Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Fun - Disneyland

I have the great fortune of living in Southern California - great weather (did I mention it was like 85 degrees and clear outside today?), beaches, mountains, desert, and...Disneyland!  I have an annual pass and friends that work there, so I go often.  My favorite time of year to go is "Halloweentime" - they really have gotten into decorating for Fall & Halloween in the last several years and I love it.  They change Space Mountain into "Ghost Galaxy" with a scary-skeleton-ghost-thing chasing you through the ride and the Haunted Mansion is turned into "Haunted Mansion Holiday" with characters from "The Nightmare Before Christmas".  My favorite thing about Halloweentime there are the carved pumpkins.  They bring in a carving expert and she carves the most amazing pumpkins and does them on-site too.   I took my nephew with me about a week and half ago and here are some pictures from this year's Halloweentime...

Thunder Mountain Railroad
Scared of my nephew's driving on the Autopia. Haha

Oh, and did I mention the Disney characters dress up in costume too?  :)

They also had a few free games for the kids to play

Witch hat ring toss

Fortune Teller's Wheel of Fortune
The guy made us do funny poses at the Wheel of Fortune

Haunted Mansion Holiday

And here are those wonderful carved pumpkins!
Ichabod Crane
Captain Hook


The two-faced Mayor

The two-faced Mayor


Mickey Mouse

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cleopatra Halloween Costume

Hello, there!  Did anyone go to any Halloween parties this past weekend?  One of my friends has a party every year, so I had been brainstorming for the last few months on what I should be.  I didn't have any good ideas, however when I got back from my trip to Italy, I got inspired.  I tried to think of characters having to do with Italy and Cleopatra popped in my brain.  Although, she was Egyptian, she was associated with the famous Italians, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  Further inspiration:  I was scheduled to have an appointment for a hair cut right before the party - I had been thinking to cut my hair shorter for awhile and thought it would be perfect for a Cleopatra costume.  Costumes for an "Egyptian queen" at retail stores were running about $40 and I definitely was not going to pay that since I thought I could come up with something myself.  So, with the decision made and only a week to pull it together, this is what I came up with. 

* White material (I originally planned on buying a white twin flat sheet from Walmart for cheap, but they were out of stock, of course) - I bought 2 yards of muslin, but should have gotten at least 3.  Cost: $3.94, but it was free since I noticed later that they forgot to charge me!
* Gold material - 1 yard. Cost: $2.07
* Sewing machine - it's much easier to use the machine, than hand-sew it
* Thread (already had - I happened to have gold thread and decided to use that)
* Elastic (already had from last years's Miss Potato Head costume)

1)  After I bought the white muslin, I noticed it was a bit see-through (you can see my hand through the fabric in the picture below).  I had to double-up on it so it wouldn't be, which was the reason that the 2 yards I bought wasn't enough.  I just folded what I had in half and pinned along the sides to keep it together. 

2)  After folding it half, I didn't have enough fabric to do much with.  It wouldn't even wrap completely around me.  I had planned to use the gold fabric as some sort of sash, but used it as part of the dress instead.  I didn't even measure it - I had eyeballed about how much of the gold fabric I would and just cut a straight piece.

3)  I pinned both sides of the white muslin to the gold fabric.  (The piece is a straight rectangle - the picture below makes it look smaller at the top, but the pinned piece at the top is just sticking up more than the bottom).  Once I pinned it, I just sewed them together.  I then sewed a hem at the bottom of the dress.

4)  Next, I needed to install the elastic to help keep the dress up (I originally planned for it to be strapless).  I folded the top of the costume down onto the wrong side.  Once again, I just eyeballed it, but put the elastic on top to make sure I was allowing enough room to thread the elastic through.  I pinned all the way around the entire piece and then sewed it.

5)  I left an opening in the back so I could thread the elastic through.

Using a safety pin at the end of the elastic, I just pushed it through the opening and threaded it through.

6)  Once I threaded it all the way through, I pulled on the elastic until I got it as tight as I needed.  I cut the elastic where I wanted it to end and stuffed the ends into the opening and pinned the ends to the dress.  Then, I sewed over the elastic to keep it permanently in place and sewed the opening closed.

7)  While working on the dress, I was watching TV and one of the characters on the show had a dress on with one strap that started in the front, went across one shoulder to the back.  I thought that was a nice look and since the dress needed a bit of jazzing up, I decided to try that (plus, it would help keep the dress up in place - even with elastic, things tend to creep down especially when you are sitting position).  So, I cut a strip of the gold fabric, folded it in half length-wise and sewed up two sides.  Leaving one side open, I turned it right-side out.  I then pinned one end to the middle of the front side and pinned the other end to the middle of the back side and sewed them to the dress.

8)  Now that the dress was finished,  I tried on the dress again.  It kind of poofed out just under the elastic, making it look a bit frumpy and baggy.  Since I have never sewn clothes before, I didn't know how to make it more fitted.  So, while I had it on, I just pulled and cinched up in the middle of the back side and used a safety pin.

