Sunday, October 30, 2011

No Toddlers in Tiaras here! A Sweet Dorothy Costume!

Photography by Caitlin Domanico, LLC

"There's no place..." you can turn without hearing or seeing discussions about how inappropriately sexy or violent children's costumes are becoming.  With the help of trusted adults children have to learn to find a safe and secure place for themselves in a society that often exploits. However, I think many of us inadvertently push children into this world, which is way more grown up than they can handle, because we think they look "cute" or "funny" posing as "sexy" or "macho" little adults. 
    That's one of the reasons I really like my friend Caitlin's "Dorothy" costume her lovely and spunky daughter, Ava. Little Ava looks sweet, adorable, and not too dolled up or grown up :) She's comfortable, classic, and herself. In being Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Ava is embodying a young girl who had an amazing adventure; who was brave, strong, intelligent, and caring. If your interested in seeing more costumes based on extraordinary women in literature, art, history, and science, check out the website Take Back Halloween. You'll see great costumes and learn about incredible women! 

Also, you still have a few hours to enter Caitlin's Halloween costume contest!  Caitlin Domanico was recently voted Philly's best children's photographer. Check out and enter this contest ASAP!!!!!!  


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Second-Hand Costumes for Kids, Lookin' Anything But Shabby!

Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and the Bee, too(!)  having fun at the "Pooh Tree" of Peace Valley Park 

As I’ve said, I’m very proud to have such a multitude of creative friends. For this post I give my thanks to one of my best high school girlfriends, Mary. She's allowed me to showcase her talent for saving the big bucks as she turns her kids into big bears {and bees, and tigers!}
       Mary is a true thrift store maven.  When her gang of little men decided they wanted to be characters from Winnie the Pooh this Halloween, she packed the kids in the car in search of great deals to make her guys fit for Hundred Acre Woods. Her oldest found an adorable Pooh costume, complete with a big ole honey belly, at the Salvation Army for a very agreeable $13. Her youngest also scored big with a bumblebee costume for $8 dollars. I like how Mary felt free to branch out from the original Pooh characters, but still found a costume that was related to the Pooh theme!
Her biggest Halloween score came from the Care and Share Thrift Shop in Souderton Pa. Now this particular thrift shop was an absolute favorite of my group of girlfriends, Mary, Bethany, Hannah, and my sister, Tegan.  With five shops in one complex, this thrift-store has tons of choices and excellent prices, and all the proceeds to help fund the very worthy projects of the Mennonite Central Committee!  For one dollar Mary’s middlest little man got himself a totally awesome tiger costume. Together, Mary's band of merry men make the cutest Pooh Bear, Tigger, and Honey Bee I’ve ever seen! 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Magic Last Minute Locals to Help You Look Freaky and Frightful for Less!!

Past and Present 7224 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19119
So with Halloween fast approaching I’m busting out all my magic to try and get all the freaky and fabulous Halloween posts up! With whatever you’ve decided to be (I’m a witch, hence my “magic” reference) here are some great stores where you can still get accessories, fabric, or full costumes for you haunted Halloween needs. 

    Up first, Past and Present...
 Jenn's lookin' good in vintage red!

To begin with, I’d like to highlight the shop Past and Present, located at 7224 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19119. Located in my part of Philly, the town of Mount Airy, I was nothing but pleased with this vintage store. In the front there is a myriad of old hats, shoes, purses, clothing, and costumes ranging from about $10 dollars to $40. There’s also traditional and inexpressive Halloween accessories, wigs, spider rings, brooms, fake teeth, etc. 
Past and Present rental room, items now for sale!
that's hot
The real glorious treasure of this store, tucked away in the back, is its rental room. This place has been in business almost thirty years, and they have costumes to prove it.  Authentic sailor suites, prairie girl dresses, Native American garb, suits, slips, scarves, sixties dresses, everything you can imagine! Once upon a time they were for rent. Now, they are actually for sale. Sadly this establishment is set to close forever shortly after Halloween, so run to Past and Present NOW for beautiful and unique costumes!!!!

And now on to the Jomar Stores...
No need to be blue, Jomar has the costume for you!

Another great option for accessories or for complete costumes, or if you’re doing it from scratch, for glorious fabric, are the JOMARStores. Merchandise varies store by store, and the one closest to me on Easton Rd, unfortunately doesn’t have fabric, but overall these stores are awesome! The fabric at the rest of the stores is excellently priced and unique, and the textiles are my favorite part of these establishments! There are six locations in and around Philadelphia, and you can get deals on costumes from places like K-mart that didn’t sell last year and have since landed in the Jomar racks. In their home goods section you’ll also find great Halloween and fall decorations. As far as non-costume clothing goes, if you dig you can find some chic gems on the cheap! Also, Jomar is having a monthly photo costume where you can submit pics of you in items purchased from the store and enter to win an Ipad or $200! Plus there's winners every week. I haven't entered yet, but I certainly will! 

          * Marcie 

Make Your Own {Ent} Mask!

I am lucky some extremely creative friends.  One day while perusing facebook I noticed Steve  Colon, a really great guy I went to college with, had constructed a really great mask for Halloween! Any Lord of the Rings fans out there? Well, you’ll be excited because this mask is of an  Ent {from Anglo-Saxon for "Giant"}, which is the name Tolkien gave for his tree people in the Lord of the Rings saga.
      Even if you’re not into Lord of the Rings, you’ll be into this mask because it’s just plain awesome! Steve very graciously provided me with instructions and pictures so anyone who’s interested can make their own. So if you’d like to break away from the pack this Halloween and impress party-goers or little trick-or-treaters, there’s still time for you to follow Steve’s lead and make an Ent mask of your own. This is also great if you’re involved in theatrical productions and want to create a fantasy mask. Thank you again, Steve!   

Instructions in Steve's words:

You will need: Corrugated cardboard, Gorilla glue, scissors, box cutters, a paint brush, pencils, an eraser, clothespins, masking tape, a 6" protractor, acrylic paints (red, blue, yellow, black, and white or you can buy more specific colors if you aren't confident in your mixing abilities), and a palate/something to mix paint on. Other helpful items you may want: Paper towels, a bowl of water (to clean the brush between colors and to help affix the gorilla glue), and something to put under your project like newspaper or parchment and a cutting board.

Step 1: Trace outside of the protractor with your pencil.
Step 2: Mark approximately every 10 degrees and draw a 1" line from the outside of the protractor.
Step 3: Connect the tips of these lines with your pencil.
Step 4: Invert the protractor, line up the ruler side with the bottom of your semi-circle. Trace the interior of the protractor.
Step 5: Draw a line from either side of larger semi-circle to the outside of the smaller semi-circle as pictured. Draw a 1" line from where this line touches the small semi-circle and connect it to the other outside lines as shown.
Step 6: Draw the eyes. You can make these as large or as small as you like, but remember to leave about .5" in the middle. Anything more and it will be very difficult to see out of. You can draw these free-hand or by using a cup to make perfect circles.

Step 7: Draw the nose. The center line should be about 2" long. From the bottom of this line, draw a 1" line going slightly upwards on either side. Draw converging lines on the outside of the nose, connecting all three lines. Erase the top .5" of the three lines. 
Step 8: Cut out the mask using scissors.
Step 9: Cut out the eyes and nose using the box cutter. You may want to shave off little bits around the nose to make it more comfortable to wear as I have done in this picture. Try it on and see what parts feel like they are pressing and carefully remove small slivers until it is comfortable. Remember not to remove the inner pieces of the nose entirely.
Step 10: Cut small, acute triangles from the lines on the top of the mask. Be careful not to cut too far into the forehead.
Step 11: Fold the flaps back.
Step 12: Tape the flaps together using the masking tape. This is what it should look like when you are done taping the flaps.
Step 13: Securely tape the nose into place. I suggest wearing the mask while applying tape to the outside of the mask to prevent making the nose too small. (Kind of like applying a breath rite strip.)Make sure to tape both the inside and outside of the nose, securing the tape by wrapping tape through the eye holes as pictured.

