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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Little John and Robin Hood Were Walking Through the Forest...

There's nothing like a scuffle in the forest to commemorate my 300th blog post!

Here's the last installment of our Renaissance Costumes and my favorite by far. Putting these together may have been more fun for me than actually going to the Renaissance Festival will be!

The boys absolutely love them. I'm glad that at ages 9 and 10 they don't think they're too old for costumes.

We went back in our woods for a more rustic photo shoot than usual.

I made the very simple hats out of felt using a video tutorial put together by a school teacher. In other words, it'd be easy to whip up twenty of these.

The capes (Ottobre 4-2004-30) are made of soft brown upholstery fabric with metallic gold woven throughout.

The reverse side is black crepe backed satin. I used 1 yard each for the lining and the shell and about 4 yards (!) of bias tape for each cape.

The vests are my favorite. The pattern is for outdoor vests from Ottobre 1-2004-25 (I plan to make the outdoor vests, too, in the near future) but I eliminated all the details and added eyelets and lacing. I experimented with a cut-on dagging decoration for the brown vest (will post a tutorial on that later).
The pants are a basic elastic waist pattern (Ottobre 1-2009-21).

The tunics are from Burda 7-2009-138 and are actually a variation of the djellabah (beach cover-up) pattern I used for Molly's Friar Tuck costume. I made the green one first and discovered the slit is extremely low and Peter insisted I stitch it up part-way (the pattern calls for a sort of fly, but I omitted it). I shortened the slit/placket for the brown version.

All the green and brown fabrics are cotton homespun.

Robin Hood and Little John are friends now.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fair Maidens: Renaissance Costumes, Part II

Thank you all for your kind comments regarding how well organized I am to get these costumes done so early. To tell you the truth, however, these costumes may serve double duty, but they are specifically for the Renaissance Festival which we plan to attend in two days. AND I still haven't started on the boys' hats!

Regarding organization, though, I'm happy to say that this year my husband and I started using Google calendar. That's not a novel idea to most of you, I'm sure, but previously I'd been using the keeping-dates-in-my-head and slips-of-paper methods. Also, the nice thing about an online calendar is that it can't go anywhere. It's in internet limbo.

For our next installment of costumes, we have two fair maidens. Neither of them wanted to be Maid Marian, so they are generic medieval ladies.

The girls chose their fabrics from the upholstery section at our local shop. I decided to use upholstery fabric because:

1. It's extra wide.
2. It's sturdy.
3. It was on sale for 50% off.
4. You tend to find good (if a bit gaudy) Renaissance-esque designs in upholstery fabric.

It's important to check if the upholstery fabric has decent drape AND that the reverse side isn't scratchy or easily unraveled or snagged.

Sara chose the black/gold floral fabric since black is her favorite color. I bought only one yard, silly me, so I used some in-stash black broadcloth for the bodice. I like the contrast but I can see the weight of the upholstery is pulling on the lighter weight bodice.

I used gold crepe backed satin for the waistbands and plastrons (nowadays called modesty panels!).

I used velcro to fasten the backs. It's quick and easy for me when the kids come running for help getting their costumes on.

For the capes, I used another upholstery fabric - a very strange pool-table covering type stuff. The lining is burgundy crepe-backed satin and the edges are bias bound. The drawback to using satin to line the capes is that the capes don't catch on the shoulders at all and the full weight of the capes is pulling on the neck.

When I was buying all these fabrics, it seemed the burgundy fabric would match the dresses really well. I don't think it matches too well, after all.

A funny story (not so funny at the time):

It started out like any other fabric shopping trip. I was sifting through bolts; the kids were standing nearby offering helpful comments. "Will you make me a jacket?" "When are we leaving?" "I need to use the bathroom." "Where does fabric come from?" "Why isn't Pluto a planet anymore?"

I took my eyes from the bottomweights to see Alex leaning against the row of upholstery tubes, which are all standing on end. "Alex, don't lean on those. You'll knock them over."

