Category Archives: Costume

film, tv, opera, theatre

Well Hello!

Long time no see.

A year and a bit since last post but I’m still here. Over the last month I’ve been giving the blog a visual brush-up and dust -off. Lol, that’s been fun… fighting with themes, wrangling with css and making some big messes under the WordPress hood. Along the way this site suffered some serious downtime and non-downloading pdfs… apologies to anyone who came looking for a pattern at just the wrong time.

Anyhoo, I’m all finished moving the furniture around for now and hope you like the fresher look and easier to find (well I hope they are! ) free pdfs etc.  If there are site issues, for instance you’re getting a “404 Oh No!” on a download from my Free Patterns page and you have a moment to contact me please, please do let me know.  I have checked through everything myself but things do slip between the cracks.

So where was I for this last year? Pretty much right where I always am but dealing with :

A) Turning 60. Six months later I still can’t believe how far down the list my birth year is when filling in online forms. 50 was no big deal, it just sort of slipped by. 60 feels like a corner being turned. Not sure what the difference is or if there is even really one at all. It could be because various media says there is one so I am expecting to feel one… meh, maybe. Lol,  I’m not adverse to the odd nap now and again and I do like to be home and tucked up by 12pm at the latest. Not a bad change then if that’s all there is to turning 60. My Mum commented that if I think 60 is a long way down wait until I have to scroll down to 87 like she does. I should be so lucky!

B) Selling the house, moving to a smaller town/ not selling the house, staying put and just fixing the damn house before it falls down. Been on this particular carousel ride since last fall. In the end we’ve stayed put. Some real big fixes were needed and we treated ourselves to a new bathroom along the way. The old one was ‘vintage’ but not in a nice way. Probably installed late 60’s. But OMG do I ever wish we’d left well enough alone! Two steps forward, one step back. My husband sang me a funny old English song : “The Gas Man Cometh” about workmen. Just too true.    “The Gas Man Cometh”  is on YouTube   (NOT my husband singing it I hasten to add)

C) Empty nest syndrome. I’m not really finding it as bad as they say. I like a quiet house and a kitchen as tidy as I left it. With Skype/ Facetime/ Messenger  I can be as nagging and they can be as annoying as usual. Everybody’s happy. And the kitchen stays tidy.  And wow, it is so much easier and faster now for offspring to tap the Bank of Mum and Dad than it used to be! Virtually instantaneous. I remember standing in a freezing phone booth in the snow, Berlin 1977, crying while making a collect begging call home.  My hand were so cold I kept dropping the coins before I could get them in the slot and the international operator cut me off twice.  Anyway there’s a good chance given todays world economics that they’ll be back. In a moment of madness that was actually another reason we thought of moving 😛

D) A bit of makers boredom.  Other than costume work I just didn’t feel like making things. Or not the same things. I’ve been doing it a long time now. So I gave clothes making a bit of a rest and tried something else. Dolls. Yep, dolls. Hang on, don’t leave! Wait and see where this is going….  I love trying out vintage patterns but tend to avoid those that I won’t actually wear. I reasoned that making clothes for dolls could be a way to try different vintage styles out but in a fourth of the size more or less.  Not as much fabric to buy or storage space to take up once made. But I didn’t want to dress someone else’s dolls, I wanted to make my own figures inspired by vintage Boudoir Dolls. To start I signed up for a little online class to make a fabric doll bust mounted on a candle holder. A lot of fun and I learned great techniques along the way. Next I tried a couple of purchased body patterns. Nice, I learned more techniques but still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I set about creating my own doll body patterns. Lots of trial and error, and many redos and undos later I made a few I’m happy with.  And then life got very busy with house fixing and costume jobs so I haven’t been able to get back to doll making for six months. I’ve built up a good supply of all things needed to make and dress more so plan to get back to it as soon as. Along with some fab vintage patterns I plan to trace, scan and scale down to dress them in!

Boudoir Babe
Image of two handmade cloth fashion dolls
A Flapper & my interpretation of Betty Boop
Marie Antoinette bust made with Sharon Mitchell tutorial

So thats where I’ve been.  Years definitely seem to turn from one into the next much faster than they used to. Scientific American has an answer for this phenomenon if you’re interested.  

Below are just a few of the costumes and clothes I did make during the last year, the ones I liked the most. So kind of a rambling post  and thanks for still being here and reading it! See you soon, a proper soon this time. 🙂

The One That Got Away and Circular Knicker Redux

Been cruising eBay a bit recently. Yeah, it’s under control, just. Got some chic vintage French fashion magazines, a wonderful German pattern magazine that is killing my eyesight with deciphering it’s spider-webs of pattern sheets, and a couple of Weldon’s Lady’s Mags from the 20’s and 30’s complete with tissue lingerie and dress patterns. This 1920’s Weldon’s Fancy Dress issue is the One That Got Away:20130817-195231.jpg

I really do wish I’d bid that little bit more on it. It reminds me of this wonderful early 1920’s photo of my Italian grandmother in a fancy dress costume. She was a dressmaker too.
Faye- in Halloween Costume - early 1920

Also during WWII she was the only woman out of 4000 employees in the U.S. tank parts factory where she worked who became a Journeyman Machinist. Continue reading The One That Got Away and Circular Knicker Redux

A Post of Many P’s

You -“What exactly is a post of many Ps?”
Me – “Promised Patterns, Pretty Pants, Phabulous Presents, Palace Party, Pampered Pooch & a Professional Project in a Pear tree of course!”

