Lion(ess) Costume

In light of it being Halloween weekend, I thought I’d dedicate this one to the lion costume I made Charles in 2008.  I bought my first sewing machine for my first real sewing project.  Aside from making small throw pillows as Christmas gifts in high school and a couple of pillowcases on my grandmother’s old school sewing machine, I had no experience.  I knew nothing about sewing patterns, tailoring, or just about anything that would have come in handy at the time.  I literally just went to Jo-Ann’s and bought enough lion-esque fabrics to cover him up.

The "Before"

I started by holding up one side of the tan fabric to his back and traced an outline around him on the wrong side of the cloth.  Charles made one thing really clear before I got started – the costume needed to keep him cool.  I cut and stitched together an extremely baggy body suit and purposely made the legs short so that he could get some extra air circulation.  After a few more episodes of repeatedly having him try on the suit, pinning it, and taking in like the n00b seamstress I was (and still am), here is what I came up with:

Sleeves to come later...

I stitched velcro closures on the back, and then sewed the arms on.  I thought I was done with the body suit, but at the next fitting, I noticed some unusual and awkward flaps in the crotch area.  I had turned Charles from a lion to a (quite anatomically correct) lioness:

Travesty.

Yikes.   After a few nips and tucks, he looked a bit more like a Ken doll and less like a woman.  I gave the tail some life by stuffing it with polyester pillow form and made the paws out of the same cloth, black felt paper, and some faux fur.  The paws also had a velcro closure.  I didn’t want to create a full on lion ‘do because it definitely would have caused overheating issues, so I made a headband-mane by rolling the faux fur into a tube and sewing it closed.  Then I sewed ears onto the sides with ties at the ends.

Here is the outcome from my very first apparel-making experience:

Finished Product

I included some more photos in the gallery – click on a thumbnail to view it larger.

Robot Appliqué Pillowcases – Part 1

Disclaimer:  The “everywhere” in “AT-AT Everywhere” applies to several things – one of them being my attention span.  That being said, this project is getting divvied up into multiple entries and probably interspersed between other posts .  I will (try to) give a pseudo how-to, since I didn’t pull this project from any of my nifty sewing books.  As mentioned previously, my grandma taught me how to make pillowcases in high school, and I learned the proper steps and supplies needed for appliqueing by harassing the same poor lady at Jo-Ann’s three days in a row.

What gift do you get for the “Resourceful Has-It-All”?  We’re talking about someone who already has everything (that a normal person could afford to buy), and can find anything you buy for half the price somewhere online.  And if you thought you were clever already finding it for half off, they’d probably be to find it for free somehow.  You now know a little bit about Kevin.  So as you can imagine, I had quite the dilemma when brainstorming birthday gifts for him this past summer.

I conceded that handmade was the way to go.  Why robots?  I have a not-so-secret obsession with robots that Kevin is aware of, and to an extent perhaps even shares.  The shape of the robot applique was inspired by the below necklace I saw (and have been pining over) on a random Google image search a few months prior.

I will find out where to buy this one of these days…

I made the applique stencils by drawing them on a manila folder and cutting out the pair.  One thing to remember when creating appliques is to keep the shapes relatively simple, because complicated shapes are really difficult to stitch on.  After starting the appliqueing process, I quickly began to regret not choosing a simpler silhouette.  Like a square.

Robot Love

Next, I traced the outline of the stencil onto the green applique fabric.  I was worried that the green wouldn’t look as vibrant against the dark purple pillowcase, so I purchased some fusible midweight interfacing and made another set of robots a bit smaller than the ones made from the green cloth.  This semi-opaque white backing for the applique kept the green bright, and also prevented holes from forming when I stitched it to the pillowcase.

Click on the thumbnails below to view them larger.  More to come next time!

Hawaiian-Themed Corkboard

Awkward Moment of the Month:  I fulfilled my civil duties earlier this week at jury duty, and on the first day I perused the rack full of magazines there.  Since I had already read my monthly subscriptions to Women’ s Health and Lucky, I reached for the second most mindless piece of reading imaginable (after Cosmo) – Glamour.  I flipped about halfway through the magazine when a gentleman and fellow juror asked to borrow my pen.  He bent over next to me, filled out his summons form, turned bright red, gave my pen back, and then sheepishly scuttled away.  Strange.  Then, when I turned my attention back to the page I had flipped to, the words: “ARE YOU NORMAL ABOUT PORN?” in giant red letters glared back at me.  Needless to say, I will probably never be caught with an issue of Glamour in my hands ever again.

Anyway, I noticed my latest posts have been sewing-heavy as of late, so I’m mixing it up a bit!  Today’s post is from a project that goes all the way back to 2004 when I customized a corkboard as a housewarming gift.  I didn’t really have a plan of execution at the time or even a good idea of what I wanted it to look like for that matter, but since the giftee was born in Hawaii, I knew it had to have some tropical elements to it.

The "Before"

I purchased three 8-foot bamboo poles from Stats Floral in Pasadena and literally used a handsaw to cut each and every piece of bamboo you see below.  Let me just tell you – treated bamboo is REALLY difficult to saw because it’s such a sturdy wood.  It also leaves a LOT of dust – I vividly remember seeing the dregs of khaki bamboo sawdust every time I blew my nose the next day.  I staggered the length of most bamboo pieces, while longer pieces run up the far sides to make whatever gets pinned to the board feel somewhat “framed”.  The plastic bamboo leaves and silk flowers were purchased at Michael’s.  I had to cut off the flowers from their plastic-covered metal stems, and snipped the fake bamboo leaves from the bouquet-like arrangement they came in.  I glue-gunned my faux shrubbery and blooms down at the top, so that the leaves hung down the sides.

