Snow and snow men

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Blowing snow. Drifting snow. Snow that is recorded by the foot. A light dusting of snow. Snow and ice and arctic chill.

Still with me? Good. While I dream about leaving for someplace tropic and never coming back, here is a simple way to create snowmen using socks, stuffing and pipe cleaners.

I made these after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas. I used them to decorate my desk at work. Since the holidays are over, I took them all down. Now there is snow on the ground and in the forecast. The temperatures are verging on (and breaking) record lows all across the country.

I’m thinking that I may need to place these snowmen on a place of honor to appease the gods of snow and winter so that the icy grip of winter may be reduced down to a gentle handshake of winter. Should my offering not be enough, I beg you dear reader, to make your own snowman offering. If enough of us do something, Winter may become sated and decide to release us to spring a little early.

Fabric: socks

Pattern: self drafted

Year: current

Notions: thread, beads, pipe cleaner

Time to complete: about 20 minutes per snow man

First worn: N/A

Wear again? N/A

Total Cost: All materials were from my stash, so $0.

Find a sock that has lost its mate. Or start with a pair of socks to make two snow men. Decide if you want to make a snow man that has two sections or three. I found that making them with two sections was easier to make and the arms make more sense in their placement.

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I cut the sock so that the toe becomes the head. Then I cut another section for the main body. Next, I sew up one of the ends of the body piece. Then I stuff the body piece with as much stuffing as I can fit. I use polyester fiber fill because that is what I have on hand. Other online tutorials suggest using rice, beans, or sand.

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Once the body section is filled with the stuffing of choice, I closed the top of the body section the same way that I had closed the bottom. Then I fill the head with stuffing, closed up the opening, and then attach the head to the body.

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The arms are made from one chenille stick per snowman. I started by folding the stick in half and folding each end until it resembled a hand of some sort. Then I wrap the stick around the snow man.

The finishing touch is adding eyes. If you really want to make your snow men unique, try adding more to their faces. A smile is traditional and basic. Eyebrows and a frown or a snarl embodies the facet of Winter that I feel has been growing increasingly stronger ever since the end of December.

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If you have fabric scraps, you can also make a hat and scarf for your snow man. If you are a Calvin and Hobbes fan, you can recreate the snow men scenes that Calvin created. I’m feeling pretty lazy, so I just stopped at giving them faces.

Happy sewing!

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Week 15 – City Inspiration

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The Facts

Fabric: black knit from stash

Pattern: McCall’s M6556 Fashion Star

Year: 2012

Notions: Thread, from stash

Time to complete: ½ pot of coffee

First worn: N/A

Wear again? Possibly

Total Cost: Um, $2-$3 for the pattern?

*Please note that this post was written last year, and I have only just now gotten around to sharing. Please enjoy!

City Inspiration. Like many of my challenges, the hardest part of this one was the getting started on the project. I was originally going to make a vest, but I couldn’t find a fabric in my stash fit the criteria that I was looking for in order to make said vest. Maybe I will find something and use it for a future post. Maybe I need to shop for new fabric…

When I think of what people wear in the cities, versus the suburbs or the country, I think of three things. One is an edgy, trend setting look. Two is business attire, tailored and polished. Three is what one would wear for a night out on the town. The vest that I was going to make would have fallen in between the first two categories. It would have been a tailored vest appropriate for the office, but with an edge. Just the thing for one to wear if they were working in graphic design or a similar field.

This pattern was picked out by Mr. Uncommon Geek on a trip to the local fabric store. I was feeding my addiction, I mean, stocking up on sewing patterns while they were on sale. Since he was bored, I gave him a book and asked him to look and see if there was anything that he liked. He picked this one.

The pattern itself is simple. There is one piece for the front and one piece for the back. However, the pieces are so big that you are supposed to attach the bottom pieces of the pattern front and back before laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric. However, the fabric I was working with had been used for a different project previously and there was not enough to make the full dress. So, the extra drapey bit at the bottom was not included and the instead of making a dress that is its own outfit, I made a long shirt that can pair well with some skinny jeans and sparkly accessories.

