Tag Archives: soft craft

Adult Tutu in Blue, Purple, and Teal


Not available in stores. You cannot order yours today.

Not being one of those people who ferociously guards their costuming secrets, I present here my first-ever handmade tutu, size adult medium, in blue, purple, and teal, what the Fox refers to as “dragon colors.” Although actually, maybe he means “Dragon colors,” as in my colors, since dragons come in every color, while I personally own a pair of shoes, and a several dresses, and some other garments that match this tutu. Also, a dragon tattoo.

This project is incredibly easy; it took maybe 5 or 6 hours. It required:

  • 1 yard of a stretchy, crocheted-type elastic band (something with decent sized holes in its pattern)
  • 6 yards of tulle
  • a small amount of thread
  • scissors
  • yardstick
  • needle

You could probably dispense with the needle and thread if you secured the waist with safety pins or just tie it together with the tulle. The elastic was the most expensive part at $4 a yard. The tulle was $4.50 for 6 yards, so the whole thing comes in under $10.

Basically, you measure your holey elastic to the part of your torso where you want it to hang (I chose just above my hips) and then create a circle of elastic with that circumference by sewing the two ends together. Then you cut the tulle into 18″ x 4″ strips. One by one, take your tulle strips and thread them through 2 juxtaposed loops in the elastic, with each end an equal length sticking. Then tie a simple half knot in the tulle, so you end up with a pair of 9″ strips sticking out of one loop in the elastic. Then repeat approximately 215 times.

Possibly with stiffer tulle or a smaller waistband, your might need fewer knots. If you’re making the kind of tutu where the tulle is long and hangs down, you probably need much less tulle. What I read online suggested that this project required 3 yards of tulle, but it definitely wasn’t fluffy enough until I got through the whole 6 yards.

Next week, we’re invited to a cosplay wedding, and also I’m the photographer. So I was wracking my brains trying to think of a good cosplay. Like people have suggested I should do Garnet from Stephen Universe, but not only is that a complicated costume, it seems pretty impractical to wear a giant visor while working as a wedding photographer. My go-to dress-ups are either Pippi Longstocking or Little Red Riding Hood, but the problem with Pippi is that you end up fussing with your hair all night to keep it on the wires that help it stick out from your head, and at this point my hair goes all the way down to my back, so getting the hair to stick out right in the first place would be a pain. As for Red, the riding hood seemed likely to get in the way of taking pictures, not to mention that it’s the bodice that makes the outfit really pop, but again, you can’t have a costume that restricts your movement/breathing while you work. Unless you work at a Ren Faire or something.

So, I mentioned this problem to the Vampire Bat, who frequently works as a professional photographer while in ornate costumes, and she was like: duh, slap some butterflies on your regular clothes and you’re already Delirium from The Sandman. Duh. Literally. I have the leather jacket, the combat boots, the fishnet shirt, the red hair, and a wide variety of outlandish stockings: colored, striped, fishnet. Now I just need to figure out how to make a bunch of fish float around my head. The sad thing is that I actually own a remote-controlled mylar fish balloon, but that would be another thing that would impede my ability to take pictures. No, the really sad thing is that I won’t be able to make it to Tucson Comicon this year because I got my media request in too late and also because I already have 3 parties to go to that weekend. Maybe I can just sneak in Friday night, which is the only free time I’ll have that weekend anyway.

I can still take this costume to at least 3 other events besides the wedding this year alone, and now I don’t have to steal the Girl’s tutu, which is more than 6 years old and has stretched-out elastic, ever again. Plus, you know, sometimes I just dress like this for fun, and this tutu matches more of my clothing than her pinky-pinky one.

So: some kind of hair piece that makes it look like fish are floating around my head, and then convince The Man to grow his beard and hair out a little, wear a peasant shirt, and carry a bindlestiff. He’s not much for cosplay, but if I can get the shirt, I can probably persuade him about the bindlestiff. With the addition of a loving but unwilling Destruction towering over me, my Delirium costume is complete.

Giant Microbe Plushies


Warning: may cause nausea, headache, fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and fetal death. 

About 10 days ago I casually asked the Girl if she had any big projects coming up at school. You see, this school always gives the kids creative projects at the end of the year, so I wasn’t asking out of idle curiosity. I was asking because I didn’t want to get stuck building a model of King Tut’s tomb on a 12-hour deadline, which is what happens when you’re the only artist in the family.

