May 19, 2011

French Collar Corsage


I hope this spring is bringing you a creative spirit, along with all the rain...with rainy days, there is time to spend at the table with all sorts of baubles and create the day away as we wait for the sun to come out and the temps to rise.

Earlier, I had a wild hair to create due to my good friends, Debbie and Maureen's birthday. They are twin sisters, and I love them both. I sure do love my girlfriends, and whenever I can, I want to show them. But the problem is, I don't wear a watch, nor do I have any clocks in our other words...I somehow feel that I get more hours in a day than others, and end up trying to cram in two days worth of projects into two hours. Sigh...too many ideas, and not enough time. Sound familiar to anyone out there?

To recap: I decided how much "fun" it would be to decorate a three-layer cake myself, and make homemade paper flowers on it and create some sort of French Collar Corsage for the guests of honor. Never mind that I have not seen neither made, nor had any idea how to go about doing this. And never mind that I had about a zillion other things I needed to do, and due, but....hey! Of course I can do this! To see the results of my paper flower cake, just read about it by clicking here.

Do you find those French collars at flea-markets and love them, but wonder what to do with them? I have found ways to display them over the years and use them around the house, but I still have many of them because I just can't resist them when I run across them at markets. 

So, I came up with another idea for them: French Collar Corsages...and after the party or event, they may be hung on a door knob as a keepsake.

I had no idea how to go about this little project, but after a bit, I figured it out. Now that I made a couple, I now know a few different ways I would make my next ones. But below are some basic steps to get you started. First, start with SOFT collars, not the stiff, starched ones. If stiff, then just wash the starch out and let it dry soft. I used old, stained ones - anyone who knows me, knows that I don't necessarily like "pristine" items. 

First, take a collar, and cross it over like so:

I then sewed a tiny stitch to hold it together, in the center:

I then dug through my collection of vintage buttons and found three buttons and sewed them together to create an interesting larger button and sewed it in the center:

I then added vintage French cuff buttons to the button holes at the tips of the collar:

For this corsage, I used died cheese cloth for my friend, Debbie, because she loves it so much. I was making this for her because I knew she would hang this in her bedroom. I designed custom bedding for her and will be using some fabric from her custom bedding for a leaf later.

I use this cheese cloth, cut into a square, to make a "ruffle" around the button. I fold little sections and then poke it behind the button with a toothpick and glue it behind the button:

As I said earlier, I was also making a three-layer cake at the same time while making these collar I didn't get all the steps photographed for each corsage, but the basic steps above was used for each corsage. Below are some photos of the other two corsages I made (while bake and frosting the cake - I am surprised there isn't frosting on them!).

For Maureen, I used feathers, and made her "ruffle" out of old German book pages that I fringed and glued behind the button. Above I began the fringe. Below is a piece of the fringe I cut before I scrunched it behind the button:

You can see the fringe all the around the button now (above) and I then bent it all a little with my fingers. Below, I sewed a little piece of material, and tacked it loosely so that the corsage could be pinned easily.

This next one is for Debbie's daughter, Caitlin, the hostess. This is simple and a combo of the two earlier ones. It has tiny feathers, so she has a little from her aunt's corsage. And it has a little cheese cloth like her mother's corsage, and I added a key because I know she has old keys in her home that are framed. 

So here are my three little French Collars Corsages for my sweet girlfriends. They were actually fun to make, and next time, I will enjoy making them even more, because I won't be making a cake at the same time. But the options are endless. Instead of buttons, I could use watch faces. Or a vintage clip earring. Old lace, a cuff link, or maybe even a vintage photo in a tin frame....

When the party is over...hang the corsage on a door knob, dresser knob, or even bed post. Or, recycle it and use it as a "bow" on your next gift package and pass it on!

 By the time the party got going, I was pooped and didn't really get my camera out at this stage. I managed to snap a quick photo and then forgot to get a "real" photo later. Sorry for the blurry photos, but you can get the idea. I really do put the camera down, and eat (dry) cake, laugh, drink punch and spend time with my sweet friends, and not just stay behind the lens...because while I love to click away with my Canon....clicking with my girlfriends is a picture-perfect afternoon for me!

