Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Anakin "just before he turned to the dark side"

This is exactly what my son said when he asked to be Anakin for Halloween. He wanted to specifically be Anakin "just before he turned to the dark side". You know the leather wearing, brooding, nightmare having Anakin who has dark circles under his eyes… like this:

I did a little research which kept bringing me to Cosplay sites of adults making legit Jedi costumes. I searched for a ready-made pattern for a cloak or a robe or something to make it easier on me but the only child sized Jedi costume patterns I could find were only available on Ebay for outrageous sums of money. 

I decided to hack it… which means I had to have faith in my ability to just cobble together a costume from odd bits and pieces. I knew it would take me FOREVER to do this so in late August (yes I know I am insane) I went shopping for Fabric. I had decided to use Melly Sews Sleepy Robe pattern as a jumping off point for the Jedi Robe and that's where I began. I bought 4 yards of Kona Cotton in Espresso at Joann's with a 40% off coupon thinking it would be enough fabric for the robe, the under tunic and pants. HAHAHAHAHA.. when you are done laughing at me you can continue to read about my process. 

For the robe I lengthened the Sleepy Robe pattern so that it would touch the floor with a one inch hem. Then I widened the fronts by a couple of inches so I could sew in a few pleats to mimic the drape on a 'real' robe. I also widened the arms so that my son would be able to fit his hands into the opposite sleeve for that typical Jedi pose. BUT that said I didn't want them to have the foot plus of drape that the real robes have. I thought that for a 7 year old all that extra fabric would just get in the way. 

For the hood I traced the hood of a zip up sweatshirt and then lengthened it by about 4 inches, and added a couple inches to the depth. It ended up pretty perfect. Then I just cut a 4 inch band to be the edge band and basically sewed it onto the edges all the way around from the bottom of one side, around the hood down to the other side in exactly the same way you'd sew on quilt binding. It worked great to finish it all off with about a two inch finished band. 

Photos of my son are off limits for pinning! 

He was already pretty stoked and wore the cloak around the house a lot just like this. But I knew I had a million other pieces to make before it would be complete. 

The next big item was the tunic and under tunic. I knew I wanted them to be one piece but look like two. If he had to put too many pieces on to make the costume complete, I knew it would be no fun for him. I used the Sleepy Robe pattern again, but this time used the sleeves as is and cut it off to about mid thigh. I did add a bit of a wrap effect on the front by tracing a bit of a slope onto the fronts of the pattern. I did the same banding as on the robe. It looked great! But how to do the under tunic was a bit of a brain teaser. I ended up cutting up an old pillow case into about a 10" wide rectangle. I pressed it in half and surged the raw edges. Then I sewed the whole thing to the inside of the tunic so that the stitching was basically right in the ditch of the tunic banding. I didn't sew it completely down because I needed the under tunic to cross inside the tunic and the tunic to cross over it. Then I used two pieces of Velcro to hold them both closed. One on the beige fabric (the under tunic) and one on the brown fabric (the tunic). Done and done!

Next step was the leather tabards, which really really confused me for a while. Plus I was not looking forward to sewing the fake leather I had bought at Joann's. But after staring at it for about a month I just decided to go for it. I cut two strips 5 inches wide and 52 inches long. I top stitched around the entire thing to give it the look that it wasn't just a strip of fabric. Of course just these strips wouldn't stay on his shoulders no matter what. so I turned to velcro again. I sewed a strip onto each shoulder of the tunic and then one onto the center of each tabard strip. That worked great. They stayed on, gave him the look of a manly shoulder and made it so he could put the tabards and the tunic on at the same time. 

In my mind one of the most important pieces of the costume was going to the belt/obi combo. Every Jedi wears one and they look like they are about 3-4 pieces each. Again, we are talking about a costume for a 7 year old here and ease of getting into and out of the costume had to trump authenticity to me. I made the obi, wide belt, and skinny belt all one piece by sewing them all onto each other. 

I sewed a little pouch on there that closes with a snap and I think it gives the whole belt a pretty authentic look. It just closes in the back with a long strip of .. you guessed it… velcro!

