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1  Another Coraline, but no other Other Mother in Halloween Costumes by Lothruin on: November 08, 2012 10:54:48 AM
So, I see that another person has already posted a Coraline costume, complete with Other Mother. That was my plan this year, but plans fall apart... My daughter wanted to be a specific look from Coraline, and wanted me to be the corresponding Other Mother look (which is actually by that time the Beldam, I think) but in the spring I had costume pieces to make for the Midwest Haunters Convention, in the summer, I had to make some costume pieces for the Lincoln ZombieFest, in addition to busting butt to help organize it, and in September and October, I made a commissioned piece for a friend's cosplay, in addition to training actors for and supervising in a haunted house. I ran out of time for Other Mother, and my poor kid had to be a lonely Coraline. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, though.

My 9 year old wears a ladies size small, and so I went with a unisex adult PJ pattern, and like the other Coraline-maker, wound up hand-stamping polka dots. (No surprise, note a huge availability on bright orange fabric with pink and white dots.) The PJs came out too big, as you can see, but they're cozy and she gets to play dressup when going to sleep, which she thinks is a lot of fun. She's a stickler for detail, which is why the PJs HAD to have the pink edging, and even though you can't see them under the vest, pale blue buttons. I already owned the quilted vest and the captain's hat, and Kit was very VERY disappointed that I didn't get the red messenger back and red sneaker-covers done. We tried dyeing her hair blue, but it just turned black, so we did end up having to get a blue wig, last minute, which didn't work amazingly well. And she's wearing her own freckles.

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2  Just a Girl Vampire in Halloween Costumes by Lothruin on: October 24, 2010 03:03:43 PM
When my daughter, who turns 8 next month, told me she wanted to be a "girl vampire" I was actually a little disappointed.  Last year she chose Princess Peach, and I never did learn from where the idea came.  How could she go from something as cool as Princess Peach to something as cliche as "girl vampire"?  Woe is me!  But, she isn't a little kid anymore, and that is what she wanted, so that is what we set out to make.  Wherever her idea of "girl vampire" originated, though, must have included pictures, because she was VERY specific about exactly what she wanted.  A black dress with poofy sleeves and red in the center, with a spiderweb on it, and a fake spider.  And a cape with a big collar, of course.

Last year we made Princess Peach out of costume satin, and I swore to the nine hells I would NEVER use that stuff again.  This year when we made our shopping trip to Joann's we headed first to the clearance section, where everything also happened to be 50% off the red-tag price.  And lo, there were roughly 6 yards of black ultrasuede for $3.50/yd.  Who can't find a use for ultrasuede?  Into the cart it went, and I knew I'd be using some of it for Kit's costume.  A bit of red lining material and some of the on-sale Halloween fabric that was sheer with black spiderwebs, some snaps, a spool of ribbon, another spool of black thread (I live in fear of running out of black thread, and actually buy a spool on every trip to the fabric store...) and the well-wishes of the gals at the cutting counter, and off we went for home.

I (*gasp*, I still can't believe I did this, and it WORKED) drafted the pattern for this dress myself.  I took some careful measurements of Kit, and then drew the bodice onto the suede side of the ultrasuede (the dress is made of the "wrong" side of the ultrasuede throughout), folded in half at the center point, then drew on 1/2" of seam allowance and cut it out.  The shape was roughly the same as a tank top I remember from an old issue of Crochet Today, that was made in one piece from back seam to back seam, with the straps sewn together at the top of the shoulder.  It is also fully lined.  I sewed the little red and black bits to the front and hid the raw edges with the ribbon trim, and then sewed the sleeves into the arm holes.  Kit requested that they "flutter" rather than be gathered at the elbow as I originally intended.  So be it.  The skirt is five wedge-shaped panels of ultrasuede, one with the lining/spiderweb sandwich, and then the whole thing is gathered to make it fit the bodice and have everything line up pretty.  Then instead of hemming, I did the ruffle around the bottom.

