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A Call for Help

One of my best friends, Trystan, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Many of you know Trystan — she’s a longtime member of the GBACG, teaches at Costume College, plays in the SCA, performs at Renaissance Faires.  Hopefully you’ve had a drink with her and had her make you crack up — it’s her specialty.  What you might not know about Trystan is that she’s ALWAYS there to help.  If you’re putting on a costume event and you need help setting it up or tearing it down (late at night when everyone’s exhausted), Trystan is there.  If you have a crazy costume idea and aren’t sure if you should go for it, Trystan will say “do eeet!” (hey, she’s the creator of the sushi Victorian dress!  she’s down with the crazy!).  She was a longtime board member, including president, of the GBACG, and personally created their first website way back in the dark days of the internet — you know, that site that is such a great resource, particularly the pattern review?  She was a major organizer of Costume Con 28 (San Jose).  A few years back she joined the SCA, and despite statements that she had too much on her plate, she’s now autocratted (ie organized) events, put on Collegium (their workshop series), become Arts & Sciences minister (the person who puts on competitions, classes, and more for medieval crafts, skills, & technologies), and is currently a Queen’s Artisan (where she is involved in a project to make “largesse,” or medieval reproduction items like costumes, bags, and more that are given as competition prizes and more — meaning she is spending her own time and money to make things for people she may not even know).  I have been with her at SCA events where we couldn’t figure out immediately where to pay our “site fee” (aka the entrance fee or event ticket).  While some of us grumbled, she personally set out to find where to pay since, as she put it, “I’m a supporter” — and truer words were never spoken.

Well, now she needs our support.  Trystan is a contract employee, and her husband is a freelancer, which means they have to buy private health insurance… which is sadly really expensive, not just on a monthly basis but also for co-pays for doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and everything else.  So not only is she dealing with “OMG I HAVE BREAST CANCER,” she’s also dealing with “OMG HOW AM I GOING TO AFFORD ALL THIS?”  Oh, and since she’s a contractor, all the time she needs for surgeries and treatment will be unpaid.  Good times.

If you’ve met Trystan or in some way been supported by her, and you have a few dollars or a small amount of time to spare, please consider supporting her:  by donating a few dollars (seriously, $5 would be fabulous), looking over her list of other ways to support, or buying something from her costume garage sale.

Luckily, Trystan is a fighter, so I know she’s going to come through this.  But it’s going to be hard, and right now someone who has supported many of us needs our support.  I hope you can help — even if it’s just to let her know you’re thinking of her.

Closeup at dinner

events, totally random

WonderCon 2013 – cosplay!?!


WonderCon 2013, a set on Flickr.

Last week I went down to Anaheim to help my husband, who is a professional illustrator, sell his art (originals, prints, cards, etc.) at WonderCon. This is an annual convention, officially for comics, but also for scifi, fantasy, video games, and all things geek-y, and is organized by the same people who put on ComicCon. I’ve been to this convention a few times to help my hubby, mostly when it was up in San Francisco. I spend most of the weekend sitting in a hard plastic chair helping Michael out — selling stuff, getting food, letting him go on breaks — but it’s also fun from another perspective: cosplay!

I don’t really do cosplay, but it’s (obviously) the most popular area of costuming and growing by leaps and bounds. It’s fun to get to watch people who are just as obsessive as us historical costumers get their costume geek on, even if I do spend most of the weekend asking my husband, “Who’s that character? And who’s that?” Okay, I can spot a Disney princess, Captain America (very popular this year!), and Game of Thrones (okay, so I am considering making a Game of Thrones outfit because they’re PRETTY and sometimes they have crazy hair!).

There are some things that don’t grab me as much about cosplay, mostly the purchasing items and putting them together into a costume part of things (some people make their own costumes, and others purchase and repurpose stuff — not saying there isn’t a ton of work that goes into that second option, just it’s not MY thing!). But what I do get is loving a character, show, book, etc. so much that you want to literally BE a part of it, and find some way to take on that character/world. I think part of what I love about reproducing paintings and fashion plates and historically set movies is that I am trying to put myself into that person or character, so in some ways it’s very much the same!

We’re generally in the small press area, which means we aren’t in the heart of things, so I know there are tons of cool costumes that I miss seeing. But here’s a few photos of costumes that I liked.  I think my favorites was Daenerys from Game of Thrones, and the Dr. Who girl who had a hand painted Tardis parasol!

totally random

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thanks to Loren of The Costumer’s Closet for nominating me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

To accept the award, one must:
1. Display the award and link back to the person who nominated you.
2. State 7 facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award.
4. Notify the winners.

Okay, here we go…

7 Facts About Myself:

1. I hate nuts. All nuts. No, I’m not allergic. I just think they are abominations. Peanuts are the exception (except they’re not nuts, they’re legumes), but they can’t be in or on anything. Peanut butter ok, pb icecream etc. is gross.

2. I can’t whistle, but I can type over 100 words per minute.

3. I have a propensity for making up my own words and/or my own pronunciations.

4. When I’m in the mood, I count the number of dogs I see on a given day (and squirrels, cats, etc. but I don’t see them as frequently). No, I don’t have OCD – it’s an optional thing. It makes me happy. Dogs! Always having a good time! Yay!

5. I am very right-brained. I don’t do math (pattern drafting requires lots of calculators and talking out loud). When I was in high school, my math teacher wrote “Kendra has a very intelligent brain, but she refuses to use it for math.”

6. I don’t drink coffee or tea… and I get up & out the door in the morning under my own (non-caffeinated) steam. I do drink sodas, altho I gave them up for about 2 years.

7. I am terrible at remembering names but great at faces. I’ve probably offended many people who I’ve met multiple times because of not remembering their names. I now warn people right away when I meet them that I won’t remember their name… don’t know if it helps, but at least I’ve tried.

And my nominations – 14 instead of 15, in order to try to avoid duplications with other bloggers’ nominations:

1. Madame Isis’ Toilette

2. Wear When Why

3. Mode Historique

4. Stitcher Baby

5. Temps d’Elegance

6. Trystan’s Costume Closet

7. La Mesur de l’Excellence

8. Natalie Garbett

9. The Costume Parlour

10. Rococo Atelier

11. The Couture Courtesan

12. Au Temple des Modes

13. Mme du Jard’s Atelier

14. A Fractured Fairytale

18th Century Hairdressing Book, 18th century wigs, totally random

Historical Hair Did-You-Know?

In doing research for my 18th century hair/wig-styling book, I’m coming across a lot of weird and/or hilarious bits of info that aren’t going to fit into the book. So this is just a random accumulation of bits and bobs that are making me laugh!

Did you know…

  • “Dildo” was a 17th century term for the sausage corkscrew curl of a man’s wig
  • In the 1860s there was an attempt to scare women off of wearing their hair in chignons by claiming there was a particular “chignon fungus” you could catch by wearing that hairstyle
  • There was a Russian hairdresser working in London in the 18th century named Ivan Peter Alexis Knoutscheffschlerwitz
  • There were dog wigs marketed in the 1960s
  • Mono-brows were fashionable in classical Roman times as well as in the Arab world (not sure exactly which periods, but I know it was fashionable in the Ottoman Empire in the 17th-18th century)
totally random

Sewing Space

I’ve been inspired by Jen of Festive Attyre’s sewing room redo, which she’s posted about more on LJ than her blog, but you can get a glimpse of here.  She went from a super disorganized, difficult to use space to something glorious.

The house I’m in is the first one in which I’ve ever had a sewing room, which trust me, is AMAZING.  It’s pretty small, but I don’t care — I can make a mess, close the door, and just leave it!  When we first moved in I tried to set it up as well as I could, but I’ve found I needed to refine things over the years, as when things explode, it makes it very hard to get any work done.  Sadly I don’t have any before photos, but here are some things I’ve been doing over the past year or so:

Ikea storage cabinet

The main issue is always storage — getting things put away (so they’re not out cluttering my workspace) AND put somewhere I can find them.  When I first moved in, I bought this big Ikea storage shelf set, and I’ve found that I just need to keep refining how I use it so that I do so more efficiently.  That includes getting like things into boxes, putting less-frequently-used things higher up, and labeling boxes so I know what’s in what.  I’m always thinking I need more storage, then I reorganize this cabinet and find I just need to use it better!

Storage drawer

One of my favorite things is the cabinet has the option of mounted pull-out drawers with compartments.  I have two of these shorter ones, which is where I keep my trim (shown) and things like ribbon, glue, etc.

