Holding out for a Superhero

Gosh, it’s taken me a long time to get around to doing this post, I’m very much a victim of Life, it gets in the way.  On the 14th November it was Children In Need day and as such, school children around the country attended their lessons in a variety of costumes from pyjamas to fancy dress.

Our school decided to dress as a Superhero so for the boys this opened up opportunities to attend as all manner of their favourite comic book heroes, for girls however, I just knew the classes would be full of Princesses.  I’ve got nothing against Princesses at all but I do get a bee in my bonnet over them NOT being superheroes in just the same way I dislike boys going in on World Book Day as Spiderman.

Anyhow, Roux has quite a few superhero costumes to choose from in his wardrobe so I thought I’d start with the easiest, he could wear one of his – Ben10, Spiderman, Superman, Batman and the SuperRoux outfit that I made him last year.  Did he want any of these?  No, that would be too easy.  He wanted to be The Green Lantern.  *Sigh*  That’s me making a Green Lantern Costume too but how! How would I do that?  I had a quick google search and all the ones I found were skin-tight and full of padding, my skills aren’t up to that and he didn’t have any green clothing whatsoever that I could mangle into a costume.  Bummer.

His Godfather is superhero daft and loves all things DC/Marvel so I asked for his help, what Green Lantern image did he think of when the name sprang to mind?

10 things we discovered about Green Lantern at Comic Con today!

Well this gave me an epiphany!  See that green bit? Well wouldn’t it work as a bib?  Felt on a roll turned into a tabard with the logo on the front, some long gloves, black clothes underneath and some boot covers and I’d be done.

Using felt on the roll, I cut out the tabard and put elastic on the sides to hold it together.  I also used the same felt to make boot covers that slipped onto the leg using elastic.  The symbol on the front is made from felt and glued on using PVA.  Next up was the gloves, they’re knitted white gloves (2 pairs for £1) with white felt sewn on.  The lamp is made from green metallic card with a battery operated tea light and the ring is made from loom bands with a bead in the centre and I painted his face.  He adored it which is all that counts.

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Then it came to Hurricane, as I said up there I wanted to do everything in my power to stop her going as a Princess.  We love Princesses here in this house and for about 6 months, she refused to be called anything other than Princess but they have their place and that place isn’t as a superhero.  She accepted the news that she couldn’t go as Elsa pretty quickly so I ran through a few options with her (Batwoman, SuperGirl, She Ra etc) or perhaps a real life one like a doctor, firewoman, (me ha!) she declared very vehemently that she wanted to be Poison Ivy.  Ok, that’s a super villain but who cares, it’s better than Belle.

On doing a few GIS they’re all very, umm, sexy costumes and totally unsuitable for a 4 year old!  There was no way that I could allow that much flesh on show so I needed to get my thinking cap on.  In the end I settled for a pair of her green school tights, a black leotard, some green netting to make a half skirt with lots and lots (98 at last count) green leaves hand stitched on with a red wig we already had thrown in for good measure.  I found the net green gloves and thought they’d be perfect and also made her some loom band bracelets as she wanted a super power so I convinced her that she could shoot branches out of her bracelets that wrapped people up.

I’m pretty self depreciating normally but even I’m happy to say that this is pretty damn good.  I love it and so does she.

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Grrrr Arrrgghhh *insert other zombie noises here*

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Well this weekend has been an absolute blast and allowed me to indulge in a bit of an obsession of mine…Zombies!  Long have I wanted to do one of the experiences where you’re chased by zombies but I’ve never had the opportunity so when a very good friend of mine told me about a local Zombie Walk I jumped at the chance.

The idea is a basic one, you dress as a zombie then join a group of other zombie fans and shuffle through the town centre of a few hours scaring all the locals whilst shaking a few buckets for charity.  Sounds easy?  Well I’ll admit, the slow, limping drag of the undead is actually quite hard to keep up for that length of time but it’s fun!

Roux and Hurricane were at their Dads this weekend so sadly couldn’t join me (now they’ve seen the pictures, they’re quite gutted – next year children!) so it was left to the Monster and I to do our bit.  I’d seen a picture on Pinterest ages ago of a woman wearing a baby facing out under a t shirt and I’d been desperate to give it a go so I was killing two zombies birds with one stone so to speak.

The actual costume part was super simple – a very large t shirt (I got xxl and it was only £2.99) and some fake blood from the pound shop.  Obviously you also need a baby carrier, in this instance I used my Melkaj Mai Tai, a baby helps and I also bought a couple of fake limbs that Monster was supposed to play with while we were wandering around.

