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Pikachu Costume Complete

I blogged earlier this month about how I was in the midst of sewing a Halloween costume for Dakota. To recap: I decided on making a pikachu costume by modifying a Simplicity costume sewing pattern. I was able to sew the body of the costume out of yellow fleece by just following the pattern instructions, so what was left was to modify the ears and add a face, tail, and back stripes. Modifying the ears was pretty straightforward:

ear pattern piece

I just drew right on the tissue paper to extend the original ears a bit. The red lines are for where I wanted to switch from yellow fabric to black.

I needed to move the ears farther back on the hood to make room for Pikachu’s face, so I pinned them on and then spent a while shifting little tissue paper circles around on the hood until I had everthing more or less where I wanted. George the stuffed animal served as my costume model:

face placement

I used the exact same fleece fabric in different colors for the eyes and cheeks, and just left the edges raw since fleece doesn’t fray. I hand sewed them (and the brown stripes for the back of the costume) in place using a running stitch in a matching color thread. This actually worked amazingly well and went pretty fast, even with my sloppy hand-sewing. You have to get your nose up close to even really see the individual stitches, and even then the unevenness doesn’t really detract in any way. And as advertised, no fraying! I may just use fleece instead of felt for future craft projects, since I’ve had bad experiences with felt coming apart when I try to sew with it. And actually I probably could have machine sewed the pieces directly on, but the pieces were so small it probably would have taken me longer to wind the bobbins and thread the machine than just sewing it by hand.

Finished pictures in a moment, but first I want to talk about the tail. After much waffling I decided to add a pipe cleaner inside for support and make it detachable from the costume. Here’s my free handed sketch that I used as a pattern:

tail pattern

And here’s the finished tail:finished tail

I machine sewed the two sides together inside out along the top, turned it right-side out and inserted the pipe cleaner and bent it in the right spots, and then hand sewed the bottom closed. In hindsight I probably should have machine sewn the whole thing right-side out and left the raw edges visible, because trying to get all those sharp corners to turn right-side out cleanly was a pain in the butt. I attached two yellow buttons to the tail, one at the top corner and one at the base, and attached two loops of yellow cord to the body of the costume.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the tail was a bit of a flop, literally it just flopped over to one side while attached. Ah well, I did get a few cute pictures with it on, after detaching the top button:

pikachu tail front

Oh, for the mouth I just hand-sewed using a back stitch, and then I sewed another line of back stitches right next to it to make it thicker. Anyway, here you can see the back of the costume:

tail back

And then I took the tail off and we went to various Halloween parties. 🙂

Here’s a close-up of Dakota sitting. The costume is a little large on her, especially since it was warm enough that she didn’t need to wear much underneath it:

pikachu sitting

And here she is still not quite crawling, but at least demonstrating that she has decent mobility in this thing:

pikachu crawling

In that picture you can see the little yellow cord loop where the tail was attached to her butt.

The fleece was a little warm during the day since the temperatures got up into the 70s, but she was able to wear the costume pretty comfortably for pretty long periods without complaint. I liked the way the elastic along the top of the hood worked out, it kept the hood mostly in place without really getting in her way. And in case it wasn’t already obvious, I really loved working with fleece, and I definitely plan to use it again in future projects. The tail was a little bit of a bummer, but this isn’t my first time dealing with floppy costume appendages, so I wasn’t at all surprised by the failure and I don’t think the missing tail really detracted from the overall costume much at all. Now I can’t wait for next year!

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Quick Decorating

I was totally going to blow off my second post for this week, but it’s way too early to be failing at my two-a-week goal! But I’m just going to keep this simple.

I haven’t been feeling very inspired for decorations lately, but I’ve acquired enough over the past few years to have a whole storage tub labeled “Fall Decorations”. So right before heading down to LA I pulled the tub into the living room and suggested that Julie throw something together. Here’s what she came up with:

Halloween Decorations

This built-in shelf is probably going to be the only spot for dedicated decorations at least until we get past the toddler stage, so I actually went in after she was done and squeezed some non-fall related stuff in to make room elsewhere in the house for more practical stuff.

Here’s the front patio:

Halloween front door
Hopefully those pumpkins will actually get carved, because that’ll give me material for another blog post. 🙂 The chrysanthemums already lost all of their flowers, (sigh, I probably didn’t water enough after potting them) so I pruned them and they get to just be little bushes for the time being.

I’ll probably bring out the pumpkin head lights for the 31st, but seriously, I’m just not getting the decorating bug so far this year. So thank you Julie for making it happen!

