My contribution to Elsaween

I managed it. I got the costume done October 30, thus meeting my self-imposed deadline of no Halloween sewing on the actual holiday. Not going to lie, I cut it close. I finished the skirt hem at 10:50 last night, but at least the stinking thing is done. Okay, not fair because my daughter is really excited about this, but OMG I hate costume sewing. I think it’s a combination of cruddy fabrics, the deadline problem, and lack of enthusiasm. If I don’t feel like sewing clothes for a few months, it’s really not a problem because I have enough items in my wardrobe to cover it. However, if I don’t get the Halloween costume done for trick or treating, my kid has nada, and I don’t do well on projects under those circumstances. Happily, I did outsource the boys’ outfits to various Megalomarts and don’t regret it one iota.

Hmm, I should have used a longer sleeve. I think this one is the size 6 and I should have cut out the longer 7 length.

For this project I used Simplicity 1233, the licensed Disney version, as it was on sale when I bought patterns and fabric. I did look at McCalls 7000, their Winter Princess pattern, and it’s pretty much identical as far as the Elsa version is concerned, so if you really have a yen for Frozen costumes in your household, you’re covered. My daughter decided she wanted to be Elsa even though I think she likes Anna better, but whatever, this took less fabric, and Jo-Ann has for months had the helpful carousel of fabrics for Winter Princess-ing, but nothing suitable for Anna’s outfit. I used an ice blue satin for the skirt, scary sequined satin for the bodice and the weirdest netting ever for the yoke, cape, and sleeves. None of the chiffons were a great match at the store I was at and there is no way in hell you’ll ever catch me appliqueing snowflakes to anything. So I found this lightweight ice blue with silver threads in it fabric that on the bolt seemed suitable. It wasn’t until weeks later and I’m ready to cut out the cape that I figure out that the fabric is netting with metallic strands meandering throughout the netting to create the effect. Now, it’s perfect for the visual effect that I was aiming for, but not so much fun to sew.

I got stuck for quite some time on the sequin removal project, though once I figured out which thread to get with the seam ripper to pop the sequins off, it got faster. It also turns out that I could have just sewn right through the sequins, but with the cheap costume satin base, I wanted French seams everywhere I could. The cape is attached at the seam for the bodice and yoke, which meant that pretty early on, I was hemming the side hems for the cape, which miraculously behaved, but tripped me up later when it was time to do the sleeve hems. The neckline finish for this is bias tape and given that I’m REALLY bad with using bias tape, I figured why not.

Yeah, that’s why not. You can see the raw edges of the tape through the netting.

The directions are clearly written for a fabric with some opacity, which I didn’t have, and I was going to be unhappy with the result. I know, I should just lower my standards, it’s just a costume after all, but if I’m going to be putting this much work into it, shouldn’t it at least look sort of right? Anyways, I had the crease of the tape sewn to the right side of the neckline at 3/8” and I didn’t want to rip it out. So I fiddled with my fingers until I made it look nice. I started with ¼” single fold tape and made it into double fold and then flipped everything to the inside, stitched along the edge of the bias tape. I love the delicate look of it all folded down to just a hair more than an eighth of an inch, though looking back, if I had gamed it out in the first place, I would have sewn it to where I could have folded the tape to the outside for a slightly neater appearance than I achieved with the netting over the bias tape.


I knew that I wanted to hem the sleeves before attaching them to the rest of the dress, but let me say that it was no fun at all. I initially tried a rolled hem, which was wavy and stretched out of shape and I was not happy with the result. I then decided to use the same bias tape to bind the edge, but again, it wanted to stretch out of shape, though my bias binder foot did a pretty good job considering the scale I was working in. So I decided to do the exact same bias tape turned to the inside finish as the neckline, which allowed me to control the crosswise stretch of the netting. I went straight to that solution with sleeve number two, which was never stretched out of shape, but the difference between the two sleeves is minimal.

Yeah, that darning work isn’t hiding itself…

Well, minimal except for the big scissor gash I sliced into the upper right sleeve. I was trimming the sleeve seam allowances when I wasn’t careful enough and yikes. I had enough fabric to cut another sleeve, but it was 8:30 and I wanted to be out from in front of the sewing machine by 9:00, so I got creative. Using a cut scrap I placed it behind the slice and then zigzagged down the cut netting. My first go didn’t catch both sides, so I stitched again, giving me a triangle that I’m hoping holds everything together. From the heights of French seams to the depths of this half-assed repair job, how quickly I fall when I’m ready to be done. I had my daughter try on the dress, and it’s a little bit long on her. I want her to be able to wear this outfit again next Halloween, so instead of chopping off the excess length and making the called for rolled hems, I just eyeballed the cape and machine stitched it at 2 inches. The skirt hem had too much fullness for that, so I turned it up the needed 2.625” and used a catch stitch around the entire hem to sort of ease in the fullness. I’m not a fan of my hand stitching, but I will accept that the more I’ve been using it, the better quality the stitching is. I choose not to press the hem as I’m going to need to let it out next year and warned my daughter not to put her foot through it. It’s not the best secured hem I’ve ever done, but it’s certainly close to good enough.