For boots I was torn. I didn't want him to have this awesome costume and then just put on his sneakers with it and I didn't want to make cheesy boot covers because I feel like they often SCREAM HOMEMADE!!! But I also didn't want to spend big bucks on authentic looking boots. I opted to do a little spending and a little making. I bought him black rain boots which he needed anyways and then I made a pleather covering for the front that mimics the Anakin boots this place sells for adults. I pleated the pleather, cut it to a basic shape and then again used velcro to secure it to the boots and his legs. I also sewed on a piece of clear elastic that goes over the sole of the boot to keep them from riding up too high. 

don't pin images of my son!

Don't pin images of my son!

This was the first time I have ever created something this detailed without a pattern. I knew what I wanted it to look like and I took my time working on the details. It is nowhere near perfect but my son was thrilled with it and was super excited when he was 'awarded' his Jedi Knight saber!

Happy Halloween and May the Force be with you! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Two posts in one week? WHAAAT??? I have a confession to make… I recently became obsessed with owning a bundt pan. OK I know that's not much of a confession, but it was kind of a kooky thing to have on your mind all the time for weeks.

Back before the boy I worked at an AWESOME place. It was a children's publishing company and the people there all became like family for me since I was living 3,000 miles away from my actual family. Every so often (at least a few times a year) we would have a big potluck luncheon with all this amazing food. I was always super excited and hopeful that one of my coworkers would bring her famous sour cream coffee bundt cake! I swear I got the recipe from her a thousand and a half times but since I was too cheap, ummm I mean frugal, to buy a bundt pan I never made it and the recipe disappeared.

Fast forward 10+ years and the new King Arthur Flour catalog showed up in my mailbox with the cover showing every type of bundt cake you could ever make. I'm still frugal.. maybe even more so since now I'm a stay at home mom still and we live in what often feels like THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLACE ON EARTH! I could not justify spending $40 on a pan to bake a pretty cake, I mean how often was I actually going to use this thing? So I kept trying to put it off but really I just wanted to pop it all in my online cart at KAF and make bundt cakes every day.

And so it was that on a search for rain boots for my son I found a Farberware Bundt pan at a discount retailer for $6.99! It's not as heavy and detailed as the Nordicware ones but it gets good reviews and my first banana bundt cake came out gorgeous!  Today I searched the Internet for a sour cream coffee cake that might be similar and came across this one! I used my homemade vanilla yogurt in place of sour cream and my bundt pan is a 10 " I think so the cake is not as tall.

I may need to ease up on the amount of baking spray I use since the top of the cake has this weird honeycomb texture. And you can see how simple the detail on this pan is. Everything is much more rounded than on a more expensive and heavier pan but I'm OK with that. 

I also added a simple powered sugar glaze to the top of the cake and may have eaten two pieces before I could photograph it. Yay for obsessions satisfied!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Test Knitting

Over the summer I noticed a call for test knitters from one of my favorite indie yarn dyers Sweet Fiber! I immediately sent Melissa an email thinking nothing would come of it. I was super excited to receive her email asking that I be involved. Their yarn is amazing and if you haven't experienced it yet, please go to their website and buy some. I first discovered Sweet Fiber Yarns on Jane Richmond's blog sometime before Stitches West a couple of years ago. She had designed a hat pattern specifically for their yarn and the pattern was going to be available at Stitches. I went to their booth first thing and bought both pattern and yarn and I think it was only two days after Stitches closed that I cast on this awesome hat!

The pattern is Wellington and I knit it in Sweet Fiber Merino Twist Worsted. Please ignore the fact that I am sunburnt and sweaty in this photo it was around 90 degrees out as I was trying this on! 

I love this hat so much it made its way into my favorite family photo! 

The yarn is so fabulous I keep saying I'm going to save up my Stitches yarn budget to buy a sweater's quantity, but alas Melissa told me they won't be making it to Stitches this year. 

But this experience let me know I'd be hard pressed to find a better test knitting opportunity and so I was pleased to be able to test knit 3 of the 7 projects from their new E-Book Sweet Fiber Accessories

I knit three hats: Dockside, York and Bridgeway and the only thing that could have made the experience better would have been to knit them with Melissa's yarns. I only had Cascade 220 on hand and they are still fabulous! 

So I hope you will go check Sweet Fiber out. The patterns are incredibly intuitive and well written and I can tell you her yarn is sublime! 

I'll be back soon to share the labor of love that is my son's Halloween costume this year. I may have gone a bit overboard! Stay tuned!