Monday, February 17, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Complete Sheet with Piping



After figuring out last week how to make a fitted crib sheet out of two different fabrics for a "faux bumpers" look, I wanted to make another one for Baby Boy's crib, out of some nicer fabrics than the ones I used in the "trial and error" version. I had also noticed, after the fact, that the Skip Hop Complete Sheet I had used as my inspiration has piping between the two coordinating fabrics. I really liked how crisp and finished it looked, so I decided to try that. It was super-easy! Here's how you do it. (I'm partially copy-pasting my previous tutorial and just making additions for the piping steps.)


Tutorial: DIY "Complete Sheet" with Piping

These directions are based on a crib mattress that is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Apparently there is a bit of variation in what is considered a "standard" crib mattress, so you should definitely measure and see if these measurements need to be tweaked for you. I used 1/2" seam allowance everywhere.

You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of 100% cotton fabric -- 1 3/4 yards each. (Make sure the fabric you use for the sides is at least 42 inches in width or you will need more length.) I used Kona cotton solids for this one, which will make a nice, comfy sheet.
2 yards of 1/4" elastic
6 yards of piping, commercial or homemade. (This will be two packages of piping from the craft store.)

1. Prewash your fabric.
2. Cut your top piece 54 x 29 inches.
3. Cut your second fabric (the one for the sides) lengthwise into four long strips. You will need two that are 10x29 and two that are 10x54*. (Depending on the width of your fabric and whether you need to square it off, you may be left with under 40 inches in width on your fabric. You can make those strips a little bit narrower -- say, 9 1/2 inches, if you need the wiggle room.)
*Note that this is an inch longer than in the no-piping version.



4. Lay out your top piece on your work surface, right side up, and open your piping packages. You will be pinning the piping on all the way around the perimeter of this piece, with the corded part facing inward. You want the stitching on the piping to go right along your seam allowance. Since the seam allowance for this project is 1/2", you will need to bring the piping in a scant 1/4" or so all the way around to make the stitching 1/2" from the edge. I used my handy folding template as a guide as I pinned. (I think that is the most-used tool in my sewing room!)




When you come to a corner, just turn the corner and keep going, keeping it as straight as you can. It will be a tiny bit curved, which is fine. You will need to snip right up to (but not through!) the stitching to allow the piping to curve.

Since the perimeter of the sheet is longer than the length of the prepackaged piping I used, I needed to piece two lengths together. This isn't hard at all. You just overlap the ends as shown. When you sew it on, you just sew over both pieces, keeping your line straight. In the finished product, the resulting dip in the piping is barely noticeable.  I made sure to make the overlaps on the short sides so it wouldn't be right at front of the crib, but really, you can barely see it.


5. Once you have your piping pinned down, you will stitch it on. Attach your zipper foot. (It might be skinnier than this, depending on what kind of machine/foot you have.)


Align the project so that the piping is hugged right up under your zipper foot, so the needle lines up with the line of stitching. There are lots of tutorials online about sewing on piping, if this doesn't make sense. 


Stitch away, all the way around your sheet top.



A helpful hint: It's much better when you're pinning to go in a circle so that the pin heads will be facing toward you as you sew! That way, you can slip them out easily toward you as you sew along.


It's more annoying if they are facing away from you, like this, and you have to turn your hand around sideways and pull them out toward the machine. Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

OK! Now your piping is attached. From here on out it isn't terribly different from the other fitted sheet tutorial.

You will be attaching the strips basically how they are shown in this awe-inspiring diagram.



 6. Sew the short strips to the short sides of the top piece, right sides together. You will continue using your zipper foot and "hugging" the piping right up under the needle. Of course, you can't see the piping now, as it is sandwiched between your fabrics. Go slowly and you will be able to feel with your fingers as you go to make sure you are lined up. You can kind of see the bump of the piping in the photo above.



Because the piping creates a slight curve at the corner, curve along with it, starting/stopping at the halfway point in the curve.




