Dragoncon 2012 Part Deux

So, where were we? Dragoncon. Costumes. Geekery.

I pretty much had a plan for what costumes I was making for DC this year before last year’s con ended. And, as usual, that plan went right out the window. Blah blah blah procrastinationcakes. That wasn’t the only reason, but let’s run with it instead of getting bogged down with all the other boring crizzap.

You might have noticed that I’m kind of a big fan of Urban Threads. When the site unveiled its amazing Mechanica Aquatica designs a couple of months ago, I just knew I had to incorporate them into a DC costume. And thus the “Steampunk Mermaid” was born.

OK, she’s really not a mermaid but I wanted something that was very mermaid-y in feel. My character (if you will) is married to a man who runs aquatic adventures. Unfortunately, he’s been lost at sea since heading off on an expedition to find the lost city of Atlantis but I continue to dress as something of a walking advertisement for his business.

Untitled

Yes, another crummy phone pic. Some day I will get decent photos of this costume. Preferably a day when it’s not 92 freaking degrees outside with 80 percent humidity. Until then, we’ll all just have to deal.

There’s about six or seven hours of embroidery in this costume. Some of that was spent on designs that didn’t turn out so well. I’m still counting them. In addition to what you can see here, there also are two of the fish borders on the back of the skirt and an “embossed” compass rose on the purse. I’m also wearing a free-standing lace choker. Yep, all of it’s from UT.

The corset is a pattern by Truly Victorian and I love it beyond all reason. The printed fabric is an Asian quilting fabric by Quilt Gate. They’re actually fans but I flipped them upside down to look more like scales. Cool, eh? The shiny fabric is from a piece in my stash that I bought at Fabric World. I’m 100 percent certain it’s 100 percent synthetic but it was perfect for this costume. Because I omitted the busk in the corset, I used something like 8 or 10 yards of lacing in the back. It’s still a bit of a struggle to pull on and off but I really like the centered design on the front.

The skirt is a modified version of Butterick 4954. I added some fin-like details on the sides, a peplum in back and — my favorite touch — metallic copper pintucks on the lower portion of the skirt to mimic fish tails. Without all the embroideries and extras, I probably could have made the skirt in an hour or two. As is? Yeah, a lot longer.

To top it all off, I made a leather pirate hat fascinator. It’s my first time working with leather and I’m so lucky to have a friend who makes leather armor (among other things). Totally tapped into that wealth of knowledge, let me tell ya. (Thanks again, Stephen!)

I put together a Flea Market Purse from The New Handmade to go with, made with purple no-whale corduroy and lined with the same shiny fabric from the corset. Normally, I’d add pockets to the skirt but the design didn’t really lend itself to on-seam pockets so a purse it was.

 


Dusting Off The Paperweight

I love my embroidery machine but I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t get nearly enough love. And by “love” I mean “use.” It’s just not something I necessarily think about when I’m planning a sewing or crafting project. I’m trying to be better about that and am really happy with a couple of recent projects that required my embroidery machine.

A friend asked if I could make her daughter’s first-birthday-photos dress. Of course I said yes! I actually made matching dresses, one for K and another for her older cousin E. The dresses are identical Miss Madelines (by The Handmade Dress) with the girls’ initials embroidered on the aprons.

As soon as I saw this cool #1 Teacher badge on the SWAK Embroidery newsletter, I knew it would be the perfect thing for Teacher Appreciation Week at Miss L’s preschool. I’ve never done an in-the-hoop project before, so I was a little nervous. But the badge stitched out perfectly on the first try! I’m so glad I have this file now, because I can definitely see using it again and again.


Sweet Dreams

Early in 2009, I made a Sleep-Over Quilt for Miss L using some of Patty‘s first line for Michael Miller, Andalucia. I realized right away what a great gift it would make and planned to whip up some for Christmas. Little did I know that I’d be swamped with a major deadline around the holidays and would not have the chance to stick with my plan!

Of course, I wasn’t willing to give up on making at least a few gifts, especially one I thought would be enjoyed by my nieces. So I took an unexpected detour and bought prequilted fabric. It may not have the same cachet as something sewn and quilted personally, but I took a gamble that our 4- and almost 7-year-old nieces wouldn’t mind.

I found the fabric at JoAnn ETC and was surprised to see Dena Designs on the selvedge (Dena also designs fabric for Freespirit/Westminster). A quick sprint through the aisle helped me find two coordinates I could use for the pockets. (The green dot binding came from my stash.)

Originally I thought to use the trimmed quilted fabric for the straps and would just bind the edges but that didn’t quite work out the way I envisioned. Instead, I used some nylon strapping I had on hand. I’m optimistic it will hold up as well. It’s not an heirloom type of quilt, so the modification didn’t really bother me.

I added a personal touch to each quilt by embroidering the girls’ names on the outermost pocket. The personlization stitched out while I worked on the pockets, and really didn’t add any time to the project. All in all, I think I wrapped up both blankets from start to finish in one day. Not bad for a last-minute homemade gift!


