Sunday, 30 June 2013

Chocolate Cake!

It's been another baking weekend in the Evans household. This time a chocolate cake. I think you'll spot the Cressida Bell influence again. I'm really loving her cake decorating ideas.

Chocolate Cake Cressida Bell Inspired
It was a good friends 50th birthday. He is trying to forget his age so of course I HAD to include it on the cake design. I'm a meanie! The cake itself was a plain sponge. For the icing I used a really rich Mary Berry recipe consisting of chocolate and butter. Sounds hideous, pours on like a dream, tastes divine. I left it to set for about 30 minutes before going mad with the decorations.

I uses a combo of chocolates including:
Marks and Spencers Giant Chocolate Buttons
Hotel Chocolat White Buttons
Hotel Chocolat Dizzy Pralines
Gotel Chocolat White Truffles
Galaxy Counters
M&Ms (Browns only)
Pearlised Sugar Balls
I also used white icing to pipe a few details.

The Giant Chocolate Buttons made a great plaque for piping the appropriate age on it. Tim also went to town with them on the sides of the cake and it covered up any wonky bits!
The cake went down a treat at the party. Happy Birthday PK!

PS. Loved the Bouncy Castle!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Thank Kaffe Fassett for That!

I've finished my Kaffe Fassett quilt at long last. Looking back I actually started this quilt in January so it's safe to say it has taken me a bit longer than I'd anticipated. In my defence it's the biggest quilt I've made and I tried free motion quilting for the first time. See two very good excuses right there!

As the fabrics were so fussy I decided that I wanted to keep the blocks as simple as possible. Squares only. The finished squares measure 3.5 inches, I cut the fabric into 4'' strips at first and went from there. Sewing the various fabric strips together, then cutting down the blocks to size (across several strips) really saves time and I think gives squarer squares (ha!).

The fabrics on the quilt top are all Kaffe Fassett. I really could not resist these fabrics, I just love the bright colours and floral designs. I started out with all pinks and reds but did add a bit of green in as well to give the eye somewhere to rest! I think I only used about 10 green blocks across the whole quilt, but it just breaks it up a little.

It also meant that the quilt back really did have to be lime green (that's what I'm telling myself anyway). I went for an extra wide fabric by Moda. It was a godsend because even though the finished quilt is 50'' x 60'' I didn't have to piece the back. That always strikes me as a chore too far!
Baggy basting aside (not a euphemism!) I'm really happy with the quilt back. I'm defo a fan of free motion quilting and will be trying it again on another quilt. I don't know if I'm controlled enough to do anything very complicated but I think I'd be happy to try 'stippling' next time. I used the patchwork blocks on the quilt front as a guide to positioning the flowers. Each of the flowers is centrally located within a square block.

I'm loving the light grey colour of the binding fabric. It adds a subtle border to the quilt and somehow manages to tie in the slightly random colourway of the top/back. I've never seen a fabric quite this shade before but it's really lovely, I imagine I'll be using it again as a binding fabric.
These photos were taken in front of our house, safe to say the neighbours thought we'd lost the plot completely at this point! So nice to get photos in good light and weather though.

Now it's the tricky business of deciding what to work on next, whilst snuggling under my new quilt. The hardship!
 I'm linking up to Finish it up Friday. If you've popped over I'd love to hear from you. Are you a fan of the bright colours? What shall I make next?!

Monday, 17 June 2013

First Birthday Cake

I've bought a new cake decoration book recently called Cressida Bell's Cake Design. I'd really recommend it if you are looking for something a bit different. She is actually a textiles designer and I think it's that background which makes her cake designs really original. She uses edible decoration to achieve her designs, so although the designs can be time-consuming, they are easily achievable for any amateur (me!). It was Emma's first birthday this week so Vicky asked that I bake her a 'spotty themed' birthday cake. Yippee, the perfect chance to try a Cressida Bell inspired cake. I went a bit mad...

Birthday Cake, Cressida Bell Inspired

The cake itself was a plain sponge. I baked two and sandwiched them together with strawberry jam and buttercream. To create a crumb barrier between the icing and the cake I then covered the whole cake in strawberry jam and a layer of marzipan. This also creates a smooth base for the roll-out  icing - I used white. 

Birthday Cake, Cressida Bell Inspired

Using various sizes of circular cookie cutters, I then lightly pressed them into the surface of the icing to give a template for laying on the decorations. To stick the smaller decorations to the cake I used a clean paintbrush and edible glue. For the larger decorations I used icing sugar and water to create a thick paste. Sticking icing to icing simply requires a little water.

Birthday Cake, Cressida Bell Inspired

Now onto the decorations, what did I use? I had coloured roll out icing in pink, blue, yellow, green and orange. I rolled it out thinly with a rolling pin and sprinkled cornflower to prevent sticking. The cookie cutters again came in handy to cut out the circles I required. I also rolled out icing 'sausages' by hand to add a ring of an alternate colour around the outside of some of the circles.

