Acetone Transfer Graphic Cushion Cover

Whenever I’m having a bad day and want to throw a pity party for myself, making a list of all the things I am blessed with helps to keep things in perspective. Even better if I can have some sort of daily reminder that there are many things in my life that I am grateful for. So I printed a favourite quote of mine on a cushion cover that I sewed for our sofa. Here’s the finished product first for all you impatient people out there!

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I used the acetone transfer on canvas technique that I have previously posted about. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as last time, mostly because I was working with a larger image and had to do it in sections, but overall it turned out well. One thing I have learned in motherhood is to be happy- or try to be- with “good enough.” I no longer have the time or energy to be the perfectionist that I want to be, so I’m making my peace with the imperfections in this one. That’s how you can tell I made it and didn’t buy it at some crappy store, right?

You can refer to the original post for the full tutorial, and I’ll highlight what I did differently below. Just remember the most important steps are to create a mirror image of the design you want and then print it on a laser printer, or this technique won’t work. [In the pictures below the image looks like it’s the “right” way because the printed image is facing the canvas and the backside of the paper is facing up, essentially flipping the flipped image if that makes sense!] To start with, I measured the pillow I was covering and cut a piece of canvas to the right size to form the front face. I figured out where I wanted the transfer to go and used pins to mark the left and top margins of the paper so that it would be exactly in the centre.

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Then I cut the paper into segments to make it more manageable to do the transfer- the acetone evaporates quickly so you want to work in sections. Starting with the first piece, I pinned the paper to the canvas, usingthe pins I placed on the canvas as my guide.

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I also marked the bottom of each section of the paper with a pin so that I knew where to put the next one to keep the alignment of the design the way I wanted it; I didn’t want it to look “piecey.”

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I kept moving down the canvas, section by section, following the steps in the tutorial to burnish the image from the paper onto the canvas until it was done.

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Once that was over (phew), I filled in any bare patches with a fine-tip Sharpie and then cut pieces of canvas to form the back of my cushion cover. I decided to do an envelope enclosure which is really simple- I just cut two pieces of fabric to form two “halves” for the back of the cushion, adding some extra length so that they overlapped in the centre. I had my pieces overlap by 4 inces, after hemming the ends that made up the opening. Then I just pinned the two back pieces with the overlap to the front pieces (right sides together of course), sewed all around the outside, and it was done!

cushion-cover

Let’s just not talk about the part that I smudged or the questionable Sharpie touch up job. I really dig these transfers, they are a neat way to make a custom print and I always have fun doing them (once the cursing is over). Try it and let me know how it goes!
-C

Mmm… Macarons

Lately my Pinterest feed has been full of macarons, and they look so pretty I thought it was time I tried these notoriously difficult meringue cookies! My nephew’s 1st birthday party was a great excuse to troubleshoot different recipes and flavour combinations.

If you don’t know what a macaron is, no I am not misspelling macaroon. Macarons are made up of almond meringue cookies (“shells”) with a buttercream or ganache filling, and they come in a myriad of colours and flavours. They are delicate and dainty and very pretty to look at, with a crunchy exterior and a soft, slightly chewy centre.

I wanted the macarons to match the invitations that I made, so I picked flavours that would work with the colour scheme I had: white, brown, yellow, blue, and green. I used washi tape to make the tags with toothpicks and polymer clay, and displayed them on a large square platter. They looked great and tasted great too!

pistachio, coconut, macadamia nut macarons with buttercream and ganache filling

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Now, I love to bake and I was pretty confident before attempting these, even though I had heard from others that macarons are hard to make. They seem like they should be easy, because there are only 4 ingredients in standard macarons. How hard could they be, right? But I was punished for my hubris when only 1 of my first 4 trays turned out! The tops would pop off, and the bottoms would stick to the pan or wouldn’t cook at all. Through trial and error (and consulting with my sister-in-law, who has worked as a pastry chef and went to Cordon Bleu) I figured out how to consistently get the macaron shells to turn out in my temperamental oven.

