Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween 2010

I love Halloween.  It is one of my favorite holidays because you get to dress up in something ridiculous or be bolder than you would be on a normal day.  I think of it as a challenge each year because I am putting my creativity out there for people to see.  This year is my year to become a cartoon character.  For my character, I need a brown or black bob wig, black-rimmed glasses, orange sweater, red skirt, orange knee-high socks and loafer shoes.....can you figure out who I will be?  Well, I'm not telling you yet, you will have to wait and see.  This costume took a few weeks to prepare, so here was my journey:

Part I - The Skirt

I started with the skirt.  I knew I was not going to find a skirt that was plain enough and had the pleats I desired.  So, about a month ago I started looking in the Joann's flyers (sale circulars, for those of you that are not from Mass) for when McCalls, Butterick, or Simplicity patterns go on sale for $2 or less.  By doing this you save SO much money because the patterns retail for $15 or more.  The pattern I chose was $0.99 (sweet!!) and I used a coupon for the fabric.  I did buy the thread and elastic for the waist, but the total for the skirt was still under $8.

Sewing the hem on the skirt

I just followed the pattern, so I will not bore you with the steps.  It is an elastic waisted full pleated skirt made out of lightweight corduroy fabric.

I'm loving elastic!

Next on the checklist was an orange sweater and knee-high socks.  Now, it is Halloween and one could possibly find the orange knee-high socks, but an orange sweater???  Doubtful.  I was keeping an open mind when I went yard saleing these past weeks.  I was looking for anything that I could somehow make into this orange sweater.  I found this:

Part II - The Orange Sweater and Socks

This is a cream-colored cotton men's crew neck sweater with Dr. Scholl's therapeutic knee-highs.  I bought the sweater at a yard sale for $0.50 and the socks new for about $4 (twin pack).  If you have never tried on circulatory socks before, I encourage it.  They are SO comfortable and soft; I just had to "break them in" before moving on to the next step.  I may have looked funny lounging around the house with socks up to my knees, but they were cozy!  Let me know if anyone wants a pair for Christmas...I'm definitely bringing these to Mass when I go up for a visit in December.

Since the sweater is cream-colored, I thought this is the perfect opportunity to try out RIT dye!  I had never dyed anything before in my life and I always like a challenge, so I went for it.  I have a front-loading washing machine and I am renting, so I decided that dying the items in the machine was not an option.  The package gave a few options: 1. Washing Machine, 2. Stovetop Method, and 3. Bucket Method.  I chose the bucket method because this sweater was not fitting in my stockpot!

Cat Litter Bucket-O-Fun

The directions were to add hot water to a bucket, add the powder packet to about 2 cup of hot water in a separate container, then add the dye to the bucket.  Then soak the garment(s) in water then add to the bucket with the dye and agitate for 10 to 30 minutes.  After about 5 minutes, I felt like I had been standing there forever.  My beau was helping me with this part of the project because he knows I have no patience.  God love him!  The sweater was done in about 15 minutes, but the socks took a second packet of dye and another 20 minutes.  This is because RIT recommends natural materials like cotton; the socks are polyester.  After this step, then you rinse the garment in cool water until the rinse water is clear.  After about 12 buckets of rinse water, the water was still a light peach color, but considerably lighter then the first few rinses.  Then the sweater and socks were put in the washing machine with detergent and dried normally.

How awesome is this sweater??!!

I was very pleased with the sweater, but a bit dimayed with the socks.  I got over it quickly.  This is only for Halloween and nobody will even notice once everything is on.  Now that the sweater is orange, I am not stopping there.  This is not the style of my cartoon charater's sweater; she wears a turtleneck.  I want to stay in character, but this is Florida and I don't want to wear a long-sleeved t-neck in 80+ degree weather.  I decided to have a little fun with the scissors.

Cut and Butterflied

I left about 3 inches to the sleeve on the sweater and then cut up the length of the arm to open it.  I will use one of the sleeves to make my mock cowl-neck.  As for the existing sleeves, I took some leftover elastic and made the sleeves gathered and puffy.

