Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lace Corset

Okay, so I know that I am a little late getting this photo up as I finished this last weekend – but hey I have been busy sewing. Geez I love holidays. Anyway, I have finally finished my forth corset. This one I made to go with my pinstripe fishtail skirt that I wore to the Victorian train ride. I have also put together a pinstripe bolero jacket to go with the whole look. Now I just need a place to wear it.

Anyway, back to the corset. It is made of 4 layers of fabric; the lining, the interfacing, a peach satin and the black embroidered net over the top. The netting gave me the most trouble. As it is an embroidered fabric, when you cut it, it frays all over the place making a huge mess, and meaning I cannot sew with the fan on. (Not an advantage in the middle of summer) But after much cursing, I managed to get the corset fully put together. For the exterior boning casings I used black satin ribbon as it complimented the embroidery really well. Unfortunately, this meant that I could only use the light boning inside them. So needless to say that the corset is not really up to being tight laced. However I did not really intend it to be, as it is more designed as an exterior wear not as an undergarment. Which actually makes me glad that I did not lower the top otherwise my boobs would be hanging out indecently. One alteration I did make on the pattern was to extend the hem (me and my high waist did not work originally). So now my corset is quite a bit longer which gives me more the desired shape that I want. Though I still have to make a couple of changes – namely drop the top down a bit and taper it in at the bottom as it flares out a bit too much.

I also inserted my very first busk in the centre front. In the past I have used hook and eye tape, lacing and open end zips. I was surprised at how easily it went in. I think I had built it up in my mind as way too hard and I was very worried that it would not work. Though I have to say it was really simple, and I was happily surprised. The only addition I made to it was to stuff some heavy boning down the hole with it because it was just a little too flexible for my liking.

But I still love my corset, and am so happy about how it turned out. Though never again with the lace stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Only 1 more day to my holidays

Okay so I know that it sound like I am bragging, but I am just really excited about my holidays. It has been way too long since I had any decent amount of time off and I am really looking forward to spending some peaceful days at home. Between baking and sewing, I should get heaps done. I intend to make a start on some of my sewing projects for next year. Though I will have to hit up a couple of fabric shops to get some of the missing pieces that I need. But so that I remember the projects that I intend to make I am making a list (and checking it twice).
1940s red Christmas dress (December 21st)
Steampunk Costume (January)
1950s swimwear outfit (January / February)
I dream of Jeannie Green Outfit (February 16th)
American McGee Alice (April)

And those are only the ones that I can think of at this stage. I would really like to get some of my other fabric bits cut up and made. I mean I buy the fabric for specific costumes and I would like to get them made up rather than store them as fabric. And of course, once they are made, there is room for me to buy more fabric. But the most important thing I need to get done is to make the cushions for my parents Christmas presents. I have the fabric. I just need to cut it out. But I have been waiting for a time when no one is home so that I can do it as a surprise.
Though, I need to cut out all of my fabric. I intend to dedicate Friday this week to cutting out fabric. I am just going to set myself up in front of the DVD player and cut fabric all day. I know it sounds a bit strange but I sit on the floor and use the coffee table for cutting out. It’s the perfect height and I would rather cut out a heap of stuff rather than just one thing, as I really hate cutting out fabric. I would rather be sewing it up. So I try to get as much done as possible while I am at it. And then when I feel like sewing something, it is already cut out for me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

ACG Christmas Party

I had every intention of putting these photos up last night when I got home from skating. But I was exhausted. I ate dinner, showered and went to bed. There was just no energy left in me to put them up. But anyway, I am only 1 day late and here they are. The photos I have from out ACG Queensland Christmas Party. Skating. Which in itself was an interesting experience for some. We had 16 in total, and all of out members dressed up. My brother did consider coming dressed in his Spanish inquisition costume, but I didn’t give him enough notice. You would think that me bringing it up 2 weeks in advance he would remember that I was going out. But it wasn’t until 1.00 on Sunday afternoon after mum had mentioned that I was going skating that he decided he knew. So he didn’t come.

But we had fun anyway. With fabulous costumes on.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Angel of Death

Like I said before, I would put together an entry about my Christmas costume for our ACG event this year. We are going roller skating. Or blading as in my case. Though, I hate my blades because the wheels are too hard and do not grip on the floor very well. I really should have stuck with my old ones, but they hurt my feet and ankles because they were so bent out of shape from all my trips and falls when I was first learning. But moving on, I am looking forward to the evening. It should be pretty cool, especially in costume. I am going dressed as the Angel of Death.

Well, one take on it anyway. I am making my outfit to match the angel wings that I made for Christmas last year (I wore them to work). And basically they are a wire frame with torn strips of fabric woven over them. I was originally going to do feathers. Back in highschool I made feathered ones that I stitched feathers onto, but I leant them to someone and never got them back again. And so I thought to re-create them. Unfortunately I could not get white stockings as my base and the glue that I had intended to use was off and stunk. Which in turn wrecked all the feathers. So I went woven.

Which made me want to make the whole outfit to match. Mostly because you look like a real idiot dressed as an angel any other time of year. So really, this is the perfect opportunity. (There goes my planned Pirate costume on delay). I have made the underbust corset. In only a couple of hours which I am rather pleased about. I drafted the pattern from some instructions I found on a website. Unfortunately it was a bit too big in the back (the gap) so instead of re-making them I added a feature. I made an extra 2 inch boned panel that sits up the centre back. And then I have 3 rows of eyelets which the lacing goes into (red for a nice contrast). I used a cheap white homespun 2 layers and really stiff shapewell in the middle. And together with my nice stiff plastic boning (not the stupid spotlight stuff) it has enough stiffness to hold shape well. And I also added an open end zip up the centre front so that it will come off easy.

After it was put together and fitted to me. I went through and stitched horizontal strips of torn white fabric across. They go from the side back / back seam to about 1 cm away from the zip. The ends at the front hang loose and long so that they hang over the zip and look rough. I then went through and wove more fabric strips up then down so that all the ends hang at the bottom. It makes the corset almost fully covered with the weaving but it looks so cool.

Now I am going to make the base dress for underneath and the armour – this may work but it will be my first attempt. I may even try to get some laced up cuffs made to go with it all. And of course there will be a sword.


