Thursday, December 11, 2014

Proof of Life post

HI! I'm here! I have been making stuff and have some mighty big life plans. So this random blog post promises to be ALL OVER THE PLACE. Are ya' ready?

1. I went to the eye doctor for the first time in a long time because my insurance pays for new lenses and frames every two years. I got home and found my old glasses and sure enough I had picked out the exact same frames. Le Sigh. I almost never wear them.
Although they might be my daughters.
2. I'm leaving my job! Don't ask why I didn't lead with that. I told you this was going to be random. Because I reached the ripe age of 50 (1), I can take early retirement from my job and take my pension. I take a big hit on taxes and stuff because I'm doing it early, but I kind of enjoy this fashion/sewing thing and would like to give it a try fer reals.
Like Noonish is good
3. So rather than do the above, I've decided to go back to school! I'm finally going to take those fashion design courses I've always wanted. Time to learn pattern drafting and draping and do this thing!
Figure out how to mix modern fashion with my love of historical costuming

4. For the first time in forever, my daughter and I will live apart. It's time.
We've always been this
But getting closer to this
5. So off I go, leaving work in February and starting school in August. Maybe an adventure of two in between.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Does this crown make my ruffles look fat

So...true story. I only got a few pictures of my costume. I know that's a shocker, so you might want to sit down for that. On Saturday night I got all dolled up and went to see my daughter's band play. (The Inciters, check them out. )Turns out the only other people in costume were in the band. It's okay, I won ALL the prizes. My daughter took a few quick shots before the band went on.
Any excuse to wear a crown.

I never ended up putting the sleeves on the bolero, but I think it worked for this Esmeralda, Queen of the Gypsies costume.
Behold the ruffles of despair
I literally spent 80% of my time on this costume on the part that can only be seen if I lift my skirt up over my head. Good thing I drink.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Finally Elsa

I was super lame about taking pictures of the Elsa dress I made for my niece. She's in the UK, so I didn't get to fit it on her, so I put grommets in the back for her to lace up. Someday, when I'm a grown-up blogger, I will take many photos of my work in progress. Since I didn't do that, I'm just going to hope you are satisfied with how lovely she looks in it.
So Lovely. Each and every sequin and rhinestone is sewn on individually.

 Here's a full length shot she took before she got herself all done up with hair and makeup.
Still so so pretty

The cape got very wrinkled in the mail, but you can kind of see the icelike trim.

The trim I used on the cape was really neat. It's silver and very ethereal. It really looks like frost, even close up.

I'm over my head in ruffles for my can-can skirt these days. I don't have a ruffler, so I've been using the gathering foot on my machine. I need FOURTY yards of finished ruffles. FOURTY!!! I literally sewed for an entire day, well into the evening this weekend and ended up with twenty. Aaargh. I love the way ruffles look, but they are making my life miserable. (Boy will they be cool though)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Alter Ego Finally Gets Her Own Costume

For Halloween this year I will be participating in a really cool event put on by the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. Called Spirits and Shadows. In their own words, "Join the mad scientists, Victorians, Steampunk time travelers, grave diggers, ghosts, ghouls, and vampires as we wander through the park where the veil between this life and the next is stretched thin for an adult only evening of dance and fun at History Park at Kelly Park in San Jose" Check out the website for details.

I'm going to be working the event, and I've decided to do an Edwardian fancy dress version of a Gypsy. Specifically this costume is usually representing Esmeralda, the Gypsy girl from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Decidedly NOT the Disney version. Esmeralda just happens to be the nickname of of my alter ego, but it'll take more than a few drinks to get those stories out of me.

Here's the Inspiration. All photos from The Metropolitan Museum Online. This costume is actually circa 1880, but since it's a Fancy dress costume I don't really need to stick to any one time period. Essentially people would be pulling old clothes from their grandparents attics and redoing them, so I can play a little fast and loose (speaking of  Esmeralda) with this.
I'm not sure I'll use the black lace. I'll have to see how much time I have.

