16. October 2010 · Comments Off on What’s That? A Hat!!!* · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

*Wondering where the title comes from?

So here’s my hat trick for the boys’ Halloween costumes.  We were fortunate to have a green ball cap in the house (from when Dave was on the crew of the New Hope Valley RR in North Carolina) and we have several red NC State ballcaps, so it was 50 cents at Michael’s to pick up some felt and make new fronts.

No, they aren’t perfect.  And no, they aren’t the same floppy plumbers hats that the animated characters have.  But for 50 cents for both hats…and the ability to bring the hats back to its original form by pulling the thread holding it in place…this will work well.  Besides, these are adult ball caps, they’re pretty roomy on my boys’ heads.


From 2010 10 16 Halloween Mario & Luigi Costumes


From 2010 10 16 Halloween Mario & Luigi Costumes

And here’s Luigi:

From 2010 10 16 Halloween Mario & Luigi Costumes

I hope to have the 2nd pair of overalls finished by the end of this weekend.  Then the only thing left will be the mustaches, which I haven’t figured out quite yet.  The boys have two Halloween events next weekend.

11. October 2010 · Comments Off on So Far…So Good · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I still need to fit the side buttons and hem the legs, but here’s the first set of overalls.

06. October 2010 · Comments Off on Look What Was in Today’s Mail! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Let the sewing begin!!!

04. October 2010 · Comments Off on Halloween 2010: Anything But That Polyester Unitard! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Halloween is coming! Whoo hoo! I’ve been a bit lazy about the decorations, in part because of the move coming up, in part because I have a couple weeks of work right now and my hours are pretty crazy. Next week I’ll probably put up our ghost decorations…I sold most of our pumpkin stuff at our yard sale. I feel that ghosts need to be my signature Halloween decoration — it keeps me from buying everything I see, that’s for sure!

As usual, in September I ask the boys what they’re interested, and I knew what they were going to suggest: Mario and Luigi! You know, from the Nintendo video games?

And as usual, I rarely end up putting my kids in those commerically available Halloween costumes.  It doesn’t mean I never get them a store-purchased costume, sometimes they want to do something that I couldn’t possibly make on my own.  Last year I bought Jacob the Jengo Fett costume, complete with the battery-operated gun. A few years back I got the Jack Sparrow outfit with which we got lots of use!

However, you can call me elitist, but really it’s that I think part of the fun of Halloween is letting those creative juices flow and scrounging together what you have for a costume.  I enjoy it very much!  I’m very fortunate that my Mom made most of my costumes and did a great job on them!

From 1989.  My Mom made the shirt and skirt.  I wore this in college too!

I have nightmares of those costumes from the 70s and early 80s that were made of plastic and had a picture of what you were representing plastered across your chest.  I think this blog post says it all (I highly encourage clicking on this link, if nothing else…it’s VERY funny!).  Today, you won’t find costumes like that, I think the natives cried foul on wearing Hulk Hogan’s face across your chest.

Halloween 1981 or 1982.  So I was around Jacob’s age here, wow!  I’d rather be a homemade tiger-rabbit hybrid than wear Darth Vader’s face on the front of a plastic costume!

So let’s talk about what’s commercially available for Mario and Luigi, shall we?

Here’s a link to the special Mario and Luigi page at Costume Express, which is a pretty good costume retailer. I usually get coupons in the mail and sometimes the deals get quite good. I don’t mean any disrespect to Costume Express, for sure! They’ve served us well in the past.

But who came up with this?

I’m not a big fan of the polyester unitard at all. Not that they can’t pull off an effective look, but perhaps it’s the principle of the shoddy sewing for the price. Each of those costumes (including the inflatable belly) is retailing for ~$40 + tax. I immediately told myself “I think I can do better than this, for around the same cost!”  After all, Danielle C. of Akron, OH did it last year.

So I mentally inventoried what we’d need:

1. Overalls
2. Red and Green long-sleeved t-shirts
3. Red and Green hats
4. Big bushy moustaches
5. A way to make my boys look fat

Getting #2-4 will be easy. I have the shirts and hats already, and with some felt, I can put the “M” and “L” on the hats. We’re up the street from a huge Halloween costume store, getting bushy moustaches will be no problem either.  If anything, we have plenty of dark brown eyeliner (see the Jack Sparrow picture above).

As for #5, I think some blankets or small pillows will take care of the fat bellies, if we even need to do it.  Maybe not…

So what about the overalls?  Overalls for older boys are rather difficult to come by.  I looked at several kids clothing stores and 5 thrift shops. All. Over. Omaha.

I bid 3 different times on Size 8 overalls on eBay. Was outbid pretty quickly — I didn’t plan to spend more than $15 on a pair of second-hand overalls, but other people were, fine.  On one of the pair I was “sniped” at the last second and lost the bid.

How about new overalls? The most popular model appearing on Google’s shopping application was this fine pair by Carhartt: $48.

How on earth did Danielle C. of Akron, OH just run out to the thrift store and pick up overalls for her kids????

And then a lightbulb went off in my head: HEY! I could SEW their overalls! After all, I can easily get some lightweight denim at $6-8 per yard, get a pattern and some buckles, and be on my way, right?

Not so easy either — I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and even Walmart looking for patterns. A web search yielded ONE pattern: Kwik Sew #2427.

