If Your Costume Needs Zing, Add Bling

It’s true. A costume isn’t a costume until you add some bling. I spent my in between moments today adding bits of this and that to the dress. It’s fun sorting through my jewelry box for the odd piece. Small treasures also linger in craft bins and my sewing box.

heart bling

Heart Bling, Straight From my Jewelry Box

I popped out last night for a few groceries and picked up a pair of jewelry findings to finish the cape. Using a few strands of green embroidery floss, I attached the flower finding to a silver leaf and added one on either side of the cape.

shoulder leaf bling

Shoulder Bling

package of seeds

Packet of Seeds (A Gift from Alyster the Gnome)

I threw together a headpiece this afternoon, but it’s been a bit of a challenge keeping it upright. If the elastic strap is under my chin it stands up. If it’s behind my ears as it should be it has a bit of a tilt. I’ll figure something out after another night’s sleep.

No-Candy Countdown:

I’ve been so focused on staying away from candy this month, that the subject entered my dreams. I was standing at a counter in a store, and the woman I was with was sharing details of a murder. Then she produced a delicious box of chocolates and I started eating them. Half way through I realized that I was eating out of stress, and worse, that I would have to tell all of you about it.

All you dream diagnosticians can have a field day with this one. In better news, I’m still candy free. Darn that chocolate haunting my dreams.

Pumpkins on Parade:

Today’s pumpkin is a two for one.

Pauline of The Contented Crafter said:

Surely all the aqua loveliness calls for a mermaid pumpkin to celebrate the costume unveiling?

Introducing, Merpumpkin.

Merpumpkin

Merpumpkin

My friend Betsy loves mermaids so hopefully she’s giggling when she sees this. The headdress is part of my costume by the way.I’ll be writing more about it tomorrow.
Marlene of In Search of it All said:

Wonder what would happen if you put the pumpkin on the dress form in costume?

Great idea, Marlene. I’ve been waiting to get the costume in respectable order before giving this idea a try. Aside from the shrunken head and the missing neck, not bad. Her beautiful eyes and blue skin more than make up for that. 😉

Pumpkin Head

Pumpkin Head

If you’re planning your own Halloween costume this year, please let us know what you’re up to in the comments below.

bling

Bling-Bling

 

NEWS FLASH! Halloween Takes Over Gardening Blog

One of Mike's carvings: pumpkin campfire

One of Mike’s carvings: pumpkin campfire

We interrupt this regularly scheduled gardening blog to bring you…Halloween!

You may have noticed a few changes, right off the bat.

Everyone’s welcome, whether you’re dropping by in the present or visiting from your ghostly past… or back from the future. This pumpkin-loving gardener is setting the stage for a spooky month.

First up, what exactly is Halloween? In a recent international Skype session with several of my favorite bloggers we talked a bit about the tradition. The Wikipedia article linked here is both fascinating and extensive with nearly 200 citations. If you have the time, it’s a great read.

Who has time you say?

Point taken.

So, here are a few notes from the site Halloween at the Party Spot

  • Trick or treating comes from the Middle-Age practice of the poor dressing up in costumes and going around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for prayers. The food given was often a Soul Cake, which was a small round cake which represented a soul being freed from Purgatory when the cake was eaten.
  • Halloween is also known by other names:
    All Hallows Eve, Samhain, All Hallowtide, The Feast of the Dead, The Day of the Dead
  • Halloween is recognized as the 3rd biggest party day after New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Halloween is Oct. 31 – the last day of the Celtic calendar. It actually was a pagan holiday honoring the dead.
  • Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
  • Halloween is correctly spelt as Hallowe’en.
  • Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world, dating back over 2000 years to the time of the Celts who lived in Britain.
  • More than 93 percent of children go trick-or-treating each year. (source: NCA)

Read more at Halloween at the Party Spot.

No-Candy Countdown:

Over the next 31 days, I’m keeping track of the candy I **don’t** eat.  I’m going to enjoy all the things I love about October while continuing to lose the extra pounds. I’m feeling virtuous today, mostly because it’s day one. That said, I didn’t have a day-before-binge either so I think I’m on to something.

Under-the-sea Costume Updates:

This year I’m creating a costume from my imagination: an under-the-sea gardener.  I’ll share my progress throughout the month. The first party is October 25th.

