Thursday, October 30, 2008

Penguin progress Part 9 and penguin giveaway!

Riddle: What do you get when you cross a penguin with an alligator?

They're done! 2 Penguin costumes are in the mail on their way to Alabama to two twin two-year olds for halloween. I sure hope they, and their parents like them, and that they fit. I think they're cute. Here's a picture of one finished. I should have pictures of the girls in them this weekend.

(and I know I've already posted these pictures of the hood but I wanted to post the whole costume together.)

Since I had a bit more penguin scrap leftover I decided to make a postcard as a giveaway! This is Floyd the Florida penguin. He's come out to play because it's been in the 40s this week at night... in October...

...but it won't stay that way for long so Floyd is looking for a new home, maybe yours! Leave a comment to this post and on Monday I will randomly pick a new home for Floyd from those who entered. Make sure to leave an email or link so that I can contact you in case you're the winner! Good luck!

Answer: I don't know, but don't try to fix its bowtie!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back to the Future Wednesday

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
~Albert Schweitzer

This week's featured future project is Simplicity 9004

I want to try my hand at a non-garment sewing project, so this looks like lots of fun, for me to make and for my kitties to enjoy. I can't decide which one to make. I'm torn between the fish because, well, it's just super adorable, and the tent because then I could use a kitty print fabric.

I want to mention that these projects that I'm featuring on Back to the Future Wednsesdays are projects that I actually plan on getting to relatively soon, and pretty much in the order I'm presenting them. This may be one though, that I'll work on a little throughout to help alleviate the frustration I can only imagine will come with this project. :) I'll keep you updated once I choose which to make and once I have the fabric for it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Penguin Progress hinderence

Riddle: What do you sing to a penguin on its birthday?

When I needed a break from working on the penguin costumes the last few weeks I worked on another project inspired by the costumes, and a birthday present for my friend and co-worker, Natalie since she loves penguins

I had to wait to post this until after her birthday so I wouldn't ruin the surprise, but without further ado here it is:

It's a wall hanging of a penguin with little interchangeable accessories, and friends, that are held on with velcro. A great majority of this was made with scraps from the penguin costumes, and other scraps from my bin. I'm quite happy with how it turned out! :)

One of my kittens, Grace, LOVED the little heart. No matter where I put it she found a way to get to it and then carried it around the house. Finally I broke down and made her one. Here she is enjoying it.

Answer: Freeze a jolly good fellow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Penguin progress Part 8

Riddle: Where do penguins go to dance?

You may recall that I drafted the pattern pieces for the penguin costumes 1 size smaller than the smallest size the pattern allowed. However, because this was a child's size costume and not a toddler's size costume, it was still too tall. So I had to cut off some from the bottom - 5 inches. Sadly I didn't realize this until after I'd gotten the front and back pieced together. Since the tail was in the center back seam and 5" from the bottom, I also had to figure out what to do with it. My original plan was to open the side seam up 5" past the tail so that I could move it up 5" before cutting off the bottom. After some inspection, though, I decided that in fact I could open the seam up a couple of inches past the tail and cut a bit off the bottom.

(this picture may be a little difficult to see, but it's the open back seam with the tail piece in the middle ready to be cut)

After cutting the costume smaller I decided that the tail was too big anyways, and if I'd tried to move it up then the tail would have started way up high on their backs. So cutting off part of the tail it was. Then I folded over the bottom of the tail stitched it closed (leaving an opening for stuffing), and then closed the back center seam.

Then I marked my new cutting line 5" from the old cutting line.

I cut off the extra piece and then continued on as normal. Happily, my alteration made them almost exactly the right height!

Get ready: my next penguin progress post will be the finished penguin suit!

Answer: At the snow ball.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Penguin Progress Part 7b

Riddle: Why do penguins carry fish in their beaks?

So you may have been wondering what all the source of my frustration was from post 7a, and the answer is..... bias tape.