7. Once you have the short sides on, you will attach the long sides. This is the only tricky bit in the whole project. Lay your fabric strips down, right sides together, with an overlap of about 1/2" at the ends. The overlapping fabric is just to catch your piping -- you do not want to stitch the strips together just yet! 





Stitch down your long strips, going extra slowly and carefully at the corners so that you can curve around just far enough to encase our piping but not far enough to sew over the short side fabric strip.  The back will look like this, more or less.


And the right side will look like this! Starting to look pretty cool!

8. Once you have all your fabric strips sewn down, you can finish the seam allowances you have sewn, by serging, zig-zagging, or pinking.


9. From here it is exactly like the other fitted sheet, hence the recycled pictures. Bring two of your short edges together (the parts that will be at the corner of the mattress). Sew right sides together and serge/zigzag/pink the edges.



 10. If you have a serger, serge all the way around the bottom of the sheet. Otherwise, turn under 1/4" and press, all the way around. 


11.Turn under another 1/2" and stitch down to make a casing, leaving about a 6-inch opening.

12. With a safety pin, run your 2 yards of elastic through the casing you just made. Make sure to firmly pin the loose end down so you don't lose it! Remove pins, stitch the ends of your elastic with a zig-zag stitch and then close up your casing.

13. Put it on baby's crib and admire!







Can you see the place where the two lengths of piping overlap? It's pretty hard to spot!


I went with brown and gray, with a cream piping, to match the earth tones in the crib skirt, and chose solids because the crib skirt is pretty busy and I am going for a pretty sophisticated feel in the nursery. But imagine how fun and fabulous you can get with prints! Especially if your crib skirt and sheet fabrics come from the same line. Unfortunately, the home decor fabric I used for the crib skirt (Premier Prints, which I love, but which is rather heavyweight and not machine-dryable) does not have a coordinating lightweight fabric.



There you go! A super-custom DIY crib sheet that mimics the look of bumpers, and with piping at the edge for a crisp transition. Doesn't piping make everything look fancier?! I love it!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Easy DIY fitted crib sheet that mimics the look of bumpers!

Have you seen the new crib sheets that have a different pattern on the top and the sides? At least they are new to me -- I don't think they were around when H was born. SO brilliant. It gives you some of the cute look of bumpers without either (a) endangering your baby or (b) wasting a ton of money buying bumpers and then not actually using them.

I decided to try my hand at making one myself for a really custom look. It is a very easy project! Well, it should be. I made a few dumb mistakes. Like, really, really dumb. NEVER let anyone tell you that pregnancy brain is not a real thing. I remember when I used to be kinda smart. Now I would just settle for functional most days. 

Aaaanyway. I think I have worked out the kinks so it should be easy for a functional person like you to make one. :-)

These directions are based on a crib mattress that is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Apparently there is a bit of wiggle room in what is considered a "standard" crib mattress, so you should definitely measure and see if these measurements need to be tweaked for you. I used 1/2" seam allowance everywhere.

You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of 100% cotton fabric -- 1 3/4 yards each. (Make sure the fabric you use for the sides is at least 42 inches in width or you will need more length.)
2 yards of 1/4" elastic

1. Prewash your fabric.
2. Cut your top piece 54 x 29 inches.
3. Cut your second fabric (the one for the sides) lengthwise into four long strips. You will need two that are 10x29 and two that are 10x53. (Depending on the width of your fabric and whether you need to square it off, you may be left with under 40 inches in width on your fabric. You can make those strips a little bit narrower -- say, 9 1/2 inches, if you need the wiggle room.)

super-high-tech diagram of amazing quality!

4. Now the hardest part is done! I hate cutting fabric strips!
5. Sew the short strips to the short sides of the top piece, right sides together. MAKE SURE YOU DO THE SHORT SIDES FIRST. Serge or zigzag the edges for extra strength.
6. Then sew the long strips to the long sides of the top piece, right sides together. Serge or zigzag the edges for extra strength.



Now you have four corners like this (but hopefully straighter).
7. Now bring two of your short edges together (the parts that will be at the corner of the mattress). Sew right sides together and reinforce.



