Thursday, October 29, 2020

Becoming Frida! A Quick & Short Costume Tutorial

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. In our household, it is a sacred event that we do not take lightly. Costumes have ranged from very simple to elaborate. Most of them have been made either from scratch, found items that were modified, or both. I love to recycle old clothing plus it's a lot easier on my wallet. Goodwill is a great source for discarded treasures at a fraction of the price you'd pay at a costume shop or fabric store.

My daughter inherited my love of Frida Khalo. So in 2019, she decided to be Frida for Halloween. Overall this was not a difficult costume. It was actually really simple. I finished it so quickly that I experienced a seamstress's case of whiplash. One minute I had a project in my hands, the next it was done...WHAT THE ????? 

The ensemble would need a Frida-style skirt and a huipil (traditional garment worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to South America). There are numerous images available online showing Frida wearing both. Several served as inspiration but I did not attempt to recreate any particular one.

I started with a quick trip to our local Goodwill store. Nine times out of ten there will be something there that can be refashioned. As expected, I found a bright pink tiered skirt and an old lace table cloth (sorry I forgot to take before photos). The skirt was 100% cotton so I knew it would take dye easily. It was also way too short for my 5'11" daughter but the table cloth would remedy that easy enough.  So, I took my finds home, washed them then overdyed the skirt with a couple bottles of dark red Rit liquid dye purchased at Walmart. Once the skirt was dyed and dry,  I added a deep border of white lace (cut from the old table cloth) to the bottom. To add a finishing touch to the skirt, black satin ribbon was sewn over the divisions between the skirt tiers. Waa-laa, one Frida-style skirt!

Now it was time to make the huipil. I searched the internet for inspiration and came across a fabulous digital pattern posted on the Victoria & Albert Museum website entitled, "Sew your own: Mexican-style huipil". It was created as part of their 2018 exhibit "Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up".

One of inspiration images of Frida posted on the V&A website. Frida Kahlo in New York, by Nickolas Muray, 1939

The V&A offered two different styles for the huipil; I chose the 'square' neck version. This garment is cut in one piece with the fold line on the shoulders. It was such an easy sew that more time was spent picking out the fabric and ribbons than actual sewing time. My daughter planned the color scheme for the huipil. She felt it was a proper reflection of the colors seen in several of Frida's huipils. All fabric and ribbons were purchased at our local Walmart; 100% cotton fabric, satin ribbons in various widths, thread, and rick-rack. 

I printed off the digital pattern in my daughter's size and taped the pieces together. Once the body was cut out of the blue cotton fabric that would serve as the base for the huipil, I transferred all the pattern markings to the fabric with tailor's chalk.  The ribbon layout was going to be fairly simple but as a precaution, I laid it all out then pinned it in place before sewing it down. This allowed me to make any changes without having to rip out all the stitching and avoid areas where seams would be sewn. 

The white lines are tailor's chalk. The square neckline and side seams are visible. The two lines seen on the bottom of the huipil are only there to provide distance from the bottom edge so I could place the ribbon symmetrically on the front and back.  I drew these for my own reference and were not part of the original pattern. There are two on the opposite end but they are not visible in the photo.  

For an added design element, I zig-zag stitched the ribbon to the body. I did match the thread but it could have been in a contrast color too. 

Side ribbons are pinned and ready to be sewn in place. 

Before sewing the side ribbons I added some rick-rack just above where the hem would be. The cut edges of the rick-rack were hidden under the side ribbons.

The last steps were to sew the neck edge, hem, and side seams. The instructions are so easy to follow that I'm not going to post images for all the steps.

Moving on to make-up and hair. It's obvious from Frida's work and photos of the artist that she loved color, jewelry, and flowers. Again, Goodwill is our friend. We were able to buy several large beaded necklaces and bracelets there. The flowers we already had, as well as, the earrings. My daughter braided her hair (which is below shoulder length) then pinned it up to create a braided crown on the back half of her head. Of course, no Frida costume would be complete without her signature unibrow. VIVA LA FRIDA!

This costume was so easy to create. We really didn't think of it as a costume...more paying homage to a great artist. Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial and find your own inspiration.

The final result.......

My daughter with two of her friends on their way out for an evening of trick or treating. The sugar skull (center) was another one of my creations from a previous Halloween.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Hearth Baked Apple Pie

Due to the hard work of the Stephenson House master gardeners there has been an abundant supply of apples from the orchard this fall. On a cool day last week, I made homemade apple pie using some of the heritage apples. The final result was rather tasty and was enjoyed by many of the volunteers working that day.

1 1/4 cups flour, plus extra
2 TBS dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt,
8 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 1/4” pieces and chilled
3-4 TBS ice water.

Combine flour, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Add butter and work through with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add water to flour/butter mixture then press against side of bowl (if the mixture does not hold together, add another tablespoon of water). Squeeze dough into a ball then flatten and roll-out on a lightly floured surface. This recipe will make one crust. A second crust will be needed to top the pie.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3TBS flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 TBS cinnamon
8-10 heritage apples

Melt the butter in a saucepan over fire. Add the flour and stir until paste forms. Add the water, cinnamon, and sugars then bring to a boil. Remove from the main heat of the fire and allow the mixture to simmer while you peel, core, and cut apples.

Place the crust in the bottom of your pie pan. 

Fill with your sliced apples, mounded slightly. Pour in sugar/ butter mixture. 

Cover with second crust. Slit top crust to allow for heat to escape during baking. 

Bake in a preheated dutch-oven until golden brown (15-20 minutes).