Thrift Store Finds

Thrift Store Finds

I love dressing-up. It was great fun as a child, and the passion continued to adulthood. In my youth I enjoyed sketching dresses and sewing clothes for my dolls. In college I studied costume design and fabrication. I worked as a costume cutter, assistant cutter and stitcher at various theatre companies in my early twenties.  Those years are among my most treasured memories.

I drifted out of theatre a few years after graduating college. I lacked the stamina for the transient nature of the work, the mediocre pay, etc. Growing up in poverty lead me to realize that I crave stability. I never lost my love of the art though.

Getting Silly with Our Pumpkins:

If you’re a regular reader, you know all the fuss that went into my pumpkins this summer. If not, you can read about the squash bug debacle here and here. In the end, three survived, each about the size of a cantaloupe.  Aren’t they sweet?

pumpkins 2014

This Year’s Pumpkin Crop

I’ve been known to dress up my pumpkins too, so watch for future silliness. Here are some highlights from past years:

Pumpkins Ready for a Party

Pumpkins Ready for a Party

If you have any suggestions for ‘pumpkin costume of the day’ please let me know. I’ll see what I can do.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Sewing

Major Barbara: San Jose State

Costume Design by Deborah Slate
I spent 40 hours sewing this costume

Wedding and birthday anniversaries are fun.  When it’s the anniversary of a death, clouds descend. My mom passed three days after Christmas in 2008, so in addition to my usual seasonal blahs, feelings of loss prevail.

This year, I spent the day sewing, something my mom taught me as a girl.  I remember the moment clearly, though I was only six.  It started at school.

During arts and crafts time, they gave us sewing cards, cardboard pictures punched with holes and a shoe lace. We were to thread the lace in and out of the holes to frame the picture. Though mesmerized, I was also annoyed that I had to take it apart when done.  I went home and asked my mom if I could sew.

She found the largest needle she had and an old sock.  I sat by her knee on the floor, cutting the sock into shapes and then sewing them together.  I completely lost myself in the activity.

I made a lot of my clothes in high school, and sewed for friends as well.  I attended community college where I got an associate degree in fashion merchandising, taking classes in fine sewing and design. From there I transferred to San Jose State where I studied costume design, graduating with a BS in theater.  I worked as a ‘stitcher’ at San Jose Repertory Theater, my first professional experience.  I also spent three summers doing summer stock in Santa Rosa, working as an assistant cutter and later cutter for summer shows.

summer stock theater

Summer Stock Theater

Making a living in the arts is hard work.  I admire my friends that stuck with it, many of them working in academia to make ends meet.  I drifted into different things, when the challenge of always looking for that next job, contract or summer gig started to wear on me.  I miss it.  You meet incredibly talented and creative people in theater, and you meet prima donnas and sociopaths as well.  Everyone’s welcome. No judgment.

These days I sew for myself once a year at Halloween.  It’s a wonderfully creative outlet.  Whenever I haul out my machine, I wonder why I don’t find the time to do it more often.

During my day of sewing, I repaired a dress for my sister. Sharon is also a good seamstress, but her MS makes sewing a challenge these days. I did a bit of mending for my son, then learned how to use the overlock stitch on my machine.  Oh happy day!

mending seams

Mended seams

Two summers ago I made a slip cover for my garden swing.  I piped most of the edges, but the two side panels were simply pinked (with my mom’s pinking shears).  The loose weave of the fabric didn’t hold up in the wash, unfortunately, so the pinked edges frayed.  I trimmed the edges even, then went to town with the over lock stitch.  Be still my heart: it worked!  I laundered the cover and put it away for the season.  For some reason that really made me happy.

overlocked seams

Over-locked seams

garden swing cover

Garden swing cover

Last on the list for my sewing day: a pillow.  My friend Melanie had a beloved canvas bag from her summer camp days.  Her well-loved bag sported torn seams and a few holes, but it had great sentimental value.  I offered to turn it into a pillow.

I found the perfect trim at my local craft store to add a bit of texture.  Within no time the bag transformed.

duffel bag pillow

Camp Seafarer pillow

The day was cathartic.  I sewed for myself, my family and my friends and I sewed for the memory of mom.  I used her pinking shears that day too, and believe it or not, a spool of black thread that once lived in her sewing box.

As I put all this into words, I wonder if I’ve hit upon an annual tradition.

What helps you get through a ‘loaded’ anniversary?

