Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A "Loki" costume, learning to sew faux leather

It is Spirit Week at my daughter's high school this week.  For those unfamiliar with this idea, it is basically a week of silliness to promote better relationships between students and school pride.   It culminates, at the end of the week, in a whole school assembly, (her school goes from pre-school through high school) and every grade takes part in some way.  Everyday has a different theme and dressing up is encouraged.  Monday was 'western" day, today was "mismatched" day and tomorrow is "superhero" day.  "I'd like to be Loki" says my daughter.  With the seasonal opening of some of the Halloween stores, I thought for sure I'd be able to find a Loki costume but  it seems that Loki is not represented this year!  Thor? yes. Ironman? yes. Captain America? of course!  But Loki? absolutely not!  So Monday morning found me trawling our local craft and fabric stores for a pattern and fabric.  Only of course no-one is making a Loki pattern either, so I had to improvise.  

Wait, did I hear someone say "Who is LOKI?"  Loki is a Marvel character and brother to Thor.  According to my daughter, who is a serious Loki fangirl,  he is not evil, just seriously misunderstood.  And in the second Thor movie, he does help save the world, so I guess he counts as a superhero!  Anyway, here he is and please note his outfit, because it's important!

Right, so it's Monday morning and superhero day is Wednesday, there is not a Loki costume to be had and no pattern either.  Time to get creative.  This is my kind of project, only usually I like a bit more time.  This has consumed me for the last two days and I finished just before dinner today.  I wasn't able to make his helmet which I'm a bit sad about but maybe I'll make one before Halloween.  I found a pattern for a coat similar to Loki's so that was my starting point.  I made it sleeveless and added darts to give it more shape and I embellished it, yes I did and it was FUN.  Loki's outfit has a kind of tunic with a coat over the top.  There are a ton of details.  I scored at the fabric store with some thin faux leather with a pebbly texture.  I also found a super cool textured faux leather which I just knew I had to use somehow.  I played with some scraps to work out the tension and stitch size but was happily surprised at how well my normally finicky sewing machine handled the weird fabrics.  

The sleeveless coat has a green lined collar and lapels.  There is a partial green lining.  For the shoulder armor, some details and the gauntlets I used the textured pleather.  Before I sewed it, I cut out the shapes and then rubbed it with a lovely gold acrylic paint which really brought out the texture and totally looks like tooled leather.  

For the inner tunic, I cheated a bit and used a t-shirt as my base.  I cut 2inch wide strips of the pleather and sewed each onto the t-shirt overlapping them as I went.  You can see this in the photo of my daughter wearing the costume.  This took a long time and it was a little tricky to keep the t-shirt from bunching up as I sewed it.  I can't believe I got this done in time.  I am so happy with the result!  It has the feel of Loki's costume and best of all, my daughter is so excited to wear it tomorrow.  She added black leggings and some Timberland biker boots which she already had.

Here you can see the pleather strips, shoulder armor and green lining.  You can see I trimmed the edges of the lapels with a deconstructed zipper which is just like Loki's actual jacket except he has more zippers.  I was worried it might tear the pleather if it caught on the zippers so just did the lapels!


Ok, take a look at the finished costume and then scroll back to the top and check out the real Loki.  Not bad, though I do say it myself!

Fall Baking, Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

When I went to the grocery store last Thursday, they had pumpkins displayed outside, with barrels full of pretty flowers in Fall colors.  This is my favorite season, I love the warm colors and the Holidays that take place in Fall and going into Winter.  Seeing the pumpkins got me thinking about pumpkin muffins, gluten free ones, from this Gluten Free cookbook.  It is one of my favorite recipes.  The only thing I do differently from the recipe, is to add about ¾ cup of golden raisins and the same of chopped walnuts.  Depending on the flour mix I use (sometimes I have to improvise depending on what I have in the cupboard!) they come out smooth and pretty and sometimes like today, they come out craggy and not quite so pretty BUT, they taste awesome!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Walk On Moss Landing Beach, Whales, Sea Otters and Sea Birds

