Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hey it's Franklin!

Book character Day at school, you know because they don't allow Halloween anymore and kids like to dress up.  I can appreciate keeping things focused on learning, but that means I have to come up with costumes when there are not a zillion cheap ones available at Wally World.  Yes, I can sew pretty well but with the price of all the fabric and notions being so high, I will gladly pay for an affordable pre-made costume.  This was not an option for Franklin the turtle.  So, my search began...  I mean why reinvent the wheel when I was sure pinterest could lead me to greatness.  I found lots of ideas that weren't exactly great looking and then I found this blog The Almost Perfectionist that had a tutorial for a turtle shell that looked good and was easy.  Not just easy, but a no sew tutorial.  I basically followed her steps, with just a few modifications.
I cut a cardboard oval and a larger oval out of green fleece.  Then I cut brown fleece in a turtle shell pattern and hot glued it to the green.  I wrapped the green around the cardboard oval, leaving a section unglued for stuffing.  To be totally honest, I glued the whole oval then realized I forgot to leave a hole for stuffing...  it was late.  So, I pulled a section off the cardboard and stuffed the shell with recycled grocery bags... a lot of them to make it nice and full.  I added a scalloped "trim" piece of brown fleece around the edge to look like the edge of a shell and glued that around the edge.
You can see the scalloped trim better in this one.  Now Franklin has a very predominant plastron, or lower shell to which it is commonly referred.  Yes, I looked that up to sound smart...  hahaha.  My husband called it the chest plate.  So I took some yellow fleece and just drew the approximate shape freehand on the material.  Cut 2 pieces of fabric and then I cut 4 pieces of green ribbon.  I would recommend using something sturdier, but ribbon is what I had on hand.  Put 2 ribbons on top and one on each side.  Then sew right sides together, leaving a hole for stuffing.  Don't forget the hole!  Trim the edges and flip right side out, like you would a pillow.  I used  1" foam to stuff the chest plate so it would the shape.  Stitched up the hole and stitched a few contour lines in the front.
You can see the top ribbons better in this pic.  The other two were about waist level on each side.  To finish it up, I glued the ribbons to the cardboard part of the shell.  Then I took the second oval circle and covered all the raw edges on the cardboard to finish it.  The shell just goes over the head.  Franklin also wears a red hat and neckerchief.  So I did a paper cut out of the sun design and taped it to a red baseball hat.  I had red bandanna to tie around his neck and it was complete.  I didn't go so far as to buy a green sweatsuit, like I have seen on other blogs.  Just a green shirt we had and jeans.  He was very happy with his costume and all the kids at school thought he was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle...  sigh.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Frozen icing transfer.

Let me apologize in advance for my long and poorly formatted post about this icing transfer.  I should share my background is in computer programming, not journalism.  I hated English/Literature class in school and it is obvious I lack creativity in that way.  Continue...

My son loves Sonic the Hedgehog.  Last year for his birthday we all wore Sonic character shirts and I made Sonic cupcakes.  I thought for sure this year he would pick something else but he wanted Sonic again.  Well, Sonic character stuff is not widely available like say Spiderman stuff.  This year his party was just family so I didn't want to spend a fortune on a sheet cake so I started searching pinterest.  I saw several posts about making a butter cream icing transfer to put on a cake and I figure I would try it.  Seemed easy enough, after all it was just tracing a picture and putting it on a cake.   Well, not so easy but I'm still going to call this a pinterest success.  I found a coloring page online and printed it out.  Then I traced the Sonic head in black sharpie.  I only did the head b/c it was a pretty simple design and I was just making an 8 inch round cake.  Tape the paper down to a small (toaster oven size) baking sheet.  Then I taped wax paper over it and I was ready to go.
I used Wilton black icing in the tube and a small round tip (#2 I think) to trace the outline.  This part went very smoothly and I was getting confident this was going to be a masterpiece.
Next was to fill in the spaces with colors.  I read one blog that said to put the outline in the freezer for 20-30 minutes so the black won't bleed or get messed up.  So, I mixed the blue icing while the outline was chillin'.  My first mistake was not mixing all the colors before starting to fill in.  I finished the blue and wasted time mixing a little bit of green and  flesh color.  The black outline was moving around as I tried to fill the other colors, so I froze it again and then finished the color fill.
You may notice I messed up the ear and filled it with blue.  I scraped most of the blue out and decided to fix that part when it was flipped on the cake.  Now I stuck this bad boy in the freezer overnight to get it good and solid for the transfer to the cake.  I also read that you can cover the entire shape with your cake color.  This gives it more stability, but also makes it a little thicker and I opted out of that step.  Maybe I should have done that though...
Here is where the not so much fun begins.  I have my round cake baked and frosted, just ready for a big Sonic head to adorn the top.  I get up the next morning and attempt the oh so easy transfer.  Well, when the blogs said work quickly, they mean FAST!  I removed the wax paper from the pan and carefully  flipped it over on the cake and began peeling away the wax paper.  Well, part of it came off fine and then the icing began to stick like gum on the bottom of a shoe.  Yes, it was becoming a mess.  So, I popped the whole cake with the transfer and wax paper back in the freezer.  I waited maybe 30 minutes and tried again...  still sticking!  I had to leave it in a few hours before trying to work on peeling the wax paper.  It still took me 3 times in and out of the freezer (which amounted to all day.)  I did eventually get all the transfer off the wax paper and on the cake with just a few breaks in the outline.  I used a wet toothpick to do some repairs.  I had also saved the left over icing from the night before and filled in some holes and gaps.  Then to smooth it all out, I dipped a small knife in hot water and went over the whole thing.  This is how it turned out.
My son LOVED this cake.  Although it took me longer than expected to make it and it isn't exactly a "masterpiece," I saved a ton of money and I know what not to do next time.  Yes, there will be a next time...  Max & Ruby party in March!  Wish me luck!

UPDATE:  Buttercream works MUCH better.  It gets so hard and doesn't stick at all.  It is actually pretty easy to make and you can make exactly as much as you need.  Plus, I bet it is better because it doesn't have anything weird in the ingredients.