Going to the Chapel....
So, I'm getting married.

Yep. I'm committing to one person for the rest of my life. No one else. Just one guy. Until we are both old and wrinkly, smell bad and have crud at the corners of our mouths.

Its true love.

Really, he's great! He puts up with my crazy costumes and has even been my accessory at several events. He insists more and more that if I'm making my outfits from scratch, he wants costumes for himself made from scratch, too. So needy! Thus my usual "leave it to the last minute" habit must be broken because I'm making 2 ensembles and one that can not just use safety pins as closures (he give me a dubious look and I go back to put in a drawstring, snap or elastic: this man does not trust safety pins for a pant fly). On the plus side, I am gaining so much more experience making men's clothes that I have started to get commissions for them! Woot woot!

But enough about him.

I'm getting married.

And I, of course, want to make my own wedding dress.

And I of course want to have 2 dresses (a red one to wear during the reception, 'cuz I'm half Chinese and its a tradition to wear red).

And I want a lace bolero with the white wedding dress.

And I want a velvet caplet for the red dress.

And I want to paint and bedazzle my shoes to match a la American Duchess.

So, when do I have time for this? I MAKE time. Really. I have a time machine. It makes time.

Thus this is the start of the blogging about making my wedding dresses and accessories.

New Blog and I am AWESOME
So, I have a new blog, covering my costuming stuff. Check it out. I'm also starting an etsy page! Stay tuned!!!!

Last night, I showed one of my costumes at FashionArt Santa Cruz, a fashion show featuring fashion designers and artists. I entered as an artist, so only one piece was shown. I had a good friend from college model. She was AMAZING and brought down the house. I handed out my card to practically everyone who stopped to take pictures with her. Pics soon to follow.


Whoops, sorry I'm late.
So, OK, TERRIBLY remiss in posting. Considering I've been to about 4 events since the last one and there is another coming up on the 16th. 

I joined the Society of Creative Anachronisms, the Art Deco Society of California, the Greater Bay Area Costume Guild and Costume Guild of the West.

I have started working at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, which only feeds into my fabric desires. So, so good.

So, here are some pictures of some recent duds. I still need to upload my pictures from Art Deco Preservation Ball and "Cult of Beauty" exhibition and picnic with the Greater Bay Area Costume Guild.

PEERS (Period Events & Entertainment Re-creation Society) Film Noir Ball February, 2012:
late 1930's dress

Upcycled from a Jessica McClintock dress I found at my local Goodwill.

From strapless to haltertop all thanks to black silk chiffon and black satin.

I am so friggin' glamorous.

Aesthetic dress 1884, pattern by Truly Victiorian, altered, February, 2012

Watteau back. SO MUCH FUN!!!

I have since changed the trim to something more Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts (photos to come)

I'm in the process of making an underskirt with cross-dyed silk dupioni ruffles at the bottom and a matching hat. I need to find a good place to get millenary wire in the Bay Area. Both the underskirt and hat will also look good for Steampunk.

Speaking of which...

Alice dress reworked for Clockwork Alchemy Memorial Day weekend, 2012:

Black and white check underskirt added, new bodice with puffy sleeves. I think I want to change the puffiness of the sleeves. Design images to come.

So, so sassy.

Also, I volunteer at the shop at Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and they celebrated their 100th anniversary of the Essanay Film company coming to Niles April 1st. So they asked us to wear period appropriate clothing. I don't know if they realized how seriously I take my outfits...

Based off a 1912 dress ad, April 2012. Hat is from Target (!), coat is vintage, from my mom. 
I still need to finish it with more buttons and a better closure. But I sure looked cute.

OK, I'll post again and soon. I'm pretty sure you all want to see my 1930's dress and the men's vest I made for my sweetheart (my first!).

Steamy Get-Togethers
So, the local Steam Federation - Bay Area Steampunk Association is having a get-together March 11th.  I'm making an outfit, based on a business I partner with, Tea and Absinthe

I'm making the prototype of the bustle to go with it. One side will be black satin, and I want to find a fun print to put on the reverse. I may need to take a trip to Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. I'm thinking cotton with a clock pattern. I better get a move on it, though if I wanna finish it in time. Please note: the little bit of white ruffle is just to check how it will look, it will be replaced with w black ruffle going all the way around, like the draft in the last post.

The "vest" is actually a sleeveless shell that I wore for my brother's wedding. I wear it backwards, with the "lapels" tacked down and the embroidery in the back. The skirt fabric is not proper historic reenactment material (chenille upholstery), but it is made up of remnants from material I used to make one of the owners of Tea and Absinthe an early 18th c. vest. So, you know, reduce, reuse, blah blah.

