Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pushing Daisies and How to Lengthen a Dress

I've recently become obsessed with Pushing Daisies, the quirky show that was canceled before its time. It pretty much combines everything I love: whodunits, baking, colourful dresses, romance, water sports, and a whole lot of funny. I completely covet Chuck's wardrobe of frilly blouses, vintage dresses, colourful coats, and pedal pusher pants.
Chuck seems to love yellow, so when I spotted a yellow sundress (with a daisy-like eyelet pattern, no less) for a rock-bottom price at Winners, I had to scoop it up. It turned out to be a definite fixer-upper. First it had a slit across the middle of the skirt right below the waistline that had been hastily sewn. Fortunately the skirt is quite full so it camouflages my stitching job.
Since it was a bit short for my liking and had a generous hem, I decided to lengthen it. This method only works if the dress/skirt has a hem of at least one inch as most of the extra length comes from the hem.

First, carefully let out the hem using a seam ripper or a pair of scissors. Make sure the bottom edge of your skirt fabric doesn't fray by running a zigzag stitch across the bottom (if the manufacturers haven't done this already).

Next, stitch a length of ribbon to the bottom of the skirt. The ribbon should closely match the colour and weight of the dress. I used a fine polyester ribbon with a width of 1.7 cm. Pin the ribbon to the dress so it just covers the zigzag stitch and sew it down.
Right side:
 Wrong side:
Hem your dress by flipping the ribbon under and pining it. This way, the hem is made up entirely of the ribbon, and all of the original dress material is being used for length.
 Use a blind stitch to sew the hem down. Here's a great video on blind stitching.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Labyrinth Inspired Masquerade Ball Earrings

I loved Labyrinth as a child. From the friendships to the adventure to (in my teens) David Bowie, the entire movie was totally enchanting! I re-watched it recently and was struck by the gremlin ball scene, especially Sarah's ballgown and hairpiece. It's a combination of silver ribbons and leaves cascading down with her hair.

I was inspired to make a pair of earrings that would give a similar effect as her hair accessory for the Craftster Jewelry and Trinkets Challenge 3. 

They'd be a great addition to a Halloween costume as Sarah, a fairy, and even a mermaid! If you want to make a pair for yourself, here's a quick tutorial:

Materials: Silver organza ribbon (0.5 to 1 cm wide), silver chain, silver wire, small round pearls, 2 faceted rock quartz round beads, 4 silver leaves, 2 silver jump rings, silver earwires, scissors, needle, light gray thread, round nose pliers, flat nose pliers, cutters.

Try to get a roll of organza ribbon. This will ensure that your ribbon is gently curled.

The following instructions are for one earring. Repeat to get a pair.

  • Cut three lengths of ribbon: 14 cm, 11.5 cm, and 8.5 cm. Cut the bottoms so that they come to a point. 
  • Create a chain of pearls 7 cm long by wire-wrapping 10 pearls together. See Jewelry Design 101: Wire-Wrapping Part 1 for instructions. Instead of starting with a ballpin, create a wrapped loop with a short length of wire, insert a pearl, and create another wrapped loop. Repeat with another pearl, but before closing the second wrapped loop, insert a loop from the first pearl you wrapped. Continue with the remaining 8 pearls. Before closing the second wrapped loop of the 8th pearl, insert a silver leaf.
  • Attach a wire-wrapped faceted rock quartz round and silver leaf to a 4 cm length of silver chain.
  • Layer the organza ribbons so that the longest and the shortest pieces curve in one direction and the medium piece curves in the opposite direction. Sew the three pieces of ribbon together along the top. 
  • Insert the pearl chain and the silver chain between the short and medium organza pieces. Sew them in place.

  • Sew a jump ring to the top of the organza ribbon cluster so that half if it peeks over the top. 
  • Sew another piece of ribbon perpendicular to the top of the organza ribbon cluster. Wrap it around the organza ribbon cluster a few times to cover up any visible stitches and the bottom half of the jump ring. Tuck the end in and secure it in place by sewing it down. 
  • Insert the jump ring through an ear wire.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Decoupage Map Box

I decoupaged and painted this box as a Christmas present for my boyfriend. He really liked it and it's held up quite well since December (despite being stacked and filled to capacity)!

Here's how I did it (and you can too):

Materials: a wooden box, a large atlas, mod podge or another type of liquid glue, acrylic paint, liquid acrylic varnish, masking tape, paintbrushes, construction paper, scissors, ruler, pencil, craft knife, screwdriver, sandpaper.

I found the box at a Value Village. It was handmade and a little beat up, but it was a great size and I liked the varnish colour. If you purchase a box from a thrift store, check the inside and avoid boxes that have had varnish seep inside. As you can see from the third photo, there are a few dark marks around the edges that I couldn't paint over properly.

Once I had the box and knew its dimensions, I purchased an atlas from a used bookstore (BMV in Toronto). I looked for one that was in good condition, and had plenty of colourful terrain maps large enough to cover the top of my box.

  1. Measure and note the box dimensions. You will need these measurements to cut out your map panels.  
  2. Unscrew the hinge holding the top and bottom of the box together. Try to keep track of which screw went into which hole. I had the unfortunate surprise of finding that the original box craftsman used two different sized screws (and made different sized holes).
  3. Sand the inside of the box with medium to fine grain sandpaper. If you're covering the entire box, also sand the outside. I wanted to let some of the varnished wood peek through, so I skipped sanding the outside.
  4. Once the inside is clean of all wood dust, apply masking tape to the edges of the box that you don't want to paint (in my case, the exposed wood seen in the third picture). If you're going to leave some wood exposed, test a small piece by pressing down the masking tape and removing it. Some of the varnish may come off; in this case, don't press your masking tape down too much. 
  5. Paint the inside with acrylic paint. I chose a turquoise colour to mimic the gorgeous waters of the Caribbean. Paint three coats, waiting a few hours in between each coat. Once the paint has dried thoroughly - about 24 hrs - apply a thin coat of varnish using a clean paintbrush. Your brushstrokes should be going in the same direction. Wait about 6 hours and apply another thin coat of varnish. This time, change of the direction of your brush strokes by 90 degrees. This will create a crosshatch effect and make your brushstrokes less evident. Allow the box to dry 24 hours.
  6. Using the measurements from step 1, create a viewfinder for the top and sides of the box. Draw a rectangle the same size as the top of the box onto construction paper or parchment paper. Cut out the rectangle and discard. Use the remainder as a viewfinder. Repeat with the sides of the box.
  7.  Using the viewfinders, find your preferred map images for the top and sides of the box. I chose a map of northern Canada because I'm a patriotic gal, and maps of the Caribbean, north Africa, southeast Asia and Greece because they're lovely travel destinations. Using a ruler and pencil, lightly trace out the dimensions for the top and sides of the box onto your maps and cut out the panels. 
  8. Cover the exposed wood with masking tape. Paint a thin coat of Mod Podge onto the box and paste your panels. This should be done one panel at a time, allowing for drying time in between. Smooth down any wrinkles immediately. Once the glue has dried, apply a 2 thin coats of Mod Podge onto the panels, allowing for drying time in between. Once the glue has dried 24 hours, apply a thin coat of acrylic varnish and allow it to dry. This last step is to eliminate the tackiness of Mod Podge.
  9. Screw the hinge back on.
  10. Admire your hard work!