Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday

In honor of today being Halloween, I am sharing my very first Halloween costume.  I had never dressed up for Halloween until I went to high school.  My school can't actually celebrate Halloween as a holiday, so we instead celebrate Pumpkin Day on October 31st.  Pumpkin Day is really fun.  Everyone dresses up in costumes, both students and teachers.

Students' costumes range from pop culture figures to visual puns and everything in between.  Some of the more memorable costumes from the past years have been the royal wedding party from the year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married, zombie Disney princesses, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Snape, Harley Quinn, SWAT team members, and the characters from Moonrise Kingdom.  Of course, there is always a number of cats and pirates each year.  (I am guilty of the second.  My friend and I were Anne Bonny and Mary Read in 10th grade, but I don't think we ever decided who was who.)

The teachers usually have a theme for their department.  One year, the science department wore red t-shirts with Star Fleet insignias on the front like Star Fleet uniforms, but with "expendable" in the Star Trek title script on the back.  Some of the teachers even had their own tricorders or phasers.

Anyway, I got off-topic in the attempt to describe the wonder that is Pumpkin Day.

I designed this costume during one science class during 9th grade.  I don't remember what inspired me to do it, why I wanted to make it, or anything at all that would be helpful in helping me to understand what my thought process was at that time.

I am completely boggled.  I have no idea what the original costume was supposed to be of and I said various different things throughout the day: I drifted from being a coral reef to being the personification of a midsummer night's dream to being a seaweed forest to being the color green.

I didn't even make the costume myself -- I designed it and chose the fabrics, but my mom really did the grunt work.  I was afraid of using my sewing machine at that time.

Throwback Thursday Sum-Up

Age at Time: 14

Costume: I don't know

Event: Pumpkin Day/Halloween

Level of embarrassment (scale of 1-10, 10 being deathly embarrassing): 8

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Edwardian Hair Attempt #2

I bought some hair rats the other day at a beauty store nearby so I could experiment a bit more with Edwardian hair before Thursday.  

This first hair style is supported with two longish rats that are placed around the head with one in front and one in back. 

The second style I tried uses the same two longish  rats, but they are connected in a U-shape and placed towards the back of the head.  The forward poof is just from curling my hair back on itself and pinning it.

Frankly, I'm not impressed with either style just yet.  I don't think either looks natural or at all like anything from the period.  I keep reminding myself that I'm going to be wearing a hat all day, so it doesn't matter too much, but the perfectionist in me doesn't like the reminders.

As for actual sewing, I have quite a lot to do.  The bodice needs finishing; the sleeves need to be finished and attached; the collar isn't even fully cut out yet; the belt is cut out, but needs to be constructed; my old skirt needs a few new hooks; the parasol covering is cut out, but not sewn; and the reticule is just a figment of my imagination at the moment.  Oh, and the hat is only half-done.  I have a lot to do in only two nights!

I'm being very ambitious, but I hope that I can do enough tonight that I will only have to do hand sewing/finishing tomorrow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I have 27 minutes to write this until it is no longer Thursday.

I had no idea what Throwback Thursday was until recently -- my only previous experience with Throwback Thursdays was during Spirit Week at school each year, when each day had a different theme that everyone dressed up for.  I just thought the student council that organized it had been creative about the name of the day so that it alliterated.  (Other "dress up" days have included fun ones like "Twin Day," where you coordinate outfits with another person or with other people, meaning that you could come to school in free dress and say that your "twin" was absent; "Dress Like a Boy Day," 'cause its an all-girls school and they didn't take into consideration when they planned the event that it would offend people; and "Would You Still Be Me Friend Day," which I can't even explain it's so wrong.)

Eeeek!  Only 18 minutes left!

Anyhoo, I like the idea behind the real Throwback Thursday, but I want to make it unique (and relevant to this blog) by posting old pictures of me in various costumes instead.  There is really no reason for this, other than that most of the costumes are terrible and extremely embarrassing because we all had to start somewhere.  (I'm not saying that I think what I do now is perfect.  I'm not even implying that.  What I do now is an improvement, nothing more.)  I will from now on be posting semi-regularly a picture of yours truly in an embarrassingly terrible costume that I thought was the bomb when I was younger.

At a certain point I will run out of pictures that I have on my computer and will be too lazy to look for other pictures.  When that happens, the series will probably end, except for the occasional "it is actually relevant to my life right now!" moment.

To start off this new series, I have something that is actually relevant to tomorrow--whoops--today.  Good morning.  It is no longer Throwback Thursday, so it's actually relevant to today.

Ahem, today is St. Crispin's Day, which I only know because my sister read Henry V in her Shakespeare class back when I was in 9th grade and memorized King Henry's famous St. Crispin's Day speech (preformed by Kenneth Branagh in the clip below).

