May already?

I always appreciate the opportunity to take a break. Unfortunately, I can’t always predict when I won’t have the willpower or motivation to do things that I enjoy doing when they need to be done. Sigh. After last month’s deadlines, I had anticipated a healthy amount of free (unscheduled) crafting time this month. I spent more time on the couch than I care to admit. On the upside, the Princess and I are caught up on our TV shows.

In order to work on my costumes for the next two events, I wanted to get my duct tape dress form completed. Husband had free time, so he did all the hard work. Following tips from a number of tutorials, we used plastic wrap instead of a t-shirt for the base, regular silver duct tape, then black (less sturdy) duct tape, and finished with “fashion” duct tape to mark common measurement lines. I put the cast over my existing dress form (on the lowest possible settings) and stuffed her with blankets and fabric scraps. The updated form is more helpful than she was in that I can better see how things will fit my body, but the stuffing job wasn’t fabulous, so she doesn’t squish into a corset quite as well as I do. Regardless, I love her new curves.

20130430_222620 20130430_222605

After the reconstructive surgery to my dress form, I whipped up my entry for the Colette Patterns – Laurel contest. I finally used a Joann’s special fabric that I had planned for another dress two and a half years ago. The sheath dress pattern was very easy to follow, and I appreciated the tips and tutorials on the manufacturer’s website. I picked up neutral shoes and a bag and wore the dress to a spring wedding. All seams were intact when I came home, so it was marked as a job well done. The pictures were uploaded to Flickr and tagged for the contest’s popular and print categories.

IMG_8738

For the bachelorette party of the same wedding, I made an animal print headband to match the bride’s theme. I love this style and have two others made from quilting squares. They only take about 30 minutes to stitch up. Maybe I’ll post my instructions one day. Here’s our munchkin modeling for me.

20130430_222537

OH! And, I put up a makeshift backdrop so that no one has to look at my nicked walls and cluttered fabric space in the background. You can see it in the Laurel dress photo. I turned a couple of hook screws into the ceiling and suspended beat up lining fabric from medium sized binder clips. With another couple yards of fabric, I could make a U, which would be ideal, but this works for now.

IMG_8727 IMG_8729

This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, and the whole family will attend in costume this year. We’ll be representing DC, Rennie style – Superman, Batgirl, and Wonder Woman…er…Wonder Toddler. In the interest of time and being restricted to shopping only from my stash, she’ll be wearing a red velvet bodice with yellow-gold accents, blue twill breeches (either slashed or pearled), brown pleather cuffs with silver accents, and a gold satin headband with red acrylic gems. The outfit will go over her white undershirt, red tights, and red velvet shoe covers, which might get satin-stitched if I don’t forget. I’ve also coiled her golden lasso and secured it in the bodice lacing. The last thing a toddler needs is a potential tripping hazard, but I don’t mind having something to hold on to in the crowd. My only goal for FCBD is to get a good picture of our little super team; getting through the lines will be a bonus. Here’s a preview; I will post a family picture as soon as possible.

20130422_235938

Progress on the 4th Doctor’s scarf continues. Remember: No more than 30 minutes four days a week…what did you expect?

20130425_143936

For May, I’m looking forward to doing a minimum of sewing for the Steampunk World’s Fair. I have two costumes packed and one to determine, plus last year’s Military Fairy as a backup. The costume conference is two weeks following that, and I have at least one major undertaking that I haven’t even started yet. I’ll try some refitting of older, smaller pieces and then, it’ll be a mad dash to finish in time. I see hot glue in my future.

I think I love this time of year. 

Thanks for reading!

A Start is a Start

Happy January! Let’s not talk about the New Year’s R-word because it doesn’t fly in my life. Let’s instead focus on what I’d like to get into this year.

  • XP! I would like to do one thing everyday that pushes me further along the experience bar of craftiness. It doesn’t have to be big, but I need to do it for at least 15 minutes. Why 15 minutes? My lunch break is at least 30 minutes long, so I can absolutely devote half of my free time to something I love. Weekends have been easy, but on days that aren’t so, I’ve been knitting and organizing my fabric stash to squeeze in time before midnight.
  • Things! All of them. For almost a year, I’ve been employing the idea of learning a new skill with each project. It started with my Zelda costume when I made basic craft foam armor. Near the end of the year, my Batgirl outfit gave me some time with couched designs (which I plan to use again soon). Every new thing that I learn makes me all kinds of giddy and ready to start a new project.
  • Travel! I’m shy. No, really, I am. Last year, I took a huge leap by going to the Steampunk World’s Fair by myself. I had friends who were going, but I drove up on my own, and I had my own room, and I had to be a big girl. I wandered around alone, mostly to shop, and ended up having a fabulous time. I didn’t have to worry about making sure that anyone else was happy, which made it easy to get a lot out of the event. This year, I’m going to my first costuming conference, I plan to add a fairy faire to the family schedule, and I’ll be dressing in costume for a comic-con–I already have my outfits planned!