I’m not sure if I will ever have a place to wear this top. Most of my social activities don’t really call for trendy or fashion forward attire. They tend more toward steampunk events or casual get togethers. However, I have noticed that a large portion of my closet looks like it is from 10 – 20 years ago and is in drastic need of an update. I have recently began toying with the idea of having my friends come over and pull out everything in my closet that they hate seeing me wear, like how they do in “What Not to Wear.” However, I fear that I will end up with truly nothing in my closet and I will have to go shopping for new clothes in my steampunk attire. (Come on, my steampunk stuff would not be involved in the purge. I’m not completely crazy.)

To get back at the subject of this sewing challenge, I recommend this pattern as a beginner’s introduction to working with knits. There is only a front piece and a back piece to worry about and there are instructions for modifying the pattern to make different variations. If I ever do get up the courage to wear this out and about, it may give me the courage to try out some of the Japanese sewing books that have been translated and made available. Since they all seem to have pretty mixed reviews, I will definitely be checking them out of the library before I try purchasing them.

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Happy sewing!

Week 12 – TV Inspired: Based on a character from TV, past or present

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The Facts

Fabric: Old pair of jeans

Pattern: Self-drafted

Year: 2014

Notions: Thread, fabric paint, fabric markers

Time to complete: 3+ hours

First worn: N/A

Wear again? I hope so.

Total Cost: Most of the materials I had on hand because I had originally purchased them for other projects. To make this new, it will cost from $5-$20 for materials, depending on if you are purchasing new fabric and if you are buying studs instead of using fabric paint.

Someone had shared an article on Facebook quite some time ago that showed cats wearing classic punk denim jackets. (http://www.buzzfeed.com/sbkasulke/look-at-these-19-adorable-cats-in-punk-vests) I shared the article and asked the general question of what punk jacket would be best to make for a cat and my friend Kevin said Vyv from the Young Ones. Thankfully, this show is much loved and there are many research options available for reference pictures as I did not see the Young Ones as I was growing up. Scandalous, I know. I watched Are You Being Served?, Mulberry Days, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Black Adder, Red Dwarf, All Creatures Great and Small, and Fawlty Towers. Oh, and Doctor Who. It was alway fun watching an episode of All Creatures Great and Small and then watching Doctor Who and going, ‘wait, didn’t I just see him?’ But I did not know about the Young Ones existence until much later.

Anyway, this project presented many challenges. As I do not have easy access to a cat for pattern fittings, I had to guess on the sizing and shape for the best fit and cat comfort. My research shows most pet harnesses and jacket type items are kind of hourglass shaped and close in the back. The article shows jackets fitting the cats like they would on a person – closing in the front and pretty much a straight, somewhat boxy shape. Most of the measurements that I could find for cat jackets were somewhere around 16 inches long with a 9 inch neck/collar. So, I measured and I cut 17 inches off of the bottom of a leg of a pair of jeans, the extra inch to allow for seam allowance. I realized that the fabric was very long. I laid the cut fabric on my lap and realized that if a cat were to wear a jacket that was that long, it would probably not make a very good lap cat. Or it would be mad at its humans for putting it in a thing that interferes with the glory of its beautiful tail and would start destroying anything it could, provided it could get over the disdain of moving in such a monstrosity.

So, I cut the giant piece of fabric into two, more manageable pieces so I could make two jackets instead of one. Then I decided which side I wanted to be the front and I cut it straight down the middle. Then I guessed on where might be the best place for the front legs and cut out the sleeves. Then I cut out four collar pieces, using the tops of the jackets as a guide. I tried to make sure that I included the seam allowance, but I made the one too short. Then I sewed everything up. I did a straight stitch on the sleeves to help maintain the shape and to make sure that they will only unravel to a certain point, and I sewed the front of the jacket to create a clean edge and to prevent unraveling.  I sewed the two collar pieces together and attached them to the jacket, for each jacket. For the jacket that I made the collar too short on, I folded the front of the jacket in and hand sewed it down to make everything fit. Then I started the decoration process.

