Sunday, October 28, 2012

Too Busy

Oi. I've been way too busy to post but I will update as soon as I can about all my classes, in detail.

In a nutshell, my first quilt is done and I've started a second one. I'm also trying my hand at making up my own pattern and it's going okay. I've learned that picking out coordinating fabric takes practice and right now I'm not very good at it. In the future I will probably go with a single collection. I learned this weekend about fabric collections. Wish I had known earlier!

I also know how to pipe a beautiful rose now, I made a million and one flowers for my final cake on Thursday.

I also (stupidly?) volunteered to make chili and cupcakes for a chili cook-off on Wednesday. No idea when I'm going to have time to make the chili!

Curling starts Tuesday and I'm excited about it. It'll be good to see all the familiar faces although I know I'm going to struggle with names again. Faces I can do, names are harder.

Gotta go...cakes are about to come out of the oven. I am making my cake tonight (Sunday) for Thursday's Wilton class because I won't get another chance!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 Sewing Class, 2 Quilting Classes, 3 Wilton Classes, Floor!

Howdy! Things are really ramping up here in Jaimeland. My Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are now booked with classes. Tuesdays are still quilting (only until next week, boo, but then comes curling), Wednesdays are now sewing class until Decmeber, and Thursdays are still Wilton and will remain so until November.

Today was a big day. After returning my POS broken IKEA sewing machine this weekend, I knew I had to buy another sewing machine. The quilt shoppe where I'm doing my quilting class only sells Bernina, which is arguably the top-of-line brand for sewing machines. As you may know, I tend to have expensive taste and I tend to be a tad impulsive. After all, I am currently typing this on an impulse-bought 24" iMac with all the bells and whistles (at the time). However, after doing some research and asking myself what the best thing for me as a new quilter is, I decided I would go with a Bernina, albeit the lowest/cheapest model. "Bernina" and "cheap" are mutually exclusive words but I did get the machine on sale for a very good price.

There she is, in all her glory. Sigh. Isn't she gorgeous? I feel like a proud mom. Oh Bernina, the places we will go together. Bernina also sells custom skins for some of their machines, including this one, and I might ask Santa for one for Christmas. There are some nice floral ones and you can add your name to it. I'm a sucker for personalized crap.

Like any good quilter, there is an alarm that goes off in your brain when you see fabric you cannot live without. I saw two today at the quilt shoppe and I couldn't leave the store without them. I'd been lusting for the one on the right the last few times I was in there so I knew it was true love.

Anyway, this is where my quilt is at right now:

Almost all done, just have to finish quilting it and then next week we're learning binding (closing up the raw edges).

Because I'm an honest person, here are some of the mistakes I've made on the quilt. My classmates have been very perfectionistic about their quilts but I'm okay with imperfect because this quilt is just for me and I'll be able to look back on it in the future and say, wow, I've come so far!

For this quilt, I am "stitching in the ditch" which means you're quilting along the seams you already have. The picture on the left is an example of GOOD stitching in the ditch (or what I think is good, anyway). Nice straight line right along the ditch. The photo on the right is where I blinked or something, because you can see the line is not straight. I'm sure that'll get better with practice. Again, not too concerned.

Quilt blocks that don't match up. Kind of hard to see if you don't know what you're looking at, but in the centre of the photo, 4 seams line up and should be relatively perfect. These are not. The nice thing about the style of quilt I did (pinwheel) is that the same fabric matches up in many places so mistakes are very, very forgiving.

The worst mistake I made: not pressing the backing material before I basted and quilted my layers! Rookie mistake! It had been a long 5 hours of working on my quilt and by the time I basted my quilt (with spray adhesive), I realized I hadn't pressed the backing. I thought it'd be okay but it puckered in several places. Oh well. Lesson learned, what can you do (besides taking out the ol' stitch ripper)?

In other news, I started my beginner sewing class tonight. We have a small class of 5 people. The world truly fell off its axle for two hours because out of the 5 of us, I was the most knowledgeable about basics like threading a bobbin, feed dogs, reverse stitches, needles, etc. I was surprised at myself for how much I've learned in these last 4 weeks of quilting.

We were left with homework to start a little pin cushion but I finished mine in class because it was really easy.

My mom is taking the class with me and she was all, "How did you finish it so fast?!" I was like, "Mom, it was 4 straight lines. I've sewn miles of straight lines in the last 4 weeks."

I leave you with one last baking stuff taking over the living room. I need to tame the beast before it swallows up the whole living room!

The little dog is my dad's coin bank, haha.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design, Class 1

Whoa I know, three updates in one day. I just figure I might as well hammer them out now because I don't know when I'll get another chance!

Today was my first Wilton Flowers and Cake Design class.

Here was today's agenda:

  • Basic Principles of Cake Design
  • Gum Paste and Fondant 101
  • Button Flower
  • Pansy
  • Making Royal Icing
  • Making a Parchment Bag
We didn't talk too much about the first point. The instructor basically just said your flowers should be proportional the size of your cake. No gigantic flowers on a small cake and no small flowers on a gigantic cake. Personally, I think it's all about the look you're going for.

