Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spooky Ghost Costume Tutorial

Hi all! It's been awhile but I wanted to pop in and share a quick Halloween tutorial with you. Are you ready for Halloween? We haven't even purchased a pumpkin yet, though I can say that we have bought the Halloween candy and I have already broken into it! Bad job me. We live on quite a busy road and only got a handful of tricker treaters last year so I don't feel too bad eating some of the candy prior to the big day :)

This year, my four-year-old nephew decided he would like to be a ghost for Halloween- a scary ghost! My sister-in-law asked if I would sew him a costume and I was honored to be able to participate! I know you hear ghost costume and think, you just need to cut eye holes in a sheet, right? Sure, that works- but I wanted to make him something that would fit more like clothing and not get in the way/slow him down while he was out scoring boatloads of candy (to hopefully share with his aunt later)! I found this costume online and used it as my inspiration for the costume design:

 I wanted to do the costume as two separate pieces: a mask and a gown. I got my nephew's basic measurements (~3.5 feet tall, 20 inch head circumference), then set out to JoAnn's to hunt for fabric.  I knew I wanted some sort of knit so that the costume would be stretchy and easy to fit to him. I found a cool shiny white knit fabric but as soon as you stretched it, the fabric looked distorted and cheap. I settled on a basic white stretch knit cotton and purchased two yards. I then grabbed a 1/2 yard of some AWESOME black mesh fabric that had silver spider webs painted on it (similar to this) to line the mask with.

Next, I set out to make the mask. I first made a prototype that might have fit an infant and then made one that would actually fit my nephew! Before making the mask, I allocated half of the fabric for the gown. To do this, I just folded one corner of the fabric to make a square (one yard squared). This is where I should show you a picture, but I didn't take one so enjoy my awesome powerpoint diagrams instead.

[ 2 yards of stretch knit fabric ]

I folded my fabric along the dotted line and then cut out the giant square (36x36 inches). Because my nephew is only 32.5" from his shoulders to his toes, I knew this would be plenty of fabric. You will need to adjust this accordingly based on how tall the person is that you are making the costume for.

[ fabric after I folded one square yard]

[ after cutting the gown (purple), you are left with another yard to make the mask (blue) ]

To construct the mask, I folded over a large corner of my remaining fabric. 
[ Fold over a large portion of the remaining fabric to make the mask ]
My nephew's head has a circumference of 20 inches. I found a large frying pan in our kitchen that had a 12" circumference (room for seam allowance) and used my washable marker to trace a circle:

[ tracing a circle for the mask ]
I did not trace a complete circle, but rather left it open at the bottom so that I could add some fringes/points.  I also pinned the fabric into place so it wouldn't shift around too much.

[ after tracing the circle, I added fringes/points to the bottom of the mask ]

Next, I traced a face onto the front of the mask. I used a silicone cupcake mold to make oval spooky eyes. I free-handed the nose and mouth. 

[ tracing the face onto the mask ]

After tracing the face onto the mask,  I cut out the mask around the outer line I had drawn and then cut out the facial features.

[ Cutting out the mask and face features ]

I waited to cut out the points on the bottom of the mask until after I pieced the front and back pieces together. After cutting out the facial features, I wanted to avoid raw edges around the eyes and mouth so I folded the fabric from the right side to the wrong side of the mask and tacked down the edges using a scant 1/4" seam.  Because the nose hole was so tiny, I didn't bother finishing the edges.

[ tacking back the raw edges of the eyes and mouth ]

After finishing the edges around the eyes and mouth of the mask front, I backed it with the awesome shiny spider web mesh fabric. I pinned the mask front to a piece of the black mesh fabric of similar size/shape. The mesh fabric frayed and left tinsel like pieces everywhere when cut so I knew I wanted the edges of it far away from my nephew's eyes/mouth!

[ mesh pinned to mask front ]

I then top-stitched around the eyes and mouth, following my original seamline from finishing the edges so that the mesh was nicely attached to the mask front. 

[ top stitching around the eyes and mouth ]

After top-stitching the mesh to the mask front, I then stitched the mask front to the mask back, sewing about three-quarters of the way around the circle, leaving the bottom open so that it could be slipped on. I also then cut the points/fringes at the bottom.

