Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BCBG and Vionnet

Recently, I saw this ad for BCBG Max Azria in a magazine.

BCBG Max Azria Fall 2011 ad campaign

Of course, I recognized the dress immediately. Did you? Just look at those concentric squares on the bodice; it is clearly inspired by this Madeleine Vionnet dress from the 1920's.

Dress summer 1922, Les Arts Décoratifs, Union Française des Arts du Costume

This is proof once again that in fashion, nothing is truly original nowadays; it is always inspired to some degree by something else, more often then not the past.

By the way, should you wish to make the Vionnet dress for yourself, the pattern can be found in Pattern Of Fashion 2 1860-1940 by Janet Arnold. I myself find it interesting, but the light beige to coffee colour palette is not my cup of tea (pun intended). I like the BCBG colour scheme of blues. I might try that. I would also love to see what colour combination others might come up with. (That would make a great Masquerade / Competition theme for Costume Con.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baby Flower

Halloween is over, and before we get crazy about Yule/Christmas/Hanukah, I guess I should present my Halloween projects. I had three this year: a Logan’s Run type green dress for me for Nancy-Raven’s party, to finish a tartan skirt from my stash (begun for Bicolline 2005) so I could wear it to go trick-or-treating, and of course, my daughter’s Flower costume. Let’s start with this one, because as usual, it is the cutest. (Besides, I have no full length and/or non-blurry picture of me. Who would have thought it is tough to be both photographer and model at the same time?)

As some of you may know, I was originally planning to make this costume for her for
Montreal ComicCon back in September, but we ended up not going for various reasons, so I did not make it at the time. I did however have all the material, so it was the obvious choice for Halloween.

At the time of planing for this costume, the idea was to find something for her to wear as she accompanied me wearing my Buffy Halloween dress. I watched the episode in question (
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 6, Halloween) to find out what costumes the kids that Buffy takes Trick-or-treating wear. The lamb was cute, but the little flower that holds Buffy’s hand was just perfect.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 6, Halloween

And so I bought yellow poplin to make the hat and petals, green tulle for the tutu, and later, once it was decided that this would be the Trick-or-treating costume, green polar fleece for the jumpsuit/PJ (remember, it often snows on Halloween in Québec – though I must say, this year it was a lovely 10°C). As trim, inspired by the second series of pink petals on the Buffy flower costume, I used leftover fabric from my Buffy Halloween dress (to match the theme). Also, since ComicCon was in September and was to be inside, I had bought her a green long sleeves tee and almost matching leggings to be worn in place of the fleece jumpsuit, and that is what she wore to Nancy-Raven’s party.

Flower costume fabrics: green polar fleece, green tulle netting, yellow poplin and deep pink faux Dupioni

Because I was too lazy to figure out a pattern by myself and from other patterns I own, I bought McCall's 6416 (on sale for 2.99$ - well worth the lazyness) and used view B as a base.

I have to say, the hat pattern fits great, with no gap at the back of the neck (as with most of the hats/coif patterns I have used for her to date). The jumpsuit was also easy to make and fits great. I did have too much fleece in the end, and it is not just from not using the shoe cover piece, but I have plans to make a parti-coloured cape from the leftover.

And now on to the costume breakdown:

The hat

Flower Hat

The pattern asked for one layer of fabric and one layer of contrast lining for the hat, with lightweight fusing. Instead, I cut two layers of fabric and sandwiched one layer of Fibre Fill (the type that comes in a roll so you can cut shapes out of it) to make it fluffy and warm. Two strips of Velcro are used as closure at the front.

For the petals, I used two layers of Fibre Fill (one sewn to each piece of fabric) instead of the fusible webbing recommended on the pattern. All the petals were closed with a zigzag stitch. A box pleat was then pinned on each one and I proceeded to hand sew them to the hat (all the while listening, but not so much watching,
1963 Doctor Who – Marco Polo Series). In order for them to stand up nicely, I tacked them to one another where the petals stopped touching. I do love the finish result.

As for the trim, I used one piece about 12 cm long by 115 cm wide (the width of the fabric). Closed it in length to create a tube, flipped it over, pressed it so the seam would be centered in the back and closed the ends. Then I gathered it down the center, aligned with the seam and sewed it by hand to the hat, while watching more 1963 Doctor Who – Marco Polo Series*.

