Monday, October 24, 2011

Steampunk, a truly cool aesthetic

My husband's Halloween costume is finally finished! And by finished, I mean "for now". We have many things we'll be adding for future Halloweens, such as a proper Victorian shirt, a button vest, some long leather side button spats, and more. But for now, I think we have the most basic elements that he really wanted.
Right now, it's a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi version of Steampunk, since we had to make due with what we had in some places.
A LOT of work went into this costume, from both of us, and James is beyond thrilled to finally be Steampunked out. He has even been growing out his beard in a Franz Josef style to try and get a more Victorian look.
I have to say one thing, the costume (and his beard) look much better in person than in the pictures.

I really do have a total love/hate relationship with the coat pattern, though! Simplicity 2517 really makes a great coat (haha, a great coat, and a Greatcoat..get it?), but the trials getting to the finished product were very painful.
I have never worked with a pattern containing so many errors and misprints. In one place, I was at a complete loss at how to proceed, and if it wasn't for some great advice from my friend Sheila, I don't know what I would have done.
Sewing that thing took me 12 days of very hard work to make. But I don't want to be ALL negative about the coat. The pattern has great details; I love the pockets with the decorative welts, the hang of the capelet, the full lining, the fake sleeve placket (hidden by the bracers, sadly) is even a nice touch on a costume. I also think the yards of faux leather trim I added make it look much less costume-y. That fabric was expensive, and a bit of work to make into binding strips, but well worth the extra effort. It is like doeskin, so soft to the touch it almost feels trimmed in fur.
I have to share a picture of the details. The gorgeous paisley lining, soft leather trim, and cool brass buttons.

So the final product is excellent, much better than a cheap costume coat.
For more information on the details and construction of the coat, and more pictures of the coat from side and back, please see my PR Review.

Moving on. :D
My husband really took the coat I made for him and ran with it, making a ton of very cool accessories for his costume.

The cane was my idea in a general way, but it was James that really made it cool. Would you believe that copper tubing wrapped around it is copper spray painted old coax cable?
The green power source is a tabasco bottle filled with green food colored water, lit with a penlight from underneath.
The light on top is an old motion sensor we used to have in the hallway in our old house, but no longer need in the new place. It's also carefully painted, and decorated with nuts (the metal sort, not the edible kind!).

It looks really cool at night, when the green bottle gives off nice eerie glow, and the top light is bright bluish white.

On a side note, those are his old SCA leather bracers, previously serving for 1500's period looks, they work well for this anachronistic costume, too!

The goggles are purchased (only about $6), but much altered. Also painted with copper spray paint, and decorated by James. The movable (and completely functional) magnifying eyepiece is also his own addition, somewhat modeled after the eyepiece worn by Johnny Depp in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
The hat is one of many he already owned, being a big hat collector. It is a very nice traditional fedora, felt with a leather band.

To add even MORE detail to the goggles, he also took some old wristwatch gears and glued them artfully on the sides, along with a few more nuts and bolts around the rims.
Overall, I think it's a really great costume, and lots of fun. It has the potential to be even cooler, as both of us plan on making additions to it over the years. I really like this style so much, I'm hoping to make my own steampunk costume next year, something I can also wear and build upon for years to come.

Well, Halloween is only 2 days away! I have cookies to bake and a pumpkin to carve, and a few other details to take care of.
I hope everyone has a VERY happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

If the shoe fits, buy it!

Pumps, and flats and sandals, oh my!
I really want to share these new (to me) shoes I just got.

In my recent post and review of McCall's Palmer Pletsch Perfect Knit Dress, you may have noticed that my feet weren't showing in any of the pictures.
There is a very good reason for that, I don't own any matching dress shoes! Well, I didn't, until yesterday. :)

Once upon a time, I had a half dozen or more pairs of lovely shoes, but things change, and now I was down to one pair of black tennies, and some black sandals.
Yes, my lack of dress shoes was downright sad.

At a recent trip to Goodwill to hunt up a straw hat for a friend, I found 2 very cute pair of shoes! I didn't really "need" black shoes as desperately as white ones, but these were just too cute NOT to get!! Black suede with silver studs, yet I don't think they look too punk. And they look good with jeans, too.

And I did find a pair of pale cream shoes with gold fastenings, so now I have shoes to match all of my recently sewn outfits, yay!

They are both in excellent shape. The black ones especially look like they were not worn much, almost new, no scuffing even on the soles. The cream ones have a little wear, but are in very good shape. And how lucky was I to find these, they fit me perfectly, too!
Who can beat 2 pairs of shoes for a total of $16? I'm too thrilled! :D

Monday, October 17, 2011

I won! Well, Tinker Bell won for me :)

Costume Contest Large

Hurray, I actually won a contest!
You may or may not know, I just love entering PR contests. They are fun, great inspiration, and mostly great company (like a sew along with a chance of a prize). But I've never won first place before. It is a really great feeling. :D
Thanks to everyone who voted for me, or for Liz as Tinker Bell, that is.

I received a $100 gift certificate to Patterns From the Past, and that's quite a lot of money to spend on vintage patterns!

