Monday, April 28, 2014

Serging Ahead

This month I decided it was time to try out Grandma O's classic serger.  Little did I know that it was National Serger Month.  How appropriate!
2014NationalSergerMoLogo1 (2)

I checked out a book from the library, which was good for general serging information, but my first attempts didn't go too well.  So I ordered a user manual from Singer.  It didn't give much more detailed information, but I loaded up four colors of thread, adjusted the tension more carefully, and came up with some perfect samples.  It was time for a real project.
I'd found some decorator fabric in Grandma O's stash that seemed perfect for replacing my beat-up grocery bags.  I decided to start with the print on the right, which reminds me of alien olives.  (Grandpa O thought it had green and orange circles.  They're pink.  Pink!  Men.  Honestly.)
I used my own measurements with instructions from this site.  I also added a layer of denim in the bottom.  I switched the thread back to all white, and serged up the interior seams.  This time the serging was not so perfect.  The stitches were pretty even, but would skip in some places.  Or one of the needles would unthread itself.  I still don't understand what happened.  But the seams are neat, and hopefully strong.
I added a loop at the top to hook onto the bag stand during loading, and top-stitched the seams on the outside for more structure.  By making it myself, I was also able to ensure that the handles weren't too long.  Here's one of the two alien olive bags in use.

There wasn't as much of the green plaid material, so I'll need to change the design a bit.  I can't say I mastered the serger during National Serger Month, but I'm glad I got started with it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oh, Crumb!

I have a hard time with cake.  Baking cake is easy enough, and eating it certainly isn't a problem.  It's the decorating.  First of all, I don't really care for frosting that much.  But the big problem is that I can't do it neatly.  Granted, I've never taken a proper cake decorating class.  But I've tried tricks like freezing the cake layers, or applying a coat of thinned frosting before spreading the real thing, and the result is always the same.  Crumbs mix with the frosting, and leave it looking not so decorative.

When I first read about cake pops, I thought they might be a perfect solution:  mix the cake with the frosting, and decorate with melted candy.  The experts make them look so smooth and easy.  Dandelionslayer's sister even gave us some supplies for Christmas once.  So when I couldn't find any suitable candies for the ward Easter egg hunt, I decided it was time to try.  I could make some cake balls that fit in the little plastic eggs, and they would be cuter and tastier and more fun and maybe even less expensive than candy, right?

I chose a blue velvet cake mix, which looks a lot like Play-Doh, before and after baking, and especially when mixed with cream cheese frosting.  Should taste better though, right?  D2 and I rolled them up and popped them in the freezer.

But when we tried to roll them in the melted candy, guess what?  Crumbs.  I guess the candy wasn't melted correctly, though I tried both a small amount in the microwave and the whole bag in my makeshift double boiler.  Not only was the coating not smooth, but it wouldn't even stick to the whole cake ball.

Fed up, I just glopped some candy on top of the last ones.  D2 thinks they look best, but I'm not sure they're really stable.

I'm not sure about the stability of the plastic eggs, either, so I wrapped a ball in plastic wrap first, and popped it in--oops, it didn't fit!  Too much gloppy candy. 

It's probably for the best.  If we'd taken them to the hunt, probably half of the cake balls would have been dropped in the parking lot.  Which is better than bright blue cake being ground into the church carpet.  Anyway, we're off to buy some mass-produced candy that has the advantages of size and name recognition.

How do you solve crumb problems?