Last weekend, we went to Atlanta to attend an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party hosted by our good friends.  Despite these sweaters seeming to be all the rage now around the holidays, we didn’t own any.  So naturally I decided I would make some for us.  And I even used all stash fabric to do so – bonus!

I used a pajama pattern (McCall’s 6251) to get the rough shapes for raglan-style shirts.  And I used some graph paper to draw out some Christmas-y shapes for appliques, which I then used as patterns on some Christmas-y fabric.  I decided one sweater would be penguin themed, and the other reindeer themed.  I loved the reindeer designs I used to make some reindeer wine glasses a couple years ago, so I just copied those again, being careful to choose the one with the least amount of legs sticking out …

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And I found a cute and fat little penguin design which I rapidly decided to turn into godzilla penguin.  Wearing a santa hat.  With leftover gold lame fabric for a nice shiny beak and feet.

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I did purchase some buttons to help make the sweaters more gaudy, and a glorious Christmas chevron patterned trim from the knitting department of Jo Ann’s to gather and use on my sweater.  My craft room already had some puffy fabric paint and glue, as well as gray, blue, white, and red knit fabrics for the sweater and sleeve bases.  Oh, and I had some snowflake covered organza that didn’t get used on my ice fairy costume – that was definitely going to be used in some aspect of a sweater.

I was excited to use my new serger to put these together, but first I had to use my normal machine for applique work.  And attaching the interesting snowflake sleeves to one sweater.  I was trying to bell the snowflake pieces out a bit, but in the end, the sleeves were way too long and I wound up shortening them.  Still looked cute.  I added some green bias tape to hide the seam, and some decorative buttons.

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Also, snce I pretty much despise all hand sewing, when I “added buttons””, I cut the back loops off the buttons and used fabric glue to attach them to the sweaters.  Sounded WAY better than hand stitching all the buttons.  I stand by my decision.

Here’s a sample of what the reindeer appliques looked like after they were attached.  I used silver fabric paint to draw on the antlers and the text below.  Despite my best efforts the deer are not quite aligned horizontally.  But fuck it, it’s an UGLY sweater anyway, right?  I have been looking for a way to use the adorable blue reindeer fabric (found in the scrap bin at Hancock a few years ago) that I used for the appliques for a long time.  And now it is mine forever!  Mwah-hah-hah-ha!

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Next step was to gather the crazy trim.  I read up on it, and discovered that I could do some very simple gathering by adjusting the tension on some of my serger threads.  I wound up using a 5, 5, 4, 4 tension setting on my Brother 1034D to achieve the following gathers.

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Finally, it was time to piece together the sweaters.  Sleeves were attached to the front and back pieces of the sweaters first.  The result looked like this.

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Then you fold along the sleeves, and stitch from sleeve cuff to the bottom of the shirt on both sides.  Easy peazy.  The last part is to attach the collar.  When you do this, you have to pull on the collar piece a bit to make it stretch to fit the opening on the neckline.  On one sweater, I had some issues where the serger missed connecting the pieces … ooops.  I went back over and wound up with some puckers.  Oh well.  Here are the final sweaters while I glue on all the decorative bits.

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I also tried my hand at making some decorative bows out of some ribbon I had in the craft room.  I glued on pin backings so we could attach them to the sweaters and remove them easily.  It’s hard to see, but I also had leftover decor from the ice fairy crown that got added to the leftmost bow .

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The party itself was awesome!  Suzanne is an organizer extraordinaire, and had signs, labels, decorations, and food planned super well.  Mostly finger foods were served – bacon wrapped dates, cranberry brie bites, sandwich rollers, veggies and dip …

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…a charcuterie area …

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… and can’t forget the desserts – white chocolate almond dip with nilla wafers, gingerbread trifle, and lots of chocolate dipped sweets.  She also had several festive drink recipes setup near some yummy pre-made SoCo punch, but I apparently forgot a picture there.

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A white elephant gift exchange was part of the evening, and some of us sat by the firepit outside and talked while hunting for meteors from the meteor shower (I actually saw a few).