I elected to not use actual studs on these jackets for two reasons. One, I do not know if the cat who may one day wear this will decide to try to chew on the studs. Two, the studs that I was able to find that were not iron on, were $10 for a small box. I think there may be 90 or so studs in the box, but they are of a mixed variety and there is no guarantee that there would be enough of the same kind to complete one jacket. Plus, I am poor and did not want to spend that much money on a thing for a test prototype. Once I perfect the pattern, then I can justify the expense.

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The first patch shows the paint pen after repeated coats were added. It shows up better in this picture than it does in person. The middle one is what the fabric marker looks like. The final one is me practicing with the fabric paint. I painted a star because I was tired of doing anarchy symbols. Bonus: I now have three denim patches for future projects.

Thankfully, I already owned silver fabric paint, as well as fabric markers in various colors. Unfortunately, I could not get the white paint pen to work well, so I used glue. Once it finishes drying, I can attempt the same technique shown in this Instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Vyvyan-Basterd-The-Young-Ones-Costume/#step0

There was some conflict in what Vyvyan’s jacket said. The reference picture that I was using said “Love Your Dead,” while the instructable shows his jacket saying “Love You Dead.” I feel that if I had watched the show I would know which one was correct. I’m mostly ok with my choice and too lazy to look up screenshots again. Of course, if I really wanted to make a screen accurate jacket, I would have included front pockets and chains on the back.

Anyway, here are the finished products, as they lay drying. Notice, the one that I made the collar too short on does not have enough room for the words on the front. Should the day come where I figure out the measurements to make a kitty coat, I will make sure that the jacket is more square and less skewed. However, for these I will say that it is entirely intentional. It was surely not laziness on my part. It was definitely an attempt at making the jacket as punk as possible. Right angles are for the man. Don’t follow the rules that society laid down for you. Blaze your own path! And such.  

 

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This is the shorter one.

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This is the longer one. I’m still worried that it is too long and that it has too much fabric in the front. I’m not sure that an animal that wears this will be able to move easily.

 

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This is what the little one looks like on a space buffalo. I’m hoping that it will fit an actual cat better, but it gives an idea of how it will look.

Happy sewing!

Week 9 : Make Do, Make Anew

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The Facts

Fabric: dress from sample sale

Pattern: self drafted

Year: current

Notions: Thread, elastic

Time to complete: about 2 hours

First worn: Not yet

Wear again? I should get a lot of use out of this skirt this summer

Total Cost: $10 for the dress, thread from stash, elastic reused from dress

First, some history. Back when I was in high school, my mom worked for a women’s clothing catalog. Every so often, there would be a sale where employees could bring up to 2 guests and they could purchase clothing from the catalog at a super discount price. Selection would vary as the stock would include samples, overstock, customer returns and defective merchandise. For anyone willing to dig through racks of clothing and tables of shoes, deals could be had. Years passed. The catalog company got a new CEO. The clothing sold began targeting a younger crowd. Most importantly, the outside company responsible for organizing the associate sales discovered e-commerce. The associate only sales became more and more open to the public. Not widely advertised, but that is why it is important to sign up for their mailing lists. The merchandise decreased in quality and it was much harder to find the really good deals that had previously been available.

In present day, things have balanced out. My mother has retired and has been for a few years. The outside company that does the associate sales has expanded and there are a few brick and mortar stores in the Columbus, OH area, pop-up sales that happen in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas, as well as the ever successful online stores. I purchased this dress for $10 at one of the pop-up sales. Not bad for something that retails at $88. Anyway, since my mom doesn’t work for the catalog anymore, and since I can’t afford their clothes, I am really not familiar with their merchandise. So I did not notice that this dress was missing its halter neck piece. All I noticed was that the dress, for all its supportive elastic, did not want to stay in one place. When I tried it on at home to confirm fit, I had to constantly pull up the top of the dress.

I did love the idea of this dress back.

