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DIY Totoro Highlights at Anime Boston’s Artists Alley

25 Apr Totoro Kimono

There’s never a shortage of Totoro crafts at Anime Boston! This years DIY Miyazaki highlights are featured below: A hand-painted (and home-sewn) kimono by Hanabi Kimono, and plushies by Sam and Rae Crafts.

Totoro Kimono

Handpainted on gingham nursery cloth. Note the soot sprites on the belt!

Totoro Kimono detail

Wonderful flair on the left hip.

Totoro Plushie

Totoro is my spouse's spiritual guide

More Totoro plushies

All of them eminently huggable.

Disney DIY: Mickey-fying a Used Handbag

4 Feb

I’m a bit of a handbag addict, and I’ve been craving a fix lately. My recent trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World triggered an obsession with the Disney Dooney & Bourke line (especially the Disneyland 55th anniversary collection), but my checkbook tells me no. So what’s a frugal girl to do? Hit up the thrift shops, peruse the craft table inventory at home, and throw something together that makes me smile.

Amusingly enough, I noticed on my last trip to Downtown Disney that plenty of the stores have psuedo-DIY style bags these days, with patches and pins. So it’s really like I have my own custom couture. Who’s following whose trends now, Disney?

I hit my favorite local thrift shop last week, the Garment District. In particular, I arrived early Saturday morning for the weekly inventory refresh at Dollar A Pound, where slumming suburbanites, urban resellers, and thrifty chicks like me wade through an amazing assortment of used clothes. If you go, you’ve gotta be there 9:00am sharp on Saturday morning; the new shipment is released at that time, and the best stuff is usually snapped up in the first 10 minutes or so. I honestly don’t bother going if I’m gonna be 15 minutes late.

I scored a cute little handbag, along with several sweaters, sweatshirts and jeans for myself, an LL Bean fleece for my kid, and a wool sweater for my spouse, all for less than the cost of a steak at Le Cellier. Serious wardrobe refresh.

And of course . . . back home, my craft table was well-stocked with Disney goodies from past trips, for embellishing my bag.

Handbag

Mickey Mouse pin on the front, from a Parisian flea market in 2009

Mickey pin close-up

A better look at that Mickey

Sideview of handbag

View from the side: Note the Disneyland patch?

Disneyland patch

A closer look at the Disneyland patch

Cute patch, eh? I picked it up at Disneyland in 2006, at the gift shop near Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s not intended to be a clothing patch; it’s one of the accessories that snaps onto those three-corner hats you can buy (are they still around?). Just grab an exacto knife, cut out the backing with the snap, and you’ve got something far more flexible for embellishing clothes and accessories.

Autopia license in handbag slot

And the final touch: An Autopia drivers license in the handbag's ID slot

Now, this is really just a 5-minute bling project I’ve displayed here. I’m still really proud of my Disney Couture jeans re-construction projects from a couple years ago, and a few other projects that relied heavily on those re-purposed patches from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Re-purposed Disney Couture jeans handbag

That re-purposed Disney Couture Snow White jeans handbag I'm so proud of

Snow White Disney Couture jeans handbag

I figure eventually I’ll probably pick up a Dooney & Bourke — I’ve got nothing against conspicuous consumption when the budget permits. I certainly do love my store-bought Disney bags. But there’s something special about knowing I cobbled something together with my own hands.

Matterhorn T-shirt Shoulder Bag

15 Jun

Based on anecdotal evidence I’ve gathered at countless thrift shops, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people come home from Disney with t-shirts that made sense at the time, but quickly lose their appeal once the vacation is over. For some reason this seems especially true of Eeyore shirts, but I digress.

If you’ve got some t-shirts like that yourself, or if you’re willing to scavenge the thrift shops for other people’s purchases, there’s plenty of ways to transform a discarded t-shirt into something you’d actually like to wear.

Cashing in on the green and DIY aesthetic of books such as Sew Subversive: Down and Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista and Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt, Simplicity has a “go green” line of sewing patterns which incorporate re-purposed materials. I made the bag pictured below using Simplicity 2972, using a t-shirt I’d found in a local thrift shop, an old pair of jeans, and about $4 worth of interfacing and lining. Strictly speaking, it’s not a Disney t-shirt…but this girl grew up with Disneyland’s Matterhorn, you know what I’m sayin’? And amusingly enough, I just so happened to finish the project on the Matterhorn’s 50th birthday.

