Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making the White Rabbit

To make Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit, I bought a couple of metres of white fun fur. The only problem with the fabric was that my cheapo sewing machine wasn't up to the job, so I did the main part of the costume, ie. everything but the waist-coat, by hand. I used a shop-bought whole-body Halloween costume (of a skeleton) that we already had to help me as a template and for a guide with sizing.

I cut two shapes for the body & leg part of the costume. I hemmed the bottom of the legs. Then I sewed the two pieces together at the shoulders, but having learned from the shepherd I left head, foot and arm-holes (yay me!) and then sewed the rest of the way around.

Next I made the sleeves of the suit, cutting out rectangles, sewing them into tubes and attaching them to the main costume.

I then cut a slit in the back at the top, and hemmed around the neck-hole and down the side of my slit.

Then I attached velcro flaps to make a fastening.

I had toyed with the idea of using a woolly pom-pom for the tail, but settled on stuffing a tail made of two circles of the fun fur, and stitching that to the appropriate place. This was a bit fiddly and I needed a long strong needle, and preferably a thimble.

The head-piece was fairly complex to do.

First I cut out these shapes, having checked the size so I thought it would fit son. I sewed the two A pieces together along one side, marked in yellow in the diagram below. Then sewed on the B piece along the top edge, as marked in blue. The red area indicates where to leave a gap for attaching the ears. I hemmed along the black edges.

To make the ears, I sewed two sets of the C pieces together, leaving the short straight side open, forming two tubes. To try to create standing-up ears, I made a frame out of some of the children's craft stuff and inserted them into the fun fur tubes.

Then I sewed the bottoms of the ears to prevent the frames escaping, slotted the ears through the head-piece and sewed them into place.

It sat quite well on son's head, so I decided not to add elastic to go under his chin to keep it on. I think actually I should have added this, cos then he could have run without losing his head. The ears didn't actually stay upright, unfortunately, so he ended up a lop-ear.

The waist-coat was simple enough. Pretty much a rectangle for the back and two front panels out of a stiffish shiny blue material.

The pocket watch was a cardboard circle covered in gold-foil, with a paper clock-face, on a cheap chain we had hanging around. I just attached it to the waistcoat with a safety pin.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mistakes were made

You know when you know better, but you go ahead with something because you think it'll be OK just this once or it's just a tad easier/more convenient than the right way of going about it? Well, I did something like that recently and I've been kicking myself ever since.

One of the guinea pigs died and I thought it would be nice to replace it.

What I should have done, is to contact the veterinary nurse who'd sexed the guinea pig babies a couple of years ago and see if he could've put me in touch with his nan who rescues guinea pigs, or to have gone to the local rescue centre to see if they had any. What I did do, was take the children to a well-known pet store.

We ended up choosing two, since the children couldn't agree on which one they liked better, and it's the more the merrier with guinea pigs really.

A day or two after we got them home that I realised there was something not quite right about them, and I felt a vet visit would be in order. As it was the weekend, I decided to wait and see. During that weekend a well-known pet store rang with their courtesy call to make sure all was OK, which it wasn't, so they advised me to take the guineas into their store if I still wasn't happy with their progress. This I duly did, the cashier blurted "oh it looks like the same thing the others had" and they offered to take them away and have them treated or to pay any vet bills if I chose to hang onto them. Obviously the children would have been distressed to lose them, even temporarily, so to the vet's it was.

They were true to their word and stumped up the cash for the guineas' treatment and tests that were done on them. At the same time, they had been having their stock treated & tested. Their results came back sooner than ours, and they allowed the vet to let us know, as it was actually quite a serious problem (ringworm) that is highly infectious and communicable to humans, and bearing in mind we have other animals and children, it was important to avoid it spreading. It was fortunate that we'd kept them separate from our others from the start anyway.

So it's been plastic gloves, extensive washing and no handling at all by the kids while the guineas are treated. It looks like we're on the home straight now, thank goodness, and I'm hoping they will be able to start actually being pets and that I can abandon this role of reluctant veterinary nurse in the next couple of days.

I've done a lot of hanging about the vet's for one reason and another in the last few weeks, and at times a well-known pet store employees were there at the same time and I gleaned a few things about them. While I daresay their systems are as ethical as they can be, the nature of their business must be one that tempts their suppliers into poor practice. I mean, to have a convenient and ready supply of young animals, it's bound to encourage shades of 'puppy farming'.

What pisses me off about this experience, other than the culpability of a well-known pet store in selling us sick animals*, is that I should and did know better than to have bought animals there. Animals shouldn't be commodities and bought in batches.