This afternoon we took a 45minute drive to my favorite beach, Moss Landing.  I love it there because it's wild and natural and you never quite know what you will see.  Today we saw whales and watched one breach.  They were quite far out but we had our binoculars and got to see lots of lovely flukes.  We saw a pod of dolphins close in to shore, just where the waves (which were green in the bright sunshine) begin to rise up before breaking.  There were seals closer in than that curiously watching the children playing at the edge of the water.  We watched a sea otter dive for clams and then be harangued by two gulls that clearly wanted a share of the catch!  Terns dived just a few yards from where we stood and hundreds of pelicans soared overhead.  I feel windswept and restored, the vastness of the Pacific, the relentless pounding of the waves, and the beauty of the surroundings and wildlife, serving to put my life into perspective.

Terns diving

Marbled godwit, there were dozens of these grouped with Willet and curlew.

Hundreds of heermann's gulls sat on the warm sand.

This is the sea otter that was having to defend it's catch from the marauding gulls.

Pelicans flying in formation.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Productive Garden - Despite Our California Drought!

We are only allowed to use our sprinklers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and yet despite that my garden continues to produce.  Yes, the plants look dusty and some of them look very bedraggled but they are surviving!   The tomatoes are outrageously sweet and delicious, the chili peppers are supposed to be that yellow/green color and I have so many I am freezing them as I pick them, using them straight from the freezer.  The yellow beans are tender and sweet and the plants have fruited their little hearts out!  I have a second patch of bean plants coming on to take over when these ones finally do give up.  It is so satisfying to go out and pick things I've grown.

This is beautiful purple basil.  I grow it in a pot with some regular green basil too.  Also my roses are flowering again.  I don't know how they are managing to, it is so dry and so very hot (it's been 100f the last few days).  They are old English roses, smell fantastic and make me smile as I walk up to my front door.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

On My Worktable This Week, Union Jack Pincushions, Embroidered Pumpkins and Little Owls

It seems like I just blinked and there went another week!  I have two weeks until the quilt show so I am working on making sure I have enough of everything.  I have set up my table as it will be at the show, twice now, on my dining table to get a feel for how it will look and I am pretty happy with it.  I got confirmation this week that I will be in the large vendor room which is great because it's a lovely big octagonal room where there are several bigger booths with established vendors.  Hopefully their customers will stop by my shop too!  I listed my Union Jack Pincushion in my Etsy Shop  and it sold within 24 hours!  This week I made two more and re-listed the pincushion.  

I also made some more embroidered hanging pumpkins in a yellow green felted wool fabric and a mottled pink/orange.  In addition to those I cut out the parts for a few more owls and am working my way through those.  I've finished two so far which is a little slower than I'd like!  I feel like each little owl has a real character and these two, hanging on cupboard door knobs, look to me like they are both bursting to say something but can't quite summon up the courage!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Union Jack Pincushion now in my Etsy shop

I added the Union Jack pincushion, that I wrote about in my last post, to my Etsy shop today.  You can see it here.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

On My Worktable

I've sold a couple of cherry blossom pincushions recently so I felt like I needed to make some more, especially with the quilt show coming up at the end of this month.  You can see from the photos that each is slightly different as I cut the trees freehand.  I found myself sewing all around town this week while waiting in the car for various things my daughter had going on.  Good thing it's such a portable project!  I love this pincushion design.  I really enjoy doing french knots, they are my favorite stitch and I am really happy with the soft color palette.  

Some time ago I made a pincushion top with a Union Jack flag design.  I was never completely satisfied with it because it seemed that the felt didn't lie flat in the center when I curved the felt as it would be when stuffed, so I popped it in the draw where I store all my felt and forgot about it.  I came across it again this week and wondered what I could do with it.  Since the problem I had with it had to do with how the felt looked in the center of the design, I began to think about how I could add something there to hide the center.  I liked the idea of a rose and that led to the idea of the Tudor Rose, the flower that represents England.  

Around the sideband of the pincushion I embroidered "Oh, to be in England" which is from the poem by Robert Browning.

Oh, to be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Robert Browning 

It seems like it was a week for finishing things up because I also finished two needlebooks with deer that, again, had been languishing in my felt drawer!