October 2012 Archives

Halloween Wreaths

October 31, 2012

Fall is here and it starts with Halloween. Which is today, I know, but better late than "Nevermore" right?

Even though I don't dress up anymore, I do enjoy the fun of the season for all the kids. The excitement for me begins when I see the mass of pumpkins laid out for sale in the field by my house. I drive by and tell myself that I don't have room to bring dozens home and they won't fit in the back end anyway because of all the mums.

This year I'm feeling a little "homespun" in the air. I recently spied this wreath on one of my favorite blogs

"The 36th Avenue".  It has a perfect blend of those "Halloweeny" colors without too much fright. I loved the little crow and the handmade burlap roses. Have you noticed? Burlap is everywhere this season!


"gather round"

I found that this project was really simple to make, with very basic instructions. I was lucky enough to find the perfect orange and white print fabric in our stash here at work along with a black and white polka dot to make the hanging sash out of. When I got home and started on my project, I found that I didn't have any burlap to make the flowers with, which was OK. I ended up using a small grey print, some black lace, a small black and white polka dot and some heavy cream linen. For the wreath, I had chosen a 12 inch Green STYROFOAMâ„¢ wreath that had a more rounded edge to it. The crow required a little searching but I finally found one amongst the other little birds at the craft store. I grabbed it up quick, it was the only one they had!

"tear, wrap, pin"


Fabric: My orange fabric was a little less than a yard and I simply snipped along one end at about 2 inch intervals and ripped it down the length. This ripping technique was new to me, but it gives it a scruffy more interesting edge. It took a least six-seven strips to wrap the wreath, but it will vary depending on how close you want to overlap. Start by placing your fabric strip at an angle on the backside of the wreath form and secure the end with straight pins. Continue wrapping the fabric around the wreath overlapping as you go, but not real tight.

Wrapping: When you have one strip wrapped, stop and see if you like the way it looks. I decided I didn't want it to be so flat and perfect, so I just slid and scrunched the wrapped fabric a little bit towards the pinned end where I started and thought that looked better. You'll want to end and begin your strips on the back side of the wreath form only and cut off the excess fabric when needed. Hold the loose end of the strip in place with a pin. To begin another strip, I folded under the edge and pinned it on top of the previous strip. Place it flat against the back even if the fabric on the front side of the wreath is scrunched. Continue wrapping the strips all the way around the wreath. 

"fold, embellish, go hot glue crazy!"

Flowers: I hadn't made very many flowers before and couldn't get them to turn out like the burlap ones used on the original wreath, so I just went with what I knew. Later, I found this great tutorial for making burlap roses that explains the process really well. It's the technique of twisting and turning the fabric that I didn't know about. You'll want to make different flower styles and sizes, using different fabrics for a more varied and interesting look.


"plan ahead"

Once I had all my flowers made, I just laid them out next to my wreath until I had the layout I wanted. It looks best if you have them starting a little up on the left side and then move down along the bottom.  Also vary the color and fabric prints for interest.


TIP: I think my crow was a little smaller than hers and it just had some thin wires attached to the legs. I needed him to sit up higher on my flowers so he could be seen, but I knew I'd never be able to glue the wires or him to the edge of a flower and keep him from flopping over. My remedy was to take a couple of my not so pretty flowers and glue them in behind the bird for more support.  The little extra glue he needed was behind him and the flower so it didn't show.

NOW: Grab your glue gun and remember it's HOT. I always seem to forget that part. Start by gluing the larger flowers first and then you can work and tuck the others up next to them. Stop and hold the wreath up in front of you as you work to see how it's going to look when it's hanging. I was working next to a wall so I just held it against it.

"hang it"

I used the large black and white polka dot fabric to make the hanging sash. I only had about a yard, so I just cut a five inch wide strip, took a quarter inch seam and was done. This seemed a little short, but I knew it would be alright since I was going to hang at the office first. Later, I'm going to hang it on my pantry door later on at home, so I'll go back and add on some extra  fabric.


This was a really fun project and was the fastest wreath I've ever put together!  I watched TV while I made the flowers and wrapped the wreath. When all was done, I just took everything over to the craft table, warmed up the glue gun and wow, look at this cute little wreath.

I'm already picturing a grouping of Christmas ones hanging on my coat closet door by the entryway. It will be a nice way to add a little welcome to my home for the seasons.

"for more inspiration"


Halloween Wreath {aka Nevermore}

Halloween Glam Wreath

Halloween Ribbon Wreath

Continue reading Halloween Wreaths.

