Thursday, November 26, 2009

感謝祭:kanshasai, meaning "Thanksgiving Celebration"

Those are relatively tough kanji, actually. The last one, 「祭」is まつり、matsuri, meaning "festival", which you may have heard before in Japanese media. :3

I was going to make the traditional list of "things I am thankful for", derp derp, but that would be a very long post, including such things as clean water, pugs, and Canada.

Instead, here is a list of groups whose hard work I am thankful for.

11/19/09: Wilma, rescued by the ASPCA
The first and oldest humane organization in the Western Hemisphere, the ASPCA works to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws, and share resources with shelters nationwide.

The United Nations Children's Fund was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and health care to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. It has since evolved into the world's largest advocate for children in impoverished and war-torn nations, providing long-term humanitarian assistance to children and their mothers.

Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in 1965, PRBO Conservation Science is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife and ecosystems worldwide through innovative scientific research and outreach.

If there's another cause you favor, you can always find a charity of your own to support. :D

Or if you've got a few minutes, you can donate your clicks to a good cause.
Help end world hunger
The Animal Rescue Site
The Child Health Site
The Rainforest Site
The Literacy Site
The Breast Cancer Site
The Hunger Site

Happy Thanksgiving, 感謝祭おめでとうございます。:3

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End of Cake

タダイマカエリマシタ!!!>w< I'm back!

Grr, Google Ads, cut it out! This is not a cake blog! I know there have been some cake-related things in the past few months, but no! This is a blog about toys and sewing and paper and string and Japan!

See? A soft toy pattern! It's a plushie! ...of a cake. -_-;

This is the last cake-themed thing I'll post for a while. I promise. Really. 
Click to download the pattern as a PDF; instructions and pictures below.

I made this thing on the fly as a present for a former co-worker, the lovely Diana G., who knows everything there is to know about cake decorating and Wilton stuff. I wish I had some pictures of all the cakes she made and demo-decorated on Saturdays, 'cause damn, girl, were they ever awesome. And freaking sweet, too. Like the kind of sweet where you can feel the sugar crystallizing in your veins, but you still want more because it's just SOOOO good. ^^;

This is a pretty easy softie in theory; getting the edges of the frosting pieces to lay as you want and stitching them down with blanket stitch is a little bit of a challenge. Just go slow and it'll be fine. It helps if you make the whole cake form first, stuffing and all, and then sew the top frosting layer on to the finished form, so you're not fighting to get it pinned down on a limp, unstuffed model.

A Pictorial Walkthrough

1. Here are your pieces:

2. With a complementary color of perle cotton or embroidery floss, blanket stitch the frosting band to one of the layer side bands. (It helps to baste the pieces together first to keep them lined up while you stitch.)

blanket stitch, close up

3. This is what it should look like. Blanket stitch is a very easy and clean stitch that covers the raw edge of the felt and maintains that little bit of depth between the two pieces. If you have never done blanket stitch before, here's a lovely tutorial that shows it step-by-step

top layer, frosted bottom layer

4. Using regular thread, sew the other cake layer band to the top of the "frosted" one you just finished. 

"layer sammich", with finished seam along the top

NOTE: From here on, take care to remember which end is up, else things might get sewn to the wrong side of other things, which is a sucky mistake to make. :(

5. Sew your completed cake sides into a broad loop, wrong side (with all your seams) facing out. this.

6. Sew on the bottom layer of the cake. It's really not hard to sew a circle onto the end of a tube; just line up the edge of the circle with the edge of the tube/cylinder of fabric, take a few stitches where the two are aligned, then turn the circle a bit and repeat. 

This is the top end, actually; notice the frosting on the bottom? I wasn't paying attention. -_-;

7. Sew on the top cake layer just as you did with the bottom, but remember to leave a gap of about 1.5 inches or so (3 cm+) to turn the form right side out. Stuff the finished form and sew the turning gap closed; it doesn't need to be pretty, because the top layer of frosting is going to hide it anyway.

Okay, so wait a second. Why did we just sew a top layer onto the cake if we're going to cover it up with the round frosting piece? Because it makes this last step much easier.

a blanket stitch in progress; going around the top frosting layer

8. Lay your frosting piece atop your finished, stuffed, stitched-closed cake form. Make sure it's centered. (Also, make sure it's on the right end.) Either pin on baste the piece into place so it doesn't get off-kilter while you're going around with the blanket stitch. Using the same embroidery cotton from before, blanket stitch all around the edge of the frosting top layer, laying each "ruffle" of frosting down over the edge of the cake as you go. Navigating the hills and valleys isn't really that hard if you just remember to keep your stitches evenly spaced and parallel to the closest tangent point of the edge.

For the strawberry on top, just make a tiny version of this softie. :D

Thanks for all the cake, Diana! (Especially for making the lemon ones, and letting me eat the extra frosting!) X3