Thursday, October 31, 2013

Home Made Halloween

Well we got Wub's Firestar costume done in time for Trick or Treat to be rescheduled. We're under a severe weather warning here. It's been raining and ick all day long. Hopefully tomorrow night will have better weather and She'll get to go to a few houses.
I finished up her mask at 1:00 in the morning last night. It's definitely flamey enough now.
I'm ridiculously happy with how it all turned out. 
I  had three other costumes to make this year. My nephew Brandon needed a bit of help with his costume for work. I was so super excited to help. 
I followed this tutorial at CraftaholicsAnonymous.
Because our costume was a wee bit larger I made a few changes. We used a queen size egg crate and the overalls were made from a twin size flat sheet. I had to sew parts of it because I didn't think the glue would hold up. Considering how quick and easy Wub's costume was I would have to say this definitely qualifies as a labour of love. There is probably 20-30 hours of work in it including having to hand sew in nearly 10 feer of velcro tape so the whole thing would close. Her advice about the aspirin and wine? I wish I could have taken it. Funny thing is I want to make an army of them next year, so it didn't break me. 
 And yes, he really is ginormous. the costume on was in the 8-9 feet tall range. To give you some perspective here is a picture of me and him together. I am 5'9" and he towers over me. 
Which brings us to my last two costumes. Both of which took less than an hour apiece to make.
Let's start with MHM's.
Basically I took a long sleeve knit shirt, (we didn't have black so this grey henley was our best option. The I took about 1/2 yard of black felt and folded it in half.. Used the shirt as a guide I eyeballed a triangle shape then traced a dinner plate along the  edge of the triangle to form the wings. I held the felt together and cut both wings at once. 
I then used a zigzag stitch to attach the wings to each sleeve and side of the shirt.  I found a bat mask I liked with a Google image search. Printed it out then traced the shape onto black foam. Cut out the mask and sewed an elastic to it. From first cut to final fit 43 minutes. That includes having to replace the needle on my sewing machine. 

For my spider costume I cut four circles out of red foam and four our of black and sandwiched a pipe cleaner in between. These are the spider eyes. I wrapped the pipe cleaners around a coffee stirrer because they were too floppy then pushed these into my bun and bobby pinned in place. My original idea had been to cover ascending sized styrofoam balls in red paint and red glitter. I was going to stack them on long wooden skewers and use them as eyes/hair ornaments. I forgot to buy the styrofoam balls so that went bye bye.

I wore a black maxi dress and a black sweater that reminded me of witchy/spider webs. A long sleeved black tee and black pants would have worked to. I thought about freezer paper stenciling a red violin on the back of my long sleeve black tee but decided against it because the shirt fits perfectly, is super comfy and is a great finish piece for a casual outfit. Not so much with a glittery red violin on the back. Also nobody got time for that. 

I measured a piece of elastic to fit snugly and comfortably below the bust. I then cut 3 pieces of black felt about 4 inches wide times the entire width of the fabric. I sewed the each strip along one edge and then trimmed close to the stitching. I threaded the elastic through one of the tubes stay stitching the elastic at each end. Then I formed the elasticised felt tube into a ring and stitched together using several passes of zigzag stitches. I the centered the two remaining tubes over this and zigzagged them down. These are the legs.

Next I took some cotton twine and tied a knot around the end of the leg I wanted to be the bottom leg. I then took the end of the felt tube and knotted it over the string to keep it secure. I eyeballed about a foot of play in the twine and tied another knot around the top leg again knotting the felt around the twine. I then eyeballed about 18 inches and tied a slipknot loop for my wrist. Lather, rinse repeat for the other side.
 All told 1 hour from cut to finish. This included breaking a sewing machine needle at the start and sewing one entire leg without any bobbin thread. (which of course required winding a bobbin and rethreading the machine) 
In the morning I put on a boat load of eye makeup, my dress and sweater, settled the belt under my bust with the legs at the back. Shoved the eyes into my bun and looped the slipknots over my wrist. Voila! Spider costume!
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two birds with one sewn...

It's Kids Clothes Week. I am seriously going to try to follow the rules although I am a day behind. (probably a dollar short too)

Wub is in desperate need of new pajamas. Over  the summer she had a ridiculous growth spurt. Barely 5T at the beginning of summer is now pushing her way out of size 7. What happened?

I decided to make her the Alex and Anna Winter Pajamas from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I scored a set of  yellow jersey sheets on clearance at Target and made the neckband, cuffs and leg bands from a scrap tee shirt from the striped dress I made her earlier.

The directions are fairly straightforward and the whole thing came together super quick. The only modification I made was this, a freezer paper stencil of flames.
Why pray tell would I want to freezer paper stencil flames on her pajamas?*

Because in addition to needing new pajamas Wub also needed

The Most Awesome Halloween Costume EVER.

Since she was Spiderman last year this year she wanted to be Firestar! 

One of the Amazing Friends from back in the 80's. 

