Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

costume workshop sew-along: hat with ears

Costume Workshop Sew-Along Badge

Costume Workshop Sew-Along: Hat With Ears

Yo yo yo! Today’s the day we get started on some costumery. Instead of a typical sew-along where we are all making the same garment, I’m showcasing some costuming basics so you don’t have to have endless mishaps, glue-gun burns, blunted scissors, and bent sewing machine needles!

Well let’s just be honest. You are going to get a few glue gun burns. That’s probably given.


But here’s the thing. The real benefit of this sew-along are my Skype sessions. This is where you and I video chat and you can tell me all about your project and I can direct you to sources, help you find techniques, and advise you! My next three Fridays are open for Skype appointments  – 12 to 3 PM PST on September 16th, 23rd, and 30th! I already have slots filling in (albeit slowly) – so if you want to reserve a spot, text (360.500.3287) or email me!

Costume Workshop Sew-Along

costume workshop sew-along: supplies & pattern

Costume Workshop Sew-Along
Ro-Man (aka Robot Monster), 1953

Max From Where The Wild Things Are (Upgrayedd)

babycreeps #1: little dickens

On The Prowl

(post one September 15, 2016: hats with whiskers and ears, here)

(Literally waited until the earliest possible seemly date to start my Halloween sew-talk)

So hey. Hey good peeps. You know what?

I love making costumes so so so so much!

And given I’ve made quite a few for kids and adults all over the globe – from California to the Netherlands to Australia! – I wanted to showcase some of the methods I use to make a costume last, and last, and last.

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom, Halloween 2014

a bride to amazement! or, how Halloween is finally, finally, mercifully sweet Jeebus, behind me

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.

Phoenix Fire Hogaboom, Halloween 2014

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)

Nels, AKA A Dragon


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.

The Happy Couple

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!

The Happy Couple

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!

Nels, AKA A Dragon

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.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

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.

Dead Bride Costume, Close-Up

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.

To Have & To Hold. Plus, A Dragon

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!

Happy Halloween!


Fall Projects

that will probably become clear later, like the French Revolution

Fall Projects

The summer weather turned so fast I’m still reeling. We are amidst autumn traditions now: baking pumpkin bread, knitting, sewing up wool garments. I’m keeping busy in Halloween sewing (ONE more day. Well, one-and-a-half), rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar (I got my apostle name today! #w00t), and of course – raising my kids, caring for the home and five pets, and putting the time into my Recovery life. Kidney stones got the better of me a few days ago for a couple days but I hung in there. I’m still watching and reviewing vampire films like a menace. What can I say? Life carries on.

JCS, Keeping WarmKeeping warm in a chilly theatre.
Sequin Removal

This was my life before I knew anything different than the removal of sequins. Don’t worry, I got a lot faster at taking them out. I have removed one hundred billion sequins. The results are going to be amazing, but mostly the results are going to mean I am no longer cutting sequins, which is something I keep thinking I’m doing, because it’s the only thing I’ve been doing, ab aeterno.


A little punkin’ & a big punkin’. Which is which?

My little ones had their school counseling sessions today with their father. I couldn’t be more proud of them. They are performing well, and better than that, they love school. I still miss them terribly during the day but the satisfaction I get knowing they are where they want to be (for now) is worth my occasional restlessness.

Nights I find myself having trouble falling asleep. But I have a warm bed, and loved ones, and (for now) some health. Life is very special. It is a miracle!

Car Coat, Autumn

glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

It is getting seriously Halloween up in this here

Car Coat, Autumn

(more pictures of the jacket after the cut) –

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Little Halloween Dolls

 Seriously: these little ghoulish dolls (made by a friend; bought as gifts) are excellent). Like:

Little Halloween Dolls


They are slaying me!

I’ve been making stuff for myself, too. Some tights:

Multicolor Deconstructed Tights

Making the perfect-fit tight is pretty challenging. I have discovered my ankles and knees are slim, and my calves and thighs are full. These pair were my third try but I am getting it down!
Multicolor Deconstructed Tights

My ladyfriend B. sent us a care package – including some Cotton + Steel fat quarters. DROOOLLness:
Cotton & Steel Fat Quarters
Remember this skeleton thread holder my daughter drew a while back? He’s back on duty – holding my hair products.

Skeleton 'Sup?

Phee's Skeleton Thread Holder


Pumpkin pull-apart bread for my castmates. CHOICE
Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread, For Castmates


Herbet Pocket is being very witchy:

Herbert Pocket Takes A Rest

pumpkin seeds roasting, check. stealing candy from the bowl while handing it out – CHECK

Halloween 2013

Nels’ Mario costume turned out so perfect it almost made up for him bitching for ten straight minutes about the spirit-gum application. No one can bitch like Nels can. Promise you.

SO ZOMG I made my son’s costume in the last twenty-four hours. The entire costume. Hat, “overalls”, and shirt. Like, the overalls? Started them this AM when I rolled out of bed. The straps on the overalls are easy-to-remove so after he’s done having a costume he’ll have a long-sleeved shirt in organic cotton, a pair of Carhartt-esque jeans (in a yummy selvedge denim) – and the “M” Mario hat, which I’m quite sure he will want to wear as-is.

My daughter – her costume was easier. And faster. I spent $8 at a thrift store last Saturday. She is a pleasure to work for. Today at school she walked in sans mask and her teacher said, “Huh. You a Canadian?”

Nels’ ability to Mario-pose is freakishly uncanny. He also does the voice. The at-the-very-least-culturally-insensitive Italian Mario voice. He is like a phreakish Mario-parrot.

They’re currently out in the neighborhood getting candy loot; I’m off next door to my mom’s for our tradition of handing out candy on her awesome front porch.

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

more Halloweening

Ripslinger, Size 3

Sent off to L.A. yesterday – a size 3 “Ripslinger” costume as well as a “Bulldog” hoodie (made to go with an adorable crocheted Bulldog cap the client already possessed). This costume, oh Teh Strugglez. First, my online order for fabrics took an inordinately long time. Then, I made a prototype of the hoodie a while back and it didn’t quite work out right  – I’m trying to find a home for it.

But as of yesterday the completed costume finally shipped.

Let’s face it. It’s not nearly as satisfying to get a picture of a flat-laid costume. I don’t have an adorable three year old to grab, at hand (and DAMN MY LIFE FOR THAT), so these quick shots will have to do:

Ripslinger, Size 3

(Shiny shoes courtesy of Nels).

The costume features five pieces: a pair of stovepipe-legged, flat-front sweatpants (made with long hem, so they can “grow” with child), a circular-pocket and stenciled kangaroo hoodie, a lined and be-snapped pilot cap featuring the trademark Planes-esque “eyes”, a nose cone/double-propeller, and set of wings. The clothing is all made from a very soft cotton french terry. The crafted/molded pieces are lightweight and adjustable.

Some close-ups:

Ripslinger, Size 3

The nose-cone as made by Ralph. He is my papercrafting in-house consultant.

Ripslinger, Size 3

Pilot cap with eyes! I drafted my own hat pattern. It is lined, and very cozy. My goal was for the three clothing pieces to be such that the little client can and will want to wear them as much as possible.

Ripslinger, Size 3

The back of the hoodie – little racing Checks. Again – stenciled then topstitched.

Ripslinger, Size 3

The pant leg – a paint-stenciled and topstitched flame motif, and a knit fabric applique for the “13”. I love this paint-stencil method – it gives a good result with a minimum of equipment. Do I want to be someone who can do full-blown home silkscreening? WHY  YES I DO. I am baffled as to how to get started. But, there it is.

The sweats are not my pattern, for a change, but the Parsley Pants pattern by Made By Rae. They have an adorable wide-legged flare and I look forward to making them up with a woven fabric, the pattern’s recommendation.

Here’s “Bulldog” – really just the colors. Another super-fun hoodie to sew up. The pockets are the same size as the above hoodie, but since it is a smaller kiddo, they look larger in comparison.