*For those of you who are not crazy Doctor Who fans, know that the original
Marco Polo series video have all been lost, but that somehow the soundtrack has been recovered, so some more crazy fans have made a montage of pictures from the original episodes, taken during filming, with the soundtrack so that other crazy Doctor Who fans can almost watch the series. Since there is not much action to look at, it is perfect for hand sewing nights so you can listen to it without needing to actually watch.

The Petal Skirt

Petal Skirt

The petal skirt is not included with the pattern, but it was worn by the kid in Buffy, so of course I had to make one as well. Using the hat’s petal pattern, I cut as many as I could in the fabric I had which turned out to be seven. I used only one layer of Fibre Fill for these as they did not need to stand up the way the hat’s petals did, but I did not want them flat either. Each was baste-stitched close and lightly gathered so that all seven could fit on the waistband piece I had cut.

The waist band is another strip of fabric 12 cm long by 115 cm wide to which I sewed the gathered petals. It was folded and closed into a casing into which I inserted an elastic. The skirt without the elastic is wide enough to fit me, so if need be, I can replace the elastic as she grows so she can still wear it in a few years.

The Tutu

Green Tutu

Once again, the pattern does no ask for a tutu, but the Buffy flower costume has one, so I made one. I used strips of green tulle netting twice as long as the length of tutu I was going for (which was knee length) and tied them to a ribbon using a lark’s head knot (I will make a tutorial one day). Because the netting is so stiff, it puffs out around my daughter’s waist, but is looks awesome with the petal skirt.

By the way, on the night following the completion of the tutu (which was the first item I finished in this costume), I tried it on my daughter and she immediately proclaimed herself a ballerina and started twirling around the living room.

PJ Ballerina

I have known of this tutu making technique for a few years now, I even posted about it before (see Confessions of a Costumeholic: Costume Tutu, posted March 5, 2010), but this was in fact my first attempt at making one and I have to say I am pretty satisfied.

The Jumpsuit

Green Jumpsuit/PJ

I used the pattern as is, but without the shoe cover piece as I intended for this to become a PJ afterwards (note to future parents: feetless PJs last longer! As they grow, the leg may be a bit shorter, but it will still fit which I would not if it had feet). This was actually assembled in one hour on Sunday night, with my overlock machine. It was really easy: two front pieces, two back pieces and two sleeves. Add a zipper, finish the neckline with bias tape, hem the sleeves and legs, and you are done. Since this was made a little oversize for my daughter (in case it was really cold and I needed to fit her coat underneath), I threaded a piece of ribbon in the bias tape to close the neckline tightly for trick-or-treating, and took it out when she decided to wear it to bed the next night.

I really, really love this pattern for PJs. I intend to use it again!

The Jumpsuit alternative – Green Clothes

Green clothes for indoor flower

As I mentioned, this costume was originally meant to be ready and worn at Montreal ComicCon, and with this in mind, I had bought my daughter some green clothes to wear with the rest of the costume pieces. Now I don’t know if anyone realizes how tough it is to find a matching set of long sleeve top and pant in ANY green, even for a child. It is equally difficult to find clothes that are just one colour, with no prints or added whatnots. I ended up buying the only two I did find. The long sleeve tee I found in the boy’s section at Zellers. The leggings are from l’Aubainerie. Just as for the jumpsuit, these clothing pieces can be worn on their own throughout this winter.

And now, what you have all really been waiting for, the cutesy toddler pictures!

At Nancy-Raven’s (where she decided to pose for pictures, making funny faces and taking different poses, before snatching up my camera to take headless shots of everyone).

Toddler Flower

Cuteness attack!

"You talkin' to me?"

Sugar Rush!

"Listen to me mommy"

Just adorable

Rear view

Mother / Daughter

And here are a couple from Halloween night (once we came back home from trick-or-treating).

