Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Costumes - DIY or Not?

I remember trick-or-treating in the same costume year after year that my mother had made me as a kid. I longed to be a princess, a witch, anything but that dreaded clown. But each year I stepped into that oh so colorful jumpsuit, slapped on that loud and CrAzY wig, and headed out into the night in search of cavity-ridden goodies!!

Fast forward 30 years and now I have two kids who want to be something different every year and it's always something I can't find in stores. Btw, why do costumes have to cost so dang much?? We're big Disney fans and just had to have Disney costumes for the kiddies when they were little. So for the first 5 or so years my kids grew into and then out of Rolie Polie Olie & Zowie Olie costumes and Lightning McQueen & Sally costumes.  As expensive as they were, getting a number of years out of those costumes was worth it.

So now the question remains... do you make your own costumes or put the money out hoping to get a few years out of them? It would be nice if kids didn't grow so fast or their favorite things of today didn't change with the wind. But I've found the best way to keep up with my kids is to put together costumes from reusing old clothes or adding embellishments here and there. Like adding a simple Woody hat and sheriff badge to a plaid shirt or Mickey Ears to a Minnie Mouse dress we found at a thrift store....

One year my kids decided to be Nick Jr.'s Max and Ruby. For Max I just found some overalls and a striped shirt at the local Goodwill. For Ruby a yellow dress and purple blouse, also from the Goodwill, painted with orange and green fabric paint did the trick. Adding finishing touches with some face paint and headband bunny ears I bought at the Target $1 spot over Easter and violla! ...

My son was becoming a HUGE video game expert and would be Mario or Luigi every year if he could, but I thought back to my own "clown" years and tried to steer him in another direction. But the following Halloween he insisted he had to be Mario, which turned out to be super easy to make.  I just reused the overalls from his Max costume (thank goodness they still fit!!), found a red t-shirt from his dresser, attached white felt cut out in the M shape to a red 50 cent baseball cap, and cut out a wavy mustache from black felt and stuck it on his upper lip.... Mama Mia!! It's me Mario!!..

The year after that I gave in and purchased $40 a piece costumes (OUCH!!). My son wanted to be Mario again, but settled for Toad.  My daughter was thrilled to find a Princess Peach costume to match. 

As fun as it is to dress up, it's way too expensive to purchase new costumes every year so I hoped they could get some mileage out of these costumes like they did with the Disney ones.  No such luck!! Halloween night my daughter stepped on the front of her dress as she was trick-or-treating and ripped the ENTIRE bottom half of the dress right off! (Crappy craftsmanship!!) And my son grew faster than a weed and had out grown his costume before summer even came around. 

So now I was back to stirring up my creative juices to make one-of-a-kind costumes for my kids. Problem is, it seems each year my kids keep coming up with characters that aren't that simple to make!!  Last year my daughter wanted to be Sharon Osbourne from America's Got Talent.  Are you kidding me??? A black jacket from the Goodwill, the America's Got Talent logo ironed onto a white tank top, a colorful wig, and some jewels were the best I could do. She loved it!!

And for my son.. who better to be than Justin Bieber? A kid who sings.. how hard can that be to create a costume for? Well, let me tell ya... it was HARD!! I couldn't find an affordable white denim jacket to save my life and it took 4 trips to several Goodwill's to find white jeans. It was easier to find Waldo than it was finding a purple hoodie. Just when I was about to give up I found one at Walmart. They also had a brown wig I combed over to have the 'Bieber do' in his face (which drove him crazy all night). The kids' toy box already had a plastic echo microphone and some play sunglasses. Now I just needed purple shoes - the most difficult item to find!! On my final trip to the Goodwill I somehow managed to find a pair of hightop sneakers that actually fit my son!! I stopped at Lowes on the way home to get some purple spray paint and sprayed the heck out of those bad boys!!  Although it was a pain trying to find every detail for this costume, the reaction my son got from other trick-or-treaters was amazing and well worth the effort!!

This year I asked my kids months in advance what they wanted to be for Halloween so I could get a jump on costume creating.  Considering how difficult it was to find all the pieces last year I didn't want to repeat the chaos of running around from store to store trying to find the perfect parts.  But weeks before Halloween neither one of my kids had decided who they wanted to be yet.  UGH!!

