Black and White

You may remember that Daughter has been in ballet for many years. Young Son (yes, the tall one) joined her a few years ago as a “lift partner.”  (SIDE NOTE:  He recruits other young men to help by asking them what they do on Thursday night and would they like to “work out and pick up girls?”  Gets them every time.)

Sometimes I help with costuming.  Usually it is just for my own children, but this year other help was needed.  I did serious renovations on the costumes for the two lead dancers.  I don’t have any pictures of that process (I am terrible about taking pictures in the flow of creativity) but I do have pictures of another part of the effort:  Headpieces.

It is traditional for the Black and White Swan Princesses to have headpieces that usually involve crowns, feathers and a “beak” that goes over their foreheads.  These items are very expensive, at least $200, but easily $400, each.  Yikes!

With only a little shopping and a lot of help from the big pile of junk, these headpieces were created for about $25 total.  Not bad for materials.

Hopefully the dancers will be pleased.



Possibles Bags

Daughter and Young Son are going on a Pioneer Trek for summer camp this year.  Yes, they will spend three days pulling handcarts across barren stretches of Wyoming for FUN (and inspiration)!

Truly, it is fun, in its own way, and something every young person possible ought to do at least once.


A necessary item while on trek is a “possibles bag.”  The name comes from early mountain man explorers and was intended to hold “every possible thing you might need in an emergency.”

These were constructed from Husband’s worn out jeans and will hold sun screen, chap stick, water bottle, handkerchief, snacks, extra socks and bandaids…you know, the necessities of life on the trail.


Not very exciting, I guess, but sturdy and useful.  That kind of sewing for the ones we love is good, too.

Christmas For The Grands: Twin V.

We are the happy grandparents of 5 (Second Son just announced that #6 is on the way).  I may not always be able to give them a grandma-made-it-Christmas, but at least this year that is the plan.  Here is the first finished item:  A fairy dress with matching baby doll skirt for Twin V, who is 3-1/2 years old.


The bodice is made of a 6″ stretch crochet tube purchased at Joanns.  Other than that it is all hand-me-down fabric and leftovers.

The results are so fun and happy!  I just wish she were here to model it. Ah, Christmas comes slowly for children and eager grandmothers.

Summer 1964–Now THAT’S A UFO

In one of the recent house cleanouts, I found a lovely bundle of fabric–Linen and butterflies.  How could I leave it?  It was so very pretty I set it aside, hoping there would be enough there to make something.

This last week I got the bundle out and unrolled it.  It had been cut, but the pattern pieces (not the pattern package) were still there.

A brief internet search showed me that Simplicity 5409 was this dress. Publication date 1964.

It was in a size I was certain would fit Daughter.  So, nothing to do but sew it up.


Ta-dah!  A lovely summer shift.


Only 51 years in the making.


We had to add some darts to better fit Daughter’s shape, but overall I think the effect is lovely.


UFO no more!

A No Sew Solution

I found this red formal for $1 at a garage sale.  Right size for Daughter .  What I missed at first glance was the resourceful no-sew solution the previous owner had used to hem the dress.

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Sorry for the strange shot, but I was laughing really hard when Husband took the picture.  You have to give them points for creativity.

Yes, that is packing tape and safety pins.

Why Quilters Can Make Costumes

It has been said of quilters that they take perfectly good fabric, cut it into hundreds of little pieces, and sew it back together again, and think that is perfectly normal.

Well, sometimes costumes are a lot like that.

I hesitate to even show these pictures as they are not very good and the work is still in progress, but I was struck this afternoon by how much I love my children and how many small pieces there are in these costumes.


Young Son is the wizard.


Daughter is the cowardly lion.

The wizard hat is a lot of little pieces  of assorted green satin and velvet sort of foundation pieced onto heavy interfacing.  The lion costume has nearly 400 separate pieces of tulle in 8 different colors.

They both look terrific, but, then, I am probably biased.

There are many things about being a parent I am probably terrible at, but I hope my children will always remember that I chose to spend time on them and the things they cared about.  It isn’t always perfect.  There are sometimes harsh words and hurt feelings and stress, but I still hope that somehow out of all the little moments we make a life of worthwhile memories.

Little pieces into bigger pieces and patterns–quilters can make many things, including costumes.

The Head Munchkin

The costume craze continues-this time it is a Head Munchkin costume for Daughter.


We started with a thrift store find–it was $10.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was probably a dress for a fancy dance of some kind (shudder).  We can’t imagine wearing it for that purpose.

But, it had potential!  The basic fit was right, the zipper worked, the corset was already installed and it was the desired color scheme.


First we picked off all that lacy trim and beading.  As bad as it was to take out, I can’t imagine how hard it much be to sew it on.  By hand.

We were looking for hot pink, lime green and polka dots.  Most of this came from my Big Pile of Junk (all the handy bits and pieces none of us can bear to throw away).  We bought the narrow ribbon and the buttons.   The polka dots were created with fusible web on a cotton/poly solid scrap.  Don’t look too close but the buttons are attached with hot glue.  Plus she has on black leggings.  Those will NOT be part of the costume at performance time.  🙂


Total cost:  $14.


She will be waving Dorothy down the yellow brick road surrounded by all of her little munchkins (3-year old dancers) in June.  I can’t wait!

Off To See The Wizard

Forgive the sudden flurry of posts, but spring break has provided so much time for creativity that many “partials” became “finishes.”

This one wasn’t even a “partial.”  It was just a hope.  As some of you know, my children participate in ballet.  Daughter has danced for many years and Young Son started three years ago.  The studio always needs men to dance with the young women in the big summer performance.  It took some talking, but he finally agreed.  Now he steadily recruits other boys by saying, “What are you doing Thursday night?  Want to work out and pick up girls?”


This year he is the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz.  Because of Young Son’s unusual size (6′ 8″), all costumes must be custom made.  This season I started with the HAT!  (Wizards must have a great hat!)


I am going for a vaguely Victorian look.


The hat it build on a foundation of heavy interfacing.  A really good person would have pictures of the process, but I get very caught up in the creative process and only come up for air at the end.


So, ta-dah!  A HAT!

Many more costume components coming soon to a studio near you (at least relatively near–thanks to the internet).

REFASHION: Men’s Shirt To Springy Play Dress

This was a beautiful men’s shirt–except a three-corner tear on the back shoulder.  And, really, for my men it was too small.  And too…well…too the way it is–the embroidery.  And the stripes.  And the colors.


But, it looked like it could be something pretty cute.

So I recut and trimmed and stitched and created this….


Springy Play Dress. With accompanying skirt for the baby doll.

I am mailing it to granddaughter for a fit check.  If it works, or can work with alterations, there are  two more shirts begging to be made into something similar!

Wrong Size. Perfect Color.

I spotted this at a yard sale about a month ago.  Oh. My. Heck.  That is one beautiful shirt.  But, when I pulled it out of the pile, it was obviously the wrong size. (Sorry for the picture quality.  I am not a master of selfie photography.  Thank goodness.)


But, it was one dollar.

And….it came home with me.

Surprisingly, the refashion was fairly easy.  The shoulders were already the right width, which simplified things considerably.  I used an existing shirt that fit well and laid it over this one to mark a cutting line.  Two quick seams and a serger later, ta-dah!  A new shirt.


I did decide to add a center dart to make the back fit better.  It is long, but not worth redoing the hem for.  We’ll pretend it was supposed to be that way.


I love my “new” shirt.  And, it came with a little something extra.


As it is 100% cotton and good quality fabric, I cut charm squares from the fabric removed.  What a bonus–perfect color shirt and some quilting parts included!