She somehow convinced my mother to let us have a St. Crispin's Day feast on October 25th, complete with rented costumes and glass tumblers full of bubbly apple cider (yeah, we're classy).

Myself (note poet shirt, tunic-thing, and belt from H&M)

Guilty sister on the left, knightly Hobbit sister on the right 
None of my future Throwback Thursday posts will have this many pictures (as far as I know) because, for the most part, I only have one or two good pictures of each costume.

We're so pretty!
Throwback Thursday Sum-Up

Age at time: 14

Costume: vaguely-Medieval who-knows-what

Event: St. Crispin's Day Feast at home with family

Level of embarrassment (scale of 1 - 10, 10 is deathly embarrassing): 2

Monday, October 21, 2013

Edwardian Hair Attempt

I will start this post by disclaiming that it was really hard to sum up the nerve to post this.  I guess I'm still battling with being afraid of making mistakes (and then broadcasting those mistakes for the world to see.  That's really stressful).

Somehow my tumblr blog and this one have become totally unsynchronized.  Anyhoo, I'm in the middle fulfilling a request for a very brief series (I'm calling it a "micro-mini" series *teehee!*) on tutorials/resources for DIY costumes for Halloween (which might be my favorite secular holiday because YOU GET TO DRESS UP!).  I'm trying to inspire people to add to their existing costumes or to create a whole new one by providing them with resources that will enhance their overall look.  In doing this, I managed to inspire myself to make a new costume.  I was planning on wearing my Lady Vader to school (probably without the bustle, though.  I really didn't want to deal with fitting into desks), but managed to convince myself to make something that would use elements I already have.

It all started when I posted a link to a lovely Edwardian 'do on Locks of Elegance's blog, with the hope of introducing people obsessed with Downton Abbey to period-correct hairstyles.  I'd tried it before with less than stellar results, but decided to revisit Locks of Elegance's tutorials and give her Gibson Girl a go:

This was the result with my first attempt.  No poof at the top at all.  This doesn't look at all like Gibson Girl hair.

Playing around with the poof.  I'm really unhappy with this shape.
Time for another disclaimer: I don't "do" hair.  The most complex thing I can do with my hair is the Gibson Tuck, and that is only for special occasions.  Otherwise, my hair stays in a bun or a braid at all times.  The few times I've worn it down for special occasions have not gone well.

I played around with getting the poof right a few times, but couldn't get the volume or shape I wanted.  Finally I tried rolling my hair and pinning it, which gave me this:

This face is a very accurate description of how I feel about my hair.

What is going on up there?  (I had to photoshop away the giant bags under my eyes. You should be thanking me.) 

I was not impressed.  It looked crazy-big and uneven, and not at all the shape I wanted.  But hey, it looks good from the side!

This is my "attempting to exude elegance" face.

Then I realized that, if all goes well, I will be wearing a hat.  Enter stage left a random hat that was close at hand:

Hmm, meh.
I haven't actually decided yet how I will decorate the actual hat, if at all, which will depend on how I wear it, which will influence how I style my hair.  So, for the moment, the hair does not actually matter.

Of course, all the playing around with the hair made it voluminous (what I try to avoid), but it struck me as really '80s (1980s, that is -- you can never be too careful around historians!) so I know what I will do next time I'm invited to an '80s party.  Er, 1980s, that is.

Thanks for reading!  Any suggestions you may have on how to improve my Edwardian floofy-ness is appreciated.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bustle Picnic

Prepare for yet another "event" post!  There hasn't been much time for me to make things, but I finally have something to wear to events, so there might be more event write-ups in the future than clothing write ups.

This particular picnic was in mid-September (it was hot).  It was held by the HCA at a park with a lake, so it was quite picture-esque (and the pictures I took would have been very lovely had I positioned myself so that the modern cars were not visible in the pictures).  Since the HCA is mainly a Civil War civilians reenacting group, the bustle gowns there were a mix of 1860s dresses modified to bustle and 1870s/80s dresses that were actual bustles.  I would not have been able to tell that that 1860s dresses were, in fact, 1860s dresses had I not seen them just a few weeks earlier as 1860s dresses at a reenactment (which you will never see pictures of, by the way.  I look horrible).

A simple picnic is never a simple picnic.  Everyone brought blankets and tables and chairs and actual dishes and cutlery (I brought bright yellow plastic dishes) and it was lovely.

There were some games going on as well.  These two below competed in a sack race (stick your legs into a sack or a pillowcase, jump to the finish line).

Methinks one of them is cheating.

Mrs. H is proof that you can do it in a bustle.  