[ mask after being pieced together ]

At this point, I tried the mask on myself. And, while it fit, it was tight and I was worried it would be hard to adjust to my nephew's smaller head to ensure he could both see and breathe out of it. My brilliant husband suggested I cut a slit up the back of the mask. This made it so that two of the fringes/points on the back could be used as ties to fit the mask to anyone who wanted to wear it.

Next, I made the gown portion of the costume. I wish I had taken pictures of this part, but sadly, I did not. So again, I resort to my powerpoint illustrations. After folding my square yard for the gown into a triangle, I trimmed the height and wingspan to ensure it would fit my nephew and not drag on the ground and allow his hands to effectively grab candy. I then traced a half circle centered at the top of the gown to make a neck hole. I cut around this hole and finished the edge off with a 1/4" seam (white dotted line at top of gown). I then added 'sleeves' by sewing a straight line a few inches below the top of the gown for about 12" on the left and right sides so that the gown wouldn't spin while he was wearing it (solid yellow lines on the diagram below).
[ gown construction ]

After adding sleeves, I cut out fringes/points along the bottom sides of the gown. At some point during the sleeve-sewing, my gown got a little wonky/asymmetric but I wasn't too concerned- I think it made the ghost edgier (or so I am telling myself). 

[ ghost costume ]

My nephew came by tonight to try on his costume for the first time and to my delight, he loved it and it fit! He had a blast sneaking up on various family members to make spooky noises and scare them! He insisted on wearing it multiple times while we were gathered for dinner, which gave me great joy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Future Projects Friday: Microwave Heating Pads

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! It's Friday! And it's also flu season- eeek! What a downer right? Get your flu shots if you haven't yet. One way you can be prepared for fall colds is to make one of these nifty heating pads. Have you seen these on Pinterest? They are usually filled with rice or lentils and can be kept in the freezer and used for headaches or heated briefly in the microwave to ease aches and pains.

1. Microwavable rice heating pad from Sew4Home:

[ photo credit: sew4home ]

How adorable are these heating pads? I love the rick rack on the edges. Once again- I have actually made this specific project already! This tutorial is very easy to follow and great for beginner sewers. I used lentils in lieu of rice, flannel on one side and fleece on the other side and it worked great. One note- get someone to help you pour the lentils into the heating pad-Otherwise they might end up all over your lap and the floor-not that I am speaking from experience or anything... I need to make another one of these for myself as my mom now has the first one I made : )

2. Shoulder heating pad from Crafty Endeavor:

[ photo credit: Crafty Endeavor ]

I seriously need to make this! I have developed terrible posture from too much time on the computer at work and my shoulders always ache at the end of the day.  I really need to get some lavender to throw in the next time I make something like this so that you get a bit of aroma therapy at the same time. 

3. Heating pad from Elm Street Life:

[ photo credit: Elm Street Life ]

I love the tutorials from Elm Street Life. I featured an awesome wristlet with bow accent on last week's Future Projects Friday from Elm Street Life. I love her suggestion to put the heating pad in the freezer for use on headaches.  I can imagine the smell of lavender and the coolness and weight of the heating pad out of the freezer feels quite good on a headache. 

Happy Sewing!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dressing up a dish towel

 This project came about after my favorite activity- trolling Pinterest for ideas!!! I have seen several iterations of quilts using appliques of circles such as those seen here, here and here. And I had the perfect occasion to do this for- our awesome friends and previous neighbors from Nashville have moved into the triangle! WOOHOOO! We got to visit them at their amazing new place and I wanted to bring something house-warming-esque. I thought I would combine circle appliques with one of the dishtowels I purchased a few weeks ago from Target.

I improvised this a bit, basing it loosely on this tutorial from the Poppyprints blog. To make circles for applique, you need some fabric scraps, fusible non-woven interfacing, scissors and your sewing machine.
[ fusible non-woven interfacing ]

I picked three fabrics with- you guessed it- polka dots! I then traced a circle on the wrong side of each fabric using my disappearing ink fabric marker. I used circles that had a diameter of approximately 3 inches. To get a circle that size, I traced the lid of a tiny jam jar : )
[ tracing circles! ]

[ blue line showing what I traced ]

After tracing the circle, I made a sandwich of the polka dot fabric and the interfacing with right sides together (for the interfacing, I am calling the 'right' side the side with the bumps on it). Then, using a size 2 stitch, I very.very.slowly stitched around each circle. In order to make sure the fabrics don't shift, I made about 4 to 5 stitches, then left the needle in the fabric, lifted the presser foot and slightly pivoted the fabric. 
[ high school sewing flashbacks- sewing on the lines! ]

After sewing around the circle, I trimmed the fabric down to ~1/4 inch. I wasn't very precise about this- I just sort of eye-balled it. Then, I cut small notches into the seam so that the circle would lay smooth. 

