Repurposing: A Cosplay Journey

IMG_4023Hello, all! Been a long time, hasn’t it?

Like a lot of people who sew, I have a lovely collection of garments that just don’t work. Sometimes, as in the case of one full-length, forest green peasant dress that I unearthed a few weeks ago, they are the result of a baby seamstress first figuring out technique and design, and not thinking about – let’s say, long-term wearability.

This dress was made for a 4-H sewing competition as part of a cosplay Time Lord outfit. Before cosplay was cool.

It struck me that peasant-style tunic-dresses are in, so I made a plan to repurpose the long, mostly useless dress into something fun and functional for (mostly) everyday wearing.

 

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Here’s the sketch I drew to convey the idea I had for the alterations to my sisters: Trendy off-shoulder with shoulder straps, high waist, straight skirt, and a buckle to allow a cosplay option.
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First, I cut out about 15 inches between the waist and the skirt length that I wanted. This turned out to allow too much for the bodice, so I shortened that by a couple more inches.
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I cut the sleeves into a cap-sleeve length, and used the fabric from one to bias-cut the shoulder straps and buckle loop.
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A tuck here, a seam there, a generous application of elastic, and voila! The dress turned out very cute and wearable, just above knee-length and perfect for summertime. The buckle, by the way, came off of some old pair of sandals: Never throw away anything! (kidding)
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With the skirt buckled up, it takes on an elven, cosplay look. And looks amazingly like my original sketch! (love it when that happens)

Perhaps I will edit this post to include a photo of me modelling this – with the waist cincher!

I love repurposing one garment into something totally different! A red plaid Highlander skirt has become one of my favorite dresses; and my pretty, princess-y Easter dress this year used to be a hideous ’90’s affair of pleats and sailor collars. But I forgot to document the process!

I hope you are inspired to try some repurposing this week ūüėÄ

-Abigail

 

 

 

 

5 Favorite Christmas Movies

Merry Christmas!

Image result for christmas carol george c. scott

Here are a few Christmas movies that really make the holiday for me:

  • “Arthur Christmas.” This is a new favorite; a kids’ movie though I have only watched it from an adult perspective, appreciating the quick humor, imperfect family, and sci-fi explanations of that whole Santa-delivering-presents-to-everyone thing. As a Santa-story, I¬†wonder why I like this one so much; the reason is the magic it somehow embraces, and the twist¬†examining what makes someone important.
  • “A Muppets Christmas Carol.” All cheery goofiness – and then Jacob and Robert Marley pause their creepy ghostly song to shudder at the horrors they’ve done. This isn’t just a kids film! Curiously human, someone has said that this adaptation is the one Dickens himself might’ve liked best.
  • “A Christmas Carol” with George C. Scott. This beautiful adaptation¬†has it all – a haunting snowy Victorian location, wonderful actors, lovely music, faithfulness to its source material. Its Ghost of Christmas Present is no kindly Father Christmas, and the threat of Scrooge’s lonely death and the slow wasting away of Tiny Tim seem real.
  • “It’s a Wonderful Life.” No list of Christmas films would complete without it! But – what a movie. It’s a story of an ordinary life, which might have been extraordinary and therefore seems a failure. Yet George Bailey has lived his life well – and his darkest moment is nothing to the darkness his absence would leave.
  • “The Chimes of Midnight.” Ok – this technically not a movie, but a “Doctor Who” audio adventure. But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it! There’s even plum pudding. It starts as a ghost story mystery with a lot of a¬†dark humor. But as it goes on, it grows darker until an ending that is devastating. And splendid. If you get time travel stories, then definitely check this out!

Thinking about each of these stories, one theme emerges from them all: The importance of the small things – those which are despised by the world – and especially the little people who don’t seem to matter: Arthur the failure who goes on a quest to ensure that one child gets her present, Scrooge who pursued worldly success and lost everything else, the important little friends of Bedford Falls, and Edith Thompson the scullery maid whom no one could ever love. After all, that is what Christmas is all about: How, perhaps, in the eyes of Heaven the Tiny Tims may be worth more than the great things of the world.

-Abigail-

Thankfulness Thursday: Tiny Treasures

Phew! Craft Fairs are over;¬†deep breath, refocus, and…

Well, life is still really crazy and more than a little stressful. Not only is the holiday shopping season upon us, which means that we must devote more time and energy than usual to our Etsy shops, but also several things around us are breaking down or otherwise unreliable. It’s crazy, and emotionally draining, and sometimes too much.

And in the middle of it all, Thanksgiving is a week away – reminding us to take a little time to be thankful. So… Another deep breath, and I notice all those things that are truly wonderful around me!

Like, the refrigerator working and full of amazing treats awaiting the feast before us.

And furry animals in general (Annie our dog especially, although I am quite fond of cats too!).

And Etsy.

Etsy is a huge part of our lives right now; and naturally we’re grateful for the opportunities it provides. In fact, please head over and check out our shops! We have some really cool Autumn and Winter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah things coming out (plus sales and coupon codes, in case you need something!).

