Happy Fourth of July!

Blog Pic 38


Crafts with Pizzazz: Bucky Barnes!

Blog Pic 23

Hello from Bee!

First of all, Boss-Bot and I would like to wish those celebrating a very Happy (Early) Thanksgiving! Please enjoy the festivities, family and friends, and of course, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! (I personally love the Broadway songs and the Peanuts balloons – what about you?) 🙂

Before the celebrations, I did want to put up my weekly post – especially because Hawkeye and the crochet Avengers were so popular last Thursday. While I did complete all of the main Avengers from the movie series – Captain America, Iron Man, Dr. Banner, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye – there are, of course, plenty of other Avenger teammates and Marvel characters to add to my collection. Considering that the next Marvel movie is Captain America 3, I thought that it would be fun to start with Steve Rogers’s best friend, Bucky Barnes!

When considering how best to crochet Bucky, I glanced at pictures of Sebastian Stan from both movies and decided to combine the looks – “First Avenger” personality and costume; “Winter Soldier” hair and metal hand – so that I could make a happy, contemporary Bucky for my crocheted Steve.

Making Bucky was fairly easy with my “people pattern.” I switched colors at the bottom for his boots, as well as for his left hand. I also cut out a small piece of white felt in the shape of one of Captain America’s helmet wings and glued it onto Bucky’s sleeve like in the first film.

The only difficult part was figuring out his hair. Although I have made long hair before for Thor and Black Widow, this was the first opportunity I’ve had to play around with different styles. I really liked the idea of giving Bucky a swept-back look, so I tried making the hair like I did with Black Widow and pulling it into a man ponytail. Unfortunately, the second rows of slip-knotted yarn I used to fill in the gaps (as I had done with Black Widow’s hair to make it fuller) made the ponytail too thick and impossible to tie. After struggling with yarn placement for a while, I realized that the best way to make a ponytail is to omit the second rows altogether: filling in the gaps doesn’t matter when you make a ponytail, because when pulled back carefully, no gaps will end up showing. I pulled out two slip-knotted strands, tied the rest back, and voila!

And just look how happy the Brooklyn bros are together! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Costumes: Captain America!

Blog Pic 17

Hello from Bee!

First of all: Great Scott! Happy Back to the Future Day! Today, October 21, 2015, is the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown visit the future. Let’s all celebrate by going hoverboarding! 🙂

All right, back to the posts…

Last week, I introduced the concept of semi-homemade Halloween costumes, citing my own Bumblebee convention costume as a (Optimus) Prime example. 🙂 I’d like to continue with this topic, focusing today on the “semi” part of “semi-homemade” and featuring my Captain America costume!

As I mentioned last week, when I start putting together a costume, I first go “closet-shopping” – searching through my own wardrobe for pieces that are already usable. This is a great place to start: just look at the “DisneyBound” Tumblr by the incredible Leslie Kay, who pieces together awesome Disney-inspired outfits using common articles of clothing! As for me, having done theatre for so many years, I’ve built quite a collection of costume pieces for myself, and usually end up with a decent foundation for an outfit after rummaging through everything.

After perusing my own closet, I always look through the wardrobes of my family members, as well; often, they have items that are old or unused that I can repurpose to fit the desired look. For example, my father seems to accumulate baseball caps which he never wears, and occasionally passes them along to me; I took one of these hats, carefully pulled out all of the stitching, and felted it over to make an awesome Cap cap!

Blog Pic 18

In addition to the baseball cap, I found a plethora of old, unused white t-shirts in another closet that have already come in handy for so many of my costuming projects – an entire Princess Leia outfit and a Renaissance Faire blouse, just to name a few. For my Captain America costume, I cut off the bottom of one such t-shirt and sewed it to the top half of a blue t-shirt I found on sale at a craft store. I did the same with the white t-shirt sleeves, adding them on to the blue sleeves for that signature Captain America look. The leftover white material was used to make the star. In addition, since the craft store sale was a buy-one-get-one, I had also picked up a red t-shirt, whose bottom became the stripes, and whose sleeves became a really neat pair of fingerless gloves.

Of course, if I didn’t find those t-shirts in the closet or on sale, I definitely would have paid a visit to the local secondhand clothing stores. These are excellent places to find inexpensive costume pieces – especially if you’re looking for something a little more vintage. (I actually found the rest of my Ren Faire outfit at one of these shops; whereas a good store-bought medieval costume costs anywhere from $40 upwards [accessories not included], I put my entire look together for less than $20!)

Now, with a sewing machine, all of the stitching for my Captain America costume would probably have taken a week at most. However, as I do not own one, I had to do the entire project completely by hand, which ended up taking almost a month in between work and other activities. Nevertheless, I’m incredibly pleased with the way it turned out!

Have you found costume inspirations from your closet? Did you find some cool items at a thrift shop? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!

Crafts with Pizzazz: Iron Man!

Blog Pic 8

Hello from Bee!

Wow: thank you for all the views and ‘likes’ for last week’s post! I’m so glad you like my crochet Captain America – and because he went over so well with all of you, I’d like to follow up this week with his teammate, Mr. Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist himself, Iron Man!

There’s certainly something to be said about Marvel Studios’ casting ability. I love Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark: he’s a brilliant actor with a clear understanding of the character both on- and off-screen (just look up some of the interactions he’s had with young Iron Man fans – he’s very sweet!).

In any case, as soon as I finished crocheting Captain America, I knew Iron Man would be my next Avenger project. I also knew that I wanted to make him with his helmet off so Tony Stark’s face (and awesome facial hair!) would be visible.

Fortunately, I had already worked out my basic “people” pattern with Captain America, including the color changes I needed for the Iron Man suit. The Arc Reactor did take a couple of tries, including one out of felt that looked too two-dimensional, and several more out of yarn that didn’t have enough chained stiches in the adjustable ring to make it round enough. I ended up gluing it like I did with the Minion goggles, cutting the yarn tails very short and tucking them underneath.

Tony’s short, spiked haircut also presented a challenge at first. Steve’s hairdo was relatively easy to figure out: all I had to do was weave a long piece of yarn through the yellow crocheted top I had placed on his head in his classic side-swept style. (I find that adding such a top rather than changing colors while making the head gives the hair an extra dimension and looks better on the finished product.) For Tony, I started with a crocheted top in brown that I sewed over his head. I thought about weaving in a couple of very short pieces of yarn into the front for his spiked hair, but quickly realized that they wouldn’t stand up straight. Instead, I worked a couple rows of single crochet into the first few stitches of the brown top. The resulting piece of flat crochet stands up perfectly on its own, even curling back a bit in a way that really captures Tony’s look.

I really love the way he turned out!

Blog Pic 9

And, of course, I had to take a picture of him standing next to his fellow Avenger! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Captain America!

Blog Pic 7

Hello from Bee!

I apologize for not posting in a while; it’s been pretty busy around here the past few weeks!

That being said, I’m really pleased to feature something extra special in my “Crafts with Pizzazz” post today: Captain America!

In my first post, I stated that I learned how to crochet mostly because I wanted to make my own amigurumi – hence, Dancing Baby Groot as my very first crochet project. After that went over so well, I thought that it would be fun to incorporate some amigurumi into my convention costume for this year. Boss-Bot and I had debuted our Transformers costumes last year, and we had so much fun with them that we decided to reuse them – with some cool additions, of course. While Boss-Bot dove into creating a cardboard-box Grimlock to ride as Optimus Prime (complete with working lights for eyes!), I set about creating Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky to go with my Bumblebee outfit. As my only prior experience with crochet was a potted plant, I knew that I needed further instructions.

I found them in Allison Hoffman’s book, AmiguruME. After researching several different how-to sources, I found hers to be the most complete, accessible, and in-tune with how I envisioned my doll. As a self-described ‘choose-your-own-crochet-adventure’ book, AmiguruME offers a variety of patterns for heads, bodies, clothing, and accessories that you can mix and match to create whatever character you desire. My favorite part about this resource is that it makes no assumptions about skill levels, offering clear instructions and helpful pictures for each type of stitch or technique used.

You can see him in our blog banner, but here is a clearer picture of the Sam Witwicky doll I made using the book:

Blog Pic 6

Pretty sweet, right? And so much fun to carry around at the convention! 🙂

Although I like her book patterns and have made several dolls with them – including some great birthday presents! – I’ve also been working on creating my own, more pocket-sized “people” pattern for a while now. And as a big Marvel fan, where better to start than the First Avenger himself, Captain America?

The most difficult part of creating this pattern was figuring out the proportions. I wanted it to be more or less along the lines of an action figure, as opposed to looking like a bobble-head. I also had to figure out how to proportion the multiple colors in his suit. I originally thought I’d do the star and stripes with felt, but it looked too bulky, so I ended up doing the entire project in yarn.

I’m so pleased with how well my pattern turned out – and Captain America’s looking pretty Marvel-ous, too! 🙂