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:

 

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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!

Completed Project: a cloak (or ruana?) made from a Didymos leafage baby wrap

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I’ve been working on a lot of things lately, but today I completed something new and different for this blog.   For some reason I’ve been obsessing over cloaks (I suppose it is a winter thing?)  I even bought a Folkwear Moroccan “burnoose” pattern, but then the thrifted wool blanket I had was too small for it.  My fabric stash wasn’t any help either.  (I have several lovely wools without enough yardage for the big and flowing garments I like.)  Eventually I went down a Google rabbit hole, and I think I came around full circle to the reason I noticed cloaks in the first place: using woven baby carrying wraps to make them.

I don’t believe I’ve written about baby wearing or wrapping, but I have a few lovely wraps.  One, leafage by Didymos, is particularly stunning in my opinion.  (It is also wonderfully comfortable and cushy to wrap with.  The best of all I have tried.)  It is half wool and half cotton, and the wool is what makes it a great carrier for me.  It is also gorgeous with scrolling green foliage in a sort of art nouveau design.  I just had to make a cloak with some of this fabric.

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So I did.  I began measuring and cutting a felted size six last night.  (Felting makes wraps entirely unsuitable for baby wearing.)  It measured 5cm narrower and 20cm(or was it half for 40cm?  I can’t remember) shorter than it originally had been.  The felting probably makes it a little warmer and the wrong side looks nicer for a cloak, but compared to my carrying wrap I’m rather sad at how the right side looks.  I can’t really source and make another though, so hopefully it doesn’t bug me after I am used to it.  Didymos wasn’t kidding not to tumble dry.  Oops.  With my wrap I was cautious but wondered if I really had to hand wash and air dry, but YES to hand wash only.  For real.   Do not use a machine for leafage, and especially not a dryer on air dry!  Regrets!  Closeups of felting:

 

There is a vendor in the UK that turns wraps, generally Firespiral, into cloaks and ponchos regularly, but I found little web presence other than theirs.  Oak Wren is what triggered my longing for a cloak at the start, well besides any trip to a renfaire.

Cloaks are fairly simple items, but there are some variations for hood and fullness and even piecing.  I thought I wanted to use my usual 18th century inspired hood, and a wrap requires piecing.  Ideally, I thought, I’d prefer a 2 metre piece for the left and the right side of the body to have metre draping front and back from my shoulders, but mine had to be less than that.  It turns out to be plenty long except perhaps if I want to throw it over my shoulder.  At the last minute I changed the hood to a slightly (2″ more at the centre) pointed one.   I’m still not certain that I should have, because that always seems too renfaire for real wardrobe piece, but I’m not likely to re-do it.

 

The next thing I decided was to keep the original hems and match them on all cut edges then hand whipstitch the pieces together with linen thread like things were sewn centuries ago.  This allows for lovely flat seams and would be the easiest way for me to go about it.  After all, I didn’t want to trim or unpick anything only to restitch a bulky felled seam or something.  Along this same train of thought I also decided not to cut a neck hole.  It seemed like I could treat the V left at the end of centre back like a godet and insert the hood.  It worked out just fine and made construction a breeze.  I was even able to complete the entire thing in what amounts to a day!  I’m not used to that anymore, and it was so great!

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And the complete cloak:

 

I think it looks better on me than the dress form, but please excuse the mirror shots and my lovely pyjamas and socks.  I wanted to actually write and post this, so…

 

Lastly is a shot from a recent walk with Mini on my back:

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I have been working on a full, cloak-like coat for myself and Mini too, but it is going slowly being hand stitched with embellishments A.C. style.  It was nice to take a break to accomplish an entire project meanwhile.  Here is a sneak peak at Mini’s coat to also illustrate the hood type that I first meant to use for the cloak:

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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!

 

Autumn Alabama Chanin style bolero & bodysuit set for baby…

I have such a backlog of post topics!  There are folders of photos ready for the text and plenty of text waiting for photos.  Heh.  I’m working on it.  For example, I plan a bunch of cycling review/information posts, and we had a great test yesterday by biking from northern Westchester all the way to Manhattan!  Today I’ll write about the project that has been occupying me for the last two months or longer.  Now I’m nearing the end, finally, and part of the delay has been that I worked on completing basic bodysuits also so that Mini had more to wear.  (Not to mention that I didn’t want her to outgrow what I’d cut out before I even sewed it all!)