Birthday Cake, Cressida Bell Inspired

I used chocolate m&ms to add additional decoration and colour. The bonus was, as the red and brown m&ms didn't match my colour scheme, the lovely Tim and I enjoyed a bit of a scoff.

Birthday Cake, Cressida Bell Inspired

I also used some cake decorating sprinkles and sugar balls. The large flower in the picture above is formed by four sugared almonds, a yellow m&m and blue sugar 'glass' (bought at Waitrose).

Birthday Cake, Cressida Bell Inspired

I also used large white chocolate circles covered in multi-coloured hundreds and thousands, bought at the local sweet shop. Really there was no plan, I just bought anything that took my fancy.
Finally, here is the birthday girl enjoying her cake (she wasn't actually that keen!). She even blew out her birthday candle - a child genius for sure.
Happy Birthday Emma, love Auntie Sally

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Wonderful Window

I've finally had my two stained glass panels fitted into my lounge window. It is so nice to finally see them with the light shining through after they've been laying flat for so long. My friend Nigel fitted them for me whilst I was at work so it was a lovely surprise to come home to.

Quilt inspired stained glass

Doesn't the glass just shine?

Stained Glass Window

I did the larger window first and was inspired by a quilting design I saw online - I dance in circles by Traceyjay Quilts. It consists of very regularly spaced squares, with irregular spaced circles, easily achievable in glass. I measured up the space for the window and drew the outline of the window and all the regularly spaced squares in Adobe Illustrator. That way I could be sure the window would fit. After I'd printed the window I drew the circles freehand to get that irregular look, which I'd struggle to achieve on a computer.

Stained Glass Window

The second panel was a bit of an afterthought and I basically just made it up as I went along! As I knew it was sitting beneath the first panel I kept the square motif running through, but then just adjusted the design until I was happy with it. I added in a few additional glass colours too, which in hindsight might have been an error as the two panels don't quite match. Oops.

Stained Glass Window

I really prefer my first window but the lovely Tim prefers the second. What do you think?

Love that glass - so pretty.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Grey Day

You are not going to believe the colour of the fabric I bought today. Grey!

Dear Stella Design #37

Don't worry though, my love of bright colours hasn't left me. It's just that I'm nearly ready to start binding for my lovely bright pink, red and lime green quilt (I'd be doing it now if I hadn't totally run out of thread!). I was originally looking for a black and white striped fabric but then this polka dot caught my eye. I think the grey is a particularly lovely shade and will really help create a frame for the quilt. The fabric is by Dear Stella Design #37. I bought it from The Viking Loom in York. I just wish I'd bought some cotton at the same time.

Oh dear, no more sewing for me this evening.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Bits and Bobs

I got a free quilting kit with my sewing machine at Christmas, but before now I've only really used the walking foot (which I love). I decided at the beginning of the week that it was about time I tried a bit of free motion quilting. I've watched a few YouTube videos and read a few tutorials so thought, ''Sod it I'm ready''! I got a couple of scraps out of my fabric stash, created a batting sandwich and then just went for it - no plan of action at all!

Free Motion Quilting First Attempt

I was actually quite amazed at the result. I know it's not perfect, my stitch length is all over the place and in parts the curves are totally off, but actually who cares? Nobody is except me is going to notice. Practise over, I started on the quilt (it's my Kaffe Fassett Patchwork Quilt). It's really big but that's okay as I don't think I'll do very dense stitching (mainly because it's a bit baggy in the basting - see here as to why!). I'm happy so far, I'm just doing regularly spaced flowers. I'm not sure red stitching on green fabric was a great idea for my first free motion quilting project, but at least it is fairly well hidden on the quilt top (this is the back).

Free Motion Quilting Flower
The backing fabric I chose is by Moda, its called Dottie in the lime colourway. My quilt is overly large so this fabric is perfect as it is 108'' wide, specifically designed for quilt backs. I bought it from M is for Make. It was my first online fabric purchase and I was really pleased with the speed of service and the price! The fabric really is a beautiful lime green, I'm not sure my camera has captured the true colour.

Speaking of green, I had to travel to Kendal yesterday with work (I know, the hardship!). It was such a beautiful day. Yorkshire was looking particularly lush on the drive home. Yay Spring!


Monday, 20 May 2013

Large Quilt, Small Home

I've finished piecing my largest quilt to date. I've hit a bit if a snag with the size of my house though, it's impossible to baste the quilt when you haven't the floor space. This photo was taken yesterday after I rearranged all the furniture in my lounge. Nightmare!

Don't worry though I did get it laid out in the end. Phew.