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Costume News and the Plan...

I haven't written in awhile...it happens.  I've been doing a lot of sewing and costuming (read: a lot of not finishing projects before moving on to the next ones!), and I'm very excited about the things I've been making.  I've been thinking about craftsmanship and sewing skills a lot...I am getting better, but I seem to be on a plateau of skill.  I'm going up very little by very little, not in great leaps and bounds.  I think part of it is my lack of knowledge concerning some things, like various types of stitches.  I use whipstitch for EVERYTHING.  I only recently learned how to buttonhole stitch.  I know that other stitches exist, like hem stitch and blind stitch, and my fault is in not sitting down and simply looking up how to do these and then actually DOING them.  Whipstitch doesn't bother me, myself, and I even kindof like how it looks when binding corset edges, or turning up a lower edge with bias tape, but other times it's just NOT the thing to have sticking out.  Despite the stitches being very regular, it has that home-made feel I'm growing to hate.  if I ever wanted to make costumes for anyone other than myself, anyone demanding or called a "client," I will have to improve my repertoire of handsewing techniques.

I don't have the desire to sew for other people, though I do have the desire to make money at costuming.  I have a couple costumes that could be saleable if I refurbish them, or so I think.  ARE they saleable?  They're all used (since I made them for myself, and wore them), some more than others, and the craftsmanship only so-so.   Refurbishments will improve some things and not others - for instance, I recut the bottom edge of my very first renaissance gown, bound it properly, and plan to remodel the skirt...but there are still some small things that I couldn't fix without completely deoncstructing the costume.  The idea is to NOT make the costume over again, just to improve it.  I don't plan on asking a lot when I attempt to sell it - I see some costumes on eBay for $600 - $800, and while they appear nice, I wonder if that's a reasonable asking price.  I know that my construction is not perfect, and some of my methods unorthodox...are these people selling their homemade renfaire garb truly infallible seamstresses?  Or do the buyers not WANT something so perfect?  Lots of questions do I have, and really they are more like walls I put up.  I tell myself it won't work, so I shy away from listing the gowns on Etsy or eBay...it's such a small fee to list something on Etsy that it's almost stupid not to give it a shot.

I do not want to get into making samples and made-to-order costume pieces like corset, chemises, bloomers, or full gowns.  Back when I was employed only by myself, I was constantly generating idea for ways to make money doing anything and everything I was decent enough at.  Now I don't have the time nor the desire, and after trying to sew something for a former "friend," who made my life miserable during that regrettable process, I just don't want to go into that again.  I see nothing wrong, however, with making a costume for myself, wearing it for whatever reason or event it was made, realizing I will not wear it again or it will be replaced with something else, and then selling it.  I was encouraged by a passing conversation at the las (and first) Gaskells I went to about a month ago, in which a lady said she had bought her dress from a gal who does exactly what I desribe - makes the costume, wears it once or twice, cleans it, then sells it on eBay.  The lady at the dance said that they two are the same measurments, so she knows that the gown will fit her, and has purchased several items from this shop.  Encouraging!  There ARE people my size out there in the world somewhere, who go to faires.

So I have a handful of costumes that are ready to be 'Furbed, cleaned, and sold: 

- My Very First Renaissance Gown
- Victorian Mardi Gras dress
- Dickens Daydress
- 1870s stripey polonaise (possibly)

And probably some more I can't think of right now.  I'm a little reluctant for things like the polonaise and the robe a l'anglaise I made a couple months ago, because the arm movement is limited, and they are not all that easy to wear, or there are flaws.  I would hate to suffer returns.  see?  This is me getting in the way of myself again!

Anyway.  I have a lot of plans for new costumes this year, 2009.  Obviously a new Dickens dress is in order (it's about time), and also the big project - Halloween uber-feathered robe (also an item to be sold) and chemise dress.  I've swiftly pumped out a steampunk costume I plan to hang onto for awhile, and I've got some faire garb to finish up soon (eek! faire season has officially started!).  I'm sure, as well, there will be other projects along the way for various dance events, or my own random desire (hello, new Robe a l'Anglaise, just for fun!).  I don't like solidifying a "schedule," but there are some things that definitely have to get done before certain dates.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 26th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
"I am getting better, but I seem to be on a plateau of skill. I'm going up very little by very little"
CLIMBED lately?
same. frickin. thing.

"There ARE people my size out there in the world somewhere, who go to faires."
Introduce me!

"Obviously a new Dickens dress is in order (it's about time)"
Indeed, And working Dickens!
Obviously this means you should make a Cancan dress...
Mar. 26th, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
I climb at least twice a week, sometimes three times, unless something happens - injury to belayer or overcome by sleep, lol. But yes, that is true of climbing...why do you bring it up?

Hrm...people my size (34,28,36 uncorseted) who are OF AGE and not INSANE at faire...good point, I can't think of anyone, unless you count Maggie, who is actually smaller than my size. Does that work? I can think of a couple more, but you've either already been there, or I can't account for their mental stability. Point taken.

