Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello Kitty Birthday: A Dress & Other Homemade Sweet Things

I'm behind on my blogging so I'm just going to jump in again.  The weekend before last we celebrated my daughter's 5th birthday with a Hello Kitty themed celebration.

I also made, but took no photos of, a whole set of small Hello Kitty coloring books.  This was the cover.  Thank god for the "booklet" and "suppress background" settings on the office printer.  

I promised her a Hello Kitty dress (why? why would I do that?) and was only able to find one licensed fabric when doing my last minute scramble at Joann's.  In addition to being a really busy pattern, the quality of the fabric was not high.  But it was all they had three days before the party so I bought it.  There's a lesson there, but it escapes me.

It's hard to tell since, like an eclipse, you can't actually look directly at this pattern without damaging your eyesight, but the background is pink and HK's bows are red.  Abby's two favorite colors!  (P.S. The solar eclipse yesterday afternoon was super awesome-  I may be blind.)

Thankfully, it has been sunny so the thin fabric worked fine, though I did line the bodice with muslin.  I starched the hell out of the skirt too which helped.  I used the same bodice pattern I've now used four times, but changed it again and simply sewed the straps to the back- no buttons or Velcro.  I remembered to reduce the width of the straps too and it made a huge difference.  I intended to use a 4 inch zipper, but realized it wasn't necessary.  I could slip the whole thing over her head and save myself the effort.

I've been trying to pin horizontally and not vertically like I'm supposed to do for garments, but it is REALLY hard .  Guess I've already developed bad sewing habits.

The biggest pain was the gathering on the skirt.  I'm just not good at it yet.  I need more practice.  I have a gathering foot that I need to give a whirl one day.   I just have to give myself enough time to mess around without a hard deadline.

Look carefully.  There were so many frayed threads from the cheap fabric that finding the gathering threads was  a stressful task.

The cake was my sister Anna's doing. Abby loved it with all of her little heart and soul. I think it is one of those things she'll never forget.  Which is good since it took Anna forever and she might never bake anything again.

I cannot believe Abigail is five years old.  My sweet girl.  

How awesome is that?  See the crazy-cool things Anna does with nail polish here.  Apparently, she was able to transfer those skills over to cream cheese frosting because the cake was amazing (and tasted pretty damn good too). Mmm.  Spice cake.

A boy at the party got within inches of pouring bubble solution on the cake in an effort to put out the candle.  No joke.  

My sweet contribution were two dozen Hello Kitty cookies:

Step 1 (actually step like ten million, but for illustrative purposes, let's say 1):
Hello Kitty's distinct bow.  Dark pink was as close to red as I could get it.

Step 2:  Background takes 24 hours to set before you can finish decorating.

Step 3:  Little faces!  All prepared to be consumed and promptly forgotten. 

I followed directions, step by step, from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. (Do not compare mine to hers- it will make Hello Kitty sad.) To get to the point where I could even follow those directions I had to delve pretty deep into some baking blogs. I learned more then I ever wanted to know about royal icing.  Sugarbelle's site was by far the most helpful!  Her comparisons to household products for consistency is just genius and is super helpful for a beginner.  I especially liked how she saved the toothpaste after one blog demonstration and made her kids use it. That's my kind of blogger!  Once I prepped everything, the actual cookie making wasn't too hard.  I think I will be volunteering for the bake sales with themed cookies next year! You know, in my free time.

Notes on the project:  Dress was made in considerably less time and with substantially less stress then the cookies.  Both were adorable.

Cost:  The fabric was on sale 40% off and I bought 2 yards for a total of about $8.  The zipper was an additional $1.96,  but I didn't end up using it.  I had the muslin and thread on hand.  Pretty sure I will never use the Hello Kitty cookie cutters or cake pan again but I like to think of them as sunk costs anyway.  I did buy 8 Wilton candy bottles for "flooding" the cookies (that's my new cookie lingo in effect, folks!), some oil free butter flavoring, 4 lbs of confectioners sugar, some cake release stuff, two new cookie sheets, a new box of disposable pastry bags, and a couple extra small tips for about $120-ish.  The frosting, dye and cake mix were all on hand for the Hello Kitty cake so that cost was $0 and about 8 hours of Anna's time. She is the best Auntie ever!  Seriously, that was an act of uncalled for awesome-auntieness. 

Verdict:  Success!  The dress has already been worn again, though one of the seams came loose.  The cookies were cute and not inedible.  I flavored the dough with vanilla and the royal icing with butter flavor, but neither with a strong enough hand.  Next time I will do my best to find some oil free extract for the icing that is tastier. 

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