Cross Stitched Cupcake Tutorial

I've jumped on the cupcake bandwagon & I'm working on filling my stand that holds 23. I was very wary of my ability to actually finish them, as I'm extremely sewing-challenged. I truly mean it! I have lost count of the amount of sewing machines I've killed over the years & my hand sewing looks like a dog's breakfast!
Anyway, I decided to put together a tutorial for those that are like me, maybe a little scared of giving it a go. I learnt from trial and error & hope this helps someone out there to try it. Don't be scared off by the length of the tutorial, I've just tried to be as helpful as possible with lots of detail. A warning though, cupcake stitching can be very addictive :-)


* A round silicone cupcake holder. (The ones I use have an approximate diameter of 7cm or 2 3/4 inches)
* A small finished cross stitch piece. (Your piece could also be blackwork, assisi, hand embroidery etc.) I use 28 count evenweave fabric & find that a design about 30 stitches by 30 stitches works best. You would perhaps need to choose a different sized pattern depending on the count of fabric you use. Although I’ve used a square design for this example, I prefer a round one to fit the round holder but I guess that’s personal preference.
* Scissors. (You will need to use them for fabric, thread and cardboard so it’s your choice if you use a needlework pair and an everyday pair.)
* Needle. (With an eye big enough to take the beading/fishing thread)
* Ruler. 
* Stanley knife.
* Compass & pen.
* Hot glue gun.
* Wadding.
* Foam rubber. (I bought a 15cm or 6 inch square off cut for $1 at Clark Rubber here in Australia)
* Stapler.
* Off cuts of strong cardboard. (I used an old box of tablets for the dishwasher – anything will do!)
* Embellishments – optional (beads, sequins, buttons, fancy head pins, charms etc. Anything that can be sewn or glued on)
* Fishing or beading thread (It needs to be strong yet flexible. I bought some cheap stuff for about $2)

* Take your ruler and compass, with pen attached.  Open the compass to the diameter of your cupcake holder. In this instance, you’d open it to 7cm or 2 ¾ inches. This will give you a circle that’s double the size of the holder itself. Put the point of the compass carefully into the centre of your stitched piece and draw a circle around it. Once the circle is drawn, cut around it to leave your finished piece.
* Now the next part is up to you as to what order you do it in. If you have any embellishments, I find it’s easier to attach the sewn ones at this point, and the glued ones later, once the cupcake is finished. So far the only sewn ones I’ve used have been a single one in the centre of the cupcake so I’ve attached it before I’ve ironed the piece. However, if you have scattered embellishments, it would be hard to iron around them so it’s best to iron your piece, then carefully sew the embellishments on so as not to crinkle your fabric. If you have no embellishments, just iron your piece. You may also like to put some “fray check” or the like around the edges of your fabric too, I haven’t done that before but so far so good! 

* Put your stitched piece aside for the moment. Take your scrap cardboard, ruler and compass with pen attached. Reset your compass to half the diameter of your cupcake holder, in this case it’s 3 ½ cm or 1 1/2 inches. Draw a circle on the cardboard and cut out. This circle should be roughly the same size as the top of your holder, slightly smaller if anything. You will also need a small circle of cardboard to put into the base of the holder. I generally use a lighter cardboard for this because if it’s too thick it makes it hard to staple in place. I just cut the small circle for the base by eye, but if you like you can measure the bottom of the holder and use your compass to make a circle. Both these circles of cardboard will be hidden, so they don’t have to be perfect.

* Take your holder, stapler and smaller cardboard circle. Hold the circle inside the holder and turn it upside down. Staple into place, using 2 staples for a bit of stability. (I turn the cupcake holder upside down so that the flat side of the staple will be on the outside of the holder, so it won’t catch on anything.)
 * Put your cardboard circles aside and take your Stanley knife, scissors and foam square. This is probably the most fiddly part of the whole project, but it will be out of sight so it won’t matter what it looks like. Start by cutting a piece of foam that’s roughly 7cm or 2 ¾ inches square with your Stanley knife. This tends to be a bit too big, you cut a lot of excess off but I’m still perfecting this part of the process.
 * Using your scissors cut the corners off to give it a slightly rounder shape. I find it best to cut downwards, on a slight angle to try and match the shape of the holder (wider at the top, tapering down to smaller at the bottom). 
  * Once you’ve done this part, sit the foam into the holder and see how it sits, ideally you want it to sit flat, a little below the top of the holder. If it doesn’t sit neatly trim away any excess as you go (don’t do this just after you’ve vacuumed!). Keep testing it in the holder until you are happy with the way it sits. You’ll no doubt need to make more changes once you have the actual cupcake part finished.
  * Put aside your foam piece. Take your finished piece, wadding, larger cardboard circle, needle, scissors and fishing/beading thread. Cut a length of thread, I tend to use a piece about 40cm or16” long. Use only one strand, and put a nice fat knot in one end. Starting about 1 1/2cm or about ½ an inch in from the outside edge of your finished piece, starting stitching around the edge using just a simple in and out motion. I tend to make the stitches about 1 cm or half an inch in length. It doesn’t really matter which side your knot is on, but I tend to keep it on the wrong side of the design just because that feels right! Once you have stitched all around the circle, pull the thread slightly so the edges gather and you have a slight "bowl" shape. Put a knot in the other end of the thread, to make sure your needle doesn’t fall off,  then just leave the end of the thread hanging. 
 * Take a small piece of wadding and start stuffing your circle, pulling the thread a little to make sure the wadding doesn't fall out. Keep filling it, and pulling it tighter until you think you have enough, then place your cardboard circle inside. This helps to make sure you have the right sized ball shape for your holder. (It actually looks like a ball sliced through the middle, but for arguments sake I’ll call it a ball shape)  It also helps you to centre your design too.
* Pull the thread tighter and see if you’re happy with the ball shape, if not add more wadding or take some out. When you are happy with the size (and made sure you have tested that it fills the holder OK), start pulling the thread tighter until the edges pretty much meet. Check again that it looks good from the other side and fits the holder, before stitching it closed. I use a kind of lacing style just to make sure it’s very secure and tight. Knot your thread and trim the excess off. Once you have your completed ball shape you can then manipulate it a little to get the design centred just how you like it.
* By now you should have all your components – your holder with cardboard base, your foam “filler” piece, and your cupcake ball shape. Sit the foam inside the holder, then place your cupcake ball on top. This is how your finished piece will look, so now is the time to trim the foam down, or mould your cupcake into the right shape. I’ve found the foam to be too high sometimes, so grab your scissors and take some off it if need be. You want your ball shape to sit just on top of the holder, so no foam should be visible. Once you are happy with how it will look, grab your hot glue gun!

* While your glue gun is warming up, get your three components mentioned above, as well as any additional embellishments you want to add. In this case I’m going to add a flower shape (I’m not sure what it’s made from) and maybe some berry head bins. These I tend to just stick in at the end and not glue in place – too fiddly. Once your gun is ready, squirt some glue into the cardboard in the base of the holder. You can be quite liberal. Then place your foam in place and squash down until it attaches. (I haven’t found a glue that will stick to the holders yet, hence the need for the cardboard) Once the foam is secure, you can liberally apply more glue to the top of the foam and attach your ball shape. Once again, squash down slightly so it adheres. Now is the time to add any glued on embellishments. Just add a small dob of glue to your embellishment (now is not the time to be liberal!) and attach where you’d like it, pushing down slightly to attach it. Congratulations, you’ve just completed your first cupcake! I dare you to stop at just one!
Birds eye view

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Did you find this tutorial helpful or just plain confusing? Please leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts.

1 comment:

CareyCottage said...

Oh, I think it's very easy to follow. If you have a second, take a look at a few of my 2012 finishes on careycottage/