Category Archives: Holidays

A valentine fort

I don’t consider myself the romantic type. I find most classic examples of romance (in the real world) to be, well, embarrassing. I’m much more comfortable with cute gestures of love than steamy, sensual, dramatic ones! What can I say, it’s just not me.

So anyway, M & I were talking about what to do for Valentine’s Day this year, and since I have no spare cash, after just paying my taxes (ouch), I suggested we just stay in and have a nice meal. And I mentioned, “oh and we should build a fort!” To which M just chuckled.

Little did he know. I was going to build a fort.

I grew up in a family with 3 brothers, and one of our favorite things to do was construct elaborate forts in the living room, from couch cushions, sheets, blankets and furniture. But my inspiration for this Valentine’s fort was from this picture:

Valentine’s Day Fort via Design*Sponge

This is my kind of romantic.

I wish I could say I have all kinds of rich tapestry linens hanging around my house, but I had to make due with what I could scrounge from my closets.
I found 3 gauzy curtain panels, a couple of flat sheets, 2 lengths of lace, and just about every throw blanket and pillow in the house.

my valentine fort

my valentine fort

I used the method in the Design*Sponge post – draping the sheets over a broom handle suspended from the ceiling, string and safety pins. I also used a large embroidery hoop in the front, from which the airy curtains hung.

Sure, it took me 2-3 hours to make this thing! Ah the perks of being one’s own boss. That’s right, I gave myself the afternoon off for this special occasion. πŸ™‚

cozy living room fort

cozy living room fort

I also made some chocolate truffles (what’s Valentine’s day without chocolate?).
The last finishing touch was gussying myself up. On a normal work day, since I work with clay all day and my studio is home-based, I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and my work sweatshirt. Rarely do I put on much make-up if I’m not going to see people.

For Valentine’s day, to complete the surprise, I wore this dress, an Anthro find from several years back:

Doris Shirtdress – Anthropologie

It’s super fun and colorful, and very retro 50s.
Then I did my face up all pretty-like.

The whole thing was worth it when M got home, came through the back door, to find this leading him into the living room…

candlelit pathway

candlelit pathway

And then this on the other side…

valentine tent and a bottle of wine

valentine tent and a bottle of wine

The look on his face. Priceless. How can you not love a surprise living room fort? πŸ˜€

The rest of the evening was spent on the floor, with wine, dinner and a movie. Now that’s my kind of romance.

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A simple table setting

The holidays are upon us, and I am very much looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I love the times when family and friends can come together and really celebrate with each other. And now that my sibs and I are all technically adults, I love that everyone contributes to the day (not just showing up for a big meal).
My planning-mode goes into overdrive for these kinds of things – I already have multiple lists going for dish ingredients, cooking schedules, and items I can’t forget to bring with me.
And not only am I thinking about food (I’m planning on contributing 3 side dishes, a dessert, and a morning-after breakfast dish), but I also get excited about decor.

Simple Thanksgiving table centerpiece

The host-space we’re having our celebration at will be a fairly blank-slate, so took it upon myself to design a tablescape for the meal. The photo above is a mock up on my dining table. I knew it had to be a simple setup, since I’ll be bringing it all with me, and I don’t want to take too much time with it – heck, we’ll be cooking for a good crowd! Can’t indulge in decorations too much, amirite?

The idea for this simple Thanksgiving centerpiece came from an awesome set of amber cut-glass goblets I happened upon the last time I scoped out Goodwill. I knew that if I arranged them upside-down, they’d make excellent stands for mercury glass votives and tea light candles.

vintage water goblets, pinecones, tea lights

I centered the whole arrangement on a long table runner I made a few seasons back and scattered a dozen pinecones between the glasses for an understated autumnal look.

I’m looking forward to this Thursday when I’ll get to arrange the table for real, and spend some quality time with the people I love πŸ™‚

Hope your holiday plans are warm and cozy!

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Pigs in Space costume: Happy Halloween!