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There was a photo booth setup, with cute wrapping paper as a background, and a few props to use for photos.  Here are some of the shots from the evening.  It is possible that my shiny leggings got more attention at the party than the sweater did HAHA.

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And here is a shot where you can actually see the silver leggings.

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BAM!  And now me with the hostess-with-the-mostest.

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She made their sweaters too (and some for the dogs!).

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It was a very fun weekend, and a fun project to make the ugly sweaters.  As a bonus, Sparc is having an ugly sweater day at the office today, so I’m likely getting another use out of my fun sweater project as you read this :)   And I imagine several more over the next Christmases to come.

I’m not sure how many more posts I will get around to writing this year, with company coming and all the busy surrounding that.  Wishing you all very happy holidays, regardless of which one you choose to celebrate!

I finally pulled the trigger and bought a serger!  On Cyber Monday, Amazon had the Brother 1034D Serger on sale for a good price, and my husband spotted it.  Two days later, it arrived on my doorstep!

I was considering this serger versus a slightly more pricey Brother model, and the price cut made my decision for me.  I’m pretty happy with my decision.

Here is the machine sitting in its spot on my sewing table, right next to its brother (hahaha, oh sewing puns …).  Apparently it has suction cups on the bottom of it which hold it down while sewing.

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If you are new to serging, like me, these machines use 4 different spools of thread at once to do some fancy overlocking stitches.  You can adjust the feed dogs to move at different speeds, which allows knit fabrics to be sewn without the infamous wavy seam syndrome, or the tissue paper trick.  This serger came pre-threaded with four different colored spools that correspond to the four different color-coded threading paths.  I was terrified to do it, but I decided the first order of business was to unthread it and hope I’d be able to re-thread it.

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The front of the serger opens like this to aid in threading.  I may or may not have had a hard cider while I was reading the manual and attempting to thread this machine.  Ultimately, I managed to successfully rethread the machine on my first try!

The Human Factors Engineer in me was rejoicing because of how very good the instructions for threading that are ON the machine are done.  The book is done okay too, but I feel like after doing this once or twice, I will not need to break out the manual unless I have a problem.  In addition to the nice color coding for each spool of thread, colored lines were used to indicate which loops different threads were supposed to go through.

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I consider this to be the ultimate threading experience.  I will from now on, compare all threading I ever have to do to the process on this machine.  I’m probably over-selling it (I swear I’m not on Brother’s payroll!), but the makers of this machine had to have a user experience designer or human factors engineer on their team.  They did all the things right.  Way to go, Brother!

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Above is my first practiced serging with knit fabric. Hooray for no wavy seams!  The peasants rejoice!

And my next favorite feature … the cutting knife.  I am dreading the day that I need to replace the knife, but until then, it is my new best friend!  Here I am serging a seam on some pajama pants I had pre-cut.  Behold the glory of the cutting knife!

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So far I am very happy with my purchase.  I used this machine to aid in my construction of some ugly Christmas sweaters, which we wore to a party last weekend.  I’ll tell you all about those on Thursday!  Toodles!

It’s been a while since I reviewed a board game, and happily we have purchased a few new ones recently.  Last weekend, we tried out Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

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The game designer, Ted Alspach, also designed Suburbia, which is a game we do not own (yet) but I highly enjoy and recommend.  I didn’t realize this game was by the same designer until we read the instructions.  There are a lot of similar mechanics, though the theme is very different.  At it’s heart, Castles is a tile placement game.  This game is for 1-4 players (yes, you can play it solo…is it weird that I have done that?), and takes about 90 min to 120 min.  Each player is building their own castle, trying to meet the whims and desires of the mad king.  Penny was playing the role of the Mad King for us (no one really plays this role}.

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Here is the initial game setup.  This part even reminds me of Suburbia.

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Everyone starts with a Foyer tile (like the blue octagon piece at the bottom of the picture above) and three bonus cards of which they discard one.  The bonus cards help you earn points at the end of the game based on what you build in your castle by making suggestions – maybe your card says you will get points at the end of the game for every downstairs room you have.  Also during game setup, four favors are selected randomly, and at the end of the game, extra points are earned for those who please the king by meeting these favors.  I think in the game we played, the favors were who had the most living rooms built, who had the most square footage of utility rooms, who had the most square footage of garden rooms, and who had the most activity rooms.  In the picture above, favors are represented by the colored circle tokens.

