Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I have created a garment!

I finally ventured into the terrifying world of sewing clothes!  Now, I will be the first to admit that I dipped the tiniest part of my tippy tippy toe into that vast pool of sewing, but I still did it. :)

I made a pair of lounge pants for Clark with more on deck for him and Lauren, as well as Dan and myself.  So easy, so much cheaper than the store *and* they can be whatever we want them to be.  Very excite.

More photos as more are made.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adventure Time Costumes - Princess Bubblegum and The Ice King

Princess Bubblegum

Princess Bubblegum worried me the most as her dress is very plain and I was concerned with being able to find something in the stores that would work, or if I would have to resort to *gulp* making a dress.

Luckily, I happened upon a very inexpensive costume dress at a Halloween shop that would do the trick with just a little bit of help.


With an enormous amount of help from my good friend Jana (who has dress and costume making experience!), we just had to remove the netting from the neckline and waist and add a purple yolk and scallop neck, poofy sleeves, and sash,  and it had to be hemmed.  I don't know what I would have done without her help as this was all well beyond my capabilities.

Wearing a pink shirt and pink leggings took care of the pink skin issue, for the most part, and that left her crown and long pink hair.

The hair was another large hurdle as I needed it straight, parted down the middle or short bangs, super long and pink.  I found a great white wig that would do the trick for little cost and eventually found a tutorial on dyeing synthetic hair.

I figured out the best white:red ratio for the ink and went to town over the next two days to dye the wig:
The gear
Day 2, trying out soaking
Out for spraying and drying

Unfortunately, after all that work, the color was pretty great but the fibers couldn't stand up to the effort.  Despite washing it and using detanglers and other conditioning agents, it looked like this:
A pretty in pink rat's nest

Soooo I looked around online for more wigs and decided to invest in a cosplay quality wig from a Chicago supplier, Arda Wigs.  I received it in two days, the quality was incredible, and it will be used and enjoyed for years to come.  Plus, it looked perfect.

Lastly, I had her crown.  I really wasn't sure how to do this item as well but in the end found some gold-ish colored felt, covered posterboard with the felt and added a blue gem at the top.  I also reinforced it with a popsicle stick.

Here's my PB

Ice King was by far the easiest costume, partly because my husband didn't want to wear any blue makeup and in the end didn't want a fake nose or anything similar.

Ice King

I found a graduation gown in a thrift shop that was just the right shade of blue.  That left his beard and wig, which I found online for pretty cheap.  I made the crown much like I did Princess Bubblegum's, but added red sparkly foam "gems".  Easy peasy lemon greasy.

This experience has gotten me past the fear of making costumes and now I can't wait for next year!

Adventure Time Costumes - Finn

I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about how I made their costumes, in case anyone was interested.  In truth, not very many people knew who they were and I figured that would be the case.  At all the events we went to for Halloween I heard only two parents recognize them (one who seemed embarrassed that he had and another who was thrilled) and many, many kids who were excited and declared them the "best costumes ever!" to their confused parents. :)  But really, I was just happy that my two loved their costumes and were proud to wear them.

I'll start with Finn as he was the most work (for me) but really defined everyone else's costumes.

Finn with his best friend Jake, the dog
My little Finn

For this costume I absolutely needed the hat and backpack.  It was nearly impossible to find exact color matches for the shirt and shorts, especially at this time of year, so I went with a sky blue shirt he already owned and found the fleece pants (perfect color) at Walmart and hemmed them (my first time hemming!).

I bought the sword and the stuffed Jake at ToysRUs as I'm not quite ready to attempt to make a stuffed animal.   And to be honest, my time was rather limited.

I found a pattern for the hat online. I ended up making two hats (and lots of mistakes...keep in mind this was my first time sewing something that wasn't a quilt/tag blanket) and discarded the first as I didn't like the placement of the "ears" (though I'm thinking it might be my winter hat!).  I also went back into this one to reinforce the ears with popsicle sticks, though they were still a little floppy.

I had my usual "helpers"

For his backpack I ended up covering up a round pillow form and sewing on straps and a button.  You can't imagine my frustration when I realized the straps were two colors, but at that point it was too late and I had run out of fabric and time.

