How to make your own bows

Last year's Easter bow

I'm a girly girl. I love Minnie Mouse. So naturally I love bows. (Bowties are cool, too)

Before I started sewing, I bought quite a few bows, because - let's face it - you need one to match every outfit. There are specific uses for the warm colored paisley vs. the navy blue floral!

After beginning my sewing adventures, I found myself accumulating a ton of fabric scraps, but they weren't small enough for my packrat tendencies to just dismiss and throw away. So what better way to use up some extra fabric than to make a cute bow?

What you'll need:

  • Two pieces of 6" x 4" fabric (it's good if the fabric is slightly stiff - floppy fabric makes floppy bows)
  • One piece of 3" x 1" fabric or some ribbon (either matching the above fabric, or contrasting in a way you like)
  • Matching thread
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine (optional - you could do it by hand)

Steps:

  1. Place the two pieces of 6" x 4" fabric together, right sides in. Sew along the edges, leaving 1.5" or so unstitched (enough to pull the fabric right-side-out).
  2. Pull the the fabric right-side-out through the hole you left, and stitch up the remaining 1.5 inches (this is why you want matching thread).
  3. Gather the rectangle in the middle, and make a simple hand stitch to keep it from unfolding itself. This will be hidden in the end.
  4. Stitch up the small piece of fabric into a narrow strip, which will be used to wrap around the middle of the bow. (Skip this step if you're using ribbon)
  5. Wrap the strip (or ribbon) around the middle of the bow, and hand stitch it in the back (you'll have to choose which side of your bow is the back).

One of my favorites - a plain linen bow

And voila - You've got a bow! Now, what can you do with the bow? Right now it's pretty but not too useful. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you've got a thin headband, you can slip the bow onto the headband and wear it that way - this is nice because you can re-use the same headband for multiple bows
  • You can glue it to a barrette (or you could have waited to stitch or tie up the narrow fabric strip or ribbon around the barrette)
  • You could attach it to a simple hair tie
  • You could put it on a present or make an ornament for a Christmas tree
  • If the fabric is thin enough (or you've modified the above to create a smaller bow), you can slip it on a bobby pin
  • You could make it into a [cheater's] bow tie (I did this for my TARDIS dress I made one Halloween and wore to Comic Con)

A patriotic bow

Want to get creative with your bows? Try different fabrics, different sizes or multiple colors! You can even layer smaller rectangles on top of larger ones to make a spirited bow for your favorite holiday or sports team!

There are many, many more bows in my future, and I'd also love to see any that you make, or any fun tips you have to spice them up even more.

Happy crafting!

 
 

Trials and Tribulations of Pattern Making

As I embark on another lofty sewing project, I wanted to share with you some things I've learned along the way. Being a bit of a novice sewer, and one who is trying to be somewhat conservative with her money, I find myself skimping on things like patterns. Why spend money on tissue paper when I have a creative mind?

This has both the potential to turn out great, and to be extremely frustrating. Thus far, I've been lucky enough that my pattern-less designs have turned out ok in the end. However, I've shelved a couple projects for weeks at a time because, as someone who lacks a ton of experience, I am at a loss of how to fix the problems at hand.

I always start with a drawing. These can be extremely primitive, and mostly I draw them so I can then write down measurements, and plan how to cut my fabric. Typically, they're not to scale. Measurements are taken by holding up a tape measure to myself, or to my dress form.

Sometimes I use a piece of clothing I already have to base a new garment on. This is nice because I can measure (and stretch) the existing piece, rather than guess what part of my body is the right part to measure.

Once I have decided what I need to cut out, I start measuring my fabric, marking where I'm going to cut it. This is the part where I really wish I had a craft room with a sewing table, because my current choices for cutting my fabric are on my wood floor, on my kitchen table or on the carpet, with or without a cutting mat. (Can't WAIT until we own a house!). Once it's cut out, I pin and sew.

Sounds pretty simple, right? It can be, but here are just a few of the issues I've run into:

1) Straps of dress are too long, due to stretchy fabric being heavy.

 

This is made of a stretchy jersey fabric, which succumbs to gravity. I had to shorten the straps (and may do it some more, still)

 

2) Dress/top is lower-cut than anticipated, because I forgot the seam-allowance.

