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Happy Birthday Sweet Seventeen

Seventeen years ago, on September 7 2004, I started this blog. Yes, this creative passion project of mine is officially old enough to be in college and donate blood. It began on Blogger in the boom of knitting/craft blogs that fed blogrolls and Yahoo swaps and RAOK groups.  We’ve seen the onset of Ravelry and Worldwide Knit In Public Day, and welcomed pattern sources like Knitty, Craftsy, Twist Collective, St Denis Yarns and others before having to say goodbye to some of them.

With YouTube, Instagram and TikTok flooding the internet with video-based creative content, running a blog feels almost antiquated. I’ve been asked by friends and family why I don’t switch to another format but the truth is… I don’t want to. I love video tutorials. I follow a TON of craft-content YouTubers, and have saved a huge amount of “try one day” crafty TikToks to my favorites list too, so it’s not a critique of the other formats. They absolutely have their place, especially for some techniques or tutorials that can really only best be shown in video. That said, I still think there’s a place for blogs and photo-based project/pattern support.

My “blogaversary” this year falls on the first day of Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year.  I think that makes it perfect timing for a long-overdue blog restart. (I know, I know, I’ve said this before. Shhhh!) Coincidentally I was born on was erev (eve) Rosh Hashanna (we won’t say how long ago!) so Happy birthday to the blog, happy sort of birthday to me, and happy Jewish New Year!

To celebrate 17 years in the public craft domain I’ve scoured the site, my notes, folders, and metadata and picked 17 fun, interesting or long-forgotten items from my blogging history.

1-7

Numbers 1-7 are from the archives.  These are posts even I forgot about!  Some are helpful tips, some are free patterns/tutorials, and all are added to the How To section above.

8

Even when I don’t post regularly I get a steady stream of visitors (thanks!) and I’m always curious to see what search terms bring people my way.  So number 8 is my top referrer keywords from back in my Blogger days.  Funny enough it’s a tie between two completely random things that have almost nothing to do with my site: “cute japanese cartoons” & “hangman”.  I’m guessing the former is related to the time I knit a Japanese boy band, but the latter?  NO idea.

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Number 9 is the results of my top search terms after migrating the blog to WordPress.  Unfortunately/fortunately Google has been encrypting the vast majority of search terms since 2013 so 9771 of my results are “unknown”.  Of the list that remains the top three terms are: “Toothless”, “pocketbook slippers”, and “pocket book slippers”, likely linking back to these two projects (Toothless, slippers).  Wanna know the lowest search result that brought someone my way?  “Long hair cut feet”.  I wonder how disappointed the searcher was to find my post was literally about a long hair transformation??

10

Number 10 is a really cool fact- I’ve had visitors from 170 different countries!  The majority are, unsurprisingly, from Canada and the United States, but rounding out the top 20 are the UK, Australia, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Iceland, Spain, Italy, the Philippines, Israel, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Argentina, Hungary and Denmark.

11-14

Numbers 11-14 are my the top 4 posts since switching to WordPress.  I had a hunch what these were because they keep Pinterest flashing up on my phone.  What I didn’t expect was that the top post would outrank second place by more than double!

15

I’ve spent the last few months poring over my unshared projects and planning out a blog schedule for the year.  For number 15 I thought it would be fun to look through my folders and see just how old my oldest unshared project truly is. There was a lot to wade through but I found it!  Coming in at over a decade old a crafty hack that you’ll see on the block next year dates all the way back to February 2010!

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Looking through all those projects was a fun trip down a creative memory lane.  As number 16 here’s a little teaser of a post I can’t wait to share in full…

Any guesses?

17

And finally, for making down this far: number 17 is a picture of me at the same age as this blog.

Whether you’ve been here since day 1 or day 6204, thanks for being a part of my creative adventures. I run this blog for me, but I love sharing it with you. ♥

*All search terms and other totals above were accurate as of the date of preparing this post.


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Last-Minute DIY Pikachu Costume

All month Henri has been telling me he planned to wear his Creeper costume for Halloween this year.  He’s brought it up many times and even pulled the head out of the dress-up bin in our den to try it on and be sure it still fit.  And then this past Friday his class went to circus school for the day and he came home like this:

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and then told me he wanted to be Pikachu for Halloween.