9)  I then made another gold strip in the same exact way as I did for the strap.   I cut a tiny slit in the material on both sides where the safety pin goes into the material and comes out.  I threaded my new gold strip through one side and brought it out of the other side and tied a knot.   This helped to keep the dress a bit more fitted and not so baggy.  (Although, the first time I did it, I didn't cut the slits far enough apart and the dress was still a bit baggy when I wore it to the party.  I fixed it afterwards, so it's fine now).

Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures of just myself in full costume.  When I dress up for trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew, I'll try to have my sister take some and I'll post an update. :)  Here's a few cropped pictures from the party the other night (the innocent have been cropped out for their protection. ha ha).

At the last minute, the girl who does my hair had to postpone my appointment, so I was bummed because the shorter cut and bang trim was one of my inspirations for the costume in the first place.  I am waaaaay overdue for a cut and my bangs were way too long to keep them going straight across like the Liz Taylor version of Cleopatra.
To complete my costume, I tried to make a neck piece (in place of big jewelry), but it didn't work out.  I ended up remembering at the last minute that my mom's friend had made a big beaded necklace for me.  I wasn't sure if I still had it, but I found it!  And I originally thought it was black, but it was gold!  Score!  My friend also had a gold headband which I threw on at the last minute and  I wore a big black ring that I often wear on regular days.  (I really wanted a gold cuff to wear on my arm, but didn't have one).  I also extended my eyeliner to give that Cleopatra look and wore really dark eyeshadow.  I'm not good with putting on makeup, so it was minimal, but I think the eyeliner was the most important part of the Cleopatra makeup.

I can always wear this again in a couple of years and improve it since I didn't have much time to work on it.   (I have an idea for a really chunky, big necklace, but didn't think of it until the day of the party so no time to get it done).  And check out this head piece!
It would be really sweet if I could make some kind of neat piece like that too!  Adding these cool accessories to it would make it seem like a whole new costume!
Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fancy Camera Purse

Hello there!  I had taken a short little break from the home DIY & craft projects since I got busy with my Italy vacation & preparing for it.  But, I wanted to share my latest project with you.  Over a year ago, I saw that a blogger shared her recent purchase as seen below.

Source for both pictures above
Seriously, how cute is that bag?!  I love that it has a cross-body strap.  My shoulders and back tend to hurt after carrying even a non-heavy bag after awhile and the cross-body strap will help to alleviate that.  If I remember correctly, the bag was going for at least $100 and I couldn't justify the purchase since I didn't really "need" it at the time.  Fast forward to last month...I decided that it would be a good time to attempt to make this bag on my own so I could use it on my trip.   (I was going to share this post before my trip, but I was way too busy trying to get things done before I left)  So, I gathered up some supplies and the great experiment was set to begin (this is the most intricate sewing project I've attempted and without a pattern).

* 1 1/2 yards of liner fabric ($5.61 - on sale)
* 1 1/2 yards of main outer fabric ($5.40 - with 60% off coupon)
* Magnetic snap closure ($3.22 for 2 snaps, so cost for the 1 I used $1.61 -  with 40% off coupon)
* Thread (already had on hand)
* Batting (already had on hand - was leftover that was given to me)
* Pieces of cardboard

1)  I drew out the design and figured out the dimensions I wanted it to be.
It was just a rough sketch, but it helped to get all my thoughts out so I wouldn't have to waste time re-doing parts of it.

2)  I then cut out the pieces according to the dimensions I wanted and just added an inch to all of them:   liner fabric, outer fabric, and batting.
Since I was making a liner inside the bag, I had to make sure to cut the liner pieces.  I also decided to use batting to help cushion the bag.

3)  I started with the strap - sew the outer and liner fabrics, right sides facing together.  Leave an opening so you can turn it inside out and then hand sew the opening closed.

4)  Next, I sewed pockets onto the "back" piece of the liner fabric.   You have to do this before attaching it to the outer fabric.

I basically just cut a piece that was the same length as the liner.  I then folded it in half so it would be a little bit thicker.  I set my iPod and iPhone in the piece so I could see how large to make the pockets. I then pinned it and sewed down the middle to make the divisions of the pockets.  I then sealed it up by sewing on the sides and bottom - leave the top open so you can slide your items in the pockets.  I made 3 pockets total - for my iPod, iPhone, and extra items like my keys and chapstick.

5)  I then installed the "female" part of magnetic snap closure onto "front" piece of the main outer fabric & batting.

I just kind of eyeballed where the middle of the fabric is.  I pushed the prongs onto the fabric so it would make a bit of a mark and then cut a slit with scissors in the fabric so I could slide the prongs through.  I then also included a thin piece of cardboard underneath it for a bit of extra support.  You then use needle-nose pliers to bend the prongs down so it will stay secure onto the fabric.
(I added batting later, but ended up re-doing the snap afterwards so that's why you see the pictures of one with batting and one without).

