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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
It had been years since I had helped make true mascot type costumes, so it was a fun break from the norm and a good reminder of why I don’t want to do this kind of sewing all the time. Foam, fur, curved needles, and seriously wacky pattern pieces – give me real clothing any day!
We constructed 2 moose heads that perched high (as in 12 feet high!) atop giant Santa hats, 2 big candy canes, and 2 elves that looked like Christmas tree ornaments. All were based on the designer’s sketches and completed with hundreds of LEDs.
There was lots of stretch crushed velvet and glittery stretch velvet for me to create striped yardage from.
All those stripes are why I met Spray n Bond and we became good friends.
I stitched faces.
I made eyeballs.
And I shoved large amounts of foam fabric through a small domestic sewing machine. I was really wishing I had a long arm machine to use for this!
The moose ears made nice bunny ears too. I kind of want some!
It’s a little weird to have your work stare back at you while you hand-stitch its ear on.
I have tons more photos, but it’s more interesting to watch video because you can see all of the lights and get a better sense of the size. I was actually one of the test models for the elf costumes in order to help work out some of the awkwardness of wearing them – glad to see that no one was tripping and falling during the parade!
Happily, there were plenty of YouTube videos posted of the parade for me to choose from. (Ironically, the official Silver Dollar City one was not the best and was filmed on a night when not all the lights were working.) So I’ve chosen two of the best videos.
(See timestamps below each if you want to fast forward through them.)
This first one is nice for closeups:
And this video is a view of the parade from a little farther back, giving you a better look at the whole 12-foot moose on Santa hats costumes:
This year has been full of Christmas projects for me! And I still have one more to post about next time!
Happy New Year, everyone!
There was a little blood (on the white fur, of course! but easy to fix), a lot of sweat (heavy upholstery fabric is hard to wrangle!), but thankfully, no tears for this build!
I ended up having to sort through 415 photos for this post! Needless to say, I have reduced that number down a little bit. (Click photos to enlarge.)
Back at the end of September, I was hired to build dresses for two identical mannequins for a revamped outdoor Christmas display in Wichita Falls. The request was for something that resembled the red satin dresses with white fur trim seen at the end of the 1954 movie White Christmas.
One of the mannequins was brought to my house.
I called her Keira. She was about the same dress size as I am – but 6 feet tall! A GIANT Barbie.
Her old outfit was sad and her wig was scraggly. So I threw away her clothes and let her borrow some of mine after a bit of a spa day.
I ordered a swatch of the Sunbrella brand red outdoor upholstery velvet. It ended up being the perfect color and had a decent drape, so I ordered 16 yards (but it seems to be sold out at the moment – not sure if they will restock it, but I hope they do!).
I bought some rip-stop nylon for lining and some white acrylic fur with an olefin backing at my local Hancock Fabrics. I also purchased outdoor upholstery thread, acrylic rhinestones (JoAnn Fabrics), and fabric glitter glue (Hobby Lobby).
I ordered hoop skirt petticoats from Petticoat Junction and the client ordered ice skates for shoes. I bought some red “parade gloves” at a Halloween store (perfect timing of a project!).
My really good friend Marlene, who is a professional film & television makeup artist, was tasked with finding and styling some appropriate wigs that could stand up to the elements.
Wensley did not like Keira and hated it when I touched her or moved her around. I think she bothered him because she wouldn’t look at him, hehe. (My dress forms don’t have faces so he just ignores them.)
There was growling and barking for many days after she arrived. Just when he had gotten a little used to Keira visiting, the big roll of velvet fabric arrived and he greeted that with the same suspicious “intruder alert!” and I caught it on video:
My husband and our brother-in-law helped me rig a stand for her, and then I was able to start working on a mockup.
My starting point for both bodices was Vogue 2979 that looks like a reproduction of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress (pictured in this old post). But the sleeve caps as drafted were too short and caused all kinds of fit issues until I popped the seam open at the shoulder. (I tried the bodice on myself and had similar problems with the fit, so beware if you are trying to use this pattern straight from the envelope.) I also lowered the underarm curve a slightly like I usually need to do for myself.
Therefore, I drafted my own sleeve from scratch and made it a two-piece sleeve while I was at it. This allowed me to include better elbow ease for Keira’s perpetually bent arms. It also made it so much easier to dress her.
My friend used glossy red model paint to repaint Keira’s outdated ‘80s lips (check out that unbelievably sharp line!) and Keira got her lovely new hair. So much better!
The skirts were just basic full circles (but huge! because she’s so tall!) and I draped & drew the cape pattern on Keira. I was really surprised that the upholstery velvet cooperated and did what I wanted it to do for the most part.
