Friday, July 21, 2017

DIY Mickey Ears - Buzz Lightyear and Olaf

I'm going to Disney World!  Well, not until the end of the year, but I am so excited about this trip.  How do I channel my excitement when I'm in a hurry up and wait phase?  I craft!  I still have a pair of Minnie Mouse Ears I bought at Disney Land over a decade ago.  When I saw the variety of DIY Mickey ears people make to go to the parks, I knew that I wanted to try to make some for myself.

In this post, I am going to show you how I made two different pairs of Mickey Ears, Buzz Lightyear Ears and Olaf Ears.  I made my own cardboard patterns and constructed the ears out of craft felt, puffy paint and headbands from the dollar store with assistance from my sewing machine and a glue gun.  I wanted to test out two different ways to attach the ears to headbands with these first projects.  In one type (Buzz), I would wrap the ear around the headband to attach it. In the other (Olaf), I would just glue the ear directly onto the headband.

Creating the Templates

The last time I had a Disney adventure was at Disney Land in 2004.  I bought these light up Princess Minnie ears while I was there.  They don't light up anymore but I like the scale and the fit.  When I looked at the ear on these headbands I found out that a standard plastic take out container fit the dimensions of the ear almost perfectly.  

Using the take out container as a stencil, I created two different sets of pattern pieces.  First, I traced out circles and cut them using a Fiskars Heavy Duty Craft Knife.  It really helped that I already owned a Fiskars self healing cutting mat as part of my quilting cutting set.  I traced two circles at the approximate position where I would want the ears.  I then took the headband and laid it on top of the circles, and traced the headband onto the cardboard, too.  This would help me get the curve right so I could glue the ears onto the headband in the end.  

I purchased two different types of headbands from the dollar store (you really can't beat $0.33/headband!), some solid fabric covered ones and some plastic ones with square cut out holes.  The headbands with cut outs don't have enough surface area to glue directly, which is part of the reason I wanted to test out a few different gluing techniques.  I made a separate template for each headband type.  For the more open headband, I made the template with a rectangular tab.  I would use this to glue the ear around the headband.

I don't have a lot of experience with an craft knives, but OH MY GOODNESS.  This is life changing.  Cutting cardboard is such a pain but with this knife it takes almost no time at all.  I wonder if I can use the knife to cut felt, too.  The blade might get dull pretty fast, but I don't even care if I need to replace it quickly.  I double checked my pattern pieces, and all of my templates ended up to be extremely symmetrical.  This means that when I cut felt I can cut four identical pieces.  Wahoo!

Buzz Lightyear Mickey Ears 

My brother liked the fit of the open plastic headband the best, so I decided to go with the tabbed template to make his Buzz Lightyear Mickey Mouse ears. I took my template with tabs and cut out for pieces of thick white felt.  I followed the template exactly and didn't adjust the size at all.

Many craft stores have two different types of craft felt.  There are the thin $0.39 pieces that are approximately the size of a piece of paper and come in every color imaginable.  Then there are the thicker, $1.99 pieces that are larger than two pieces of paper.  I used the sturdier pieces for the structure of all of my ears.

I tried to use my new knife to cut the felt but that didn't work.  It felt like it was cutting but nothing happened.  I traced the templates out with my air soluble marker and cut them out with scissors.

Now it was time to decorate these ears.  I thought it would be fun to do a chest plate on one side and a wing on the other.  When I was picking up supplies, for some reason the craft store didn't have any red felt.  I decided to make the red pieces out of gray felt and then use puffy paint over them to create the red markings.

I cut out some felt pieces that were larger than the ears.  I didn't want to have to worry about making the shapes fit perfectly, so I would cut them back after they were sewn onto the ears.

I pinned the larger felt pieces onto the ears, and then used Gutternmann Invisible Thread to stitch them down.  I'd never used invisible thread before, and it was really exciting to not have to change the thread for each color of felt I was using.  I think that I will use this thread more often!  I know from doing a lot of projects with Lucky that gluing felt directly doesn't always hold very well, so I wanted to sew the ears to help keep things secure.

After the decorations were stitched down, I sewed them to the back pieces with right sides out.  I stitched along every edge except for the bottom where the tab was located.  I left this edge open.  I also trimmed the edges of the decorations so they would fit entirely on the ear.  