I worked Dickens one year with the Dickens Family Hellhouse, did not very much enjoy it, and found I did not like making a commitment of every weekend for 4 or 5 or whatever it is now, especially the weekend right after Thanksgiving, and the one right before Christmas. I'm selfish like that. But Mags and I will probably come a couple times this year and be sure to follow you around like lovesick puppies in crinolines.
Mar. 26th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
Because before that 11.c I hadn't leveled up in months and months. So I felt like I was in a similar state of "so when do I get better..?"

Do not tell me your measurements while I'm at work and expect me not to fantasize about...
well anyway, where was I?

Maggie doesn't work, I've already met her.

"but you've either already been there"
I am not following that up with a request to clarify what that means. Really I'm not.

Yes, OF AGE and NOT INSANE are requirements, and removes a very significant chuck of Faire people.
Why did I stop going again? Oh yeah..
because the OF AGE and NOT INSANE people are also TAKEN.
damn you.

I don't think you're supposed to enjoy working for Household - it's what you do before you go somewhere enjoyable.

one last mention - in Cancan, we get paid..

Well fine, be selfish.
I suppose I'll manage with lovesick puppies in crinolines.
and we must have tea.
Mar. 26th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about climbing - I "leveled up" to 11a and felt pretty darn proud of myself, but I haven't even tried an 11b yet. Fail. hahaha.

I'm sure you're much more aware of the normal-sized women at faire than I am. I try not to be too involved in faire, if that makes sense. I never camp, never stay after hours, and avoid guilds, etc. I like to just go, look pretty, hold superficial conversations with people I don't really know or want to know, and leave whenever the hell I want. I did enough vendoring last year to want to stay sublimely detached from the faire life henceforth, which I think is essential to me continuing to enjoy and attend faire.

I wasn't working "for" household, like I wasn't a maid or anything, I was one of the ladies - a guest of Mr. Dickens, got to wear prettiness and do pretty much whatever, except that the lovely ladies who play Dickens Family Parlour are the most back-biting creatures on earth. 'Nuff said.

Hrm, getting paid...tempting, very tempting...I'd so much rather be a puppy, though :-)

And tea, yes, this is essential. Cuthberts, or something more private?
Mar. 26th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
It does make sense.

Personally, I find I can have superficial conversations while looking pretty anywhere I go - I don't need to leave for a weekend and drive for hours to get there.

If I couldn't have superficial conversations while looking pretty, what would be the point to life?
There's an Oscar Wilde quote in there somewhere...

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply (though I understand how it was taken as such) that you were a maid/etc. I knew you were one of the ladies.

LCCB is quite agressively drama-free, which is a good part of why I like it so.

There are indeed good parts to being paid (and looking pretty on stage!), and being a puppy.

I was first assuming Cuthberts, as I have morning tea there every day at Dickens.
But if you'd rather something more private/special, I'm sure I could set something up with a little forethought...
There's also tea at the Cancan Boudoir, which is.. interesting.
"Private" doesn't really exist at Dickens. I mean, we could Tea backstage, but what would be the point?

And if you didn't want to wait until December, I'd love to take tea with you sometime in the real world - the bay area provides us with a few wonderfully-eccentric british teahouses - Lovejoys, Lisa's, etc.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean tea backstage, just tea somewhere "on set" besides cuthberts. Cuthberts can be crowded. I know how hard it is to get hot water, though. I have an awesome japanese tea set, though I wouldn't want to bring and carry it around, or bring it, leave it somewhere, then lose it. Cast iron goodness. Cuthberts would be fine :-).

It has occured to me right this moment that I have known you quite a long time. I remember you set up something tea-cuthberts-dickens parlour related awhile back for Whitton? My memory fails me.

I'd love to take tea at somewhere cool around here - it'd be worth getting up to The City if you know of anywhere there...I still have an immense fear of anything Oakland, unless I can get off the BART, be at teahouse, get back on BART, and be home. Did that make any sense at all?

And true, you can look pretty and talk empty any time, but you can't wear your renaissance noble costume any time...:-)
Mar. 26th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Lovejoy's is in fact the best thing evar.
(erm, if you're quite a bit like you and I)
It's like Cuthberts on British crack.

Well good, because I didn't want to tea backstage anyway, ruins the whole thing.

Best place on set aside from cuthberts is Cancan Boudoir.
There will be interruptions, as will happen anywhere on set - I think the big difference is that the Boudoir interruptions will be more crude.

If you'd like, you can bring it & use it at Cancan. We have a private backstage to keep it safe, etc.
or we can just use CC's house china, which is totally unmatching, as it should be.

We have known eachother quite a long time!
I very vaguely remember setting up something tea-cuthberts-dickens parlour related awhile back for Whitton.
Oh the Whitton years, so long ago!

My Oakland (Rockridge) is very nice - we do not have crime.
(really, Oakland has a live mapped crime blotter online - Rockridge is always empty of crime) It is not to be feared.
I LOVE that I can walk around RR safely at night.
5 blocks from Rockridge Bart is in fact a Teahouse (2 blocks past my apt) called A Cuppa Tea. But it's not british - more like a coffeehouse that happens to serve dozens of different kinds of tea.

Ren Nobles - well no.
But we can dress Vics at Lovejoys and fit right in :)
(I will prefer Vics to Ren for as long as I don't actually own a Ren Nobles outfit. Anyway, they didn't have tea.)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )