Friday, April 26, 2013

Stabilized Whipped Frosting--Improved! Now in flavors!

I'm never happy just leaving a recipe alone. 

Mostly, the only change I did to her recipe, (or I should say assembly guide, as she just uses box cake and pudding, and doesn't make a single thing from scratch) is to replace the chocolate cake mix with brownie mix (with modifications to make it even more chocolate rich, and more cake like) and to replace basic pudding with this wonderful frosting, which I will now share with you all.

Use this recipe to make stabilized whipped cream in your favorite pudding flavors.
Makes an excellent frosting replacement as it uses far less sugar!

  • 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp ice cold water
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream (one pint)
  • 2 tbsp confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 box of your favorite pudding mix (I used jello chocolate pudding. It should be standard pudding, not a cook and serve type, not a sugar-free type)

  1. Sprinkle gelatin powder over ice cold water to "soften." Do this first as you get ready prep the rest of the ingredients
  2. Scald 2 tbsp of the cream. I used my toaster oven set at 200F to do this, but you can also scald it on a stove top. Be sure to remove any skin. Pour the scalded cream over the gelatin and whisk until fully dissolved
  3. Refridgerate mix for 10-15 minutes. The gelatin mixture should now have the consistency of egg whites. If you over chill, do not worry, the next steps will still work.  Using a whisk whip until smooth, or as smooth as you can make it.
  4. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, take 1 cup of the cream and all of the sugar  and whisk until soft peaks form. Add in the gelatin mix, and whisk until fully blended.
  5. Add half of the pudding mix to the gelatin/cream mix. Whisk until blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining pudding mix and the last of the cream and whisk until fully blended, another 10-20 seconds. It'll be fairly stiff and hard to work with, but delicious and very stable.
When using this in cupcakes, you don't need to refridgerate this first before using it and transporting the cake. Just a bit of refrigeration will make the frosting fairly stiff. It takes a bit of work to push it through a pretty frosting top, but it isn't impossible to work with, even when cold. With so much less sugar than frosting, I don't mind feeding this to my daughter. I think I'll use some version of this for her next birthday cake.

This whipped cream frosting will stay fresh in the fridge for up to one week. 

And yes, I did make the cupcakes with the strawberries inside :


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to copy a basic shirt! A written descriptions (photos to follow later)

Recently, I did a tutorial at our LYS, AVFKW for our March Seam Allowance meeting. Here are the notes from that meeting on how to copy a basic T-shirt. I feel these tips could be modified to work with any kind of garment. I hope you enjoy! I will add images later for a more step by step guide. Sorry for all the uninterrupted text!

I also recommend looking at my July post about making my fancy party dress. It has a lot of great images and descriptions for doing a more hands on pattern modification.

**AVFKW how to draft a pattern from an existing garment TUTORIAL** 
By Yavanna Reynolds.

**Intro: Pattern drafting basics**
Essentially, all pattern drafting is about understanding shapes. Its Geometry for the body. Knowing how to manipulate these shapes to fit your body is a major part of any pattern drafting or manipulation.

There are various methods used for creating new patterns. Some of the more common are:

--Draping (using a dressform)
--Measuring (taking a series of measurements and drafting by hand)
--Tracing/copying an existing shape.

The technique I will cover is a combination of those last two, and is handy for understanding not only how to make your own custom garments from other garments, but also for understanding how to alter patterns etc for a better fit.

1) Paper:
         Really, the only requirement for paper is that it is big enough for you to draw out your largest pattern pieces. I use butcher paper, because that's what I can get easily. Tracing paper also works, but is a bit more flimsy (but works great for tracing off your final pattern and adding seam allowances). I've seen patterns also done on newspaper. Some suggested medical exam paper too.

The best paper is alphanumeric dot paper. Its designed for pattern drafting. Unfortunately, most local sources really mark up the price, and buying it online can be expensive in shipping, because you end up with monster rolls of the stuff. If you have a good, inexpensive source, use it! I grabbed a ton when I was still in design school, but used it all a year or so ago! Sigh.

2) Pens or Pencils for drafting: I recommend fine point felt pens (.5mm or smaller!) or mechanical pencils with a fine tip. The size of the tip affects the final pattern, in that it can add a fraction of an inch of unwanted space along the pattern piece, which can really add up once you put seam allowances and go to sew it up. Do not use sharpies! I used sharpies for the demo just because they are easy to see.