Okay, so my angel costume has changed a bit during the construction. I have decided not to make any armour. Mostly because I did not get around to making some and I’m not too sure how to go about creating it. But I still have my sword to carry around.

The wings look fabulous and so does the corset so at least part of my costume will be fantastic. I did make up the dress but am a bit dubious about wearing it while skating, also it kinda looks like a nightgown which was not my intention. So I have picked up some white shorts and a singlet top to wear over some red tights (just to carry the colour through). I may still decide to wear the dress but at least I have a couple of options now. Hey, I could always dig out my new Lolita petticoat with a plain white skirt over the top. Although skirts and skating really do not go together all that well. Well for me anyway.

I have made the harness for my wings too. Originally when I wore my wings I had them tied on with ribbon, which will definitely not stand up to skating. So I have made a harness out of bag strapping tape and some clips. I just need to attach the wings to it and I am all good. They will not fall about the place as I skate. (Hopefully).

If I get a chance on Saturday I am planning to maybe get some lace up gauntlets together (may even get some time this week after work). If not I may just rip some strips of fabric to wrap around my lower arm which could look cool. As for the hair, I was thinking that maybe I should wear my white wig but I have asked a couple of people and they all think I should just go with my own. Which I must admit will be a lot cooler. Even though it is aircon at the skating rink, I would rather not be too hot in my costume. I always seem to sweat really badly when I am getting ready. I must remember to put he aircon and a fan on when I am getting dressed at home. And then as soon as I get in the car I will be blasting the fan straight at my face.

As for the makeup, I am going to get a little creative. At this stage I am thinking of using a white base colour around my eye are probably with a bit of sparkle dust. Draw in my eyebrows so that they are extended. False lashes – if I can get them to attach. Elongated eyeliner and probably some painted on tears. I may add a little fake blood as well. And if I get time, I will add a fake tattoo somewhere.  

So, I made my brother take  photos of my costume. For my hair I did as I intended and went nuts with the hairspray and teasing. (the comb-out was painful and time consuming but I had the right look). I was happy with how my outfit looked. The dress I made was just really unsuitable with the underbust corset and looked really stupid. So I had my red tights with white shorts and a white singlet. I also wrapped a strip of white fabric around my wrist to carry the whole ripped fabric thing through. And my wings I was thrilled with. It took a bit of imagination to get the harness to work but the wings withheld roller blading so that is a big plus. I now know that those wings will stand up to any movement. Though, I did wipe a few people out.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Retro Afternoon Tea

Yesterday (Sunday) our ACG Brisbane group had a Retro afternoon tea date. We went to the Shingle Inn in McArthur Central on Queen Street. But first we went to City Hall for photos (it was too wet for the park and garden). It actually worked out nicely to have our photos there as it worked for the 1910s, 40s and 50s time periods of our clothes. I had a fabulous time (apart from the sore feet) and got heaps of photos (now put up here).

My dress was actually pretty simple to make. I used a vintage McCalls pattern that I picked up on Ebay and adjusted to fit. This was a lot easier than many patterns because it was a simple cut on the fold dress both the front and the back. Meaning all I had to do to enlarge it was add a bit in the Centre Front and Centre Back – saving me a heap of trouble. (The picture attached is the pattern I used).

For my fabric I used a seafoam toned faille. I like the fabric, it has enough weight to hang nicely but light enough to swish. And the colour really works for the 1940s style. I was wearing my 1950s corset underneath, though I probably would have been fine without it. I got to use my soft leather gloves, and I had on my lovely oxford heels which by the way are a 4 inch heel. And when I wear flat shoes all the time – me feet now hate me. I am thinking I need to wear heels a bit more often so that when I do wear costume, they work for me. Though I must say my arse, thighs and calf muscles got a work out, so yay.

I love my makeup – though being a makeup artist I know what to do. So I kinda cheat. But hey, it’s my secret weapon. I went with the full forties style, exaggerating the top lip line in a nice bright red. And my hair was the first challenge of the day. I have just put a chocolate brown dye through, so the colour is fabulous. So I went for the rolls, as they wore back in the day. After watching a couple of tutorials online, I tackled my hair. I first added mousse and put in the hot rollers. Probably not a necessary step – as long as your hair is brushed and smoothed. And my hair has enough natural wave that it would hold without curling. And then I attempted to roll my hair. Found out that it was too hard and made some rolls to wrap it around. I grabbed an old pair of stockings and cut them up, stuffed them with fabric and shoved them in. It took a couple of goes to get it sitting right but once it was rolled up I shoved in heaps of pins to hold it. Then I did the other side. The hardest thing was to do the back roll. Because my hair is so long I could not physically get the right angle on the roll doing it myself, so I had mum help me. She rolled up, and I stuck in the pins. I then added a tonne of hair spray and fringe pins to hold the fly-aways flat and neat. And eliminate my fringe.

I was really happy with how it turned out, and am now confident I can re-create the look when I need to put it on next time. With a little help of course. Through the dress will be worn to work now that I have it. Why waste all that work and the beautiful dress.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Party

Well now, our Halloween party is over and finished. I had a great time. Everyone bar a couple of pikers (one person’s costume was stolen off the wash line, so some leniency is allowed) dressed up. I was actually really impressed with some of the costumes too. My cousin looked amazing in her purple 1940s starlet dress, and her husband as Austin Powers (the just missed each other by about 20 years). And my parents both re-used their costumes, though there were a few changes. Mum has sewn her cape up the centre front so that it does not gape open and is more like a robe, and added an elastic waistband to bunch over (makes it the correct length for her short form and looks more like the character should). Dad, dressed as the Grim Reaper unfortunately forgot that his was not a robe and instead and open cape. So the Grim Reaper was showing a bit of leg wearing shorts underneath. (Not the sharpest tool in the shed, my father). And I will go into more detail about my brothers and my costume in another post.
The decorations were also amazing. (I was not allowed to divulge what we were doing before the party as it was a surprise). We had people enter down the side through tomb stones. My favourites “I told you I was sick” and “Here Lies Jonothan Blake, He hit the gas instead of the brake.” And when everyone entered, we had dressed up the room with cobwebs, candles, the witches table (will get it’s own post) and my cake which I will go into more detail later (including pictures).

