Monday, August 27, 2012

Vader Accessories

I started some of the extra accessories for the costumes, Vaders shoulder armor, his chest box, belt, and Bat Girls utility belt. I wanted them more 3D, so I pulled out my 1 in thick foam. I try to keep foam on hand, you can do SO much with foam, it's fun. 

For the shoulder Armor I watched this tutorial on youtube. It shows you how to cut and measure the foam. However since this is for a 3 year old, I was not precise and detailed. First I took some scissors and cut the width of the foam down to 1/2 inch. I glued 2 pieces for a wire hanger to the back to give it a curved shape. 

For the raised pieces I cut outstrips and glued them on top in the right place with my hot glue gun.

Now if you have ever tried to paint foam it's hard cause of all the little holes on the surface. I wanted a smooth plastic looking surface to it, so I was looking through my stuff to see what I had, then I remembered I had this:

 Acrylic Gel Medium. This stuff is awesome. Most people use it for painting, but there are TONS of uses for this stuff. I originally got it for image transfer. It's suppose to dry completely clear. Mine never did. Not sure why, maybe cause MO is too humid.
    Essentially when this stuff dries it's like a flexible plastic. So I took my finger and smeared it all over the surface of my foam. It filled in all the little holes, and gave it a nice flexible plastic surface.

I also cut out little shapes for Bat Girl utility belt and Vaders belt, and covered them with the gel medium.

And for Vaders chest box thingy, I used a white colored pencil to mark where I wanted it, and I smeared the  gel on the shirt. (make sure to smooth it out before it dries)
 Gloss black paint was my BEST FRIEND for this stuff. Gives it a nice shinny plastic look (and yes, I happend to have some of this laying around too)

This is what the belt pieces look like after they are painted. COOL HUH! They feel cool too. Squishy plastic. The kids LOVE them, and I haven't even put them on their belts yet.

This is how the shirt turned out. I'm super excited about it...I just didn't think about washing it. I did get the paint wet with my finger after it dried and tried to wash it off, and it stayed just fine. So I'm PRETTY SURE it will be fine in the wash...but I just haven't tested that one yet. I will let you know when I do. :)
 This is the ensemble together. Well It's everything I have finished.

 Now that I think about it, You could just skip the foam, and paint everything directly onto the shirt with the gel medium.  It would be a pretty cool shirt to wear with the shoulder armor, chest box and belt all painted on there.
p.s. I tried painting the fabric with out the gel, it works, but it soaks into the fabric a little more. The gel gives it  it's own surface on top of the shirt and makes it look like a separate thing. PLUS the gloss paint wasn't very glossy on just the fabric. The gel makes it keep it's original look. It's like a primer for the fabric.

Total cost for this project $1.98 for the black turtle neck from the thrift store.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Halloween Costumes on a Dime--Capes

Halloween is like project HEAVEN. I have 2 kids old enough to enjoy costumes and pick who or what they want to be. This year we will have Darth Vader (super excited about that one) And Bat Girl!

Normally I like to rotate the types of projects I do, but since I'm doing costumes I'll have a lot of sewing posts coming up.

I don't use patterns, so I'm talking a lot of pictures to help you understand how to do it, and tailor it to what you want. Today I'll show you how to make a cape, a full wrap around cloak type cape.

These take a LOT of fabric, so I like to visit the thrift store and buy sheets. I can get a sheet for $3 or $4. Last year I got 2 black sheets. I have used them for several things  (including an indoor chalk board superhero back drop scene), Now that I have cut them up I will be keeping my eye out for more black sheets. They are GREAT. 

I forgot to take pictures of cutting the capes, so I'll show you how to do it using a different sheet

First measure from the shoulder down to the ground so you know how long to make the cape
Then lay out your fabric

 We are going to fold it down to a triangle so you only have to make one small cut for the entire circle.

 Now fold it in half so that you see the short edges, and the long excess of the sheet is on the inside of the fold. 
 Measure from the tip down the triangle and mark with pins in several places the length. in this case I marked 30 inches

 For the Vader cape, I cut along the red line, but for the bat girl cape, she wanted the pointed edges, so I cut along the blue line that is drawn. 

Then for the neck, cut a straight line up to the center and cut a small hole for the neck. Since this was an old fitted sheet, I cut off all the elastic, and used a piece of it at the top of the cape to easily slip it on and take it off. 

I just zig-zag stitched around the edges and the cape is ready to use. Nothing fancy, but a TON of fun. 

This is the bat girl cape, again, I just zig-zaged the edges

And I did a loop and button instead of elastic. 
 Two awesome capes cost $0. (or if you had to buy the two sheets cost would have been $8)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Convert a stuffed animal into a puppet!

I LOVE puppets. I always have. But if you want to get a COOL puppet, you have to spend $30-$40. Me? Well I'm the queen of cheap. I can't spend $40 on a toy for me, cause I kind of like it. So I had an idea. How about I convert a stuffed animal into a puppet! And guess what, I just so happen to HAVE a stuffed animal up in my Mom's attic that would work PERFECTLY. Nice dangley arms that I could attach a rod to. 

