RSS Feed

Author Archives: freshfrippery

Blood Vessel Dress at the PEERS Vampire Ball

Last month I attended the annual PEERS Vampire Ball. I wore a dress embroidered with blood vessels, a heart, and lungs. In a sea of black dresses I think I was pretty easy to spot! I’ve worn the dress before, and you can read about the details in a previous post.

John Carey Photographic took some photos of me at the ball (thanks John!) that he’s kindly permitted me to post here.John Carey 3from John CareyJohn Carey 2John Carey 4

If you are curious, here are some pictures that show the whole costume. (Clearly, these were not taken by John). I think for the future I would like to dye my shoes red. (These are the Tissots from American Duchess).

I am looking forward to next year’s ball, and being spooky again!John Carey 3

Advertisements

It’s Not Necessary to Be Mean: Snark in the Costuming and Cosplay Community 

I have been sewing for 15 years, and the vast majority of people I’ve met in the costuming and cosplay community have been kind, enthusiastic, and helpful, so for the most part I may be “preaching to the choir.” This post is directed at the small minority of people who might need a little help recognizing that some of their behaviors may have been unintentionally unkind, and to offer suggestions to people who want ideas on how to be more welcoming. This post is also directed at newcomers; I hope you will not be too intimidated to join us and have fun!

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCED:

You can always find something nice to say:
Even if it’s not an outfit you’d wear yourself, you can say “What beautiful fabric!” or “That’s a lovely color on you!” If you can’t think of a compliment, ask a question, such as “Did you use a pattern?” or “Have you been here before?” Show an interest in someone you don’t know because . . .

We need fresh blood:
Communities and hobbies die without new members. Don’t scare anyone away; it will ultimately hurt you in the end. Socializing exclusively with a small elite group might sound appealing, but it’s hard to rent an event hall or host a convention on your own.

Authenticity goals vary:
You may only hand-sew everything in period-correct fabrics such as silk and wool. That is great! I am genuinely impressed! However, some people may machine-sew in natural fibers or synthetic ones due to time, budget, or personal preference. Someone might have hot-glued an outfit together because they heard about a Halloween party last-minute. None of this is “wrong.” Everyone has a different goal, and don’t assume theirs is the same as yours.

Recognize the difference between individuals and entities:
Costuming snark for educational reasons, directed at movies put out by big-budget studios, such as that done by the hilarious ladies at Frock Flicks, is fine! Snarking at an individual person just to be exclusive is not fine; it’s snobbery.

Don’t offer unsolicited advice:
Would you approach a stranger on the street and tell them their shoes don’t go with their outfit, or that their jewelry is wrong? Hopefully not. So, why would you do that at a convention? (Telling someone nicely that their skirt is flipped up and their petticoat is showing is a different matter; that should be welcomed because it is something that can be fixed right away).

IF YOU ARE NEW:

Nitpicking is not about you:
Some people like to nitpick, and it reflects more on themselves than your work. Don’t take it personally. Turn a negative into a positive! For example, I once had someone criticize a 1 cm-wide area on the back of an elaborate outfit, and I took it as a compliment. If that person had to dig that deeply to find something negative to say, I must have done a good job.

Shyness is not snubbing:
There are a lot of introverts in the community. Someone may be aloof because they are shy, or experiencing sensory overload. They may also be “famous” and overwhelmed by the number of people they’ve had to meet and greet that day. Just because someone doesn’t engage you in conversation does not mean that they’re trying to be rude. If people aren’t being obviously mean, don’t take it personally.

Photos are not real life:
Just remember, most people don’t post bad pictures of themselves. Photos are carefully curated to show the best angles and flattering light, with nothing out of place, or even photoshopped. Don’t feel down if you have wrinkles in your sewing because everyone else looks “perfect.” In real life, fabric wrinkles because we have to be able to move.

Photos are not always representative of an event:
I’ve seen comments along the lines of “I can’t go to (random event)! Every single person there is dressed incredibly well!” It’s normal for flashy costumes to be photographed and posted more. An “epic” costume going viral doesn’t mean the rest of the crowd is dressed on the same level. Most wedding pictures feature the bride. Does that mean all the guests were wearing big white dresses?

