Sunday 25 October 2015

Lace-on Sleeves for the Cinderella Dress

One of my all-time favourite dresses (that's not historical or some kind of costume) is the olive green “Cinderella dress” I made a couple of years ago. I love to wear it with delicate blouses in the summer, but adding sweaters in the autumn takes away from the look I think. 

I decided to add detachable sleeves, and thus extend the season for it a bit. I asked for advice as to how best to go about it, and the lovely Alessandra told me of her experience with something I was leaning towards, and ended up doing.

I did have a bit more of the dress fabric left, but not enough to make full length sleeves without piecing. I decided to make short puffs at the top, and the lower sleeves are cut on the bias. The puffed part of the sleeves have a slightly shorter, fitted lining, attached to the lower sleeve, which makes sure the puffs are keeping their shape nicely.

I put piping at the sleeve head, the seam between upper and lower sleeve, and at the wrist, matching those on the dress bodice.

The sleeves are attached by lacing strips around the armscye and sleeve head. I stitched down the strips on both sides, but left openings every three centimetres, with those of the sleeves staggered from those in the armscye. I braided a cord from cotton yarn, and that was it – works a charm.

For now I use laces in a shade close to that of the dress, but for variety I could use different colours and materials. How tightly I lace can also be varied, from being so tight the sleeves look stitched on, to a wide gap between bodice and sleeve.

 I think this dress will need more upgrades to be perfect: it’s a bit tight across the bust - breastfeeding can have that effect - so I’m thinking of opening up the front seem and adding lacing there too, with a modesty panel from the dress fabric behind it….

Wednesday 14 October 2015

A Harry Potter Halloween Party II: Wands

The Harry Potter Halloween party we hosted last year was so fun that I plan to make it an annual thing. I’ve been working on the preparations since the summer in the hope that by adding a little each year, sometime in the future I’ll be able to transform our whole home into that of a common wizarding family in the Harry Potter universe. Here is the first post on what I’ve made this year.

As wands are such basic things for witches and wizards, I wanted hubby and me to have one each, though it’s unlikely we’ll be carrying them with us very much at the party. I tried the hot-glue-on-a-stick method, but didn’t like it much. I wanted neater wands, made from real wood.

 I got wooden dowels (10 millimetre diameter) from the local craft store, and as they were too short to make nice wands on their own, I searched my stash of craft supplies for the other things I needed. I found wooden beads and other turned wood shapes – if anyone have a good name for them, please share. I meant to assemble these different elements with a combination of screws and glue.

First I played around with the materials a bit, deciding how I wanted our wands to look. I didn’t want them to look identical, but a as I had a limited choice of materials, I had to work with what I had. I decided that the wand with the larger handle would be hubby's, as he has larger hands than me. I also chose wooden beads of different colours, as I thought that could be a nice touch.

After I had decided on the basic design, I whittled patterns on the dowels. They are similar, but not identical. As I’ve said before, I’m not very good with woodwork, but all in all, I’m happy with how these turned out. After the carving was done it was time for sanding. I used round objects of different diameters (knitting needles and a round building block borrowed from the kids) to wrap the sandpaper round, to help get a nice, even finish to the carved areas. I also sanded the dowels to taper towards the tip, and made mine a smidge thinner than hubby’s, for a more feminine look. Unfortunately I only remembered to take a picture of one of the dowels at this step.

I drilled holes in the “handle” ends, and drilled corresponding holes in the turned-wood-things.
With a screw I then attached the wooden bead and the turned-wood-thing to the dowel of what would become hubby’s wand, adding a bit of hot glue for strength. I would have preferred wood glue for this, but we didn’t have any. With hot glue I attached the other turned-wood-thing, and the first wand was assembled.
For mine, I screwed the turned wood thing to the dowel, again securing it with hot glue, and then added the bead and small peg with more hot glue.

After that I painted the wands with acrylic paint that I had diluted with water for more of a stained than painted effect. 

When they had dried I sealed them with two coats of a semi glossy varnish. Ta-da! 

 The different coloured beads worked out well, especially as I painted the wands in shades to compliment them.

 The finished wands are rather pretty, and comfortable to handle - a very important feature, I would think, for objects that are allegedly used countless times every day, and are always within reach of their owners. Hubby's wand is 12 5/8" long and mine is 11 3/4". What wood type and core they are supposed to be made from is still undetermined.

 Sometime I’ll need to make wand boxes for storage (or display – I plan a very nerdy curiosity cabinet with "souvenirs" from books and films I like), with the Ollivander label on them, of course.