Sewing the bias tape to the neckline was a giant pain in the a**. I broke something like 5 needles during my attempts (I lost count). The difficult part was getting past the seams which were thick and doubled over in some places because of the construction, and the extra thickness the padding in the wings added made it difficult to turn the costume very smoothly. I really was ready to throw in the towel. I didn't, though. I managed to fight my way through and get it sewn on to both of them. It doesn't look incredibly pretty, but it's on there, and I guess it's not TOOO bad for a costume - at least that's what I'm telling myself.

The horribly wavy stitching, the knots in some places - sigh. You may have even noticed the two lines on the back part - that's because the directions said to baste it on the inside and then stitch it on the outside, but back there where there's two lines is where I was unable to get out the stitches because they were too small from my machine getting snagged on the seams. Anyways, on the second costume I just did the stitching once to save myself some aggravation. It was a good choice.

Answer: Because they haven't got any pockets.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Penguin Progress Part 7a

Anyone know where I can buy two penguin costumes that look somewhat like a beginner sewed them?


Penguin progress Part 6

Riddle: Why are penguins so popular on the internet?

I've now finished one hood. It took me all Friday night to put it together, but it looks like it's going to fit. I tried to take a measurement but so far I've been unsuccessful at getting a very good idea of it's fit. It's supposed to have elastic in the back to help hold it tight against the child's head, but I think it'll be fine without it so I've omitted it. Here's a pic as modeled by my trusty vacuum cleaner (since my head is too big). :)

Cute picture add on: Best pals

Answer: Because they have Web feet.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Penguin Progress Part 5

Ridde: How does a penguin build its house?

Well, I've decided that I need to do a few minor major alterations to give the costumes a fighting chance of fitting the girls. Right now, without the neck line finished, or the legs finished, the costumes are 34½" tall. The taller of the two girls is 26½" from the base of her neck to her ankle, and the other is 2" shorter. That makes the costume MUCH too tall, and since we know that the #1 cause of accidental injuries on halloween is tripping, that just will not do. (or maybe you didn't know that, but now you do :D).

I think I can cut a bit off the bottom of the costume, but I need to decide how much, but I'm pretty sure it needs to be more than 5". 5" is a relevant number because that is how far up the tail is (already) attached from the bottom of the costume. This means that in order to cut enough off of the bottom I'm going to have to open up the back seam, move the tail up, and then close the back seam again. GAH!

I only have 1 week from tomorrow till halloween, and I HAVE to get the penguins in the mail by Monday in order to ensure that they're there by Friday!

How do I always manage to do this to myself? I've been thinking about these since the first of September, "Two months is PLENTY of time" I said, and yet somehow I'm not done 1 week before. In college it was the same way, I'd start on a project WAY early, but somehow by the time it was due I was always scrambling at the last minute to finish it. I thought I'd outgrown that in grad school since I didn't really do that there, but I'm beginning to think that instead it's more that I just didn't really have any deadlines, so there was no place for last minute scrambling to occur. Sigh. Guess I better quit complaining and get to work! :)

Answer: Igloos it together

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to the Future Wednesday

"I've found that you don't need to wear a necktie if you can hit."
~Ted Williams, American baseball player

This week's featured future projects are the ties for B and my Dad (since neither one of them can hit). If you recall I'll be using this fabric for my Dad and making it as a Christmas present

and this fabric for B as his souvenir from NYC, albeit a few months after I actually returned.

I bought this pattern to use.

The tie seems fairly simple and straightforward, and it seems like they'll be really fun to make. Though this is my first time working with fairly expensive fabric, so I'm a little nervous about cutting into it.

Go Rays!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Giveaway link

This is quite possibly the most amazing giveaway I've seen yet.
A child's 18th century french gown a la Marie Antoinette.
It's quite gorgeous! You should check it out.

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Penguin progress Part 4

Riddle: How do a group of penguins make a decision?

