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Couture Costuming

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Spider Web Parasol

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The idea for the parasols with our costumes originally came last year when Gothphyle baked in the sun while waiting in line for a panel at DragonCon. Gothphyle is a delicate southern flower and seriously, you can watch her skin burn.  We talked back then of getting her a parasol for this year.

When Meg and Jamie started talking about making parasols I thought I could create something for each bug to carry.

But when I looked at ‘web’ fabric I wasn’t moved. Too cutesy, too tiny, too meh. Finally I realized that I thought Vic needed a Vic size web. 

Close-up of Vic with her Spider Web parasol

Part of the idea came from  Summerset’s blog where she describes creating appliques with a wood burning tool. The heat seals the edges of synthetics. Don’t try silks or cottons, they just burn.

The original IKEA umbrella had a nylon cover, I could zigzag stitch and burn out the holes. hmm…

 Giving her the choice between an innie or outie web, both real spider options, Vic chose an innie style.


I first drew it out and traced it onto the nylon cover I had already cut down to fit a trimmed parasol. web parasol uncut

Unfortunately, my first sample fell apart. It seems that the nylon didn’t have the strength at only a few centimeters wide to withstand the umbrella ribs.

Next step was to reinforce the web with string. I found a silver crochet yarn that had a lovely sparkle and just fed it under my sewing machine foot as I traced the design with a wide zigzag.

Then I trimmed the ‘holes’ out and using a soldering iron (because I don’t have a wood burning tool) I carefully cleaned up the edges, sealing them.

I don’t recommend a soldering iron, I think they are much hotter than a wood burning tool and I ended up with some black edges. No problem for us, as it added a creepy edge.

Just as Summerset mentions, do this in a well-ventilated area. Burning plastic smells like burning plastic, yuck, and can’t be good for any part of you.

Once I finished, I re-attached the tips to the previously spray-painted black skeleton and in the end we attached some spiders to web.

 Good – I love the design and it ended up being pretty easy to make.

 Bad – It is tricky to open up. The web strings get tangled when it is all folded up. It took some practice to master. We also needed to do a better job with the spiders, some escaped during D*Con. Hopefully going on to scare some drunks. A girl can dream.

And yes, we know that parasol isn’t going to protect anyone from the sun, but Vic is the sun worshiper of the crew so it was perfect.

I love sewing!


Written by rhymeswithstitch

September 13, 2010 at 3:42 pm

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DragonCon 2010

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Spider, Praying Mantis, Luna Moth and Lady Bug

Vic as Black Widow, Mel as Praying Mantis, Christina as Luna Moth and Amber as LadyBug

Still recovering from the weekend but wanted to get the first picture up. More to come.

This was our ‘main’ costume this year. The idea was to use the crinoline agian. So, we chose a bug theme.

 It is hard to see but mine is used as my bustle with tux tails hanging over it.

You can also take peek a the web parasol I did for the black widow costume. Very fun. Directions coming.

I love sewing.


Written by rhymeswithstitch

September 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

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Parasol Project 4

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The next one is Square Steampunk.

This was the idea that got the parasol jag started. Meg and Jamie spotted a square parasol at the local Ren Faire. Very Cute. $60. Very expensive.

As the three of us often catch a bad case of “I could do that” we started making parasols.

We removed the fabric and cut every-other rib down. Using a straight edge we then marked off the uncut ribs to ‘square’ up the sides.

We then spray painted the skeleton with a bronze finish, only taping off the handle.

You have to face the fact that it may flake or scratch off because the time it would take to prep the skeleton to seriously paint would be ridiculous.

 The original canopy was replaced by a square of fabric recycled from a thrift store bedsheet.

The plain fabric was decorated with markers and edged with a muted gold thread on Serge (the new serger) The gold is the same stuff I use to hem Levi’s, very muted.

 Meg and Jamie did most of it.

Square Steampunk by Rhymes with Stitch

Square Steampunk by Rhymes with Stitch and admirer

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August 21, 2010 at 5:09 pm

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Parasol Project 3

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With the basics out of the way, let’s look at the finished parasols.