Each round, players choose a tile to purchase to add to their castle.  One player each turn is the master builder, and that player sets the prices for the rooms that are to be available for the round.  Rooms that are not bought gain money as an incentive to purchase them in the future.  You can always buy stairs, hallways, or downstairs hallways for $3000 each.  There is a purchasing mechanic where each player pays the master builder their funds instead of the bank, and then whatever the master builder buys at the end of the round, he pays the money to the bank.  The master builder role rotates around the table.

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Above are two early game castles. You earn rewards for completing rooms in your castle.  A complete room means all the entrances to the room have a room attached to them.  There is a cheat sheet for what the rewards do, but for example, completing a food room lets you take an additional turn, and completing a utility room lets you draw two bonus cards and choose one to keep.

Each room is worth a certain number of points immediately for placing it, represented by a number in the top left of the room tile.  Additionally, rooms may have some numbers and symbols in the center of their tile indicating bonus points that can be scored (or lost) depending on rooms that are placed adjacent to the room, connecting to the room, or just the total number of a type of rooms you have at the end.  There is also a number in the top right of each room tile for square footage (which is relevant to some of the bonuses and favors).

The game ends when the room card deck is emptied.  The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.  You are supposed to tally your points as you build your castle, but it was difficult to do this as we played.  We wound up rescoring everything at the end.  This is what two of the castles looked like near the end of the game we played.

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I did not win the game we played, but I enjoyed it a lot.  And I’ve had a strong urge to play it again ever since.  If you like Suburbia, you will like this game.  I seem to enjoy games where each player gets to build their own “stuff” – Suburbia, Keyflower, Agricola, this.  I would give Castles a 5 out of 5 – the only negative I can really think of for it is the scoring process is a bit complicated.

I have been dying to make this dress since I got the fabric.  And let’s face it, I’ve had the fabric for a while at this point – since the spring maybe?  I placed a big Spoonflower order, in which I got the fabric for this dress, my Portal skirt fabric, the TARDIS leggings fabric, and a few other things I haven’t used yet.  I bought the Performance Pique type fabric, which I have learned is a bit of a bitch to sew with – best advice I can give you is to use a very small needle (size 9), even if it is not a ballpoint one.

I cut the pieces for this project a while ago, and decided I would turn it into a version of Simplicity 1356 – a vintage wrap dress works perfectly for this fabric with some very seventies colors.  It has been on my list of things to sew that I revised earlier this fall.  Since the dress is reversible, I chose a solid brown knit as the contrast fabric for this project.  The envelope keeps the same fabric for the outside on the back and the front, but I thought it might look neat to combine a print and a solid on each side of the dress.

And honestly, dress is a strong word for this garment.  It’s very weird, and it’s easy to sew for most of it.  Here is a shot of the front of the dress, after I had stitched outside and lining together.

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The general process for sewing this dress was very simple.  Add some darts around the bust area, stitch the front piece with right sides together, making sure to add in the tying ribbons at the sides. Stitch the back tie pieces.  Then repeat the stitch process for the back dress pieces, right sides together, throwing the tie pieces in at the sides.  You need to make sure to leave an opening on the front and back pieces when you stitch them so that you can turn them right side out and then topstitch (or slipstitch) the turning spot closed.  You also should leave the shoulder seam open to connect the pieces later – this was the most challenging part of the project.

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Above is a shot of how I dealt with the shoulder seams.  Since it it reversible, you don’t want a nasty seam on one side of the dress.  I put the front and back pieces together, but as you can see above, I pinned one side of the seam down before I pinned them together so that I could stitch one side of the dress nicely.  Then I did some folding magic on the other side of the dress, and top stitched the other side of the seam closed.

