Sunday, December 16, 2018

Halloween Animal Coats for Rose & Benjamin

Oh my, it's 9 days til Christmas and I am not really in the holiday mood yet this year. It doesn't seem like it is Christmas time yet. Halloween seems like it was only a week or two ago and I feel like I skipped over Thanksgiving completely. It's been a weird year and I am tired and not ready for the big push of week-before-Christmas last minute shopping, baking and trips to the post office. I made a few batches of Christmas cookies this afternoon and put The Nutcracker in the dvd player for the babies to watch so hopefully that will help make me realize that, yes, Christmas is soon! I am just not ready to let go of this beautiful, beautiful autumn.

Speaking of Halloween, I wanted to share the babies costumes this year before we get too far away from October. While several of the children wore things they already had for Halloween, I made new costumes for Benjamin, Rose and Judah, and even had time to make one for me. It was a really fun month and the kids got far more candy than they needed and we attended four trick or treats (three too many!) so they had plenty of opportunity to wear their costumes.

Halloween is always cold and this year was no exception, although thankfully it wasn't as cold as it has been in  past years. I knew I wanted to make the littlest ones something warm and cozy that wouldn't have to be covered up by a coat. So, when I saw the Twig and Tale Animal Coat pattern, I thought well, why not make  a coat that is also a costume?

Each coat took me about a day to make. I loved using this pattern! The sizing is good, the fit is roomy enough to be worn for at least another season (perhaps two!) and the design is just so clever for growing kids. The animal elements are so fun to mix and match and well; I just loved making these!

Rosie was adamant this year that she be a Gruffalo. She loves the movie and it is her favorite one to watch. I am pretty sure she has it memorized. She wanted a brown coat with "purple prickles" and using some of the animal elements from the pattern and making up my own shape for the horns we put this coat together out of an old brown fleece blanket, scraps and a length of yellow quilting cotton for the lining. To close the button loops we used 3 large wooden buttons. The pockets on the front are finished with white "claws" and were the perfect places to put her favorite candy at Halloween.

Benjamin's coat was constructed of green corded twill, left over from some mid-19th century projects I made earlier this year, and lined with part of a blue cotton sheet. This coat is lighter weight than Rose's but still cozy enough layered over a hoodie in cold weather. For his coat I used the free dragon add-on for wings and floppy ears and a pointy dragon tail. We added a row of stubby spikes down the back and a fuzzy row of red wool yarn hair. Because dragons love gold, Benjamin chose 3 shiny gold colored buttons from my button drawer. His claws are made of bits of leather and the red elements are recycled from one of my old skirts.

They had such a good time wearing these coats and it has made me so happy to see them enjoy these coats way beyond just trick or treating. They wear them all the time, whether going out or around the house and they absolutely love pretending they are a Gruffalo and a mighty Dragon.

I had so much fun making these that I made a little coat for my niece out of fleece with cotton lining. She had requested a giraffe, so that is what this one is. For my newest little niece I made a baby cape to match her big sisters coat. These were so fun! For the cape, I used the Twig and Tale Travellers Cape. Another great pattern and one that I think I will use even for myself one of these days. (I am rather ridiculously excited about planning mine! I plan to make it of a blue small check wool blend with plaid lining and maybe a faux fur around the hood!)

I hope you all have a warm and happy Christmas!

Much love,

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Black Wool Cloak

Oh my gosh, it's been more than a whole month since I've blogged about anything. I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween, and a beautiful Thanksgiving, and that you are going into the Christmas season with a lot of joy and love and good memories of times past.