8.  Repeat at the other three corners.

Now you should have something that is starting to resemble a fitted sheet!
9. If you have a serger, serge all the way around the bottom of the sheet. Otherwise, turn under 1/4" and press, all the way around. 
10. Turn under another 1/2" and stitch down to make a casing, leaving about a 6-inch opening.
11. With a safety pin, run your 2 yards of elastic through the casing you just made. Make sure to firmly pin the loose end down so you don't lose it! Remove pins, stitch the ends of your elastic with a zig-zag stitch and then close up your casing.
12. Press the whole thing so it is nice and crisp and pretty. Then laugh to yourself how that is the first and last time that is going to happen.
13. Put it on baby's crib and admire!

Yep, mine pulls a bit at the corners because I made the top piece a bit too short. That's the result as that baby brain thing I mentioned earlier. I fixed the measurements for the instructions above.



Coming soon: lots of fun nursery DIYs, including the a height-adjustable crib skirt that is just so easy it is embarrassing. 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY layered cake for H's birthday party

When I asked H what flavor of cake she wanted for her birthday, she replied with no hesitation, "Chocolate, like Jesus's!" Ha! We have a little tradition of having a small birthday celebration for Jesus on Christmas Eve, and she was a big fan of the chocolate cake we had that night. For her birthday cake, I went with this chocolate layer cake recipe from Real Simple, and it was fantastic both times I made it. (I made a practice cake a week before.) Most importantly, it is nice and simple to bake.

Having no layer cake building experience, I found some tips on Pinterest on how to make the cake layers pretty flat. There are all sorts of things you can do, from wrapping your pans with wet towels (fiddly!) to slicing the domed parts off with a sharp knife (wasteful!). I would try those methods if I was doing something that needed to be super-precise, like a wedding cake (I will never bake a wedding cake!) but since it didn't need to be as flat as a tabletop, I went with the simplest method: lowering the baking temperature and extending the time. I baked the layers at 300 for an hour and found that to be perfect.

I had been having nightmares (really) about running out of buttercream before I was finished frosting the cake and then having to attempt to color match my frosting halfway through, so I decided to use something other than buttercream for the filling. Since H is a complete chocoholic, I went with chocolate! I used Pralinutta in the Dark Cocoa flavor. I had never tried Pralinutta before, but it's a Belgian product similar to Nutella. I went with it over Nutella because I wanted a pure chocolate taste in case there were folks who didn't like hazelnut. I spread a very generous amount between the two layers -- almost the whole jar. And I have to say, this was a very good idea. :-) It gave the cake some real chocolate oomph.

I used this "crusting buttercream" recipe. For the practice cake, I used only vegetable shortening, which had a really good consistency, but a slightly greasy mouthfeel. So the second time, I followed the second directions, to make it with half butter. I thought the flavor and mouthfeel were much better. I will say, I slightly overwhipped the frosting the second time, so there was too much air in it, which made it harder to work with and not as firm. But it wasn't so bad that I couldn't still use it. I will just watch more carefully next time. I colored the frosting purple with a neon gel food coloring. Unfortunately it was a little less purple and a little more gray than I would have liked. Oh, well.


Here it is with the crumb coat (which should have been thicker, I realized in hindsight). 


And here it is with the base coat of frosting. I skipped this step in my practice cake and you could sort of see the chocolate through the ruffles. Now I realize it would have been better to just use a much thicker crumb coat. I had one little area where the frosting drooped and I think it wasn't sticking to this layer as well as it would have stuck to a crumb coat.

I used this tutorial as inspiration for the ruffled frosting. I kind of hate linking to that tutorial because her ruffles look so much nicer than mine. ;-) 
Frosted with ruffles. The cake is straight -- it's the frosting that is crooked!

That frosting color looks really gross in my badly-lit kitchen! Sorry.

I was slightly worried about not having enough cake to go around (unfounded worry, of course) so I ended up making a bit more of everything and having a few cupcakes. H discovered those sitting out on the dining table where I had them resting so the frosting could harden up a bit, and brought one to me, asking, "Can I have a share of this?" I guess asking to "share" it was supposed to make me not notice that half the frosting had already been eaten off.  It sort of worked -- I couldn't even keep a straight face while I was scolding her.

I may have been a nervous wreck about transporting the cake to the party, and I may have been rather snippy to N about his driving, which was surely going to ruin the cake I worked so hard on oh my gosh! But it got there completely fine and transferred to the cake platter fine, and my little gymnast girl cake topper went on just as planned with no hiccups! Hooray!

Doesn't that purplish icing look more appetizing under better lighting?!

Little Gymnast Girl still looks like this more than a week later, and is now on display in my laundry room, haha! I just couldn't bear to throw her out.



H and her little friends had a totally fantastic time at the gymnastics birthday party. I have to say, I am so glad I chose to go the easy route. I had been doubting my choice not to have the party at home until the week of, when suddenly the third trimester aches and pains hit me hard and I realized I would have been an exhausted, barely-able-to-walk mess if I had had to worry about having a party at home. In addition, I know I saved money in the long run, because having it there forced me to keep it simple in terms of food and decorations (and the venue only charged $140 for the party itself, which I thought was incredibly reasonable). AND, let's not kid ourselves, the kids had probably a million times more fun jumping on trampolines and flying into the foam pit than they would have had at our house.

Despite all the fun she was having, H never quite got the cake's siren song out of her head! As soon as her daddy told her it was "almost time for cake," she was OUT of the gym like a shot, headed straight for the cake table! We had to chase after her to make sure the cake survived long enough to blow out the candles. Fortunately, she hadn't been able to attack it. ;-)

She ended up needing a bit of help from her Papa O to blow out the candles. And I don't think we even remembered to tell her to make a wish.

But I know her wish just would have been for cake, so it was a moot point. 

The verdict: Making the cake certainly saved some money over the cost of a similar cake from a baker, even though for this first outing I had to buy pans, cardboard cake circles, piping supplies, etc. Obviously next time the savings will be even more. What really surprised me was how fun and satisfying it was to do! I will certainly be making cakes at home again in the future.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Complete Sheet with Piping



After figuring out last week how to make a fitted crib sheet out of two different fabrics for a "faux bumpers" look, I wanted to make another one for Baby Boy's crib, out of some nicer fabrics than the ones I used in the "trial and error" version. I had also noticed, after the fact, that the Skip Hop Complete Sheet I had used as my inspiration has piping between the two coordinating fabrics. I really liked how crisp and finished it looked, so I decided to try that. It was super-easy! Here's how you do it. (I'm partially copy-pasting my previous tutorial and just making additions for the piping steps.)


Tutorial: DIY "Complete Sheet" with Piping

These directions are based on a crib mattress that is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Apparently there is a bit of variation in what is considered a "standard" crib mattress, so you should definitely measure and see if these measurements need to be tweaked for you. I used 1/2" seam allowance everywhere.

You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of 100% cotton fabric -- 1 3/4 yards each. (Make sure the fabric you use for the sides is at least 42 inches in width or you will need more length.) I used Kona cotton solids for this one, which will make a nice, comfy sheet.
2 yards of 1/4" elastic
6 yards of piping, commercial or homemade. (This will be two packages of piping from the craft store.)

1. Prewash your fabric.
2. Cut your top piece 54 x 29 inches.
3. Cut your second fabric (the one for the sides) lengthwise into four long strips. You will need two that are 10x29 and two that are 10x54*. (Depending on the width of your fabric and whether you need to square it off, you may be left with under 40 inches in width on your fabric. You can make those strips a little bit narrower -- say, 9 1/2 inches, if you need the wiggle room.)
*Note that this is an inch longer than in the no-piping version.



4. Lay out your top piece on your work surface, right side up, and open your piping packages. You will be pinning the piping on all the way around the perimeter of this piece, with the corded part facing inward. You want the stitching on the piping to go right along your seam allowance. Since the seam allowance for this project is 1/2", you will need to bring the piping in a scant 1/4" or so all the way around to make the stitching 1/2" from the edge. I used my handy folding template as a guide as I pinned. (I think that is the most-used tool in my sewing room!)




