A Classy Ragdoll Dress

The back cutout detail is my favorite! 😍

I love dressing up. Both in fancy things and in costume-y things. But I also know that realistically I don’t need a closet full of Disney costumes (unfortunately), so I try to find ways to combine my nerdiness with my need for functional clothing, and my latest attempt is a knit version of the Belladone Dress by Deer and Doe. It’s funny the way I get ideas, too. This was spurred by the fact that Facebook advertized some cute Sally (from Nightmare Before Christmas) leggings, but they were only available in kids sizes! Thanks a lot, Facebook. 

Anyway, it sent me down a little bit of a rabbit hole, in which I contemplated if I would really wear those leggings enough to search and search, or if I’d rather make something. The answer is almost always making something. And again, Spoonflower to the rescue! They had some beautiful fabric called “ragdoll scraps” which would work perfectly. They had a small and large version, and I went with the larger one. I also have had the Belladone pattern laying around for over a year, and I love the back cutout detail, so I decided to go in that direction. While it might not be an everyday dress with the fabric I picked, it would definitely be more than just a Halloween or Comic Con outfit.

Choosing the fabric type was a bit trickier. With the sampler pack I got from Spoonflower, I was looking for something sturdy, comfortable, and not too thin. I also wanted something with a bit of drape, because I like to twirl. Even though the pattern calls for woven fabrics, I decided to go with the Organic Cotton Knit. It’s not crazy stretchy like jersey, and it’s thicker, too. If I got lucky, maybe I wouldn’t even need a zipper! Will I ever do a pattern exactly how the instructions tell me to? We may never know 😉

I got to cutting, and (just like the other Deer and Doe patterns I’ve done), the instructions were well made, and the dress started to come together well. The darts were a little funny since I used stretchy fabric and a zig zag stitch, but I’m probably the only one who will notice that.

This pattern was the first time I ever did this type of armhole and neckline binding with bias tape. I got thin double fold black bias tape, but I think I probably could have just done single fold. It would be slightly less bulky, but I’m actually quite pleased with how these turned out, especially for my first try!

At a certain point, you get to where you can kind of put the dress on like an apron, and when I did that I noticed it was BIG! But it’s probably because the fabric I used has stretch, but the pattern calls for woven, non-stretchy fabric. So, wearing the dress like an apron, I grabbed the fabric behind my back and figured out how much extra there was. I pinned the dress back right sides together, and sewed a seam about 1.5 inches from the edge of the fabric. I went down only as far as below the waistband (in case I didn’t like it), and pulled it over my head. It fit great! And without a zipper! Woohoo! I then finished the back seam, tapering out to the edge of the fabric to keep the skirt nice and full.

The hem is not your standard hem - it uses a facing. I don’t really know why you’d choose one over the other (maybe a decorative touch?), but I liked the method, and it seems to give the skirt a bit more body? I don’t know. It looks good, though. A normal hem would probably work in a pinch, though. I also decided to do a top stitch, rather than an invisible stitch, to finish the facing/hem. Because Sally’s dress is made of scraps, and she is literally all sewn together, I figured a black visible seam would compliment the outfit nicely.

I decided to finish the outfit with a bow headband - Sally has red hair and I had some leftover burgundy velvet from another project that would be a fun accent.

Photo by  Maddie Camilli

Put it with some burgundy boots and you’ve got a dapper Sally costume!

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The Fox and her Hound

Fall 2017 has been hectic - so much that I didn’t spend nearly as much time as usual on my costume. I don’t really know where the idea originated, but it occurred to me that having a foxhound as a prop was perfect, and I’d just be a fox!

Most of my costume is just normal clothing within a fox’s color scheme. I already had these reddish pants, black boots and a white tank top. I went to Target and found this orange plaid button up. It’s a size too big, but it’s what they had, and it’s super comfy.

Foxes, of course, have some very distinct features that humans don’t have, though, like pointy ears and a tail, so I got crafting. I googled around a bit on how to make these things, but then just kind of winged it. 