I LOVE this bolero. I'm not entirely sure what is happening with the bodice. It's shown as open on the mannequin. I like the way it looks, so I'll have to figure out what to wear underneath

I can probably use the same pattern I used for the bodice of my plaid gown. Truly Victorian 416, The Ballgown Basque
I got some great scores on Silk on Ebay. I'm using dupioni because it is cheaper, and also because it's a Gyspy costume, so the slubbiness of silk will add to that exotic flavor.

For the Bolero, I'm using Truly Victorian Pattern 444 Spanish Jackets.
I'll be using the one in the foreground
And the fabric I bought from Ebay is this red dupioni.
For the skirt, I'm using Truly Victorian 280 Can-Can Skirt.
The ruffles will make it's own petticoat and I can use it in the future for a Can-Can skirt
I scored 8 yards of this mustard yellow dupioni for about $40 on eBay. The skirt takes seven!
I have my work cut out for me and about three weeks to do it in, so I'm going to bite the bullet and use my sewing machine. In fact I better order a ruffle foot for that can-can skirt. Let's try new things on a deadline! Yay! What else is new.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gatsby Summer Afternoon 2014

As usual, I am dependent on the kindness of other's for photos. Bad blogger. I love to HAVE pictures, I just hate taking them. Where's my publicist? All the photographs in this post were taken by Tanya Grigg.
The hat I made ages ago. It's completely sewn together. No hot glue here!
I think the secret to having a good photo taken is to have the photographer really like you. It just makes things so natural and unposed. The dress came together nicely at the last minute.
My hair is a fright. It was just too hot to wear the hat the whole time
Here's a photo from the back with one of the antique cars on display. One of the lovely things about the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, is that everyone makes a real effort not to have any anachronisms. So as you look around you, you really are transported back in time.
We were all a little more "relaxed ' in this photo if you know what I mean. Booze, I mean booze.
Tanya, Carol and Alana did a wonderful job of setting up our spot. It was a good thing because getting in and out of the picnic was a bit of a clusterfrack. The gentleman in the vest above took very good care of us. Without him we would have been in the parking lot forever.
Just a bit of our fantastic spread, also Melissa. Shhh. Don't tell her she's in the picture.

Ken, completely in his element

Carol, Melissa, Ian and Alana in front of the Dunsmuir House in Oakland.
Our lovely photographer, Tanya, on the other side of the camera for once.
Even though the twenties is not necessarily my favorite time period in terms of how the fashion flatters my figure. I do appreciate the opulance and elegance of the time. Until, you know, Dust Bowl, Prohibition and Depression and all that. Still its a lovely fantasy and that's what all this is about.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Costume College Professional Pictures

These photos were all taken by Andrew Schmidt for Costume College 2014.

On Friday Night, we had the Ice Cream Social. Being a lagger, I completely missed the ice cream, but Tanya and I snuck out for a little sumthin sumthin at the bar. There's also gin in that flask, but funny enough, I never got around to drinking it.
1980's Thrift Store dress with the shoulder pads and sleeves removed. Thrift store spangled purse. Headband cobbled together from Joannes, Shoes I've had forever from Macy's. Stockings from thrift store rolled down with rolling garters from the CoCo marketplace and a flask from the marketplace.

Saturday night was the Gala. You've heard me kvetching about putting that together already. Here's the whole finished look.
The plaid silk was won in a raffle. The skirt, overskirt and bodice are all Truly Victorian patterns. The black trim was removed from a tutu I found in my garage. I have my hair up in a hair piece I made from a long gray cosplay wig. Gloves I found at the thrift store.

I am wearing a bustle under there, it just was half of a pair of pocket panniers I made with really cheap plastic boning. It didn't have enough umph to keep everything up. The flowers were also kind of stuck on last minute also. It's also too short. I will save this one. I have silk left, so I'm going to make a large pleated ruffle to go around the bottom to lengthen it. I'll also make a real bustle to wear under it. I plan on making a lot more goo ga's to add to the overskirt also.

