The Last Minute Costume

Finally getting a chance to post about my oldest son, J’s, Halloween costume.  He had a pretty clear idea early on what he wanted, so I only needed a few more bits to make it happen on Halloween day.

After I finished the little guy’s Ninjago outfit there was not a lot of time left. So I had to abandon my earlier ideas on how to finish the cape that J wanted.

He was wearing a black micro fleece pull-over and pants for the first layer, so my big concern was that he be visible in the dark. Granted our small town doesn’t have a lot of traffic, but I consider it betting against the odds to send anyone out at night in dark clothing.

He really like the sparkly green fabric that looked a bit like reptile scales. I was thrilled because the metallic reflective nature of it would increase his visibility.

So I did some quick measurements for length and width, then cut out basically a U shape with the top edge of the U being the selvage on one side.  Sat down at my serger and created a blind hem style casing along the selvage edge. Threaded a 14″ length of 1/4″ elastic thru the casing and tied a knot.

Presto, first layer of cape. And a scrap off one of the corners from the remnant as his  “eye patch” since the fabric is fairly sheer.

J also wanted an over layer made from the holey fuzzy black fabric I had bought.  At this point I’m down to about 35 minutes til they need to leave for the Halloween party.

Grab the fabric, black corded elastic, toggle closure, and the ever handy safety pins.

There are 2 yards of fabric and J is only 4 1/2 feet tall. Okay, fold it nearly in half.  Run the elastic thru the holes in the fabric (handy that). Gather up fabric on elastic and slide toggle into place. Knot ends of elastic so the toggle doesn’t fall off.

Place the double layered cape on J over the green sparkly cape.

Pull up top layer and drape about head and neck to create a hood. Use safety pins to secure into place.

With 10 minutes to spare, he is good to go. Mom is a hero again. Yay!

“You are the best Mom ever!” – My payment.

My husband took the boys out to the party and then trick-or-treating whilst I stayed home to greet goblins at our door. He said J wore the entire cape for the party, but the top black layer was too heavy (hey that is 2 yards of fabric) once he was outside.

So he was even more visible, because the green cape was on the outermost layer of his costume. That works!

By the Seat of my Pants

I had planned to get an earlier start on Halloween costumes this year, but once again it was a mad scramble to complete them.

My youngest had decided he wanted to be Kai from the Lego Ninjago series. I purchased a long sleeve red T-shirt for him from Target.  He had his ninja sword and head-band that he got at Lego Land when we were in California for Spring Break last march. So we were half-way there.

I had hoped to make some red pants and a Gee style jacket for him from some red micro-fleece I had on hand (Kai is always dressed in red in the show). I took his measurements yesterday, but being a bit rushed when designing the sewing pattern for his jacket I left it a tad small. The body fit him okay but the sleeves were super snug, no way a T-shirt was going under there.

Solution? Cut the sleeves off the jacket, which also was more of a “faux” jacket that pulled over his head. Belt was easy enough to make, just cut a length of  mirco-fleece.

Whoops, what about pants?

He had wanted to have boxy pants so he would look like a Lego “people”. So instead of having red pants I cut out 2 long strips of red micro-fleece and pinned them to some dark gray pants.  So glad that I have lots of small safety pins on hand.

At first he wasn’t too sure about this short-cut, but after we got him dressed in his costume he was very happy.

Soon I will have more details about the cape costume I made for my oldest. He was very happy with it, though ended up not wearing it the whole evening as it was a bit heavy for him. That is 2 yards of the black fabric you see on him in the photo above.

Ready Set Sew!

Today I had to drive down the mountain for a hair appointment, so I decided to get a few other errands out of the way.

One of those errands was a stop at my local Jo-Anns store to pick-up some fabrics for costumes for this coming Halloween.  It was really hard to decide on just one, so I got a few different cuts of fabric. My boys were very excited looking at the fabric when I got home, my ideas are being usurped by them for new ideas.  Come back later this month and you’ll get to see what we came up with.

It’s Magic!

Crochet is magical.  Any one of us that have even a basic familiarity with the art of the hook know this.

This past week I got to demonstrate another version of crochet magic. I was asked by my kids to create a “Merlin” cloak and hat as a birthday gift for one of their good friends. The birthday party was this past Saturday so I can post the pictures of the finished project now.

I had made a version of this costume for my oldest when they wanted to be Harry Potter for Halloween last year. What I needed: 1 1/2 yards of 60″ wide poly fleece, about 300 yards of acrylic yarn (I used 2 different colors), 24″ wide by 15″ tall piece of acrylic felt, size G hook, sewing needles and sewing thread.

The first part of this project was to cut out the “cloak” from the poly fleece.  The great thing about poly fleece for a project like this is I can leave the raw edge un-hemmed and it won’t fray.  The piece of  fleece I was using had a few bits cut out of it, so I had to work around that. I folded it in half and cut out the shape I wanted with a concave curved bit for the “collar”.  The photo shows the basic shape I cut out with the collar in place.

