23 December 2009

Nativity Tunic/Costume Tutorial

Occasionally, being able to sew is a very useful skill.

I love all the free sewing tutorials that are all over the internet. People are so generous with their instructions and pictures and I have benefited many times.

So last week when I was looking for a tutorial for a basic Mary & Joseph nativity costume, I was surprised to find that there wasn't much available. The only thing I found were some very basic instructions on blurtit.com. The woman that posted those proved to be my lifesaver, though, as I was trying to put something together to help out a friend desperate for a costume for our church christmas program the next night.

Her instructions said this:
This is the method I used:
2- 2/3 yards (8 feet) x 2 ½ feet (30) inches for gown. Cut a 8 inch circle in center.
22 inches x 22 inches square for sleeve. Fold in half.
Cut a slit down front and bind edges. Hem around neck
pin center of sleeve to gown length center. Sew side and sleeve seams.

In hoping to give back a little to all who have shared a tutorial with me, I wanted to expand those basic instructions with some pictures, and perhaps someone else will be able to make a very simple tunic-style gown that is useful for many costumes.

Woman size: uses about 3 yards of fabric (I used 45" wide muslin)
Man size: uses about 4 yds fabric
1) For a woman's size tunic, cut fabric 28" x 3 yards (108") For a man's size tunic cut fabric 30" x 3 yds. 14 inches (122") Fold in half and cut out a half circle on the fold for the neck hole. 6" diameter circle for a woman 7" diameter circle for a man
2) Cut a 3-4" slit starting at the center of the circle you just cut
3) Hem the slit
4) With the remaining scraps of fabric, first cut two pieces for sleeves.
16" x 22" for women,
22" x 22" for men.
Set these two sleeve pieces aside.

5) With what is left, cut bias strips 3" wide and stitch together to make a bias strip about 30-35" long. Press this bias strip in half and then each half to the inside to make bias tape, pressing one raw end also to the inside.

6) Sew the bias tape around the neck, starting with the finished end of the bias tape.When you get to the other side of the neck you will need to trim the excess tape and turn under the end before you finish sewing.
7) Fold the two sleeves in half. For the woman sleeve, fold along the 16" side. Pin the center of the sleeve to the gown length center. Serge (or sew and then zigzag) around this sleeve seam.
8) Match and pin the insides of the sleeve right at the armpit, then serge (or sew and then zigzag) along the inside of the sleeve continuing all the way down to the bottom of the tunic.

9) Press all seams, then hem sleeves and bottom to desired length.

It is a very, very basic gown/tunic, but I was able to quickly sew four of them--two for my friends who played Mary and Joseph and two for me and Jeff. I also made a couple of vests for the men to wear over their tunics using the same basic pattern, by cutting and hemming the neck slit all the way down the bottom of the tunic, and leaving off the sleeves.

At one point in the evening, Jeff had to remove his brown vest and be the Angel Gabriel for someone who didn't show up.

I hope this tutorial is helpful--If you use it and find it confusing, please comment with any questions or suggestions and I'll try to help.

22 December 2009

The biggest word you've ever heard and this is how it goes, oh

My obsession with Facebook Scrabble is rubbing off on my boys. The scrabble tiles are currently the toy-of-the-week in our house.

One of my favorite things about James is how much he loves words. This morning we sat together and did the newspaper crossword puzzle and he loved it just as much as I did. I'm a bit of a word junkie myself.

I predict, in the not-so-far-distant future, some very serious games of scrabble with him, and I can't wait.

19 December 2009

Two cuties

James, 7 months old, 2003

Henry, 7 months old, 2009

Two look-alike boys, six years apart, learned first to scoot only backwards and got stuck underneath the same bed. Is it embarrassing that we've been using the same flannel sheets for six years? At least we finally got a bed skirt.

17 December 2009

A New Obsession

I just finished reading three really great books. If you're my friend on goodreads, you would know that I gave each one 5 stars, which for me is rare. I am very picky with the books I choose to read.

These three books were all written by midwives, who tell, in their own words, the different stories of many, many births. These women take you into their lives and into the lives of their patients' homes, where most of the babies are delivered. For some reason, I never tire of reading birth stories, especially when they are written with such detail that you feel like you are there witnessing the actual event, as these are.

This book was recommended to me by my high school friend, Paige, who said, "it made me want to change professions", and I might have to agree. Peggy Vincent is a great writer. Each chapter tells the story of another unique birth, mostly happy and healthy, though sometimes quite frantic and even sad. Her stories take place mostly in the 1980s and '90s in Berkeley, California, where she was a nurse-midwife practicing home births. I laughed and cried through this book and learned much that I didn't know about the whole process of birth.

A Midwife's Story, by Penny Armstrong & Sheryl Feldman

I enjoyed this book not only because of the amazing birth stories it told, but also because it taught me many things about the Amish culture/society that I did not know. They are an interesting people, and Penny Armstrong lived among them and delivered many of their babies.

The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Jennifer Worth, though not a nun herself, lived with and trained to be a midwife in a convent with a group of nuns. Worth, along with these Sisters, delivered the babies of the poor, working-class women living in the slums of London in post-war 1950s. The living conditions of these people with which she worked are described in disturbing detail.

The countless birth stories she tells are fascinating and well-written, and occasionally we step away from her day-to-day midwife responsibilties to learn a bit of the history of her patients.

If you have any interest in this topic, these books come highly recommended by yours truly. Let me know if you read any of them.

15 December 2009

This one is for Donnie

Okay, so I don't mean to brag, but I'm pretty proud of the word I just played in Scrabble, and, well, I just had to brag. Donnie, this one was worth only 65 points, compared to your 89 for DEADBEAT, but I also used all 7 tiles, a first for me.

I'm also loving this Facebook Scrabble--I have been playing with my sisters and sis-in-law for the past few weeks. That is the best thing about it--you open a game and play whenever you get around to it. So a game can be as short or long as you want it to be.

G&G Troxler would be so proud of the way we're exercising our minds. We'll see if Alisa and Emilee can compete with AVIATION. woot.

05 December 2009

Ode to the couches

Jeff and I decided to buy each other a couch for Christmas this year, since we've had the same couch and loveseat the entire eight years we've been married. We very gratefully acquired these free couches one month before our wedding. They were very comfortable and in great shape, but originally made of a cream-colored shiny brocade fabric which was impossible to keep clean.

In 2003, after owning the couches for two years and apologizing too many times for the stained, ripped cushions, I decided to try my hand at some custom slipcovers. Turns out they were much harder than Hildi made them look every Saturday night on Trading Spaces, but after all was said and done, I was proud of how they turned out.

Today, a nice couple came and bought the couches. It was inevitable, we only have one living room and our new one will be delivered soon.

But still, it was sad. The couches have followed us to three apartments and one house, and have countless memories of nursing babies, reading stories, taking naps, and watching football.

Stay tuned for a reveal of our new living room.