Monday, January 6, 2014


Dear All:

For 2014 I am renewing my efforts to make costuming masterpieces, but I'll be reporting on my efforts from a new home:

For those of you who have left inquiries regarding the Rapunzel embroidery transfers. Unfortunately, the site where I was hosting the files has been discontinueed and I seem to have NOT preserved my .pdf copies. So I'm trying to find what I did with the original drawings, and so far I've come up with zero there too. So far.

So sorry!

In any case, the new website is one central stop for all my goals and plans for the year, and, hopefully, news about the books I'm working hard to get published.

All the sewing-related stuff will be under the tags "sewing adventures" or "costuming adventures" (or both). Here is the 2014 kickstart entry. I've recently joined the smartphone generation, so I'll also be better about pictures.

So, anyway. I'll leave this site up but I'm closing down comments as best I can.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A new costume for 2013

Hi there! Obviously, I haven't updated this blog in eons, mostly because I've taken a year off of any big costume projects, choosing instead to focus on my writing.

However, something came across my radar that I simply cannot resist taking on as a new costume for Dragon Con 2013.

I will let it speak for itself:


I already have the jumper and the sirens and I know how I'm going to start on the goggles. More posts to come!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Tale of Rose Red, Part 7

Isn't it wonderful how fortuitously things sometimes align sometimes? 


Some friends of ours from church have a home away from home in southern Ohio-- a small cottage with all the amenities. About a half a mile up the hill in the woods they also have a one-room, furnished log cabin that the husband built himself as a hobby.

Well, my mother and I got invited to stay there this weekend for a relaxing getaway. I took my sewing along, naturally, since I needed to finish the trim on the Red Cloak. Thinking about these woods and this cabin, I took a gamble and folded up the rest of my costume as well.

In a mad rush Sunday morning I finished off the last of the trim, hand-basted the right side together, and then we climbed up the hill to that cabin and did some wonderful shots. I will let them speak for themselves!

The Tale of Rose Red, Part 6

Clearly, the most important thing you need if you're going to be Little (or Tall) Red Riding Hood is a red cape and hood.

I splurged. I meant to try and be economical and find something sufficient, but it was not to be. I found this red wool suiting (it was on sale, but I still don't want to admit what I paid for it), and it was so perfect-- the color, the drape, the heft. I could not resist.  I bought the blasted red wool for real.

That part was expensive, but easy.

The cloak construction itself was easy enough too. I used McCall's M6420 because I already had it and I figured a cloak is a cloak. Eh... I don't know who this cloak was designed for. Maybe Darth Vader wearing linebacker shoulderpads. I ended up reducing the curvature of the shoulders severely on this pattern. I also narrowed the panels and it doesn't quite close, but it's supposed to hang nicely open, so that was just my call.

The next adventure was the side slits for her arms to go through. At first I thought they'd be easy enough to add to the middle sides of the cloak, until I looked more closely at the pictures and realized the slits were on the inside of the trim, closer to the body. This required some creative finagling but I made it work. 

The next problem became what to do about the mystery trim on her cloak. Can you tell what it's made of? Because I certainly cannot.

This is the best picture I could come up with on short notice, but I have consulted quite a few, and best I can tell it's unspun wool that's been tacked down onto the cloak. And some embroidery. And the cloak itself has been distressed in between so the whole thing is very fuzzy.

After roaming around JoAnn's and considering several options, I finally bought three skeins of super fuzzy yarn in dark purple, lavender, and white. Someday I will stop needing to buy things in lavender.

Then I scrounged through the sewing supplies I inherited from my mother and found a lovely, blunt tapestry needle with a big huge eye.

I used the needle to make willy-nilly patterns along the border like so.... (the white trim was very minimal)

A look at the full cloak after the first night of yarn experiments.

I put all the trim on first before sewing back the edge of the border so it's a nice, tidy finish with no understitching showing through.

And those are all my notes on cloak construction! Onward to the main event!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Tale of Rose Red, Part 5

There have been many happenings in costuming world of late, folks. The Red Riding Hood effort is coming along nicely. 

For example, I finished the vest!
(Followed the pattern, added 3 inches of length, disregarded the eyelets)

I bought the garment clasps here. Specifically "Tudor Rose" in antique pewter.