 

This dress is one of my favorite creations, but it is definitely low cut. I try not to bend over too much when I wear it.

 

3) There is a TON of fabric gathered on the elastic waistband of a circle skirt.

 

This purple skirt is a simple circle skirt with an encased elastic waist. I tend to cover the top of the skirt with a shirt, though, because the fabric gathers so much.

 

4) Knit fabrics pucker when hemmed without a serger or binding.

 

I ironed out the neckline right before I took this picture, but as the night wore on, and the next time I wore the shirt, it was quite ruffled. I ended up binding the neckline with bias tape.

 

5) Fabric does not stretch as much as anticipated - have to let garment out.

 

Layering these fabrics caused them to stretch a lot less than they did by themselves, so I had to improvise and put in some extra fabric. I guess I could have measured, wrong, too ;)

 

6) Fabric stretches more than anticipated (or I left to much of a seam allowance) - have to take garment in.

 

I made this skirt for Valentine's Day this year, and I left WAY too much fabric for the waistband. Here, I actually have the skirt safety pinned, because we had to get to dinner, and the bow is hiding my mistake.

 

7) The front of a garment requires more fabric than the back (due to female anatomy), leaving extra fabric in the back, and making me look frumpy.

 

Originally, the top part of the dress was just a tube that was the same height the whole way around my body, but I ended up taking the sides and back in quite a bit.

 

8) Skirt is too long, have to shorten it.

 

This was the first skirt I ever made. It's a simple circle skirt, and it ended up being way too big everywhere. I had to take in the waist (by shortening the elastic inside the casing), and I took it up several inches.

 

9) Sewed the wrong side of the fabric. Either have to take it apart, or find creative way to cover the mistake.

 

Underneath these colorful Mickey heads is actually a seam I sewed the wrong way.

 

For problems 1, 6 and 7, figuring out the right way to take in the garment was the hardest thing for me. No one wants random, unsightly seams. However, I'm proud to say that I've successfully altered these projects, and they don't look too bad on. Lucky for me, problem 5 has only happened once, and somehow I managed to take it out alright.

The good thing about making my own patterns and having to overcome these obstacles, is that I am learning a LOT from my mistakes, and I have to come up with creative solutions (unless I want to throw something out, which I NEVER want to do). I have no one to blame but myself for the pickles I get into, and overcoming them feels amazing.

Now to get back to my big project... ;)

 
 

Denver Comic Con 2014

Being a self-proclaimed nerd, I had always been intrigued by the idea of Comic Con, and this year I finally decided to take the dive and go to DCC - or Denver Comic Con. The online site sold out pretty quickly, but, luckily, a local art store called Guiry's sells tickets. I bought the three day weekend tickets for me and Nathaniel, which aren't terribly priced - the conference also helps benefit Comic Book Classroom.

As it drew closer, I got more and more excited, seeing the guest list grow (and shrink, which was sad - I wanted to see Karen Gillan!). When we saw that the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation was going to be there, we got excited and decided we might need to see them because our dog is named Riker. We then discovered, though, that autographs and photos are not included in the ticket price and that they cost quite a pretty penny if you want to get a lot of them. Thinking back on this, it makes sense. Since our tickets weren't insanely priced, how would these guests get paid for their time being at the conference? However, to have the whole cast sign a picture of our dog would have been over $200, which we just couldn't justify right now. We didn't end up getting any pictures or autographs, but we did decide to buy the extra tickets to see The Next Generation Reunion panel.

Day 1:

Awesome Lego at the Expo.

We arrived at the Convention Center in our Doctor Who costumes, only to wait in a big line to get our badges, then another big line to enter the building. Once inside, we took a little time getting our bearings (the session on Sherlock was full so we just wandered around instead). I figured out where Karen Hallion was, but I should have looked at her hand-drawn notecards and claimed one (she finishes drawing them while at the conference!), but I was being indecisive.

The first panel we went to was called "The Best of Doctor Who". We didn't really know what to expect, but it ended up being a half dozen Whovians (Doctor Who Fanatics) discussing their favorite and least favorite episodes, story arcs, companions, doctors, etc., in a game show style (apparently there was a place online to vote, but we didn't know about this). It was a fun little session, but it wasn't anyone official from Doctor Who or the BBC.

