The Flintstones Group Costumes

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After many delays and postponements because of Covid, our local big fundraiser show, Atascadero’s Dancing With Our Stars finally got to go on last week. Back in March of 2020, we were 2 weeks away from showtime. The “Stars” were rehearsed; the in-between group numbers were choreographed and ready to go; the props made and backgrounds painted; and then the whole thing was SHUT DOWN. It was a huge let down. So it was such a relief at last to go on stage. The theme this time is TV Shows, and more specifically the golden age of television. Our audience tends to be an older crowd and they easily recognized all the theme songs we used. I chose “The Flintstones” because it seemed to match well with my “Star’s” charity, the local Zoo. Dr. Steve, the zoo’s veterinarian, had very little dance experience, other than some funky dancing at a wedding reception. So the 3 years of extra weekly practice (we never stopped during Covid) was the silver lining in all the postponements. Usually, I only get 9 months to train a beginner. Dr. Steve was sooooo ready to go on.

Here’s my cast for the number. My hubby is Barney Rubble, and our local Mayor is playing Betty Rubble.

I’ll start with my Wilma dress first. This is the second one I’ve made. I sewed the current version at the end of August, just 2 weeks before showtime . For the first version, I used a different pattern, and due to some weight loss during Covid, it was way too big. Plus I really didn’t like it much. Also, I had gone to Palmer & Pletsch’s Fitting Knits Workshop this last May, so I had more skills to hand. I used Simplicity’s 8874, view D, as a base.

I modified the neckline to a one shoulder look. I did my always necessary FBA, so that’s why there are bust darts. Otherwise it would have pulled way too tight across my bust and mashed the girls down. As it is, I’m wearing a majorly engineered strapless bra. That thing was like armor. Nothing bounced or jiggled.

The dress fabric is a 4-way stretch swimsuit material I had in my stash. That way I could cut a jagged hemline without it unraveling. There’s no way I was going to try and sew a hem around all that!

It’s fully lined in a beige tricot knit so there would be no show-through under the bright stage lights. I also added a clear elastic bra strap to the bare shoulder side so there would be no costume mishaps. We were doing an energetic East Coast Swing. My giant pearl necklace is painted wood beads strung on a leather cord. My hair is a clip-on wiglet from Amazon.

For Fred and Barney’s costumes, I used McCalls 5543.

The fabric for the Fred and Barney costumes is a flannel I got from Joann’s (USA). It could mimic the look of suede without the high cost of real leather. For Fred’s, instead of gluing or sewing down black felt triangles like the pattern suggested, I used a couple of homemade stencils and painted on the markings with craft acrylic piant.

The flannel could also be cut in the jagged hemline without unraveling. I made both costumes in one afternoon, it was such an easy pattern.

I ended up using a blue felt for Fred’s tie. The pattern called for a knit fabric and that’s what I did at first. But it looked so limp and kind of girly & scarf-like that I ripped it out. The felt looked way better.

For Betty Rubble, I started with McCalls 7313, View C.

I modified the bodice by bringing the shoulders way in to mimic the look of a halter neckline without being an actual halter dress. The Betty costume in the McCalls 5543 sewing pattern didn’t look like it could hold up to three nights of dress rehearsals and four show nights. Plus I wanted a more classy look since it was the Mayor wearing the costume.

The fabric is a heavy blue knit from Joann’s and was substantial enough to not require a lining. There is also an added invisible zipper in back so she could do a quick costume change instead of having to struggle it on and off over her head. She also needs an FBA, so she got bust darts as well. Her hair bow is blue felt.

For Bamm Bamm, I used Simplicity 9330, the pajama bottoms, and the same flannel as the Fred outfit. I cut the bottoms to board shorts length and did the same black painted markings. I added a strong drawcord in the waist so he could cinch it tight, being ever mindful of possible wardrobe malfunctions. The “pelt” thrown over his shoulder is black felt, tacked onto the shorts. The bone is white felt stuffed with poly fiber fill. The baseball cap is from Michaels (USA) with more black markings painted on it. The animal print tank top is Charlie’s. I’m not going to ask him why he has it…. Those are his crazy, two-toned swing dance shoes.

