Holy Masquerade, Batman!

BLOGTOBERFEST, Day 27

(That’s an actual Robin quote, btw)  So, the big reveal… no one got both correct, but it would have been an impressive guess if you had–

We were the Joker and Catwoman (based on the 1966 television portrayals by Cesar Romero and Julie Newmar).  The originals:

and us, as Joker and Catwoman:

And yes, I made the costumes.  How?  It started with a trip to Goodwill where we bought:

And then a stop into the supermarket two doors down from Goodwill to buy some Rit Fabric Dye (the green dye was intended for Joker’s shirt, but we ended up not using it):

I started by washing everything, the Linen capri & blouse set and the green shirt were washed in a bath of Color Remover (which didn’t really do a thing); then I soaked the linen set in the purple dye for several hours (washing machine method).  After it dried, the color was very uneven, but I got to work anyway.

I removed the short sleeves from the linen blouse, cut long sleeves from the capri pants legs, and attached the new sleeves to the jacket.  Then I cut the bottom of the blouse off, made a pointed hem on each side in the front, and added tails to the jacket (which you cannot see in the pics, sadly)–so it looked just like The Joker’s tuxedo jacket. From the scraps of fabric I had removed from the blouse and the leftovers from the pant legs, I made a collar and lapel and attached them to finish the jacket.

THEN… sweetie went back to the supermarket to buy another box of purple dye, and we did the dye bath again, this time on the stovetop–worked great, we got a good solid cover of vibrant purple!  The only problem was, I hadn’t reinforced my seams and the linen blend raveled like crazy and I had to re-sew. every. single. seam.  Ugh.  Disaster averted–one purple Joker dinner jacket complete.  We decided the shirt wouldn’t take the dye anyway, because of the sateen finish, so we left it as is.  Same with the pants, they fit perfectly. Win! I did his makeup, which made the costume, I think:

On to Catwoman.  I cut the bottom of the dress off, removed the belt loops, and attached the “leather” belt at hip level to create the Mod-look 1960s “catsuit”.  The sleeves required slight adjustments to make it fit more closely — maybe a half hour sewing time, tops.  Add to that a pair of black leggings and boots from my closet, and I bought a long red wig at Target for $8.00, and the cat ears and mask from our theatrical shop (painted the mask with black glitter paint and it was good to go), added elbow length black satin gloves, and a necklace from my jewelry box, and voila!

To finish off the Joker costume, we purchased green hair paint and re-painted a wig from last Halloween, and bought bright purple gloves.  I cut the hem from the black dress I cut up for my Catwoman top, and tied it on him for his necktie.

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DIY Woes

BLOGTOBERFEST, Day 9

Today is my lovely Momma’s 75th birthday!  This Spring, she sold her house in my hometown (about 120 miles from where I live)  and moved into a retirement town home community in a suburb of Des Moines (yay!).  Having her living locally, close to her three youngest children, and five of grandchildren, is wonderful.  She babysits when needed for my brother and sister (happily and willingly!), attends soccer and football games and practices, joins them for a quick trip out for ice cream; even joined me on Friday for her first AQS experience!  When she needed new eyeglasses, I just took a long lunch to go help her pick out a new pair.  Yesterday, she drove over and took my little sister out for lunch for HER birthday.  Mom has been very happy she made the move, despite missing her old friends, and we’re happy to say she’s made new friends fast.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOMMA!!!

(Click on the photo to go to the designer’s site–love her Cake Walk pattern!)  My sweetie and I fixed up a new sewing table for Mom’s Elna sewing machine as a birthday present.  She sews with an Elna 6003, but she’s never had a drop-in table for it.  It must have been six years ago that she and I bought a nice unfinished wood shelf/tabletop at Menards with the plan that I would help her turn her old treadle sewing machine base into a custom made drop-in table for the Elna.  Well, best laid plans…

After her move in June, my sweetie and I took some measurements, drew up a plan, realized that the treadle sewing machine base wasn’t wide enough to accomodate her sewing machine, but thought we might have a table base in the garage that would work… so we hauled the wood tabletop home with us.

I dusted off my old jigsaw, and cut the hole out for her machine and the plexiglas extension base she had, borrowed my little brother’s router, and my sweetie routed out a nice shallow lip for the plexi to rest on.  The table base that we had fit perfectly.  It came from a little drop-leaf kitchen table that I found at an estate sale and had started to strip the paint off but gave up after we found another small table that needed no work and fit our space perfectly–and it was only $25 (with chairs).  Sweetie wanted to throw the little half-stripped table away, but I wouldn’t let him.  “It’s a perfectly good table, and someone will be able to use it.  It doesn’t need to be in the landfill”.  Yep, I’m that girl.

So, the table base was attached to the bottom of the new custom-cut table top, and a rectangular base for the sewing machine to sit on was suspended from the bottom of the tabletop:

We used an enamel spray paint for the base and legs, and bought a quart of the worst.oil.based.enamel.paint.ever.made. to paint the top a nice smooth, glossy finish.  I’m telling you, this project would have been complete in July if not for this horrible paint.  It went on like glue (and stated very plainly on the label that IT WAS NOT TO BE THINNED).  Not only that, it didn’t really dry, either.  My sweetie is far more patient that I; if I had been the one working on painting this, I would have stripped the first layer off after waiting a week for it to dry completely, and immediately thinned the paint and recoated it a few times–project complete.  But– he was determined not to be defeated by this can of paint (although he threatened about three weeks ago to go throw the entire table away and start over).  I’m pretty sure you know what my answer to that was.

Last week, when he was out of town for work, and we had some warm weather days, I went out to the garage to re-coat it.  He had painted a coat on Saturday morning, and this was Tuesday evening and it was still tacky.  I picked up a scraper and started scraping the edges down, so he could re-sand it, and maybe buy new paint and get the crazy thing done before her birthday.  When he saw what I did, he scraped it the rest of the way, sanded like crazy, thinned the paint and painted a new base coat.  The next day, he painted a second coat on it.  Third day, he did a little touch up, and this weekend we were able to declare this never-ending-project completely done.  Lesson learned: next time, just go buy different brand of paint.  Here is the table sans sewing machine and plexi (I’ll post a pretty pic complete with her set-up after we make the delivery tonight!):

Given the hours we invested in this project, we would have been much further ahead if we had just gone here and purchased a new table for her (but, don’t tell my sweetie I said that).

**UPDATE:  Table has been delivered, it’s a perfect fit and Mom can get back to sewing!  Here is a shot showing the groove we cut out for the plexiglas extension bed, and the whole set-to with her Elna Quilters Dream 6003 machine in place:

Now, if I could just get that table runner made for her that I promised her over two months ago…

Pretty in pink (and purple, too)

My niece turned 1 over the weekend, that’s her focusing intently on the mylar Butterfly balloon tied to that bag of gummy candy I just gave her (she has two big brothers to help her out with the candy) 😉  It is incredible how fast a year can fly by… and she looks so tiny in these pics at age 3 months…

She’s got that looking cute thing down pat.  😉  My sister has been planning Zoe’s big-girl-bedroom for a few months now, and when I was at Gruber’s last month, I started cutting hexagons for her twin bed quilt (see bottom right photo:)Friday, I started to make a pillow that will match her big-girl quilt.  This was probably as much a birthday gift for her Mommy as it was for her; but keep reading, Zoe liked her gift, very much.

My sister has always loved animals of all kinds, and the inspiration fabric I bought for the quilt is covered in butterflies, and is being used for other items that will go in her room, too.  And, I have been dying to try our One Big Cabin quilt pattern in feminine colors, ever since I first drew the animals… so…. Ta-Da!

A pink owl pillow, with two pretty butterflies (fussy cut from the inspiration fabric) surrounded by scrappy log cabin blocks made from all the fabrics in her quilt!  Isn’t that pink and purple owl precious?  Well, not as precious as that sweet baby girl up there, but it is pretty cute.