I turned my attention back to the twills only to hear shrieking two seconds later. I looked to see a huge pile of upholstery tubes strewn on the floor and a pair of tiny feet sticking out. It was an interesting experience trying to wade through the tubes to extract Molly from under the pile AND get the kids to pick the scattered tubes up as quickly and quietly as possible.

New rule: don't touch the upholstery tubes!

Sources:
Dress pattern: heavily modified Ottobre 4-2006-10.
Cape pattern: Ottobre 4-2004-30.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friar Tuck: Ren Costume, part 1

On seeing this first costume installment, you can probably guess the theme of my kids' costumes this year. I made one last trip to the fabric store today for green felt and told the cashier/cutter I was finishing my boys' Robin Hood costumes. She'd never heard of Robin Hood, and while I faltered to explain it, she helpfully said, "Don't worry about it." Being eastern European, she hasn't learned this particular cultural icon, but I do enjoy buying my fabric from another enthusiastic sewer - one who has made and filled one wall of the store with American Girl doll clothes.

Anyway, Molly has added 2 new words to her vocabulary: "Friar Tuck". All she knows is that she got a brown dress with a hood.

I thought about trying to draft this myself, but spotted a Burda mag. pattern for a "Djellabah", which is, essentially, a beach cover-up. I graded it down a couple of sizes and "djellabah" became "Friar Tuck".

In Minnesota, fabric used for clothing is not taxed (nor is RTW clothing). This brown homespun was taxed, however. Apparently nobody really uses this for clothes.

Sources:
Brown homespun: Mill End Textiles
Beach cover-up/Djellabah: Burda 7-2009-137.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cats and Dogs

I made a quick bag for Grace to hold her dance shoes. She's taking a class for 5 years olds which combines tap dance and ballet, so she has two pairs of shoes. It's a rectangle with a drawstring + applique. Grace requested a "cat" bag, but I think she was envisioning something entirely different from what she got. I think it's kind of cute, but in her mind it should have had RIBBONS.

Someone did love the bag, though, which made for another unhappy person: 2 year old little sister who didn't get a bag. "Cat! Too? Too?"

Since Molly didn't require a bag in time for dance class, I could go about her bag at a more leisurely pace (always nice).

This one is reversible: it's a cat AND dog bag! I like that the dog is made from bone print.


I used some poly poplin which I never should have bought in the first place: it was cheap and I was in my early, uneducated days of fabric buying. But poly poplin is perfect for a kids' tote bag.


I remembered that my February 2009 issue of Lady Boutique magazine (Japanese) has a TON of bag patterns, I think about 50. There is every bag concept imaginable. Most of them give you pattern measurements and a cross section of the bag, but no instructions. The bag pattern I chose to try DID have some instructions, but they were useless to me anyway.

It took some mental gymnastics (and unpicking) to figure out how to make it reversible with entirely hidden seams, AND get the appliques in the right spots.

I like how it turned out and now that I've figured out the method, this little bag will go on my "options for homemade gifts" list.

I made pattern #260.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

I wish I had 25 copies of "Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach" to give away but, alas, it's only one. Starting from the 2nd comment (as our first commenter left an official entry comment further down the list), I counted 25 entrants. So, our winner is number 3: Marsha from Marsha Sews!

Congratulations, Marsha! You can find my email address in my profile link at the top left of the page. Send me your address and I'll get your new book in the mail! Happy fitting!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jalie Jeans Take Two

Photo evidence to the contrary, I do not feel like I just got run over by a steam roller. It was a beautiful evening, and we took a canoe and the kayak out on the water for one last hurrah before the cold really sets in. AND I wore my new jeans today, my second pair of Jalie's stretch jeans. You can see the first pair here.

Changes I made this time:
1. Made the mid-rise instead of low rise. I like this waistline much, much better, although somewhere in between the two might be closer to perfect.
2. Swapped the straight waistband for a curved one which I knew fit me (from Burda 9-2009-113).
3. Did some extra interfacing (both sides of the fly).
4. Lengthened the legs by three inches. This may not even be enough if they shrink much.