The Finn costumes I found online sort of stopped at the shorts, but I felt it was important to roll his white socks and put on dark shoes.

And there you have it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tree pants are (mostly) complete! Also, a few clips.

The people running the sew-along added another week to finish the project as I think it was taking people longer than they had originally planned.  I know with all the stuff I had going on that I definitely needed more time.  Unfortunately I had a number of problems finishing it, so I'll need even more time.  I'm planning on putting it and the sewing machine away for a couple of weeks so that I can catch up on other things.

The other good news is that the Halloween costumes are mostly finished.  Dan isn't sure yet how he wants to finish his costume, so I won't post photos until everything and everyone is ready to go.  And then I'll probably post a lot about it. :D

Anyway, here are some photos of the tree pants.

I clearly had issues with the binding which, for the first time, I made rather than purchased.  I couldn't sew it on evenly so will have to remove the whole thing and start over.  I'n not in a hurry to do that but as long as I get it done by the time we put up our tree, I'm happy.

I was also asked by a couple of friends to make some hairclips, which I was very happy to do.  Frankly, I miss clip making and hope to get back to it this weekend. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tree Pants, Week 1

Yesterday I managed to make five of these before the sewing machine told me to f- off and leave it alone.  Hopefully I can finish the last three tonight.

Today I was working on dying Lauren's wig and hopefully tonight I'll also be able to finish a couple of bows requested by a friend.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Sew Along - Tree Pants

Yesterday I was able to finally cut the fabric for the sew along.  Well, most of it anyway.  I decided on these fabrics:

The red is the main fabric, the leaves will be the stars and the stripes are for the back.  Seriously worried about using a stripe pattern, but we'll see how it goes.  Worst case, it can be well hidden. :)

I have some squares pinned and will (hopefully) start sewing today.  I need to have all the blocks done for the next assignment on Friday.  I can't afford to get behind with Lauren's birthday celebrations this weekend and all the costume stuff I'm still working on.

Oh, and I learned the hard way why you shouldn't open your rotary cutter until the moment you need it.  Ouch.

Tulle Halloween wreath

Here's one of the projects I've been working on. The idea came from here.  I ended up using tulle by the yard because it was on sale last week for about $1/yd (I ended up using the shiny tulle).  For the record, I greatly preferred the tulle from Hobby Lobby over that at JoAnn.  Unfortunately I didn't know how much tulle to get as the directions indicated rolls, so I ended up having to make three more trips to the store.  I think in the end I used about two yards of orange and six yards of black.  The wreath cost about $10 to make and would have been complete in an evening if I didn't have to keep pausing for more tulle. :)

Oh, and here's a handy tutorial on cutting tulle.

Clearly I'm a little wreath obsessed at the moment. I have another waiting in the wings to tell you about, it's just waiting for a finishing touch.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ahh!! Projects!!

I had meant to write a lot more before now, and more often, but I suddenly found myself inundated with projects.  I started the week working on a binding project that I had meant to do about a year ago.  I also had to finish a couple other projects including a Halloween wreath, a Christmas wreath, and posting tutorials on a couple things like making custom buttons with fabric.  Oh, and work on a few more hair clips.  The binding project never made it past Monday, and I've been working periodically on the other items as the week progressed.  I knew that starting today I would be working on my tree skirt sew-along and that was going to make me crazy busy.  And then the kids (and Dan) hit me with their costume choices for Halloween this year.  They would like to be characters from Adventure Time: Lauren = Princess Bubblegum, Dan = The Ice King, Clark = Finn.  None of these have existing costumes so I will be putting them together.  That has me in a little bit of a panic, but two very long days of trips to many, many stores is at least making it seem doable.  I'll post pictures of my progress as I work on all of these projects.

Oh, and I failed to mention I have Lauren's birthday in a week.    I might have bitten off a little more than I could chew.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An update to the fall wreath

As previously posted, I had worked on a new fall wreath and ended up with this:

It was missing something.  As much as I loved the sparkly colored beads and pumpkin, they couldn't pull it off completely.  So, I spent about five more dollars and ended up with this:  

Much better.