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I threw the dress into a pile of things to modify later, and today it got transformed from a dress that doesn’t quite work into a maxi skirt for any occasion. I cut off the top of the dress and removed the elastic. Then, I reattached the elastic in the cut portion of the bottom of the dress, creating a waistband. Thus, a skirt was created.

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Happy sewing!

Week 10 – Art – Inspired by artwork

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The Facts

Fabric: Lace from…various sources (yard sales, estate sales, other crafters’ stash-busting events)

Pattern: based on a thing that I saw on Pinterest (inspiration photo above)

Year: 2013

Notions: Lace, crochet, beads, baubles, scrapbook paper, vintage frames, new frames, found items, previous projects, etc.

Time to complete: Many hours of cleaning, searching, placing, fighting, rearranging, putting together, taking apart, and doing everything all over again. Still a work in progress.

Continue reading

Week 8 – Inspired by the Oscars

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The Facts

Fabric: duct tape

Pattern: from http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/diy-duct-tape-steampunk-top-hat

Year: Timeless

Notions: tulle, feathers, hot glue, a gear

Time to complete: 2 – 3 hours

First worn: not yet

Wear again? if I line the inside with felt or fabric and maybe add to or fix the brim.

Total Cost: From stash

When I saw this on my list, I got super exited because I love looking at the red carpet fashion at all of the awards ceremonies. However, the Oscars fell later this year than what it had in the past, so I was thinking that in order to follow the sewing challenges in the order that I have them in, I should go from either a movie or a dress from a previous year.

I was mostly thinking that I would go with last year’s Oscar ceremony and nominations, but I kept getting sidetracked with other things that I needed to work on and I didn’t do enough research early enough to figure out what I was going to make. It finally happened that I was able to watch some of the Oscars from this year for this challenge. I wasn’t able to watch much before having to go to bed so I could get up super early for work on Monday, as I currently do every week.

So here is a thing that I made before I saw the Oscar fashions for 2014, that can be referred to as inspired by the animated short film “Mr. Hublot” merely because it is steampunk, not because it actually has anything to do with anything in the film, but because I love steampunk.

I am a member of the Airship Passepartout Steampunk group here in Ohio. Recently, there was a hat and mask build day to prepare for the upcoming Voodoo Carnival (which I ended up not going to). Everyone who could, brought some crafting supplies to share and we all got to play at creating and embellishing a hat or mask or whatever project they were currently working on at the time. I was really looking forward to decorating a mask, but could not think of how I wanted it to look.

I am a Pinterest addict. There is so many inspiring ideas and links for how-to make a large majority of those ideas. While preparing for the build day, I found that I had a link to a tutorial on how to make a top hat out of duct tape. (http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/diy-duct-tape-steampunk-top-hat) I thought that was a brilliant idea and knew that there would be a hat that I could use as my template, as well as plenty of duct tape to use to make the hat. Unfortunately, I did not think to confirm that I was following the instructions as I was making the hat, so there are some problems with the hat as it currently is.  One of them being the sticky duct tape that pulls my hair in the inside of the hat. If I had followed the directions, there would be more layers of tape and the tape would be sealed in itself. Or, if I had done more research I could have used some of the tips on using duct tape found in this Instructable here (http://www.instructables.com/id/Duct-Tape-Top-Hat/). As you may be able to tell from the pictures, I have not painted the hat, nor have I added the hot glue rivets and other accents. I figure that I can do that after I figure out how to fix this top hat so that I can wear it comfortably.

Since there was so many craft supplies to choose from, I could not just stop at a mostly finished hat. There was a Steampunk crafting book available for inspirations and I really liked the idea of a cockade added to my hat. So, I made something that looks nothing like a cockade. I gathered some tulle, hot glued some feathers on top, and glued a gear on top. Then, I used a corsage pin to attach it to the hat temporarily. Sorry for the poor picture quality. I hope you can see enough that you can get the idea of what it looks like.  My apartment interior is very dark and cave-like, no matter how many lights we use.

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