Friday, October 31, 2014

A Last-Minute Merida

SO.  I started out thinking I would just dye some fabric that I already had in my stash- meaning I wouldn't have to buy anything! - and then I'd whip up a dress.

Days and days, people.  I spend days on getting this stunningly adequate color on this piece of stunningly adequate muslin.

And then, when I went into the stash to get some plain muslin to make trim with, I found this fabric that I already had in my stash:

No, your eyes do not deceive you.  I found exactly the right amount of an even more stunningly adequate piece of panné velvet in exactly the right color, just sitting there waiting for me to finish dyeing the other piece of fabric.

OK.  So let's get to whipping up a dress.  If you want to make a very quick and very easy almost-Merida with just two seams, proceed as if making a magistrate dress as I did in this blog post way back when the internet was a baby. Cut the sleeves straight across rather than hanging down.  The skirt will be full enough to walk easily but not so full as to be twirly.

If you want to make an almost quick, almost easy, almost-Merida with an actual twirly skirt, follow the steps below.

Pithy instructions:

  • Fold your fabric twice.
  • Trace a dress that fits and cut.
  • Add a little to the sides to make it twirly.
  • Sew the extra side parts on.
  • Sew the side seams.
  • Twirl.

Wordful instructions with poor-quality pictures:

Start with a piece of fabric that is twice the length from your shoulder to the floor, and twice the length from the center of your chest to your wrist.  You'll also need a shirt or dress that fits you well.  These items are charmingly represented in this and other photos by a piece of printer paper and a dolly dress.

Fold the fabric from top to bottom, AKA the hamburger way.

Fold again from left to right, AKA the other hamburger way, so that all four free corners are at the bottom right.  The left side is a nested fold, and the top side is a stacked fold.  It will make sense once you start folding.

The left will be the center front/back line, and the top will be the shoulder line.
This is my actual dress  on the actual fabric.

Lay a yardstick so that it points from the skirt to the four free corners at the bottom right.

Using a piece of chalk, draw from the underarm all the way down to the free corners, forming the body and the skirt of the dress.. Then start at the underarm again and draw straight out, away from the dress, all the way to the edge of the fabric, forming the sleeves.

Holding the end of the yardstick at the open corners, use it like a compass to draw an arc from the dress to the edge of the fabric.

At the top right corner, at the  dress neckline, mark the front neckline and the back neckline on the center front fold.

Mark the back neckline on the top fold.
Remove the dress from the fabric and draw gentle curves to connect the center front marks to the top mark.  These are the back neckline and the front neckline.

Back to paper.

When you have finished drawing all the lines, you will  have a half dress on the left, a pizza slice on the right, and what I'm going to call the upside down end of a canoe under the sleeve.

Cut along your lines, including the back neck.  Wait to cut the front neck later.  The upside down end of a canoe is excess.  Set it aside but don't throw it away.  You can always use it to make a purse or a dog collar.  Or to repair your dress.  :)

Open the half dress so you can see right and left sides.

Open the dress fully so you can see front and back.

Flip the pizza slices so the point goes toward the neckline.

Separate the pizza slices and put one along each side.

Attach pizza slices.  In paper, I used tape.  When you make the dress in fabric, use thread and sew them on.
Fold the dress in half along the shoulder line, matching up the side seams.

Start at the underarm and sew all the way down to the skirt hem.  Then start back at the underarm and sew all the way out to the sleeve hem.

Try it on!  Be amazed that the side seams droop!  That is not wrong!  Have someone put a mark on the side seam showing how short it needs to be.

Trim down the front neckline if you wish.

Fold the dress in half again, then trim from the side seam mark in a curve all the way to the front.

Open the dress back out and try it on again!  Adjust anything you don't like--make the hem shorter, make the sleeves taper, take in the side seams.  It is all a matter of how you want it to look and fit.  When you are satisfied, hem the skirt and the sleeves, and the neck.

To make it more like Merida's, you can cut a shallow slit in the center front and sew ribbons on to look like lacing.

My almost-Merida, worn over a peasant blouse, with Rudi's belt and my boots.

Even drawing my bow, my sleeves were cut high enough under the arm to not split when I draw my bow.

SEE?  Twirly.