First up the promised pattern drafting tutorial for the 8 gore 6 godet 1930’s style skirt I posted about in September…and the pdf isn’t a squillion pages long this time . 🙂 While writing and diagramming it I realised it made perfect sense to show how to make a basic Pencil Skirt and an A-line skirt pattern along the way. The big plus is not only can the A-line pattern can be cut on the straight grain as for a simple 1940’s tailored skirt but can be cut on the bias too! So all in all a good start to pattern designing your own skirt collection. In my next tutorial effort I’ll show how to split darts and move them around to add the bow detail for the 40’s skirt and drafting the ‘bucket’ pocket to add to the 50’s pencil skirt.

I do want to point out that my tutorial doesn’t at all intend to replace in-depth pattern drafting books. I’ve tried to keep it simple enough for anyone to follow to get the feel of creating patterns for themselves without getting hung up on too much technical stuff. I loathed taking flat-pattern classes way back when- the instructor was a dragon and nothing I did ever came out right …unless I was making patterns styled for Quasi Modo (he’s my knitting muse now instead) Draping on a stand was my idea of heaven however and that was how I created patterns for years. Slowly though I conquered my fear of set squares, fractions and precision points and started to absorb information from the flat pattern cutters I worked along side. Some books, the Natalie Bray series and the 1942 Harriet Pepin in particular were very useful. Now I work back and forth between draping and flat pattern designing equally at home in both. If I can’t figure out how to do something by one method I turn to the other.

Anyhow enough rambling. I hope you get something useful from the skirt tutorial and please come back & show me what you make. Download the skirt drafting pdf here.

Pretty Pants up next: Using VV patterns Abigail of FarmhouseGarden made a very cute pair of ‘Grannie Pannies’ and Ruth shows off her rather cheeky pair of French Knickers at LessonsInScarlet (sorry blog is now gone). Have a look and my thanks to them both for showing off their scanties  🙂

On to Phabulous Presents: because that time of year is fast approaching. I’ve made myself two promises regarding presents: first- NO internet shopping. Though it is convenient and I do my fair share I also think it’s important to support small local retailers and sitting in front of a computer is not so much fun as going out and about looking at things (and getting tired feet and banged shins and a short temper… ok well just a little internet shopping maybe). Second- get it done in a timely fashion. Oh-hoho no, that won’t be me running around on Christmas Eve this year 15 minutes before the shops shut. Famous last words.

And of course who doesn’t like to make things to give as gifts? These are two projects I did for the most recent issue of Making Magazine .

Pearly Elf Christmas Stocking
Holiday Hottie Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The editor has kindly said I may post the instructions and patterns on my Patterns&Tutorials page for SewVeraVenus readers.

 

And  almost last but hardly least the Palace Party.
OK, not strictly speaking a party but something I am SO EXCITED about… Caravan Palace are playing Brighton next week and I have tickets! Their Electro Swing music never fails to make me want to dance and it definitely feels like time to party when ever  I hear it.
I won’t be dancing at the gig, my foot still isn’t mended enough for that but I’ll be  jigging about a bit ( in a sedate ladylike manner of course) that’s for sure.

So that’s what I call a post of many Ps. I dePart leaving you with a picture of my Pampered Pooch.

Too Pooped to Post More

Ah,  just still one more P after all-

I nearly forgot the Katie outfit I recently designed that was made for her most recent promo.
Couldn’t let you go without a peep at that now could I.

Price in Boots

 

What I Did On My Summer Holiday…

…wait a minute, I worked all summer. The joys of being freelance. When work’s on offer I feel obliged to take it as there may not be more around the corner.

Well, that’s how I used to think but I’m older and wiser now and less keen on hammering myself into the ground.

Still, the summer months were back to back jobs and just whizzed by without much time for anything else (like keeping my blog updated!)

Here’s some of the work I did from early July through mid August:

3 showgirls for a tv advert I love doing retro style showgirl costumes like these (and couldn’t resist trying out a Photoshop film strip action on the photos)

Next I made …

5 Gold “Icons” for Top Hat the musical (clockwise: Queen Elizabeth, Aphrodite, Brunhilde, Cleopatra… and missing is Joan of Arc as the gold paint on her armour wasn’t dry when these were taken.) These took me and a fab prop maker I work with 3 weeks … with a few very late nights by the end.

Somehow in among those jobs I finished a private wedding dress I’d started in the spring….a rather gothic-y number in black lace, silk & cotton tulle and Italian gold lamé. Definitely has a 1930’s feel to it as well. In motion the 8 soft tulle godets are very frothy and floaty. At the last minute the bride asked to have the scalloped edging from the lace fabric appliquéd all the way around the hem which does weigh it down a bit but still moves beautifully. There are 16 black glass buttons down the back and tiny seed beads stitched on the neckline of the dress and bolero and at the under bodice seam. Hardly noticeable but little details like that make it that much more special. It was worn both to the civil ceremony two weeks ago and a couple of nights after to the party. I’m looking forward to the pictures of it in action! The girl who wore it has pale blond hair and intended to pin it up with blood-red roses. The lamé was so fab that I bought a few metres for myself to make a glam 30’s style bias dress in. Personal Project 2,536 …

There were a few smaller jobs squeezed in those weeks as well… nothing special though.

After all that I had a small collapse, stayed at home for 3 weeks, caught up with family and life…and of course did some sewing for myself.

I’m saving that for my next post.

Oh, and finally I received some simply gorgeous pictures of the 1930’s style wedding dress I posted about making here .