After my last post I pretty much stopped sewing for a while. I was just burnt out and nothing seemed to appeal to me, even though there were, certainly, things I needed to work on. In early November I wore my Persephone jeans (but not the blouse I wore with them in my last post) to see Bohemian Rhapsody with my son, Judah (I cried a lot. The movie was awesome). The weather got very cold and I half heartedly started a cloak, since this year I decided I really wanted a long, drapey, black cloak instead of a new winter coat, similar to the ones worn by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the music video for Something.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1969
Earlier this fall I got a pattern for a 1974 cloak that had the princess seams and hood that I wanted. I didn't want to make a half circle cloak, because that doesn't stay shut in front. I didn't want to make a full circle cloak because ohmygosh the fabric waste, unless it's pieced. A gored cloak seemed most economical; still, even with shortening the full length view of the pattern 4" to accommodate my height, the cloak still took up a whole 5 yards of 60" wide fabric, for each layer. And there were three layers. So, all told, this cloak contains 15 yards of fabric. It's heavy. But it's warm.

It took so long to make this freaking thing. I was so not into it. It wasn't until I went out to the woods a few weeks ago and nearly froze to death that I decided yeah, I need to finish the damn thing. Everything took forever. Cutting out each layer took at least a day, for each layer. If I was lucky I'd sew two seams a day. The seams were so long. Even made mostly on the machine (the only hand stitching, which I desperately tried to avoid, was done at the hem and the center front facings and the hand slits), it took so long.

Finally, the weekend before Thanksgiving the cloak was almost done. Then, I was struck with a uti-turned-kidney-infection-turned-sepsis and spent last week in the hospital with a fever that peaked at 106 and struggled to get below 103. I was so sick. Once I was released to come home, my parents arrived from Illinois and I sat in my chair in my room for the first day or two, and, lacking anything else to do, finally finished the cloak hem.

The last thing to do was to sew fasteners to the cloak. The pattern calls for hook and eyes, but these are extremely impractical. I think I will eventually (soonish) sew an underlap strip on one side of the center front opening to act as a kind of air barrier there.

Yesterday was the first time I really got to go out since coming home from the hospital and it was a beautiful, cold, snowy day. School was cancelled and my kids were thrilled! We never get a lot of snow here, but it's exciting to even have a little. It is so pretty! I had a dr. appointment in the morning and on my way home stopped at this nearby mound, constructed over fifteen hundred years ago by Ohio Valley Indians, to take some pictures of the trees in the snow and also to try to get a few pictures of my finally-finished cloak!

I promise I wasn't really pissed off or upset in these pictures -
the wind was bitingly cold and my eyes were watery from it, lol.

The cloak is made of an outer layer of  black wool suiting, interlined with a heavier wool blend and lined with a mossy green stretchy, tight woven mystery fabric from Wal-Mart that works great as a wind block. It's warm, except for where the front blows open. Definitely need a better front closure. . .

And with that, November is nearly done. 2018 has gone by so fast. I hope you all have a blessed and happy December, and a very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Persephone Pants in Denim and a Jagger Shirt :D

Well, it's been a few weeks since I have updated my blog and honestly I am so far behind chronicling my projects that. . .I won't be catching up anytime soon. But I am jumping ahead of my backlog to write about my most recent project, which was my first attempt at non-elasticized pants for myself.

This past summer I started thinking about jeans and the fact that I don't really have any, besides a pair I swiped from my 5th grader when he outgrew them. It's really hard for me to find pants that fit and it's even harder having time to try on pants in fitting rooms before purchasing them (preschoolers find creative ways to embarrass their mothers.. .) I finally decided to actually try to sew some jean-ish type pants. I had some specific features in mind: A higher waist, since I hate low rise jeans and constantly having to tug them up, wide, straight legs so they'd fit well over winter boots and they'd also have to be comfortable without being too tight or too loose.

I waffled between the Lander Pants pattern and the wildly popular Persephone Pants pattern that was released earlier this year and finally decided on the Persephone Pants simply because I have followed the designer online for many, many years and I know her work is very careful and thought out and beautifully done. It also seemed that the Persephone Pants pattern would be less complicated to sew and I liked the seamless side silhouette. PLUS the pattern is based on vintage mens sailor pants so of course, with the historic element present they were the obvious choice. πŸ˜„

I bought my 10 oz. no-stretch denim last month and didn't have a chance to actually start sewing these til recently, once the stretch of Halloween sewing was finished. It took me a few days of pretty steady sewing (for a few hours each day) to get them done. I followed the instructions step by step and used the size 4 exactly as printed with no modifications, except for adding back pockets, since I DO use back pockets and for leaving the length about an inch longer than called for, since I wanted these to be full length pants rather than cropped.

