Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

This was the first year I made a Halloween costume from scratch. I have fond memories of my mom sewing costumes for me and my brother, so I was really excited about this. Allison wanted to be a cat this year, so I set to work a few weeks ago and she LOVED her costume!

Here she is (on the left) with her friend Gracie.

And here's another shot with her sister (the pink octopus) and her cousin the ladybug! Lizzie is still young enough to wear Allison's hand me down costumes, but next year I think I will be making two costumes!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Doll Mermaid Tail Tutorial

I've had so much fun and learned so much from all the scrapbuster tutorials over at the Sew Mama Sew blog this month, I decided to share one of my own. As I've mentioned before, my daughter Allison loves all things mermaid. She has one mermaid Barbie doll, but that mermaid got lonely with all those landlubbers around. I decided to make some tails for the other dolls so the mermaid would have some friends!

First I made a merman, then a merbaby, and now we have 6 or 7 mermaids swimming around! These take just a small bit of fabric, so they are a great quick stashbusting project. This will work for any size doll, teddy bear, or even a younger sibling. (Wouldn't that be the cutest bunting? Now I need a newborn!)

This is my first tutorial ever, so please let me know if anything needs clarification. All images are clickable to a larger version.

Start with the particular doll you are making the tail for. I noticed pretty quickly that the Barbies tend to have different body shapes. Allison's Barbies are all Disney Princesses; maybe "regular" Barbies have standard dimensions. So you need the doll, two scraps of fabric roughly 9 x 3 inches, thread and a piece of narrow elastic long enough to go around the dolls waist with about 1/2 inch of overlap. See, you can even use elastic scraps! Warning: Partial Barbie nudity ahead! (Although she does have those classy plastic undies on.)

Lay the doll on the wrong side of the fabric, with the top just above her waist and the bottom a couple of inches below her feet. Trace the doll's shape about 1/4" out from her body. Don't worry about the contours too much. When you get to the widest part of her hips, draw your tracing lines straight up from there- Don't trace her waistline or you'll never get the waistband over those hips. As you get to her feet, draw in the bottom fin shape. Just eyeball it, it's a simple shape and you can determine if you want long narrow flippers, short roundy ones, or however you like!

Your traced line is your sewing line. Now cut out the tail, leaving 1/4" or so seam allowance beyond your traced line. Sew along your traced line.

Now try the tail on your doll. Make sure you can get the tail over the hips relatively easily.
Yay! It fits!

Once you're sure the tail will fit, finish the edges. You could zig zag or serge them, but I prefer to just pink the edges to cut down on bulk at the seams.
Fold the top hem over twice, to create a casing for the elastic. I used very narrow elastic, so my casing is only about 1/4" wide. Just make your casing as wide as you need for the elastic you have on hand. Sew the casing closed, leaving a small opening to insert your elastic.

I turned my tail right side out first, I just find it easier to sew such a tiny loop that way. Do whatever works for you! When you do turn it right side out, use a turner or knitting needle to poke out the ends of the tail and edges of the "legs," then press.

Put a small safety pin in one end of your elastic and feed it through your casing.

Overlap the ends of your elastic by about 1/2" and stitch them together. I suppose you could machine sew this, but I find it easier to just do a few stitches by hand.

Sew up the opening in your waistband, et voila! A custom made (Barbie is accustomed to couture, after all!) mermaid tail for your favorite little girl's doll!

Oh look! I have a blog!

Well, look at that... It's been two and a half months since I posted! We were out of town for the entire month of August, then Allison started preschool, and the weeks just kept slipping by. But I'm back, and I'll be trying to post regularly, mainly to help me remember what I've done.

Here are a few projects I've done during my blogging absence.

Allison's first day of school was exciting for all of us. I made her a new dress with matching hair clip. I was really happy with it, and I'm glad she got to wear it once before winter decided to come to Wisconsin 2 months early!

I managed to get my Melly & Me Flower Garden bag finished before our trip, and I absolutely love it! I used Denyse Schmidt's County Fair Canvas, one of my favorite lines. Incidentally, that line is on sale for an incredible $2.99 a yard at right now. That is a ridiculously good deal on 54" home dec weight fabric.
I made a Rocket Man for a little man's first birthday. This was so much fun to make, and I think the recipient was pleased. I had fun taking the little egg man in and out of his seat!

I participated in a couple of swaps and the girls got these ADORABLE dresses from one of my swap partners. These have become instant favorites and are worn ALL the time! And I got the most beautiful bag- The front panel is made from one of my all time favorite woven baby carriers, so it's a wonderful gift now that my babywearing days are winding down.
I love "cheater" quilt fabric- I found these fat quarters of sort of vintage looking patchwork, and decided to try another quilt top. Of course, it remains just a quilt top, because I still have a fear of binding.
That's all for now! There have been other projects, and I am currently working on Allison's Halloween costume, a few flannel nightgowns, and then I am going to tackle a dress for myself!!!