While I was sewing these ears I learned how to adjust my bobbin tension.  This is life changing! I can't believe I didn't pay attention to that little screw sooner.  

I lightly stuffed the ears with some polyfill stuffing.  This step is completely optional, the ears are pretty sturdy on their own.  However, I like the way the shape of the ears filled out.

I wish that I had adjusted the orientation of the wing on the ear, but overall I was super pleased with how this came out.  I could have centered the chest plate a bit better, too, but I am starting to see something that could have come from the Toy Story universe.  

I used a hot glue gun to attach the ears to the headband.  First, I opened up the to tabs and applied some hot glue to the center seam between the front and back of the ear and put this directly onto the headband.  This functioned to secure the front and back together and to be the first attachment to the headband.  I could have sewn the bottom closed, but I wanted to let it be a little more open which the glue helped me accomplish.  

Next, I added some more glue and wrapped the back tab around the headband towards the front.  Once that was cool, I added some glue to the front tab and wrapped it around the heaband, holding it in place.  I repeated this for the second ear and suddenly I had a DIY set of Mickey Mouse ears!  

The moment of truth came when I tried on these ears.  They stayed up!  The ears also felt super secure, I wasn't worried about them falling off of the headband at all.  With the taps, the ears were glued to themselves and to the headband.  

To finish off my custom Buzz Lightyear ears, I needed to embellish them.  With hot glue, I secured the felt circles to the ears, painting the grey felt red with puffy paint.  I added stripes to the wing and defined the edges with some white puffy paint.  

Voila!  My first set of DIY mickey mouse ears.  Do you see Buzz Lightyear?  

Olaf Mickey Mouse Ears

My Buzz Lightyear Mickey Ears came together so quickly that I wanted to try another pair right away.  I had many ideas for ears, but not a lot of materials to start making them.  My kids are big fans of Frozen, and I realized that I had everything I needed to make a fast set of Olaf ears.  Rowdy is too young to make any ear requests of his own, so maybe these will work for him to wear at the park.  (I doubt anyone other than me will wear the ears around the parks, but if I can get everyone to wear them for one photo at the resort I'll be happy.)   

The solid, fabric covered headbands are a little smaller, so I thought it would work better for the kids.  I also wanted to try out gluing ears directly on to a headband so I could figure out which template I liked using better.  I cut four circles out of the thick felt and the some irregular circles for coal buttons on the other.

Since the coal buttons were the only embellishments on the Olaf Mickey ears, I decided to stitch them down.  Instead of switching thread colors, I used the clear Gutternmann Invisible Thread I already had in my machine.  You can barely see the stitches, but they are there.

I stitched just around the outside curved edge of the ears and left the bottoms completely open.  I lightly stuffed the eras with some polyfill stuffing.  

When it was time to glue the ears onto the headband, first I marked the center of the headband with a pipe cleaner.  I planned to use the pipe cleaners for this project anyway, but I found this to be a simple marking method to use on headbands that didn't have a clearly defined center already marked.  

I didn't sew the bottom of the ears shut.  I held them closed with my hands and applied hot glue to the whole bottom edge and then pressed them directly onto the headband.  I added some extra glue to any gaps that were present.  

The ears feel SUPER stable.  The bottom doesn't look as clean as the wrapped version, and it was a little trickier to get it positioned onto the headband.  I think that I'll use the tabbed template whenever I can moving forward.

I used a few more pipe cleaners to create Olaf's hair.  I wrapped them around the center of the headband first and then twisted them together to create the various shapes.  Each piece of "hair" that you see is actually two pieces of pipe cleaners twisted together.  

The Olaf Mickey Mouse ears took almost no time to put together.  Lucky was very excited to try them on, although he did ask me if I was done with his Simba ears yet.  

After I took these pictures I realized that I should have had Lucas wear the Olaf applique shirt that I made for him last winter.  I doubt that shirt will fit him when we go to Disney World, but it would be fun to take some themed pictures.  Maybe next time.

Rowdy thinks the headband is pretty awesome, too.  The adult sized headbands fit the kids great!

Olaf and Buzz are really only the beginning of my DIY Mickey ears projects.  By the time I sat down to write this post, I had completed multiple other pairs of ears plus had the materials to make many more.  I hope to make (cough, at least) one pair for each member of my family plus multiple pairs for myself.