Before adding the buttons!

The sewing seemed to never end. Since I don't have a serger, I used a zig zag stitch to finish the raw edges and each seam was sewn three to four times - the initial seam, the zig zag finishing of the seam, and the two rows of exterior topstitching to secure the seam in place. This took an insane amount of thread. My brand new spool ran out halfway through and I used up all of another spool by the time I was finished. I have NEVER used two spools of thread on a single garment before but - it is definitely worth it. These pants are very, very sturdy and I think will hold up a really long time, through regular wears and washings.
Alllllll the stitching!
I forced myself to try to use only machine stitching on these and I made myself do machine made buttonholes, which came out somewhat badly but still - I'll never get better unless I keep doing them. They work! The button fly is fastened with hammered-on jeans buttons that Malachi very happily whacked into place for me and the waistband is fastened with another of the jeans buttons.

I LOVE these pants. Since these were basically made as a wearable muslin, there are a few things I will change up next time. But still these are perfectly wearable as-is and yes, I have been wearing them almost constantly! The size 4 matched my measurements almost exactly but they are really a big too big, especially in the waist and upper hip area. And I do not have enough bum padding to fill out the seat nicely, so I think that next time yes, I will go down a size and see if that works better for me. I love the length as it is and I love the topstitched waistband pockets in the front. These are awesome, awesome pants.

I didn't intend to make a blouse to go with the pants but the leader of our 4-H group gave me some lengths of fabric a few weeks ago and once piece was a six yard length of silky poly leopard print fabric. I had no idea what to do with it. I just don't do leopard print anything. A friend of mine suggested a pajama set, which I still may do, but I was inspired to make an 80's style shirt, inspired by the blousy button-ups that Mick Jagger often wore during that decade. (Ohmygosh he is the most gorgeous human😍!)
Image from 1981, found on this forum
I love his simple collared shirts, often open at the neck. 
I love Mick's shirt in what is possibly my favorite music video of him ever,
performing Dancing in the Street with David Bowie! 

While I couldn't find any pictures of Mick wearing a leopard print button-up, there are some images of other Stones guys wearing leopard print, like Keith Richards in this 1969 photograph:
Keith Richards, rhythm guitarist of the Rolling Stones, looks every bit the rock star in a leopard print jacket, spotted bow tie
and striped shirt, 1969. Photo by Graham Wiltshire/Getty Images
And in this one from 1981:
from Getty Images - yes Keith, you're hot but you're not Jagger hot. . .
I looked at a lot of images of vintage leopard print button ups from the 1970s and 1980s. I liked the look of this 1970's shirt from The Rusty Zipper:
Vintage 1970s Leopard Print Shirt
And this 1980's shirt:
Vintage 1980's Leopard Print Blouse
I also looked at a lot of sewing patterns from the 70's and 80's, decided I did NOT want to do a giant 70's style collar, and I used my Otari Hoodie pattern (so versatile!) as a base for my blouse, with sleeves from a 1969 blouse pattern I have and a two piece fold down collar I drafted myself.

 This material was a pain in the ass to sew but I persevered with starch and plenty of pins. All the seams are french seamed except the armholes, which are finished with a narrow zig zag and topstitched. I used interfacing in the collar and cuffs to keep them nice and flat. I had exactly four black buttons in my stash so, I wish I did have more on the front but four was enough to finish it and make it wearable!

It's a hugely fun and comfortable outfit to wear and you know what's awesome? Trying something new and discovering that you can do it! And getting out of your comfort zone enough to expand yourself a little bit. I love that.

I do plan to make more button ups but will refine my hacked pattern a little bit for next time - more ease in the shoulders, a back yoke and more fitted sleeves instead of blousey ones. I'll make my next ones out of more somber material; one leopard print shirt is enough! πŸ˜‚

Have a very safe and very happy Halloween, my loves!