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11  A Christmas Carol in Costumes: Completed Projects by Aislynn on: January 25, 2012 07:33:35 PM
So in November I got the opportunity to help out a friend who does costume design for some of the local theater companies.  One of the new companies was doing their own version of A Christmas Carol, and I got to sew up an assortment of pieces from it.  It was so much fun!  All in all, I sewed Scrooge's nightshirt and cap (from a hodge-podge of patterns), Marley's pants (from a super basic elastic waist pants pattern), the ghost of Christmas present's iridescent cape with faux fur trim...it didn't come out as I'd hoped it would, she was very active on stage and it slipped around lots.  I should have put in a clasp.  And a bustle for Mrs. Fezziwig.  I don't have pictures of that, and I wish I did, as it came out very neat, completely self-drafted.  As the piece de resistance, I sewed the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  With 13 yards of black fabric!  Plus untold scraps I sewed haphazardly together to make a separate yoke/capelet type thing.  Here you can see Scrooge and Christmas Present on stage:

And here's me modeling the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (who is a good 6" taller than I am):

I used two pieces of steel wire in the hood to help it stand up like that.  Overall, it was lots of fun!
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12  Chicken Pot Pie in Recipes and Cooking Tips by Aislynn on: November 28, 2011 07:47:02 PM

I have been craving pot pie like nothing else lately.  My stepmom always made it with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, and I haven't had a good one in ages.  So, lacking my stepmom's cookbook, I went to allrecipes.com.  Here's the original recipe I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-potpie/detail.aspx

And here's how I actually made it, which was a tiny bit different.


two medium potatoes, peeled and diced
a handful of the thin carrot straws that you can get in the produce department, minced
2/3 cup frozen chopped onion
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
~ 2 teaspoons salt
~ 1 teaspoon pepper
a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
about a pound of chicken tenders, seasoned and baked, then cooled and shredded
about 1 cup of frozen peas
about 1 cup of frozen corn
2 Pillsbury pie crusts, from the refrigerated section (two packages, or four total, this makes two pies)

First, last night, I seasoned and cooked my chicken.  I used garlic salt, pepper, a dash of olive oil, and about 1/4 cup of cider vinegar.  I almost always cook my chicken like this, it makes it very flavorful and moist.  I refrigerated it overnight, mostly due to time constraints.  Tonight I shredded it.  I cleaned, peeled, and diced two potatoes.  I could have used a third, but it ended up being very veggie heavy, so two was probably the right choice.  I used the pre-cut thin carrot sticks that you can buy to put on salads and minced them, because big chunks of carrot are not my thing.  I use this minced stuff for absolutely everything.  I get all the carrot flavor and none of the mushy texture.  I put the potatoes and carrots in a big pot (the one in the picture) to boil for about 10 minutes.  I couldn't get my stove to simmer, I just boiled, it worked fine.  While that was going on, I used my skillet to melt the butter and added the onions and garlic.  Frozen onions don't really "saute" per se, but I let the mixture simmer and reduce (the butter simmered just fine) for a few minutes while I putzed around the kitchen, draining the potatoes and carrots.  After about five minutes, I added the flour, salt, and pepper, and mixed it in thoroughly.  Very slowly, to maintain the thick consistency, I added the broth, stirring after each cup, and then the milk.  At this point, there was no way everything was going to fit into this skillet, and it was the largest one I had.  So I transferred my thickened mixture to the pot I'd done the potatoes in.  Perfect size!  I suppose I cooked the stuff for two minutes, boiling.  It definitely boiled, but it really started out thick, and I never let it lose that, so I wasn't overly concerned about the time.  (I'm a very precise cook, can't you tell?)  In the new pot, I added the frozen veggies.  I didn't measure, I just used about a handful and a half of each.  Then I added the potatoes and carrots, which had been sitting in the colander in my sink, and finally the chicken.  I ended up with the thick paste that you see above.  I divided it between two pie crusts.  I used deep dish pans because I like a thin pot pie, but you can use a regular size one, or even a casserole dish.  I baked one pie at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes, and refrigerated the other.  In the end, perfect gooey pot pie!

And it's festive.  I put some foil around the edges during baking, and am I glad I did!  They still browned nicely, and I left the foil on the whole time.  My only wish, after trying a piece, is that I'd used a little more salt and pepper and garlic.  Actually, garlic salt would have been a nice addition, too.  Don't tell her, but I actually like this version better than the one my stepmom made!
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13  Re: Autumn Fairy Queen in Halloween Costumes by Aislynn on: November 01, 2011 07:52:38 AM
Materials you need for cellophane fairy wings

Galvanized Steel Wire  (I use 14 gauge, other folks use 12 or 16; what you need is based to a small extent on size, but mostly on personal preference)

Wire Cutters


Work Gloves (these are optional; I don't use them, but you may want to)

Iron  (that you'd use with clothes; heat guns and heat embossers are also an option, if you have one or want to invest in one)

Newspaper/cheesecloth/towel  (Optional, I don't use it, but you may want to)

Floral Tape (this is found in the floral department of most craft stores and comes in many colors; other kinds of tape can be substituted--just keep in mind that it'll be visible!)

Craft Cellophane (look in the gift-wrap section of your craft or party stores, it's the sort of cellophane that you use for gift baskets)

Vinyl (this is optional, especially for sculpted frames; I highly recommend it for all wings, particularly open frames; gauge will depend on size and preference--I usually use the very thin kind and if I need to, I'll use two layers of it, thicker vinyl works just as well, though.  Experiment with small scale samples to see what you need and like.)  I buy this vinyl from fabric stores.  It's usually sold by the yard from long rolls, and may be labeled for or near tablecloth fabric.

Basting spray or white glue (optional, but recommended)

Hot glue gun (optional; depending on style)

Incense and holder (optional)


Ribbon or Elastic

Alright, let's get started.  Clear an area on the floor or a table that is the size of your wing frame, at least.  Draw a full scale pattern for your wires and lay it flat on your surface.  Using it as a guide, start bending your wires, doing them one at a time, taking your time.  Using pliers and patience, you can convince your wire to do many neat and unusual things, though it will prefer rounded shapes and curves.  Feel free to cut your wire to its rough length and get your major bends and curves in place first.  Then go back and smooth out your shapes and trim any ends you need.  Also, don't be afraid to change your design if you feel the need or want (the gauge of wire you use may alter the number of wires you use, or the size of wings you make).  If you need to, on your pattern trace each wire individually with a different color marker.  This will help clarify what shapes you need to make.  And above all, take your time!  Be patient, and if you get frustrated, walk away and come back in a bit.

This is half of my frame, finished, laying over my pattern, you can see that I tweaked some things.  (The little tiny spiral wires are just green floral wire.  I bent them and attached them with floral tape)

For this pair of wings, I actually twisted and shaped and connected the back center piece first, because I wanted it to all be intertwined.  Since I cover the wires with floral tape, this bit had to be done before I could do the rest of the wings.

After all of your wires are shaped the way you want them, start wrapping them with the floral tape.  This gives them a more grippy surface texture, makes them stronger, and helps keep them in place.  When you get to any ends, make sure the floral tape covers the pointy bits.

When you’re done wrapping, use the floral tape to connect the frame.  It seems really wimpy, but it’s actually all you need, and it creates a pretty solid join.

When you’re done, you should have a solid, complete frame, ready to cover.

To cover it, (I suck and forgot to take pictures of this stage, so I’m using some from a different pair, just ignore the green part in the middle), lay down a piece of cellophane that’s bigger than you want your finished wing.  Use the basting spray (workable fixative also works) lightly.  Lay down a piece of vinyl the same size as your cellophane.  Spray baste again.  Lay down your wing frame, and finish off with another piece of cellophane.  (If you’re using super thin vinyl, you can put another layer of vinyl before the last sheet of cellophane—make sure the cellophane is on the outside!)

Iron carefully!  I always just lay my iron, heated to a medium-low setting (meant for polyester) directly on the wing.  This is what creates the crinkly, insect-like look.  Make sure all the layers are thoroughly bonded.  Then trim away the excess cellophane and vinyl sandwich to your rough shape.

Once you’re at this point, trim in any points or scallops you want, then use a candle to lightly singe the edges.  This will help seal everything together.  You want to do this outside, or somewhere ventilated.

Once the edges are looking good, use the incense stick to poke holes through, if you want.  It can create a neat effect around the edges.

When you’re done, attach ribbon or elastic, and bend the wings out a little bit.  And you’re done!  Romp and prance like a fairy.

(Note, if the only thing connecting your two wings is a straight bar all the way across, they won't sit right on your back...you need to make an X shape, or a loop, or have two bars with a space between them.)

(Note 2, you may recognize some of this info and the last two pictures from the tutorial from Faerie Muse--I'm Faerie Muse!  I'm not stealing from anybody but myself...I've been meaning to put a version of the tutorial up on C-ster, and this seemed like a great time to do it!)
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14  Autumn Fairy Queen (with a tutorial!) in Halloween Costumes by Aislynn on: November 01, 2011 07:48:41 AM

(See the second post for a wings tutorial!)

This year I was on a super tight budget, so almost everything came out of my stash.  I used two yards of squidgy rayon knit for the long skirt.  I used a pencil skirt that fits perfectly as a pattern for the top half (I just laid the skirt down over the two layers of fabric and traced around the hips to about mid thigh length, adding a seam allowance) and just fanned out the bottom as wide as the fabric would let me.  Laid flat, the skirt looks a little bit like a mermaid fin, but with a perfectly rounded bottom.  The overskirt and the little sleeve ruffles are all made in a very similar fashion out of a dark synthetic chiffon.  First I cut circles (9” radius for the sleeve ruffles and I think an 18” radius for the skirt).  For the sleeves, in the center of my 9” circle, I cut a little 3” radius circle, and then cut the donut shape open.  It makes a perfect little circular ruffle.  I pleated the middle a couple of times, used a candle to lightly singe the exposed edges, and put double fold bias tape at the top.  For the skirt part, I did the exact same thing, except I offset the inside circle 6” to one side of the big circle, so that I could do the little high/low hem.  When I opened up the donut, I just tapered the corners off by eyeballing them.  There’s a tiny hook and eye on the bias tape to hold it closed.  Altogether, the two skirts and the little sleeve things maybe took three hours.  It was all really easy to do!  Absolutely everything for them came out of my stash.

The corset/bodice is the only piece that came from a pattern.  It used a yard of synthetic brocade, a yard of cotton duck for interlining, and a yard of brown cotton for lining.  It also used 2-1/4 yards of plastic boning.  I used McCalls 6343, and it was almost perfect!  I graded from a size 18 C cup in the bust and waist out to a size 22 at the hip, and it fits perfectly.  The only change I made was to omit the little lacing flaps.  I stitched the top and bottom seams the way the instructions said, but instead of trying to turn that whole monster, including the boning, through a 3” hole in the bottom seam, I left both sides open.  I shaved about ¼” off each side, and then used single fold bias tape to bind the edges.  I used 18 grommets, instead of 16, and just set them right into the edges of the corset itself.  These also came out of the stash, which is why they’re silver instead of gold.  This probably took about four or five hours, including all the cutting, pinning, sewing, and setting grommets.  The only other thing I did, after wearing it the first time, was remove the two pieces of boning in the side seams.  The plastic boning bent and dug into my sides painfully.  There are still four bones in it.

The crown was the first thing I made, because I got a wild hair to work with my hands one night.  This was my first time doing anything quite like this, and it took a bit of trial and error.  I just looked at some pictures for inspiration, and then winged it.  I spent $3 on the wire, on sale at Joann’s.  It probably took about two hours to make, while watching t.v.

I had the wire and the floral tape for the wings in my stash, and I knew pretty much what I was doing.  Normally, I’d bend all my wires, then wrap them in floral tape, then tape them all together.  This time, because the center loop that slips into the bodice is all intertwined, I did that part first, taped it, taped it all together, and then I figured out the wings.  I spazzed out no less than three times because of different glitches, but in the end, they work really well.  (One of those glitches included the finished wings being run over by a truck—it was windy Friday, and they got blown into the street!—but these pictures were taken after that, so you can see, there was practically no damage done, whew!)  I spent about $7 on vinyl and cellophane, and altogether, I probably spent about six hours making the wings.

Oh, and to boot, I used scraps from my cotton corset lining to do rag curls!

Final tally:

$10 + 16 hours + raiding the stash = one fairy, ready to fly

*I didn’t make the necklace or alter the shoes in any way, and the rose came from Ren Fest last year…everything else is 100% handmade.
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15  Quarterly Featured Projects! (April-June 2011) in MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS by Aislynn on: July 18, 2011 07:24:10 PM
We've had some great projects this quarter!  We have fantastic crafts from kittykill, fishstix43, shesxautomatic, Sphynxz, Phizzychick, and microjivvy.

kittykill's Reconned Luau basket with Tutorial and LOTS of pictures

fishstix43's My super scrap-bustin' rug!

shesxautomatic's heck yeah tomato pincushions!!

Family Guy HUGE Project (IMG Heavy)

Wee Little Fairy House

Phizzychick's Photo Album & Scrapbooking Folder

I hope you've enjoyed these Featured Projects and look forward to the next quarter! Smiley
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16  [April Fool's Day] CRAFTSTERLAND CLASS: Make Your Own Sewing Machine! in Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions by Aislynn on: April 01, 2011 10:50:08 AM
Class: Make Your Own Sewing Machine!
(for more info on Craftsterland in Craft Nebraska, check this out:  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=377142.0

Teacher: Aislynn

Location: Craftster Compound, Metal Shop and Computer Lab

Class Size: 42 students

Class Description:  Have you spent hours searching for that perfect sewing machine?  The one that does it all, comes with everything, and doesnt cost a fortune?  Well this class will teach you how to build your own!  Well be making a fully functioning electric machine with up to 120 built-in stitches that youll program yourself.  The class will take up to 12 hours, with two breaks for meals, to be provided by the Craftster Compounds cooking classes.  

Please be prepared to use light welding equipment.

Cost: $95 per person for the class cost plus $120 per person for materials. At the end of class, you may purchase the machine youve worked on for only $75!  Any machines not purchased then will be sold on Etsy and the profit will go to support Craftster.

What to Bring:
 A minimum of one gallon of coffee, prepared and sweetened to your personal taste.  We dont want anyone getting sleepy around the torches!
 A pack of universal needles.
 Scrap metal
 Duct tape
 Paper clips
 A motherboard, compatible with PC programming.
 A kitchen stand mixer, gently used is fine.  
 Protective Eye Gear (rhinestones encouraged!)
 Heavy Work Gloves elbow length

**Stay and for an extra $100 and six hours, equip your machine for machine embroidery!  You can use it in our Embroidery Class!

**Take your protective gear and any dinner scraps over to PixieVals Trash to Treasure class!

Picture courtesy of Sarah at The Delicious Life!  She'll be helping us out by lending us her spare torches.  Thanks bunches!
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17  Re: 50 projects in 2011 in Craftalongs by Aislynn on: March 27, 2011 05:04:06 PM
Finally got something new done!  These aren't the greatest photos of it, but this is Butterick 5496

I need to get a white tank top to wear underneath.  Those were taken with a black sleeveless sweater which added bulk and the wide straps look funny.  It's way cute in person, though!
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18  Tiger Eyes Lace Scarf in Knitting: Completed Projects by Aislynn on: February 05, 2011 01:00:56 AM
I finished this last week.

It took one skein of Naturally Caron Spa in Dark Driftwood and about ten days.  It was such an awesome pattern (free on Ravelry!) and it knit up so quickly.  I didn't use lifelines, and only had to un-knit a few times to catch mistakes.  The yarn was sort of a pain, but I used size 7 needles, and knit very loosely, which reduced the splitting a lot.  This was my first attempt at a decent sized lace pattern, and it was pretty easy to do.  Taking pictures of it was the hardest thing!  Oh, and the thing rolled up like crazy before I blocked it.  I blocked in this manner: I laid the scarf down stretched by hand into shape, on my ironing board wrong side up.  I covered it section by section with a wet washcloth, and then put my iron (set to "synthetic") over the cloth until it was only damp.  It sort of flattened the yarn a bit, but that only emphasized the pattern more, so yay!  Next time, though, I'd use wool and just block it in the traditional way.  This one was for a gift, and I wanted to make it as easy to care for as possible, while still being a little luxurious.  The Spa yarn splits like crazy, but man is it SOFT!

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19  Texas Ren Fest 2010 in Costumes: Completed Projects by Aislynn on: February 04, 2011 10:58:15 PM
...I'm only three months late!

These are the costumes I made for my friend and I to go to the Texas Ren Fest last November.  Hers is roughly 4 yards of the most PITA blue brocade with a gray cotton lining and some ridiculous number (~20?) of yards of lace, blessedly machine stitched.  I deconstructed a McCall's pattern which was intended to be all one dress and made a separate chemise, overdress, and tied on sleeve bits.

It took HOURS to stitch all that lace on, but it was well worth it.  Without it, the costume looked really bland.  It's far from perfect, the bottom edges of the split front skirt kept wanting to close, while the top had a pretty gap.  But it looked okay, and she said it was comfy.  It laced up both sides to allow for fitting.

Mine I'm super proud of!  It's fully reversible.  The bodice is a Butterick (I think...maybe McCall's?) that I cut all as one piece for the front, and two for the back (construction mishap, it should have been one and one), and I stole the little peplum/waist tab bit from another pattern.  I also omitted the back lacing (it had back and both sides) and just did the two sides.  Side lacing bodices are a pain in the tush to get into, and next time, I'll omit the sides and just have the back.  And probably put in an invisible zipper in the side.  (Shhh!)  Anyway, the bodice itself was less than a yard each of black twill and blue cotton/poly blend that was called "rodeo cotton" at Joann's.  It's stiffer than the twill, and has the smallest bit of sheen to it from the poly.  I hand-stitched the three lines of trim (velvet on the outsides, and braid in the center) and beads.

The underskirt is also reversible.  The orange is on one side and the red is on the other--it helped keep the lines of the hoop skirt, which I got off Ebay, from showing through.  It's just a gathered full skirt from a Simplicity pattern.  The chemises are also both from the same Simplicity pattern.  I really wish I had clearer pictures of both costumes, but we were intent on enjoying our weekend!

Oh, and in the future, I totally need to wear a corset.  I interlined that bodice with a layer of duck, on top of the cotton and twill, and there were STILL wrinkles.  I was trying to avoid anything with boning, but it looks like I'm going to have to suck it up.  Also, I need to re-do my friend's sleeve thingies, as they kept wanting to fall down all day.  Some interfacing ought to do the trick, no problem.
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20  Re: 50 projects in 2011 in Craftalongs by Aislynn on: February 04, 2011 07:28:24 PM
Oh that baby bear set is just too freaking cute for words!  It's adorable!

Here are my January FO's, and I promise to never post them by month again...

1. Muguets on Ravelry

Peaches 'n' Cream cotton, about half a skein.

2. Embossed Leaves on Ravelry

Peaches 'n' Cream cotton, annoyingly slightly more than a skein.

3. Vignes on Ravelry

Peaches 'n' Cream cotton, thankfully most of a skein.

4. Exfoliate! on Ravelry

Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton

5. Textured Rib scarf with Crochet edging on Ravelry

(I don't have a finished picture of this one, as I gave it away the instant it was blocked, but you get the idea!)
Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton, this and that dishcloth were both done with two skeins total.

6. Tiger Eyes Lace Scarf on Ravelry

Naturally Caron Spa, one skein.

I am so unbelievably proud of that last one.  It's the most complicated thing I've ever knit, and it came out beautifully.  Technically it's a January/February FO, as I finished and blocked it at the very end of the month.  Also, it's really hard to photograph a 6 foot long scarf.
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