This guy:

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Um.  Okay.  We had nothing at home I could use to make a physical costume, but I knew we’d be going to Walmart the next day so I told him if we found a set of face paint, I’d buy it and would paint his face like Pikachu.

Saturday we were at Walmart and found some inexpensive face paint, but then he started complaining that he didn’t have Pikachu’s ears.  I thought about it a little and told him we’d be going to the dollar store next; if he found a headband that fit him I’d buy some yellow felt and make him some ears.  He found a girl’s one with a plastic bow attached, but it was yellow and fit him, and they had a pack of felt with yellow in it so we brought it home and I set it aside.

Yesterday I was at my parents’ house for dinner and Henri made a comment about being excited to wear his Pikachu costume to school the next day and I realized – oh crap, Halloween is tomorrow!

Ahem.  Forgive me, my brain has been a little foggy lately.

We got the kids home and to bed and then I sat down and made Henri’s costume.  It was quick, and it was easy, and it used either dollar store supplies or things you may already have on hand, so if you’re stuck for a last-minute costume, here’s how you can whip  this up in plenty of time to go trick or treating tonight.  Grab a friend who’s dressed like a Pokemon Trainer and you can be your very own live Pokemon Go team.  🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

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The first thing I did was carefully cut off the plastic flower on the head band, then I put it on Henri’s head and marked off where the ears should sit.  As it happens we have a large Pikachu doll that was the right size to trace for the ear shape, but you can just freehand it.

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After the ear shape was drawn, I drew a second line about a quarter inch outside it, for a seam allowance.  Then I cut out the shape through all 4 layers of yellow felt.

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The next step is to sew the ears together.  I used yellow thread and a simple running stitch since the ears wouldn’t really be under any tension.  I left the open end edges unsewn for about a quarter inch so I had enough fabric open to gather over the heandband.  If you don’t want to sew, you could also glue the sides shut, but if you do make sure to put the ear side that you drew on on the inside to hide the pen markings.

Next I colored the ear tips with a black sharpie.  The mess you see on the right is the transfer of ink from one side when I flipped it over to color the other side.  I’m showing you this so you can be prepared and cover your work surface.

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Once the tips were colored I stuffed each ear with some loose batting then sewed them over the sides of the headband where I’d previously marked.  I used a blanket stitch to close the open edge but you can use any stitch you like, or glue them shut as well.

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Here are the finished ears.  They look silly off but are kind of cute on.

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(Yes I had to try them).

While I was working on the ears I kept glancing over at the tail on our stuffed Pikachu and realized it wouldn’t take that much more effort to make one too, and surprise Henri.

To start I took some cardboard from our recycling bin and sandwiched it between two sheets of white cardstock with a regular glue stick.  To make sure it dried well I placed it flat on the table and set some heavy books on it.  Once the ears were done the cardboard had fully dried and I was able to trace Pikachu’s tail onto it.

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Then I cut out the tail.  I brainstormed a few different ways to attach it to Henri.  I don’t like the idea of sending a 7yo to school with a safety pin on his butt, so I came up with a belt method.  To make it work I carefully pried back about an inch of the tail section and folded the cardstock on each side outwards.

I used my Spectrum Noir markers to color the yellow of the tail and then colored the lower edge with a black Sharpie, completely overlooking the fact that it’s supposed to be brown, because I was working in dim lighting.  D’oh.  You can use any permanent markers, and do the proper colors.  🙂

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To make the belt section, I first cut two holes into each side flap.  I then threaded three strands of yellow yarn through each side, made a knot to secure them near the top, and then braided them into belts which I could then slide through the belt loops on his jeans and tie at the front.  I made them longer than needed because I didn’t have his waist with me to try them on, and had planned to cut the excess this morning but we ended up just tucking the ends into his jeans.

