Monday, November 14, 2016

Robin Reviews It: Haunted Echo by Janet McLaughlin

If you are in the mood for a little bit of spookiness and a whole lot of fun, Janet McLaughlin's Haunted Echo is sure to be a teen crowd-pleaser. The dialogue is witty and the story line unique. I normally shy away from stories that scare me, but this book is more mystery and less horror. I would describe it as a "Ghost Whisperer" for teens with clean romance and a plot that will have you second-guessing where it is headed. With it's simplistic writing, you'll breeze through this read in one sitting - just make sure it's not too late at night, or you might give yourself a little scare.

Title: Haunted Echo
Author: Janet McLaughlin
Genre: YA Mystery
Summary: Sun, fun, and her toes in the sand. That’s what Zoey Christopher expects when she joins her best friend and fellow cheerleader Becca on an exotic Caribbean vacation. What she finds instead is a wannabe boyfriend, a voodoo doll, and Tempy – a tormented young ghost whose past is linked to the island grounds. Zoey has always seen visions of the future, but when she arrives at St. Anthony’s Island to vacation among the jet set, she has her first encounter with a bona fide ghost. Forced to uncover the secret behind the girl’s untimely death, Zoey quickly realizes that trying to solve the case will place her in mortal danger. Shaken and confused by a menacing threat and by her budding feelings for the too-cute, too-nice Chris, will Zoey find a way to survive this vacation and put Tempy to rest?

About the Author:

Janet McLaughlin has been involved in the communication field most of her life as either a writer, teacher, or editor. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and is an avid fan of all things spiritual and mystical. In fact, she's convinced she was a Shaman in a past life! Her other passions involve reading great books, playing tennis with her daughter, traveling with her husband, and meeting people from all walks of life. 

Janet lives in Florida with her husband Tom. HAUNTED ECHO is the first novel in her Soul Sight Mystery Series.

Friday, October 28, 2016

DIY Harry Potter: Fleur Delacour Costume (FREE Collar/Cuff Patterns)


Okay, all you Harry Potter obsessed (including me). I'm writing this while wearing my Ravenclaw shirt and a lightning bolt necklace (thank you www.deliciousreads.com). Halloween is coming up (or your next Harry Potter Party). My friend is even going to a Harry Potter wedding soon. Don't we live in a lovely nerdy world! For out ten year anniversary of Delicious Reads, we decided to go all out and read all seven Harry Potter books and then have a huge weekend filled with book discussions, crafts, quizzes, an ultimate horcrux hunt and, of course, costumes! Since I was in charge of book #4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I decided it would be perfect to be Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic (see my post on our activities, decor, and food ideas for your next Harry Potter Party).


Well, it's lucky I know how to sew because I couldn't find a suitable costume anywhere and the few I found online were like $600 or more. Just the hat alone was close to $100. Well, being the frugal gal that I am, I decided I could do it on my own. I researched ideas, watched way too many videos on youtube, learned all about millinery (the art of making hats), and then visited my local fabric store and used clothing store. Below are my instruction for the dress and capelet. You can find my tutorial on the shoes here and the hat here.


Here's what you need to make your dress and capelet:

The Dress:
1.) Pattern: Simplicity 8050 - 1940s Vintage (Any empire waist, flared skirt dress will do, but I liked this one because it had a collar and was long-sleeved.)
2.) Cape Pattern: I modified a McCalls 4139 pattern. I would suggest just draping fabric over your shoulders and cutting it if you don't already have a pattern.
3.) FREE Collar and Sleeve Cuff Patterns (see below)
4.) 4 yds of 60" or 4.5 of 45" Blue Silky Fabric - the color of mine was called "cornflower blue". You don't have to use real silk and I honestly hate working with it. My fabric was a polyester blend that was a little thicker.
5.) For collar and cuffs: 1/2 yd of a textured blue fabric darker than dress (I found one with a marble-like effect in flannel)
6.) For collar and cuffs: 1/2 yd of plain blue fabric slightly darker than texture fabric
7.) Blue Thread (I used Coats 4250)
8.) 10 1/2" Buttons (mine were a light blue diamond-like one)
9.) 14" invisible zipper

I found a butterfly clip that reminded me of the butterflies that flew out of the Beauxbaton's hands when they arrived at Hogwarts.

