Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Finished Santa

The first step is to always take good measurements. My sister took his measurements for me and relayed them over the phone. I cut out the red fabric and sewed it all up, then I tried it on my brother in law for a fitting. I only had to make some minor adjustment.  Sis did a good job. I spray painted the buckles and grommets with krylon paint. I then made the  boots and the belt out of the slippery spandex. 

It was  a little difficult to get the fabric through the feed dogs, (this can happen with slippery finishes) but I put some tape over the top and it did the trick. The tape makes a rough surface for the foot to push off from.
I had  my bro in law wear the shoes he would use so I could put the elastic in the right place under his heal ( so he wouldn't step funny and slip on it). I also decided to add some elastic at the top to make sure the boot didn't fall down when the heavy fur was placed there.  

I wanted the bag to be special and repeat the gold accents from the suit. I created a stencil of cut paper and used metallic fabric paint to complete the design. 

I love poinsettias and so decided that is what would be on the bag. The design was repeat on both sides. It think this was the easiest part of the whole project. I then went to work on the most time consuming part. The Fur!

I don't know what this coat is made of, but it's plush and soft and still in good condition. It's outdated and the lining was ripped out so I wasn't going to use it as a fashion piece. Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!

 Because I was working with just so much room on the original coat, the new cut outs had to be pieced. I cut it out the way I mentioned in my last post and put it together the same way. The seams were beautiful and you couldn't tell where they were.

This next step was the part I had to think about. How were the ball on the ends of the hat and the bag pulls going to work? The pattern I used said to just cut out a circle and then gather the edges to make a ball. That wasn't going to be possible with the stiffness and thickness of this fur. So what I did was cut two halves of a ball and hand stitch and pull the edges up till it curled. 

As you can hopefully see, that method rounded the flat piece a bit. I then sewed two sides together and stuffed it with fiber fill. It worked perfectly. I processed all of the other fur the same way I mentioned in my previous post. 

Hello Santa!

 Poor Santa has red eyes, he was pretty tired, and he didn't seem to want his bag in the picture. He did let me take his picture so I was grateful for that. The kids loved him.

He was a great success.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Repurposed Santa

My brother in law plays Santa every year at our family party and always with a borrowed wig and hat. This summer my sis bought a santa pattern for a buck, and an old red mattress cover for $7at a yard sale with the thought that someday she'd make him a proper suit. Well me being who I am (two weeks before Christmas)  said " I've got a buckle from a purse and some black latex looking spandex (don't ask) I could make it up for our party". "Oh and I also have that fur coat you gave me". When Sis moved into their new house, the previous occupant left some pretty cool stuff and I got some of it. I'm not a big fur fan, but I believe that once the poor animal is dead what it left behind shouldn't be wasted. Also, it was free, which made the price of making this costume pretty dirt cheep, because the goal was not to spend a fortune. We bought some paint, some thread, and some needles total expense around 24 dollars. So here's what I did.
The Raw materials, Wig (left over from Halloween) , Mattress cover, Fur coat, and Black Latex. 
I trimmed the wig and glued the left over into a folded piece of bias tape. I used flexible fabric glue , the kind you use to put jewels or glitter on your clothes. I'm hoping that it holds up. It passed the boiling water test (scroll down) so I feel pretty confident about it.

I sliced a thin hole in the wig to accommodate the lips, then stitched all around it to stop raveling and hair loss. I had to adjust the size a little when I did a fitting, but it basically worked for the size of his mouth.
I rolled the hair up in permanent rods and boiled a pot of water. I took the water off the heat and then dropped the bundle of thermoplastic fiber into it. That's right, these cheap wigs are plastic and hot water melts it. I left it for 2 minutes and then carefully fished it out. I did the same with the strip of left overs that I made.  
When the wigs had cooled enough to touch, I started to unroll the curlers. The glue I had used got wet, of course it did, it was difficult to dip with out that happening. I was a little worried but nothing shifted or fell out.
The next step was to attach it to the hat. My idea was to make it all one piece so that nothing got separated or lost. But, I also wanted to make it washable, so it needed to break down easily.
I put snaps on the bias hair piece and sewed it to the outside of the hat, so it wouldn't take up any of the original head measurement.  
I put elastic on the inside of the hat to attach the beard to. This required a fitting so that it would be in exactly the right place so that the beard wouldn't droop slide or shift. I added snaps to the elastic and beard in two places for added strength.
Fur is a bit tricky, you have to know how to work with it, but once you do the hardest part is pushing the needle through the hide. You don't need to cut seam allowance to piece it together because it's attached with a whip stitch. When you do cut it  out, cut from the back so the pile ( the furry plush stuff) isn't damaged and it can blend together to look seamless when it's put together.

I did leave seam allowance on the outer edges so I could sew a binding on. I cut the pile off of this area so there would be less bulk in the seam.

I used a heavier needle (size 90) and my zipper foot to apply the binding. There are special leather needle you can get, but I was on a budget and they tend to be more expensive. I used a long stich  so there would be less chance of the stitching pulling out and cutting through the leather.