I didn’t have enough fur (I bought all there was at the store) to double fold it like I wanted to on the capelet and skirts, so I lined it with some white polyester utility fabric and did a lot of picking to pull the fur out of the seams.
If you have questions or would like to know about specific details, ask me in the comments. =)
Overall, I probably spent about 3 weeks total on this project but the work was spread out over about 6 weeks. It was a huge build to complete on my own and I was so glad when it was finished! So was Wensley.
Merry Christmas to all, and my all your Christmases be white!
Remember the Wonder Woman cape I had fun modeling? It looks so much better on AnnaMay, its intended wearer!
Jen posted some wonderful photos of AnnaMay wearing her Wonder Woman costume on EPBOT recently, and said I could share them on my blog as well. You can also see the boots I made to go with the cape in the pictures. =)
Here are two of my favorites (read Jen’s post to see a few more pictures including a group shot of superheroes!):
I got the best email from AnnaMay’s mom earlier this week:
We went to camp this weekend in the mountains. All of the families that go have at least one child with autism or sensory disorders like AnnaMay. We shared our cabin with another family who had 2 children. One of them was a 5 year old little girl. We were getting ready for the Halloween carnival and I was helping AnnaMay with her costume. We went to put the cape on and the girl came over with huge eyes and asked AnnaMay if she could fly. AnnaMay told her no. The girl leaned in and very earnestly said, “I bet you could with that cape if we got you up high enough.” I thought you might enjoy knowing you made a cape so awesome it made a 5 year old believe AnnaMay could fly…
And here’s a great shot taken by AnnaMay’s mom of the whole costume:
So the job I’ve been working for the past few of months for a holiday display has been postponed for a year. (Bummer – I have eleventy-million pictures I want to share!) This week, I’m helping finish some costumes at the University of Dallas for a friend who wasn’t able to complete the job due to health issues. And in a couple more weeks I’ll be helping in the Southern Methodist University costume shop for 2 weeks. So I’m keeping surprisingly busy this season!
The detailed posts on how I made the Wonder Woman cape & boots will be coming as soon as I have time to sit down and go through my photos.
And Happy Reformation Day!
I finished building a Wonder Woman cape!
As much as I wanted to keep it, I didn’t make it for myself (which is why it’s so short on me). I made it for a special little girl named AnnaMay.
I first heard about AnnaMay on Jen’s EPBOT blog and was inspired to help make her geeky dreams come true – she wanted to be Wonder Woman for Halloween. (Thanks, Jen, for being the instigator and letting me be a part of the fun!)
I was given the task of building the cape and the boots (both of which will have their own posts about how I made them later) while someone else made the top & skirt, and Jen
made bought the accessories (original plan was her making them).
Before I mailed it off to its intended owner, I had fun wearing the cape for some blog photos taken by my mom (Thanks, Mom!). I think we should all wear capes – just because!
I was trying to get a good shot of the back as I spun for the camera, but there was such a shutter delay, my mom and I had trouble timing it. We kept getting the same angle over and over!
So I kept spinning. And spinning. And I got really dizzy. Which gave me the giggles. Which made the whole thing just spiral into silliness.
I don’t think I’ve been that dizzy since grade school when I would turn in circles until I collapsed to watch the ceiling keep turning above me.
There are two ways to tie a cape.
One way is the standard bow in front:
The other is a way to avoid the bow riding up to choke the wearer by wrapping the ties over the shoulders & under the arms (like a backpack) and tying it behind the wearer’s back but under the cape:
It makes me happy that AnnaMay will never outgrow her cape, which is part of the reason I spent so much time on the details.
She will be wearing it tonight at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I can’t wait to see (and share) pictures!
(UPDATE: See pictures of AnnaMay in this post!)
Enjoy your cape, AnnaMay! I hope you proudly wear it to shreds! I certainly had fun test-driving it! =)
* “No capes!” (on YouTube)
I am going to share a personal project about what I gave my 2½ year-old niece for Christmas – a tutu! It was one of the cutest little things I think I have ever made! In order to make it easy for her to put on by herself, I decided to gather the ruffles onto an elastic waistband. And (because I simply can’t do anything the easy way, gosh darn it!) I made it the way tutus are made for professional ballerinas – which means it was a pain in the neck to do, but it stood straight out to the sides – with no drooping! =)
It was adorable on my baby dressform:
That’s 15 yards of tulle ruffle on an 18 inch waistband!
Here it is in front of a darker wall were the light pink underlayers show up a little better:
And here she is a few days after Christmas wearing her tutu:
I think she likes it. =)
Update: See Part 2 of the toddler tutu.