I cut small notches in the t shirt where the head and arms needed to go, once I’d done that I tore the holes larger so it looked like he’d burst out a bit more.  Then I was quite liberal with the fake blood and gave the openings and the front of the t shirt a good dousing with the stuff.  I’ll warn you, it took days to dry and in the end I took a hair dryer to it.  Despite that, it still rubbed off on anything it touched and as of yet, I’ve not yet got it out of the top Monster wore underneath.  It also stained my fingers pretty badly as you can see here, it took 4 days or so for that to wear off.

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The make up was a littler harder but no where near as difficult as I’d envisaged.  It probably helps that as I do only get 4 hours sleep a night I do a good impression of a zombie most mornings but in reality, I followed a very good tutorial by Natalia Issa and it pretty much used items I already had in my make up.

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This is old, cheap make up that I’d been bought approximately 10 years ago (*cough* hoarder) and had never used.  It was absolutely perfect for this.

I’d had my hair cut the previous day and it was looking beautiful but I took the comb to it and backcombed it like crazy so after just 20 minutes I looked like this…

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It goes to say that you know you’ve done a good job when even your own Mum doesn’t recognise you!  I sent the picture to my sister as well and she had to be told it was me.  I was very chuffed with the result but when I got to my friends house she had latex which I’d never played with so I slapped some on my cheek bones and turned to this.

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Monster didn’t escape either, he’d fallen asleep so I didn’t get chance to change him into his dark coloured clothing but I did take advantage and did my best and gently attacking him with facepaint.

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See that fake blood around his mouth?  Well I’d put that on top of white face paint hoping it would stop it staining his skin.  It didn’t.  *hollow laugh*

Once I got there, I strapped him onto my front, whacked the t shirt over us both and made our way to the pub that we were meeting at.

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See him there playing with the hands?  Well that’s the ONLY time he deigned to play with his two fake limbs.  I had images of him chewing on those limbs looking even more like a scary zombie baby than he already did but would he play ball?  No.  Not one bit!

Once we got there one of the fellow zombie enthusiasts let me into a secret – Black Jack sweets.  Give them a good old chew then push them into your gums and they give you blackened teeth.

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Quite disgusting isn’t it!  The costume went down a storm and Monster got a lot of attention from bystanders that weren’t running away from us.  I’ve never worn him facing out before so it was quite an odd sensation but he loved it and even joined in making zombie noises for part of it.  It’s such a shame he was a bit too big for the outfit really as his feet stuck out the bottom of the t shirt which did spoil the look.  He’s 14 months now so I suppose this would have been better with a 6 month old but Halloween happens in October not February and I can’t shrink him so we just went with the flow.

I absolutely loved this and I’m so glad I took part.  I’m already counting down to next years and wondering what I can do for our next costume.

Photos enclosed are by me (obviously!), the wonderful Tom McGuire and Ken McDonald.

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Incy Wincy Spider

Hallowe’en has been rapidly approaching (in my mind) as I had lots of crafting things that I’d been pinning with a view to trying and I’d been giving a lot of thought to costumes…

Roux and Hurricane were simple, he was desperate to go as a Werewolf and Hurricane swung between a Princess (roll eyes) and a Princess.  She definitely wanted to be a Princess.  In the end I managed to talk her into being a Vampire Bride which is at least slightly scary.  I don’t know if it’s a British thing but when I look at Hallowe’en costumes from over the pond they seem to just be general fancy dress and anything goes but over here, in Britain we like our costumes to frighten so a Princess just would. Not. Do.

Those sorted I looked to mine and Elf’s, he’s recently been christened that moniker as he often resembles a very grumpy Elf when he’s not getting his own way.  In other words if I’m not feeding him, gazing into his eyes, entertaining him or if I dare to commit the sin of actually putting him down I’m frowned at and quite often cried at.  Anyway, due to his dislike of being out of my arms I needed to be able to incorporate him into my outfit and me into his.  99% of the time he’s either worn in a sling/Mai Tei/Close carrier/ring sling or in my arms so whatever I put him in wouldn’t really be seen.  I started googling and scanning Pinterest but most of the (frankly amazing) outfits were for back carries, facing out or weren’t scary.  We’ve already covered that it had to be a ‘scary’ outfit so dressing as a cute ladybird just wouldn’t do.