How to Make the Fleur Delacour Beauxbatons Dress and Capelet:

Step 1: Cut out dress fabric. Though I did use the Simplicity 8050 - 1940s Vintage Dress Pattern, unless you are an experienced seamstress you might want to try an easier pattern. I ended up adjusting the front a bit because I couldn't get the lines to match up. I still think it turned out lovely and I would use the pattern again, but I'd probably get rid of the part in front where it darts to a point.
Simplicity Pattern 8050

Step 2: Sew the dress using the instructions that came with your pattern, with two exceptions. The first difference is that instead of using piece 7, substitute for my piece 7 below. Print each image below on 8.5 x 11" paper. Cut out the pattern below and use as described in pattern.

Just for fun, I added blue tinged crystal buttons to the front of the dress.

Step 3: Print the dress sleeve cuff pattern below and cut out using the instructions on the piece. Sew together coordinating pieces (there will be two complete cuffs per side, one in darker blue and one is marble blue.) Make sure to leave an opening on the side to turn the cuff right side out. Attach to sleeve edge as picture shows, making sure one of the cuffs is set slightly off from the other.

Wear you sew the cuffs to your dress, make sure to stagger the two different fabrics like I did here.
 

Step 4: Cut out and sew cape or caplet pattern. I modified this Cape Pattern: McCalls 4139 pattern


 Sew together the darker pieces of blue fabric you cut from piece #7 in Step 2 from above (Fleur Delacour Collar #1), making sure to leave an opening at the bottom (about 5 inches wide) to turn the collar right side out. Then cut out Fleur Delaour Collar #2 below (print on 8.5x11"):
by Author Robin King
Sew together collar #2, making sure to leave an opening at the bottom to turn the collar right side out. Iron collar #1 and #2 (don't worry about sewing the openings closed). Pin collars to the finished capelet so that the edge of collar #2 folds under the cape.






Add a hook and eyelet to close it and voila! You're done.

Sew a hook and eyelet to keep the cape closed.



TOTAL COSTUME COST: $36 Dress ($20 fabric, $10 pattern, $2 thread, $2 zipper, $2 buttons), $45 Hat ($30 hatshaper, $10 hood, $4 dye). $10 Shoes ($6 Used shoes, $2 blue paint, .50 leather fabric, $1.50 laces/cording) = $90





Make sure to wear a pair of black pantyhose with your dress. I hope you enjoy making your costume and geeking out with everything Harry Potter!

XoXo,

Robin

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DIY Harry Potter: Beauxbatons Fleur Delacour Hat


My favorite parts about dressing up are the tiny details that add to the costume. There are also parts to the costume that make it the most recognizable. This is true for the costume of Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4). When the Beauxbatons Academy arrives with their blue dresses sashaying behind them and magical butterflies surrounding their twirls, it's the Beauxbatons' hats that add the detail and make their costumes perfection.

This is what you'll need to make your own custom Fleur Delacour Beauxbatons hat:

Materials
1.) Wool felt capeline -or- wool felt hood (Jedrzejko)
2.) Flower hat shaper (I got "The Flower" hat shaper from hatshapers.com)
3.) Blue Dye (I used Rit liquid dye in "Denim Blue" from Walmart. Just make sure it matches your dress fabric, unless your wool felt already matches it)
-or-
Rustoleum Satin Wildflower Blue Spray Paint. Pick either the dye or the paint. Honestly the results are similar. I like how my dyed hat felt smooth, but I like how my sprayed hat's rim turned up on one side and stayed there.


Honestly, I think the hat is the key to making the perfect costume. And it really is easier than I thought to make a hat. I watched a ton of videos on YouTube on how to do it from scratch - like they take this thready looking wool felting stuff that you had to pull and layer and layer and let dry and . . . it seemed like such a lengthy and expensive process when you can just buy a pre-shaped hood or capeline like these for between $10-15:

White Wool Felt Capeline from Jedrzejko - notice how this one already flares out. 