And now I seem to have wreath-making fever as I've already made one for Christmas (and will make another one!), and am planning on a Halloween wreath.  I'll post about them when they're complete.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sew-Along project - Tree Skirt

I've been aware of sew-alongs but never felt like I could possibly be a part of them.  The other day I came across one for a tree skirt with a very cool giveaway.  This one I think I can at least attempt, and I have always wanted to make a tree skirt!

The giveaway is for some fabric called Happy Mochi Yum Yum, which is GORGEOUS!  Hopefully it's a giveaway based on those who participated and not on quality of the finished project, so then I have a chance! :)

I'll keep track of how I'm doing on  here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent – DIY

I'm going to have to do awesome! Hopefully I can just make a small one and still have success with it.

How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent – DIY

Friday, September 16, 2011

The red/black quilt is finished!

Well, the quilt is finally complete.  I'm satisfied with it, though unhappy with several mistakes.   On the other hand, I feel this was another major learning experience and I know some of the things to avoid for next time.  I was very pleased when my husband commented on how much he liked it and asked me to make one for our family room.  I'm glad he's confident in my work and now I'm looking forward to the next one (though I have several other things to work on before that!). 

Here are some photos of the final process, in case anyone is interested.

After finishing the piecing, I started the quilt sandwich.  Here's a photo of the three layers: the backing (I ended up going simple with a super soft sateen fabric) , the batting (I used a very low-loft) and the quilt face (? not sure what else it's called).  After arranging the three, I pinned them together with safety pins.  Note to self:  buy more safety pins!


I trimmed the backing and batting a bit and then took it back to the sewing machine for quilting.  I felt a little more confident in straighter rows this time, so decided to do more stitching in the ditch.  I'm a long way off from being able enough to quilt designs, but I'm happy with the straight rows, particularly with a more modern looking quilt like this one.

The last step was to add the binding.  On the robot/monkey quilt I ended up hand sewing the binding because I didn't know any better.  It took me a week of sewing constantly to get it done because my inexperienced self made the most ridiculously tiny stitches.  This time I decided to machine sew it on and it not only looked much better, it was much easier.  The only problem I ran into here was trying to keep the binding on the sandwich in the process.  This was (mostly) solved by using snap clips.  

They worked great and I only had to fix a few places.

After that I just had to wash it and clip some ends.  Here's the end result:

And the coordinating tag blanket:

Some mistakes I will try not to make next time:
1) When sewing the blocks together, make sure all the blocks in a row stretch in the same direction
2) If I'm going to use white, apply fray check early and often, and use a thicker white fabric.  If you look close enough you can see a lot of frayed fabric in there.
3) When adding the sashing, quadruple check the length of the sash before cutting it and make sure it goes to the end of the row (though the red squares were a happy fix).

Yesterday I received a new AccuQuilt die in the mail: Circles.  Time for my next project!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quilt making - an acceptable birthday activity

Saturday was my birthday and I decided to spend a lot of it working on the red/black quilt as I knew my husband would be running kid interference for most of the day.  Unfortunately it ended up being a rather frustrating process as I proceeded to make error after error.  The best I can say is that I have learned much  about quilt making, the worst is that I have a ton more work to do before I'm finished. :)

Last week I was at my friend Jana's house working on the quilt.  She has a LOT more patience than I do when it comes to crafting so was instrumental in  helping me focus on fixing some errors I had already made. We noticed that the black squares were smaller than the other squares and that threw off row alignment.  A few times we had to cut new black squares and resew the rows.  In the end, each row had to be resewed and it wasn't until Saturday when I realized why they were a problem.  After all, I had cut everything with the Accuquilt, so how could the black squares be smaller?
I turns out that ironing the black squares caused them to shrink and distort.  The other fabric didn't have that issue, but the black did. This became apparent when I was ironing down the seam on a piece of the sashing:

So that added quite a bit more work. :)
Once I finished sewing on the sashing I realized that I had made an error by not making them long enough for the corners and one of them was just plain too short:

Those were pretty pathetic mistakes and made by someone who really should have just taken a break for the day. :)  The good thing is that I was inspired to sew red squares onto the corners which I think will really make it pop.

So the next step is to sew on the red squares, do some end snipping and fray checking and figure out what I'm going to do for the backing.

I also ended up unhappy with the 75% completed matching tag blanket.  And I am rapidly running out of time.