[ trimmed and notched! ]

After you have sewn the circle and trimmed and notched, you need to flip it right-side out. To do this, I made sure to isolate only the interfacing, cut a small slit in it and then extended that to create a vertical line from seam to seam along the diameter.

[ interfacing separated from cotton layer ]

[ cutting the interfacing ]

[ after the cut, flipped right-sides out ]

After cutting the interfacing, you can flip the circle so that the right sides are out. Make sure to run your finger along the inside to push the seams fully out. 

[ completed circle ]
Once you have your desired amount of circles (I chose 3), you need to attach them to the dish towel. Because I overlapped the 3 circles, I started by ironing the bottom-most (is that a word??) circle to the towel. I followed the interfacing instructions for adhering it to the towel (medium high heat and some steam). It was so nice to have the circle already tacked down before sewing- no pins necessary!
Then, I used a stitch similar to a blanket stitch to sew the circle to the towel.
[ Stitch I used, straight from the Bernina sewing manual ]

[ modified blanket stitch ]

[ circle fun! ]

I consulted this video tutorial before trying this stitch for the first time!The goal is to keep the 'straight' stitches on the towel and then use the angled stitches to tack the circle to the towel. I used the same approach as when sewing the interfacing and cotton together- slow and steady. After every angled stitch (which was 4 stitches), I pivoted the fabric. I then added the second circle, overlapping with the first circle, and then slightly overlapping with that middle circle, I added the last circle.

To finish it, I wrapped up a bottle of wine in the newly dressed up dish towel and took it over to our friends to celebrate their arrival!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Future Projects Friday: Small Clutches

Kids, you have done it again- you have made it to Friday! TGIF, am.i.right?!? Today, I wanted to build off of last week's link round-up on purse tutorials to show you some amazing tutorials for making zippered clutches or wristlets, the bite-sized sisters of the purse. I love clutches and wristlets- when you just need a place to store your credit card, license and phone to run out somewhere, they are the perfect accessory.

1. Bow Clutch from Elm Street Life:

[ photo credit: Elm Street Life ]

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this tutorial. I have made at least five of these clutches and given them all as gifts. Had I seen this tutorial when I was making gifts for my bridesmaids three years ago, I would have made this. The clutch is just large enough to hold your cell phone, keys and some money- perfect for a night out on the town.

[ clutch that I made for my sister ]

[ my lovely friend and science sister Jess, modeling her b-day clutch. You can find Jess here ]

 [ clutch in construction ]

For the fabric selection for this clutch, I would advise that you pick a nice, sturdy fabric for the outer fabric and use something with minimal print. As you can see in my first example above, while I love the clutch I made for my sister, the bold print that I chose distracts from the sweet bow on the clutch. Using a more subdued fabric allows the bow to 'pop' on the front of the clutch.

2. Pleated Pouch from A Lemon Squeezy Home:

[ photo credit: A Lemon Squeezy Home ]

I am in love with the design and fabric choice of this little zip clutch. Sometimes, for me, the fabric makes or breaks the piece. The fabric chosen for this clutch is lovely, modern and in my favorite color scheme of gray and yellow-what's not to like? This tutorial includes pattern pieces (YAY!) and a very detailed step-by-step on how to assemble it. This would make a lovely gift for someone, maybe stuffed with lip gloss, nail polish etc.

3. Another take on a Pleated Pouch from Needle and Spatula:

[ photo credit: Needle and Spatula ]
There are many flavors of pleated pouches.. Here is another take on pleats, this time vertical.  This isn't quite as large as the other clutches in this post, but would still be a fun thing to have. In this tutorial, she includes a different and easier way to put in a zipper.

4. Mini Clutch from Our Busy Little Bunch:

[ photo credit: Our Busy Little Bunch ]
These little mini clutches are adorable. They look like they are quite sturdy as the tutorial calls for both lining and batting, which appear to give it extra structure. I love the idea of the elastic loop and button closure- I could spend hours in the button aisle at JoAnn's. I have a tupperware container of buttons waiting for a home in my sewing room right now.

Have a great weekend and happy sewing!