Ah ha! Thanks to Gwen of After the Dress I have put the wings together - they just needed to be forced to be pinned together. Rather than lying flat against each other, they are pinned together such that it buckles out. It all makes sense now, I mean there has to be a place to put an arm, but it just didn't occur to me until she showed me what to do. So thanks Gwen! Here's the wings made to fit and pinned together.

Then I attached them to the body and viola! They're starting to look like actual penguin costumes now!

Then I just had to share this next picture.

Here's my kitty, Hugh, licking his chops as if to say "I almost ate it all, but I saved a wing just for you!"

Answer: Flipper coin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Past project Wednesday becomes Back to the Future Wednesday

Well I've now gotten my blog up to date on all my past projects, so past project Wednesday is now converted to Back to the Future Wednesday where I will report on the projects I have lined up and/or need to get to.

Next on my list is an outfit I'm making for my mother, she picked out Simplicity 4193 for me to make her the skirt and the jacket as a Christmas present.

She's coming to visit the second week of November, so while she's here we will go shopping for the fashion fabric and hopefully I will have a muslin version ready for a fitting. I think she's a brave woman agreeing to this considering these will be my first adult pieces of clothing to sew. :-O

Though she may not have actually realized this yet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Penguin progress Part 3

Riddle: What do you call a penguin in the desert?

I'm a bit stuck on the penguins right now. The next step was to sew the wing back and the wing back lining together with the padding in the middle and I've done that. But then I'm supposed to sew the wing back and the wing front together, but they don't match up. AND the directions aren't being very helpful since the picture doesn't seem to match the directions.

The directions say

"10. With RIGHT sides together, pin wing front to wing back. Stitch shoulder and underarm edges together."

This is illustrated by the accompanying picture (10):

My wing front and wing back put together right sides together (which doesn't match the picture).

I know I'm supposed to stitch some of the edges together, but I can't figure out which ones, and if I stitch along the white then I end up cutting off all that black at the top and that doesn't seem right...

If anyone can provide me any insight into what I'm supposed to do next, I'd really appreciate it.

Answer: Lost.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Penguin Progress Part 2

Riddle: Why don't penguins like rock music?

The next step, was to construct the wings. Each wing has a front and a back, and a layer of padding in between. Each front has a hole for their little hands to poke through. I don't have a water soluble pen, so I had to put the pattern piece on each front and cut out the hole using the marking on the tissue paper.

Then around each hole goes a knit cuff. Being new to sewing, this is my first experience working with knit fabric. I knew that you're supposed to use a stretch stitch, so I figured out how to do that on my machine. But this kept happening:

I finally got fed up and just used a regular straight stitch. I'm not exactly sure what it will mean ultimately, but the seam is so little, hopefully it won't matter.

To attach the two cuffs,

I pinned each one to the wing holes with the raw edges matching.

The directions said to stretch the knit fabric to fit the hole and pin it before sewing, but I found my sewing was actually much cleaner if I put in those key center pins, and just stretched the fabric as I needed around the curved edges.

Otherwise the fleece tended to bunch under the knit and I got bubbles like this one.

I found this out with trial and error on each subsequent wing since I was unable to remove the tiny white stitches from the fleece to correct my mistake(perhaps I should have basted the cuffs on initially).

Finally the directions said to stitch near the cuff seam to hold the seam back against the inside of the wing, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to do this on my machine, so I hand stitched them. Here's the finished wing front with cuff.

It's not perfect, but I'm pretty ok with how it looks, and considering the whole thing is probably going to be a little baggy on them I don't think the wrinkles and bulges that are there will be very noticeable anyways. Besides no one will be looking that close. I have to keep reminding myself of this. :)

To be continued...

Answer: They only like sole.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Penguin progress Part 1

**each post in this series will begin with a riddle and end with it's answer. Just to keep it fun. :)**

Riddle: Why don´t you see Penguins in Britain?

