handmade

The Green Caped Crusader, In Butterick 3642

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist

Capes are amazing, don’t you agree? Superheroes wear them. Medieval warriors wear them. Little Red Riding Hood wears one. Movie starlets wear them. In short- you should wear one too. (Except if you are talking to Edna Mode in which case she will advise you “No capes!”) I had a black cape once, a few years ago, but unfortunately it hit me right at the widest part of my hip and I discovered that was a rather unflattering length. So after many years of admiring capes, I decided that it was high time I finally made a cape for myself. After all, how hard could it be to make a cape?

Well, considering that it is now March 17, and this is the first project I have completed this year… apparently it was a little more work than I first thought it would be. . .

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, portrait

The first step to making my cape was choosing the fabric. My first thought was a length of plaid wool I picked up a few years ago. However, the mistake I made when I bought it was that I only purchased 1.5 metres, which is not enough to do much of anything with. I thought that I might be able to squeeze a cape out of it, but, alas, a cape takes a surprisingly large amount of yardage, and it was not to be. I was on the lookout for a nice wool, but the fabric stores didn’t have anything I wanted. Then, in January, when I was at the local thrift store, my sister noticed a length of green wool for sale for $10.00, for 2.8 metres. Thrift score!

I decided to line the cape in a gold/tan, because there was no green lining available. The other choices they had at the fabric store were brown or black, but I like how the gold picks up the warm tones of the wool. If you look closely at the wool, you will see that it is woven with gold, green, brown, cinnamon and russet coloured threads. If you can’t match your lining, it’s fun to contrast it so it becomes a feature.

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, cape lining Butterick 3642

Now that I had the fabric picked out, the next step was the pattern. For a pattern I chose Butterick 3642. This was for no special reason, other than that I was at my local fabric store and this was the only cape pattern they had. I could have bought an indie pattern, but I never really thought about it, and this one seemed fine. I think that this pattern is actually out of print, and there was just one lone pattern left at my local shop! I was planning for a WWII nurses cape style, and the drawing on the back of this pattern looked quite similar in style to that. I decided that I wanted to make the cape knee length, which would put it at the hem length of most of my dresses and skirts. The pattern had two choices- mid calf and mid thigh- but it was simple enough to adjust the pattern to the length that I wanted it to be at.

At this point, I was a bad blogger and dove right into the project without taking any pictures! All, I got was a picture of the stack of fabric before I started cutting it. Oops. The cape went together fairly well, although it took forever to cut out the pieces as there was just enough fabric to fit all the pieces on, and it was like a puzzle to lay them all out exactly! It took me about two days to sew together the pieces, the lining, the collar and the buttonholes. . . and at this point you might wonder why I am writing this in March, not January.

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, collar detail

Well, once I got the cape pretty much together, I realized that whoever designed this pattern must have planned to dress football players. The shoulders in the cape were much too wide and the shoulder point hung way off the edge of my shoulder. This resulted both in throwing the direction of the fabric off, as well as looking way too big. I was swimming in fabric. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a cape being too large- but this one was. At this point I was in the depths of despair at the thought of all the work I had done so far, and now had to undo, so I threw it away in disgust and didn’t pick the project up again for a month. (In defence, I was also busy during February preparing for my art show, so I didn’t have a lot of free time to devote to working on a fussy project that was turning out to be more complicated than I originally thought.) So, the abandoned project sat there until last week. I knew that if I didn’t do it now- it would never be done- and I really wanted to wear it! When contemplating what to wear for St. Patrick’s Day, I remembered that I own very little green, and knew that this cape would be the perfect thing. There’s nothing like a deadline to force you to hurry up and sew 🙂 (ps. I do have a small bit of Irish heritage, but have never done anything more to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than dressing in green!)

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, cape neck detail

In regards to fixing this pattern, I ended up pinching out about three inches of fabric from the shoulder and tapering it to the hem. Taking out that fabric made all the difference to the shape and fit of the cape. Instead of looking like I was wearing a blanket, it now falls somewhere between the fit and flare of a nurses cape, and a 40’s swing coat style.