I came across this image from the ergobaby blog a few times but couldn’t find anything about it so I set about making my own.  It’s not exactly scary but it’s a spider and they’re vaguely frightening aren’t they?  I used to be terrified of them until I had mad moment and stuck a tarantula on my bonce and solved my fear in one foul swoop, sorry, I digress…  Unfortunately for me, the internet went down for quite a bit of the night I started making it and I couldn’t get pinterest to load meaning that I had no image to reference to.  If I had my time again I’d have done quite a few things differently and when I eventually managed to see the photo (after I’d finished) I realised where I’d made a few mistakes and there is lots I’d do differently but that’s what this blogs for – I’ve made the mistakes for you and I encourage you to make it again correctly.

Shopping list

  • Fake Fur (around half a metre will do with left over)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Buttons for the eyes or black felt
  • Elastic or ribbon
  • String or thick cotton
  • Knitting needle, piece of dowel or just something long and thin to help with turning of the legs
  • Scissors, needle, thread, sticky tape
I’d wanted black fur but my carrier is grey so grey would be better.  
I took half a metre (it cost £3 from Boyes) and roughly measured from one edge of my Close Caboo to the other and used that as a guide for the width.  The sides are slightly curved with a straight edge at the top and a rounded bottom, I’ve shown this in the photo below.  I also cut 8 strips that were approximately 3 inches wide for the legs

Once you’ve cut out the body, flip it over and sew elastic or ribbon to the two top corners.  Elf didn’t want me to make this costume and spent most of the evening grizzling so you can see I just grabbed the first cotton reel to hand (blue) and everything is sewn rather messily as a lot of it was one handed while nursing.

That done, you need to add eyes, I do think large black circles of felt would have been better but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it.  I tried a combination of black and white buttons until I found something suitable and then centred them towards the top (again, knowing what I do now I wouldn’t have put them so high up)

That’s the main part of the body done, now attention turned to the legs.  These took the longest and I’ll admit they are very awkward.  First, you need to sew each of the legs up one side so you create an inside out tube with the fur on the inside.  Doing it this way means that the stitches will be hidden.  An example of this is photographed below along with the pipe cleaners that I started twisting together to the length of the legs.  As you can see, Elf had deigned to lay down at this point but wanted to be a hindrance involved.   Also evident around the body you can see a proof of the other downside of using faux fur – it’s all over the carpet and got all over my clothing too, there was quite a bit of cleaning up to do.

Turning was so difficult/time consuming I didn’t really manage to get any images of me doing it.  It doesn’t really matter though as it’s pretty self explanatory, start turning it and just feed it through with your fingers, if you get a bit stuck then you might find a knitting needle will help.  If you don’t have a knitting needle then a piece of dowelling or something else long, thin and not sharp will suffice.  
Once you’ve sewn and turned all the legs you’ll need to twist the pipe cleaners to the right length and feed them through the legs.  I found that two strands made the legs just right, not too floppy and not too stiff.  The only problem is that it’s they catch on the inside as you try and feed them through, I do have a solution though and it’s not pretty but it works.  You need that sticky tape that’s in the photo below.
Wrap the ends of the pipe cleaners around the top of the knitting needle/pointy thing and tape it down then just push it through the leg with ease then sew one end (the foot if you will) closed.

Evidence of my shabby oh-no-why-do-you-want-constant-nursing-when-i’m-trying-to-craft sewing is clear here.  Sew the open end of the legs to the body making sure you don’t go all the way through the body so the stitches don’t show on the front.  

Sew them to all four corners first then sew the remaining legs in between.
And the body is done!  I’m missing a picture here, it was getting very late so I’ll pop back with one when I get chance to lay it out properly.
Now to the web, you need the string and a large area of floor to work in (at least the span of your arms)
Again, more hindsight notes – use thicker cotton/string than I did here and do more strands to the web.
Roughly measure the span of your arms and use that as a guide for the length of the spokes of the web.  Here I used two strands of cotton per spoke.  First make a cross and knot them together in the centre then lay more lengths the same size making more spokes always anchoring them with a knot in the middle.
Once you have the number of spokes desired knot a long piece of cotton the top of one spoke as pictured below and keep knotting to the top of every spoke.
Then start on the inner rings.  By this point Elf was very grumpy so I did one ring and gave up, I advise you to do many more.  I also attached small wrist loops.

And it’s done!  I didn’t have a mirror to hand so couldn’t check the positioning before it was taken.  I’d just thrown it on in the hallway when we arrived so I need to get a better one quickly.

If you’re here from Handmade Monday please say hello.