Sunday, June 4, 2017

Getting ready for costume college

Wow. It's been an awfully long time since I posted!  I've been busy with family and have actually been sewing quite a bit, but for some reason I hadn't been able to get myself to write about it.  So I thought I'd just make myself write something small to get back in the swing of things...

There is a group planning on wearing suffragette attire for the Ice Cream social at Costume College.  I'd originally been working on a teens are outfit but it just wasn't coming together the way I wanted it to so I decided to finish a 1903-5ish outfit I'd had on the back burner.

The outfit is a pink and black plaid with a black shirtwaist but I'm going to share the hat first.

I used the "Belle Epoque" Lynn McMaster's hat pattern.  I meant to make the red hat shown on the cover of the pattern but I was nearly done when I realized I'd mistakenly cut a wider brim.  I think it turned out ok anyway.  It's 2 layers of buckram mulled with flannel, wired and covered in silk taffeta. I decorated it with a giant bow made of more of the silk taffeta, vintage pale pink ostrich plumes and modern black ones (tripled layered!)

Speaking of suffragettes I also had some badge ribbons made to hand out at the convention - in white with purple lettering.  

Are you getting ready for costume college too?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Women War Correspondents in WWII

This is the uniform I'll repro
So I decided I wanted some Girl Power in my costumes at Costume College this year and one of the ideas I've come up with is a cosplay of a woman I've been fascinated with for a long time - photographer Lee Miller.

She was a muse, model and protégé of Man Ray in the 20s, traveled to Egypt in the 30s and became a photojournalist in the 1940s.  While with the troops she photographed the first use of napalm, and took harrowing photos of Dachau.  I've been reading a lot about her and other women war correspondents during WWII.

And they are all so AMAZING!

Sigrid Schultz I knew about from reading In the Garden of Beasts (which I HIGHLY recommend ) but still, I hadn't heard all these stories until now.  She was Chicago Tribune German Bureau Chief - first female bureau chief maybe in the WORLD!  She met Hitler numerous times and tried to warn people about what was coming!  Goering hated her so much he called her "The Dragon from Chicago!"  She lived in Berlin for a long time writing about the Nazis rise to power under a male pseudonym.  Someone seriously needs to make a movie of her life...

Dickey Chappell is another amazing one.  And this photo of her could be on a poster with the heading "Inspiration!"

She got accepted to MIT at age 16!  She covered the Pacific theater in WWII!  She jumped out of planes with paratroopers!  She was imprisoned for 2 months in solitary confinement by Hungarian Secret Police!  She went with the Marines to Viet Nam...where she tragically loses her life and became the first female correspondent to die in action.  I haven't read it yet but she wrote What's a Woman Doing Here?  A Combat Reporter's Report on Herself, and you can see some of her photos here.

Then there was Martha Gelhorn.  Celebrated journalist, novelist and briefly wife of Hemmingway.  Before WWII she worked with photographer Dorthea Lange chronicling poverty during the depression.  On D-Day she stowed away on a hospital ship, she rode along with British pilots during bombing runs of Germany and chronicled the liberation of Dachau.

And there are so many other amazing women.  If you want to read more about them you might want to check out The Women Who Wrote the War.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Doctor Who costumes for Gallifrey One

Every year our family goes to the Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One. For a few years now the 13 year old has gone as the 10th doctor, I've been as the 5th -- and usually the 16 year old goes as the 11th.

But this year, at the last minute, he wanted to change it up and go as the 2nd Doctor.  I took a look at the costume and thought I could probably put something together that worked reasonably well despite only having a few days.

I found these plaid pants on Amazon for $35.  We went to Goodwill and bought a blue shirt with a slightly oversized collar for $1.50 and a black blazer for $5. He used an old bow tie of my husband's and I used a scrap of polkadot quilting cotton to make his handkerchief .

We had an old recorder that I masked off with tape then spray-painted a spiral on and added a tassel to.

He's got bad feet so I didn't even try deal with shoes.  I tried to style his hair somewhat a la 2, straightening his naturally very wavy hair with the flat iron, but given we'd had torrential rain ir frizzed back up pretty quickly and since we had to walk from a nearby hotel to the con I didn't want to risk spray in black hair color.

All in all we were pretty happy with it and our fellow Whovians all knew who he was and even asked him to be in pictures with them which really made him happy.  And he was particularly psyched to get a photo with one of his favorite companions, Romana aka the ever so charming Lalla Ward!

We had fun posing with the Tardis and the various backdrops too

As usual there were a lot of amazing costumes at the con but my favorite by far were these crossover costumes:
The Force Awakens Rey/ 4th Doctor

Han Solo/11th Dcotor and Slave Leia/Tardis
And my favorite crossover of all:  Clueless/ Doctor Who!   With 11th Doctor, 10th Doctor and 12th Doctor.  Check out their TARDIS cellphones and pompom sonic screwdrivers!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Historical Sew Monthly #2 - Re-make Re-use Re-fashion: Big Honkin Edwardian Hat

Sometimes I'm at a loss for these challenges, but when I saw this one I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  

I've been planning a Edwardian bodycon Longchamps/Ascot ensemble for Costume College ,and while I have a few Edwardian hats in the closet, none of them were really, you know, BIG.  
Like this kind of big:
My feathers are so tall!

I'm covered in fur AND feathers.
I like big hats and I cannot lie
A while back I'd read Jen Thompson's great blog post on re-making a sombrero into an Edwardian hat and thought, that sounds like a plan!