Here are my tips:

  1. If you’re using a Kitchen Aid, you might need to occasionally tip the bowl and whip the egg whites by hand. I found mine would only whip the top portion of the egg whites that the whisk was touching.
  2. A sieve is your friend. You will need a sieve, a food processor, and sometimes both. The ground almonds/nuts I found were not as fine as they should be, so I would end up with bits that wouldn’t pass through the sieve. I pulsed these in my food processor until most of them passed through the sieve- I liked a bit of crunch so I forgave some larger pieces (not technically allowed for the purist).
  3. Less is more when you fold in the the dry ingredients with the egg whites. A good estimate was about 20 strokes to fold the batter together. I’ve read in a few places that it is supposed to have a “lava” like consistency once mixed. If you drop some of the batter back into the mixture, it should hold for a few seconds and then smooth out.
  4. If you’re using food colouring, add it to the egg whites after they are mostly whipped, then whip until the colour is uniform. Then add the dry ingredients to the coloured egg whites. I used gel colouring so I’m not sure how standard food colouring would work, you need to be careful not to thin out the egg whites too much.
  5. Don’t use too large of a circle template, or the centres won’t cook. The perfect size for me was about the size of a toonie (if you’re not Canadian, that’s about 1 1/4 inches). To make the template, I just traced toonies on parchment paper with a sharpie and then flipped the parchment paper over so you could see the template but the marker wouldn’t transfer. Also, don’t get cocky and think you don’t need a template- the ones I tried to eyeball were horridly uneven, no matter how careful I thought I was being!
  6. When you’re ready to pipe the batter, hold your piping bag vertically over the centre of each template, almost touching the parchment paper. Pipe a drop of batter until the edge of the dollop fills the circle template (do not use a spiralling motion). Then firmly draw the piping tip to the side to finish. Although I didn’t use this recipe, the video shows the piping technique. Once the tray is full, pick up the tray and tapped it firmly on the counter 2-3 times. This is supposed to get excess air out.
  7. I found I had to bake one tray at a time, because my oven is crap. I also couldn’t open the oven to rotate the pan or else they would collapse, so I just had to accept the fact that a few macarons on each tray would break due to uneven cooking. My coworkers didn’t mind eating the broken shells! For the sake of efficiency, I would pipe out the first tray and then wait about 15 minutes before piping out the next tray, so that once the first tray was done baking the next tray was ready to go in.
  8. Speaking of trays, the batch that I tried to be all fancy with and use my new insulated flat cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat turned out terribly for me. The way to go was good old parchment paper on a large baking (jelly roll) tray. I have heard from a few people that the insulated pans don’t get to the right temperature fast enough for macarons.
  9. I got the best results when I made the shells the day before I made the fillings. Make sure they are cool and dry before throwing them all into a ziplock bag or tupperware, or you will have a mini break down when they all stick together!
  10. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them after assembling. Keep them frozen until you want to serve them, and do not let them come to room temperature in sealed containers or they will sweat.

Alright, if you can keep all of that straight in your head and still want to try making macarons, here are some recipes! If you’re having trouble picking just one, pistachio was the biggest hit at the party.

*Note that meringue is pretty sensitive to humidity and I live somewhere pretty humid… so you may want to play around with the recipe bit if you live somewhere really dry. I have seen recipes with different egg white/almond flour proportions, so if they don’t work out for you then don’t give up!

