October 29, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Where NOT to Trick-or-Treat

Halloween is almost here.  It's the time of year when we are gearing up for the holiday season, and thinking warm fuzzy thoughts.  Most of us do not take the time to think about each and every house we let our little ones walk up to as they parade around town in their costumes, but we should.  We all like to believe that our neighborhoods are safe.  Take a moment to be sure.  The U.S. Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website allows you to search your area for registered sex offenders.   Several states and counties hold Halloween events that specifically require offenders to attend so that they aren't out with trick-or-treaters, but it is always best to know if any offenders live or work nearby.  Point those houses and businesses out to your children and let them know not to interact with anyone there.   Knowledge is a very powerful tool.  Educate yourself and your children, and have a happy and safe Halloween.


October 27, 2013

Halloween Costume Update: Round Eared Cap

I've finally completed  my daughter's Colonial American girl costume.  Here is the completed outfit.  One piece was particularly difficult to make; the round eared cap.  It's not that the actual project was difficult, just figuring out how to make it.  Overall, I'm happy with the end result.  Although, there were some hiccups along the way.  It's not quite as historically accurate as I'd like it to be, but this was a faster, more cost effective version.

Historically, women and girls wore these caps from the 1740's through the 1820's.  They were made of white linen, and obviously hand sewn.  There are historical patterns available, but I didn't want to spend the money on a pattern.  I looked at some pictures of finished caps, and a wonderfully helpful website with general instructions for making historical caps.

Mine, on the other hand, is made from an old white cotton pillow case.  It is mostly hand sewn.  I did use the machine to sew the draw strings.  I also machine sewed the casing for the draw strings, however my stitches were too close to the raw edge and it pulled out.  So, I ended up hand sewing that part, too.

I didn't follow any particular pattern.  I just took a few measurements of my daughter's head and cut pieces out of paper to try on her.  If I make another one in the future, I will definitely make it bigger.  What I thought would be the right size, ended up a little too small for her.  It would probably fit a 4-5 year old much better (she's 9).  

Here is my paper pattern with a 12 inch ruler for scale.  From top to bottom the pieces are the crown, ruffle, then band.  I cut two pieces of the ruffle.  If your fabric has a finished edge (selvedge), use that edge for the front edge of your ruffle. That eliminates the need to hem it.  I did not make a pattern for my drawstrings.  I simply cut two strips of fabric about 1/2 inch wide and 8-10 inches long.

Fold your drawstring pieces in half, lengthwise.  Stitch them shut.  Because they are so narrow, it is very difficult to turn them inside out.  My quick fix solution was to trim the raw edges, and seal them with clear nail polish.  I'm not sure how effective a solution this is for the long term, but it will at least get us through Halloween.

On to the crown...Because I didn't allow for extra room for a hem, I machine sewed my hem much too close to the raw edge and ended up having to hand sew it after it unraveled on me.  You can choose to either add an extra 1/4 inch or so to the bottom of your crown and machine sew the hem (or casing), or leave it as is and hand stitch it.  

Next, cut a small slit at the center of the casing.  Use needle & thread to wrap the hole like a button hole.  Use a safety pin to feed the drawstrings through the casing, letting the extra length hang out of the center hole.  

For the top of the crown, hand sew a running stitch for your gather.  I cut a piece of thread the same length as the length of the band.  That made it easy to fit the two pieces together.  Evenly distribute the gather and pin the two pieces together.  Be sure to include the drawstrings.  Whipstitch the crown and the band together using very small, close stitches.  After you have attached the two pieces, remove your gather thread.

Now for the ruffle...As I stated before, if you have a nice finished edge that you can use for the front of your ruffle, do it!  Since I made my cap out of a pillowcase, I had no nice edge.  I did not want to hem the front of the ruffle, so I again used clear nail polish to seal my freshly cut edge.  Attach the two ruffle pieces, end to end, with a couple of small stitches.  Next, cut another length of thread the same length as your band and gather the back edge of your ruffle.  Again, pin the two pieces together and use a small, close whipstitch to attach the ruffle to the band, removing the gather thread when you are done.


There you have it, a genuine fake Colonial America era historical-ish round eared cap!  I hope your hands and eyes don't hurt from all those whipstitches as much as mine do.  More importantly, I hope this tutorial helps make your project a little easier.


October 9, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: So Much To Do...


You know the old saying..."So much to do; so little time."  That pretty well sums up how I feel these days.  We are up to our eyeballs with school.  There are projects to complete, lessons to do, and tests to take.  Many days we've found ourselves doing school up until time to start dinner.  After dinner is the battle of the shower.  Then, once I get the kids in bed, it's my time.  

Normally, I work on setting up the next day's lessons, and writing my posts.  However, right now I'm making a Halloween costume.  My daughter has decided to be a Colonial American girl.  After many hours searching the internet for patterns or even images of historical colonial fashion, I'm now making my own pattern based off of a couple of pictures of good reproductions.  There are a few historical patterns out there, but they cost more than I am willing to pay.

It's coming along nicely (after a couple of tries).  I'll post about it more once I get it complete, although I keep forgetting to take pictures as I finish each stage.  I'll start you off with a picture of my inspiration.  This is the best photo I've found of the type of outfit my daughter had in mind.  What do you think?  What will your kids be for Halloween?  Are you making or buying costumes?


October 2, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Creative Block

I know it happens to everyone once in a while.   Still, I can't help but feel inferior when it happens to me.  I'm talking about creative block.  Not only can I not write, but I can't do anything creative.  All of my projects have come to a complete standstill, and I feel like I don't know how to pick up where I left off.  It's kind of like when you can't think of a word.  It's right on the tip of your tongue, but you just can't think of it.  That's how I feel about the sewing project I'm stuck on, coming up with foldables for my daughter's lapbooks & notebook, and even topics to write about here.

I want to hear from you.  What do you do when you have creative block?  What do you tell your children when they are stuck on a project?  What tips do you have to help pull me out of my hole and get me back to myself?  I'm just not me when I can't be creative.  Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have to offer.