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!

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.