When you come to a corner, just turn the corner and keep going, keeping it as straight as you can. It will be a tiny bit curved, which is fine. You will need to snip right up to (but not through!) the stitching to allow the piping to curve.

Since the perimeter of the sheet is longer than the length of the prepackaged piping I used, I needed to piece two lengths together. This isn't hard at all. You just overlap the ends as shown. When you sew it on, you just sew over both pieces, keeping your line straight. In the finished product, the resulting dip in the piping is barely noticeable.  I made sure to make the overlaps on the short sides so it wouldn't be right at front of the crib, but really, you can barely see it.


5. Once you have your piping pinned down, you will stitch it on. Attach your zipper foot. (It might be skinnier than this, depending on what kind of machine/foot you have.)


Align the project so that the piping is hugged right up under your zipper foot, so the needle lines up with the line of stitching. There are lots of tutorials online about sewing on piping, if this doesn't make sense. 


Stitch away, all the way around your sheet top.



A helpful hint: It's much better when you're pinning to go in a circle so that the pin heads will be facing toward you as you sew! That way, you can slip them out easily toward you as you sew along.


It's more annoying if they are facing away from you, like this, and you have to turn your hand around sideways and pull them out toward the machine. Just thought I'd share that little tidbit.

OK! Now your piping is attached. From here on out it isn't terribly different from the other fitted sheet tutorial.

You will be attaching the strips basically how they are shown in this awe-inspiring diagram.



 6. Sew the short strips to the short sides of the top piece, right sides together. You will continue using your zipper foot and "hugging" the piping right up under the needle. Of course, you can't see the piping now, as it is sandwiched between your fabrics. Go slowly and you will be able to feel with your fingers as you go to make sure you are lined up. You can kind of see the bump of the piping in the photo above.



Because the piping creates a slight curve at the corner, curve along with it, starting/stopping at the halfway point in the curve.




7. Once you have the short sides on, you will attach the long sides. This is the only tricky bit in the whole project. Lay your fabric strips down, right sides together, with an overlap of about 1/2" at the ends. The overlapping fabric is just to catch your piping -- you do not want to stitch the strips together just yet! 





Stitch down your long strips, going extra slowly and carefully at the corners so that you can curve around just far enough to encase our piping but not far enough to sew over the short side fabric strip.  The back will look like this, more or less.


And the right side will look like this! Starting to look pretty cool!

8. Once you have all your fabric strips sewn down, you can finish the seam allowances you have sewn, by serging, zig-zagging, or pinking.


9. From here it is exactly like the other fitted sheet, hence the recycled pictures. Bring two of your short edges together (the parts that will be at the corner of the mattress). Sew right sides together and serge/zigzag/pink the edges.



 10. If you have a serger, serge all the way around the bottom of the sheet. Otherwise, turn under 1/4" and press, all the way around. 


11.Turn under another 1/2" and stitch down to make a casing, leaving about a 6-inch opening.

12. With a safety pin, run your 2 yards of elastic through the casing you just made. Make sure to firmly pin the loose end down so you don't lose it! Remove pins, stitch the ends of your elastic with a zig-zag stitch and then close up your casing.

13. Put it on baby's crib and admire!







Can you see the place where the two lengths of piping overlap? It's pretty hard to spot!


I went with brown and gray, with a cream piping, to match the earth tones in the crib skirt, and chose solids because the crib skirt is pretty busy and I am going for a pretty sophisticated feel in the nursery. But imagine how fun and fabulous you can get with prints! Especially if your crib skirt and sheet fabrics come from the same line. Unfortunately, the home decor fabric I used for the crib skirt (Premier Prints, which I love, but which is rather heavyweight and not machine-dryable) does not have a coordinating lightweight fabric.



There you go! A super-custom DIY crib sheet that mimics the look of bumpers, and with piping at the edge for a crisp transition. Doesn't piping make everything look fancier?! I love it!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Easy DIY fitted crib sheet that mimics the look of bumpers!