Step 14: Cut out a mustache. It can be as long or as short as you like. It shouldn't be too symmetrical. You can use either the scissors or the box cutter to do this.
Step 15: Cut out eyebrows. Again, don't make them too symmetrical.
Step 16: cut out the "crown". This part should look like random tree branches and should fit approximately to the forehead of the mask. You can make it out of one piece, or several layered pieces as I am doing here.
Step 17: Cut out the beard and the lower lip. You may want to line it up with the bottom of the mask to make sure it fits fairly well. See what I mean? Also, you can cut the square edges off the bottom of the mask if you like. This is purely an aesthetic choice on your part.
Here is what the mask looks like without paint.
Step 18: Mix your paints. If you are using primaries, mix red, yellow, and black to make whatever shade of brown you like. Make sure to make enough to cover the entire mask. Once you have the color you're looking for, add a little black to some and a little white to a different part to give yourself three separate shades of brown. You'll also want to mix two shades of grey, a dark green (blue and yellow with a bit of black), a light green (same as previous without the black) white, and black.
 Step 19: Paint the mask and the crown the "middle" shade of brown.
 Step 20: Paint the facial hair the dark shade of brown. Paint the lower lip the light shade of brown. using the dark and the light shades of brown, add shading and texture to the branches.
Generally I like to put the dark side on the lower parts of the branch and the light on top. You should also add speckles and spots to make it look something like bark.
Step 23: Using the dark and light green, add vines or moss to the branches.
Step 24: Repeat the process on the mask itself. You don't need to be as concerned with detail here as much of this will be covered over with other parts of the mask.
Step 25: Layer shades of brown, grey, green, as well as small bits of black onto the facial hair in a rough approximation of hair.
Step 26: Paint the lower lip like so, using light brown and grey. Outline it with white.

Step 27: Once the facial hair is dry, outline each piece with white paint.
Step 28: Apply Gorilla glue to each piece you want to attach to the mask and dampen the adjacent piece with water. Make sure to spread the glue in a thin layer over the part you want to stick. This allows for even adhesion and prevents over expansion of the glue. If the glue expands noticeably, you can always scrape off the foam while it is still fresh with relative ease.
Step 28 con't: Use clothespins to secure each piece until the glue expands and hardens.Repeat as necessary, applying the branches to each other, the eyebrows to the base of the crown.
Attaching the lower lip to the beard...The moustace just under the nose...
And Finally the beard to the crown and beard to the mask.
Give each connection an hour to dry, or half an hour if you are using fast setting gorilla glue (recommended.) At this point you can punch holes on the sides of the face, attach a rubber band and wear as you storm Isengard!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HaLLoOWeEN!!!! WhAt HavE YOu WOrn?!