... for a picture.
And finally, a note about safety.  Southern California is hot in mid-September.  Heck, most places are hot in mid-September.  However, regardless of where you are and what time of year it is, you need to be prepared for the heat (or the cold, but I'm going to talk about the heat right now because it's applicable).  I've taken the following tips straight from the website of the 33rd Regiment of Foot's website (they are a Revolutionary War reenacting regiment, but heat is heat, and their tips are good):

"Heat Illness Prevention
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • The average person loses between one and two quarts of fluid an hour in perspiration during heavy exertion in hot weather.
  • The only way to replace the fluid loss (and help the body continue to cool itself) is to drink water.
  • Don't wait until thirsty to drink water. Being thirsty is not a good signal for the need to hydrate.
  • Drink water instead of soda. Avoid substituting soft drinks, coffee, or other drinks containing caffeine or sugar.
Heat Illness
  • Know the nearest cool resting place.
  • Get out of the sun or away from the source of heat and find a cool, preferably well ventilated resting place if you are starting to overheat or need to cool down.
  • Wear light-colored, loose fitting, long-sleeved shirt, light-colored pants, UV sunglasses, and if appropriate, other protective equipment.
  • Wear a wide brim hat (baseball caps do not cover the ears and neck.)
  • Use sunscreen or sun block and reapply as needed.
  • Eat light meals. Hot, heavy meals add heat to the body.
Heat Stroke
  • A life-threatening emergency that occurs when the body overheats to a point where its temperature control system shuts down and heat builds up internally.
  • The signs of impending heat stroke are altered behavior, convulsions, unconsciousness and, usually, lack of sweating.
  • Should these symptoms occur, seek medical help immediately.
When someone is exhibiting symptoms of heat illness:
  • Stop and get them into a shaded area that is open to the air or ventilation.
  • If they are concious, encourge fluid intake.
  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Take immediate steps to cool the person such as using cool moist towels or douse the person with water to bring the body temperature down.
Never leave a person with heat illness unattended."

Please, please, please be safe.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

CoCO 2013 - The Experience

Being at CoCo was fantastic!  It's called Costume College for a reason, and the classes offered are really excellent.  There were a few duds, but overall, I learned so much and I could not stop talking about it for weeks after.  I attended classes about everything from apron styles during the 1860s, to cheap ways of theatre costuming, to Cavalier/Baroque/1600s hairstyling.

I packed a few outfits that could mix-n-match, depending on my mood, and also my Lady Vader bustle gown, minus the Vader helmet.  Costumes are by no means required at CoCo, and actually, it might even be easier to manage going to classes in Muggle clothes, but I figured that I don't get that many chances to dress up a bit, so I took the opportunity to be in costume.  (I'd like to note that I did pack a pair of jeans and a few t-shirts just in case.  They never left the suitcase.)  

Packing for CoCo = piles of costumes, hatboxes, a shoebox, Muggle t-shirts that I never wore, a suitcase, and a backpack
I was fairly proud of myself for being able to fit my clothes into just a suitcase and a backpack (albeit a large backpack meant for hauling around water polo gear) -- it took me a suitcase, a backpack, and my sewing machine's travel carrier to get everything to Comic Con.  It still took me several trips to get everything out to the car.  The travel carrier still had to come with me, but it was actually holding a sewing machine this time. :)

I was amazed by the different skill sets of the attendees.  Some people were excellent at making their accessories.  Others had the awesomest hairdos.  Francis randomly set up shop in the hallway.  It was awesome to watch him work and to chat with him.  I really want a pair of Elizabethan shoes, now.  Good thing American Duchess is developing some!

this is Francis ^^
^^ those are his shoes                               .
One of the classes was eye-opening.  (That's a stupid statement.  95% of the classes were eye-opening.)  The teacher is actually a drama teacher at a college, where she puts students with no sewing skills to work making costumes for their productions.  Some of the stuff they've done is really cool and really ingenious.  (I say "really" a lot.  I'm really sorry.)

Best use for pink foam hearts = gauntlets.

Paint + thrift store suit = pinstriped suit.

I forget what these kinds of foamy tubes are called, but they make awesome elongated-finger things when glued/sewed to gloves.
I took a class with The Historical Hairdresser on Cavalier wig styling.  I decided I'm really not a fan of Cavalier 'dos, but I enjoyed learning how to style a wig.  It was fun to play with hair that doesn't frizz when you look at it.  I loved seeing how everyone else's wigs came out -- we were all doing essentially the same style, but everyone's looked very different.  (I ran into one of the other women in the class later at the Gala.  She was wearing her wig and I didn't recognize her at all!)

From the back, it looks like Belle from Beauty and the Beast (Disney's version)

The wig is still being styled, so the front is clipped out of the way.