For Pebbles I used a t-shirt from Michaels (USA) and cut the jagged edges into the sleeves and hem. I cut off the knit neckband too so it didn’t look so much like a t-shirt. The knit skirt was thrifted and I aggressively cut out the hemline. The “bone” in her hair is white felt stuffed with poly fiber fill with a glued on hair clip.

Dino’s costume was purchased. However, we stuffed the tail & muzzle with poly fiber fill so they would stand out more. Otherwise they flopped down limply.

Last is Pearl Slaghoope, Wilma’s mother. In the TV cartoon version, Pearl wears pink zebra. Now just try finding THAT in a fabric store! So I found a pink, zebra stripped fleece throw blanket online and used that for her dress. The pattern is Simplicity 8590 with a modified V-neckline and an invisible zipper in back. The collar and sleeve flounces are from an extra large black t-shirt with large beads tied onto the jagged ends. I used the t-shirt’s V-neck as a guideline for the dress’s neckline. I wanted this dress to look more glamorous, like Liz Taylor’s Pearl in the movie version. The fleece was very easy to sew and manipulate. That jagged hem is sewn. Otherwise it curled up too much.

This show is a fundraiser contest, and the charity that raises the most funds is the winner. We came in 2nd place, raising $50,000+ for the Zoo. But what made it really special for us was winning the “People’s Choice” award, two nights in a row! Yabba dabba doo!!!

New Look 6977 and the Palmer & Pletsch Knits Workshop

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I had the good fortune to attend the Palmer & Pletsch Fitting & Sewing Knits Workshop (I don’t think that’s the actual title) in Vancouver WA in May. It was taught by the inimitable Helen Bartley, author of the “Fit and Sew Custom Jeans” book. I had been disappointed with my home sewn knits and this workshop was the fix! I came away with three finished knit tops that I’m proud to wear and look like something I bought in a department store. Before, I was always a little embarrassed to wear my amateurish looking, “made with loving hands at home”, knit garments.

We students followed along with P & P’s excellent “Knits for Real People” book. But there’s nothing like seeing the techniques demonstrated in person and then immediately applying them hands-on ourselves to really drive home the new sewing skills. Helen is muy simpatica and a very patient teacher. I highly recommend going to any of the P & P workshops if you can.

We started the class with all of us using the basic t-shirt pattern Butterick 6848 to get our basic fit alterations done. I found out that it’s okay to use a bust dart in knits if you need a Full Bust Adjustment. The t-shirts fit way better with them. Then we were free to use whatever knit pattern we wanted. Two of us chose New Look 6977 view “A” knit top with the raglan cap sleeve.

My fabric (on the left) is a knit from my stash. I think it’s from Joann’s.

Ack! Gotta love that overhead fluorescent lighting. I didn’t get my partner’s permission to post her photo, but if I’m able to track her down and get it, I’ll repost. She had a terrific smile. You can see here I chose to make mine a little more form fitting while she likes a loser, comfy fit.

Here you can see the FBA alteration I did to the pattern:

A classic FBA although not as much added as it would be to a woven because of the knit’s stretch.

I also have a high round back/neck and a sway back. So I added a half inch to the neck and pinched out a half inch at the waist:

Then the high rounded back/neck adjustment also needs to be added to the back sleeve piece:

I really like the shirred center front. The neckband is not an actual “v” neck. It starts out rounded and then becomes more “v” shaped after the shirring is done. Then a tiny pleat is sewn in the center front of the neck band. My fabric is thicker and her fabric on the right is thin and drapey. This pattern works for either kinds of knits. You just have to decide what look you’re aiming for.

We basted all the seams first to test the fit. I used to think it was a waste of time to baste knits but now I will when working with a new pattern. That way any adjustments can be made before the permanent seams go in. I have made the mistake in the past of not even bothering to pin fit and have wasted time and fabric. Then all the seams where sewn with a serger. Helen brought a coverstitch machine we could all use for those professional looking hems.

I am super jazzed with my new sewing skills!

Olympia Dress by Love Notions

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I’m always late to the party sewing-wise. I’ve seen loads of pretty Olympia dresses all over the internet and this pattern has been in my sewing queue for a very long time. Not sure why I waited so long. I love this dress with its shawl collar styling. It was a super quick make, always a plus. I had it cut out and sewn in one afternoon.

