Saturday, December 12, 2009


I've been roaming the costuming websites, blogs and discussion groups for years and one day, I started to notice a certain word: Steampunk. At first I paid no attention to it. I thought it was probably an obscure reference to some Anime I didn't know. Eventually though, curiosity got the best of me, and so I began to research the Aesthetic Phenomena that is Steampunk.

So what is
Steampunk? The simplest explanation I can come up with is Victorian Futurism: it is a mixture of late 19th century / early 20th century fashion, industrial revolution (steam power) technologies and Sc Fi. As in many things, it began as a literary genre, in this case in the 60's, highly influenced by Jules Vernes and H.G. Wells.

What does this mean for costumers? Top hats, goggles, pocket watches, brass buttons, spats, vests, jackets and for girls, short bustled skirts, corsets and bloomers.

The one thing that can make any period costume Steampunk is the addition of clock gear (which you can easily find on eBay).

Need an example? My favourite Steampunk outfit to date is Alisa's Pirate Steampunk outfit.

It has everything I mentioned and it looks awesome. There are just so many details and layers, it is truly impressive.

For a more detailed view, you can also watch this Costume Tour she made of this outfit.

Want to add some Steampunk jewellry to your outfit? You can make your own or, if like me you have no talent for this sort of craft, you can buy it. There are many talented artists out there who make beautiful pieces from an array of materials.

Gold Steampunk Ironman Inspired Pendant by Matthew Nix

Matthew Nix from The Watchman's Shop over on Etsy is one of them. He makes beautiful Steampunk pieces (rings, pendants, money clips) from metal and fused glass, and he never makes the same piece twice!

If Steampunk is something that might interest you (costume wise), I suggest you watch the Threadbanger Steampunk Week videos. There are many interesting ideas, and their projects are quite easy to make!

And if you are really into Steampunk, head over to Steampunk Magazine for more information, stories and patterns on what has become a real Artistic Movement.

If you believe in the Many-worlds Theory, who knows, perhaps there truly exists a Steampunk world.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Progress Report: Red Taffeta Bustle Skirt and Travel Bustle

Hooray! I have managed to cut my bustle skirt from the four metres I had even thought the pattern asked for seven! It took a lot of puzzling and figuring out, but I managed. Of course, this means I had to cut my fabric by aligning my grain-line to the weft instead of the warp, but as the fabric is already stabilized by the diamond patterned tucks, I doubt it will be a problem.

So I have an underskirt:

And a bustled back:

I also have belt pieces cut, but I didn't photograph them.

I haven't cut the apron yet, but as I showed you before, it is already pretty much done. I'll mostly have to add pleats to the sides and I think that will be all.

Now concerning the Travel Bustle, I have also cut my fabric.

The bustle will consist of four layers of gathered fabric. If it comes out well, I'll make a tutorial for everyone to make their own if they wish to.

This cute patterned quilter's cotton was leftover from a piece I had bought to make practice garment in sewing class (I am sticking to my "it must come from the Stash" rule for this project).

To give you an idea of what the finished bustle will look like, I have layered my pieces, alternating between the fabric and the lining so you really see the different layers.

And that's that for now. Next step is fusing, sewing and finding some fabric for the bodice.

And since I have a lot of baking to do right before Christmas, I have to be done by next week-end if I intend to wear this outfit at all. No pressure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting in the Olympics Spirit Early

Only 64 days left before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Are you getting in the Olympics mood? I'm not much of an athlete, nor am I very active (except when it comes to dancing), but I do love the Olympics Celebrations.

For a costumer, what is there not to like about, say, the opening ceremonies? Remember the last winter Olympics, in Torino, IT? The Placard Holders wore
Moschino dresses made to look like snowy mountain tops, complete with pine trees and lit-up village! I still can't figure how to make that one.

Miss Italia, Edelfa Chiara Masciotta, carrying the Placard for team Italy, 2006 Winter Olympics, Torino, Italy

I can't wait to see what Canada will have come up with.

In the mean time, to get into the Olympics Spirit, I got up at 6 AM this morning to go see the Olympic Torch Relay in Bois-des-Filion, QC (it was scheduled for 7:30, bu you know, one needs to get ready, shovel the driveway - thanks Sweetheart - and plan for traffic).

Gwenyver and Daughter with the First of the Bois-des-Filion Torchbearers (sorry, I don't have his name) December 10, 2009

I did participate in Coca-Cola's Torchbearer contest last winter. I would have loved to do it. It's not so much the honour which first motivated me (well, lets face it, the honour would have been awesome and I would have been grateful to get the chance to do it) as the Uniform. What? It's me we're talking about.