Have you seen the new crib sheets that have a different pattern on the top and the sides? At least they are new to me -- I don't think they were around when H was born. SO brilliant. It gives you some of the cute look of bumpers without either (a) endangering your baby or (b) wasting a ton of money buying bumpers and then not actually using them.

I decided to try my hand at making one myself for a really custom look. It is a very easy project! Well, it should be. I made a few dumb mistakes. Like, really, really dumb. NEVER let anyone tell you that pregnancy brain is not a real thing. I remember when I used to be kinda smart. Now I would just settle for functional most days. 

Aaaanyway. I think I have worked out the kinks so it should be easy for a functional person like you to make one. :-)

These directions are based on a crib mattress that is 52 inches long, 28 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Apparently there is a bit of wiggle room in what is considered a "standard" crib mattress, so you should definitely measure and see if these measurements need to be tweaked for you. I used 1/2" seam allowance everywhere.

You will need:
2 coordinating pieces of 100% cotton fabric -- 1 3/4 yards each. (Make sure the fabric you use for the sides is at least 42 inches in width or you will need more length.)
2 yards of 1/4" elastic

1. Prewash your fabric.
2. Cut your top piece 54 x 29 inches.
3. Cut your second fabric (the one for the sides) lengthwise into four long strips. You will need two that are 10x29 and two that are 10x53. (Depending on the width of your fabric and whether you need to square it off, you may be left with under 40 inches in width on your fabric. You can make those strips a little bit narrower -- say, 9 1/2 inches, if you need the wiggle room.)

super-high-tech diagram of amazing quality!

4. Now the hardest part is done! I hate cutting fabric strips!
5. Sew the short strips to the short sides of the top piece, right sides together. MAKE SURE YOU DO THE SHORT SIDES FIRST. Serge or zigzag the edges for extra strength.
6. Then sew the long strips to the long sides of the top piece, right sides together. Serge or zigzag the edges for extra strength.



Now you have four corners like this (but hopefully straighter).
7. Now bring two of your short edges together (the parts that will be at the corner of the mattress). Sew right sides together and reinforce.



8.  Repeat at the other three corners.

Now you should have something that is starting to resemble a fitted sheet!
9. If you have a serger, serge all the way around the bottom of the sheet. Otherwise, turn under 1/4" and press, all the way around. 
10. Turn under another 1/2" and stitch down to make a casing, leaving about a 6-inch opening.
11. With a safety pin, run your 2 yards of elastic through the casing you just made. Make sure to firmly pin the loose end down so you don't lose it! Remove pins, stitch the ends of your elastic with a zig-zag stitch and then close up your casing.
12. Press the whole thing so it is nice and crisp and pretty. Then laugh to yourself how that is the first and last time that is going to happen.
13. Put it on baby's crib and admire!

Yep, mine pulls a bit at the corners because I made the top piece a bit too short. That's the result as that baby brain thing I mentioned earlier. I fixed the measurements for the instructions above.



Coming soon: lots of fun nursery DIYs, including the a height-adjustable crib skirt that is just so easy it is embarrassing. 


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY layered cake for H's birthday party

When I asked H what flavor of cake she wanted for her birthday, she replied with no hesitation, "Chocolate, like Jesus's!" Ha! We have a little tradition of having a small birthday celebration for Jesus on Christmas Eve, and she was a big fan of the chocolate cake we had that night. For her birthday cake, I went with this chocolate layer cake recipe from Real Simple, and it was fantastic both times I made it. (I made a practice cake a week before.) Most importantly, it is nice and simple to bake.

Having no layer cake building experience, I found some tips on Pinterest on how to make the cake layers pretty flat. There are all sorts of things you can do, from wrapping your pans with wet towels (fiddly!) to slicing the domed parts off with a sharp knife (wasteful!). I would try those methods if I was doing something that needed to be super-precise, like a wedding cake (I will never bake a wedding cake!) but since it didn't need to be as flat as a tabletop, I went with the simplest method: lowering the baking temperature and extending the time. I baked the layers at 300 for an hour and found that to be perfect.

