To go with my 1840s day dress I knew I needed something to use as a head covering for Dickens Fair. Unfortunately, while the standard shape for an 1840s bonnet is really a “coal scuttle bonnet” with straight sides like this one:
… it was not possible to find one inexpensively on short notice. Further complicating the issue was the fact that I’d have to pack or ship the bonnet, which is a pain since bonnets are so bulky, so I couldn’t just make one at home and get it to California easily. What to do?
As you may remember, I love throwing themed birthday parties for my daughter. There was the pink elephant party, and the mermaid party, and who can forget the insanity that was the princess party? This year, her chosen theme is Kitties.
While my daughter has several pairs of kitty ears that she enjoys wearing for all occasions, we thought that her friends might also enjoy their own sets of ears, at least to wear for the duration of the party. The ears would also make a great party favor, so it was off to the craft store to get felt to make some!
The process for making these was pretty easy– just gluing felt to a headband– but I’ll give you the step-by-step tutorial below.
Okay, so I’d intended to do sleeves next, but they were such an intimidating prospect that I decided to take a break and make some embellishments instead.
I knew I wanted to embellish this dress with flowers, but I couldn’t seem to find any that I liked. Artificial flowers were too stiff, but ribbon flowers were flat and uninteresting. Finally, I concluded that I would need to make them myself, and turned to the internet for help. Luckily, the internet is great at providing tutorials for crafters like me:
I purchased some chiffon in two shades of purple and started cutting it into strips.
After my success with the purple hooded fleece cloak I decided to try a different version as a gift for a friend’s little girl, who is obsessed with owls. The great part about cloaks and capes is that they’re so versatile for costumes and general play, and they’re basically one-size fits all. I decided that a half-circle cape would be perfect to mimic an owl’s wingspan, and got to work.
After my last attempt at a cute holiday dress for my daughter (it took a while for her to warm up to it), I went a little more traditionally girly with this one and decided on flowers made of ribbon, to go on an otherwise plain burgundy velvet dress. Here’s what it looked like to begin with:
I bought several different kinds of ribbon flowers on eBay– you can get 10 of the same kind for a dollar or two (free shipping) from countless sellers, as long as you’re not too picky about the flowers maybe not being exactly the same color as the photos on your screen– and collected them together to figure out how best to arrange them.
The first thing I did was cut off the random button panel in the back of the dress (I think it was meant to help adjust sizing?) and replace it with a sash made of two yards of 1 1/2″ wide burgundy satin ribbon. I tacked down the ribbon at one side seam of the dress, and let the rest remain unattached, figuring that stitching down the flowers through the ribbon and the dress would keep it in place.
Then I moved on to the real embellishment.
I started off titling this post just “Ninja Mobile,” but that kept making me picture a ninjamobile– a car filled with ninjas who would drive around and pick fights with bystanders– so I felt the need to clarify.
This crib mobile is a gift for a friend’s baby shower, and is actually the second mobile I’ve made– the first featured corgis and sheep, and I was inspired to make it after paying far too much for an Etsy seller to make a mobile for my own daughter’s nursery. Making your own mobile is easy, though of course you can always complicate matters (at least I can) by planning fancy details.
Basically, the mobile is made of a wooden embroidery hoop, from which you hang various felt ornaments– in this case, ninjas. Then you cover the hoop in felt and hang it from the ceiling. Simple, right?
Going to Anime Boston this year reminded me that I haven’t told you all about my hat project. THE hat project. The big one. The mother of all projects. The project that spanned years, involved international commerce, and still has remnants floating around my house. And it all started with a single hat. Or, the lack of one.
A few years back, as the steampunk trend was just on the upswing, I decided to make myself a steampunk costume for Anime Boston. It would have a tweed skirt, a brocade bustier, some interesting leather doodads and brass thingies, and of course a miniature top hat. The problem was, I couldn’t find a hat that I liked– the pre-decorated ones were insanely expensive and the craft-store felt ones were really cheap looking, being more like flocked plastic than real felt and too small for what I had in mind. I did try to place an order for the largest available cheap felt hat from an online supply store, but they were out of stock. That, I think, was the turning point in the whole endeavor, because I had to think outside of the box. (why I didn’t just make a hat out of cardboard and cover it in fabric, I have no idea…)
As you know, if you do an in-depth search for an item on eBay the regular results eventually give way to hits for overseas wholesalers who will sell you bulk quantities of said item. While I personally had no need for huge numbers of tiny hats, it occurred to me that if I was having a problem locating a reasonably priced, decent-quality mini top hat, other people might be having the same problem. Pretty soon I had an email conversation going with a hat company in China that could ship me 150 black felt mini top hats for what worked out to be just under $4.00 a hat, including shipping (which was the most expensive part).
Sparing you the logistics, eventually I ended up with two giant cardboard boxes of hats and about 3 months in which to prepare them for sale at an Artist’s Alley table at Anime Boston.