We went to Halloween Costume shops for inspiration.  Nothing.  We looked online and in junk mail catalogs for ideas.  Nothing.  About a week before the big night they finally decided upon the Evil Queen from Snow White and Donkey Kong.  REALLY?.. I quit!!  There's no way I'm going to be able to create an Evil Queen dress in less than a week!! And by that time all the decent costumes were gone from the stores and the only ones that were left fit a 2 year old or a dog!!  But then I found a "Gothic Maiden Vampiress" dress shoved all the way in the back of the rack. It was a little too big for my daughter, but when you have days to come up with something you just go with it.  I picked up a red apple from the craft & hobby section for $1 and was going to make "Mirror Mirror" for her to carry as well, but figured it was a safety hazard if she were to accidentally drop it.  She already had a tiara in her 'dress up' closet so her costume was as done as it was going to get.  Now I had to come up with Donkey Kong.

A brown t-shirt and felt hat from the 99 cent store, some 25 cent yellow felt and $2.99 craft fur from Hobby Lobby, a red necktie I already had in my stash, some printed online images, and craft paint completed the supplies needed to create this too cool costume.

First I painted the chest on the t-shirt with ivory craft paint. Then I cut out the DK logo from yellow felt and sewed it onto the red necktie.  Then I stitched the craft fur to the sleeves of the t-shirt, pinned the Donkey Kong printout to the felt hat and shazam!.. Donkey Kong at your service..

My son didn't like wearing the hat, so he decided to go without it, but it didn't take away from the overall look of the costume.  He even met up with some 'friends' while out trick-or-treating who recognized him right away!!

Even though I did buy my daughters dress (for $20), it was another successful Halloween creating original, fun costumes for my kids that didn't break the bank.  It might seem easier and less stressful to just buy costumes from the store each year rather than save a few bucks by making your own, but the ones that get remembered the most are the ones I create for my kids. They enjoy seeing that nobody else has the same costume as them and the reactions and comments from others about how creative or what great ideas their costumes are is priceless in my book.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

DIY Greek Costume - Socrates

What do you do when your daughter comes home from school and says she has to be Socrates for a class project in two weeks and Halloween is still months away?... Well first you panic, then you hyperventilate, and then you eventually pass-out!.. Well, not necessarily in that order!!

What I did was search the web - you can find so many different ideas on the internet!!  What a convenience to be able to Google something and within seconds have what you're looking for!  After viewing several sites in search of Socrates' appearance and attire, I came to the conclusion my daughter was going to have to be bald, grow a beard, and wear some form of a toga costume.  Believe me when I tell you she was not pleased when I informed her of this!!  ... haha   Of course I wasn't going to shave her head or apply hair growth treatment to her face, but having her wear a bald cap.. well..  let's just say I didn't have to go THAT overboard with detail, I mean it was just a class project, not a Broadway production.

And with that in mind, I set off to create a Socrates costume that cost a whopping $4.32!! Here's how I did it....

Costume Supplies: Bed Sheet, Felt, Elastic

I headed off to my trusty Goodwill to find a bed sheet that I could use to make the toga or tunic costume.  It was a little tricky finding an appropriate way to make a male toga for a girl to wear since a lot of chest is typically shown in a male toga.  But I found this pretty cool video tutorial that was really helpful in creating this costume.  I picked up a pastel green Queen sized bed sheet for $4.00 that I thought about cutting in half or sewing together, but I didn't want to have to rip out stitches later or regret cutting it because I probably would re-use it again. (always thinking green!!)

The next step was finding facial hair.  There are a few synthetic beards online thru Party City, but by the look on my daughter's face I could tell I would need to keep looking. What better place to look than on! There are so many creative and artistic shops on Etsy filled with unique items you can't find anywhere else. Some of the most clever beards I came across were crocheted and yarn beards. My daughter seemed a little apprehensive about wearing one of these, but she did say they were a lot better than the Party City beards. (a glimmer of hope!!)

Then I had a brilliant idea to just make my own. ... like I don't already have enough on my plate!! I was going to need some help with this one and lucky for me I found a couple of tips and tricks on how to create a fake beard online.  This great tutorial was the easiest and most practical way to go and served as the inspiration I needed to get this project moving!  I purchased gray felt at Joanns for about $0.32 and drew a beard onto card stock that I already had at home.  I don't normally use patterns so this part was especially new for me.

Since my daughter wouldn't be dressing up and performing her character until about noon, I had to figure out the easiest way for her to put on the beard independently while she was at school.  The best way was to make it like a mask with an elastic strap in the back.  I found an elastic headband that's been sitting in my hair accessories bin forever, cut it to fit, and attached it to the felt. Applying the mustache so that my daughter could talk like a normal person was quite a nuisance.  But I finally finished and even though I wasn't ecstatic with the overall outcome, it was my first time working with felt and a pattern so I don't think I did too badly.
Next was making the poison.  Not too difficult a task, I simply printed a picture of the poison symbol and taped it to an empty water bottle. 