On Sunday Afternoon we had the Ascot Tea. I already had my walking skirt and gibson girl blouse I made for the Asilomar event. I added a black wool jacket I found at the thrift store and a hat I made for a Mae West costume I wore a few years back. Those are totally the same flowers from my bosom the night before.
I do think the jacket is worth reworking for real. I may end up making it into a 1930's or 40's jacket instead of an Edwardian. The purse was also found at the thrift store.

I did get a pretty good Facebook profile pic out of it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

For the Broads

The world just lost another broad. First Elaine Stritch, then Lauren Bacall and now Joan Rivers. How would I define a broad? A broad is a woman (never a girl) who says what's on her mind with a quick witted quip. A broad can wear stilettos and a pencil skirt and drink whiskey straight from the bottle and apply her lipstick without looking in the mirror. A broad loves men and they love her back. She may take you down a peg if you deserve it, but she'll be the first one to have your back if you don't. She dishes it out, she takes it and she doesn't suffer fools gladly. She can swear like a sailor and dine with the queen. Broads are funny and bawdy and sexy as hell. I aspire to be a broad. I used to think you had to be old to be a great broad, but I think I'm going to keep practicing.
Parade Magazine
You can make fun of Joan Rivers and her plastic surgery all you want. She beat you to the punch.
Ladies against Humanity
I would have probably peed my pants in fear to meet Elaine Stritch, but it would have been worth it.
Lauren Bacall could hold her own with anybody.
And because this one still hurts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Because I just can't let it go

Because I'm a maniac. Literally THOUSANDS of sequins. THOUSANDS. I'm hand sewing them all on. Why? Because I said so, that's why. I don't know. I really should have my head examined.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Frilly Things and Shiny Things

While waiting patiently-not patiently-for the professional photographer's photos from Costume College, and working non-stop on my niece's Elsa dress, I discovered a few thrift store finds to share with you. There are quite a few professional  photos up already, if you want to check them out they are here: The Shotwell Collection. I'm waiting until I see all the shots of me before I decide which ones to buy.

My first priority is the Elsa dress, but my next event is The Gatsby Summer Afternoon,  which is put on by The Art Deco Society of California. Gosh, I'm all kinds of linky today. I found these two items at the thrift store, which I will bibbity bobbity boo into either a 20's or 30's picnic dress. They are both very tiny, so it might take a little more bibbity than bobbity to make this happen, if you know what I mean. You do? That's good, because I'm not entirely sure. There's this cute little ruffled skirt.
It's poly crepe, but it feels like rayon to me and that's up close. I'll be taking those ruffles apart since the skirt is, like, a size 0. $3.50
I also found this dress. Also teeny tiny. It has no label in it. I think it's silk, but it may be rayon. It looks right and feels right though, so it should pass muster.
Sooo small. $5.00
I'll be Frankensteining those things together, maybe over a slip. They are both see through, so a slip will be involved one way or another.

I've decided I need to own all the shiny things. I found this beauty. I wish I could photograph it better because it is really well made.
This was $10. A fortune!
Well, that doesn't tell us much more does it?

 I bought it originally because I thought I could use it to take apart for a 20's dress or something. You know what though? What Tracey? I'm thinking I want to start being more fabulous. More stylie. Maybe even stylish. I love all the shiny things. If I took the shoulder pads out and paired it with something rougher; like a leather jacket or a wool skirt, that could be really cool I think. I may just start collecting these things. It'll be my jam.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Guess what I'm making

I have a new project. My niece in England wants to be Elsa for her fancy dress birthday party. So, since that's my jam (thanks for starting me on that Melissa) I stepped up. File these items under 'cheaper to buy than to sew'
Found at a local thrift store $10

Also from Ebay .$5.95

Now excuse me while I get back to handsewing hundreds of sequins on the bodice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Stress Cake and Anxiety Salad, Saturday at Costume College

