The Halloween Post.

This year. The little guy (3yo) is sound asleep.  He had a big day, what with Halloween at school, plus trick or treating with dad.  This morning he said he wanted to be a fireman, but surprised me when he decided to wear the bat costume he requested and I made for him.  (I told him he could wear last year’s costume if he wanted, but he chose the new one).

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McCalls 4951

I love doing Halloween costumes. It is what finally brought me back into sewing. Halloween is such fun, and if you make your own, you can be so much more creative and imaginative. The little guy selected the fabric, and I think he thought he had to have the same as the pattern envelop.  But whew – slick, shiny fabric, with glitter – a real challenge to sew and left my sewing room a mess.  The directions were okay – but if you followed them, the results weren’t going to be so great.  The set-in sleeves, especially with the slick fabric, were a real challenge.  But he LOVED it and was proud to wear it to school and tell all his friends.

Last year?  I didn’t make him his costume last year.  We were all going to a Halloween costume party wear the costumes were taken seriously.  He wanted to be a fireman – and wanted us to be firemen too. I didn’t have time to make three matching costumes (and couldn’t find adult versions), so I purchased them.  But when he was one, I went with the classic Simplicity 8814 dinosaur (copyright 1998):

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And previous Halloweens.  Where we used to live, we had a friend who threw serious Halloween parties and some of the costumes were pretty amazing.  The first year we went we didn’t know better so threw something together.  After that, we planned out our costumes.  By far, our two best costume sets were these:

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I made both colonial costumes, using remnants from the local fabric store. I used Butterick 3072 for my husband, and Simplicity 4092 for me.  I had no idea how men’s sizing worked!  I bought something way too small and had to grade for the first time.  By the way, we were dressed as George Mason and his wife Ann. Mason was one of the “quiet” patriots for the revolution. At the time, we lived right next to the university that bears his name.  No matter.  Everyone said he was George Washington. And me?  Was I Marie Antoinette?  Couldn’t be Martha Washington, could you?

A couple of years later, we decided to go as TV characters – Jeanne and Major Nelson.  I ended up buying his costume from ebay, but making mine.  I had never drafted my own pattern before.  I used photos from the web,  a pattern for shorts and a jacket pattern as base, but basically draped muslin and went from there.  Just a couple days after the picture was taken, we found out I was pregnant with the little guy! So, in one sense, it was his first Halloween!

Time just flies… upcoming projects

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been 11 days and I’ve made no progress on the Rucci dress.  Work has been crazy, and I expect it to continue for a couple weeks.  The weather is so lovely, that when I have a moment, I want to go outside.  And my dear little boy gave up naps, so that time is also gone (for work or personal time).  Anyway, hoping to get back on track soon.

So, I’m publicly committing my next few projects:

  1. Finish the little guy’s halloween costume (McCalls 4951, the bat).
  2. Finish the Rucci dress.
  3. Finish the grey rain coat (we’re in the dry season, but it will get cool soon).  Progress shot here.
  4. A pair of pants.  I’ve lost half the weight I gained in the move, and neither my “new” nor my “old” pants fit.  I’ve got some beautiful wool from Gorgeous Fabrics, and I think I will start with Very Easy Vogue 8717.  I made the jacket last year in a turquoise silk tweed, and I love it. I made the high waist pencil skirt from the Ann Klein II pattern here in the wool to go with the jacket, and it gets rave reviews when I wear it. When I finish the pants, I’ll post pictures of the jacket with the skirt and the pants.
  5. Another skirt for my niece.  She loved the pink flounce denim, but it was just too big.  So she will hold on to it for later (reviewers at PatternReview suggested it ran big).  Her mom suggested switching to an elastic waist, so I’m looking at some knits.  Would love suggestions.

After that, who knows. Probably another skirt, maybe finish the white linen blouse and make some tops.  Or tackle a suit.  Or even a winter coat.

For my young niece: double flounce in pink denim (Butterick 4593)

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My sister and her family also had a major move this summer, and her first grade daughter left Catholic school for public school.  During back-to school shopping, my sister lamented the fashions available to my niece in terms of age-appropriateness, quality and styles.  I offered to make her some skirts and dresses, and this skirt is the first of these.  This is my “fitting”skirt, since I’m working off measurements not a live person.  I mailed it today – I hope she likes it and it fits!

This pattern has been out for awhile (2005), so I know it’s well-reviewed, but here’s my spin:

Pattern Description:  A-line skirt, above knee, with lined yoke and flounces (I did view D, minus the flower).

Fabric Used: A fantastic, and amazing stretch pink denim from Gorgeous Fabrics, that looks better in person than in photos.  Great drape, very lightweight, and easy to sew.  I’m glad there was something leftover for me (insert selfish grin here).  It drapes far better than the picture shows, which is simply a hanger photo/not on the body.  Hopefully I can update this post with her wearing the skirt.

Machines & Tools Used:  my trusty Threadbanger 12 from Janome, various feet … zipper, edge stitching, overcast, and my seam roll.

Needles/Notions Used:  Stretch Needle size 11.  The striped grosgrain ribbon is from MJ Trim.

Tips Used During Construction: Claire Schaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide for the narrow machine stitched hem.

How were the instructions: So, so.  I followed them mostly, except for the narrow hem, when I deferred to Schaeffer’s book.  When I do this again, I will trust my own instincts and change things up a bit so I can get a more professional result, especially the zipper.  One important note:  the directions say to ease the skirt/flounce, but the yoke was the longer piece, so the easing was the other way around.  I basted/staystitched the edges early on to prevent stretching, so I’m pretty sure it’s the pattern.

Did it look like the photo?: yes

Construction Notes: This skirt is basically two overlapping circle skirts attached to a yoke, with a back zipper.  Even though the fabric is light weight, you are doubling the fabric at the yoke when attaching the zipper, so using the instructions to insert the zipper will result in a “homemade” look – a bit bulky and not terribly attractive.

Interestingly, the skirt yoke is not interfaced, which I think is a mistake.  As I was stitching it together it just sort of hit me that I want to interface it next time to help with wrinkles and body.  The yoke is lined/faced with self-fabric, but I used some of the hot pink batiste I had leftover from the Pucci dress to reduce bulk, but I think a light weight interfacing would have helped prevent some of the wrinkling you see in the picture.

The pattern goes together easily and well, with the exception of the instructions regarding easing the skirt to the yoke.

Challenges/What I learned: I had never done a circle skirt before, so that was new.  Took forever to machine stitch, carefully, the two narrow hems and then add the ribbon (another two rows of stitching).  I’d never attached ribbon in this fashion before, and I was semi-successful in stretching and shrinking the grosgrain to match the curve of the skirt. I think a bias-cut ribbon would have been easier, or apply a binding. And I’m learning to trust myself and do things differently than Vogue/McCalls/Butterick would suggest.

Would you do it again?:  Sure, if my niece likes it!

(and yes, progress is slow but steady on the Ralph Rucci)