The fabric is a soft, drapey cotton knit called “Cafe White on Poppy Red” that I bought from Girl Charlee.

I used the pattern’s size Large, but in hindsight, I should have cut out the medium. I’ve lost 15 pounds recently and didn’t realize I went down a size. I ended up taking out a little over an inch from each side seam.

The construction of the all-in-one facing and shawl collar piece was a little bit of a head scratcher. So I watched Karina’s (of Lifting Pins and Needles) YouTube tutorial and that made all the difference. It requires a right angle in the seaming. Now Karina does finish the edges of her facing with a serging, but I chose not to because the knit fabric is very thin and I didn’t want a lumpy line to show through.

I really like this V-neck shawl collar neckline. It makes the dress a little more elegant than it would with a neckband finish. I’m not very good at making neckbands look professional yet.

The only pattern adjustment I made was shortening the bodice by 1/2″. Next time I’ll do more adjustments. Oh, and I also omitted the pockets because I’m pear shaped and want to avoid more bulk on my pear-ish bits.

For the next version I’ll do a sway back adjustment ( see the fabric bunching at my back) and add length to the bottom hem in the back skirt. My ample boo-tay plus sway back lifts up the back of the skirt.

I plan to make a sleeveless version next for the warmer weather coming our way.

Yowza! Double chin alert! When the heck did that happen?!? [Sigh] The joys of aging.

The Crazy Cat Lady Robe

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I saw this silly but oh-so-cute peachy-pink flannel in a recent trip to Joann’s and just had to make a “Crazy Cat Lady” robe.

The pattern is McCall’s 6306 (out-of-print but there were lots on Etsy/Ebay), a unisex nightshirt and pajama bottoms set. I have always liked the old-fashioned nightshirt look.

Lounge wear patterns tend to be drafted with a lot of ease and this pattern is no exception. So according to the pattern envelope measurements, I cut the size medium. But after pin-fitting it I found it was huge! So I just laid down the size small on top of the cut out pieces and re-cut it.

It was super easy to sew. No collars to fuss with. I didn’t even use interfacing (am picturing my high school Home Ec teacher looking at me in aghast-ment). I figured flannel in a double layer was plenty thick enough to hold up. I made my own pipping with some black flannel in my stash and some thick kitchen string.

I altered it a little by extending the button placket all the way down to the bottom. I’m using this as a robe and didn’t want to have to struggle it over my head in my groggy haze first thing in the morning. And though I really love the look of a shirttail hem line, practicality won out and I straightened it. Our floors are very cold in the mornings and I want to avoid cold ankles and calves.

I did make a silly mistake. I wasn’t careful when cutting out and sewing on the cuff facings. I didn’t discover that they are up-side down until I flipped up the finished cuffs. Ack! But they do they bother me enough to unpick and re-do them? Nah. The only ones who will see me actually wearing this are hubby and the kitties.

I did go to the trouble of pattern matching the patch pockets. I changed the pockets slightly by making them larger (only a child’s hand could fit in them as drafted) and eliminating the piping.

To enlarge the pocket, I added seam allowance to all the edges.

My little helper, Bertie, likes to make sure that cat hair is sewn directly into all the seams.

This flannel is a little looser weave so tear-away stabilizer was a must for the buttonholes. I also added a self-fabric loop at the neck for hanging on the bathroom door hook.

Beginner sewists who are comfortable with making buttonholes could easily make this.

The directions for the piping are super clear and easy to follow, like this one for the neck edge. Although I did cut all the way down the middle for a down-to-the-floor button placket. I also had to add length to the facing pattern piece to match the length of the robe.
Here is my neck edge piping.
Here is the inside facing of the neck edge.
This is where I tapered off the neck and front piping near, but not at, the bottom hem.
These are the instructions for the cuff edge piping. They show very clearly how to overlap the piping. Just be careful if your fabric has a directional print. My cuff facing ended up-side down when I flipped up the cuff!
My cuff piping and my backwards cuff facing.

Then all I need to complete the ensemble is a pair of kitty slippers!

Bertie agrees.

My constant companion in the sewing room.

My “Blanche Devereaux” Lingerie for the Sew Golden Girls Challenge

I just turned 60 recently and so I decided I just had to channel my inner Blanche Devereaux for the Sew Golden Girls challenge on Instagram, hosted by @stitch_collective, hashtags #sewgoldengirls or @SewGoldenGirls. I needed a boost of Blanche’s sass and spice!

Kwik Sew 3264

I have always admired Blanche’s collection of flamboyant, colorful silk robes on The Golden Girls. I’ve had this silk charmeuse in my stash for a couple of years. I bought it right before a local independent fabric store (Betty’s Fabrics) closed after 45 years in my town. It was so sad to lose another fabric store that carried loads of apparel fabric.

I used Kwik Sew 3264, View B. Although this pattern is designed for heavyweight stretch knits, I used the woven silk without any problems in sizing. Robes are generally oversized by design.

This pattern is a simple style with just a band around the neckline edge which made it quicker to sew since there was no collar to fuss with.

How ever, this 100% silk charmeuse FRAYS! It frayed immediately after cutting and frayed more and more each time I handled it. ACK! I wish I’d had the foresight to add an additional inch to all the seam allowances.

I swear I just breathed on it and this happened!

I figure I lost 1/4″ to 1/2″ on some of the seam allowances due to excessive fraying. Thank heaven robes are generally oversized so the fit wasn’t affected. I did add stabilizing tape by Sewkeyse’s to the shoulder seams. Since I used french seams throughout, the tape disappeared nicely into the encased seam.

For the nightgown, I used Vogue 9015, view C. I had just enough of the colorful silk for the robe so for the nightie, I used a black silk charmeuse in my stash that was leftover from lining a previous project.

Vogue 9015

It was a very quick bias cut gown. I just searched through my bits and pieces and found a piece of lace just long enough for the neckline.

I tried to do the 80s Big Hair I wore back in the day.

I did french seams on the gown too. I was more careful and went much more slowly on these french seams since all them were on the bias. I didn’t have any lace for the hem, so I just stitched a narrow rolled hem.

“Thank you for being a friend,
Traveled down the road and back again,
Your heart is true,
You’re a pal and a confidant…”

Golden Girls Sewing Challenge Inspiration

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There is a Golden Girls themed sewing challenge for the month of September currently on Instagram, hosted by @stitch_collective, hashtag #SewGoldenGirls.

I want to channel my inner Blanche Devereaux and her fabulous collection of sexy, flowing robes and nightgowns. Blanche was an older woman who oozed confidence, could flirt unabashedly, was straight forward about what she wanted and never apologized about her sexuality. She showed me that being older does not mean the end of adventure or sexiness.

The actress playing Blanche, Rue McClanahan, had written into her GGs contract that she got to keep all of Blanche’s clothes, many of which were created and sewn by the show’s designer, the Emmy winning Judy Evans. Very smart of Rue to insist on that. Sadly Rue passed in 2010. Many of her memorabilia from her long acting career was auctioned (the Estate of Rue), like this gorgeous hand-painted silk robe, that sold for $5000!

Why oh why didn’t the show’s creators take more high quality stills of Blanche’s wardrobe?!?!? Or all the girls in their character’s clothes? Here’s Blanche wearing the above robe in Season 4, episode 18 called “Fiddler On The Ropes”.

As well as the character was written, Blanche wouldn’t have worked if not for Rue McClanahan’s brilliant performance. Originally she was cast as “Rose” and Betty White as “Blanche”. This was based on roles they previously played; Betty had portrayed the over-sexed Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Rue co-starred as the sweetly bubble-headed Vivian Harmon on Maude. Thankfully for us, the actresses didn’t want to be typecast and switched roles shortly before filming began. 

I love this robe with it’s four-square dot pattern. It’s part of a three-piece ensemble of dressing gown, a vest attached to a long-sleeve blouse by snaps, and matching pants.

And I love the bright colors of this robe. I remember seeing it in several episodes paired with different nightgowns. Blanche wore so many bright and beautiful colors on the show.

