Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rockabilly Tuesday: Rockin' The Bandana (A Hairstyle & Outfit)

Today, we're going to try out styling a bandana the Rockabilly way...


Here are a couple of good tutorials (that you could easily find on google yourself, so what help am I really? But I in general don't have the patience for youtube, especially video tutorials. I prefer written/text/photo ones because I can generally read and absorb the concept much faster than the pace of the videos):

Retro Rockabilly Bandana hair tutorial by Susie Brown

Pin-Up Hair Do - Rosie the Riveter Bandana

 I like the first one, how she had the curls in the back when she puts it up, but she has bangs/fringe and I do not, so styling the front of your hair for the look takes a different technique (more of a pompadour), as in the second one. That being said, however, she has to curl and back-comb/tease her hair for body. Having curly/frizzy hair, I don't need to do this (in fact, I simply clipped my hair back the other day and ended up with a puffy pomp action by the time I got to work). Also,  I cringe whenever I see someone back-comb their hair (this destroys it, my friends!).

 Okay, my approach to the retro homemaker's preferred hair fastening for house cleaning...

I pomped (spell check tells me this is not a word, so I'm coining the term... Pomp: verb. to put one's hair up in the pompadour style. Not to be confused with the noun form, although both have the same root of exaggerated style) my hair in the front. And then, having hair that touches my lower back when wet and straight (much shorter when dry and ringlety), I decided to put it up in 'curls'. But Eff curlers! I decided to practice (since I quite suck at it) making victory curls, and pinned them down on the back of my head. I of course, could not see what the hell I was doing until I looked at these photos. All and all, not too bad... considering I did it blind and can't even pull off a Victory Roll on the front of my head. I took the hairspray to it, but frizziness prevails. Also, beneath the bandana, my really low hairline is clearly visible (I blame the Mediterranean French genes). Oh, and look at the crazy aquiline schnoz, prominent in profile (not sure if I blame the French or Mohawk genetics for that one, but either way I was quite destined for that nose, wasn't I?)

Throw on some capris, tie off a white blouse, slip on those red pumps, check the hair...
How's my hair look?
And we're ready for housework!
Okay, ready for cleaning, then.

ROCKABILLY SONG OF THE WEEK: Fujiyama Mama by Wanda Jackson
ROCKABILLY SLANG OF THE WEEK: (Were' adding a new term into our Rockabilly vocab, one I shall doubtless frequently use.) Pomp-(verb) to put one's hair up in the pompadour style. I pomped my hair and now I'm quite a hip cat.


Previous Rockabilly Tuesday Posts:
Making It Up!
Retro Halter Top (with Tutorial)

Until next time...

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Untempered Schism (A Doctor Who Crazy Quilt)

I'm pretty sure this turned out square and not wonky... my photo, however, is not straight on...

The Story: This was meant to be a housewarming present for my friends... and was only about...oh... 8 months late. It ended up being an engagement present. I sort of ran out of steam for several months in the middle there, since I sewed it entirely by hand on my daily commute by bus (and my embroidery job will wear one's hands out, too).

The Design: I meant for the Doctor Who theme to be subtle. But that apparently was a fail, for people on the bus (who failed to realize my wallet was blatantly a TARDIS) somehow recognized that the bundle of fabric in my lap was a Doctor Who Quilt. Go figure. Fabrics from my scrap pile, varying from quilters' cottons to flannel to taffeta, as well as special fabrics I ordered through spoonflower (additional note: when I searched to upload a project photo for some of these fabrics, I was informed many of them are no longer available). Anyway, my friends' house is a Victorian townhouse, so I decided to make them a crazy quilt, the epitome of quilting during that time period. I will NEVER make a crazy quilt again. It took me two days just to lay it out, and I still think the aesthetic could've been better.

The Technique: Most of you are probably familiar with the 'crazy quilt' concept, but if you're not, here's a quick explanation. Crazy quilts are made of erratically shaped pieces, usually/traditionally of scraps of clothing and the like. One sews these pieces down to a backing (in my case, I just used muslin cut to the finished quilt size... 'lap size' 42 in x 60 in), almost like with applique, turning edges under where necessary for a smooth finish. But first, you need to arrange these pieces in an aesthetically appealing manner. Shifting them about, turning under edges, and ultimately pinning or basting them down (I used safety pins... as my mother always did to sandwich her quilts, and it made sense, so I do it, too). I then proceeded to hand-sew all of these pieces down, for many, many, many hours on my bus commute.

I added texture to a few of the pieces, 'BAD WOLF' for example
But wait, you're not done yet. Crazy Quilts get embellishments, including but not limited to embroidery.  I decided since I kept to a heavy blue theme for the quilt fabrics, to accent the quilt (in my not subtle manner) with bright colored floss in the red-orange-yellow range, as well as using some blues. Hey, if I'm taking the time to do all that fancy stitching, it might as well be SEEN! I also enjoy using a variety of stitches (perhaps making it more 'sampler' style, but how boring would it be to do all that embroidery in just blanket stitch or the like. Plus it's fun to keep up my embroidery skills from when I had the time to just play for hours and hours (see some results here).

Finally, traditionally, crazy quilts would either be used as is (with the pieces sewn to a flannel backing or the like) or have a backing put on. For me, someone exposed to modern, pieced quilting, it doesn't seem right not use batting. It's not a quilt if it doesn't have layers, so I put batting and a backing on this piece. To fasten the layers together in a crazy quilt, traditionally, embellishments such as buttons were used. Since this quilt was already quite busy enough, I opted to 'tack' the layers together along all of the seams of the pieces. I couldn't straight out quilt it because the embroidery was in the way.

Okay, now the last part (for reals this time), is to put the binding on. And okay, I lied, because I did sew the binding along the edge with the machine, before folding it over and hand sewing it down to the backside.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stained Glass Steampunk Cog Cookies

"Silly, graverobbergirl, cookies aren't made with a hammer!" 

"WRONG! The best kind of cookies require a hammer!" 

Finally, got this put together to share with all you cookie crafting steampunks. 

First off, my favourite sugar cookie recipe. It's from the old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and has since been phased out/altered in the newer editions, so I don't feel like I'm violating any proprietary rights by sharing it. (Honestly, I miss the old version of their extremely useful, all purpose cookbook. The new one seems too trendy with specific fancy recipes rather than the basics that you could alter to you heart's content. If you can't tell, this was the staple cook book in our house and the one I grew up using. And I'm quite saddened by the changes and so grateful I copied my favourite recipes out of my mom's old one before she bought me a new one and upgraded her own. This recipe was one of our favourites we used all the time and would've been lost to us had I not photocopied it out.)


Sugar-Cookie Cutouts
(this is an exact repro of the recipe, the specific variation for Cog Cookies will follow)

1/3 cup margarine or butter (we obviously use butter)
1/3 cup shortening (with the whole 'health' trends against saturated fats, this looks to be the primary ingredient change, but what a change in consistency and flavour to these cookies when omitted)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt
Oven 375 degrees F

Beat margarine and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add about half of the flour, the egg, sugar, milk, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover, chill for 3 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. If desired, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake in 375 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes or till edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Cool Cookies on rack.

If desired, frost cookies with Powdered Sugar Icing, then sprinkle with decorative candies, colored sugar or chopped nuts. Makes 36-48.

Candy-Window Sugar Cookie Cutouts (this is the Stained Glass Cookie variation I used, not included in the new cookbook) 
Prepare as above, except, before baking, place cookies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Cut out small shapes in cookie centers. Finely crush 3 ounces hard candy (about 1/2 cup) Spoon some candy into each center to fill hole(s). When baked, cool cookies on foil; remove. Store tightly covered.



I used my new, awesome Gear-Shape Cookie Cutter from frenzyuniverse

I used an old baby food jar to cut circles of the center of my cookies. I made impressions with little gear craft notions into the removed centers, because rerolling the dough too much makes it stiff and the cookies hard.

Wondering where the hammer came in? Smash that hard candy good! Use a baggy to protect the candy, counter and to prevent it from flying everywhere!

Fill centers. This will take a LOT of crushed candy.

Don't skimp on the candy. With these size 'holes', you need enough to fill when it melts down. Otherwise, you get gaps in the 'stained glass' effect.

After baking, let cool on the foil. Use Sasquatch to stand guard so no greedy hands steel them.

Enjoy your steampunk tea party with Cog Cookies!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Janet Weiss Pink Dress Variant (Commission)

[Okay, this time, I promise I'm back to blogging. It is sadly the first thing to go when I get into my exhausted with life moods (and communicating with anyone becomes a trial). ]

On to the fun stuff...!

This was the second project I worked on for the very lovely, fashionably fun Rebecca. She wanted the pink dress Janet wears in the beginning of Rocky Horror Picture Show, as outlined/analyzed by MuffinCupcake, only with a fuller skirt.

The dress is made from light pink poplin and a large gingham print. Bodice is based on a-line dresses from the 1960s with a peter pan collar. The skirt is of the circle variety. The petticoat is a separate piece made out of a circle skirt in a smaller pink gingham print with lots and lots of pink tulle (sewn haphazardly for body). In fact, I had folded the tulle width-wise several times for thicker ruffles when I sewed it to the petticoat base. It ended up too heavy and clumped up the skirt, so I went back through and cut it up to be fluffed more for body and less weight. I was  uncertain about how it would lay, but it looks great on!

