Sunday 27 October 2013

The Five Hour Dress

So as I'm relaxing and watching some wonderful Sunday night TV, I thought this would be a good time to post about my Kaylee Frye dress. 

Ok, gown.  It sounds more dramatic that way.  It's like saying ship instead of boat.  It's just better.

For those who don't know, Kaylee is a character from the beyond amazing show "Firefly."  And in one highly memorable episode, she gets to trade in her greasy mechanic's jumpsuit for one of the most amazingly huge fluffy ballgowns ever to grace the screen.

Brilliant huh? 

Anyway, ComicCon this year started on a Friday.  And Thursday afternoon I decided I NEEDED this dress.  I called my sister and we ran to Fabricland and bought all the tulle they had.  More or less.  And some cheap lining that looked fancier than it was.

Then we ran home and I got to work.

First thing was to pull out my ancient hoop skirt.  And it really is very old.  It went under my nana's wedding back in 1956.  It's in remarkably good shape, considering!

And it was perfect for this.  I put it on my (brand new at the time!) dressmaking dummy.  I'd only gotten it the week before.  It was massively exciting.  I gathered some lining into a big basic skirt on the machine, pinned it on, and was fluff time.

Pinning.  And pinning.

And pinning...and pinning...I tried my best to vaguely match the colour layers of the original.  But I was rushing to get it done in time for the next day and didn't fuss over it too much.  The tulle I folded in half so it was four layers thick, and thus fluffed out much nicer with much less work.  I'm a fan of doing as little work as possible.  I'm lazy like that.

Still pinning.  I didn't do one round and then another because again with the lazy/time saving, I kept it all in one continuous line and went in circles from bottom to top.  Oh and it was NHL playoff time and the Ottawa Senators were in, so I couldn't sew without the game on.  It's a little bittersweet now seeing that I was wearing my Alfredsson shirt, since he's now abandoned our city...but I digress just a little.

Anyway this kept up for a while.  Pinning and pinning in circles until all the tulle was on and then, it was time to stitch it!  The spiral thing I'd done in pinning the fluffiness on helped hugely with the sewing as I could just keep my foot on the pedal and run one continuous line of stitching...until the bobbin ran out.  Then I got mad for a few minutes.

That pic gives you a good view of the hoop on the dummy.  My Nana had a 19" waist when she got married which I definitely do NOT have, so I did have to pin a piece of ribbon to each side of the waistband to tie it around me. 

Man that's a lot of fluff.

Anyway, long story short (hah!  You wish!), five hours later I had a Kaylee dress to wear with pride at Ottawa ComicCon! kinda worked.  Enough that people recognized and loved it anyway!  Everyone who didn't think I was Princess Peach anyway.  But I liked that response too!

I also had two other costumes for when the dress got too much - and believe me, it definitely did after three days of Con!  I had my BSG Starbuck outfit, although sadly no pictures of that one.  I also had my Emma Swan costume from Once Upon a Time - basic and modern, no sewing, and kind of what I wear most days, but it got recognized too!  Which is why I love ComicCon.

Flash forward through months of mono and boredom, and we come to last weekend at Geek Market.  The Ottawa Geek Market this year was two days in a much bigger venue (the Carleton University Fieldhouse) compared to last year's one day small venue event.  The Dress made a comeback at the Ottawa Browncoats table, taking pictures with other members of the crew for local children's charities.  The Dress did some good!

So!  There's the magical story of the five hour dress.  Tomorrow I will be starting my Hallowe'en costume and there will be a saga about the making of that as well, whether you like it or not.

Saturday 26 October 2013


Ok, so I know it's been a while.  Way too long, really.  Unforgivably long.

At the time of my last post, I was in the home stretch of prep for a feature film that is set between 1814 and 1870...I forget now.  That's embarrassing.  Anyway the movie is called "Tell the World" and you can read about it here

Of course, it was too good to be true for me, and only two weeks into the shoot I was struck down with mono.  Which, in case you were curious, is a really really vicious disease.  I always thought "ok, mono, it makes you tired but it's not that bad..." Yeah that was a very wrong idea.  Four doctors, two trips to the ER, more blood tests/xrays/CT scans/IVs than I care to think about, and four months later I'm vaguely starting to recover.

It normally doesn't take that long but me, thinking that it wasn't that bad, kept working and kept working.  Finished "Tell the World" and immediately started prep on a new CBC series that will premiere in January, "The Best Laid Plans."  I made it through prep and the first block of shooting, but by that point I was so much sicker and the doctors told me that I had come down with something else on top of mono (that they're still trying to figure out) and I had to quit.

It was pretty much the worst thing ever...until I got a call the other day asking me to design a show in a couple of weeks and I couldn't.  I honestly couldn't.  I'm not well enough yet.  And it's KILLING ME.

But as my energy comes back, at least I can get back to this blog.  I still have to post about my ComicCon costumes, one of which came back for Geek Market!  And it's Hallowe'en this week, which is both my favourite and least favourite time - because while it's the perfect time to show off the best costume I can come up with, it's also so much pressure to create the best costume possible!

And I might be getting involved in something else.  Low key, because that's all I can manage.  And I'll be needing help from some of my awesome wardrobe crew friends.  But I need something!

So.  New posts will come this week.  All will be revealed.  Promise!

Saturday 1 June 2013



ComicCon, Youth Infringement, work work work....