Blanche Forever!! You can see the ginormous 1980s style shoulder pads on this white, pink and seafoam green number. I love all the scalloped details on the collar and cuffs, but giant shoulder pads in a robe? I’ll pass.

This is not sleepwear and off topic, but I love this red beaded evening ensemble:

Blanche: “I swear with God as my witness, I will never pick up another man!… in a library… on a Saturday… unless he’s cute… and drives a nice car… Amen.”

Vogue 8997 Dress

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I made this as part of Sian’s (of Kittenish Behavior) Youtube sew along. I like sew alongs and challenges. It gives me the extra incentive to sit down to my sewing machine. And I really needed the boost this time. I recently had two dismal back-to-back sewing failures (which will NEVER be revealed here, they were that BAD!) and my disappointment sent my sewing mojo crashing down through the floor.

This is a Vogue Easy Options pattern. The pattern came with “Custom Fit” bust pattern pieces in A, B, C, D cup sizes and, Yay, saved me from having to do a FBA. I used this pretty rayon challis by Art Gallery, the Magnolia Study Silkroad collection. It’s a very lightweight rayon with a soft, fluid drape. It is fully lined with bemberg rayon.

Sian’s sew along is very helpful. She quickly veers off from the instructions in the envelope. She used a method I also prefer to use when sewing sleeveless bodices together. It gives a cleaner finish to the armholes and shoulder seams. But make sure you have double checked the fit of the of the shoulders because there is no adjusting once it is done. She also likes to sew up the skirt part first so it will have time to drop on the bias parts. I like to hang my skirt parts early too, but I don’t sew it up first. I cut out the skirt sections and hang them with a trouser’s hanger, ideally overnight or longer. Since I usually cut out on one day and sew the next, this works out for me.

I usually have to make a short waist adjustment but I risked not doing this time and it worked out well for me. If you have a longer waist, Sian shows you how to make the adjustment on her video. I did, however, pinch out a one inch in a wedge from the center back seam because of my sway back. I also added height to the back neckline because otherwise it would be too low on me and I wanted to make sure my bra strap didn’t show.

I’m very short from my shoulder to waist and I did have to pinch out ½ inch from the armscye at the top of princess seam to prevent the gaping I usually get in the front of armhole. 

I did french seams on almost all the seams in the skirt except the center front and the lower center back seam. Those I finished with Hug Snug seam binding. I didn’t french seam the bodice since it is fully encased with lining. Now Sian seems to leave her entire lining to hang free, meaning she didn’t attach her bodice lining at the waist. I don’t mind hand-sewing/tacking the bodice lining down at the waistline seam, and then attaching the skirt lining by hand.

I’m really happy that I have a win here with this dress. I needed something to come out well after my previous fails. I love that this skirt has just enough twirl without flying straight up to waist level like full circle skirts do. That matters a lot to me when out dancing!

Another Simplicity 8849

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This is my second Simplicity 8849. I made the first one last summer and liked it so much I just had to sew another this year. I don’t often use patterns more than once but I recently watched Alisa of Thoughtful Creativity – CRAFT, SEW, DIY on Youtube about why you should make each pattern 3 times. I’m usually a “one and done” in my approach to sewing patterns but Alisa is changing my mind about that.

This time I used a soft medium-weight to almost heavy-weight cotton from Gorgeousfabrics.com.

My usual fitting adjustments are: princess seam style FBA, pinched out an inch along the front armscye and shortened the waist length by half an inch. I added snaps on the inside of the button placket between the buttons to prevent gaping.

Since the cotton is fairly heavy-ish, I chose not to use interfacing because I didn’t want it to become too stiff. I did use tear-away stabilizer on the buttonholes to add strength there. The facings seem just fine without interfacing.

The only pattern matching I did is with the pockets. I don’t like pockets to stand out on my Pear shaped hips.

I am really pleased with this second version. Maybe I’ll make a third like Alisa suggests?

Bertie is getting so big. He is 6 months old now yet still has his fluffy baby fur.

My little sewing buddy, Bertie

McCall’s 6554 Fashion Star Dress

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This is another of my UFOs (unfinished objects). I cut out this Cotton & Steel rayon (one of their Amalfi floral designs) two summers ago.

The description on the envelope of McCall’s 6554 says this dress has “a close fitting, lined bodice, a raised waist, skirt with front pleat and underlay and self-belt”. Close fitting? I usually use size 14 in the Big 4, but I had cut the size 12, possibly because that’s where my ever fluctuating weight was at 2 years ago. I should have cut it down further to size 10. There was an abundance of ease!

Trying to pose like the pattern model

I tend to assemble in a different order than the instructions. I waited to do the side seams until after I attached the skirt front to the bodice front, and the skirt backs to the bodice back. Then I have one long side seam that I can adjust and fine-tune the fit. And I did have to keep trying it on and taking in the side seams more again and again. I don’t have any idea how much I took out altogether.

Side seam with the skirt, bodice and bodice lining in one long piece

I prefer to do french seams in rayon, but with the amount of adjusting I had to do, I had to resort to the serger.

The dress is still very loose. “Close fitting bodice” my aunt Fanny!

Apparently I didn’t have enough fabric. Not sure what I was thinking 2 years ago. Note to self: avoid generating UFOs in the future. By necessity I left off the skirt underlay and just did a pleat. There also wasn’t enough fabric for the belt and I remember I was just barely able to squeeze out a kind of bow for the front to fake it. I lined the entire dress with bemberg rayon. I also applied a soft fusible interfacing to the neckline for some body since the challis is super soft and limp.

Bertie the kitten investigating the photo session. He’s just on the cusp of growing out of kitten hood [sigh]. Those are true vintage Bakelite bracelets I’m wearing. The blueberry necklace is from Summer Blue Jewelry.

It’s too bad all the side seam adjustment slightly distorted the bodice fit. It’s a cool and breezy dress, just right for the triple digit (Fahrenheit) heat where I live. It will get some wear this summer but it’s not one of my favorite recent makes.

ACK!!! And I still have a box of UFOs!! Not sure why I’m smiling about it…

Surplice Dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book

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This pretty summer dress is from “Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book” by Gretchen Hirsch, the Floral Surplice Dress on starting on page 151.

I love it that Gertie set up her patterns to be mix-n- match. I chose the surplice bodice and the full circle skirt. I paired it with a Gertie designed rayon challis fabric with a lovely soft  hand and drape that I got from Joann’s ages ago, when they still carried her fabric line. I am royally miffed they don’t carry her fabrics anymore in the US. I would totally go to Australia just to raid their Spotlight stores for her fabric.

Worn sans petticoat

This has been in my UFO (unfinished object) pile since September 2018, when I tested the muslin and cut out the fabric in one of Gertie’s workshops in Beacon NY. It was my second dress in that session and we ran out of time. I was glad to be able to utilize Gertie to get the bodice fit just right. I just thought I would get to it sooner when I got home.

I had to do a full bust adjustment (FBA), pinch out a 1 inch slice in the armscye and do a sway back adjustment to the center back. Gertie just loves her a lapped zipper! I chose to go with an invisible one which is quicker for me.

Dress worn here with a petticoat

I’m wearing it here with a petticoat (from Pettiskirt Style, now sadly closed). I think the dress looks nice with or without a petticoat. The crossover bodice does reveal a lot of cleavage, so if that is not your jam, you may have to do some altering to raise the neckline. I’m wearing a vintage Coro enamel necklace and earring set. I love vintage jewelry! It has an aged patina to it that I adore. I’m still searching for the matching bracelet to complete a parure.

My petticoat is not a super floofy one. At the time of this writing, Malco Modes (https://malcomodes.biz) has a very similar one on their website. This would be a match to their “Zooey” line.

I fully lined the bodice and skirt. In the book, Gertie used only facings. I sewed facings right on top of the lining before sewing the front and lining together. That way you just see the fashion fabric and not lining peeking out. The lining is a mish-mash of various lightweight cotton fabrics I had in my stash.

Hello there! Bertie the kitten was wondering what I was doing.

He is such an adorable cutie patootie. He just likes to be wherever I am. Very typical of Ragdolls.

Ack! Blurry photo!

So this UFO is almost 2 years old. Do I win the oldest UFO award? Probably not. I would love to know old your UFOs are?