A Royal Witch

October 28, 2012

It's time for this year's witch costume! As I've mentioned before, dressing as a witch has been a a Halloween tradition of mine for many, many years. I usually end up with multiple events to go to each Halloween season, so, every year, I make sure at least one new witch outfit is in the mix.

Ever since the wedding of Kate and Wills, I've been thinking about the Duchess of Cambridge's Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress. I love the simple elegance of the design, and the way it echoes Princess Grace's wedding ensemble. But, since there is no need for another bridal gown in my foreseeable future, if I wanted to make my own version of Kate's dress, a witch seemed like the best option! Fortunately, Butterick saved me from drafting a patter by releasing their version of this dress.

For this project, I used crushed taffeta and stretch lace. I love the texture of crushed taffeta, and the whooshing sound it makes is like music to my ears. Stretch lace seemed like a great option comfort-wise, and it is, but it's tricky to sew. As always, patience is key.       

1-kate-witch.jpgI opted to use a zipper at the back instead of the buttons called for in the pattern. I definitely did some negotiating with the lace here, and inset a piece of ribbon along the stitching line to keep the lace from stretching out of shape. It turned out OK, but there is a significant likelihood I'll reset it before a second wearing, just to get it as smooth as possible. 

2-kate-witch.jpgThe lace overlay at the raw edges of the stretch lace was cut from a spool of lace I had on hand.

3-kate-witch.jpgWithout a doubt, my favorite thing about this pattern is the bustle piece at the back. I love the way it folds over on itself. I've already made a copy of this pattern piece so I can incorporate it into other dress projects.


One of my favorite things about using special occasion and bridal patterns to make costumes is that they are usually more detailed and dramatic than costume patterns. It's also a good opportunity to test-drive the pattern, so that if I ever need to use it for a gown for someone, I already have a level of familiarity with it, which always leads to better results for me.  

It's easy now for me to envision this dress in other colors. Can you imagine it in red? It would be a perfect holiday statement gown! I'm kind of hoping I get invited to a fancy shindig this holiday season so I can wear my black one!
Now I just have to decide if I want to wear it with a witch hat or a tiara for Halloween ... maybe a tiara on the brim of a witch hat!

'Making Christmas, Making Christmas, La La Laaaaaaaaa'

October 22, 2012

Recently, Kristl emailed me with a challenge: "We are making tree skirts that we can wear out as a party accessory on New Year's Eve ... Would you like to play along?"

Would I ever! I love multitasking pieces, and I love a good sewing challenge.

I also love the holidays, and for me, the season starts with Halloween and goes right on through New Year's Eve. And the common theme that runs through all those months is several repeat viewings of one of my very favorite movies, "The Nightmare Before Christmas." I love the story of Jack Skellington's quest to find more in life beyond the boundaries of Halloweentown. Who among us hasn't longed for more or wondered what delights the world holds that we may not have seen yet? And I love letting the Halloween vibe carry through the entirety of the holiday season.

So, the theme for my tree skirt was a no-brainer. Jack Skellington needed to make an appearance. The assembly was very basic. I used crushed taffeta as the base and cut a simple circle. Then I sketched out my designs. Once I was happy with the proportions,  I transferred those designs to Heat-n-Bond fusible interfacing and used a variety of taffeta colors to create an homage to my favorite holiday film. 

Here's my tree skirt in place on my dining room table with our little fiber optic tree.

This is the curly hill detailing on the tree skirt. Jack Skellington is cut out of a scrap of pinstripe suiting.
The detailing on his face was created with a black fine-tip Sharpie. Because I didn't want the marker ink to bleed into my fabric fibers, I first painted over my white fabric with a light layer of white craft paint.

2-Tree-Skirt-Skirt.jpgAnd on the other side, I had to include Oogie Boogie's shadow on the moon. I love the subtle texture that's created when you fuse a smooth fabric over the crushed taffeta.

But of course, functioning as a tree skirt is only half of the equation. I have to be able to wear my creation out and about! I used a series of small D-rings along the edges that close the circle so I can easily lace it up. The function is the same for both of the skirt's uses.

Here's the skirt on my dress form, layered over a pettiskirt and combined with a boned bodice and a purple jacket:

And the back. You can see the bow that finishes off the laced closure on the right. Because this skirt sits over a full pettiskirt, even if the fashion skirt gaps, there's no accidental exposure. This is also a fun opportunity to use a contrast color on your pettiskirt to provide a pop of color.