3) Rulers:
        I recommend everyone have at least a flexible clear ruler (try Blick or another store selling drafting supplies) and a proper french curve at the very least. It also wouldn't hurt to have an L-square ruler for making your large center lines. A hip curve for making skirts later, and for bottom hems. You might also want one of those rulers that takes a curve and holds it for you, very useful for sleeves!

International Design Supplies out of LA has a lot of these supplies, including the french curve, at reasonable prices

4)Tracing tools:
      A tracing wheel, tailor chalk, anything you can use to mark the delicate curves you might have a hard time replicating with a ruler in recreating/copying your pattern.


STEP 1: Draw your vertical and horizontal guide lines. Make sure these lines lines extend beyond the overall length and width of the garment to be copied. The vertical line should be centered and the horizontal line near the top of the vertical line, perfectly perpendicular.

STEP 2: Center your garment. To prepare your garment for proper centering, iron the garment flat, making sure to get the hems well pressed and that the garment isn't torqued at all. After pressing it flat, fold the shirt in half, pressing in a center crease to help you center the garment later.

Place the garment with the center crease line up perfectly to the vertical line, and the HPS (high point shoulder, lined up neatly to the horizontal line. You may want to pin or tape your garment in place so it doesn't move during the following steps.

STEP 3: Begin marking the pattern. Place marks for the locations of the sleeves, waist, hip. Use a tracing wheel or tailors chalk to mark any curves that might be hard to replicate with a ruler.

STEP 4: Draw in the pattern outline (on the half). Using your rulers and the marks from the previous step, begin drawing out the pattern's basic outline. Square off anyplace that needs to connect to another seam, such as the shoulder and sides, as well as the center hem, side hems, center neck. They should be squared off 1/2".

If your shirt has sleeves. Use a series of measurements to recreate the sleeve. You will need the length of the sleeve from shoulder to end of sleeve, the length of the under seam, and the width at the hem. You will also need to measure the armhole along the seam using your flexible ruler.  On a spare piece of paper, draw out your sleeve (I will add images later for this step).

STEP 5:  Finishing. You should now have a complete block. Compare it to the original garment to make Trace off your block pattern on another piece to preserve your block. On your new tracing, add your seam allowances. These seam widths will vary depending on the hemming technique you are using, or the type of machine you are using, but in general you want 1/2" seams except at the neck, where it maybe as small as 1/4 if you are using a facing. Bottom hems are often 1".


There are lots of ways for you to make more personalize fit modifications. Some include:

* Adding or removing darts/gathering.
* Adding style lines for patchwork or color blocking.
* Turning the garment into a wrap top, adding panels or


When buying fabrics to use for recreating a knit garment, make sure to find a fabric with similar characteristics. By that I mean make sure that it is a similar fiber content, that it has similar stretch, etc.

One way to test stretch: Take 2" of your garment between your fingers along the hem. Stretch along the length of a ruler and note how much it stretches. When looking at fabrics in the store, fold the fabric once and do the same test with 2" of the fabric. It doesn't need to match exactly, but it should be  close.

Also, make test garments out of an inexpensive fabric to test your fit. Make sure you don't want to make any changes before cutting into your final fashion fabric. To get a good set of blocks to fit your body, it may take some trial and error.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Project 1, Part 1--The green dress, and a morning scene of domesticity

Rosebud helps Mama dry fabric laundry on the line. A perfect scene of domesticity

My first planned project of the new sewing year will be a party dress to attend a friends wedding later in the month. I haven't had a new dress in ages...not since my body changed to grow the baby....who is now turning 2 on Saturday. So as a special treat, I bought some really extra special fabrics (shown to the right) in summery greens and pinks and yellows. Some Liberty print, some Henry Alexander printy goodness, and some loverly Amy Butler. A very fine dress indeed.