I also want to make an aesthetic dress to wear to the Legion of Honor's The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860-1900 exhibition (through June 17, 2012). I will be going later this month for my birthday and I have always wanted to make an aesthetic dress. I'm using a 1882 natural form pattern by Truly Victorian and altering it to look more like this:

I have some fantastic silk fallie I got in NYC before moving that has an aqua warp and orange weft so it looks grey with orange and aqua highlights. Awesome.

I'm going to pair it with a dragonfly embroidered Chinese silk of aqua. So pretty. Granted, the Chinese motif is a bit more orientalism than Pre-Raphaelite, but the Aethetic Movement was also inspired by Asian art, so it still works.

(The green jacket is a design idea for Tea and Absinthe, more to come on that.)

There will be a public event happening at the Legion of Honor where costumed individuals are encouraged to attend but, its the same day and time as the Steam Federation's to do. I may be bold and go to both (2 hours at one, 2 hours at the other). It depends how quickly I can make BOTH outfits.

So, I should be cleaning, organizing, dusting, and vacuuming my studio. But, instead I'm procrastinating here on the internet. Newest fad to catch my attention?

Miniature portraits. I have always loved these romantic mementos. I am quite good at drawing and painting portraits. I like miniatures. And I'm a romantic. New Money Making Scheme: Miniature portraits stylized to fit a re-enactor's time period of choice. I wonder if I could do this as Pennsic?

So, here is my current endeavor/test:

Image (pulled from interweb)

Untitled and in progress, 4"x4", Acrylic on cardboard.

I will need more painting supplies (gesso, mix meduim) and brushes. Mmmmmm. Brushes. I want to try painting one or two with gouache, a medium I have used with mediocre success.
So far, I am painting from photos of re-enactors as tests to se how fast and how accurate my technique. First, I do a few warm up  timed sketches.

These are the five minute sketches.

Then, I paint for about 2 hours. I even found a small magnifying glass to help!

I may be taking a trip to the library to see if I can learn some tricks and techniques about portrait painting from their tomes of knowledge.

Adventures in Bustle-dom
Current Commission: 18th c. Silk Stays.
Progress: Boning - measuring, cutting, tipping, repeat. Its kind of murder on my wrist and gets the carpal tunnel going after an hour, but Its nice, mindless work.
Bones done so far: 118
Bones to go: 52

Current Pet Project: tie-on overskirt/bustles that are one size fits all, reversible and adjustable in fullness and length (in other words it can look like any of the bustle looks from 1870-1890). And, of course, it must have ruffles. Or fringe. Or ball fringe.

I LOVE ball fringe. I also like saying "ball fringe".

The first draft was a good test. Although I prefer pleating at the waistband of the 1st version, I find that a better "works for everyone" look is achieved with gathering the fullness. The gathers are more forgiving if the underskirt or underpinnings are different from what I am draping over (which is nothing, because I want someone who chooses to wear pants or a simple skirt, or who have large hips sans bustle to still find the overskirt/bustle appealing).

I also added a thick ruffle of tulle (that will go between the layers) near the top of the center back seam and a thinner one at the bottom. This way when you pull the ribbons in the center back (like a drawstring) you can increase the fullness.

Back with the drawstring pulled.

Front with drawstring pulled.

Side with the drawstring pulled. So much bustle-y goodness*. 

The tulle is hidden inside of the skirt, between the 2 layers of facing. 

Front, drawstring not pulled. You can see the blue tulle sticking out underneath this unlined draft. Mind you, this is only the right side of  the draft, the left is the 1st draft.

I want someone to be able to wear this over or under their corset, under their coat, vest, etc. so it cannot be too huge. Also, if you are not used to wearing a bustle, you can find certain things difficult, like sitting, walking through doorways, squeezing past people, turning in a crowd. The ideas is that this unhooped bustle is soft enough and forgiving enough for the bustle novice, but a nice addition to the bustle fanatic.

It is too light weight to wear as a proper bustle but the point is that you can wear it with or without one and still achieve the look and fullness of a bu-donk-a-donk bustle. Now that the second draft is done, its time to make a prototype. Time to dig around in my fabric bins for test fabric!

*As promised!

Whatchya doooooooin?
So, since last we met, I was employed and living in Brooklyn, New York. 

That has all changed. For the better. Well, at least the living part.

I am now in California and looking for employment. And looking. And looooooking. I'm just an amazing employee with 7 years managerial experience who believes in providing fabulous customer service.

But enough about the job market.

I have been working on some commissions while I wait for my adoring public to realize they adore me and give me money and kittens.

Currently, I'm working on a 18th century corset commission and a new money making scheme.

But first, some pictures of corset making:

And now.....

the new money making scheme:
Tie-on/easy-on Bustles in the Steampunk themed fabric.
I have a few models in mind. Here is one thought.



Looks pretty boring, but with a drawstring at the center back, to create runching/more bustle-y goodness (check out the next post to see what I mean).