We also went all out and played games. Which is interesting (to put it nicely) with a room full of drunk people. We started off with teams (The Vampires, The Zombies, The Frankensteins, and The Bimbos) and a mummy wrap game. Surprisingly the single roll of toilet paper went far. Then we had quiz questions followed up by Charades. Hilarious watching people act out Interview with a Vampire. But I am pretty sure that we all had a great time anyway. Thank-you party planners. I look forward to what we do next year. Although, air conditioning seems like a good idea.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Halloween Spanish Inquisition

Now this costume is for my brother this Halloween. The Spanish inquisition (yet more from Monty Python Flying Circus). After doing a bit of photographic research online, and watching the DVDs (such a hardship), I finally worked out the individual pieces: Basic Red Long Sleeve Robe, Red Cummerbund, Red Capette, and the headwear. Jason decided to go with the wide brim hat costume – which is really the leader of the inquisition.

Anyway, I found a pattern which has the bulk of the pieces that I need – the robe and the capette. I decided to use a nice red polycotton to create the bulk of the outfit. When I was picking the fabric I took into account that fact that I would need just on 7 metres. Therefore, I went with the cotton. At $2.99 / metre you just can’t go wrong. Plus the added bonus is that it is nice and cool to wear. I am making a red cummerbund out of some of the leftover polycotton. I am thinking that if I gather it up and use some elastic at the back, I should get the correct look. I was lucky with the hat that I already had a pattern which would work beautifully. It is the one that I made my puss in boots hat from. I just need to make the brim a bit stiffer with some interfacing and an extra layer, cut down the height of the hat a smidge and add the 4 strings to tie under his chin. At least I am not stepping into hat making blindly not knowing what I am doing at all. The hat is just made from wool felt. Which in itself is about $17.99 / metre. Thankfully, I only needed ½ a metre.

Now that I have everything and it is all ready to cut out, I just have to get around to making it. It should not be too hard though. All I really need to do is sew a few seams and make the hat. Thankfully, as I am running out of time to get this finished. I kinda took my own costumes as priority. I teased my brother that he could wrap him in aluminium foil and he could be a leftover. Needless to say, he did not take that too well. I will get some photos of this up once I have him in the whole outfit at Halloween.


I was actually really pleased with how my brothers’ Spanish inquisition costume turned out. And so was he, which has made me all the more happy. It’s not completely correct to the tv show (Monty Python’s Flying Circus), but I already had it made when I realised that it was slightly different. And before that I was going by crappy screen shots. But it still looked really nifty.

Everyone complements me on the hat – which I must say drove me up the wall when I was making it. The pattern is wrong. The crown’s circumference is too big for the stand and once you make that part the hole where you sew the brim onto is too small. So it took endless amounts of trimming to get it fitting correctly. And I have determined to never make this hat again. My brother has a red one and I have a black one (from my puss in boots costume). I just thought that back then it was my inexperience and that this time it would work. I was wrong. The pattern hates me.

But I still intend to make more hats for my costumes. I mean I have already cut out an Edwardian hat and a pirate hat. I think I am just a glutton for punishment. But anyway, I am considering fixing the costume to make it more realistic to the show. It really simple changes. Basically change the front of the cape to button up, and eliminate the cummerbund, as it is really just a long scarf or sash tied at the waist. I also need to add a hood to the back of the robe. Thankfully the pattern allows for this. So at least it is all just minor changes. I may get time to do them over Christmas when I take leave. Will have to think about it as I will have a lot on my plate around then. Small mercy though – No family will be with us the week before Christmas and my parents are going away. My boss will be away from work and I am taking some time off to sew. YAY Holidays!  

Halloween American McGee Alice

My 1st Halloween costume for 2007. (Full costume photos will have to await October and the Party) I have long wanted to dress as American McGee’s Alice. After playing the game there really was no other choice but to one day become Alice. I used just a basic Alice in Wonderland dress pattern but changed the colours to match. Namely, a darker blue as the base colour for the dress. It’s all just polycotton, so it is nice and comfortable and cool for our lovely hot Australian October. There is nothing worse than sweating to death in a full-on elaborate outfit. (Though next year will be something completely different). The apron is just white polycotton as well, though I used some fake blood and fabric markers to get the designs and blood.

For underneath the skirt I made a set of cotton bloomers. Basically so that when I sit down my skirt won’t fly up for a flash of knickers. I had originally bought white polycotton, but decided that I wanted it to be blue (I had a blue dye) unfortunately the colour did not take to the fabric. NOTE TO SELF polycotton does not dye well. So they turned a very slight tinge of blue. I also made a petticoat for underneath so that the skirt has enough fullness to stand out. I did this by using an elastic waist skirt and sewing on some ruffles so that it would have enough poof – the ruffles are blue to match the dress. Add some fishnet tights and a pair of black boots and of course the kitchen knife and my outfit is complete.

Funnily enough, it did not take any where near as long as some of my other costumes to pull together. When I was making it I kept trying it on to make sure that I would end up with the correct fit. I have been through the whole ill-fitting costume before and believe me it was not a pleasant experience. Now I just have to make the rest of the costumes that we will need.


Photos of me in my costume. (Though not too attractive) Unfortunately I did not get many of my costume. A maximum of 2 to pick from. But the next time I wear this costume (I am thinking for Supanova 2008) I know what changes I need to make.

1. Bib part of apron sags unattractively – tighten.
2. Bow of apron comes undone – double knot.
3. Wig the wrong colour – Ebay. (I did not have enough time to get one this time.)
4. Need weapon to complete outfit. – Try to find or make replica.
5. Boots – get my own. (I ended up borrowing my cousins).
6. Blood – smear some on the front of the apron.
7. Necklace – make one.
8. Petticoats – make several. (The skirt just didn’t have enough poof – so I am thinking layers)

That about sums up my additions and changes for next time. And I intend to get them done. As I have said before, at least I have the base to work with. It will just require a few minor changes to perfect the complete costume.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Star Wars - Padme Packing Gown, the making of

Which costume to pick? There are just so many fantastic costumes from the star wars movies that I don’t know which one that I want to use. (Costumer’s Guild Queensland Party). I mean there are the Padme outfits from episodes 1, 2 and 3 then there are the Princess Leia outfits. Not to mention the pretty cool handmaiden dresses and from the books Mara Jade has a very neat costume too.

But after that dilemma, I picked one of Padme’s very many dresses to reproduce. This one (see picture) is the packing gown from episode II. It is not exactly worn for very long in the film (she has so many) but I love the complete outfit and the look that it gives. So far, I have got my fabric and am using patterns that I already have. I have so many that I better have one that would work. For the skirt I am using a grey marle polycotton, hopefully this will give the look of a slubbed silk but cheaper to make. For the under blouse I picked up some light grey georgette which should give a nice fall but still be thicker than chiffon. And for the vest piece, I have Black Poly-velvet. Ideally I would have bought true velvet but at $60 / metre I could not really afford it. Initially I was thinking of velveteen but as summer is coming in nowhere I went have any left in stock. So I settled. Also I went black as I could not get charcoal. I am thinking that if I stiffen it with some shapewell and line the bodice with a nice stiff cotton, it should not stretch too much anymore. I will just have to be careful when I am sewing it to not stretch the stuff too much – lots of pins.

The hair I will tackle when it comes time to get dressed. I really feel I should progress towards getting my costume made first. Thankfully I have next week off from work, as the projects just keep on stacking up.

My Padme costume is coming along nicely. While the 6th of October is fast approaching. Also, I will not have that Saturday morning to prepare and finish sewing as I have a full on 6 people wedding to do makeup for. I guess I am just going to have to buckle on down and get some work done this week.

Good news though, I have the skirt finished. It was not really that hard to do in fact. I just ripped off a piece for the waistband, lined it with shapewell for stiffness, and pleated the remaining piece on. A small seam up one side and a buttonhole closure, and I was done. I didn’t even bother cutting the salvage off as it meant that I would not have to finish the seam. And it was the perfect height for me with a small hem. All I dread now is pressing the pleats in place. Ugh.

I started creating the under blouse. A bit of gathering into the yoke, some ribbon ties, sleeves and cuffs and I will be done. I think that the most time consuming part will be covering the buttons with fabric and sewing them on. Come to think of it, I have seen my mum cover buttons before. I usually just buy plastic ones that will match (big old slacker that I am).

I have also progressed to getting my vest done as well. I tired very hard to find some velveteen or velour in a charcoal colour. I finally settled on black, as blue was the other option, and had to resort to a poly stretch velvet. It is really nice, but I now have to use some heat and bond so that it will not stretch once made up. This is what has me held up at the moment. I stuck the stuff to the velvet half, but once I got to the sticking onto cotton, I ended up with the glue on the iron. Meaning that I now have to clean said iron. I think next time I will make sure that the heat and bond is cut to the correct size with none hanging over the edge to the fabric. (It was a long day).

I also really need to get some sculpy so that I can create the head pieces. They will only take a little while to make and bake, and I figure that I will work out some way to stick them on later. The only other part that has me a bit worried is making the “embroidered” detail piece for the front of the vest. I don’t actually intend to sew this to the vest, just attach it in place with hook and eyes. I am also cheating in that I don’t intend to embroider it at all, but am going to use some puff and fabric paint to get the desired look. Hey, I did say that time was limited.  
I have finished my Star Wars Padme costume. (well mostly). The most annoying thing in the whole process was making the vest. Mostly because I had to bond the stretch velvet to a cotton, as I did not want it to stretch. The biggest annoyance was that the heat and bond stuff reeks. Every time it is heated, you get this horrible pungent odour. Ew. But it seems to have worked. The lining has pulled a bit funny on the vest, but no one will see that as it is the inside only. I ended up using hook and eye tape down the front to hold the vest together. I was going to hand stitch hooks and eyes along the closure, but it was easier with the tape. And there was no point really, as the tape is covered by fabric and cannot be seen.

My other cheat was with the embroidery panel on the vest front. It is supposed to be beaded. I ended up making the piece as a separate add on. I blanket stitched around the edges. (thimble was necessary when stitching through 4 layers of fabric including 4 layers seam). But then I just painted on the background colour with some acrylic paint (wont be able to wash this now) and used puff paint to get the overall design. I just didn’t have the time and inclination to do a heap of beading. I am just going to hand tack this piece onto the front of the vest, so that it can be removed for washing and other costumes easily.

The only other pieces I am now missing are the metal armbands. I intend to find some form of bracelets (cheap jewellery shops here I come). I also need to make the hair headpieces – need a wig and foam. And I need to remake the clay headpieces. I did it the first time, but forgot to put holes for the chain in them before I baked the sculpey. At least it is a quick process. And I now know that I have Saturday free (wedding has been unconfirmed) to finish any last minute items. Whew. Hopefully I can be done in time.  
Well, here are my photos of my Padme Packing Gown. I am actually really happy with how this turned out. And surprisingly I did not get too hot wearing it all night. I ended up wearing quite a few layers for this complete outfit. First there was the voile chemise (made for my Edwardian – knee length) and cotton bloomers (more for my comforts sake then for the costume). Then there was my corset (original cream cotton one). I then had the petticoat (actually my cancan petticoat because it gave the right bell shape). I then had the grey georgette blouse (complete with decorative buttons on the cuff and black ribbon as the upper arm cuff bands – I couldn’t find any bracelets that were suitable). Next was the skirt (a lot of fabric). But I had it sitting nice as the petticoat was sitting on my hips (glad I had a corset underneath as support because it is very heavy) and the skirt was sitting at my waist. And the last layer was the velvet jacket with the detailed panel tacked to the front with a few hand stitches

For the hair, I ended up doing buns on the side of my head. I just could not get the horseshoe shape that they had in the movie. I did these by tying my hair into high pigtails, teasing sections to get enough bulk, and then loosely wrapping my hair to create the buns. And used about a gazillion bobby pins to hold it all in place. I also kept out a section of my hair at the front and back, so that I could create a small bun at the back of my head (like in the movie). This game me some way of getting my fringe to sit back neatly (crusty with hairspray), and it covered up the centre part for my buns. I then used come fringe pins to attach the chains to my head, and stuck the clay headpieces in place. I ended up using double sided sticky tape to attach them to my hair, as I had no other way of doing so. I am just glad that I actually finished everything, and it turned out so well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Halloween Party Planning

This year, my cousin and I are hosting a Halloween party. (I have been told that I am co-hosting). At this stage, we are just researching and coming up with as many ideas as we can. Then we will weed out the bad ones and do something overly fantastic and fun.