But I’m also thankful for a few treasures that I found on Etsy. Yes, for the first time I went there and actually did some shopping! Hannah gave me a gift card for my birthday, and with it I purchased three little perfumes and some makeup.

 

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It’s also NaNoWriMo, so my novel gets to be my backdrop!

 

Since it’s Friday, when we Feature Favorites, and we’ve always meant to do reviews, here you go!:

Addictive Cosmetics

img_3026I’m not quite sure if AddictiveCosmetics is actually addictive yet – though I admit it is highly tempting to go back and try out more! I ordered a foundation sample (Ivory 2) for my picky skin: It has nice texture (satiny might be the best word), pretty good coverage, and a pleasant smell.

My second purchase was the one I really wanted: Warm ‘N Toasty liquid eyeliner. I’m experimenting with eyeliners right now, and found this one to be a beautiful coppery color which complements my coloring.img_3029

Then, as an extra blessing, they threw in a powder eyeshadow! I don’t have a good photo of it (since it tends to cloud every time I open the tight little container), but it is a gorgeous dark copper – the perfect shade to match the eyeliner.

Deep Midnight Perfumes

This shop might be my new obsession! It kind of appeals to the (ahem!) goth side of my personality. And to my love of interesting, unusual scents. Because…

 

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My wonderful assortment of perfumes: Pumpkin Gloom, Pumpkin Fiend, Pumpkin Pixie, Seven Veils, and Blood and Donuts

They have pumpkin perfume!!!

 

This makes me very happy.

I¬†chose the Gothic Pumpkin sampler set, which includes Pumpkin Pixie (sweet and playful), Pumpkin Fiend (darker and, for me, nostalgic), and Pumpkin Gloom (dark and woodsy). And the seller threw in a sample, Seven Veils (floral and feminine). And another sample! – Blood and Donuts (chocolatey and perfect for my horror novels!), which reminds me of New Mexico’s very own shop, Rebel Donut, which anyone who comes here must try!

 

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She also threw in a skull charm, which I find amusing and have attached to my journal ribbon

 

I wish I had space to fully review each of these scents! It is so much fun to experiment with each of them, and (even though they are itty-bitty bottles) they will provide me much pleasure for a long time!

 

It is, you see, not merely Etsy for which I am thankful: It is the little treasures – moments of brightness, pleasure, happiness, community, that it has brought me. These small blessings lighten the dark times, and make life ever so much more fun!

-Abigail-

P.S. Thank you, Hannah! Awesome gift!!!

Cogs & Gears: Craziness!

Sometimes, in the midst of all the insanity, you have to find a moment of rest.

That’s what we’re up to this week, and it’s definitely time!

 

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A few props from a recent item photo shoot. They looked so perfectly Autumnal that they deserved a picture of their own!

 

What with one thing and another, things have been really crazy around here – as evidenced by the fact that we keep forgetting to blog! It’s been something like this:

  • Finally found a way to increase visibility on Etsy – which is wonderful, except that it means spending a lot of time and attention.
  • The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and there are so many ideas that we want to make and put out there on our Etsy shops!
  • The dryer isn’t drying, which makes laundry days slow. And then –
  • The washer developed homicidal mania (apparently), which makes laundry days impossible!
  • And the oven door won’t close.
  • And I stepped on a thorn! (Ok, that one’s a personal complaint!)
  • November’s coming, which means NaNoWriMo! and also:
  • Craft Fairs!

So – with all of this craziness happening and requiring urgent attention and lots of work – we’ve decided to take a week off from Etsy!

Counter-intuitive? Yes! But it’s a good time to step back and get a bit of perspective on where we’re going, which projects actually require our attention, and where our emphasis should be.

It should be interesting: No Etsy work, or talk, or shop work, is allowed. Instead, Hannah and Sarah and I will work on sewing some personal Autumn and Winter clothes, and focus on planning the novels we’re writing in November.

Sometimes, you need to step away from it all and take a break!

 

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Some of the very fall-like earrings that I have been feverishly listing!

 

(Of course, you can also use the coupon code “Halloween” for %15 off anything in my store, where I also have free shipping on Autumnal items. I’m really pleased with how my Autumn Ephemeral Earring line came out! Please feel free to take an inspiring look!)

And here is a slideshow of our recent excursions, for a bit of distance-recreation:

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-Abigail-

Cogs & Gears: Sunflowers!

Around this time of year, an explosion of sunflowers hits the arroyos around our neighborhood. They’re everywhere! It’s¬†a lovely small variety of sunflower, which started somewhere (either in somebody’s yard, our from a wild area of the Bosque) and then seeded and spread year by year. They’re also very pickable, and make for the most amazing arrangements.

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Inspired by all of this amazingness, I created my very first Etsy Treasury!

(Here it is)

It was surprisingly easy to make, since sunflowers look beautiful and make for beautiful jewelry, shawls, vases, and too many other things to mention! I discovered that having a strong theme is an asset for a Treasury: It turned out beautiful and vibrant, please take a look!

