Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pat On The Back

Today I am happy as a lark, because I can CLEAN UP MY SEWING ROOM.

And I can clean up my sewing room because I am done using it.

And I am done using it because I have finished all the Halloween costumes.


And I didn't even freak out, or have my annual mental breakdown procrastinate, and I even answered the phone when the telemarketers called and spoke to their recorded messages just for the fun of it.

How interesting it is to have a day to spare before Halloween! What a quaint notion - not panicking or last-minuting or improvising. I hardly knew what to do with myself today, and kept feeling guilty that I wasn't at my sewing machine. Is this how other regular, well-organized moms feel, who are lucky enough to buy their kids' costumes, or who are sufficiently farsighted to begin handmaking them in July?

Wow! I could get used to this.

So I finished my costumes a day ahead of time (we need them tomorrow for school parties); to what do I attribute this bizarre turn of events?

Answer: the fact that none of my children wanted to be glittery this year.

See, glitter/sparkle/princess/mermaid/fairy + Minnesota = death by sewing.

People who live in Texas and other such lovely unwinter states can literally whip up a sparkly princess costume in a single gossamer layer and then kick back on their porch swings and down wine while watching their kids frolic in the perfect-temperature sunset an entire week before Halloween.

In Minnesota, though, we diligently monitor the weather forecasts, make sacrifices to the weather deities and pray for non-snow and non-rain and non-50 mph winds on the 31st, then make multiple-layered dresses with polar fleece and/or design costumes that involve modified RTW sweatsuits. And then sew an additional layer of glitter/sparkle fabric over everything so the children don't feel like they're all going to snag candy as the Michellin Man. We're usually sewing late into the night, way up to Candy Day itself, trying to squeeze all those insulating layers (and that outer bling one) into the same outfit, and then throwing in an extra fleece cloak and a winter parka anyway, just to be safe.


Unless, of course, your children are unusually kind to you and say they "don't care for princesses this year."


I'll wait for the weekend (when the temperature is supposed to get a little better than the rainy 45 F of the past couple days) to take real photos of people wearing this year's costumes.

Today, here are some shots of some of the accessories for Emily's hunting outfit. We bought her jacket and pants (hooray), and all I needed to contribute were a two-way quiver, a faux leather satchel and a long hunting cloak.

The quiver first:

It can be worn the usual way, on the back.

and that back strap can be detached, and a hip adaptor snapped on and threaded onto a belt,

so it can be worn as a hip quiver.

Emily's satchel is a no-frills messenger bag:

The only embellishment is topstitching. 

I'll show you her cloak with the rest of her outfit this weekend.

Before I forget, if you want the free MedHub pattern with your purchase of an Owie Doll kit, you'll need to buy your kit by 31 October (you can email me your proof of purchase anytime, though). I actually have no idea if there are any kits left in stock, because I've been in my sewing cave and not interacting with the world till today, let alone checking sales and so on. But just thought I'd remind you guys, in case you were planning to get one - there are a couple days left to take advantage of that promotion!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Um. . .

Just. . . 

uh. . .

I have no words.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Not Actually Procrastinating

Talk to me, you guys. I miss you.

Costume-sewing is work. Especially costumes that are intended to stay relevant long after Halloween Night. 

My kids are going easy on me this year, though. 

One of them (guess who?) wants to be Bunny. 

Not "a bunny", but Bunny, her Stuffed Animal BFF.

And her Stuffed Animal BFF, she declares, "has to be a carrot".

(Of course she does.)

Fine, but non-humans have to wait at the back of the line, I tell her, until the human children are adequately costumed. 

Sometimes when I look at my life, I shake my head. It's a marvelous life, but there's something of the ridiculous about it, if you not only make your children's lovies, but costume them to dress as their lovies, and then costume their lovies as well.

Is this normal, I want to ask, 

and then I pause, 

because the fact that I'm actually asking is telling in itself.

The Bunny outfit, though, was the easiest costume I've ever made - drafted and cut and sewn in a day.

That never happens.

Case in point: the Other Child's costume:

Layers within layers, and embroidery and stretchy interfacing and welt-style windows and double princess seams and corset-style lacing.

This is Day#5? #6? and I'm still at it - stitching away, and basting, and fitting. Knit, even a stable knit like this dark green fabric, behaves very differently in person than in paper draft, and four layers of it succumb to gravity in ways you wouldn't believe.

It is a fun sew, though. Tailoring always is, because I make myself take the time to enjoy the process, instead of rushing it just to get it finished "on the outside".

What about the Third Child? 

We bought her costume. Because she's at the age when regular clothes = costume.

"I need a leather bag, though, Mom," she tells me. "And a quiver. And a cloak."

(Of course you do.)

And on it goes.

We'll take some real costume shots when everything is finally finished. Today you get the dungeon versions.

I have to say that this has been an uncharacteristically relaxed pre-Halloween season. 


Maybe I need to crank up my procrastinating.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Am Horrible

I made accent pillows instead of starting on the Halloween costumes.
And then I came here to blog about them.

