Cupcake Topper tutorial with Kojo Designs.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Kojo Designs as our guest.  Not only are they sweet, and a pleasure to know, but the gals over at Kojo really know how to throw a party, both offline and online.  Most recently, they celebrated Color My Summer, which was a huge success.  I was honored to share Cake Pops with them to celebrate the color blue.  Offline, Kirsten and Jordan plan and execute the most wonderful parties you can imagine.  Make sure to visit their blog for tons of inspiration!  

Hey Southern Institute friends! I’m Kirstin, half of a sister team that blogs at kojodesigns and I’m so excited to be here today. We adore Jenny (adore her!), can’t get enough of her recipes, love her style (her camera bag is to die for!), and just wish we could spend these summer days chatting it up and drinking lemonade with her. And we’re thrilled to be popping in today with a tutorial for y’all!

We’ve been throwing all sorts of parties this summer (and still have several in the planning stages)! And even though we have four or five “must make” cupcake toppers on our list, we just keep coming back to these fabric bow cupcake toppers. They’re easy to make, they look terrific, and they can be made from fabric scraps- fabulous on all counts.

Want to make some for your next party?

Rip (or cut) small strips of fabric- about 1” wide and 5” long.
Fold the two ends over each other until they overlap with the right sides facing out.
Pull one end through. While the knot is still loose, push a toothpick into the center of the opening.
Tighten the knot and push the toothpick until it is firmly lodged in the knot (don’t wiggle it too much or the bow will slide down the toothpick instead of staying put at the top).
Make a whole fleet of fabric bow toppers and use them to decorate a batch of yummy mini cupcakes!
Thanks again for having us Jenny! Happy summer, Southern Institute friends! Stop on by kojodesigns anytime to say hi!

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Thank you, Kirsten!  This is just the cutest idea for a cupcake that I’ve seen in a long time!

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Mini Memo Book Covers from Larissa at mmmcrafts.

Today is going to be fun!  We have another guest with us who is sharing a great project!  Larissa from mmmcrafts is visiting.  Have you met Larissa yet?  I met her last summer in Atlanta when we both attending Dana’s workshop… it was a blast.  Larissa was a treat to meet and definitely had the cutest shoes in the shop.  Take a look, I think you’ll agree…

Gotta get some of those shoes!  But I digress.  Larissa is extremely talented and her blog is wonderful.  I’m so glad to have her here today.  Take it away, Larissa!

Well, hello Southern Institutioners! I’m so happy to be guest tutorialing here today. I met Jenny when she and Dana and a host of other talented ladies descended on Whipstitch for a class in Atlanta a while back, and let me tell you, that was fun. Delighted to do it again sometime, Jenny!

So a bit about me. I’m a graphic designer turned home schooling mom of two lovely girls. I love to make stuff and drink coffee, and even better if I can make stuff while drinking coffee. I write a blog, mmmcrafts, where you can find tutorials and see all my creative endeavors in sewing, papercutting, and felt makery. I also run an etsy shop where I sell my patterns and the occasional finished piece. Ok, enough about me, now on to the actual making. I’ll wait a second so you can top off your mug.

Make a Mini Memo Book Cover

I love these inexpensive little 3.25 x 4.5 inch composition books. They are just the right size for tucking in my purse. I always seem to need paper to jot things down or keep an antsy child occupied, so I try to keep a supply handy. When I went to the Netherlands several years ago with my BFF, I took one as a travel journal and it was just exactly the right size and number of pages. You can find them at Wal-Mart, office supply and drug stores (and even a few places online), usually for less than a dollar US each.

So here’s how to pretty them up with a nice re-usable cover. It can elevate a 77-cent memo book from plain jane to Gift Worthy.

You’ll need:

1) First step is to print the template at actual size on the back of the card stock. Then score on the dashed lines. I just use the back side of the craft knife blade to score, but be careful not to press too hard at the point. After all the folds are scored, cut out the template on the solid lines.

2) Use the provided spine pattern to trace and cut out a spine from a scrap of decorative paper.

It will be a bit longer than the cover, so it will overlap nicely when you glue it on and it is a cinch to get it centered:

 Then you just trim off the excess with your knife, and the spine is done:

3) Here’s where you can opt for the brad/floss closure, or you can leave those off. If you want to leave it off, skip to step 6. If you are going to include it, insert the brad in the spot marked for it. I happened to have a decorative brad on hand, but a regular brass brad (like the one shown below) will work great too. Don’t squish the brad down super tight. You want it to have a bit of play.

4) Now get your large embroidery needle out and thread it with a double length of embroidery floss that has a knot at the end. Poke through the card stock where it says ‘optional string placement’ and pull the floss through until there is about an inch left before the knot.

