Happy Halloween 2019! This year: a toddler swan costume

Mini started going to nursery school twice a week this fall, so I’m beginning to have some time on my hands.  (Kind of.  Ha!)  While I have actually been working on various projects in the months since I last posted I have not been able to make writing a priority. I’m here now though, and I hope to get back with increasing frequency going forward.  On to the costume!

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Recently I’ve felt less motivated, inspired, and more pressed for time, so I was going to re-use Mini’s bumblebee costume.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find it despite doing some major sorting and reorganising.  The idea of a swan costume struck me suddenly, and it seemed wiser to quit wasting time searching for the old costume and make a new one.  I’m so glad it worked out that way, because Halloween has always been something I look forward to creating for, and it would have been a shame to waste the chance.

I thought a swan costume could re-use a lot of ideas from the bumblebee, and that made it seem doable.  I knew what I was getting into time-wise and with the construction except for a headpiece.  After a trip to Joann’s for tulle and to scout out other materials I had some ideas, and I decided to start with the headpiece to get it out of the way.  First I tried making some crude sketches and then dove into it.  It came together more quickly and easily than I ever expected, and in just an afternoon the headpiece, (maybe it could be called a fascinator… I’m not sure,) was done!

After that I made a pattern for layers of feather-like pieces for a wing shaped cape to attach to a bolero which would be worn over a bodysuit all sewn with my now familiar patterns in Alabama Chanin style.  The wing cape pattern was quick to draft too.  I’d ordered some white cotton jersey sheets from Amazon in advance, but I regretted not going for a black swan when I was doing the rest of the shopping at Joanns.  There I decided to merge some aspects of inspiration photos in a way nature does not by adding some black tulle to the mix of whites (matte, sparkle, and shimmer.)  This continued by using more black in the fascinator than a white swan ought to have had, but I am happy with how “swan” the ensemble reads, and I think it is prettier than it would have been if I stuck to reality.  Going with fantasy is so fun, I keep learning.

Mini didn’t want to wear the fascinator until she saw what other kids were wearing at our town’s costume event this weekend, so I only have a couple of shots with it worn properly.  I think pinning it to the wing cape wasn’t too bad either, but it was pretty darned cute worn on her head.

For the inspiration I just did a Google image search for swans, and here are some photos I referred to while making decisions:

 

The supplies:IMG_2687.jpg

Starting with the fascinator:

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On to the wing cape:

Bolero, wings, and bodysuit:

And the tutu:

 

It was a really fun project!

The bumblebee is complete: an Alabama Chanin inspired toddler Halloween costume…

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Last time I wrote here I was about to begin making a bumblebee Halloween costume for Mini.  I didn’t get a change to write again while working on it until a day or two ago and opted to just finish everything first instead so that I could try for a photoshoot before the weekend.

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It went as planned except for the wings.  Instead of using wire and pantyhose I ended up sandwiching super sparkly vinyl sheets together, and I am pleased with the result.  If making them again I’d probably change the design slightly, but I definitely prefer them to the wire frame sort for this particular costume.  The sparkle is great for bee wings, I think.  Anyway, the vinyl stuff had adhesive, and I stuck it to some Tyvek for extra strength.  I’d have used black craft foam sheets if I’d planned better, but I hadn’t purchased any.  For my own costume I ought to, because larger wings will droop too much otherwise.

The bodysuit and bolero were easy thanks to plenty of practice.  I’m glad I found out about Alabama Chanin in time to use the techniques for baby clothes!  I think that it makes the costume much more special.

 

Inspiration:

 

Details:

Getting ready for Halloween: little bumblebee

For the first Halloween ever, I’m planning to have a costume done more than a day/hour before the deadline!  😀  Since everything takes longer now I actually began preparing already (and also so that I can post about the costume before the holiday.)  So, I went out searching for the materials that I thought I’d need and had them in hand before the first of October!

