Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Project runway Halloween

Halloween, for me, has started to take on a Project Runway type feel.

In Project Runway, each week the remaining designers are given a challenge, a budget and soem time to work on a design. About halfway through, the mentor Tim Gunn, comes in and critiques the designs. Then the models come in for a fitting. Usually the next day the models get styled (hair and make-up) and a runway show is presented with one or more designers being eliminated. It is a fun show to watch because of all the drama. I've seen all except for season 9 (don't ask) and feel like I've seen nearly everything bad that could happen, happen. Models lie about their measurements and garments don't fit, designers run out of money for fabric, designers run out of time, and of course garments that didn't turn out the way they had expected.

Of course, I am not a designer. I need a pattern (patterns are forbidden on PR and in fact one designer was kicked off because it was discovered he had pattern books among his belongings) for one thing. For another, I really do not work well under pressure. And finally, I have no Tim Gunn. So yes, I had patterns. And yes, I had time. and yes, I even came well within budget spending $70 all together. But for some reason, I also had problems, lots of problems. In fact I've decided to list my top five here.

Top five problems I encountered this Halloween

5) Kind of anti-climatic but the number 5 was how LONG it took me to make the petticoat for the poodle skirt. I know I already wrote about it, but Oh my.
4) The "poodle" fabric. It was supposed to be "sherpa remnant" but no fabric store nearby had that, so I ended up going with something similar I found at Michael's. It frayed like nobodies business and shed EVERYWHERE. I have leftover and I'm considering a doll "pimp jacket" that's how weird it was. I ended up having to use FrayCheck on the smaller pieces, and I surged the edges of the larger pieces.
3) Sizing! I measured the poodle skirt girl and made the size her measurements suggested and the petticoat was TOO SMALL. It was easily fixed by adding ribbon waistband, but then the skirt, based on the same pattern is snug. The panic that set in when I thought I might have to add some felt to the poodle skirt was crazy. However, everything has been tried on and fits. At least for now.
2) Up until now all the problems have been with the poodle skirt. I did have one grrr issue with the medusa costume and that was, again I sized it according to measurements and the neckline is HUGE. Also, and I think this may be user error, but the sleeves are set kind of funny, so when i tried to take in the neck it made the sleeves look bunchy. Medusa is all set to wear an all black outfit under her costume anyway, so she's not too distressed.
1) Buttonholes. I know this 50s poodle skirt has just been the worst. The blouse has buttons. My machine does buttonholes pretty nicely, but you have to program the first one, and for the first 15 I tried, I was hitting the wrong reverse button--my machine has 2 and one works for buttonholes and one has a buttonhole symbol by it. Then I switched to my old machine which has a buttonhole foot. You put the button in it and supposedly it will do the rest. Well.... I couldn't get fabric to feed through it. And I tried perhaps 5 or 6 times before I gave up. Then I got the buttonhole figured out and it took at least 5 more tries to get the right size. So away I started sewing only to run out of thread on the 3rd buttonhole (of 5) and have to reprogram the buttonhole.
All told, I made at least 30 buttonholes and 5 of them now are on the blouse.

Last night we had our final fitting, and all clients were happy. Tomorrow we go to the runway, with styling to be done in the morning (heaven help me). It is supposed to rain on Halloween though, so School may be our big debut and final showing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

state of halloween

I am a planner. I know I can't start thinking about Halloween costumes in October. I know Joann's usually has a big labor day pattern sale. So we start early.

I also start sewing early. In fact I usually take the patterns home, read through them and make lists of what I need to buy so that I only make one trip to the store. and then I plan out my sewing.

Last year on Oct 6 I started a new job and my remembrance is that I was mostly done with costumes at that point. I probably out to go back and check for sure, but my general feeling is that last year was not rushed at all.

This year, well things went very different.

First off I bought the supplies and patterns the same day due to a 30% off your entire order including sale (but not clearance) items. So while I didn't end up with stuff I didn't need, like I have in the past. I neglected to buy snaps and buttons. And trim for one costume, because the child had not given me a clear vision yet.

I had some knitting to do for one of the costumes and so I started that early and then made the plan that I had 4 pieces to sew that I would tackle one a week, which under this plan would have meant that this week I'd be dealing with problems. I always try to give myself a week in case of problems. Then if I run into an issue and I don't want to tackle it, I can save it and mull it over.

Well the petticoat week happened. Did you know that under every successful poodle skirt there is a petticoat or crinoline that makes it poofy? Did you know what a monumental pain in the rear end it is to make a crinoline or petticoat? Yeah me, neither.

First there was tons of tulle to be cut, sewed together and gathered.

And THEN you sewed it on. AND THEN you did that three times!


What you see up there represents 9 hours of nothing but tulle work.

Usually I do not keep track of "how long that took for me to make it" unless I am trying to either charge for my time or trying to do a cost benefit analysis (like for brownie vests). But in this case, it was unavoidable, because I thought hi ho I have a morning free I should be able to finish this petticoat today! Sadly, by lunchtime I was swearing and screaming and cursing bobby soxers everywhere.

And I only had one row of tulle on.

My husband said, "Oh but you know it won't take you three hours to do the rest, remember the first brownie vest? It took you tons of time longer than the second."

He was not only wrong, he was quite spectacularly wrong.

Ok maybe it didn't take me three hours to do the second, but it was close. And the third I know took at least 2.5. So yes, petticoat week was actually two weeks.

So here I am one week before Halloween (WHAT?! ) and I still have one more piece to start. Needless to say, I am glad I saved the easiest for last. I cut and sewed in all my free time on Monday and today, and am now at the try it on point for 3 of the 4 pieces, and only have buttonholes for the fourth.

Somebody save me.

or send junior mints

Saturday, October 13, 2012

knee socks

This summer, my girls told me that this year they'd really like some new socks. Knitted socks. And I realized that though I have made them a pair nearly every year since I first learned to knit socks, I had not made them any last year. They sort of seemed at that age where they wouldn't really wear anything but white athletic socks.

Also, their feet are getting so long that it takes more yarn to make their socks. I used to be able to get two socks from one Lorna's laces hank, and now I would need two. Those are expensive socks when you are talking about kids who will outgrow them before they wear out. We'll get back to Lorna's laces when their feet stop growing.

For now that means shopping around for some cheaper sock yarn. So I was thrilled to find some sensations bamboo and ewe patterned sock yarn at Joann's in colors I knew my girls would love.

I'm glad I bought two balls even though I probably could have gotten away with one, for a normal sized sock, because well ... the first girl up requested knee socks.

Knee socks

In fact I used so much of the skein and the repeat is so long (3 inches of sock!) that I didn't bother attempting to get these to match exactly. She doesn't care, she loves them.

The pattern is the basic toe up sock I always make from an old Interweave knits article by the wondrous Ann Budd. I changed needle sizes to go bigger, and then ended up adding stitches. I kind of did it on the fly as for some reason I didn't or couldn't I don't remember which look in the magazine because I KNOW there is a pattern for knee socks in it. However, improvising is always fun.


She had fun modeling, and insisted on wearing them tucked in her pants to school.

PA100015 copy

Now to make her sister a pair, although she claims to want "normal" socks.