Organized remnant drawer

I have two taller drawers that are my remnant bins, where I keep all the leftover bits of fabric I might use again, or fabric that could be used for lining or draping.  These drawers were getting messier and messier, to the point where I had no idea whether I had any lining-appropriate linen on hand.  I dragged both drawers out to the living room and sorted through them all, throwing away stuff I wasn’t going to use, putting like things with like, and making separators out of cardboard to keep sections organized.  Yes, I do in fact have a TON of lining-appropriate linen…

Sewing machine table and some decor

Charles & Di wedding mug used as pen holder (prized possession), cheesy 18th century-esque figurine holds scissors (and random feather pen)

Sewing machine table and some of my decor.  Since I got rid of a pretty big desk, I usually pile papers on the right hand side, which makes it unusable — my pin magnet and scissors will end up on the 3″ of available space and that’s it.  I forced myself to go thru all those papers, and while I didn’t go so far as doing any filing, I did manage to put any need-to-keep stuff in a box that’s now living under the table.

New (smaller, taller) cutting table. Usually has rolling drawers full of historical undies under it. Currently has Olive under it.

For the longest time, I had a rickety folding/rolling cutting table from Joann’s.  It was never tall enough, so I’d get a crick in my back working at it.  Also, having an available flat surface is like a giant neon sign to “DUMP THINGS HERE”!  Also, to have more space in my small room, I’d frequently leave one of the leaves folded down.  I replaced that table with this, a higher bar table from Ikea.  It’s tall enough for me and a reasonable size for the room.  The basket is my “current project bits” basket, which lives in the storage cabinet when I’m not using it.  I also have a high bar chair that I can use if I’m sitting and working at this table.

One idea I got from a lot of blogs about craft/sewing room space was using the space UNDER things as storage.  I used to keep all my historical undies in two big plastic tubs that took up a huge amount of space in my closet.  It was super annoying to paw through giant bins of white on white to find the right chemise or drawers or whatever, so I replaced that with two rolling wire drawer sets that usually live under the cutting table.  This way, I can keep all the chemises in one drawer, corsets in another, etc.  For a while, those drawer sets were blocking the large heater vent that my elderly cat Albert started PEEING IN, so they’re not shown in this photo — instead, it became a temporary puppy space.  But the heater vent has been cleaned and the drawers are back now!  Oh, and Albert is on an SSRI, which is totally helping (better living through science!).

Garment rack filled with needs-alteration and needs-putting-away.

My husband randomly bought me this garment rack, which initially annoyed me because it takes up a wall, but it’s proved very handy both for “things I’m working on,” “things that I should be working on,” “things that need to be put away,” and “things to sell off.”  I do have a closet in this room, but as you might guess, it’s packed with all my finished costumes, so it’s nice to have a staging area.

Shelves for wigs and computer docking station replaced big desk.

I used to have a combination dresser/desk in this corner of the room.  The desk was ostensibly for my computer and the dresser drawers for fabric, but the it wasn’t an efficient storage option and the desk itself just got piled with papers.  I got rid of that and replaced it with some shelves for wigs (top), misc (bottom), and a computer docking station — which has turned out to be fab!  I hardly ever use my computer at a desk unless I’m watching a movie in my sewing room, so it’s at the perfect height to do that, and otherwise if I want to use the computer, I’m generally on the couch.

Mounted jewelry cabinet and over the door historical shoe rack.

Like any good costumer, I have a ton of costume jewelry.  I had a jewelry box, but everything got jumbled up in it and pieces were getting broken.  Linda gave me the idea to get a wall-mounted jewelry rack, which has let me organize things plus has a small mirror on it.

Thread organized by color and wall mounted.

Thread organizer, wall mounted.  Saves space, means my thread doesn’t get all tangled up.

Puppy sleeping station, directly next to sewing machine table.

Yes, it’s required in my house to have critter accommodation in whichever room you’re planning to be in.  Usually, for the pups that’s next to the sewing table; it’s been cold here in California, so there’s a bonus space heater for them.  They don’t generally like to use the same bed, but they both like that heater!

This is what happens if I don't have two padded chairs...

I also have to have not one but two padded seat desk chairs in my office.  If I don’t, this is what happens, and how can you disturb that?  With two chairs, Albert has somewhere to hang and I can just swap the chairs as he decides which one he wants to sleep on (which frequently changes).

interesting reading, research, shopping, totally random

Guest Post: In Defense of the Use of Baleen in Hobbyist and Recreation Corsetry

Last May, I posted a review of Wissner boning (aka “German plastic boning”), and mentioned (okay, kind of ranted) that baleen wasn’t an option for boning as whales are an endangered species.  My friend and fellow costumer Sahrye emailed me privately with some very interesting information on whaling and conservation — she’s a marine biologist and so knows far more about this than I do.  I asked if, in the spirit of discussion, she’d be willing to share what she wrote with readers of my blog and she said she would.

So here you are, my first guest post ever, written by Sahrye — whose blog (It Came From the Stash!) is fabulous, by the way!

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