The two things I do not like about how the cape turned out are, one, that the collar likes to roll out. I did everything, including cutting the under collar smaller, and steaming it in shape, but it does still like to flip out. However, if I decide that it bothers me too much, I can always wear it with a fur collar over top. The other thing, is that the hem puckers a bit. I’m planning on taking it in to my local dry cleaners for a pressing. I have gotten garments pressed before (without getting them dry cleaned), as it is actually quite cheap and gives a much more professional finish to a project that you just can’t achieve with an iron. I think getting home sewn garments professionally pressed is totally worth it- especially where wool is concerned.

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, cape details

So there you have it. After all the trials that the fitting gave me, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the finished cape. I do have a history of getting my projects finished and then not liking them, but I actually love how this one turned out this time! I think I will be able to get a lot of wear out of this piece. This colour of green goes very well with so many colours, and capes are great for those chilly days where you need some form of outerwear, but not a buffalo robe. In other words, because I live in Canada, I am going to get a lot of wear out of this before Spring and Summer come around 😉

Would I sew Butterick 3642 again? I don’t think I would. The pattern doesn’t actually call for a lining, and adding a lining to a pattern is always tedious. The aforementioned fit problems were kind of bothersome too, so even though I have fixed them now, I don’t know if I would want to sew it again. I would also like to try a different style of cape, with a different kind of un-seamed shoulder. Maybe I’ll try an indie pattern next time!

Do you have a cape, or wish you had one? Do you have any recommendations for a different cape pattern than Butterick 3642? And, do you observe St. Patrick’s Day, and are you wearing green today?

Outfit Details:

Cape: Butterick 3642, now out of print

Hat: gifted

Shoes: Hispanitas

Dress: Thrifted

Brooch: Gifted

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, green cape

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, twirling

It passes the test: it’s perfect for twirling in!

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, twirling, vent detail

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, brooch detail and cape

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist, shoes

The Green Caped Crusader, Butterick 3642, the artyologist

Bringing Back “Coupon Busters” One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time

bringing back coupon busters, one pair of shoeclips at a time, the artyologist

In one of the later season’s of Foyle’s War, (a British crime drama set in the 1940’s, which I highly recommend, by the way, if you enjoy murder mysteries and period wartime dramas) there was an episode where the character of Sam is seen discussing shoes with a coworker. Her coworker had recently purchased a pair of “coupon busters”, which were an ingenious pair of shoes that came with detachable heel covers and shoe clips. The heels and clips could transform the single pair of shoes into three different pairs, simply by removing the sensibly shaped heel cover, which made the shoe appropriate for office wear, to reveal the more sensuously curved heel which was perfect for evening. Adding a shoe clip to the toe created yet another fashionable look.

I don’t know if coupon busters were a real invention in wartime Britain, as a way for women to stretch their rationing coupons, allowing them to purchase one pair of shoes, instead of three separate pairs, or not. I couldn’t find any information about them at all. I think that coupon busters are rather a clever idea though, and it really is too bad that they are not being made today. Even though we don’t have to worry about rationing coupons today, I would love to be able to transform one pair of shoes into three, wouldn’t you?

Although a manufactured shoe like this is not readily available, there is, however, an easy way to transform the look of your shoes, and that is by wearing shoe clips. Shoe clips are one of those accessories that have wavered in and out of fashion throughout the years. Shoe buckles were very popular in the 18th century, not just for function, but fashion as well. In the 1950’s shoe clips rose in popularity with the invention of proper shoe clip hardware. My mom had shoe clips in the 1980’s, and I remember a few years ago they were a trend again. However, they are not a common thing to see for the most part. I really don’t know why, as they are so fun and versatile, and can transform your shoes into a completely new look. I personally think they make your shoes look like “princess shoes”- don’t princesses always seem to have big bows and what-have-you on the toes of their shoes?