So here is my final post, wrapping up my process of creating a Miss Piggy Halloween costume – the Pigs in Space 1st Mate Piggy costume!
Where I attempt to transform myself into this iconic pig:

Miss Piggy – Pigs in Space

In my previous 3 posts, I went over how to make Miss Piggy Ears, sew a Pigs in Space uniform dress, and make a Pigs in Space felt logo decal. Now we put it all together with accessories!

First Mate Piggy – finished costume!

Now, you can see, I stitched the felt decal onto the front of the dress. And I also stitched the ears onto the wig itself – which was great, since there was no bulky headband or obtrusive clips. And I can snip the threads later if I want to use the blonde wig for something else in the future!

First Mate Piggy costume – headshot

So here’s the breakdown of the Pigs in Space costume accessories:

First Mate Piggy, accessories!

Now, the above collage is more of a wish list for this costume, but I think I made due with what I had, or could get on short notice πŸ˜‰

First! A blonde wig. Very important to have the right hair. The wig I found was a tad bit too blonde, if you know what I mean. Classic Piggy hair is really more of a dirty blonde. You know, ‘cuz she was natural back in the day. (It’s so obvious that Piggy bleaches her hair these days, haha).

Classic Miss Piggy – pigs in space

Next, the eyes! Piggy’s signature look is thick luscious eyelashes and a pink/purple eyeshadow. Also, her eyes are slightly downturned. I achieved this look with a thick line of eyeliner, false eyelashes, and a layered application of pink and purple shadows on the lid.

sultry Miss Piggy eyes πŸ˜‰

Next comes all the silver! Miss Piggy always wears gloves, and in her Pigs In Space costume, she trades her signature purple gloves for silver ones. I found mine on Amazon.
Then you’ll need a silver belt. Of course, you can make one, but I lucked out and found a shiny metallic belt at my local Goodwill for $4. Score!

Then we get into debatable territory. Since most Muppets don’t exist below the waist, the only reference I had to go on for the bottom half of Piggy’s costume was from an action figure:

First Mate Piggy doll

You can see she has silver leggings and silver knee-high boots.
As luck would have it, I already owned some shiny silver leggings (from two Halloweens ago – when I dressed as a Cyberman..er..woman). They are from American Apparel, and pricy, but I’m glad to get multiple uses out of them!

Then the boots…well, I didn’t want to splurge on silver boots when I’d probably never wear them again. So instead, I used my off-white boots, which were from my Princess Leia costume from 5 years ago. Lol…yes, I generally choose very nerdy subjects as Halloween costumes. I’m cool with that.

First Mate Piggy costume – Happy Halloween!

So there you go! Happy Halloween to all you folks. Hope it’s a fun one! Kissy kissy!

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First Mate Piggy Costume Tutorial: Pt 2 – Sewing Piggy’s Space Dress

OK! So perhaps you have your Miss Piggy Ears, and now it’s time to get moving on the actual dress of your First Mate Piggy costume.
As I mentioned last time, I’m planning on a Miss Piggy costume for Halloween this year – specifically, in her Pigs in Space outfit. Since I didn’t find much on the interwebz to help me make a costume, I’m writing up a tutorial on how I’m constructing mine! Enjoy πŸ™‚

Disclaimer: I am not an experienced seamstress! Most of my methods are just from figuring things out as I go, so take these instructions with a grain of salt. If you have pointers, tips or other suggestions for folks who may try to attempt a similar costume as the one I’m making, feel free to share in the comments!
Also, I’m about a size 8. This dress design is a loose-fitting babydoll shape until you add a belt, so I’d guess it would work for sizes 6-10. Again, this is just a basic how-to. Please adjust your own costume according to your needs! πŸ™‚

First Mate Piggy costume tutorial – before adding accessories!

Materials:
2 yards light purple fabric (I found a lavender flannel with silver sparkles! what!?)
1/2 yard silver metallic fabric
matching thread
polyfil stuffing
eyes & hooks (or other fastener of your choice)
Piggy Dress PatternΒ as measurement guide

purple flannel and silver metallic fabric

First, using the PDF guide I made above, cut out the dress shape. The front and the back are identical, so you’ll need two.

dress shape cut out

Please ignore the fact that I didn’t iron my fabric (for shame!).

