Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Decorative Gourd Season!*

I'll be honest, I don't particularly like Thanksgiving. Turkey isn't one of my favorite things, and I actively dislike gravy, sweet potatoes, asparagus, olives, pecan pie, and weird pickles - which just so happen to be some of the staples at my family's traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The holiday seems to center around this food - well, this food and football. Even worse, the traditional color scheme of brown and orange just kind of bums me out. I will admit that some of the colorful turkey decorations can be cute, and I think it's adorable to see kids dressed up as pilgrims, but even that seems one sided. When I try wearing the Native American headdress I got at a post-Halloween sale, suddenly I'm irreverent and weird!

At the same time, I do love decorating for holidays. Usually, I just leave up my Halloween stuff until it's time to switch it out for Christmas, but if I happen to come across any nice items that would work well for Thanksgiving, I'm all for it.

So, when Kaitee, Kelly, and I found out that a nearby glass-blowing studio would be hosting a workshop in which we could make our own glass pumpkins, I was all on board. In the best interest of safety and workmanship, the trained professionals would be doing most of the difficult and dangerous portions of the pumpkin making, but we got to have our hand in it as well!

Take a look!

Before getting started, we had to choose our colors. Kaitee is checking out some of the other pumpkins trying to figure out what colors she wants to use.
First, we got to dip our glass blobs into the color powder! I wanted my pumpkin to be white.


Second, we rotated the blobs of glass over the fire, making sure to rotate them evenly so that they didn't melt into a weird shape.

This was the part where we stood by idly while the professionals did the real work of shaping the glass.

If I recall correctly, this guy has been doing glass-blowing for seventeen
years or something! Maybe eleven. I have a terrible memory
They used this pretty cool mold to give the glass a pumpkin shape.

Next, we got to inflate our own pumpkins. We all used the same hose, which I highly doubt was sanitary.

Finally, they added the stems.

After a few days, I was able to come pick up the finished product, because apparently it had to incubate or something.

I promise you that this picture does not do it justice.
Now, I finally have a decorative gourd!

*Click here for an article by someone who really loves decorative gourds. Warning: there is a lot of explicit language.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Enter at your own risk (Beware! This post is long and self-indulgent!)

With the exception of St. Valentine's Day, I don't think there is any holiday better suited to my interests than Halloween. There is just something about the idea of blood and guts and monsters and ghosts and witches and pranks and zombies and candy and mayhem that just really speaks to me. My absolute favorite is when Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday, making the day before Friday the Flirteenth. I'd like to say that it's because of a secret dark side I have or something, but let's be real, my dark side is still pretty cartooney.

More than anything, though, I especially love the costumes.

My college roommate and I used to start planning next year's costume on the day after Halloween. By the time October 1st rolled around, we had usually forgotten all of our brilliant ideas and were forced to start from square one, but we still had the spirit there. I was always very particular about the kind of costume I wanted. After some disastrous results in high school, I had sworn off doing the weird pun costumes (even though I just love lame puns). I also tended to avoid the bagged costumes, because I found them unimaginative (and expensive... and they could never really hit any middle ground between slutty and hideous... and weren't flattering anyway). Instead, I tried to make costumes that would be somewhat unique, recognizable, and homemade.

Junior year, I went as a pinata. It took me forever to attach each streamer to the dress. Then it took another forever to attach them to a new dress after I had taped everything too tight and broken the zipper on the first one. Weirdly, the most difficult part was finding devil horns to use as the pinata's bull horns. The only ones I could find were fluffy and glittery. Seriously, what is happening to the youth these days?

Downside? Packing tape really doesn't breathe

Senior year, I went as Mr. Peanut. I didn't know how to sew yet, so rather than even try to make a dress, I settled for just wrapping the fabric around me like a towel. Don't worry, I didn't run into any issues. My roommate let me borrow his cane, but I already owned the rest of the accessories for some reason.

The saddle shoes that you can't really see were part of my high school uniform.
I still wear them occasionally. They're the best.

Two years ago, I went as Toucan Sam. I had to tear apart a Viking helmet in order to make that mask, but it was worth it. I even used a box of Froot Loops as my purse that evening.

Last year, I went as Marvin the Martian. I only had to tear apart and paint a Spartan helmet for that costume, but I did make my own skirt. Although it may have been technically a tutu, this was the first time I had made my own clothing. In fact, it was the first time I had ever used a sewing machine. It was only a month later that I was begging for one for Christmas.


Which brings us to this year.