Hannah’s stunning painting of sunflowers made it on the Treasury, of course (Here’s a link to it)

 

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I also put a pair of recent earrings from my own shop on it. (Technically, you’re not supposed to do this, but they turned out so perfectly that I couldn’t resist!)

(Please have a look!)

Sunflower Nuno Felted Scarf. Summer Silk Scarf. Flower Felted Shawl. Artistic Accessories. Felt Clothing. Nuno Felt Wrap. Black Summer Wrap
Here’s another of my favorites – though you should really check out the Treasury to see them all!

(Voila!)

I couldn’t fit these two items on the Treasury, both from new lines on my shop which I will have to introduce in a later post! But here is a link to their listings: Sachets, and Fingerless Gloves.

Bumblebees, also out in full force in our neighborhood (and landing disconcertingly in one’s hair), made it onto my Treasury too. So here are a couple more pictures to take us out on¬†the sunniest of¬†notes!

-Abigail-

A Trip to the Mountains

Sometimes, quite irrationally, things become irksome. Like blogging, for instance. One loses focus, gets stuck in a rut, forgets a time or two and then feels so guilty about it that one forgets again, other things get busy. And so on. You know how it is!

So, yeah, I think we’ve kind of fallen into one of those times here in “Ribbons”-world. So sad – because we’re actually really excited about what we’re doing and what we want to share!

As we figure it all out and prepare for what I hope will be a grand re-entrance into the blogging realm, here is a gallery of our most recent excursion into our local mountains!

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A venerable tree, upon which I will base a bonsai (when I get into bonsai-growing)
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A wonderfully climbable rock face
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Sarah (who will climb anything climbable – she’s the most adventurous of us!) coming down the rock
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Me! Also on the rock, right before the incident when the boulder that I was leaning from fell down on me. Adventure has its perils! The boulder mostly broke up, so rather than being squashed like in one of those cartoons I just have a few scrapes. It was still a very climbable rock face!
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The falls for which the trail is named! (we live in a desert – we’ll take what we can get)
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It’s a beautiful spring, satisfactorily cool and verdant!

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There’s a little cave nearby
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I always love looking out at the green through the black!
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The lovely path
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(as you can tell, no lasting damage from my mishap on the very climbable rock face!)
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Annie our dog likes to be in our pictures!

A very pleasant Labor Day hike! It’s always good to step away for a bit, when things get too irksome, and do a little relaxing.

What recreation have you attempted lately?

-Abigail-

Cogs & Gears: Things You Can’t Do In a Day

The phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day” refers to the empire, of course: But what if it referred to the city itself? If, at the height of the Roman Empire, everyone in its domain came along and built with gusto – Rome still wouldn’t be done in a day; cement and mortar and things need time to dry, after all.

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Such complex beauty!

 

I’ve been thinking about this lately; there are a lot of things in life that need more time than a day to finish – distressing as that is to someone as optimistically ambitious as I am. I always thought it would be cool to tackle something and solve, construct, or master it all at once. A few things like this:

  • Languages. Seriously, you only learn French in a week in ads.
  • Fitness. Did those Olympic athletes decide to become amazing at what they do, and then do it? No – it took years of training!
  • Writing. Interestingly, some books work better if you work on them slowly.
  • Any Skill or Art. I probably should have put this first! But first projects in cooking, sewing, woodworking, mechanics, and so on are always almost terrible. You have to keep at it!
  • Breaking Bad Habits, and Building Good Personality.

Some clever scientists have even recently decided that procrastination can be a good thing, because it allows you time to work things through rather than forcing a quick decision!

The same principle of steady but prolonged effort applies to Etsy, too:

  • Much as I would love it if my shop became a roaring overnight success, honestly that would be really overwhelming. It’s been much better for me to slowly build a foundation – learn my way around the site, figure out how the business works, become an expert in listing. So when I start selling at a regular pace, the shipping and billing side won’t come as another straw on the camel’s back.
  • Making lovely little items to fill my shelves takes longer than I’d like – after all, I’m not a machine, and my hands have other things to do. But that’s ok; producing things steadily has built up a good inventory, and I’ve had time to find designs that will last for many seasons.
  • Taking time to think about the layout and look for my shop has allowed me to see what other people are doing, and think about what I really want, and come up with some fun ideas.
  • I admit it; I’m terrible at promotion! But going slow on that has let me get a little more comfortable with pushing my things out there, as I get a feel for the market and the community.

As you may guess, we’ve been focusing a lot on Etsy! And sometimes neglecting other things (oops!). But the nice thing about doing things slowly is that gradually one task becomes easier and you can add in a little more – just like a weightlifter starts at 20 pounds and works his way up!

Every journey, after all, begins with a single bite of elephant!

Next week, I’ll have to post about the opposite problem – which Sarah has reminded me of; sometimes it’s possible to take too little of a bite!

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What all my small incremental projects look like after a while!

 

-Abigail-

p.s. Did I mention that I sold something? YAY!