I spent hours and hours picking out patterns, changing my mind numerous times, and it was all so much fun! I've only ever sewn one vintage pattern (some children's pants), and I'm very much looking forward to trying out some more interesting ones.
I'll be getting my first ever Burda patterns (both vests...hmmm), and also my very first ever Vogue pattern.
When will I ever have a chance to make or wear this Vogue evening gown you ask? well, SOMEday (my 20th wedding anniversary??), I am sure I will, and this gown looks timeless.

Here are a couple of my other favorite patterns that I selected:

If you'd like to see more (or all) of the patterns I picked out, you can check out my Vintage Pattern Album.

Again, thanks everyone, for your votes, for your very nice comments, and everything. :D I hope everyone has a very Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It really is the perfect knit dress!

McCall's 5974, a Palmer Pletsch classic fit design, calls itself "The Perfect Knit Dress", and I have to agree!

The pattern has wonderful pleated details, a lovely mock-obi wrap tie that covers common trouble spots, and detailed instructions for making many fit alterations for different body types.

It was a joy to sew up, with the biggest challenge for me being the pattern placement on my insane fuchsia print fabric, to avoid getting circles in inappropriate locations.

I am VERY happy with the finished dress! It is a great fit, and I think will work for both every-day wear and for some dressier occasions.

I could really go on and on about how great this pattern and dress are, but my husband has given me a new project which I really need to get cracking on! He wants an elaborate steampunk costume for Halloween, and I really must get started on the coat for it.
Oh, time, would that I had more for sewing! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer's gone but not forgotten

Remember not too long ago when it was summer, and it was hot??? You know, hot enough to sit for hours in a pool of cool water?

Well folks, here comes fall, like it or not!
I've noticed since we moved back to the valley that the weather here is VERY literal. On the coast, it was kind of warm and partly sunny, partly rainy half the year, and kind of cold and rarely sunny, mostly rainy the other half. Not a huge difference though.
Here, it was HOT in the summer. Hot enough to go sit in a cold pool of water all afternoon! Something that just never happened on the coast! lol.

And now that it is Autumn, the leaves are already falling, and the weather has turned cool and rainy, I wanted to look back on some of the best moments of summer.

Near summers end, Grandpa took us all to the Enchanted Forest, a great little theme park that is only about 20 minutes from our new house, where almost all of the rides and activities are aimed at a small children, not older ones. We had SO much fun. There is a storybook lane with tons of fun activities.

Also, kiddie rides galore!

There was also a haunted house, a dragon and monster shooting ride, Medieval village, a live comedy play of Little Red Riding Hood, western town (where Liz got her picture taken with Honest Abe),

and lots more. We forgot to bring our nice Camera :( but Grandpa was smart enough to snap a few shots on his camera phone,
It was fun for the whole family! :)

The hottest day out was at the Air and Art festival. During the day, we had lots of fun feeding the ducks, wondering around the art booths and displays, and playing in the kids art area.

It was sooo hot that day, I mean sweating in the shade, red faced hot! We all tried to stay in the shade during the hottest part, while Liz crafted her alien/bug own antenna.

Later that evening when it started getting dark there was a very cool air balloon light show.

And after that, there was a cool laser light show. That was a really great day!

Yeah, so this has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, but no worries, I'll get back to that soon enough!
In the meantime, stay warm and dry, and enjoy the new season, but remember the fun of summer!

Mr. Scarecrow

Liz is whispering a secret to her new friend, Mr. Scarecrow. He's from McCall's 6413, with a few minor alterations.
Liz helped me make him, as much as she could. She picked out all the fabrics from my large remnant bag, and also selected all his buttons. She helped stuff him and the birds as well. And for the first time, I let her help me iron (when using the Wonder-under on the appliques). A nerve wracking experience!! But she was very attentive, and just loves to help.
One of the more major changes I made was to hand stitch on the smile and his nose. the pattern calls for drawing it on with a fabric marker, but I much prefer the look of the hand stitching. The trim isn't purchased, it is something my aunt gave me years ago in this bag interesting trims that I think were mostly from the 70's. :) I honestly never thought I'd find a use for some of it, yet it keeps coming in handy. This orange looped yarn trim made perfect "straw".
I didn't have quite enough to put on the row between his shirt and overalls, as the pattern calls for, but I got it everywhere else.

We ended up using almost all of my interesting and unique buttons. This pattern requires 21 buttons!! It was fun to use my single or double leftover buttons and odd finds I've made for the birds eyes, boots, etc. Even his eyes don't match, the top one is a size larger than the lower one. I also didn't use gardening gloves, as I was trying not to spend any money on this project, so his hands are actually rubber household cleaning gloves. They are a tad big! lol.

I didn't have metal or plastic rings either, so I sewed braided yarn loops onto his back to hang him on the wall.

I love the cute little blackbirds, and think they are a great addition. Overall, I think this pattern is adorable,and makes a great fall decoration.

I didn't use batting as the pattern calls for, since I didn't have any on hand. I used fiberfill instead and just stuffed him pretty loosely. This makes him a bit puffier than the pattern version, but that has it's benefits, it means he can sit up for display, and doesn't HAVE to hang on the wall. As a matter of fact, I kind of like him sitting better than hanging, I think.

So, hello Mr. Scarecrow, and welcome Autumn!