And Then That Happened…

One of the biggest things I lament in my lame attempt at calling myself a writer is that nothing ever happens to me.  I don’t have a wild youth.  I’ve never really gotten in trouble or had much in the way of adventures.

Except for that one time I was a clown.

Photo by James P. Jordan, just like the watermark says.

Let’s back up.

Clowns give me the heebie-jeebies.  If a man carrying a chainsaw was walking down one side of the street, and a clown was walking down the other, I’d probably side with the chainsaw.  I don’t trust people whose faces I can’t see, and clowns and mascots are at the top of that list (I initially said “a man wearing a mask and carrying a chainsaw”, but I had to change it because the mask would freak me out as much as the clown).

So when a friend of mine said she really wanted to make a Steampunk Clown costume, I was all, “You’re crazy nutso.”  And when she asked if I’d do them embroidery, I was all “Of course, but you’re still crazy nutso.”  You already got to see some of the embroidery, so obviously I obliged.  And really, the embroidery was awesome.

And then I dropped the embroidery off at her house.

And she roped me into even more embroidery, which was fine, because it was even more awesomer.  But while I was there, she somehow managed to talk me in to modeling the costume for a photoshoot.  Hindsight tells me that when she said “Oh, if only someone in our group were my size” what she was really thinking was “If we just pad out the chest a little, DK will be perfect.”  I’m on to her.

So because I’m the very best friend in the world–and because despite the fact it was a clown, I knew this costume would be amazing beyond belief–I agreed to model.  Which was silly, because I’m almost as uncomfortable in front of a camera as I am in front of a clown.  Thank god I didn’t actually have to look at myself the whole time, or I would have been downright terrified.

We met Jim, photographer to the peeps in the know out at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, at Starbucks at about 9 Saturday morning.  I got myself a green tea latte (because they’re awesome), and we hit the road for a nearly two hour journey to the wilds of Mantorville, MN where we would find ourselves at the Mantorville Opera House.  Once there, I spent 78 hours having my hair and makeup done and then another 46 hours putting the costume on (give or take).  The dear, sweet women who met us at the Opera House to do hair and makeup were phenomenal, but none of us really had any idea it would take so long.  Poor Jim.

124 hours later, I was on stage.  Literally.  Under stage lights and in front of photographer’s lights, with a man on a ladder telling me to be a clown.  Have I mentioned I don’t like clowns?

I tried to research how clowns emote and how they act, but I ran short on time.  Getting ready took so long, I really had no chance to practice looks before going in front of the camera.  The makeup was very unique, and I really wasn’t sure what it would look like if I did certain things on camera.  I know I shouldn’t have cared, and I should have just done anything, but I’m a self-conscious person in general; putting things on camera makes it that much more permanent (though, really, almost everything is digital now, I should relax about that sort of thing).

Once I loosened up a bit, and once people started shouting out suggestions, it became a little less weird.  And honestly, despite my unease, I had a freaking blast.  And as I look back on it a bit (and as I see the interwebs growing more and more enamored with the project), I realize it’s one of those things that few people can say have happened to them.  Maybe it’s not a story I’ll tell at parties, and maybe I don’t have a very promising future in modeling or being a clown, but it’s still unique.

You really should read all about the project on Laura’s blog.  The work she did was incredible.  Honestly, the embroidery I did for the project, and even modeling the costume, are small potatoes compared to the vision she constructed.

Photo by James P. Jordan, possibly the world’s most patient man.


Go Home, Puncher, You’re Drunk

I’ve been working on this embroidery project for a friend, and for the most part it’s gone swimmingly (have I mentioned lately how vastly superior my new machine is from my old one?).  I’ve had the pleasure of stitching out funky little animals like this guy:

And I’m using this particular picture specifically as an example of what most embroidery designs look like before they get cleaned up.  Jumps are expected.  It happens.  And usually they aren’t that bad to clean up.  Usually.

Meet Lion:

I am reasonably certain that the puncher who created this lion was drunk.  Seriously?  The fuck?

I’m not sure what the reasoning behind this was, but every time I started a color, the design would lock the stitch on one side of the design and then move across to the other side to actually start embroidering.  On top of all that, this design (and its fellow holiday themed buddy) had twice as many thread changes as their secular friends.  I’m pretty sure for no other reason than to be jerks.