My  "Little Debbie"

My "Merry Maureen"

Paper, lace, trim, buttons, is the making of the "perfect storm" for me. Now, toss out all watches, clocks, and timers within my sight...and now my "perfect storm" is heaven on earth because I am told that heaven knows no time. So, I imagine, that when I die, my heaven will be filled with endless stacks of vintage paper, boxes of old buttons, and tons of trim and finally...finally....I will finally have enough time for all of my ideas! 

In my heaven, there will be no such thing as: too many ideas, not enough time.

May you have a chance to create your own personal heaven on earth - even if it is for only a moment, a day, or only during a rainy season. And may you enjoy your perfect storm....

From my house to your house,


May 2, 2011

Frosting, flowers, and felicity

You know how you have this great idea and you get all excited and think how fun it is going to be? And you really and truly think it isn't really going to be that big a deal? I mean, I am fairly intelligent...I have been around the block a few times...but I thought I would host, along with some girlfriends, a little surprise birthday party for a set of twins and my bright idea was that I will make the birthday cake! 

I have been wanting to decorate a cake for a while now since I used to decorate a long time about 20 years ago. Never mind that I didn't have one cake pan, and only one frosting tip. And it wasn't until I actually baked the damn layers did I realized I didn't have even have a cooling rack. So luckily my vintage stove had a storage space on the side, that I quickly removed all the pans and removed the shelving and stuck bowls underneath it and made a makeshift rack.

But the dumbest thing of all? Is when making and carefully decorating a three-layer "creation" and stepping back, sore hands from piping, cleaning your mess up, and only then thinking..."How in the hell am I going to get this thing over to the house?" Brilliant.

Well, in my last posting I showed you a lot of buttons and crafts. That is part of this story. That is how nuts I can get. I will show you my attempt at the cake and the little party (which was a lot of fun, by the way) and then next posting I will show you the little craft project I did. For my cake, which in honor of the Royal Wedding this past weekend, I am calling my cake: Royal Pain in the Arse. That is about as royal as it gets. I came up with this idea of covering it with paper flowers. Well, I am sure I didn't come up with the idea, I am sure it has been done before somewhere, and if I was smart, I would have researched it and would have most likely found a much easier, faster, prettier way to do this. I never really think to look things up - which is really stupid now that I think about it.

Okay, on with the flower show that I loaded up in my bowl. I thought it would be "fun" to sit and watch TV and make lots flowers during "a" movie one night. However, after TWO Lifetime movies, three  episodes of Deadliest Catch, lots of paper cuts, and many ugly flowers, I ended up with only one measly bowl of several squished flowers tucked under the pretty good flowers, that I found uses for somehow during the party...

So the next day, I am feeling pretty good in spite of being up all night with my TV marathon, flower-making, paper-cutting extravaganza, party-for-one. So THAT is when I got the bright idea...hey! Maybe I will also make some handmade French collar corsages for the girls....not that I ever made any, nor seen or heard of them before...and I want to make them on the same day that I am making this cake.  And no, I don't do drugs or even drink soda with caffeine. Just a wild hair now and again.

So below, I will recap where that wild hair can take you if you don't tame it:

Now, you didn't think I wouldn't show you my wild hair, (the other "wild hair" is located somewhere else) did you? Yup, unwashed, in my headband, wearing an over shirt over my pj's.  SO while I have this going on, I have the kitchen behind me...

My makeshift "cooling rack" which is just a shelf out of my stove balancing on small bowls. Forgot to buy cooling racks....and I forgot...

...and I forgot to buy those cake cardboard I had to cut out some cardboard and cover it with foil, which will come back to haunt me when I got and cut the cake later, but I don't know this yet...

Now, I am starting to layer and add frosting in the middle...

...but if you look closely, you will see that I wasn't thinking and I covered the entire bottom lower with frosting. Then when I went to add the second layer...well...then I realized that I didn't need frosting on the ENTIRE bottom level, so I had to scrape it off - hence the shiny top of the bottom layer...the beginning of the cake earning it name...