Its been insane recently.  So I post this to promise I haven't forgotten this blog!  Exciting photos and stories will be coming soon!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Therapy Sewing

Everyone has rough days, where they feel unsettled and cranky and generally lost.  Some people wallow in it, and some people have methods of pulling themselves out of the funk.  I have a couple of methods.  One of them is baking, cakes or muffins or pies or bread...and the other is sewing.  Naturally.  So yesterday when one of Those Days came along, despite the pile of work growling at me from the corner of the living room, I decided to ignore it and make myself a dress.

This was the pattern I went with.  It's one I've used before for a full length dress.  I intended to make another long dress, but the way I work is by finding a pattern I can run with and then seeing what pieces of fabric I have that I can use.
In the deep recesses of one of my boxes I found this piece of rust/dark salmon/hard to determine coloured fabric.  I have no idea where I got it but probably Value Village.  There's some really awesome fabric there.  All different sizes of pieces but some really cool stuff.  This one is some sort of uber cheap polyester but it's all shiny and crepe-like in texture.  It could totally pass for silk....

My main problem was that apparently last time I used this pattern I didn't put all the pieces back in the envelope.  My bad.  But I extrapolated from the pieces I did have and managed to cut it all.

The other thing was that I was going to use black cotton for a lining....and started cutting it until I realized that fabric I needed for the play I'm designing.  Oops.  Had to salvage that.

 Also had to run to Fabricland for some notions.  I love how they call this stuff notions.  It makes sewing sound that much more fanciful.  So I got some black lace trim and buttons.
 Oh it was only a matter of time.  The cat thinks she helps with sewing. 

She's wrong.  But she won't get off my lap while I'm working.  I've become an expert at working around the cat.
 Empire waists are so fun.  They always look weirdly huge and flouncy but once the waist and sleeves are pretty!
 Like that! 
And trimmed with the lace like this!

Side note, I love my old sewing machine.  It's a hand me down from my granny and it runs beautifully.  I love the old mechanical machines.  This one breaks down from time to time but I can open it up and see what happened and fix it.  I'm like MacGyver!'s the finished product!  Although this picture makes me realize I really need to iron it.  Oops.  But I like the general look.  I'm pleased with it as a quick afternoon therapy project!

Monday 22 April 2013

Projects Galore

It was a big weekend of fun with costumes!  Well, Saturday anyway.  I took Sunday to do just about nothing.

Saturday morning, my incredible roommate S. M. Carriere had organized a video shoot for the YouTube adaptation of her Your Very Own Adventure Project!  Which meant going out and lying in the woods for an hour or so in cloaks, wool, vaguely medieval/fantasy forest dweller costumes and fake blood.  Oh how I love fake blood.  There are a billion recipes out there, but my adaptation that works best for everything I do is straight corn syrup mixed with red food colouring and cocoa powder/chocolate syrup.  It darkens and congeals and sticks and oozes just beautifully.

When we got home, I got down to work on my sister's prom dress.  The prom isn't until June but with all the projects I have coming up I want to get it done sooner rather than later!  It's tea length, strapless royal blue/indigo satin with tulle under, with an overlay of peach lace with cap sleeves.  I got it all assembled, including the zipper (which I HATE because sewing zippers SUCKS) and then she came over to try it on.

And it fit really well!  I was so happy!  It needs to be taken in at the shoulders and minor tucks here and there, but it'll work out just beautifully I think.  I need to be working on that now but I'm procrastinating instead.  That's my real talent.

Friday 19 April 2013

Milling About

I have a lot of projects on the go right now, as usual.  All my job titles are technically either "Costume Designer" or "Assistant Costume Designer," but yesterday as I sat working away surrounded by felt and buckram, I realized - for this one play, I'm basically a milliner.  There are three specialty hats that need to be made, and combined with the bonnet I made a couple of weeks ago, I've been learning more about making hats than I ever thought I'd bother with!

But hats are fun.  A lot of work, and in my case because I get bored reading directions, a lot of trial and error as I'm determined to figure things out myself.  They're worth the effort.  Buckram is such a cool thing to work with - I've been using my steamer to wilt and shape it and it's kind of magical.  If you're looking for a new thing to experiment with this weekend, I'd recommend it!

Wednesday 17 April 2013

The Season Begins!

I like to call it "The Season."  It conjures up images of dancing debutantes and high society.

But MY Season is Film Season.  Theatre Festival Season.  Birthday Season too, along with Equestrian Archery Season.  Basically, it's Costume Design Season!  Life is about to get much busier - I'm currently working on the design for a Youth Infringement Festival show, a series of short films, and am reading the script for a feature film that I'll start work on late this week or early next, TBD.  I'm also working on an 1830s style dress just as a project for me (pictures will be up soon!) as well as making my sister's prom dress.

One last note - if you live in Ottawa and are interested in working in the film industry, make sure you come out to THIS event tonight.  The Ottawa Film Office is hosting a job fair so come on out with plenty of resumes and much optimism!

Friday 5 April 2013

Well, this is new...

I never planned on blogging.  I never thought I'd be that interested in having an online journal going on.  But as people see the stuff I've sewn and created, I get a lot of questions - the most common being "why don't you have a website?" goes....

So what is this for?  I love to sew, costumes mainly (historical, fantasy, sci fi, that kind of thing), and knit, and cook, and bake...basically I have all the skills needed to make me a very good pioneer housewife.  Of course, it's 2013 so those skills aren't as practical as they once were, but they're still fun.  So that's the point of this blog.  A place to show off my creations, such as they are.  And see what evolves!