For Baby: Soft and Fuzzy Sea Turtle

Stuffed Sea Turtle
I just finished making this stuffed turtle for my cousin’s new baby boy. Isn’t he the sweetest? The turtle, I mean (although the kid IS actually the sweetest). I used a PDF pattern from RainingSugar’s etsy shop which you can purchase and download here. It was by far the cutest turtle option I found—he’s simple and sleek, but still manages to have a personality. He seems wise, perhaps lost in existential meditations.

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What are you thinking, Sea Turtle?

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The instructions were relatively straightforward—the step-by-step photos really helped—and I think anyone with fairly basic sewing skills (like me!) could pull this off. It took me a couple of days to finish, but with some focus and determination, it could be completed in an afternoon.

I used black felt for the eyes, green fleece for the back, gray fleece for the belly, and a very very soft, fuzzy fabric for the shell. Yep, I just looked it up and Joann literally calls it Soft  N Fluffy Fabric. Very descriptive.

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It kind of seems like I woke up one day and everyone and their brother was pregnant. Suddenly I foresaw many, many baby showers in my future. I know I have ranted obnoxiously in the past about my general denunciation of gift registries. But baby registries are different. Babies have expensive needs. Babies have a demanding lifestyle. Eschew the precious, the impractical and the quickly outgrown: the baby clothes. Frothy lace-and-ruffle confections for girls; earnest, dapper duds for boys. Resist! Thou shalt honor the gift registry.

I was able to purchase all of the materials for this project for less than $20—and I probably have enough supplies left over to make a half a dozen more turtles. Throw in the cost of the pattern, and it’s still less that $5 per turtle. So I can spend the bulk of my gift budget on registry items, but I can still afford to include a homemade, personal toy. I think it’s a nice compromise.

Bow Tie Sweater DIY

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 INSPIRATION
Bow Sweater on April and Jess

Left: Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation (Source)
Right: Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (Source)

I adore trompe l’oeil (despite having to look up the spelling and/or pronunciation every time I use the term), so this bow sweater with detachable collar is right up my two-dimensional alley. Its whimsy weirdly suits the polar personalities of both Parks and Rec‘s April and New Girl‘s Jess, and I think it would suit me too. Unfortunately, some quick internet-ing tells me that this is an Alice and Olivia sweater, and that it’s sold out universally. Even when it was in stock, it retailed for a few hundred bucks—which far exceeds my financial allocation for Eccentric Sweater Purchases. And it’s almost certainly beyond the means of both April and Jess, but that’s a diatribe for another day.

Inspired by the Alice and Oliva version, I decided to take a stab at my own trompe l’oeil effect using a homemade stencil and a sweater that I bought at Salvation Army for $5. Huzzah for projects in which there is very little to lose even if I totally screw them up! If you’re interested in trying this project yourself, you can download my template below.

 

MAKING THE STENCIL

Tools
stencil_tools

a) Stencil Paper, available at art supply stores. Honestly, you could probably get away with using contact paper instead.
b) Cutting mat
c) Stainless steel straightedge
d) Your chosen design. You can download the collar and bow-tie template that I created for this project here. Alternately, you might want to add just a bow, rather than the whole collar; in that case you can wear a button-down underneath your sweater and the final result will be closer to the original inspiration piece. Here are a couple of bows by themselves, if that floats your boat.
e) X-Acto knives and blades. I used standard #11 blades for straight lines, and the X-Acto Econo Swivel Knife for cutting curves.
f) Removable double-stick tape

How-to
cutting

1) Print your chosen design. I roughly trimmed out my template, just to get the excess paper out of the way.
2) Use double-stick tape to apply the template to the stencil paper, avoiding placing the tape directly behind the outlines of the design.
3) Carefully, using the X-Acto knives and straightedge, trim out the black shapes. Only cut against a cutting mat.
4) Remove the paper template. Your stencil is finished!

 

 STENCILING THE SWEATER

Tools
paint_tools

a) Removable double-stick tape
b) Stencil brush(es)
c) Sweater
d) Paint tray
e) Fabric paint
f) Stencil
g) A piece of cardboard or an old magazine to protect the back of the sweater from paint bleeding through

How-to
painting

1) Make sure the sweater has been washed and is completely dry before proceeding. Place the piece of cardboard inside the sweater.
2) Using liberal amounts of double-stick tape, position the stencil in place.
3) Use the stencil brush to dab paint in the design area. Be sure to use only a straight up-and-down motion. It may help to hold the stencil down with your fingers as you work. Pay particular attention to the edges.of the design.
4) Once the entire area has been filled in, carefully remove the stencil. You may want to go back in with a fine paintbrush and clean up any problem areas.

 

 Not too bad, eh?
finished_stencil

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Sketches of Costumes and Sets for The Royal Ballet

AThe Invitation
1960, Costume design by Nicholas Georgiadis

 I grew up in a homogenous suburban bubble on the edge of a mid-sized, historically industrial city, and then I went to school in a homogenous collegiate bubble on the edge of a mid-sized, historically industrial city. So when I spent the spring semester of my junior year studying in London, my field of view widened drastically—particularly artistically.

In addition to visiting countless museums and seeing plays of all scales and scopes, I saw the Royal Ballet twice: Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée, and Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet.

I loved both.

Cover

Last weekend, I went to a magical Barnes and Noble that has a cheap used book section (yes, really!), and I found this 1981 compendium: The Royal Ballet: The First Fifty Years by Alexander Bland. I had to have it. Yes, it has a lot of dense copy about company/production history which I will never read, and comprehensive indices with lists of dancers and repertory, as well as moderately interesting production photos. But the best part? It includes beautiful full-color sketches and illustrations of costumes and set design.

Fascinating and inspiring, no? Such diverse ideas and illustration styles.

GTop Left: Giselle (Bathilde) 1968, costume design by Peter Farmer.
Top Right: The Sleeping Beauty (a courtier) 1973, costume design by Peter Farmer.
Bottom Row: Mayerling 1978, Costume designs by Nicholas Georgiadis.

BLes Patineurs
Set and costumes designed by William Chappell, 1937

ERomeo and Juliet
1965 decor by Nicholas Georgiagis

FAnastasia
1971, Designed by Barry Kay

CThe Rake’s Progress
Costume sketches by Rex Whistler for the 1942 revival, annotated by Whistler and Valois

IElite Syncopations
1974, Costume designs by Ian Spurling