Posing for grandpa

Emptying the bag of goodies

Contemplating the loot

While trick-or-treating, I received many lovely comments on just how cute she was (what is not to like about those?). One neighbor even asked me if I take commissions because her daughter is pregnant and her grand baby will need a costume next year (Hello neighbour!). It was the first year my daughter actually went trick-or-treating (last year we were partying on the streets of old La Prairie with all our Alliance Impériale friends), and she loved it! Even once her legs hurt from so much walking, she still did not want to come home.

Can’t wait till next year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Daisy Baby

Guess who barely fits in her mouse costume? My daughter of course!
Baby Mouseling one year later

She has grown so much, I can barely believe it. This costume was purposefully made baggy last year so it might get two years of use, but no; when I tried it on her wearing nothing but a t-shirt and diaper, I had to work like crazy to get it over her shoulders and it pulls quite a lot in the crotch area. Since the torso part is too short, there is nothing I can do to give it a couple of extra inches. Plus, at the rate she is growing (Mommy, my legs hurt!) I don't know that it will still be acceptable in three weeks time (The above picture was taken on Monday - Halloween minus 3 weeks). So...

I guess I need to make her a new costume. Sad, I know. Luckily enough, I was planning on making her a flower costume for Montreal ComicCon to go with my Buffy dress.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 6, Halloween

Of course we were sick the weeks prior so I had no time to work on the costumes (it always seems to happen this way), plus I was let go two days before, so we did not end up going to the event, but I have all the material. And because I'm lazy and I did not feel like drawing my own petal hat pattern from scratch, I bought this pattern on sale for 2.99$. Seriously, at that price, why bother; I can always modify it on the fabric.

McCall's 6416

Since I was originally planning to make this costume for an indoor event, I have some green leggings and a somewhat matching long sleeved tee which she can wear for Nancy-Raven's Annual Halloween Bash.

For Trick or Treating, I'll make her a green polar fleece one piece PJ, based on the above pattern, which she can wear for the rest of the winter as sleepwear. Now that is being practical and cost effective!

Green Polar Fleece - 8.99$ for 1.5 metres or 1 PJ size 4

For the petals and hat, I have bright yellow Poly/Cotton to match the child's flower costume int the Buffy episode shown above.

Bright Yellow Poly/Cotton

To once again match the costume from Buffy, I will add a green Tutu with yellow petals.

Green Net for Tutu

I will also add bright pink accents to this costume, but that fabric will come from my stash and I have not yet gone hunting for it.

More on this project soon. First order of business, washing the fabrics (except for the net).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wicked Witch

So Halloween is just around the corner, a meer three weeks away, and if you haven't begun planning costumes yet, it is about time you start. Now some of you may know this already, but for those who don't I will repeat it again: Halloween, or Samhain, is the Witch's New Year. So naturally, a witch costume would be a great costume choice.

If you are looking for a more sophisticated witch outfit, I suggest you turn your attention to
Wicked - The untold story of the Witches of Oz.

The costumes are simply devine, as shown here in this Threadbanger interview with Tony Award Winning Costume Designer Susan Hilferty, the creator of these marvels. (Watch and drool.)

Should you wish to recreate your own Elphaba costume, you can follow this nifty Threadbanger tutorial.

One of the best Elphaba costume recreation I have seen was made by Laurie of Threads of my Life. Just look at this amazing picture:

Laurie as Elphaba from Wicked

Much time and effort went into the making of this costume. Do check out more of her pictures here.

And if by any chance you think you recognize Laurie from this blog, you are right! She was in the theatre troup that I was Costume Designer for a few years ago (before I became a mom, which is the best but sucks away all free time).

Laurie as Damoiselle Mathilde D'Aubray de Castellar, Le Tzigane au Croissant d'or, 2008

I like to imagnie I inspired her a little. She really has a lot of talent and patience when it comes to costuming and I can't wait to see what she will come up with next.

Back to the main subject, has anyone else made a Wicked Witch costume? I wonder if I have enough scraps in my stash and time to make this in 3 weeks... Probably not (time wise), but this costume does get its place on my wish list!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Neck rings for the western woman

Flicking through a fashion magazine recently, I came upon this add for Dior's J'adore perfume with Charlize Theron:

Charlize Theron for Dior's J'adore perfume

I was instantaniously reminded of those so called "Giraffe women" in South Africa.

