Saturday, January 31, 2015

A couple of DIY's: Totoro print on an existing dress and a Gilmore Girls tunic for my friend

Lately I've been feeling tired all the time. I have 8AM classes almost every day, and I'm stressed out.

So what better way to cheer myself up than a cherished relic from my past? That is, Studio Ghibli's Tonari no Totoro (My neighbor Totoro).

The movie came out when I was 2 years old, and my first memory of watching it is probably around age 5. I remember that my aunt and uncle had the movie on VHS (yeah, I'm that old), and every time I went for a visit I wanted to watch it. So the movie Tonari no Totoro has been a part of my life for... 23 years now? Wow. It's about time I made something related to it!

This time, I didn't make the dress myself from scratch - it's from Goodwill and it cost me 3,25€. It's this nice, thick stretch jersey in midnight blue. I simply added a picture on the hem:

That kind of silhouette is easy to add to existing clothing, and it gives clothes such a nice, personal touch. :)

Simply draw the design you want on a piece of self-adhesive book cover, cut out and attach the stencil onto the fabric. The stencil can of course be made of other kind of material, like cardboard, but I've found that the book cover plastic is the best because it's stuck on the fabric and hence there's no risk of it moving while you paint over it.

Remember to put something on the other side of the fabric to prevent the fabric paint from seeping through and on the other side of the dress/skirt/shirt or whatever you're painting. I usually put old magazines or newspapers inside the dress when I paint over the stencil.

Once the paint is dry, iron over it without steam for a couple of minutes. Easy as that, and now you have a unique piece of clothing that no one else in the world has!


So, although I didn't sew that Totoro dress, I did sew something else a few days back.

My friend Stormiina is a huge Gilmore Girls fan. She's probably watched the series ten times over and has a Gilmore Girls quote ready at hand for pretty much every situation. (Whereas I've watched the series once... perhaps I should watch it again. Team Logan all the way, btw. Or occasionally Team Jess.)

So I bought this sheer black stretch jersey from Goodwill for 1€ and made her a tunic with a quote.

Oy with the poodles already

"You never hear the word 'oy' and not smile. Impossible. Funny, funny word. -- If you put oy and poodle together in the same sentence, you’d have a great new catch phrase." - Lorelai

Stormiina doesn't know that I made her this, so that's why I'm scheduling this post to be published in a few hours, after I've given it to her. :D

With that said, I'm going to to get ready for a nice little get-together at Stormiina's house, and by the time you read this, I'll be over there, eating snacks and drinking a few well-earned ciders. ^_^ (I sure hope the tunic fits the recipient! :D)

So, what do you think of the Totoro print and the Gilmore Girls tunic top? :)


Saturday, January 17, 2015

A few quick projects: Harry Potter Deathly Hallows tunic and Sherlock skirt

My studies caught up with me again. Suddenly there's an exam coming up next week and all other kinds of stuff happening. But I've managed to squeeze in a few quick sewing projects.

I bought this striped knit jersey from the Goodwill store for 2 euros and used about a half of it to make a loose-fitting tunic shirt. The tunic looked a bit dull on its own, so I simply made a Deathly Hallows symbol stencil and painted it on the tunic.

Here's the result:

If you want a tutorial for the tunic, ask for it in the comments and I'll make one. :) Otherwise, it's just going to be these two result pics.


Another piece of fabric I also bought from the Goodwill for 2 euros was this green-brownish-black sort of houndstooth/checkered one:

Somehow, it reminded me of Sherlock. Maybe it's the color, or the pattern, I don't know, but something about it seemed to scream Sherlock.

...It might be the hat. You know, since it's almost the same color and design. :D

So anyways, Sherlock. I got a request to do Sherlock in my last post and I'd wanted to do something Sherlock-y with that fabric a while anyway. But I also wanted it to be something that I would actually wear. Because I am mostly a dress/skirt person, I decided to make in into a skirt, because I feel like all I've been making lately is dresses. Not that there's anything wrong with making ALL THE DRESSES, but still. One should change it up a bit every now and then to keep things interesting.

I wanted a print on the skirt, so then it'd have to be half-circle for the design to show, but also so it'd be a-line enough so I'll wear it. I love a-line skirts and dresses. Bodycon/pencil is not my thing, because it makes me look like I have curves in all the wrong places.

So, I cut out a half-circle piece and slit the sides down a bit to add side pockets. Once the pockets were done, it was time for the paint job.

As for the design, I decided on a silhouette, because those are easy to make. But I wanted to add a teeny little twist, so it wasn't just a Benedict Cumberbatch silhouette... and this is what I came up with:

I simply took a photo I found with Google, flipped it over, removed everything aside from the outline and added the text from another image also found on Google images. Then I traced the image on self-adhesive book cover and cut everything out, attached it on the skirt and painted over in black and when the black had dried, drew the text in white.

Like so:

Then I finished the skirt with a waistband, a zipper and a hem.

(I swore off of buttonholes last fall but since it was only one I decided to go for it...)

I wore the end result as we went out tonight:

So, that's my take on a piece of clothing inspired by BBC's Sherlock. What do you think? :)


Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh look, it's a new year, new semester, and another Lord of the Rings dress!

So, first 9 days of the new year are behind, and I've already managed to catch (and get rid of) a nasty cold. I woke up last Sunday feeling like the insides of my nose and throat had transformed into sandpaper. Not a nice feeling, that one. So by Wednesday I was sneezing and dripping my brains out through my nose (or so it felt), but luckily my immune system has almost kicked the bug out, so I'm feeling better already.

Spring semester started two days ago. Thankfully we had a nice, smooth landing--

HAHAHAHA yeah, right!

"Introduction to statistics" started at 8 AM right after the holidays. Oh joy. Additionally, it wasn't even a proper class, but rather a 'motivational start' for the course. Had I known that, I would have stayed home and gathered my motivation in bed. Ugh.

Well, statistics aside we do have some interesting classes this spring. We'll learn basic signing to use with kids who have SLI (Specific Language Impairment), which is interesting as I've always found sign languages fascinating. Note, we don't learn a sign language, but we learn to use signs to support speech when an SLI/Down/etc child needs visual aid to be able to understand what's being said to them. You can check out the Wikipedia page for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) if you're interested to find out more.

That's the sign for "coffee",
both in ASL and Finnish sign language. Picture from here.


So, onwards to sewing matters!

I got super excited when the first Lord of the Rings dress and the Game of Thrones Stark Sigil dress turned out so well, so then I wanted to do more fandom-related stuff. So naturally, I went back to Tolkien.

I feel like I'm such a bad fan for still not finishing The Silmarillion, but I've read some of it. Enough to twist and turn this idea of a color block dress and the White Tree of Gondor, and turn it into a sketch that looked like this:

Awesome drawing skills, oh yeah.

See, I decided to use the White Tree of Gondor symbol to make a dress of the two trees of Valinor, Telperion and Laurelin. For those of you who don't know what those are, they are essentially trees that give light, a representation of the Sun and the Moon (actually, in the lore, the trees are destroyed but the last flower and the last fruit of the trees are used to create the Sun and the Moon.)

First, I had to get some white fabric - I already had black fabric and the fabric paints I needed for this project.

Then, I had to figure out how to cut the fabric when I wanted the seams in the front and the back and not at the sides like they usually are. You'd think it's easy, but wrapping my head around the fact that the fold of the fabric was on the "wrong side" was quite difficult. Well, I managed to cut out two identical pieces, one black and one white:

Note that what looks like the neckline is actually the armhole.

So then I had to draw and cut out two tree stencils. I measured the maximum size of the tree on the fabric, then went ahead and found this stencil:
From here.

I simply zoomed in on the stencil on my screen and drew it through on self-adhesive book cover plastic, holding it against my laptop screen. Then I placed another sheet on top of the already drawn tree and drew another, and so I had two identical trees. I added a crescent moon on top of what would become Telperion, and a round shape representing the Sun on top of Laurelin (after I took this photo, of course).

Momentarily I considered buying gold and silver paint to do the trees the way they're actually supposed to be colored, but since I'm not a fan of metallic prints, I figured the dress would get a lot more use if I just painted it in black and white.

Once the stencils were drawn, I cut them out using scissors.

(I may have watched some of Tennant's Doctor Who episodes while I was doing this. Because, you know, David Tennant.)

Then I flattened the dress pieces on the bed. Why on the bed? you ask. Because then I could pin the fabric onto the bed to keep it in place by sticking pins through the fabric diagonally (like staking a tent, if that makes any sense). I put old magazines beneath the fabric to prevent the paint from staining the bed.

I peeled the book cover stencil and attached it to the fabric, then painted over the tree and peeled the stencil off again. Putting the stencil on the fabric and getting every small brach in place was a pain in the ass, the painting and peeling the stencil off was easy.

Then I waited for the trees to dry and ironed them. After that, it was time to assemble the pieces and add lining (because the white fabric is practically see-through; check above picture if you don't believe me). I first sewed the front seam of the dress to form one piece, then cut out the lining, in two pieces, and sewed those together at the font seam as well.

Lining goes on the fabric, right sides together, sew the edges aside from the bottom edge, turn inside out and admire your lined dress!

...which still needs to be sewn together at the shoulders and the back. Also, zipper. And hemming. And top-stitching the armholes and the neckline.

So I did that. No pictures of this happening because this is not a tutorial and hence nobody cares.

So, without further ado, I give you my Lord of the Rings: the Trees of Valinor dress!

I think it's pretty cool. What do you think? :)


Oh hey! A question!

I actually wrote a list of fandom-related ideas I'd like to make into clothes. So far the list contains such items as Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Firefly, Sherlock, Studio Ghibli, The Hunger Games, Marvel Avengers... etc. There's also more Tolkien and more Game of Thrones, but perhaps something else for a change... :D

So if you have a suggestion from the list or something else, concerning which fandom should I next dive into and unleash my creative powers upon, please leave a comment! And comments about my Trees of Valinor dress are also more than welcome!


PS. I know this dress isn't exactly "Lord of the Rings", but since I borrowed the tree silhouette from Gondor, I reserve the right to call it Lord of the Rings dress :P