Friday, November 28, 2014

Wonder Woman Costume

It's been a while since I went all out on a Halloween costume, but David talked me into trying out Wonder Woman this year. Of course, this involved figuring out how to make my own custom-made armor, because why do anything the sensible, easy way?

This tutorial about how to make Wonderflex armor was invaluable in this process.

So, I started with the idea. After looking through hundreds of photos of Wonder Woman online, I sketched my own concept based on what I liked the best.

wonder woman costume sketch

Now, it was time to shop for boots and the corset. We got one corset, and it was too small. I wanted the corset lacing to either meet, or to have a panel, and it probably had a six inch gap with no panel. The peril of ordering on the internet. So, we tried a different style. This time it was too big. Of course. So, I ended up just taking it in.

I also looked at probably hundreds of pairs of boots. I could have got the classic Wonder Woman boots, but I thought it would be more fun to go with something a little more realistic looking, to match the mood of the costume, and so I could wear them after Halloween too. I love the pair I got. When they came in the mail, I put them on and told David I was never taking them off.

Once we had the corset sorted, we started patterning the armor. It didn't seem like much, but there were a ton of different pieces to pattern, and then the problem of how to actually attach everything so it could come on and off my body had to be worked out before we made pieces.

I wish I had taken more photos of patterning, but I didn't start until we started molding. We used mostly Wonderflex backed with craft foam to make the pieces. I wouldn't do that again. The craft foam did not like sticking to the Wonderflex and it was a pain in the butt. I think several layers of Wonderflex is a much better option.

So, here's the front belt piece after the first mold, and then with the layers on top to add dimension.

I can't believe I don't have more in progress shots of the breastplate. Urg! It was the most challenging, because it had more complicated curves and levels. I did put in one little dart and that helped mold the curves a bit.

There you can see I'm building up the levels.

 You can see at this point, there are still a lot of waves and bumps.

We ended up covering a lot of it with Apoxie Sculpt, which was another giant pain. I don't think I mixed it correctly, so it was sticky, and impossible to get where I wanted it. And then it dries to concrete. You can sand it, and I spend hours sanding it.

We also made the stars out of Apoxie Sculpt. The stars were also a pain in the rear. I would do them differently now. I knew I wanted that shape and type of star, but how to get the very sticky stuff in the mold (which took us AGES to find--we were even going to make our own mold at one point), and then out again without destroying the star? We end up using olive oil. Which was ok. But, I would have lined it with cling wrap and then coated the inside with olive oil. I bet they would have come out so nicely.

The red you see up there isn't the Apoxie Sculpt, it's filler. Which then had to be sanded. Again.

First coat of paint! I actually ended up painting them three times. I wanted a slightly aged look, but couldn't figure out the right balance. Eventually, did a mix of two spray paints, and then mixed gold acrylic paint with browns, yellows, blacks and whites to age the top, and then ever so slightly misted that with spray paint. And then a top coat of polyurethane.

The bracers were actually done with a sheet of ABS plastic, craft foam and a touch of Wonderflex. Same with the tiara. It was a lot harder to heat to mold--but we were using my embossing gun from my stamping days. With an actual heat gun, it might have been a bit easier.

The basic bracer with a layer of craft foam, and then another layer for the dimension. (On the right is one of the paper pattern pieces.)

Adding the stars. I had to sand them down for ages to get them to curve. I wish I had figured out a better way to mold them so I could have just stuck down the clay when wet and avoided that whole mess.

The pieces to make the recesses traced and ready to cut out.

The tiara ready for paint. You can see the black ABS plastic (Wonderflex is white).

The chainmail was all handmade from washers and jump rings.

We found the red belt on the back at a thrift store and attached it with screws. The belt also comes apart in the front with overall hooks.

The skirt I sewed from suede fabric. The star on the front is hand-stitched, and the other stars are metal--those things that you stick into fabric with the prongs that bend to attach. Studs, maybe? The bottom metal looking things on the end of each flap is wonderflex again, painted, with metal spike studs on each end.

The skirt is all attached to the belt. The back piece velcros so the belt is still usable. I got a swimsuit bottom to wear under the whole thing.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Craft Room Furniture! This is Finally Happening!

Hello! It's been a while since I've blogged. I'm afraid to look at how long. If you were reading my blog before, I'm sure you thought it was dead. I meant to keep blogging. I never meant to stop. But, I got very busy trying to be Utah's sole source of actresses between the ages if 17-35. I think I was in every community production In Utah County in the last year. If I wasn't, I saw it or knew someone in it. I got sucked into the vortex of community theater and almost the only crafting I did was sewing my costumes for productions. 