Macaron Shells (Unflavoured/Almond)

Ingredients
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 125 g ground almonds
  • 112 g egg whites
  • 50 g white sugar
Instructions
  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and trace circles about 1 1/4 inches in diameter (a toonie works great) about 1 inch apart on the parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift ground almonds and icing sugar together into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whip egg whites until foamy, then slowly add white sugar. Whip until egg whites hold stiff peaks.
  4. Fold icing sugar/almond mixture into egg whites. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe onto the prepared trays.
  6. Allow each tray to sit for 30-60 min before baking, until a “skin” forms (when you poke it with your finger tip, it is dry to the touch).
  7. Bake at 300F for 12-14 minutes, until the tops are slightly puffed and “feet” (bubbles) form below.
  8. Carefully remove the parchment paper and macaron shells from the hot pan and set on the counter until completely cool.
  9. Remove from parchment paper and store in an airtight container until ready to add filling.
  10. Prepare desired filling and spread between 2 macaron shells. Twist shells (like you would an Oreo) so that the filling slightly oozes out the sides. Yum!

Hazelnut variation:

Follow steps above but reduce almonds to 62.5 g and add 62.5 g ground hazelnuts. Add brown food colouring to egg whites before folding in almonds/icing sugar.

Pistachio variation:

Follow steps above but reduce almonds to 95 g and add 30 g ground pistachios (roasted unsalted, shells and skin removed). Add green food colouring to egg whites before folding in almonds/icing sugar.

Macadamia nut variation:

Follow steps above but reduce almonds to 75 g and add 50 g ground macadamia nuts (raw). Add yellow food colouring to egg whites before folding in almonds/icing sugar.

Coconut variation:

Follow steps above but reduce almonds to 100 g and add 25 g ground coconut (unsweetened). Add blue food colouring to egg whites before folding in almonds/icing sugar.

Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Buttercream

Ingredients
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Using an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and the butter together until fluffy.
  2. Add dulce de leche and mix until combined.
  3. Slowly add in the icing sugar, about a half cup at a time.
  4. Spread or pipe onto macarons, sandwiching two together.

Pistachio Buttercream

Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped pistachios
  • green food colouring
Instructions
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Add in vanilla and mix.
  2. Slowly add in the icing sugar, about a half cup at a time.
  3. Add in pistachios and food colouring and mix to combine.
  4. Spread or pipe onto macarons, sandwiching two together.

Coconut Buttercream

Same as above, except use 1/2 tsp coconut extract instead of vanilla,  1 tbsp dried unsweetened coconut instead of pistachios, and blue food colouring instead of green.

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Milk
Instructions
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Add in vanilla and mix.
  2. Slowly add in the icing sugar and the cocoa, mixing after each addition.
  3. Add milk to thin out if necessary. You can adjust the icing sugar amount if you want a thicker/thinner consistency.
  4. Spread or pipe on to macarons, sandwiching two together.

Passion Fruit & Mango White Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients
  • 1 large mango
  • 1 passion fruit
  • 150 g white chocolate, chopped
Instructions
  1. Cut the flesh from the mango and scoop out the pulp from the passion fruit. Pass the passion fruit pulp through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.
  2. Combine mango and passion fruit in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Slowly melt the white chocolate in a small pan over a pot of boiling water, or use a double boiler.
  4. Remove from heat and add the mango/passion fruit purée, stirring until smooth.
  5. Spread or pipe on to macarons, sandwiching two together.

Some of the filling recipes above will make more than you need, but you can freeze the unused portion for next time! Enjoy and let me know how they turn out.

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Follow me on Bloglovin’!

A few people have asked me where I find some of the blogs I follow. The truth is that I spend a shameful amount of time on the Internet (I blame my husband for being a bad influence). The first thing I do when I want to tackle a new project is Google it, like “how to sew a slipcover”. If I find I keep going back to the same few blogs for help with different things, I usually become a loyal reader.

But you don’t have to invest the time that I have on Google Search! Bloglovin’ is an easy way to find blogs you might be interested in for a variety of topics… parenting tips, home décor, recipes, DIY, you name it. And now I’m on it too!–> Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I’ve already found a few new blogs to follow, because it suggests similar results after you show it a few examples of what you’re interested in reading. Ahh, the wonders of technology!

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