I had been having nightmares (really) about running out of buttercream before I was finished frosting the cake and then having to attempt to color match my frosting halfway through, so I decided to use something other than buttercream for the filling. Since H is a complete chocoholic, I went with chocolate! I used Pralinutta in the Dark Cocoa flavor. I had never tried Pralinutta before, but it's a Belgian product similar to Nutella. I went with it over Nutella because I wanted a pure chocolate taste in case there were folks who didn't like hazelnut. I spread a very generous amount between the two layers -- almost the whole jar. And I have to say, this was a very good idea. :-) It gave the cake some real chocolate oomph.

I used this "crusting buttercream" recipe. For the practice cake, I used only vegetable shortening, which had a really good consistency, but a slightly greasy mouthfeel. So the second time, I followed the second directions, to make it with half butter. I thought the flavor and mouthfeel were much better. I will say, I slightly overwhipped the frosting the second time, so there was too much air in it, which made it harder to work with and not as firm. But it wasn't so bad that I couldn't still use it. I will just watch more carefully next time. I colored the frosting purple with a neon gel food coloring. Unfortunately it was a little less purple and a little more gray than I would have liked. Oh, well.


Here it is with the crumb coat (which should have been thicker, I realized in hindsight). 


And here it is with the base coat of frosting. I skipped this step in my practice cake and you could sort of see the chocolate through the ruffles. Now I realize it would have been better to just use a much thicker crumb coat. I had one little area where the frosting drooped and I think it wasn't sticking to this layer as well as it would have stuck to a crumb coat.

I used this tutorial as inspiration for the ruffled frosting. I kind of hate linking to that tutorial because her ruffles look so much nicer than mine. ;-) 
Frosted with ruffles. The cake is straight -- it's the frosting that is crooked!

That frosting color looks really gross in my badly-lit kitchen! Sorry.

I was slightly worried about not having enough cake to go around (unfounded worry, of course) so I ended up making a bit more of everything and having a few cupcakes. H discovered those sitting out on the dining table where I had them resting so the frosting could harden up a bit, and brought one to me, asking, "Can I have a share of this?" I guess asking to "share" it was supposed to make me not notice that half the frosting had already been eaten off.  It sort of worked -- I couldn't even keep a straight face while I was scolding her.

I may have been a nervous wreck about transporting the cake to the party, and I may have been rather snippy to N about his driving, which was surely going to ruin the cake I worked so hard on oh my gosh! But it got there completely fine and transferred to the cake platter fine, and my little gymnast girl cake topper went on just as planned with no hiccups! Hooray!

Doesn't that purplish icing look more appetizing under better lighting?!

Little Gymnast Girl still looks like this more than a week later, and is now on display in my laundry room, haha! I just couldn't bear to throw her out.



H and her little friends had a totally fantastic time at the gymnastics birthday party. I have to say, I am so glad I chose to go the easy route. I had been doubting my choice not to have the party at home until the week of, when suddenly the third trimester aches and pains hit me hard and I realized I would have been an exhausted, barely-able-to-walk mess if I had had to worry about having a party at home. In addition, I know I saved money in the long run, because having it there forced me to keep it simple in terms of food and decorations (and the venue only charged $140 for the party itself, which I thought was incredibly reasonable). AND, let's not kid ourselves, the kids had probably a million times more fun jumping on trampolines and flying into the foam pit than they would have had at our house.

Despite all the fun she was having, H never quite got the cake's siren song out of her head! As soon as her daddy told her it was "almost time for cake," she was OUT of the gym like a shot, headed straight for the cake table! We had to chase after her to make sure the cake survived long enough to blow out the candles. Fortunately, she hadn't been able to attack it. ;-)

She ended up needing a bit of help from her Papa O to blow out the candles. And I don't think we even remembered to tell her to make a wish.

But I know her wish just would have been for cake, so it was a moot point. 

The verdict: Making the cake certainly saved some money over the cost of a similar cake from a baker, even though for this first outing I had to buy pans, cardboard cake circles, piping supplies, etc. Obviously next time the savings will be even more. What really surprised me was how fun and satisfying it was to do! I will certainly be making cakes at home again in the future.