Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Felt Cupcake Tutorial

     Lately I have been frantically sewing felt cupcakes for my first job, my aunt's Cupcake Challenge.  And since I'm making so many of these, I thought I might go less stir-crazy if I knew someone out there was making them too! And in order for someone (anyone?) to join me, I have to share the inside secrets of how I make them. So... here you go! How to make a felt cupcake to wow your friends, family, or random strangers you meet walking down the street in a little over an hour!

For each cupcake, you will need:
  • A few scraps of felt, (I always look in the remnant bin first, it will be more than enough to make a cupcake, I usually get at least three out of mine)
  • A sewing machine (not necessary, but nice)
  • A needle and thread (the pieces get too small to sew on the machine)
  • Beeswax (again, not necessary, but very, very helpful when hand sewing)
  • A package of piping
  • A button
  • Fiber Fill stuffing
  • Pinking shears and fabric scissors 

                                                      There are three pattern pieces. The
                                                      first is a circle 4.5 inches in diameter.
(I just traced a bowl.) Cut of a wedge from the middle to make it look like Pacman. Then you will need half of an arch, 6in inches at its widest point, three at its narrowest, and about three inches tall. (I cut apart a cupcake liner and then just made it a little taller.)  Then you will need one more
                                                     circle, this one almost 2 inches
                                                     in diameter. Then cut out one of each
                                                     circle and two arches to look like this:

     Fold the big circle in half and sew up the Pacman mouth. This is your top, and sewing the slice up gives it some shape, making it rounded rather than flat.

     It should look like this when you are done, the middle is about two inches higher than the sides.  Don't worry about the seam, it will be covered with the "frosting".

     Then sew place both arches together, one on top of the other, and sew the straight sides together. (You could also cut the piece on a fold and then you'd only have to sew one seam (this is how I created the pattern to work, but I forgot when it came time to cut everything out) either way works just fine.)

     It should look like this when you turn it right-side out.  Place to the side, you wont need it quite yet.

     Pick a color piping to use. I don't pin the piping to the cupcake top, but you can if you wish (it might get a little bulky though and hard to sew.  The felt does a great job of holding everything in place, so you really don't need to pin it, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead.) Try and keep about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch between the first row of piping and the edge of the felt, this makes it much, much easier to sew the top to the body. Sew as close to the piping cord as you can, I like to sew right on top of the manufacturer's stitches, it helps blend the two colors of thread if you can't get an exact match. (This is great chance to use up filled bobbins, no one ever sees the bobbins thread, and it makes no sense to wind new bobbins for such a small amount of sewing)

     When you come back around to the end of the piping, tuck it under the second row and just keep going! (You may have to slow down here, Madeline had a hard time getting over both cords, and needed a helpful tug.)

     Try and keep the second row as close to the piping cord of the first row as you can, the rows tend to gape a little because of the roundness of the top when the cupcake is stuffed.  Sewing the rows flush seems to help keep things looking a lot neater.

     Keep going around until you can't possibly make another row. (This one should have had one more row sewn.) Make sure to sew the edge of the pipping down into the middle of the open area, it will fray and you will want to be able to cover it in the next step.

This is what the back looks like (I think it looks neat, excuse the randomness.)

     Then go find a button big enough to cover your open area in the middle of your cupcake, but don't pick one that is so big that it takes over screaming "look at me!"  This is my button jar, I keep it handy, and it is almost always useful.

     Sew down your button. I recently found out that you can sew buttons on with the sewing machine and it changed everything.  Set your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch, and shorten the distance between your stitches to zero so that the needle just moves back and forth and the feed-dogs do not pull the fabric forward. (It just hit me that you could just turn the feed-dogs off...) Then widen your stitches to the width of the holes in the button.  After several broken needles, I always take care to turn the crank on the side of the machine, rather than using the foot pedal until I know for sure that I have the right width selected.

     Your top is finished! Pin it to the body of the cupcake (the two arches) with the right sides together.  I found that I can sew these two pieces on Madeline if I go very slowly, carefully, and if I have left a decent gap between the pipping and the edge of the felt. I like to use a small zig-zag stitch rather than a straight stitch (it somehow seems more secure.)  Doing it by hand may be easier, its up to you.  Here are some of my tips for hand-sewing.

     Turn the cupcake right side out.  This is the hardest part.  Luckily felt can take some tugging and pushing.

     Go ahead and stuff your cupcake.  I like mine to be a little under-filled so that they are still soft and squishy, but really its however you think looks best. You will have to hand-sew the rest, the bottom is just too small for the machine, it really doesn't take much time and just giving up and hand-sewing it saves a lot of headaches and frustrations.  I like to use a blanket stitch to get everything really neat and tight.

     You will see this seam, but if you work neatly enough it wont matter, and it will be hidden by the cupcake liner anyways so it really doesn't matter.

Ta-Da! Your cupcake is done!! See, that wasn't so bad!

     Now onto the liner/paper/holder (whatever you want to call it.) Cut out one small circle and two more arches out of any color felt that pleases you, maybe match it to the icing or the button. (I did neither, I just like pink.) Use pinking shears (if you have them) to cut out the long arch, to make it look more like the pleated liners. Sew the two arches together, just like you did for the body of the cupcake.

    Sew on the bottom (by hand again) but you can sew it to the inside of the liner so that you hide the seam when you turn the liner right-side-out and slide in your cupcake. Put the cupcake inside the liner, and you're done!! That's it.  I found that this type of "icing" was by far the most popular, but let me know if you want to know how I made the other two types and I'll whip up another tutorial.

     As a side note, I have a question for all of you amazing readers. What kind of posts would you like to see more of? Do you look forward to the tutorials like this one? Do you crave the stories? Or are you just in it for the photography (although that's unlikely, my photography skills need a lot of work, I really want to take a class this summer.)  How can I hep give you what you're looking for?

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Daniela said...

cute cute cute. But for me its impossible to handcraft such a cupcake. I cant sew.

the little wife said...

They are so easy! and they sew up really fast if you want to try. All you need to do is sew in a sorta straight line!
Ruffles and Stuff has some great tutorials!

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