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. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Costume Madness Has Begun

. . . sorta.

we made the wig part, anyway.

It took 15 minutes. I didn't even have to procrastinate. And then Kate glued on her own embellishments. 

If only my children would be happy wearing scratchy, itchy, unfitting and untwirly outfits, we'd buy them from the store right away and be done with it. But they've somehow discovered the existence of high-fashion knits, and now they will only wear costumes made from them (or lined with them). Alas. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Felt Food Accessories

This is a new post about old stuff.

You all have seen my donuts and frost-able cookies and piping bag before. So you might be thinking that I'm cheating by trying to pass off old projects or - worse - old photos, as new. 


I want to show you the baking sheet and serving box I made to go with a new set of confectionery. You know, in case you want something handmade to give the kids for Christmas and wished you had a way to make it all feel a little less a la carte and a little more playset.

Quick background: these felt treats are for a fundraiser in Singapore. So not for my own kids and not for my etsy shop (sorry). It is noteworthy that most of the time, I cut my donut and cookie frosting pieces out free-hand, rather than actually use my template. And these days, I use as much beads as I do embroidery floss for the sprinkles. 

But this post is not about the donuts.

It's about the donut tray. The plan was to mail everything to Singapore, so I wanted a collapsible design. 

Then I remembered that old heirloom embroidery pillowcase book bin I made for Emily in the summer. This works the same way - the base unzips

and the whole thing flattens

and folds into a half-width package.

The greyish-silver fabric is Therma-Flec, aka ironing board fabric. The base is just a double layer of fabric, no interfacing. The walls are double layers of the fabric with heavy-duty template plastic inside. Again, no interfacing (other than the plastic inserts). 

I used the same fabric to make a baking sheet. Really easy to make - just two rectangles of the fabric, with a third rectangle of sew-in interfacing between them, sewn like a placemat.

Here are the unfrosted cookies on the sheet,

and here they are again, frosted.

This is the full set - cookies, frosting, piping bag, the baking sheet (which folds or rolls up) and a drawstring pouch to hold everything.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Random Updates


Okay, the snow is over.

And I'm done grouching about the weather. You are all so nice not to tell me off and all. Good heavens, if my own kid were crabby because the weather wasn't what she wanted, I'd have told her to Go Find Something Fun To Do Until The Sun Came Back Out or something equally motherly. Not that I think of you guys as my mother, I mean. Uh... this post is not off to a good start, is it?


So random update time now.

First, I've been bursting to share this because it's about cardboard! Last week, I got to skype with upper-elementary gifted program students all the way over on the East Coast! They were participating in the Global Cardboard Challenge and wanted some tips on working with cardboard. Very exciting, not only because I got to present the 30-minute version of my epic cardboard post, but also that I was in a classroom. With real students. I miss being in classrooms. So what if it was virtual? There I sat at my sewing table in my own house, surrounded by cardboard odds and ends, communing with people thousands of miles away like it was the next room. Technology is wonderful.

Second, I've been working on a couple of commissioned projects i.e. Sewing For Other People. One is for a book and the other is for a magazine. Commissioned projects are fun. Not because you get money and fame, but because you get to work with someone else's abstract idea or concept and turn it into something real and physical. There's a little bit of you in it, and a little bit of them in it, and it's always exciting to see what that combination looks like in the end. However, being that these are also brand-new, never-seen-before projects, there is also a lot of tweaking and prototyping involved. So an assignment like, "Sew a giant squid in oilcloth and minky fleece for our 2016 compilation, "Sea Creatures From The Depths Of Hell, Vol 2" is never just about drawing squid-shaped templates on (in this case, very large) paper. There are all kinds of other things to consider, like, will the fabric I pick be easy for most people to buy? Is my construction sequence too complicated for the average seamstress? Do the instructions fit into the 3-page limit they allot me? Will a fifth (or sixth, or 347th) prototype correct the weird curve in the beak of the squid or should I just give up now and make do?

Third, Halloween costume making will be commencing soon. And my children are showing none of the solidarity of previous years' requests. Brisk walk down memory lane: last year they were all Narnians. The year before that, they were Superheroes. And before that, Musketeers. And Princesses.

This year, one wants to be Elsa, another wants to be Queen Susan in her archery war outfit, and another wants to be a scientist. Now, I don't need for them to be matchy-matchy in order to sew their outfits, obviously. And sure, the resulting group photo is going to be a bit eclectic-looking, but that's what people going trick-or-treating are supposed to look like. What struck me, however, was that my kids are no longer thinking with the herd mentality of their younger days. They are becoming their own persons now - some are planting their feet more solidly in reality while others still have the magic of Disney's glitter dust in their eyes. It feels like the day is not far off when they might no longer even want to dress up or pretend and that makes me a little sad. Because while they are getting ready to leave those wonder years behind them, their Mother is not sure that she is.