I am however, proud that I did remember the step to add a very thin layer of frosting (one is under the chocolate one too) over the cake to keep the crumbs under control. Well, at least I think that is what I was taught 20 years ago in class :-)

Now this gets interesting. Since my flower-making was really make-believe since I had no clue as to what I was doing...I made them too fat to stick  into the cake. Tooth picks didn't work, but I discovered that corsage pins did! Just gotta be careful not to let the sharp part poke through to the other side of the flower as you stick it into the cake.

But, I had to be careful as I poked them in the cake not to let the pin slide up out of the flower....the cake is truly earning its name by now...royally earning its name.

Can you spot it?

Now, as you can imagine, or probably guessed, I had to make a few more flowers and ran out of time. So, what you just saw, took two days and the cake was dry as hell. So note to self: Bring back up cheese cake to really eat. The girls were really sweet, and ate it, but it tasted awful. So now that I spent about $120 on pans, tips, frosting, mixes, food coloring, cake cutter, and whatever else I got...I am determined to make a really tasty cake now that I learned the hard way. But, it did get some creative juices going. One big thing I noticed that was very different for me from 20 years ago when I did it quite well: I didn't eat as much cake batter and my cake really rose to the right levels. I do remember back then having to make extra batter :-)

Poking flowers in here and there, wrapped ribbon and cut out some vintage sheet music and glued to the ribbon. I learned the next day that ribbon doesn't keep the cake moister from seeping through the I decide it was just "sappy music for the soul" hahaa!

So on with the party - by the time I got there, I was pooped and not tons of photos...AND...the cake made it! A big tall box, lots and lots of towels and driving really, really slow and making people behind you really mad...just wear really dark sunglasses and look straight ahead.

This is Debbie, one of the birthday girls, her twin, Maureen will come later. She is arriving at her daughter, Caitlin's house, thinking she is going out to lunch to meet Maureen later. And me, Gretchen, Renee, and Carol with Caitlin are waiting for her as Debbie enters wondering why Caitlin is just standing there and not helping her in!

Debbie is Miss was nice to do something for her. And this was Caitlin's first party.  So it was extra nice that she got to have her first party for her mother.

Renee made these and hung them up. We all laughed because we all arrived pretty late and we said, "We sure can throw a party together in only 15 minutes!" Then Debbie showed up about 30 minutes later than planned.

I folded my French napkins and added little paper corsages for the girls and inside was a little chocolate bunny since it was only a day before Easter.

Potent punch! I drank a few cups and loved it! Champaign, wine, lime juice, lemonade,  and I think ginger ale.

Here is the other birthday girl...Maureen who just got off work.

Both Maureen and Debbie are wearing my craft projects but you really can't see them and will see them next post!

Holly - our other girlfriend. She is always with our parties.

And the Royal Cake in the Arse.
Warning: Made by Professional Wild Hair. Do Not Attempt this Crazy Stunt Unsupervised.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the little flower and cake show. The best part of course is spending times with girlfriends and making them feel special. You know, the nice thing about creating isn't the craft, or the cake, but creating memories. I know we always say that: Creating memories...but it really is true. The laughter, the mess, the craziness. 

But sometimes...creating memories all on your own is good too. Being alone and creating private memories is very therapeutic as well. It isn't "making a mess," but "creating a mess." And it isn't "being alone," but rather "being with myself." And maybe it is just about sitting cross-legged on the sofa, licking the frosting bowl, and not having to share it with anyone, while you watch a rerun of Bewitch. I watch the show and realize they didn't really have teeth whitening strips back then and how weird it seems to see for real, natural teeth on TV. Maybe it's those watching old sit-coms and eating-frosting-moments that keeps life simple. 

As I sit on the sofa, sucking on my spoon full of frosting, I study Samantha's teeth and realize how dark they look compared to anything you would see nowadays on TV. But then I remember how pretty I thought she was when I was a little girl watching that show when it premiered. I take one more lick off my spoon and decide she is still very pretty. Her smile is natural, her laugh is real and not harsh. And I bet she is the type that would be happy to sit next to me and share my frosting with me. I would share my frosting with her any ole day.

Plus, she could twitch that pretty nose and clean up that damn mess of mine in the kitchen for me too.

From my house to your house,
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