Friday, November 20, 2015

Villains, but huggy. Or, costumes 2015!

Quite proud of this year's efforts... P just wanted a long black cloak with a hood -- Grim Reaper, Palpatine/other random Sith, or Voldemort. Easily achieved -- harking back to his original Jedi robes from long ago, it's a long selvage-to-selvage rectangle with slashes on the sides for sleeves, which were half the width of the body. I sloped both shoulder and cuff lines slightly. The hood is nice and deep and it has a snap at the throat so he can wear it as a cape too. It's exactly what he wanted, with lots of growing room.

With less than two weeks to go, K changed her mind from Scarlet Overkill (i was excited for that rocket dress!)

to Evie, daughter of Snow White's Evil Queen stepmother, from the Descendants TV movie...
and its animated follow-up, Wicked World.

and of course I agreed because of that very swooshy jacket. Kara Saun, the movie's costume designer/wardrobe mistress, put together the most interesting shapes and textures...

looking at these sketches I thought it was more like a cape, but looking at how it moves in the movie (and probably taking into consideration changes made during production), it's really more like a moto jacket with bell sleeves. So mine is a tribute to, or inspired by, Ms. Saun's distressed leather multi-layered creation.  

I went with costume satin -- a dark royal blue rather than the navy/denim shade of the leather, and remnants of red for the lining. I used a basic raglan draft and a combination of slash-and-spread and plain swinging-out lines to get the right shape for the sleeves. (I wanted a fluid look, not the boxiness I sometimes get with set-in sleeves... )
I constructed the lined sleeves first, then sewed them to the body... I dithered about lining the whole thing, but I'm glad I did because it made it that much warmer, and prevented the back applique from irritating or snagging. Rather than the sculpted/princess seams of the leather source garment, I sewed the front and back as straight pieces then pin-fit deep bodice darts. 

Franny helped with the hand-painting of the sleeves and wide stand-up collar -- we used Speedball waterbased screenprinting paint and regular flat and stiff round brushes. This is heat-set and washable!

I'm rather proud of the way the 24" brass zipper looks -- I used it as a non-functional edging for the open collar instead of trimming at the top. F has historical difficulty with jacket zippers, so i made sure this one stuck out from the bottom enough. Added a few brass studs to the front -- it's tiring doing those one-by-one, so I stopped at 6 per side... 

jacket front: metal studs, 24" brass jacket zipper used as both closure and "piping"/finishing for the neckline. 
The iconic cracked crown on the back is an applique of gold-on-black allover sequinned fabric, outlined with gold dimensional fabric paint then glitter.

Back applique and velcroed belt.
The other components: a dark blue mock turtleneck with finger-loop sleeves (that I made into a
 leotard just because!), tights hand-painted to look wrecked, and a circle skirt with an elastic waist. I couldn't find any red/blue/black/white print, so I color-blocked a dark blue batik and a Robert Kaufman vortex/starry sky print. I then had some fun embroidering touches of red...
the rest of the outfit
crown-heart pendant made from polymer clay

blue yarn braided into her hair

Saturday, October 31, 2015


This post was a long time coming! I started it in early September but didn't get around to putting it up. Bad, bad.... On a whim I bought a sewing machine. It's a Janome MC4800 that is probably as old as my Kenmore, but works very well and has a lot more stitches. Most important to me, it does five kinds of buttonholes, one of them automatic, and embroiders letters. (Still not exactly all I'd ever need, but more on that later.) So for now the Kenmore that has served me well, but I've had fights with lately, is tucked to the side.

I had originally been looking for second-hand embroidery machine for uniform monogramming, but I guess no-one sells them back :( . Lucky for me my dear brother-in-law has a membership at TechShop and they have a Janome MC350E, so as part of our fun and fabulous trip to Pittsburgh he and I spent an hour embroidering 6 shirts with the school letters. Seriously that place is amazing and if they had one near me I would happily spend hours crafting with metal and plastic as well as wood and fabric, they have machines that work analog as well as CNC everything.

But look what I have been able to finish with my new Janome -- as well as a look at those embroidered shirts.

It is a shame that the uniform rules are not flexible, because I would have rather made some oliver + S Parachute polos (I even found a knit pique fabric on Etsy) but those ribknit-to-fit collars are impossible to buy. (I might still get that pattern for sweatpants tho!) I got these from Old Navy.

The pants and shorts are all the Sketchbook pattern, with snap and zip fly and adjustable button elastic waists; I've also tweaked the pocket to make it fit P's hand better. They are in different fabric weights to carry into the fall and winter: poplin, poly twill, light drill, and denim-weight twill.
The skirts (one in cotton twill, one in poly drill) are a mash-up of the shape of the Sailboat skirt and the Badminton skort, with the Playtime leggings-as-shorts.

