If you have any questions as to how I made something, or where I found something – ask away! Remember anything you ask benefits those who come searching for tutorials.
Last year I believe I created about a dozen pieces for people not related to me – and my children didn’t mind the modest assemblies they received as a result. This year I staved off favors and clients, sewing about six pieces. I wanted to give the kids exactly what they wanted, and to go all out.
So, that happened.
And without further ado:
10 Things I Learned This Halloween Sewing Season
(individual notes on costumes in the Flickr tagset)
1. Sequin fabrics. Unbelievably beautiful, and wonderful to work with. After you’ve spent countless hours painstakingly removing, one sequin at a time, every sequin in your seam allowances. *whimper*
2. Easy “scales” makeup for mermaids, or reptilian what-nots – place a bit of fishnet or tulle over the skin to be made up, and carefully blot a little bit. Nels’ little scales (above) took about thirty seconds and I really adored them.
2. You can dye a synthetic wig with off-the-shelf hair dye. Phoenix’s friend Allison (above left) is sporting a thrift store wig that her mama dyed. It turned out fabulous! Phoenix’s wig was purchased as-is from Arda Wigs – and then augmented with a little black hairspray. Colored hairspray, in general, needs to be purchased in large quantities to make a serious dent on hair color.
3. For the bride: mixing dead colors: grey, ivory, pale green and pale grey-lavender – was a total blast! I look forward to making another layered, many-color piece again!
4. Tearing and tying one hundred billion strips to the waistline of the wedding gown: worth it. Looks great! I tore along the grain of the fabric which drastically reduces thread coming loose when you launder the costume – which, believe it or not, is machine-washable!
5. Benefits of a dead/corpse/zombie/apocalyptic etc. costume: no need to wash, set and style a wig. Just throw it on!
6. My costumes are adored not only for their looks but for their wearability. I line and underline them which is why they last through many children. Nels wore his to school and spent our cemetery photoshoot mushroom hunting (there were a billion kinds of mushrooms out!). A garment fully-lined in satin feels wonderful to wear. And of course – I included pockets because that seems like such a lovely and humane feature to give children.
7. Dragon wings: two half-circles of crumpled taffeta, and two of regular taffeta. Each pair sewn right-sides together, then turned right-side out and topstitched. Attached from sleeve hem to hip in one straight line. Simple, sweet, and comfortable to wear.
8. Bodysuit from mesh fabric, so one can eschew body makeup for that grey corpse-like look: perfect. And surprisingly quick to make. Spandex World for the mesh – using their sample swatch service for the color.
9. Newspaper roses, spraypainted very carefully: yes. They look as pretty as I thought they might. They are actually rather time-consuming, so be warned.
10. Crafting as a family affair is wonderful. The clients pictured above all helped with their costumes – and my children did their part doing extra chores so I could work on their pieces. And they thanked me about a hundred times. It’s nice to satisfy!
It is getting seriously Halloween up in this here
(more pictures of the jacket after the cut) -
or follow my sewing links on Facebook
Seriously: these little ghoulish dolls (made by a friend; bought as gifts) are excellent). Like:
They are slaying me!
I’ve been making stuff for myself, too. Some tights:
My ladyfriend B. sent us a care package – including some Cotton + Steel fat quarters. DROOOLLness:
Remember this skeleton thread holder my daughter drew a while back? He’s back on duty – holding my hair products.
Herbet Pocket is being very witchy:Read More
Ralph was out of town all weekend. I was so busy it is amazing I didn’t fall ill, or forget to feed some animal and child and find them a skeleton sporting a tuft of fur by week’s-end.
Friday I delivered a sasquatch costume to an Events concern that needed one for a handful of festivities during the year. So far a picture or two has popped up on Facebook, and everyone looks like they’re having a good time – including the first paid person to don the piece. Included with the costume: a few types of black makeup, and a few types of false teeth.
I know, I know. It would have been nice to get more of my trademark detailed pictures of the piece. Well, it was a miracle – in the entire pedestrian usage of the word – I got photos at all. It was quite a rush job.
For the front closure: hidden snaps in a black canvas underlap. A great technique I’ll be using for more costumes!
Toes: sewn and glued to fur spats – a nice, long foot that can be worn out in weather. I even painted little purplish moons on the nails. Who is going to look this close? Well the point is – I do.
So that? Was my last week. Grateful to have the project finished according to my timeline.
Saturday I hadn’t recuperated before hustling my eldest to her soccer game adjacent to a mushroom farm in Olympia (the game ended a 2-2 tie). Came home and worked a bit on my vampire film project. I am getting into Halloween the way my rabbit is into eating slightly overripe bananas!
In the last two days I’ve had an audition, yoga classes, and two volunteer bits – as well as cooking for family and friends and a movie night.
An audition? Oh yes. Today I landed a part in the ensemble cast of a local production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Kind of a lifetime dream as I have adored the rock opera since I was a little girl – and I was really, really into it as a teen. (Ralph will still put it on when I’m sewing, and having trouble.)
So yeah. This next week? A little respite might be nice.
