working on a new photography project with my husband.  He wants to dress our friends up as contemporary fantasy creatures.  

*New ones!*



These were made with foam cones, cut on the diagonal and sections turned, I then wired and duct taped (yes, duct tape!  I couldn't find my glue gun and was worried about melting the foam anyway) together, then added onto with paper, and then papier mache'd over, using the tissue paper and watered down glue I used for the pair below.  Then they were painted black with silver veins.  The only other thing I did was to scoop out the base a little bit, to make sure it'll sit firmly against a head.  I'm really pleased with how these came out, because for a while they were looking iffy.  They're about 1' long, more or less.

This is the first piece I've completed for him, but there will be several more to come!



These little horns (which are currently sitting on top of a styrofoam bowl) were made out of polymer clay, and then covered with tissue paper drenched in a watered down glue (one of my new favorite papier mache' techniques, because of the texture it gives), and then painted.  This was my first time making horns, or combining poly clay with something else, or really doing papier mache' since I was a little kid, so there were a lot of times I was unsure, but overall, I'm very happy with how they came out!



And, because I've posted these before, I figured I'd just add these into this post as well, I've made three pairs of these, which will be used for this same photo shoot, the rest will live in the dance studio where I take classes, which also hosts "princess parties".



And three pairs of these, which will also be used for the photo shoot, and living in the dance studio.  This is a new design, but I think I'm going to tweak it.

14  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Help identify sparkly fabric? on: March 14, 2012 11:31:20 AM
Hi everyone!  I'm looking (trying to look) for fabric to make into a fancy Saidi dress (http://www.shira.net/costuming/dresses.htm) and the costume fabrics in my local stores are all a bit limited.  I found a fabric that I like, but I'm not really fond of the colors available in town.  However, I can't find it online at all!  It's like glitterdot fabric (which is a knit that's got flat plastic sequins fused to it) without the sequins.  So it's just a stretchy, glittery knit.  Does anyone have any idea what this is?  Or how I'd find it online?
15  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Discussion and Questions / Teaching embroidery to someone else? on: March 14, 2012 11:23:55 AM
I searched for this and didn't find anything on it so...here goes!

I embroider, sort of.  I enjoy doing it, but I don't do it too often, and I usually use Mary Corbett's (most AWESOME!) site to help me along.  However, my husband, just last night, told me he wants to learn some new skills, and he liked the idea of being able to embroider stuff that he sketches.  That's great!  Especially since I've already got supplies for it.  But I am not that great at teaching other people, except in a "follow the leader" sort of way, and embroidery is a really *close* thing to watch and learn that way.  I don't want him to be in my lap watching me do something.  So does anyone have any tips or guidelines for how you would go about teaching someone else?  Someone who hasn't touched a needle or thread since making a shark pillow in 8th grade home ec?
16  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / A Christmas Carol on: January 25, 2012 07:33:35 PM
So in November I got the opportunity to help out a friend who does costume design for some of the local theater companies.  One of the new companies was doing their own version of A Christmas Carol, and I got to sew up an assortment of pieces from it.  It was so much fun!  All in all, I sewed Scrooge's nightshirt and cap (from a hodge-podge of patterns), Marley's pants (from a super basic elastic waist pants pattern), the ghost of Christmas present's iridescent cape with faux fur trim...it didn't come out as I'd hoped it would, she was very active on stage and it slipped around lots.  I should have put in a clasp.  And a bustle for Mrs. Fezziwig.  I don't have pictures of that, and I wish I did, as it came out very neat, completely self-drafted.  As the piece de resistance, I sewed the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  With 13 yards of black fabric!  Plus untold scraps I sewed haphazardly together to make a separate yoke/capelet type thing.  Here you can see Scrooge and Christmas Present on stage:




And here's me modeling the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (who is a good 6" taller than I am):




I used two pieces of steel wire in the hood to help it stand up like that.  Overall, it was lots of fun!
17  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing Machines: Discussion and Questions / Sewing machine or serger? on: January 19, 2012 03:10:59 PM
Okay, so this is part request for advice, and part discussion starter...