Puffy-sleeve action

I used a ball-point needle and a zig-zag stitch since this is knit and wanted to maintain a bit of the stretch that the knit ribbing gives.  Once the sleeves were done I had to be creative in how to finish the neck.  A t-neck would be too hot, but I did not want to necessarily do anything to the back of the neck area either.  I decided to attempt a cowl-neck.  I pinned and re-pinned several times and did not like it.  I then decided to try an 80's neck style.  Since I already had the puffy sleeves, might as well go for gold.

Had to bring in the big guns - Quilting pins!

I cut off the cuff of the sleeve (did you see how long and tight they were?  I could not figure out how to work with those).  I unstitched the neck and shoulder seam on one side and pinned in the cuffless end, folded.  I resewed the shoulder and neck seam.  So, the sleeve was hanging out of the shoulder, in a way.  I then pinned the length of the arm to the front neck area, as seen above.  I had to break out my flat-head pins I use for quilting; these pins are long.  I gathered it at the neck so the end of the sleeve would meet up with the other shoulder seam. 

Orange you jealous of this classic nugget?!

Anyway, the look I was going for was cowl-neck with the side buttons.  I did not have three buttons, or even two, for that matter, that matched to pull that off.  I was going to leave it like this, with the raw edge, but when I modeled it for my beau, he asked me if it was finished.  Ack!  So, I had to do something with it.  I had a large skirt pin that I gathered the raw end with.  What do guys know about 80's fashion anyway?  This was coming from a guy who admits to wearing MC Hammer pants in the late 80's...

I purchased the bob wig for $6 and black-rimmed glasses for $5, new at the store.  For the shoes, I had a pair of weathered chunky heel loafers that I had in mind for this costume.  Here it is all laid out:

Jinkies!  Any guesses?

We are allowed to dress up in costume at work for Halloween.  So, this past Friday, I donned my costume and grabbed my prop and went to work.  Everyone had a good laugh...

I'm Velma Dinkley, Gang!

I won for Best Costume...Yeah me!  I would like to thank the lady at the yard sale for parting with her husband's old sweater, the little girl who sold me her Scooby Doo stuffed animal at another yard sale, also Dr Scholl's for making a comfortable sock, and .....

The total cost for this costume was under $25!  So, what do you think?  Also, let me know what you are going to be or were for Halloween.  Send me pics!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Matchy Headband

I am going to make full use of the blue and orange plaid button shirt I bought at a yard sale a few weeks back.  If you remember, I made the shirt skirt from it, so the top part of the shirt still has lots of fabric.  What has inspired me was a simple cloth headband I recently bought at Walgreens.  Inspried may not be the proper term...I'm going to shamelessly copy the Walgreens headband.  In the pic below, it is the white and green headband.

Saturday morning project

I made a template from a manila folder of the purchased headband.  I will place this template on a folded section of cloth and cut.  This is done twice to get a top-facing and bottom piece of cloth.  I also took off the rest of the buttons and the label from the shirt.  I love collecting buttons.  I have a jar of buttons on my dresser.

I heart button jars!

The jar was something I got at a thrift store years ago.  It is an old spice jar; I've never seen anything so quaint before.  Then one day I went to an estate sale and there was a whole 20-piece jar set with wall mounted wire shelf of the exact jar I had.  At first I was excited, then, because there was so many, I felt like it lost its charm somehow.  I decided not to buy any and just keep my lone one on my dresser.

Back to finishing the headband.  Once I got the two pieces cut out, I cut a length of elastic about 6" long and pinned it in between the two layers of fabric.

Sewing is so backwards, sometimes!

I stitched along the edge with a ball-point needle on my sewing machine.  I did not want to run the risk of the thread bunching when I got to the elastic.  I'm not sure if it would have, but I did not want to rip out rat nests this morning.  I sewed around the elastic end and 90% of one side.  This is where it got a bit tricky, I  then found the other end of the elastic between the fabric and pinned it to the other end.  The fabric bunched up and I had to keep it smooth so I could sew the end and the other side.

Almost there...

I left a small opening and then turned it right-side out. This left a hole where I did the transformation from scrunchie to headband.  The purchased headband had topstitching around the entire edge; so I chose to do that too.  I am not always a straight sewer, even when I try to line it up with the guidelines on the sewing machine.  The fabrics have a mind of their own and do what they want, even if you are feeding it through straight.  My sewing sistas, I'm sure, would back me up on that fact. 

