Friday, January 27, 2012

The BIG Challenge: Geek Chic

Ok, so here it is! My biggest challenge ever! Well, that is until someone else decides it's fun to keep me on my toes...

So, a friend of mine sent me a message and asked how I felt about making a geek cake. Being a self-proclaimed geek myself, my initial response was, sure! Why not? Then I started really thinking about it. How on earth was I going to do that? There are a number of geeky type baby items available on the market, that's for sure. The thing is, many of them spread the whole gamut of geekdom. There may be one thing here and one thing there regarding various aspects of games, TV, etc. that is considered geeky. There really isn't one area that has several baby items. Additionally, the expectant parents were big into StarCraft, a real-time strategy computer game that luckily I had played the original version so I was familiar with it. They liked the game so much, they were naming their baby after one of the character names. So, what I really wanted to do was to make a diaper cake that incorporated that particular game. While I was researching, I found that it would be next to impossible. I found one baby item relating to the game and it would be quite cost prohibitive to order and ship it for a single item to add to the cake. I told my friend that the likelihood of me incorporating the game was slim and asked for color schemes and whatnot so I could keep brainstorming. The colors were brown, green, and purple. Although the parents were having a girl, they wanted no pink.

This is a rough drawing of a pylon.
Don't know what I was thinking...
My first thought was to make the cake in the form of a pylon - a power crystal from the game. After many attempts at figuring out stability for said cake, I decided it was not going to work. Not only that, finding baby items to add would throw off the look and as the power crystal is blue and the components yellow, it was nowhere near the colors the parents wanted.

I went back to the drawing board. I thought I'd do some printable transfers. I could make some burp cloths with binary or geeky phrases on them. After trying different sizes and fonts and figuring out exactly how this idea would work, I scrapped it. Why? Well, I realized that as cute as it would make the burp cloth, an image printed and transferred on would work much better on clothing than a piece of fabric that you intend to soak up messes and something that needs to maintain it's absorbency. I was so close to throwing in the towel and just skipping the geek theme and going with the colors the parents selected. As I mused about my options, I was reminded of the cake I had made not too long ago where I crocheted squashed and gourds. I figured I could crochet a plush topper for the cake!

My crocheted Baneling with an inset of one like you'd
see in the game.
I researched several of the characters, critters, and other items from the game trying to come up with one for the plush topper. I considered a pylon since it seemed simple enough, but the colors were all wrong to go with the cake. I found another critter, called a Baneling and decided that would be my plushie! It's an ugly critter, really, but that's ok, because it works within the realm of the game, would be easy enough to create (ok, I suppose that's relative since I had to come up with the pattern on my own), and would be recognizable for what it was. Not to mention, it could be made in colors to coordinate with the cake. Win all around! While the actual crocheting was a challenge and getting it to look like I wanted, it did come together.

Three burp cloths. Custom hand embroidery.
I may, in fact, be a little crazy.
So, one plush critter was certainly not enough to make this a StarCraft cake. I then decided I could do some embroidery. Sure, I hadn't done it since I was a kid, but I had most of the supplies and with this option I could make a really custom gift. Or gifts. The game has three races that you can play, so I decided I'd embroider (and by that I mean by hand, since I don't have a machine) three burp cloths, one for each race in the game using their race logos. Now, the color thing did cause a bit of a problem, as I couldn't make them match the colors in the game with the colors the parents wanted, but I did it as close as I could. One race is purple, so that worked out. The second, the logo was yellow, so I used green for that one. The third race's logo was red and black, so for that one, I used brown. The embroidery was certainly a challenge and it was a bit of a learning curve, or re-learning curve, if you will. In the end, they came out quite nicely although, if I continue to do some hand embroidery I'll have to look into different tips and ideas to make it a bit easier on myself.

So, after the very custom, handmade items were complete, it was finally time to build the cake! I made a large 3-tier cake using the spiral style of cake. I added large flannel blankets to each of the tiers. I then added some general baby items, washcloths and head bands, and of course, all of my custom items which also included a onsie that declared, "N00B" (a common word/insult in the gaming world) in coordinating iron-on lettering. The final cake was definitely something to be proud of!

Front of the Geek Chic cake
Back of the Geek Chic cake
I was so excited about this cake! I could not wait to hand it off to my friend that ordered it, but sadly, the baby was born early (she's fine, and home, by the way) and the shower was postponed. I did finally get it to my friend and it was of course, a hit! She was so excited that I was able to incorporate the game even though at first I thought it would be impossible. The recipient I hear, also thoroughly enjoyed the cake, so it was a huge success!

I was definitely stretched to the limit on this one. I have never had a bigger challenge, but I'm so glad that I was able to meet it! I now know that with all of the craft skills I possess, I have even fewer limitations when it comes to making diaper cakes. This is a wonderful way to make my mark in the business and I'm very excited about what the future holds!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What To Do For a Cloth Diapering Mama...