Take your average seamstress (in this case me) who sews clothes, the occasional purse, the occasional stuffie.  Clothes range from day-wear in knits and wovens to somewhat complex costumes, but not any really heavy sewing.  Say this seamstress were looking to grow beyond her basic sewing machine.  Would you recommend a serger, or a sewing machine with more stretch stitch and faux overlock functions?  I'm genuinely torn.  I'm not looking for a specific make and model, just trying to decide on type.  So what are the pros and cons of each?  Are sergers really the magic bullet of sewing?
18  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Chicken Pot Pie on: November 28, 2011 07:47:02 PM


I have been craving pot pie like nothing else lately.  My stepmom always made it with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, and I haven't had a good one in ages.  So, lacking my stepmom's cookbook, I went to allrecipes.com.  Here's the original recipe I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-potpie/detail.aspx

And here's how I actually made it, which was a tiny bit different.

Ingredients:

two medium potatoes, peeled and diced
a handful of the thin carrot straws that you can get in the produce department, minced
2/3 cup frozen chopped onion
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
~ 2 teaspoons salt
~ 1 teaspoon pepper
a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
about a pound of chicken tenders, seasoned and baked, then cooled and shredded
about 1 cup of frozen peas
about 1 cup of frozen corn
2 Pillsbury pie crusts, from the refrigerated section (two packages, or four total, this makes two pies)

First, last night, I seasoned and cooked my chicken.  I used garlic salt, pepper, a dash of olive oil, and about 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.  I almost always cook my chicken like this, it makes it very flavorful and moist.  I refrigerated it overnight, mostly due to time constraints.  Tonight I shredded it.  I cleaned, peeled, and diced two potatoes.  I could have used a third, but it ended up being very veggie heavy, so two was probably the right choice.  I used the pre-cut thin carrot sticks that you can buy to put on salads and minced them, because big chunks of carrot are not my thing.  I use this minced stuff for absolutely everything.  I get all the carrot flavor and none of the mushy texture.  I put the potatoes and carrots in a big pot (the one in the picture) to boil for about 10 minutes.  I couldn't get my stove to simmer, I just boiled, it worked fine.  While that was going on, I used my skillet to melt the butter and added the onions and garlic.  Frozen onions don't really "saute" per se, but I let the mixture simmer and reduce (the butter simmered just fine) for a few minutes while I putzed around the kitchen, draining the potatoes and carrots.  After about five minutes, I added the flour, salt, and pepper, and mixed it in thoroughly.  Very slowly, to maintain the thick consistency, I added the broth, stirring after each cup, and then the milk.  At this point, there was no way everything was going to fit into this skillet, and it was the largest one I had.  So I transferred my thickened mixture to the pot I'd done the potatoes in.  Perfect size!  I suppose I cooked the stuff for two minutes, boiling.  It definitely boiled, but it really started out thick, and I never let it lose that, so I wasn't overly concerned about the time.  (I'm a very precise cook, can't you tell?)  In the new pot, I added the frozen veggies.  I didn't measure, I just used about a handful and a half of each.  Then I added the potatoes and carrots, which had been sitting in the colander in my sink, and finally the chicken.  I ended up with the thick paste that you see above.  I divided it between two pie crusts.  I used deep dish pans because I like a thin pot pie, but you can use a regular size one, or even a casserole dish.  I baked one pie at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes, and refrigerated the other.  In the end, perfect gooey pot pie!



And it's festive.  I put some foil around the edges during baking, and am I glad I did!  They still browned nicely, and I left the foil on the whole time.  My only wish, after trying a piece, is that I'd used a little more salt and pepper and garlic.  Actually, garlic salt would have been a nice addition, too.  Don't tell her, but I actually like this version better than the one my stepmom made!
19  SEWING IN GENERAL / Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions / Message to/about Spammers on: November 12, 2011 10:21:37 AM
Hey, guys, I know we've had a real influx of spam posts on this board in the last few weeks.  I want to thank everyone who's hit Report to Mod on these guys!  All of us moderators are working hard to get them all rounded up and banned.  Please know that your patience and diligence is greatly appreciated.  We all want to keep Craftster an awesome site for freely sharing information with no yucky ads!

