Winter is a fashion struggle for me. It seems like every year, I think that I should make some warm things. And then every year, I get sidetracked by something, and I finish maybe one or two things. And then I’m still cold and bored of the dark clothes that I seem to end up with. As the weather has been cooling down this fall, I’ve realized that I’m even more lacking than usual in warm things to wear both around my house, and specifically to church. So I’m attempting to do something about that to wrap up 2021.
This sweater dress is made from New Look 6298, and a teal hatchi knit that I was gifted a couple of years ago at Christmas. So it’s a pretty lightweight knit, but I figure I’ll be wearing it over leggings anyway. I started off with a size 18 on top and graded it to a 20 for my hips, since I didn’t want it to be tight around my midsection or hips. But I guess I forgot about Big 4 sizing, because it was essentially a sack!
After some consulting with my Sewing Sphere friends, I ended up taking it in about 1.5” at the underarms and the bust, grading that down to around 6” from the raw edge of the sleeves and to the hip pockets. And that ended up working out much better. The other change that I made was adding my usual inch of sleeve length, but that wasn’t necessary this time because the sleeves ended up being on the long side. But my wrists won’t be cold, so I’ll take it!
I’m still a bit on the fence with this one, and am feeling like I’m really struggling to make dresses that aren’t frumpy anymore, since my last attempt was a complete flop. I hope this isn’t going to be a long trend, since I’m officially a middle aged mom now and was hoping to avoid looking like one for a bit longer. But I think adding the scarf helps, and it’s nice to have something to wear this one with! My mom made it for me a year or so back, and it’s this cozy flannel with a zipper pocket so I can keep my phone in it. I just honestly haven’t had the basic color tops to pair with it. So while I’m taking a break from the official wardrobe chains for a bit while I knock out a few things, this dress does work nicely to link that and my old Espresso leggings that match the brown in the plaid. I have a couple of other scarves that I think will also pair well with this — teal is my jam, after all, so it shows up a lot!
So here’s what I’ve been working on for the past 2+ months!
I was excited that my sons picked Lord of the Rings themed costumes this year. I read The Hobbit to them back in the late winter, though the spring. Which then turned into watching the Peter Jackson movies, followed by The Lord of the Rings. Being the Tolkien book geek that I am, I’d originally planned to read the books to them first at an older age, but as it turns out, most of their friends from our homeschooling activities have older brothers, and therefore have already seen the movies. So we went with it, and they loved it!
My oldest decided he wanted to be Legolas this year — he seems to be developing some level of interest in archery. My general goal with kid costumes is maximum rewearability, which is admittedly challenging with this theme. So I bought him a pair of olive joggers — he legitimately needed pants anyway — and pulled the one long sleeve tee that was a remotely ok color from his closet. For the tunic, I did a very hacked version of Simplicity 8483. I had to draw the yoke, and turn the sleeves into a long petal type two piece sleeve, and reshape the hem. The fabric is a mix of a curtain that I found at Goodwill, for the darker suede looking bits, and some olive twill that I’m pretty sure was left over from my pre-kid Thurlow pants binge. (Hoarding paid off!) it’s not quite screen accurate on the colors, as the darker should have been the yoke, but moms on a big time and budget crunch can’t be choosers. I drew the “embroidery” with a paint pen, and made the bracers more or less off of a simplified version of the pattern, with fabric left from my daughter’s costume. More on that in a bit.
He insisted that he wanted a quiver, so we spent an afternoon working on it together. I made the quiver itself from a corrugated cardboard box, a Pringles can, more leftover brown knit, and the straps were made from a pair of his brother’s outgrown pants that I found in my overdue-for-emptying sewing closet trash can. I couldn’t donate them because of holes, but they were just fine for cutting into strips! And though I worked the hot glue gun, my son did the bulk of the work on drawing and cutting out the arrowheads and fletchings on craft foam. He was so proud of his work, especially after they were attached to the dowels!
Thankfully, I did not have to make the bow, as we took the kids to the Renaissance Faire this year and they all wanted their souvenirs from a foam weapons shop.
My younger son loves Gandalf, so this was an easy choice for him. I used another modified take of the same Simplicity pattern, with a dash of Simplicity 9162 for the yoke. Originally, I had the robe drawn out really full with all of these pleats to try to replicate the movie. But my fabric for this was a set of four thrifted valances with the perfect rougher looking weave, and I just didn’t have the yardage. I suppose it’s just as well, he would have been swimming in it. I was able to reuse the original hems, which was nice! I had to do my first invisible zipper in about 7 years for the back, yay stretchy postpartum everything. And the front yoke is just stitched with yarn that I found in my neglected knitting stash.
I bought the hat, but could only find an adult size. I think it adds to the charm, though. The staff was a stick we found on a Memorial Day hike when this costume plan was formed. My husband whittled off the bark and sanded it down for all of his balrog fighting needs. We had a beard that my brother lent him, but he didn’t like the feel of it on his face, so we skipped it. And the belt is from my closet.
Finally, my daughter as Eowyn — highly appropriate, as that’s her middle name! I only made the vest for her, since she already had the perfect boots and we found a close enough dress while shopping Dharma Trading Company for a July 4th family tie dye binge. I used a modified Ottobre pattern for the vest, made from leftover interlock from my original Tiramisu dress. The hem and neckline were a good shape, I just needed to shorten the sleeves to a cap length, and I figured the tee would be a much more toddler friendly option than a corset! The gold bits were more paint pen embroidery. I’d originally planned to slice up the sleeves of the dress to better match the screen version, but since it was chilly that night/she likely would have just gotten them caught on things, I left them as is.
Fun fact: this was my second time making this costume! The first time was back around 2003, when the movies were still recent. It was seriously low budget since I was still in school, so it was just white muslin, polyester suedecloth, and a few spools of a loopy gold trim that I found with the budget ribbons at Joann’s. I wore it for multiple occasions, between a college costume party where no one recognized my character except the friend that I went with, some photoshoots for fun, and most recently at the DragonCon that I went to just before I got pregnant the first time. It doesn’t fit me anymore, with my wider post-baby hips especially, so I finally had to let it go. But it had a good run, and I got some geeky joy out of recreating it for my daughter during the films’ 20th anniversary years.
Overall, though the little shieldmaiden kept her opinions to herself this time, the boys were pleased with their costumes. My older son was happy that the curtain fabric was so soft, and the younger one was asking to play with it even after Halloween was over. (Though, to be fair, he was also procrastinating on starting our homeschooling day.) I enjoyed getting to revisit crafting for my favorite fandom. But, to quote Bilbo, I’m quite ready for another adventure. Using all of the late summer/early fall sewing time that I had to do this means that I am seriously lacking in warm things!