Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween 2014 Recap

Just wanted to share a few pictures of our Halloween this year.
I did some stamping on the kids treat bags...
 ...then let them go to town on the other side.
 We also let Fiona go to town on the pumpkin design.
Just look at that concentration, this is bound to be a masterpiece right?
 Well, art is subjective.
Mama, for one, thought it was great but may have taken a little artistic license when doing the carving.
Cedric was uninterested in the face but thought gutting the pumpkin was too good to be true.
 We lucked out with a temperature of about 5 C.
 No snowsuit under the lion this year.
It was heartwarming to see Cedric wear this handmade costume that I, both my sisters and Fiona wore.
Good job making that one to last Mom.
 And no coat on this snow princess.
I raced behind her pestering "Fiona, are you cold? Fiona do you want your jacket?"
Each time the reply was a firm no.
The catch phrase of the night became "the cold never bothered her anyway."
Hope you had a great one too.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mary Margaret {Pearson} Horney

May 11, 1927 - Oct 30, 2014

Dear Gram,
I spent yesterday surrounded by children full of joy and life.
As they ran carelessly from door to door I could imagine you smiling and commenting how they were just "full of it".
It was Halloween, a day I can't recall ever spending with you.
But in a way it was a great day to remember your beautiful spirit.
My own kids love their GG and they are certainly not the first.
I saw you only once in your classroom of kindergarteners.
 I was Fiona's age and not yet in school but you let me participate with your kids.
I remember looking at you, my Gram the teacher, with even more awe.
You were one of the strongest, most confident and most intelligent women I knew.
And that was before I really knew you.
As a child you enriched my life in ways I couldn't understand and I often took that for granted.
You always wanted the best for us and you were anything but quiet about it.
As an adult I am so grateful to have had such a positive force in my life.
You were stylish.
I have few memories of you without a fabulous scarf, necklace, earrings or brooch.
But never too much, you were always accessorized to perfection.
You were sophisticated.
Literature, theatre, music, gardening, travel, you did it all.
We recently started visiting the public library again and the shelves of books make me think of you.
In my 20's I remember reading a book on your recommendation and being shocked at the racy content.
You never ceased to amaze me with your openness to experiences and change.
That Macbook that gave us so many face to face moments is just one of the many examples of how, even in your 80's, no skill was beyond you.
Not if it knew what was good for it.

I turned the radio to CBC2 to hear some classical music that you loved so.
The selection was gothic, meant to channel thoughts of the afterworld.
I laughed through the tears since I was sure that you would find some humour in the irony.
Thank you for those wonderful lazy days at the cottage, complete only when someone made a blueberry cobbler.
Thank you for those busy days in the city full of culture, falafel and lattes.

My african violet bloomed a couple of days ago and it prompted me to think of you.
Thank you for leaving us all with so many ways to remember your full and inspirational life.
Lots of love.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Elsa Costume {Oh Yes We Did}

