Monday, August 13, 2018

I'm a very bad blogger...

I have been very lax about posting my latest costume adventures exploits work.
So I'll be doing a couple of posts to catch my subscribers (all 3 of you) up with what I've been doing lately costume-wise.

First, my last Costume-Con historical entry (talked about here) was the subject of an article in Virtual Costumer. Virtual Costumer is the newsletter put out by the Silicon Web Chapter of the International Costumers' Guild. They took my long-winded and rambling documentation that I submitted and edited it into something resembling an actual article! Kudos to the editor!

Here are the pics of the costume:

If you want to read the article, you can download it here.

You can read all of the prior issues of Virtual Costumer here. (Current issues are for Guild members only.)

Photo pics are from Scott Johnson of Realtime Portrait Studio.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Big Hair

Just thought I'd pop in and show you what I've been working on this week.

A group of us from my city are driving to St Louis to join the St. Louis Georgian Sewing Society for a francaise tea. That's a fancy tea party at the Ritz Carleton where we all wear our 18th century finery.

If you remember me posting pics of my 18th century "Marie Antoinette-style" dress, you'll remember that I had GIGANTIC hair. (No, really! It was freakin' huge!) When I cut my hair short, I used the inner wire support form to make a similar style wig. Well, that was very good for a stage presentations but very unwieldy for regular wear. So I decided to re-style the wig. I've spent the last week undoing, de-tangling and restyling it.

BTW - I used the book 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling by Kendra Van Cleave. I can't recommend it highly enough! I chose one of the designs from the late 1760s-early 1770s that was a medium height.

Here are the results -



Friday, September 8, 2017

More scans

Here's the latest installment of my ongoing scanning project of the old Good Housekeeping magazines that I own. This one is 1911.

If you get a weird error message about previewing the file, it just means that it is too big to open inside the browser. Just download it and you can see it just fine. :-)

January 1911

February 1911

March 1911
fashion pages:

handicraft pages:

April 1911

May 1911

June 1911
 There are a couple of pages missing from my copy. Sorry!

July 1911

August 1911

September 1911

October 1911

November 1911

December 1911

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In a Japanese state of mind

My next really big costume is going to be a geisha hikizuri kimono for the 2019 Costume Con in Boston. I don't normally go to conventions outside of the midwest, but I won a free membership to it with my Cinderella costume at WorldCon. (Yay!)

I normally win workmanship awards but not performance awards, so the last time that I competed at Costume Con I focused on my performance and didn't worry about workmanship. (My Edwardian quick-change) This time, I am determined to win awards for both!!!

So I'll be (hopefully) blowing the workmanship judges away by teaching myself the traditional technique of hand-dyeing and painting kimono called yuzen-zome. And I'll be recreating a real geisha performance from a YouTube video.

There's just one problem.

I've never actually made a kimono before.

So I've been immersing myself in research on kimono making and traditions. My first attempt is a summer cotton kimono called a yukata. It's super casual and worn to summer festivals the same way that we would wear shorts, a tank top and flip-flops. It's also a little easier to sew than a regular kimono because it's cotton, not lined, doesn't have as much structure and is frequently machine sewn. (High end silk kimono like those worn by geisha are always hand sewn.)

Traditionally, yukata are white and blue/indigo. Modern yukata are all sorts of colors and patterns. So here is a cotton fabric that I picked out for mine. It's colorful, but the colors are softer. I don't think you can tell from the pics, but there are subtle gold outlines around the shapes. To help you visualize it, each motif is about 1.5" (about 4cm) tall.

I found these resources extremely helpful:

Wish me luck!

Update: Here's a pic taken of me wearing the final yukata at my costume guild's MakerFaire booth. Please forgive my lousy kitsuke!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I've been scanning...

Being a librarian, I sometimes come into possession of books.

No. Really?!?

Shut up.


When my library decided to save space by getting rid of some of the very old back issues of magazines, I jumped at the chance to get some.

That's how I ended up with bound copies of Good Housekeeping from 1911 to 1920.

And since that time period puts them firmly in the public domain here in the US, I decided to scan them! (Well, the fashion pages, anyway.)

I then decided to share the fruits of my labors with my fellow costumers, since I have gotten so much from others over the years.
It will be a long process, but here are the first results -

Good Housekeeping fashion pages from 1915 in PDF format.

Jan 1915

Feb 1915

Mar 1915

April 1915

May 1915

June 1915

July 1915

Aug 1915

Sept 1915

Oct 1915

Nov 1915

Dec 1915

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I'm a pretty, pretty princess!

I left you in suspense after my last post talking about my recreation of Kinuko Craft's Cinderella costume...

And now, the big reveal!!

The original illustration:                                                     

 And my dress:

41 yards of fabric
3000 glass pearls
180" hoop skirt
50 yards of ribbon and lace trim
dozens of hand-sewn ribbon roses
13 pounds

I'm tired.

But it was all completely worth it when Kinuko Craft came backstage and saw me!
Look how she reacted!  I even managed to keep my dignity and not to act like a fangirl!

(Oh...and I also leveled up from Journeyman to Master with this dress and won a free entry to Costume Con 2019.)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

My friend says I'm crazy

Just thought I ought to catch you up on what I'm doing.

I'm knee-deep in costume sewing for WorldCon / Mid-America Con II. Now, I've never been to a Worldcon before. and given the steep price, I hadn't planned on going to this one even though it is in my home town of Kansas City for the first time since the 1970s. But......
Then I saw who the artist guest of honor was.

Kinuko Craft!! My favorite children's book illustrator!

Okay, I guess that means I'll go if I can get one of my books autographed. So I signed up for the installment plan and had a year to look forward to it.

Of course I started thinking about costumes.

Of course I should do a costume from one of her books. Hmmmm... which one?

I know! Cinderella! The most outrageous, over-the-top dress of all time!

But I have a year to do it in, right?  (rolls eyes)
So I started collecting fabric, since I knew this was going to be an expensive project.

 I found the perfect orange/gold iridescent organza on ebay for a very good price. And some lace from

Add some gold satin, light gold glitter tulle and a boat-load of lace trim and I was in business!

More in the next post...