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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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My First Costume: SuperHero

Presenting my latest pattern, now available both through Knit Picks or Ravelry.

My First Costume: SuperHero

Some of you may remember the Superman costume I’d knit for Jakob when he was a baby.  This is my update of that pattern.

The pattern is knit toe-up, in (mostly) one piece.  The legs are knit first then joined for the briefs, then the sleeves are knit and finally the body, which is knit in one piece from the yoke up.  I included short-row shaping in the diaper area to give more room and a better fit.

There are photo instructions on how to make the optional cape.

The Power Princess chart is included…

as well as the chart for your little SuperStar.

Not only that, but I provided a blank chart and instructions on how to personalize the pattern, so you can put your own image, your child’s initial or anything you like!  (That’s how I made the original Superman version…I’m just saying…)

I was very lucky to have my friend’s daughter Maya model for me, and her father Avi take the photos.  (If you like his work, he is an amazing Montreal-area photographer.  You can see more of his work on his website).

I hope you like the pattern.  I have been having requests for it ever since Jakob’s version came out, but life got in the way and it wasn’t until now that I was able to get it out into the world.  I would have loved to have had it ready in time for Hallowe’en this year, but at least now it is out there and ready, early enough for next year.  (So you’ve got a whole year to knit!)

Enjoy!


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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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