The sombrero I found wasn't the same as Jen's, it was just a simple cheap shaped felt.  I steamed it over my tailor's ham into a new shape then wired the brim with millinery wire with a zigzag stitch on my machine. (Make the stitch very wide, go slow and use safety goggles if you do this, you can break a needle rather violently towards your EYE sometimes!)

I sewed and glued cotton velvet onto the brim, gluing where the concave curves were and sewing along the edge with invisible stitches.

I cut the crown down and created a larger crown out of buckram, wiring the tip and the bottom of the crown.
New crown out of double layered buckram

zigzagging the millinery wire on the tip

I covered tip and crown with velvet then sewed all three pieces together.  The underside of the crown is pleated silk taffeta and the crown is covered with ostrich feathers.

The Challenge: Re-make Re-use Re-fashion - this is a re-fashioning of a sombrero as well as a reusing of some cotton velvet fabric which had at one time been a very crappy 18th century gown that I'd taken apart to use for fabric once I realized how much I hated it.
Material: Cotton velvet, silk taffeta
Pattern: No pattern just winged it/draped it
Year: 1908-1911 ish
Notions: One large felt sombrero, thread, buckram, glue, millinery wire, ostrich feathers.
How historically accurate is it?  Well, I don't think they based their hats on sombreros...
Hours to complete: About 8 hours?
First worn: Not worn to an event yet.
Total cost: About $20 for the sombrero, the rest was in the stash and it's monetary value has been lost in the sands of time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Edwardian Ball

Captain Goofball reporting for duty!
Given Valentine's day is always a clustercuss in terms of planning this year we bypassed it all in favor of celebrating early on Saturday and going to the Los Angeles Edwardian Ball. (There is a San Francisco one as well as a New Orleans one too.)

It's not really Edwardian, it's really a sort of Edwardian-1920s/steampunk/fantasy electro-swing costume party. And this year for some reason I felt very meh about costuming.  Since I've been watching Agent Carter and daydreaming about the Lee Miller cosplay I'm going to do for  Costume College I was in more of a 1940s mood, so I decided to pull together a dieselpunk look from my closet and I have to say I was pretty happy with it!

The ball was at a new venue this year. While Downtown LA is very convenient for us I have to say I liked the other theater better. This seemed a lot more crowded and didn't have the lovely rooftop dancing area that we'd had in the past. Nonetheless we had a good time.

Main floor

Hilarious clown DJ
The top hatted and monocled audience

They had hilarious Gorey themed cut outs and speech bubbles in the hallways.


and the always fabulous Dark Garden Corset Fashion Show

We found and lost friends and cell service was terrible so we ended up just hanging out in the basement where the excellent jazz was.  Get a load of The John Brothers Piano Company!

A thrilling time was had

Monday, February 13, 2017

Jane Austen Evening 2017

This is one of my favorite events of the year.  Everyone always looks dressed to the nines, the music and dancing are wonderful and the company is the best.

This year some friends decided to skip the tea at the event and go to the Huntington Gardens for tea instead.  The tea room at the Huntington is under new management and I'm sorry to say they still have some kinks to be worked out.  But the food was good and we had fun.

And it was all worth it because when we came out it was the "golden hour."  You know, that time of day when everything looks like a Maxfield Parrish painting?  We got some amazing photos at the gardens as a result.  Take a look and see for yourself!

We were all so giddy with the golden light  we hastened back to change for the ball in high spirits.
I hadn't managed to get to any of the dance lessons this year but remembered enough of that dances that I made my way through 4 easy ones without injury or falling on my face.

 I can't wait until next year!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Film Noir Hair

I have very, very hard to curl hair!  When I was a child it was stick straight and now is has a slight wave, but one thing has been consistent - it hates a curl!

So over the years I experimented with many many different methods and, after trying a lot of tutorials and watching a lot of You Tube video, I think I finally have something that works for me!

First I'll say I tried a quite a few different types of rollers and nothing quite gave me the look I wanted. In my searches I ran into quite a few people extolling the virtues of Conair hot sticks.  I think I first heard about these on Vavoom Vintage. These were popular in the 80s for that big 80s hair look.  I was more of a crimped hair girl back then so I'd never used them until recently but they definitely were key to my finally getting the curls I wanted.

I have long, thick hair so I actually bought two sets of these hot rollers and frankly, I could maybe even use more!  So keep that in mind if you have very thick and/or long hair.

I roll my hair inwards towards my face very tightly into small curls.  This works best for me since I like that Veronica Lake look. I use all of the hair sticks and roll the small ones with slightly more hair than the ticker ones so  they are all basically the same.  If you run out of curlers, don't worry, just use a narrow barrel curling iron on those back, underneath bits, no one sees those anyway!

Let them sit until they are completely cold then spray with a light coat of heavy duty hairspray and let that dry.

Unrolled but not brushed out
Then I unroll and brush it out.  It become an insane mass of frizz which I then can tame into 1940s curls by brushing the hair around my hand.   (Incidentally, I neglected to take a picture of my hair frizzed out but I think the brushed out curls would work great for this type of disco look.)

So this crazy frizz
Becomes this unified curl!

I also usually use large clips to create finger waves in the front and hairspray the whole thing again and voila, film noir!  If you like watching tutorials here are a few on using hairsticks for 1940s hair.

Added bonus, the hairsticks are GREAT for Regency curls too!  Only in this case you do NOT brush the curls out.