I was inspired by many different projects that I saw.  I looked at multiple different handmade mickey ears to get a sense of design, construction, and general appearance.  Check out my Disney World Ideas Pinterest board to see more of what inspired me.

I think that it is safe to say that I've gone down the rabbit hole.  I am afraid to tell you how many different sets of ears I've made since these first two projects.  Let's just say that you are about to see a lot of Disney themed crafting coming up!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  None of the product selections were solicited.  I selected all of the products in this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Science Love Applique - Last Minute March for Science Shirts

I ordered some adorable kids shirts for the March for Science Boston.  Unfortunately due to a mistake by the manufacturer, the shirts that were guaranteed to arrive before the March arrived the day of the march.  We received the cute observer make way for ducklings shirts right after we got home from the March for Science Boston.

The night before the March, I decided to quickly make the boys some shirts.  The forecast for April 22 was rainy, so the boys would be wearing jackets over their shirts anyway, but I still wanted to have some more science spirit on (besides just the GENEie hats and headbands we were all wearing.)  I still had fabric left over from my chemistry skirt.  With a simple heart, we could easily create some Love for Science shirts!

I drew some hearts freehand on the back of some two sided fusible web.  The scale of the fabric is pretty large, os it was hard to get some complete shapes in the hearts, but I think that I was able to get some nice placement in the end.  

Lucky helped me with this project.  I let him pick which heart he wanted on his shirt and he hung out with me while I did the ironing and sewing.  

I think that the whole project took me about 15 minutes, and that is a generous estimate.  I didn't even take any notes for this post!  I'm not sure exactly what settings I used with the zigzag stitch, but clearly I did it loosely and didn't go for a satin stitch.  

Super cute, right?  I am really enjoying making the boys machine applique shirts.  I know that I will make many more in their futures. 

The morning of the March for Science, it was time for me to take some pictures of the boys in their outfits.  With the rain on the forecast, I wasn't going to be able to photograph their shirts at the march itself, so I wanted to get some pictures before we left.  The boys decided to be goofy and do some yoga.  The picture is one of my favorites ever... even if you can't see their shirts.  

Lucky was so excited, that he nearly levitated during his "CHEEESE!"

Sometimes I only get one shot I like, but more often that not I get so many adorable pictures of the boys I have trouble choosing one.  After getting all of these great shorts I realized that I should have put their GENEie headbands on for the pictures, so I got the first picture of this post.  

Now that it is July, I'm realizing that I need to start thinking about Lucky's birthday shirt.  October is right around the corner, right?  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

My First Skirt - Chemistry!!

Project Runway is one of my favorite TV shows.  I love the fashion, the creativity, and watching the designers craft something so quickly.  When I started sewing, I swore to myself that I didn't want to create (adult) clothing.  However, when I saw someone share this "Chemistry Lab on Navy" fabric, I knew I wanted to make a skirt for myself to wear to the March for Science.  I love my GENEie hats but I wanted to make my outfit even louder.

I found myself searching for elastic waste skirt tutorials.  When I found the Perfect Summer Skirt tutorial and found that it had POCKETS, I knew that I fond a winner.  The instructions from the pattern are fantastic. I'm only taking detailed notes for myself here so that I can repeat this again exactly if I want to duplicate this skirt in another fabric.  I could see how I could end up with a dozen of skirts by the end of summer!

I purchased 2 yards of the chemistry fabric and 1/2 yard of complementary fabric for the pockets.  I considered trying to be a little fancy with a stripe of a solid color on the bottom but realized that I should first try the pattern.  I didn't have time to do a test skirt and then a real skirt since the March for Science was less than a week away!

I wasn't sure if I should follow the normal instructions or the plus size instructions.  I tend to fall on the cusp where I am too small for plus size but still a little large for normal.  I did the calculations for both sizes and then decided to split the difference.  If the skirt felt too bulky I could always take it in some more after the fact.  Plus, I needed to make sure that I can sit down in the skirt without any issues!

2 yards was a good length of fabric to purchase for this project.  Although I only need 27" * 2 of length, the pattern scale is rather large so to get the front and back of the fabric to line up I needed to adjust where I was cutting.  I crossed my fingers that the pattern would still be matched up in the final skirt.