It's time for my penguin costume series to begin. As a reminder, I'm making penguin costumes for my twin 2 year old nieces for halloween.

The smallest size of the pattern was still too big for them , so I redrafted it one more size smaller in an attempt to make it the right size. Then, of course, I cut out the pieces. I was going to just do one costume at a time but I hate cutting so much I cut out all the pieces at once just to get it over with. I was then going to put the costumes together one at a time, but once I realized I was going to need to change the thread color multiple times (white and black) I decided to do them in parallel. It's working out quite nicely.

I put the front and the back of the costumes together and attached the tail. Each tail has a hole left in it so that it can be stuffed later. This'll make the tail stand out and wag when they walk, making it extra cute!

I fear, despite my efforts to make the pattern a size smaller, that they are still going to be too big for the girls - even if they wear clothes underneath them. I've contemplated taking in more at the seam but I'm more afraid of making it too small than I am of leaving it too big. At least if it's too big then they could potentially wear it next year, or my sister could do a little pinning and they could still wear them this year. I wish they lived closer so that we could have a "fitting". :)

Answer: Because they're afraid of Wales.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Past Project Wednesday

"Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics, when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew; especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied."
~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859

I needed a gift for a friend who sews - actually my friend from after the dress who started *me* sewing. So, I felt like it had to be a good sewing kind of gift, and since I really enjoy making gifts, I made this pincushion

side 1

side 2

following this tutorial . It was actually pretty easy. I made a couple of them, and lo and behold decided I liked this first one I made. Why did I make a couple you might ask? Well first of all after I finished the first I learned how to do invisible stitches. Since the first one had my own version of a closing stitch and I wasn't real happy with it, I felt I needed to make another. Also, the first version was pink (her favorite color) and white on one side and green and white on the other
so I thought I'd try to make an all pink and white one. Ultimately though, I liked the contrast of the pink and green, so I decided to fix the closing stitch, and give the first one.

Finally, I made shrinky dink pins from this tutorial using the graphic of Gwen's designer label to put in the pin cushion. For the pins I used inkjet shrinky dink plastic.

This is the final product.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fabric Stash

Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique.

Whilst in New York I did a bit of fabric shopping. Here are my finds:

  • 2 tie silks.
1 for B as his souvenir from NYC and the other for my dad. I let B pick the one he liked. So he'll get a tie out of this

and my Dad will get a tie out of this for Christmas.

  • 2 silks

along with this pattern!

This will be my first sewing project for myself. My friend Natalie assisted in the selection of the material, and I have to say she did quite a fabulous job. The pink silk matches the flowers in the print perfectly. So eventually I will have a nice print skirt and solid top for myself. I'm rather excited about this prospect.

  • a fun polka dot print (not sure what the material is, perhaps rayon?)

I don't know what I'm going to do with it just yet, but I'm sure I'll figure out something.

  • and finally this cotton print for my nieces.

I really debated on this one. I fell in love with it in the store, but it's so summery and with winter coming I knew I'd need to wait to make anything out of it until at least next spring to be sure that it will fit them (since they're growing like weeds). But I went ahead and bought it and I have to say I'm quite satisfied that I did. It's probably my favorite of all my purchases from New York. Now I have quite a queue built up. I guess I better get busy! :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Past project Wednesday (one day late)

"Christmas, in its final essence, is for grown people who have forgotten what children know. Christmas is for whoever is old enough to have denied the unquenchable spirit of man."
~ Margaret Cousins

One of my other hobbies (besides sewing) is counted cross-stitching. I've been cross stitching since I was a teen. I typically take on huge intricate projects and since my time and motivation for it comes in spurts, it usually takes years and years for a project to finally be finished.

I started a Christmas stocking for myself around 8 years ago. I finally finished the cross-stitching on it this past spring and I got around to sewing it all together tonight. Here's the finished product.

By the way, I don't usually like making things for myself. It gives me more joy to make things for others, and this is one of the only things I've ever made for myself.