Thinking about it I do like sewing multiples of things, with little changes between... I finally got around to sewing up the idea I had in my head for an Empire-waist dance dress. It has my now-standard snaps between the legs and a pretty layered chiffon skirt. K likes it, and true to form more dancewear is forthcoming because she's doing dance 4 times a week soon!

Lastly one more hot-weather shortard. This is a great pic of how she likes it... you can also see how it snaps.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

girly gamer case... a sort-of tutorial.

K got a 2ds for her birthday that was just like her brother's except aqua and white. Since then,  she's been wanting a case for it... something fun and girly but convenient and practical.

I had this offcut from the runners I make for the bakeshop, a pretty medallion print cotton/polyester from Mood Home. It's soft but durable and goes perfectly with the colors of her DS. To go with, some scraps from her Easter dress in a yarn-dyed plaid for the interior pockets (this might have been from the fabric shop on the LES, not sure!) You'll only need a bit, not even 1/8 yd. of each.
I could spend so much time at Pacific Trimming -- less than 7" elastic, 1" creamy beige 1" and 3/4" magenta; about 11/2 yards of 1" teal twill tape; and a 18" custom-cut separating Riri fuchsia aluminum zipper. They also have 1" plastic sliders for the straps - i used three. I had some 1" pink nylon webbing for the strap from Joann (left over from the small backpack.)
(Not as cute but less trouble: colored zipper for just a bit of fun visual, elastic in black and whitetwill tape  and metal d-rings1" black webbing from Wawak Sewing Supply.)
I also used craft foam (left over from monkey wings) for support and stability, and some padding to help protect the electronics from each other... (actually I just used some craft fur a friend gave me, but hi-loft polyester batting would work well too).

The main piece is a rectangle 7 1/2 x 14"; sew on the pockets, 9x 3 1/2", with elastic sewn to the tops with a stepped zigzag... stretch the elastic as you sew so it can do its job keeping the charger/cord and DS in place.
 Another length of elastic (not stretched)  for the cartridges goes above the charger pocket, with dividing lines. (Leave a space in the middle for the case to fold.) A double-layer flap, 7 1/2 x2", with batting, goes on top of the DS pocket, so that the screen doesn't get scratched by the charger.  

The outside main piece has interfacing, then the craft foam (trim about 3/8" from the edges so less bulk is at the seams), then the padding. Put the assembled inside main piece on top, making sure the ends of the elastic are flush with the rest. Pin or baste all the layers together, and round the corners a bit.

Assemble your strap with its hardware: sew one end of the webbing in a loop around the center post of the slider, then pass the free end through one d-ring before slipping it back through the slider. Sew the free end around the other d-ring. Cut two 2 1/2" pieces of twill tape for attaching the strap to the outside main piece, and slip these through the d-rings.

Pin the small pieces of twill tape to the main piece sandwich in the center of the long edges. When you sew on the twill tape, it will finish the edges, attach the inside flap and outside strap, and close the sides of the pockets all at once.
Use lots of pins to keep the twill tape from shifting as you place it around the edges of the sandwich -- be careful not to pull too hard. Ease around the corners (I think it looks neatest to start and end in the center of a short end, not like I did at the corner!) and use a short straight stitch close to the edge of the twill tape. Reinforce the strap attachment loops on the inside if needed. 

finally, carefully pin the zipper to one side of the case right up against the twill tape's inside edge. Baste in place, then close the case so that you can pin the other side of the zipper. Baste this edge, then unzip. Sew the whole perimeter at once from the inside, being consistent so it looks nice on the outside -- and so you don't lose a lot of width.

And that's it! Put all the gear in the pockets and game away!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Summer vacation clothes!

The kids have outgrown their warm-weather clothes, so much so that I have to look them over before we go out of the house! So some quick wardrobe build-up is in order for everyday, but also for our planned trip for P's birthday. Oliver + S is good for this simply because they're basic and a quick sew, and come out good every time... with some mods to change things up every so often!

Pants first -- I realized in spring that P was wearing his pants at the hip-line and that was why he still hadn't outgrown them in length... I made him stick it out a month or so for the navy uniform pants, but made these for knocking around and summer: Grey brushed cotton twill Field trip cargos; the loden viscose gabardine, forest denim and khaki polyblend drill are lengthened Sketchbook with snap/zip fly and buttonhole elastic. Since the khakis are for school (they transition to a new color this grade -- the main reason I didn't want to make new pants! :D) they have belt loops and reinforced knees.  