5) Put some glue on a small square or circle of paper and press it over the floss, flush with the knot and the hole. I just grabbed my circle punch and popped out a circle to use. Whichever is easiest. Make sure the glue has a nice bond over the floss.

6) Now fold all the flaps/tabs toward the wrong side and crease the spine folds. Since the scoring is on the back side, sometimes it makes a nicer fold if you fold the score backwards first, then toward the wrong side.

7) Glue the flaps to the tabs. Insert the memo book by laying the cover flat and inserting the front and back memo book cover under the flaps.

8) Wrap the floss around the brad two or three times to secure. Once you see what a good length will be, tie a knot in the floss and trim the excess. (Waxing the floss will also make it easier to wind around the brad.)

9) Cut out a label from contrasting paper and glue it to the front of the cover, if you like.


There! The cheap memo book is now a dressed up mini journal. Have fun. You can experiment with different paper color and pattern combinations. Use decorative edged scissors to give added cuteness to the spine. The possibilities are numerous. You might need to go get more coffee. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me here, Jenny!

Thank you, Larissa!  The pleasure was all mine.  Please make sure you visit mmmcrafts for more inspiration, and happy crafting!
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Today We Have a Guest!

I love to read other people’s blogs.  I love to share a great blog when I find one.  But most of all I love getting to know the bloggers behind the blogs that I love.  Today I’m so excited to share Katy Dill with you!  Katy is the author of No Big Dill, a wonderfully beautiful blog.  The first thing that I noticed when I stumbled across Katy’s blog a while back was how she has chosen to picture her five girls’ (yes, you read that right… FIVE GIRLS!) photos on her side bar.  When I saw the photos I knew that this was a blog to read.  Isn’t that funny?  That’s how my mind works.  We all love beauty don’t we?  No Big Dill is a peaceful, beautiful, and creative place to spend time, and I love it.  When Katy agreed to be a guest here at the Southern Institute I was so excited… and then she thanked me!  Can you believe that?  That’s the kind of gal she is.  I hope you’ll take the time to visit her blog and maybe even follow along.

I could go on all day, but instead… here’s Katy!

I’m not a list maker. Usually. I’m the type of person who goes to the grocery store and wanders up and down every aisle, trying to remember what we’re out of, what I thought would be nice to have for dinner, and what one [or more] of the kids requested I purchase. Then I get home and remember all of the above. This month I’ve been celebrating National Sewing Month. I had several projects, giveaways and guest posts I wanted to include, and wanted to make sure I didn’t leave anything out, so I made a list. Well, I made a calendar and scheduled out my posts for the month. I was so impressed with myself, to be honest. There have been a few things that have shifted and been omitted, but for the most part I have my list of posts to thank for keeping me on track.

A few days ago, as I was cleaning the kitchen after my 5 girls were [finally!] in bed, I came upon someone else’s list–that of my 9-year-old. And suddenly my list of the whole sewing month celebration of which I was so proud of myself paled and almost seemed ridiculous. For on that list were two things:

1 Go to church
2 No being mean

Immediately a smile came to my face as I pictured my oldest child writing out what was important to her: things to accomplish. Then I thought how wonderful it would be if we all decided to put “no being mean” on our to-do lists. I recently read a post about a woman who recognized me at the fabric store from my blog. As I read it I thought back to standing at the cutting counter trying to picture myself and my interaction with those around me. Did I smile? Was I speaking kindly to my child[ren]? Was I patient?

My mom used to tell me of her time spent working at Disney World, the first summer it opened. She worked at the concession stands, but would take her breaks in the “employee only” designated areas. She tells how shocked she was the first time she saw Mickey Mouse smoking. He held his mouse head in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Are we really who we appear to be. Always? Or just sometimes?

As I discussed the experience of reading the post about the reader who recognized me, yet oblivious of it all with Ryan, he said, “We talk about how one never know who is watching and who you will run into. That is why we should always act as if someone is watching.” Because they are. It’s easy to be anonymous in the cyber world, but we are all someone. We all have kindness to offer others.

As I’ve thought about the list found in the kitchen, I’ve committed to make a more conscientious effort of at least giving others a smile, giving people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they just lost their job, learned of a serious illness of a loved one, struggling with a divorce, lost a child to death, have doubts that anyone cares. Let us “be mean” a little less and give our kindness a little more. It has no monetary value, but boundless worth.

Thank you so much, Katy!  You’re daughter has a beautiful heart, and I think that says a lot about the type of mother that you are!  

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!  We are spending it with my dad and stepmom, who are in town for the weekend.  On the “to do” list… Disney’s Toy Story on Ice, church, and no being mean, of course!  

What’s on your “to do” list?