Monday, December 19, 2011

Additional Totoro Details

So I thought I should go into a little more detail about how I made the Totoro pillow. Inside is a 2 inch thick piece of upholstery foam (nothing special, just the kind you can buy at Joann's). Joann's didn't sell a pre-cut piece as long as a wanted, and I didn't feel like hunting down an elusive store clerk (those guys are rarer than jackolopes) to buy the kind you can custom cut, so I bought two pre-cut pieces, a large one for the body and a small one for the head. I glued the pieces together and carved the body using an exact-o knife. Totoro is basically just two overlapping circles, so I used a pen and string to make nice perfect circles before carving. To help keep the foam together in the long run, considering I had to glue it, I made a cover for it out muslin before insert into the outer pillow case (Totoro). Besides the upholstery foam, I also made a Totoro shaped pillow insert to give him some extra fluff. The extra fluff nicely conceals the hard spot where I had the glue the foam together. Also, Totoro is pump in the movie, so he needed some extra fluff. :)

The outer pillow case is made of super soft fleece. I made the body details using an applique technique. His tummy, eyes, etc. were made using different felt colors and Pellon Under Wonder. After ironing the applique to the main body, I used a zigzag stitch around the borders to make sure they stay secure forever. And that's it! Time for a nice long sit......

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Totoro Floor Pillow

Finally! I finished with my Christmas presents and managed to make something for me. Just for fun, I decided to make a floor pillow. For even more fun, I made it look like Totoro. :) This also gave me a chance try applique for the first time. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Swear I'm Still Here

I know I haven't posted in a while. Like a said a while ago, I'm currently working on some Christmas presents and can't post what I'm working on for obvious reasons. But I have a lot of exciting project ideas coming up, including a few costumes for next year to wear to various cons and the Renaissance Faire. So check back in January (hopefully sooner) and I should have details for what I'm working on.

On a side note, I received my first commission! I'm making another rain coat in about a month or so. And it's not even for a family member or acquaintance. Yay.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Coming Up...

So I may not have any interesting posts for a while. I started working on a few smaller projects, however, they are Christmas presents for various family members and as they check this blog, I can't post the pictures. I don't want to ruin the surprise.

I also have plans to make a floor pouf. I play a lot of board games at my coffee table and I don't really enjoy sitting on the floor. But since this is me we're talking about, it will not be any ordinary floor pouf. :) I'll be sure to post my sketch for it in the near future. Stay tuned for that.

I've also been contemplating costumes I want to make for next year. I'm probably going to Dragon Con and New York Comic Con. I am definitely going to make a Belle costume (Beauty and the Beast). I have already bought the patterns I need to modify to make the dress. I may also make a second costume. Time and money will determine whether I do so or not. The criteria for the second is I want to hold a weapon, I want to be easily recognizable, and I don't want to dress like a slut. This is trickier then it sounds.....

I also go to the Renaissance Fair every year and I'm thinking it's time for a new more elaborate costume. If anyone has any pattern recommendations, I would appreciate it.

Unfortunately, that's all for now.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coat Finished!

I FINALLY finished my coat (with the exception of the buttons which will be attached tonight). I looooooove the way it turned out. The fit is great and it is just so cute. Hopefully it'll rain soon so I can wear it. :)

This has been one of my few projects where there have been absolutely no problems or confusing instructions. Everything went very smoothly. I also got to use a new gadget for the first time. I sew with a vintage machine, a Singer Featherweight 221, which I adore. However, unlike many more modern machines, it is only capable of sewing a straight stitch. So I bought a vintage attachment on eBay which allows me to make buttonholes! It works great. These vintage machines really stand the test of time very well.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Power Outages

So Mother Nature is thwarting my attempts at finishing my coat. If you've been following the news, I went through that stupid freak Halloween snow storm that hit the northeastern United States. Surprisingly, you can't really sew effectively without electricity...