For lunch, we went to Pizza Republica. It was right outside the convention center, had yummy food and was reasonably priced. I would totally go there again.

The second panel we watched was Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor) answer questions from two of the ladies who sponsored the previous panel, and then answer some fan questions. They have microphones set up in the halls, specifically for this purpose. It was fun hearing him talk about his experiences on Doctor Who - we haven't watched much of his stuff yet, so we didn't know the specific episodes he was talking about, though. It was also cool hearing him talk about how David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) and him would try to hide themselves during family walks around the park because they are both Doctors, and David is his son-in-law.

The next panel we went to was Walter Koenig (Chekov from the original Star Trek) answer questions from fans. He told a story about how he and other cast members got to go to the unveiling of the NASA Space Shuttle Enterprise. He is getting older, so it was bittersweet hearing him talk about the things he'd done and a couple of the roles he missed out on. He also said has a respect for Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, which I think could be a very difficult thing.

Look at how much Levar Burton loves reading!

The last session we went to that day was LeVar Burton talking about Reading Rainbow. He started by singing the theme song with the audience, and then asked if anyone brought any books with them. People held up the books, and he made a funny joke that he couldn't read the titles because he didn't bring his visor (like Geordi from Star Trek, who he played). He ended up bring up a woman because she had an actual Reading Rainbow book, and she was a teacher. He said he had a soft spot for teachers because his mom was a teacher, so he signed her book and gave her a hug. He spoke about how wonderful it was to see such an outpouring of support for his Kickstarter to bring Reading Rainbow to every classroom and every child. They got special permission to do a 35 day campaign, rather than the usual 30, because they wanted to raise a million dollars. They ended up making that goal in 11 hours, and currently, with 7 days to go, they are over $4,000,000. I loved Reading Rainbow as a kid, and I love that he is so passionate about it. He wants it to be in classrooms and libraries, and on every platform, because he knows not every child and family has the same means to buy a specific device (or any device). It's a beautiful thing to see someone so passionate about something so important to the future. Everyone should support this.

Day 2:

We decided to wear red shirts (from Star Trek) that day because we were going to the Star Trek panel that evening. We had a lot of people joke that they were surprised we were still alive, because Red Shirts tended to be expendable in the original series.

Go, go, Power Rangers!

The first panel we attended was Jason David Frank, the Green/White Ranger from the Power Rangers. It was kind of silly - I haven't watched the Power Rangers since I was little, but the Pink Ranger was always my favorite, and I'm pretty sure they were love interests for a bit. He had us sing the theme song for an Instagram video, and borrowed a transformer from someone in the audience so he could say "It's Morphin' time!". He also is a karate instructor, so there are lots of kids who look up to him. He wasn't the most well-spoken guest we saw, and he did seem to have a big ego, but it brought me back to my childhood to hear him talk.

The next panel was Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Batman comics. We got to see crazy Julie Newmar talk about being a sex symbol (and mime something to Adam West...) while wearing cat ears in her eighties. Adam West said "Quick, Robin, to the Batmobile!". Burt Ward talked about how he survived the series since his stunt double didn't look like him.

The amazing cast of the original Batman series, complete with Julie Newmar's cat ears.

I sat in the Kid's Corral for a little bit and learned how to draw some Disney characters from Phinneas and Ferb - but I wished it had been classic Disney characters - I've never watched the show.

Next we got to see Peter Davison again, but this time with Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) as well. They talked about how their experiences were similar and different. Again, some of the stories they told didn't mean as much to us because we haven't watched all those episodes yet, but it was great hearing them reminisce about being a part of something so huge. Also, we heard them talk about the filming of "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot", which was Peter Davison's project to pretend he was a part of the 50th anniversary special. (If you haven't watched this, go do it.) It included these two doctors, Colin Baker (Six), Paul McGann (Eight), David Tennant (Ten), and very briefly Matt Smith (Eleven) and Jenna Louise Coleman. Davison even got nominated for an award!