And now that this is off of my plate, time to return to sewing for me! I need snuggly winter clothes and have several cuts of wool jersey that need to get out of the stash and into my closet.

Bonus pic! Check out that lack of seam matching at the waist seams. I just wanted to be done and picking stitches out of the netting wasn’t going to happen so the zipper wasn’t going to be redone.  I truly am capable of better work than this.


Remind me that Halloween sewing is the bane of my existence

So remember how much I’ve been putting off dealing with my daughter’s Elsa costume? Well, it’s still in pieces. I have the skirt and bodice pieces cut out and ready to sew together, except the bodic pieces are sequined. Easy, I just need to remove the sequins from the seam allowance, right? Ugh. This is what an hour and change’s worth of work gets me:

Did I mention that I have less than a week to finish this?

As part of my avoiding dealing with costume sewing, I’ve been staying away from my sewing machine altogether. Enter the need for another quick knitting project. My best friend is getting married in two weeks and I wanted to give her a little token gift just for her. I have made this cowl before out of the exact same yarn (original, aren’t I?), and I cast on last weekend and with tons of time in front of the television, I get this finished today. A skein of aran weight yarn finished in a week is about the fastest I knit, and I’m pleased with the outcome. I hadn’t realized how much better my knitting has gotten just in the last year, but my Ravelry notes tell me that I made my first version just after Thanksgiving last year, taking two weeks to finish. I really liked it and wore the cowl all winter, but the wonky Kitchener stitch bothered me a bit. This time around, it’s pretty hard to find. I used Cascade Highland Duo, a 70% alpaca/30% merino wool yarn. It’s really soft and I have enjoyed knitting with it. The yarn is a loose woolen spun, which frankly, isn’t my first choice. I like the yarn’s halo for this project, but I don’t know that I would want it for anything else. Also, I would worry about the durability of the yarn, but that’s because at heart, I’m only a knitter for the sweaters and there is no way this yarn would hold up to any abrasion. Of course, just as with sewing, matching the right pattern to your material is key.


Also, with the change in seasons, I’ve been pulling out my completed projects from this spring, and I figured I would revisit which ones have been successful for me in my everyday wardrobe. My Burda wool skirt is a workhorse. It gets along well enough with most of the tops I have and is a great warm alternative to jeans. My only issue is that the waistband wants to slide down my torso, and I should have made it an inch smaller in circumference. My only non cowl necked Renfrew is this close to being sent off to Goodwill. I have grown to dislike the fit in my upper torso and the fabric is merely adequate and with enough other tops around, I’m done with it. Weirdly, the red rayon jersey one using the same pattern pieces fits much better, but I suspect that’s a function of drapiness of the jersey camouflaging the fact that I traced the wrong size for every Renfrew I made last spring. Oops. Live and learn.

A single sock

Couple of weeks ago, I wandered into my favorite local yarn shop. Did I need more yarn, no. Did more yarn beg my Mastercard permission to come home with me? Of course it did. However, this is not a tale of that yarn; this is where I confess that I dislike hand dyed yarn. I know, gasp, the horrors, right? It all started with me figuring out last year that I could in fact knit not terrible pairs of socks. The sock yarn section always has these pretty variegated or tonal skeins that look gorgeous on the shelf. In this case, I was further enchanted by the idea that the dyer was from near my hometown and the color was to die for. So I spent a ridiculous sum for this single skein with which to make a pair of socks. Alas, months later I started to make said socks.


Let me just say, that pretty green tonal dye job that looked wonderful in the skein and even better wound into a ball was knitting up like a turd. A green turd. I was giving it the side eye about 4 inches into the sock when my dear husband looks at what I have in my hands and asks, “Is it supposed to look like that?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s splotchy. Is there something wrong with your yarn?”

“No, I think it’s supposed to look this.”

“Oh. <giant pause> That’s dumb.”

Know what? I’m afraid I have to agree on that. To boot, the yarn with its silk content doesn’t feel as nice as the boring dye lotted Cascade Heritage Silk that I used to make those purple socks last winter*, so it’s been a less than fun tactile experience. Needless to say, despite me starting this project back in June, I just now have completed the first sock.

We won’t mention how goofy it is lying on one’s kitchen floor to get a picture of a sock on one’s own foot.

I wouldn’t have even bothered with this much if the one clerk who is totally my enabler at the LYS hadn’t urged me to just pick it up a little here and there and it would be done. She was right. Hopefully the next sock is faster.

*yeah, about those socks, they felted up in the laundry despite the superwash merino content. I don’t know if I’ll give the Heritage Silk a chance again, but the regular Heritage with the nylon content launders like a rockstar, and I will definitely be using that for future socks.