Next, shorts... three pairs for K and three for P. (Except that there were tears about the pink check being "too boyish!" (???), so I gave them away to another sewist's little girl.) They are all Sketchbook shorts with snap/ zip fly and buttonhole elastic, except the black ones which are a Ottobre jeans pattern. Her shorts are actually from earlier this summer, as she wore the purple ones for her birthday in the park. His are more recent, the green and gray are canvas from IKEA (!) and the khaki poplin can do duty as a uniform this fall.

Next is a Butterfly top, made from fabric I brought home from my 90's stash of country kitsch. She can pull it off, unironically.

 This is a mashup of the Croquet dress and Sunny day shorts... I guess it would be a loose woven cotton version of the "shortards" in my previous post. I'd gotten some of the Little Lisette icepop poplin and had been saving it for something summery and cute. The orange is Kona cotton.

Some quick fixes: since they are shorts, they can't be pulled on over the head, so I made the back opening longer so she can step into them instead.
original facing is in pencil, new facing outline is in red.

facing sewn and opening slashed.. the little bit sticking out are the ribbon for the button loops.


bodice pattern pieces... red is the new cutting line.

turned to the inside, with the button loops showing.

 I also took 2 inches off the length of the bodice to eliminate the drop-waist but keep it a bit blousey,

 and attached the elastic to the bow (which I cut in half and finished the ends) so that the bow actually tightens the waist. 

she looks pretty happy here, but really she only likes the bow and wants dresses. Um, I can do that too!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Shortards! yes, I made up a word.

The latest addition to K's dance wardrobe: leotards that are shorts. Firstly, sleeveless for the summer, and second, one-piece dressing. I am very pleased with the slight changes that I've made to jalie 3138... added 2 inches to the leg length to make them more like shorts, and a snap-closure for quick bathroom runs. 

The first one, in a lycra swimsuit-type fabric; no changes except longer legs and snaps.

Lycra stretch , with self-binding and snaps.
The second one, with a little double ruffle and color-blocking in cotton knit... a little fancier!

Purple floral with a little skirtie.
The shorts part fits great! I might redraft a little because they bag around the armhole, or maybe that's just me and finishing the armholes on a regular sewing machine rather than a serger. These are great because no elastic is needed. 
Since she's dancing every day this summer, these will get a lot of use!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pirates we will be!

So, political and social commentary aside, pirate costumes are fun. The kids' spring music show had a pirate premise, and I asked them what they wanted to wear -- they both drew long coats... Coats befitting an admiral, or a captain, if you will, based on o+S School Days coat pattern. P's is a size 8 in royal blue poplin (flying monkey leftovers) with extra length and satin cuffs/placket added. K's should have been a size 5 or 6, but I was reaching and made a 7 out of gold and burgundy brocade with broadcloth accents... with a bit of flare in the front seam. I ended up taking big darts front and back to make it more tailored (and look less like a starlet's boudoir robe...) 

I determined that I would make them two items each. Seinfeld-esque puffy white pirate shirts will be left to cooler times (maybe Halloween?), can you imagine all that extra fabric on their chests? K's pants are Puppet Show shorts lengthened to below the knee, with elastic in the hems instead of bias binding. Her belt is a surprise star player from the Jedi/princess days, an oval with long ties made from stretchy pleather.

The hat is the top of the Bucket Hat, with a larger oval for the brim. I layered interfacing so that there would be a double thickness at the points of the tricorn, and toilet tissue rolls support the upturns. If I make another I'll make a fabric/interfacing sandwich; it just didn't seem worth the trouble for one day.

(Apparently when they got to school, face paint and an eye-patch happened to P, and K could no longer stomach the uncoordinatedness of her orange headscarf.)

Fabric from Vogue Fabrics/, fleece from, buttons and paisley trim from Daytona Trimming.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

plaid here!

... that was the actual caption on her drawing of her Easter dress.

She picked out this spring like plaid from my stash and drew what she wanted. Short and full lost out to longer and less so.

The o+S Fairytale dress has been my default for fitted bodices for her -- the armscye brought in a bit and the neckline made into a sabrina/ shallow boatneck for this one. Deep pink herringbone twill tape instead if a self-bow.

 though I sewed all night and finished it in time, Easter dawned with gloomy skies and enough chill in the air to need layers inside and out, so no good dress pictures that day. 

We waited for a bit of sun, bit still kind of cold to go sleeveless outside -- so these are by a sunny window (shy about smiling because she's missing a tooth on the bottom :D)