“No, no, no, o, wait, yeah,” said the Girl. “We’re doing this hot air balloon project.”

The hot air balloon project: every 5th grader picks a person from history and learns about them. Then comes a thought experiment. All these historical figures are on a hot air balloon. The hot air balloon is sinking fast! They have to vote, Survivor style, who to throw off the balloon. I am not making this project up. Maybe it’s just me, but this seems like a pretty cold way to teach kids about history.

Anyway, the Girl goes on to explain that each kid must also dress up as their historical figure, and may bring 4 props to illustrate that person’s importance. Who is she? Alice Evans. I had not heard of Alice Evans, but she made one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century: she discovered that bacterial infections could be transmitted to humans through cows’ milk, and that pasteurization could kill the microorganisms responsible for these diseases. And then, because she was a woman, they told her she was wrong. But, as it turns out, she was right. She did a lot of work on infectious diseases in her life.

So, Alice Evans seems like a pretty great human, unlikely to be voted off the hot air balloon, given that most 5th graders like milk and don’t like gastrointestinal distress. (The Girl obviously picked her because she loves milk.) But the problem is that she was just a regular lady scientist of her day. She didn’t have a signature look; she just tied her hair back and went to the lab.

But I am used to nailing this end-of-the-year creative project. So I go into the closet and sure enough, I own a lab coat. Where did it come from? Why do I have it? No clue. But that’s step 1. “OK, wear this lab coat,” I say, rolling up the sleeves.

“Maybe I could have lab goggles, too?” she asks. Lab goggles will impress her friend who likes science. Yes, of course I have lab goggles.

But what about props? A milk bottle?

Oh, yeah. Giant plush microbes. Obviously, I didn’t come up with the idea of giant plush microbes. They’ve been selling them online for some years now, but, contrary to what some people seem to think about the carefree artist’s lifestyle, I have not yet become wealthy from my work. In fact, I have no money except what The Man gives me. I’m not personally into stuff, so it doesn’t bother me too often, but I didn’t have a lot of cash to spend on giant plush microbes.

Yeah, I made these delightfully cuddly infectious diseases with my own 2 hands.

So here are my giant plush microbes. the one of the left is supposed to be salmonella, and the one on the right is listeria. I already had the white minky leftover from some Christmas stockings I made (badly) a few years back, and 2 sizes of red ribbon for what I presume are its flagellum. I got the blue minky, blue ribbon, and the batting at the weird discount fabric store I like for $3.31, which is slightly more than I had budgeted for giant plush microbes in the month of May, but substantially less than it would have cost to order them online.

I’m pretty happy with how they came out, even though I sew terribly. Sewing terribly is better than not sewing at all. But still, I wanted them to come out rounder. I considered putting eyes on them, but I thought maybe, given the potential outcome of being thrown off a sinking hot air balloon, you might want your microbes to appear as serious as possible.

And no, I didn’t do all the work. I made her stuff them.


Making Mardi Gras Masks Last Minute (with tiny rosette tutorial)

At dinner the Girl mentioned how excited she was for the Red and White Dance. It’s a daddy-daughter dance held at her school every year. I will reserve my thoughts on the concept of daddy-daughter dances and state only that this kid LOVES this event. I don’t think she’s ever missed it. This year, they decided to make it a masquerade, and the RSVP envelopes came with 2 paper masks, which Daddy and daughter were meant to decorate in advance.


Someone is very happy.

There was zero possibility that The Man would be wearing this paper mask, because his head is simply enormous. I don’t mean that he’s full of himself. I mean he wears a 7 3/4 size hat and even if the string were long enough, he wouldn’t be able to see out of both eye holes at the same time. Fortunately, I made him a rather elaborate Mardi Gras style mask a few New Year’s Eves back for a masquerade party, so he could wear that. The Girl was excited to decorate her mask.

Except she was sick and missed a week of school and we didn’t see her and we all lost track of time and when The Man asked, “When’s this dance again?” the answer was, “Tomorrow.” It was already 6:30, and she had to go to her mom’s at 7:30. We found the blank mask and sorted through some craft supplies and talked about concepts. She has a very specific sense of style. I thought she’d want to make it herself, but I guess she didn’t, because I made it. She designed it, more or less, but I tried to steer some of her choices. Otherwise, it would have had about 50 more design elements to it.