There are 9  little owls hiding in the log cabin blocks, as well as some fussy cut flowers and one red heart.  These are from a Rile Blake fabric by My Mind’s Eye.

On the back, I used a piece of the butterfly inspiration fabric, and found in my stash, I had Cosmo Cricket alphabet fabric that just happened to have the Z and the O lined up, so I decided to make another log cabin block with her name on it:

Zoe’s Mommy loved the pillow, just as I thought she would, but Little Miss Zoe Grace loved it, too:

She did her best to crawl onto the middle of it and perch there proudly, but a 20″ fluffy pillow is pretty big for such a little girl.  So she continued to climb on, roll around on, roll off of, lay her head on… giggling the whole time…

She even found it was useful for baby yoga poses:

(oh to be so flexible)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Zoe Grace!  Thanks for sharing that pretty little smile–Auntie Doris loves you to the moon and back…

Quilts and Inspiration

This is a special post for National Quilting Day 2012 (March 17)

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I’m one of those artists that sees inspiration every where I look… are you like that with your quilting inspiration? I’ve blogged about this before, here, and here, how I find inspiration in architecture, nature, color… But these days, I’m seeing more of an “in your face” type of inspiration. Quilting is hot right now, not only is it sort of “cool” to be a quilter (thanks to the internet and modern quilting movement!), you see quilt inspired items in home dec, stationary, sculpture, office furniture and accessories, buildings — dare we call this the decade of the modern quilt? Whether something is constructed or designed with its inspiration coming from quilts, or the design inspires our quilts… doesn’t seem to matter. Pattern and design is everywhere:

Malka photographed this wall outside the Convention Center at Fall Quilt Market (apparently constructed to hide something functional like lighting/wiring):
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You can see a modern quilt in buildings themselves…
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New interior finishes such as wallpaper and flooring are showing evidence of modern quilting and the new trends for geometrics (wouldn’t you love to have one of these floors in your home?!):
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Even in fashion, whether or not we might actually wear it… Rodarte’s 2010 Fashion Week collection was inspired by the aesthetic of the 1930s American plains:

This child’s dress from Baby Gap (summer 2010):

We even saw evidence of the connection with fashion and modern quilting in recent designer collections for Target. I know chevrons aren’t unique to quilting, but when I saw the Missoni for Target collection last fall, all I could see were patchwork designs!

And a personal fave from the fashion category: this patchwork inspired dress which was available in 2010 through the free trade site JohnLewis.com:

Maybe it’s always been there, inspiration for quilt patterns in the geometry of our surroundings, that is… but I can’t help but see a connection between the use of bold geometric graphics and pattern in design in general and the explosion of modern quilting and the geometric trends we are seeing in our craft.

So how abut you, found any sewing or quilting inspiration in unique places lately?

Threads of Creation

My mind, the new business venture that’s in the works, and certainly this blog, are all creative machines with multiple interests.  About fifteen years ago, a friend called me a ‘jack-of-all-trades, but Master of none’.  It was the first time I heard the expression, and I thought it amusing at the time it was said, but upon further reflection, I came to see it as a slight insult.

Even though my primary interests now revolve around fabric and quilting–and have for many years now– I could just as well have written a lifestyle blog, an interior design blog, a travel blog, an art blog, a foodie blog…. All things I have an interest in.  That’s why, sometimes, my writing ventures a little off the quilting path.  
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I’ve always had diverse interests in music, what I liked to read, different craft techniques, different art mediums… I adore antique and vintage furniture and decor; but crisp, cutting edge contemporary design floats my boat, too.  I’ve always thought being, or sticking to, one thing rather stifling!  A characteristic of the creative mind–but certainly not a flaw.  That said, many times over the years I’ve found myself apologizing for not being more focused, more goal-oriented, more “left-brained”.

