Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tailoring is Fun!

One of the things I'm exploring right now is Tailoring.  I've seen it done before but never done it myself, so learning something new is really exciting.  I especially like that it involves a lot of handwork, since I love handwork and tend to default to doing a lot of things by hand (hemming, zippers).  Here's a few of the resources I'm using right now:

Books (covers link to Amazon)-

Tailoring by the Editors of CPI

This book is really great.  It has a lot of information presented in a great way that lets you make a jacket step-by-step.  This book has been the most helpful of all the ones I've looked at.

Couture Sewing: Tailoring Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer

This book is really geared more towards women's tailoring, but it does have some neat tips and tricks for things like pockets and bound buttonholes.

The Victorian Tailor by Jason MacLochlainn

Great for more historical stuff like I'm doing!  Period techniques and patterns.

Suppliers - 

With the demise of Greenberg and Hammer it's really hard to find tailoring supplies, and I wasn't able to get everything I needed from one place.  Here's the two I'm going to:

B Black and Sons
Has fabrics as well as notions and materials like hair canvas and clappers.  Didn't have lambswool, though.

Bergen Tailors and Cleaners
Had the missing lambswool by the yard, as well as a lot of other supplies but didn't have clappers or good prices on ironing materials.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Costuming the Kids

Halloween is coming up.  In this house that means one thing: costumes for the niece and nephews.  I don't costume myself on Halloween.  In fact, this is the first year where we live even remotely near a neighborhood where kids might come trick-or-treat.  Bars never appealed to me either, most of my costumes are too unwieldy and complicated to just go out drinking in only to lose a contest to a girl in a bikini.  Kids, though, they need costumes.

Thing 1 in last year's costume: Rapunzel
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when costuming kids that I don't generally think of for adults.  First off is comfort.  While I'll sacrifice a lot of comfort in my own costumes you really can't ask kids to do that.  They want to look great, but they've still got to feel ok.  I try not to put a lot of boning or foundation in kids' costumes because it can ride up and poke them in places.  Usually careful choice and placement of interlining or interfacing is enough. You've also got to think environment.  I made Thing 1's Rapunzel  costume for dress up as well as Halloween which is why she's wearing a turtleneck under it.  Halloween is usually cold, and kids need coverage.  If I had made the costume just for Halloween I probably would have done something so she didn't have to wear a turtleneck.

Thing 2 as a Ninja
The third thing you need to think about is sizing.  I like the Things to get as much play as possible out of their costumes because they love dress-up time and make-believe.  Thus their costumes are always a little too big so they last longer.  Coincidentally it also makes it easier to make costumes for kids that are halfway across the country.

Monkey as Bob the Builder
Finally, remember that it may be impossible to get kids to wear some things.  I've made costume accessories for Thing 1 that she straight out refused to wear.  Thing 2 is great at not wanting his picture taken, so I make him things and am happy with what few pictures I can get out of him.  Kids can be finicky, so just be happy with them and share their joy.  That's what it takes to instill the next generation of costumers!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Plus-Sized Costuming

Me, breaking all the rules I'm about to tell you.

As I've costumed over the last 15 years I've gradually grown into a size 22.  Along the way I've learned some tips for plus-sized costuming.  Since I'm working on my plus-sized costuming panel, I thought I'd give you all a preview by giving you my talking points.

  • Shapewear is for everyone
  • Angles are more flattering than curves
  • The higher the neckline the larger breasts look
  • The wider the neckline the broader shoulders look
  • Never cut off anything at a joint, always go somewhere in between the largest and smallest points
  • Under layers should be darker than over layers
  • Shoulder fit is key!  Use padding if necessary!
  • The longer something is the more fitted it should be
  • The tilt of a hat should match the jaw line
  • Monochrome is slimming
  • Things should be longer than they are wide
  • Wider stripes make body parts look wider, but too small (pinstripes) emphasizes bulges
  • Pay attention to grouping and isolate your best feature

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stuff Day - October Movies

I'm going to start something new here.  Thursday is going to be Stuff day.  Sometimes I'll review a movie.  Sometimes it'll be a book, or maybe a cool tool.  Sometimes I'll just tell you about something neat I've heard of but haven't had a chance to play with yet.  It's the stuff I'm excited about right now!

The Movie I'm Anticipating for October:

12 Years a Slave

The story of a free black man in antebellum New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery.  This movie looks like pure Oscar bait with an amazing cast (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, and Brad Pitt).  I bet the costumes are going to be great, too.  They're by Patricia Norris (Victor Victoria, Sunset, 2010) who has had an amazing career.  Comes out on the 17th.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


It's hard to fabricate a costume in a vacuum.  With the internet it's easier to find information on how to do things, which is a great thing for us costumers.  When I started working on Otilia I looked up a lot of tutorials on Worbla and armor fabrication before figuring out what I was going to do for my armor.  Here are a few of the things I looked at:


Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Progress Update: September 23

I'm hard at work on a secret project that I'll unveil next week.  For now, though, since I can't show you any of it, I'm going to recap my WorldCon project for you: Otilia from Girl Genius.

This was a project of a few years' thinking and only a month's work.  The documentation describes how I did it, but first a few pictures of the result:

And here's the how-to in documentation form:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Starting Projects

To be honest right now I'm kinda at a loss as to what to tell you.  I'm starting a huge project, but it will be another week or so before I can tell you all about it.  I'm starting a lot of things, though, and I can tell you about some others.  First, I'm getting some costumes in line.  This is usually the time of year that I concentrate a little bit more on historical stuff.  This year I'm hoping to do a 20's gown, a 17th century gown, and a 1840's dress before 2014 hits.  For all of those that includes all of the undergarments, so it's quite an undertaking.  I also need to get my first projects for 2014 in order and get all the fabrics and accessories together so that construction is all that much easier.  In some cases that means getting some undergarments in order as well. 