While I was still trying desperately to figure out what I wanted to be for Halloween, a friend of mine had had a brilliant idea. This friend, who will heretofore be referred as Jane Jetson, decided to go as (wait for it) Jane Jetson! She even found an amazing apron on etsy that would have been perfect. Unfortunately, before she said a chance to purchase said apron, it was sold to another. Knowing that I love crafting, recently got a sewing machine, and will work for free, she asked if I'd be able to make a replica (or at least a piss poor attempt at one). Excited, I agreed.

This is the original, professionally made apron. I was not
confident in my ability to live up to that.

Jane Jetson Costume


-Sparkly purple fabric
-Light purple fabric
-White fabric
-White ribbon - approximately 1.5" thick
-White ribbon - approximately 0.75" thick

First, I started by cutting large circles in both purples (making the darker purple circle a little bit smaller). Actually, I folded the fabric a couple times and cut quarter-circles to make things easier on myself. Then, I cut out a circle in the middle for the waist.

This picture isn't technically from this step, but it gets the point across.
Next, rather than hem the bottom of the dark purple fabric, I decided to line it with ribbon. I used the thinner white ribbon, pinned it in place, and sewed it on.


After repeating the process with the lighter purple fabric, I attached the two circles at the waist and sewed them together.

With that, the skirt portion was finished.

For the bodice, I cut out a basic apron-esque shape with a sweetheart neckline. I'll be honest, I had no idea what I was doing at the time, and still don't really. But I cut the shape out of each purple, layered them, attached them to each other, and hemmed the edges regardless. Then, I pinned it to the skirt, added a temporary neck tie, and tried it on. Even though Jane Jetson and I are different sizes, I had no choice but to fit the bodice to me because I was making it up as a went along. After modeling it in the mirror for a while, and stabbing myself with a million pins (I guess that's why people use dress forms), I finally was able to cinch in the bodice to make it more fitted.

I may have forgotten to get pictures of this process for Jane's costume.
That's why this bodice is pink rather than purple.
Then, I took a long piece of white fabric and folded it in half. I sewed the edges together, flipped it inside out, and ironed it flat. It was about 2.5" thick and long enough to loop around my waist and tie in front. This would act as the main apron tie. I pinned this piece and the bodice to the skirt and sewed them all together.

It was at this point that I broke the needle in my sewing machine. I didn't even know that was a thing that could happen! I didn't know you could (or apparently should) replace those! So, after a minor freak-out, I picked up some replacements from Walmart, figured out how to change it out, and continued on my way.

My sewing machine has been such a trooper lately.
Then, I attached the thicker white ribbon to the bodice to act as the halter neck tie.The last things I needed to add were the neckline pieces and the pocket.

For the neck-line pieces, I took two pieces of white fabric and attached them to each other using iron-on adhesive. I did this to make them stiffer so that they'd maintain their shape. I then cut out two triangles and attached them to the neck.

The pocket is basically a square of fabric that was lined with ribbon and sewn onto the skirt.

Doesn't my friend make a great Jane Jetson?!

Now that her costume was finished, I decided to use the exact same method to make my own costume, with a few modifications, of course.

Daisy Duck Costume


-Glittery hot pink fabric
-White fabric
-Pink ribbon - approximately 1.5" thick
-White ribbon - approximately 0.75" thick

I used the same basic methods as above to make the Daisy Duck costume.
-Same basic circle skirt, except with white fabric and no ribbon lining.
-Same basic bodice, except with hot pink fabric and white ribbon lining in lieu of the neckline triangles.
-Same waist tie, except with hot pink fabric.

When I was done with the basic apron, however, rather than add a pocket, I decided to cut out almost 200 tear drops from the white fabric and sew them on in layers. I think it gave the apron the duck look I was going for.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's blood on the tear drop. My blood.
From stabbing myself with pins so many times.

All I needed was a boa, a duck-call, and a hot pink hair bow, and I was ready to go!

Hannah went as a jazzerciser. Kirsten was the Sun Drop girl from those commercials.
We made a lot of jokes about duck face that night.

I think I might start making aprons for all of my future costumes. The up-side is that making an apron with a full circle skirt eliminates the need for zippers or buttons. The down-side is that an undershirt is pretty much mandatory.

WHILE I CRAFTED: I watched basically everything, because the two aprons combined took forever (although I might have actually napped or cleaned during some of these movies as well... who knows)
-Shaun of the Dead
-Young Frankenstein
-Hocus Pocus
-The Corpse Bride
-The Addams Family
-Death Becomes Her
-I Married a Monster from Outer Space
-Dracula: Dead and Loving It
-Countless episodes of the Munsters (seriously, this show was amazing)
-and many more that I can't think of now