One week till Star Wars!

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This post has very little to do with the new movie. I mean, sure I have seen the trailers and I am excited to see the movie, but I don’t want to kill the excitement by over analyzing everything that is coming out regarding the movie. That is why this post is about holiday hero stockings!

Mr. Uncommon Geek and I recently attended a local comic book convention that is held at a high school in an effort to raise money for the marching band. This was our third time attending, and I wanted to do more than just spread the word about our site. So I made some hero themed stockings to sell.

We were up against another holiday gift event in the area, and the fog that showed up in the morning lingered until noon. As a result, the turnout was smaller than expected. However, we all had a great time looking at the different tables, and talking to everybody.

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week 45 – Aprons

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The Facts

Fabric: mystery cotton

Pattern: McCall’s Easy Stitch & Save M5358

Year: recent, yet anachronistic

Notions: thread, snaps

Time to complete: a week

First worn: for Halloween party at work

Wear again? Hopefully

Total Cost: $25 for time and materials

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As I have stated before, my coworkers told me that I would be Alice for our work Halloween party, because I have the hair for it. I knew that I had this pattern, and I knew that it would be perfect for an Alice in Wonderland apron. I was planning on using this pattern to make a pinafore for a long time. Now, I no longer had any reason to put off making it any longer. This is the first thing that I made for my Alice costume.

I was expecting a super quick, really easy, beginner level sewing pattern. This is not a super quick, really easy, beginner level sewing pattern. The other aprons featured in this sewing pattern might be beginner level, but this apron is more along the moderate level of sewing capabilities. It uses things like button holes, narrow seams, gathering and basting stitches, and ruffles. I know, I know, ruffles can be used in beginner sewing patterns. This pattern just did not feel like a beginner level pattern. I’m glad that I started with it, because I started on the apron about a month before Halloween. I gave myself plenty of time and I took things slow. One day, I cut out the pattern pieces. Then I put everything aside and started construction the next day. Whenever I got to a point that was too frustrating or confusing, I just laid everything to the side and walked away. Sometimes I would come back to it in the same day. Other times, I would come back the next day. It all ended up working out in the end.
The only modification that I made was that I did not add the ruffle along the bottom of the apron. This ended up making me miss a step where I was supposed to hem the side and bottom of the bottom of the apron. As I have already said, it all ended up working out in the end. I was able to finish all of the edges, hide all of the seams, and make both the front and the back of the apron look good. I knew that the apron would be the main part of the costume that everyone would be able to see, so it was very important for it to turn out well, and it did. There were several people who did not believe that I had made my costume, because it did not look homemade to them.

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While I am very happy with how different pieces of the costume turned out, overall I think I could have done better. Maybe next year, my group will win first place instead of second! What do you recommend for four coworkers to dress up as for a work Halloween party?

Happy sewing!

week 35 – Book Inspired. Children’s book, novel, text, etc. TAG: Book

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The Facts

Fabric: mystery cotton

Pattern: self drafted

Year: 2015

Notions: thread, elastic

Time to complete: frustratingly too long

First worn: for work Halloween party

Wear again? If I can figure out how to fix it, maybe

Total Cost: $30+, figuring time and materials

My coworkers told me that I would be Alice for our Halloween party at work, while they went as the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat. I was ok with the idea as I already had the shoes and a hairband that would work. I just needed to make the bloomers, dress, and apron. And a petticoat to give the dress that classic bell shape.

I was able to sew up the bloomers in an afternoon. They were super easy to make. The apron will have a post of its own. The dress gave me a bit of a headache.

I could not find a sewing pattern that combined all of the elements that make up Alice’s dress. I tried to draft my own pattern, but that ended in catastrophic failure. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but I really am not happy with the results. Since it is for work, I was trying to make sure that the bodice was tasteful and fit well. The sewing patterns that I could find, included a deep neckline, or lots and lots of button holes. I still am learning how to make button holes with my sewing machine, so any pattern that calls for them is an instant “no.” I’m also still learning how to modify patterns to create a uniquely different garment, so any pattern that I have to change the neckline from plunging to work appropriate, is also an instant “no” at this stage.

I had a pattern that I thought might work, but the sleeves were wrong. I had another pattern that had the correct sleeves, but it was an untested pattern that seemed really weird. It required me to cut insanely large pieces of fabric, and then to sew elastic in parts to make it fit. I tried combining the two patterns together. It seemed to work at first, but when I sewed it together, I found that the back of the bodice was at least two inches too short. Running low on both fabric and time, I tried to make as simple of a bodice as possible, and add sleeves to it. When I put it on the dress form, it seemed to work all right. When I tried it on me, the sleeves were all wrong. I tried multiple ways of attaching the sleeves. Each time ended with the same failure. Eventually, I gave up as, at that point, I still needed a peter pan collar and a petticoat.

