Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bling-ing the Dress...

Straight after making the first Irish dancing dress for my Little Miss, I was itching to get started on the next... However, there's no point replacing her perfectly fine dress while it still fits her! You can see posts about making the dress here, here, and here.

Whenever I start searching random stuff on the internet, I always end up looking at Irish dancing dresses and thinking about the next one. So much looking, and thinking, and planning, and getting frustrated at having to wait!!! And then I found some photos of dresses before and after adding crystals. Light bulb! So I played around with a picture of the current dress in Photoshop, purchased some crystals, got my Gem-Tac out, and ta-da.

I used photoshop to try out a few layouts because it's a lot easier than trying to lay out stones on slippery satin. The Little Miss and I both had a play with layout ideas and then we decided on which one we liked best (and that I thought I would be able to execute best).

After we settled on a design, I did my best to lay the stones out on the actual dress to get an idea of how many I would need for each area of the dress to make sure I didn't get carried away and run out! I wrote down approximate numbers of each size needed for each area and laid out on the table the maximum number of stones that could be used for the area I was working on.
I used some blu-tack on the end of a pencil to pick up the stones and push them down onto the dress - I would roll the pencil to remove it from the stones, but sometimes also needed a little help from my fingers to get the stones to stay on the dress not the blu-tack. I started by putting the glue directly on the back of the stones, but for areas like the sleeves where placement was more precise, I found it easier to put a little dab of glue where I wanted the stone to be and then press the stone into it.

Because of the poofiness of the skirt, I found putting a cushion in the bodice helped make a flatter surface to work on. I started on the front bodice, skirt and sleeves and let lay on the table overnight to set. I then turned it over and did the back. I let it sit for a short time and then I couldn't resist and had to go back over the front and add even more stones! After about an hour I hung it up to let the glue set completely. I also added some stones to the headband I made to match the dress.

I used size ss20 and ss30 Preciosa* flat back crystals in 'AB Crystal'  for this dress. I ordered 100 of each size and ended up using 89 ss20's and 78 ss30's for the dress and another 9 ss20's and 5 ss30's on the matching headband.

I'm very pleased with how it's all turned out, and I had fun doing it, but I still have a ways to go in perfecting my glue application!

Oh, and most importantly, the Little Miss is thrilled with it! She spent quite some time playing with the reflections they made from the sun.

*Most ID dressmakers will only use Swarovski crystals and would shun my use of Preciosa, but the Little Miss is still a novice and only competing locally (not to mention she's only just turned 6!) so I decided to go with Preciosa as it's a little cheaper, but not low budget acrylic. I compared these stones up close to the Swarovski ones I have and the Swarovski's do have a little more sparkle, but not enough for the average person to notice - especially from a distance. But that's just my opinion, and I'm glad I chose to save a little bit of cash on this one.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Shoe-box Rocket

First off I have a confession: I did not make this shoe-box rocket. In fact, it wasn't even my idea. My wonderful husband came up with this one, but it's so cute and loved so much by the Little Guy that I just had to share it with you all.

 All you need is a shoe box and some extra cardboard (the husband used the box lid for this). The box itself forms the main part of the rocket, and the fins, wings, and nose are made from the lid (you can use your extra bits of cardboard if you don't have a lid). He made slits in the sides of the box, slipped the wings through them, and then taped them (and the other bits) on with packing tape to secure it all together.

I should note that this is not at all how I pictured the rocket would be. In my mind it was going to be a stand up rocket shaped like a milk carton, but I'm so glad it wasn't! I never would have even thought of making it so that the Little Guy could pile his toys in it and fly them around the house.

This rocket was made in a few minutes a few months ago and it's still well played with and still going strong (although the nose has been repaired a few times with a bit of tape).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Candy Apples

For some reason I've become slightly obsessed with candy apples. Maybe it's the fact that I've been watching season one of Once Upon A Time (the evil witch apples thing) or maybe a Pinterest image got stuck in my subconscious. Most likely it's a combination of the two. A quick search on Pinterest turned into a long look at pretty candy apple images and then there was no way I was getting over this obsession without making some of my own...

