Tuesday, June 13, 2017

dress up, girl

It's past 10 o' clock in the morning, and while the rest of the world is already at work, I'm still sitting on my bed.Inky is fast asleep next to me, I'm balancing a plate with a sandwich with chocolate sprinkles (I know! How Dutch of me!) on my left knee, there's an enormous cup of tea on my night stand, and Nick Drake is playing on the background.
If there is a better lazy morning, I surely can't think of one.

It all vaguely reminds me of the way we celebrated Mothers and Fathers day when we were young, when me and my brother would make breakfast in bed for our parents, which usually came down to a breakfast of boiled eggs with golfball-like properties, sandwiches with a mountain of chocolate sprinkles on top of them, tiny hand picked bouquets in coffee cups, and a trail of orange juice and tea on the stairs, where we clumsily and excited carried the breakfast upstairs to my parents' bedroom, who would always pretend to be still asleep and completely unaware of our surprise. ( and looking back, I can only applaud them for always eating everything).

But though I feel very motherly towards the cats and chickens, I'm not a mum, and this isn't mothers day, it's just a lovely lazy free morning, after pulling an all nighter for work, and instead of doing chores, I decided to write a bit. So, hereby!

Last week, my youngest niece turned two.
More than anything in the world, my youngest niece loves to dress up. I think she learned it from her older sister, who up from the age of two always wanted to dress up as a princess ( preferably Elsa), sometimes by wearing one of those Very synthetic store-bought dresses, and at other times by just finding whatever she had at hand to use as a dress or "princess hair"

5 minutes before I took this picture, I had to tie her scarf around her hair, so she would have "weally long hair, just like Elsa, and then you must be Anna, okay?.." followed by singing a perfectly butchered "Let it Goooaaat, let it Goaaatt" 

So, we thought we had already seen the most of the dressing-up game with my eldest niece, but it seems that her younger sister likes it even more, and together they play endless games of being Elsa,  Anna, mermaids, princesses, queens, thieves.. whatever they can think of.

So it seemed clear: for her birthday she should have some dress-up clothes!

So I went about and bought, some elastic, accesoiries, and a bunch of nice-looking thrifty fabrics. and simply started working.

thruth is: I'm not entirely finished yet, but I thought I'd just share some first things I had made.

My goals was not to make complete outfits, or copies of princesses she knows, but items that she could combine, and use her own imagination with to turn them into complete outfits.

The blue tutu
I began by making a tule skirt/tutu that she could use as a skirt for a princess, ballerina or perhaps an Elf.
I simply cut two long pieces of a light-blue tule, folded them over length-wise, and sewed a casing for the elastic thread.

Then I harvested a really cool pompom-like trim from a thrifted shawl, and added it to the bottom of the skirt.

I adore those white thingies!
Then, in order to make her parents crazy to make it even cooler, I added little bells, so the skirt would clink a little when she would move in it.

sorry, big bro! 
And here it is finished! Quite cute, eh? I have no idea of it fits, but I used a legging and shirt in her size as a point of reference, so i think it should be fine.

princess? Ballerina? Elf? Girly pirate? what's it going to be? 

the spiffy moustache.

While my nieces both love it best to dress up very girly, sometimes it's nice to have some options. You never know when you want to play Charlie Chaplin! So a 'stache was needed!

So, I grabbed a black felt, elastic, and some sort of neoprene fabric  ( for sturdiness)

cuttting it into a spiffy  mustache..

sewing it all together... ( and making hair-like lines in the process)

and voila! A 'stache!

I look splendid with it, don't I?

butterfly/ elf wings.

In the attic of our house I found some sort of padding material that I can only describe as that stuff you put in your range hood as a filter.

But i thought it would be splendid to make structured shapes such as butterfly wings with.
So I grabbed a very simply white cotton, and a bit of the padding material, and started cutting a butterfly shape.

but why was it in the attic though...? 

I cut two cotton shapes, and one padding-one, and sewed it all together as a sandwhich ( from bottom to top: cotton, cotton, padding). After sewing it, I turned it rightside out, and the padding was neatly inside, like a very flat, butterfly shaped pillow.

like so! And I added a seam in the middle to give the wings a bit more movement. 
A bit of elastic was added in a rucksack-style so my niece could wear the wings.

like so!
I plan on painting them with fabric paint, but I haven't yet decided on the colours, So I'll give an update when I'm ready with that!

the pirate

well, that one doesn't really need much explanation, does it? Arrrrrr....

sneak peak: the mermaid

As I've mentioned earlier, my eldest niece recently demanded requested that I'd make her a mermaid suit. And as I was working on it, I thought it would be niece to make one for both of them.

I'm still working on both, but here is a sneak peak of the first mermaid tail in progress, of course entirely out of thrifted materials!

I still think Ariel was a bit of a twat for giving up her tail for a a bit of black hair and a square jaw..

If you want to make cosplay clothes, or dress-up clothes for a kid yourself, here's a few points to keep in mind:

- the imagination of kids is endless, so cater that creativity. I mean: if my niece can think that a turquoise shawl is a perfect substitute for a braided, blond Elsa-wig, why should we make everything an exact copy of the originals? Kids don't need that for their games, and it gives you a little room for creativity ( or pragmatic solutions, that is)

- children are idiots, so make the clothes as strong as possible. Working with sturdy materials such as neoprene, felt, cotton or non-fraying materials is a really good choice, and reinforcing seams might also be worth the trouble.

- you might want to think about adding fragile fabrics (such as a sheer cape or something) with velcro instead of sewing it on. So that if something happens and they pull the fabric or something ( again: kids are idiots), its the velcro that snaps, and not your precious fabric.

- that padded material I used is perfect for making structures and shapes ( so no need for adding wires etc) and bonus: its washable. I think most fabric-stores have it, so it shouldn't be too hard to come by.

- Elastic waists are much stronger than buttons, and will also expand when the kid grows, which helps the durability of your clothes.

So, I hope you liked my sneak peak. It's been an absolute joy to work on these things so far, and I can't wait to finish it, and give it to her! What did you think of it? And do you have any advice on making dress-up clothes for kids? I'd love to hear them!

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