Check it out in action here on Rebecca's flickr. Note the wonderful accessories, nice circle buckle (which I couldn't for the life of me find one, but Rebecca did!), and hairclips she made herself!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

STEAMPUNK EXPEDITION II: The Search for Sasquatch

Because I'm a geek (at heart and openly), my birthday parties for the last few years have been Steampunk themed. The first year we played croquet for the captaincy of an airship. Last year, I designed a life size board game (Steampunk Expedition), the goal of it being to rescue Nikola Tesla from the clutches of Edison's evil lackeys. This year, I decided to bust out the board game (might as well get more than one use for all my effort), only with a Cryptozoological theme: Sasquatch Hunt.

Because this is a crafting blog, I shall begin with...


Seeing as it's been humid and hot, like we were living in the Deep South (which I have no tolerance for) instead of Upstate New York, I bailed on my original idea of adding a vest to my Purple Voile full dress. Two petticoats, a skirt, a lined bodice, a brocade vest, along with wig and hat was just too uncomfortable to fathom. (Vest will have to wait for fall/winter Steampunk events).  Therefore, I made a new little peasant style dress and tried out McCall's 6770 for a bustle accent. I left the edges raw and tore up the skirt a bit for the 'I was attacked by a Yeti' effect. My character runs 'La Compagnie des Exp√©ditions Cryptozoologiques,' a service providing adventures and expeditions to the Great White North and beyond, specializing in cryptozoological searches and securements.So she aspires to higher society, but still is a little rough around the edges. I also make fully coordinating outfits, because she's of French (Quebec) origins, and esteems fashion taste. The hat is an altered version of Variation C from Vogue 7464 in black on black medallion brocade, trimmed with black lace, a Purple Voile band and bow, trains (is that therm when it's on a hat? Or is it all 'veil'?), a big fake purple flower with a kraken cameo glued to the inside. And yes, I uber cheated with this hat and used hot glue for part of the assembly, because straight out sewing it would take too long. (If you aren't aware, I despise crafting with hot glue. It's messy and unattractive and doesn't hold up as well as sewing methods.)



As all adventurers know, fortifying with a nourishing tea is quite necessary prior to setting out on an expedition...

  • Mini Meat Pies
  • Chai Latte (With or Without Kraken Rum)
  • Dublin Tea
  • Cog Cookies (lookout for a tutorial in the next day or so)
  • Cucumber and Sprout Sandwiches (with Greek Yogurt, Garlic and Fresh Dill from our back porch 'Garden') 
  • Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffles (turned out not to be the prettiest things, but tasty nonetheless)
  • Cheese Platter
  • Ham Salad Puffs
  • and, of course...

To Your Health, Mademoiselle!


Life Size Board Game! Boo-Yeah!
A Challenge Is Issued
Playing with teacup and saucer still in hand, like A LADY


Caught in the trap: (A Custom Order) Sasquatch from Stuffed Silly, wearing my goggles, because (said with sarcasm) that makes it 'Steampunk' Or should I have just slapped a gear on it? :-P Anyway, super adorable, well made stuffie!
"Shh... I'm sneaking up on rascally sasquatches..."
A Most Successful Hunt (Also, note leg wound from a previous cryptid attack repaired with clockwork)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rockabilly Tuesday: Harlequin Peddle Pants/Capris

Sorry for disappearing of the face of the blog-o-sphere for the past couple of weeks (wow, just looked at my post list, and it's been a month!). With going to the rodeo (in the Adirondacks - weird), camping, high school reunion, barbeques and my intense room mate being on the same schedule (we usually work a staggered schedule), I've been quite busy and exhausted and my 'socialbility' reserves were quite drained (and still need recharging). I hope to catch up on reading my favourite bloggers, soon. 

Projects have also been progressing slowly. So this week, we only have a study of a fun little piece...

1950s Harlequin Capris

They're good enough for Doris Day...

Have inspired a hot look by Pin-Up Girl Clothing...
Pin up Girl Clothing

And someone kept a pair around for over five decades...
Vintage 50s Capris on Etsy
So I think I might need to make me a pair, too. 
(With all my spare time, right? :-/ )

Anyone else tempted?


COVETED ITEM OF THE WEEK: (I haven't even had time to peruse the internet for materialistic endeavours!)
ROCKABILLY SLANG OF THE WEEK:  Fracture - To inspire or move someone.
You are the funniest guy I know. When you start to tell a joke, it "fractures" me. (source)


Previous Rockabilly Tuesday Posts:
Making It Up!
Retro Halter Top (with Tutorial)