Matterhorn shoulder bag

Matterhorn Shoulder Bag Detail: Strap

Matterhorn Shoulder Bag Detail: Lining

Now, I do have a couple complaints about the pattern. For one thing, the packaging (of course) heavily stresses the “go green” angle, but only one of the five bags pictured is actually made from recycled materials. Also, while they tell you any men’s L or XL t-shirt will have sufficient fabric for the required pieces of the bag, this simply wasn’t the case. I don’t think even a XXL would have made it, as there simply wasn’t a long enough piece of shirt to cut the main front/back piece from. Instead, I needed to throw that old pair of jeans into the mix to have enough fabric, in large enough pieces.

But those quibbles aside, I’m quite happy with my bag. And actually I kinda like it with the denim in the mix, though making the straps was a little trickier than it would have been with jersey. (Also, the interfacing simply wasn’t necessary with the denim, which saved me a step or two.)

If I were to do this project over again, I’d likely use the t-shirt only for the flap, and perhaps use the rest of the t-shirt fabric as lining (more re-use, more better), using denim for the side pieces. I’m a bit concerned that the denim strap attached to the jersey sides of the bag may not hold up well over time, even with the interfacing to support the jersey. Or, I’d buy a couple t-shirts that color-coordinate and work well together thematically, and make the entire bag out of jersey (as Simplicity envisioned), but that would be a much slouchier bag than I prefer.

DIY Tinker Bell Shirt Appliqués

1 May

I gotta admit, as much as I love Disney stuff, I often find the design and cut of the clothes available in the Disney Store lacking. Ditto for the clothes usually found at Disney Parks. And the stuff that I do like? Well, I’m a budget-minded girl, and since much of the stuff that appeals to me is from the Disney Couture line (read: $$$$), I end up just crafting a lot of Disney duds myself.

A couple months ago I bought several yards of flannel-backed satin Tinker Bell fabric for a project. Looking at the scraps of fabric left out after cutting the pattern, there were plenty of images left intact, and I figured that it would be an interesting experiment to try making appliqués out of them, and doing a little DIY t-shirt fashion.

At first I thought I’d just sew the fabric pieces to the shirt, but the more I read online (including this article on Instructables), the more I thought a more constructed approach would get me better results, so I decided to really make appliqués. Everybody seemed to suggest using fusible web interfacing, which kinda intimidated me . . . I’m a novice seamstress, and still don’t get interfacing right on a consistent basis. But the fusible web turned out to be pretty easy.

Here are the steps I took to make the shirt:

1) I took a scrap of the fabric to Target, and chose out a t-shirt to embellish. I’m always tempted to just get a plain black or white t-shirt, because then I don’t have to worry so much about matching colors. But it’s a whole lot more interesting to get a little pattern into the mix, so I chose a striped t-shirt, in the same color green as Tink’s dress.

2) I cut out a variety of shapes from the fabric. When following the natural curves of the image, I cut freehand. When cutting out a circle, I held a drinking glass or small tea-cup over the image I wanted to cut out, and used a disappearing-ink quilting pen to trace the circle, so I could then cut along the line I’d drawn.

3) I placed the fabric pieces on top of fusible web interfacing, ensuring that the rough side of the interfacing was against the wrong side of the fabric. Actually, I did this wrong the first time . . . so I’m glad I’d bought more interfacing than I needed. It’s cheap, about $3/yard, so just as well to pick up a little extra. I cut out pieces of interfacing that were just a little bit smaller than the fabric pieces, by about a 1/4 inch margin. I followed the instructions on the interfacing to fuse it first to the fabric piece, then to the shirt.

4) Using thread that matched the base color of the appliqués, I sewed a straight-stitch seam just barely inside the point where the interfacing ended. This was both to reinforce the connection between fabric, interfacing, and t-shirt, and to provide a little more visual interest. I could have used a contrasting color, but I was a bit insecure about getting a straight (or appropriately curved) line, and appropriately so . . . I kinda messed up the circle, but got it close enough to live with it. Next time I might try the contrast thread, now that I’ve done this project once before.

5) Using a foam brush, I teased the edges of the fabric pieces, fraying them a bit for visual interest. A toothbrush would have worked just as well. After fraying them, I used embroidery scissors to trim a few long threads.

6) Something felt missing, so I rummaged through my sewing table and, with the help of my fashion-forward 11-year-old son, chose out some purple sequins which matched the darker parts of the butterfly in the fabric. I sewed a line of sequins along the front, to give some balance to the appliqués. I didn’t want to do the whole neckline . . . that felt like a bit too much flash, perhaps a tad cliché. Something felt weird about having it just stop mid-seam, though, so I grabbed a blue rhinestone from my Bedazzler set, matching Tink’s wings, and hand-installed it at the top end of the sequin line. (I would have liked to use the actual Bedazzler, but my size 60 insert is broken, and it’s a pain to get replacement parts.)

