Saturday, November 21, 2015

Crafting Con - Adventures in Space

This post originally appeared at Crafting Con and today I'm bringing it home!

Hi! I'm Kate from The Fairy Dust Bin. I was a competitor back in January for Doctor Who, and am so excited to be back! When I saw the theme of adventures in space, I knew I wanted to participate - there are so many really great choices for this theme. Since I already did looks inspired by Doctor Who, I started considering other things, but while I made some sketches around things like Firefly and Star Trek, I ultimately wanted to do something a little different. So I decided to try to earn my gamer mom achievement and went to the Mass Effect video game series for my inspiration. For those who don't know, Mass Effect is a 3 game series in which the main character, Commander Shepard, is on a mission to save the galaxy. You team up with other humans as well as alien races to complete this task. (That doesn't even start to do it justice, but I doubt anyone wants me to go on all day!) I took my inspiration from Garrus Vakarian and Tali'Zorah vas Normandy, who are the only characters who can be recruited as regular squadmates in all three games of the series.

For Cyrus' Garrus outfit, I used two brand new patterns from Momma Quail - the Calvin Cargos, and the Hobbes Jacket.

Can it wait for a bit? I'm in the middle of some calibrations.

I loosely used Garrus' Archangel armor from Mass Effect 2 as my beginning inspiration, and the details in these pieces worked great for color blocking to echo the two color plating of his armor. The jacket is blue and black brushed twill, with a knit collar. Since I didn't add the Archangel symbol to the arm, I used the topstitching on the the sleeves to add in a hint of the gold. The cargo pockets on the Calvins are totally amazing. I used stretch sateen as the main fabric, and with some creative cutting managed to eke the contrast pieces out of the leftover bit of blue from the jacket.

Tali wears an environment suit, with her signature purple swirls. I used a heavily modified version of the Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop Hangout Hoodie, cutting the pattern apart in several places to add my own seaming and color blocking.

I really need to clean out this engine. Maybe later?"

The Tali fabric is organic cotton knit from Spoonflower, and is actually something I bought last year some time and has been sitting around in my stash waiting for just the right project. I used a black cotton interlock for the blocking, and a sparkly gray for the trim. Tali has one side of her wrapped fabric that has a gold edge instead of gray, so I created the angled pockets and added gray and gold accents to the top edge. I'm thrilled with how it came out, and better yet, so is Ellie! The leggings are the Dressage Leggings from Jennuine Designs. I used a black stretch synthetic leather for the outer panel, and a black cotton/lycra for the rest.

Chocolate milk... triple filtered... introduced through an emergency induction port."

That's a straw, sweetie. Apparently posing was an awful lot of work! I hope you enjoyed my Mass Effect looks. I should go.

I'm Commander Shepard, and these are my two favorite kids on the Citadel.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tuxedo Tails Tutorial

As promised (although about a week later than I meant to have this up!), here is how I made the tux and tails alterations to the suit jacket for this year's Joker Costume! I spent ages looking for either a pattern for the right kind of jacket, or an existing tutorial for how to alter a basic suit jacket or blazer pattern to make it, but found neither. I guess there isn't a huge call for a jacket with tails pattern for little boys. So while it might not be in high demand, I took photos along the way of what I did to change the pattern, and am offering my very first tutorial! If you're looking for a couture way to construct this, you may want to keep looking, but it works great for costumes.

I started with the Little Gentleman Suit Jacket because it's the pattern I have, but I'm pretty sure you could use any suit jacket or blazer pattern of your choice as a base. First, I traced the shoulder and neck line of the jacket in my chosen size. This pattern has a split bottom of the back, so I stopped tracing the back seam line at the point where it would split and overlap. This is where I say "do as I say, not as I do" and tell you to extend this by about an inch, plus your seam allowance. My jacket came out just a little bit shorter than I would have preferred.

From here, use a straight edge to find this length on the other side of your pattern piece. I drew a very light pencil line, since we'll be using this line again. Trace the shortened length on the side seam side of your pattern. While you're here, measure the length of this line. We will need it for the front piece later.

Now use a ruler, and draw inward along the line you just made to make a seam allowance on both sides. I used 1/2", since that's the seam allowance included in my pattern.

Also using a ruler, find the midpoint along that line and mark it.

From that point, measure down the length you'd like your tails to be, keeping your ruler perpendicular to the line you started at. Keep in mind that you will lose about the width of your seam allowance at the tip, so if you have a very specific length you want remember to add that in. I used 18" for my tail length for a size 10 jacket. Draw a line to and/or otherwise mark the length of your tails.