I was excited to learn about gum paste and fondant since I've never worked with either. I didn't really understand too much about the difference between them, other than that gum paste can be rolled out thinner and dries harder, whereas fondant is more of a Play-Doh consistency and doesn't get too hard.

The dumb thing about this class is we had to buy both gum paste and fondant and this is the only class in course 2 we're using it! The instructor said it's a teaser for course 3 (gum paste and fondant) but I think it's more of a waste of money. I hope my gum paste doesn't harden up by November.

We made the button flower using a mixture of gum paste and fondant. The student kit came with a button flower press. It is dead simple to do and very cute. I will definitely make it again in the future.

The second flower we made was the pansy. I wasn't a big fan of it and I don't foresee myself putting it on a cake in the near future. That is kind of the downside of these classes, you can't pick and choose what you want to learn like you would on your own. You have to learn things you don't like and will never use again.

Next we talked about royal icing and the instructor made a batch to show us how it's done. If you're not sure what royal icing is, it's the rock-hard icing you see sometimes as flowers on a cake. You'll know if it's royal because you'll break your jaw trying to bite into a royal-made flower. It's also used on gingerbread houses which I'm thinking I might want to make this Christmas. I've had cakes with royal icing before and admittedly, I always just thought it was old and hardened up regular icing. Oh no no. Royal icing is a mixture of icing sugar, meringue powder, and a tiny bit of water. That's it. No wonder it's like cement!

It's very important that you do not let your royal icing come in contact with any grease or you'll completely wreck it. It's apparently a giant pain to work with during humid summer days. I'm glad I'm taking these classes as it's getting progressively colder out.

We didn't really talk about parchment bags because my instructor doesn't use them. We use the cling wrap method I talked about in course 1, class 1. 

Anyway, less talk, more photos, am I right? I just have one tonight, that's all I needed!

2 button flowers and a pansy. The white on the petals is a mixture of cornstarch and icing sugar, dusted over the working surface to keep fondant from sticking. I think it was more hassle than it was worth.

I must say, it was very weird not to bring a whole ton of stuff to class and even weirder not to bake anything. I actually feel antsy to bake right now. I debated all class whether to come home and make cupcakes so I could make more flowers. In the end I decided I really need to slow down and not smell the flowers (har har). So instead I'm heading off to bed at 9:30.

Catching Up

Cutting my fabric with my new rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat. I'm terrible at cutting fabric.

Taking some time to unwind during a busy week. This is my brand spankin' new bike I won in an auction. Got it for about half of the MSRP. I love it.

Being silly in the wedding photo booth in Cleveland. Yes, Anthony is wearing a turkey hat.

Brigden Fair was last weekend so that means one thing...alpacas! I love the death-defying stroller in the background, haha.

My quilt top. Just need to add the borders and the top is all done.

I learned a valuable lesson: $70 sewing machines from IKEA are junk. The top thread has been tangling in the bobbin and the plate you're SUPPOSED to be able to remove is totally stuck. Two of us tried to unscrew the screws and no go. I'm returning it and (probably) buying a Bernina. Sorry about my chipped manicure, there. No time to remove the polish!

Wilton Decorating Basics Class 4

Wow, my apologies. Time is flying by lately. When I say I'm busy, I really am. I've had very little downtime this month. Last weekend I was in Cleveland for a wedding, then it was Thanksgiving, then I had quilting class, then I decided to take some time and sleep!

This is going to be a quick entry as I have to get going shortly the second Wilton class, Flowers and Cake Design. It starts tonight and I'm excited!

This was the official agenda for the final class of Decorating Basics:

  • Guidelines for Elementary Cake Design
  • Printing, Writing, Rose Base
  • Piping Gel Pattern Transfer
  • Ribbon Rose
  • Guidelines for Decorating Your Cake
We didn't really talk much about cake design or guidelines. We did learn to print, write, and do the ribbon rose.

I really struggled with the ribbon rose and didn't quite get the hang of it until about the 30th one I'd piped.

Most of the class time was designated decorating time but I decided I'd be happier decorating mine at home, away from the noise of the class.

I had made the base icing for cake with real butter. Our instructor always said it was a bad idea because butter melts but being October, I thought it'd be okay. Boy was I wrong. You'll see in the photos below that it got all warped and melty looking. On one spot, it had even bubbled away from the surface of the cake. WTF?

Anyway, overall I'm proud. I wish I had piped a few more roses but by the time I did the last colour (pink), I was getting tired and frustrated.

Stupid blue icing. If it wasn't for that, the cake would be nearly perfect. The cake top looks a little lopsided here for some reason, but it was not in person. Some day soon I will attempt this cake again and keep the icing cold while I pipe all the flowers. The rosettes at the bottom were little terrors because the icing was soft, even though they were straight out of the freezer after being in there for 24+ hours. I'll have to use stiffer consistency next time.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the class. The most useful parts were learning about icing consistency, the ribbon rose, the leaf, the rosette, and the drop flower. Writing on a cake is pretty easy and I'll never do the pompom or shaggy mum again.

Well, I'm off to course 2!

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