So now I can decorate from Halloween all the way through the winter holidays without having to switch things out. And at the end of the season, I can wear my skirt to a fabulous party to ring in the new year! Bring on the holidays -- I'm ready!


A quick and easy project for Halloween- Tutu Treat Bucket

Halloween always signals the start of the holiday season for me. What a great way to start the season with someone handing you candy! Of course, I have passed from being the receiver to being the giver.  In my family, there are several wanna be ballerinas, fairies and princesses, It would be great if each had their own matching treat baskets. For less than two dollars and some recycling magic, you can create a Trick or Treat basket that will just fit the bill.


Two or three rubber bands

1 yard each light, medium and dark pink tulle.


DS-643.jpg Thumbnail image for DS-631.jpg  

1 happy meal bucket from McDonalds

It is good that I have a grandson who eats at least one happy meal a week. You could also use plastic cookie containers and baskets. Let your imagination go.

I said to use 3 yards of tulle but it really depends on the size of your container. I probably used about 2 yards of tulle,


1. Fold each yard of tulle in half and then half again. Cut each yard into aproximately 3 to 4 inch strips.. This does not have to be precision cut. I cut each strip into approximately 8'' pieces.

2. Place a rubber band around the top of the container and another around the bottom of the container.

3, Fold one strip of tulle and wrap around the rubber band and secure with a knot, Continue knotting strips of tulle around the rubber band until the surface is covered with tulle.

4. Continue knotting tulle strips around the bottom rubber band until the surface is covered.  I recommend holding the bucket upside down to knot the strips. The rubber band slipped off the bucket several times until I flipped it over.

5. Look over your bucket and add different colors of pink to give a balanced, full look to your tutu.

Here is the finished bucket! Ready to be filled with candy. If you need a little more pizzazz, add a little glitter or add some flat bottom jewels to the handle.   batbasket.JPG .

Tick-tock ... That's the Halloween Clock!

October 21, 2012

Alrighty, people. We're down to the wire. We're less than a week away from the point that Halloween celebrations kick into high gear. If you haven't gotten a costume together yet, you might be in a panic. But have no fear! We have had loads of quick-project blog posts throughout the years, and we've pulled several of them together to help you prepare in a hurry.

Do you have a tiny goblin, fairy or princess in your house? The ideal Halloween costume pieces for kids are the ones that can go into the dress-up and pretend trunk after the candy questing is complete.

Pull together a lightning-quick skirt worthy of any royal ball with Tara's No-sew Tutu project.


Or, put together a Kids Halloween Mask that will see loads of play time well past Halloween.


Even kids-at-heart need costumes as fab as those the little ones wear. The next several projects work for kids or adults, and all whip up in a jiffy.

Whether you're a hero, a villain or a historical figure, every outfit could use a good cape. Here's a quick double-layered version that needs no pattern -- just a yardstick and marker: Last-minute Capes.


If you want to add a little drama to your outfit, you can make any of these Halloween Hair Accessories in just a few minutes' time.

Do you feel the need to go wild? Fast projects for rabbits, puppies, monkeys, pigs and cats are all covered in our Animal Accessories blog!

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We've also got free pattern downloads to create spellbinding witch couture. A multi-layered Witch's Capelet will help keep the chill off witches on the go!

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The perfect chapeau is essential for Halloween, and the Hot Patterns Bad Witch/Good Witch Hat and Fascinator is ideal for crafting an original hat to match your outfit.
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Last, but certainly not least, is a fantastic -- and fantastically fast! -- project sheet for creating Costumes on a Stick. These are great for those times when a full costume is impractical, but you still want to get in on the Halloween fun.

Are you feeling ready to bang out a few key pieces to make a memorable Halloween ensemble? We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Fall 2012 - Color Report

October 16, 2012

tory b blue.jpg

I have followed fashion ever since I figured out what it was. My formative years were in the '80's, and those were the days when fashion icons dictated everything from hemlines to the color of the season. Were the coolest pants skinny, or palazzo? If your shoulder pads almost reached your ears, was that just a little too much, or absolutely fabulous. My bible every March and September was the thick-as-a-phone-book Vogue magazine. I have been buying them every spring and fall since I was 15 years old.

Phone books may be almost obsolete these days, but those thick fashion magazines still call me to buy and soak in every page despite the fact my body isn't exactly up-to-the-minute fashion ready. Since I've matured into a sense of self and my body has matured past extreme fashion, I find that color is my go to seasonal update. This year it looks like black is back as the new black, but there are also some great colors that say fall 2012. My favorites this season are deep cobalt blue and rich burgundy.