Not everything has to be silk:
Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for using polyester. Even though I make and love silk dresses, some of my best-received costumes have been made from dead dinosaur. Sometimes it’s just the right fabric for what you’re trying to make. Fit and styling are just as important as materials.

FOR EVERYONE:

Cosplay is not consent!
Don’t touch anyone or their stuff without permission. It’s a violation of personal space, and props and fabrics may be delicate. Many people will be obliging and let you pet their pretty fabric if you ask first! Costumers are makers and many are happy to discuss their project with you. Also remember, just because someone is willing to pose for a photo with you does not mean they have agreed to let you put your arm around them, or touch another part of their body. Always ask!

The bottom line is don’t be a jerk! We all had to start somewhere.image1-3.jpeg

Wearing History Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse

This post is way overdue, because I made this 1940s-style blouse in August and have been enjoying it ever since! It was made using the Wearing History Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse pattern, with some modifications I’ll detail below.IMG_3702

This blouse is made with vintage cotton I found at the Costume College Bargain Basement. There was just enough, with careful cutting, for me to make this blouse and run the border of the print down the center front and as faux cuffs on the sleeves.IMG_3703

I used a combination of View A and B because I wanted the V-neck of View A but the button front of View B. (This also means instead of having the side closure of View A, I put hooks and eyes down the center of the peplum).

The blouse pattern doesn’t actually have a yoke. I just did a tuck in the back to hide a flaw in the fabric. I also did a neck facing instead of binding.IMG_3699

I did keep the lovely gathers in the shoulder! That is one of my favorite parts of the pattern.IMG_3701

I made button loops and self-covered buttons for the closure.IMG_3697

The last change I did was to shorten and slim the sleeves a bit because I have a small frame and skinny arms. I think the sleeve pattern as-is would work for most people; it is accurate to the slightly boxy look of the 1940s.IMG_3665

My modifications were for personal preference and not because of any flaw in the pattern. I found that the sizing was accurate and the pieces fit together. I highly recommend Wearing History and the Dahlia 1940s Gathered Blouse pattern!

Crimson Peak-Inspired Costume at Spooky Victorian Tea Party

I recently attended a “Spooky Victorian Tea Party” hosted by the GBACG, and wore an outfit inspired by Edith Cushing’s picnic outfit in the Crimson Peak movie. When I saw the movie in theaters I immediately fell in love with that creepy hand belt!06a80c2771674a757c37cc5248095268

The belt buckle is meant to mimic carved ivory and the belt is meant to be hair, inspired by mourning jewelry.IMG_8541

I didn’t have time to blog the research and progress, so this post is going to do double-duty. Here is Edith with a beautiful pleated blouse, silk taffeta skirt, a fancy belt, a fugly hat, and a handsome man (Sir Thomas Sharpe).picnic-dress1

My outfit was inspired by, but not a cosplay, for a few reasons. First, I’m using my own hair instead of a blond wig. For reasons of time and cost, I wanted to be able to reuse my ensemble with different accessories for a historical costume like a suffragette outfit. For practical reasons, I could not get the exact same kind of lace on the blouse, and didn’t plan to drive myself crazy looking for it. Finally, I hate the taco hat.

Seriously, it looks like the tostada they give you at Chevy’s on your birthday. Edith even looks embarrassed to be wearing it in this photo.uvkYG7X

In another part of the movie, Edith wears the same skirt with a jacket and a boater. Isn’t that hat so much cuter?IMG_4591

I made my own with a bit of hat surgery, and decorated it with butterflies since those are a theme in the movie.IMG_4627

The costume was on display at FIDM, and a friend went to take photos and report back to me whether the silk taffeta in the skirt was bronze, copper, or pink because the promo photos were inconsistent.

