Sunday, June 5, 2016

     Last month, I shared a post on another blog for the first time! Crafting Con is a super fun site where folks let their inner geek shine through the creation of themed clothing for their kids that is NOT a costume, but a wearable garment that can ideally be played in, abused and adored by the recipient. For my debut on their site, I sewed for.. what else? Star Wars month! Here's my post brought back home:

      Our family and our girls are as Star Wars obsessed as the rest of the American youth (and public at large) at the moment, so I am very excited to be here on Star Wars month! Watching the movies with my kids has given me a whole new appreciation of the series. They are very into all of the characters and the plot line and play Star Wars all the time. It was so exciting to see the Force Awakens with them this winter and experience it for the first time all together.
     My youngest daughter, Althea, is an animal person (I mean that literally per her mind - she has a feline and canine persona that are both named, and that she converts to upon request of her sister, or at random. Also, she told me the other day that she is a magical creature and when she grows up her children will be various types of animals). Her favorite Star Wars characters are Chewbacca and the Ewoks. She does a great Chewie impersonation and has been speaking Ewok since watching Return of the Jedi last fall. "Boota, boota!" she calls as she runs through the house. So there was no contemplation necessary in realizing that I was going to make her an Ewok hoodie for this challenge.
My little critter
    I used a pattern from my trusty Ottobre 06/2013 which they called Frozen Meadow. It is a pattern for a raglan style, hooded, faux-fur coat, so I didn't alter anything except for adding ears. The outer coat fabric is this super soft, almost silky plush fur type fabric from JoAnns. It says it is machine washable, so that is a plus. I used a knit that I had which is a thick cotton for the cuffs, hem, trim along the zipper, hood edge casing and hood drawstring. The coat is fully lined, which makes it look very nice on the inside as well. The lining is a combination of old flannel baby blankets: a brown on white print with a touch of green that reminds me a bit of the Star Wars rebel symbol for the body and a green with green stars for the sleeves. I lined the hood with the same plush fabric that the outside is made from, so that she can get really cozy in there. The ears are stuffed with fleece scraps to make them stand up nicely and are hand sewed on to the hood.
Here she is showing off the lining of her Ewok hoodie

      So this makes a very nice and snuggly little layer for her to wear in spring and fall and on cool summer evenings, whenever she is feeling a little wild (aka always) - it serves well as a bear as well as an Ewok.....or dog......or wookie......or whatever mood she is in.
Snugged up in that fur-lined drawstring hood

     To make it more of an Ewok hoodie, I added a leather hood that she can wear over it. I love the way the Ewoks wear some minimalist clothing items that enhance their personality. Her hood is made from the last remnants of this truly amazing pair of rawhide bell bottoms that my mom had from the late 60's. So this hood is pieced together carefully and is held in place by the ear holes. There is also a chin strap that closes with an old leather button. This leather hood can come off so the fur coat can be worn on its own.

     My older daughter is more in touch with her feminine side and wears dresses and skirts as often as she can get away with. She really identifies with the strong female characters in these movies and loves Rey and Leia and Padme. I had thought it would be fun to do some fabric dyeing and create Leia's forest look from Return of the Jedi, but Fern had ideas of her own. She was insistent that she wanted a BB8 inspired dress and went right to work drawing it for me. I love when they have a hand in the design process but this was the first time she actually created a physical image for me to work from, so I knew I had to roll with it (pun intended- ha).
Fern's drawing
Fern modeling
     I enjoy the challenge of turning a drawing into a physical item and discovering how a two dimensional shape translates into a sewing technique or a pattern style. Especially when the drawing was done by a 6 year old. According to her, the most important part of her image is the large white circle on the belly of the dress. I decided we would accomplish this with the use of a reverse applique. I found this great white and orange fabric (it's an upholstery fabric that is very smooth on the back side and doesn't seem capable of wrinkling) at a little store in my town that sells repurposed craft materials. All the tutorials I saw on reverse applique left the inside edge of the main fabric unfinished, but that didn't work for me with this project. I turned the edge in and sewed the inside of the circle first, then proceeded to attach the white circle (whose edge was serged) with a decorative stitch.
     Fern's image is clearly a dolman style dress with a mock turtleneck. I didn't find an orange of the right color in a knit fabric, so we went with this satiny material with minimal stretch from JoAnns. Not finding a pattern anywhere for a dolman utilizing a non-stretch fabric, I designed this myself tracing a shirt of hers. It wasn't quite big enough in the arms though (the shirt I was tracing was a knit of course), so I ended up adding a wide strip of the white fabric on each side of the bodice under the arm. I really like the way this worked out. I tucked it into a reverse box pleat and sewed it down for about three inches along the side of the bodice and then let it open up to create more room in the sleeve. I also included a zipper on the back of the dress so that she can get in and out. The bottom is a circle skirt, which always makes her smile when she twirls, and reflects back on the round shape of BB8. I played with the differential on my serger a little bit to give the sides of the mock turtle neck a touch of ruching.
Clockwise from top left: Underarm detail; neck ruching; zipper detail; reverse applique close up

       Her picture had wide sleeves tapering to thin sleeves very abruptly. I asked if we could change it to a short sleeve, but she really wanted the length. So we compromised with a set of armbands that she can wear with it. I like this compromise because the dress is better suited for the upcoming summer weather as a short sleeve dress. And she likes it because she can wear the armbands with this dress or with the Rey-inspired dress I made her a few months ago. The armbands have elastic at the top to keep them in place.
Posing with some cactus because she considers BB8 to be a desert droid; 
wearing her hat sideways so the flower is in the center like the "eye" in her drawing

      The final piece of her drawing is the helmet that she visualized wearing to represent BB8's head. I let her know that helmets are kind of beyond the scope of "inspired" clothing, but she really wanted something. My husband suggested a bonnet which I have been known to sew in the past, and she liked that idea. As I thought about it, I began to think that this helmet was not a bonnet, but a cloche hat. I scoured the internet for the proper pattern to use and ended up with the Penny hat from Elsewhen Millinery on Etsy. I was really happy with the pattern and love the way the hat turned out! The two fabrics that I used for the dress worked great for the hat, lining and hatband. I used a grosgrain ribbon that I had for trim on the outside, and the final detail was a black flower because Fern was insistent that the black "eye" from her picture be included. I made a zipper flower because a) I've been very inspired by all the zipper flowers I've seen on Pinterest for a while now and hadn't tried one yet b) I had a black zipper that I saved off a plastic bedding bag and a green zipper scrap that I had saved, and c) the mechanical aesthetic of the zippers appealed to me since we are drawing our inspiration from a droid. She loves it. It is fun to bask in the adoration of a child that isn't familiar with Pinterest and thinks I'm the most creative person in the world!
 Zipper flower up close

     It is also fun to see them have so much fun in clothes that I made them (and that they participated in creating!). We went to Smith College to run around in their amazing gardens and greenhouse for these pictures. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I have!

      Thanks for having me and may the force be with you!


  1. Fern and Althea--two little forest pixies with mighty force! So beautiful

    1. We all had a lot of fun with this!