And then I finished the skirt! Pretty straight-forward. Just followed the pattern. I'll probably shorten it by about two inches when everything else is done. It's kind of... trippy right now.

Everything all together!!

Some close-ups for detail...


(The fake bow still needs to be attached. Whoops)

And just because I got some extra-adorable photos... some kitty cuteness!

 Lucy thinks if I lay anything down flat anywhere it is her duty to sit on it. In this case, she made a whole nest for herself.


The two of them also had a brilliant time playing in the "cave" formed by the voluminous medieval skirt on the dress form.

 And then, you know, Toby turned into an Alien and Lucy caught him for me.

Last but not least, my favorite:

You know how sometimes you take a picture by accident and it looks more brilliant than anything you could've ever gotten by trying. This is especially true of cats, who don't ever cooperate with anything you WANT them to do. Fortunately, Toby can't help but look gorgeous. I may have this one framed.

And yes, for those of you who are wondering, that is a suspiciously red cloak-like material he's hiding behind there!

... stay tuned!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red Riding Hood blouse writeup

Red Riding Hood Blouse
Alteration notes

Base Pattern:  Butterick 6196, peasant blouse

(1) Shorten the sleeve by six inches.

(2) Narrow the sleeve by two and a half inches.

(3) Cut the sleeve into strips based on the following measurements (from the bottom of the  seam).

Base (cuff) 4 1/2"
Lace (bottom) 4"
Center (narrow) 2"
Lace (top) 4"
Shoulder (remainder)

I also lengthened the bottom of the skirt by three inches to make sure it was long enough to emulate Red's blouse.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Tale of Rose Red, Part 4

The blouse is finished!

(Reference photo)

Last night was a magical night on the sewing front. I called a friend to ask if I could raid her elastic supply since I needed elastic to proceed and I didn't feel like driving all the way to the nearest place I could get some.

She brought some 1/4" and 1/8" samples. Sandry has a cool stitch that allows me to zig zag elastic straight onto a gather without having to worry about casing and the like, and I'd already practiced using it some weeks earlier. So after a quick trial run with the crinkle chiffon fabric I was able to finish off the garment in the following steps:

(1) I narrow hem serged the edges of the cuffs.
(2) Gathered the cuffs and sewed down the elastic.
(3) Assembled the four pieces of the peasant blouse (back, front, two sleeves). I believe I may have mentioned in an earlier post about how much I adore the simplicity of this shirt's construction. Or maybe that was just on Facebook.
(4) Narrow hem serged the edge of the neckline and hem.
(5) Did a test gather of the neckline and a fitting.

Now, here is where the turn of events took me by surprise. My game plan has always been up to this point to build a casing for the neck, make a drawstring, and finish off the shirt in that way (see reference photo). But as soon as I put the shirt on it became apparent that even were I to do all that, it wouldn't really resemble Red's blouse exactly because her shirt is much more gathered than mine will ever be. I needed about twice the shirt.

What I did have was lovely and "close enough". I also felt emboldened by my success with the elastic on the cuffs so instead of bothering with casing and all that extra work, I just took the rest of the 1/8" elastic and did the same thing to the neckline. The result is what you see at the top of this post.

(If you squint you can kinda sorta see the zig zag stitches that attach the elastic to the fabric)

Technically, I still have to add a faux bow to "complete" the shirt, but that's an afterthought.

So after probably four complete days' worth of work testing the sleeves, practicing special stitches on my new machine, and learning new techniques on my serger, all my hard work came together in one surprisingly productive evening and a finished garment.

The even better news? I chose starting with the blouse because I knew all this learning and trial and error would probably make it the most difficult of all of Red's ensemble for me. So, theoretically, it's all downhill from here!

Let's check the to-do list:

I. Blouse
II. Vest
III. Skirt
IV. Cape
V. Petticoat
VI. Boots, Gloves
VII. Hair, Basket, etc.
So I'll be eagerly working on the vest, next, which is #2 in intimidation factor because of the Very Special and Expensive fabric that I bought. It's also my first time using boning as called for by a pattern, but that doesn't really worry me. 

First, though, I'll work up a summary reference post on how I made the blouse (including specific adjustments, etc), should anyone wish to emulate my take on it.