I went to Joann’s and they didn’t have quite the shade of fur I was looking for, but because I didn’t have much time, this brown was going to be close enough, especially with all my other colors.

When I was googling around, I also saw the idea to make fur gloves. I splurged a tiny bit on softer dark, dark red fur. I only got like 8 inches, so it wasn’t much of a splurge, but per yard, this fabric was about 4 times as expensive as the brown and white I got.

Gloves:

  1. Make a cylinder big enough for your hand to fit in.
  2. Put your hand in and mark where you’d like to make seams to fit. You can mark with pins (be careful of your hand), tailor’s chalk, or just wing it. If you err on the side of too big, it’s easy to take in a little.
  3. Repeat step two for your entire hand. After you’re happy with the fit, trim the extra fabric off and trim the opening for your fingers so it’s not too long. I rounded mine a bit, too.
  4. Turn right-side-out and put them on!

Tail:

  1. Make the outline of your tail with the main fabric. Make triangles of white for the tip of your tail.
  2. Attach ribbon to main fabric on the side you’d like to be facing your butt.
  3. Attach the white triangles to the main fabric.
  4. Stitch around the edges, leaving just enough of an opening to turn the tail right-side-out and to be able to stuff it.
  5. Turn it right-side-out and stuff it.
  6. Close up the opening. You could probably make it look nicer if you hand stitch it, but I decided to use my sewing machine because it’s faster, and it was only a couple inches. I wasn’t going for perfection. 

Ears:

  1. Cut pieces of white for the inside and brown/red for the outside. I also decided to use scraps from my gloves as a dark accent on the tips of the ears, like foxes seem to have naturally.
  2. Hot glue these pieces together.
  3. Hot glue them to a headband.

Note: They were a bit floppier than your average fox’s ears, especially after the first wear, so if I were to do these again, I might put a layer of cardstock or even cardboard between the layers, or use wire around the edges. They were still pretty cute floppy, just not as fox-like as they could be.

I also did my makeup, loosely based on this YouTube video. I used white and black face paint crayons from Joann's and liquid eyeliner, eyeshadow and bronzer I already had - luckily I have a few palettes of fun colors including reds, browns and oranges. In the video she is able to blend her white a bit after she applies it to her face, but I found with the face paint crayon you need to blend right away. Also, the black face paint I used on my top lip ended up rubbing off a little onto my bottom lip, but it wasn't terrible looking.

First makeup attempt

Second makeup attempt

And there you have it! A totally simple fox costume! And it becomes Disney-fied when I have my pooch with me 😉

Hubby got in on the action by dressing as as fox hunter - he found a super cheap red blazer at a thrift store and used clothes he had already. Turned out to be a super cute family costume!

Trying to get the hound to hunt the fox

The hound barely tolerating a family portrait

The hound not caring about the scared fox

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

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How to Purée a Pumpkin

We’ve reached that time of year where pumpkins find us around every corner. Whether it be decorations, pies, or lattes, this orange fruit becomes a staple of the season. This year, just before Halloween, we went to Munson Farms here in Boulder and bought four pumpkins. We decided not to carve them this year because we were running short on time, so I quickly painted them with simple designs. However, it seemed like it would be a waste to ONLY use them for decoration, so I decided to purée them.

A glass of wine is nice to have, too!

Puréeing a pumpkin isn’t difficult, but it is pretty time consuming. However, it’s totally worth it in the end to have some fresh pumpkin to cook with.

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Wash your pumpkin. Since ours was from a farm, it had some dirt on it, plus I wanted to get the paint off.

3) Using a serrated knife, cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. You can use a spoon, but a scraper tool from a pumpkin carving kit is a bit easier. Save the seeds! They’re delicious when roasted. Take a peek at my recipe.

What my pumpkin looks like when done.

4) Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, roughly 6” by 6”, and discard the stem. I just find them easier to handle later if I can actually hold them in my hands comfortably. Some of mine end up being triangular, too.

5) Place the pieces meat-side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You don’t have to use parchment paper, but I find clean-up much easier when I do.

6) Bake for about an hour. You want the pumpkin to be tender when poked with a fork, or tender enough to eat (which you can do!)

7) Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool. You want to be able to easily handle the pumpkin directly with your hands and not burn yourself.

8) Scrape the pumpkin away from the skin and discard the skin.

9) Blend up the pumpkin. I use an immersion blender because of how easy it is to clean, but you can also use a normal blender or a food processor. I also like to do mine in smaller batches in the measuring cup that came with our immersion blender because I can get a more even consistency, but if you don’t mind a little chunkiness, you can just do it in a bowl.

So much moisture!

10) Using a strainer lined with cheesecloth, drain your pumpkin. Depending on how much you have you may have to do it in smaller batches (I do this). If you’ve got a ton of time, you can just let the purée sit and drain, stirring it occasionally, but I usually just want to finish and squeeze the cheesecloth to more quickly remove the excess water. Some people save this pumpkin juice, but I haven’t ever done that. Maybe next year ;) Squeeze/drain the purée until you’ve got your desired consistency.

11) If you’ve got superhuman stamina, go ahead and start baking/cooking! Otherwise store the pumpkin. I like to use freezer-safe bags and put one cup of purée in each. That way I can freeze the pumpkin, and then thaw just what I need when I need it.

You can use this purée in pies, cookies, bread, soups, hummus, and more! Happy holiday cooking!

It's a Jolly Holiday - Part 3

Getting the penguin to pose is not easy...

Well, Halloween came and went, and I was able to finish our costumes, which were a big hit! I wanted to finish out this series with some photos of the finished project, and some last little DIY details.

Umbrella:

At a local costume shop, I found a white lace umbrella. One of my favorite details from the movie is the talking parrot on Mary's umbrella, so I bought some bake-able clay and white acrylic paint, and got creative. At first I tried making a general shape and then sculpting out the details with toothpicks and other kitchen utensils. This worked ok, but I wasn't quite loving the outcome, so I started over. I had removed the plastic handle from the umbrella, so I was able to start by making a cylinder that would fit over the metal end. I then made a couple more cylinders to layer over the first, which became layers of feathers after I cut out triangles along the bottom edge. For the head I used the pinch pot method I learned in kindergarten to made a bowl shape, which I attached to the biggest cylinder. I attached the beak (two folded triangles) and the eyes (increasingly smaller layered ovals). I smoothed everything out as best I could, and baked him. Once he was done and cooled, I painted him white (two coats). Once dry, I just eased the metal umbrella end into the hole I made at the beginning, and luckily it was just snug enough to go in far enough to be stable and not fall out. I'm so, so happy with this detail!

Corset:

Like I mentioned in Part 2, my "dress" was actually three pieces. A skirt, a blouse and a corset. I got lucky and found a used red corset for $12 at a costume shop, and then I just added some white ribbon accents to it. Had I had more time, I may have decided to shorten my corset, since Mary's dress's red middle doesn't cover her bust, but I think I pulled it off ok without that alteration.

Spats:

Spats are cloth pieces that cover your shoe and ankle, and something you don't really see in the modern fashion world. But Mary Poppins wears them, so I did too! I found a tutorial online, and made super simple white spats. Instead of making actual button holes (because that's more time intensive), I used iron-on velcro, and glued on red buttons. I found some white tights and luckily I still have some white heels that I got in high school, and the spats went great over them.

Makeup and other finishing touches:

I didn't do anything too over the top with my makeup. I used black eyeliner with a slight wing, and some shimmery eye shadow. I did, however, decide to go for a bright red lip, and matching red nails. I also used a simple pink blush, which I hardly ever wear.

Both Mary and Burt wear gloves, and I found some simple white ones for Burt, and some fingerless lace ones for Mary. Of course I forgot to put on the gloves for most of our pictures, but there are much worse things I could have forgotten. I also found a cheap bamboo cane at a costume shop for Burt.

I am so happy I went through with this idea - I absolutely love Mary Poppins, and I don't think it could have turned out any better! Now to start planning for next year... I wonder if I'll ever be able to top this??