The idea is to make a cute little bumblebee costume for Mini (and some rather half-assed matching bee attire for myself.)  For this I figured I’d use: yellow and black tulle, yellow and black T-shirts, black or white tights, wire, headbands, pompoms, ribbon, black shoes, glittery fabric paint, and maybe some fake flowers.  It wasn’t hard to find these things, even the tulle was available in more shades than I knew what to do with, on my first outing to local suppliers.  I’m glad I didn’t have to go online or to the city.

Here are the materials:

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I saw the reflective sticky vinyl sheet stuff and decided it would help make really cool wings.

I planned on using pretty brass and copper twisted wire to attach black pompoms to headbands, but another day I spotted the pre-made ones with sequins.  I liked them very much, so now I don’t have to make any.  The tulle is to make tutus.  I envisioned having to carefully cut, pin, and make gathering stitches in multiple layers, but after a little research it seems everyone just cuts and then ties strips onto elastic or ribbon.   The wings will be made of either the black or white pantyhose.  Probably the white?  I’m not certain about the fake flowers and hops, but I’d like to have them on hand to possibly add.  The idea is to stay aways from a cartoonish kind of bee and go more in a fantasy woodland-sprite direction.  That is the reason I ended up purchasing “gold” tulle and vinyl rather than a bold yellow and all the flowers.

I think it’ll be a fun project, but I cannot begin until next week.  Or shouldn’t…  My mother is coming to visit tomorrow and let me tackle big household projects, and I spent the last few days on those and sourcing materials.  I’d hoped to complete insulting, finishing, and furnishing my husband’s office over the weekend, but materials wouldn’t arrive in time.  Instead I have masonry repairs and a lot of organising.  Just as well, because the front steps are a disaster and the garage a complete mess of things to donate or sell or put away properly.

Next week I’ll cut the t-shirts into a striped onesie and bolero.  Hopefully I’ll finish stitching it quickly and can make tutus as well.  The wings are the portion that I’m least certain of how to do or how long it’ll take.  Then the rest is just finishing touches.  I’ll write again soon!

Progress and plans

I just completed the last few centimetres of binding on the poppies bodysuit, and the appliqué stitching is all done too.  Today I’ll be able to construct the bolero, and I’m still on target to complete the outfit for the last predicted nice weather which we’ll be having this weekend.  The plan is to go to a pumpkin patch for photos.

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Meanwhile, I’ve been considering Halloween costume ideas.  I had nothing, but yesterday I was looking at the bees on a blanket that I made for Mini recently, and the idea of a little bumblebee suddenly seemed nice.  I think it’ll be a great costume for a toddler.  I’m starting to plan it in my head and figure it may involve black and yellow tulle, some kind of black pleather for a stinger, wire and pantyhose wings, yellow and black T-shirts A. Chanin-ed into a bodysuit, pom-poms on a headband, and black tights?  Maybe a few fake flowers?  We’ll see.

This is the blanket.  It’s just one of those no-sew fleece things.  I saw the fabric and gave in to the cuteness.  :shrug:

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I carefully cut the two layers and then fringe strips to tie.  It was really quick, and Mini likes it a lot.

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That same day I also impulsively grabbed a yard of cheap (97-cent/yard) vinyl that looked cute to make a little rain coat.  I’d been meaning to make a mini-cloak-coat, like mine, for her.  I tackled that and made the pattern right away.  The raincoat is all cut out, but I didn’t sew it up yet.  After all, I doubt she’ll actually use it until spring.  I’d like to make a wool version too, but I haven’t found a large enough thrift coat to cut up yet.  I’m hoping for red, but maybe I’ll find some pretty shade of some other colour.

Time now to sew a little!

 

Capezio Can Can Boots VS American Duchess Renoir Button Boots

This morning I took photos of the two pairs of boots to illustrate the differences between them.  Surely not many people out there are comparing these, especially since the Can Cans are discontinued now and custom made only, but here we go anyway…  (Actually, this website appears to be selling the Can Cans, but I cannot vouch for them personally, and the price is significantly less than I was quoted by Capezio.)

