Alice meets Tom Sawyer

Girl child is performing in a youth theatre production of Tom Sawyer this fall.  I am helping out with costumes again, although, I find myself lacking my usual enthusiasm.  For this show, the costumes are probably the most cohesive I've ever done, aesthetically, but there has not been as many opportunities for knocking together some queenly steampunk, glamorous witch wear or sparkly, yet sturdy, fairy wings as with previous shows (Alice in Wonderland, Rapunzel and Grimm, in order in you are interested).  In short, no bustles. 

For Tom I have sewn some dozen pairs of pantaloons and a few aprons, all in beautiful muted coloured, with lots of pin tucks and ruffles, as worn during the steaming hot summer heat in the mid nineteenth century southern USA. It's going to be a lovely show.

Girl child generously agreed to model her costume for me.  The dress is one of many, a mass gift of pastel coloured 'wedding cake' dresses (as girl child calls them) to the theatre from a dance troupe.  The dresses have cycled through a few shows now (and who knows how many dance performances), being pinned up, let down, and having all sorts of wackiness applied to them to make them fit children of all sizes.  I think, originally, this dress would of fit someone quite a bit older and wider than my girl but has been taken down so many sizes now that there is almost as many gathers on the inside of the dress as out.  Every show we end up fitting and altering nearly every outfit on each cast member, at least those we do not make from scratch.  The excess material along the neck gathered up in the fitting does make them look a little like they have puffy, ruffled wings coming over their back shoulder blades.  The striped wrist cuff is entirely girl child's and will most definitely not be worn on stage. 

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Now, each little wedding cake gets a pinafore type apron and pantaloons.  Pillowcases and sheets were generously employed as raw material for these.

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I think that she looks adorable.  For the record, ten year olds do not appreciate being called adorable.

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Although not at all intended, girl child and I thought this little blue ruffled dealie would also make a great Alice costume.  As it so happens, the play opens on Halloween night and girl child must forgo Halloween activities this year (yes, she is devastated, but rallying marvelously for the sake of the show).  So we indulged in a little dress up play.

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The white rabbit stuffie I made girl child last year. 

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As you may guess, the dress is quite twirly.

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For the record, ten year olds are so not over twirling.

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We are moving into probably the most intense time for cast and costumes, rehearsal week before the opening night.  During the show's run, the costumers will be kept busy with the inevitable repairs and a few three alarm costume emergencies (yes, we run with scissors.  And needles, pins and, sometimes, glue guns.)  And then I can return to my regularly scheduled sewing.


gloomy and creepy stories to read

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In honour of a certain happening at the end of the month, I think it's time for another themed booklist

Around here we love a good gloomy story.  Creepy and fiendish are also welcome, although we do shy away from gore.  I've discovered the best horror writing to be in the children's literature section, mainly, I think, because children's literature can not rely on the hypnotic power of the standards in adult horror - sex and gore - and thus have to come up with an actual plot.

Here is an abbreviated tally of children's and young adult books that I have read and enjoyed over the past year or two and I think that you should read to somebody young and impressionable or older and appreciative of a good shiver.  Not all of them are strictly scary, although a few definitely are, but they all contain an acceptable level of creep and supernatural.  Loved them all.

  • Anything by Edward Gorey, although The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Evil Garden and The Beastly Baby are particularly worrisome.
  • Lisa Wheeler's Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children is delightfully dark, with the added thrill of being illustrated by fabulous Sophie Blackall.
  • Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grim is, admittedly, an exception to the generalization I made about gore being absent in children's horror writing.
  • Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book by Terry Jones is not strictly scary, but there is something delightfully nasty about squishing the fair folk.
  • Neil Gaiman's Coraline and The Graveyard Book are two of my all time favorites.
  • The Humming Room by Ellen Potter is more of a mystery, but it has some chilling moments.
  • P.J. Bracegirdle's The Joy of Spooking series is also good mysterious fun.
  • Doll Bones and The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Spiderwick Chronicles co-writer Holly Black.
  • The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West, with its creepy cellar and odd art.
  • Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, along the Spiderwick Chronicles vein of frightening and nasty fairyland creatures.
  • The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney are another exception to the lack of gore rule, and has super creepy illustrations.  Honestly, girl child won't even let me read the books around here.  I've had a nightmare or two myself.
  • Christopher Edge's Twelve Minutes to Midnight, suitably populated by insane asylum inmates, also a good mystery read.
  • The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier had me seriously worried while I was reading it.

I know you all have some recommendations of your own.  Please share in the comments so we can all check them out.

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home school snapshot : math with Hulk

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trees quilt

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Yesterday my brother in law got himself hitched, so last week I made them a quilt.  I didn't intend to start a queen sized patchwork quilt two weeks before the day but life is funny like that sometimes. 

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Apparently by the time I was done I had nothing left in me to take proper pictures... I don't think I could of chose an uglier part of my yard.  But, hey, queen sized quilt!  Not going to lie, it was a bit of a task.

There are about seventy stripes on the quilt, each one about ninety inches long.  It's over twenty seven feet around the outer edge, which is the sort of stat you keep in your mind when you are hand stitching the lining.  Each strip has a dark side and a light side.  I have some kooky idea that this represents trees in all seasons, although I leaned heavily on the autumn colours.  Trees were important, see, because bro bro and his bride met each other at the tree nursery they both worked at and because they're both pretty tall people (that last bit keeps making me laugh). 

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The wedding, by the way, was pretty fabulous, being out in the mountains in the fall.  And it was awesome getting to welcome in a new family member and see that brother in law of mine so damn happy. 

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