Orange is not usually I colour I like at all, but I have been drawn to it lately and find it compliments Mini’s colouring.  I decided to get several T-shirts in oranges and yellows to use for her wardrobe.  While I did that and cut them up in the summer fall has now arrived, and the ensemble I’m working on seems perfect for the season.  I made a stencil (quite quickly and roughly) of poppy seed pods, but our maple tree now shows me that a Japanese maple leaf motif would have been wonderful.  One day I’ll take time to create stencils which seamlessly match together and work well for stitching, but in this case I could get away with a poorly thought out one for tiny pieces.  I’d first thought about using stencils I already had, but I couldn’t put off the poppies for such lovely colours.

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Now I have only a little stitching left on the final piece (sleeve) before I can construct the bolero.  The matching plain lighter orange bodysuit is nearly complete with just a little binding left to sew.  I’m hoping to use the set for photos this weekend.

Here are some shots to show the other onesies:

 

In Queue

Just a quick update…

I took some time lately to simply cut out a bunch of patterns to have queued and ready for sewing.  This means I haven’t yet finished the lavender basic onesie, but once in a while I rather have a line-up to keep me focused instead of hit by too many next project ideas at once (especially the kind I cannot work on now.)

There are four wrap dresses: in Buddhist monk orange, dandelion yellow, wine red, and pale tan.  This takes a lot of “yardage,” so I needed to shorten or narrow them depending on the t-shirt.  They are the most versatile in size but cannot yet be worn, so I’ll work on them last.  One is the older a-line dress with sleeves and was cut out months ago.  That is meant to be a very embellished two-layer dress sized for later on, and it is of dark and lighter blue.  There are two basic spaghetti strap onesies: pumpkin orange and grey-heathered wine red in a current size.  I was able to fit an enlarged bolero in pumpkin too.  I’d hoped to use it over the pale tan, but there wasn’t enough.  I may find another suitable layer though.  (I sadly messed up when placing and cutting a pixie hat from the remaining pale tan.  Waaah!)  Lastly are two dress-onesies: deep red and a sky blue.

I have a lot to sew now!  It is funny to me that I have yellow and orange, because I have always disliked them strongly.  Maybe not always, because I do appreciate them on certain other people, but I avoid them myself.  Anyway, it’ll be fun to make these for Mini and see her being cute in them.

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I have also selected photos for queued up blog posts that I’ll get to eventually.  😉  They vary in nature from gardening, sewing, nursery items, cooking, or home improvement.  I’m working on it!

The lavender onesie:

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Alabama Chanin baby bolero: completed

It’s entirely complete!

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I’ll need to grade the pattern a bit larger now.  It fits but rather snuggly.  Gah.  She grew a lot since I began!

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That’s all.  I just wanted to share better photos of it.  The next few days are a tad busy for me without leaving much sewing time, but I hope to complete a few basic onesies soon before another bolero or anything else.  I’m also really thinking about some dresses and outerwear for myself, but that’s not so realistic.

Nearly done! (Progress)

I’ve been so slow with this little Alabama Chanin style baby bolero.  It was supposed to be a quick project, ha!  In reality I only pick it up for a few minutes at a time every few days if I have a chance, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it took probably a month (like everything seems to.)  Also, it has the time consuming reverse appliqué.

Soon (I hope) I’ll be done and have nice modelled photos, but for now here is a peek:

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Baby bolero Alabama Chanin style

I’ve also cut out some simple onesies that truly are fast to stitch.  For these the worst part is pinning on the binding and the decorative stitch for it.  Even very small T-shirts can fit this pattern until Mini grows some more, so I was able to thrift a few very nice colours.  I can carefully fit a bolero jacket too most times!  (She grew overnight from 28,5″ long to 30″ so I am afraid I may be needing new patterns again.)  With the appliqué and thickness of layers I found the bolero could use more width in the sleeves and perhaps to be lengthened too?  The pattern is a few months old and this is the first time sewn, so perhaps she is just bigger too, but I had tried to plan ahead of that.