In an attempt to be fast, I omitted piping.

These are for my friend, in whose house I crashed one summer weekend in NYC. They are a housewarming and thank-you-for-your-hospitality-and-letting-me-eat-all-the-ice-cream-in-your-freezer gift. 

Belated (of course).

Or . . . I could send a Christmas card with it and be premature.

Now, there's an idea.

Monday, October 12, 2015

MedHub Pattern Now Available!

Happy Monday!

Here it is, as promised:

The MedHub sewing pattern!

It's marvelous what one can accomplish when one gives up sleeping isn't procrastinating. Maybe every month should be October. It would wreak havoc on my blood pressure (irony!) but boy, would I actually get stuff done.

Here is the materials list, for your reference:

Nothing very unusual in there, except for maybe the narrow tubing for the IV bag. It's something you can buy at medical supply stores, but I got mine online at - just search for "1/8" tubing" or something to that effect, and you'll get some affordable options for shorter or longer lengths. The 1/8" is the external diameter, by the way.

Please remember to size the templates to 100% when printing them out on your home printer. Here are a couple screenshots of my printer menu (yours may be different, but all printers have a menu like this) as an example. 

Some printers automatically size things to fit some default borders in your system - mine scales this document to 91%.

We need to manually override this to ensure that the printout is the actual size. So we choose the scale field and enter "100%".

Don't panic if the preview image shows a little bit of the edge of the template being cut off - if anything, you might lose a tiny bit of the corner of the seam allowance, but nothing too important. 

As far as sewing level goes, I'm going to say that this is one of my easiest patterns. Beginning seamstresses will probably be comfortable - there are no zippers or strange hardware installation or challenging tailoring techniques. There is one maneuver in which you have to attach a cylinder thingy to a circular base and it could be a little fiddly, but only because it's smallish and a tad slippery. Otherwise, there are no nasty surprises, and the seams are almost all straight. Plus, we're working with cotton fabric primarily, so an easy sew, overall.

What's important to note is that the MedHub pattern is an add-on pattern. This means it makes only the Med-Hub. It does not make the Owie Doll shown in the enticing front cover photo, or the sleeping bag, or the clothes or original Doll Accessories, which are from the original Owie Doll sewing pattern here.

You can read more about the MedHub in this earlier post, and enjoy more gut-wrenching photos like these:

Or you can just go shopping right now and buy it here.

Quick reminder: we've got an Owie Doll Kit promotion going on now!

If you bought an Owie Doll Kit or Kit+Pattern bundle anytime in the month of October 2015, you are eligible to get the MedHub pattern FREE. All you need to do is email me your receipt or other proof of purchase showing the date, and I will email you back a link to download the MedHub pattern for free.

I'm usually pretty prompt, so if you email me your receipt and don't hear from me sometime within that week, shoot me another email to inquire - just in case your first message got devoured by the spam filter.

Incidentally, the kits are flying off the shelves! Thank you for snapping them up so quickly - I love you guys. There is still time to get yours, but you might want to act early to be sure the hair and skin colors you prefer are still in stock. Get them here.

And now, I am going to retreat into my October cave for a while. I might pop back in from time to time with Kit and Doll Updates and random ventilation but I must seriously get my act together and start measuring and drafting and fitting. The children have spoken: this year I will need to dress two archers and one animal. Notice the complete absence of princesses, mermaids or fairies - should I feel morose or elated by this poignant movement away from all things childhood and girly?

Neither;  I have no time for feelings in October.

Onward! Floor the pedal and let's make some costumes, woman - Halloween is imminent!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Owie Doll MedHub


I am ridiculously thrilled to share my Owie Doll MedHub with you today!

Actually, it's a bittersweet kind of thrilled. See, this project has been in my notebook for years. Ever since I made my first Owie Dolls in 2009, I'd been wanting to create a medical center thingy to help kids visualize the hospital experience beyond just broken bones and bandages. The original design didn't look quite like this; it was more fleshed out in the interactive details than the engineering aspect of its structure. Now that
it's finally rendered in fabric and no longer just one of the hundreds of sketches and ideas living in my brain or notebooks, I'm happy. Thrilled, even.

That said, while I was researching the actual medical devices from which this Med Hub is inspired, I thought of the brave kids who, because of what their bodies are going through, were already so familiar with them. I also remembered email correspondence from blog readers who'd asked me how they could make IV bags and removable hair and other specific add-ons to fully personalize their dolls to reflect the experiences of their little ones. It all made me a little sad, but I also wanted it to inspire me, so I stored them up in my heart - and notebooks - and let those thoughts percolate over the next few years. 

I don't know of any other ikatbag project that has enjoyed the resurgence of so much interest since it first debuted on the blog six years ago. Since then, these Owie Dolls have spawned new hairstyles, portable sleeping bags, multicultural skin tones, removable hair, a pdf pattern, a kit and, now, this spanking new medical equipment.