I tried, I really did.
"Fiona" I said. 
"There will be so many Elsas this year" I said. 
"You don't want to be the same as everyone" I said.
I was wrong. 
She does in fact want, more than anything, to be Elsa.
And who am I to argue with this strong willed four and a half year old?
So I didn't.
 Instead I immediately started planning my very own inexpensive and relatively easy Elsa.
Elsa Costume
 Luckily I had 1.7m of blue stretch satin in a grab bag of craft supplies from my MIL so $0 for that.
I also had an old pair of white(ish, they were worn by a toddler after all) tights, $0 for those.
I bought:
  1 meter of snowflake organza = $6.
3 meters of elastic sequins = $9. 
Thread =$1
18cm closed-end zipper for $1.
{Gotta love that Fabricland membership.}
I started by making a little pattern for myself out of some spare fabric but this is not necessary.
Kid bodies are so easy to sew for since they are mostly curve-less.
For the bodice I measured Fiona's chest around {CA} and the distance from her underarm line to her high waist {UW}.
The bodice front was a rectangle w=CA x 0.5 {+3cm for seam allowance} h= UW {+3cm for seam allowance} with a little sweetheart shape freehanded in the top.
The bodice backs {you need 2 so just fold the fabric in half for this piece before cutting} were also rectangles w=CA x 0.25 (+3cm for seam allowance} h= UW {+3cm for seam allowance}.
 For the skirt I measured Fiona's high waist around {WA} and the distance from her high waist to the floor {WF}.
I cut one large piece w= WA x 2 {+3cm for seam allowance} h= WF {+3cm for seam allowance and hem}.
Then I marked a spot the distance of HW x 0.25 from each end of one side of the width and placed a straight line from the corner on the other end to this point. 
{Hopefully the pic makes that sentence a lot less confusing.}
The wider end will be the bottom hem and the more narrow end the waist.
{And yes that's a block in the last shot and I'm not even going back to edit it out.}
 Next I sewed each of the bodice backs to the front {right sides together}.
 Then I pinned the bodice to the waist at each end {yes they are different lengths}.
 To make these pieces fit I folded the whole thing in half and pinned as far as I could to the middle...
 ...then flattened it and made a pleat in the middle of the skirt.
 This pleat gives the skirt a bit of walking room in the front, preschoolers in pencil skirts could get ugly.
 The next step was a very lazy zipper installation.
I folded and ironed back 1.5cm on each side of the dress's back seam then sewed the zipper on one side with the top of the zipper about 1.5cm from top of the bodice.
I usually just tack the top of the zipper down so I don't have to sew it in when finishing the top.
 Next I pinned the other side of the zipper and sewed it {opening the zipper to sew the second side makes your life much easier}.
After getting the zipper in I sewed the back of the skirt together right up to the zipper bottom.
This is also when I finished the bottom hem {folded up twice 3/4cm each time}.
Then I folded the top of the bodice in twice {about 3/4cm each time as well}, ironed and pinned but did not sew yet.
 For the sleeves I cut the end of the feet off of the tights and cut right down the middle seam.
I attached each end of what was the tights' waistband at about the point where spaghetti straps would go then played with some pleating to fit the rest in.
 A cooperative kid helps to get the placement just right.
I mean look at this champ, all those pins and still smiling.
{Hopefully her smile has distracted you enough to not notice the mess in the background.}
 Now don't go sewing that seam just yet, first attach each salvage end of that meter of snowflake organza just outside the sleeve {I just did this one pin at a time so I didn't lose my sleeve pleating}.
Now you can finally sew all the way around that bodice top and finish the bodice, sleeves and part of the cape in one seam.
 You will have a big hoop of the cape material at the back which I simply pleated a couple of times and attached a small amount of elastic sequins to hold it together.
You obviously can't sew it tight since you need to be able to undo the zipper to get Elsa into her dress.
You can see how our back turned out in the very last picture.
I may still use a couple hook-and-eyes to bring to cape to the top of the bodice but I actually like the way it looks and the pleats give it a little billowy effect.
Finally the cape needs to be cut at floor length.
No matter how great it looked long, trains on preschoolers could also get ugly.
 Instead of sewing the bottom I simply saturated the cut edge with fray stop.
Love that stuff.
 I decided to sew on my own sequins since I couldn't find sequin material saturated enough for the bodice.
All I did was cut the elastic sequins in strips the length of the bodice front and sewed them on right next to each other with one line of stitches on the machine each.
I wanted to add some detail to the sleeves so used some silver fabric paint and a thin paint brush to add the lines Elsa has on her sleeves.
To paint these on I stuffed the top of the sleeves with potholders and propped them on top of some candles.
I also ended up gluing some stray sequins to the bottom of the skirt on Fiona's request.
 I would say the whole thing took me 2-3 hours and cost $17 {it would have been about $25 if I'd had to buy the stretch satin as well}.
Elsa Costume
 Fiona is thrilled and wears it any chance she gets.
Elsa Costume
Now I'm just praying that my construction holds up for another week plus of excessive wear.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Green Project: Prince Charming Costume

