Friday, October 31, 2014

1 Hour To Spare

Oddly, this is still not the closest I've cut it to finishing my costumes.

I mean, some years, I even finish my costumes after Halloween itself. But last night, at roughly 11 pm, I painted the last snowflake and set down my brush. Whoo!

I don't have real photos for you today, because the kids took their costumes to school to wear at their respective fall parties. I do, however, have shots of their cloaks, which I had to emergency-sew because it's 35 degrees out there now and will only get worse after the sun sets. The newspapers are calling this the coldest Halloween we've had in 8 years.

Well of course it is. It would be the coldest Halloween in 8 years on which my Kate chooses a gossamer chiffon top for her outfit. Here she is, in her partially-finished Elsa thingy - at the time of this photo, it still needed snowflakes painted on her sleeves, gems on her bodice and a trimmed hem.

And here are the cloaks - purple for Jenna

and blue for Kate.

They're very easy to make - just a semicircular body with darts that are shoulder-width apart (you can see them in some of the pictures), sewn onto a hood, then bound all around with fleece. Sometimes, depending on the costume with which they're supposed to coordinate, I layer the outside with satin. We use them every year - in different colors -when we go out to snag candy, worn over their costumes instead of a ski jacket. 

Incidentally, I was helping out in the girls' school this afternoon, and during the lower elementary costume parade, we counted 23 Elsas and 4 Annas! And zero Oakens :(   

Friday, October 24, 2014

I Declare That This Counts As A Triumph in Simple Engineering

There - see, it can be done- an attached back cape over a back invisible zipper, without velcro or snaps.

A plea to the Disney costume designers: you know your amazing princess frock that's a triumph of animation? Well, guess what? Millions of seamstress mothers from all corners of the galaxy will be forced to replicate that outfit for their small daughters for Halloween. And while Elsa might have magicked her dress out of thin air with wishful thinking and glitter dust, we lowly human peasants are obliged to use real fabric, prickly trims, zippers and, you know, our actual brains. So might I plead on behalf of beleaguered craftyparents everywhere: would you guys consider, for your next princess movie, having your intrepid heroine don. . . I dunno, a plain Target Tshirt sewn onto a gathered skirt made with calico cotton? And feel free to add freezer-paper stenciled hearts on the front if it really needs to be ballroom-ready fancy. 

[Kneads temples wearily.]

Anyway, here's where I am after two days:

I'd say it's 85% finished. It needs a hem job and some painted snowflakes on the sleeves and cape. And maybe something right in the center of that sweetheart bustier overlay. But otherwise, I don't need to fiddle with it any further.

And I can move on to Emily's Before-After lab coat. We're planning to make it reversible - one side pristine white and the other side covered in deadly radioactive sludge waste splotches.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Procrastinated Again

Instead of sewing an Elsa dress, I'm draping Fleur for you guys.

Look- one zillion darts!

Okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit.

But are you excited to learn about darts?

I am excited to be done with the costumes so I can write my darts tutorial!

Oh, wait. 

In order to be done with them, 
I probably have to start those costumes first, huh?

I knew there was a catch.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One Pound Twelve Ounces

That's how much this dress weighs. 

It's all that knit and upholstery fabric, see. I always forget how heavy knits are. 

So Jenna's dress is finished. I must hem the skirt and underskirt, but that's trivial and I can do it anytime between now and the 31st. 

I've really enjoyed all the hand-stitching on this dress. And I love how there is no trim, just colors, texture and that simple running stitch in gold pearl cotton. 

I'll deconstruct this dress for you later. In spite of all my grumbling, it was a fun and easy sew, with some things that I'd never done before, like the peekaboo sleeves to showcase the blue lining at the elbows, and the fitted scalloped peplum thingy at the waist. That said, I had to unpick some bits where, because of all the layers of lining, I'd gotten the construction sequence in the reverse order, resulting in exposed seam allowances appearing in wrong places when I turned various parts right side out. It was like biting into an apple and finding a worm (or parts thereof). I all but shrieked.  

There was suspiciously little procrastination on this dress once I'd actually started and I'm currently so uncharacteristically ahead of schedule that I told Jenna I might even make a fleece cloak to wear over her exposed shoulders when she goes out to snag candy. Although any amount of new and exciting procrastination can happen between now and Halloween night, so who knows if that will actually happen!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Plum and Gold

We may have a bodice.

Here's the funny thing: I'm working on Jenna's Narnian costume first because I thought it would be easier than that Elsa dress. Because, you know, Elsa has a cape attached - without velcro or snaps - to the back yoke that also has a back zipper right in the middle of everything. 


In what universe do reverse applique + scalloped peplum + full chemise-style under-lining translate to "easier than that Elsa dress"?

Sometimes my judgement is totally off. Thought I should share that with y'all, just in case you think my sewing decisions are always spot-on.

However, the first-muslin fit was absolutely perfect. 
Which I'd take over an "easy dress" any day.

Onward, then! We must not surrender. 
There are skirts and underskirts and sleeves and undersleeves to bring to life. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Also, This Is The Elsa Wand

. . .  that Kate made 80% by herself.

I did the following:

1. taped painter's tape in a spiral around the dowel

2. helped her fold and cut out the snowflake
3. stuck contact paper on the snowflake

And Kate did everything else.

It appears that even my kids are beating me at Halloween costume-making. 

Well, ladidah.

I'm off to eat chocolate now. And listen to audiobooks. 

P.S. If you want to make a dowel wand like this, try this tutorial (minus the glowing wand-head).

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Am Armed

I went shopping at the new SR Harris outlet this morning. It is a mini store. It feels a bit like the old Mill End Textiles. And there isn't anywhere enough apparel fabric and far too much quilting cotton. Which means quilting cotton fans will be happy but garment seamstresses won't. But they have a nice selection of modern homedec and upholstery fabric, and inexpensive superlong zippers, and some nice wool, all of which translate to robust sewing projects like bags, outdoor cushions, tailored skirts and coats. And the prices can't be beat. So while I will still need to make pilgrimages way out in the boondocks to the real SR Harris for specific projects, this new store is a nice, convenient, general-purpose stop for fabric emergencies. I am happy.

I think I might now have all the fabric I need for Kate's Elsa costume. Her conditions were very precise: nothing scratchy (so no tafetta, tulle, organza, etc.) and must be stretchy (hello knits!) and must twirl. In other words, they must be comfortable enough for going to bed in, which is the true test of a child-friendly costume, at least in our house. Four of the five sparkly fabrics below pass that test. The jury is still out on the fifth - that scaly fishnet wonder on the right-  which is quite prickly, but sequins are like that, so one can't complain. 

Jenna's fabrics are all good, though. None of them are poufy or glittery, because Narnian couture isn't either. Her Queen Susan costume is a deep grape-plum color (the photograph is redder than it actually is) which, it turned out, was very hard to find in solid form, so I had to resort to fleece. Which I have never liked as a costume or garment fabric - it's too bulky, period. But it will have to do.  

After coming home, all armed to the teeth with fabric, it occurred to me that I'd forgotten the zippers and trim. Bah. I have to go shopping again. Reeks of procrastination, no? Classic ikatbag Halloween tradition.