Friday, November 5

Post holiday funk . . . nope!

Sometimes after Halloween it takes me a bit to get the ol' creative juices flowing again, but not this year! Igor and I are already planning for next Hallowmas and hot damn if they aren't some awesome plans. I think we already have our costumes thought out *and* a whole lawn/house decorating scheme. Now, I wonder if there's any place to buy lawn gnomes in bulk . . .

More than just for next year, our post-Halloween discussions have opened up other creative vista thingys. For the first time in who knows how long I've written (and absolutely completed) a short story! Igor has sketched some ideas for paintings he wants to complete this winter and he will be providing illustrations for my story.

Also, this weekend I get going on my next belly dance costume. I have no idea what I'm going to do about a headdress, but the rest is going to be a piece of cake.

Along the lines of dancing costumes, I want to try and recover a few of my old bras to make some nice dancing tops. I can't find any tutorials on recovering bras, but I wouldn't mind achieving something like these two:

Found here

Found here

These next two bras give me all kinds of crazy ideas

And, of course, I love this one:

From here

But, if ever I become skilled enough, I'd love to attempt a version of this last bra

Wednesday, November 3

Until Next Year . . .

I had a wonderful Halloween weekend as I hope everyone did! There was lots o' dancing and drinking and free cupcakes, giant babies and long-lost friends found, sugar-crazed children and general revelry.

This Halloween also made me realize how every day I should consider myself putting on a costume: my going to work costumes, my going out to play costumes, costumes for bike rides and rainy days and snowy days and adventure walks, even my I'm-a-gamer-who-isn't-even-going-outside-once-today costume (this consists of a bathrobe with a hood and the comfiest sweatpants known to humankind).

Anyway, as the Halloween dust settles I'll post more pics, but here's the first of us in full costume:

Best after Halloween movie ever? The Nightmare Before Christmas of course!

A short list of what I hope to work on this winter:
- Fancy framed felt flowers
- Books, books, books
- Swirly, shiny, kick-ass belly dance costuming
- Soup for all occasions!
- Gruesome gnome stories

Thursday, October 21

More guts - this time they're edible!

I attended a potluck birthday party that was also a screening of The Shining. For the potluck portion of the evening the only guideline for food was that it had to be gross.

So, I made baked intestines.

I found the recipe for these Faux Stuffed Intestines at 365Halloween. I almost made bloody jello worms, but as the birthday girl is vegetarian, I thought this vegan dish was the better option. The guts were quickly devoured at the party and they're so good I think I'll make a version of them throughout the winter! Mmmm, healthy vegan intestines.

Now back to putting the finishing touches on costumes and watching Hammer Horror movies. Tonight, one of my all time favorites, Horror Express!

Monday, October 18

We've Decorated!

Not that we don't have Halloween stuff up most of the year, we do, but weekend before last we added a little extra seasonal charm: cobwebs, tombstones and giant pumpkins!

I've also already had some carving fun. My friends built a nice fire in their backyard and we sat around disemboweling pumpkins.


Mine is the disgruntled, drool-eyed pumpkin on the left.

Pumpkin guts for all
(this Halloween seems to be guts themed)

And here's a little something to watch. Yeah, yeah, I know they did something similar on So You Think You Can Dance, but there's something so charming about this small Halloween gathering version that I love:

Wednesday, October 13

Guts: A How-To

Materials needed:
- Used bike tire inner tubes (make sure they're tubes for thicker tires and not skinny racing bike tires)

(I got these for free from a bike shop)
- Paint (red, blue, white, black, green), acrylic or tempera
- Batting (I just got a couple of not-too-thick sheets of the stuff)
- Needle and *strong* Thread
- Elmer's Glue (or some kind of generic white glue that will dry clear and not too hard)
- Backing fabric (thin canvas or cotton works well, fleshy colored fabric if you can get it)

Step 1.
Cut off the valves of the tire inner tubes so that they tubes are cut in half.

Step 2.
Cut a couple lengths of batting all the same width so you have uniform strips.

Roll the first strip lengthwise and secure with safety pins.

Next roughly secure the roll with stitching - doesn't have to be pretty, just has to keep the batting in it's rolled state.

Since the tube will probably be longer than the length of the rolled batting, connect two or three rolls together.

Step 3.
Cut a length of thread that is almost three times the length of the tube. Thread needle and knot. At one end of the batting roll, stitch and wrap the thread so it is securely attached to the end of the roll.

Put the needle into the tube and feed it through until the needle comes out the other end of the tube. Stuff as much of the batting roll into the tube as possible,

(I used a chopstick to force more into the tube, no need to be gentle), then grab the needle and thread coming out the opposite end of the tube and pull. You'll want to pull as steadily as possible and not yank. It's hard to start the batting sliding through the tube, but gets easier as you go along.

Step 4.
Now comes the fun part: Painting! I first painted the intestines (which is what I'll call them from now on) a grayish blue and let them dry.

Step 5.
Arrange the intestines how you want by using a piece of backing fabric and then superglue into place. I just used the vest that Igor will be wearing. Once everything is securely glued, stitch the guts to the fabric in a few places to make sure they stay put.

Step 6.
Next brush on some green and brown to give the intestines that special "I move the body's waste" look they should have. Also, if you used tempera paint and forgot to spray on a sealant before arranging the guts (like I did) this last painting can be used to touch up any bits of the intestines where paint has flaked off.

Mmmm, still gooey looking.

Step 7.
This step is really called "glue-blood" because that's what it's all about. I mixed about two-parts red paint with a little less than one-part brown paint, and one-part glue to make this mixture. By adding the glue I can let the blood dry and it still looks a bit shiny and slick like it's fresh. This is important because although my big bad wolf is tough, he hates having a cold, wet stomach. (I found this out on the first zombie walk we went on together and he complained that his guts were making his tummy cold - ha!). It also means you can have a pre-made, ready to use stash of guts that are easy to store and won't get moldy as when nylons and wet paper towels are used.

Below is kinda my blood and guts pallet. The darker glue-blood sample is from mixing black and red paint together, but I like the one that's a bit lighter mixed from brown and red because it looks a bit fresher.

Step 8.
Coat guts with the glue-blood and let dry (this can take up to 24-hours depending on how thick you pour the glue-blood). If you're using tempera and blood coat on the intestines dries with a bit of a chalky look, just go back in and re-coat the intestines with glue so they have a shinier finish.

Because I attached the guts directly to the vest, I didn't included a step where they are attached to some sort of other mounting material (a long strip of cloth or a thin belt) so they can easily be positioned around the waist. Still, that's the way to go if you really want ready-to-wear guts for all occasions.

Finally: Right before stepping out with your new guts, drip some fresh fake blood over them for that just eviscerated look. En voila!!!

With slashed vest

I don't think the guts are perfect - this is the first time I've made them - but I like 'em and hope to improve on the design in the future.

P.S. I learned everything I needed to know about fake guts from this film

So funny, so good!

Thursday, October 7

Dress, Hood, Hatchet, Teeth, Guts - Action!

I've conquered the sleeves, tamed the zippers and answered the eternal question: just what the hell can I use to make realistic looking guts? I'll come to that in a minute, but first the dress:

And here's a detail of the arm (I didn't have enough of the red fabric so I improvised)

I've also revamped the cheap prop hatchet I got and it has been transformed from this:

to this:

Igor has had his teeth fitted:

(I think he really likes them)

And (essential to my costume) my hood is done!

Now, as to guts. I was fully prepared to work with pig intestine casings to make realistic looking guts for Igor. Fortunately for my budget, my vegetarian friends and perhaps those who will have to smell Igor on Halloween, I've found an alternative: old bike tire tubes. These should be thin and flexible enough to mold into the configurations I need, while being more durable and (let's face it) won't rot. Perfect!

Next up on The Strange Stitchery: How to make the best fake guts ever!

Monday, September 6


They are done!

Well, except for needing buttons by which to attach the suspenders, and they do need to be ironed, and maybe taken in a smidge at the waist (I might just add a nifty little cinching buckle in the back like on vests) - but other than that: DONE! Rejoice!

Now on to those damn sleeves for my dress . . .

Monday, August 16

Progress! Kinda . . .

So, I am getting there on the dress for my Halloween costume, Igor's pants just need the zippers (that's right, plural) and I have almost everything else I need except for the gory effects. Still, progress has been slow. I do have a good excuse though: I'm belly dancing! I made my first performance costume and actually danced in public (scary and awesome!). Also, my best friend had to go and get married and I decided the best thing to do was to make her something for her wedding night. So it's not like I've been lazy, just distracted from finishing the Halloween costumes.

First, a few picture of the headdress I made for dancin'. It's mostly lace and a flayed bracelet with two beaded appliques (not made by me) all set securely on a headband.

Here are a couple shots of the headdress (and me!) in action.

I also made myself some *huge* and quite comfy harem pants. They will get a lot of use in the future! As soon as I get a good pic of them I'll post it.

For my hitched friend, I made her what I've since dubbed a "bedroom bustle". This is a fluffy, frilly, frothy bit of silliness that is meant to be worn over something, under something or without anything else at all.

I'm not usually a frilly person, so this was hilarious to make. Yes, it's hard to sew in a straight line when you're giggling.

It can also be worn as a wrap!

With all that done, and it being nearly mid-August(!), it's time to return to the Halloween costumes. My plan is to have the garments done by the end of this month and then spend September perfecting makeup and prosthetics (which may involve working with real pig intestine casings, we'll see as I'm still looking for an alternative for Igor's guts).

Today it seems easy to start thinking about Halloween as it feels like fall. The air is brisk, the sky is a mesmerizing molted gray and I can almost smell the woodsmoke and falling leaves. This summer's been wonderful, and I'm learning to appreciate the sunny season, but I'm getting giddy for autumn to return.

P.S. Finally saw Zombieland - love!

Thursday, August 12

The Scrumptious Smell of Fungus

So, in my next post I'll show pics of my recent productivity, but first I must rave about the new "perfume" I just bought. I put perfume in quotes because I have never been a perfume person, to me perfume was something that old ladies and high maintenance types wore - but all that has changed. There are an amazing array of natural scents out there these days, hand mixed by artisans and all made without animal testing or chemicals. And I've fallen in love with one of them.

Before I go on, let me make this clear: I love the smell of figs. Fresh figs, fig dishes, and especially fig essences (here imagine me rubbing my hands together and saying 'essences' like that creepy mad scientist Skesis from the Dark Crystal). Up until a few months ago it was almost impossible to find a good fig lotion or soap like I had years ago when I first discovered my obsession. Then I started finding fig products everywhere. I got soap and candles and body wash, but still could not find a good fig lotion I liked. Then I searched on Etsy (which is a whole different obsession). When I searched the word fig a shop called The Morbid The Merrier was one of the first that came up, selling a fig perfume and even though I wasn't looking for a perfume the name of the shop and the look of the bottle made me click through. TMTM sells perfumes with names like Saucy Jack, Barnum, Harlot and Lizzie. She also has a black fig concoction called Athelia. I know what you're thinking: Ooo, that sounds beautiful - wait, isn't that the name of a fungus and a rare congenital disease? Right on all three accounts, which is what makes it so awesome!

I just received my little Morbid package this morning and the scent does not disappoint. It is layered and rich and very figgy without being too heavy or sweet.

Now that I know Morbid mixes a mean scent I am fairly giddy for the next line she is coming out with which will include perfumes inspired by The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (my favorite short story of all time!), including a Horseman scent that sounds swoon worthy!

So, having shamelessly promoted this artist, go check out her wares on Etsy here, or at her new shop site The Morbid The Merrier.

Friday, April 2

Fabric & Frock Coats, Gashes & Gore

I got the fabric for Igor's pants and man is it stipey! I've also collected all the fabric I need for my dress and am ready to start cutting and sewing.

The pants are already about half done - easiest things ever! At least so far, but I still have to fit them and put in the zipper.

For his frock coat I'm combining a blazer that Igor wore a couple years ago with another second-hand blazer to get the correct length. I have a pattern to go off, but it's just going to be easier to put it together without the patter (plus the coats already have finished hems I can use - plus I just don't have enough fabric to cut out the pattern pieces).

Now, if I could only figure out how to get started on my dress because that is one involved pattern.

On the makeup front I've been purusing wolf looks and gash options. I came across the video below and might actually spring for the sculpt gel she uses because it makes some amazing looking wounds.

Wednesday, March 17

I wish . . .

that I needed this top for my LLR costume. An actual victorian era blouse that's in my size and I could (potentially) afford. Sigh, but I just couldn't justify the purchase - especially since I've been spending so much money on other bits for costumes - so instead I memorialize it here.

This blouse needed love and a home - and I just couldn't give it to it.