Cobalt Blue is that deep yet bold shade of blue that's a little more sophisticated since it's not a bright blue or a navy blue. I have done a lot of ''snoop'' shopping in the last few weeks, and it looks like the most popular combination is Cobalt Blue with shades of Green. A combination that at one point in my life might have reminded me of a flight attendant's uniform, now looks rich. Accessorize with gold or silver jewelry because they both look great with these colors.

Burgundy is the color that fashion reporters are naming as the one to add to your wardrobe for fall. I would argue

burgundy banana rep.jpg

that any shade from berry to wine to burgundy will fill the bill this fall. It can be classically paired with black or bittersweet chocolate, or electrically paired with lime green or mustard yellow for a beautiful yet stark contrast. Burgundy looks exceptional in fabrics with pile like velvets and faux furs. One of the major accessories this fall is a fur cowl, faux or otherwise.

blue green anna sui.jpg

Accessories are a great the way to put a shot of trendy color into the fall staples you pull out every year. Colorful shoes are also on trend lately, so that's my favorite way to put a shot of trendy fall color into last year's pants and sweaters. Scarves are still a great option to add a punch of print and color as well as some added warmth. However you do it, adding on trend colors to your wardrobe is easy no matter what your style.

Photo Credits in order of appearance:

Tory Burch Photo: Alessandro Viero / GoRunway.com

Banana Republic

Anna Sui Photo: Yannis Vlamos / GoRunway.com

Playing With Color: A Tale of Two Snow Whites

October 14, 2012

It's almost a joke among my friends that I want to make everything in black. If I love the design of something, I can't help but think about the ways I could play with the texture and design lines of it in luscious monochromatic darkness.

It's also no secret that my love for Snow White (both the movie and the character) runs deep. I love her character design so, so much. So it was natural to want to make a Gothic version of my favorite princess. But I also love the classic colors of Snow White. So, which one to make? The natural choice for me was both!

For my color version, I used both the film and the Disney park princesses as my inspiration. Instead of the teardrop cutout sleeves, I opted for a ribbon overlay on top of a puffed sleeve to more closely align with Snow White's Bavarian and historical roots. That's also the style used for the official Disney costumed Snow Whites.

To make sure my two versions had some commonalities, I used similar fabrics for key elements of both costumes:

- Velvet for the bodices and capes
- Duchess satin for the skirts
- Organza ribbon for the sleeve overlays

There's a little bit of variation beyond that, but I wanted to keep the basics parallel.

Here is the finished color version:   


And here's the Gothic version. I like to think this is the step daughter the Evil Queen wishes she had:


To add a little more dimension and detail to the all-black version, I also added detailing at the skirt hem. Apple appliques, lace cutouts and my beloved hot fix embellishments were applied in a repeating pattern. 

3-Snow-Whites.jpgSo, which version do you think is the most fun? Classic, or a new twist? Are there classic characters or styles that you love that might be perfect for a dark transformation?

You can fly! You can fly! You can fly! (Part 2 of 2)

October 13, 2012

In my last post, I made an ice blue pettiskirt to start off my ice fairy costume. Today, I will share with you the extra details that make the project fairy-riffic.

First, let's start with leaves to accessorize your skirt. To make this pattern, I simply folded a standard letter-sized sheet of paper in half lengthwise, and cut out the shape free hand. I know it doesn't exactly look like a leaf now, but later on, we'll add a little tuck to give the leaves shape and dimension.

1-fairy-accessories.jpgI used my pattern to cut out 8 copies in blue stretch charmeuse -- it matches the yoke tier of my pettiskirt. I also cut 8 out of dupioni. The leaves are reversible, so I can always flip them to show the silk side. The dupioni also adds a little body to the leaves. Just charmeuse on its own would be droopy.

2-fairy-accessories.jpgI sew each charmeuse piece to a dupioni piece, leaving a small opening so that I can turn the leaves. I just use a discrete straight stitch on the sewing machine to close the opening, but if you prefer to keep your stitches 100 percent hidden, you can hand stitch the closure.

3-fairy-accessories.jpgOnce each leaf is turned and ironed and stitched closed, I add a buttonhole at the top of each side of the leaf. This doesn't have to be very exacting -- because of the way the leaves are attached to the skirt, a little variance is no problem. My buttonholes are about 5/8 inch, but yours can be smaller if you prefer. They just need to be wide enough to comfortably pass a ribbon through.