This blog post had too many words. Saturday was a mixed bag for me. We had arrived on Wednesday and I only had to finish the trim on my Gala dress, so I thought I would have plenty of time. I just didn't. So when Saturday rolled around, I was a stress case. I had my only limited attendance class; "It's the 1860's and still handsewn" I didn't think this would be a problem for me since I've actually sewn an entire Dickens dress by hand before. I kind of thought it would be cake.
Stress Cake
The class started out fine. We practiced some hand sewing. I was actually a little further ahead than some of the people around me, so I was feeling a little cocky. Then the part happened that I had completely forgotten about. "we will fit your bodice using a 19th Century pattern system and then you will start construction" I hadn't worn my corset, so when we were going to begin the fitting process, I had to run to my room to put on my corset.
Bonus points if you know what movie this is from
I ran up to my room and grabbed my corset. Even though I had laced it to make it possible to put on myself, I COULD NOT GET IT ON. I was getting increasingly agitated, not knowing if they were waiting for me, not knowing if it just didn't fit me anymore. Arrrgh. Finally, I just grabbed it and ran back downstairs to class hoping someone would just help me put it on.

Well. I had completely not taken into account the fact that we were going to be draping the pattern for each other and I would be completely responsible for the fitting of someone else's costume. I have draped a piece of clothing for another person zero times. Nope, nope, nope. Here's the thing. I am great in a crisis. I have saved lives. Literally. I'm the person you want in a zombie apocolype, but my being responsible for a fitted bodice for another costumer, nope, nope, nope again.
For some reason, I had though we would be fitting our own bodice. On ourselves. This would be almost impossible, so I don't know why I thought this, but I did. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't stay. They thought of trying to maintain while pinning on another person that I didn't know, just started giving me that 'Wa wa' feeling in my head. Any of you who have had anxiety attacks or a panic attack know that feeling. So I calmly took the teacher aside and kind of explained what was going on and that I just couldn't stay. She was very very nice, but I was twenty kinds of relieved to get out of the classroom.

Since I now had a large chunk of free time ahead of me, I decided the best thing to do was just sew. I ran into Jennifer (of So Steady as she Sews) and of being a friend, and told her what happened and she was calm and I felt better. I went to the Marketplace again because shopping is my happy place and ran into my roomate Tanya, who is one of the most maternal people I have met and I felt even better.

I went to the room and grabbed my bodice and sewing stuff. I decided to go up to the Hospitality Lounge so I would be around other people sewing last minute stuff. No one was sewing though, so I decided to head to the bar to sew (as you do) Now that was super positive. I sat next to Ariel, the little mermaid, who was having a nip or two and met Chrissy (of The Laced Angel) and of being really cool. I had a little cocktail, some good chat and got my sew on. The whole drinking with a mermaid thing put me in a good mood, so I made a lot of progress.
Photo from Most Popular and Best drinking games on the Web because that's a thing
Now somehow or other it was TIME FOR THE GALA. I know time must have passed slower than that, but between the tears and the vodka, I don't remember it passing. I literally couldn't have dressed without Tanya and Melissa. They ironed my dress, sewed on a hook and eye, hot glued my bodice flowers, etc. Melissa even had to SEW ME INTO MY DRESS. I had to be sewn into my dress because my corset did fit me, very tightly and the bodice was now too loose.

They were ready before me and looking fantastic by the way. These photos are "borrowed" from Jennifer.
Once Ken and I hit the red carpet and then entered the Gala, it all was worth it. Everyone was stunning. The food was excellent. I met Gina of ( Beauty From Ashes) and of super talent.
Gorgeous Gina. Photo from Marie-Jo Dulade-Coclet
Gina also managed to get a great picture of Ken and I in all our glory. There are things I will change on the dress (not being sewn into it for a start) but all in all I was pretty happy and Ken is so great at dressing himself. I did have to beg off early because my corset was just too tight and even though my friend Mary tried to help loosen my stays, I just couldn't move.
Photo by Gina White
I learned some hard lessons this day. Finish the garments you plan to wear to events before Costume College, no matter how little you think you have to do. Friends are good to have,especially when they can also sew. There is no substitute for an actual bustle under a bustle dress. Don't tight lace your corset when you have eaten all the carbs. There is no anxiety attack too great that it can't be helped by drinking gin with mermaids.