This was a recent issue for me. I had an upcoming baby shower for not one, but two cloth diapering mamas. Both mamas had a pretty decent stash of diapers, and though one did ask for a bit more supplementation for smaller sizes, I didn't have enough time to order, so I was left wondering what to do for gifts. I referred back to my previous baby cake that I made for a cloth diapering mama with a plentiful stash and tried to think of ideas. I developed a new concept for these mamas that I'm happy worked out and became a new "product" for my boutique.

Since I tend to be a bit crafty with sewing and crocheting, I decided to create for each of the moms coordinating sets of baby items. For one of the moms, she had a nursery scheme picked out so I was able to coordinate with the colors she had chosen.

The first item I created was a blanket. The blankets were essentially a simplified rag quilt (since these are spring babies that don't need a lot of weight to their blankets, especially here in Texas). I used flannel and super cuddly fabric to ensure they were soft and baby friendly. I used some of the coordinating flannel and created burp cloths, which I've done before and have had as an option in my boutique. I also created matched taggy blocks, but with a twist. Where previous blocks have been a uniform size, the new blocks I made were three different sizes. I also didn't add the "rattle" or crinkle effect to these blocks to make sure they remained machine washable. These items combined created my new product, nursery sets. Future sets may include more than one burp cloth, perhaps two or three that coordinate, or perhaps other baby items. The exciting part about this is that they can be stand alone gifts or the items can be incorporated into a diaper cake or as was the case with these moms, diaper free baby cakes.

For the baby cakes, I started with the three blocks and stacked them. Since they were different sizes, they created the different sized tiers for the cakes. The blanket and burp cloth became the clean outer shape for the cake layers. The smallest block acted as a cake topper. To further accent the cake, I added a few more personal touches. I crocheted hats that coordinated with the colors in the cakes and for the older toddler daughters that each of the moms have, I made matching rose hair clips to create a "big sister" gift. As a final touch, I added matched washcloths which were the only items included on the cakes that were not handmade (well, except for the ribbon).

The final result was two adorable baby cakes, full of baby items, but including no disposable diapers. They made fantastic gifts that not only looked amazing, but included custom items that couldn't easily be found commercially. Both moms seemed to thoroughly enjoy their gifts, which is what really matters in the end.

Friday, January 13, 2012


When I was contemplating several ideas for diaper cakes for Christmas, this idea came up. I've wanted to try my hand at a snowman cake for a while but didn't get around to it for Christmas. Luckily, it's just as appropriate for January as it is December, so it became my Facebook profile picture cake for January.

One of the challenges for this cake is the need for it to be white. Most diapers these days are not completely white, but there are some brands that are mostly white and the small amount of color can be concealed with ribbon. I use blankets, towels, and sheets on my cakes most of the time to conceal the diapers, so usually diaper color isn't an issue. I may have gotten away with a white sheet, but otherwise, my options are pretty limited for achieving the look I wanted. I chose to leave this one "naked" so to speak and used some white ribbon to cover the small amount of color on the diapers. A snowman's recognizable coal face was drawn onto the ribbon for the top tier of the cake for effect.

To achieve the desired look, this cake couldn't be adorned with multiple baby items, so I used what I could to add value and still be able to recognize it as a snowman. A crocheted hat sat atop the snowman's head (the top tier of the cake). A receiving blanket became the scarf. A pair of white socks were stuffed with a second pair of socks and became the arms.

Overall, I think this cake came out great. If I make it again or something similar, I may need to make adjustments. I'd have to revisit the drawing board for scarf ideas since this one seemed short and not as free flowing as I'd prefer. I could make an actual baby scarf, but I prefer to keep my diaper cake components practical. A nice touch is that the hat can be a purchased registry item or made to match a color scheme or theme adding to the versatility of this accent. I hope you enjoy my winter cake! Keep looking out for more updates to come!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas Tree!

This year I had a lot of ideas for my Christmas cake. I actually was contemplating making a couple different cakes but I got a little bit too busy in the pre-Christmas rush and didn't get around to it. I do, however, like the cake that I made and I think it's incredibly creative.

It started out much like many of my other holiday cakes. I built it out of a few premade spiral tiers that I keep on hand. This small cake had two tiers at its core. I chose a green receiving blanket to wrap around the cake to give the look of an evergreen tree. I then added a few decorations - some beaded garland, if you will, and some ornaments on the tree in the form of baby items. It was then topped with a yellow washcloth star and accompanied by several washcloth gifts.

As much as I like the overall look of this cake replicating it might not be very easy. To start, somebody would actually want a cake of this size. Any larger, and my only option would be to have multiple tiers individually decorated with green blankets and then the full cake decorated to look like a tree. In addition arranging the blanket as it was was relatively difficult. Another complication was adding the "ornaments" as these were simply supported by the garland and not attached more securely to the structure. A similar cake could, of course, still be done; however, it would be much more labor-intensive than this display cake was. Merry Christmas to all! Keep checking back for more updates on new projects.