Threads of the Pattern

Posts Tagged ‘ladybugs

As you know, our extended family celebrated a first birthday! The theme of the day was ladybugs, so as the resident baker, I scoured the internet for examples of lady bug cakes, and stole profligately from all of them. I’m not an expert, so I tend to look for something that has elements that I’ve done before, and at least one element that I’ve not done.

I decided on the design. A three tier cake, enough to feed 25ish people generous portions (not wedding cake portions, which people seem to hate), with both chocolate and vanilla for flavors, and a top tier for the little one to make a complete disaster out of. enjoy in a reasonable and polite manner that her mother would absolutely not have to clean up all by herself.

I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning the night before to get the decorations done. I rolled little fondant balls and flattened them, then painted them with edible black paint. It’s made with corn syrup, and apparently such a small amount of sugar was enough that the kids decided that fondant is delicious.

I really thought these little ladybugs would only take an hour or two, tops, but it ended up taking five hours, including the ribbons, which were red and black fondant. I used cutters for the shapes. The ribbons really took no time at all.

Everything was assembled the next day at the party. I only have the one size pan, so I had to get creative with it. I cut down the top 8” tier to be a 4” by cutting around the outside. I then stuck that all around the outside of the bottom 8” tier to make it a 10” tier. Amazingly, I even had some left over.

Things I learned:

  1. Really fresh fondant makes a huge difference. I hate thick layers of fondant, and I was able to get this batch pretty thin. I could feel the difference as soon as I touched it.
  1. Structure is key in tiered cakes, as you can see. It was so hot that day that the buttercream was melting and pulling the cake down with it. We literally had to finish it and immediately serve it.

 

What I want to try next time:

Structure. I’ve looked up some information on stacking tiered cakes. Any suggestions?

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You only turn one once!

For my niece’s First birthday, my sister decided to have a ladybug themed party. (And by my sister decided, I mean she wanted to do an Adventure Time theme, but we couldn’t find any decorations, so Rose and I helpfully nudged her into the choice of ladybugs.) So, I wandered through the internet, trying to find any inspiration for ladybug decorations or themes. I didn’t find any decorations that shook my creative tree, but I did decide while looking at cute black and red patterned tablecloths that I wanted to make her a dress. Now, anyone that follows me on Pinterest will know that I have been eyeing up pillowcase dresses for Bug for –ever-. Like, since she was born. After the Kosode Incident, I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the sewing machine again but I reeeeeeeally wanted my baby girlie to have a pretty ladybug dress for her birthday.

A few creative searches on Pinterest and a few more knocks to my sewing prowess later, and I decided to make this dress, for my Bug, with many thanks to Ashley at Lil Blue Boo.

I envisioned black and red polka dots with a bright red top, maybe a little red tulle peeking out of the bottom. However, my local Hobby Lobby had a completely different vision in mind, presenting me with pink and white or black and white polka dots. If I wanted something ladybug themed, I could chose between a Kelly green background with red ladybugs or something baby pink with red cartoon lady bugs.  I ultimately chose the Kelly green, because I thought my niece had way too much pink in her wardrobe as it is.

I also bought a pretty red ribbon, thinking I could use it around the edge, or maybe in place of the straps. I’m kind of a fly by the seat of my capris kind of sewer…I just knew I liked the ribbon.

Now…I’m afraid of sewing. I think we all understand that by now. So you know I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that these directions were so frickin’ easy! They were simple to understand, even for a scardy cat like me. I measured the baby twice, plugged in her measurements in the super simple drawing and bam! I was off like lightning!

The only thing I ignored was the measurements for a pattern repeat…because I reasoned with myself that it was going on a one year old, who would be eating a piece of cake the size of her head that day…and no one would be looking at her booty. Plus…all those little wily ladybugs were going in 42 different directions, and trying to make that match made my head hurt.

All my pieces were cut quickly, and I even ironed it! (Don’t have a heart attack; I really do know how to use an iron.) All that was left was to thread the sewing machine and jump in there!

Did you read the Sewing Machine Wars? Do you remember the tip on avoiding thread barf? I sure do, which is why I had to take a picture of my properly threaded sewing machine, before I began.

This proves that even the most resistant sewer –can- learn from her mistakes!

I’m almost sad to report that it went together so nicely, I was afraid to even pause to hit skip on Pandora! I worked for 3 hours in sheer disbelief at my good fortune!

The loose gather for the skirt worked (mostly) and the top folded very nicely over it. Let me say, also, that this was a genius way to add a banded top! I wasn’t really sure what I was doing as my aunt and I read the directions and folded away, but man, it’s a beautiful thing when it’s done!

Then…it was time for the straps. I toyed with the idea of using the ribbon, but in the end I decided I wanted them to match the dress. I didn’t have bias tape (OK…I don’t even really know what bias tape is…) but I followed the directions as best as I could, with my Aunt cheering me on, telling me that turning those babies right-side out would be a piece of cake!

If cake is made with a healthy amount of cursing, a gigantic, Throw-The-Straps-Across-The-Room size fit, then yes, it was just like a piece of cake. Nevertheless, with help, I prevailed and the straps were turned the right way, ironed and sewn into place.

By the time I got to the ribbon, I was tired, sweaty and pretty disgusted with my Fabulous Ideas. So..rather than sew it on, I cheated. I used fabric glue and not a little bit of prayer that it would hold up.

It was ironed again after this picture, I swear.

On the day of Bug’s birthday party, we slipped her chubby butt into it (I measured a little –too- well, not giving her any growing room, of course) and she was the best looking one year old on the planet.

See? You can’t even see the seam!

Things I learned:

  1. Sew the damn ribbon on. Fabric glue is messy and tiresome.
  2. I need a better way to gather fabric for pleats. The method described in the tutorial was rockin’ but my Rosemary’s Baby sewing machine didn’t care for it at all.
  3. Ponder buttons or a zipper for down the back next time. While the dress was utterly fabulous, it might not fit her next month.

Mistakes and fears aside, I had a ton of fun with this project, and seeing my beautiful niece in a dress that I made was 100% worth it.

Have you tackled a project you were more than a little afraid of? How did it turn out?



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