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It doesn’t look perfect since the print fabric doesn’t hide the thread, but unless people come very close up and inspect my shoulders, I doubt anyone is gonna notice.  This is a shot of the “good” seam side, the other side has the top-stitching and looks just a tad less happy.

My favorite part about reversible garments is that you don’t have to hem anything.  It’s glorious.  Anyway, here is the finished product laid out on the floor.  Weird, huh?  Even more weird, that brown knit fabric had a selvage edge right in the middle of it – wtf?  Like a good little software engineer, I turned this opportunity into a “feature” along the center back of the dress.  Assuming I am wearing it with that side out.

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And now, to decide which way the dress looks better – with the print in the front or the print on the back and sides?  What do you think?

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I think I like it better with the Settlers print in the front, but my husband says he likes it more with the print on the back and sides.  Also, I am torn on boots – the cowboy ones in the picture on the left?  Or some slightly Steampunk strappy brown ones?  Maybe I need to get some platforms, sunglasses, and a 70s wig…

 

Apparently, this year, November is my slacker month, so I apologize for the lack of posts lately.

This should be a short one too.  I have a friend who asked me to make some rice-filled hand warmers for her recently.  They were super easy, and a wonderful stash busting project.  I may make some more to give away during the holidays.

 

You Will Need:

1.  A 2 lb. bag of non-instant long grain rice

2.  Scrap fabric

3.  Funnel (only if you are clumsy or messy)

 

I went through my stash of scrap fabric and tried to find pieces that complimented one another, as I had decided to do two different fabrics for the front and back of the hand warmers.  Once you have your fabric, you’re ready to go!

1.  I used my rotary cutter to make just slightly rectangular cuts of fabric.  No real need to measure here, but double up the fabrics you intend to place together so they match well.

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2.  Right sides together, place two pieces together and straight stitch the three sides, leaving one side open.  Make sure to reinforce your stitches at the beginning and end!  I did all of the stitching at once, for all 10 of the hand warmers I was making.

3.  Turn your hand warmer pouches inside out.

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4.  Using a funnel, or if you are talented enough (I am not in case you couldn’t tell from the rice all over the table), just pour from the bag, insert rice into the fabric pouches.  Fill them about 3/4 full, so that you have enough space to close them.

5.  Fold in the side that is open and stitch the hand warmer closed.

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Voila!  Toss one in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and then enjoy warming your hands.  You can pretty easily extend this project to make neck or back warmers with more fabric and rice! With the holidays coming up, I feel like these would make wonderful stocking stuffers. Enjoy!

The last of my busy October finished up with a Harry Potter themed Halloween party on Saturday (which was technically in November …).  I have wanted to host a party like this for a long time, so ideas had been brewing for what seems like forever.  But the time or the house hadn’t been quite right the last few years, and so 2014 was when it finally worked out.

The last week of October I worked on decorating the house with various Harry Potter themed decor.  I made little areas of the house to represent some different scenes and concepts from the books and movies.  There was an owlry, which was made on a whim when I found small feathered owls at Michael’s in the Halloween area.  And I made flying keys from The Sorcerer’s Stone puzzle area where Harry goes to fetch the key to unlock the door.  I borrowed an idea from my friend, Amber, to open the Chamber of Secrets in our half bath.  And some silly paper spider decorations made me think of the acromantulas that live in the Forbidden Forest, so they adorned a window near our patio door.  Guests walked through our front door, which was labeled with a sign for Platform 9 3/4.  And of course, it wouldn’t be Hogwarts without the floating candles in the Great Hall, so I used LED candles, fishing wire, and thumb tacks to great effect in our kitchen.

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Upon arrival, party goers were greeted with Harry Potter music at the door, and we had set out a table for sorting everyone into their Hogwarts houses.

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I made a bunch of cake pops, and dyed the batter blue, red, green, and yellow to match Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff respectively.  The cake pops were decorated as snitches – with successful wings this time! – and each guest ate a cake pop to determine which house they were in.  Then they took an appropriately colored ribbon from the bowl and pinned it on their person somewhere.  The Sorting Hat oversaw the entire process.  Below, Dave gets sorted into House Slytherin.