Coming Full Circle and a Blogger Surprise

Party girl, 1920's style

Party girl, 1920’s style

Boy am I tuckered out!  We attended two Halloween parties this past weekend, our own kid-friendly party and another one hosted for adults. Great fun.

I finished my Halloween costume Friday night, but for a few hand-stitches the next morning. Talk about cutting it close.  Party guests arrived here at 1:00 pm Saturday.  Nothing like a little pressure to keep your energy up and your adrenaline pumping.

We host a Halloween party every year for our boys.  We invite adults, too, but the focus is on the younger ones.

Later that night we attended an adults-only party, just a couple of houses away.  It was fun wearing my ‘party dress’ all day.  It’s not often you get to wear pink shoes, false eyelashes and a petticoat.

Many moons ago I attended San Jose State’s Theater Arts program.  Everyone studied a little of everything including acting, literature, backstage work and technical theater, but costumes are my first love.

Coming Full Circle

The inspiration for this year’s costume came from my dear friend Boomdee.  When she visited here in May, she brought me a beautiful hand-made easel decorated with lace paper, ribbons and bows along with tiny hearts and roses.  Featured on the easel: a lovely dancer from the 1920’s, dressed in soft pinks.  She chose the paper with my theater background as inspiration.  Now it’s both art and costume.

costume and muse

My costume muse

cottage craft flowers

I found these flowers at Cottage Craft

Lindy on the petticoat

Lindy is rethinking her costume…or simply keeping my petticoat warm.

Blogger Surprise

As if back-to-back parties weren’t enough excitement, an amazing treat arrived in the mail from Catja at Gjeometry.  Her tag line says it all: It’s in the Lines……hem, seam, stitching, grain, style.  I made it on to her Craft-it-Forward list earlier in the year.  She blew me away!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the full reveal.  Meanwhile, Catja, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Halloween Countdown:

mini pumpkin patch

My son set up our ‘pumpkin patch’. Individual pumpkin creativity ensued

Luddites and Pumpkins

I’m probably eligible for Luddite status, as my forays into technology continue to fail me.  With help, we got the wireless connection working for a few hours, then the internet went down.  By morning, both the wireless and the net were down.  To seal my fate, I set up my fancy sewing machine, a gift from my husband a few years back.  All went well till I had to switch to the zipper foot.  The electronic symbol for moving the needle to the left or right made no sense at all.  I read the manual, read it again, and then (while the internet was working) did a Google search.  Still no luck.

In the end, I simply made do with the regular presser foot and moved on.  What a frustrating day.

The pieces scattered on my kitchen counter Sunday night are now loosely sewn together.  My sister stops by tomorrow to help me with the final fitting.  Then I’ll sew in the lining, hem the skirt and I can call it a dress.

cutting a pattern

I’ve always dreamed of owning a cutting table. The kitchen counter is the next best thing when you’re tall.

The bling that will take it from dress to costume includes a length of sequins from the fabric store, several hand-made roses made by a local crafter and a few strands of leafy ribbon from Scrapbook Island.  I’m really looking forward to a bit of hand-sewing, a task I’ve always found relaxing.

On the garden front, I decided to harvest our late-season, curbside pumpkin.  It hasn’t grown in size for a few weeks, and shows no signs of turning orange.  That said, I’m wondering if this pumpkin is actually one of the blue-green varieties.  It has a bluish tinge and once inside, I realized that it turned light green but not the rich green the other pumpkins pass through on their way to orangeness.  Could it be a crown pumpkin?  What do you think?

light green pumpkin

Crown Prince

My son’s teddy-bear sweater is just the right size for dressing up our new pumpkin.  No drafty nights for this ‘crown prince.’  Who said “it’s not easy being green?”

By the way, it’s not easy being a Luddite either.

Halloween Countdown:

pumpkin in sweater

Sweater weather

 

The Seamstress of Swing: Sew What?

Before and After

I can swing again!

Several interruptions, one broken needle, and thirty minutes of hair-pulling later trying to trouble shoot the fancy electronics on the Bernina and the swing cover is finally done.  Working without a pattern was challenging, but I enjoyed myself.  Alternating between sewing machine and garden, I worked my way through trial fittings as I went along.

I made bias tape for the piping, trim and ties using a continuous bias technique I’ve not used in years.  Thank you Google search and my fellow bloggers for the tutorials.