It’s not bad for a scant 3/4 hour’s work. Could have finished some of the edges more, but I bet it’s still one of the best masks at the party.

The main fabric piece is very soft, left over from a year I made Christmas stockings. The braid on the bottom I braided myself; it’s just a coincidence that I had 3 different shades of green ribbon. The big thing was that she wanted it to be mostly red, and she wanted flowers. But I only had silver, blue, and orange flowers. I ended up making these little rosette bouquets out of a scrap of shiny red cloth, and since I didn’t start working on this blog until after 11 tonight, I decided to make one more bouquet and take process pictures, which I never do (and no wonder–do you know how hard it is to point and shoot a DSLR with a macro lens at your own hand?) and make a little rosette tutorial.

So, if you would like to make tiny rosettes, here’s how.

You will need:

  • red fabric or ribbon
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • green fabric or ribbon

Cut a piece of fabric about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Draw a bead of hot glue lengthwise down the middle.


Before the glue dries, fold the fabric in half lengthwise, with the glue in between the 2 halves.


The folded edge is the top of your flower. Now, fold over a few centimeters of the skinny end. Add a drop of glue.



Start rolling the fabric over onto the glue. Pinch the bottom part of the fabric as you go, to create a flower shape, with a flare at the top.


Roll, glue, roll.


If you keep pinching the bottom, the center petals should get squished up, contributing to the flower shape. You can force it into shape with more glue if it doesn’t comply. When you come to the end, glue it down. Now make another rosette. Glue the unfinished sides to each other so you can’t see the glue ends.


Make a 3rd rosette and hide the glued end by sticking it to the other 2.

Now, take your green ribbon or fabric. Here, I used 2 shades. Twist them up to make them skinny and round.


Then, twist them together.


Now, make a loop, just the right size to form a nest for the flowers. You may want to make an X and pull it through (like you’re starting to tie your shoes) first. Or you can tie it after.


You’re almost there. Insert the rosettes into the loop, tie the loop, and glue the knot.


Turn the whole thing upside down and glue around the bottom of the circle where the green meets the red. You can add some glue to the bottom of the flowers, too.


Now, trim the edges of the ribbon, gently remove all the excess glue (it’s easier to remove when it’s warm; you may need scissors or a razor once it’s cooled).

Viola: rosette bouquet from scraps.


Glue it on things and delight little people who like tiny flowers

I wanted to link to my photo of the original masks, but I couldn’t find it, which apparently means that I never posted these masks here. That seems weird. But, for continuity’s sake, here are the first Mardi Gras masks I ever made.


Soft Craft

The only thing I can really competently sew is a curtain. I’m envious of those people who whip out renaissance dresses and elf coats and doll clothes and leather bags. It seems impossible to me. When I try to make a quilt, I start out with the best intentions and perfect squares but soon enough my lines are diagonal and nothing lies flat.

The Monica Doll, slightly worse for the wear

The Monica Doll, slightly worse for the wear. I still have the human-sized overalls my mother made for me from that purple denim.

This is a ragdoll I made for a guy I dated in college, so he could take me with him on a semester abroad in Japan. He gave me a hand made bracelet of copper mail. Both the doll and the bracelet were imperfect creations and kept breaking (links falling off the jewelry, seams bursting on the doll), and we had to keep asking each other to fix them. When we broke up, almost 20 years ago, he kept the doll and I kept the bracelet. They were both broken, like our relationship, and neither one of us wanted to invest the energy to fix the tokens when there was nothing left to fix them for.

About a year ago the guy contacted me on Facebook and asked if I wanted the doll back. I was frankly amazed that he’d had it all this time. I had assumed he’d set it on fire, like he probably did with all the photo negatives I tried to get back from him, or, at the very least, voodooed me up. But the doll was in about the same condition. Rather then fixing the seams, which would just burst again, I lay in some good patches on her so she’s a bit sturdier than she was before, if not somewhat worse for wear, just like me.

A yarn dolly

A yarn dolly

This is a simple project I did with my stepdaughter, who insists she’s really good at sewing, but really isn’t. You just wrap some yarn around your hand or a card so you have some big loops. Using a small piece of yarn, tie off the head. Then cut and tie off the arms. Tie off the waist. Separate, cut, and tie off the legs. You can dress your dolly or give her hair, but I couldn’t find anything that looked better than naked for her.