And that’s it! The whole process took about 90-120 minutes, not including shopping for the t-shirt. The materials cost less than $15, including enough interfacing for a dozen more shirts.

If you’re interested in Disney DIY crafts, you also might want to check out the other projects I’ve posted about:

Doesn’t my BFF look totally mod with that purse?

Disney DIY Duds: Re-constructing and Re-purposing Jeans

27 Feb

During the last batch of major reductions at Disney Outlet online, I succumbed to the allure of a couple pairs of jeans. I’d had an eye on them for a while, but hadn’t ventured out to my local Disney Store to try them on . . . and this was, in fact, a mistake. The waist was super-high, and the seat/hips super-baggy. I refuse to call them “Mom Jeans” because I find that an unnecessarily demeaning term, but I think you know what I’m talking about, right?

Instead of dealing with the return/exchange shipping and all, I considered it a $25 investment in craft and sewing materials, and an opportunity to experiment a bit. I’l share these experiments here, including things that didn’t work too well. Either one is a fairly simple project, and could surely be improved upon.

Reconstruction: Shorten the rise

I simply removed the belt loops and waist band, then sewed the belt loops back onto the jeans, leaving the raw edge relatively unfinished. The jeans came out okay, but the rise is still a bit too high, and the seat a bit too baggy. Here are the steps I took, and what I’d do differently next time:

  1. I removed the belt loops with a seam ripper.
  2. I removed the waist band using a seam ripper. Next time, I’d simply re-cut the rise with a good pair of cutting shears, and customize the rise and angle based on my own measurements.
  3. Using special “jeans” thread, I reinforced/finished the new “waistband” the same way one would finish the edges of raw fabric after cutting out pattern pieces: I sewed right on the edge, using an overlock stitch. I did two rows of overlock stitch, partly because denim unravels easily but also because I wanted more of a visual contrast.
  4. I reattached the belt loops to the waist of the jeans, and called it a day.
  5. Next time, I’d do a little reading on pants construction, and see if I could take in the seat a bit, in addition to recutting the waist.

Re-purposing: Denim handbag, with pockets

This one was a little trickier, but no more time-consuming. I’m much happier with the results, and have been carrying this bag nearly every day.

I’d been poking around online at various jean purse projects, and was inspired by an electronics pouch I saw on Instructables. I changed the approach significantly, but was inspired by the basic shape of the bag, and the leverage of existing pockets. I wanted to include the front pocket as well as the back, because I really like the embellishment on the front of the jeans. It’s also turned out to be very handy; the watch pocket is perfect for keeping track of my lip gloss.

  1. I ripped out the center seam (ie, crotch from front to back). This basically splits the pants into two completely separate legs, only one of which was used for the purse.
    1. In retrospect, I could have just cut it, I didn’t need to save that extra 5/8″ of fabric.
  2. I took the pant leg that I wanted to use for the purse (in this case, the leg with both front and back pockets decorated). I split that pant leg open on the inside seam (ie, the seam that would have run down the inside of my leg).
  3. Measuring carefully, I cut a rectangle from the top of the pants. I was careful not to accidentally cut through the front pocket, since I wanted to keep it intact. The size of the rectangle could vary, depending on the size of the pants (mine were a 12) and the dimensions of the purse. I chose to cut the bottom of the rectangle about 2″ below the bottom of the back pocket.
    1. Special note: Because jeans are not rectangular, the hip seam will likely not be the side of your purse.
  4. Using special “jeans” thread (in this case, I used the “denim” color thread rather than the gold), I finished the edges with an overlock stitch, since denim loves to unravel.
  5. I sewed a zipper into the waistband, to be able to zip the purse closed. This was the trickiest part, and an experienced seamster would do it way better than I did! Basically I bought a 7″ zipper, and sewed first one side, and then the other, to the inside of the appropriate sections of waistband.
    1. In retrospect, I should have shortened the zipper, because it’s a little too long and creates a little bulge on one end. Or, if I didn’t want to learn how to shorten zippers, next time I’d err on the side of putting the extra length on the bottom of the zipper (ie, the part that’s always closed).
  6. I folded the rectangle in half, right-side to right-side, and seamed the side and bottom, using 5/8″ seam allowance on the side and 1.5″ on the bottom. I then stitched the bottom a second time, 1/4″ into the seam allowance, for extra strenth.
  7. I’d had all kind of fancy ideas about making a shoulder strap from another piece of denim . . . but it didn’t work quite right. So, I poked around the house a little and found an old piece of clothesline. I cut three pieces, of about 1.5 times the length I wanted the strap to be. I braided the clothesline, and then tied it onto a couple belt loops to make a strap. It’s held up better than I’d expected!
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