And since I must include a photo of the baby, here she is this morning trying avocado for the first time. I’m not sure she likes it. (yet)

Baby avocado

Costume Sewing Progress

I had entertained vague notions of sewing a Halloween costume for Dakota, figuring I had better let my creative juices loose now because in a few years she will have an opinion on the matter and insist on being whatever the equivalent is at that point of Rapunzel from Tangled. (My non-scientific poll of three different little girls has determined that 100% of them want to be Rapunzel. Sigh.) But I hadn’t thought seriously about it until another mom at a playgroup we attend turned to me and asked what Dakota was going to be, adding that she had already bought a ladybug costume for her daughter. This was the last week of September, and my first reaction was, “What? So early…” But then again it’s not really that early if I actually want to sew something. So Dave and I had a Very Serious Discussion about what Dakota should dress up as, and we settled on… Pikachu!

I searched around and found a Simplicity pattern (1767, in case you’re interested) for a hooded, footed baby costume that had a few generic baby animal variations, figuring I could modify the ears and add eyes and cheek circles to the hood. I went out and bought some bright yellow anti-pill synthetic fleece (that was luckily on sale) and small amounts of the other necessary colors in the same material. The pattern also calls for a zipper (gulp) and some elastic:

sewing supplies

I’m not a sewing expert or anything, but I have mostly gotten over my fear of using patterns. This one is just about my speed: two halves of a front, two halves of a back, two sleeves and two halves of a hood:

cutting fabric

In terms of other trickiness, the sleeves have elastic in the cuffs, and the “feet” are made with a single pleat, pretty straightforward. The pattern even helpfully suggests using a “narrow zig-zag stitch” for fleece fabrics. I wasn’t quite sure I was using the right setting on my machine, but it produced a zig-zag, and after a few practice runs on some scrap fabric I figured I had it close enough, so off I went!

sewing progress

I’ve never worked with fleece before, but it doesn’t fray or unravel, and it seems to slide through the machine pretty evenly, so I’d say I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how easy it has been to work with.

I’ve also never actually had to attach a zipper before. I avoided it on my wedding dress by kludging together a lace-up back and duct taping myself into it right before the ceremony. 😀 But miraculously I still have the zipper foot that came with this sewing machine! I didn’t do the most even job of sewing the zipper in, but I think the fleece is poofy enough to mostly hide the unevenness:

zipper

At this point I could finally see how it was fitting:

test sizing
A little big, but the way she grows it may fit her in two weeks. 😉 Anyway, now I have to attach the hood, and then I have to start working on the Pikachu-specific stuff. I think I have the ears modified to what I want. Should I add a tail? It has a pretty distinctive zip-zag, so I would probably either need to use craft foam or wire to make sure it retains its shape.

Well, if all else fails she can just be a fuzzy yellow monster. 🙂

Halloween Decorations

This post is a little late, but you know, that’s me. 🙂 We managed to start decorating a little earlier this year than last year,  and we managed to add a few more decorations this year. Mostly we decided that our front walk is a bit dark, so we found some light-up decorations to spice things up. We put up some orange and purple “xmas lights” lights over the garage:

They were only up for for less than a week, but since we left up the gutter hooks from last xmas, they were very quick to put up and take down. And it gave Dave and excuse to see how the solar panels are doing.

Our other illuminating addition was a series of cheap plastic light-up pumpkin heads on stakes:

They served their purpose admirably. And that reminds me! I transplanted the allysum and chrysanthemums to border the front walk here. The chrysanthemums  had already been transplanted earlier this year in around the lavender, but the lavender suddenly decided to have a growth spurt so things were looking crowded. They’re still going strong, though they are overdue for some deadheading. Hurray for “annuals” when it never freezes. 🙂 Here’s the front walk from the other end:

That one allysum in the front looks like it won’t survive the transplant. And I need to sweep the walkway. Sigh. But everything was looking pretty halloweeny, huh? Here’s a closer view of the front patio:

It looks more or less like last year, though we did upgrade the ghosts from the “rags and sharpie” things we had before:

And we did add a last-minute giant spider web to go with our giant spider:

I wish I could say I was talented enough to tie together a spiderweb out of yarn, but I found it in the clearance section already pre-tied. Much easier.

Anyway, we had a good halloween and we have some leftover candy to enjoy, so we’re all happy here.

Last Minute Decorating

We weren’t really feeling inspired for most of the month, but yesterday in a fit of motivation we decided to go out and buy a few Halloween decorations, since what was left on the shelves was on sale anyway.

Dave insisted on the giant spider. It’s pretty cute and fluffy actually.

I really wanted to hang some ghosts, but all we could find were giant ghouls (or were they ghasts?) and plushy ghosts. So instead I decided to use the mad skills I learned in preschool arts and crafts, and make ghosts out of some rags:

Oh yeah. Scraps of an old t-shirt, some yarn, and a black sharpie equals cheap-o hanging ghosts. I’m sure they’ll look cooler in the dark. Or possibly they won’t even be noticed. 🙂