I've always been partial to caramel apples over the red candy ones, so I decided to go with caramel and chocolate. And the Little Miss hates anything caramel flavour, so I did some with chocolate only. I used the recipe from this blog and prepared my apples and toppings as per their suggestions.

It turns out that my caramel coating skills are pretty atrocious. The caramel started to harden so quick that it was tricky to get the toppings to stick, but then it didn't harden enough, so it all slid down the apple and turned into a sticky apple sitting in a pool of caramel. Adding a coating of chocolate helped with this though.
I found that my melted chocolate was a bit too thick for dipping the apples in, so I painted the chocolate on with the back of my spoon. This actually worked really well and it gave me more control, which I like. And as far as rolling the apples in the toppings... I put the toppings in wide shallow bowls, as my research suggested, but found that the caramel/chocolate was coming off onto the toppings and the toppings weren't sticking to the apples very well. I ended up pouring on the little toppings (like sprinkles & little candy hearts) and placing/pushing on the others on with my fingers which worked much better.

The Little Miss is going to a princess birthday party tomorrow, and I know that the birthday girl is a fan of Snow White, so I thought this red ribbon apple would go nicely on the top of her present.

Over all I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, although I think I'll just stick with chocolate ones next time. I'm thinking these would be a hit next time I need to provide baking for a fundraising event.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Irish Dancing Birthday Party

Anyone who reads this blog will already be aware of the Little Miss' love of Irish dancing. Well, she's turning 6 this weekend and decided that she would like an Irish dancing party (surprise, surprise). We had to bring the date of the party forward a week as half of the kids couldn't make it on her actual birthday, and it wasn't until after the new date was all sorted that I realised that meant I had one less week to put together a party!

Of course the first thing I did was grab my laptop and start searching the internet for Irish dance birthday party ideas. And guess what... it turns out that Irish dancing parties aren't actually that common of a birthday theme and there really wasn't much for me to find. I did find this blog and got some inspiration from it, but my Little Miss is more into the the dancing and pink than green and leprechauns.

I wanted to come up with an activity to start the party off with - something that the kids could do in their own time as they arrived, that would allow my daughter to be able to meet & greet each guest, and that wouldn't be too overwhelming for any children that didn't know anyone other than the birthday girl and the Little Guy. So I bought some extra wide ribbons and cut them into sash lengths and had the kids decorate their own prizewinner party sash. The girls spent quite a while decorating and it was a nice mellow way to start the afternoon. As each finished, I pinned their sash on and they made their way into the lounge to do a little dancing. (I really wish I had taken a photo of all the girls lined up with their beautifully decorated sashes on before they took them off.)

  I also made some shoe bling for each party-goer that I found over at this blog. They're meant to fit over the heavy dancing shoes, but the girls just put them over whatever shoes they were wearing (the girls that actually do dancing will be able to wear these over their dancing shoes later on if they like).

A lot of dancing and some dancing games came next while I swapped the ribbons & markers for party snacks. There was snacking and then a few more games while I set out the table for cookie decorating. I made some sugar cookies the night before in the shapes of Irish dancing dresses, four leaf clovers, hearts, and a few gingerbread men shapes (for the two boys) to decorate. The kids LOVED doing this! It was interesting how differently the kids approached this activity - some spent a lot of time decorating a few cookies very elaborately and then packed them away to take home with them, some decorated quickly and ate each cookie as they went, and some did a combination of the two.

Then it was time for presents, cake, a little more dancing, and home time. I actually had another activity (spinning paper fairies) printed off just in case, but it turns out it wasn't needed. Oh, and to make the cake I used this technique for the icing. Sadly I placed it off centre, but unsurprisingly not a single party guest noticed.

The Little Miss had a fantastic day and it looked like all her friends had a lot of fun too. Both my husband and I noted that it was the calmest & quietest birthday party we had ever seen - apart from the last 15 minutes which was filled with screaming and running off their sugar highs!