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totally random

totally random

Pinterest, or, Slowly Dragging Myself Out of the Dark Ages

I signed up for Pinterest a while ago, but hadn’t done anything with it until I read some interesting discussion this weekend on Livejournal about how it can be useful for getting the word out about things you love, especially fellow costumers and their creations!

So I’ve been dabbling a bit — mostly pinning modern fashion/sewing ideas, which is something I collect haphazardly and then frequently forget about.

But I also added a board of Favorite Costumes: reproduction historical costumes made by fabulous costumers!  It’s a work in progress, but I’m excited about being able to give props to the costumes you all make that I love.

If you’re interested in following me, feel free!

totally random

Fabulously Sweet yet Creepy Costume-Related Illustrations

I have so much to post about, but have been busy busy!  So I’ll try to rectify this starting this week, and will start small…

About a month ago I was at the Alternative Press Expo and ran across the work of Ray Caesar — specifically the illustration below.  I LOVED it, especially when I did a double take a realized how creepy it was.  Okay, I could ask for a more 18th c. style corset to go with the hair, but I’ll take what I can get.

"Coming Undone" by Ray Caesar

Looking him up, I found his website and a current gallery show he has in Culver City, CA, and discovered that beautiful, sweet, yet creepy illustrations appear to be his thing, and that many incorporate historical costumes/settings.

So!  Just a random, “Hey! Cool!”

totally random

It’s Fun to Go AWOL!

Over the past month or so, since I last posted, I have:

  • Been crazy busy with work
  • Performed with Bella Donna at Ardenwood Renaissance Faire, the (Ashland) Oregon Shakespeare Festival Green Show, and the Festival of Harps.  This weekend, we’re at the Folsom Renaissance Faire.
  • Bought linen canvas from Burnley & Trowbridge for my 1780s stays
  • Done absolutely no sewing at all
  • Had CADD (Costume Attention Deficit Disorder) and obsessed about making a medieval costume (I know, me? who knew!), a pre-Raphaelite gown (dredging up all those Waterhouse paintings I loved when I was about 17), and a sheer 1870s natural form lots-o-ruffles summer dress (naughty Peri put on The Portrait of a Lady while we were draping her!)
  • Draped a robe a la francaise for Peri (hence the Portrait of a Lady viewing)
  • Done some noodling on my website (recoding some of the archives, redoing the Costume Portfolio page, 18th c. printed cottons page, updated my links page, and put lots of old event photos up on Flickr [more to come])
  • Plotted for a dinner for Lumieres, the GBACG Duchess of Devonshire Tea, and other soon-to-be-announced costume madness

I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t think of it!  This weekend:  Folsom Renaissance Faire.  Then the following weekend I’m going to Disneyland (YAY KERMIT ARMS).  Then maybe I’ll have some sewing time!  And with work FINALLY starting to calm down, I should have some blogging time too.

totally random

Coming Out of Retirement

Or hermitage? Not sure what the right term is, but I’ve definitely been there since Costume Con. I’m not 100% sure what it was — the mad dash to finish multiple projects, the stress of travelling, the alignment of the planets — but I’ve definitely been taking a big break from costuming since then. I did noodle a bit on a modern dress (which needs still sleeves and a hem), but mostly I’ve been giving myself permission to just loll around.

I think a big part is needing to get back in touch with what I love about costuming. There’s many things I love — brainstorming ideas, researching styles and techniques, wearing and putting together a beautiful ensemble, playing with personae. But what I’m not loving is the pressure that I’m hearing a lot of us discuss to constantly have New! Fabulous! Exciting! costumes for each and every event. We end up overtired, generally not 100% happy with what we made, and eyeing each other suspiciously to see who did manage to pull off an entire new wardrobe. Well, I’m done with that. I love creating costumes, and I’m not stopping, but I’m stepping back a bit to spend the time I want on the things that have meaning for me… which means moving a bit slower and letting go of the fact that everyone else seems to be able to bang out a perfect dress in a weekend. It takes me months, and I’m just going to be okay with that… especially given that I really do love sewing! So why bother to rush what I enjoy?

