My cousin Jenna is one of the coolest people I have ever known. She’s so much fun and I think she’s more mature than I am. Over the last three years we’ve gotten really close. So when she spent her 16th birthday in Europe and came across a black lace parasol she absolutely loved, I wanted her to have one. But I can’t afford one. These things cost over 100$. But I had known about online tutorials since I was her age. When I heard she was coming to visit for spring break I decided that it would be a perfect activity for us to do together. She could not only have a parasol, but it would be her own unique creation and we would have a lot of fun doing it.
Forgive my bad pictures, I just use my phone and it’s tough to take pictures with it in my dark ass living room, especially when those pictures include black lace.
So here are my supplies. At Fabricland I got ribbon in black, white, silver and ivory. I thought she might want to wrap ribbon around the handle in Tim Burton-esque stripes, but I wasn’t sure what colors so I got a few. I also wanted to use ribbon as the tie, which would double as a pretty bow whether the parasol is open or closed. For other decoration I got different silver buttons with crowns, crests, and flowers, because I thought they would remind her of Europe. I got some red jeweled ones just because they’re pretty. Of course I needed a fabric, so I got black stretch lace. And I got a kid’s umbrella, because the smaller size makes sense for a parasol, and it’s all Walmart had anyway. Also pictured: a charm I’ve had in my drawer for years, needles, and thread. Not pictured: a big cross pendant with chains and silver glitter fabric glue I left in another bag, because we had talked about painting a silver spiderweb pattern over it. It all cost…well let’s just say I know why these things are so damn expensive now.
When I had another look at the tutorials, it became clear this was not just a couple hours’ job. So I decided to get a head start and do the base in advance (Thank god I did, it took all day). I settled in for a carefree day of parasol-making, blogging, and indie comedies on Netflix.
The first step is to pop the top off the umbrella. This was insanely hard. It took pliers, a soft cloth to prevent gouging, and a ton of muscle to twist like hell and get it off.
Now normally you would also remove the plastic caps on the ends of the spokes and set them aside for later. This wasn’t the case for me because instead of them being glued on over the fabric, the fabric was sewn to the caps through little holes. So I left them on and just snipped the thread.
I also then snipped the thread holding the fabric on half way up the spokes. As you can see here, without the nylon to hold the spokes down, they’re coming up more flat now instead of holding a more rounded bell shape.
So then it looked like this. The last thing I had to do to get the fabric off was snip the threads and break up the glue at the top.
So then I was left with this. At this point the traditional method involves using the removed umbrella fabric as a pattern for your new fabric. I started doing this by separating one of the triangles by cutting it at the seams, then laying it over the lace and cutting around it leaving for seam allowance. But as soon as I cut that first triangle I decided this would take absolutely forever, and I don’t have the talent to sew them together straight. So fuck it. I just did what I had in mind before checking the tutorials and lay the lace over the top of the umbrella. I poked a little hole in it and pushed it over the silver thing at the top to hold it in place. The lace is stretch, so it’s fine. It looked like this…
I decided to hold off on trimming the fabric, because I wasn’t sure what Jenna would prefer. We could trim it, leave it looking like a veil, or pile the excess fabric over the top, which could be quite pretty and let less light pass through. Now I just had to sew the lace to the plastic caps on the end of the spokes. It was super hard keeping the spokes even, because they liked to swing back and forth. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it’s not obvious. I stretched the lace pretty far hoping that this would return the parasol to the bell shape it had before, but it didn’t really work. So then I pulled the ends together with thread. It wasn’t super pretty looking, but it wasn’t that noticeable either, and if Jenna didn’t like it I could easily snip it apart. This took a lot of effort since I had nobody to hold the ends down while I tied off the thread.
Done for the day. This kind of shows what it looks like with the extra fabric piled on top. I think I’m off to a good start!
Day 2. Jenna is here!!
Isn’t she the cutest girl in the whole world? I put her in one of my outfits because I thought it would be fun to dress up and go to dinner.
While I got my nails done, she set to work decorating it. I should have got more of a close-up. She sewed the buttons around the top, and put the cross in the middle. She spread around some of the glitter glue over the top so it looks like it was snowed on with sparkles.
It turns out she really did love it with a veil. It reminded us of the big black hat Lydia wears in Beetlejuice. So she just trimmed one side of it very slightly. She loved this parasol to death by the way. She carried it with her to the restaurant and back even though it was dark out.
We didn’t get as much time together as we wanted, so I didn’t get to see it with any ribbon. But I sent her home with the remaining supplies, and she plans to add to it later. It’s also going to be used as a charm parasol, with little tokens from her travels added over time. This whole thing turned out to be a GREAT idea. We had a lot of fun and the look on her face and seeing her hug it was priceless. And I’m totally going to buy her this outfit in her size one day.