The wig is an Ariel's but it's pretty perfect fit for Firestar too. I still have to finish up the mask. She's actually got a paper mask from her birthday party taped to her face for blogland's sake. The real mask for this costume is going to be much more flamier. (her word)

If I get a chance I'm going to try to make her some red duct tape boots to wear. But if I don't she'll be wearing her shiny red, shiny shoes and red socks. 

All in all it was a pretty easy project. The pattern was great, fits perfectly and went together in a snap. Gotta love it. She does. 

*Funny thing about the freezer paper stencil. Originally I was going to sew the flames out of orange and red knit scavenged from tee shirts. I had half of an orange tee that I had been saving FOREVER but when I decided to get started on her costume it was nowhere to be found. I finally gave up looking and decided to go buy some orange knit after work the next day. 

I went to bed that night and about 2:00 am I woke suddenly, sat straight up in bed and said "Paint the flames on using freezer paper idiot!" then I said "Okay thanks God for saving me from myself." and fell promptly back to sleep. The important part is, I remembered in the morning. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Secret Identity...or why I chose underwear to define my signature style.

When I decided I wanted to participate with the Project Run & Play sew along. I had great dreams and realistic expectations of what would happen. That I've sewn along twice is amazing to me since my sewing time is so limited.

Yes, the second sew along is a pairs of panties and yes, they took me almost no time to sew. However that is part of who I am as a sewer...sewist...sewanista? My time is limited. If I add a task to my already overflowing brain it has to be something that fits into my schedule. It has to be quick and easy so my mind doesn't go into panic mode.

Sure I do make things for Wub that take days and days to sew. I love to sew things for her that are beautiful and full of wonderful details. Which brings me to the second part of who I am when I'm sewing.

Five years ago I didn't want to sew. I hated to sew. I will pin that blame squarely on my eighth grade home ec teacher. She so thoroughly spoiled the act of sewing for  me that I forgot that I ever liked it in the first place. It took twenty two years and one amazing little girl to change all that.

One day I was perusing Etsy and came across an amazing dress. There is of course no link to show you the dress but I can remember it very clearly. It was a beautiful black and white print of gorgeous pocket watches and fobs. The bottom was a wide band of deep red and it had red straps across the shoulders. I was dumb struck with longing to own it.

Or make it. I mean I may have hated to sew but in reality this dress was two rectangles with some straps and shirring. How hard could shirring be? So I looked it up on the internet. And although all I had was a $10.00 kids sewing machine that had never been out of the package I made the trip to JoAnn's for elastic thread and remnant of fabric to see if I could pull it off. I made a test dress and it worked beautifully. I couldn't wait to try it again. I made her three of those rectangle shirred dresses before my $10.00 machine couldn't take it anymore. With no sewing machine I figured that was the end of the brief sewing madness.

Then Mr. Husband Man bought me a real machine for my birthday. Boy howdy, did I make some rectangle dresses then. Including a black and white print with a red hem and ties.
I scoured the internet for tutorials on how to make clothes that didn't require a pattern. After all it was a shorts pattern that sealed my previous hatred of sewing. So I made countless elastic waistband skirts,  shirred tops and aprons. Then I came across Charity from Indietutes fantastic instructions on how to make a peasant blouse. Not quite a pattern but it broke me out of  my comfort zone. Then I discovered her Solar Dress Pattern.  and I decided it was time to sew something from a real pattern. Her directions were so clear and the process was so painless that it made me hungry for more. 

From there I haven't looked back. I still use the internet and the wonderful resources that women and men share as an inspiration daily. I wouldn't be able to sew the things I do without Dana from Made, Charity from Indietutes. Zabet from AntiCraft. Melissa from MellySews or liZ and Elizabeth  from Simple Simon. Plus countless others who share their skills and knowledge on blogs and YouTube videos across the interwebs.

Along the way I discovered two things about myself. One is I really only enjoy sewing for Wubby. I love MHM to the ends of the earth and back but I've only ever sewn him a pair of pajama pants. Two is that the things I love most about sewing are often the things that no one sees or would notice. 

That three inch deep hem on a dress? Love it! it's a special touch that says hand made not store bought. The eensy weensy rolled hem on the bottom of a shirt? Yes, it took me forever to figure out how do it but it's the perfect way to finish of a delicate piece of sewing. Binding all of her collars on with pink bias because that's her favorite color? Making pockets from a totally unexpected fabric? Lining a school jumper with a sweet surprise? These are all things I do to show my daughter how much I love her, how much I want to give her something special and unique. Because she is special and unique and I want to celebrate that. 

One of the things that I love most about my daughter is her love (okay obsession with) Spider-man. Though I'm not really big on showcasing most licensed characters on my kid's clothing. There are a few notable exceptions. Charlie and Lola, Dr. Seuss and Spider-Man. My favorite way to give in to licensed characters? Underpants. Sure no one is supposed to see them (She is five so I have no delusions that they aren't occasionally out on view.) but it gives her a way to carry a beloved character throughout the day. 

Since they don't make Spider-Man underwear for little girls I took matters into my own hands. Now she has a unique article of clothing. A happy little secret that will hopefully remind her of how much I love her.
You can read how I transformed an ordinary tee shirt into something super here.