Torchbearer Uniform

These uniforms were designed by the Hudson's Bay Company. According to the Vancouver 2010 Website, "the 2010 Olympic Torchbearer uniform has been designed with Canadian winters in mind". Really? Up-close, I thought it was just a light nylon suit that could be worn over warm clothes - kind of like our mothers making us wear our snow suits under our Halloween costumes when we were kids - but I could be wrong (it was very windy and chilly and my focus was on keeping my Baby warm, which is why I closed my coat over her and added a blanket).

The Website further informs us that "the Olympic Torchbearer uniform highlights the Sea to Sky palette — the blue and green hues seen around Vancouver in the winter months". Ah, blue and green: that's why I subconsciously wanted to wear that uniform.

Finally, we also get a detailed description of the uniforms:

"The uniform consists of several pieces items, including a jacket, pullover pants, toque and mittens. As is the recent tradition, the uniform is mainly white, symbolizing a message of peace and hope. Colour accents decorate the left arm of the uniform, along with reflective elements for safety during operations in little or no light. The uniform prominently features the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay emblem as well as the universally recognizable Olympic Rings."

Paralympic Torchbearer Uniform

And for the Paralympic Torchbearer Uniforms?

"The torchbearer uniform for the Paralympic Torch Relay consists of several pieces, including a jacket, pullover pants, toque and red mittens. Designed and manufactured by the Hudson’s Bay Company, the 2010 Paralympic Torchbearer uniform is blue to represent ice and accented with bright bursts of blue and green on the jacket’s left arm. Silver reflective elements, including “Vancouver 2010” on the right jacket sleeve and right back pant leg, have been added for prominence and visibility.

The uniform features the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay emblem on the chest as well as the
Agitos on the back. From the Latin word for “I move,” the Agitos are the Paralympic symbol and are composed of three elements (red, blue and green) representing the International Paralympic Committee’s role in bringing athletes from all corners of the world together to compete.

The uniform has been designed with the comfort and safety of the torchbearers in mind and makes a beautiful commemorative keepsake.

Torchbearers, this Costumeholic is behind you 100%! Enjoy your run and your time with the Flame; I mean think about it, it has come all the way from Greece! That's just incredible. Mostly, be happy that "The design team from the Hudson’s Bay Company, in collaboration with VANOC, managed to find an ideal balance of function and fashion that will have the Olympic Torchbearers moving comfortably and looking great".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Confessions of a Costumeholic is now on Facebook

It's true! This Blog now has it's own Fan Page on Facebook. Become a fan and you will get more links, more costume pictures and up to date crazy thoughts from me! Now who would want to take the chance to miss that.

If you are on Facebook, go to Confessions of a Costumeholic's Fan Page and click the "Become a Fan" button to enjoy all these new perks!

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Whoville's Twin Miss Candy Cane

I don't know about you, but I have started to watch all of my favorite Christmas movies, including Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). I remember seeing that movie at the Laval Colossus with my family. I loved all of this Whoworld created just for the movie. It really made the magick of it all com to life for me.

But right away, there was one costume that caught my eye: the two pink candy cane girls.

How original! How girly! I like it; I want it! They look so cute and happy. That is the type of costume I could see myself making and wearing for a play or a parade.

I do wonder how the head piece is made though. It is probably some king of under wire, because if it was just stuffed with bating, it would be much too heavy and difficult to maneuver.

Of course, this is not a costume I will make anytime soon. I have no occasion to wear it, but most importantly, I have a personal rule about certain body curves and spandex (which in my book should apply to all curvy people, but I can only act upon myself). But know that this costume has been on my wishlist for a decade (and I have been waiting since summer to tell you about it).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disney's The Princess and the Frog

The Disney Princesses: every little girl's dream! I myself was once dressed as a five years old, beach blond Snow White for Halloween. (I have to scan some pictures for you eventually.)

This Friday, a new princess comes into our lives: Princess Tiana. Now little girls of visible African ancestry can have their own princess too!

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I have nothing against having a dark skinned princess, it's just that the first version of The Princess and the Frog (2009) I ever heard of was by a kid's TV show called Iniminimagimo (1987), and the story was set in China. But as it turns out, The Frog Prince was one of the Brothers Grimm's stories, so I guess it can be interpreted any way one wants.

Tiana wears two princess dresses in the movie. First, she has what I believe to be her Debutante Ball Dress.