We have decided upon the venue – downstairs at my cousin’s house. Hopefully we will be able to get some really nice halloweeney decorations happening. For the moment we have decided upon black lights, candles and cocktails. We’re thinking some nice green beverages with maybe a bit of dry ice. But it really depends on what we can get. And there is going to be food.  I am looking for some gruesome and theme types of food. So lately I have been scouring the internet for recipes. At this stage one idea is for some form of gluggy jelly made to look like congealed blood.

Then there is the preparing of costumes. Thankfully I only have to pull together a couple this year. Mum is going to re-use her Fairy Godmother costume and Dad is going to re-use his Grim Reaper costume. I just have to get something together for me and my brother. He is going to be a member of the Spanish Inquisition. – Should be good. I have already got the pattern and all the fabric. And it should be pretty easy to put together. I’m just a bit worried about getting the hat right.

But I don’t want spoil it for anyone coming so everything will be lips sealed until after the event.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Victorian Steam Train Ride

Photos from our Victorian Train Ride. I had a blast. I ended up wearing my purple jacquard corset with the fishtail skirt (for Melbourne cup) and a soft satin chemise underneath. I was actually pleased with how the whole look turned out. I was a bit worried that I was using too many dark colours and would look a bit too gothic. But the purple lightened up the whole ensemble and I had enough arm skin exposed for it to work nicely.

Though I have decided to make a full Victorian skirt and bodice. Last night I ordered a few patterns from Truly Victorian so that I will have a decent pattern to work from. And I will probably go for some soft girly colours. I like the look of the linen fabric and using lightweight cotton over the top.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Swedish Chef

My brothers’ costume for my 21st Birthday party was the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. We thought about making a whole padded suit for him to wear, but decided that it would be too cumbersome. Anyway, the costume was very easy to pull together. First I found many pictures online to help me decide on what fabric patterns that I needed to choose. Also another excuse to watch more Muppets. “Research”.
Moving on, I first made the shirt which is just a button through shirt, however I had to grade the pattern up a bit as my brother is not quite so small. I cut it as big as I could, allowing for the fabric width. I then made the chef hat. I was surprised at how easily this came together. I thought that it would be a lot harder to make, but I was wrong. For this hat and the apron I just used a white polycotton (cheap). I then made the long pants which are just an elastic waist. For this I used my trusty boxer shorts pattern and made them long. That way I knew that they would definitely fit my brother. And on the evening, I painted in his eyebrows using black eyeshaddow powder and painted on his moustache with black eyeliner. I was going to apply a crepe beard as moustache, but my brother would not sit still long enough and got a little upset when I told him how hard it is to get the spirit gum off his skin and the fact that he may eat a little of the hair over the evening. Picky people. Though, I must say that I was really happy at how it turned out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Grim Reaper

Another costume for my 21st Birthday party was the Grim Reaper from Monty Python The Meaning of Life. I made this for my dad to wear. We are all great aficionados of Monty Python – it kinda runs in the family. And I will probably make more Monty Python themed costumes for my male relatives. Anyway, this was for my dad.

I used a basic cape pattern and pretty much made it straight as the pattern said. It turned out really well, and I love how it falls and moves. I “researched” the film and worked that they probably used something not unlike black panne velvet, as the robe has a slight velour sheen to it. So this is what I used. It was a bit of a pain in a few instances as the fabric stretches and the pattern is not designed for a stretch fabric. But I persisted, and it looks great. The only change I would make it to change the frog at the neck as it just kept slipping out. Some stud clips would probably work better for the next wear. Which is Halloween this year. Scythe and all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cancan ensemble

I thought that I would do a bit of a backlog of costumes that I have made in the past. I am starting with the costume from my 21st Birthday party. I made a cancan outfit. (And learnt quite a few things in the process).

The first thing I had to decide was what costume I wanted to make for my party. And since it was my birthday, I wanted something elaborate and fancy. Hence the cancan dancer costume. I used a mccalls pattern. The fabric I managed to pick up a delustered satin on sale at Spotlight for $5 / metre.
It was quite a huge undertaking for one of my very first costumes, but it was what I wanted to make. So, I made the bodice first, adding boning into it. In hindsight, I probably should have left the boning out of the bodice and instead worn a corset underneath, as it was uncomfortable and did not really do much for the line of the garment. The next time I wear the dress, I will make note to wear a proper corset underneath, remove the boning from the bodice and just have it as a piece over the top. Though I must say that at that stage, I was not making full boned corsets for cinching like I am now. Another problem that I had with the bodice was that the straps drove me up the wall all night, as they kept falling off my shoulders. A bit of body tape will solve the problem for next time, but it something that I should think about in the future with my costumes – test run wearing.

The skirt turned out beautifully. It was really simple to pull together and didn’t require much in the way of work – just a bit of gathering into the waistband. The petticoat underneath was a whole other story. It took a long time to gather all the fabric onto the base skirt. But I was so happy with how it turned out and the way that it looked on. Next time that I make a cancan petticoat, I will however try using a different fabric for the ruffles. I used polycotton, as it was cheap and you need quite a bit for the skirt. But I think that a lace or tulle would work and look pretty cool too. However, I must say that you really do need a good waistband on the skirt as it weighs a tonne. I did change the pattern here, in that I used a button and hole to do up the petticoat, so that it was strong enough to hold up, and adjustable for future use.

I also did not anticipate how hot you can get in that dress. Not only did I have the dress layers, I also had stockings with round toe t-bar shoes and bloomers on underneath. However, it did look good. The bloomers was more for my comfort under the skirt, but for next time I intend to make a pair of ruffled panties to wear. I have also changed the shoes – probably boots next time as the high heels were uncomfortable for a long period and a little too big for me. It would also probably be a lot cooler if I changed the stockings to very large fishnet as it would be cooler than the dense thick tights.

