Monday, October 31, 2011

I Made The Shoes Afterall

Happy halloween, everyone! 

Tired. We had a birthday party this weekend, smack in the middle of costume-making. October is always a hard month for me because of the birthday-cum-costume nonsenses that converge in one mad week. It's like the intense handmade holiday gift-and-craft thing that many other bloggers experience - one crafter's Christmas is another crafter's October, I guess. Now, however, while the rest of you are gearing up for the homestretch of holiday making, I am going to sit at my computer, pull up amazon, and order Christmas gifts with my credit card. And relax till Spring. 

P.S.  Yes, I will share costume photos. Later. Right now I have the other two pairs of boots to finish, and then I'm putting all the wretched "sheers and satins" (as JoAnn calls them) in cold storage forever till next October.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I haven't made the shoes

but we made the masks. We bought plain black plastic masks and the girls glittered them to death. They look more Mardi Gras than Halloween, but masks are masks, I say. And that's real glitter, people, not the namby-pamby glitter glue (that I think is actually worse because it's 100 times messier), although Emily's purple mask did get a bit of an upgrade with some glitter glue after the real glitter was dry. You should not fear glitter. The key is to do everything on the driveway, and then leave the excess glitter on the asphalt so it shines like colorful snow crystals after sunset. Or phosphorescence from algae at the water's edge on an inky night at the beach. I miss the beach. 

The costumes are functionally finished. One of them still has velcro sticking out and a plain bodice that needs sequins, but otherwise the girls can walk out of the house in them and beg for candy. I always shake my head at the constraints under which we Midwestern costume-makers are required to practice our art. I think, "If I lived down south, or in Singapore, I could make ANY costume in the world, and with my eyes shut." Here, though, we pray for 55 degrees, and sew for 35 degrees (and snow) on Oct 31st.  

Jenna's birthday party tomorrow. Fun. Yesterday we baked 100 cookies! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

What White Glove Delivery Really Means

We bought a treadmill this weekend. The husband and I are tired of being unexercised six months of the year when it's frigid here in Minnesota. We don't have a gym membership, for several reasons, the main one being there isn't one here with a decent pool. Our local YMCA, for instance, has a pool with two lanes  available for open swims. Two! Neanderthal. Anyway, so we bought a treadmill, and it came in a big cardboard box (which is really the point of this post, as you might have guessed).

This cardboard box has a triple layer of flutes (translated = superior). This made me very happy. 

Now, while doing our comparison research, we were given one of these brochures full of information about the service plans offered by one company to help us more fully enjoy our new fitness machine.

Have you heard of the White Glove standard of service? According to the promises in the brochure, this is what it means to (apparently) regular people who value clean homes because, ostensibly, they already have clean homes (sorry, we cannot be friends because have you seen my home? It is not like yours.):

O gullible ones! Tsk. Here is what it really means to the enlightened:

So thank you, White Glove People, but no, I think I will decline your service today.

We haven't actually assembled the treadmill, incidentally, because it was found to have a defective part. The husband came into the house after unpacking it and said there was oil leaking all over the cardboard box from a crack in the console.

"Well," I said, "It will obviously have to be returned because the box is useless with oil all over it."

We called the company, and they said they would send a replacement part. They didn't offer to send a replacement cardboard box. Typical. Unenlightened service corporations. 

P.S. Yes, I am working on completing those costumes. Tuesday, I think, they'll be finished. The question is, should I also make the shoes?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Greengrocer, etc.

I'm still procrastinating, you guys.

So last night I thought I'd play with cardboard - the grandest way I know to avoid sewing things I'm supposed to be sewing. 

I'd wanted to make the girls a shop for the longest time, and I had this big piece of semi-superior cardboard in the garage, so long story short, I made them a shop.

It took me three, maybe four hours. That's nothing for a cardboard project. I'll walk you through it.

