Saturday, August 30, 2014

Easy 50's Day Poodle Skirt Outfit Tutorial

Not much of a tutorial, just ideas for making a 50's outfit.  I made the skirt by sewing a rectangular piece of felt around 1 inch from the top and feeding through a pieced of elastic.  The best part about felt is you don't need to hem.  I stitched up the two ends of the rectangle and pulled the elastic so it fit nicely on Tootie Pie's waist.  The poodle template came from this website, so I cut it from felt and then added eyes and a mouth with puffy paint.  The leash and the poodle were applied with fabric glue, and that was the end of the skirt!

Then I took Tootie Pie's jazz shoes that were almost too tight, since there was no chance they would fit her next dance season and therefore it didn't matter if I made a mess of them.  I covered the edges and soles with painter's tape and sprayed with spray paint.  Then, using a photo of saddle shoes from the internet, I painted a black stripe and she had saddle shoes.  If these were going to be used more than once, I would have applied a clear coat to them, but this was a one-off affair, so I skipped that.  A cardigan, some bobby socks and a scarf in the hair, and she was ready to rock around the clock.

My Version of the Shell Cake

It's sad that I look at this and think "Cool, Mom".
My Pinterest board is choked with girls' birthday party decor, because I love crafting Tootie Pie's birthdays.  The cake, being the centerpiece of the day, was the origin of all this looniness, since I made a Care Bear cake for her third birthday.  My husband, dull as he is, when he was prodded for praise on my glorious concoction, replied " you just copied it from the internet", as if there's a button for creating a Care Bear cake.  Four years ago and I'm still harboring resentment.

Her fourth birthday was celebrated at school, and I made a poorly documented Rainbow Leprechaun Trap cake.  Her classmates loved it, since there was a story behind it and, of course, a leprechaun trapped inside under the gold coins.  How cute!  For her fifth, the Princess Castle cake, which I think was the pinnacle of my cake making days.  For her sixth, a store bought pink cake that I tarted up with fondant flowers and a fondant Hello Kitty!  And, for this birthday, the shell cake. 

Please notice the shell chair she's sitting on.  Thank goodness
I'm a teacher and have gallon bottles of glue and glitter coming
out my ears!
Making cakes is kind of like giving birth; you forget how painful it is, so that you'll foolhardily repeat the process.  It takes hours, nay, days to make, and mere moments to disappear.  But, I know I will someday miss the days when my Tootie Pie would dream up her theme, and I'd research and improvise and stress and in the end, make her dream come true.  If the rest of her dreams were so easily achieved!

I followed this tutorial closely, just adding the mermaid detail, and crafting the top shell out of Rice Krispie treats instead of another cake on cardboard.  The mermaid was a doll from Tootie Pie's collection, who just happened to have pink hair; I removed her legs with a hot knife (she was hard plastic), and added a fondant tail.  To the cake dish I added brown sugar "sand" and pink and white chocolate shells to complete the look.  Each guest got Rice Krispie treats, cake, and chocolate.  Sugar fest!

The gallery of Birthday Cakes Past:
The cake that started it all: her third birthday
"Chris" cake - she loved the Care Bears
because her cousin gave her the plush version
but she'd never seen the show.  Hence, this
was "Chris" instead of Cheer Bear or

Her fourth birthday I made a rainbow leprechaun surprise
cake.  The sign was to trap the leprechaun inside with a
promise of gold.  Her classmates were intrigued by the premise.

A shot of the inside rainbow.  And a goofball.

This was probably the greatest of all my cakes, for her fifth birthday.

Six was a Hello Kitty theme.

Who knows what next year will bring?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DIY Hello Kitty Costume Tutorial


Super adorable
This post is almost a year late, because it has taken me that long to get over the trauma that was this Hello Kitty costume.  The creation of it was not the problem.  It was what happened to it after it was finished.  More about that later.  First, how to make your very own Hello Kitty head.  My inspirations were found here, here, and here

Someone has a bigger
problem than I.
The finished product.
I got busy drafting a pattern, which is important to getting the sizing right.  I folded the pattern in half so it would come out symmetrical.  Then I put it up to Tootie Pie's head, to make sure it was not too big or too small.  After making adjustments here and there on the paper pattern, I cut two pieces from felt, and sewed along the edges, leaving a semi-circle to go over her head.  Before I sewed up the semi-circle, I filled the head with packing peanuts, then closed up the head along the semi-circle.  I attached a piece of elastic to both sides, and used fabric paint to draw in kitty's features.  Then, the bow was cut from pink glitter felt, cut into two rough rectangles, which were sewn together, and then a long single rectangle was sewn closed over the middle of the rectangles to form the bow.  That was it.

