Monday, 31 October 2016

70: Shaman cape for halloween

I had the idea to make this over a year ago when I bought two Ikea rugs for the conservatory.

The rugs are cheap at £20 each and are shaped like an animal skin but 100% synthetic. They do not stand up well to hoovering but do wash very well and look really good. The last time I searched for them they are not in the online catalogue but are for some reason only available in store. At one point I thought they were discontinued which was a great disappointment because that was Halloween last year so I abandoned this project then but then they got more in so I bought two of them and have stored them since in anticipation for this project.

I was just messing around one day and realised they would make a brilliant cape but then I saw various faux taxidermy projects so I decided to make this. My Halloween Shaman’s Cape.

First I used a free internet pattern from Charming Doodle which is actually a reindeer faux taxidermy pattern.

 I thought it would be too small but made a quick mock-up /muslin out of some brocade. I did not bother with horns or ears for this model because I just needed to know the actual size it made up into.

 The second picture is me trying it for size on my head. Then having found it very small indeed I used my clover tracing wheel to trace at maximum distance which I think is 3cm all around the edge of each pattern piece. I made the ears a bit longer as well. 

I then grafted the hood pattern from Burda 01/2016/ 101 onto my new animal head pattern. I accidentally traced two of these when I made this so it has been hanging around for ages now and is a bit battered.

I filled in the gap where the hood joins the deer head with extra bits of paper and taped it for further use just in case I decide to make a second version or even a large sized taxidermy head. 

Then I decided I do not need a back on my head/neck since it will be part of a hood so I chopped a few cm off at the body end of the head gusset.

This is how it measures: I cut 23cm off one side and 12cm off the other. Of course you put the long side onto a fold of fabric when you cut.

 Now I made a second muslin. This I decided was OK size wise but I did not like the ears. So I cut about 1inch off the bottom but left the top intact. They are now completely different in shape to the original deer ear.

I sewed the ears first then attached them to the head but further back than the original design.

I also could not get them to stand upright at all!

Predator or Prey?

I spent ages then annoying both my dogs trying to work out how their ears attach because predator ears are different to prey. Deer of course are prey but that is what my pattern is and I really want a wolf head or similar since I think most self-respecting shaman tend to wear power animals like predators. Well I am really no expert and at this point in my construction I decide well its going to be a bit too zebra-ish anyway so who cares. I am making a mythical animal head now. I still aim to make it more predator than prey though.

I am feeling a bit guilty at this point because while I am playing around with faux animal patterns, my other half is busy trying to do the plastering in the lounge in time for Christmas where it all fell off a few months ago: Life!

The guilt will not win though because its over a year since I started to plan this. I should have begun the project a week or so ago but only then came back from holiday and had loads of washing to do so I have been too busy with real life to actually do any of the sewing for this project. By now it was about 3pm on Sunday 30TH October and if I really want to complete this in time for Halloween tomorrow I need to get a move on.

 So I decided to go for it. I cut the centre of the head piece out of the middle of the rug so it is very dark and patterned and to get a contrast. No going back now because I have recked my new rug!

I then cut the head with hood out of the pale bit with the edge of the rug becoming the face of my animal. It means I get a good contrast in fur colour.

Then the ears from two legs so the fur there has a kind of edge. The ears are actually about 2.5cm shorter on the bottom edge than the ones I made for the second mock-up.

At this point I was panicking about the time this was taking so I stopped taking photos. Sorry about that but I have no real rules or plans to follow so it was all just a bit of luck and "magic" that was guiding me.

The head sewed up really easily and actually fed well through the machine which surprised me. I do have leather needles but never used them. Even when the thread ran out and I re-threaded I found the hard bit was actually getting the very thick 4 layers ( where the ears joined and were folded into a tuck to give shape and the head gusset and head were all being sewed at once) under the foot. I ended up sewing from the edge and into the old stitching line at an angle because while it was impossible to manouver the fabric under the foot I could get it to feed from the edge of the cloth no problem. An unusual sewing experience! The sewing is far from perfect but you cannot really tell and it is just a costume after all. I also had a problem with the Ikea label which I could not remove so I made sure the leg it is behind is not seen when the cape is worn. Obviously if it was at the bottom edge/side you would have seen it as the cape hangs but it is hidden behind the arms/ leg bits that wrap round the front so only seen by me. Going on my experiences with this rug label in fact it is a right nuisance it is there because it comes off in the washing machine and leaves a sticky patch you cannot remove which sticks to the laminate flooring.  You can see here where I washed it off the one rug.

I tried just to peel off the other but that also does not work. So I reckon if you use these rugs for anything even on the floor then you are stuck with this label. Its hidden and I must just live with that.

Finally my hood/animal is together so I split an old cushion for fibre filling because I never remembered to buy any. I stuffed and added some lining fabric to hold it in place.

To attach the hood to the body of the cape, I use the actual shaped edge of the other rug as it is and cut nothing off because its kind of neck shaped anyway and attached the hood here. It is at the centre of the rug on the side where the label goes. It would look just as good the opposite way up really but you would then see the annoying label that Ikea must put on there.

Then I tried it on but the hood bit is just huge so I got my partner to pin it into a kind of collar all the way round and sewed a line of stitching to hold this in place. I think it actually looks more “designed” with the collar so I am pretty pleased with that.

So here it is:

Unfortunately, I never thought to buy any stuffed animal eyes or noses and I have decided to use it tonight as it is but to add them later. I did mess around with buttons and bits of fabric but I want proper hammer in glass or plastic eyes and a nose so I need to order these. It does mean I have a rather blind shaman animal who has no sense of smell tonight but never mind. I want to make this perfect and it is still complete enough to wear as part of my Halloween costume regardless. I will probably eventually add a fastening with a buckel and some faux leather at the neck to hold it closed  if I get time before tonight but it is useable for a party just as it is.

So what do you reckon?   Predator or Prey?
Here is me attempting a shamanic rain-dance in the back garden:

Predator or Prey? Does it really matter?

Thanks for reading and for visiting my blog,
Happy Halloween

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