Fourth, I have a post on drafting that I am dying to write, but keep being distracted from writing. It's like that sleeves post that you all liked so much and kept pinning and linking and sharing with other people (thank you!). This one is all about darts. It's half done but I had to stop because I suddenly needed to peel back another layer and go a different direction. And also because I thought that I should sew a block and drape it for you to see how darts are created on it. So, if you've been wondering if I'd ever write another Subtleties of Drafting post, the answer is yes! Except that it's taking a while. There are all kinds of other sewing projects in the way, not to mention cooking meals and helping with homework and documenting birthday parties that happened (what feels like) millenia ago. Please don't hate me! To tide you over till I finally write it, here is a dart diagram:

Fifth, I suddenly had a crazy idea for a new tutorial series. Came out of nowhere, as my tutorial series(es) usually do. Had to get out my notebook and write it all down and then firmly put it away. It is obviously procrastination in disguise. Embarrassingly easy to recognize. How do I know? Because it always happens just when I need to sew Halloween costumes. Anyway, this one is about bags again. I am very excited! But I have disallowed myself from even thinking about it further until the children are all bedecked in their (hopefully warm) handmade Halloween splendor.

Sixth -and this is quite funny- an invitation came up for me to teach at our local swim school (for kids). To teach swimming. Not Physics or sewing or cardboarding. I was so taken aback when the nice swimming school manager broached this to me that  I snorted and guffawed and accused her of being crazy. So ashamed. But I honestly never saw it coming. 

Sadly, I had to politely decline. It wasn't that I wasn't sorely tempted. After I'd gotten over my astonishment (and apologized profusely for my ungracious ejaculations), I listened to the nice lady explain all the arrangements and got quite excited. It wouldn't be a classroom and it wouldn't be a Science lab, but there'd be kids and I would be teaching again, helping them get from what they didn't know to where they needed to go. There are fewer things more thrilling and satisfying than that. 

However, this is not the year when that could happen: saying yes to the swim school would mean saying no to being with my own kids when they came home from school. It was an easy decision; I realize I am still Mother first, all other things second, third, fourth and fifth. I didn't always feel as altruistic as this. Some years ago, when my kids were babies and toddlers and needing me in all-consuming ways, I yearned for an opportunity like this- to work outside the home again, to take on Other Defining Roles just so that I wouldn't feel typecast as Diaper Changer or Face Wiper. 

And now that I am at the "I Can If I Want" stage in my life, I'm choosing differently. Isn't motherhood a study in irony? We mothers are, after all, impossible to pigeonhole. We are anything and everything. And our identities expand and deepen even more with each new stage at which our kids are. 

Which made me think of all the moms of very little ones out there. The ones with a toddler (or three) permanently installed at your hip or meandering, stroller-impaired, through the supermarket aisles. Yoo hoo! This age that your kid is at? It's a great age. The next stage he's headed for? It's even better. But not because he's going to need you less; he won't. It's because you'll be more. 

And if you're reading this and thinking, "I would SO have taken that swimming position. Which means I must be a bad mother. Yikes." Don't. We're all differently driven and differently effective in our various roles. And maybe in a year or two, when my kids have left the nest, I'll be ready to spread my wings and leave, too. And then I'll dive into that pool and teach some other people's kids the way someone else taught mine when they were tiny.

The point, fellow moms, is that we will always want the things just out of our reach. They're annoyingly alluring that way, aren't they? Especially when we see other moms Doing Their Independent Thing in their high heels and without a single spot of mashed peas on their shirts. But the grass may be just as green on this side of that Kidco safety gate as it is on the other. And when you realize it, may you rejoice at how glad you are that it is.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Mystery Party: Cracking The Case

Last Mystery Party post! Today's is all about The Plot. A bit in reverse, I know, but I thought we should show you the party elements and get all those distracting details out of the way before telling you the story and how the kids actually cracked the case. At the end of the post, we'll also post-mortem the events of the day itself.

So, the story begins with two missing cars and an empty garage.

And a very flustered Mr Robert Littlebottom who's called in The Authorities to investigate because, well, his cars are gone. Both of them.

Logically, there are four people who could have done it.

All of them had the means: 
  • The repairman was working in the garage the day before the cars were reported missing.
  • The husband came home from work and left his car in the garage.
  • The wife worked from home and moved the cars so the repairman could work in the garage.
  • The mother-in-law was home all day.

And all of them were in the garage that evening:
  • The repairman left after his work was done but returned later to drop off a tool he'd accidentally taken with him.
  • The husband paid the repairman for the repair work when he'd gotten home from the office.
  • The wife drove one of the cars to the supermarket after dinner, and back again.
  • The mother-in-law took the trash cans out of the garage that night for the collection the next morning.