For this bolero, which was supposed to be oh so quick, I roughly drew a design to reverse appliqué.  I’ve found a Sharpie works best for me most times and will not venture into fabric paints for a while.  This pattern did not make an ideal stencil for such stitching and cutting, but I can work with it.  I’ll improve it.  For now it was haphazard, and I also free hand drew random circles to fill the voids a little.   I tried to let loose and not plan ahead like normal.  This means I see less than ideal placement now.  Sigh.

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This time I felled the seams, but it becomes very bulky with the layers involved.  You may notice that the pattern pieces look wonky.  I should fix the arms?  Bleh.  So much for copying ready-made clothes for patterns.

The lavender onesie is almost as complete now as this jacket with a few minutes of stitching, hah!  I’m using pink thread for it.  The fabric colour doesn’t show well here at all, but eventually I’ll take decent photos.

That’s all for now!

 

 

Two completed dresses! (More Alabama Chanin for babies.)

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Look at me!  I’ve been posting and I’ve finished two little dresses!  Yesterday and today Monday and yesterday I even altered some patterns and cut out a couple more pieces to have them queued up for sewing.  (However, I probably haven’t cleaned quite as much as usual or put away any laundry all week, oops.)  So, I was working on the pink wrap dress that only had a tiny bit left to stitch, and that is done.  Let me write in more depth about it…

The pink dress was made as a test for my own, conveniently used scrap fabric, and will be nice for Mini to wear once she is done crawling.  It did work out well in jersey, and I don’t need to change anything about my pattern.  Hers could do with less width in the front panels, and I already made a new pattern piece to eliminate an inch.  Otherwise I love this little dress!  I even like the dusty pink now.

Here are some of the me-sized original versions of the dress as it progressed.  It began as a loose tunic initially, then I made a longer dress with more fullness and sometimes a belt (not shown,) and I turned it into a more fitted and flared medieval inspired dress before finally getting to a more form fitting wrap version recently.   The photos aren’t too good with wrinkled fabric and a less shapely mannequin, but they’ll have to do.

It was fun to do a more elaborate (yet simple without embellishment) dress than the a-line t-shirt style I’d been getting bored of.  I think the design is really cute and more unique and worthwhile to put the work into.  Of course it takes longer at every step and requires so much fabric that most t-shirts cannot be used to make it.  Sigh.  It seems that every shirt I grab, thinking “gorgeous colour, yes, this one!” is too small.  It’s disappointing.  I’ll need to seek out some really big shirts and can’t wait to get back to the thrift store.  Thus I also worked out a new pattern and tried it.  I completed the first of that style bodysuit-dress today  yesterday too!

I really love this one!  The grey is lovely and with the A.C. type stitching looks so interesting.  I’m looking forward to getting Mini into it and hopefully making more to fill out her wardrobe.  It’s hard to sew fast enough though.  After making this test one I’ve discovered little things to change about the shirring.  It can easily be eliminated to fit into more thrift Ts too.  This pattern eats up a lot of “yardage” too, so this is important although I prefer a little more width personally.   Upon trying it on her for a photoshoot I now know that the dress portion must be shortened more for crawling.  Drat.  I already cut out the next dress, and I hope she’ll be able to wear it before growing.  The entire point was to have things to wear now, so ugh…

I’ve cut another out in deep red and also squeezed in pieces for a matching bolero.  I used blue-grey scraps to make the bolero two layers.  Now I’m in the middle of cutting a scrolling stencil to use on it.  I’ll do a running stitch and reverse appliqué and outer felled seams?  Although, after cutting the stencil more I’m considering using a different one.  Once that is settled I’ll baste the layers together and get to the fun.  Here is the way I fit the pattern pieces onto the T-shirt:

 

I don’t have any more photos so, in the interest of actually getting to post this, that’s all for now.

Another completed Alabama Chanin style piece (and a sneak peek of what’s in progress now.)