Next, pin the two pieces together inside-out (making sure the good side of the fabric is facing inward) and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch the sides and the shoulder straps. When you turn it right-side-out, it’ll look something like this:

stitched edges, right-side-out

Next comes hemming the bottom edge. I did a 1/2″ (or so) hem, and used a zigzag stitch so it would lay nice and flat.

hemming the bottom of the dress

You’ll also want to hem the armholes in this way, too, for a nice finished edge. I used a 1/4″ hem for the arms (sorry there’s no photo!).

Soon, we’ll be gathering in the neckline, so the next step is making a slit down the back, so you can fit your head in when it’s done! Find the center of the back, and make a 6″ cut straight down.

6″ cut for the head opening

Pin the edges back about 1/4″ inch and hem it.

pinned – ready to hem

Once that’s hemmed, we’ll begin pleating the neckline.
Find the center of the front, and make a 1″ accordion-type fold, like so:

first center pleat of the neckline

Continue folding pleats on either side of your first one, pinning as you go. Make sure they are symmetrical. I got 5 total pleats.

front pleats, pinned

I used lots of pins, just to make sure it didn’t come apart when I took it to the sewing machine!

sewing the front row of pleats

I was surprised at how well this worked! (haha) It really brought the neckline in, and the dress is starting to look like a real piece of clothing.

pleated neckline – front

And now, because the dress is still all floppy and open in the back, we need to pleat the back, too!
Using the same folding and pinning method, add pleats to the back of the dress.

back pleats, pinned

I got two 1″ pleats on each side of the slit. Pin it up and then take it to the sewing machine!

At this point, you can sew a set of eyes and hooks to the top of the head opening, so that you can clasp it closed.

eye & hook

Next it starts getting trickier, because we’re adding the silver trim to the dress. And I didn’t take as many pictures of this part as I should have. Forgive me!

We’re moving on to the puffy silver collar on Piggy’s dress.
Cut out a piece of your silver material that is 4″ wide and 18″ long. Stitch this into a long tube, with open ends. Then turn the tube inside out. Then you take this silver tube and pin it to the neckline of the dress. (There will be extra fabric hanging off either end)

silver trim pinned to neckline

Stitch them together with a good tight stitch. When you finish this step, you should have something like this:

silver neckline, sewed on

Now we need to stuff that collar! Grab your polyfil and pack it in good and tight through the openings at either end.

adding stuffing to the collar

Once the collar is filled to a uniform density, trim off the excess silver fabric, but leave enough to fold over twice – you’ll sew each end closed this way. Add another eye & hook to the top of the collar for closure.
Here’s what the padded collar should resemble:

padded collar

We’re almost done! Next up we have the silver shoulder loops, or epaulettes if you will, which complete the look. I made a simple template with paper – it’s a 7″ diameter circle with a teardrop shape cut out of the middle. The width of the loop is about 2.5″ and tapering at the ends. Cut out 4 of these in your silver fabric.

prepping the epaulettes

Stitch 1/4″ all the way around, except leaving a 2″ gap somewhere so you can turn the shape inside-out.

stitched up with a 2″ gap at the inner top

Turn it inside out, and it looks like this:

epaulette, ready for filling

Add your polyfil, just like you did for the collar. When it is filled, stitch closed the opening (I used a needle and thread, not the machine, for this).

finished epaulette, ready to attach to the dress

Once you have two of them stuffed and sewn closed, they’re ready to sew onto the dress. Using a needle and thread, attach each epaulette to the top of the shoulder, as close to the collar as you can.

finished dress with trimmings

And there you have it!

the finished dress

Add a belt to complete the shape.