My daughter felt like a weirdo all dressed up as a famous Greek philosopher, but she practiced her lines like a champ and she did a great job!!  All said and done, I'm not sure I'm ready for the costume business, but I'm always grateful for another chance to strengthen my experience in crafting.

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”  ~ Socrates

Have a Beautiful Day!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Recycled Necktie Keychains OH MY!!

I’ve been recycling men's neckties into Cell Phone Wristlets for over two years now.  And in making these wristlets, I’ve accumulated quite a large collection of leftover necktie pieces.  I’ve held onto these remnants because I knew one day I would probably create something with them.  There are a few ideas brewing around in my head, but so far I've only had the chance to create a keychain large enough to slip over your wrist.    

My first batch debuted at a craft fair last fall and they were a hit!! I received a lot of compliments about them, so I decided to list a few in my online shop.  I’ve since had several custom order requests for keychains to be made from sentimental family neckties to be given as gifts to various family members. 

But nothing could prepare me for the next request I received.  I was recently asked to create 350 recycled necktie keychain/key fobs for an upcoming marketing campaign through Cumberland Marketing out of Kingsport, TN.  I was honored to be asked, yet worried if I could handle such an order of this magnitude!  I’m a one woman operation and being a full-time mom and part-time student unfortunately doesn’t leave much room for sewing.  But I took on the task anyway and hoped for the best!

This project was HUGE and I realized I wouldn't have enough remnants in stock to fit the order plus it would take a few weeks to get additional keychain hardware shipped in from my supplier.  Great thing for me Cumberland Marketing was offering to supply the ties AND the hardware needed!! WOOT!  (Thank You CM!!)

 A few days later a large box was delivered to my studio. Holy cannoli there were almost 100 ties in that box!! Where would I begin? Was I in over my head?

I figured the easiest direction to head off in was to sort them by color.  As I prepared each tie, I couldn’t help but remind myself what a significant opportunity this was for me and my business.  I was extremely grateful to have been given the chance to partake in this project.

And then I was informed special ties were being expedited for immediate processing to appear in a commercial shoot!! 

Something I made is going to be featured in a real live commercial?!?!?  I almost fainted, but I had a zillion key fobs to create so there was no time for drama!! I finished up the special order and awaited word as to when these oh-so-cute keychains would make their advertising debut.. (so far, no word yet!!) ... :-(
Hours turned into days, days turned into weeks and I started to feel the pressure of completing this enormous job in a timely manner.  But I somehow made it through despite taking care of my family and studying for finals and I’m just thrilled my sewing machine was able to hold up too!!

Recycled Necktie MINI Keychain Key Fobs

This entire process was challenging and overwhelming at times, but it was also a wonderful experience that strengthened my crafting ability and improved the belief in myself- that I can do anything (through Christ who gives me strength – Philippians 4:13)

If you have a favorite tie of your own or of a loved one that you’d like made into a keychain/key fob or if you would like to purchase one of my keychains, please visit my online store and I'd be happy to assist you!!

Have a Beautiful Day!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick and Easy 1-Minute Manicure

Spending too much time behind the wheel and not enough time pampering yourself?  Well, how about pampering yourself while you're behind the wheel??  Not when you're driving of course, but the next time you're waiting for the kids to get out of school or for Grandma to get done with her doctor appointment why don't you give yourself a 1-minute manicure?  It's super easy to do and only requires a few essentials.

1-Minute Manicure Supplies: Hand Lotion ~ Nail File ~ Nail Polish

I usually arrive a bit early to pick my kids up from school, mostly to get a good spot in the pick-up line, but it also gives me quiet time to read, meditate, or empty my head onto a tablet before chaos ensues once my car fills with kids.  But today I decided to use this time to finally fix some nails I had chipped last week that I've been meaning to take care of since they keep snagging on things!

Once parked, I began to file my nails and smooth over the chipped areas.  Then I applied a travel size hand lotion that I always keep in the car.  At that point I realized I was giving myself a "mini" manicure. I finished by applying the clear top coat and thought this is a great idea to share with any busy mom who's always on the go!!  Just keep a nail file, some hand lotion, and your favorite nail polish in your glove box and the next time you have a minute to spare give yourself a 1-minute manicure!!

It's an instant pick-me-up and a well deserved treat!!  ENJOY!!

Have a Beautiful Day!