First, though, I've got to get my sewing room in order.  I moved in May right around Costume Con, and I've really not done a lot of construction in the room.  Mostly we just filled it up with more and more boxes and I've done most of my work in the living room since my WorldCon costumes didn't involve much sewing.  I've also got some major research to do for Costume Con 32's big project, and I need to learn to tailor for Arisia's big Masquerade idea, so there's a lot of learning going on all around. 

I've also got some non-construction stuff to do.  I'm writing articles for The Drink Tank now, and I really should be finishing up one right now.  I also need to write some outlines for some more vids.  I really want to get back to doing video tutorials, and I'd like to start vlogging, too.  I feel that I have so much to say, and yet, when time comes, I don't know how to say it :P  Also, the deadline for CC32's Future Fashion Folio is next week, I need to finish up and submit some designs.

Finally, I have a new nephew-to-be, so I am going to try and make a baby quilt for him.  It will only be my second quilt ever, so that will be slower than you might expect because I'm so new at it, although I have tried to compensate by choosing a pattern that is almost all squares and no curvy lines.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fond Memories

My husband and I visited the PA Renaissance Festival today.  I had a great time.  It really reminded me of my start in costuming, doing Renaissance and Tudor costuming.  In a way I feel that I've come so far from there, and yet I also feel that I have so much yet to learn and do.  I do know that I need to get back to some Renaissance stuff, though, and soon, because I want to play along next time I go!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekly Thoughts

I spent a lot of time this week cleaning.  Or, to be more specific, avoiding cleaning.  I've got a ton of projects I want to start on, but all of them require a space to work on them.  Even filming a vlog requires that I clean up the spare room where I want to film.  And once I start cleaning my perfectionism kicks in and I must CLEAN ALL THE THINGS to uber satisfaction but then I just get bored and stop.  It sucks because I'd really rather be sewing or working, not cleaning.  Plus my cleaning is far, far away from the television or noisemaker/distractions that keep me working in other conditions.

So, long story short, I will have little to show for my work next week because I am lazy and whiny about cleaning.  Hopefully this won't last long, though.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stuff I'm Thinking of Making Next Year

I'm doing my brainstorming for my 2014 costume calendar.  What do you think of some of these ideas?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Approaching a New Project

Labor Day weekend is really the end of my convention year, and, as such, prompts a lot of reflection and planning on my part.  Right now I'm planning my big events for 2014 and setting my basic costuming schedule.  A big part of that is setting up new projects.

So how do I get big projects done?  By breaking them up into little bites and making lists.  Lots of lists.  Copious lists.

I used to break each costume down into pieces, then each piece into steps on a to-do paper for the costume.  I would schedule each task working backwards from my deadline (with a week or so worth of fudge room).  Then I would take each day's worth of tasks and put them on a large lined post-it, carrying over yesterday's undone tasks.

Recently, though, I've changed from paper to electronic.  Everything I loved about my old method is available on an online program called ToDoIst.  I'm really liking it.  I can put in multiple projects and even color-code them so I can keep them straight.  I can look at a day, a week, or a month, or an individual project.  I can even get an app on my phone.  So far I've used it to schedule and track my use of social media, but I am working on switching it to a costume project soon to see how it works out.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Social Media and Where to Find Me

I've officially unlinked all my social media now that I'm making a concerted effort to spend more time on all of them.  So if you want to have contact with me friend these:

facebook: Aurora Celeste Cosplay
Twitter: dramaticthreads
Instagram: Dramaticthreads
Google+: Aurora Celeste


I spent today making this graphic.  It brought on a lot of feels.  Lots of memories of why I do this.

I costume to feel better about myself.

I costume to puzzle things out.

I costume to hang out with friends.

I costume to get friends excited about costuming.

I costume to show off my handiwork.

I costume to develop skills.

I costume because I like it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Progress Update: September 16

So much to tell you about!  This week I want to do a roundup of my Costume College costumes:

 A blue Felicite curtain dress!  I made a pollonaise over a matching petticoat and wore it on curtain Saturday!  Unfortunately I couldn't make it to the Curtain-Along group meetup, but I did get pics with Jen later on!

Saturday night at the Gala I wore my Lady of the Lake dress without all the blue body paint.  I think it still works like this :D

Sunday for the Seaside tea I wore my seaside Deronda dress.  Unfortunately this is the only picture I have of it, and it's fuzzy, but once I finish the hat I'll do a photoshoot so I can get nice in-focus pictures!

This last week I haven't worked on much sewing at all.  Usually this time of year is a regroup-and-plan time for me, and I've certainly been doing that in spades.  Hopefully you guys will like some of the ideas I'm coming up with!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reviving a Dying Blog

This blog has been dead for way too long. I apologize for that. I think that many of you will understand that teaching fitting got really intimidating for me . . . so I put it off until it was embarrassing to jump back in. Then there was Costume College, and WorldCon, and, of course, life, which always gets in the way. It's a Jewish new year, though, and I resolve to be better about not missing posting in the year to come.

So, for today's post I want to show you American Duchess' new shoes. She's running a giveaway, so if you can get there in the next few hours you can enter!