First, you need a big piece of cardboard. You score two lines down it, to divide it into three sections,

and then stick two boxes to the backside of it. These boxes are to stabilize the shopfront, okay? This way the big piece of cardboard doesn't fall down. They can be any kind of boxes.

Case in point:
See? It's just a box. 

The other box I had was a crate-type thing (it used to house bananas, apparently), so I stood it on its end and made shelves.

Then I found old boxes (amazon etc.) for drawers.


Now, when you make the shopfront this way, you can open it out all the way flat

or bend the side walls at an angle - both configurations will be stable.

Then you cut holes for the windows. You can make them scalloped at the top like the side windows here, or just straight across like the main center window.

If you plan ahead a bit, you can do two things with the window-flaps (so don't slice them off at the bottom edge yet).

One is to make a little shelf:

and the other is to make a fake window shutter:

that flips back up to shut the window, like for when the shop is closed and the shopkeepers are out to lunch/school.

I used some random elastic cord (doubled, because it was too long) to hold the corner of the shutter down. 

This fake window shutter also doubles as an extra display counter, if you let it rest on the box (you'll have to bend the shop walls):

You can add an awning if you want,

which looks like this from the side:

It's glued on, but I left the middle portion unglued, so I could slide the sign in and out:

The signboard has a big piece of whiteboard contact paper on it, so the kids can change the shop name. I think I might stick on some chalkboard contact paper to the backside of the board - it would be very Mr Hooper-ish (remember him from Sesame Street?) and charming.

The other thing I added was this cubby hole thingy for produce:

I doctored a compartmentalized box that used to hold oversize Christmas ornaments. It was very deep - deep enough to stash shoes, so I cut it at an angle, which made it automatically shallower, and then reattached the backboard with glue. This cubby-hole display isn't attached to the shop- it just leans against it.
Altering the original compartmentalized box into this angled cubbyhole display took me a good hour, largely because the cardboard was so rigid (translated: superior) and hard to cut through. But it was worth it because this section alone is as sturdy as wood, and just as painful should it slide down and land on our toes.

And here's a picture of Jenna playing shop this morning, to give you an idea of the size of the shop. This was before I added shelves to the crate-box, incidentally. It was an afterthought, sort of, but I like how the shelves have added to the whole play experience because the drawers are almost like additional display cases the kids can take out and shove under the noses of customers. 

I could add any number of features to this shop - hang-on-the-wall telephone, little box to hold grocery bags, hooks above the windows for hanging wares, turn the big featureless box into a refrigerator..... but I'd wanted the kids to give me their ideas. They've just started playing, so we'll wait and see.

And now, I feel I really must attempt to start on those costumes. Two days ago, to assuage my guilt, I drew three semi-circular skirt patterns on taped-together newspaper sheets. It made me feel very accomplished, so I folded them up, patted myself on the back and went on my merry way. That penance has worn off now. Today, I'm beginning to feel guilty again. And since I don't think the Fabric Elves are going to show up, I need to start tonight. Really. So I might be quiet for a while. If I turn up here again  talking about knitting or scrapbooking or electronic components, yell at me, will ya?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Can't Sew

Got flu shot. Left arm hurts. Right arm overworked from trying to protect left arm from moving. No limbs to wield scissors. I am an invalid. Tralalalalalalalalalalalala! I can't sew! Yipppeeeeeeee er I mean, oh phooey. I think I'll just sit on the sofa tonight and doodle. Let the Fabric Elves take my old paper patterns and turn them into costumes. I've set out the fabric in three neat piles on my sewing room floor, one for each child, and muttered a magical-sounding incantation over them while waving my hands in a mystical figure-eight configuration. Notice I've posted twice on the blog today? See how good I am at avoiding sewing costumes? Maybe I'll go take a long shower now, like three hours long, till bedtime.

I'm Still Here

...... I'm just avoiding responsibilities.

It's 14 days to Halloween and there are no costumes in sight. 