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We had lots of desserts and sweets available (there was some real food as well, I swear …).  Here is the display, which included chocolate frogs, Bertie Bots Every Flavor Beans, Pumpkin Rice Krispy Treats, and Cupcakes.  We added candy corn for good measure, some savory snacks including loaded deviled eggs and cheese and crackers, and Amanda brought some cute vampire bite cookie treats.

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I was surprised by how many folks enjoyed eating the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans!  I even tried a few myself – sad to say I ate two rotten egg ones … they were the worst HAH!  Grass flavor was actually not bad.

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I didn’t photograph all the various alcoholic concoctions that we made, sadly.  I mixed up some butterbeer (6 oz cream soda, 1 oz caramel vodka, 1 oz whipped cream vodka, 1 oz butterscotch schnapps; then mix a bit of butterscotch schnapps with marshmallow fluff until it is pourable, and pour it on top), which was sweet but quite good.  At my husband’s request I made candy corn jello shots – orange jello with whipped cream vodka, pineapple jello with vodka, and vanilla pudding.  You had to eat them with a spoon, which is a little sad I guess, but they were still gone by around 9 pm.

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I had a large pitcher of SoCo punch – doubled the recipe.  This has become a staple for us at parties, and I have even made it at Orkfest once.  It too was gone pretty quickly, so I moved on to my third mixed drink of the evening, orange creamcicles.  They are so good.  I put cute Halloween straws in those, and for those who were interested, my husband dropped some dry ice in them to make them fog a bit.

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Hmmm, can’t see the fog well … maybe this is a little better?

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And my personal favorite part of the evening was a photo booth.  We rearranged our dining room a bit to accommodate this.  We hung the homemade frame on the lights, moved the table and setup a tripod for my camera, with a timer setting.  And I bought a few silly props for folks to play with if they waned to.

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I was really glad I did this because it was a great way to get photos of everyone’s costumes.  Folks were really creative – minions from Dispicable me (complete with lights, wigs, facepaint, megaphone, and “Beeeeedooooo” noises), Dharma initiative employees from Lost, Super Mario characters, and lots of fun Harry Potter ones – I was a Hufflepuff quidditch player, Hannah was a Ravenclaw, Jamie a Gryffindor, Amanda was Lunda Lovegood, and another friend came as Bellatrix Lestrange.  But my favorite two Harry Potter ones were from our friends Diane and Ben, who came as Professor Trelawney and one of the Hogwarts moving photos (Barnabus, I think he said the name of the guy was) – they are at the bottom right below.  Here are a bunch of photos displaying the costumes from the night.

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And for fun, I made a small montage of some additional photobooth shots.  There were really too many to showcase them all here, but at least you have a sample.

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We did take some group photos, and here is what we wound up with.

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I didn’t take any very good shots of my Hufflepuff Quidditch costume.  I made the robe last minute (last Wed night?), using some stash fabric and by modifying the same pattern that I used to make my Breyna costume way back when.  That was the only portion of my costume that I made – I had the white leggings, and I bought a long black tunic and some black gloves, armguards, and shinguards  to complete the look.  even with more time, I can’t imagine I would have done much differently.  The shoulders of the robe are a little wide, but it was an easy costume, and more comfortable than one of my more elaborate convention cosplays.

Well, I’ve droned on about my weekend long enough.  It was a blast – thanks to all who made it out, everyone looked great in their costumes!! :D

Happy Halloween everyone! Sometime today, y’all should hop on over to The Fabric Alchemist! Meris invited me to do a guest post over there today – it’s focused on some of the cosplay musings I’ve been pondering since DragonCon. While you are over there, make sure you check out some of the cool stuff Meris has been working on lately – I’m especially a fan of her recent Leliana cosplay she did for PAX Prime. And if you are lucky enough to be in the Pacific Northwest, she’s doing some workshops next month!

Since it’s Halloween AND Friday, Penny and I are at the office in costume. As of the moment I am writing this, I still have not selected which costume I am wearing, but I made Penny’s this week.

Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.

