Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to Make a French Pâtisserie Canopy

The French theme continues on my blog today as I show you how to make a canopy for a quaint little shop front. I created a faux pâtisserie for my sister's birthday and this was just the finishing touch to set it off.

I started out with two black tri-fold foam core display boards - the type used for science fair projects. It would be just as easy to start with white core board and then you could colour it any colour you want but black and white worked perfectly for my theme.

To create the scalloop, tape a bunch of papers together to form a piece of paper the same length as the width of the core board. Fold the paper in halves, quarters and then eighths. Draw a scallop and then cut it out. With the board still in the flat position (sides folded in), place the pattern along one of the folded edges and trace around the scalloped edge. I used a white pen so I could see where to cut.

The easiest way to cut foam core board is with a Stanley knife.

Run the blade along the scallops in several passes until you have cut right through to the other side. 

Now you need to mask off the areas you want to keep black (or white if you're using white core board). Use low tack painter's tape to secure strips of paper along every other scallop, making sure that you're painting the outside and not the inside. Also mask off the other end flap (not shown in this photo). After doing the first canopy, I realised that it would be much easier to secure to the wall if the end was not painted!

I tested a couple of spray paints and ended up using a spot marking paint that adhered to the board well. Not all paints adhere to the core board so spray a test patch on your scallop offcut first. When you are happy with the paint, spray the stripes in long sweeping motions aiming for even, but light, coverage. Let the paint dry before continuing.

You will have to do at least two coats and maybe even a third one if you're spraying white onto black!

Once the paint is completely dry you can carefully remove the strips of paper to reveal your striped canopy.

Looking pretty good! I needed two canopies for the double doors I had to cover but even a single one would look great above a regular doorway.

So that the canopy sits out from the wall you need to add some sort of wedge between the unpainted back flap and the canopy. I used some polystyrene that was used as packaging - it's lightweight and can be painted black with acrylic paint to blend into the foam core board. You'll need to cut it into wedges with a 60° angle. It's tricky but if you use long blade like a polymer clay blade it should help. Then apply an adhesive which is suitable for foam....

.... and glue the wedges in place.

Get some extra hands to help mount it on the wall. We used 3M Command velcro strips so that we could remove it without leaving any marks.

With the first half of the canopy up, we held our breath to see if it would stay in place!

And it did! So the boys got the second half of the canopy up in no time.

And here's the window, dressed as a French Pâtisserie. The canopy really brings the whole theme together.

Now that the stage is set, it was time to have some fun!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to make Felt Strawberries

In my last post I showed you how I combined polystyrene disks and felt to make some really yummy looking faux mini gâteaux. But what would a cream sponge cake be without a strawberry on top? So today, I'm going to show you how easy it is to make strawberries from felt.

All you need is red and green felt, yellow and green thread, stuffing, a needle, a sewing machine and scissors. You'll also need something round to trace around. I used a ribbon spool - the perfect size for lifesize medium strawberries!

Begin by tracing the circle onto the red felt. Use a permanent marker so you can easily see where to cut. Cut out the circle, fold it in half and then cut on the fold line. You now have two semi circles. Fold each of these in half and then stitch the straight edge. You can see that I've just stitched a bunch of these semi circles and left them joined. I just cut them apart as I'm ready to make them.

Once you've separated them, turn the seam to the inside.

Fill the cone with some stuffing.

Thread the needle with yellow thread and stitch a running stitch all the way around the top edge. Pull the thread tightly to enclose the stuffing and tie off the thread in a secure knot. There's no need to trim away the thread... you can continue using it in the next step.

Insert the needle through the stuffing and exit amongst the gathers near the top.

Create a small backstitch by inserting the needle back into the felt approximately 2mm above where the needle exited from the previous stitch, Exit the needle approximately half way down the strawberry.

Continue adding backstitches all over the strawberry and then tie off the thread.

Cut two 2cm squares of green felt. Beginning at one of the corners, cut a curved line towards the middle, stopping before reaching the centre. Turn the square around and repeat on the remaining corners.

 Flip the square over and repeat on the other sides of the corners.

 You should end up with a four "petalled" leaf. Repeat with the second square of felt.

 Thread the needle with green thread. Place the two leaves on top of each other, offsetting them, and insert the needle through the centre.

Place the leaves on top of the strawberry (with the knot underneath) and stitch back through the leaves and into the top of the red felt. Draw the needle back up to the top through the green felt and pull tightly. Insert the needle back through the leaves and into the strawberry on the opposite side. Continue all the way around the strawberry until the leaves are secured and the gathered edge of the strawberry is covered.

If you pull the thread firmly as you go, you will add some dimension to the leaves and they will sit upwards. Tie off the thread and trim it away.

Tada! How easy was that!