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And there you have it!  Add in some yellow face paint, bright red cheek circles and a black triangular nose and poof-

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You’ve got one happy Pikachu.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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Looking for more Halloween costume ideas?  Check out here.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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DIY Pirate Accessories From Dollar Store Items

When my boys were little, they wanted to be pirates.  Henri especially – it was either a Viking or a pirate, depending on the day.  Inspired by Jake & the Neverland Pirates they drew treasure maps with large scrawled Xs and hid their toys and told me it was their secret booty.

I wanted to give them some real toys to play with, but all the pirate-themed sets I could find weren’t safe for my rambunctious 3-year-old.  I needed something childproof, and ideally inexpensive.  Finally, after catching him trying to use his sippy cup as a spyglass just like the Backyardigans had on one of their pirate-themed adventures, I had an idea.  One trip to the dollar store and some recycling-bin scrounging later, these fast, easy, and inexpensive toys were born.

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You’ll need:

I used items found locally, but the links above would work just as well 🙂

First up – the binoculars.  (Btw…yes I know pirates didn’t use binoculars.  But I couldn’t be certain my kids would use the spyglass as such, and not a makeshift sword, so I wanted to give them another sight-related option.  Feel free to leave this one out, or use it for a different play idea.  Perhaps an adventurer, bird-watcher or a fun game of I-spy?) For the binoculars you will need 2 clean toilet paper rolls, one cube from a dollar store packet of wooden craft shapes (about the size of a sugar cube), and a roll of electrical tape.  At my dollar store this tape comes in a set of 4 colors all packaged together.  You can use Washi or other decorative tapes on the outside, but I would not use them for the support structure.  If you want to use them, apply them at the end, for decoration.

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Step one is to cover the tubes in tape.  I had done these first, and only later realized I should have covered the exposed edges FIRST, THEN wrapped the sides.  When I get to the spyglass you’ll see I fixed that.  If you want to be smarter than me, fold little pieces of tape over the exposed edges first.  Be careful to not place the inside edge deeper than the width of the tape itself so you can cover it later.  I have enough tubes for 3 sets shown because my neighbor’s young son was also really into pirates and I wanted to surprise him with a set of his own.

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Step two is to cover 4 of the sides of the cube in tape.  Place the tape on one edge of the cube and just keep wrapping around the other 3 sides until you reach the beginning again. You’ll be left with 2 exposed edges that are opposite of each other.  Don’t worry about covering them, as they will be against the tube rolls and won’t show.

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Step three is to connect the rolls to the cube.  Place it a bit in from one edge so it looks like the bridge on a pair of binoculars.  Be sure to place the raw, exposed edge against the tape so the covered sides are what is shown.  Secure well with more tape.

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This is what it looks like when you have three rolls done.  I’d run out of tape, and had to go buy more to get more blue… d’oh.

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This is when I covered the edges and realized I should have done it first.  Oh well.  If you’re like me, and goofed, place short strips around the exposed edges.  This is for aesthetics as well as durability – no open edges means it’s less likely the toy will tear or fray after some hard toddler use.  Be sure to not place the inside edge deeper than the width of the tape itself (see: left roll).  Once you’ve covered the edge completely, cut a length of tape to fit on the INSIDE of the roll, and place it around, as close to the edge as possible, to cover and secure all the short edges (see: right roll).

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Then you can use another length to go around the outside, covering those short pieces too.  (This step is unnecessary if you covered the edges first).

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Here’s a completed pair of binoculars.  The new blue tape I’d bought was darker than the original, so it gave a nice finished look, almost like adjustable lenses.  Even though they’re ‘only’ toilet paper rolls, the rubbery tape gives them a surprising amount of durability.  Don’t get them wet, however, as the inside paper is still exposed.

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Next I made the spyglasses out of paper towel rolls (though you can cut down wrapping paper tubes too).  As you can see, for these I was smart enough to cover the ends FIRST, THEN wrapped the tubes.  It’s easier to see on the white than the blue, but when you wrap, ease the tape slightly sideways so you can move along the tube/roll.  Because the tapes are rubbery, they’ll stretch to where you want them to go, instead of tearing.

Finish covering the tubes by wrapping a piece of tape around the inside of the open edges to cover the short pieces.  Because you did them first here, you won’t have to add more tape on the outside.