All in all, though, the project has been great.  I can’t wait to see the magic that unfolds when my embroidery gets into the hands of the master.

Happy Halloween!

In the past I’ve been charged with making Halloween costumes for my niece, Rocketpuppy.  This year she was uber-indecisive about what she wanted to be, so it’s a good thing I didn’t end up making her costume.  But, not one to disappoint, I did manage to make a costume for her baby doll.  I don’t have pictures of the costume on the doll yet, so I thought I’d try it out on Mr. Neilson.

The costume is made from a tulle remnant that was 9″ wide.  I folded it in half and ran a basting stitch around the fold.  I gathered up the tulle to about 13″ and stitched 10″ of fold-over elastic to the gathered edge, stretching as I sewed.  I wanted to make sure the skirt gave enough while stretching it onto the doll.  I seamed up the elastic, but not the tulle.

The top is made from a scrap of leftover dancewear, cut into two 5″x5″ squares.  I cut out arm holes and a head hole then stitched the sides and shoulders.  I didn’t finish the holes in anyway, the fabric isn’t going to unravel, and I’m not fond of tiny holes.  With right sides together, I stitched the skirt to the top.  All stitches with the exception of the gathering stitch were zigzag to allow for stretching.

The wings had been haunting me.  I came across some tutorials for making wings, and they seemed doable, but also a little daunting.  Then I talked to a good buddy of mine, and she suggested buying a fake butterfly and pulling off the antennae.  So I did.  The only one I could find was orange, which is not ideal, but it can always be switched out when, say, a yellow one comes available.  The butterfly came with a clip on the back, so I cut a small slit in the back of the top to put the clip through.

It was a really quick project, and I’m pleased with the results.  I’ll get a picture on the doll later, plus a picture of my costume.  It’s the “bad luck” costume, so there’s a good chance the Chipotle I’m planning on going to will burn down or something.  But, hey, maybe the fourth try is the charm?

As promised

So, I made a costume, and it is fab, although a little restrictive…

The shirt is a too-small, very see-through button-up top found at Value Village (when I tried it on, I said “Well, if I’m wearing a corset anyway……).  The corset is Simplicity 2966.  The skirt is from the amazing learningtofly whose blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs of all time.  The hat is from Humble Bumble B‘s tutorial on Threadbangers.  Jewelry is original.

The costume can be worn with this fab leather jacket, also found at Value Village…

My “purse” for the costume is an old Brownie camera that The Hippy found, probably at his place of employment.  He wasn’t too thrilled with me using it, since he didn’t remember me saying “I’m using a Brownie as part of my costume.”

It can also be worn with a short brown coat… ALSO… from a thrift store.

The short coat shows off the skirt better, though this picture doesn’t have the brown coat…

I have finally–I think–come up with my Steampunk persona.  She’s a writer, bumbling, obsessed with grammar, quirky tastes.  She is, perhaps, a slightly more successful version of myself.  In the future I plan to tweak my costume to reflect this.

The nice thing about this costume is that, sans corset, I can wear most of it for everyday life.  For example, going to a Christmas concert:

Mirror shot because I didn't feel like doing the tripod thing.

Instead of the corset/button-up, I wore a sweater.  Instead of plain black cabled tights, I wore Christmas tights in homage of the brave men we were going to see:

This video is from last year’s Tonic Sol Fa Christmas concert.  Most years Greg–the first dancing man–dances alone in tights.  Last year they had the audience choose between three pairs of tights: red stripes, green stripes, blue starry night type.  Then Greg came out wearing tights with one green-stripe leg and one red-stripe leg and explained that it had been a tie.  I probably need not explain more, since that is in the video.

With luck, I will do a post later on my jewelry with close-ups.

Dipping my foot into Steampunk

And when I say, “Dipping my foot,” I, of course, mean jumping in at full speed a la the Polar Bear Plunge.  I know I mentioned a skirt in my last post, but I’m not ready for the world to see the skirt yet.  I do, however, have one of my steampunk shirts to share with y’all (yes, “one,” as in, I couldn’t decide on just one look, so I’m making at least two).

