After Purim-time on my hands-not really!

Purim costume
Emili is a black rose
 
I’ve just finished another successful Purim season (whewwww!) To try to explain the frenzy, as an artist, Purim for me is like Christmas craft preparation time would be in the United States. First of all I’d like to thank everyone in Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas for all the orders! I’ve been working like a donkey for a few weeks now, day and night trying to finish the orders in time for everyone’s party. Word of mouth has brought me enough to keep me busy and I usually take the special orders that involve needle felted accessories rather than sewn pieces.
 
 

Purim
Rose hat detail
 
I reconnected with some old customers which was really nice. I really didn’t let people know where I was or what I was doing after I closed the store because I needed to figure it out myself first! I decided to make toy making by needle felting my main priority but the costume gig follows me around where ever I go, which isn’t a bad thing.
 
animal costumes
Squirrel tail and ears, a needle felting engineering feat!
 
 Taking orders is a tricky business, I’m always afraid I’ll accept too many and then not be able to finish on time. I don’t accept any and all orders, I take jobs that interest me and I work with clients who appreciate the art of the costume. Many times, I ask people to call me back in a few days to see where I am and to give me time to re-evaluate my time situation. 
 
Super woman costume
Lili's "Clark Kent" version of Superwoman-I made the body suit that's under the shirt.
 
Taking special orders freaks me out a little, I always feel much better when I know that everyone (especially the kid I made the costume for) is  happy-if the kid is happy the parent is happy! I also love to receive photos of the kids in my costumes-I have a collection! I think next year, I’ll start to ask for orders in January so I can stay on top of things better.
 

costume
Marie Antoinette dress and needle felted wig
 
The problem with deciding “what you want to be” early is that kids constantly change their minds. One week they want to be a tooth fairy and the next week they want to be something completely different , therefore early decision making is risky!
 

Glee costume
Glee cheerleader costume
 
Every time I start to sew, I wish for……. a nice studio, with a window, away from my kids’ play room, and space for all my fabrics, wool, felt, tulle, tools, laces, trims, ribbons, zippers, snaps, Velcros, sponges of different thicknesses, bias tapes, metal and plastic boning, threads, iron-on fabric backings and hundreds of patterns to be organized. I wish for…….. a place for my little sewing machine, my iron and ironing board, my mannequins, my photo backdrops and lighting and hanging rack to sit and not be in anyone’s way. If I had my own organized space, creating would be so much easier!
 
masks
Needle felted deer mask
 
 After I finished the last costume order, I wandered aimlessly around the house trying to decide what to do! I decided to cook some food for my hungry family that I’d ignored for the last few weeks. I now have some new patterns to prepare for my Etsy site and special orders, I’m working on some needle felting tutorials for Craftsy and I have a fun project: to design several little boys’ kippas. So back to work…..
 
dinosaur costume
Needle felted dinosaur hat, tail and claws

 

 Customer photos:
 

rose hat
Fusia rose hat
 

costume for kids
Pink rose hat
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Waldorf Costumes

Waldorf gnomes
The gnome couple are wearing needle felted gnome hats.

I said that I wasn’t going to make any costumes this year…..and look what happened. Gnome hats! I’ve been needle felting everything lately and so many people have asked if I’m going to make costumes this year, that I decided to needle felt a few key accessories-Waldorf style. I prefer to make my accessories from wool now, it saves me time. Even though needle felting is very time consuming, I don’t have to run all over Tel Aviv buying all the little things I need to make these accessories as I would if I were sewing them. I buy or order all the wool colors I need, and many felting strokes later I’ve finished my little creations. 

lady gnome hat
Elli the gnome has been out mushroom picking.

I love the photos I took of Elli and Emili today. We had a lot of fun at our photo shoot, several passers-by asked to take photos with the girls, like they were characters at an amusement park! I dressed them in their regular clothes (well, Emili is wearing my blue shirt) and added the needle felted, wool, Waldorf accessories. I’ve always thought that the accessories were the most important part of a costume and the base pieces can be found in some one’s closet at home or maybe a thrift shop.

little gnome
Emili the little lawn gnome!