Bulldog, Size 12/18m

Bulldog, Size 12/18m

SEWING NERD ALERT – I switched thread colors so the thread would always match the fabric used. Yes, these are all inside the garments – the “invisible” side. But, I love details like this.

Bulldog, Size 12/18m

For the armscye, I even switched up the top thread and bobbin thread for the corresponding fabric colors.


Toro T7

you know. like ya do.

Halloween costuming season is drawing to a close. I haven’t even put one toe in the waters of my own kids’ costumes yet, instead being quite involved in creating gear for kids around the North Americas. Today, sent out in the mail:

A TORO T7 LAWN SPRINKLER. For a five year old.

You know.

One of these:

Toro T7

Here’s a close-up of the top. I was told I had to be pretty accurate for this part. Like so:

Toro T7, Top

I finished the costume a little while ago but I was hoping to get a five year old to model. Still, I needed to mail it and five year olds were scarce, so my nine year old son stood in. Unfortunately his head is a little larger than the client’s, but I think you can get the general gist:

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!


Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

Not Real Water.

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

A close-up of the sprinkler housing. All papercraft – attached to a pleather “skirt” with side and back vents for comfort, and wire in the hems for shaping.

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

The top of the sprinkler… I didn’t want to make it uncomfortably tall for a five year old. Lined with a little pilot cap hat that snaps closed and is quite cozy!

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

A closeup of the water “spray”. Clear tubing and adjustable wire for the right arc.

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

100% cotton shell pilot cap and snaps!

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

The top. This is the part I’m crossing my fingers on. Hoping the little client is pleased enough with it!

Toro T7 For An Extra-Spooky Halloween!

A little card and some care instructions. The costume cost one billion dollars to ship on account of its size – it went off to CA today.

So yeah, I have a 100% return policy for all my stuff. I’ve been joking about this costume that if the customer, God forbid truly, does return it, I can always sell it to someone else.


a little warmth, or maybe a lot of warmth actually

UM, it is super-hard to get rid of inventory. I made this a while back but hadn’t taken photos, posted photos, shared in any way, or even put the garment in a local shop. LOL at me because I am a pretty-okay seamstress but not really a businesswoman in any real sense.

Anyway – here we have an all-fleece Max, more in line with the film’s version of the costume than that of the book. Hoping this version finds its way to a sweet little 2T/3T kiddo out there.

[ Etsy listing ]

Super-Duper Extra Warm Max!

Super-Duper Extra Warm Max!

Super-Duper Extra Warm Max!

needle & thread in a cold studio


This weekend I went balls-out, without enough sleep or preparation, to host a booth in the only show I’ve yet brought my wares: the Fiber Arts Festival in Elma, WA. Let me tell you a few things, it is a great group of (mostly) ladies and they have a lot of passion, like don’t even make a joke about how goofy an alpaca looks or anything. The attendants out there raise the animals (alpacas, llamas, Jacobs sheep, angora bunnies, et cetera), clean and process the wool, spin, knit, crochet, tat, make bobbin-lace, and do all kinds of weaving. For some reason at this festival they let my seamstressing ass in although I’m the only garment-maker, ever. I even sold a few pieces – Sea Fan, Squidlet, and a few other odds and ends, including a blue-velour tentacled baby bunting I never even took pictures of.

But I’m glad to be home.

Currently I’m up to my tits in Halloween. Today I’m working up a Ripslinger costume (from Disney’s Planes) for a three year old. The project involves a heck of a lot of stencil work, and, as promised, I am putting together a tutorial on the relatively simple process of making great-looking motifs.

Stencil Work

In the post:

Papercraft Bits

I sent my most recent Max out to NV and am now working up a Max for a 4 year old, a Bulldog hoodie for an infant, and a Louise hat for a grownup.

It’s a little more work than I’ve really got time for.

So if y’all could just come over and do my dishes and give my dog a walk, I’d appreciate it. kthx