I have mixed feelings about the Gala.  It was about an hour and a half after the last classes of the day finished to give people time to change and get ready.  I wasn't staying at the hotel (my aunt and uncle live just a few minutes away) and I didn't have a separate outfit for the gala, so I wandered around for a while.  I eventually made my way to the ladies' room to reapply makeup, where I found a few other women getting ready.  We commiserated with each other that there was no formal dressing room for us to get ready in.  The Gala itself was a bit of a disappointment.  I had no one to sit with (the friends that I had made thus far at CoCo were not attending the Gala) and it's very hard to chat with your neighbors when the music is blasting.  (I will announce at this time that the little I was able to speak with my neighbors was very enjoyable, and I wish that it had been quieter so we could have talked more.)

The "red carpet" before the Gala

These two were excellent dancers!  They were such a joy to watch.

The dance floor towards the end of the Gala (most people had made their way outside by this point)
That's all the pictures I have!  If you are interested in going to CoCo 2014, I can't recommend it enough.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

CoCo 2013 -- The Work (that's a terrible title, by the way)

CoCo has a special exhibit where people may display any of their works.  I took more pictures in that one room than I did at the entire event, so I decided to whittle it down to the absolute bare minimum of things that really stood out to me.

Apparently, I was so focused on the work that I forgot to make a note of who made what.  If you recognize something, please, please, please tell me!

This is a detail of a Rapunzel from Tangled cosplay.  The embroidery on the gown in the movie has gaps, so the costumer included them in her gown.  (That, by the way, is one of the things I love about cosplayers: the extreme attention to details that I think most people would probably not even notice)

This is a cute muff idea.

My goodness, the beading on this is intense.  (Also, I think this might be Lynn McMasters's.  It certainly looks like one of her new Regency hat examples.)

The floral arrangement on this is perfect and balanced with the lightness of the straw hat.

Suddenly, I want my own light blue/lilac late Edwardian corset.

It's soooo preeeeeeetttttyyyyy.

CoCo 2013 - The People

Aha!  I found the cord for my camera, so I can finally post my Costume College pics.  I'm going to divide it into three posts - the people, the work, and the experience - so you're not completely overwhelmed with all the pictures at once.

People at CoCo are awesome.  With very few exceptions, they are all friendly, welcoming, and very easy to talk to -- and, they all like costumes!

Disclaimer: I am terrible with names.  If you see yourself or a friend nameless below, please introduce yourself in the comments!  (Also, if you are uncomfortable with your picture being online, let me know and I will remove it.)

Samantha's bathing/swimming dress!


L-R:Lauren,  Sarah, and Rebecca

Huh, she seems familiar. (Photocreds to Lauren, I believe)

Yeah, this is my "new" mix-n-match Steampunk.  I've actually worn it a fair amount of times, but never seem to have my camera with me when I do.  (Photocreds to Lauren, I believe, if I am recalling correctly.  Ah, the dangers of posting several months late.  Darn that pesky lost cord!)
From this point forward, most of the pictures are from the Gala, and a lot of them are candids.  Just a warning.

on the "red carpet"

This picture was really to get the back of Lauren's dress, but look into the background at all the people to get an idea of how hectic and awesome the event was.


Sarah's Tudor gown (this picture is not doing it justice at all.  It's really quite amazing).
The Gala itself was ridiculously loud.  I normally carry around earbuds in my everyday purse, and I was so thankful that night that I had moved them into the bag I was using that day.  The following three pictures are all taken from where I was sitting.

Fancy dress goldfish, I believe it was.  Again, one of those dresses you can't experience from a picture.  I loooooved the sequins/rhinestones/didn't-get-close-enough-to-see on her bodice.

Why, yes.  I am a fan of black and white stripes.  (I had my fingers crossed that she would meander my way so I could get a picture of her. Oh my goodness the pleating!)

Heh heh.  Love this picture.  These two women (Natalie, on the left facing forward and I'm-so-sorry-but-I-forgot-your-name! on the right facing backward) were actually sitting across from me at the Gala.  Bluuuuuuuue gowwwwwns.

There is nothing about this costume that it not mind-bending-ly awesome.  That is all I have to say.  I tried to take a few pictures of the details, but they came out too blurry.

Rebecca's 17th century gown (that shade of burntish-orange is hereby officially added to my favorite colors)

L-R: Merja, Elisabeth (anyone know if she has blog and what it is?), and Jen

Bearing in mind that it was really loud and I could barely hear anything, I believe she said that Natalie Meyer, CoCo's 2013 dean made this dress.  

I have a photograph of some alumnae from my school wearing very similar outfits, in their silhouettes at least, so I was really excited to see this.

She's so cute!  A bit of snooping led me to her blog.

So pretty.  This is the same person from several photos above, who had her back facing the camera.  Her dress looks so delicate.

I kinda gasped aloud when I saw this gorgeous bustle because it reminded me so much of  the gown in this inspiration post.  I think I like these colors a lot more, however.  Red and black is a striking combination.