I'm thinking plenty of different fabrics and patterns, ruffles, lace, braid, fringe, chains and cord. I wanna make them reversible, with a layer of crinoline in between to help it keep shape.

I have a few other model ideas. Which I will get to once I work out the design of #1. then I'll start doing prototypes. And then find an excuse to wear them!

My Costuming Christmas List
Its been a while. I know. But since it is the season, here is my costuming Christmas list:

1) Shoes from American Duchess: "Georgiana", "Devonshire" or "Pemberly" (I don't care which I just want), size 81/2 or 9, because I have 3 dresses for each style and no period footwear. I NEED THESE SHOES. Also, I've heard nothing but good things about her shoes. 

2) Gift certificate to Hart's Fabric, Stonemountain and Daughter Fabric or Spoonflower so I can buy more fabric.

3) A gift card to La Belle Fairy so I can buy one of her FABULOUS corsets.

4) ANY of the costume books on my Amazon wishlist, though I guess right now I'm obsessing over fashions from 1920-1950.

5) A millinary class, that would be cool.

Any of those would make me the happiest costume obsessed individuals.
Thanks Santa!

BTW, American Duchess is doing a Pre-sale for the Pemberly shoes:

"Pemberley" Regency Shoe Pre-Sale OPEN 

Go forth, merry historical holiday shoppers, and order a pair of Pemberlies, the perfect Regency shoe, for your Jane Austen-obsessed love one, or treat yourself!
Pre-Order Now
November 25 - December 9
$80 ($95)
Ordering is UNLIMITED, on all women's USA sizes 6 through 12, including half sizes.
Click here
Orders of 5 + receive the special pre-order price, plus quantity and shipping discounts.
Delivery in early 2012.

*We need to sell just over 100 pairs of Pemberlies in order to manufacture them.  If we don't meet that goal, all of you who did order will have to be refunded in full, and the Pemberlies will be canceled.  If this is the Regency shoe of your dreams, please share, blog, tweet, tumble, stumble, and pass the news along.*

OK, OK. Real Quick
OK, Quick follow up to the Snow White dress.

Here are the photos of creating the bolero:

Wicked Fair OR My Interpretation of “Sexy” Snow White
So, the story goes that after I was born, my mom asked my brother what I should be named. His response was, "Snow White" because I was a girl, had black hair and he was a 5 year-old. Well, my parents didn't take his advice.
I've never been a super fan of the Disney version. Oh, Dopey and Doc are great comedic tools, but the shrill tone of Snow White's singing voice, while being popular in 1937, is like nails on a chalkboard. Also, I never "got" the costumes. I know its a fairy tale and I should suspend logic and timelines and stuff, but while everyone is in decent late Medieval/early Renaissance garb of the late 15th/early 16th century, she's running around in a cross between a bad Renaissance gown and a 1930's young woman's summer dress. That's the point, I KNOW, and like many "period" films, the costumes are supposed to give a sense of the different time while still giving you something familiar, like these examples:

The Virgin Queen (1955)

Madame Du Barry (1943)

Excalibur (1981)

A Knights Tale (2001)

But I should not be too judgmental. These costumes have a place in history. I guess.

So, on with the show. I'll be attending Wicked Fair this Sunday and the theme this year is "fairy tales gone awry" and I've decided, obviously, to be Snow White.
The Disney version is thus:

Not too awry, is it?

I want to do something that does not look like straight cosplay (I'll explain that term another time - look it up). Since the film opened in 1937 and has a bit of the 30's look to it, I decided to make the dress "sexy" by making it look more like a 1930's evening dress. What does that mean? BIAS cut.


I picked up my fabric, all of it costing $60 total. I figure since its inspired by Disney, I can use cheap, crappy synthetic fabrics. I got some poly-satin in yellow and white, I'll use the reverse of the satin so its not too shiny and line with the white.

Note the shiny side that I will NOT be using.
I draped the bodice of the dress with scrap fabric,

then cut the actual fabric.

Front, unpinned

Front, pinned

The ragged edge shows where to put the pleat and how wide it must be

Align the zig with the zag and pin

Ta-da! And now for the back

looks kind of like the big 'ol elephant ears, huh?

one half and now the other


I'll be sewing tonight. I still need to cut the skirt.

I got some poly-organza for the bodice and sleeves. I'm going to make a bolaro to wear over the yellow dress, that way I have have the blue and bug sleeves with staying correct to style, fabric and sexy. This kind is a bit sparkly for me, but it will get the point across. Red ribbon for the hair, which I will fingerwave and pin curl, and yellow ribbon for a bow on each shoe. I also got come lace to edge the underskirt, since in the Disney version, sometimes her lacy petticoats show.

More photos and progress to come!


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