The evidence corroborates this: when the investigators checked them against their records

everyone's shoeprints were found on the garage floor, along with two other smaller ones, ostensibly the neighbor kids',

as were some of their fingerprints.
Fingerprint matches were found for three of the four suspects. 

Along with the prints, a cryptic note was found on the garage floor.

The detectives took the message at face value and tested it for invisible ink with their UV pens.

The hidden message divided the detectives into two teams: Team Sherlock

 and Team Scooby.

They conducted a further ink analysis on the note,

comparing it with the ink samples,

to find that it matched that of the pen belonging to the husband (as did the handwriting on the note).

They were now ready to make their deduction: the guilty guy was Richard Littlebottom, the husband. Lots of emotionally-charged exclamations like "it's HIM!" and "I knew it!" accompanied their decision.

And they were allowed to open the corresponding Verdict Envelope to find out if they were right (they were happy to discover that they were).

Guilty Guy - check.

But what exactly was Mr Littlebottom guilty of ? And what happened to the cars? 

The letter, written by Richard Littlebottom to himself (apparently he has a terrible memory), reveals that there was no real crime after all; he'd simply parked the cars elsewhere to protect them from damage during the home improvement work. And promptly forgot.

Being aware of his own unreliable memory (and suffering, no doubt, from slight paranoia), he left himself a message in code

along with a photograph in pieces,

which the detectives, working together and armed with their code books, 

unscrambled to show a house (with a number), presumably where the cars were parked.

Using the map of the block, the kids found their way there, and found the cars.

High fives! 
We're just like the FBI! 
We did it! 

Now let's talk about how well the various segments actually worked on the day itself. Let me first say that there are many ways to structure a kid's party. Here are some common examples: 

1 Big Free-For-All Nuclear Activity
You know, like a big bouncy castle in your backyard. Or a petting zoo. Or the indigenous activities at a rented party venue, like a gym or swimming pool or laser tag center or whatever. There are cake, presents and food, not necessarily theme-centric, and the kids spend the entire non-eating duration of the party playing at this Activity.

2 Themed Element Party Activities
You pick a theme e.g. Superhero, and pull together 2-3 hours' worth of individual Superhero-related stuff, including food, decor, crafts and simple games or activities. For example: DC Marvel cupcakes, Batman pizza and Wonderwoman ice cubes, decorate-able personal superhero capes and masks, Nerf Gun Rescue-the-puppy/innocent civilians/damsel-in-distress war game. Sometimes there isn't even a theme.

3 Role-Playing Game
At such parties, there is a continuity and natural flow to the day's activity, and the party therefore just runs itself without having to do too much traffic direction. There are still some preliminary crafts but they are incidental to, and merely help set up, the main thing. Emily's previous Fairytale Quest party was like that. And so is this Mystery Party. The natural progression of the plot automatically took the kids from segment to segment until the very end. 
We like these kinds of parties because they are like a huge pretend-play adventure. However, they are not without their challenges. For instance, because the pace proceeds at sort of a linear fashion from start to finish, unless everyone "got" what was going on, we'd end up with people needing help and going at crazy different speeds and some even being left behind. Happily, having the kids work in teams solves this to a very satisfactory extent.

Next, this was a very elaborate mystery plot, far more complex than the kind of mystery-themed party I'd have designed for 8-year-olds and two kindergarteners, had I been the one to call all the shots. However, this was Jenna's party, and in our family, we try to accommodate as many of the kids' ideas as are practical, rather than turn it all horribly adult-centered, thereby missing the point completely. Most of these ideas were Jenna's, down to the clues and suspects and fingerprint dusting and spy-style ciphers and whatnot. When we'd sat down, in all her giddy excitement (and all my sobering practicalness), to tease out a working framework from those ideas, I realized that she was unwilling and unable to choose just one of the mystery, spy, secret agent, detective, adventure, criminal profiling, forensics, science genres. And it was understandable- they were very similar. So we let her do a little of all. It was thrilling for Jenna, for whom riddles and logic puzzles are wonderfully engaging. Which while mission accomplie, might unfortunately have been a little over the heads of some of her peers attending that day. 

Let's take the party apart now with some self-analysis questions:

Q Did everyone solve the mystery easily?
A Both teams correctly picked the guilty guy on their first guess. One team was quite certain throughout their investigation, and the other team was somewhat divided before coming to a consensus at the end.

Q Was there enough time to solve the mystery?
A Our particular mystery, with all its details, would've been more fully experienced with more time, honestly. 2 hours with facilitated brainstorming would've been wonderful. We only had an hour, and no facilitators. Most of those 8-year-old kids had never read mystery stories or, at least, had no concept of the logical sequence of deduction or elimination or whatever. I'd love to run this as a controlled class activity for, say, 4th graders. It would've been perfect.