My kids still love their dolls and are excited every time I make a new batch. They want to hear the stories behind the add-ons and the spin-offs, they want to help name the new dolls for the shop, they want to stage the photoshoots and do the packaging. And they help stuff and inspect each doll for sticky-out threads and take votes on which one has the sweetest  - or handsomest - face. Tickled as I am by how loved they are, no one is more surprised or grateful than I at their staying power. So each time I revisit them to make a new batch, I try to take another of my percolating ideas and bring it to life. 

Like the MedHub. Let me give you the tour. 

This is an interactive medical center with three panels and an integrated IV system. The first panel is an ultrasound station, which has a screen and an attached transducer,

that you can slide smoothly over the doll's body to create an imaginary ultrasound image on the monitor (mine is a kidney).

The second panel is a blood pressure station, with an old-fashioned gauge and a cuff

that wraps around the doll's arm, and a bulb you can squeeze just like the nurse does during routine checkups in the clinic.

The third panel is an ECG monitor,

with electrodes

that stick to the doll's skin, to generate readings of her vital stats.

Finally, here is the IV system -

a detachable IV drip bag that's clear so you can swop in different colored swatches of fabric or paper to create different kinds of drip solutions.

The patch on the other end attaches to the doll's skin (one of my children decided that it could go anywhere but the face, because "that would be awkward").

The Med Hub is essentially just a three-walled structure, but with a base, it doubles as a storage container for all the Owie Doll bits and bobs.

And it can be un-velcro-ed
and stored flat, with optional pockets for containing the various cords and cables.

Last shot of the MedHub with Kate's new dolly - who still has no clothes - in her sleeping bag.

So now for the nuts and bolts:

Behold - the pdf sewing pattern:

It's a fun sew. And while the MedHub has little details, the actual construction is straightforward and relatively quick - no zippers or anything like that. 

The goal is to get it out to you next week. 

Do I detect skeptical eye-rolling? 
Will LiEr end up procrastinating like she did with Menagerie?

Alas, no: this is October. I cannot afford to procrastinate in October. 

Because October has Halloween (translation = costume sewing for children) 

and Jenna's birthday (translation = party planning and executing) 

and Time Warp Zippered Bag Finishing (translation = so we can finally stop procrastinating on that project)

I'm already 80% done, actually. After all, the MedHub is a mini-pattern compared to Menagerie, and has only a fraction of Menagerie's hundreds of photos. 

Now for the surprise: to celebrate the launch of the new multicultural Owie Doll kits at Take&Make, everyone who purchases a kit throughout the month of October 2015 will get the MedHub sewing pattern free! Simply save your receipts/proofs of purchase showing the date, and email it to me. I will send you a link to download the MedHub pdf pattern for free when I release it next week.

Finally, in anticipation of your question: no, I regret that I am not making MedHubs for sale in my etsy shop (for my excuse, see above paras on how insanely packed my October/Nov are). However, I do have one MedHub sample from the photoshoots that I will put in the etsy shop along with the seven dolls I promised, in time for the holidays. Check back soon for shop updates!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Doll News and a Micro Tutorial

More doll news!

In case you missed the announcement, the Owie Doll Kits are back in stock at Take&Make. These kits can be personalized in different skin tones and hair colors.

Here is another skin tone that isn't in the kit - a glorious chocolate shade that I love. I made a couple of dolls with it:

One of the dolls has no hair, because sometimes that's what happens to kids in the hospital as a result of procedures they undergo in order to get well. I wanted to show you that you can make the doll hair removable if you need it to be - this is the doll with her hair off (left) and on (right).

It's really simple - here's a micro tutorial:

In the construction sequence for the doll, you literally omit the step in which the hair is topstitched onto the head and complete assembling the doll hairless. 

Then make the hairpiece as a separate structure as follows:

Sew the back and front hair pieces with their RS together, inserting ponytails/braids either into the seam or attaching them after. I'm using different colors for visibility, but you should use the same color for all the parts of the hairpiece (unless you want particularly funky hair).

Turn the hairpiece RS out and edgestitch around the free edge. This is optional, but it does give some strength to their raw edge and prevents it from stretching with extended use. You can also edgestitch each individual piece (front and back) before joining them together into the completed hairpiece.

Finished hairpieces! The felt of the hair naturally keeps in contact with the surface of the doll skin, sort of like a felt board. However, note the girl's hairpiece hugs securely like a wig, but the boy's shorter one fits more loosely. You may, if desired, sew a tiny piece of hook velcro to the SA (making it invisible on the RS) on the WS, so that it really adheres to the head.

If, however, you'd rather buy than sew Owie Dolls, these seven are going into the shop soon!

Don't worry that they're conspicuously lacking in clothing and accessories at the moment. I procrastinated on those to work on something new for the Owie Doll universe:

Eeeeek! I can't wait to share it with you tomorrow!

So, yes, I will get these seven dolls dressed and accessorized and in the shop in time for the holidays, so look out for them! I'll also post shop updates here on ikatbag so you'll know when to pop in to buy them.