Go make yourself a dress, or a peplos, or a "kimono'.  Then go forth in splendor! Be safe, be kind, and most of all have fun.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Last-Minute Costume to Beat All Last Minute Costumes, AKA "My Sincerest Apologies, Japan"

The making of a shiny gold goddess leaves little time for the making of any other being.  Thus was born this quick and cheap, completely inauthentic rendition of something vaguely Japanese.  Offered here in a series of poor-quality photos that make it look like we have a magical color-changing couch. You're welcome.

Start with a bed sheet and some curtain valances from the thrift store. Or other suitable raw materials.  Bonus points if you get this stuff on half price sale day.  Notice the birds.  They matter. 

For the next bit, the bed sheet will be represented by this charming piece of paper.  Notice the birds.  They matter.

Fold the bed sheet in half the hamburger way.

Fold bed sheet again the, uh, other hamburger way.

Press lightly, then open so that you have one fold at the top, and the pressed line in the center front.

Cut straight up the middle of the front, on the pressed line, stopping at the top fold.  Be neat, but not anal.

Cut out from each side of the center cut, JUST A LITTLE, on the top fold line.  Be neat, but not anal.

Momentary bed sheet cameo to demonstrate what "just a little" means.  3"-4" will do the job.  Notice the "neat but not anal" cut along the top. Nobody will notice.  Seriously.

Back to paper.  Fold the center edges in to form a "lapel" opening.

Put on your bed sheet so that the opening is in front, charmingly modeled here by my friend and colleague Dora-san.

OK, here's where it gets tricky.  Wrap one valance around your waist as a belt and pin or tie it in back.  Make sure the hem of the bed sheet hangs even around your feet.  You'll have to fiddle with the "sleeves" to get things just right.

Fiddle with the second valance until you get a shape that is more or less an obi.  Tuck it into the belt and pin it in place.

Obi not to scale.  Nor is the kimono.  Nor Dora's head.  It's only a model.

Remember the birds?  Yeah, they'll be upside down on the back.  Nobody will notice.  Seriously.

Doesn't she look aDORAble in this?

Life size from the front.

Obi.  Honestly, I kind of like it.

A goddess and a geisha heading out to the carnival.

In retrospect, a queen-size bed sheet was just a little too big, but you can't beat 20 minutes of work and $4.00 in materials.

Tomorrow:  my real Halloween costume.  No lie.

A Handmade Goddess, Part 3: The Reveal

When you make a goddess by hand, there is a lot more gold glitter spray paint involved than I had imagined.

There is the shield.  And the helmet

And the sandals.

This might or might not have been the first time I've ever spray painted my footwear shiny gold.

And the pumpkin.

Tape over the features, spray prime, spray paint, peel tape before paint dries so the paint doesn't peel too.

But thankfully there are distribution centers all across America where you can just waltz in and hand them some money and in exchange they will let you leave with some shiny gold fabric.

Lightweight charmeuse.  Don't use lamé, unless you just want to hate making the costume.

When you get home with your shiny gold fabric, do this:

Despite what half the interweb wants you to believe, this is not a chiton.  This is a peplos, from whence we have received both the word and the thing called "peplum."  To which my only response is a sarcastic, "Thanks for the peplums, Greeks."

If the back side of your shiny gold fabric is less shiny than the front - it happens - you will need to lop off the top section and sew it back on so that when it folds down, it reveals the proper degree of gold shininess.

It may not matter to you, but to a goddess it matters.

Pin on the peplos with some shiny gold buttons, and wrap a shiny gold cord around your waist. Put on your glittering gold helmet, and your glittering gold shoes, and a pair of shiny gold eyelashes that are longer than your eyes are wide.

Then pick up your sparkly gold shield, and your sparkly gold pumpkin, carefully examine the picture that inspired all the sparkling shiny goldness, and when you are satisfied that you are an identical match to the original, sally forth and declare in your most authoritative 11-year-old voice,

"I am the great Athena,
warrior goddess of Greece,
daughter of Zeus,
holder of Nike,
and Medusa's head."

This is a real thing, y'all.  Right here in Nashville.


See?  I told you.  The great goddess Athena.  Holder of a pumpkin-headed Nike, and Medusa's head represented in the abstract by the raised center of the shield, because ain't nobody got time for an authentic snake-headed lady.

Ah, what glorious times we live in, when a goddess can just stumble across a labyrinth at the Halloween carnival.

Goddess in a bouncy house means accouterments on the ground.

NOTE:  no gorgons were harmed in the making of this costume.

Tomorrow:  a last-minute costume for the mama of a goddess.