Add a belt to complete the shape

But of course, the costume isn’t finished yet! Lots of accessories to discuss, next time! See you then πŸ™‚

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First Mate Piggy Costume Tutorial: Pt 1 – Piggy Ears

October is here, and that means pumpkin flavored everything, changing leaves, and of course, gearing up for Halloween! I love Halloween, and the craftiness that goes along with it. Ever since I was a wee one, my mother always made our costumes – I don’t think I once got a store-bought one. At times I thought this was so unfair – seeing those shiny racks of pre-made costumes at the store. But now it is quite obvious to me how lucky I was to have a mother with creativity and the desire to make something from scratch for her children.

To this day, if I wear a costume, you can be sure I made or assembled it myself. This year is no exception! I got it in my head earlier this year that I wanted to do something Muppet related. Then I narrowed it down to Miss Piggy. But Piggy is such a fashion diva! I couldn’t decided on an appropriate outfit.

Then – inspiration! Pigs in Space! First Mate Piggy has the most rockin’ space getup. Light purple with silver accessories. Iconic and classic.

Pigs in Space First Mate Piggy

I’ll have a full tutorial on how to make a Pigs in Space outfit soon.
But first! No Muppet pig is complete without ears, so here’s how to make a simple pair!

Materials:
Pink/Peach colored felt
Thread in matching color
Ear Template: Piggy Ear Template
Straight pins
Sewing machine (optional)

Step One:
Print and cut out your ear template. Trace 6 ears onto your felt.

Miss Piggy Ears step 1

Miss Piggy Ears step 1

Step Two:
Cut them out. Each ear will use 3 pieces (I used a red layer, because I ran out of pink – don’t be like me!)
I used three layers to make the ears more solid and sturdy.

Miss Piggy Ears step 2

Step Three:
Line up your three pieces and secure with a few straight pins. Stitch a seam, using the Template as a guide (be sure to leave an opening for turning it inside-out). A sewing machine makes this super quick, but it can be done by hand too.

Miss Piggy Ears part 3

Step Four:
Admire your stitching job.

Miss Piggy Ears part 4

Step Five:
Carefully turn the ear inside-out, so the seam is on the inside.

Miss Piggy Ears part 5

Step Six:
Using your fingers, smooth out the inside seam and shape the edge into a nice ear-shape.

Miss Piggy Ears part 6

Step Seven:
Pinch the open edges together so the ear cups in to form a concave shape.

Miss Piggy Ears part 7a

Miss Piggy Ears part 7b

Step Eight:
You can use your machine again to close this seam, or you can do what I did and hand-stitch it closed. Be sure to get through all layers of felt.

Miss Piggy Ears part 8

FINISHED!

Miss Piggy Ear finished!

Then you’ll make a second ear the same way, because they work well in pairs.

Miss Piggy Ears – the finished pair

From here, you can attach them to a headband, or hair clips, or stitch them directly onto a blonde wig!

I haven’t decided yet which method I’ll use. But they sure are cute ^_^

me in my piggy ears

Stay tuned for my First Mate Piggy space dress Tutorial later in the month!

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welcoming the sun’s return

How did I miss the whole month of March??
Oh right, I’ve been workin’ like a mad-lady. But I’ve missed you!

Anyhoo! Before I totally miss the month of April as well, I wanted to say Happy Easter, and maybe (just maybe) the spring has finally arrived in Seattle. At least, we’ve seen a bit of the sun in the last few days, and I think the frost has finally given up most mornings.

Purple hard boiled egg

But in honor of today being Easter, I want to focus on eggs.
Yes this is a a hard-boiled egg:
Isn’t it crazy?

But that’s not the best part! Here is my egg sliced in half:

pretty purple pickled egg!

I love it! This beats dying the outside of eggs any day.
And the best part is, it’s all natural, and still tastes great. I discovered the idea of pickling eggs with beet juice from one of my go-to foodie blogs Simply Recipies, and you can find her recipe for pickled eggs right here! It’s so easy to do, provided you have beet juice on hand. You can use the juice from fresh beets, or do as I did and use the stuff from canned beets.

I’ll definitely be pickling eggs again, and probably try out some of Elise’s other pickle recipes.

So happy Easter, to those who celebrate it! And welcome springtime and new beginnings!

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