Looking Ahead to Halloween 2017

This year, I’m trying to get a head start on Halloween, so while you’re thinking about your Valentine, I’m working on parts to a Chase costume. If you don’t know, Chase is from the program Paw Patrol—he’s a dog, a German shepherd, specifically, and seems to be a security or police dog who does a lot of rescuing. Yes, my granddaughter wants to be a dog. Fine by me. My husband has always wanted to be a dog, too. Here is a typical pic of Chase:


The one item I decided not to make is the pup pack or backpack. I thought about making one, which wouldn’t be difficult, but there is an actual pup pack toy, complete with his rescue tools, so that seemed like a no-brainer. It even comes with his badge.


This is the first in a series of posts for each element of the costume: hat, vest, furry dog body. So on to the hat.

For Chase’s police-style hat, I had the genius idea to buy an inexpensive hat with a brim and take it apart for a patterns. I found this great adjustable child’s yachting hat that fit the bill:

  • I have found some ready made Paw Patrol appliques, but not the paw shield on the characters’ hats, so I made that myself with iron-on mending patches in grey and white.
  • I used a stiff craft interfacing on the front  part of the hat, in addition to lining it with the blue fabric, so that it is finished inside.
  • The rest of the hat fabric pieces do not need to be lined.
  • The plastic hat band was trimmed to about 1/2″, just enough for the yellow grosgrain ribbon trim that I stitched in place by hand.
  • Sew the lower strips together first and then onto the adjustable band.
  • Sew in the crown last and turn—working on a hat with an adjustable band  makes it pretty easy to sew everything on.



Afterthought—Halloween 2016

I thought I had posted about last fall’s Halloween costume for my granddaughter, but no. Luckily, I had saved a few photos of the finished pieces. She said she wanted to be a ninja (not the turtle variety), so I had to come up with something reasonable—and in blue, her most recent favorite color.

In my mind, the crux of the ninja costume is a close fitting head and face piece, and that’s the one piece I couldn’t make on my straight stitch machine. No matter how many methods I tried, the knit material kept being pulled into the feed and jamming. So that’s the one piece I bought. I know people do sew on knits on their machines, but I haven’t figured it out yet. In my dreams, I would also have a fancy serger. Until then, I just avoid knits.

For the rest of the costume, I imagined the typical karate uniform or gi, the loose cotton pants and wrap coat with a tie belt. Who knows, maybe she will want to take such a class and wear it for something other than Halloween. To take the costume further, more into the ninja range, I wanted to make a tabard with some sort of tiger applique, one of her favorite animals at the time.

I found this pattern to modify:


I think the model on the lower right is meant to be a ninja, but I did not opt to tie up the sleeves or pant legs. That just seemed like something too confining for an active 4 yr old (she’s 5 now). The other thing I noticed from the pictures is that all the pieces seem too large for the child model. I wanted something that was a little more fitted. So I shortened both the jacket and tabard to fall just at the lower hip and put side slits in the jacket hem for ease of movement. In addition, I used white binding tape around the edges of the tabard, which makes it stand out nicely.

Here are the final pieces:

The finished costume looked great with the purchased white knit mask and head covering.


New Life for Old Dresses

I don’t have the kind of life in retirement that will require wearing dresses, so those few that I did occasionally wear to work have been languishing in the closet, taking up needed space. The only one I’m keeping as a dress is a black Eileen Fisher t-shirt dress that looks really cute with black tights or leggings and clogs—if I ever really need to wear a dress.

The other dresses are rayon prints. They looked good with black tights as well—you get my dress theme here—but they just look too office for my taste, if you know what I mean. So I turned them into tops with a pretty simple method, the kind of boxy, button front top you can wear over jeans or a short stretchy skirt for a dress alternative.

My method works with dresses that have midriff darts, you know those darts that draw in a dress to give it a little shape, if that’s what you want. I guess you could just cut off the dress if you want a shaped top, but I like those boxy tops for a more casual look. So the trick is to cut out the center of the dress where those darts are, and sew the remaining skirt to that new seam. Voila!

I made one a little longer than the other and I added side slits to the shorter one. Now, these I’ll wear.

I’ve got one left that was a really long dress with more fabric in a gored skirt. I don’t care for its shawl collar, so I may just use the skirt fabric for a totally new top that doesn’t resemble the original dress.

Neverending Necklace, Part 2

I have taken way too long to get back to this necklace that was supposed to be a birthday present for my daughter, but it’s not the first time gifts have been late. My first idea had been that the old rings I wanted to highlight would stand out well against bronze, but instead, the bronze kind of buried the gold, making it all look drab. After a lot of thinking and looking around at other jewelry for inspiration, I went for a a mixed metal look that uses more gold, along with silver and onyx.

That doesn’t mean I am finished, but I have a good idea of how the finished piece will look. It required hunting down a lot of individual beads and more wire wrapping (which I haven’t done yet). The bead tray—I love those things—will give you a good idea of where it’s headed, but as with most beading adventures, initial ideas can change as you start putting it together. You have to see how it will hang, for example, and you have to see if your wire links look as you thought they would. So here is the first idea and the prototype for the next one:


Two-Way Zippers in Women’s Jackets

I feel like I need to have a conversation with women’s clothing designers and manufacturers. Women benefit from two-way zippers on jackets, too. Yeah, it helps in the bathroom when you’re traveling or out in the woods, but mostly it helps when you sit down. Maybe the clothing retailers, who only ever show jackets on standing models, don’t think—or worse, don’t care—that when you sit, you kind of spread out, and if you are wearing a fitted jacket you will put a lot of pressure on all the seams, to the point that you might just unzip the entire thing to get some relief. The two-way zipper allows you to keep your jacket on and still sit comfortably.

I do what I can to pass up the ones with one-way zippers, but sometimes there aren’t any choices. There used to be more of those choices, especially at companies like L. L. Bean, but those choices are dwindling and I don’t get it. It doesn’t take any extra stitches to sew in a two-way zipper. If the issue is cost, just how many more pennies do the two way zippers cost when purchased in bulk from manufacturers? It can’t be that much.

Anyway, I just replaced two one-way zippers with two-ways—one of them also reversible—with little effort, just tedious seam ripping. Now I have two jackets—one a rain jacket that I wear fishing, the other a fall jacket that reverses from fleece to nylon—that I will be happier to wear.

The orange rain jacket had a matching orange nylon coil zipper, and I didn’t think I could match it, so I got a gray molded plastic two-way that matches the fabric inside coating from Wawak. It looks terrific in gray and I have already worn it a few times. It was more difficult to sew in because of the flap and the inside mesh pockets, but it was just a matter of taking a lot of time pinning and doing a little basting in a few places where many layers came together.


The reversible two-way zipper was even easier to replace, as the edges were the same on each side with no flap covering. That jacket needed a 25″ zipper (an odd size), so I ordered a custom length two-way reversible from Zipperstop and it arrived in about a week. The custom length was only an extra dollar.


It’s too bad that retailers are skipping this feature more and more, but I’m just not going to sit around with open jackets anymore.