LJ Idol Season 6 - Week 2 - Uphill, both ways, barefoot
I'm almost finished with Tigger's Halloween costume; all I have left to do is stitch the frogs at the neck and chest. He chose black and white frogs, and I don't remember which he wanted where, so I shut down last night at 12:30am. I'm really pleased with how it looks; imagine the Death of Oranges. We're wondering, should he carry a giant orange peeler? When he tried it on last night, it pooled around his ankles, but it looked exactly right when he was walking and it billowed out behind him. He can wrap the long, drape-y sleeves around his wrist, Jet Li style, or grasp his hands together inside the two sleeves.
I love making Halloween costumes. The best are the kind that are cobbled together from bits and pieces - like the year that we made Tigger a cup of Maruchan Instant Lunch, using sheet-style packing foam from U-Haul. I blew up the lid larger than his shoulders, then cut a hole for his neck, putting the cut-out on a headband. Instant Lunch. If the costume isn't cobbled together from unlikely sources, my next favorite is a craft project. The year that Tigger was instant lunch, I was a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup and Critter was a can of Coca-cola. It was relatively simple sewing the cans from red and white cloth then adding wire to keep the cylinders open and foil covered cardboard for the lids. The craft project was painting the labels. The gold seal and Tomato Soup labels for the soup, and the Coca Cola logo for the coke. Flar suggested we include Critter's current weight translated into fluid ounces and milliliters for the final touch. One year was all craft, when Tigger wanted to be a ball of string. One oversized balloon, way too much Elmer's and a ball of yarn later, and Tigger was a cute-as-a-kitten ball of string.
Occasionally, we've purchased costumes, but that just seems too easy. My mom made our halloween costumes when I was growing up, and I've followed in her footsteps. This year I seemed to run into more obstacles than usual. My old sewing machine bit the dust years ago, when it needed a part that Sears could no longer order. A couple of summers ago, I picked up a simple Brother for $5 at the world's longest yard sale. I verified that the needle would move up and down and that it could still wind a bobbin, and took it home. It was obviously the right amount to spend, since this is the first time I've trotted it out for a run since I bought it.
Tigger split the cost of the pattern and material with me, and I involved him in other parts of the process as well. He threw the fabric in the washer, I moved it to the dryer. While I was ironing the fabric, he cut out the pattern pieces. I showed him how I use polished river stones to hold down the pattern pieces during cutting instead of the increased wear that pins cause. I got the ironing done on Sunday, the pieces cut out on Monday, then went on a pin search on Wednesday.
My craft area is a mess. We couldn't locate the pin magnet, so instead we harvested the shirt pins off the kitchen bulletin board. I love shirt pins. The kind that look like they've been dipped in metal -- with the tear-drop shaped top. I've searched and searched, and I've yet to find them for sale. Mind you, my momma used to have them. I still have a few multi-colored metal tear drop pins. These days, the choices are flat t-tops or round-ball-affixed pins. The round-balls can come off, and they only do so at the worst moments. But the tear-drop pins are still being using by the shirt industry. Whenever Flar or Critter or Tigger get a new dress shirt, they carefully save the pins for me, which makes me very happy. It made me even more happy Wednesday, to have pins for sewing.
I started out pretty well. The machine was running smoothly -- smoothly enough to stay-stitch one layer of cloth without bunching up the thread or cloth, hooray! I ended up looking online for instructions on winding the bobbin, since I'd forgotten how to disengage the clutch. There was an awful lot of white thread left on the bobbin in the machine, so I went hunting for an empty bobbin. I found the pin magnet and more pins on my way to one rusty bobbin. My sewing room went through two burst washing machine water lines before we got the metal lines installed. I chucked a layer of yellow thread and left the remnant of aqua on the bobbin to successfully spin up a bobbin of orange. Winding the bobbin was easy, but then in attempting to reengage the clutch, I managed to dial the tightening knob all the way off. Plop. I got it back on, loaded up the bobbin, then went off to fetch my next pattern piece.
Ordinarily, the jacuzzi room / laundry room doubles as a craft room. The jacuzzi top makes an excellent cutting table, as well as a handy draping area for ironing. It's also the first horizontal surface one encounters on entering the house, so it's where things like purses, briefcases, and shopping bags end up. When I was done ironing, I left all the pattern pieces on the jacuzzi top, along with the notions. This isn't too crazy, as usually I sew on a counter that's next to the washer/dryer on the laundry side of the room. Unfortunately, this table is a disaster area, in need of a major craft-anthropology dig to get it inventoried and organized. A few months ago, I took down the top third of the height, and even Flar noticed -- there's natural light coming in through the glass blocks that I uncovered. The backup plan is to sew on the dining room table, the old stand-by. It was seldom in my childhood that Mom got a whole room just for sewing. In one house, she converted the guest room closet into a sewing nook. Usually she has to settle for taking over the dining room.
Our dining room makes an excellent sewing room: Plenty of power, lots of natural light, usually not much on the table. Then why do I always end up sewing after dark? Whatever.
It was when I went to fetch the piece for the first seam, and I had decided to sort the pieces out to avoid confusion, that I found a wind-tossed pattern piece that had yet to be cut. I'm just lucky it didn't fall into Dizzy-range. (Our scotty eats almost anything, but she loves paper and tissue.) Unfurl the fabric remnant, get out the stones, snip-snip, where was I? Back to the dining room to sew. What happened to my nicely behaving machine? clack, grind, whirr, snap When I opened the bobbin case to rethread the bobbin, the entire assembly fell on to the table. Sigh. If I had more time, I'd have hunted up some sewing machine oil and a brush, and cleaned it really well before I put it all back together. As it was, I was doing well just to put it back together properly.
I finished about a third of the cape on the first night of sewing. The machine handles well, considering. The topstitching on the yoke and hems is just fine. I was working with a light weight broadcloth, and I can see that the pattern would have to be altered for heavy material - the hood would have to be pleated instead of gathered.
I'd been sewing awhile on Thursday before I started running out of bobbin thread. I couldn't get the machine to properly disengage the clutch. I finally managed to take the tightening knob all the way off again, found that the funky looking three-toothed washer had an actual purpose, matched it with the three notches, screwed everything back together and went merrily along. The last bump in the road was sewing the main hem-seam. It went from the bottom up the side and hood and back down to the bottom. I didn't trim the neck facing with that hem in mind, so I had a mighty bump of tightly hemmed fabric to climb on each side. One side made it okay, but I managed to break the needle on the other. There was one extra needle in the machine's accessory box, saving me from an emergency trip to Wal-Mart for needles.
The costume is essentially complete, and on the whole I'd have to call it easy compared to some of my other efforts - I'm usually up past 2 or 3 am on these kind of projects. Tomorrow I get to cobble my own costume together from left-overs.
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