By the way, if you have eagle eyes, or you’re just obsessive like me, you’ll notice a flaw or heavy crease in the silk running between the second-to-last two buttons. This did not happen during transport to the museum. Look again at the pictures I posted above; they are in the movie!IMG_9064

The verdict was bronze. Luckily, another friend was having a garage sale and I got the perfect shade! (In progress photo below).IMG_4495.JPG

I apologize for the poor quality of my photos from the day of the party. The lighting in the tea venue was not the best, and I had just my phone to take pictures, so the colors are darker than they are in real life.IMG_4696

IMG_4697

Both my patterns for the skirt (“Fan-Skirt about 1890”) and blouse (“Edwardian blouse”) came from Black Snail Patterns on Etsy. It was my first time using them and I recommend this company highly!  I made some small modifications, but not many. I love how the back of the skirt falls.IMG_4714

I did not have time to make a new organdy petticoat and had to make do with some petticoats suitable for other silhouettes, so next time the skirt should be fuller.IMG_4715

I used a pleated silk chiffon over a base of cotton gauze for the blouse. I overlaid this with lace, and dyed all three materials with tea.IMG_E4682.JPG

And surprise, my creepy sister-in-law Lucille was at the party! I do hope she was not the one who prepared the tea.IMG_0026

The food (at Tyme for Tea in Niles, CA) was delicious, and the champagne generous!IMG_4742

This costume is still a work in progress. I have the following things planned:

  1. Make the belt. The belt in the movie is made of braided hair. I tried to make my own with a big French braid but it came out very lumpy and thick. It was so unflattering that the morning of the party I decided to just use a plain black belt instead. I will try again with tiny braids sewn to a backing.
  2. Replace the skirt buttons. I used some very thick molded vintage Czech glass buttons. They were lovely, but very heavy and pulled on the front of the skirt and made it collapse. I will have to find some lighter buttons.
  3. Fix the blouse back. Because I have narrow shoulders and a small bust I took in the shoulder seams. I accidentally took too much without accounting for what it would do to the upper closures, so I have a little pulling and gapping between the upper buttons. I’m not sure yet whether to fix this with a modesty panel, more buttons, a little boning along the closures, or a few hooks and eyes.
  4. Replace the lace on the cuffs. I used some black lace appliqués, but I think they are too heavy-looking, and would like to find some delicate black flowers similar to what I have at the collar.

Normally I would do a tally of the costs, but since this outfit is not really done, I will save that for when I truly finish! For now, here is a resource list.

I’m looking forward to wearing this at Costume College with the fixes!IMG_4782

A Tudor Kirtle and Smock at a Renaissance Faire

Last year I made a Tudor kirtle and smock using patterns from the Tudor Tailor. (You can see my previous construction posts here).

However, due to rain and mud the Renaissance Faire I was supposed to attend with my friends got canceled. Finally, nearly a year later I got to wear my kirtle!IMG_4336

This is a lower-class garment, so there is no boning. The smooth front of the bodice is achieved with 2 layers of canvas sandwiched between a layer of worsted wool and the linen lining. I think my back is a tad long, hence the wrinkling, but I’m still pleased with the overall fit of my first kirtle. There are slits in the side to access my pockets.IMG_4342

I am wearing a blackwork coif commissioned from Romantic Recollections, and Stratford shoes from American Duchess (affiliate link).

And like all good faires there were beautiful ladies (Amanda, Samantha, Kelsey, and Natalie) . . .IMG_4265

dashing gentlemen . . .IMG_4348

court gossip . . .IMG_4401

the Queen . . .IMG_4393.JPG

and codpiece parasol jousting (Elizabeth and Lynne).IMG_4380.JPG

This was my first Ren Faire (really!) and I had a great time. I’ve been to lots of other historical events, including SCA, but not a Ren Faire before so this was a new experience. I’ll be back!

Decades of Style 1930s Beach Pajamas Pattern Review

My last completed project (actually done before Gatsby but not photographed until later) was a pair of 1930s beach pajamas, using the Decades of Style 1930s Last Resort Beach PJs pattern.PHOTO 7.JPG

When deciding if a pattern is good I have these criteria:

  • Is the sizing chart accurate?
  • Do the pieces fit together?
  • Does the finished item look like the pattern envelope?
  • Does the garment fit and flatter?
  • Do the instructions make sense?