This morning, I watched a public television program about a group of craftsmen and engineers in Britian who were trying to construct, from Leonardo da Vinci’s never-executed sketched designs, a catapult and a flying machine; it was fascinating.  Leonardo filled sketchbooks with designs and ideas that were never executed, either due to lack of funding or lack of a patron, but often he abandoned projects or ideas so he could move on to the next great idea.  Sound familiar?  I don’t think anyone today would argue that Leonardo da Vinci was not a success, most would agree he was a genius.  He lived just 67 years, and yet he made vast contributions in the areas of painting, architecture, music, mathematics, cartography, civil engineering, hydrodynamics, and science–obviously he mastered many trades during his relatively short lifetime.  His creative curiosity was hardly a character flaw.

That program reminded me that my occasional inability to stay focused on one task, or one project, or one idea, isn’t necessarily a negative thing.  Sure, I do admire those unique people I’ve met that knew at age ten exactly what they wanted to do with their lives (and did it!), while I’m still uncertain in my forties what I want to do with my life; but would I trade my adventures, my creative experiments and the people I’ve met as a result of these explorations?  Probably not.  (Incidentally, at age ten, my answer to the question of ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ was always “an Artist”)

Why do we have to define ourselves as something?  Why should we pigeon-hole anyone or any thing?  Anna Maria Horner had a fun Q & A with her intern, also called Anna, an undergraduate design student.  AMH asked her what she hoped her life’s work would be, dream of dreams.  Her answer was superb:


That’s something I struggle with on a daily basis….I’d like to be able to say at the end of my life that I have spent my days doing the things that I love, whether its photography, painting, designing or whatever, I hope I can look back on my body of work and not see it as work, but rather what I had a passion for. It might mean that I have to choose only one of those (or none of those) to make ends meet, or build a career, but as long as the bill-paying work doesn’t overshadow finding enjoyment in what I do, then I will have lived the dream.


How smart is that for a 19-year-old?  I was a very mature 19-year-old, having had a lot of responsibility placed on me at an early age, but my future goals were certainly not that mature.  I’m now 42, and I’m just figuring out what that smarty-pants intern stated so very eloquently.

Blogtoberfest Day XXII–Awesome Links, or, "I wish I had thought of that"

I have so many posts starred in my Google Reader, ideas and inspirations…  many of them give me the reaction “that’s awesome!  I wish I had come up with that!”  So today’s post is sharing some linky love with you, Halloween themed, of course, and giving props to those bloggers that did come up with that!

Today’s first is the lovely Happy Haunting Pillow from the Crafty Cupboard:

Ms. Crafty Cupboard also posted LAST YEAR the most amazing spiderweb craft project I have ever seen, she even gives instructions for how she made it:
She made a pillow this year, and posted other crafters variations of her runner–check them out!
Kellie at 74 Lime Lane posts links every Friday to freebies around the web.  Loved these from last Friday, particularly this Hogwarts-esque owl invite from One Charming Party:
Jessica Jones shared a link to an origami site by the Peabody Essex Museum for making these disturbingly realistic bats:
And this is actually a recipe—do you know about www.skinnytaste.com?  I want some of this pumpkin sherbet
And this Halloween Village is from last year, by The Crafty Sisters, but I’m still amazed by it… Maybe I could recreate one in fabric?
I like the idea of painting pumpkins, with glow-in-the-dark paint, or how about this one from LR Stitched:
The glow-in-the-dark idea came from MarthaStewart.com:
The winner of this year’s I Wish I Had Thought of That Award goes to Riel, for her truly amazing Selvage Mummy:
Isn’t that cool?!?  What a great use of fabric selvages.
So many ideas… but my project list for this year is pretty full… and I have not masterminded how to add more hours in a day…. however….there’s always Halloween 2012!
Have you seen any great holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) ideas and tutorials around I should know about?  Leave a comment to be entered in this week’s Blogtoberfest Giveaway:
  1. The Scrappy Charm Witch Pincushion
  2. A special Chocolate Treat
  3. and today’s addition:  3 Holiday FQs (Autumn, Halloween or Christmas–your choice!
As always, followers of my blog get an extra entry!  If you decide to tell your blog readers about my Blogtoberfest giveaways, let me know, and I’ll throw your name in the hat again!

Happy Halloween and an Awesome October!