* But should point out, they were probably caught out themselves and paid vet fees so have behaved decently, really.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Literary me

I tried that 'I write like' internet site that is currently all over the blogosphere.

First time, I came out as William Shakespeare. Haha. 2nd time, Kurt Vonnegut. 3rd time, Harry Harrison. Then David Foster Wallace, Cory Doctorow and James Joyce. All from different posts. I'm nothing if not thorough.

It just goes to show that frivolous internet tools are frivolous internet tools.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Christian Murder of Identity?

Murder of Identity was my first encounter with detective Ellie Quicke. She comes from the tradition of 'cosy English murder mysteries', although set in more recent times. I'm never sure about the word 'cosy' in this context, I mean it's a bit of a patronising and fluffy word, somehow. Not to mention, it seems a contradiction in terms: murder=cosy?! But then again, detective fiction is about puzzles and resolutions, and that is comforting: there's always an answer (unless we're subverting the genre).

Ellie's teetering on the verge of being too good to be true, but not quite over the edge: she's quite likeable and credible, with mild resentments and many pressures & worries. She's a middle-aged Christian, active in the community who does a lot for others and is rather taken for granted.

I found her Christianity interesting and unexpected. Interesting, because an aspiring author-friend has expressed concern that her fiction wouldn't appeal to secular or Christian publishing houses because she feels it falls somewhere in between. Ellie Quicke's Christianity is just a facet of her character: but during the novel, she often prays, she attends church, she helps out at the church. It's not explored as a major part of the story, but it is an integral part of the character. I'm not sure how much that would help my friend, but it certainly suggests to me that the market for her work need not be crowbarred into explicitly Christian publishing houses.

One thing I wasn't so keen on was the forays into the murderer's mind, which seemed contrary to the 'cosy murder mystery' feel of the book and a bit Ruth Rendell (is that who I'm thinking of?). I didn't feel they worked. Aside from that, it was an enjoyable read, nothing extraordinary but well enough. Did what it said on the tin, as it were.

Monday, July 19, 2010


And this made me laugh today (from Passive Aggressive Notes).

A pillow made by a child at a Bible Camp(?), where printed on it is "God's Word is Comforting" and the child's contribution is "DOOM"!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This made me laugh today

"Cinderella lied to us. There should be a Betty Ford center where they deprogram you by putting you in an electric chair. Play "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and hit you and go "Nobody's coming... Nobody's coming... Nobody's coming..." - Judy Carter

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Squirrel costume

I've been making a squirrel costume. It's too hot for a full costume plus the school wanted to keep it simple, so I went for ears and tail as the main elements. Which actually isn't all that simple - a squirrel has a massive tail.

I chose to go with a grey squirrel, since it was impossible to find reddish brown fun-fur on short notice* and son doesn't have much in the way of brown/reddish-brown clothing. I had a quick attempt at a tail using some brown fun-fur I'd left over from Toto, but it didn't really work - it really needed to be a squirrelly colour.

I was lucky enough to come across a large grey furry cushion cover on sale, so I grabbed that one. It was then a simple matter of unpicking the zip and the sides of the cover, to give me a rectangle of fabric. This I sewed together into a long, wide tube.

With chicken wire I created a pliable frame to give the tail shape, folding in ends and covering them with duct tape to prevent any ends spiking through.

The above is before it was bent into a more curved tail shape. The fabric tube went over it like a sleeve, and was draped into folds to give bushiness.

I used a short-sleeved hooded top in grey, and tacked a white fun-fur tummy over the design the top already had on it.

I'm hoping the top will still be wearable after squirreldom, so everything is tacked on rather than permanently affixed. But it might be a bit holey! I stitched the tail onto the back in several places, at the top, part way down and at the bottom. I went right through the the chicken wire frame at times so that it was held in place as well.

A couple of folded triangles made the basic ear shape, and I glued a smaller triangle of white fun-fur in the inside.

A few stitches to keep the shape, and then I tacked the ears firmly onto the hood. And that was it pretty much done.

I do apologise if the blacked-out face is freaky, but I don't feel comfortable putting too-identifiable pictures of the children up. The ears do both stand up, he'd got one caught against the wall. Perhaps the ears could have done with being a bit smaller and I'd have preferred a smaller tummy panel (but the design underneath, printed on the top, was huge. I don't know why plain t-shirts are so hard to find, it's ridiculous).

All in all I was pleased with the end result. It was quite a fun project and didn't require any great technical skill.

* It's always short notice with me. I'm a last-minute kind of gal.

Monday, July 05, 2010


I can't decide whether this is scary (think Dr Who's statues).

Or tacky inflatable-doll-esque.

One thing I do know, it's not cute. I don't want that thing hugging my trees!