I clipped all 4 pieces together before drawing where I needed to cut.  This would allow me to cut through four layers of fabric at the same time and result in all of the angles being the same. I hate cutting lengths longer than my cutting mat.  Someday I'll buy a larger one.

I used the measuring tape as a guide to sketch the angle line.  (Keith helped me hold it in place.  I wouldn't have been able to do this on my own.)   Then I used my quilting straight edge and rotary cutter to cut the straight line.

I unfolded one of the cut pieces and held it up to my front.  I liked the drape of the fabric, and I was glad (at the time) that I didn't do it smaller.  I wouldn't have been able to go much larger with the natural width of the fabric I had (without inserting any panels!)  Future Rebecca would have liked to remove some of the bulk from the top of the skirt, while keeping the dimensions at the bottom the same.  (I'll discuss what I'd do next time more at the end of this post.)

The pattern contained a rough sketch on how to make the pocket shape.  I decided to make mine a bit larger and so used a tracing of my hand as a guide.  I even extended the pocket a bit future from my initial sketch, requiring me to tape a piece of card stock onto my pattern piece.  I could always make the pockets smaller after the fact, so cutting pieces that are too larger would work nicely.  I would need to cut four pieces but make sure there were two sets of mirror images.

This was a really large pocket... but I sort of like it.  We'll see how it works out in practice and if I end up editing it down (thankfully that could be done on the full skirt!)

1/2 yard of fabric was plenty to create 4 pockets (or even 8), but a fat quarter wouldn't quite be enough and 2 fat quarters would be cut in the wrong place, too.  Maybe I'll have to use the remnants to be pockets in another project someday!

The last piece to cut is the elastic.  According to the pattern calculations; Plus sized elastic: 39-5 = 34" long and Normal Size elastic: 39 + 2 = 42"

I felt like the 34" waist would be a little snug, especially if I decided I wanted to wear the skirt a little lower on my hips.  I certainly didn't think 42" would be worthwhile.   Splitting the difference would be 38".  38" it is.  This would still have negative ease but be super stretchy.  A note from Future Rebecca - I wish that I had gone with a smaller waistband.  The skirt fits great but when I put my phone in the pocket it gets pulled down because the elastic isn't stretched very much.  Next time I'd go for the shorter length.  

Next it was time to put the skirt together.

I secured the pockets in with a straight stitch and then a zigzag stitch (stitch 8, width 3.5, spacing 4.0)

I pressed the pockets so they were folded along the seam, but the skirt fabric remained flat.  I didn't brother to press in the rest of that edge.  I clipped the two halves of the skirt together and then did the same straight stitch followed by a zig zag down each side of the skirt.

I now had a huge tube with pockets!  Wahoo!

I followed the instructions to insert the waistband into the skirt.  First, I pressed down the top edge.  Next, I inserted the elastic and folded it over so it would be completely enclosed.  Finally, I stitched along the edge, making sure to move the elastic as needed until I could have the skirt completely gathered on the elastic.

After the wasitband was done I couldn't wait to try it on.  As soon as I put it on I realized that there are a few things that I wish I had done.  I should have gone with the plus size measurements, or at least for the waist and the top of the skirt.  Maybe I'd do the hem calculation the same as I did today, but make the skirt much more of an A-line shape.  The skirt is staying on (even with my phone in the pocket) but there is a lot of fabric around my mid section and it is not the most flattering thing I've ever seen.  I still needed to hem the bottom.

I don't have a full length mirror in my house, so I had to stand on a step stool in the bathroom to get a picture of the whole skirt.  It still needs hemming, but I think that I should be able to manage that!

I hemmed the skirt over an inch, which means that I could have gotten away with less length from the beginning.  I'd much rather be in the position to have to hem a lot than end up with a skirt that is too short, so I'm still pleased with the length.

Will I make some changes next time I make this kind of skirt?  Sure.  Will I make another of these skirts?  Absolutely.  The quilting cotton skirt is so comfortable in the warm summer weather... AND it has POCKETS!  With the modifications I mentioned above I think that I will be really happy with the skirt.  I've worn it many times after the March for Science.  I even have plans to make a slightly more complicated version of this skirt, but I will need to do some sketching and calculations first.