I have been wanting to find shoe clips for years, at least five years now, as I got these coral flower decorations with the express intent of attaching them to shoe clips. However, apparently shoe clip hardware is an impossible thing to want, and I could never find any for sale. I put the flowers aside and forgot about them, until recently, when I found them again in my craft stash, and got the idea to look online to see if shoe clip hardware was available. Sure enough, on Amazon I found a pack of ten pairs of clips! Score! I immediately pulled out the flowers, and set to work creating several different pairs of shoe clips. I mean, I do have ten sets of clips now, so I can make a lot of pairs of shoe clips. At this rate, I’ll never have to wear the same pair of shoes again! 😉

I thought that since shoe clips are such a versatile accessory to change up the look of your shoe, I would demonstrate with two pairs of shoes. Shoe clips work best on open, classic style shoes that don’t already have too many details, straps or embellishments, and they work equally well on heeled or flat shoes. Here you can see how shoe clips transform the look of the shoes and lend themselves well to any occasion.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, Navy shoes, no clips

First up are these navy peep toe pumps. I wear these shoes a lot as navy is such a versatile colour, and this pair is so comfortable. They are a plain and serviceable shoe, so you’ll see how much they change just by adding some clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps- princess pompoms, the artyologist

Round pom-pom flowers turn these into statement shoes. These are Cinderella shoes for sure- don’t they look like something the Disney princess would wear?

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps, sparkly brown clips, the artyologist

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps, green clip ons, the artyologist

Did you know you can also use clip-on earrings as shoe clips? You have to be careful with which ones you use- I have some pairs which have too weak of a clasp, or come up too high above the edge of the shoe, but some pairs clip on rather nicely to add some sparkle. Both of these, the brown and the green are clip-on earrings I seldom wear, but I think they work rather nicely to dress up the shoes. Clip-on earrings are also much easier to find than proper shoe clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, navy silver clips, the artyologist

These are true shoe clips which I found at an antique sale. They add just the right amount of sweetness, sparkle and vintage flair. Vintage stores and sales can be a good place to look to find real shoe clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black no clips

Now here are my black pumps: they have a band across the toe which has sparkly gems on it, but you’ll see that they still work rather well with shoe clips, because of the open shape of the shoe.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, coral clips

Here are the coral coloured flowers. I absolutely love the shape of these as they are very “princessey” too. Unfortunately I have very few clothes that go well with the colour, so that is definitely something I’ll have to change!

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black bows

I think that bows work really well for a vintage look. Bows were a very popular shoe decoration in the 1940’s, and they have a very classic look about them. Bows that are the same colour as the shoe, work very well for daywear as they look like part of the shoe.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, yellow flowers

The last set of shoe clips are these ribbon flowers I made. They add a nice splash of colour, yet are small enough to be discreet.

And case you would like to make some shoe clips for yourself, here is how:

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, making your own shoeclips

I used a pre-made flower for these, but some of the others I made from scratch. Attach your decoration to a felt disk, either by sewing or gluing it on. Once it is attached, you can then sew your shoe clip onto the felt. Attach it near the top of the disk, so the decoration will sit lower on the shoe. Clip them onto your shoes and enjoy! I got my shoe clip hardware off of Amazon- if you search “shoe clip blank” it should bring some up for you. I am sure there are other places that sell shoe clip blanks as well, I just purchased them from Amazon because I live in a rural area which apparently doesn’t see much demand for shoe clips and the stores didn’t carry them! 🙂

One note of caution I do have, is that depending on the material of your shoe, metal clips may leave indentations or marks. If you have soft leather, or suede like I do, you may want to put some kind of “padding’ in between the clip and the shoe to keep it from getting ruined.

So, have you ever worn shoe clips? What do you think of them? And, would you want a pair of “coupon busters”?

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, shoeclips assorted

Valentine’s Day Postcards

the artyologist, valentine's day postcards

It is February, and you know what that means: it’s time for my favourite holiday- Valentine’s Day! I know that some people- OK a lot of people- hate Valentine’s Day, but I’ve never really been able to figure out why. It has recently come to my attention though, in a conversation on Instagram, that in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that strictly celebrates only romantic love. Well, of course that is how it started off back when the Victorians “invented” the holiday. Originally Valentine’s day was a feast day honouring St. Valentinus- and there are many different legends of why that came to be (who really knows?) However, over time it originated into a holiday celebrating love, where couples would exchange hearts, flowers, confectionery and love letters or “valentines”. By the time the 19th century came about, the Victorians, who were were obsessed with everything to do with romance and courtship, helped to turn it into the holiday we recognize today- where St. Valentinus is quite forgotten, but hearts and flowers and chocolates abound!

Even though the holiday was originally a celebration of only romantic love, over time, in Canada (and the USA I think too) it has turned into a day to celebrate all forms of love. When I was in elementary school, we always brought valentines to exchange with our classmates, and often had a party too. (Because really, who doesn’t want an excuse to eat pink heart shaped cookies and cakes?!) Nowadays, I hear the term “Galentines Day” circulating around, which has gotten fairly popular in the last few years; the idea being spending the day with your best girl friends instead of focusing on only romantic love. Even if you don’t have an opportunity for romance in your life right now, (I don’t) that’s no reason to dismiss Valentine’s Day as “Single’s Awareness Day”. Yes, romantic love is a beautiful thing, but having a holiday to celebrate all different kinds of love is a very nice idea too, I think. There are so many different kinds of love in the world, such as agape which is the love of man for God, and the love that God has for his children, eros or romantic love, philia, the beautiful love between friends, and storge which is familial love- just to name a few. Why should Valentine’s Day celebrate only eros, when there are so many more kinds of love in the world that are worth celebrating? I have always had that mindset about the day- and have always used it as a chance to send cards to friends and family and celebrate philia and storge love. Sometimes in past years, like with last year’s cards I’ve used the chance to highlight God’s agape love. And don’t forget that heart shaped cake too; which perhaps is an example of philautia- self love! 😉

Because Valentine’s Day is such a Victorian holiday, I usually make cards inspired by the era, so I thought I would show you all the cards I made and sent this year. Making and mailing valentines cards is such an old fashioned tradition, which is probably why it appeals to me so much 🙂

And, I also thought that since I can’t send all of you dear readers a Valentine of your own (I really wish I could!), it would be fun to share a Valentine’s card with you all in the form of a download! Just in case you haven’t gotten a card for someone special, but would like to give them one this year, I have a design I created a few years ago which is my Valentine’s Day card to you! I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to know if you decide to use it too!

So, is Valentine’s Day a strictly “romantic” holiday where you live? Or do you celebrate friends and family and all of the heart shaped things? And, do you make your own Valentine’s cards?

Click here to download my free Valentine’s Day Card!

the artyologist, writing valentine's day postcards

the artyologist, stack of valentine's day cards

the artyologist, four valentine's postcards

the artyologist, valentine's cards backs and fronts

the artyologist, peony and valentine's postcards

the artyologist, postcards ready to go, envelopes

Woodland Queen

Woodland Queen, cocktail dresses, the artyologist

I own approximately six evening / cocktail dresses. (I didn’t actually get up and check because I am feeling lazy right now, but I can remember six off the top of my head) I attend approximately zero cocktail parties each year. Thus, I have a lot of dresses that don’t get worn that often ever, so every time I find even half of an excuse to wear one, I take it! Last weekend was the Christmas party we have every year on my mom’s side of the family, and though it isn’t a dressy party by any means, I jumped at the chance to dress up in a “Christmas” ensemble with one of the neglected cocktail dresses.

I picked this dress up at the thrift store last year, and though it isn’t something I would normally gravitate to, as it is made out of some kind of parachute material and knitted polyester, it is a surprisingly versatile dress to have. It is true that you should never underestimate the power of an LBD! The first time I wore this dress, was to a swing dance with a theme of “Dancing Under the Stars”. When I wore it that time, I quickly grabbed some gold star garland and fashioned a crown so my outfit would fit the theme of “stars”. I quite liked that outfit, so when I was thinking of what to wear to this party, I decided another crown of stars would be just the thing. I cut out some stars from faux leather, painted them gold and then glued them to a headband. It turned out nicely and is a much more permanent, and slightly fancier, alternative to a tinsel crown 🙂 I think that the stars  are just the sort of thing that a flapper would have worn in the twenties, or maybe something a sprite would wear while flitting about the winter woods.

woodland queen, cocktail dresses, the artyologist

Anyways, I have nothing else much to say about this outfit, so I’ll stop typing now 🙂

Happy First day of Winter to you all!

Outfit Details:

Dress: Thrifted

Shoes: Miz Mooz

Necklace: Ten Thousand Villages

Headband: Made by me

woodland queen, the-birch-and-crown, the artyologist

woodland queen necklace the artyologist

woodland queen, cocktail dresses, the artyologist

Woodland Queen, star crown and cocktail dresses, the artyologist

woodland queen, shoes the artyologist

woodland queen, the artyologist