The first month has been pretty great for all of the above, or at least getting my ideas down on paper. I loaned a toddler friend one of The Tyrant’s old dresses and made a cute little underskirt to go with it. It’s a simple drawstring-gathered skirt with a generous hem for growth. The Tyrant isn’t a fan of modeling half of an ensemble.

20130108_225255

My family and I went to The Walters Museum in Baltimore to tour the exhibit, Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, which blew my mind just seeing art that I’ve been crazy after for so long. If you’re interested, most of the pieces will be at Princeton through spring. I made a floppy hat for my grandmother, who says that she may come to faire with us this year! Funny thing about the hat: she plans on wearing it to church. It’s based on the Sempstress.org’s pattern, but I pleated out from the center in opposite directions since I can never get that part right.

wpid-20130121_235303.jpg

For a last minute performance, I made a hip skirt out of a chiffon poncho and a belt out of curtain ties. I slit the neck opening of the poncho just enough to get it over my hips (about four inches), then I used a pearls & sequins foot to attach a length of cording around the whole opening with enough to tie. For the belt, I pulled the loops off of the ends of the braiding, measured and marked the two curtain ties to my front and back, stitched down the ends, and attached satin ribbon to each end. I wore this for a fusion improv with black Melodias and a black sleeveless, open back choli.

wpid-20130123_195619.jpg

I constructed another Urban Threads tiny top hat for a troupe-mate (which has prompted the director to request them for everyone). That puts my TTH level at 3; maybe I’ll get a badge when I hit five–it’s not a quick project. I frankensteined a circle patch together for a performer friend–a big triumph because I had to guess at the circle size that I told the machine to make and then cross my fingers that it was going to make a tight zig-zag stitch the same size. She plays parts in the local Rocky Horror Picture Show, and this patch will be painted to make its way onto Eddie’s jacket.

wpid-20130122_235207.jpg

I finally started the 4th Doctor’s scarf after a few years of promising another friend that I’d make it. I did my test swatch with a fancy pair of wood needles from Knit Picks, but it turns out that I needed a size down, so I had to use my existing metal ones. I definitely prefer the wood, but I don’t want to upset the gauge so I might just deal with it.

wpid-20130129_145743.jpg

And for the first serious project of the year, I started my costume for the biggest solo of my budding dance life. The first part of the outfit is harem pants/pantaloons–the voluminous ones, which I prefer over Melodias and skirts. Since I already have a normal pair in the right size, I laid them out on some satin-ish fabric (nearly the same drape as my final fabric) and cut them extra wide with seam allowances.

wpid-20130123_235940.jpg

The test pair turned out ‘okay’. I need to decrease the length in the seat and add length in the legs (said me for the first time ever). The two inch elastic that I’d planned to use did not play well with the fabric, which frays like no one’s business, so I zig-zagged the waist casing and replaced the elastic with 1-1/2 inch twill tape. It sits much better on my hips and reduces the stress on the fabric. Now, I have a pair of bright-@$$-orange dance pants, and I’m in love with them. Because I want to get this absolutely right, I’m going to do at least one more test pair in a black and green striped fabric that I won’t be using for anything any time soon…because it’s black and green striped fabric. I’m not judging, I’m just saying. After I get the pants right, I’ll move on to the bra, style to be determined. And the biggest challenge on the horizon looks to be choosing an overskirt color to go with my main fabric.

wpid-20130129_083748.jpg wpid-20130129_085115.jpg wpid-20130129_083109.jpg wpid-20130129_083950.jpg wpid-20130129_084106.jpg wpid-20130129_084224.jpg wpid-20130129_084418.jpg wpid-20130129_084652.jpg

I welcome suggestions on this. I don’t even know what color my primary fabric is; “shiny” doesn’t count. I have a bit of time before I need to decide on the skirt (short, with a little twirl to it), but between that and finding embellishment for the bra and belt, March is coming too quickly. I keep telling myself that I will not stray outside of my fabric stash until I manage to use or sell half of it…yeah, I know…blasphemy. I would need to hire an assistant just to photograph and list half of it.

For anyone looking for an update on my sewing room progress, I’ve closed six storage bins of wrapped/folded fabric. Woohoo! Unfortunately, I’m now down to one yard or less remnants and scraps that are taking up a serious amount of square footage in my room. I want to throw them all out, but we all know that’s not going to happen. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for ideas that I’ll follow through with, but only fabric coiled bowls and foot rests seem like projects I’d finish when I’m done with my scheduled costumes. I also entertained the notion of getting a fabric cutting roller-machine-a-ma-jig to cut and sell quilting bundles. I love any project that gets me a new toy, so we’ll see.

It went quickly, but this was a great and productive month! I look forward to more like this.

Thanks for reading!