But I look at it as an experience time. You only learn more from your mistakes. Though storing the dress is interesting. The petticoat takes up a heap of space and I have since bought a space bad to try to flatten it. I must get out the costume and did some more fixing on it for another occasion. I think that I will also add some more embellishment to the bodice. Maybe a contrasting colour fringing would look good. If I make some more changes, I will certainly get up new photos.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Victorian Ensemble

Well, I have decided to finally create my very first Victorian outfit. Including full historical undergarments to match. I have a couple of historical costume patterns for Victorian, but I am not completely happy with the look. I want something a bit more elaborate with layers. So at the moment I am thinking that I will have to mesh a few patterns together to get the correct overall image. My inspiration currently comes from a bunch of fashion plates I found online of bustle dresses which is the era of Victorian dresses I want to focus on.

But now, my cousin tells me that she wants to go to a Victorian outing and wear a full outfit – in 3 weeks. Hmmm, we shall see. I have a corset that I could make do with (I want to make a new one now that I know what I am doing). But I could probably get most of the skirt part done. And make do with some other sort of bodice or jacket. I guess that the skirt is kind of the most important part of the outfit. (Considering that that is where the main shape of the era comes from).


So, it turns out that I am going to piece together a couple of patterns. Now that I have drawn up a design of how I want my outfit to appear, I am moving on to create it. I ended up deciding to stay away from a Victorian dress. Instead going for a two layered skirt with the top layer pulled up at the back. Then adding a corset and bolero jacket.

For the corset (I am really getting handy at making these now). I am using black lace over a blush toned delustred satin, with black satin boning casings. Under this I am wearing a thigh length chemise made from blush coloured lawn. For the over skirt and bolero, I am using a black pinstripe cotton.

In the meantime, I am wearing the skirt in on a Victorian Steam Train Ride. So, I have made it already. I was actually surprised at the pattern. Originally when I bought it I thought that it was a single skirt. However, I now know that it is basically two skirts. The long one with a train underneath (placket at waistline) and the over skirt which is only about knee length and gathered up at the back with a ribbon. So it really does not have a bustle. But in the middle of the Victorian era, the bustle just about disappeared, going into a natural form shape. The two skirts are then sewn to each other at the waist, to make one single garment. I did change the fact that the overskirt is supposed to be cut on the bias. But as I am using the pinstripe, it would have looked really odd to have it bias cut.

Anyway, for this occasion as I have not prepared the corset yet or the bolero (I still need to get some piping and a busk) I am piecing it together with my purple jacquard corset and I have made a black satin peasant blouse / chemise underneath. And I am adding my shawl over the top to stay warm. I even managed to find a lovely black lace parasol on ebay to complete the look.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Medieval Gown - Orange / Red Ensemble

Well, it’s not much of a dress anymore. I did make a dress, out of orange cotton polyester fabric. However, I am not completely happy with how it turned out. For a start it was supposed to have a certain style of sleeve, but I did not have enough fabric when I was cutting it out even though I bought the correct amount as per the instructions on the back of the packet. Anyway, I made it with a straight sleeve, but it really needs some more work done to it.

But moving on, I decided to keep that dress for improvements (maybe for next year as I have tonnes of time to work on it now) and move to a new outfit instead. Not a dress this time. I am using the shirt from my puss in boots costume as it is from a robin hood style pattern (appropriate to the time period). And I made a boned vest to go over it. I deviated from the original pattern, I believe it was a gypsy style, by sewing it with 3 layers; exterior, shapewell interfacing and lining fabric. I put it together like you would with a corset, by sewing the panels together with wrong sides together. I then trimmed the seam down and stitched bias binding tape as a casing for boning over the top of the seam. I used black as a nice contrast to the red of the fabric and to match my puss shirt which is black with red ties for the forearm. I did have to make a few adjustments like cutting away the seam allowance on the straps as I would jut be using bias binding to finish the edges. The next step was to create the back of the bodice as I wanted it to lace up instead of using a zip. I cut this down to remove the seam allowance and folded it over to create a self-facing piece which I covered the stitching of with another piece of boning casing. I then bound around the armhole and neckline with the bias binding. I stitched the shoulder seams in place and added the binding to cover the seam. I then added a lovely 26 black hole eyelets down the back.

I then added some little black buttons sewn where the shoulder strap meets the bodice to cover my dodgy sewing mix up. I should have used the binding on the angle to make it neater, but did not at the time. I also intend to use the buttons in the future as a place to have a cape attached to the bodice without being strangled by ties. I will just sew little button holes to fit on the cape itself and the will hook over the buttons.

I finished the bodice off by stuffing boning into the casings I made. I used heavy duty boning (the strongest plastic stuff I can get) over the bust line and down the back, and the regular boning (from Spotlight – also plastic) in side seams and the back panel seams. This will help to create a nice line when wearing the outfit, so that the bodice will not crease and bend in the wrong places. I then bound the bottom edge of the vest with the black bias binding, and black ribbon cording to lace up the back. This I did the same as you would with a corset: ie. Two laces meeting in the middle. It makes it much easier to lace up as you can even out the lacing tightness easier.

To complete the outfit, I will be wearing black pants and my boots. They’re not really historically accurate boots, but I want to be comfortable and that is the best thing that I have. I was thinking about adding my musketeer sword, but that will just annoy me all day.
So happy with how this finally turned out. I probably could have put a bit more effort into making the vest, but I thought that I was running out time and tried to hurry it along (big mistake). But now I can go back and fix it for the next time. Basically ¾ pants, puss in boots shirt, vest and stockings. My footwear became sneakers (for comfort) instead of boots, but I was comfortable. (If only I had someone who could lace it for me properly.)

As I mentioned before, I wanted to be comfortable for the day, so I just pulled my hair back with a piece of ribbon to keep it out of my face and food for the whole day. Note to self – next year prepare a hat or parasol of some kind. I got a little bit sunburnt sitting out and watching the tournaments and the jousts.

We saw many amazing costumes, so I am already staring to think of outfits for next year. But aside from that it was amazing. There is always something for you to do. Aside from the market stalls (I did spend quite a bit on honey mead – 18% alcohol and jewellery) there is always something to watch. From dancing lessons to medieval games, fencing, music, jousts and tournaments. The stalls were also amazing. Huge range of weaponry (for the men) and me, as well as jewellery, food and leatherwork. Plus heaps more stuff to see. And everything is set up to look exactly like the period. The stallholders and re-enactors even camp there and have whole tents set up. I cannot wait until next year.  

