Thursday, October 27, 2016

Princess Leia Costume for Rose

I think this is the last Halloween costume I need to make this year. I think. Fingers crossed. Anne keeps changing her mind as to what she wants to be but she keeps going back to a Fairy Princess, which is easy since we bought her a very pretty pink and silver, puffed-sleeve princess gown a few weeks ago at a second hand shop and fairy wings are a dollar at the local DT. And Malachi will be, as usual, a cowboy. 

For Rose I needed something that she can easily walk in, that she'd actually keep on (she prefers being as un-clothed as possible) and that wouldn't cost too much. While I initially thought I'd make a one-piece bunny costume with some pink wool I had on hand I came across a pattern for a crocheted Leia baby hat and I knew that Rose had to have it!

Now, this is kinda a big deal for me since I can't crochet. My great-grandma was an amazing fiber artist and tried patiently to teach me crochet when I was 11 years old. I learned how to make a long string of chain stitches and beyond that my brain turned into a hopeless puddle. I took up knitting, instead, and closed the door forever upon the mysterious world of crochet. 

But, Rose was worth the painful idea of trying again. I'd try again for her. So I got the supplies and watched a few YouTube videos on how to start a slip knot for crochet, how to do double crochet and half double crochet and adventurously began. And an hour and a half later I did have a hat! Wow. I was shocked. It's probably the easiest pattern in the world but I was so very excited about being able to complete it. The hat isn't perfect (I messed up on the final round since I was trying to count while also helping Judah with math homework) but it looks pretty much like it's supposed to, it fits Rose and she keeps it on. Win.

The dress is a cut all in one piece as  T shape, with an attached, gathered hood at the back neck opening. Very simple and very quick to make. I used a piece of fabric from one of the poly/cotton sheets I keep on hand for mock ups so there was no expense for new fabric. The belt is a stretchy white headband. 

I love grey autumn days since they are so good for taking pictures. Rose loved wearing her new costume outside, exploring the yard and the edge of the woods and playing with the cat. I can't wait to take her trick or treating on Monday. She is going to be so excited when she finds out she gets candy just for looking cute. ;)

Now that these projects are behind me I am feeling the need to slow down a bit. I have a mid-19th century style quilted petticoat cut out but I haven't started putting it together yet. Before I start anything new I want to repaint my sewing room and get things arranged better. Maybe next week. For now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of this lovely cool grey day with some good cups of coffee. Happy Halloween everyone!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Dipsy Teletubby Costume

Benjamin was a late talker. He turned 2 in May and he still wasn't talking all that much. His pediatrician wasn't overly concerned; some kids just talk later than others. But months passed and Benjamin still seemed content to communicate with two or three word phrases; sometimes just a gesture and a dimpled smile.

Then, over the summer, he discovered Teletubbies! I can't remember exactly when. I think he and Rose were driving me crazy one day (try getting much done with a 1 year old firmly grasping your legs from the back, and a 2 year old grabbing your legs from the front) so I put an episode on for them, thinking it may give me twenty minutes of peace. They both loved the show and since then it's been a daily ritual with Benjamin.
And he has started talking! Oh my goodness. He is a chatterbox now. Teletubbies may be dumb, stupid, silly, weird and all that but it has made my boy want to start talking more and that is a good thing. Actually, the shows aren't terrible at all. I've watched quite a few with my little boy. ;) And so, for Halloween, what would be better for Benjamin than a Teletubby costume?

Fleece was on sale at Joanns for 50% off so we bought a yard and a half. I used a set of Benjamins pajamas to copy a pattern for a one piece suit. It opens up the back and the hood is separate and 
fastens under the chin. This may be the first thing I've ever made him that he absolutely loves!
Gotta secure the head - thing? a bit better as it tends to want to lean forward!
It's roomy enough so he can wear a full set of clothes underneath. It's usually quite cold on Halloween so hopefully he will stay nice and warm. 

Also, I hate sewing with fleece. Never again! 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Jedi Costume for Judah

The boys have become more particular about their Halloween costumes as they have grown older. When they were little it was easy to throw together a "good enough" outfit the day of Halloween to take them trick-or-treating. We've done a pirate, a railroad man, cowboy (multiple times! Malachi never wants to be anything else. . .) and one year they wore their 14th century clothes and cloaks and went as hobbits. Their first year they went as the 3 spirits of Christmas, which was so much fun!