Another thing that’s been getting to me is confusion about my own motivations. As I’ve become a better sewer and costumer, I’ve started to feel like EVERY project has to be master-award-winning-to-the-tiniest-detail, or I’ve failed. I’ve started to feel like, “What’s the point of spending good money on good materials, and good time on good techniques, if I’m not 1000% accurate/perfect?” Which is ridiculous. There are things that I enjoy taking the time and care to do accurately, and then at the exact same time on the exact same project there’s another thing that I can’t be bothered with. I’m going to try really hard with being okay with that – not every stitch needs to be sewn by hand, I don’t HAVE to use reed instead of metal boning, etc. It’s okay for me to choose those historical materials or techniques that make my toes curl, and ignore those that don’t. Or to use a modern material or method if I like the result. Because really, I ain’t giving up my basting spray for ANYONE.

At the same time, I DO want to know what I am capable of, and I’ve realized that part of my angst is that I don’t feel like I costume to the best of my abilities — generally limited by time. So I’ve decided that *at some point*, and on *my own schedule*, I’m going to make one complete costume (I am thinking it will be the maja dress but that could change) that I will make, from the undies out, 1000% accurately. Then, when that probably multi-year project is finished, I’ll enter it in a CostumeCon masquerade. I’d like to do it to prove to myself that I can do it… but that doesn’t mean that every costume I make needs to be that perfect.

So with all that in mind, I’ve been sewing! And itching to sew, in fact! The Nell Gwyn dress is still on for the Costume College gala, even those many of my fellow mistresses have fallen by the wayside — but that’s okay! I’m really excited about experimenting with some historical techniques that I haven’t tried, and working on an era I’ve never done, but there are also some shortcuts that I am taking. The camera has gone AWOL, so as soon as I find it there’ll be an update… but yay! for costuming on my own terms and for my own love of it, and not for the imagined expectations of others (which really don’t exist, anyway!).

totally random

Sewing Room!

In what should be a week of many updates, let’s start small! I’ve finished moving (falls over in exhaustion), and spent some time post-Costume College moving into and organizing my sewing room. This is my first ever sewing room – previously I would take over the living room in various small apartments, and then in our slightly bigger house, we had the sewing-room-that-I-let-my-husband-sleep-in.

It’s small, but it’s ALL MINE and has no giant bed taking up valuable room! The best part was going to Ikea and buying a modular wardrobe shelving set. It has standard shelves, but also mounted/pull-out plastic bins and this sectioned drawer, which provided a nice hour of organizing trims. Yay sewing room! It’s already been great to go in there, make a mess, and then shut the door on said mess until I’m ready to pick it up again. Plus there is now room for things like wigs-on-heads and wire and the patterns are all organized chronologically by era and…

totally random

Costume in Historical Fiction

So I love historical fiction. I prefer the well researched, but give me decently written shlock (such as The Other Boleyn Girl) and I’ll read and enjoy it for what it is despite the historical inaccuracies. But something has been getting on my nerves lately, and it’s time to rant!

The latest trend in historical fiction book covers, at least for those books about women, seems to be “photograph of woman in ‘period’ costume, with face cropped or obscured.” Gone are the days of using a portrait of the subject on the cover, or even a somewhat-of-the-era painting. Now, I was okay with this trend as I read The Other Boleyn Girl – nice silhouette, even if that stomacher is large and I’m not too sure what’s going on with her hood. Liked The Queen’s Fool – pretty shade of green, kind of Florentine-esque sleeves, there’s boning in that bodice yay!

But I started to get irritated when I read The Boleyn Inheritance — I’m guessing that’s supposed to be Jane Boleyn or Catherine Howard (it had better not be Anne of Cleves!). Why is her hair down? Why does her bodice fit her so loosely? What’s with the bustline of her lady in waiting?

But I’m drawing the line at Carolly Erickson’s The Last Wife of Henry Viii:
10105

Could they have bought a cheaper fabric (what, Joann’s upholstery remnants too expensive?)? What’s with the crappy rickrack trim? The lack of undersleeve? The bodice silhouette (Were they going for the “most wrinkles on a badly fitted, no underpinnings bodice” award?)? THE CRAPPY PLASTIC PEARLS SEWN TO THE NECKLINE? Pant. Pant. I am filled with hate.