The last thing we went to was The Next Generation Cast Reunion hosted by William Shatner. It included Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar), LeVar Burton (Geordi), Gates McFaddon (Dr. Crusher) and Michael Dorn (Worf). It was a typical session in the sense that it was based on fan questions from the audience, but because there were so many of them, each question took a while to answer. Marina Sirtis was definitely the most talkative. Gates McFaddon is a classy lady who is also very well-spoken, and she still looks great. Denise Crosby said her favorite episode was the one where Tasha Yar is still alive because another ship went through a time-warp, and Whoopi Goldberg's character knows that this isn't the right universe anymore (this was especially cool because Nathaniel and I had watched that episode just the night before!). The men were a lot quieter, so Shatner (who they all nicknamed "The Shat"), made sure to directly ask them for their answers. Otherwise Marina may have kept answering. We also got to hear about the directing styles of Frakes and Burton, who got to direct their colleagues in a few episodes. Shatner had to leave for a flight about haifway through, which was strange, and then when it was over, I looked at the clock and it was only 7:45. We thought it was supposed to go until 8! It was super fun to watch them talk, but I was glad we didn't spend even more money for the closer seats. I hope those who paid for the gold level didn't feel too gypped by the shortened time, the disorganization, or the Shat leaving early.

That evening we went to a restaurant on Larimer called Osteria Marco. We had a bottle of wine (Elisabetta Geppetti - the woman who runs the winery fired all the men when her father died, and hired all women), and shared meatball sliders, calamari, muscles and carpaccio. It was more expensive than the pizza place from the day before, but I would go back there, too.

Day 3:

My Timey-Wimey makeup

My Timey-Wimey makeup

Me as the TARDIS, and Nathaniel as the Tenth Doctor

Me as the TARDIS, and Nathaniel as the Tenth Doctor

On day three, we wore our Doctor Who outfits again, and we actually got to hang out with some friends and wander around the Expo with them! I showed another Disney lover the awesome art of Karen Hallion, and Karen Hallion introduced me to the Naughty Rabbit, where I bought a small figure of Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), the bunny version. I loved it not only because it's cute, but I also have a bunny that I love very much. The artist makes a lot of Disney characters, but also the Wizard of Oz, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, and Marvel (and probably a bunch of other fandoms I'm not familiar with). This figure will go great next to my small print from Karen Hallion.

Sylvester McCoy with a mustache straw.

The first panel we went to was Sylvester McCoy (Seventh Doctor) answering audience questions about his time on Doctor Who. We learned that he re-uses many of the same answers since we had seen him the previous day, but I think I would, too, if I were in his position. Also, this guy has fantastic, expressive eyebrows.

The other panel we went to was called "Cartoon Voices". It had Jennifer Hale, Kimberly Brooks, April Stewart, and Robert Axelrod. It was cool to hear them talk about their experiences and how they chose that area of the industry and how they can still (mostly) remain anonymous in their everyday lives. My favorite moment was when April Stewart answered a question about if it's ever awkward that she has to say such foul things for South Park when she has a young daughter. When she was pregnant, the day the doctor told her that the baby could hear everything she said, she went to work later and felt kind of weird about the script she had to read (I think it was the episode when Mrs. Garrison is having relations with her new girlfriend). However, I thought that these panelists were going to do their voices, which is what I think most people would want to hear. At the same time, Jim Cummings (Tigger) was in the Kid's area, and I bet he was making his voices for them...maybe I should have gone to that!

This was my first Con experience, and I really had a great time. We had our pictures taken by lots of people (I got many compliments on my hand-made TARDIS dress), saw some cool art, people watched, attended more panels than most people seem to, saw a handful of old Apple friends, and went home with some fun souvenirs. In addition to the prints and bunny I got, I got my Star Trek Red Shirt-dress, an R2-D2 dress, and Star Trek earrings. Nathaniel got a model of the Enterprise to build and a shirt with Archer on it that says "Danger Zone". We also got my dad a T-shirt that is kind of like Spock's shirt (it was Father's Day that Sunday after all!). For next year, I think I need to do a better job at figuring out which artists will be there - I saw some pictures posted of things I wish I had seen! I also will go see Karen Hallion sooner to claim one of her hand-drawn notecards. We also learned that the fan-led panels are fun, but not as important to us as the celebrity ones.

Sorry for the super-long post! I'm realizing just how much we actually did while we were there! And I'm already excited for next year :)