Why not make a bunch of them and decorate a mini gâteaux like I did - they are so realistic that you'll have everyone drooling over your faux gâteau!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Faux Pâtisserie - How to Make Mini Gâteaux using Felt and Polystyrene

One of the highlights of my sister's big birthday bash was the Faux Pâtisserie we put together to help dress the party room. It was filled with wonderful pastries, cakes and chocolates, all of which were crafted from supplies you can pick up from your local craft shop.

Today I'm sharing the "how-to" for making your own mini gâteau like the pink one below.

For this example, I've used polystyrene disks, acrylic paint (which sticks surprisingly well to polystyrene!), ric rac, lace, felt and a ribbon flower. I also used Aleene's Tacky Craft glue and some toothpicks to hold things together.

If you've got white acrylic paint in your craft supplies then you can make a pastel shade of any colour paint you have. Pink seemed like a good idea for this cake. All you need to do is mix a little of your chosen colour into a LOT of white paint. You can see I had way to much pink paint here but it shows you just how intense the colour was before I toned it down with white.

For this mini gâteau, I used disks that are approximately 10cm (4") in diameter and 2.5cm (1") high. Apply the mixed paint to the sides of the disks. You can add a little to the top edge too to make sure there is no white showing. You'll need to work the paint down into the pits and dimples of the foam for a uniform finish. Because the foam isn't porous, the paint will take longer than usual to dry so just be patient with it.

Once both disks are dry, apply the adhesive around the top edge of one of the disks. A length of red ric rac makes a pretty good looking layer of jam.

Now add the cream - a layer of white ruffled lace which will end up being sandwiched between two layers of cake.

Place the second foam disk on pastel pink felt and trace out the disk with a marker. Cut it out just inside the marker line so it's the same size as the cake.

Glue this layer down on top of the second disk.

Add another layer of lace and a string of beads to represent more cream and some piped icing.

To secure the two layers together, I trimmed some toothpicks to size....

and inserted them into the bottom layer.

Line up the top layer with the bottom before pressing the two layers together.
Tip: With the bulk of the lace inbetween the layers, I found this to be a better solution to using glue but if you're using these for a children's play tea party, then glue them together with foam glue.

Finish the cake off with a dollop of cream and a ribbon flower. I used this tutorial and template from Hello Ashley Ann which is very easy to follow - just resize the template to suit your cake size.

Isn't this just a darling mini cake! Let your imagination run wild with decorating ideas and use up whatever little bits and pieces you have on hand: lace, fabric, ribbon and trim. What about a chocolate and mint combo with twisted bugle beads to represent mint flakes! Or a lemon gâteau with felt strawberries and cream! Here's the tutorial on how to make the strawberries.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Party Decorations - Glittery Eiffel Tower Table Decorations

This past month has been a whirlwind of activity in the studio. As the self-appointed "event manager" for my sister's milestone birthday celebration, it was my job to pull together a party in a city more than 2200km away. A two day drive through rural/outback Australia with a vehicle filled to the rooftop with props, made for an interesting journey!

My sister has always dreamed of travelling to Paris - a gift my older sisters and I realised we couldn't make come true so we did the next best thing and brought Paris to her. We threw a Parisian Café/Pâtisserie themed party for her with all the trimmings we could. As the crafty sister, I volunteered to make the props so I've got quite a few tutorials  and how-to's to share with you in upcoming posts and the first one is these glittery Eiffel Tower table decorations.

I did a practice run of these before diving into the final ones and I'm glad I did because I saved myself hours of work. The prototype was made out of white cardstock which I liberally coated with  adhesive and glitter.
It worked, but it was messy.... and the liquid adhesive took several hours to dry. And then there was the "glitter flying everywhere" problem!

When it came time to the final ones, I used Bella! Glitz sheets from @RubyRockIt which have perfect glitter coverage - no adhesive required. Such a time saver! You can fit all four sides of the tower on one sheet so it is quite an economical decoration. The template I'm using can be found here and a big thanks goes to patricia m for making the template available. You actually only need to trace off one of the templates as it is the same on all four sides.

I used both scissors and a scalpel to cut the towers out. After making one, I learned really quickly that using a scalpel is hard on the finger tips so use the scissors wherever you can. Cut the centres of the towers out with the scalpel and then use scissors to cut out the outer shape. Finish by trimming down the sides of the tabs with the scissors and then in between the tabs with the scalpel. You'll thank me for this tip after you've cut out 24 sides!

Next, score the tabs and also the very tip of the tower so that it folds over when it's glued. You need a really strong adhesive on the tabs. I used Zip Dry because it grabs really quickly. The trick to getting these curved edges to meet on the folds is to line up the edges of two cut outs with the wrong sides together and then apply the adhesive to the bottom tab. Work your way up the side and hold the two pieces together until the adhesive has grabbed. You can use bulldog/fold over clips to help but don't leave them on too long or they will damage the cardstock.

Once all four sides are glued together, they look like the one above and when you make them en-masse, they really absolutely fabulous.

I have so many more wonderful props to share with you so I hope you'll keep checking back to see what else I made.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs