Upcycle: Blazer to Messenger Bag

My daughter decided this year for Halloween to be Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service.

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The black dress, red bow, and broom were simple to come by, as was the little stuffed cat (Gigi), but for some reason she focused in on the orange messenger bag as a crucial element of her costume, particularly as it would hold tons of candy for trick-or-treating.

Unfortunately, inexpensive orange messenger bags can be hard to come by, particularly if they need to be lightweight enough for a 6-year-old to carry around all night while full of candy. I had basically given up the search when I noticed an orange cotton sateen blazer on the rack at Goodwill that was crying out to be converted into a bag.

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Janet (The Good Place) Costume, Part V: Cactus Purse

Once I’d finished sewing my Janet costume I knew that I also wanted to carry a cactus.

Not just any cactus, though– a cactus-shaped purse. Stylish *and* practical!

While there are a few cactus-shaped purses floating around the internet (some more expensive than others), I didn’t really like any of them– particularly as none featured pots, which I saw as being part of the gimmick– so I had to make my own. I decided to make a barrel-shaped cactus with a drawstring top for maximum storage capacity. Something shaped kind of like this:

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I started off with a plastic 5″ pot to form the base of the purse. It was actually hard to find– usual sizes are 4″ (much too small) and 6″ (too big)– but I needed that size because I wanted to be able to fit my phone and a few other bits and pieces inside, but didn’t want it to be too bulky.

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Janet (The Good Place) Costume, Part II: Skirt

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Sorry for the delay in posting about this costume– I was waiting for a zipper to arrive, and then it turned out to be out of stock (thanks a lot, FashionFabricsClub.com, for making me wait three weeks without bothering to tell me you didn’t have my order), and I had to order it from Amazon.

Anyway, Janet’s skirt is a bit more flared than a standard A-line, but doesn’t have the fullness through the hip of a circle skirt. The panels (I think there are nine, since there’s no center front seam) are actually fitted through the hip and then flare out from just below the hipline.

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To draft my pattern I took my waist measurement and my hip measurement (8″ down from the waist), and divided by nine to get the fitted top part of the skirt. From the hip point I continued drawing the lines along the same angle just for reference, extending them down to the hem (the panel was a total of 25″ long). Once I determined where the original lines would be, I extended the width of the panel by 3″ at the hem (total, so 1.5″ on each side) to get that extra flare.

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Flashback: Mary Poppins and Bert

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It’s no secret that I enjoy making elaborate Halloween costumes. But the first Halloween with our baby daughter,┬áto my surprise, my husband agreed right off the bat to my first idea for a family costume– Mary Poppins and Bert, with the baby as one of the dancing penguins in the Jolly Holiday animated scene.

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Janet (The Good Place) Costume, Part I: Vest

I recently started watching The Good Place. To be more specific, I had a free weekend and decided to try watching an episode on Netflix, and before I knew it I’d binge-watched the first two seasons and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the third. It’s just such a fun show! (I promise no spoilers for season 3 if you haven’t seen any episodes yet)

One of my favorite characters has got to be Janet– basically Siri or Alexa come to life. The actress, D’Arcy Carden, delivers her lines with a deadpan helpfulness that cracks me up every time, and her costumes are reminiscent of vintage flight attendant uniforms in a way that evokes the same feeling.

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So with Halloween fast approaching (and a newfound awareness that it’s always nice to have an easy, casual daytime outfit for more involved costume convention weekends), I decided to put together a Janet costume.

I originally planned on finding a purple suit to start with, but it was harder than I’d anticipated to find one– mostly because all of the suits had pencil skirts instead of flared skirts. The closest I came was a wool suit with a pleated skirt, but the pleats bugged me and I’d still have to convert the jacket to a vest. I would have to start from scratch.

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1860s Embroidered Ballgown, Part VIII: Finished!

So at last my 1860s ballgown is finished! I got to wear it, hoop skirt and all, to a Victorian ball this summer, and it was a hit! It took a little getting used to, dancing with such a gigantic skirt, but it was just so much fun!

Besides my floral hair wreath, I accessorized with some simple pearl earrings (leverback, so not technically historically accurate, but close enough) and a blue cameo strung on a black velvet ribbon. I also had short white gloves, but had abandoned them by the time these pictures were taken– just as well, they kind of made my hands blend into my skirts, which looked weird.

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All in all I’m very happy with the dress– it’s got just the right silhouette and the embroidery makes it extra-special. Looking forward to wearing it again sometime!