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Everfree NorthWest: a retrospective

I’m pleased to say that I did not observe any ‘creepers’ at the convention, and that my children (teenagers) didn’t mention being creeped on by anybody.

After the first day, when I saw several women in costumes which (IMO) violated the ‘family-friendly costumes, please’ rule, people wore modest costumes. Some of the costumes were simply wonderful, and even the simple ones were harmless, cheerful, and sweet.  And that word describes the whole convention for me: Sweet. Not cloying or artificially sweetened, but simply …sweet.

There were still very few children there, far fewer than I’d have expected, but the ones who were there were admired almost as though they were special guests. When you think of it,   they were, weren’t they?

 

 

EverFree NorthWest: Day 1

Observations:

There are a lot more Bronies (male fans of the current My Little Pony TV series) than I expected – the fan base at the convention today looked MORE than 50% male (mostly 20-30 years of age).

There were very few children. That surprised me.

I’m pretty sure they didn’t plan for 1000 extra fans to show up – next year, I hope, they’ll schedule more panels and activities for participants to select from at any given time, because if you have only 1 or 2 panels going on at once, the rooms get over-capacity.

The quality and sheer variety of the gear and merchandise was astounding. I’m ponied out.

Parking was hard to find, but the price for a day was quite reasonable.

Tomorrow, I’m not going in costume. I had enough to worry about herding 4 kids. Tomorrow, same 4 plus the neighbor’s daughter.

Flora Essence and My Little Cthulu

The other day I got a wild hair: I wanted an ORANGE pony. So here she is: Flora Essence.

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But one can never have enough non-standard-issue ponies. Such as this guy. I think it’s a guy, anyway:

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How long does it take to make this kind of detail? About 6 hours, mostly taken out of my sleep because I was too busy trying to decide how to make tentacles that wouldn’t pull the head down and forward. I settled on cutting 1/4″ wide strips of fleece and overstretching them, for a nicely curly effect. By the way, MLC is about 11″ tall. Flora Essence is about 10″ tall. Their manes and tails are made of frayed shoelaces, their bodies are polyester fleece, and details (eyes and cutie marks) are hand-painted onto lightweight iron-on patch material and ironed in place.

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Appropriately angry eyes:

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His cutie(??) mark:

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Last, but certainly not least….what he keeps hidden beneath the tentacles:

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My Little Pony: Discord, the Draconequus

This project was my daughter’s idea. I’ve made assorted plushes before, including Toothless dragons, several Ohmus from the movie Nausicaa, a GlaDOS Potato, and My Little Pony characters.  Discord may have been the largest challenge of them all, because I had no pattern, just a cartoon image to look at. So here he is from all angles.  I will list the materials and method we used at the end.

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Materials:

Pale pink fleece

Light blue or aqua fleece (I repurposed a baby creeper for this)

Black fleece
Scrap of white fake fur
Alene’s “No Sew” adhesive
2 medium white buttons on stems / red Sharpie for eyes
Craft wire & pliers
This red dragon dog toy purchased from an eBay seller (for antler and tail)
Beanie Baby snail (“Swirly”) (for the horn – this is wired to make it spiral)
Beanie Baby horse (Zodiac collection, 2000) (for left hind leg)
Beanie Baby green bear (for right hind leg)
Beanie Baby eagle (“Free”) (for claws on both feet)
Beanie Baby lion (“Bushy”) (for right front leg)
Beanie Baby goat (“Goatee”) (for head + neck)
Beanie Baby dragon (“Scorch”) (for torso + patches around eyes; also wing for pattern)
Plush Timon from the Lion King (for left front leg)

Substitutions, of course, are a matter of preference and availability. It took me several weeks and many trips to thrift stores and garage sales to accumulate all the pieces we wanted.

Method

Dismantle your beanies, reserving the stuffing, which is the best I know of, and the pellets, which can be used for other things (and if you don’t want them, I do – I make weighted blankets).  When possible, cut more fabric at the top of each leg than you think you’ll need.

The tail of the dragon must be slit open from end to end along both seams to remove the existing yellow “spikes” and a pink stripe sewn in place, along with the pink end to the tail. I free-handed these shapes.

The body of Scorch the Dragon must have the wings removed, and then the legs cut away, reserving as much fabric as possible to make a tube for the body. Attach to the tail, hand-sewing carefully.

The body of Goatee the goat must have the legs removed and the body cut as with the dragon to make a tube. The neck is at the wrong angle. You’ll want to make darts in the neck fabric to bring the head down into a better angle.