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Corset - Purple Jacquard

But first I need to finish what I’ve already gotten started. Last weekend I started pulling together a new corset. It is made from beautiful purple jacquard ($20 per meter – but not too bad when you only need 80cm for a corset). Last Saturday I got all the pieces sewn together and the boning inserts added. At least this time I kind of knew what I was doing. (I learnt from my first corset that I needed to take it in over the bust so that my boobs would sit nicely into the corset – bulging at the top). Then I added all the boning casings and bound the top.

For my boning casings I just used bias binding. Sewn in the correct place and you can wedge the boning down nicely. Just have to be careful that there are not joins in the casing – it makes it awfully difficult trying to get the boning through. I also put some of the boning casings on the inside of the corset, so that I would not detract from the looks of the beautiful fabric. Then last night, I added the eyelets. I have 12 down each side on the back (I space them at about an index finger apart) and 13 down the centre front. I wanted a different look this time, instead of a busk happening I wanted lacing. I used gold eyelets – pretty against the purple. 

And then just this Friday afternoon, I finished by adding all the boning – wedging a few pieces along-side the eyelets to add stiffening. I finished by binding along the bottom of the corset and adding the lacings. I used 4 laces, lacing from the top and bottom to tie in the centre. It makes it much easier to do the tight lacing as you only have to work on half of the body at a time and it is actually closer to historical as they used to do this traditionally. In the end, I did put in a modesty panel at the front because this is the area that gets pulled in the most with the tight lacing. In the picture I didn't really tight lace the corset - there was nobody available to help with the lacing. (The front is the one with the purple lacing. I did originally want black but I could not get any. The purple is only temporary.)

Overall, I am happy with the look. But I think next time I need to add about an inch to the bottom of the corset. It’s just because I have a high waist. On standard block patterns, the corset would sit low enough at the hip. But hey, it turned out much better than my first one. And I didn’t even need to use the instructions this time.

Medieval - Winter White

Well, here I am again to talk about my sewing. I have had a really good run lately. I had a lovely day off work last Tuesday and managed to get into Spotlight. Low and behold they had a fabric clearance on. I managed to get some orange cotton fabric with a slub for a medieval dress. I was so excited it cost me $3 per metre. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but my cousin and I are going to this medieval tournament in a few weeks time. Should be fun. Anyway, I am making the orange dress to wear during the day. And then, we are also going to the mask ball of the tournament on the Saturday night. To which I am also making a dress. Originally I was thinking a nice emerald green colour, but it turned out that I found this winter white (kind of a cream colour) look-a-like linen. Even better it only cost $2 per meter. It seems that I intend to be very ambitious for this tournament because not only am I making the dresses, but I will also make my mask for that ball and if I get enough time a full cape to go with it.


Medieval dress number 1 is now completed. Turns out that I had to take it in a bit at the back neckline and waist to fit it nicely, but I am rather pleased with the look. Originally the dress is supposed to be made with a contrast fabric at the centre front, the inner sleeve and the yoke pieces, but having found the fabric so cheap, and nothing else to really work with it, I didn’t add a contrast.

Unfortunately the fabric is rather see-through so I have made undergarments for the outfit. I was researching some costume websites recently and found an image of the undergarments worn by Kiera Knightly in King Arthur (under the blue dress). Basically it is a full length cotton shift. Almost a regency style with the skirt pieces gathered into the bodice. So this is what I decided to make as my undergarments too, as it does not destroy the line of the dress as well as stockings. (Well it is July and rather freezing cold at night-time). I have also made a cream voile cape to wear over the top. Not really a warm sort of garment, but it will provide wind protection, and look pretty over my outfit. Note to self - must remember to be careful with hood so as not to destroy my mask. (I used the leftover voile to make the chemise.)

And the final touch on my complete costume is the mask. I decided to introduce royal purple (kind of matches my hair colour at the moment) with the cream and gold. I purchased the base of the mask from crazy clarks for a nice cheap $2. I decided to go with it because the paper-mache it is made from will paint easier and allow easier attachments (glue, needle holes etc.) compared to a plastic mask from Spotlight.


This was what I wore to the masked ball. And even though the cape was only made of cotton voile, I was so glad that I had it as it was freezing outside at night time. Though I am rather happy with how it all turned out. The mask complemented the outfit well, and brought a bit of colour to the complete ensemble. In the end I decided to change my hair, I just pulled the front section back with a couple bobby pins and a shell clip to match my earrings.

For my footwear, I ended up wearing my Victorian boots. Not really historically accurate, but they kept my feet warm and I didn’t have anything more appropriate. I looked in all the shoe shops for something that would work, but could not get anything.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Puss In Boots

My final puss in boots outfit...

I did make a few final changes to my original plan. I made a pair of brown tights as the legs instead of black. I figured that otherwise,there would be too much black in the costume and I would disappear into the night. Also the headpiece I made, I ended up changing. One I tired it on, it just looked wrong. Too much like a bear head. So instead I attached black cardboard to
a black headband and arranged my hair around the ears so that the headband could not be seen.
For the shirt, I used a robin hood type of style and pattern. The only difference I made to the patterns was that I didn't do the lacing up at the front near the collar and instead of elastic or a cuff at the wrist, I thread red ribbon through and then pulled it tight and laced it up my arm.

The tail looked awesome, however I made it a bit too long and it dragged on the floor too much. Meaning that by the end of the evening there was food, dirt and something sticky I would rather not investigate on the end. Note to self - shorter tail next time.

The hat was another complex part of my costume. It didn't take overly long to make, it was just annoying in that I had a lot of trouble trying to get the wire into the casing for the brim of the hat. Turned out my wire was too thick. Once I got the thinner stuff in there it was smooth sailing. Small change that I made to the pattern was that instead of turning under the brim edge
to create the casing for the sire, I used black bias binding. Could probably have used red and it would have looked really good.

My favourite part though, was the makeup. I based it off a makeup design from Andrew Lloyd Webbers' Cats The Musical. I am a makeup artist, so that did help me in doing the makeup. Thank God. I probably would not have done a cat character if I could not have the awesome makeup. It was surprising, I could not tell that I was wearing it, aside from the looks on everyone's faces.