And holy crap, it worked.  It all worked, and it kept working, and then it worked some more.  I haven't made the cape yet. But that's easy.  Since the ultrasuede is 60" wide, I'm just going to make a circle half-cape with a big collar.  Simple.  I needed a break.

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3  Lolita Legs Fishnets in Knitting: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: June 27, 2010 08:17:00 PM
I got paired with PinkMafia for the Be Awesome Swap.  She lives in Hawaii.  I'm a knitter.  This presents a few difficulties.  I'm lucky enough to also know Pink a little more personally, so I have a pretty good idea of her personality.  I thought, perhaps, she'd be able to use a pair of Knitty's Lolita Legs.  The pattern calls for Elann Esprit, which I had in my stash in grey and pink, but I also had some Cascade Fixation in black, and I chose to go that direction.  It's a cotton/elastic blend, which is great for a warmer climate and a good fit when you're a few thousand miles away from your recipient, but it's also a bit of a trick to work with until you get used to controlling the tension.

I also have never been fond of the lace-up aspect of the Lolita Legs pattern.  The stitch pattern gives the fabric a tendency to twist, and frankly, it is quite flattering on the leg. In order to get the lace-up seam in back,you have to untwist it.  (And also, I'm just really not a fan of the LOOK of the lacing with the net.  On a solid stocking, yes maybe.)  I read up on a few blogs via Ravelry, where they dispensed with the lacing, and made a plan on how to go about it myself.  I knitted the pattern basically as written except that I embraced the spiral, so that by the time I got to the heel shaping, the spiraling of the stitch pattern had given the entire work a quarter turn.  Instead of my original "start point" being the middle-back of the heel, I shifted everything one needle over to give the spiral room to twist on the foot.  This came into play later in the leg as well.  I knitted again as written until I reached the place where the leg is split and knit back and forth.  Again, the work had twisted, and I adjusted the "back" of the work accordingly, and increased two stitches on either side of my new "back seam" mark.  (The pattern calls for yo k2tog, or yo ssk, depending on the row.  On the increase row, immediately before and after the "back" mark, worked two yo k1 instead, effectively creating four new stitches fairly seamlessly within the structure of the pattern.  They're fairly hard to see if you aren't looking for them.)  Then I knit in the original stitch pattern around until they were as long as I wanted them, added three rows of k1 p1 rib, a row of k2tog, yo eyelet, another three rows of k1 p1 and bound off VERY loosely.  (Actually, for these I bound off with a crochet hook about twice the diameter of the size 4 needles I used to knit them.  Worked very well to keep a loose even bind off.)  I hope those mods make sense.  If you have any questions or need clarification, just ask. Cheesy

These are hard to photograph in progress because they don't look like much when they aren't stretched out, and I didn't want to WEAR them before the recipient did.  (I am weird about gifts like that.)  So I was so happy to get these finished pictures from Pink when she received her swap package!

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4  Knitted Kilt Hose in Knitting: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: June 27, 2010 07:59:00 PM
I desperately wanted to knit a pair of kilt hose, and luckily, I have a number of kilt-wearing friends.  One of them is now the proud owner of a pair of hand-knit kilt hose. 

I searched Ravelry for appropriate patterns and sent them to him, then used his favorite.  They're made of Cascade 220 in a heathered grey wool.  The pattern calls for worsted on size 3's, and the cable twists are only 3 rows apart.  This is a DENSE fabric, with TIGHT twists.  The resulting hose are completely awesome, but they are a real pain in the... wrist... to knit!!

On his well-formed calves:

The back shaping:

Some in progress pictures where you can see stuff better.  (He obliged me by taking pictures of himself wearing the hose, but was, unfortunately, doing it alone with only a camera phone.  So you really can't see the detail well in the finished pics.)

And my favorite part... The magic toe!  This was my first pair of toe-up socks, and I am in love with the short row toe!

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5  Re: Be Awesome Swap Gallery! in The Swap Gallery by Lothruin on: June 26, 2010 04:41:42 PM
And now, without further ado, PinkMafia sent me a little (gorgeous!) hat and matching bustle!  They're beautiful and completely AWESOME!  (Is there an Awesome Swap drinking game?  There should be!)  I went ahead and used the opportunity to get all dressed up for pictures, and gave my hubby an opportunity to add more pics to his growing portfolio, too, which made us both quite happy!  But I'll limit my post to the two pics that show the items best. Cheesy  (You all don't really need to see me being melodramatic!)

The bustle looks completely hot with my black corset and crinoline, as you can see!  I'm in love!

And a closer-up of the hat, in all it's coquettish glory!

Thank you SO much, Pink!!
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6  Butterick 5022 Girl's Dress in Clothing for Kids: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: June 16, 2010 07:08:18 PM
I promised my daughter I'd make her 1st day of school dress again this year.  (And yes, it's been all school year since I made it, but I am only now posting it.  Don't judge me.  lol )  After a trip to the fabric store with Kit in tow to pick out fabric and pattern, a few hours of sewing, some frustrating adjustments, and a ridiculously pleased mommy, we arrived at this:

Kit chose the fabrics, and they're really pretty great.  Guitars AND GREEN, it was perfect.  In this pattern, the bodice is lined in front, but the straps and skirt are not.  I lined my straps because I thought it looked a lot nicer.  There is no elastic on the back of the dress in the pattern, but I just ran a piece across the back a bit to pull it in and make it fit better for longer.  So I could make the size she was growing into and she'd get to wear at at the beginning and end of one school year... two summers.  

The pattern is VERY simple, and includes dress-length and shirt-length shirts, plus shorts and capris.  I haven't tried the pants yet, but I think they'll be fun, and I actually bought the pattern in the other, larger sizes as well, because I liked it so much.  I'm basically a novice seamstress.  I've been sewing a LONG time, but not a LOT of things. lol  I think sat down to make my sister barbie clothes for christmas the year I was 7, but have never really done much at all.  I've packed about 2 years worth of sewing into 25.  Anyway, though, this pattern was totally doable for my limited skills, it finishes very nicely all on it's own, and I think it looks great. Cheesy
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7  Past Their Prime Apples in Recipes and Cooking Tips by Lothruin on: May 16, 2010 08:51:52 PM
Exercises in using materials on hand

Old apples.

Everyone has, at some point, thrown out that last apple or two because the blush of youth departed before the apples were eaten. When we eat apples, we like them to be cold and crisp. Or at the very least, crisp. I dont know anyone who prefers their apples over-ripe and slightly mushy. So we buy our bags or baskets or other containers full of apples, and we bake with them, or we eat them with cheese slices, or we send them to school with the kids, but before we quite manage to get through all of them, theyve gone soft, and most of us probably throw the last one or two away. I know Ive done so, myself, thinking, Ew, its going bad.

The problem is, most recipes for cooking with apples require quite a few.  Pies:  8 or so.  Tarts:  4-ish.  Crisps only require 2 or so, but then, crisps, like all the others, also usually call for a tart or cooking apple, and not only that, but they're a little work.  So what if you have a single or a pair of sweet or semi-sweet apples left, and no real time for baking?  It's certainly easiest to just throw them out, but that's a darn shame!  If you have a well-stocked spice rack, there's a VERY easy way to use your slightly aged apples.

Applesauce!  Although you can make applesauce in large quantities and can it, it also keeps, well sealed, in the fridge for a good couple of weeks, and is also delicious hot off the stovetop, with ice cream and/or caramel.  The most basic recipe uses apples and sugar.  You can fancy it up however you want, including lemon juice, orange juice or other liquid, salt, spices (think apple pie spices for a traditional flavor).

My applesauce (almost entirely approximate times and measurements... it's really just "to taste", but the measurements are close, and most of the times were for "a while" but the given times are also probably close):

3 Gala apples, otherwise destined for the apple old-folks home (i.e. the trash can)
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon each salt, cinnamon and fresh-ground black pepper
pinches each of ginger and nutmeg
1/4 cup each of brown sugar and raisins

Core the apples and slice them into chunks.  Throw them in a pot over medium heat, melt in the butter and lemon juice, stir until coated and cook for 5 minutes.  Turn the heat down to 2 or so, add all the other ingredients, stir well and cook for about half an hour.  Remove from heat and mash well with a potato masher.  The type of masher I have basically left the raisins alone, and mushed the apples well, but that does leave apple peel strips in the applesauce.  If you don't want whole peel slices or raisins in your sauce, you can peel the apples before cooking them and remove the raisins from the recipe, or you can use a blender or food processor instead of the potato masher.  I like the texture, myself.  (There's something yummy about cooked apple peel.)  You can also leave the apples in chunks, but frankly, when you're using older apples, they don't cook up firm like a younger one would.  Mashing is probably a good idea.

The yield is a smallish amount of applesauce.  It'd be perfect to serve to maybe four people for dessert, hot, with ice cream, whipped cream, shredded cheddar or sweet tortilla chips.  I put mine in the fridge and will dole it out to the child for lunches and snacks.  She declared, after sampling, "That is GREAT, mom.  Good job!"  And yes, I use black pepper in my apple sauce.  I also put ground black pepper in tea.  It's a sort of chai flavor, and it goes really well with the rest of the seasonings I used.  Other seasonings you might use in addition or instead are allspice, clove, cardamom, etc.  You could use pears instead of apples, dried cranberries, currants or figs in place of raisins.  The butter makes it rich.  I like the butter.  You can take it out if you think its weird.  Use water, or more lemon juice, or a sweeter citrus like orange juice, instead.  Do it how you like it, man.

Basically, it's simple because it's a stove-top recipe that requires no pastry or crust.  You use what you have on hand.  As long as it goes together taste-wise, it'll be fine.  Throw it in the pot, cook it and voila.
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8  Using Materials - Wattle Fencling in Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects by Lothruin on: May 16, 2010 08:20:42 PM
Exercises in using materials on hand - Part One

Wattle Fencling

That's right.  Fencling.  It's just a little fence.

A few weeks ago, before the trees budded out, I trimmed all the saplings along the south fence line.  I was left with a rather large (and somewhat shameful) brush pile.  (Yes, it had been a while since I'd properly cared for the fence line.)

The saplings in question are mostly white ash.  They were, in some cases, quite large.  Small trees, really.  It's just to save face that I call them saplings at all.  I sawed them down by hand, and the following day, I was so sick of sawing that I opted to complete another project rather than finish the fence line.  (It did get done, though, two weeks later.)

The distraction was to create a little flower bed around my mailbox.  In addition to copious amounts of white ash "sapling", the south fence also had a ridiculous heap of day lilies in need of dividing, and I thought a totally reasonable heap of day lilies by the mailbox would be lovely.  So I set about turning the earth around the mailbox, and trying to think of what kind of little edging I wanted.  And I was pestered by the thought of throwing away all the saplings in the brush pile, because I thought surely they could be used for something.  Dig, dig, wonder, worry, dig...

Ta Da!  Wattle Fencling!

Now, wattle fence is not uncommon, although it usually uses willow, hazel or, if I'm not mistaken, grape vine for more decorative, less functional fences...  And some of it is really quite stunning.  It's also, in it's simplest form, very, very easy.  I took some of the heavier pieces (1" in diameter or so) and cut poles of them, then pounded those into the ground at the edges of my bed, marking out the sides and corners.  Then I sorted out saplings and branches that were smaller and fairly ductile, and a few inches longer than a side.  Starting on one side, then doing the opposite, then the other two sides, rather like building with Lincoln Logs, I added "rows" of woven branches.  Each "row" is two branches, one woven out-in-out-in-out, and the other woven in-out-in-out-in.  I built it up about 7 rows high.  

In the pic, I haven't added lilies yet, nor have I bound off the tops of each corner post to help stabilize the whole mess, but that having been done, it's really quite a solid little fencling.  The upright poles are as deep in the ground as they are tall above it (or in other words, half of each pole is buried).  Now that it's full of green, it looks really especially nice.  This is probably a little more "country" than I usually prefer, as far as my personal style is concerned, but well, using materials I have on hand rather than throwing them away, making things on my own, and getting something slick into the bargain... that definitely IS my style!
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9  Princess Peach Costume - Satan's Satin Strikes Again in Halloween Costumes by Lothruin on: October 30, 2009 08:27:28 PM
This year my daughter requested a Princess Peach costume.

For those unfamiliar with Peach, formerly known as Princess Toadstool in the US, she is the heroine of the Mario Brothers games for Nintendo.  Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Peach

And my version:

I'm working on a budget, of course, like most parents, and we aren't cosplayers, so I wasn't TERRIBLY concerned about accuracy, so much as about cost, skill required and recognizability, as well as practicality in a cold-climate near-winter.  I used the cheap costume satin, and I must say, I will never, never do that again.  Kit came to me with her idea rather late to the party this year, or I surely would have been able to find some much nicer fabric, at a much better price, in the form of an old dress from the Goodwill, and that would probably have made things easier.  As it was, I created a very simple gathered skirt with a ruffle, a separate piece for the flounce, and the top is basically just a rectangle with all the edges finished, a slit up the back and sleeves and collar attached.  The sides are open, but held closed with bits of elastic for ease of movement.  There is not a raw edge to be found, or else the thing would be in pieces already, and she only wore it to trick-or-treat at the Zoo.  The jewel, which I know is often a tough problem to solve for this particular character, was made using the liquid gold type lame fabric.  I made a small round pillow of it, stuffed semi-firm and hand-stitched it to the top.  I painted a domed brass button with some turquoise nail polish I have, then put a layer of clear nail gloss over it, and sewed the button into the center of the pillow so that it plumped the gold up around it.  It turned out not half bad, although duplicating it on an adult-sized costume would be tough, if only because finding buttons that big can be a challenge.

Instead of elbow-length gloves, she's wearing a white thermal top and some lace gloves she has for dress-up.  The crown is not at all Peach-like, but it was close enough for Kit.  I think she rocks the wig, although I also know the triangular bangs are Peach's trademark look.  Again, we aren't picky.  Kit adored wearing the wig, so that's a plus.

While I was making this costume (tearing my hair out and swearing quietly all the while), my daughter solemnly informed me that she was very lucky to have a mom like me, because most of her friends had to pick costumes from the store, but she got to be whatever she wanted for Halloween.  And when she tried it on for the first time, I heard her exclaim from in front of the mirror, "Oh.my.gosh, this is AWEsome!"  So, the torment of working with this fabric was totally worth it.
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10  Re: We Love our Blythes and Pullips Swap Round 7 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by Lothruin on: July 22, 2009 12:18:51 PM
Since my partner is having trouble with her internet connection, I'll post some pics on her behalf.  She did send me a couple of pics with her Blackberry, and I went ahead and loaded those to my Flickr, so here they are:

The hat, sweater and dungarees, plus the lamb.

And here's the T-shirt:

Her package included: A knitted sweater with seed-bead buttons, that can be worn as a pull-over with the buttons in back, or opened or closed cardigan with the buttons in front.  A T-shirt, a pair of dungarees and a knitted tam.  Approx 2 oz of mohair locks for future re-root plans.  A Lucy Lamb Dreampets reproduction toy to be friends with her girl.

Some of these items (the tam, for which there will soon be a pattern available, the sweater and the dungarees) also appear in my Blythe-customization thread here:

I have not been home for the past two nights, but will be tonight, so I'll be able to get pics of the stuff I got in return, and I'll post then. Cheesy
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