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I finished this a few weeks ago but couldn’t post about it until I’d presented it to the recipient, so first I’ll ramble a bit about the other pieces that I’ve begun since and will be posting about:

Yesterday I traced out and drafted a little bodysuit pattern for Mini in her current size.  It has spaghetti strap shoulders for the upcoming hot weather, the usual onesie shape, and an optional overskirt.  It was based off a sleeveless bodysuit that I really like but without a ruffle flutter sleeve, and then I added the overskirt from another dress waiting in her closet.   I began a 12-18m size too, but then I thought I better test the smaller pattern first.  If it looks good then I might do another pattern adding to the chest area and giving it long raglan sleeves?  With the overskirt it takes a very large T-shirt to fit all the pieces, so I couldn’t use the first pretty colour I hoped to… or the next seven.  Oops.  Finally I found a large enough shirt in a colour that made me happy and cut out all the pieces.

 

 

Before that I’d been sewing a little every day to make a Mini sized test version of my wrap dress.  I wish so badly that I could already dress in all the things I plan to make.  If only I could!  There are long, elaborate, and flattering A.C. dresses and skirts; full linen skirts topped by slim singlets or flowing tunics; cloak-coats; layers of harem pants or skirts with draping hems of wrap tunics and scarves; long wrap dresses…  I want to dress like this and feel comfortable, but alas it would take ages to complete (especially any elaborate and long A.C. clothes!)  Instead I can make a piece or two for Mini each month.  Eventually I hope to make a few of my wrap dresses in knit, but I need to test the pattern first to make sure it doesn’t need to be altered for the difference in fabric type.  Making a little dress is so much faster, less a waste of material, and as a lonely bonus leaves a nice dress for Mini to wear!  Wonderful!

For several days now that little dress has been entirely done… except that I still need to fell one long seam.  It is ridiculously close, but I’ve chosen to begin other things when I had a little time for sewing.  Today or tomorrow I’ll complete it.  I’m very pleased with the way it turned out, but it is probably too large for her to wear yet?  Oh, and I used the leftovers of a T-shirt from the project I’m supposed to be writing about now.  I only purchased pink for that reason, but I actually like it now and may look out for more.

 

 

 

On to what I meant to post about: One of the first things that I thought to make when I was getting the hang of A.C. techniques was a little gift for a friend who owns our favourite local pub.  She encourages the arts and has a lot of cool artwork displayed and decorating the place, and I’ve never had anything that I could contribute until I thought of making a tapestry piece.  Perhaps I could have been more imaginative, but I simply copied the bar logo and carefully made stencils from it.  (I just cut bits out of the paper with an Xacto knife and trace with Sharpies.)

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I went to the thrift store to find the right colours in men’s t-shirts, and it was lucky there were any left at all in greens unfortunately, because it was at Saint Patrick’s.  Oops.  I did find two in about the right shade though.  I only needed a tiny piece of pink for the nose, so I had plenty for that little dress.  There is a bunch of mustard yellow to use too, so I had better begin to like it better heh!

A bigger stencil would have been far better for all the detail and stitching, but I couldn’t enlarge it any more on one piece of paper.   T size of the t-shirts also limited the dimensions of the square besides.  I started by determining that base size on the white and black under layers, basting at the eventual cutting point, and basting around the area to stitch.  Then I used a silver Sharpie to trace out the words before stitching them.  The logo has a little green around the letters, so I used green thread, but you can barely tell it isn’t black.  I decided to embrace the knottiness throughout the piece (except in a few details later.)  At first I was going to have a white background like the actual logo, but I didn’t like how that would look with fabric or to think it may eventually turn dingy.

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Then I cut the green layers and appliquéd them.  The yellow layer was next, but I decided to unpick the green a little to allow placement behind rather than over as I’d first planned to.  I switched to black thread to mimic the logo.

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Then it was time to cut away and reveal the white!  I traced out the teeth with chalk, but it didn’t wash away even after a few rounds.  Shoot!  I had to leave off the knots in the teeth and select other portions of the backstitched details to keep it from looking like a mess.

 

 

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Getting there!  Time to make circles…

 

 

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… and to finish with a blanket stitch and DONE!  It took forever and a day (late March until June!)

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