Recently, I was Ms. TeaVee in Willy Wonka. Using a mash up of vintage patterns, I made this dress: 

Ms. TeaVee 50s vintage dress from Willy Wonka

Anyway, I'm getting distracted. What I really came to post about is this disaster: 

Yep, my craft room. Sad, isn't it? And, this is after cleaning up for a while (a long, long while--and paying one of my kids $10 to help me). A huge part of it is that I have no workspace, so stuff ends up everywhere when I'm working. (Also, I have too much stuff, but I'm pretending that isn't a problem.)

Well, my friends, that is about to change! I recently came into a very cool couch and about $100. I want the couch to fit in this room so people can hang out with me while I craft, and the $100 is perfect for building a huge desk.

Last Saturday, David and I went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore looking for kitchen cabinets to use to make this desk. We got a big fat zero, and they were more expensive than I was hoping. I could have cobbled something together, but it would have eaten my entire budget and nothing would have matched. Nothing would have matched! It was not working for me. So, on the way home I got the bright idea to look on KSL (basically the Craig's List of Utah--no idea why everyone posts there, but we do).

And there it was. Some guy remodeled four matching kitchens and was selling off the cabinets for $10 a piece. And he was home when we called! And didn't sound too eccentric! We were wrong about that last part, but that's okay. 

So, we go to this guy's house (which is upgraded in every possible way--the doorbell chime lasted longer than Beethoven's Symphony No. 9); he makes us remove our shoes to walk across the hardwood floors. Then we ride his elevator (yes, elevator) down to the walkout basement four car garage where he has the kitchen cabinets. We pick out six of them, and pay the guy. We was a perfectly nice normal guy. I'm not sure why he had an elevator, but I'll go with it. Our daughter was with us, and she thought it was cool. 

So, here they are, my new cabinets. 

Used kitchen cabinets to convert to office desk
Used kitchen cabinets to convert to office desk

The dude who sold them to us told us there was nothing wrong with them; that they were just outdated. Dude might have an elevator, but he was wrong about that. They are stinky--like old apartment smell--and greasy and damaged in spots. The hinges have plastic pieces that were breaking apart. There is some nasty gunky on one of the shelves that I am not even going to attempt to clean off. That thing is just getting replaced.

However, they are perfect for what I want them to do. More on that soon. Very, very soon. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dealing with Those Pesky Sewing Patterns: Organizing Solution

This is Part 4 of my How I Organized My Entire House for $0.00 (Really!) series.
Part 1 (Intro) is here.
Part 2 (Simple Rules to Create Organization that Sustains Itself Plus Master Bath Organization) is here.
Part 3 (Inexpensive Organizing) is here.

Did you think I abandoned my organizing project? Oh no, I have not. I have only stared into the abyss that is my craft room, and it is not a short thing. It is a long, multi-part thing.

I started with my sewing patterns, which is what this post is about. I recently started crafting for a great company again, you know, on a professional basis, and that means lots of time in the craft room. And that place is scary. We don't have a garage, so storage is a rare and precious commodity at our house. Stuff that has no where to go ends up in the craft room. If a kid comes to me to ask where something goes, it's usually phrased this way, "Where does this go? The craft room?"

David has started calling it "the junk drawer." I know another crafter who calls hers "the room of requirement."

I have slowly started to change this. It was a major milestone when I could reach the closet--which by the way, is right next to the door.

I've also started changing my habits. I don't craft the same way I used to. I put things away as I go. It's a novel concept, I know, and more about how I made it easier to do later, but it does make my brain more clear. I spend a lot less time looking for the scissors (or other craft tool) that are somewhere on my table and clean-up afterward is so much easier.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to the patterns.

Sewing patterns organized by brand and number, and cataloged with photo on computer

I picked up a huge box of retro patterns at a garage sale a few Saturdays ago, and nearly doubled my pattern collection in one go. I desperately needed a way to look at what I had and also find what I had.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Inexpensive Organizing

This is Part 3 of my How I Organized My Entire House for $0.00 (Really!) series.
Part 1 (Intro) is here.
Part 2 (Simple Rules to Create Organization that Sustains Itself Plus Master Bath Organization) is here.

10 Tips for Inexpensive Organization

Some things I've learned for organizing on the cheap:

  1. Organizing is about your life, not about how much money you spend (obvious, but it took me a little while to learn. I love pretty, fresh school supplies, um, I think I've mentioned my love of pretty containers, I love pretty interior design--all that generally costs money--even though I try to manage to spend as little money as possible). I used to want it to be pretty and perfect or not at all. It doesn't work that way. It can be pretty later. Right now, it just needs to be organized. In fact, it's better to see if what you come up with works, then buy whatever pretty things to put it in. That way you're not investing a money in a system that won't work for you in the long run anyway.
  2. Don't get caught up trying to create the perfect system. Very related to #1. Trying to make the perfect system generally has the effect of making me want to spend $. No system is perfect, but there are systems that work. Like I've said before, if you see a problem, think about how to fix it. Sometimes it's as easy as providing a trash can in the right spot, grouping the right things together, or moving something so that you have easier access. And sometimes it's just accepting that you have to change your habits (hard!).
  3. Get rid of stuff. Less to organize! I recently made a goal to get rid of 100 things. This is something I plan to do regularly. Along with that, don't buy new things. I recently read that if you are contemplating buying a (non-perishable) item, put it on a list and wait a designated period of time: two weeks, a month, whatever. If at the end of that time, you still want/need it, buy it.* I find delayed gratification so hard, but it does help a lot with clutter.
  4. Use "trash" to organize.** Food comes in great containers. If all you have are oatmeal containers, cardboard boxes from cereal boxes, fruit snacks, peanut butter jars, strawberry baskets, mayonnaise jars, peanut containers, empty spice jars, even boxes of soda, then use those. There are lots of ways to dress them up, if you want.*** Baby wipe containers are also quite amazing--ask friends if you don't buy wipes yourself. I've seen great things done with paper towel rolls--and toilet paper rolls, but that grosses some people out.
  5. Use what you have already.**** You've probably bought baskets or plastic containers already. As you organize, you'll find you get rid of things (see #3) or find new systems. A lot of shifting will occur and you can reuse those old containers.
  6. To help with costs, go second-hand. Thrift stores and garage sales can be great for finding containers (the flower vase in the picture came from a garage sale). Canning jars are often easy to find and make pretty good storage containers; also, muffin tins. Sites like Craig's list can be great sources for free cardboard boxes people are looking to ditch after they move. This can work great for some things (the free section even has furniture if you are looking for bigger storage solutions--it doesn't have to be pretty--think basement or garage and hide it--and even if it's ugly for a while, if it's free, you won't feel like you wasted money by buying a cheap temporary option). Even cups or bowls you don't use much can make great storage containers.
  7. Hit up your friends. Trade around. Find an organizing buddy and see if you might have things they can you use and vice versa. When I told my friend Natalie about my project, she said she might have some things I could use--funnily enough, I just realized she gave me those jars that appear in the picture above! 
  8. Another cheap source is the dollar store or bargain stores (although I think this can add up quickly if you're not careful and sometimes you don't get much for your money. Caution.)
  9. Make your own storage.***** There are great tutorials out there for sewing your own fabric boxes, and if you use fabric you already have on hand, it doesn't have to be too much out of pocket. Or use the $4 bed sheets from Walmart for the fabric to get a more uniform look. I've even seen sturdy baskets woven out of paper.
  10. Make your own cleaning supplies. This isn't really about organization, but it will save you tons of money, and when things are clean, you want to keep them organized. There are a few products that I really love that I still buy, but for tons of things, I make my own. There are dozen of recipes out there, and I will probably do a post on my favorites at some point.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hulk Birthday Party Invite

My oldest son is turning ten this week and he wants an Incredible Hulk birthday party. I'm not planning anything too elaborate, but I did make this birthday party invite last night (after my show: An Ideal Husband at the Echo Theatre--I'm Lady Basildon, a small but very, very fun part).

Here's to awesome super heroes and fun graphic design and birthday parties and theater and staying up way too late!

Graphic super hero birthday party invite The Incredible Hulk

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Medicine and Cleaning Cabinet Organization

This is Part 3 of my How I Organized My Entire House for $0.00 (Really!) series.
Part 1 (Intro) is here.
Part 2 (Simple Rules to Create Organization that Sustains Itself Plus Master Bath Organization) is here.

It occurred to me that this should be my next project when I was sick on last Monday. Super sick. I slept almost the entire day on Sunday (I was awake for like five hours the entire day) and on Monday it felt like my bones are trying to escape from my body. Fun times. Except, I couldn't find the thermometer. Are you surprised, looking at this photo?

Two very messy cabinet shelves
two very neat cabinet shelves, with cleaning supplies and medicines

Yeah, I wasn't either. The shelf on the top is our medicines and the bottom has some cleaning supplies and the sunscreen/hand sanitizer/light bulb type stuff. The medicine is actually kind of organized, but it ended up tossed all in there, and some of it was out because that is is the stuff we use the most.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Simple Rules to Create Organization that Sustains Itself Plus Master Bath Organization

This is Part 2 of my How I Organized My Entire House for $0.00 (Really!) series. Part 1 (Intro) is here.

Simple Rules (well, more like guidelines) to create organization that sustains itself

I want to start off this series by giving myself a set of rules (more like guidelines) to follow. It's easy to get carried away and easy to lose sight of your goals, so this will help keep me on-track.
  1. Think about how you live your life. It doesn't make sense to have a system that doesn't work with how you live. Have the things you use together grouped together, not always like with like*. You usually use tape and scissors and wrapping paper together. Have them together. You usually use toothpaste and toothbrushes together (if I'm making any weird assumptions here, feel free to educate me! :) )--make it so you only open one drawer or one cabinet to get them. Think efficiency.
  2. Have the things you use the most in easiest reach. The stuff you use less can be harder to get to. Make things easier on yourself.
  3. Along with number 2, have the things where you use them, or put them where you are more likely to use them.** Don't get too caught up in where things are "supposed" to go. Put them where they work for you.
  4. Make things easy to put away. If they aren't (and you are like me), they won't get put away.
  5. Make it simple. Don't go overboard labeling stuff. Don't make a tiny compartment for everything. Have a place for everything, but there's no need to make it more complicated than it needs to be. If you want. Simple systems are the most self-perpetuating.***
  6. Reevaluate. Organize, then go back a week later and see if it's working. If not, tweak. Just because you organized it one way doesn't mean it has to stay that way. And it's easier to rework it when it's still somewhat organized than when it's completely disorganized because the system didn't work with the way you live.
  7. Get rid of stuff you don't use. I've heard if you haven't used it in the last year, get rid of it. But, I think that's unrealistic. I have things I haven't used in the last year that I want to keep and it would tick me off to replace. But, there is a lot of good in honestly evaluating if you are going to use it. Are you holding onto something because of guilt? Because of what it represents?**** When getting rid of stuff, the biggest thing is to be honest with yourself.
  8. Educate your family on your new system, but don't overwhelm them. Make it fun. Get their input if it affects them (I've found it works a lot better if ideas come from everyone, instead of my trying to impose a top down approach).
  9. It doesn't have to be perfect. It won't be perfect. What you organize now will probably have to be organized again at some point. Hopefully a long, long time from now. But, your life will change. Your needs will change. Don't get caught up in perfectionism or get overwhelmed. One little piece at a time.
*For example, put a pair of scissors in the places where you need them the most--not all the scissors in the same spot. Then the scissors will be where you need them, they won't travel all around the house, end up in tossed random drawers and never make it back to the scissor drawer and then you can't find a pair when you need them. For example, I have a pair of scissors in my bedside table, so does David, a pair in the kitchen for opening food packages, a pair in the office, a pair in the wrapping paper box, a pair in the kids' art box, and then the specialty scissors where they go--do not touch my sewing scissors please

**I have a topical acne medication I need to use every day, but not within 30 minutes before or after showering. When it was in the bathroom, I didn't use it regularly. But, put it by my laptop, and suddenly I remembered to use it twice a day like I am supposed to.

***It's my experience that I will put something box in a drawer, but not necessarily a certain spot in that box in drawer. For example, if I have a box for often-used medicines: works great! If I have a certain spot for Tylenol in the box, it doesn't get put there every time by everyone and I get frustrated. It doesn't work across everything (forks have a certain spot, dang it!), but it's a generally good rule of thumb.

****Sometimes that's ok--you may pry my great-grandma's quilts out of my bloody fingers--but sometimes it means you need to let go of that to get rid of it. I kept some kitchen gadgets for a long time, because if I had kitchen gadgets, then surely it meant that someday I was going to be fabulous and motivated to cook all the time, right? And, it would make life easy, and I would transform into super chef-type "good mom" person. I was invested in seeing myself as "person with cool kitchen gadgets" and invested in thinking that a good mom cooks every night. Once I let go of that--good moms don't have to cook every night--then I could get rid of the clutter that wasn't helping my life. Or my cooking.

Do you all have any other tips? I'd love to hear what has and hasn't worked for you! 

(Also, I need to take my own advice! I am just horrible at putting things away and not always good at setting up things that work for me, but that's the point--right? To take time to set this stuff up; to stop and think about it.)

Now, onto the bathroom!