Turn the goat’s head inside out. With pliers, cut off the stems of the eyes and remove. Stitch a  curve into both sides of the top front of the face to make it more narrow. Turn right side out. Attach the buttons for eyes and draw pupils.  Cut off the tops of both goat horns and use for bases for attaching Swirly’s horn on one side, and the plush dog toy antler on the other. Stuff the head and neck and attach to the body.

From reserved fabric from Scorch’s belly, use the brownest section you can find to cut two circles, larger than the eye buttons. Cut sly slits in each. Glue in place with No Sew. Wrap with rubber bands until the glue is fully dry – I did overnight. You can also cut away Goatee’s little chin tuft at this time and glue a white one, plus white eyebrows, in place so they can all dry together.

Attach a set of claws to each leg that needs them. Stuff and attach all legs.

Using one of Scorch’s wings for a pattern, make one bat wing pattern and one pegasus wing. Trace these onto 2 layers of black and light blue fleece, but don’t cut them out. Pin the layers together. Cut out a much larger area than you will be sewing.

With your machine set on satin stitch (or a tight, medium-width zigzag), test a scrap piece of fleece until you see what setting will NOT make the fleece ruffle or warp along the stitched line. Then, zig-zag along your lines. Include a line that parallels the top edge, to make a channel for your wire. Add as much detail as you like for “finger bones” or feathers.  Cut out carefully, going just outside the zig-zagged lines. (Alternatively, you could stitch-and-turn, but I find fleece difficult to handle for details like feathers and wings with points).

Attach the wings. Terrorize your local community.

Werewolves: Dead Man’s Hand

Frank Mellencourt is a werewolf by choice and a member of the Spokane pack by happenstance. He isn’t happy, though. The pack Alpha grates on him, the Beta is worse, and he’s having problems at home with a wife who doesn’t know his secret. Something’s going to give.

Tobias James and Tam Franklin, members of the Gladstone pack, have a mission if they choose to accept it: take over the Spokane pack by any means necessary.

Frank doesn’t like them, either.

For Tobias, Spokane is the city from which he moved as a young man. Going back means making peace with his ailing, elderly father.

For Frank, Spokane represents a threat to his wife, and no one is allowed to threaten her but him.

So, about that book 7 thing…

I’m getting closer to releasing book 7, ‘Werewolves: Dead Man’s Hand’. One more set of edits, which shouldn’t take long at all. Perhaps 2 weeks?

Until then, here is the cover again:

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More adventures with weighted blankets (with pictures)

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I made this blanket yesterday (repurposed baby blanket made of pink minky one side; leopard-print minky the other, plus the embroidered words ‘Girls Rule!’). It weighs 8.5 lbs and is quilted into 56 sections (14 channels, each divided into 4 shorter lengths). My youngest kid helped me with the weighing and filling, so it went really fast – I was pouring in each 2 oz portion while she measured out the next on the digital postal scale. We didn’t get too many pellets all over the carpet. 😀 I think I’ll always do the filling on carpet from now on, because it’s much easier to clean up spills when you’re not chasing them all over the linoleum!

After filling each section, I compacted the pellets as tightly as I could by shaking them down, and then pinned each section tightly to keep the pellets from moving while I sewed above them. I didn’t break any needles this time! I did, remarkably, run out of pink thread JUST as I reached the final few stitches. That was a first for me!

I hope the recipient, (my neighbor as a surprise gift from her husband), doesn’t want it a different weight, as that will be almost impossible to achieve. This is not a problem with the non-quilted ones (mine, for instance, which is the first one I ever made) because there is no cross-stitching to deal with.

For the record, I think it’s about a 2 – 2.5 hour process per blanket, from opening up one end of the blanket, marking and sewing 13 divisions 2″ apart, doing the math for the weight desired, filling/cross-quilting/filling-cross-quilting until done, and then re-attaching the binding (if any) and sewing across the open end. There’s nothing difficult about it except getting the pellets into the channels (although it helps if you have a very long-necked, wide-mouthed funnel such as I have rigged up), but if you want one and don’t have the time, the people charging $80 on eBay are not gouging you. The poly pellets can cost upwards of $20 all by themselves, the blanket or fabric costs, and there’s all that time involved.

Here are my tools:

The scale and measuring cup:

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The 20 lb box of pellets ($22 postage paid on eBay from lexishouse2011:

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The jerry-rigged long-mouth oil funnel (I paid $2.99 for the fish tank cleaning siphon, which fits perfectly inside the mouth of the funnel).

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Update: My neighbor gave the blanket to his wife, who immediately took it to the couch and sat down with it draped over her. She refused to get up for the rest of the day!!