4-fairy-accessories.jpgHere is what each leaf looks like with both buttonholes in place:

After the buttonholes, I make a small pleat in each leaf and tack it in place with my sewing machine. I'm using white thread to make things more easily seen here, but this stitch will be mostly covered anyway, so again, no need to be exacting.

6-fairy-accessories.jpgOpen up your buttonholes, and then use the ribbons we attached at the waist in the last post to attach your leaves. I pull both ends of the ribbon through two overlapping leaf edges. Then, separate the ribbons and tie bows using one ribbon from each side of each leaf.  

7-fairy-accessories.jpgOnce all your leaves are in place, you won't be able to stretch the waistband out, so put the skirt on before tying the last couple of leaves in place. And voila! Your skirt now looks like an upside down flower. The color possibilities are super fun to play with here. While this version is more or less monochromatic, you can make green leaves with almost any color skirt, or select a color that will mimic your favorite flower! 

8-fairy-accessories.jpgNow, what's a fairy without wings? These wings are an inexpensive way to custom match your entire outfit.

It all starts with four wire hangers. If you don't have any lurking in your closet, check with your local dry cleaner. Some cleaners will charge you a tiny amount, some will just give them away -- especially if you're a customer!

9-fairy-accessories.jpgMy wings will have four parts. For the top two pieces, I didn't even untwist the hangers. I used them as they were, and reworked the bends so I had the shape I wanted.

10-fairy-accessories.jpgFor the lower two pieces, I first straightened my hangers out, then I shaped them into simple loops. Your wing shapes are only governed by your taste! Make them any shape you desire!

To cover the wings, I used knee-high stockings purchased from the drugstore. All four stockings needed for this project cost me all of $1.00.  You'll be stretching one stocking around each wing section.


12-fairy-accessories.jpgOnce you have your stocking stretched around your wire form, clip off the excess stocking near the base of the wing.

It should look like this after you've cut it:

Next, pull the end of the remaining stocking in two pieces, and tie them into a double knot to secure your stocking.

15-fairy-accessories.jpgOnce you have your wing pieces covered, time to decorate! I used a little Mod Podge around each edge, then  covered my sticky areas with glitter, shaking off excess and working in sections. Remember to use a container or paper plate under your glitter efforts so you can return the leftovers to the jar! Once my edges were done, I painted on a design with Mod Podge and applied glitter the same way, then I added some crystal embellishments with my hot fix applicator. I didn't have any problems using the hot fix rhinestones on my stockings, but it's a good idea to pre-test on one of the pieces you cut off, just to be safe. An unintentionally burnt fairy wing is heartbreaking.

16-fairy-accessories.jpgAfter my embellishments were in place, I joined all the uncovered ends of my wing pieces together and tied them with leftover stocking pieces. Of course, you'll need wire cutters to cut your wire pieces to be more or less even in width, and it's a good idea to use some of your stocking scraps to cover all the wire ends for safety.

17-fairy-accessories.jpgAfter I tied everything together and got all my wire ends smoothed over, I used a scrap of my charmeuse, cut on the bias, to wrap the whole thing. I secured the ends with hot glue. I also used this step to tuck the tie-ends of my stocking pieces in.

18-fairy-accessories.jpgAfter I have the middle section secure and wrapped, I use organza ribbon to make a series of long streamers that will hang down the back, and then I tie pieces long enough to tie around my arms so I can wear the wings.

Time to go flying! I made a couple of loose flowers out of my leftover chiffon knit from the skirt to decorate the center of the back. You can use pre-made silk flowers, appliques, brooches, or anything else your mind dreams up!

20-fairy-accessories.jpgFor those occasions when full-size wings aren't practical, you can always make mini-wings!

I quickly sculpted this pair out of 12-guage wire, and covered it with leftover pieces of stocking from the full-size wings. 

21-fairy-accessories.jpgOnce again, I used Mod Podge, glitter and crystals to decorate the mini wings.

22-fairy-accessories.jpgI cut a single flower from a scrap of organza rosette ribbon to trim the center.

I sewed a quick look out of grosgrain ribbon to match the width of the wings.

24-fairy-accessories.jpgThen I hot glued the ribbon to the back. Now I can use hair clips or safety pins to attach my tiny wings to almost any shirt!


I hope this gives you ideas for how you can create custom fairy finery of your own! Let your creativity fly and have a blast this Halloween! 

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