Then I blanket stitched along the collar area to give me an edge to crochet into. The collar itself was a single crochet base worked into the blanket stitching, then some slight increasing with double crochet stitches to create the shape I wanted. I wasn’t really following any type of pattern. Just going by a feel for how I wanted the finished collar to look, as well as including a “button-hole” for the button fastening.

You can see the button and button-hole better in this photograph.

Of course, it isn’t a real magic costume if you don’t have a hat. So I grabbed some black felt and cut out a shape to make a cone for the crown of the hat. To make the hat go more with the cloak I cut out some of the leaves and stars from the left-over scraps of fabric I had from the cloak.

I then sewed them in place with a simple whip-stitched edge. Once all the appliques were sewn on I rolled the felt into a cone and sewed the seam where the edges overlapped.

I crocheted a brim by starting with a foundation single crochet strip that was the right circumference for a good fit. Rounds of single crochet worked even and then in flat increases created the rest of the brim with a finishing round of double crochet worked even. After the crocheted brim was finished I used yarn and a zig zag hand stitch to attach it to the bottom of the felt cone.

The final costume was finished just in time to be wrapped and ready for my kids to give to their friend. The costume was a big hit and already has had some serious play time.

A Very Sharp Edge

As much as I love to crochet I have another craft I love that compliments crochet nicely. I sew. 

Lately most of my sewing has been about making project bags for my crochet endeavors, or linings for crochet projects.  Sewing isn’t as portable as crochet, and that is the reason I spend less time sewing lately.  My life is full of “on-the-go” situations and crochet can accompany me everywhere.

When I do sew, the biggest part of the task isn’t really the sewing…it’s the cutting out the fabric in the shapes to be sewn.  I am fortunate that I have a big table that is tall enough that I can cut at it without hurting my back.  Best of all it has a cutting mat on it so I can use my rotary cutter.

Rotary cutters are a necessity if you are doing more than cutting a single short line. Scissors are certainly an efficient means of cutting fabric, but they begin to take a toll on your hands after a while. It is also more difficult to get a clean cut with scissors, since you need to have the blades on either side of the fabric.

With a Rotary cutter, the blade slices thru from top to bottom with minimal disturbance of your fabric. Of course the sharper the cutter the easier it is to cut your fabric.

Which leads me to my least favorite part about rotary cutters. Their blades are very sharp and it is easy to cut yourself with them without even realizing it.  I have learnt the hard way not to use my rotary cutter when I am tired or distracted.

One safety feature I like about my Fiskar Rotary cutter is that the blade is retractable. This is nice from the standpoint of avoiding cutting myself, but it also helps keep the blades sharp longer as it isn’t bumping against other implements in my work basket.

I’ve had my rotary cutter for quite a while, so if you are looking to purchase your own rotary cutter there may be some better ones available now.  Either way, a nice sharp rotary cutter and mat can help keep your hands happy during your next big fabric cutting project.  Just remember to be careful of that very sharp edge.

Cold Little Fingers

Another week, another snow storm.  If your household is anything like mine many of the hats, mittens and gloves from the previous cold season have either been outgrown or have fallen into that black-hole that all laundry rooms seem to have.

I had a mad search for warm hand gear for my boys after our most recent snow storm. I found some good ski-gloves that still fit my oldest, but all I could find for my youngest was a pair of polar fleece mittens.  He loves to play in the snow, but is not terribly fond of how cold his little fingers get when his mittens get wet. 

I decided that he needed some wool mittens, which stay warmer when wet than polar fleece. I knew I wanted the fabric to be felted to allow for a bit better water-proofing, but I didn’t want to crochet the mittens and then felt them.

I grabbed my box of left-over felt pieces from when I was playing around with felting thrift-shop sweaters.  I remembered I had a couple of felted sleeves that I thought would be ideal. What I really loved about these sleeves was the rolled detail at the end of the sleeves.

Of course for this sewing task I needed a pattern. I drew around my little guy’s hand, then sketched some shaping.  I wanted to utilize the fold in the side of the sleeve to minimize the length of the final seam, so I did some manipulating to create a straight edge along the side opposite the thumb.

Then I turned the sleeves inside out and traced my pattern piece on the felt with a marker. Once that was done I cut out each mitten.

I used some sharp-pointed scissors to trim out a 1/4 inch of the cording in the cuff trim so the edges could be finished cleanly.

I dug out some matching thread and using a tight whip-stitch sewed an 1/8″ seam around the cut edges starting at the folded side of the mitten.  To be sure no gaps would develop along the seam, I overlapped my stitching whenever I had to re-thread my needle.

I used a simple mattress stitch to enclose the raw edges of the corded trim on the cuff to create a smooth join.

Voila’ a wonderful pair of mittens to keep some cold little fingers warm.