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Monday, October 31, 2011

Sewing: Mummy and a Magic Rainbow

Dress-up is always fun. Especially if it comes out of one's imagination. With that in mind, I've tried to encourage the kids to come up with costume ideas. I cannot forget Ana's first. How stubbornly sure she was about being a Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich!

Now, it's not like Halloween sneaks up on us unawares on anything, but for some reason, Ana and Oggie don't settle on what their costume should be until just a week or two before Oct 31st. Which leaves us scrambling to get it ready in time.

This year's costume discussion started with Oggie leaning strongly towards Watermelon, his favorite fruit. I was pushing for squid in a not-so-subtle way - with ulterior motive, of course, and not because of some strange love for the sea creature. See, I was particularly thrilled about the Octopus costume I had made last year.

After a lot of back and forth, with me tossing some of his cute ideas aside as I wasn't up to making the costume, we settled on Mummy. Thanks to the Boston MFA trip and the Egyptian wing there, Oggie was fascinated with mummies. Now, he doesn't quite get that it is just dead people, preserved. he thinks they are a special species. Anyway, so, Mummy it was.

How to make a mummy costume? Well, there are lots of fancy ways to do it, of course. One could sew the top and bottom from scratch, adding dramatic touches. But, I took a sort of short-cut, knowing that on the appointed day Oggie might refuse to wear it just because he changed his mind.
  1. Get a set of white thermal underwear - tops and bottom; and a yard or so of off-white muslin
  2. Cut strips of muslin (1½ or 2½ inch) and sew or glue it around and around the thermal undewear
  3. Important: Stretch the thermal underwear as much as it would go when sewing/gluing the muslin strips; even then spiral around loosely leaving enough muslin for the thermal to stretch into; also if aging the costume (see last step) give allowance for muslin to shrink. Lesson learnt the hard way!
  4. Cut out the tops at the back so that it is easier to stretch and sew on the muslin strips; then close the back with zipper closure for easy on/off
  5. Hat: I used white ribbed knit fabric I had, but any stretch fabric would be fine. I have a simple hat template I made up; sew the hat all the way except the last step of sewing the open edge to close and finish the hat; sew on the strips of muslin as for the body; then finally sew the hat closed as usual
  6. Age the costume: Now to make it slightly more authentic, I dyed it to get the ancient, moldy old look: Soak in weak tea till desired shade and dry in the dryer to fray the muslin a bit

Ana has come up with interesting ones in the last few years and this year was no exception. She very firmly said she wanted to be The Magic Rainbow With A Pot O' Gold At The End!

How to make a magic rainbow costume? Well, I tossed around cardboard cut-outs, strips-of-color outfit and such. After googling around a bit, I loved the cutie here: Sunshine and Rainbow. And that's what I did, with a few edits.

  1. I used my favorite ribbed knit white fabric that I bought in bulk a long time ago - seems like it is inexhaustible - to sew pants and tops for Ana. Pants are much like the flare-leg ones I make for her on and off.
  2. Two Alterations to the Cutie Sunshine/Rainbow idea:
    • For one thing, the link had the rainbow backwards - red should be on the outside and violet on the inside
    • And, since there was enough room, I sewed some clouds on Ana's pants to continue the theme
  3. I was debating blue pants and tops rather than white, going for the blue sky, but, it seemed like the bright colors of the raibow pops out in a white background, so, decided to go with white outfit
  4. I used fleece fabric for the rainbow and clouds; cut out the pieces and sewed them on like appliqué to the front of the tops first; then finished the tops
  5. I decided not to do the sleeves for the rainbow costume - just wear the white turtleneck full-sleeved tops inside as it adds an extra layer of warmth, and I am not too fond of sewing on sleeves usually
  6. The Sun hat was the best part. Much like her PBJ costume, I think it is the headgear that adds to the beauty of the outfit.

So, there you have it!

I had a lot of fun making these - coming up with the design, the materials and an easy method of execution is most of the work. Made easier if somebody has already done it and shared it for free. Actual sewing takes not much effort. It does take a huge investment of time to get it all done. But, between insomnia and an incurably quick worker, things got done just in time.

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Blogger Kay said...

oh sheela!! They are beautiful.. the kids and the costumes! :) I have finally managed to scrounge some space in the basement and have set up a sewing corner.

I just feel so bad,overwhelmed cutting into the fabric.. yikes! it's just fabric.. I don't know what I'm worried about. maybe I'll start with hemming all those pants which have already formed a queue.. maybe that will give me the confidence to start real sewing.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Sheela said...

LOL, Kay! When I was young, my mom would give me her old saree, even old nightie, to cut as I pleased; at first, those became pillow cases or hankies... I can understand how you feel about cutting fabric :) I know you'll do it someday - an when you do, please let me know!

9:58 AM  

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