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So far the Renoirs win on comfort, I believe.  The lower heel is of course easier on me since I barely wear heels at all, and they are a size US8.5 which my toes appreciate.  While I have always found the US7.5 Can Cans to be wonderfully comfortable I’ll have to admit that the feel caused by the heels is not optimal (nor is the size now, but that isn’t their fault.)

As noted in a previous post, I’ve worn the Can Cans for thousands upon thousands of steps over the course of a decade.  They are very sturdily made and have been the most wearable shoes I’ve ever had.  I’m looking forward to the look once the Renoirs have been broken in, and I anticipate that they’ll win the wearability contest.  They appear almost equally well made with the Can Cans looking just a bit better in some way that I cannot put my finger on.  Thicker leather?  Something about the construction?  It is a tad difficult to compare with the Renoir pair practically unworn yet too, but I have hopes that they’ll fare well over the years.

Nearly $200 for the Renoirs is pricey indeed, but I generally select shoes in that price point.  Seeing them in person I have no complaints about the cost at all.  In fact, they are a bargain compared to nearly $500 for the Can Cans.  So, there you are: my thoughts on these two beautiful Victorian/Edwardian-ish boots.  I hope that seeing “after” photos of the Renoir boots may be interesting to someone even if they aren’t truly broken in yet.  I was scouring the internet for reviews and images that didn’t look the same as the pristine pairs on the original website.  I hoped to see them after buttons were adjusted and after conforming to someone’s feet.

Most of the original boots I’ve seen have a gorgeous shape which the Renoirs are lacking, but I’m not sure if that might change with more wear and button adjustment?  Perhaps anatomy and tolerance of discomfort have something to do with it too?  Or did the leather shrink?  I don’t know.  I love these curves!

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Will the Renoir boots approach this look after a while?  I hope so and will report back some day to let you know.

PS: I was able to get the most lovely little folding button hook!  IMG_7046.jpg

A funny thing is that although I am a rather ambidextrous-leaning lefty it was much more natural to hook with my right hand.  I was surprised at how easily it went with my right while my left fumbled a little.  Maybe that is since my left is used to the idea of buttoning normally?  Heh.

The American Duchess Renoir Button Boots are Here!!! (Quick Review)

Today Yesterday I was staining the west side of the house, and I heard the mail carrier scan something.  Ooh, a package!  I’d been wondering if a button hook might arrive today (even though it is coming all the way from England) if I were lucky, but when I spotted a box by the door it was rather large.  Then I saw the sender was American Duchess with L as the recipient.  Surprised, I carried the parcel inside and tore into it, because I knew the Renoir boots were on pre-order and supposed to ship in 6-8 weeks!  I didn’t figure I’d get to see them until nearly Christmas.  Perhaps he had ordered another shoe as a surprise?  After all I’d emailed him a short list detailing my desires.  😀  Shockingly it turned out to be the Renoirs after all!

This photo is after moving the buttons and two long walks:

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I’m giddy with happiness about these boots.  Seriously.

When I was a kid I was in love with all things from the 18th and 19 centuries.  My focus shifted from time to time, but I especially was fond of the second half of the 19th.  I taped Dr Quinn, I read American Girl and the Little House books, and I watched the Shirley Temple version of The Little Princess quite a few times.  So, at some point I noticed high button boots and became obsessed.  Later, when I spotted impossibly tiny Victorian boots in antique malls I wished so badly that I could fit in them (although of course they likely wouldn’t survive being worn.)  I never really dreamt that some day anyone would offer brand new, real, buttoning boots for purchase.  I’m not even sure why it didn’t occur to me since plenty of 18th century reproduction shoes are available now, but I sure never saw button boots anywhere and assumed that the buttons themselves were the reason.

The nearest style, which I do love thought they lace up, are Capezio dance boots that they named Can Can.  They are extremely comfortable, well made, and durable, but my feet grew in the 10+ years that I’ve had them.  Unfortunately they are now only custom made, and I found the Renoir boots before L committed to getting me a new pair as a birthday present.