And I've kept getting power outages on and off all week. Last night a tree limb damaged in the storm finally gave up and fell, bringing the power line outside my apartment down. Needless to say I haven't put my candles away yet. Anyway, with any luck I can finish it this weekend and have some lovely finished pictures up soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vote for Me!

I entered my Rapunzel outfit in a costume contest held by Mood fabrics. Winner gets a $100 gift card.

Vote for me! I'm entry #56.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Last One, I Swear!!

I just have to post this pic from NYCC. It just turned out so much better than any picture I took. :)

I have fully satisfied my narcissism now. Thanks for bearing with me.


My double-sided fabric tape arrived last night, so I got right to work.

Look... Pockets!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lining Finished

So the lining of my pretty coat is basically finished. I've constructed all of the pieces that I can for the moment (hood, pockets, belt). Unfortunately, due to my ordering sanfu, I can't progress any further without my double-sided fabric tape. The exterior of the coat is laminated cotton, so I need the tape to hold some things in place. You can't use pins in laminated fabrics. Until then, this is all I have to show (and yes, I know the lining is inside out. The correct way does not photograph nearly as well).

I'm hoping my tape arrives today so I can finish my coat in the next few days. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chugging Along...

Work is well underway for my new coat. I wish I had been a little quicker about getting it done because the next few days are going to be cold and rainy (of course). With my luck, when the coat is actually finished, the weather will be unseasonably warm and dry just to spite me. Unfortunately, due to an ordering snafu with Amazon, I ordered some incorrect materials which slowed me down even more.

I'll try to have some progress pictures up in the next few days, there's just not much to look at. I've mostly been working on the lining as well as pleats and darts and the like.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Woohoo, I Found One!

So after realizing 100,000 people attended New York Comic Con, and probably 1 in 10 wore costumes (that's still 10,000 for those math impaired people like me) I figured the likelihood of finding a picture of myself posted on the web by some other random attendee was slim to none. Especially considering my costume was more on the... how do you say? Wholesome side. No spandex or mega cleavage for me, thank you! I will never wear a sexy (fill in the blank) costume ever. Just not my style. So I was pleasantly surprised when I actually found a picture.

Check it out...

This actually comes from an attendee who keeps a blog about styling hair, so I guess I was relevant, lol.

So I can give her credit for the lovely picture, it can be found here.

Edit: She had a second pic of me from the front. My eyes are closed for some reason (though my eyes always look closed in pictures for whatever reason). Here it is. :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cats and Sewing

"Oh, what is that you have there? That looks new and clean! It's lacking something, but what is it? I can't quite put my paw on it... Oh yes! A layer of my fur. It just won't be complete until I roll all over it.

What's that? A sewing pattern made of tissue? Well, it'll fit you much better once a claw the hell out of it. Trust me, I watch Project Runway with you. I know all about pattern making. I need the freedom to express myself.

What do you mean you're trying to cut here. Clearly this is the only place in the entire apartment I can take a nap. Don't you see that? I thought it was obvious."

Damn cats...


Friday, October 21, 2011


Don't you love it when you find an amazing new tool that makes your life so much easier, but at the same time feel sort of stupid for realizing you should have been using it all along? About a week ago was browsing Joann's and saw the rotary knives and cutting boards and thought to myself, "ya know? I should probably get one of those. That's all they use on Project Runway." And so, I bought a knife and cutting board. My lord, do those make life easier! Swoosh, cut, swoosh, cut, done! (That's me using the rotary knife last night if it wasn't obvious).

Can someone please tell me the other nifty sewing tools I should be using?

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Now that I'm totally finished with my Rapunzel costume, I can finally get back to some of my smaller side projects. I recently bought a pretty neat pattern book by Amy Butler. Every pattern in the book is a different purse. Big purses, little purses, and everything in between! These are the first ones I finished. Figured I'd start with something easy before I moved on to the more complicated ones. Can anyone say Christmas presents? :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to Make a Rapunzel Wig

Let me begin by saying that this is not the definitive way to make a Rapunzel wig; this is just how I made it.  For the most part, I'm pretty pleased with the results, From the back it looked fantastic, I just wish I could have achieved the Rapunzel hair "swoop."

 Great screenshot of said "swoop"

Unfortunately, the wig I purchased was constructed in such a way (a pin head style wig? I heard that term thrown around once) that there was no way I was going to be able to achieve this. Oh well, we can't have everything we want...

So how did I make the wig?

Step 1: Buy wigs

I purchased two (yes, two) long blonde wigs on eBay. I was pretty picky about the color. Most were listed as platinum blonde and Rapunzel is not a platinum blonde. Her color is really closer to golden blonde.

Step 2: Make the side braids. In the movie, Rapunzel has little side braids that are a form of a french braid. As I am totally inept at braiding, I opted to just do two normal braids and pull them back. The wig I bought had long bangs, so that's what a braided as Rapunzel does not have bangs.

No gravity defying swoop :(

Flowers will be glued to the wig later, so one large flower will hide the short hair.

Step 3: Make hair extensions (these are so the wig can have that really fat braid look from the movie)

As I came to realize, the vast majority of wigs are pretty thin and when braided, will never be able to have that fat braid like the movie if left as is. Hair extensions need to be added to achieve this thickness. This is how I did it:

     Part A: I bought three packages (one for each braid) of loose hair braiding extensions from the web. I got them from Try to buy a color close to what the wig color is. I know, I know, this is nearly is nearly impossible.  This is why I bought more than one wig. 

     Part B: Use clear caulk to make the weft. Make sure to rub it in good and deep as it needs to stick to every hair. Caulk one side, let it dry, then turn it over and caulk the other. Make sure this is done on wax paper so the weft can be easily lifted off the paper. Let the caulk dry completely. This took about a day for me since I put it on pretty thick.

Only side one is caulked here

When dry, trim the caulked hair so there is a nice, straight edge.

     Part C: Make those suckers even thicker!!

To make the braids even thicker, I glued batting into the center of each extension. The extensions will lose some fullness when when braided, so this will help maintain it. Regular craft or Elmer's glue is fine here. 

     Part D: Murder the second wig. Use sewing scissors to carefully cut out the wefts of the second wig. The hair is actually sewed into the wig in long thin rows. Do not just cut the hair off all willy nilly. Keep the wefts intact. Wrap and hot glue these wefts around the top of the extensions you just made. It should look something like this:

Sort of grotesque, isn't it? I tied some string around it intermittently to keep everything neat.

Make sure to reserve some hair. It will be needed it later.

Step 4: Sew the brand-spanking-new extensions into the primary wig.

Try to position them so the hair of the primary wig hair is both above and below the extensions. It is important the mismatched extension hair as concealed as possible.

Step 5: Braid, braid, braid.

Not as easy as it sounds. A friend would be very handy handy at this stage to help. I did not have a buddy and the additional help would definitely saved me much aggravation. I would only undertake this part when you are in a very patient mood (I was not. I'm glad no one there to witness that tantrum).

Step 6: Patch the exposed spots.

At this point, use the extra hair previously saved and the oodles of flowers bought to patch the areas where the mismatched extensions are showing through. Disney did us a great favor by covering Rapunzel's hair with flowers. I used hot glue to attached the hair and flowers.

Step 7: Use some of the reserved hair to wrap where the braid is tied. That's the look she had in the movie.

Step 8: That sucker is heavy!

In all likelihood, the wig is now too heavy to stay on when worn. This can be easily fixed by sewing those little combs into the inside of the wig. One did the trick for me, but two may be even better.

And voila! The wig is done!

Okay, so there are several of things I would do differently. To begin with, I would not use long wigs. I thought it would be easier, but it's not. Much of this tutorial is based on one created by echoing-artemis at She used many medium length wigs. After working with this wig, many medium wigs would have been much easier. My wigs tangled (hahaha, puns) something fierce! 90% of my time was spent untangling the stupid wigs. That was the real magic of Rapunzel's hair! The inability to actually tangle, otherwise, I'm pretty sure her hair would have been a rat's nest, lol.

Echoing-artemis' tutorial can be found here:

Since I did use long wigs, I wish I had bought one more. It really ended up be thin in areas, and was pretty difficult to fill. It would have been nice to have an additional wig's worth of weft to wrap around the extensions. If you can afford it, by extra wigs, you really won't regret it.

Keep in mind, this is not a project you can do in a day. It took me about a week. Also, synthetic hair will get EVERYWHERE!! Just a FYI so you're not horrified.

I know this probably seems confusing. You can post a comment if you have any questions about how I made my wig or refer to the great tutorial I linked to above. Good luck!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rapunzel's Debut!

So I finally got to wear my Rapunzel costume in public for the first time.  I wore it to New York Comic Con and I can't believe how many people loved the costume.  It was so gratifying after the last few months of on and off work on it. I'm sorry my pictures aren't better. They were taken with my cell phone. I hoping to find some more online in the next few days since so many people took pictures. This was the most fun I've had in a while.

And I found another Rapunzel! Her costumes was excellent as well. She apparently had a Flynn floating around, but I never found him.

In case your wondering where the crown is, I plan on being brunette Rapunzel for Halloween, so it will make an appearance there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Next Project: A Cheerful Raincoat

One of my pet peeves about living in the northeast in the fall and winter is the color pallet. Everyone (and I mean everyone) wears black coats. So not only does this make finding your friend in a crowd difficult, it is incredibly BORING to look at. But I'm a rebel and refuse to conform! My next project is a new rain coat. I'll be working with laminated cotton for the first time, so it should be interesting to say the least. Below is the pattern I'll be using and the fabrics I selected last night. The dotted fabric is the lining and is a home decorating fabric to make the coat a little warmer.  I'll keep you posted as the project progresses!

BTW, Comic Con starts tomorrow! I'll be wearing my costume Saturday, so I'll be sure to post pictures as soon as I have them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Great Book

My boyfriend got me the neatest book for my birthday. For a guy that pretty much knows nothing about sewing, he managed to find me the best book about pattern making. :) I plan on making use of this in the near future... Mwahahahaha! (Not sure why I evil laughed there)

For anyone who is considering designing their own patterns, I highly recommend this book.  From what I've read so far, it presents everything in a way that is pretty easy to understand and also explains WHY you do what you do (plus it has lots of pictures!).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coming Soon!

When I return from Baltimore, I will be posting details regarding the wig I made for my Rapunzel costume. I think it turned out pretty well for my first attempt at styling a wig. :)

Tis a Lovely Day for a Faire

Some friends of mine and I spent this past Saturday enjoying the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. I had the chance to wear another one of my projects. This dress was perfectly straight forward as I just followed the pattern, but I still do really like it. I can post the pattern I used another day, as I'm in Baltimore for the next few days.

On the left is my boyfriend as Dr. Who. A perfectly acceptable costume for a Renn Faire since he's a time traveler. He actually got the MOST attention out of all of us, with several people asking for pictures with him. I was only a tiny bit jealous. :)

The two to my right are my friends Courtney and Chris. Courtney made her dress from a pattern found on a website. I made Chris' pants and Courtney made the rest. Chris did sew on his buttons. Yay team effort!

Friday, October 7, 2011

How To Make A Rapunzel Crown/Tiara!

The really cool thing about the crown/tiara is that it can be made almost entirely from materials found at your local craft store.  The only thing I had to find online were those large tear shaped crystals.  And guess what?!  I'll give you the link directly to the site so you don't even have to hunt them down.

To begin! The list of materials you will need:

Craft foam (the sheets you find a craft stores that can come in many different colors.  They run about $.99 a sheet. I went with white.)
Mod Podge
Gold acrylic paint
Those little foam brushes (again, very cheap) to apply said mod podge and gold paint
Craft/jewelry wire (the thickest gauge you can find)
X-acto knife
Cutting board
Hot glue
Poster board (you can probably use paper, but I need something more sturdy)
Lots and lots of bling (clear crystals, red/pink crystals, a few blue crystals, and some faux pearls)

Step #1

Make your stencil!  Using the movie as a reference, draw out how you want the crown to look (this is where you use the poster board). Use your large crystals to trace the holes that will hold them. You want them to fit snugly. Keep in mind, you'll end up cutting the crown out a few times, so it's important that it is consistent.  I made the stencil as only half a crown, since you can just flip it over and voila! A symmetrical crown. Your x-acto knife will be your best friend in this project.  There just no way to do this easily without one.

Side note - At this point figure out the large you want the diameter of your crown to be and cut the stencil accordingly.

Step #2

Use said stencil to trace and cut out two crowns out of craft foam.  I ended up needing to use three, but my large crystals were a bit too large and heavy, so it caused the crown to sag a bit.  Buying smaller crystals should fix that problem.

Step #3

Hot glue is definitely the best thing to use here as it will not come detached unless you actually rip the foam.  I, unfortunately, do not have a picture of step #3.  It somehow got deleted, so bear with me.

Use your craft wire to reinforce one of the crowns you just cut out, especially around the area that will be holding the large crystals and the thin part that will be sitting on your head.  Unfortunately, I bought wire that was too thin, so I twisted pieces together to give it more strength.  Use the hot glue to attach the wire to the crown.

When you feel your crown in sufficiently reinforced, glue the second crown cut-out to the first, making sure it conceals the wire you just attached. You don't wan that wire showing. Hot glue the ends of the crown together to make a proper crown and gently form it into a circle.  You may need bend it a bit here and there to get the wire to the desired shape.

Step #4

Mod podge the hell out of the crown! If you do not put enough mod podge on the crown, the gold paint will not look good as the foam will absorb it.  I ended up using 5 or 6 layers of mod podge.  Do your best to get it into all the nooks and crannies of the crown.  The mod podge will also add some rigidity to your crown while also remaining flexible.

(You can actually see a little bit of wire here in the back where I messed up)

After you are done using mod podge and the crown is dry, you can GENTLY use some super fine sand paper to smooth it out a little bit.

Step #5

You've got the Midas touch! So shiny... You may need two layers of paint. Just let it dry then touch it up.

Step #6

Now for the best part. Bring on the bling!  I glued on all the small crystals and pearls using the mod podge.  It worked well and dried flat and clear.  I used super glue for the large crystals. I put the crystals in place and glued around the edge.  I ended up needing to scrape up some excess, but it worked well.

(Partially bling'ed)

And finished!

You may be asking yourself, "Hey, she said she'd let me know where to buy the tear-shaped crystals!"

Hold your horses, you can find them here:

The crystals are actually chandelier replacement parts!  I used one 3" prism and two 2 1/2" prisms.  If I did this again, I would definitely get smaller prisms as they were just a little too big.  It would be nice if my crown was a bit more delicate looking.  They also made the crown a tad front heavy.

If anything was unclear, I would be more than happy to clarify.

Also, please feel free to share this, but if you post it elsewhere, I just ask you place a link back to here.
Thanks for looking!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So Shiny....

So I'm pretty bored at work at the moment, so I thought I'd post a little teaser...

This is the crown I made from scratch for my Rapunzel costume.  Detailed step-by-step instructions to follow soon. :) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How I Made My Rapunzel Costume

So as you may or may not have figured out by now, I have been working on a Rapunzel (as featured in the movie Tangled) cosplay costume for New York Comic Con. The dress was rather fun to make. As my Mom likes to call it, it's a bit of a "Frankenstein" dress. I don't design my own patterns, generally. Instead, I take elements from existing patterns and make them suit my needs.