I used a Kryolan white pancake makeup all over my face and neck as a base. I then used brown powders and bronzer to add in the facial shading under my cheekbones, at my forehead and in a round shape at my eye. I then used brown pencils to draw in the impression of whiskers and fur. I then applied black mascara and drew in my new cat eyebrows with a black liquid liner and brush. I also painted in a almond shape on my upper lash line, and a few millimeters below my lower lashline. I then painted in my nose and drew just above my top lip, and add whisker spots on my upper lip. I then applied very thick elongated black fake eyelashes. Surprisingly, it did not take me too long to apply. And the result is as you see.

Dad's Mad Hatter

As I mentioned, the central theme of my fairytale party was a mad hatter tea party. This was my dad. Lets get into the making of the costume. I was actually surprised that it did not take me a lot longer to make the costume. The pants were simple, just an elastic waist pants. And the shirt underneath was just a regular long sleeve workshirt. The tie I bought from a discount
outlet (I wanted something that would clash rather well) and the vest was simple.

The hat was another matter all together. After tracking down the foam I needed to make the hat, I thought it would be smooth sailing from here. Unfortunatly not, I had chosed a soft charmeuse satin to make the exterior of the hat with. I did want to use a heavier satin, but could not get it in the right colour. The biggest thing that posed a problem was that the satin kept slipping. I stitched it to the foam, but still found that it would slip out of alignment and thus out of the seams. I'm actually rather happy with the way it turned out, I ended up getting the seams in (with much unpicking and frustration). It looks great but next time I make that hat, I will think twice about the fabric I use.

Fairytale Party

Well, I had my fairytale dinner party. It was a lot of exhausting work, but so much fun. I had a total of 14 people at my party, quite a lot of hungry mouths to feed. But I was so glad that everyone took the initiative and dressed up. All my costumes came out well. I made the Fairy, The Mad Hatter, The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella and of course my puss in boots outfit. Which you will see in another of my entries.

My decorations were inspired by fairy tales. I had a yellow brick road running up the driveway lit with tea light candles in brown paper bags. The trick is to fill the bottom of the bags with rocks or sand to hold them out. Although, as is the case with paper and fire, a few bags got a bit burnt. My yellow brick road was made of bright yellow wrapping paper cut into rectangles and stuck down onto the ground. And once you arrived at the end of the road I had a mad hatter tea party set up (hence the Mad Hatter costume). I spruced up the area with some black and red crepe paper chains, and some large playing cards stuck to the wall. I also had 3 paper Chinese lanterns set up above the table. Leftover from a birthday party, I painted them with red and black acrylic paint with hearts, spades and clubs. And a light bulb running into them added light to the space. I then had 3 tables joined together to run down the length of the area, seats surrounding. Each place was set with knife, fork and spoon, and an individual tea cup as a place setting. I painted the teacups to have a heart, spade, diamond and club and with a small tea light candle, to light up the table space.

To spice up the evening a bit, I also had games for everyone to play. I tired to keep with the fairytale theme, but I could not resist having a pass the parcel. My centre prize was a my little pony. And on most of the layers I add a forfeit (something embarrassing that the unwrapper must do). I also arranged a malteasers game, with straws (kind of a suck and blow type
thing). We played a team fairytale questions game and then fairytale celebrity heads. I know games seem kind of childish, but the whole evening was designed to be fun and reminiscent of your childhood.

Overall, I had a fantastic time. Mind you, I was exhausted the next day...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fairytale Party Mad Hatter

Well, the previously mentioned fairytale costume party has progressed further in the sewing department. I am still working on my Puss In Boots outfit but am pretty much finnished with a Mad Hatter Costume for my dad. (I only need him to try on the pants so I can hem them).

Basically the costume is a tailed coat, with a vest and tie. And check pants. I tried to pick some colours that would hopefully clash really well together, but still be workable for future use. (I don't make these things for nothing.)

I used a peacock corduroy with a fine pill for the jacket. The tails were not supposed to have an inside lining, but I thought that it would look unfinished if I didn't add a lining. So I just bought more of the cord and lined it fully with that.

Another thing that I changed from the original pattern is that I didn't do the sleeve hem as specified. My dad has long arms (A trait that runs in the family) so I didn't want to make the sleeves any shorter. Instead, I used purple bias binding and stitched it to the inside. On the exterior the hem just looks like a single fold 1cm hem, but then you get flashes of the contrast purple binding when you move. Very cool.

I made the purple vest out of a cheap satin. It's an acetate fabric, so it's cheap and a lot stiffer than other satin fabrics, meaning that it will hold shape a bit better and not stretch and fall like most satins. The only thing I changed about the vest, is that it was supposed to have a dickey attached. But I wanted to use a contrast tie (bought), so I didn't put it in, but instead just attached a piece of black elastic to sit behind the neck.

I intend for him to wear a button through shirt underneath, so the collar and the tie will cover the elastic. I went with elastic so that it would be a little more comfortable and allow for movement. So far it looks pretty good and I am happy with it. All that is left to do hem the pants and make the hat. Which is a whole other issue as I am having trouble buying the foam to make it out of.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Puss In Boots

My first post. Nifty.

I guess the first thing I'll go into is that at the moment I am planning a costume dinner party. To be specific, a fairytale dinner party. Complete with decorations, full outfits and a mad hatter tea party. I am making 4 costumes. A Mad Hatter, Cinderella's Fairy God Mother, A Fairy (inspiration - think the Green Fairy in Euro Trip) and Puss in Boots (Me).

My puss in boots outfit is inspired by Shrek 2. Mainly so I can have a sword. Though as a person, and not really into wearing a skin-tight outfit from cats (the musical) I plan to wear black tights, and a billowy cotton shirt.

I just finnished making the the cape this morning - black polycotton with red bias binding around all the edges, and pleated into the top (instead of gathering). I also made a fur hood with ears and tail. The hood didn't turn out quite like I planned, so I might have to change it.

The tail however looks neat. I will post photos once I manage to finish the whole costume. The pieces by themselves look kinda strange.

For the makeup I plan to do something similar to the makeup from the musical cats. Very stage makeup style, but I will blend it in with the fur fabric colours, and bring white down over my chest to blend in with open collar of the shirt. Hopefully everything will actually work. More later....