The swing cover slips on and off in less than two minutes, so it will be a breeze to remove it for cleaning.

We celebrate Mike’s 50th tomorrow with a small gathering of friends (in the back yard of course).  Do you think it would be unseemly for me to take a nap mid-party?

Sew What? A Swing Cover

Sultan of Swing

Sultan of Swing

Make it Modern: How to sew continuous bias or binding.

Friday Already?

Progress?  It’s my middle name.  But…still much to do.

Swing:

The swing needed a good cleaning so I scrubbed it twice to remove the winter muck.  It looks and smells better, but now it’s wet and drying in the sun.

Swing Cover:

In between scrubbing, I took measurements and cut the fabric for the swing cover.  Instead of re-upholstering the entire swing, I’m making a slip cover that will fit snugly but remove easily for cleaning and off-season storage.  Imagine my delight when I found wide elastic in the two colors I need, green for the front and tan for the back.  The plan is to secure the cover by crossing straps over the back and around the middle, like a belt.  I’m going to experiment with a few scraps of elastic to give it a more upholstered look by stitching it to the back side of the seat cover to emulate tucks.

Fabric and Trim

Garden Bench/Buffet:

My former garden bench now serves as a buffet or side bar, sitting next to our outdoor table. I’ve considered sanding and repainting it, but I’ve grown fond of the bench’s slightly battered charm. The earthquake kit resides inside the bench, but the top is the perfect surface to set up drinks. I found three inexpensive place-mats at Target, that when placed side by side, make a perfect surface cover. They can be wiped clean and stored off-season as well.

Side Board with New Place Mats

Close Up: I like the matching chevron

Fairy Garden Redux:

Back in April when we planted the back garden, my son wanted to add a small fountain nestled in the rocks near the fairy garden. He was gracious about it, suggesting we relocate the fairy garden to the other side of the yard. The big rocks were the ideal location for a fountain, he reasoned, and I agreed. Since the wee garden was more about creative expression than any thing else, I let him go ahead and experiment with his own creativity.   He used the small water pump from one of his building kits, an old Tupperware bowl and a trash bag, creating a trickling waterfall and a fountain.  Just as quickly, he lost interest.

Earlier this week I removed the sheet of black plastic used for the fountain, unearthing an ant colony. Hundreds of ants scattered everywhere. I waited for the nest activity to settle down  Then I pulled a small clay pot and a plant saucer from the side yard, added a few Impatiens and created a portable fairy garden in its place. I reused the hydroponic clay and the “stepping-stones” from the earlier fairy garden to create a mini patio.The table stand is a peat pod draped with a fern table-cloth, accessorized with a pair of magnets. The chairs are part of a stacking game.

Portable Fairy Garden

Fairy Garden Close-up

Flower-Power:

Mike brought home a bouquet of mixed flowers yesterday, and to my delight and surprise, there are exactly two, long-stemmed yellow blooms! They’ll look great in the cobalt blue beer bottles I set aside, along with the pink flowers tucked into one of my soy candle jars.

My sewing machine awaits!

Rehabing the Swing

In need of some TLC

My readers know how I love my swing.  Sadly, it took a tumble in a wind storm, flipping heals over casters into the rock wall. The lower frame is sound, but that brief flight and subsequent landing tore one inch gashes into the canopy frame.

Before dismantling the canopy frame this winter, I thought it was simply bent and needed straightening.  Now that we’ve taken it apart, the mechanical fix is more complex.

The no-cost fix is simple: we’ve relocated the swing to the shady part of the garden, where it now rests under the orange tree.  Who needs an artificial canopy when nature has provided one in my backyard.

The seat cushions are a different story: they need a good overhaul.  I used an old, flocked table-cloth to cover the cushions off-season and it worked well.  Then spring rolled around and the neighborhood squirrels decided it would make excellent nesting material.   They had that cloth de-flocked in two days!   I get lazy in the colder months so between the unceremonious toss of the swing and the table-cloth dismemberment, I simply turned a blind eye.  Last summer I put a towel over the cushions, and made do with the bent top.  Neither one had any affect on my impromptu nap schedule.

Now that the yard is spruced up, my swing looks neglected.  It resembles a dorm room couch, minus the cookie crumbs, but with plenty of mold to give one pause.

Time to call on my sewing skills.  I’ll let you know how it goes.