See ya, hole!

I pressed the fabric so the seams were flat and aligned the fabric folds of the hole so I can close it when I topstitch.  To aid in my mission to sew straight, I used a zipper foot with the needle on the right side (my zipper foot has a plastic piece that you can move from side to side, depending on what side the zipper teeth are on).  This actually worked the way I imagined, so I was happy!  Since this did not take too much time, I cut out another headband out of left-over fabric from my Halloween costume last year, where I was a cowgirl.  The fabric was a faux suede, like microfiber/moleskin, which was supposed to represent my cowhide skirt and vest.

Two new headbands

I can't forget that I did have help cutting out the pattern... 

I wouldn't have been able to do it without you, Roo!

When I start a project, it is expected that either Julie or Jasmine will come and get themselves in the middle of it.  My eldest kitty, Julie (aka Roo) helped by laying all over the fabric and pushing it all over the table.  Like I said...typical!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tickled Pink Necklace

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I've decided to fix a pink stone necklace and pair of earrings that had lost their luster.  Below, you will see that I did have to buy a chain and strings of pink stones. 

Elements of transformation

The third item from the left is a chain that I had from an old necklace and the forth item is the necklace in need of sprucing up.  Next to the necklace is the earrings in which I will add to, as well.  The necklace and earring set came from Khols and I thought it was real silver but I suppose it was only silver plated. 

Some links were tarnished beyond cleaning

My idea is to add more dangle to the earrings.  Once I started adding, I realized that I did not have head pins but only the pins with the eye-loop.  I had to improvise; I'm sure a real beader would cringe at what I had to do.  I was just going to leave the eye at the end but that looked unfinished, so I used the eye end to attach to the fishhook eye, added three stones and then twisted the straight end up to hook the last stone.  Amateur, yes, but I made the best of it!

Earrings, yes I only have one rubber back!

I think I need a new camera because I am aware that some of these pics are blurry.  Maybe I will buy a new one for myself for Christmas.  :-)  I intended on adding a third dangle, but since I did not have head pins, I thought two looked perfect!  (It orginally only had the one lone stone on each fishhook)

For the necklace, I wanted to make it a long, draping necklace that had stones, then chain, then stones, etc.  My vision did not really come out that good looking at first.  As you can see, the chain I chose was too chunky for the stones.  The stones were more delicate looking that I thought.

Too Mr. T for my liking

So, I decided to go with the chain that I had, pictured in the first picture.  The bad thing about that chain, is that the links are so tiny, that it was very frustrating trying to link them with the eye loops.  I tried not to toss the whole project out the window, but just breathed deeply and forged on.

The smaller chain looked much better, but I think a gauge in-between the Mr. T chain and the tiny-links chain would have made it a more balanced look.

Linking in-progress

I kept the single stones as they were wrapped.  The factory in China did a better job at beading than I am was doing, so why mess with it?  I did make the straight pins of 10 stones and alternating straight pins of 5 stones.  I did have a hard time making the eye hook at the opposite end of the pins.  I think that a person needs practice and patience, which I was low on both at this stage!

I used the clasp from the original necklace for the new one.  With draping necklaces, you can just put it over your head and not unclasp it, but if you want to double it up, then the clasp is needed.

All done!! 
Click on pic to enlarge if you want to critique my eye loops

I tip my hat to beaders.  This was a project that was not that difficult, but took longer than I expected.  The tiny links were enough to drive me to drink!  Instead, I had a cup of instant coffee in my new Cirque du Soleil mug I got last night while at the La Nouba show.  Classy necklace with a classy mug!

