dressing arwen…

Over the several weeks, I’ve not only started reading The Hobbit to my girls, but I’ve let them watch some of The Lord of the Rings movies. Obviously, not all of them, because some parts are a bit scary for them. And then, this week was Book Week at school, and the girls could dress up as any book character. So, Kit wanted to be Arwen. Her mom and I were amenable to the idea, but we didn’t have any suitable costumes, so off to the thrift store we went.

At Vinnie’s, we were sent into the back room to look at some really nice clothes, for even nicer prices. Since the movie character of Arwen was Kit’s model, I was looking for velvety and shimmery fabrics, and boy, did we hit the jackpot! Mrs. B found a blue velvet thing that looked like an altar boy’s outfit, which we thought was a possibility. But I really think I nailed it when I pulled out a velvety purple tunic and a white dress. Well, the dress isn’t completely white, it’s white underneath with a shimmery blue outer fabric. By the way, if you’re into sewing, clothes, and fabric stuff… I’m not, and I really don’t know the names for any of these. So, please forgive my obvious mistakes, and just look at the pictures if you’re unsure of what I mean.

The white sheath dress was perfect for underneath, we just had to use a hairband to tighten it up, from the back. She’ll be able to use it for costume-wear or everyday-wear, for years. The blue velvet looked fine, but the sleeves were too big, so a friend of the family was going to come over and see what she could do with them. The drapey sleeves that Liv Tyler’s Arwen wears in the movie… well, those were beyond our ability to make, with only three days to work on it. Well, they’d be beyond us, with any amount of time available.

But the purple tunic… I was convinced that it was the perfect outer garment for the Arwen outfit. The only problem was that it’s all one piece. I don’t know if you can see it in the picture, but under the lacing, there’s a panel of fabric, so if you’re wearing it, you can’t see through to what’s underneath. The lacing will not be highlighted by the white underneath. I was sure that if I cut out that panel, and then cut straight down the middle of the bottom section, and hemmed them (is it a hem, if it’s not at the bottom?), it would be perfect. The white dress would be visible, all the way down.

My sewing skills are practically non-existent. Yes, my mom tried to teach me, when I was younger, but I never caught on or got interested. And I still haven’t. But I do know how to use a sewing machine, and I can sew a seam with one.  I was terrified I might ruin the perfect outfit, though, just because of my rotten sewing skills.

Nevertheless, I sat down on the floor, pulled the purple lacing out, and got to work, in my very unofficial fashion. The best light was in one section of the room, so I sat on the hardwood floor to work. I was worried that I’d accidentally cut through the back of the tunic, so I put my food through the neck of the outfit, and pulled up my pant leg, to keep from cutting my pants, too. Oh, I looked very official, working away on the floor.   : )

After cutting out the fabric panel, from under the lacing, Kit held one end of the outfit, while I held the other (with my feet, ok?!), and cut the bottom half, right down the center. By this point, our friend Judy was watching, and when I started to roll the edges and pin them, she suggested I reverse the pins, so I’d be able to remove them more easily, when I used the sewing machine. When it was all pinned, and I’d tested it on Kit, I was ready for the sewing machine.

Unfortunately, the machine and table had been moved, recently… and there was no power outlet anywhere nearby. So, we had to get an extension cord. When we finally got it plugged in, I discovered that Aussie sewing machines are backwards from the ones we have at home. Ok, I can still do this, but I found it very odd. And then, one of the thread bobbins was empty, and the thread wasn’t wound through to the needle. Here’s where Judy came in handy, because I have NEVER, no matter how many times my mom showed me, been able to remember how to thread a sewing machine.

But finally, we got started, I sewed my seams with relatively little trouble, as the machine is set up mostly the same as ours at home, even if it is in the wrong direction. One more test run with Kit, and then I put it on a hanger, to look at and put some finishing touches on, later. Like remove the elastic from the wristbands. If I had any better sewing skills, I would have cut a slit in the sleeves, and then hemmed the edges of those, in order to create a drapey effect, like in the movie. But I knew this was beyond me. The fabric frayed very easily.

On Thursday morning, we were all ready, and we’d found the finishing touches for the outfit. I’d read online somewhere that you could make pointy ears using band-aids. It works like a charm! They look very realistic, unless you’re looking really closely, and stuck out nicely from her hair. She wore a necklace of mine with purple gems, to match the tunic coat, and a purple sash of her own, around her waist.

The other girls were dressed as a cowgirl or a character from the Heartland series, respectively. They looked great, but I’m sure you really know which outfit I liked best. Mrs. B was away, so I had to drive the girls to school, and the excitement of the costumes almost made me forget to make their lunches. Finally, we took a bunch of pictures, and loaded up the car, knowing we were a few minutes early, which was good. Didn’t want to be late, when their assembly was right at the start of school, when they’d get to show their costumes off to everyone, and maybe even win a prize for the best one.

Three girls ready for school, baby’s in her car seat, I climb into the right-side driver’s seat, turn the key, and… nothing. Tried again. Nothing. The car wouldn’t start. Oh dear. Mom and Dad are at work, and too far away to come. Granny has several kids over, and can’t come. We finally made the right call, and found someone to come and pick the girls up. But I would’ve felt SO bad if they’d missed their assembly. They were so cute, and really wanted everyone to see their costumes. Besides, if you had to wear a uniform every day, wouldn’t you look forward to dressing up during Book Week?

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