Um, check, check, and check! I’ve used Decades of Style before and once again I’m impressed by the quality of their work and highly recommend this pattern.3015_webart_final

I did not make the jacket so I can’t comment on that, but the beach PJs themselves went together nicely. If you’ve made pants before this should be easy for you. It is a pair of high-waisted pants with a top that doesn’t have too many pieces. I made the backless version because I didn’t have a long zipper in the right color, but there is an optional triangle pattern piece for the back if you want to be able to wear a regular bra.PHOTO 8.JPG

I made a small change in that I made and used bias tape to bind the neckline and armholes, and added a bow. The pattern includes facings and I did not use those since I wanted decorative binding.

The pants legs are also really long! This is great for tall people, or someone who wants to wear high heels. I had to cut a few extra inches off my hems, but that is a very easy fix, and better than finding out near the end that the pattern runs short.

The pockets in the pattern are a nice touch (even if I accidentally made one of mine higher because I was sewing late at night)! They are a functional size, and are a cute detail.

Just for fun, this is a picture of a mockup I did in a flower fabric I picked up from the CoCo Bargain Basement. I just roll-hemmed the raw edges, but it’s good enough to wear around the house as a lounge outfit.IMG_3606

I used rayon challis for this project, so mine are nice and soft, just like real PJs!. I see this being a very comfortable outfit for a future Gatsby picnic, or the beach! IMG_4105.JPG

Project costs:

  • 8 yards navy rayon challis: $30.32 from Fabric Wholesale Direct. (You only need 3-4, but I doubled up because i wanted a thicker garment).
  • 1 yard red rayon challis: $3.99 from FWD
  • 4 cones serger thread: $10.36 from FWD. (Since I was doubling up the fabric I sealed the layers together with a serger during flat-lining).
  • 1 blue zipper: ~$1 from eBay (part of a lot)
  • Pattern: $27.75 from Decades of Style (including shipping and tax, bought during a sale)

I got the first three items from FWD in exchange for a tutorial on their website, so my actual out-of-pocket cost was less than $30, instead of $73.42!

I like this pattern a lot, and would love to make it again if I find the right print.

Summary: Buy this pattern from Decades, and see you on the beach!IMG_4445

Gatsby Summer Afternoon Picnic 2017

The annual “Gatsby Summer Afternoon” (casually known as the Gatsby Picnic) at the Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California, had another lovely event recently! I finally got a chance to wear my original 1930s cotton organza dress and had a great time socializing with an impeccably dressed and fun crowd.

IMG_4083

Photo by John Carey Photographic Imagery

I love how this is a versatile dress! I can change up my look by wearing a different color slip (which is also vintage). My hat is a vintage one that I retrimmed. I am wearing the beautiful Lillian heels from Royal Vintage Shoes.IMG_4075

It was a hot and sunny day, and my sunglasses were definitely needed! (They are not quite right, but close enough for an Amazon find).IMG_4074

Kelsey is divine in 1930s ensemble she sewed using a Wearing History pattern.IMG_4016.JPG

Natalie is lovely in a vintage 1930s dress, the navy version of the Lillian, and a hat she crocheted herself!IMG_4020.JPG

Here we three are again with Jess and Abby.IMG_4082

The event was full of vintage cars, amid the backdrop of the wonderful Dunsmuir House mansion.IMG_4068.JPG

In years past we always had too much food and leftovers, so we scaled back the food. You can’t see from the photo, but I think we had more beverages (especially delightful cocktails!) instead of food.IMG_4047.JPG

As always, the table was organized by my friend Kim, shown here wearing a handmade dress and waiting patiently in line with David.IMG_3991.JPG

I made my boutonniere using some vintage flowers, floral tape, and silk taffeta that I cut into a ribbon.IMG_3980.JPG

I made the belt out of a broken half of a buckle, more vintage flowers, and some silk taffeta.IMG_3966

We had a great time!  Elizabeth high-fiving with the American Duchess ladies included!IMG_4072.JPG

Can you count the number of Lillians in this post? They were definitely the hot new shoe people were sporting at the picnic! I can’t wait until next year!IMG_3993.JPG