I needle felted a gnome beard for Emili’s costume to give her that authentic gnome look. I think the process of thinking about what you want to be, then looking for pieces of clothing in your closets or the thrift store is a very creative process, similar to “the good old days” when families made their costumes together. Many mothers told me at my store that they missed this good old fashioned activity with their children, but they just didn’t have the time. I completely understand that feeling, so I guess my advice to those time challenged mothers and fathers would be to plan way ahead when preparing for Purim or Halloween. 

bouquet of mushrooms
He woos her with a bouquet of mushrooms!

I think I relate to the imaginative/creative aspects of the Waldorf way the most. Stay tuned for more imaginative wool and felt Waldorf style costumes. These items are available in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/lauraleeburch?view_type=gallery

Inspired by Beauty and Elegance

tutu on a rainy day

Writers and artists talk about creative blocks, a loss of inspiration and a lack of ideas from which to create. I usually have so many ideas that I never have time to explore all of them, but I always look for inspiration. One theme that I’ve seen appear repeatedly over the years in my work is ballet, I’m inspired by the beauty, elegance, colors, music, costumes and backdrops of this dance. Here is one of the videos about sewing ballet costumes that I love! Recreating a tutu\’s splendor

Elli's ballet recital

I’ve never taken a ballet lesson in my life, but my mother did make me take tap dancing lessons when I was a kid because I was so clumsy! I hated taking those tap dancing lessons and they didn’t work because I’m still really clumsy! My girls, on the other hand have loved ballet; Lili started wearing a pink tutu at two and half years old and refused to take it off for about three years.

first ballet class

Due to my girls’ love of ballet, I was inspired to make  tutus and ballerina costumes in my store. I knew that many little girls shared a love for this beautiful form of expression; tutus, ballet outfits, ballerina dolls, ballet bags and pretty ballerina crowns were some of the most popular items that I made and sold in my store. I researched how to sew a “real” tutu because I wanted to make a tutu that stood up and bounced when danced in. A “real ballerina tutu” uses several layers of tulle; not all of the tulle is the same, the bottom layers are stiff, the top layers are light and fluffy. The gathered layers of tulle are sewn to the waist band in different directions  (some layers are sewn upside down) to give the tutu a lift.

classic tutu

Mothers swooned over the the ballerina costumes and tutus hanging in the store and their the little girls pleaded to try them on. Outfitted in the finest pink tutus, the little girls flitted across the floor on tippy-toe to the mirror, where they started to twirl around in circles.  I always loved to watch this happen, when a child transformed into the character of the costume they were wearing; I think it’s one of the magical moments of childhood! To add to the wonderment, I created a little bag that looked just like the ballerina outfits. The instructions and pattern for this bag can be found in my book: Sew Magical for Kids.

Ballet Bag
The ballet bag looks just like the ballerina outfit!

To be continued…

Mad Hatter Teacup Hat

Emili in teacup hat

The teacup hat is more for me than for the kids. All that a teacup represents, socialing with friends, domesticity, acceptable behavior or not being accepted (as Alice wasn’t in the tea party scene, in Alice in wonderland) are dashed by wearing this hat. Like wearing a lampshade on your head, wearing my teacup on your head says to me “#!*!” to all that is expected of you. Are you brave enough not to wear the latest fashion? to look silly? to call attention to yourself? This hat says “fun” to me and don’t we all need a little fun? I added a base and handle to the hat, I added bias tape around the edges to imitate gold leaf trim found on fancy teacups and I appliqued some fruit that I cut out of an antique piece of cloth. Voila-teacup!

Mad Hatter-Kitty Hats

Kids love cats! A cat is always a good topic when you’re creating something. Kids prefer the cat costumes and hats out of all of the animals in my store. I love it when moms come in and tell me that they need a second cat costume because their child sleeps in theirs and they need a spare so they can wash the other one without causing a scene. Helen is wearing a white kitty hat, but I think if it was grey, black or orange (minus the puff of maribou on top) boys would wear it too.

Emili, Helen and Diana

Emili, Helen and Diana are school buddies, 8 years old. My animal summer hats are still appropriate for this age group and up to around 11 years old, depending on your child.

animal summer hats: rabbit, cat, bird
cat summer hat