So my dress is made from the patterns featured below:

The bodice follows one of the variations of the center pattern pretty closely. Rapunzel is wearing a Renaissance style dress in the movie. The pattern on the left is where I got the design for the puffy sleeves. I did alter them so there would be a bit less "poof." I made an Elizabeth Bennet costume last year for Halloween, so I just happened to have the pattern. Finally the pattern on the right was obviously used for the skirt, however, it makes a skirt far more full then what I was looking for, so I altered it as well. I reduced the size of the panels so they came together without needing to be gathered, thereby removing the fullness.

So the finished dress looks like this: (drum roll please.......)

(Yay custom duck tape dress form! Look at that hem. Beautiful!)

Tadah! I am pretty pleased with it if I do say so myself. :) The "embroidery" is actually painted on the fabric using a stencil I designed and cut from poster board.

I used Jacquard Textile Color fabric paint and I think it turned out pretty well. The center panel of the dress is topped by a layer of chiffon to get the nice deep purple. This was my first time working with chiffon, so that was a bit of a learning experience.

Anyway, I would be happy to answer any questions about the dress. I hope to have a picture of me wearing the entire costume soon.

Next time: Step by step instructions to making your own Rapunzel crown!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Why is He Smiling at Me?"

I would like to start by saying I did not make this AMAZING little guy. When a friend said she could make me a Pascal (my favorite character from the movie Tangled) out of yarn, I never expected him to be so perfect! He is just so wonderful I had to share him.

Update: The technique used to make Pascal is called "needle felting" and he's not exactly made of yarn. If Stacey decides to sell these (and I've told her she should) I'll post a link.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Make a Custom Dress Form

I dread hemming. To me, its the least fun part of a project, and it almost seems inevitable that I mess it up and it ends up crooked. I decided my life would be a million times easier if I only had a dress form. Well, after a search of the internet, I discovered you really can't find anything under $100, and those tend to be terrible (according to product reviews).

What to do... what to do...

Time to whip out the duct tape. Wait... What?!

Apparently, as a miracle material, you can make just about anything with duct tape, including dress forms. I'm not going to take credit for this. I did have very useful instructions that I found on the web. If you're interested you can find them here. Therefore I'll skip the step by step instruction and just give a brief run down.

Couple a tips from someone who did this:
  • Ideally you should really have two additional people help you. One to tape you and one to cut the tape. This uses A LOT of tape. So it can be a bit exhausting if there's only two of you.
  • You can find the fun decorative duct tape in craft stores, but only use it for the outer layer. Do not buy the silver duct tape at craft stores, however. It's much much cheaper at Home Depot and you get a lot more.
In case your curious how it turned out, here's some progress pics:

Body armor!! At this point I really couldn't breath. Super sexy, I know...

Custom indeed! You can really see the body type differences between me and my friend. Can you tell who's taller? Clue, I ran out of pink polka dot tape (though in my defense, the roll was smaller).

I installed a hook in the ceiling and strung it from there. Not quite finished, but I wanted to test it. I'll talk about what the skirt belongs with at a later date. I'll just say it's for my NY Comic Con costume.

And finished! The waist was a little too big. So I cut some slits in the duct tape and pulled them together to make it smaller. All the other measurements were perfect!

Monday, September 26, 2011

To New Beginnings!

Hey everyone,

I thought I would give this blogging thing one another shot. I usually have one (if not several!) craft type projects in the pipeline, and I decided this would be a fun way to not only share what I'm currently working on, but to get some helpful feedback. I am in no way an expert in anything that I do. Usual just play around until a figure it out or just watch lots of YouTube videos for instruction. So if anyone has a useful suggestion on how I can do something better next time, please share.

So what can you expect for my next post? How to make your own homemade (custom!) dress form, complete with slightly embarrassing pictures.