Only this pile of bias tape

which has nothing to do with costumes whatsoever. But it was easier to make than costumes, so I did that instead. I'm also sewing softies that have nothing to do with Halloween, either. And yesterday I hummed my way through a cardboard piƱata that is also not Halloweeny. I've even been harboring serious thoughts of cooking a large pot of beef stew for a mom-friend who just had a baby. I can't bring myself to start costumes. The fabric is all (as far as I can visualize, anyway) bought. The design is all on paper. I just need to start. Grab a child, measure a waist, something, anything. But - lalalalalalalalalalala - I'm sitting here, thinking, "should I use skin-color sweatshirt fabric or skin-color fleece? Oh, this is too hard. I think I'll go re-read Lord of The Rings now." 

P.S. And no, my children are not going to be Gollum for Halloween. Gollum would be easy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

FamilyFun Kids Subscription Winner

We have a winner!

Congratulations, commentor #15, Jessica, who wrote:

"It looks like a neat magazine!"

Jessica, please send me an email with your name and mailing address and I will forward it to the folks at Disney Family Fun and they can get your subscription to you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Is The Bag

.... that was supposed to be made as a dry run in this fabric. But - you know what? - I realized I don't have the time to do dry runs of bags. I mean, it's not as if they need muslins or something to check for fit. I still love that bright summer-fall striped fabric and I love all your suggestions for ways to coordinate and complement it, so someday I probably will make another bag from it.

Now, the actual fabric for the bag-in-my-head was this linen blend tea-towel from IKEA

the bag-in-my-head itself being:

This is the front

and this is the back

and this is when the straps fall down:

The fabric really makes this bag. That stitching! Already done for me, and all I had to do was lay it out as accent and pocket.

I thought the straps needed a bit of the same stitching to complete them. So I got out my embroidery floss and repeated the faux-herringbone pattern on the plain blue fabric. 

And added piping, of course. Piping -not designer fabric- is a bag's best friend, did you know?

Straps are my favorite part of bags. I could take a million pictures of the straps. 

Stop me!


Thanks. Moving on, now.

This bag is not an original design. Very few bags in the world are original designs, really. If you use completely different fabric and tweak it a bit, a bag can look unrecognizable from the original. Honesty compels me to tell you that my inspiration was a $20 reversible thingamajig from a big chain store called Kohls. I bought it some years back to lug diapers and other such babyphernalia around. It looks nothing at all like this bag, but it's the same.  

I liked the design so much that I reproduced it in this fabric. See- it can take on this common trapezium-tote shape

but if you fasten that snap-hook,

it becomes this roomy, boxy purse.

An invisible magnetic snap keeps the opening shut 

in either configuration.

It has just two pockets - the patch in the front, and a zippered welt inside.

I didn't make this bag reversible like its predecessor, for several reasons. First, I didn't imagine that a white bag (lining color) was practical, and second, I wanted to add purse feet to keep that lovely cotton linen off icky bathroom counters and floors.

This was a really enjoyable project. Its color scheme was so Wedgewood-y, the design was such a simple one, I got to add hardware and put piping everywhere, and it was prettily different from the kind of modern, bold-print bags I usually make. And also because it was a birthday gift, meaning I got to give it away. Hurrah! 

Alas, dear readers, I cannot offer you a tutorial. I did plan to, but it was thwarted by the children changing their Halloween costume ideas several times and driving me to near panic. I knew it was too good to be true when they told me, way back in July, that they wanted to go as Ariel (already sewn), Rapunzel (already sewn) and a vet (one easy lab coat). It appears that now I need to make three brand-new costumes with removable skirts. The only reason I said yes was because I knew they would wear them all through the year in their play. On Monday, Jenna and I went fabric shopping to gather all the fleece and satin and gold trim that we will need. The only things left to buy are rubber mats and purple, rose and turquoise velcro. It sounds bizarre, so let's hope it all turns out better than it sounds, eh?