Q So 8-year-olds were a bit young, then?
A Yes. And let's not forget the two kindergarteners. If you do this theme with kids this young, sacrifice the whole accuracy issue and pitch it as an adventure quest rather than a logic puzzle. And keep shouting out hints to them. Very obvious hints.

Q What parts of the party worked well?
A Many things:
  • Putting the kids in teams to work together. They loved working with other people and the feeling that it was a kind of a friendly competition against the other team.
  • Having the two teams EACH hunt for ONE of the cars was great- there was no competition (and therefore no stress) for the same prize.
  • Color-coding the clues was helpful because the kids could easily tell when they'd collected all the items they needed to find. 
  • Matching the colored shoeprints they found at the crime scene with the sample prints in the dossiers - they were easy to tell apart, even without using a measuring tape.
  • The invisible ink and chromatography - high wow factor and a bit like magic. Even the littlest kids could tell they'd discovered something "pertinent to the case" when they saw the glowing words show up and the ink smear into colors. We didn't even have to hint that the kids should use their pens. They instinctively suspected something was hidden in the message and decided to act on it.
  • The photo puzzle was a fun activity to do together in a team.
  • Locating the house on the map, and then physically hunting for the house on the street, because it was a bit like a treasure hunt.

Q What didn't work so well?
A My first impression was that this was the kind of game that needed a lot of processing time. All the kids understood that there was a mystery and they had to find clues to solve it. However, the evidence, as they often say in the movies, was overwhelming. While older kids would've had a blast in the one hour that we had, our younger kids would've gotten a lot more out of the activity if we'd had more time and more facilitators. Some of the segments requiring actual analysis and deduction were quite beyond them. For instance, apart from the older kids (we had some 10- and 12-year old siblings), most of the kids had no idea how to use the suspect chart to organize their findings. They also couldn't see the connection between eliminating suspects and getting closer to identifying the final Guilty Person. Almost all of them had never done chromatography before, and weren't sure how that identified ink sample was more significant than the others. The fingerprint activity was a hit only up to the point of scratching off the silver layer (whoo! Wow! Fun!); scrutinizing the actual prints while racing against an imaginary clock was more a miss. Finally -surprisingly- the sentence in substitution code at the end of the letter was quite challenging for the kids to sit still and decipher - some of them just wanted to go car-hunting, clueless or no.

Q If you could do it again, how might you do this differently ?
A For a party setting, you mean? Let's say that I wouldn't do it as is with kids any younger than 10. And even then, I'd have to assume that they'd had previous exposure to the whole idea of logical deduction and systematic elimination. Therefore, if I had to do a mystery party for 8-year olds all over again, I'd:
  • have only two suspects (and aim to eliminate one).
  • not bother with the fingerprints at all. Sorry, Jenna.
  • have only one incriminating bit of evidence e.g. a shoeprint or the ink sample.
  • have everyone work in teams from the start. Team solidarity is awesome.
  • favor lots of visual secret message type things (invisible ink pens and anything that looks like magic) and hand-eye coordination stuff (e.g. jigsaw puzzles and searching) over anything mental (e.g. analysis and deduction).
  • turn the whole thing into a treasure hunt. The more running around and seeking there are, the better. 

Now, as a class activity or a summer camp afternoon session, in which we'd not be limited to an hour and/or multiple-age participants, it would be another story altogether, and they might even say that this mystery didn't have quite enough twists or red herrings to make it truly suspenseful.  

Jenna, though, knew exactly what was going on, and loved it. Maybe because it was her mystery from the start. We know that she was quite thrilled to see how her ideas played out on that day and, later, to recount to any adult who would listen, the plot and how they solved the mystery. And for days after, she and her sisters (and their neighbor friend who was one of the guests) played mystery and deduction with their kits, running around the yard and in the house. 

I'm taking a quick break from party blogging to share some random updates in the next few posts, and after that, I'll report on Emily's Science Party.

Updated May 2017:
Since first posting this, many, many readers have asked if I'd consider making a Mystery Party Package with all the documents and stuff available for sale, and initially, I said no, largely for privacy reasons (those fingerprints, shoe sizes, vehicles and neighborhood maps belong to people we know personally). But also because I felt that after seeing how the activities played out with real children during the party, some tweaking was necessary in order for you guys to use the materials with your own kids and students.

I am happy to say that those changes have finally been made and you can now purchase the Mystery Party materials as a 30-something page pdf file. I've put in as much as I could, including the dossiers, footprints, suspect charts, original artwork for stickers, labels and invitation cards, as well as instructions, a proper Mystery Synopsis and Case Solution. You can find them in this post.