Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cupcakes for the First Days of First Grade

My kids started school this week. Suddenly the summer is over. Whoa. 

Well... starting school is a big deal, right? 
So did I sew them Special School Outfits?
Or Sentimental Backpacks, like when they started preschool and I was a weepy lump of mush, hunched over my sewing machine, wrestling with existential issues like My Babies Are All Grown Up and Where Has The Time Gone etc.?


Sorry, kids, you only get to "leave home" (and watch me do my manic emotional breakdown/cathartic sewing thing) once. 

I did, however, continue with the tradition of commemorating First Grade First Days. My girls do half-day kindergarten and only start having lunch in school in first grade. Which means that, at her own lunch table, The Mother will miss the little face and stimulating company of each subsequent First Grader. Sniff.   

So I put something in their lunch bags each Monday for the first month of first grade. Emily's (2011) were squid and fish.

This year, Jenna starts first grade, so I made her a cupcake. Remember: Jenna is our baking and confection aficionado i.e. squids are funny but they are not as cool as cupcakes. 

Really easy to make (especially since, thanks to bad planning, I didn't truly realize it was the first day of school until about 10 pm the night before). And wonderful scrap-user-upper. Here's the tutorial.

You'll need:
  • 2 pieces of scrap fleece 12" x 2.75" (roughly)
  • One piece of ribbing or stretchy knit thing 6" x 4" (includes 1/4" SA). Fold this into a rectangle that's 3" x 4" - see diagram for stretch direction. Sew up the 4" side seam with your sewing machine to make a tube.
  • One piece of the same ribbing or stretchy knit thing, roughly 2" x 2".
  • Some template plastic (not shown) or other stiff material
  • Glue
  • Needle and thread for hand-sewing.

Fold each piece of fleece lengthwise and lay one on top of the other, with one end protruding beyond the other's.

Apply glue - I use UHU for everything in my life that requires gluing, but I suppose tacky or fabric glue would work for this project, too.

Fold the protruding end over

and start rolling, gluing the layers down as you go.

Roll to desired size (about 1.75" - 2" in diameter). As you roll, slide the layers down to create a blunt cone. Tuck the ends away neatly and glue down.

Trim away the slanty bits of fabric at the bottom to make a flat base.

Take that bit of ribbing/stretchy knit that you sewed earlier, and turn it RS out into a cuff (it will be double-layered).

This will be your cupcake liner.

Fit it over the cupcake thing you rolled earlier.

See the surplus 'liner' fabric sticking out at the bottom?

Scrunch that up in preparation for the base.

Trace and cut a small circle out of template plastic (you can buy this in fabric stores). For this size of cupcake, I traced around a large spool of thread. 

Glue just the middle of that circle of template plastic to the scrap piece of ribbing/stretchy knit and cut a 1/4" border around it.

Glue (only in the middle, again- leave the edges free)) the other side of the template plastic to the scrunched-up bottom of the cupcake. 

Fold in the 1/4" border between the plastic and the scrunched-up bottom and ladder-stitch all around to attach, pulling the base fabric snug around the plastic circle,

like so:

Embellish. Did you know you can punch out felt confetti? Just use a hole punch, the sharper the better. And use good wool felt. It won't work with acrylic. 

Ta-da! Lemon-lime cupcake with sprinkles

and cherry (random red pompom I found in the kids' craft supplies).

Here's another variation: - red velvet cupcake with heart topper and green tea sprinkles.

And a chocolate-mocha swirl cupcake with a flower and vanilla sprinkles.

I used three pieces of fleece for this, to get the three layers.

Four cupcakes for four Mondays in September!

Kate got a bunny (which she's named Lucy) in her backpack, for her first day of kindergarten. Like Emily's First Grade Fish, this was from Terumi Otaka's book.

Emily got another fish for her collection but unfortunately, I couldn't find it for the photoshoot. Instead, I will share a limerick I put in her lunch bag one day last year:

Once Emily remembered to pack
Her lunch in a brown paper sack,
But failed to include
Her mid-morning food,
So ate the brown paper for snack.

He he he! Which reminds me that I've gotta think up more limericks for the kids this year. They're so daft that they're even better than sappy love notes (which I also sometimes include, like when I'm too sleepy to think up limericks in the mornings).


  1. Oh my word, they are so cute. I made some cinnamon swirl buns using a similar method, but I really like the way you've made these. I'll have to add them to my list of things to try. You can never have enough play food!

  2. Those cupcakes look yummy enough to eat! I bet Jenna loves them. The little bunny is super-adorable, too! Your limerick made me giggle, too. What a fun mom you are!

  3. Love these, I often make felt cupcakes, must try this recipe, Thanks :)

  4. My baby is going to full-day school starting Monday as well! I did make her a backpack and school uniforms, but a little surprise play food is never amiss. I love the green tea spotted one especially.

  5. No way!!! these are much too cute!!

  6. The cupcakes are darling, and I love your limerick!

  7. wonderfull cupcakes! I adore everything You do :) It's off topic, but I found some diy ikat shoes maybe, will be interesting ;)

  8. All of your creations are so wonderful! I love the cupcakes and I think I will try making some to put in my display case at my restaurant. Thank you so much for the tutorial.
    You are just SO CRE-A-TIVE.

  9. So cute! The limerick more than the cupcake. And the idea of limericks in lunch note every day (or even sporadically) more than the limerick. And the cupcakes are super cute by the way, so sparing you the superlatives :)

    I'm going to get my kid to do these in miniature, just sticking single layers instead of doubling up the felt - doll cupcakes! Or, even the larger size, with sock tops instead of sewn up stretchy fabrics, and a cardboard at the bottom (which will make it non washable alas but frees me from helping with the sewing). Thank you!

  10. They are so lovely! I'll make one for sure! Thank you so much, awesome tutorial :)


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