So First acquire a stuffed animal with good puppet qualities. Size matters. My frogs mouth is not very deep, so it's not as easy for an adult to move the mouth. So anyway, here's my frog:

Cute huh. Get your seam ripper, and rip out the mouth seam

 Now pull out some of the stuffing. Enough to you can see the full shape of the inside of the mouth.
 Make a pattern of the mouth piece by tracing the upper and lower lip on a piece of paper
 I folded the paper in half...
 So when I was done I had a nice little pattern piece like this:

 Now take your seam ripper to the bottom seem. I forgot to take a pic of this step, but I was lucky, the frog had a seam going right up the middle. Made it easy.  Now take out enough stuffing to put your hand through.
Next step is to make the sleeve that will go up inside as well as the mouth, so measure the length you will need to go up the center, curve over your hand and attach to the mouth. I needed about 17 inches.
 I had to go an complicate things, cause sometimes I forget I can make things simple. I didn't want the fabric to get all bunched up under my hand, so I made the top long enough to cover, and the bottom shorter. But It would work just as well to make a simple tube. Also cut out the mouth piece (don't forget the seam allowance)
Curve the top of the sleeve to fit the mouth piece.
 *NOTE* This is the part where you will need to cut of the plastic for the mouth and sew it in. I didn't think about it till later and had to MaGuyver it till it worked. Cut out 2 mouth pieces, and get a plastic container like ice cream bucket, or cool whip container and cut out a top mouth piece and a bottom piece. tack it down and sew the two piece of fabric around it to enclose the plastic. (You will see what I mean with the plastic later...and if not, leave me a comment and I can help you with it)

Next pin and sew.
 I have the top pinned and the sides
 Now I have the bottom of the mouth as well
 this is the excess fabric on the top, remember mine is longer. Well I made this little pleat thing right at the top. it will end up being the back of the mouth.
 Now it is all sewn up. nothing special, just sew where you pinned.
 See, the bare sleeve. Now you stuff it through the animal.
 Center it and pin the mouth. JUST the mouth right now.

 This required some hand sewing...
 Now I realized that the mouth wont keep shape on it's own and figured out the plastic thing. I cut the shapes and shoved them up and got them in place one at a time and hand to tack them in with a needle and thread. ...that was tricky.
Now that you have the mouth  in place you might have to take out some more stuffing to get it right. Once you get it how you like it sew up the bottom the same way you did the mouth. 
 And there you have it. A home-converted PUPPET! The kids LOVE him! AND he is still fluffy enough to work as a stuffed animal.

Fabric-$3 (found a ton of black fleece at the thrift store, and the sleeve only took a scrap of that)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Canning Chicken

First off, I recently learned from my Grandma that you need to get your pressure cooker checked about every year to make sure all the valves and gauges are in working order. Not sure where to do that, my first place to ask will be my Grandma. For those of you who do not share my awesome grandma, I would start with Sears...or a google search :)

Canning chicken in the pressure cooker is a sinch, it saves a ton of space in your freezer, it's got a shelf life of 3-5 years, AND it makes dinner easier than...well something very easy. So, this is how I do it:

The night before I set out my frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts in the sink to thaw. My cooker holds 9 pint jars (it can do quart jars too, I just prefer the pints, cause we wont use a full quart at a time)

You can fit about 15-18 lbs of chicken in 9 qt jars

By morning the chicken is thawed but still cold, a few ice chunks even, but pliable enough to fill the jars. I can get about 3 or 4 chicken breasts in each jar.

Then I like to add a little seasoning, it just cuts one step out when you are ready to use it. I put a little salt in each jar. In  2 I also have garlic and onion powder, 2 have taco seasoning, 2 bbq sauce (havent tried that one yet) every batch is a little different.

 and the 3 in the front just have the salt

Now the hardest part is over :)
Yes I KNOW it looks gross

Now wipe the rims clean so you get a good seal, then put the lids and rings on tight
 Put the jars in the cooker. My instruction book says add 2 qts of water, that amount may vary depending on the manufacturer 


Put the lid on, turn it on high, but leave the weight off for now. 

When the steam starts escaping set the timer for 10 mins...I don't think you can see the steam in the picture very well...but trust me, it's there. 

After 10 mins, put the weight on and let it get up to pressure

Meat needs 10 lbs of pressure. There are different kinds of gauges, I like the needles, takes all the guess work out of it. There is also one that the weight is also the gauge, and you have to listen for how often it jiggles. Don't let that scare you, I have used them too, and never had a bad batch.

Now just maintain the correct pressure by adjusting the heat. slowly turning it down till the gauge reads correctly. For pint jars cook at pressure for 75 mins, for quart jars 90 minuets. 

There chicken is done. DO NOT take the lid OR THE WEIGHT right off, the jars are under pressure and if you release the pressure your jars will me, I've done it before. Take the cooker off the heat and ignore it for an hour, then pull out your jars. They will still be boiling. They will for a while. 

I like to place mine on a towel so they aren't on the cool counter top.

Don't forget to date and label. After the jars cool, you can take the rings off

You know you did it right when you hear them *pop* Kinda sounds like you are clicking your tong. If for some reason a jar or two doesn't seal (which happens occasionally) just put it in your fridge. It's still good, just not shelf safe.

Try it, I know it looks nasty in the jars, but once you use it, you will LOVE it. each jar is full of ready to eat chicken and delicious chicken broth. Fajitas, or chicken tacos ready in less than 10 mins. Open a can and throw some on your quesadillas, so yummy. Have a casserole in the oven before you can say supercalafragilesticexpealladocious! Want some chicken fetachini alfreado, or a quick chicken salad for lunch, soup? ...well you get my picture. 

*NOTE: The chicken does not cube well, but it shreds like a dream. I have cut up onions and peppers to put in there, makes the house smell so delicious. Also, you cook pork and beef exactly the same way. BBQ pulled pork sandwiches are to die for.