Ndebele Woman in Traditional Dress

Women of Ndebele people wear brass rings called idzila around their neck, legs, and arms. These rings do not put pressure on the collar bone and create an elongated neck look, contrary to popular belief and other Asian cultures. They begin wearing these when they get married, around age 12, and the rings are added on as they are given to them by their husband. The richer the husband, the more rings his wife has. The Ndebele widow will take all her rings off upon her husband's death to show her new state.

(more information here:

Kayan or Padaung lady and girl Myanmar Kayah state

Upon reseaching for this post, I discovered that other cultures used neck rings, namely the Kayan or Padaung Women of Myanmar. (If I understand correctly, "Padaung" means long neck woman). In fact, they wear coiled metal rings around their wrists, knees and ankles as well. Girls begin wearing the rings as young as age 2. In the case of the Padaung, the weight of the neck rings does infact deform the collar bone, pushing it to a 45 degree angle and making the neck appear longer, but the idea that an unfaithful woman will see her rings removed as punishment so she suffocates to death is completly false; in fact, the rings can be taken off and put back on if need be, say to be examined by a doctor. In the Kayan culture, this drastic body modification through adornment is done so everyone is reminded of their ancestry to the Nagas, a mythical dragon or snake.

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar borders Thailand, and there is apparently a group of Kayan living in a border town on the Thai side of the fence (though according to one source I found, they generate most of the economic wealth of the town they are in so that now that they want to relocate, things are being made as hard as possible for them to do so). Perhaps that is why Miss Thailand Chutima Durongdej wore a neck ring inspired piece as her National Costume to the 2009 Miss Universe contest.

Miss Thailand 2009 - Chutima Durongdej

Yep! I definitly see the resemblance with Charlize's neck piece. Now being on a craft craze, how would I go about making something like that?(I mean the Dior add neck piece of course.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

[Not so] Weekly Wednesday Wishlist: Worcestershire Academy Uniform

Raise your hands if you enjoy watching historical / fantasy / sci fi based comedies! Me too. One thing I thoroughly enjoy in these films (or TV shows) is to see how aspects of our modern world are interpreted to fit the story’s reality. I especially enjoy seeing how uniforms, such as school uniforms, are designed.

Take Shrek the Third (2007) for instance: Worcestershire Academy has everything from horse drawn buses to hennin wearing cheerleaders.

But I have to say, I prefer the girl’s regular uniform: a red and blue dress with Florentine inspired bodice with white undershirt decorated with blue embroidery showing at neckline; gold and red celtic knot trim at shoulders and down the center front of the bodice; red and blue diamond patterned sleeves with blue cuffs; long skirt with white hem and red insert decorated by the red and gold celtic knot trim.

The school emblem is embroidered to the wearer's left side bodice. Other head girl and geek club badges optional.

Of course, there is also a male version of the uniform: an off-white shirt, brown hosen, a red Italian doublet inspired vest with red and blue diamond patterned sleeves with red cuffs. The school emblem is once again embroidered to the wearer's left side.

One of these days, I will have to make myself a Worcestershire Academy Uniform, just for the kick of it. Who is with me?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pirates Galore

Arrr! Matey! Today is September 19th - International Talk Like A Pirate Day! I thought I would honor this important date by showing an array of pirate costumes. Natuarally, the first one that came to mind was Alisa's superb Jack Sparrow costume:

Then I went on a treasure quest through DeviantArt and I brought back these beauties.

The Purples

Pirate Sheryl Nome by Yayacosplay

Pirate Lass by DaisyViktoria

Purple Pirate Coat by Gothictutu

Pirate Costume by Eqos

The Pinks

Pink Pirate by RobynGoodfellow

Hello Kitty Pirate by CountessLenore

The Golds

Pirate Costume by MirabellaTook

Pirateish by Navanna

Bronze and Gold Pirate by LadyLucrezia

Pirate Costume - With Hat by DragonLadyCels

A Pirate, I be by ElegantlyEccentric

And of course, I needed a little Steampunk in here:

Appreciation Pic of Leg piece by Skinz-N-Hydez

So lads and lasses, what kind of pirates are you?