This year Malachi is going again as a cowboy, little David as Darth Vader (he wanted to be the Titanic up until his birthday, but he received a Darth Vader mask and helmet as a gift and that has made his Titanic obsession fly out the window) and Judah wanted to be a Jedi.

Judah was very particular. It had to be a REAL Jedi costume. Not just something that "looked sort of like a Jedi". Judah did research all on his own and I did research and he came up with the various articles of clothing I had to make and I had to figure out how to make them.Then Judah accompanied me to shop for fabric and he picked out a linen blend for the robe and cheap, coarse, natural muslin for the tunics, obi and tabard. We got 3 yards of 60" fabric for the robe and 8.5 yards of 36" fabric for everything else, and we used every bit of it.

I've been working on it over the past week or two and today I finished the robe so I can finally say that this costume is done! It was a really fun project and I think my kid looks pretty darn awesome in it!

The trousers are simply a pair of tan corduroy pajama pants that were mine, but I was willing to sacrifice for a good cause. ;) Fortunately, my son is about the same size as I am so he can wear them without any alterations. The under-tunic has a wrap front with no fastenings; it simply overlaps across the chest. It has a high V neckline and 3/4 length sleeves and is cut on the square.

The overtunic has slightly shaped armscyes and sleeve heads but is otherwise cut on the square. It has a very large overlap in the front and the neckline is cut straight down from the shoulder to the hem, like a bathrobe. The shoulders are tucked like Obi-Wans tunic but can be let out for additional length in the sleeve/body when Judah gets bigger.

Then finally the obi (belt) goes on, which is made of 3 layers of the muslin with a layer of cotton batting to give some stability to it. It's just a wide rectangle that hooks closed in the back with hooks and eyes. The long rectangular tabard goes over the shoulders and tucks into the belt in front and back.

I had 3 yards to make the robe and was worried it wouldn't be enough material. I cut it on the square, though, so had *just* enough! It's made very much like an SCA style T-tunic, with a hood and a front opening. The hood is pleated to fit the neckline so it has a nice drape around the neck. I'm very pleased with how it came out!

To finish off the outfit Judah is wearing my winter boots and an old leather belt that is fastened in the back. We'll probably hit the thrift shops and look for a wider belt and taller boots. He also needs a blue light saber but he really doesn't want a "fake" (plastic) one. He's been studying youtube videos on how to build a realistic looking metal one. We'll see what we can do before Halloween.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Quilted Sunbonnet in Blue

This was my project the past few days. With the changing of the weather and switching out summer wardrobes for warmer things I have used the opportunity to clean out and declutter. Anything that is in good condition and can be worn next year is saved in our little cupboard under the stairs and all else is donated, either to recycling or to a local non profit thrift shop.

I had a pair of blue striped dress pants that were given to me over the summer when a neighbor moved away. I'm not a dress pants kinda person but I kept them since they were quite nice and fit well and I like to wear actual nice pants (not jeans) when I help at the schools the boys go to. Still, I never did wear them. So I folded them into our donate box but then pulled them out when I realized that the fabric would work really well for a sunbonnet!

Anne has been wanting a new one lately and she didn't like any of the fabrics I have on hand. I didn't consult her for an opinion about the blue striped dress pants but just went ahead and made it. And once the bonnet was done she loved it! Elsa got a matching little bonnet, too. :)

Now; quilted bonnets in the 1860's. Kinda problematic for me. A few years ago I made several quilted sunbonnets but then read that according to the observations of several highly respected collectors, quilted cotton sunbonnets don't seem to make an appearance until post-Civil War. Never say never, you know, but it doesn't seem that quilted sunbonnets were the common thing. There are, however, many examples of quilted winter bonnets, which could also be made in the style of sunbonnets. But plain, everyday, cotton sunbonnets worn outside to keep the sun off? I honestly don't know. Several reputable pattern companies have made sunbonnet patterns with a quilting option but I haven't personally come across documentation of quilted sunbonnets in the pre-1860's or 1860's era yet.

