Butters in his Professor Chaos dog costume

I’ve never been good at coming up with names for pets. My first cat’s name was Shadow. She was all black. (Really original, no?) Most other animals in my life have been named by friends or other family members.

When we adopted our dog, we were told that his name was Butters, and he’d had brothers (already adopted) named Kyle and Stan. Having watched many episodes of South Park since it’s inception, we knew that we had to keep the name! Well, come to find out, the name really is quite fitting for this dog. Akin to South Park’s Butters, he really is the sweetest dog, albeit sort of naive, but goodhearted and always eager to please.

Anyway, one day Butters (from the show) grew tired of being a people-pleaser, always doing the right thing, helping everybody.. thus one night, his alter ego was born: Professor Chaos. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor_Chaos and/or http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153471/professor-chaos-is-born) Complete with a tin-foil hat and gloves, and a green cape made from an old t-shirt, he vowed to rein chaos on every path he crossed!

I decided that our Butters needed a new Halloween costume, and Professor Chaos was the obvious choice.



Yup, he knows he’s adorable.

This outfit has really been a work in progress for the past few weeks. I made the helmet in September. It’s formed out of paperboard, covered in masking tape (scrunched up to look wrinkled) and then spray painted silver. There’s a thin clear elastic underneath to help hold it in place on his head, but it is still pretty loose.

I draped fabric over him and marked it to make a general template (a dog bodice pattern, if you will..) He’s kind of an awkwardly shaped dog.. large rib cage, short stubby legs! The armholes are actually a bit too big on the shirt, but you don’t notice when the outfit is all together. His blue top is jersey knit fabric. I sewed his cape out of dark green flannel, and it closes with a large piece of velcro along the side of the neck.  I sewed his booties out of plain gray cotton woven fabric, added more masking tape to the front, and then spray painted the front. I didn’t want to make it too thick or all the way around the foot, otherwise he couldn’t bend them to walk!

The button/chain detail was pretty fun to make.  I made the large gray buttons out of polymer clay, and affixed a pin back to each one. I also included a hole/connecting piece on the back of each one, to attach the silver chain. This piece actually came in handy, because I was able to pin the top edge of the shirt and the bottom edge of the cape together, so they would stay in place!

When all is said and done, I suppose I could have used aluminum foil for the helmet, but I was worried about it being too heavy – and quite frankly, I just didn’t want it that shiny!

Here’s a comparison of the two. What do you think?

Butters got some treats during the photoshoot for his excellent behavior, and a rawhide chew as a reward when we were through. He’s such a good dog!

Fabric two ways – Wool Coat and Satin Bolero

It may seem a little late to be posting pictures of wool coats, but here in the California bay area we’ve been having a lot of chilly, windy, rainy days this spring!

I’ve spent many winters on the hunt for the “perfect” wool coat, only to come up disappointed; usually I find something I sort of like, but it’s either too big, too expensive, or otherwise just not quite right. Now that I’ve made pattern blocks (basic pattern templates) in my own clothing size/made to my measurements, I finally sat down and made myself a coat this winter! (Let’s ignore how long it took me to find the perfect shade and thickness of grey wool fabric.. and how when I found the “perfect” fabric, it ended up being $200 per yard.. which meant I now had to find the *second* best, because clearly I wasn’t spending over $300 on fabric for my coat!)

Okay, so the first step was coming up with the coat design. I sort of have an obsession with designing princess seams on coats and blouses, which is amusing because it requires additional pattern pieces and thus additional work. Sometimes I think I’m a glutton for punishment when patterndrafting and sewing. Oh, what, did you say that pattern is going to require over 50 pieces and take a full day to sew? Bring it on! *Ahem.*

I’m also very indecisive.

Needless to say, I had multiple variations of a jacket design happening, and finally chose one. I drew up a “technical flat” for it (quite literally a technical drawing to show all seams and hems/sewing lines of a garment) before I got started on the pattern, so I’d have a better idea of what the finished product should look like.

Here’s my technical flat for my coat design:

The specs, for those who know what I’m talking about: My design is a long wool coat with front and back princess seams, a waist seam, two-piece sleeves, asymmetrical peter pan collar, belted waist, and a double breasted front placket (one row is workable buttons, the other is just for appearance.) There are hidden pockets at the side seams. It is also fully lined, of course! The bow at the collar is just for decoration, as you’ll see below..

I sewed up a sample before sewing the finished garment to make sure I liked the fit, and then sewed it in the grey wool. Here’s some photos of the finished coat!

Here's the coat with the belt, accented with a dupioni silk flower brooch I made.


Here's the coat shown without the belt (you can see the waist seam now) accented by a fabric sash/bow!


Victoria Camp Designs Wool Coat Feb 2012

These buttons were sent to me by my mom - she has a HUGE button collection and always has whatever I am looking for. For this coat, I told her "no plastic!" and so she happened to have the most perfect beautiful black glass faceted shank buttons! (8 large ones for the front, and one smaller one up at the neckline below the collar.)


The coat is fully lined with a teal blue satin (one of my favorite colors!)


At first, I was a little disappointed in myself for waiting until February to make the coat. Then I remembered that we have chilly nights here year round – and fairly un-typical weather other months – and I have actually been wearing this coat frequently, even this month. I’ve been accenting the front closure/collar area with an assortment of sashes, fabric flower brooches, and large vintage enamel brooches. It’s a lot of fun to dress up this coat!

Now as for my title, “Fabric two ways”.. I typically buy more fabric than I need, just in case something goes disastrously wrong and I need more fabric. Better to have too much, than not enough. I still have wool left over, but also had plenty of that beautiful blue teal satin! Feeling creative one night, I made two boleros. (The second one I will show you later, in another Fabrid-Two-Ways post!) For now, here’s the teal satin bolero..


I really got into the design on this one.. I made a single bolero pattern and used it twice (for an unlined bolero, and a lined bolero.) This is the unlined bolero. One of my favorite aspects is the petal sleeves! This was my first time making a pattern for and sewing petal sleeves, and it was a lot of fun. They're much easier to make than I was anticipating, and are so much more feminine than a cap or short sleeve.


Oh, and.. uh.. yeah... princess seams again on the front and back. (Remember what I said earlier?!) I don't care, I love them and will continue to add more work for myself just for the sake of the design. :) Also, I cut strips of fabric on the bias to bind the edges, since I wasn't lining this one.


I wish I were joking, but I was up working on these flower embellishments at 1am. Once I started sewing this bolero, I couldn't stop! I cut out dozens of fabric circles in various sizes and singed the edges (since the fabric is synthetic fibers) and then arranged them into a grouping that I liked. Once arranged, I stitched them all together onto the bolero, with some freshwater pearl accents at the centers. This was a fantastic way to use up all of the 'misshapen' pearls that I would not use in my jewelry designs, and were just sitting around!


Well, there you have it! Fabric two ways.. teal satin fabric used in completely opposite seasonal garments.. a winter coat and a spring bolero!