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(This picture makes me laugh because it’s such a typical scene in my house – the dining room table covered with mom’s crafty projects, the kids’ placemats and a bag from the latest dollar store run for supplies.  *chuckles*  Plus seeing the boys’ bibs reminds me just how long ago I’d made these.  Those are their “I ❤ Dic Ann’s” bibs.  *grins*)

Once the spyglasses have been covered with tape, use glitter glue (from the dollar store) to paint on whatever decorative touches you’d like.  I went with gold grip handles on mine.  Set them aside to dry overnight, using drinking glasses or other supports to avoid messing up the wet glue.

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For the treasure chests you’ll need some kind of chest-like container.  I was lucky that my dollar store had these little wooden chests, but you can use any container or box you have on-hand, even an old Tupperware.  I bought strips of glitter gem tape to decorate mine, but you can use sticker letters, nail gems, paint, or anything you like.  (Oooh they would look INCREDIBLE painted to look like real, aged chests!)

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Finally, you’ll need some pirate booty.  I got these acrylic diamonds from my dollar store, as well as the strands of ‘Mardi Gras’ beads.  I would have loved to include gold coins, but couldn’t find any on that visit.  This set I found on Amazon has both gems and gold coins together, and would have been a great addition.

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Decorate the chests.  My kids picked their favorite colors of these jewel strips and I cut them to fit along the top edges, but you can do whatever you like to the outside of the chests.

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To secure the booty inside, we’ll be using a high-tack craft glue.  If you have older kids you can omit this step and leave the treasures removable, but since two of my recipients were 3 years old and some of the jeweled edges were sharp or choking hazards, I elected to make my treasures permanent.  Plus this would ensure there was always booty ready to be discovered.  Place a thick layer of glue in the bottom of the case, a little more than you think you’ll need because the wood absorbs some.  Begin placing your chains and jewels down into the glue so that they look like they were piled in haphazardly.  Use more glue as needed to secure any loose bits.  Feel around to make sure any sharp edges are embedded in the glue vs sticking out.  Every now and then hold up or shake the box to see if any bits move or shift, and keep adding glue into every nook and cranny.  I went crazy on the glue because I know my toddler will find any loose edge to play with.  Don’t worry about the white glue showing as it will dry clear.  Finally, once you think your treasures are secure, set it aside to dry at least overnight.  I dried mine overnight then held it upside down and shook it around, then added more glue to any of the bits that moved.  One of the chests was going to be a gift for a toddler and I didn’t want to worry about any accidents on account of it.

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Here’s how my collection turned out.  They made fun play accessories for around the house and costume day at school, and were surprisingly long-lasting.  The boys didn’t manage to get the gems and beads out of the boxes for at least a year and a half, and the chests, the spyglasses and even the binoculars are all still intact in our dress-up bin all these years later.

If you make any of these I hope they give your toddler/child just as much fun as my kids had with them.  🙂

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This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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How to Make Minecraft Steve and Creeper Heads

Update: This tutorial is now also available as a downloadable PDF here. More details at bottom of this post.

It’s October!  That means it’s okay to start talking about Halloween, right?

It is according to Henri- when I woke him up for school this morning he gazed up at me sleepily and grinned “It’s October 1st.”  When I asked why that mattered he smiled even more adorably and said “Because now it’s almost Halloween.”

‘Almost’ is relative.  (He clearly gets his awareness of time from his father).  However his mention of it reminded me that I never showed last year’s costume.  So.  Now, with plenty of time to get ready for this year’s holiday… here’s how I made the boys Minecraft Steve and creeper heads, and how you can too!

how to make minecraft steve and creeper heads

The boys decided for Halloween they wanted to dress up as their favorite Minecraft characters.  They do sell ready-made cardboard heads in stores but they are expensive, and there are a ton of tutorials online.  I looked at a few, then worked things out with what I had on hand, and what I was able to find at the dollar store.

What you’ll need:

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1. Yannick came home with 2 small boxes he’d found somewhere.  Grocery stores often have ones you can ask for, or as a last resort you can buy boxes.