Light Blue Wool Felt Hood from Jedrzejko (these are cheaper than capelines, but are harder to shape/stretch)

I bought a capeline and a hood to test out so I could see which looked better. I think they work equally well - it all just depends on your fabric color. I bought an off-white hood (C578) and a blue (525) hood/cone from Jedrzejko because I wasn't sure of the color hues. I ended up spray painting the blue one because the color wasn't close enough to my fabric, but I think the light blue one is actually perfect in color if you compare to the movie. The off-white one, I dyed first.



Step 1: Dye your fabric. Since my fabric was a different blue than any of the capeline colors I could find, I planned on dying it. I just followed the instructions on the Rit bottle (3 gallons of boiling water, 1 cup vinegar, and half the bottle of dye). I used this big black canner because they recommend not using a pot that you cook in. Honestly, as long as you wash the pot really well afterwards (you could boil soap and water in it when you're done), I don't see a problem with using it for dying. 

If your sink water is really hot, boiling the water may not be necessary.
I just added mine to the really hot water.
It's a little scary to place the white wool into the pot, but it works really well. If for some weird reason, your dying fails, all hope isn't lost. Just jump to my alternative spray painting method (Step 5).



I swirled it around in my big black canner/pot and then let it sit for about 30 minutes. I probably could have left it for about 10 minutes and it might not have gone so dark, but I still like it. After your dye soak is done, rinse the capeline/hood until the water is clear.

Step 2: If your wool felt is already the right color, just boil some water and stick your hood/capeline in it. Otherwise, dye it first. Once the wool felt is completely wet, take it out and put on your hatshaper. You can buy just about any hat shaper from hatshapers.com! I found this one (called the flower). It is made from this really hard plastic stuff, super durable and easily reusable.

Flower hat form/hat shaper from Hatshapers.com

Step 3: Then the fun part! Pull and press with your hands until the hat fits the shape of the hat shaper. I probably spent 15-20 minutes doing this. The hardest part is getting the top to fit to the tip of the hat shaper. I ended up using my iron on a steam setting to get it perfect.

Once it is close to the shape you want, tie some yarn, ribbon or fabric around the part right before it flares to help it hold it's shape.

All I had on hand to wrap around the hat shaper was some wool yarn.
A large rubber band or even a strip of fabric would work well too.

Step 4: Let it dry. This can take a day or two. I used a couple of hand towels to soak up as much water as possible to speed up the process. 

Step 5: Trace a nice edge along the brim (I used a piece of chalk) and trim off any excess. (If you dyed it from white, you might have to use a marker or a little more of the dye to paint the edge where you cut it off. My dye didn't completely penetrate the wool, so I just used a tooth brush and a little more of the dye with water and painted along the edge. I used an old wet rag to rinse off the dye and let the hat sit back on the hatshaper for the edge to dry.

Step 5 (alternative to dying): Once that hat is shaped and dried, if you didn't dye it or the color is quite what you wanted, spray paint it! I used the same paint as I used to make my shoes
I spread out some newspaper in my garage, removed the hat from the hat shaper and sprayed just the outside. I waited about an hour and then spray painted the underside of the brim. I didn't paint the inside of the hood. I used my hands to turn up the brim on one side before it completely dried and used some crumpled newspapers to keep it tilted while drying. I think this was the key to capturing the turned up edge.




Step 6: Wear it! You hat may not tip up on one side like Fleur's in the movie. If you end up spray painting your hat (it works surprisingly well on wool felt), the hat will become stiffer. I also had some stiffener on hand for the hat I dyed (it was basically a starch spray) that I used just on the inside of the hat. You can also use mod podge painted on the inside, but I was worried it might soak through the hat so I didn't try it.


I couldn't have made the hat without this shaper from hatshaper.com.

If you want to get Fleur's wand, you can order it from AliExpress here.
I bought the metal core one ($12.99) because I was worried about it breaking.