 We planned three parasols for the upcoming con season.

The one I mentioned in previous posts is called the Mermaid

As originally planned, we embroidered koi on alternating panels and re-used the original grey canopy. 

Once the embroidery was finished we had started to regret keeping the gray fabric as it ‘flattened’ the design. Not as ‘oceany’ as we had hoped.  At that point we added some seaweed embroidery.

Still no love. It needed something.

Fringe?  After searching in vain for a good storebought fringe and playing with a friend’s knitted shawl at a gathering of crafty women, I decide to create my own “seaweed” fringe. Using a variegated green boucle yarn and following the same pattern I kept seeing at fabric store.  I zigzagged the yarn onto the edge of the parasol. Looping the yarn around to hang I zigzagged again. It was slow but totally worth the effect of seaweed edging.

What do you think?

Koi parasol top view

Tomorrow the Steampunk parasol.

I love sewing!


Written by rhymeswithstitch

August 20, 2010 at 12:35 pm

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Project Parasol – 2

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Decorating ideas for your parasol

  • use a great fabric and recover it
  • paint it
  • embroider it
  • …sky is the limit

If you deside to change the fabric you might want to hunt down a particlar Threads Magazine. (Library?) They did an article about recovering an umbrella in issue 145 (Dec 2009?)  You can see the abridged version here

I found it a bit intimidating, at first.  Segments and Ribs and Ferrules, oh my!

Pieces and Parts from Threads Mag

I’m sticking with just cutting metal off of it and resizing the entire thing.

Looking at the underside, and folding it up a couple of times I could see the shortest point I could use. Any farther up the “Rib” and it would hang up on the “Stretcher”.  So, my umbrella was going from 46 inches wide to a petite 22 inches wide. Each rib being half that measure, I cut them off at 11 inches long. “I” actually being my HHB, the Handy Handsome Boyfriend, Norm. (HHB* registered tradmark of Rhymes with Stitch, or not)

Before any metel trimming, we removed the fabric and rib tips. It only took a couple of snips to cut the threads tying it to the umbrella. Then popping off the ferrule, that little ring at the top holding your fabric in place. Remember I’m using a cheap IKEA umbrella, your ferrule may need some work to come off. Take your time, you don’t want to rip any fabric you hope to reuse or bend that ferrule.

To cut the ribs down HHB used some very big wire cutters but said I could have used the dremel if I didn’t have said very big wire cutters laying around.  photo coming

Written by rhymeswithstitch

May 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm

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Project Parasol

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Next project is Project Parasol

Parasol literally means to shield from the sun.

Let me tell ya, anyone who has been in full costume during a Florida summer knows a parasol is worth considering. Don’t forget, they are fun to swish around too.

 Once you have decided to incorporate one into your ‘look’ the next step is choking on the price of even simple ones.

 But an umbrella is much too big to take seriously as a parasol. Not only do you look ‘wrong’, you have a heavy, space hogging object that folks at a Con are going to be glaring at…yes, even the cute young things get the hairy eyeball in a crowded hallway.

So, I’m turning a $1.99 IKEA umbrella into a dainty yet effective parasol.

IKEA umbrella $1.99

  • Pick a working umbrella.  New, used or IKEA
  • Are you going to use other fabric or just reuse what is there?
  • Are you going to decorate it?

Have some plan/sketch/idea in mind before you start clipping and cutting.

I’m not an artist so my plans are mostly just words. (and some barely identifiable scribbles )

 My plan is to reuse the gray fabric but embroider every other “pie slice” with a Koi. Since the fabric is gray, I’m adding orange, black and white Koi. There are 8 ‘slices’ so I need 4 designs. I’m hoping to have the designs cut-out. We will see if I can get it to work.  

Take a look underneath. Where do the parts move? Don’t plan anything that interferes. You don’t want a parasol that doesn’t collapse on command. 

End of Part 1

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March 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm

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