Wednesday 22 February 2012

Ribbon Flowers with a Twist Tutorial!

I am a self-confessed Ribbon-aholic, so I love the current trend for Ribbon Flowers. With all the beautiful ribbon to choose from, you need never make the same flower twice and it is so easy to make an embellishment that coordinates exactly with your project. So, I’d like to share with you my ideas for taking ribbon flowers on a step from the basic ribbon flower.

 In this tutorial, I’ll demonstrate how to:

• incorporate hatpins into your ribbon flowers (and how to glitter ♥ your hatpins, how cool is that???)
• adapt extra wide ribbon for use in ribbon flowers
• combine different ribbons together to add contrast to your ribbon flowers.

So you will need:
• Various types of ribbon, each about 47cm in length
• 1cm wide extra strong double sided sticky tape
• 3mm narrow double sided tape (not pictured)
• Teardrop Pearl-headed hatpins
• Size-adhesive glue (I use gilding leaf adhesive)
• Lovely sparkly glitter to coordinate with your ribbon
• Pliers (not pictured)
• Glue Dots (not pictured)

Ribbon Flower Using Extra Wide Ribbon with a Hatpin Stamen

Usually for Ribbon flowers you need ribbon no wider than 15mm, but here I am using a gorgeous Cherry Blossom weave ribbon that is over 25mm wide. First take a length of ribbon approx 47cm long. Working on a non-stick craft sheet and using 1cm-wide extra strong double-sided sticky tape, stick the tape half on and half off the edge of the ribbon. Then carefully fold the ribbon in half, matching the two ribbon edges. Work all the way down the length of the ribbon.

Now take your hatpin and place it on the end of the ribbon strip, so that the pearl head is a few millimetres above the ribbon. Fold over the corner edge of the ribbon to “catch” the pin in the ribbon. Loosen the ribbon strip from the non-stick craft sheet and, holding the pin shaft, start to wind and pleat the ribbon to create a flower shape.

If you have struggled with this pleating/winding motion in the past, then having a pearl pin stamen, may help as it gives you something non-sticky to hold whilst you twist and pleat the ribbon.

When you’ve finished, your flower will look like this from above (to the left) and like this underneath (to the right).

Turn the flower over and HOLDING THE PIN FIRMLY, use a pair of pliers to snip off the end of the pin, as close as possible to the bottom of the flower (do not snip off the pin stick without holding it, as it could fly off when cut). Adhere 3 glue dots to the base of your flower and it’s ready to pretty up any crafty project!

Double-Ribbon Flower with Glittered Hatpin Stamen

First, dip your pearl pin head in gilding size glue and leave to dry (approx 15mins). Then dip the pearl head in lovely sparkly glitter of your choice (my choice was delicious Martha Stewart glitters)! Put to one side.

Take two 47cm strips of narrow ribbon (no more than 15mm wide), I’ve used a double-faced 10mm satin ribbon and a 7mm picot-edge double-faced satin. Carefully attach a strip of 3mm wide double-sided sticky tape about a third of the way up your bottom colour ribbon. Carefully attach your top colour ribbon. Turn over.

Repeat the previously described process of attaching your glittered hatpin as a stamen, sticking down and pleating and winding your ribbon to form your flower. As before, firmly holding the pin stick, cut the stem from your flower with pliers and adhere 3 glue dots to the bottom.

How gorgeous does this look? Please let me know if you agree and have fun crafting!

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Saturday 18 February 2012

Valentine Cupcakes

This luscious cupcake recipe is inspired by American Red Velvet cakes, but I find that recipes for this can be a little greasy.  The sour cream combined with the cocoa adds a real depth to this cupcake batter mixture. 

Ingredients for the cupcakes (makes 18 standard size cupcakes)

170g unsalted organic Butter
225g organic natural Castor Sugar
2 large organic free-range Eggs
40g organic fair-trade Cocoa Powder
80mls just-boiled Water
80mls organic Sour Cream
¼ teaspoon Christmas Red Food Colouring Paste
½ teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
185g organic Plain Flour
¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Salt

Ingredients for the White Chocolate Frosting
130g unsalted organic Butter
30g Cream Cheese
225g Icing Sugar
½ teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
75g organic White Chocolate
Edible Glitter for dusting

1. Ensure that eggs and butter are at room temperature by place in a warm room (or airing cupboard) for at least 2 hours before starting cooking. Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Line your bun tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a heat-resistant bowl, sift in the cocoa powder. Add the boiling water and mix to a smooth paste. Allow to cool a little and then mix in the sour cream, vanilla extract and red food colouring paste (do not use the bottles of red food colouring liquid, you will need too much liquid to achieve the desired colour). Set to one side.

3. Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric food mixer (use the paddle blade). Cream together the butter and sugar, starting on a low speed at first and then on a medium-high speed once all the sugar has been incorporated. After 5 mins, scrape down the side of your bowl. Repeat the beating for 5 mins and scrapping twice more – yes that is a total of 15mins of creaming but you will not believe the difference it makes to your finished cupcakes.

4. One at a time, break each egg into a small bowl or jug and give it a quick mix to break up the yolk. Add each egg about a third at a time to your creamed butter and sugar, beating between each addition until the egg is fully incorporated, then scraping down the sides before adding the next batch of egg. After both eggs been added, scrape the sides again and continue to beat on medium-high for a further 5 mins.

5. Slowly beat in the cocoa mixture, again beating well between each addition and scrapping down the sides.

6. In a large airy bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Repeat sifting process 3-4 times to get as much air as possible into the flour. Turning down the speed of the mixer to low, add the flour about a ¼ at a time, ensure it is well mixed after each addition but complete this process quickly as you do not want to overbeat the mixture once the flour is added as this results in a tough cupcake (not good)!

7. Spoon the mixture into your cupcake liners. Don’t overfill, they need to be about 2/3rd full. Cook in the oven for 25-30 mins, until the cupcakes spring back on top when touched. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 10mins in their tins, then remove to wire racks and set aside until completely cooled.

8. To make the frosting, first melt the white chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Then beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 2-3mins. Add butter and beat again until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Sift the icing sugar, turn the food mixer speed to low and gradually add in the icing sugar, beating well after each addition. Then add the room temperature melted chocolate. You now need to turn up the speed of the mixer to medium-high and leave to beat for at least 10mins. This final lengthy beating stiffens up the mixture, which would otherwise be too loose. Put the bowl of icing in fridge for further 10-15mins before use. If mixture has over stiffened in fridge just beat again for a minute and it will become more malleable. Pipe onto cupcakes, dust with edible glitter and present with love!

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Sunday 5 February 2012

Ruffle Ribbon Trim Tutorial

Hand-stitched Ruffle Ribbon Trim
This Ruffle Ribbon Trim has been hand-stitched from satin ribbon (great for sewing machine phobics like myself).  I came up with the idea for this trim whilst soaking in the bath, having spotted something similar in a pre-made ribbon trim on the web.  It’s not quite as “perfect” as the pre-made trim, but I think that adds to the charm – I hope you agree?  I’ve used double-faced satin ribbon (15mm) but it would work equally well with contrast satin, grosgrain, twill or seam binding.  The ribbon needs to be robust enough to be ironed, and as there is stitch “workings” to the back, it may not work so well with a sheer or organza ribbon.

So you will need:

• A generous length of ribbon
• Needle and thread
• An iron

NB: I've used black thread to contrast with my red ribbon so that it would show better in the photographs, normally I would use either an invisible thread or a thread to match my ribbon.

First measure a 6cm length, then pinch a loop from approx 2cm to 6cm. 

Working from inside the loop (to hide the knot), stitch the loop together with a small stitch. 
Next, by eye, make another loop.  Pass the thread along the back and up through the middle (so all the thread is kept to the back of the trim). Be careful not to stitch the second loop to the first loop. 
Repeat for as many loops as needed to reach your desired length.  Tie off the thread to the back. 

Your loops of ribbon should now look like this.

Next warm up an iron and have a pressing cloth to hand.  Starting with the first loop, carefully push down the loop to form a box pleat.  Holding the loop in place with your fingers, very carefully start to press the loop into a box pleat. 

Repeat along the length, pressing each loop.  You may need to go over the pressed pleats several times with the iron, but be careful to place the iron over the loop, don’t run it up and down the ribbon as you would if iron clothes, you are just pressing each pleat into place.

When you’ve finished, your trim will look like this.  Attach extra strong sticky tape to the back of the trim to stick to your project, such as my Valentine Ribbon Ruffle Card.
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Valentine Card with Ribbon Ruffle Trim

Who’s going to be my Secret Valentine?  If I told, it wouldn’t be a secret!  However, if you would like to share the secret of how to make the ruffle ribbon trim, then do look at my Ruffle Ribbon Trim Tutorial.  Don’t worry if, like me, you’re sewing machine challenged, the trim is hand stitched, not a sewing machine in sight!

The three hearts have been cut using my original Silhouette cutting machine (a well-loved piece of crafty kit but being upgraded to the Silhouette Cameo currently on order), and the mats have been cut using the outline tool in the Silhouette Design Studio.

The Ruffle Ribbon trim has been hand-stitched from 15mm Berisfords double faced satin ribbon. I’m a bit of a ribbon junkie and I hope you like the trim I’ve created for this card. I saw something similar in a pre-made ribbon trim, which was jaw-droppingly expensive – so I lay in a nice hot bath and thought about it, and worked out a way to do it. It’s not quite as “perfect” as the pre-made trim, but I think that adds to the charm – I hope you agree?

Do let me know what you think and thank you for stopping by.

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