2. I used two-sided tape to tape the outer flaps to the inner ones (not shown) so the inner flaps wouldn’t drop down onto the kids’ heads.  Then I used masking tape to fully tape over the top seam, both to securely close one end of the box, and to make the seams less visible once they were painted.

3. I cut the lower flaps off the boxes and then used the same masking tape to cover the exposed edges.  It would gave a cleaner look, vs the rough look of cut corrugated cardboard, plus was less likely to catch and tear, which could potentially pull off the paint.

4. I divided the 4 sides and top into even grids.  I looked at pictures of the characters online and mapped out roughly how many squares per color/face, and then used a ruler to divide the front (face side) into the grid.  Once the face was set, I carried the markings around the sides of the boxes, and finally the top.  Because the boxes are taller than wide, the top has fewer squares than the sides do.  That’s not what the characters SHOULD look like, but I didn’t think the kids would mind.

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5. Once the boxes were plotted I used a cutting blade (also from the dollar store) to slice out the eyehole sections.  For Steve, only the dark pupil area was cut out.  For the creeper it made more sense with where Henri’s face was to cut out the larger nose/mouth section.  After removing those areas I covered the exposed edges with masking tape.

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6. Finally it was time to start painting.  The paints and brushes were from – you guessed it – the dollar store.  The advantage with the Minecraft characters is that if you have to custom mix your paints to get the right colors, it doesn’t matter as much as it would in most projects if you have enough to complete your painting or if you need to mix more and risk not matching quite right.  The goal is to have an assortment of shades, so blending colors works perfectly.

That said, if you prefer a more accurate version, I have compiled this tutorial into a downloadable PDF (linked at the bottom of the post) which includes full-color screen-accurate charts for both characters, including the hex codes for each color so you can color-match accurately.

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Here’s the four sides of the painted creeper head.  I set the boxes to dry on a paper towel roll to hold them off my counter until the lower edge was dry.  (I held them up the same way while painting too).

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Same goes for our buddy Steve here.  I’d only had three shades of brown paint on-hand to work with, so I blended them together with some black for the hair, and then lightened with some white and a touch of red for the face.  (I’d actually done the face/neck/ears first, so then I could re-use the same paints but darken them for the hair.  That avoided any waste and kept the same unifying overall color tone for the head.)

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I had them both on the counter while I cleaned up the dining room table of all my painting gear.  Couldn’t resist this dramatic shot.  Look out!  He’s behind you!

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7. The next step was to seal the heads with an aerosol can of clear sealant.  I didn’t know what the weather would be like on Halloween and didn’t relish the idea of my hard work being ruined by a few drops of rain or thick snow settling on the kids’ heads.  I moved the heads into the garage and set them on some newspaper to protect the floor as I sprayed, and did a few coats, allowing each one to dry for about 20 minutes in between.  If you have a dry, open area outside or good, even weather you could do this next step outside, but here there was nowhere I could leave them unattended, so I had my garage door open the entire time I sprayed, and then left it about a foot open during the drying time between coats.  Once they were properly sealed and dry to the touch I brought them inside and allowed them to dry for a full day before the final steps. 

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The last bit in getting the masks ready to wear was to block out the open areas.  I bought a gauzy sheer black scarf (also at the dollar store!) and cut off squares large enough to fully cover the open areas.

8.  Using the same double-sided tape I secured the black fabric down around the cut areas.

9. Finally I covered all the exposed edges of the cloth with masking tape, making it doubly secure and hiding any rough, cut edges so they wouldn’t catch or fray.

With that, the masks were complete!  The black gauzy fabric looks opaque from the outside but from the inside it’s so sheer that it’s quite easy to see through it, making it perfect for this project.

From idea to finished product this project took about 4 days.  Halloween was on a Friday last year and Yannick brought me home the boxes on Monday night.  Tuesday I did everything up to/including painting.  On Wednesday night I sprayed the clear coat, and then on Thursday night I stuck the black fabric in.

They were pretty darn excited!

Halloween night they posed for a quick picture inside…

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…then it was time to go trick-or-treating.

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Can’t you almost hear the tick…tick…tick…BOOM? The heads held up beautifully and the boys felt like mini celebrities as they walked down the street and people from all over, even in passing cars, yelled out “Steve!” and “Creeper!” and gave them high-fives.  The heads have now become part of our dress-up box and are still in great condition, and they wore them for ‘Halloween Day’ at their camp this summer.

*Update in 2020: the heads are still going strong! The boys outgrew them of course, but we keep them as nerdy shelf displays and they look exactly the same as they did back when I made them.

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I hope this post shows you how easy and fast it can be to make your own Minecraft Steve and Creeper heads!

You can adapt the tutorial to make any Minecraft mob, and I’ve got an assortment compiled for you here.

As mentioned above, if you’d like an easy-to-print-and-save PDF version of this tutorial, I have made it available on Etsy here. The 9-page PDF includes full instructions with additional details, clear photographs, as well as game-accurate full-color numbered charts for all 5 sides of both character’s heads along with their hex codes for perfect color matching.

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More Minecraft-themed fun:

How to make a Minecraft Enderman head and diamond block trick-or-treat basket

How to make Minecraft Lootbags

How to make Minecraft Mob fondant cake/cupcake toppers

How to make a Minecraft cake

Throwing a Minecraft birthday party

Minecraft Zombie Charts

Minecraft Jack-O’-Lantern Charts

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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how to make a viking vest

Henri has wanted to be a viking for a while now.  Not for Halloween, I mean he wants to be a viking in general.  (It’s either viking or pirate, depending on the day).

Jakob got a light-up viking helmet at the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, and unfortunately when we brought Henri the next day they were all sold out of helmets, so he got a Toothless plushie instead.  (Jakob, you’ll remember, got the one I knitted for his birthday…which I think I never blogged.  Oops).

The kids share the helmet, and last month when it was time to pick costumes for ComicCon (which I think I also forgot to blog…crap) Henri REALLY wanted to wear the helmet and be a viking, but a quick search through the closets revealed that we didn’t have any viking clothes.  All we had even close to a viking vest (like Hiccup wears in the movie) was a gray zippered sweatshirt-style vest.  The kids dressed as Avengers instead but Henri had it stuck in his mind that that was his viking vest and he has worn it non-stop ever since.  He’s worn it to school on back-to-back days, he’s worn it over his fall jacket, he wears it around the house, and on more times than I can count I check on him at night to find that he’s put it on over his pjs and worn it to sleep.

(Something about a 3 year old with tousled sleep hair in footie-pjs, amirite?)

He stops strangers to point out his “viking vest”, but commented a few weeks ago how “it’s not a REAL viking vest, Mommy, because it has a zipper and REAL viking vests have buttons”.  Oh.  Right.  ‘Cus vikings didn’t have zippers.

I promised I’d make him a viking vest, and yesterday I did just that.  I took photos throughout so if you want to make one, you can too.

I used some fur fabric my neighbor gave me, a sheet of newspaper, a sharpie & a pair of scissors, plus a sharp large-eyed needle, black acrylic yarn and white cotton yarn.  The only other thing you need is a vest that fits your child (or you!).

I started by laying the vest on the paper and traced half of it.  I used my finger to push down then traced to know where the neckline in the middle lined up.

I knew I wanted to add some length to the bottom and the armhole so it would fit him longer, as well as lowering the neckline to a v-neck, so I made those changes on my template.

I cut it out and checked against the vest.

I decided I wanted to make the neckline more sloped so marked off the changes on the pattern…

…then cut it out and checked again.

I was happy with the shape so I traced it onto my fabric.  It’s hard to see, but I traced out the half-vest pattern, flipped it and traced again for the other front, then traced it back-to-back, flipped, for a piece to fit the back.  The only thing I didn’t realize is that the fur fabric had a direction to it in which the fur laid flat.  I tried to be as economical with the fabric as possible so didn’t have a choice, but you would probably rather make sure you’re lying the pieces with the fur running from up to down, like natural fur.

I cut the pieces out on the porch which was a great idea because there were bits of fur flying EVERYWHERE.  I used my fingers to fluff up and pick at all the edges to make sure I’d gotten as many stray cut bits as possible before bringing it into the house.