I'd like to add that having a fraction of my chair to sit on while sewing doesn't help the process!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More work on the black/red quilt

I fought with my sewing machine throughout the weekend and managed to get some of the quilt done.  However, it got so bad in the end (examples below) that I had to stop.  Luckily, I have a couple of friends who are willing to let me borrow their machines until I finish the project.  Not sure where to go from here with my machine.  I can take it back in for repair or, if I ask Dan nicely enough, maybe eventually get a new, better machine.  Preferably one without a plastic bobbin race.  My first step, regardless, is to see if the repair place has a warranty on their work.

I managed to get a bit of sewing done though the machine would start to pull in fabric and I'd have to clean it out a few times and leave it for a couple hours before it would stop that mess.  And now, no matter what, it does what you see below.

Anyway, I managed to get a little done, mostly sewing the white rows onto the blocks and then the blocks together:

I finished up last night by pinning the outside (and inner) white rows onto the block rows.  After I finish sewing those, I have to do the outer sashing and then I'll start working on the quilt sandwich.  I had hoped to be further along at this point, but my machine had different ideas.

So did this guy:

Other craft stuff I'm working on

I've made a new wreath!  It's simple but I love it.  This one cost about $11, and maybe it looks it, but I really dig that I can make my own.  Now I have to wait impatiently for it to be appropriate to put out a fall-themed wreath.  I'm not 100% sold on the pumpkin but it needed "something".

I've also been working on a lot of bows.  I wanted Lauren to have some bows that would match her school uniforms (and yes, I was hoping some other moms would notice and inquire about who made them!) plus I wanted to make some University of Michigan so she's all set for the new season. :)  I was also asked by my dear friend Michelle to make a bow to match one of her daughter's dresses.  Here are some photos of the end results:

Lauren's school bows

Dress bow

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Yep, I bought a Renaissance Faire costume.

This isn't a post about crafting or fish, or even the kids, but definitely something that goes with the motivation of this blog as I clearly chose to, once again, "jump in with both feet".

Yesterday we went to the Renaissance Faire for what is turning out to be a yearly tradition.  Because we didn't know about it last year and regretted not going, we bee-lined for the pub crawl tickets first thing.  The pub crawl was fantastic (and hilarious) and will keep me going yearly to the Faire.

The guys kept joking throughout the day about having us gals try on and buy matching corsets.  I figured it would be worth trying one on as I never had before and honestly, I was instantly in love.  I had no idea it would feel so good to wear a corset (with steel boning, no less) and even though I was not happy about spending the money, I had to get it.  BUT, it didn't end there.  Of course not.  No, I had to buy a flouncy top and plaid skirt to go with it.  Now I have to figure out when to wear it and make it worth the cost!  I imagine Halloween would work and, of course, our yearly Faire pub crawl. I imagine even a night out to a concert would work, as long as I didn't have to sit. :D

And now I'm sitting here trying to decide whether to post a picture of me in the outfit, or even to post this at all.  The teasing from my family might be relentless!

Next year, I'm getting a small hat. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Work on the quilt has (finally) begun.

I have a lot of catching up to do, which I will do over the course of this weekend (I hope).  I've been working on a lot of smaller projects that, combined with ots of craziness, have delayed work on the quilt.  But today I got back into it in earnest and I hope to dedicate a large part of the holiday weekend working on it.

Anyway, today I worked on ironing and cutting, two things I hated doing until I got my Accuquilt Go.  Though I think I might need to consider investing in a new ironing board.  I still have this one from my university days:

Anyway, I thought I would show off the Accuquilt Go a little bit, in case people are interested and not familiar with it. I am a terrible, terrible cutter.  I even attempted to use a rotary cutter and it didn't help me much.  I still have to use it a bit with the Accuquilt, but mostly for prep, and as a result my cuts are MUCH more uniform.

  Step 1: Cut fabric into strips so it can better fit onto the die.
Step 2: Arrange strip on the die with the cutting mat.
Step 3: Run it through the cutter
And voila!
So here's the end result with that small pile being the only scrap. 
It still took me a couple hours, but I know I made better cutting decisions, had less waste, and managed to get enough done to be prepped for a matching taggie blanket!

So on to the next step, pinning.