Making these was pretty straightforward since I feel like I've sewn a hundred pairs of jeans now, mostly for my boys. Have you ever taken in the waistband on a pair of boys' jeans? I did once, and prefer to make them from scratch instead.

Bandana fabric makes me happy.

So do birds. Now that it's all put together, I'm thinking the bird and birdhouse are a little too cute. Ah, well. There's always the next pair...

Total cost of jeans: about $7.00

Sources:
Stretch jeans: Jalie 2908
Stretch denim: fabric.com
Snap button: cleaner's supply
Rivet heads: grommet mart [These are great rivets, but I can't get the pins to bend, so I used the cheap Dritz pins with them instead].
Rivet pins: Dritz

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

World's Best Fitting Resource GIVEAWAY!!

Maybe because my birthday's coming up, or maybe to celebrate our first freeze of the season (forecast for tonight), or maybe even because I'm too busy to sew or blog, I felt like giving away a copy of the best fitting book I've seen.

One lucky winner will receive a 1992 edition of Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach. This is a massive book with every fitting problem under the sun. It has great illustrations alongside the fitting theory so you can understand both the fit issue and what to do about it. Excellent book - I'll do a better review sometime when I'm less busy (hahaha).

If by chance you are one of those people who don't fit patterns perfectly straight out of the envelope, leave a comment telling me what fitting alterations you'd like to figure out.

Drawing will be held on Friday, September 23.

*ETA: I'll ship internationally, too, even if you live in New Zealand (:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Vacationing Sans Sewing Machine

The last time we went on a real vacation, when Molly was a tiny infant, I brought along some pattern magazines and actually traced a lot of patterns while Molly was napping instead of miniature golfing. But on our recent trip to the North Shore of Minnesota, I just brought along my emergency hobby (knitting), but made only a few inches of scarf progress.

Here are some more scenes from our trip. Above: the garbage dumpster pays homage to our Nordic roots.

The world's tiniest information center. We got some very useful free maps here.

This is the view from the lake cabin we rented. The shoreline was rocky, not sandy, which made it challenging for wading, but the lake was very shallow and so narrow here that the older kids could swim across the lake.


In the distance: the Sawtooth Mountains. They are more like big hills.

Minnesota's state bird: the Common Loon. (The state bird is not really the mosquito.)


Peter's first kayaking experience; I guess he's a natural.

Wild blueberries.

Alex (younger brother) tried out kayaking, too, and that was a (nerve-wracking) experience for us! But if you're going to try kayaking, you might as well do it in a shallow, quiet lake, rather than a river.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Garden Flower Skirt

Is it possible to look more casual than this?

This is a fairly simple skirt to sew and makes a nice display of the fun fabric. Or it would have been very easy to sew if I had remembered I always need to adjust the waist before I finish the waistband. Usually I do this by adding elastic, but this waistband does not want to be crumpled up with elastic. So I had to unpick all the layers at the side seams, take in, and restitch - definitely worth doing, though.

I love the shape of this and think it could work well in a variety of winter fabrics.

I centered a skirt zipper from my zipper box, instead of using an invisible. I thought the zipper/waistband method was interesting. When I first read the instructions, I thought, "That's crazy and would never work." But it does work after all.

1. First, insert the zipper.
2. Before connecting the waistband and waistband facing at the top, stitch the facing's two center back seams to the back side of the zipper tape, which you have flipped out.

3. Now stitch the waistband and waistband facing together at the top.
4. Trim and flip right side out.

It's a neat trick, but the corners I got certainly aren't neat and square. I wonder if the distance from the stitching to the zipper tape would make a difference.

Sources:
Skirt pattern: Garden Flower Skirt (Ottobre 1-2010-20)
Flowered twill: Chez Ami.
 

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