Thursday, October 29, 2015

Costumes, costumes, costumes (part1)

Oh my goodness, the past two and a half months have been BUSY. Between Comic Con, Disneyland, Halloween and a Gardner Village Witch; my days have been packed. 

Back in August I decided to get Mina's Halloween costume nailed down. She had been pretty undecided until we went to the fabric store. I found some embellished tulle on clearance, perfect for a mermaid! I was off to a great start. 
Then Mina changed her mind. 
She wanted to be Elsa instead. 
We went back to the fabric store and bought some more fabric. 
I decided to layer some silver knit behind the embossed blue knit, it was fairly see through. I made the mistake of washing the glitter tulle because it washed out all the glitter. A drafted a pattern and made the base of her costume. 
This was very early in the process and I knew it would take a lot of work to make it special. A trip to Hobby Lobby resulted in bags of jewels and flat sequins. At this point I took a break to work on other projects. 

Our friend Steph called me up with a favor about mid-August. She was auditioning as a witch and needed a costume. She brought over her fabric and I took her measurements. The top was a breeze and so easy to make. The rag skirt took a lot of time but I'm so pleased with how it turned out!

Next up was my nephew's Link costume for Comic Con. He didn't want classic Link from "The Legend of Zelda," he wanted the version from "Hyrule Warriors." Initially this seemed like an elephant of a costume; armor AND chain mail AND lots of layers? Once I figured out a lightweight alternative to chain mail, the costume seemed more manageable. 
Once I broke down the elements I could start "eating the elephant." It wasn't so bad after I listed them all out!
Initially I thought about spray painting yarn for the chain mail layer. This wasn't successful and it was pretty smelly. While I was buying giant knitting needles I came across a skein of metallic yarn in the clearance bin. 
I'm not much of a knitter but I can knit and purl! 
After that I worked on the base layer and the green tunic. I couldn't find the right color of knit at Hancock so I bought a bunch of white knit and dyed it. The shirt and leggings came together really fast thanks to my serger. 
The tunic was fairly easy, construction-wise. I altered the sleeves because they were too long. After the main costume was sewn together, I cut the armor pieces out of craft foam. 
The armor was challenging because it was a new medium for me. It was difficult but in the end I'm pretty happy with the results. 
My biggest lesson was with the color of the foam. I used white because it was available in large sheets so it seemed like a good idea. Foam is pretty fragile and if you ding it then the paint will wear off.  Comic Con is really crowded so bumps are inevitable. At least it looked good up to that point!
The silver spray paint was amazing, totally worth the higher price tag. Design Master Silver Metallic spray paint with details in acrylic paint. I painted most of the costume with a variety of spray paints. It gives it more of a worn look as opposed to brand new. 
At this point I hadn't secured the armor pieces with much of anything, I needed a fitting! I struggled with adhesive quite a bit with this project. Hopefully next time it will be more durable. 
Ready for Comic Con!

Next up was my niece, Kate. My brother and his wife were going to Disneyland in October so they needed to dress up. Somewhere along the line they decided to forgo the princess route and dress their daughter as a villain. 

Due to the fact that Kate's hair is practically white, they chose Ursula as their daughter's costume. 
I sketched up a rough design and took some measurements. 
I divided up the elements into a onesie, skirt and pants. The pants would be bicolored; black on the front, purple on the back. 
I decided to stuff the tentacles that made up the skirt. I had hoped they would stick out like cartoon octopus/squid legs. 

Success! I'm so grateful for my little model, Magnus. He wasn't convinced!
The underside of the skirt:

I made little shoes as well and added suckers for good measure. 
Kate made the cutest Ursula!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Recent" projects

This past Spring a friend from school emailed me and asked I could alter a dress. Her sister was getting married and as the matron of honor, they wanted her dress to be different than the bridesmaids. I met with my friend's sister and discussed the redesign of the dress from a bridesmaid dress. Meanwhile, my friend was living in Tennessee so we couldn't exactly meet for a fitting. Luckily, we had taken a draping class together and she still had her sloper patterns. 

This is the bridesmaid dress, the lack of sleeves and short length made it impossible for Kamee to wear her garments. 
We decided to rebuild the top with a champagne lining in the yoke and sleeve. I used Kamee's slopers from class and patterned a new top for the dress. Kamee's sister wanted the dress to have a chiffon skirt and a chiffon belt. 
I cut the dress at the seams and pieced some together to cut out the pattern pieces. 
After I finished off the neckline and the sleeves it looked much more "finished."
But, it still wasn't done. 
Ta da!
I was fairly happy with how it turned out. Kamee told me that her zipper broke right before the wedding. Invisible zippers are so unreliable. 

