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18th century, 18th century wigs, Bella Donna, events, GBACG, Lumieres

So What Else Has Been Going On?

There’s been NO sewing since the vampire dress last fall. Mostly because WIGSBOOKWIGSBOOK, but also because WIGSBOOK turned my sewing room into a STY the likes of which it may never recover from. Seriously. I go in there to get something, then run out and shut the door because I have The Fear.

Nonetheless, there have been a few dress up occasions over the past 6-8 months:

I went to GBACG’s Bal di Carnivale, which was a FAAABULOUS masked 18th century dinner. Since the theme was 18th century masquerade, I wore my fancy dress Maja costume, with my 1938 Marie Antoinette wig, and a black and silver harlequin mask. The wig was a last minute idea — I was stressed because I had no time to make anything for myself, but given the WIGSBOOKWIGSBOOK, how could I show up at an 18th century event in a crappy old wig? All of my current red wigs have seen better days, and frankly, they’re just not up to par even if they weren’t looking ratty! I was so glad to realize the white wig would work, and I think it really added to the ensemble.

Francis and I were asked to perform a minuet, something that I learned how to do about a year or two ago. It has been a life dream to learn, and we performed it at a Lumieres dinner and again when we were in France. I said sure, then when the day of came got super grumbly as we were last minute scrambling to remember the steps. But then when we danced it, it felt super magical, and I was so glad we did!

A month or two ago, Bella Donna performed at the San Jose Fantasy Fair. This was our second time at this fair, and it’s a lot of fun — almost all the audience is little kids, and we play crazy-in-a-good-way OTT princesses. I wasn’t in the mood for a complex costume or big hair, so I ended up doing a riff on last year’s Pirate Fest 18th c. outfit, but with super princess-y hair, with a braid around my head and long curls on one side. And a ton of flowers and ribbons, to dress things up. We had a great performance — we do a ridiculously silly show that is essentially a mash up of Cinderella and The Bachelor. And in our space, we had a tea party set up for little kids, which was SO cute — kids just knew it was for them, marched right up, plopped down, and started playing tea party.

And finally, I went to a Lumieres 18th century dinner, which was lots of fun. I was nearing the book finish line, so I wasn’t in the mood AT ALL to wear anything complicated — so I wore a black striped 18th c. jacket that I banged out a few years ago and have never managed to blog with a white cotton, embroidered petticoat. I threw together a new wig, which I ended up powdering because I ran out of time to dye my hair! I don’t have any great pics, but here’s photographic proof:

(C) Niki Rotheneder

Oh, and I almost forgot! I went to a semi-interactive theater performance set in a 1920s speakeasy. I dressed up in a modern, slightly faux-1920s silk charmeuse dress with a pretty flower printed on the lower portion, and a vintage 1920s black silk satin evening coat — and the repro Great Gatsby bandeau. And my husband went, in a modern suit as he doesn’t have anything 1920s!

18th century, 18th century wigs, events, Lumieres

Lumieres Russian Dinner

On Saturday, Lumieres (our 18th century role-playing group, for lack of a better description) held a dinner at the court of Catherine the Great of Russia… or Babushka restaurant in Concord!  It’s a small restaurant out in the burbs, but perfect because the food was great, the staff were super accomodating (they even dressed up in loaner costumes!), and the decor (if you ignored the disco elements) was oldey-timey enough to look great by candlelight!

It was an absolute blast — everyone was literally resplendent in gorgeous gowns, fabulous wigs, and sparkling jewels.  There was lots of in-character banter (my favorite), nice champagne, and flirting.  Francis and I got together ahead of time and practiced the minuet, which we learned a few months back, and we performed it for the guests with only one false start!

I wore my this-old-thing black francaise.  I was itching to do a c. 1780 super powdered wig like one of these Roslin portraits, so I set to work with a blond wig I had bought a while back, hoping powdering over blond would maintain some warmth and work better on my skin tone.  Well, I can report that powdered blond hair is still blond — duller, yes, but still blond — which totally doesn’t work on me.  So that wig will get finished and sold on Etsy!  Instead I pulled out the 1760s tete de mouton wig I styled for the Vampire Ball, which actually fits the era of the dress better, and powdered that.  So nothing new, just a slight tweak.  In the candlelight, it ended up looking like this:

(C) Linda Wenzelburger

Although here’s a flash photo that shows the warts & all — I’m posing with Trystan’s fabulous husband Thomas:

(C) Trystan L. Bass, via Flickr

We were welcomed by Catherine the Great herself:

(C) Diana Habra via Flickr:

And there was a LOT of scrummy scrummy costumes:

You can see the rest of my photos on Flickr!

1780s stays, 1787 Tall Crown Hat, 18th century, events, GBACG, Lumieres, projects

There’s Been Lots of Sewing

But not a lot of posting!  Mostly it’s because I have been slowly slowly working on binding my 1780s stays, but also because I’ve been working on Michael’s 16th century trunkhose (but they keep seeming to stay in a not-excitingly-photographed condition – update soon!).

I think red is my color of the moment, because that’s the theme here…

First, I made the Costume Close-Up cloak for the Lumieres seaside stroll.  I was worried about freezing to death, so I took some lightweight red wool, fulled it, and made up the cloak — which I have to report is SUPER easy, because of the fulling… you don’t have to finish any of the edges!  I debated and debated what to line the hood with — I wanted to do something solid so it would work for any era (because how often do I make cloaks?), but the only thing in the stash that worked was a green & red 18th c.-style indienne print.  Oops!  Guess it’s not going to work for 16th century!  Also, a report — according to the book, the hood is cut large to accomodate the big hairstyles of the period.  Well, obviously they don’t define “big” the same way I do — there is no WAY that hood was going to fit over my hair!  So I’ll have to make another version at some point with a bigger hood, and this time of some heavier wool so it will work for REALLY cold events.  Luckily, although we expected rain, we had a beautiful day, so it worked out just fine.