After I gave up on the dress as being, “good enough,” I turned my attention to making a petticoat. I have had this Simplicity pattern for ages, and I dream of one day making an outrageous, over the top outfit with ribbons, and lace, and bows everywhere. I figured I could make the petticoat for my Alice costume, and that would get me started in the right direction.

I read the instructions. Then I read them again. Then I reread the instructions. Then I looked for tutorials online, as well as pattern reviews. The main topic involving this pattern seems to revolve around whether or not it is a pattern for a lolita outfit. (In case you are wondering, for those serious about lolita, this is not a lolita pattern, but it can be if you modify it. For those who are not serious about lolita, it is a lolita pattern. )

After many times reading through the sewing instructions for the petticoat, I thought that I had it figured out. There is an upper ruffle, an under ruffle, and a tiered skirt. All three layers are gathered and sewn together, then sewn to the next layer. Then they are sewn to what will become an elastic waistband.  If you look up how to sew a tiered skirt on YouTube, you will get the idea of what this pattern is trying to convey. What is at once so great and horrifying about sewing this petticoat skirt, is the amount of fabric required for each tier. To make a long story short, I could not get my sewing machine or my serger to machine gather the fabric, and the hand gathering was not working well as my thread kept breaking. I eventually ended up purchasing a petticoat from the costume store because I could no longer stand to try sewing the same basting seam another time, just to not be able to get the fabric to cooperate. I hope to return to it someday. When I have forgotten how frustrating it is, or when I have ample time to work on it.

The next post will be a much shorter one about the apron. Happy sewing!

week 34 – Collared. Making something with a collar. TAG: Collared

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The Facts

Fabric: mystery cotton blend

Pattern: made from approximating what other internet patterns were doing

Year: 2015, also – timeless

Notions: ribbon, thread

Time to complete: 1 hour, approximately

First worn: for work Halloween costume contest

Wear again? Possibly

Total Cost: $5.00, figuring time and materials

My workplace loves to celebrate the holidays. Every year for Halloween, we have a costume contest. There are prizes for the best individual costume, as well as for the best group costume. There are also prizes for the runner’s up. My coworkers told me that we are going as Alice in Wonderland, and that I would be Alice. I looked in the thrift stores for a dress that would be suitable, however I was unable to find one. I then looked for a pattern that would be simple, and capture all of the elements of Alice’s dress. I was unable to find one of those as well.

So, I made an Alice costume. Her dress in the movie includes a full skirt, puff sleeves, and a peter pan collar. I had trouble with the bodice of the dress, so I made the peter pan collar separate. There are a multitude of free patterns for all sorts of cute different peter pan collars. I somehow managed to miss the start of the trend of the peter pan collar necklace, but it seems to be still going pretty strong. I used the same fabric that I used for the dress, cut it, and sewed it with ribbon used for the closure. I’m not sure that I like how it looks on me. It seems to be too big to just wear as an accessory, but it works for the costume.
More pictures of the rest of the outfit to come soon.

Happy sewing!

Cat post 2

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See, I told you all that I would try to write more often. Slowly but surely I will get back into the habit of making time to write about the things that I am attempting to create.

This time, I am here to talk about cat toys. The kittens that we are fostering really like to try to hunt and “kill” whatever is around them. I decided it might be best to give them a lot of options that would be safe for them to destroy.

I had a pair of jeans in my fabric stash that Mr. Uncommongeek decided to get rid of due to a rip that could not be repaired. Denim is a super rugged fabric that can be very durable. As noted previously, I also have a seemingly endless supply of stuffing. As a side note, should I decide to make more in the future, I also happen to have a supply of catnip that I am not using here, simply because the kittens are too young to really be affected by it.

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I cut out a bunch of small pieces of the denim. Then I sewed them in various ways. The kittens are very small, so I wanted to be able to have something that is small enough for the kittens as they are now, but also some bigger pieces for when they are older.

Most of the shapes that I sewed were pretty square. First, I sewed up 3 sides.

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Then stuffed the pouch and sewed up the final side.

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I did the toys in two rounds to see which kind would be more popular of a toy. I like the look of the toys with the seams on the inside, but the kittens both seem toprefer having a flap of exposed seam to bite into. The exposed seam is also the side that they hold when they carry it around in their mouth. I also attached tails on the second round, just to make the toys more interesting. I decided not to add anything else because I definitely want to avoid any sort of choking hazard, or potential accidental ingestion.

Happy sewing!

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Cat post 1

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Hey blog sphere, sorry that I haven’t been taking the time to write to you guys. I will try to remedy that with a couple of posts coming up.

