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1  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Ugly, non-returnable dress becomes breezy tank on: April 21, 2014 07:58:48 PM
I have finally learned my lesson about buying clothes from Zulily-- it's way too hit-or-miss and nothing is returnable.  The last straw came today when I tried on this rayon chili pepper dress:
When I ordered it, I imagined myself zydeco dancing in a mud puddle at Jazz Fest, looking all cute.  In reality, it was an awkward, garish, maternity-style mess.  My 9-year-old daughter said it was "kind of ugly" and it made my boobs look "huge in a bad way."  Ugh.

Determined to salvage some part of my chili pepper zydeco fantasy, I set right to work.  I removed the skirt from the bodice, set aside the straps, and scrapped the smocked part on the back. I scanned my commercial patterns for one I could make with the (cheap, shitty, rayon) fabric I had left.  My daughter and I settled on New Look 6778.  I was able to use the original straps without alteration.  Here is the end result:
I feel like the volume of chili peppers displayed is much more reasonable now.  I may not actually wear it at Jazz Fest this year, but at least the ugly dress is transformed into something wearable. 

I hope others are having better luck with their Zulily purchases!  If not, know that recon is always an option.
2  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Legolas, Elven Archer from LOTR-- complete with Orlando Bloom "wig" on: November 08, 2013 10:04:55 AM
My husband is reading The Lord of the Rings to my kids, and my 7 yo son decided he wanted to be a kickass elf for Halloween. Because a little boy's Halloween is all about the weapon props, my son chose to be the elven archer Legolas, Prince of the Woodland Realm.  We studied stills from the movies and determined he would need the following elements:
  • pointy ears
  • long, blonde hair
  • fitted gray pants and henley
  • green/brown embellished jerkin (tunic)
  • vambraces (forerarm guards)
  • fellowship cloak
  • "greenleaf" brooch
  • quiver and harness
  • boots
  • bow and arrows

After a lot of thrifting and discount shopping, I was able to find the following items that could be used without alteration:  pants, shirt, suede booties, and archery set.  All the other items, I either hand-made or upcycled.

For the fellowship cloak, I used dark green wool suiting (thrifted $2) and McCalls pattern 2854.  I modified a thrifted leaf-shaped brooch with green marker and glitter mod podge.  For the jerkin, I started with a thrifted ladies' velour track jacket and added panels of olive moleskin fabric using gold metallic decorative thread.  I drew elvish designs on with a gold sharpie marker.  The vambraces were cut from embossed craft felt and laced with faux leather cord.

After exploring the options for diy elf ears, I decided to bake polymer clay with embedded wire cuffs.  I used photos from Etsy as guides for shaping the wire and blended two colors of clay to match my son's skin tone.

Over my son's objection, I made the quiver out of craft foam and gold duct tape, embellished with gold sharpie, gold leaf paint, and craft gems.  He wanted real leather, but that was not happening.  I made the harness out of an old vinyl belt, cut into strips and secured with decorative snaps to a buckle from a different thrifted belt.  The straps are attached to the quiver with brads. 

The biggest risk of the costume was the long, blonde hair.  I knew my son with be itchy and miserable (and probably heckled) if he wore a wig, so I made a conceptual wig out of light-colored, ribbed jersey knit.  I used an online tutorial for a "doo-rag," and modified it so that "hair" would hang down around his face and in back.  In the end, it was his favorite part of the costume because it was comfortable and it completely transformed his appearance. 

I tried to upload a photo where he is wearing the cloak and brooch in the school parade, but I couldn't figure out how to crop his classmates out and I don't want to post other people's kids' pictures without permission.  If I can get him to model it for me, I will snap a pic and insert it later.  As it turned out, Halloween was unseasonably warm here, so he didn't need the cloak for trick-or-treating.

Front view:


From the back:


Side view:


Even cuter than Orlando Bloom:
3  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / The 2 Biggest Pests of 2010 - Bedbug and Stinkbug on: November 05, 2010 11:17:43 AM
Inspired by Isabella Rossellini and by life in the MidAtlantic region, I pieced slipcovers for upholstery foam and fitted them onto backpacks.  Here are the big bugs side-by-side:
Here are the individual shots:

Here we are wearing the costumes and enjoying an adult beverage.  Nobody in these photos smells like rotting cilantro.
4  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Discussion and Questions / IYHO: Which is the best issue of Ottobre for kids? on: April 12, 2008 08:35:04 PM
If I'm going to splurge on a back issue of Ottobre for kids, which is the best one?  I have an almost-2 boy and an almost-4 girl.  Thanks!
5  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Latest (maybe last?) Vera Bradley Knockoff for my mom on: February 25, 2008 06:56:59 AM
I finally finished this bag yesterday after two years of dragging my feet.  I made two other VB knockoffs for the old bag-a-month CAL and a third for a personal swap flaker(boo!).  I'm not really a VB fan and I'm sick to death of this fabric, so I probably won't make anymore.  My mom really wanted this, though, and she loves it which makes me really happy.

I used Butterick 4624 with some adjustments for size, strap length, pockets, etc. The prequilted fabric was easy to work with and the construction was not challenging.  The only sticky parts were the fussy cutting and the precise seaming to match-up flowers and stripes.

The inspiration bag was called The Spectator, in Java Blue color.  I would post a pic from the catalog here, but I don't want to run afoul of VB's copyrights.

Here is my version. 

Here are the interior pockets.

Hurray!  Now I can move on to other projects.  This bag has been my albatross for no particular reason. 

6  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / Just Lost My Dad-- Memory Quilt Questions on: February 06, 2008 08:32:06 PM
My dad died a few weeks ago.  After 55 years together, my mom is having an understandably difficult time adjusting to life without him.  She says she can't even bear to look at his side of the closet, so... I thought I might make her a throw-size quilt from his many plaid shirts.  They are about half broadcloth and half flannel.  Most of them are dark-colored.  There are a handful of non-plaid oxfords in the mix. 

I have very limited piecing experience, but I'm pretty capable.  Can anyone suggest any block patterns that would be suitable for this type of project?  Any other tips for this project?  I thought I would piece one side from the shirts and use a solid or non-busy dark flannel for the other side. 

Also, a few of the shirts are pretty thread-bare.  Would you interface them?

Thanks!
7  CLOTHING / Clothing: Discussion and Questions / Lekala Custom Size Printable Patterns on: September 24, 2007 06:14:35 AM
I was just browsing through these on Joann.com (on sale now for 5.99).  Interesting-- I love the idea that you can plug in your measurements and receive a custom pattern.  Has anyone tried these yet?  I wish you could see more information about fabric recommendations, etc. first.


Oops, I think I may have posted this in the wrong place.  Sorry, Mods, please move if appropriate.
8  CLOTHING / Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects / Go, Diego, Go! Vests and Rescue Packs for my Girl and her Pal on: September 06, 2007 05:36:56 AM
I spent too much money and time making these Diego/Alicia costumes for my 3 y.o. daughter and her best friend.  Awfully cute, though.

Here's the basic ensemble.  I used McCall's 3416 for the vest.  Downloaded the Animal Rescue Center patch from the net and printed it on iron-on transfer paper.


Aaaaaaahhhh Rescue Pack!  I used McCall's 2933, but I had to resize it for a 3 y.o.'s frame.  In doing so, I miscalculated and made the gusset 1.5" too long.  I caught the error and corrected it, but not before I had eased in the extra 1.5" on the first one.  That was a pain.  I hate easing to begin with.  The rescue pack is lined with cute Diego licensed print cotton.  I had planned to applique the face on the flap, but ran out of steam.


Here's an action shot, complete with Baby Jaguar:


And the rescue pack, as modeled by my baby son:


I wish I could say my kid loves it and adores me for making it, but she doesn't seem to care that much.  In fact, when I finished the first rescue pack, she took one look at it and said, "where's the zipper? Diego's has a zipper. I don't want it without a zipper.  Can't we just buy one?"  Jeez Louise.  I improvised an exterior zippered pocket on the second one because I couldn't bear to think that she would reject it after all my work.  It's a thankless job sometimes, isn't it? 
9  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Misc. Gift Idea Brain Blockage / Best Sewing/Design/Fashion Book for 12 Y.O. Novice on: November 28, 2006 02:42:59 AM
Young craftsters everywhere:  I am buying a book for my 12 y.o. niece.  She is interested in fashion, a little on the trendy side, a self-starter, and does not yet know how to sew.  Which of the available "hip" sewing/fashion/design books would be best for an adolescent who might be into de/reconstruction and sewing garments for herself?  I have looked at Sew U and Sew Subversive, but can't make up my mind.  Plus, there might be others out there that would be even more appropriate.  It mainly has to be basic and fun.

Again, she is 12, somewhat creative, not into sports, enjoys shopping, reading books and magazines and watching shows like "My Super Sweet Sixteen" on tv.  She could use a real hobby, which is why I'm hoping to introduce her to sewing and design.  Her mother is a big home-dec-type sewist (not into garments or tailoring) who I'm sure will help her along, but can't offer much in the area of clothing design or fitting.

Thank you for any help you can offer!
10  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Craftalongs / Clothing or Purse Applique-along, Anyone? on: August 12, 2006 02:14:32 PM
I've been dying to try appliqueing some t-shirts and other clothes for my kids.  I have all the supplies, but am a little afraid to get back on the horse after a mess I made last year on my first attempt.  Would anyone like to go through the steps with me and share tips and results?   
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