Outline--Sew Crazy--Plotting a year of Mayhem

A picture of me modifying a muslin mock up of
a bodice to a dress I'm working on currently
So, before I get crazy with all my sewing, I thought I should actually focus on what my plans are for the coming year.  Below I've sketched out a rough timeline of what kind of projects I might be working on throughout the year. This is, of course, a loose guide that will most likely be modified and doesn't include any spur of the moment "must-sew/knit-now" items that may pop up due to necessity. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PRELUDE--Princess Snow White and the Purple Pants


On JULY 7th, My Rosebud is turning 2. She's a silly minxy, and I love her to pieces. My desire to focus as much of my energy as possible to being the best mama I can be was what inspired me to plan Project Rosebud. Hopefully, over the the next year, I can make her lots of lovely clothes, yummy food, and just spend lots of quality time with her. Hopefully in developing this side of my personality, I can help also find balance in other areas of my life. Who knows, maybe this will be the push in the right direction I need to feel like my life is moving forward in a positive way.             

the supplies cost less than half the cost of an "official" dress

So before my official Seam Allowance Challenge for the year starts up in July, I thought it would be good to dust of the sewing machine and my rulers and drafting tools and make up a couple of "simple" projects. With Rosebud's birthday coming up, and Halloween only a few months away, I thought it would be good to get a head start on the holiday and kill two birds with one stone. Rosebud loves Princess Snow White. Snow White and Pooh's Heffalump Adventure are the only two movies she's allowed to watch, and she earns her viewings with successful potty usage (we're on a merit based system here).

Crazy lady that I am, I decide I'm going to make my daughter the best little Princess Snow White dress ever! I just can't bring myself to buy those "official" Disney dresses from Target. Not only are they overpriced, but they are poorly constructed too. :P Yuck! No, thank you!   But it isn't enough that I want to make the dress....I also have to design the pattern so I can custom make it to my daughter's "unique frame."  I studied the movie, documented the colors and what I thought the fabrics should be, and then went to the fabric store and got the necessary supplies. In the time it took for her to watch the movie (about 1hr 20 min) I had drafted a pattern and cut out most of the pieces. The supplies cost less than half of the "official" costume.  

Well after a week of sewing, here it is, Princess Rosebud's Princess Snow White dress! Its super stretchy, machine washable, and completely clean rough edges or unfinished seams, you could wear this dress inside out if you wanted!

She loves her dress and didn't want to take it off. Currently its residing in her closet, waiting for me to  make the cape.  She has never worn a full length dress before and was mystified by how her feet disappeared beneath the hem. She kept saying "where's my feet? They've disappeared" in her super cute little voice.

This morning, I decided to sew up a "quick" little project. Charlotte desperately needs pants that fit. She's outgrown her 4T pants, and its hard to find 5T in the store. Not to mention, they don't fit well anyway. If I'm going to be making most of her clothes going forward. I want to have a basic stretch pant block for her.  Well that "simple" project turned into a 4 hour struggle with fabric and pattern. I had forgotten how complex pants can be, how tricky stretch fabrics are to sew, and how unreliable my cheapass machine is to sew on. Do I need a new machine...ah, yes. Can I afford one....ah, well, no.  So it was a "make it work" kind of morning, if you know what I mean!   
Sewing the elastic into the cuff of the infamous purple pants

Pants stretched out to maximum length
First off, I have a hard time remembering how to draft pants from basic measurements. So I went to my old design school textbooks...useless for children's basic stretch pants (or children's patterns in general). So I grabbed a pair of her basic store pants and "studied" them to make a bigger block pattern.

Pants scrunched up and fashionable
Ready to cut and sew, I go to the fabric only to rediscover the basic truth in old sayings like "measure twice, cut once." I thought that 1/2 yrd would be enough fabric on a directional fabric. I needed another 1/4 yard for my leggy daughter. But it was "make it work" day here, so I modified the pattern to have a cuff and be more of a cropped style. Then I decided to get fancy and give it full genie style legs...well they aren't perfect, but by golly they fit!

This I think is enough sewing for this week/month. Next project...summer dresses for mama and baby.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Project Charlotte Rosebud is a personal challenge to myself, Mother of Rosebud, to make all of my Charlotte's new clothes going forward for the next year, starting in July of 2012. 

Here are a few guidelines for my challenge. My Husband has a set of 5 simple rules for being a good kid that he uses with our daughter (no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no fighting, and no breaking things). Let's see if I can come up with something equally simple that I can actually stick to.

1--I shall not purchase any new clothes that I can make myself. 
2--I will research how to make something before I determine that it is something I can't make.
3--I will "re-purpose" where possible. Recycle other clothing, cut and add fabric panels or patches, to "save" clothes currently in use. 
4--I will search my stash for usable materials before going to the store and buying more.
5--I will try to purchase locally anything not available in my stash, or through recycling.

I think that is as good a start as any.