Monday, May 27, 2013

More Props - a Large Key, Money Pouches, Trays to Sell Soft Drinks, and a Chicken Feed Bag.

My daughter's class is putting on a play this week.  I'm not sure exactly what it's about, but it is social studies related, and if you saw my previous post in which I made her Native American dress, then you know it has something to do with Native Americans and the Early American Settlers.  Here is what I was asked to make:

Maps...  I made 3 of these earlier in the week.  My first two attempts did not turn out well, but finally I hit upon the method that created these.  I crumpled some scrapbook cardstock and dipped it in concentrated tea.  Then I laid out the sheets and let them air dry.  I ironed them the next day with a t-shirt over them - my first attempt at ironing this cardstock caused it to stick horrendously to the iron.  NOT FUN!!  I drew my designs on the maps with a Sharpie.  

Did you notice I put a few Princess Bride references in there?  The Bog of Eternal Stench (or was that Monty Python...?) the Cliffs of Insanity, and The Fire Swamp.  I'm sure no one will be able to see them let alone be amused by them, but hey, they amuse ME.  So much for the maps...

One of the characters in this play apparently needs to sell Coca-Cola the way they do at a baseball game.  I had to make trays to hold the cans, with the cans inside.  I got two small boxes and cut them down to a shallow depth.  Then I had my daughter search out a nice Coca-Cola logo on the internet.  We printed it 3 times for each box - once for each side of the box that the audience would see (see, I'm learning - don't waste time on the stuff they won't see!).  I glued some styrofoam peanuts to the bottom of each can so they stood up higher in the box, but if you measure your can in the box FIRST, BEFORE decorating the outside of the box, then you won't have to do this.  Next, I put the string on the box so it could be worn by the Coca-Cola salesperson.  With a pen, I poked two holes in the box for each end of each cord.  I made the cords crisscross so that they wouldn't fall off the actor's shoulders.  Lastly, I glued the empty Coca-Cola cans to the sides of the box.  The audience won't be able to see the tops of the cans so they shouldn't notice that they're empty.    

Next, my daughter and I worked on the chicken feed bag.  I learned today that having this particular prop was her idea - she said the boy who feeds the imaginary chickens in the play, "Doesn't do it very well - he looks like he's dealing cards, so I thought he needed a feed bag."  Nice.  

I bought about a yard and a half of burlap. This stuff shreds very easily, and it makes little particles that float in the air when you cut it.  Asthmatics beware...  I decided to make the bag 2 layers thick to make it more sturdy, and also less transparent.  First, I evened out the edges.  I think the guy who cut this at the fabric store wasn't paying attention to what he was doing...

I sewed the two layers together on the cut edge on each side with bias tape so help minimize any shredding.  Kids tend to be hard on props, so I thought this would be a good idea.  I stitched across the top just to hold the two layers together, but for the top, I liked how the raw edge looked.  This top edge was pre-stitched from the factory to keep it together.  It adds a nice rustic look.  After I was done, I folded the whole thing in half and sewed these two bias tape sides together, and then I sewed across the bottom with a nice fat zig-zag stitch.  Then I turned the bag inside out so you wouldn't see the bias tape.  WALLA!!

For the outside decoration, we used kiddie stamps I have from when I worked at a preschool.  I had my daughter stamp "Chicken Feed" on the front and then I painted a silhouette of a chicken in the middle.  


For the key, I used 2 packages of Sculpy Clay in gold.  I had my girl soften the clay while I drew a key shape on the screening with hot glue from the glue gun.  I didn't want the tiny pieces of screening to come loose after I'd cut out the shape.  In retrospect, I should have used a stiffer wire - it would have given the key more body - but I was too lazy to go search for a piece.  

We started making flat piece of the clay, and covering each side of the key shape.  When both sides were covered, I pressed very firmly to get each side to adhere to the other through the screening, and I smoothed them out to attach the edges.  I also rolled some thin spaghetti-like pieces to run a line down the center of each side just to give it some more body.  I baked for 45 minutes, which I determined from the "30 minutes for each 1/4 inch of thickness" directions.  The finished product is a little bit bendable, which I don't like, but I think it will hold up for the shows as long as no one tries to use it as a baseball bat. 

The money bags were the last.

I found my biggest bowl and turned it upside down and traced its circumference with a piece of chalk on the fabric.  Then I drew another circle a few inches outside of that one to make it even bigger.  I cut out three of these.  

Then I folded the edges under so the seams wouldn't fray, but I didn't fold them under twice.  


See?  I'm learning...

Geez, my hands need some lotion.

Then I pinned on brown bias tape onto the WRONG side of the fabric to make a pocket for the cord to run through.  

I sewed BOTH sides of the bias tape down, then I carefully cut a hole in the fabric on the RIGHT side in a place where the bias tape would cover the hole.  Then I attached a safety pin to the 550 cord I bought for this purpose (got mine in the craft section of Wal-Mart) and then my daughter threaded it through the pocket, all the way around the circle until it came out the other side.   
 I melted the ends of the 550 cord  so they would look neat and not fray (careful - just melt it, don't set it on fire!).  Then I tied the ends together so they don't slip back into the hole.  They can pull the string tight and tie it in an overhand knot to secure.  

These are props they wanted for Friday (oh well, just a few days late).  Now I have to help my girl make some accessories for her costume.  The play is on Thursday - we have to get crackin'!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Costume Mom to the Rescue - Native American girl costume

As I have previously stated, I am the Costume Queen...  Me and my big mouth.  

My daughter's class is putting on a play in a few weeks, and she is a Native American.  She didn't really want this part because it has no lines, but she was pretty happy about the costume.  She likes to dress up, and she's also heard her mother brag on numerous occasions that she is the Queen of Costume Creation.  Of course, bragging, and doing are two totally different things.  Doing requires time, effort, and trips the fabric store.  I was happy to back up my bragging with lots of talk and even a trip to the fabric store, but then, the actually sewing had to happen, and this week was the deadline.  I've put off opening the box of my 200 dollar sewing machine after being brutally disappointed by the death of my 600+ dollar sewing machine.  Still, to make a costume, you need a machine.  

The good news is, the cheap machine works fine.  Here's how I whipped up this costume...

I had my daughter lie down on the floor on the folded fabric that was folded in half lengthwise.  With a piece of chalk, I traced a line around her body a few inches out on each side (If in doubt, make it too big - you can always sew smaller, but if it's too small, there's nothing you can do but cut again...).  The shape you see is roughly the shape I cut out.  Then put right sides together, an sew the sides, and then the shoulder seams.  If this was supposed to be a real, lasting garment, or was made of material that frayed on the edges, I'd have to turn the edges under and sew them, but luckily this fabric doesn't unravel (it's ultra suede - made to look like real suede) so I didn't need take that step, and as a friend of mine says, "THEY'RE NOT GOING TO SEE THAT FROM THE AUDIENCE!"

I then cut out strips of the lighter color fabric, and sewed it along the edges with the right sides together so that when the light color fabric makes a band at the bottom.  Then I snipped strips up the light colored band of fabric to make fringe.  She wanted two layers of fringe, so I did this twice, and I also did the same thing along the neckline.  

So the basic costume is done, and my daughter likes it.  Thank goodness!  I'm going to make a belt that ties with some suede string tomorrow, and she's going to decorate it.  Accessories really make the costume, so we'll see what we come up with as the date of the play comes closer.  I've also been asked to make some props, among them, a very large key.  

More to come...