But I did quilt this one. Kinda because I was lazy and was sick of cording (I've done a lot of it this summer) and I was in the mood to quilt, and kinda because this bonnet is meant to be for cooler weather, anyway, since the fabric is a bit heavier. It's a linen/cotton blend and really super nice!

It has a deep shaped rectangular brim, a flattened oval shaped crown and the brim and crown are completely finished separately of the curtain. The curtain was hemmed all round and then cartridge pleated to fit. The two legs from the dress pants had plenty of fabric! If I had made the crown just a bit bigger it would fit an adult size and in that case, I may have kept it for myself. ;)

It was a quick project but nice to have some handwork to keep me busy for a few hours in the evenings. I spent some time with Malachi watching a movie of his choice since his siblings were watching Finding Nemo and he considered that beneath him (his own choice of Spaceballs, was, however, questionably superior).

I am currently having post-Perryville blues. I didn't go but I now wish I had, since it was so close by and I've never been to a national event! And as of yet there is no certain national event for next year scheduled, at least as far as I know. At least its put me in the mood to get a good start on our clothing needs for next year. I need a new cage really bad. That may be next, once Halloween costumes are done.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Elsa Boreen

I can't even remember where we got these little Amish-style dolls. They probably came in a bag of toys from Grandma or maybe a yard sale somewhere. Since the large rag doll I made for Anne has been used so much that the stuffing is starting to come out and the seams tearing apart she has brought these to reenactments a few times this year. Their smaller size is better for her, anyway. (Why did I make her doll so very large? What was I thinking?!) I planned to make new dresses for the dolls over the summer to give them a more period appropriate look but I never got around to it. So, they've been drug out in their poly/cotton Amish-esque attire and became a bit sad and bedraggled.

Anne and I finally sat down and made a dress for her doll and she wanted me to make a face for her and put on some hair. While the finished doll isn't totally appropriate for the Civil War era (hair is quite questionable, and the body shape isn't really representative of 1860's styles, and I'm sure the stuffing is poly/cotton and my embroidery is. . .not great) it looks better at a glance than the Amish doll and I don't feel bad for having Anne bring this along to events to play with.

First we made a little pattern for a fitted bodice and we cut it out of fabric Anne picked from the scrap drawer. She chose the remnants of the purple calico we used for her Boone Frock. I lined the bodice with white cotton for stability.

I truly *hate* sewing tiny things. Oh my gosh. It's so frustrating. I set the sleeves in flat before sewing up the side seams as that was the only way I really could accomplish such small sewing. The neckline is piped but I didn't even attempt to pipe the armscyes. No way.

The skirt was easier. A rectangle gathered to fit.

Inside I sewed some tape over the waist seam to keep it tidy and we put a hook and eye at the neck and waist to shut the dress.

Her hair is made of llama hair that came from a friend of my mother. She raises llamas and gave me a whole bunch of it in various colours. Anne chose this reddish brown as the closest match to her own curls. I twisted the roving into a loose length and then attached it to head by couching it on. The doll originally had a black poly/cotton bonnet superglued to her head so attaching hair was the only method we could use to cover up the glue spots. Original 1860's rag dolls could have painted hair but in our case, painting the head would have still left the glue glaringly apparent.

The embroidery is totally free hand and very, um, creative. Honestly it looks like crap. It's lopsided and the colors don't work the greatest but Anne pronounced it "beautiful" and so I'm going to leave it as it is.

And her name is Elsa, after Anne's favorite Disney princess. She asked me what her middle name ought to be and I gave her some suggestions but she didn't like any of them. Then she asked me to tell her all the girl names I know of. So I began a lengthy and monotonous list. Irene! Anne liked Irene. Then she glanced at the door and changed it to Doreen, which is still a very nice name. Then in a final loving gesture of paternity she changed it to Boreen, because sometimes dolls are boring. So this is Elsa Boreen and I am a grandma.

It will be nice to have a better doll for Anne to bring along next season. Well, if little Elsa Boreen lasts til then. She's currently being played with quite heavily. Rose's doll needs a new dress so that will be forthcoming shortly.