I started with much of my inspiration from this video from Threadbanger (at least, the lady-clothes section at the end).  If you haven’t heard of Threadbanger, and you’re of a crafty nature, then you’d better get with it.  So many great tutorials to drool over.  Not one to intentionally make my rear end look any bigger than it already is, I’ve decided to forgo the bustle, and stick with the shirt and hat from the video.  The hat will come later.  I make no promises as to the date, because I don’t have much time these days.

After a trip to Value Village, I had my shirt ready to mod.  I watched this video on shirring, and consulted a few blogs, and I was on my way.  The end result was thus:

I am a terrible model and a pain in the ass to work with...

Not too shabby… The majority will be covered with a corset that I will be making with Larue‘s help over the next two days.  The torso of the shirt isn’t terribly important, and neither is the fact that it’s a little sheer.  Let’s look at the details, shall we?

Three layers of shirring on the collar (can it be called a collar that low? Let’s go with head hole), as I was getting awfully close to the next button, and two layers of shirring on the sleeve.  My cutting was a whole lot of guessing and a little bit slap-dash, no measuring whatsoever.  But I’m pleased with the results.  The only thing I can’t tell if I’m pleased with is the collar…  It’s a little Playboy Bunny for me…

See what I mean?  I feel like I should be getting Heff a cigar….

The black thread was the result, honest to god, of not wanting to rethread my serger.   In my defense, it wouldn’t have just been one rethreading since I’ll need the black again to finish my skirt.  I like the black and think it might look intentional, though I probably shouldn’t have used it on the “head hole.”  It was a complete afterthought.  I had originally hemmed it, and my serger blade doesn’t care for thick layers, so there are a few sections that are not very well serged.  I also would recommend any serging or hemming pre-shirring.  Live and learn.

But, really, it’s a costume.  If people are going to snark on my bad serging, then they are petty losers who can’t find it in them to be nice about anything.  And they know who they are.  I’m in this to have fun, spend time with my awesome sauce friends, and have something new to sew.  I’m not in it to be perfect, so perfection can bite me.

ETA: After I took it off, I noticed that serging the “head hole” cut some of the top row of shirring.  Looks like I’ll be fixing that later, so they whole first row doesn’t come undone.

Apparently I make costumes

My dear friend Larue commented on facebook the other day, as I was working on a skirt (which I’ll feature very soon, promise), that when I first joined forces with the Wench Posse I said I’d wear the Mary Queen of Scots she’d planned for Project Tudor (didn’t end up happening, which is totally cool, because I have my awesome Elizabethan) but past that I don’t know how much costuming I’d really do.

Ah, good times.

Fast forward to Mid-September when I saw this pattern at work:


I practically found myself in a puddle on the floor.  Holy stinking monkey that Bo Peep costume is ADORABLE!

Then a couple weeks later, Rocketdog was asking Rocketpuppy what she should be for halloween.  Since Rocketpuppy doesn’t really talk, I piped up that there were cute costumes at work.  “To buy or to make?” was the reply. “Well, there is this adorable Bo Peep pattern that I love,” I said.  “Rocketpuppy just got this stuffed sheep, and I actually though Bo Peep would be a good costume,” she said.  So it was decided.

Another couple of weeks past, and Rocketpuppy would need the costume by week’s end (a full week before Halloween, for another event).  I texted Rocketdog to see what she wanted to do about the fabric.  “I was thinking light pink or blue.  I trust your judgment,” was the reply I got.  I had been thinking light blue, so light blue it was.

I had about a day and a half to work.  The costume came together really quickly, with the only difficulty being the sleeves.  As I mentioned on facebook:

Dear babies of the world: You are constantly disregarding the needs of others; however, your freakishly small baby-sized arms and pain-in-the-ass-to-sew sleeves are the last straw. It’s an adult-sized world; I highly suggest you start conforming.

Despite that, I had a blast making this costume, so now I get to show it off, even if it’s almost a week after Halloween.



I’ll give you all a minute to recover.  I know she’s stinking cute and that the costume is awesome sauce.  Deep breaths.


Check out those bloomers!

Hard to believe, but there’s about ten yards of trim on that baby.  Thankfully I had a coupon!  Trim is always, ALWAYS, the most expensive part of any sewing project.  Fabric goes on sale all the time.  Trim never goes on sale.  BUT, it’s the trim that takes the design from just another dress to an awesome little Bo Peep costume.

I honestly think Bo Peep was more fun than anything I’ve ever sewn.  I don’t know if anything can live up to it.