Hillary{the watermelon}, Jessica {the fortune teller}, and Andrea and Kelly {the scarecrows}
  Well my friends, Halloween is closing in on us faster than the headless horseman upon the Sleepy Hallow Bridge {be warned, this is not the first cheesy or cliche reference in this post}. Fear not, at least aspect of this season of spooky merriment doesn't have to have you shaking in your boots ~ figuring out your costumes! This should be fun and easy breezy, people! Alas, like so many things in today's society Halloween costume choosing and execution can be extremely competitive, stressful, or even worse, just plain boring.
   But, it doesn't have to be that way! There are so many great options, from classic costumes to eccentric ensembles! Young and old can find great get-ups from thrift stores and vintage shops, from friends, and from your own imagination! The next few weeks Kia and I will be posting pics of awesome Halloween costumes from Halloweens past and present, and we're asking you to send in pictures of your best costumes! I'm proud to post the first submitted picture!
   This family is made-up of four exuberant and creative gals, Hillary, Jessica, Andrea, and Kelly {as pictured above}, and is headed by an awesome Ma and Pa. Ma, Diana, loves Halloween, and loved putting together costumes when her girls were little! "That was a banner Halloween year! The scarecrow outfits and the watermelon slice were homemade costumes that were given to me by friends. Jessica was a 'gypsy' or to be more PC, a 'fortune teller'...she was wearing my skirt, a blouse she had, I bought a length of lace fabric that was on clearance for her shawl, and a scarf for her head. The makeup was bought from McCrory's {a five and dime}. We never bought a costume, we always made our costumes or got costumes passed on to us. It was fun making costumes out of seemingly nothing!!!" So get inspired my friends, and show us what you got!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Lookin' Hot While Cookin' Hot, or why this guy thinks I'm a creepy creepster

Our very gracious waiter and his swanky apron!
So months upon months ago I decided to do a post on DIY aprons, which are just about the easiest item to sew! Especially if you are a sewing novice, you’ll find making an apron satisfying and fun. You don’t even need to buy a pattern, I promise! I’ve included pictures of several beautiful aprons my good friend Sarah sewed as Christmas gifts years back. As these aprons are so feminine and fun, they are great inspiration for stylish gals who like to get down and dirty in the kitchen! But these days awesome gentlemen are also making their mark with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And, they deserve to look good while they’re heating things up in the kitchen, too! With this in mind some friends and I asked this great guy, a waiter at Max Brenner’s, if we could put up a pic of him in his super manly apron. I love how it almost looks like a utility apron from a wood shop or smithy!  So my friends, Suzanne and Alan, and I were talking with this guy and telling him all about the up coming post months and months ago, and promised him we’d send him a link…. but as you can see I never did.  So now I’m pretty sure he thinks back upon his interaction, with our bold manner and imposing camera, and he shivers… And of course I lost his contact info, but if any of you see him at Max Brenner’s, give him the link and tell him thank you! Oh, and ladies, he was so sweet and gracious, and so single!

Heather, Malorie, and Erika, circa 2006 in aprons made by our dear friend, Sarah

Now, on to the nitty gritty of DIY aprons, go make your selection at your favorite fabric store (Jomar stores have an excellent and very inexpensive options, and if you sign up on line at Jo-Ann Fabrics they will occasionally send you a coupon for 40% off one item, including fabric). You’ll need maybe a yard (to have room for the body and the ties), and you may want to get to different colors so you can line the apron or have it be reversible. If you choose not to line your apron, purchasing decorative notions (lace, piping, etc) can be sewn around the seams to give a nice finished look. Make sure to purchase thread (either matching your fabric or using contrasting colors). You can also use ribbon for the neck loop and ties if you like.

 Lay your existing old apron over your fabric, and trace or free cut around, leaving 5/8 or an inch or so extra (this will be your seam for sewing). Measure the neck loop and the ties based on your old apron, and double the width and then add the 5/8th inch. Put right sides together and sew along the 5/8th inch along the long-side of you ties, and along one of the short sides. Push in a wooden spoon into the seam in stitched short-side and use it to pull the fabric of the tie right side out. Fold your un-sewn short edge over at the end, having about an inch overlap and sew it.  If you are lining it, put the right sides (patterned side) of your fabric together, and sew along the 5/8th, leaving the top section by the head un-sewn. Use this section to turn the garment right side out. Pin your ties and neck loop to the side that will serve to be your lining or wrong aside. (If you are an experienced sewer, go ahead and sew the ties in-between your front and lining).For your ties make sure you have at least an inch and a half of overlap with the body of your apron so they won’t rip. Stitch it securely, and enjoy lookin’ hot while you’re cookin’ hot.