Then I put glue on  the seam allowance edges.
I turned it over and clamped it down to make a finished edge.
Next, I hand stitched the binding to the fur. Traditionally there would be some wadding between the fur and the binding, but it wasn't in the budget and I was in a hurry as well. The wadding protects and helps stabilize, but this costume will be used once a year and is not an everyday garment so I don't need to worry about it keeping it's body.
The last step was to apply the fur to the hat. I hand stitched it to the areas that the wig wouldn't be attached  and just above the snaps. It will breakdown completely when the thing needs to be cleaned.
The next post will be of the finished suit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Roses on your Cheeks

I've been at it again.
Here's three more Rosie Cheekies that will be available on Etsy very soon!
Yellow silk roses with silk velvet leaves

Purple roses and yellow green leaves made of fine Dupioni Silk

Silver Roses with bronze-ish green leaves

These are made of silk rayon velvet and lined with black Habotai silk. Since I make them to your specific measurements, they are a perfect fit and will feel comfortable against the skin. Look for them in about a week here

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rosie Cheeks

I spend my leisure time hand sewing my scraps of silk into roses. If I sit down to watch a movie or TV, which is rare, I'll pick up something to do. I can't stand to be idle so roses it is. Consequently, I have a whole basket full of pretty silk flowers. What to do? What to do? (insert light bulb here) Why not dress up one of my plainer designs? Thus Rosie Cheekies were born. Because I use tiny scraps of left over projects, no two cheekies will be the same. (Well not always). There will be three of these Lavender Rose Cheekies available. I had a bit more of that color, but it's still an exclusive design.

These Blue Rose Cheekies are a one of a kind creation.

As are these Red Rose Cheekies.

 I'll continue to keep my hands busy in my spare time so I'll probably offer these in other colors at another time. If you like them they can be found here... 
Along with my other creations.

Raycie Cheekies

I've been working hard this month. Being an independent fashion designer is no walk in the park, you really have to love what you do. I actually really love lingerie and have wanted to design it for years. After a brief stint as a Burlesque dancer and Pin up girl, I was finally inspired to get to it. So here's my first line. I call them Cheekies. They're a cute little hot pant with just a bit of cute little cheek hanging out the back. There are so many pretty parts to the female body. Although I believe in being modest most of the time, I think there is a time and place for revealing those pretty bits. My goal is to make my line of lingerie Fun and Classy, no skank involved, but as with everything else it's all about perspective. So as they do in the's the Reveal! I hope you like them, I certainly do!

My Sequin Cheekies

I've long had a bolt of Chinese silk Brocade with dragons and phoenix's on it. I always wondered what I would make of it. Cheekies seemed the right thing to do. I think these are my favorite!

Chinese Red Cheekies

I wanted to offer some softer options as well, so I created a line of frosty pastel colored Cheekies. You can go to my Etsy shop to see the range of colors.
Dupioni Silk Cheekies

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


When I was a child some of my favorite books were the classic fairy tales, but it wasn't because the stories were all that interesting. No matter how the story is told, Cinderella always fits into the slipper. ( As an adult though, I do love a good retelling. For those who have read Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister and Cinder Edna, you'll know what I mean.) The things that I loved about the books were the pictures. It was always so fascinating to see how many incarnations Cinderella could take on. Was her hair black this time? What was she wearing to the ball? What did the Palace look like? I would open the books and just get lost in the images. I had no need to read the words. The illustrations were so detailed I could just feel the story. My childhood was filled with these depictions. I would get lost in the art and not find my way out for hours. Then I'd go back and do it again. 

The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault 1922

It turns out that the Illustrators I loved so much all had one thing in common, they were part of the art nouveau movement that started in the 1890's and lasted through the 1920's. This is called the Golden Age of Illustration. Some of the pictures are quite sexually charged with some adult content, so I also got a sensual education as well. That's what art nouveau is , seeing beauty in the rounded lines and curves that echo nature, and the human body is apart of that. 

1923 edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales
illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren.

As I grew up, I still read, but I thought I was much to mature for the picture books. So my imagination took over, but to be honest, the style in my head was still the same.  My sense of aesthetic was highly influenced by these artists. They laid the ground work for my own artistic expression. The highly detailed pictures have now become my own artwork. Whether it be painting or fashion, it can't just be plain, there has to be a lot of embellishment and texture.

I'll share some of my favorites here, but since I couldn't put all of the pictures I love on this little post, you might want to do some of your own research. These talented artists really are worth getting to know.

  My all time number one favorite is Kay Nielsen. He was a Danish Illustrator that collaborated with Disney from time to time. There is so much going on in these drawings, his work is just so Beautiful!

The Fire Bird

Crinoline and Powder

12 Dancing Princesses

Warwick Goble
An English Illustrator that specialized in Japanese and Asian themes and then he'd put his own romantic, idealized, western spin on them.

The Iron Stove

The Six Swans

Odalisque (google this)

Harry Clarke
He did Illustrations for multiple fairy tales, but I like what he did for Edgar Allen Poe's stories the best. They're a bit darker, the black and white patterns helped me sink into madness, and I LOVE THEM! He was also a stained glass artist in London and his glass is just as detailed and gorgeous as these pictures.
Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”

I can't identify this one, but there's been a head chopping,
 so It might be for Poe's work as well.

Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”

Edmund Dulac
He was a French man studying law at the University of Toulouse , but he got bored, so he became an artist instead. Thank goodness for that. He Illustrated multiple story books and had quite a successful career as an artist.

Sleeping Beauty

Tales from the Arabian Nights

Last but not least is Arthur Rackham
He was thought of as one of the leading artists of the Golden Age. His images were done in watercolor and pen and India ink. They have a kind of photographic feel to them. He was successful in his lifetime, and his art is also a much sought after collectors items.

The ring of the Nibelung

Undine Lost
I still love illustrations for the same reasons as I always did and as an adult I still get lost in them. There are so many other artists who's works I could share, but posts can only be so long. Some honorable mentions are John Bauer, Emma Florence Harrison, H. J. Ford, Gustaf Tenggren, Dorothy Lathrop, and Virginia Frances Sterrett. I can see where they have influenced more contemporary illustrators who have in turn influenced me as well.