I drafted the pattern myself, and had all these delusions of grandeur regarding how I was going to use wire to hold up wings and the dragon head. I did a bunch of measurements on Penny first, and used an existing doggy shirt as a guide.  Here is the pattern I created – two pieces.  The sequence below shows a lot of the work in progress.

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I used felt for the eyes and more crushed panne velvet, this time in dark purple, for the body of the dragon. The head part of the dragon was essentially turned into a pocket to house some wire, and the wing pieces were done similarly.

It was a quick sewing project, and here is the outcome.

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Super cute, right?  (Even if you can see wires popping through on one wing…)

But it was very uncomfortable for her – she was walking all weird and funny.  And looking at me with this face.

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So I took out the wire pieces and just made it fabric. Not quite as impressive, but still fun. Maybe next year I’ll give this a Version 2.0, where I bend the wire into a single piece instead of multiple connecting ones.  Here is what the costume looks like now, without the wires.

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The droopy wings are a bit anticlimactic after seeing how she looked with that majestic wingspan of 10 min earlier.  It was my first dog costuming experiment, and I deem it successful, even if it wasn’t perfect.  ;)  Enjoy your Halloween!

 

There were quite a lot of changes that I made to the two costumes I made for the Renaissance Faire last weekend.  I started with Butterick 4571 for the dress and Simplicity 4059 for the men’s costume.  Here is a shot of the finished costumes.

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The dress was constructed with plenty of time, but when I had a few issues when I took it to be fitted on my mother-in-law.  I used a satin to line a nice stretchy crushed panne, and the sleeves wound up a bit restricted.  Additionally, I had an issue in that the top of the dress at the waist wound up larger than the skirt did at the waist.  So after doing the fitting exercise, I came home and made some significant changes, deciding I had to not care what the inside of the dress looked like if I wanted it to fit and be done in time.

Dress Changes:
– Removed lining in back of bodice and top of sleeves
– Added panel in back
– Loops and tie back

Below you can see the added panel and the loops & tie closure I added in the back.  This is actually closer to the original design of the pattern, which I had decided to forego in lieu of a zipper. When the zipper didn’t work out, my friend, Suzanne, suggested something like this, and it was a fantastic idea.

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My biggest note on this dress is that the sleeves don’t play nicely with the square neckline.  At least with the fabric type I chose, velvet and crushed panne, the sleeves wound up being so heavy that they tugged at the shoulders of the dress, making it hard to stay up.  We wound up securing it with fashion tape (love that stuff) and added a safety pin at each shoulder to keep the dress where it was supposed to be.  The sleeves were a little bit long, too, so we pinned them up a bi underneath the oversleeve.

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In terms of the men’s costume, I did very little by the book.  I made a version of this costume that combined some elements from View A and some from View B.  I also took a lot of shortcuts to make the costume easier to sew, since I had a very short amount of time.

Peplum coat:
– bias tape armholes and collar

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– no lining
– removed sleeves (hence the need for the bias tape)
– stitched front together and fake buttons (you’ll have to see those in the finished photos)
– loop tie back

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Neither of these costumes was meant to have a zipper.  This one when in very nicely, but when I went to zip it up, the zipper came off the track.  It was all I could do to seam rip it, and I gave the coat a tie closure with loops much like the ones on Debbie’s dress.

Pants:
– elastic

I basically made a pair of short capri length pants with elastic at the waist and bottom of the leg.  This was way easier than the fancy pants that came with the pattern, and likely saved me a ton of time.

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Shirt:
– no lining
– no interfacing
– elastic cuffs
– bias tape
– shortened sleeves

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Turns out I didn’t have enough fabric to make the shirt completely long sleeved, and I certainly didn’t have enough fabric for a lining.  Since it was going to be worn under the coat anyway, I decided not to worry about it.  I threw a strip of bias tape across the front of the shirt because the seam wound up on the outside (ooops), but it was gonna be hidden under the peplum coat anyway, so why not?

Hopefully Debbie and Wendell can reuse these costumes somewhere – Halloween or a future Ren Faire visit.  They looked great in them! Here’s one final shot of the whole family.