No fabric retailers in the area carried this pattern and I found ONE online retailer and I quickly placed an order. I talked to the owner of the retailer and was assured I’d have the pattern by mid-week.  It’s already on its way 🙂

Today at Hobby Lobby I picked up the other materials I needed (with a coupon, of course!). I’m pretty sure I’ve made all the financial investment I need to for this, and my grand total (including the pattern + shipping) stands at about $62.  Much better than the $80 I’d have to pay for polyester unitards.  But less than the $30 Danielle C. of Akron, Ohio claimed to have spent.

I’ll start on this project next week, I’m working for the next 4 days and probably won’t have the pattern ready until Thursday…and the family is taking a camping trip this coming weekend!

I haven’t sewed anything in a while…the last article of clothing I sewed was Jacob’s Mace Windu cape in 2008.  Most of my sewing machine’s workouts have been with sewing patches on Dave and Jacob’s scout uniforms and hemming up/letting down pant legs.

26. February 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Meet Scruffy, Jacob’s very first Webkinz toy. He got Scruffy for his 5th Birthday from a preschool friend. Webkinz are stuffed animals that come with codes so you can play with their alter egos online. It’s fun, safe, and more educational than I thought it would be.

From 2007 09 15 Jacob 5th Birthday

Once we signed him up for Webkinz World online, it opened up quite a world of computers for Jacob. Grammy Vollmer had fun buying Jacob several additional Webkinz, along with several birthday, Christmases, Easters, and preschool graduations later, Jacob’s up to 21 of these toys. Plus clothing for the toys, carry cases, zipper pulls, Christmas ornaments, and even a mouse pad at our desktop!

Timmy also has several, as we’ve all seen him toting around his favorite Webkinz, Thomas the Yellow Lab:

From 2008 06 21 DriveToPA_Beilers_ThomasStrasburg

Jacob’s original Webkinz, Scruffy the Golden Retreiver, was accidentally run through the washer/dryer a few months ago, and it was pretty mangled up. It looks nice and clean, but Scruffy’s head stuffing was all pushed to his body.

Jacob recently is on this phase where he rotates through which animals to sit up on his bed at night. Both boys love their animals, we put most of them in wicker baskets in one corner of their room. Jacob decided to give props to some of the animals he’s been ignoring lately, and Scruffy appeared last night. We explained why we think Scruffy has an empty head and Jacob took him to bed. All seemed well.

But then about an hour later, Jacob was back downstairs in tears — he had a bad dream about Scruffy getting unstuffed. About 5 minutes of comforting, cuddles and reassurances that Mommy would re-stuff Scruffy the next day, and Jacob headed back to bed.

So today I broke out my mending supplies and set forth to open up Scruffy.

And I was slack-jawed at what I saw….

From 2010 02 26 Webkinz stuffing?

I pulled FOUR pieces of knee-hi stockings out of Scruffy’s torso! I redistributed the poly-fiber stuffing that got pushed around and then put back the stockings. Sewed Scruffy back and he’s better…but clearly still traumatized from the trip through the washer and dryer. Jacob’s happy enough with it, I guess.

So…stockings to stuff Webkinz. I honestly don’t know what to make of it. I posted the above photo on Facebook and if you’re a Facebook member you can see all the comments generated. For anyone wondering, I didn’t stick the stockings up to my nose to check for odors or anything, but from the brief inspection of the stockings, they looked all crumpled up as if they’re fresh out of the packaging. That was encouraging.

My guess is that the factory in China that makes these animals solicits for the mistakes out of the pantyhose factory next door. Recycling in its own “special” way.

So there, the cat is out of the bag…I did a web search to see if anyone else had discovered or mentioned this, but so far my web searches have yielded nothing.

09. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

How many of you knew that I could sew — show of hands!

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not many. Enjoy this gallery of things I’ve made. Mainly costumes, as you will see.

Jacob wants to be a Jedi knight for Halloween. Okay, that doesn’t seem too hard. He showed me his Mace Windu action figure and asked if he could be THAT Jedi. Mace Windu was the character Samuel L. Jackson played in Episodes I, II and III.

Sure, I’ll help you with that costume idea! I always am enthusiastic to help my kids when they think of their Halloween ideas on their own.

Maryann helped us out too, showing me a link to this costume.

But I did a small inventory of what we had on hand and realized that between Jack Sparrow from last year for the pants and boots, plus a Joseph tunic from a Christmas pageant last year, Jake could be a pretty good Mace with simply the addition of a purple lightsaber toy and a brown cape.

The purple lightsaber was an easy birthday purchase at Toys R Us, and I decided I could make the cape.

So on Sunday I dragged the boys to Hancock Fabrics in Omaha, and subject them to the joys of browsing pattern books and thumbing through fabric bolts looking for the perfect color/texture of a brown Jedi cape. I had a good time, I hadn’t spent significant time in a fabric store in a long time — at least not in the fabric section — and definitely not at all in North Carolina.

I found the coolest lightweight brown faux suede fabric and an online recommendation to use the Simplicity 5512 pattern. The bottom left corner of the picture shows what “view” I’d make for the Jedi cape. If you look closely at the characters, the Jedi cape has sleeves and a hood…so even though I’m going through the motions of making a Grim Reaper costume, it’ll ultimately be a Jedi cape…trust me!

I cut the fabric and started piecing panels together today, but I’m stopping till tomorrow. I need to think…I am incorporating a lining into the cape (after all, it could be REALLY COLD Halloween night here in NE!) and I have to shoehorn that into the instructions. I’m a decent seamstress, when the directions are laid out in front of me. As for making up my own thing….well, I’m not that good.

I should be done by this weekend…maybe I’ll let Jake dress up for his trip to Pottery Barn Kids this weekend to meet Star Wars characters.