Mr. Uncommongeek and I have been fostering a couple of kittens. We were successful in finding them new forever homes, and I was able to use some fabric out of my stash to make things to go with cute little balls of fluff as they journey to their new life.

One of the first things that I made is beds. I know that most cats love laying on soft things that they can curl up in, and if it resembles a box lid, then all the better. I also know that pet beds are super expensive and I don’t have that kind of money to spend on a cat who would probably turn their nose up at it anyway.

A while ago, I had purchased a couple of sweaters either from Goodwill, or a local thrift shop, so I could make various craft things and stuff. Needless to say, the things that I was attempting to create didn’t work out so well, and I never tried to figure out what to do to improve upon my mistakes. Which left me with a bunch of sweater pieces.

I also have all sorts of stuffing and blanket batting. I have purchased stuffing, but my friends and family are aware of my craft supply hoarding problem, and supply me with their surplus every time that they are clearing out their stash. I have been trying to utilize this surplus at every opportunity that I am able, but I feel like this is a substance that will multiply when you are not paying attention.

To make the kitty beds, I used a piece of sweater that had been cut off straight across below the arm holes. I then made sure that three sides were sewn up, leaving the bottom hem of the original sweater unsewn.  I then cut a piece of batting to be about the size of the sewn sweater piece and placed it inside the sweater. Then I sewed the middle part down to create a bed area and a side rail area. Next, I stuffed the side rail area with stuffing that I had on hand. Once that was stuffed to my liking, I hand sewed up the last side of the bed and let the kittens choose which one they wanted.

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Overall, the project was pretty easy and I completed both beds in one afternoon. I know that they are not perfect, but it was my first attempt and I wasn’t really looking to make them perfect, just usable. The kitties seem to like them, and that is what really matters.

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Happy sewing!

Welcome to the Labyrinth

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I love the movie Labyrinth. I saw it when I was very young. For many years I wasn’t sure if it was something that I imagined or if it was something that I had watched, like the Dark Crystal or Legend.

I have watched it many times. Each time I watch it, I notice something new and different. The movie hasn’t changed, but I have changed and that has lead me to realize many things about both myself and the movie.

Fairy tales have always been at the top of my list of things that I enjoy reading. I love how the same story will change in the details depending on which culture is doing the telling, as well as how some of the more gruesome details will be changed or omitted depending on the fragility of the intended audience.

There are many fairy tales that tell the story of a brave and cunning girl/princess who was able to best the evil foe by using her wits and the tools that were readily available to her. It is no wonder then that I fell in love with the movie Labyrinth.

However, I am no longer a child. I still love fairy tales, but I now see how some are stories that are meant to explain what proper behavior is expected of a lady, and some that show how far some people are willing to go to get what they want.

Watching Labyrinth now, I am able to see some things that I was unable to see as a child. How creepy is it that an immortal being can fall in love with a girl who has barely completed puberty? Not creepy when viewed through the lens of a fairy tale, but very creepy when viewed through a modern lens of a 30+ year old male lusting after a 15 year old girl. What makes is worse is that he is willing to (and does) kidnap her baby brother just so she will consider spending time with him.

One of the most striking things that I see watching the movie as an adult who has read many versions of many fairy tales, both classic and modern, takes place not long after Sarah enters the Labyrinth. Sarah is trying to figure out the rules of the Labyrinth, knows that there is a time limit, but is taking everything for granted. She meets a worm who is able to explain to her that her eyes do not show her everything that there is to see in the labyrinth. The worm then invites her in for tea, and to meet the missus. Sarah refuses and then rushes off to get to the castle, because there is a time limit and she knows that her path is long and will be filled with obstacles. The worm then shakes his head and points out that if she had gone in the other direction, then she would have gone “straight to the castle.”

As a kid, this makes perfect sense. The worm has no arms to point and just seems to give bad or extremely confusing directions. As a slightly older kid, it is kind of irritating that she doesn’t ask for clarification when receiving directions so she can go in the correct direction to achieve her goal. As an adult, it seems rude to turn down an invitation for tea and to meet the missus. Especially when the next meal is uncertain and all allies are needed for the trials ahead.

Fairy tales teach us the importance of being kind to those that we meet on our journeys, for it is impossible to tell whether the people we meet are a Faerie in disguise, or just another human wishing to do mischief. Most of the time, as fairy tales teach us, the people that we meet on our journeys are important because they have the information or the tools that we need to succeed in our quest.

The tale told in Labyrinth is important because Sarah learns of her own strength. She would not have learned the lessons that she learned, nor would she have made the friends that she did without going on her journey. If she had been a bit older and wiser, I think that she would have had tea with the worm, met the missus, and retrieved Toby from the castle beyond the goblin city before Toby gets hungry for dinner.