I recently had the honor and privilege of making a friend’s vision come to life: M., who had saved up two large wool blankets for over twenty years, in hopes of one day having them made into a drover’s coat. M. and I exchanged some FB messages, I emailed him a quote, and he delivered me many pounds of heavy wool blanket. With some trepidation I cut into this vintage fabric to begin construction!
Thursday I grabbed a few pictures of the finished product (modeled by husband who is an inch shorter than client in arm and total height):
M. had several visions for the coat: he wanted the end fringe of the blankets to be used as much as possible at hem, sleeve hem, pocket, pocket flap, and cape. Now is the time for me to point out that the two blankets were different – you can really see this at the stripe near the knee. I am super-proud to say that with careful planning I made an entirely balanced coat – in other words the left side utilizes one blanket for the body, and the other blanket for patch, pocket detail, etc. – and vice versa. I also managed to wrap the wool fringe to curve around the cape such that it looks like it was woven there – and to place another stripe at the shoulder on the cape!
M. wanted antler tips for closures. I got to fiddle/figure out how to use those without the typical toggle closure, which M. didn’t care for. My solution was a bound buttonhole – time intensive, but really a solid, rustic choice. The wool was so very thick I chose to use the selvedge/woven edges for the lips of the (pseudo-) bound buttonhole, thus reducing bulk significantly. Finally – I found tips that were cut in half lengthwise so could be worn very flush to the coat front:
The collar and collar tab, sleeve tabs, and cape are all lined in a cotton the same color as the shell wool.
One of my favorite details: the cape and collar. The cape is fabulous: it looks like it is sewn to the coat, and it fits perfectly snugly with underarm straps for security. But the wearer can easily unfasten the cape if they don’t want to wear it:
I can’t express how wonderful it is to work with someone on their design – if their design is cohesive, and M.’s really was. I sew up other people’s designs rarely – because I like to make my own. However in M.’s case he had such a definite sense of what he wanted and I instantly grasped how handsome a garment it would make. Although the coat was a technical challenge – the wool in the blankets had warped, and had several very well-done repairs in thread – I learned a great deal while working on it.
The best part? I hand-delivered him the coat last night and he lit right up. “I am completely satisfied!” – a direct quote! And the garment suited him very well. It gives me great pleasure to make someone something they want – or have wanted, for years!
Second coat: one for my husband. This, part of my thirteenth anniversary gift for him, was constructed without him ever being aware I was making it (total score!). Waxed canvas, and lined with a matching grey liner with a semi-coarse, lovely finish. The effect is that of a rain slicker – except more breathable, and with a beautiful patina and long-lasting wear:
Grey-green shot cotton binding at neckline. Waxed canvas – such a beautiful finish – and, now that I’m used to it, a pleasure to sew (this coat was the first I’d made in this fabric; Nels’ was the second, and things went better there):
Top-stitching: about as near perfect as you can get (using single-needle tailoring):
Cuff tab – a triple-stitch for a heavier stitching line. Antique brass snaps I set myself. Kind of fun, actually!
The coat was constructed using Green Pepper’s Frenchglen (adding length to arm and hem as per Ralph’s usual adjustment); the pattern featured a side pocket embedded in the zippered patch pocket:
And a very special zipper pull tab – in a “bean” shape. I found one tab at Quilt Harbor in Aberdeen and knew I had to have it. But I couldn’t find another – not even online! A few weeks ago I ran across the second tab in Lady Lynn’s for $1.75! I was beyond excited. Because I am a huge nerd.
Ralph, who stands this way – his arms don’t rest at his sides. I discovered this about him a few garments ago and I may or may not call his posture, “Ape Arms”.
Something tells me I am just ramping up the coat and jacket sewing for the fall! Having all that heavy wool in my house during the hottest days of the year was… fun. “Fun”, she says, using “air dick quotes”. Next up: a brief snatch of air sewing an easy flannel car coat for my child – before diving into Halloween sewing, which ramped up so fast I was required to close orders before I could even update my Etsy shop or my website! Good lord.
Nels, male model. Adorable times One Hundred! You know. I made all the clothes pictured: the Finn hat, the Flyer Jacket, the skinny wool trousers (Banyan by Figgy’s), and the hooded pearl-snap shirt. AW YEAH. Hell I (arguably) even made the child. Yeah. Yeah I’m pretty awesome.
OK, so down to brass tacks: I have two new garments to show you, and two patterns to discuss. Across the internetz many (mostly)lady-bloggers are sewing up a batch of boy patterns. They are all PDF indie designs, have a wonderful size range of 3 months to sizze 16, and they are all featured on sale this week. I was honored to be asked to participate. August 26th I will be submitting my second entry. If you like what you see here, you might pee your pants on the 26th! No, really. It’s that good!Read More
I fell in love, instantly, with this semi-sheer little knit in “tomato and ivory” colorway. In between working for clients, it’s important to sew something that kind of warms my heart. So I did.
It’s also quite gratifying to make someone something and watch them snuggle right into it, and wear it all day long.
Stripe matching as per usual: LIKE A BOSS
Twin needle at the hem:
Next up: pattern testing three patterns for a blog tour (wonderful!), making a silk blouse for a client, and mapping out a drover’s coat for another client. Far less a “housewife” these days than a preoccupied, semi-bitchy tailor!