Fabric cookies a real treat for Halloween, other holidays
When it comes to confections, old-fashioned sugar cookies with icing are one of my faves.
A plate full of them caught my eye the moment I walked into Inspirations Quilt Shop in Fort Morgan. It was a last stop on a summer road trip, and I just popped in to look around the Main Street store.
These scrumptious-looking cookies contained no calories whatsoever because they were made of fabric — wool felt to be exact — in a myriad of seasonal designs.
Patterns for Halloween, Christmas and Easter, as well as a cookie bouquet of flowers, were available. I couldn’t resist the package with directions for Frankenstein, a mummy, a jack-o-lantern, a black cat, a bat and a ghost, and other witchy treats.
It didn’t take me long to stitch all 12 by hand with embroidery floss, embellishing them with French knots and tiny heishi bead eyes. (Heishi is an ancient style of bead made into a small flat disc with a hole drilled through the center).
I added a smattering of shiny glass beads over the cookies to look like candy sprinkles.
I found the inventor of thesebuttercream fabric treats. She’s Julie Geiger, owner of Prairie Point Junction, a quilt shop in the small town of Cozad, Neb., population 4,000.
The community may be not be large, but Geiger’s shop made a big impression on the editors of Better Homes and Garden’s Quilt Sampler magazine. They selected it as one of the Top 10 shops in their fall 2010 edition.
Geiger says she took her sugar cookie idea from the popularity of faux foods in the craft industry, following the recent fabric cupcake craze that swirled across the nation.
Why not a series of cookies to decorate for many occasions?
“I sketched the designs for the cookies, using inspiration from vintage and current cookie cutters,” she explains. “The fun part was customizing
each design with various layers of ‘frosting.’ “
Geiger sells patterns and kits for her sugar cookie series, advertising them as the best kind of cookie: no mess in the kitchen, no calories and no crumbs.
The little ornaments measure 3 inches by 4 inches and can decorate a seasonal wreath or tree, be arranged on a pretty plate for a centerpiece or put on bamboo stems for a faux cookie bouquet.
Her shop also is known as the Home of Wool Felt Central, where she stocks 105 colors of wool blend felt manufactured by National Nonwovens. Geiger carries many 100 percent wool textures, too.
Wool felt is a mix of 20 percent wool/80 percent rayon or 35 percent wool/65 percent rayon. It doesn’t require prewashing, and its flat texture
allows stitching details to show and gives the cookie a firm “dough” or body.
According to Geiger, wool felt is a surging trend in many crafts, particularly because the edges of the bonded fiber don’t have to be turned under or finished as cotton does when appliquéd.
Geiger recommends tiny, hidden whip stitches with one strand of floss when attaching the frosting pieces to the cookie “dough” fabric.
Wool and wool felt both make a “perfect portable project,” Geiger says, adding that shapes can be temporarily adhered to the background with a water soluble glue. Because felt lends itself to handwork, a project is ready to stitch on the go, “perhaps while waiting for appointments, in the carpool line or at your stitching group.”
Wool felt is showing up in costumes, stockings, flowers, softie toys, penny rugs and other dimensional decorations. If you search Pinterest or Etsy on the Internet or peruse craft magazines, you’ll find a wealth of such projects.
“Brides are even using wool blend felts to create keepsake bridal bouquets,” Geiger says.
At prices of about $9 a yard or $1.75 for a fat quarter, crafters are finding the wool felt an affordable alternative to pricey pure wool (sometimes as high as $90 a yard).
She offers a tip sheet for working with wool blend felt on her website at prairiepointjunction.com/wooltips.html.
One piece of advice I found most helpful: Trace the patterns onto freezer paper and press to the felt before cutting them out. Using a fusible adhesive makes the pieces too stiff to stitch through easily.
The best testimony as to how authentic Geiger’s fabric sugar cookies appear comes from a little fellow who accompanied his mother into a quilt shop one day and spotted a grouping of them all decorated on a plate.
His mouth began to water, and before he and Mom left the shop, the boy was in tears. He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t permitted to “sample” one of those cookies.