I made a dress for myself, surprise surprise! A local fabric store, A Fashionable Stitch, had closed before I took the time to visit. When the owner announced that the online store was closing as well I jumped at the chance to buy some beautiful fabric. 
I'm usually wary about buying fabric online but this was better than I imagined! This cotton shirting has a gorgeous sheen and a beautiful, saturated color. I decided to make a classic shirt dress with short sleeves. 
I have a stash of vintage patterns, including several shirtdress patterns. I swapped out the convertible collar for a collar with a stand. I was mostly concerned about the shoulder slope and sleeve placement. The slopers I made in draping class have gone missing; I really wish I still had them! I adapted a vintage pattern and made a simple mock up before cutting into my beautiful fabric. 
I realized that I didn't take any pictures of the finished dress. I wore it on our anniversary date and I wear it to church. I love that it has pockets and the color is wonderful. 

Not all of the projects involve a sewing machine. We have a pair of orange loveseats we inherited from my Grandparents. Over the 30 or so years our loveseats have been around, the legs have gotten trashed. Originally they had wooden legs and casters. The once round casters ended up like this:
The loveseats also had a skirt around the bottom that I thought looked dated. 
(Ignore the cute kids, focus on the ratty skirt.)
We decided to staple the skirt to give the bottom of the loveseats a clean look. James did a majority of the stapling with his staple gun and compressor. 
I'm just kidding, he did most of the work period. I was merely an assistant. 
We chose metallic feet at Home Depot, This solved another minor issue, the loveseats were fairly low to the ground. 
Magnus wanted to help too!
I am really happy with the final result! I think they look cleaner and slightly sleeker. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The past two weeks

Over the past two weeks I have finished:
Two costumes,
A button up shirt,
A shirt dress, 
And I repaired Mina's doll stroller. 

A few months ago I received a phone call from a family friend, asking if I could design the costumes for a musical. It wasn't feasible with two small kids but I told her that I would be happy to help with a few costumes. My sister-in-law, Candice, was the assistant director and her husband and son were in the cast so she got first dibs on costumes. 

Candice acted as go-between with the director and I asked questions. The director wanted bright colors (but no red or huckleberry,) 14th century-ish and no peasants. The ensemble was made up of members of the court so everyone was supposed to look nice. I did a little research and drew two fast sketches. 
Her husband was cast as the minstrel and their son was cast as in the ensemble. 
Candice and I went fabric shopping and then I went to work. I made leggings out of cotton jersey and tunics with attached linen sleeves. The costumes needed to be lightweight because the show was staged on the outdoor stage. I made the tunics out of quilting cotton backed with interfacing to give the costumes more heft without the weight. I chose patterned fabrics so the costumes wouldn't appear so "flat" on stage. I made their hats as well. 
Hutch's costume suffered from a cutting mistake I made late one night. His tunic was supposed to be alternating instead of half and half. It worked out anyway, I guess. 

Mina's button up shirt was started back in April after I finished her Easter dresss. I patterned it late in the month and finished it in July. I hope it still fits! That's a long time!
It started with two yards of chambray and I ended up with a pair of shorts and two shirts. I finished the shorts first because she needed a pair or two. Next came the blouse with the rounded collar. 
Last up was the button up shirt. It was my first foray into a cuffed shirt with working cuffs. I was pleasantly surprised how it came together. Almost. 
I sewed the button holes and the buttons and realized that I had sewn the sleeves on backward. The left sleeve was on the right and the right was on the left. I think it took longer to unpick the seams than it took to set in the sleeves the second time around. Mina hasn't tried it on yet, I hope it fits!

Despite her small size, Mina is growing. Her shirt dress from last summer got to be too short this spring. I decided to dive in my stash and make a new church dress for Mina. 
I sketched out the design and then used markers to divide up the fabric. 
I was kind of uneasy about the orange fabric, it seemed kind of dark next two the other two pieces. I hoped for the best and started sewing. By the end of the first late night I had an idea of the direction the dress had taken. 
I felt a lot better about the fabric and I finished the dress the next day. 
I tried it on Mina and it's a little bit big. She'll grow into it, right?

Last up was a project that has been over a year in the making. We have Mina a doll and a stroller for Christmas back in 2013. Mina was so excited by her stroller that she tried putting lots of things in the seat. Things that were too heavy. The seat was made out of lining fabric so it tore pretty fast. 
We even put Magnus in the seat, it wasn't meant for a real baby!

I saw a great tutorial on Delia Creates on making over a doll stroller. Her makeover was fairly involved including spray paint and matching straps for the seat. I took a faster route and reused the straps from the seat.  The stroller BEFORE
I used yellow bias tape to help tie in the wheels and the handles on the stroller. The new seat was made from canvas from the home decor section. I reused the straps from the old seat. 
Mina tested out her new seat with her gorilla, Dan. 
He's a little large but she didn't mind! 

I finished up this pair of bubble shorts earlier. I should have used interfacing in the cuffs. Now I know!