I hope your hat turns out. Let me know if you find any more tips or tricks while making yours! And don't forget to check out my Fleur Delacour Beauxbatons Shoes and Fleur Delacour Beauxbatons Dress and Capelet instructions (including a free pattern for the collar and cuffs)!


XoXo,

Fleur
aka Robin
(and my little Dobby too)

Friday, October 14, 2016

DIY Harry Potter: Fleur Delacour Beauxbatons Shoes

 

How to Make the Fleur Delacour Beauxbatons Shoes:
Step 1: Find a pair of old shoes with a pointed toe and heel. An oxford would be the best, but I couldn't find one. I found these ankle boots at my local Deseret Industries (a used clothing store) for $6. Clean them with a cloth and soap and water. Let dry.
Step 2: Print my pattern (below) on a 8.5" x 11" paper. You may have to adjust it to fit your shoe, but the general idea should be the same. The fringe part on the pattern should fit any shoe.
Step 3: Place wax paper on top of pattern. Trace the pattern of the heel and toe onto the wax paper (I used a permanent marker). Do this twice for both shoes so that you have 2 heels and 2 toes. You don't need to trace the fringe yet. Put tape over the traced part of the pattern. You are basically turning the pattern pieces into stickers. I used a combination of painter's tape and clear tape because the shiny surface of my shoes would only allow really sticky tape to adhere to it. Cut out the wax paper/tape in the correct shapes.
Step 4: If your base color of your shoe isn't what you want as your darker color, spray paint the darker color now and allow to dry for at least one day.  Since my shoes were black, I decided to just keep the black. In the movie it is more of a navy blue with a baby blue for the heel and toe. I picked this Rustoleum Ultra Cover Satin Wildflower Blue. Splurge on a spray paint that is for indoor/outdoor use and meant to cover to plastic or fabric. Adhere the "stickers" to the shoes, making sure it sticks really well at the edges. Cover the heel of the shoe with more tape so that when you spray paint the shoe it remains the darker color.
Step 5: Spray paint the shoes. I let the first coat dry and then did another coat. Let the paint dry before you remove the tape. At this point, your shoes will look like this:



Remove the tape and clean up the edges with either some paint remover and a cotton swab, or some of the paint you used on your base coat. I even used a black permanent maker to make my edges perfect.
Using tape as a stencil/sticker isn't an exact science. There will be some bleeding of paint.
Luckily, you can fix it easily! I actually used nail polish remover and a cotton swab and then a Sharpie to fix mine.

Step 6: Cut out your fringe pattern piece, Place on top of your Leather Fabric. Pin. Cut out 2 fringe pieces. Since I got my fake leather on clearance in a maroon color, I spray painted black after I cut it out. If your leather isn't the same color as the base color of your shoe, paint it to match.




Step 7: Fold over your cut leather fringe pieces following the pattern and hot glue the fold over. Punch two small holes near the top by the fold. I used a Crop-o-dile, but you can use a hammer and a nail. Pull your leather laces or suede cording (like they use to make jewelry - I found 3mm suede cord at Joann Fabric in the jewelry-making aisle) through the holes and tie in a bow.



Step 8: Hot Glue or sew (it just depends on your shoe material) the fringe near the ankle of the shoe. If your shoe isn't a short boot like mine and it is more like a pump, you can shorten the fringe or even just tie fringe piece around your ankle using the cording and then tie it.


Before I glued on the fringe. See how I cleaned up the lines. You can't even tell I made any mistakes!

Hot glue the fringe on. You could probably use a shoe glue too.

You have to place it quick before the glue dries.

The finished product. Aren't they cute!?!

I think the fringe really makes the shoe look similar to the original in the movie.


I hope you enjoy making and wearing your shoes. Be sure to check out my posts on how to make the dress and cape (here) and how to make the hat (here)! Please send me your finished products and any shortcuts you found. I'd love to post them!

Don't they just go perfect with my Fleur Delacour Dress?
If you are throwing a Harry Potter party or book club, you have to check out my post here on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the rest of the books that we celebrated on DeliciousReads.com

XoXo,

Robin