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This weekend wrapped up the traveling portion of October (4 straight weekends). I went to the Carolina Renaissance Festival up in Charlotte with my husband, his sister and her boyfriend, and his parents. You’ll remember I was working on making Debbie and Wendell costumes for the event as birthday presents.  Here I am at the entrance to the faire, near a sign that said Eat, Drink, & Be Merry (except in ye olde language).  And let’s face it, the word drink was more important than the word eat, so we cut it out of the shot.

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Anyway, I digress.  Here are the final costumes!

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Wish I’d had time to make Wendell a hat, but have I mentioned that October was crazy?  Both costumes wound up with heavy modifications, which I’ll talk about later this week. But my in-laws looked very dashing, don’t you think? :)

I wore my Elizabeth costume, since I did not get to wear it at DragonCon. It was Halloween day at the fair, so any costumes were welcomed, not just Renaissance ones :)

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It was interesting to see how this fair differed from the Georgia one. It had some of the same acts, lots of the same vendors and specialists, and mostly the same food. The parking was further away and the grounds seemed larger and more of a narrow snakey walk as opposed to more open space. There were lots of trees and shade which was nice, and the weather was beautiful. Here’s a shot of Debbie and Wendell with Amanda and Nick.

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We watched the jousting skills show, which was neat. Amanda and Nick paid to do one of the carnival style games – knife throwing.

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Nick even won a plastic spider! Best prize ever.

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Then I noticed that they had camel rides. Squeeeee! So I rode a camel. In a costume. With a random and cute little girl named Naomi. It was fun, definitely one of my favorite parts of the day.

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We continued walking among the vendors, and stopped to watch a blacksmith forge something during his demo. That was neat, but sadly I didn’t take any pictures.

This fair had more musicians and dancers performing and tiny stages around the area. That was neat, I loved stopping to hear the little bit of music and watch a dance here or there. These dancers had beautiful costumes, and I was amazed at their skills.

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As normally happens at Ren Fairs, we ate a lot of food. I vowed no chicken on a stick since that was just chicken fingers last time. We had steak on a stick and a turkey leg.  Here I am chowing down on the turkey.

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The turkey was better here, but the steak could have used more seasoning. And we had a broccoli and cheese bread bowl.  All in all, I might be getting a little disillusioned with Ren faire food… Sad.

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We had a great day, and I loved seeing Debbie and Wendell all dressed up together :). As we walked out, the guy from the fair who was trying to get people to rent costumes pointed to them and said, “These people are doing it right!”

 

As part of a Harry Potter Halloween event I’m hosting soon, I have tons of decoration plans.  Since I have had such a busy month, I only just started tackling this fun stuff.  I completed my first decor item this week, a quick and easy sorting hat!

What You Need:

1.  Cardboard witch hat (I purchased mine at Michael’s, though I can’t find a link)

2.  1/2 yard Suede or Faux Leather Fabric (Got mine from Jo Ann’s)

3.  Hot glue gun & glue sticks

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This tutorial is probably going to be pretty terrible since there wasn’t a lot of method to my madness here.  Here’s hoping it helps someone, though!

1.  Drape somewhere near the center of your fabric over the point of the hat.

2.  Using a reference photo, begin arranging fabric with ripples that resemble the Sorting Hat, starting from the top.

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3.  As you get a look you like, hold the fabric the way you want it on the hat, lift up the fabric below where you are holding, and place some hot glue near the spot you are holding.

4.  Press the fabric into the hot glue below where you want the fabric to bend, bubble, or drape a certain way.

5.  Rinse and repeat these steps, gluing from the top down.  Important features to place on your sorting hat include eyes (eyebrows?) and mouth.

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6.  Once the Sorting Hat’s face is glued, cut more fabric for use on the hat brim in the same manner.

7.  When you have completely covered the hat, glue the fabric to the underside of the brim.

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8.  Place it on your head and BE SORTED! :D

Here is my completed hat next to the reference photo I used while making it.  I wish I had exaggerated the eyebrows a little bit more, but I’m happy with it for the 15 minutes it took me to make this.  Have fun making your hats!

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