6)  Sew the liner pieces right sides facing together - just sew them in the shape of the bag.  If you have specific pieces that have to go on a particular side (ex. front or back), make sure you sew the pieces so they end up in the right spot.

7)  Sew all the outer fabric pieces wrong sides facing together (same as Step #6 except you'll do the wrong sides together instead of the right sides together).

8)  Sew the batting onto the outer pieces.  I just took each piece (one for the bottom of the bag, two for the sides, and two more for the front & back) and sewed it right onto the each part.

9)  Now make the flap for the bag.
a)  For the ruffle: Cut a strip of the outer fabric (whatever width you'd like and then double it) and then fold it in half length-wise, so it gives a nice "hemmed" edge on the ruffle.  Then, fold it in a sort of accordian-style to make the ruffle and lay it on top of the outer fabric on the edge. 
b)  Important!  Make sure the edge of the ruffle piece lines up with the edges of the bigger outer & line fabric (the ruffle will not "hang" off the edge of the flap after you flip it inside out if you don't do it this way).  Put right sides together of the liner fabric & outer fabric.
c)  Sew all three pieces together on both sides and the bottom.  Leave the top side open and flip it right sides out.
d)  Eyeball where the "male" part of the magnetic snap will need to go so it meets the "female" part in the right spot and then you'll do the same as in Step #5 to attach it.

10)  Turn the outer fabric (which now also has the batting sewn onto it) right side out so that it looks like this.

11)  Attach the strap to the sides of the outer fabric, right sides facing each other. 
Wrap the strap to go underneath the bottom of the bag and attach to the other side, right sides of strap and other fabric again.  Set aside...

12)  Turn the liner fabric wrong side out.

13)  Tuck the outer fabric (with strap and front flap attached) inside the liner (right sides will be facing each other).  Line up all the edges at the top and pin them together.  

14)  Sew around the top circumference and leave an opening in the front at the top edge.

15)  Turn the piece right side out through the opening that was left.  It will take a little bit of time because you will also be pulling out the strap and flap.

 16)  Then push the lining back inside the bag and hand-sew the opening closed.
Here's how it will look inside once it's done.
 **I used this website as a guide on how to sew the liner onto the outside fabric and it was VERY helpful.

17)  Sew reinforcements on the straps near the top, inside edge of the purse like below.

This is how the bag will look at this point.  You're almost done!

18)  Cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside bottom of bag.

19)  Sew a case for the cardboard to fit inside and then hand sew opening.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy - just need to cover the cardboard.  Heck!  You could even hot glue the fabric onto the cardboard.

20)  Put the fabric-covered cardboard on bottom inside of bag.  This will help the bag from sagging.

21)  Make cushion liner for camera.  Since it is a camera purse, after-all, I needed something to cushion the camera from all the other stuff I put in the bag.
a)  Cut two pieces of liner fabric for the length you need to wrap around your camera (or if you want to just attach the liner like in a regular camera bag that acts as a "wall", then you'll need to cut it to the length that will fit in the bag).

b)  Sew them right sides together on 3 sides, leaving one of the shorter-width sizes open.

c)  Then, cut batting (I doubled-up on the batting to make it thicker) and trim it so it fits just inside all the stitching you just sewed.  You don't want it to go all the way to the edges of the fabric on the two long sides.

d)  Sew the batting onto to the fabric on the top or bottom edge - do one of these only and not both (you will need an opening to turn it right side out)!  Now, turn it right side out and hand-sew the opening closed.

e)  Sew 3 lines, evenly spaced, throughout the length of those cushion piece.  This is what it will look like.
f)  Sew velcro on cushion.  I bought these little round circle velcro pieces for another project and had some leftover.  I used 2 sets of velcro.   One velcro set, I sewed on the edges. Then I sewed 1/2 of the other set on the other edge (you can see it on the outside edge on the 2nd picture below).  I did this so I could velcro this whole piece to the actual bag.

Make sure you place the one velcro set on the correct edges so that it closes (like in the picture below) to make a "circle".

g)  Sew velcro on inside of bag.  The remaining 1/2 of the velcro set will be sewn onto the liner inside the bag.  Place it wherever you want your cushion to be in your bag.  Since the liner was already sewed to the outer fabric, I hand sewed the velcro to the liner.

This is how it will look once you velcro the cushion to the inside of the bag.  It helps to keep your camera in place inside the bag, but also protects it from the other things you put in it.

I also made a flower using both materials. 

But, I ended up finding another flower at H&M that I like much better.  Here's the final product...

This bag cost me $16.57 total to make, including the flower and I even have some leftover fabric I can use.  Not too shabby!  I was very impressed that it came out so well, considering that I've never made anything so detailed before.  But, I'm not an expert at sewing by any means, so I hope my instructions were clear enough.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me a message!

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