Tickled pink in pj's before dinner!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shirt Skirt

This project idea came while yard-saling.  Here in Florida, you can go to yard sales practically every weekend of the year.  It is something that I started doing on Saturdays to learn my way around the new neighborhood I had moved into; now I'm hooked.  You can get some really great deals.  So, I got this man's XL button shirt at a yard sale for 50 cents.  The blue and orange plaid print caught my eye and I was thinking that there is so much fabric involved in men's shirts, that I could cut it up and make something fall-looking with it.
Jasmine thinking, "How can I get inside this thing?"
So, my vision was a skirt.  Nothing too fancy, nothing Project Runway, just a simple elastic waist skirt.  I cut the body off the top part of the shirt right below the arms.  Why hem if you don't have to?  This way, I can keep the side seams and the bottom hem.  I also wanted to keep the buttons to maintain the "button-up look," so I sewed shut the button front (no peek-a-boo when I sit down).  I removed the spare buttons that are often stitched on the bottom of the inside facing and also detached the pocket with a seam-ripper; I will use both of these later.
I sewed the pocket onto the front of the shirt/skirt.  Then I started on the casing for the elastic waist band.  For this, I folded and pressed the top raw edge about 1/4" around and then around again a little more than an inch.  My elastic was 3/4" wide.
Why waste a perfectly edge-folded and pressed pocket??
 You can click on each pic to enlarge.
Waist band casing in progress
 After the casing was pinned, I sewed around and left an opening of about 1.5" so that I can snake the elastic through.  Since I started with an XL, this was going to be a full skirt.

Use a large safety pin to guide it through the casing
Once I got the elastic to fit comfortably, I made sure that the elastic was not twisted in the casing.  I hate when the elastic is twisted!  Then, using a ball point sewing needle, (the regular point needles will only bunch the thread into a rat's nest under the elastic; you don't have to ask how I learned this), stitch the two ends of the elastic together with a zig-zag stitch.  I then sewed the snake-hole closed.  I adjusted the fullness evenly around the skirt and on each side, straight-stitched through the fabric and elastic to prevent the dreaded twist of the elastic.
Completed Shirt Skirt
If you notice on button shirts, there are a few inches at the bottom where there are no buttons.  The finishing touch was hand-sewing the buttons I removed earlier to the bottom part of the button front to complete the button-up look.  Viola!  A Shirt Skirt!
Real clothes or pjs??
Don't mind me squinting, sewing inside, then going out in the full sun, is blinding!  This skirt is definitely full, almost potato sack full.  But, probably not too full that someone will wonder whether it was Idaho or russet.  It is very comfy, almost like pjs.  Not matter what this will end up being, it's what I'm wearing today!

Tonight is dinner with the boyfriend's parents.  They come over on Sunday evenings to eat dinner and watch Dexter.  We are all so hooked on Dexter.  I don't beleive that Rita actually died in the last season's conclusion.  I was in denial, because it was filmed with this bright/blurry look to it that mimiced Dexter's daydreams, so I convinced myself that it was somehow him looking back on something.  Well, look who was wrong!!  I will wear my outfit and see if anyone comments as to why I'm already in my pajamas.  Good night!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby's First 1.1

I am pleased to say that I have finished another baby blanket!  This one is, by far, my favorite, maybe because it is for a girl and they are often more fun to create for than boys.  Boys can be fun, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing like buying something cute for a girl.
Third complete blanket
I love the pink and the yellow (Baby's First from Lion Brand: Fairy Tale & Honey Bee).  I always think French when I see pink and yellow together.  I think it reminds me of antique toile.  This crocheted up in a snap, it was just getting some time to focus and get to it.  I mentioned that I had trouble with the edging, specifically the picot stitch.  For some reason, this one did not give me any trouble at all.  Here is another picture of it laid out:
I get a little better with the edging with each blanket.  Here is a close-up of a corner:
Look at those cute picots!
My sister will be proud!  You can enlarge each picture by clicking on it.  I think that I was supposed to do the edging by making the slip stitch in a stitch, but instead I made the stitch in the ch-1 space.  I think it looks better and covers up any elongated stitches that seem to be inherent in my crochet. 

My next blanket will be...the same pattern.  Yes, I have a total of five of them to do by the end of the year and I have completed three.  Not bad, in my opinion.  Although there are tons of people who seem to have the ability to crochet in their sleep, hence completing projects at lighting speed.  As you are getting to know me, I am not one of them.  This is the next supply of yarn for the fourth one.  This is for another girl.
Yarn pyramid - fourth blanket in the raw
I promise that I am working on other projects other than these baby blankets.  I have some jewerly items on my list and a halloween costume.  I get very into halloween, so you will laugh at what I do for it.  Stay tuned.