Still recapping the summer here but this costume post comes just in time for Halloween.
Fiona's BFF turned 5 in June and after his Mama blew my mind with some beautiful handmade doll bedding {I'll have to share that soon} for Feefs' birthday I knew I also wanted to get crafty for his gift.
Dress up is big in our house {and occasionally out of the house, like the grocery store, park, walk, etc.} and though Charlie has been a great sport dressing up in some pretty feminine frocks, I wanted to expand his options.
Presenting: Prince {Charl}ing.
DIY Prince Charming Costume
I had in my mind something similar to Prince William's wedding wear.
I considered starting from scratch but that's not really my style.
I decided instead to source out an outfit I could repurpose.
A trip to Value Village delivered this lovely ensemble for the bargain price of $6.98.
 Another $12 spent on the trimmings at Fabricland and I was all set.
 I started by turning the blazer inside out and ripping the side, shoulder and sleeve seams.
I used a jacket that I knew would fit Charlie and measured the width from collar to shoulder seam then marked that with a pin {remember to add 1.5cm for a seam allowance to each marking} on the blazer.
I then marked the midline and measuring the width of the torso on my model jacket to mark the side seam.
After cutting off all the extra by following the above pins on one side...
...I just folded the jacket in half on the midline that was already marked above and cut the second side to match.
To finish the torso I just sewed the side seams back together.
Now it was time to fit the sleeves.
Again, I grabbed the model jacket and measured the width of the sleeve at the top and bottom and pinned {with seam allowance} as well as the length.
After sewing the length of the sleeve and turning it right side out I fit it into the arm hole {you may have to work on this for a few minutes} and sew this seam.
A simple hem on the ends of the sleeves finishes them off.
I left the length as is since I wanted it a little long for the look but also so it would fit for a while.
I also left some extra length on the sleeves for the same reason.
The collar was an easy fix since lifting it up then folding it in on itself once made it quite princely.
I pinned some gold trim around the neck line before sewing the collar down to finish it off.
I started on the side with the buttons so that I could continue all the way down the front just inside the button holes.
After this I also replaced the buttons with some flashy gold ones.
The last detail on the jacket was to create some epaulettes. 
Some simple fringe folded in half and sewn down the middle did the trick.
Before I fastened one shoulder's epaulette I wanted to attach a sash, this is where the bright red blouse came in.
I was lucky to find one with a little embellishment but one without could also work.
I cut the button down part from top to bottom, sewed the bottoms together then used the top button to secure the bottom of the sash after putting it on.
I slipped the whole thing under one epaulette then sewed it in place since we all know accessories tend to go missing on kid costumes if they're not attached.
 And what kind of prince would he be without a crown right?
I actually don't know if I've ever seen Prince William sporting a crown but it still felt necessary.
I took a piece of gold lamé measured and cut to the diameter of Charlie's head {with an extra 3cm for seam allowance} then folded it in half and pinned it approximately every 3 inches.
 I used the pins to guide the points of my cut but otherwise just winged it.  
The crown could be made any shape or height here but I liked this simple look best.
Cedric was so excited about the crown {depicted below} that I was glad when my first attempt ended up a little small and could be kept for him.
 To give the crown some standing power I cut some fusible batting the same size as my folded lamé then ironed it on.
I stitched along the top {with the batting facing out}, cut the edge a couple mm from the stitch {an important step otherwise you won't get a nice shape at the top} then turned it right side out.
Once you turn it you need to work the points out which I usually do by hooking a straight pin into the fabric and pulling from the outside.
 To finish it off simply fold the ends of one side in, insert the other end into it and stitch on the outside {see below}.
DIY Prince Charming Costume
 I also bought some black pants and used the extra fabric from the blazer to sew a tuxedo stripe down the side but this is purely optional since plain black pants look just great.
 Now we have a legitimate prince costume to match the many princess dresses.
 Not to say this guy doesn't still rock the feminine garbs from time to time.
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