I used a sharp needle and black chunky acrylic yarn from a big-box store to work a blanket stitch edging around each piece.  I eyeballed it, placing the stitches roughly 0.5″ apart, and 0.5″ down into the fabric.

The simple edging really gave the pieces a finished, yet still “handmade by Vikings” look.  (In this light you can see my fur runs in the opposite direction from how the vest will be worn, oops!)

This is the inside of the pieces, for those who like that kinda thing.  🙂

I used the same black yarn to seam the two sides and the shoulders together.  I did something similar to mattress stitch, butting up the two pieces to be joined and catching a loop from each edge all the way along.

Almost done!

Inside shot.

For a finishing touch I used white worsted-weight cotton yarn (dishcloth cotton) and made large stitches across the joined pieces.  This is purely decorative, but makes it look like Vikings really made it! according to my 3 and 5 year olds, and I trust them.

This is Henri’s final costume- a green long-sleeved tee, brown cords, his new vest and the light-up plastic helmet.  I may make a Viking axe if I have time/remember by Halloween.

Henri the Brave!

Back view.

He thought he was dancing for me.  I just wanted to see the decorative stitches.

That’s one happy Viking!


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how to make a poodle skirt

On Tuesday afternoon, my sister Laura called me up out of the blue and asked if I could make her a poodle skirt. No rush or anything…she only needed it by Thursday morning. Being the wonderful, amazing, loving, insane sister I am, I agreed.

The total cost for this project is minimal, about $8 CAD plus the cost of your fabric. I was lucky and happened to be at my cousin Robyn’s place Tuesday night, and she had a huge bolt of pink fabric and I bought some off of her (to be paid for as soon as she tells me how much she wants for it). Your costs may vary depending on the fabric you buy, but the other supplies were cheap. If you already have them at home, it will be even cheaper.

All sewing was done by hand, and the total time for this project was 3 hours.

MATERIALS

1. Fabric. I like the pink poodle skirts with a black poodle, but you can choose whatever color pleases you. White with blue is a nice combination too. The width of your fabric (not the length) will be the diameter of your skirt. Cost- variable. (Here’s something similar on Amazon).

2. Felt. The felt is for the poodle. Choose a piece that is at least as big as the size of the poodle you would like to make. Cost for 1 piece of felt- $0.25 at Dollarama, or get bulk packs

3. Trim. This is for the edging. You can choose whatever kind of ribbon you want, but the wider it is, the easier it will be to apply (it will be used to hide the cut edges of the fabric). The one I chose is slightly elastic, with sequins. It was perfect. You need to buy enough to outline the outside edge of the skirt. To figure out how much ribbon you need, do this formula: measure the diameter of your skirt. Mine was 56″ wide. Multiply this number by pi, or 3.14. I get 175.84″. Convert this amount (inches) into meters or yards, depending on how your ribbon is sold, plus a little extra for insurance. I needed something like 5.6 yards, and my ribbon is sold in packs of 3 yards each, so I bought 2 packs. Cost for 2 packs of trim- $2.00 at Dollarama, or get by the spool

4. Elastic. This is for the waist band. I didn’t buy the really skinny kinds of elastic because I didn’t want the waist band to flip. Buy whatever kind you like, long enough to go around the intended wearer’s waist. Cost for the elastic- $1.99 at BouClair, or get by the spool

5. Thread. For sewing the waist band. I didn’t buy black because I already had, but I didn’t have a pink to match the fabric. Cost for the thread- $1.78 at BouClair or buy an assortment

6. Cord. This is for the leash. You can find all sorts of funky cords at fabric and notions stores. I chose a cord that is actually two thinner cords twisted around each other like a rope. Cost for the cord- $0.39 at BouClair or get a collection of colors

7. Beads (not shown). I chose to make a beaded collar for the poodle, because I have a stash of beads already. Cost for the beads- n/a but if you don’t have any on hand, you can get started with a beading kit

DIRECTIONS

Step 1- Get a Square: Lay out the fabric and find a square. To do this, fold one corner of the fabric up against the other side in a triangle. Cut away any excess fabric, and you will be left with a perfect square (as perfect as the fabric is, anyways).

Step 2- Find the Center: Fold the square back into a triangle, and in half (as a triangle) again. Find the corner where all the folds have in common. With your scissors, make a very small snip off the end of this corner. When you open up your square again there will be a hole in the center of it. This will help you make your circles centered.

Step 3- Trace your Circles: Using 2 pencils and some string, make a homemade compass to trace your circles on the fabric. There are plenty of tutorials on how to do this (here’s one) but long story short is to tie the string to the ends of both pencils, put one on the center hole, and, keeping the string taut, use the other to draw a big circle on your fabric. You want the length of the string to be the length of the radius for your skirt.

For example, my fabric square was 56″ across, so my skirt could have a radius of a maximum of 28″. You can check the length by swinging the pencil around and making sure it doesn’t go off the fabric anywhere. If it does, shorten the string a bit. Once your length is good, draw your outside edge circle. It helps to have someone help you by holding the center pencil in place while you draw.

Repeat this process for the waist band circle. The intended wearer has a 27″ waist (color me jealous) so I calculated what the diameter would be of a circle that was 28″ around (28/3.14=8.917). I added an inch because I wanted the waist band to have a gather. If I would have had wider fabric, I would have added more than an inch so it would hang in nice folds. Anyways, once I knew that my diameter was roughly 9″, I shortened the string to 4.5″ (the radius, or half of the diameter) and drew another circle in the center. At this stage my fabric looked like this:

Step 4- Cut it Out: Using your scissors, cut out both circles. You will be left with a doughnut of fabric.

Step 5- Sew on Trim: I used black sewing thread, and used a simple running stitch to attach the trim around the outside edge of the skirt. This worked great because I didn’t have to hem the edge. All I did was, working on an inch or so at a time, was line up the ribbon over the edge of the fabric with the ribbon centered over the edge. By centering it, even if the edge flipped up a little, no one would see the jagged cut edge of the pink fabric. Don’t worry if your edge is uneven, causing your ribbon to not make a perfect circle around the edge. No one will ever know. Mine wasn’t even at all, and you really can’t tell.

Step 6- The Waist Band: I cut and sewed my elastic into a 28″ circle. I folded the edge of the inner circle over it and sewed it down with the pink thread. I made perpendicular cuts into the fabric at 2″ intervals to give me some slack in turning the fabric back to sew it over the elastic. It gets tight at the end, but simply gather the fabric away from where you are sewing and it will work fine. Once the band is sewn in, adjust the gathers so they are even around the skirt.

Step 7- Poodle: Find a poodle shape that you like, and adjust it to the correct size on the computer. Print the poodle and cut it out. Use a contrasting color (I used an orange colored pencil) and trace the poodle onto your felt. Cut out the poodle from the felt. Find a nice area of the skirt to place the poodle. I used the black thread and a running stitch again to sew down the poodle. I didn’t pin or baste it down first, but you can if you are afraid it will move. I made sure to tuck the end of the cord under the neck first for where I wanted the leash to attach. This hides the end under the poodle.


Step 8- The Leash: There is no set pattern for how to place your leash. You can make it as curvy or as straight as you like. I laid out the cord in a pattern I found pleasing. I used tiny stitches to catch the cord at various spots to hold it in place.

Step 9-The Collar: The collar can be as fanciful as you like. There can be no collar. If you have glitter pens, you can use them for both the collar and the leash, if you like. I had spare beads so I made a beaded collar the width of the poodle’s neck, and sewed that in place.

Et voila- the finished skirt. You can jazz it up with some music notes if you like, and can wear a crinoline underneath it too. For the complete look, wear your poodle skirt with the following:


-white t-shirt, preferably with a collar
-short white socks
-tennis sneakers
-black wide belt over the skirt and t-shirt
-ponytail (you can use some of the excess skirt fabric for a hair bow)
-light pink lipstick
-pale or no eyeshadow
option: tie a short scarf around your neck

Have fun rockin’ around the clock at your next sock hop!

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