Someone in this crowd is a thief.
I had the flower as a backup, but it's just not the same!
Now, for the traumatic part.  See Tootie Pie in the lower right of this photo?  She is not wearing her kitty head because she is at a magic show, and she was being considerate to the spectators behind her.  Immediately after the show, they were giving out Halloween treats, and Tootie Pie ran right over, leaving her head on the floor.  Can you guess what happened?  Shall I remind you that we live in New York City?  Does that help?  Yes, study the picture, because someone in the audience TOOK THE HEAD!!!!!  I was so upset.  Tootie Pie was so upset.  I spoke with mall security, a police officer (Whom I needed to ask if he was really a police officer, or just wearing a really, really good costume) and the mall administrators, to zero avail.  The friend we went with asked where we got it, so we could get another.  She obviously does not know that we do things THE HARD WAY.  Luckily, every good costume designer has a backup, so when we went trick or treating, she wore the flower I had made, but it was so disturbing that someone would steal a child's Halloween costume on Halloween.

Try it for yourself, document the process, and send me the pics.  I'd love to see them!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Another High-End Knock-Off: Emil Stejnar's Mirror

The original - Ahhhh!
It is a poorly hidden fact that I have expensive taste, and no budget whatsoever to indulge it.  So, over the years, I've just made my own versions of the things I covet.  Sometimes it seems impossible to recreate, but then the inspiration hits, and there are many missteps, retreads, and do-overs, but eventually, I create something that not only looks nice, but has the added bonus of affording me the ability to say "I made that".  Of course, during the "creative" process, I'm swearing like a truck driver, taking up what little space we have in our tiny home, and taking out my frustration on my family.  No one ever said creativity was pretty.

So, my latest brainstorm was to recreate the Emil Stejnar backlit mirror.  It involves, duh, a mirror, some math manipulative linkage strips, a random street find of a circular metal frame, an Ikea light strip, lots of tape, and milk jug cutouts of the variety used in my Curtis Jere knockoff.  I tried boiling the linkage strips to bend them, but over time, they just bent back.  Since it is still in process, and most likely will be for quite some time, I thought I'd share some teaser photos.

The proportions are admittedly
a bit off.  Too lazy to fix.
Finding a good use for linkage strips.
Milkjug cutouts.  Need
about 1700 more.

Planning the placement.

My Experience Painting Upholstery

A nice, if somewhat blah, chair
Around two years ago my craigslist search keywords were "french provincial chair", when I struck pay dirt in some long since forgotten part of New Jersey.  A nicely appointed home had greatly underestimated the cost of their beautiful carved fruitwood chair.  The quality upholstery was in a light blue that had no stains, although it did have some sun fading that made it dingy looking.  I bought it on the spot and then had to deal with the classic craigslist reality check-euphoria letdown: how to get it into my trunk to get it through Manhattan.  It has graced our living room ever since, and it was time to tie it into my "decor". 
My custom paint blend, with
my fabric medium (Golden)
There are many tutorials online that tout the fabulous results from painting upholstery.  I tried to paint my daughter's flatweave rug, with disasterous results.  Rug, meet garbage; garbage, rug.  The step that it seems I was missing was two very watered down primer layers.  Armed with a bit more knowledge learned, as is usually the case, from failure, I felt it was time to try it on my fateuil. 

There are oh-so-many photos of progress because there were oh-so-many stages of progress.  I thought it would never end.  This project came critically close to being called off; if my fourth coat didn't finally cover the original blue, I don't know that I would have tried coat five; thankfully, it mostly did, so I did. 

After first coat
After second coat

Ooooh, I am starting to see the
progress finally

The application makes it seem as if its
 covering more, but when
it dries it fades to "more like a stain".
Up side: great shot of my shapely leg.

And here it is in its finished glory.  It IS a bit
crunchy, but it goes better with the color scheme
of my living room.


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