Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Sewing Projects!

This year Sweetheart and I decided that we were going to try to shop small business or local business for Christmas. Part of this included our Christmas sewing where we tried to buy fabrics from local sellers too. Once we broke down and ended up at JoAnn's and once at Hancock but overall we did pretty well.
This was the year of the tablet/e-reader cases for me and we made costumes for the niece and nephew. Suffice to say this is mostly a photo brag post with links to the other bright folks I used for inspiration. Without further ado:

The first gift was a TARDIS iPad case for a gift exchange. The iPad case went to Alaska where it is much loved.  This case is envelope style with blue fleece and a black felt lining and felt accent pieces. I hand embroidered the "Police Box" strip and around the white windows. Velcro tape keeps it closed. I didn't have a pattern to use for this one, just the dimensions of an iPad and a bit of math. Honestly, without a walking foot, I don't know that I'd ever do this in fleece again. It was very bulky for my regular machine. I've found some better tutorials (like this one from "Dog Under My Desk") that I would scale up in cotton with interfacing instead. I tested the fit on my friends iPad. The fleece came from Addadi's fabrics in Overland Park, everything else came from my stash.

This kindle fire case belongs to my younger brother's girlfriend. My brother told me that his girlfriend loved her Kindle fire so I made her a case and stuffed it with a gift card. My main tutorial was from Clover and Violet with the corner directions to hold the kindle in coming from I'm Feelin' Crafty. This was a challenge because I slipped plastic canvas in the two sides and not the "spine" portion. As I was binding, my machine would hit the plastic canvas and curse at me by skipping stitches. I also never got a clear picture of how to do the closure around the binding so I created a button hole in the binding and threaded my closure loop through the button hole. The green inner fabric came from Fabric Recycles, the rest came from my stash.

Max got a new Christmas collar, mostly because I had the pieces and was procrastinating doing other things. The lining is a soft gold color to complement the gold threads in the collar. Fabric and collar "D" ring came from Fabric Recycles, buckle and parachute buckle came from Hancock Fabrics.

My brothers got my mom a kindle for Christmas this year so I made her a cover. I used the same process and methods as I did for my brother's girlfriend but I used a bit of fabric from my stash and, after playing on a scrap for a long time, had my first adventure in free motion quilting. I broke two needles before getting a larger one and read lots of blog posts on the subject. This was a thicker fabric and had a layer of batting between the two cover fabrics so it was sturdy enough to not need stiffeners. Free motion quilting was an interesting experience but I'm glad I tried it. Mom really liked the cover so that's all that matters! Fabric and notions were from my stash.

For our niece, Sweetheart and I decided she would like an apron and chef's hat.  I created this apron with an oilcloth body and seersucker bias binding, both of which I got at (guess where?) Fabric Recycles. The seersucker was a pain in the rear to work with but so worth it for the overall look. The dimensions for the apron came from SupaFine and I just deducted the seam allowances since I didn't line the apron. I used the bias tape to finish all the raw edges.  I also added elastic to the neck strap thanks to a great idea at Sew Liberated. Sweetheart made the chef's hat, which you can see here.

Sweetheart made a tool belt and cape for our nephew too! You can find her sewing adventures on her blog. That's it! After several late nights and plenty of time with a seam ripper, I'm not sewing any more this year! Good thing it's almost next year, right?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hot Chocolate Marshmallows

I bet you've seen the posts about marshmallows. Homemade marshmallows are very "in" right now and it seems that the recipes are everywhere. There are marshmallows with fillings, exotic flavors and other adornments but these marshmallows were made for hot chocolate.
Several years ago, at my first job after college, a co-worker (Hi Linda!) brought these in and I loved  them so much I begged her for the recipe. They melted so smoothly and left a nice hefty layer of marshmallow on top of my cup that I couldn't resist them. Every year when the weather gets cold I make them. Hot chocolate just doesn't seem right with any others.

The reason these melt so well is because they're just close enough to marshmallow fluff that the slightest bit of heat will melt them down. That means these are horrible for roasting but wonderful for melting in liquids.

First things first, if you don't know your candy stages (soft ball, hard ball, soft crack, etc.) get yourself a candy thermometer and calibrate it. Need to know how (and why) to calibrate your thermometer? Here's the information. Also, I use my stand mixer for this because it's easier for me. If you don't have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer with no problems. If you don't have a hand mixer, borrow one. I don't suggest trying to stir and whisk this all by hand.

Then we begin making the worlds best hot chocolate marshmallows.This recipe can easily be multiplied depending on how many marshmallows you want and how thick you want them. The thicker they are the longer they will take to dry though. I have also used other flavorings like peppermint and almond for different effects.

Hot Chocolate Marshmallows
Printable Recipe

You will need:
  • 2 packets unflavored gelatin (1/8 c.)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. hot water
  • 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 large egg white at room temperature
  • 1 scant pinch cream of tarter
  • 1 scant pinch of salt 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 TBL corn starch
  • Flavorless vegetable oil for oiling pan
  • Confectioner’s sugar

Coat a small cookie sheet pan or 8x8 pan with a thin layer of oil and a
hefty bit of powdered sugar
Add your gelatin and cold water in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes then
break up the mass into smaller pieces.
Combine the corn syrup, hot water and sugar in a saucepan.
Boil, undisturbed, until candy reaches 240 degrees F.
While your candy is boiling, beat your egg white,
cream of tartar and pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
When the syrup hits 240 degrees, pour it into the
bowl with the gelatin and beat until the mixture
 becomes white and fluffy.
Add your egg white and beat until the mixture gets glossy
and almost stringy.
Pour the marshmallow mixture into your prepared pan.
Dust with powdered sugar and let dry for at least 1-2 hours.
Cut using a pizza cutter or your favorite cookie cutters.
Dredge the pieces in powdered sugar and store airtight.