Using a ruler/straight edge, draw a line from where your seam allowance line stops to the mark you made for your tail length. Do this on both sides of your pattern piece. You should end up with a back piece that looks about like this.

Now that the back piece is complete, you'll need to trace the front piece of your jacket. Using the side seam length from earlier, mark that length on the side seam of your front piece, and make a parallel mark on the opposite side to shorten the length of your front jacket piece. Connect them, and this is the new bottom edge of your front pattern piece.

This is a completely optional step, but one I did to reduce bulk in the front of the jacket. In a traditional suit jacket, the lining is split so that there is enough of a facing in the front made of the main fabric for the collar to fold over, but the rest of the side front is in a lining fabric. I used a curved drafting ruler, but you could wing it if you don't have one, or even use a straight line. Make a mark just before the midpoint of your shoulder, a couple of inches or so from the neck line. Also make a mark a couple of inches in from the front along the bottom. Using a ruler (curved or straight) draw a line to connect the two points.

Re-trace to create two pieces - a front lining and a front facing - remembering to add a seam allowance. Don't forget that seam allowance to BOTH pieces, or your front lining will be smaller than your outer front piece.

Cut the facing piece from your MAIN fabric, and the lining piece from your LINING fabric. Pin and sew along the line you created.

Open and press. Now use this piece as the lining in your pattern while you sew.

The other change I made to the construction of the jacket is where I turned it. Instead of leaving part of the bottom open, since I changed the bottom, I left a 4 inch gap in the back lining seam to turn. When sewing the lining into the outer jacket, pin carefully along the edges of the tails. Before turning, trim the tail points close to the seam, being careful not to clip your stitching. Turn your jacket right side out and stitch your opening closed - I hand sewed using a ladder stitch. Follow your pattern directions to finish. Congratulations, you now have a tux coat with tails!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Guest Posting at Crafting Con - Yes, again!

I'm back over at Crafting Con today with a look inspired by a member of the Justice League! Ellie wanted to be Wonder Woman, so I pulled together an outfit for her.

Go check it out for more details! You might also be able to tell that we've been reading a lot of Ladybug Girl books recently ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


October was completely insane around here. We had a flooded basement, a bout of hand, foot, and mouth disease, and so much lost sewing time. I did get the Halloween costumes done though! This year they had actually decided pretty early on, so even though I didn't start sewing as early as I should have, I had time to plan. So... Here are my little Joker and Harley Quinn!

Ellie has been watching Batman with her brother since she was tiny, and more recently has been watching him play Arkham Asylum. She has developed a great love of Harley Quinn, so when Cy wanted to be Joker, she insisted on being Harley.

We came up with a number of different ideas for her costume, but ultimately I went with this one. I used the Billie Dress for the top. Using the back zip version, I cut the lining of the front bodice on the fold, but added seam allowance to colorblock the outer front. I like that the seam is covered. The red and black are a stretch sateen, and the sleeves and collar are a lightweight white shirting for a faux layered look. The white is also the lining for the bodice. I made a 4, and found it was loose enough that I actually could get it over her head pretty easily with the back basted shut, so I never quite finished it - there isn't a zipper, and the lining isn't sewn down. At some point, I'll go back to it. The skirt is about half of the fullness and half of the length called for in the pattern. The leggings are Bonny Leggings in size 4. I made a freezer paper stencil for the diamond accents and used setacolor paints. She adores the outfit, and insisted on wearing it again the next day.

For Cy's Joker costume, I bought a white shirt and dyed it orange. The bow tie is just a green cotton, and I used this tutorial. For the suit, I used purple suiting from JoAnn's, and the same Peek-A-Boo patterns that I used for his Tenth Doctor suit a couple of years ago. The pants are Classic Chinos with a faux fly and an added lining. I altered the Little Gentleman Suit Jacket to make the tuxedo jacket with tails. Before diving in to make the alterations, I looked around for a pattern or tutorial for a jacket in this sort of style... And found absolutely nothing. So later this week I'll be posting a tutorial for the steps I took. I'm pleased with how the whole thing turned out, and more importantly so is he.

I guess I've already set the bar pretty high when it comes to costumes, but my mom set the precedent when I was a kid, so I'm only following in her footsteps. Unfortunately, I did not get a lot of great photos before we were off into the dark! Maybe next year I'll finish costumes early enough for a pre-Halloween photo shoot. Maybe. Anyone else practically sewing out the door this Halloween?