Yesterday I nearly finished this post but decided to wait until I could add the button moving process before and after etc.  I’m sure that the boots will evolve in their fit with time, but moving the buttons was pretty dramatic.  They still do not have the amazing curves of the real deal, but maybe I’ll shift the buttons again later on after wear and stretching a while?  I do think that they’ll never quite make it to the real curves since the heels are lower and apparently women had much smaller ankles and calves back then?

Last night we took a walk, and I found the boots comfortable.  I’d also worn them as much as I could inside too.  It appears that they are nearly as well constructed and durable as the Capezios?  As far as I can see they look comparable.  The heel is lower on these which is welcomed although it looks a little less pretty I guess.  My feet are picky, and I get pain and blisters from all of my shoes it seems, but two walks have proven the Renoirs to be some of the best to jump into that I’ve ever worn.  No hint of rubbing or blisters and no pain.  Very comfortable indeed.

This morning I spent performing button relocation surgery.

The right is snug now, but I’ll have to adjust the left for equality.  It seems that my left is a little narrower, which I knew, and the feel is not agreeable since I was afraid to take things in further than the other.  The time spent was annoying, one or two hours, so I’m not too quickly adjusting now.

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The right is done but that left is as it arrived:

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We walked for a bit and voted today, and I wore them:

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Review:

They are as comfortable as can be and surpassed my expectations on that point.  I do love them, but I’d be even more thrilled if American Duchess would make them in a style closer to the Can Can boots (curvier with the higher heel) and especially with the broguing and cherry colour of her new Oxfords.  That would be incredible!   The price is reasonable to me and a lot better than custom Capezios, and you can’t find real buttons anywhere else that I know of.  I’ll be having a cobbler rubberise the sole and heel, because they are a little slippery, and I know that the plastic heel cap thing is going to wear out like crazy.

I cannot wait to see how these look after breaking in more!

 

Halloween 2016: 1918

This year I didn’t take the time available to me to create a new costume, I am sad to say.  Mostly the reason was that there aren’t that many days of good weather left for staining our house.  That is rather unfortunate since, with IVF luck, perhaps next year a newborn might complicate the costume matter?  (I’m afraid to hope so too much, but it is a possibility.)

We didn’t even go out to a goth night on Saturday, because L made reservations at a really neat restaurant for my birthday instead.  I’d already scraped together old pieces to form a costume for going out though, so I wore it to our local haunt on Sunday night.  (They are closed Mondays.)

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While I had no great idea for a costume I’ve been looking for an excuse to make something 19-teens-ish.  I’m certain, after watching Downton Abbey this summer, that this is my favourite fashion period in all of history.  Even before the show I was drawn to it and even based my wedding dress in the era, so I had some pieces that I could put together for this Halloween’s look.

I used the old under-bust corset, a thrift store silk skirt that I’ve had for years, the fingerless gloves from our wedding, a leather mask from Etsy, and a silk chiffon wrap tunic that I made some years ago.  I think it has a ‘teens look.

This shot from the trial run shows more of the fabric details:

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At some point I’m certainly going to make at least a few good ‘teens pieces.  A coat is a must too, like one (far right) in this fashion plate?

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Meanwhile, I am thrilled about some new shoes…  L has pre-ordered REAL button boots for my birthday gift, and as soon as I have them I’ll be sharing photos and a review.  (I Googled forever, but no one seems to have shared photos beyond those from the actual website or upon first arrival.  I’d like to see what they look like with the buttons adjusted and all broken in, so I’ll have to be the one to put that online it seems.)  I’d wanted to get a pair of my beloved can can boots, but they are really expensive and now only custom made as it turns out.  (I realistically need an entire size larger than the pair that I’ve worn for more than ten years.  They still look pretty good, after tours of Barcelona and NYC, but my feet grew…)  Maybe another time, but I’m seriously excited to get my hands on actual button boots!  Even when I was a little kid I wished I could have a pair like I saw in antique shops or worn by Shirley Temple in The Little Princess.  OMG, the want.  😀  I already ordered a few antique button hooks, and I look forward to a post or two about the boots when they arrive and after a while.  I’ve also gone ahead and received a pair of Edwardian shoes, but I have yet to adjust the buttons or anything.