Also, to the spammers out there, if you're reading this, you will be caught and banned, and your posts deleted.  Spam is not tolerated in any form on this site.

For our awesome members, keep hitting "Report to Moderator" guys, you all rock!  Also, even if you're interested in the spam link (like Ugg boots) don't click on it!  It encourages them to keep spamming us.  Just ignore the topic altogether.
20  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Autumn Fairy Queen (with a tutorial!) on: November 01, 2011 07:48:41 AM

(See the second post for a wings tutorial!)

This year I was on a super tight budget, so almost everything came out of my stash.  I used two yards of squidgy rayon knit for the long skirt.  I used a pencil skirt that fits perfectly as a pattern for the top half (I just laid the skirt down over the two layers of fabric and traced around the hips to about mid thigh length, adding a seam allowance) and just fanned out the bottom as wide as the fabric would let me.  Laid flat, the skirt looks a little bit like a mermaid fin, but with a perfectly rounded bottom.  The overskirt and the little sleeve ruffles are all made in a very similar fashion out of a dark synthetic chiffon.  First I cut circles (9” radius for the sleeve ruffles and I think an 18” radius for the skirt).  For the sleeves, in the center of my 9” circle, I cut a little 3” radius circle, and then cut the donut shape open.  It makes a perfect little circular ruffle.  I pleated the middle a couple of times, used a candle to lightly singe the exposed edges, and put double fold bias tape at the top.  For the skirt part, I did the exact same thing, except I offset the inside circle 6” to one side of the big circle, so that I could do the little high/low hem.  When I opened up the donut, I just tapered the corners off by eyeballing them.  There’s a tiny hook and eye on the bias tape to hold it closed.  Altogether, the two skirts and the little sleeve things maybe took three hours.  It was all really easy to do!  Absolutely everything for them came out of my stash.





The corset/bodice is the only piece that came from a pattern.  It used a yard of synthetic brocade, a yard of cotton duck for interlining, and a yard of brown cotton for lining.  It also used 2-1/4 yards of plastic boning.  I used McCalls 6343, and it was almost perfect!  I graded from a size 18 C cup in the bust and waist out to a size 22 at the hip, and it fits perfectly.  The only change I made was to omit the little lacing flaps.  I stitched the top and bottom seams the way the instructions said, but instead of trying to turn that whole monster, including the boning, through a 3” hole in the bottom seam, I left both sides open.  I shaved about ¼” off each side, and then used single fold bias tape to bind the edges.  I used 18 grommets, instead of 16, and just set them right into the edges of the corset itself.  These also came out of the stash, which is why they’re silver instead of gold.  This probably took about four or five hours, including all the cutting, pinning, sewing, and setting grommets.  The only other thing I did, after wearing it the first time, was remove the two pieces of boning in the side seams.  The plastic boning bent and dug into my sides painfully.  There are still four bones in it.



The crown was the first thing I made, because I got a wild hair to work with my hands one night.  This was my first time doing anything quite like this, and it took a bit of trial and error.  I just looked at some pictures for inspiration, and then winged it.  I spent $3 on the wire, on sale at Joann’s.  It probably took about two hours to make, while watching t.v.



I had the wire and the floral tape for the wings in my stash, and I knew pretty much what I was doing.  Normally, I’d bend all my wires, then wrap them in floral tape, then tape them all together.  This time, because the center loop that slips into the bodice is all intertwined, I did that part first, taped it, taped it all together, and then I figured out the wings.  I spazzed out no less than three times because of different glitches, but in the end, they work really well.  (One of those glitches included the finished wings being run over by a truck—it was windy Friday, and they got blown into the street!—but these pictures were taken after that, so you can see, there was practically no damage done, whew!)  I spent about $7 on vinyl and cellophane, and altogether, I probably spent about six hours making the wings.

Oh, and to boot, I used scraps from my cotton corset lining to do rag curls!

Final tally:

$10 + 16 hours + raiding the stash = one fairy, ready to fly



*I didn’t make the necklace or alter the shoes in any way, and the rose came from Ren Fest last year…everything else is 100% handmade.
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