Next, I went to the GBACG Duchess of Devonshire tea, which Cynthia and I organized.  We had planned one tea (obviously), but it sold out so quickly we added a second date the following weekend!  I didn’t want to stress myself out by trimming my hat at the last second, so planned to wear something else… but then got the wild hair the night before to wear the hat.  Silly costumer!  So I put some burgundy ribbon and a burgundy feather on it, all with straight pins, and called it good.  I had experimented with using green ribbon, as in the original fashion plate, but it just looked like a Christmas hat.

I finished binding my 1780s stays in time to wear to tea #2 (ie late the night before).  I really wanted to wear them because — hey, they’re new!  Plus I wanted to find out how comfortable they’d be.  I handsewed ALL of the binding, top and bottom, both sides, because I really wanted it to look good.  And while I’m not 100% happy with it, I think it’s my best binding job so far.  The petersham worked well and I think it looks good — I was worried it would scream “petersham!” but I think it just looks like a ribbed ribbon.  I did discover some cosmetic changes I want to make when I do version #2, mostly that the side tabs are shorter than the back tabs, and I’d like to even that all out.  Also, I don’t have a back picture, but I want to make the line of the straps at the top back of the corset merge more.  I’ll post really REALLY final photos once I have the right color ribbon on hand to lace them with — I had to just use what I had on hand, which meant the straps are tied on with black, and the back got laced 1/2 with burgundy and 1/2 with green!  I wore it under my chemise dress, which is the only dress I had that (because it’s gathered) fit — all the rest of my dresses are too small in the bust and too big in the waist to fit!

I haven’t yet posted my photos from the first tea, but I’ll do so very soon!  I do have photos from the Devonshire tea #2 up.  Both teas were lots of fun — yummy food, good conversation, and we had lots of fun playing forfeits!

balls, events, Lumieres

An Excessively Halloween-y Weekend

I had an excessively Halloween-y weekend the weekend AFTER Halloween.  On Friday night, we had the Lumieres occult dinner, which was spooky & lovely — mediums and aristocrats mingled over yummy French food, champagne, and candelight.  I went as a medium — Mlle Marie Anne Lenormand, who was more Napoleonic than Rococo era but who’s double checking!  I wore my gaulle, which I accessorized with lots of black — black sash, jewelry, and hair ribbons.

On Saturday night was the PEERS Ball des Vampires, which is about 10 min. walk from my house – yay!  I went with Bridget & Katherine — we had great Italian food beforehand (and scared the locals), then walked over to the ball.  There were lots of fabulous costumes (lots of Victorian & 18th century, one sparkly Edward who I had fun teasing, etc.).  I spent most of my time downstairs in the goth-y DJ room (they played Hong Kong Garden, so I got to have my Marie Antoinette masquerade moment!) — only did one-half of one waltz!  I don’t know, I just wasn’t in the mood to jockey for partners.  It does make me want to make the effort to hit the ball scene a bit more frequently (altho that means talking some of my friends into going too) — it’s a great chance to dress up and socialize, even if you’re not in the mood to dance.  I was feeling very “this old thing” about my black francaise (the other option was Nell Gwyn, but it didn’t feel terribly Halloween-y) so I resisted the urge to attempt to make anything new, and focused my time and styling a new wig and making wig accessories.  I ended up making a “cake,” and my rockin’ husband made me a guillotine out of balsa wood (the man is a talent!), plus giving me a scary guillotine-d neck scar.  Jenn absolutely took the cake (ha ha) in her gorgeous black & orange francaise, with black wig that had a jack-o-lantern that LIT UP.  It ROCKED.

A preview of photos is below — you can find the rest of my Flickr account (which I’m going to be using from now on for event photos) — here’s the Lumieres occult dinner and the Vampire ball.

events, Lumieres

Lumieres Autumn Supper

Lumieres held a supper last night at Cynthia’s house, and it was one of the more magical events I’ve attended. The group was smallish but wonderful company. We held it in Cynthia’s backyard, which she decorated to the nines with a chandelier, lanterns in the trees, hanging glinty bits — but best of all was she has amazing glassware, dishes, candles, etc. etc. etc. It was just warm enough to eat outside, and sitting in the dark with all of these beautiful people in gorgeous costumes, surrounded by candles and shiny dishes and glasses and everything (with period music in the background) was just FABULOUS.

For the second time we ordered food from Gregoire’s, a French restaurant in Piedmont. Their food is spectacular and we’ve found that we can easily share entrees, so we each choose two and get to have multiple courses. I had sesame cod with ginger sauce, and Cornish game hen with some kind of something – don’t remember! Plus lots of champagne.

We played the game from Marie Antoinette, where you stick a piece of paper to your forehead and then guess who you are based on yes/no questions of those around you. It was very funny, especially watching Trystan try to figure out that she was Jesus, and then in a funny irony, I was Nell Gwynn.

I wore my black francaise and my 1770s pouf wig, which I decided to finally dress (most of the big wigs being dressed in some kind of theme or style — the obvious one is the ship in the hair, but they would do “a la zodiac” or “a l’inoculation” etc.). I was stuck with what I could find at my local craft store, so I ended up doing a “night” theme, with a peacock in front, silver moon in back, and silver stars throughout. Of course, it’s important to note that when wearing a HA-UGE wig with a big bird on top, one has a slightly higher clearance level than usual – so I kept getting stuck in the tree/hanging. You can see my original wig design in the first few photos – later on, after tree wrangling, my peacock was sticking out at a weird angle (which of course I didn’t know, as I couldn’t see) – sigh!

I’ve posted my photographs, which are mostly atmospheric. Now I want to do it again!