Princess Tiana

It is very pretty, but I have to admit, I was a little disappointed at first because I thought this was going to be her official Disney Princess Dress (they all have one) and this shade of blue looks a lot like Cinderella's. Since this is the story of a frog, why not green? No other Disney Princess wears green as her official colour.

But I was of little faith!

Disney's Princess Tiana

Now that's more like it! Not only is it green, it is clearly inspired by a water lily. They really took the frog theme to heart.

I wonder how many little Tianas will be trick-or-treating on my street next year?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Movie Monday: Me and Orson Welles

Oh, this brings back memories of Film Study classes of days gone by! Think Citizen Kane (1941).

Me and Orson Welles (2009), out in theatres next Friday, tells the story of one crazy week in the life of 1937 teenager Richard Samuel: the week he meat Orson Welles!

Wait, did I say 1937? Costumes! (I knew this was not just school reminiscing on my part).

Zac Efron as Richard Samuels and Claire Danes as Sonja Jones, Me and Orson Welles (2009)

A few quick notes about the 1930's: this is the time of the Great Depression, before the Second World War. For most people, money is scarce. In the world of fashion, this led to the wide use of Bias cut fabric: you get more out of less (something that was already known in Medieval times, but was forgotten over time).

So Ladies, flutter sleeves and crossed or halter neckeline are "de rigueur", just as moderately full but longer skirt are. Polka dot is THE print of the decade, hair are wavy and berets are worn sideways.

Men, get those suspenders out of storage, wear white-t-shirts as underwear, and if you have any sense of style, a double breasted jacket is what you are looking for. Think Prohibition Era Gangsters and Al Capone; those are your fashion icons!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Project: Victorian Bustle Gown

Ever since I mentioned Rose Tyler's 1869 outfit, I've been itching to make a bustle gown inspired by it. Believe me, I've tried to dissuade myself from embarking on such a project for the Holidays (on such short notice), but I sometimes lie awake at night thinking about how I would make it.

I have in my fabric stash two burgundy red taffeta panels with tucked diamond motif: they were drapes leftover at a co-worker's apartment by the previous tenant and since they did not match her taste or decor, she gave them to me (lots of co-workers tend to give me fabric in such ways). Each panel is approximately 140 centimetres wide by two metres long.

And look, there is even a matching pointed valence with beaded trim that will require minimum modification to become the apron part of the bustle skirt! (I have folded the sides for the photo, but it is more than wide enough.)

I happen to own Burda 7880, and that is the pattern I was thinking of using for the skirt (as I read on another Blog, try to see past the pink).

There is one small problem: the pattern requires about seven metres of fabric for the skirt and bustled over skirt and I only have four. But I thought maybe since I didn't need the apron, I could somehow manage.

Yesterday morning, being unable to sleep due to the pain my latest growing wisdom tooth is giving me, I decided to go for it and cut the pattern pieces I needed to see if I could fit them on the pieces of fabric I have. I lucked out. I would need an extra metre and I don't have one.

So now I have a few options: I could make the under skirt in another fabric: I probably have enough black satin out there somewhere, or I could try to use this three toned shaded fabric leftover from a Bustier Project in Draping class (but I might not have enough again).

I have also considered using the technique used by Katherine in the making of the foundation skirt of her Pink and Green Bustle Dress, that is to attach the tubed underskirt at about hip level to another fabric which is shaped over the bustle. This other fabric will be hidden by the draped bustle.

Or, I could drape my own skirt by making a tube and pleating it over a bustle.

Speaking of bustle, I don't have one and if I intend to wear this ensemble at my Mom's for Christmas, I have to be able to move and sit easily. Fear not, I have found the perfect solution.

1868-1887 Traveling Bustle by Mantua Maker

It's a Traveling Bustle! Just like a bustle, it will give your skirts the right shape, but unlike a bustle, it has no steels or hardware and can lay flat or be rolled tight for traveling (from an 1871 Harper's Bazar)! Mantua Maker has a pattern for a Traveling Bustle, but I also found that Dre-ah over at 9 Degrees of Yarn and Me has made one without a pattern and it looks quite good (see Bustle Appropriate Petticoat and Traveling Bustle Complete). From her measurements, I can figure out how to make my own.

As for the bodice, I have to look at my many patterns, but I think it will be made of black velvet and be some sort of short sleeved bustier type of thing.

So that is what is brewing inside my head. I don't know yet if I'll actually get around to it as I have a few things I need to make first, but it sure is tempting! The only rule I have about it is that all fabrics need to come from my stash. The only thing I am allowing myself to buy is hook-and-eye tape and maybe some trim.