Checker This Out

Probably the biggest challenge of my crafty Christmas has been coming up with gifts appropriate for the guys in my life. And of that category, the next challenge was coming up with something for little boys — specifically, my almost-7-year-old nephew. Last year, I made him a cool knight’s cape and shield, so I really didn’t want to make him any dress-up stuff for this Christmas.

And then … epiphany. I remembered a neat play quilt I saw on the floor at Intown Quilters. I hadn’t looked at it too closely but I did notice that it featured a checkerboard, complete with fabric checkers. (I found out later from Sarah is that it’s a free pattern from Michael Miller Fabrics, Checkers in the Garden.)

To make your own checkerboard blanket, you’ll need three fabrics. I think I bought one yard of the main fabric (used for the border  and the back of the blanket) and a half yard each of the other two fabrics (used for the checkerboard and the closing straps). You also need fusible fleece (my piece measured 26.25″x26.25″) and Velcro (I bought a package with three sets of pre-cut squares).

Using your rotary cutter and ruler, cut your two fabrics for the checkerboard into four 3″ strips. Set the excess fabric aside.

Lay out your fabric strips, alternating the two fabrics. Stitch together with a 1/4″ seam and press all the seams in the same direction. Use your rotary cutter and ruler again to cut eight 3″ strips across  your sewn striped panel.

Pick up every other strip and turn it to the opposite end so that you form a checkerboard pattern with the strips. Sew the strips together with a 1/4″ seam and press the seams in the same direction.

From your third (main) fabric, cut two strips that measure 3.5″x20″ and two strips measuring 3.5″x26.5″ (before cutting, you may want to measure your checkerboard to make sure the numbers are correct for your project).

Match the long edges of the 20″ strip to the left and right sides of your checkerboard, then sew together with a 1/4″ seam. Press the seams toward the border pieces. Next, match the long edges of the 26.5″ strips to the top and bottom edges of the checkerboard and shorter border pieces. Sew them together with a 1/4″ seam and press the seams toward the border. Set aside.

Use your rotary cutter and ruler to cut two 3.5″x12″ strips from one (or both) of your reserved checkerboard fabric. Match the long edges of one piece, right sides together, and sew with a 1/4″ seam. Position the seam in the center of the tube and press open. Repeat with the other strip. Put the sewn tubes on your cutting mat and use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut 4″ from one end of each tube. Sew closed one end of each of the four pieces, then turn each tube right side out and press.

Place one short and one long tube together, right sides together, and match the raw edges. Baste near the raw edge. Set aside.

(Before cutting these next pieces, measure your bordered checkerboard to make sure the numbers match your project.) Cut one piece of fusible fleece and one piece of your main fabric to 26.25″x26.25″. Follow the fusible fleece directions to adhere it to the wrong side of your bordered checkerboard.

Next, lay the fleeced checkerboard right side up on your worktable. Grab the pair of attached tubes and place the first pair so the inside edge lines up with the right edge of the second row of checkerboard. Pin in place (the raw edges of the tube should line up with the raw edge of the border). Place the remaining pair on the opposite side of the checkerboard, with the inside edge lined up with the left edge of the seventh row of checkerboard. Pin in place, then baste both straps to the border.

Place your main fabric square (the one that allegedly measures 26.25″ square) with the right side on the top of your checkerboard. Pin together and sew with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 4″ gap on one side (no more than 2 inches from any corner) so you can turn your board right side out. Trim the corners, making sure not to clp into the stitches. Pull the fabric right side out through the gap, then press, making sure to turn under the edges of the gap. Topstitch around the perimeter of the blanket, close to the edge. (Be sure to move the straps out of the way as you topstitch!)

Measure over 3/4″ from the edge of the shorter strap and pin one of the Velcro tabs to the piece, then stitch it down. (The seam of the tube should be on the underside of the strap.) Repeat with the other shorter strap. Repeat the measurement and Velcro application with the longer strap, except you’ll need to sew it to the seamed side (and make sure that you pair up the hook and loop pair appropriately, or else the straps won’t hold closed). Now you’re done! You can roll up the checkerboard and fasten it closed with the straps.

I made my checkers by tracing 2.5 inch circles on a piece of fleece, then embroidering a crown (the design came with my Babylock Emoré)  in each circle (actually 12 crowns on each of two colors of fleece). I stacked the embroidered fleece on a sheet of plain fleece, then sewed within the circle to secure the pieces together. I used the traced circle as my cutting guide for each checker.



One Down …

Sixteen to go!

I dug out my Sublime Stitching book yesterday morning and selected a few transfers to use on these tea towels I picked up at the craft store. I bought the book last year but had not done anything with it, other than flip through the pages and admire Jenny Hart’s handiwork. I know: Bad Mary!

Because I have Craft ADD, I have plenty of things like embroidery floss, needles and hoops. Dug them out of the pit that has become my craft closet, and got to work. I thought some outlining really did these patterns justice, with just a touch of satin stitch and cross-stitch. I kind of view these towels as a set, even though they aren’t identical, so I used blue with a bit of yellow on all the serving pieces.

Honey was very sweet in admiring my handiwork last night, and agreed that they would make good gift ideas for Christmas. Guess I’ll be doing some more embroidery this year!