Finished Product

Not sure if you could have guessed, but the recipient’s name was Matt.  I cut the name out in one shape (as opposed to cutting out individual letters) from black foam paper, and bordered it with a yellow/orange/red pseudo-gradient using puffy paint.  I drew the hibiscus using puffy paint as well.

Close-Up

As another aside (yes, I’m giving in to ADD today),  I am really beginning to see similarities between blogging and the female psyche.  As much as normal women want to be liked more for their personality and not solely for their looks (“it’s what’s inside that counts!”), they also want others to find them physically attractive.  The same goes for me and my writing, but since this is a product blog I do want people to think the things I make are attractive.  On that note, I do plan to acquire some picture taking and editing skills in the near future for any new projects – perhaps the blog-equivalent to a boob job if we are continuing the tangent.  Until then, I’m stuck with my bad shots (a.k.a. small boobs) until I’m no longer posting backlogged projects.  Many thanks to all two (three?) of my readers for enduring my aesthetically unpleasing photos.  Hopefully you still enjoy the writing.  🙂

Café Apron

As a follow-up to my last post, here is the final piece to the kitchen set – the Café Apron.   But of course, some back story…

We have something called the “IMAX-10” at work.  Similar to the Freshman-15, one almost always gains 10 pounds their first year at IMAX largely due to our most highly trafficked pit stop – the snack table.  Much to my waistline’s dismay, I sit within an arm’s reach of aforesaid snack table, but this also means I get first dibs on whatever goods are put out, including my boss’s homemade baked delectables.  Bernie is a baker extraordinaire, and I swear she puts a little bit of heaven (or quite possibly crack) in every one of her confections.  My first attempt at the kitchen set (potholders, oven mitt, and café apron) was destined to belong to her last Christmas!

I pulled the idea for this project from Lotta Jansdotter Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects.  The pattern for the oven mitt was used for the pocket of the apron.

To give you some context of how popular her desserts are, she’ll put an entire chocolate bundt cake on the snack table bright and early at 9am, and you’ll be lucky if you even see crumbs on the table by 10:30am.  Keep in mind, we only have less than 25 people on our floor.  The only way one would know she brought in her infamous eight-layer bars is by searching for flakes of coconut and bits of chocolate and toffee in the professional baker’s boxes she packed them in, while he sole remnants of the mini blueberry pies she brings in reside in the corner of a coworker’s mouth.  Yes, we eat her desserts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when she brings them in.  I will admit, I’ve been guilty of snarfing two servings of her treats – one for now, and one for later.

I hope the apron et al comes in handy for the indulgences that have been made and those that I have yet to enjoy (and those my waist detests me for eating!).

Potholders and Oven Mitt

Today’s post is inspired by my stop at a Crate and Barrel outlet on the way home from a bachelorette party weekend in Palm Springs.  Needless to say, it was a very fun weekend with some of the most amazing women I’ve known for more than half of my life and love with all of my heart.

I always find myself wanting to buy everything at C&B, but to be able to do so at outlet prices is truly invigorating.  I guess you know you’re beginning to get older when popping in to a specialty cookware store excites you more than perusing the designer clothing brand outlets.  However, I can’t even give an honest comparison because we just went to Nike and the C&B outlet and decided that was enough hysteria for one day.  I ended up coming home $2.50 poorer, but a green spoon rest richer!  I was reminded while I was there of the cooking set I made last Christmas for my basketball team’s Secret Santa gift exchange.  Kelli O, this one’s for you!

I was really glad that she had been my Secret Santa draw, because she loves all things pink and Hawaii and it just so happened that I had bought some pink Hawaiian print fabric from a trip I had taken to Oahu last summer.  She’s also a girl after my own heart with her love of food and eating, so I thought these would make for a great gift.

I’m splitting my posts to cover the Potholders and Oven Mitt today, with the Cafe Apron coming next post.  When I first embarked on my stitching adventures, the first sewing books I bought were One-Yard Wonders: 101 Fabulous Fabric Projects and Lotta Jansdotter Simple Sewing: Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects.  I got the instructions for the potholders from One Yard Wonders, and I referenced elements from both books to create the oven mitt.  I had also made a set for my boss for Christmas, so I’ll throw in photos of those as well but delve into detail next post with the Cafe Apron.  I neglected to take pictures of the creation process, but here are the finished products!

I know that this is supposed to be a craft/food blog, but I must digress and relive one of the many stops from last night’s bachelorette party – the gay club.  One patron scoffed at us as we made our our way inside and snootily asked why we were even there if our bride was “marrying straight”.  It was then that I understood how a straight man must feel in a bar full of angry lesbians.  I thought about apologizing for not being born with a sword to cross with the fellow, but refrained.  We then met a straight male go-go dancer from the Czech Republic who began to chastise me for texting in the club instead of “enjoying myself”, but we were interrupted by another patron who did a hand-stand while the dancer grabbed money from the guy’s fly with his mouth.  The go-go boy then proceeded to chat with my friends about the state of today’s economy so freely as if he were in a regular everyday situation, instead of wearing nothing more than a pair of boots and tiny bright red briefs surrounded by a hundred gay-and-gawking men.

At that point, I took a step back and thought to myself, “Only with Sho-Yu and Joyce could this be happening.”