Saturday, December 19, 2009

There's Still Crafting Time Before Christmas!

There's still time to make these darling cupcake ornaments for Christmas—or for a Valentine's party! The photos on the free tutorial (see below for web address) are much better than mine!

I'm so amazed at how much free and wonderful information is available on the web—particularly the tutorials for sewing, quilting, and crafts projects. This one really caught my eye—enough to run out to buy the supplies and whip some right up for pretty little Christmas gifts for friends and family—not to mention to hang on my own Christmas tree. They don't take long and the free tutorial is well done. Visit the site below.

I'll add my two cents to the designer's directions to make the process even easier!
1. Buy a 2-ounce bag of the iridescent fake snowflakes (about $1.99) and a large bag of the plain and mix together in a sturdy paper plate bowl. I did about half and half. I used the entire 2-ounces of iridescent flakes with a similar amount of the plain snowflakes for 18 cupcakes.

2. Look for the quick-drying crafts glue (Alene). A 4-ounce bottle is enough for 12-18 ornaments, depending on how much glue you use on each one.

4. After "skewering" the balls as directed in the tutorial, hold each one over another paper plate bowl and drizzle a healthy amount of glue on the top of the ball, first. Then use the sponge brush to spread it. You really need a "healthy" coating of glue for good snowflake coverage.

5. Place the snow-covered balls in a tall drinking glass rather than a coffee cup if your skewers are long. Six skewered balls should fit in one glass without touching.

6. Now that my cupcakes are finished, I wish I had cut a circle of thin cardboard to glue into the bottom of each cupcake liner—they would be sturdier, easier to handle and to store. Do this step while you are waiting for the snow and glue to dry completely so they're ready when you're set to finish the cupcakes.

7. Use cool-melt "hot glue" for the safest application of glue just inside the upper edge all around the cupcake liner. Then insert the snowball and carefully press the liner to the ball all the way around.

8. Adding the hangers and cherries turned out to take the most time in the entire process. I used narrow ribbon loops—about a 5" length makes a good hanger. I also used fine straight pins from the sewing room to secure them in the glue. Then I added another "shot" of hot glue and pressed the cherry in place, stem up. It was too difficult to push the stem through the ribbon. Before the glue cooled, I sprinkled more snow over the cherry to make sure that it wouldn't show. Voila! The cutest little cupcake ornaments I've ever seen!

9. I think the cost for these ornaments turned out to be $1.00 or less! They are pretty cool and make an inexpensive project for a great little gift!

These would be too cute arranged on a cake stand for a party—give one to each guest as a favor. They would also be cute, with or without the hanging loop, for place settings.

Merry Christmas! A special offer for my readers!
If you are following my blog, for a limited time, you can order any of my patterns at my website for the list price, with totally FREE shipping or handling charges. That applies whether you order a single pattern or several. It's my Christmas gift to my readers. Print off the order form and send with your check or money order (US funds), postmarked by January 15, 2010, and the shipping is FREE!

Merry Christmas! Barbara
And, here's my favorite fudge recipe--I just whipped up a batch for Christmas nibbling!

Fabulous Fudge

I think this recipe came from my Grandma Weiland, who loved sweets, particularly at Christmas time!

2¼ cups sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk
16 large marshmallows
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Optional: Instant coffee granules--see note below.

Butter an 8" square cake pan.

1. Mix the sugar, milk, marshmallows, butter, and salt together in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly and bring to a boil--until just bubbling all over the top of the mixture.

2. Boil and stir just 5 minutes more and remove from the heat.

3. Stir in the chocolate pieces; stir until melted.

4. Stir in the vanilla and the nuts.

5. Spread in the buttered pan and allow to cool.

6. Cut into pieces of the desired size.

I add a teaspoon of instant coffee when I stir in the chocolate for a richer flavor. For Butterscotch Fudge, substitute butterscotch chips for the chocolate chips.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Vest Revisted

I cannot believe this year has flown by with only one new post from me. Maybe now that my books are done--The Sewing Answer Book is in the editing stages now and is due to be released in July of 2010--I will actually have some time to sew and work on new patterns and post more often.
Merry Christmas to anyone who is following me and hasn't given up on my blog! I really do hope to post more often in the months ahead.

I'm generally not one to leave a project unfinished, but I must admit there are a few things hiding in my workroom that I haven't quite completed. One was a Christmas patchwork vest that I made in the early 90s as a work-in-progress sample for one of Judy Murrah's wearable art books (while was Editor-in-Chief at That Patchwork Place). It has been tucked away to finish for a special holiday ever since. Now that I have more time to sew, I've decided to finish, give away, or toss that have languished long enough.

When I brought out this pretty Christmas vest to finish, I basted the side seams and tried it on. Oh Dear! Something happened to my figure in the intervening years and it didn't fit me anymore!
And it was shorter than I like to wear these days—no tummy-hiding with this shorter, classic vest design! Not wanting to toss the vest and knowing no one it would fit if I did finish it, I decided to cut it apart and use parts of it to make a special Christmas stocking for my granddaughter, Kendall. She will be 21 months at Christmas time and I can't wait to see her reaction to Grammy's Christmas decorations. I've had to put things up high to keep the amount of temptation to a minimum.

It was fun to use some of the patchwork parts of my never-finished Christmas vest to make this little stocking for her.

I cut the stocking front from the patchwork made for the vest back. I rescued the cute little "baby block" packages from one front and fused them to the stocking front. Next I cut a back and the cuff from fabric leftovers that I still had in my box of green scraps and fat quarters. A short length of wire-edged ribbon for the loop was the finishing touch. I hope Kendall will keep this stocking forever, as a remembrance of her "bonus" Grammy.

Note: I didn't have a stocking pattern of the right size, so I photocopied a stocking shape I liked from an old catalog clipping, then enlarged it in several steps on my copier until it was a size that would fit across the back of the vest on the patchwork. I traced it onto tissue paper so I could see the patchwork for positioing purposes and then cut it out of the patchwork. I cut the toe and heel from patchwork pieces leftover after cutting the stocking front.