The devil went down to Portland, he was looking for a soul to steal

He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind.  So he was lookin’ to make a deal.

And whoever lost that deal doomed Vancouver as well.  It is HOT.  Miserably so.  It is after night night and still almost 80 outside. My makeup melted off ages ago. When I got up off the leather couch in my sewing room, it hurt because I was stuck to it. My grandma always said that horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies glow. I’m not sure which could be blamed for me being glued to my seat so that I had to painfully pull myself off of it. I’m a Californian, and this heat is reminding me of being a kid and cursing the existence of summer.

Hot Aria says bonjour au monde!

Not sticky and icky now, so almost time to resume sewing. Finishing a corset, then a fitter for the Belle bodice, then to redo part of the elevator gown, the part I had finished right before finding new photos.  Because that happened.  Years of no new photos, only low resolution photo with the original white flower, and the flash in the movie, and then there is a new photo.  In the words…word…of John Oliver,


How I got my start

I’ve often been asked how I got my start, what got me into sewing, and how I learned.  Well, I may as well give a brief history.

When I was 3, I wanted to sew since I watched my mom do it, and so she let me sew some buttons.  I can still see the blue corduroy overalls I sewed a couple buttons onto, and the green wall of our living room in Ceres, California.  That’s where it started.  From there, my mom showed me just a couple basic embroidery stitches, i.e. running stitch and split back stitch.  I started making outfits for my Barbies when still a wee thing since it frustrated me to no end not being able to get the exact dresses I wanted.  So I’d find old outfits that didn’t fit me anymore, and cut those up.  Sometimes I’d incorporate cellophane or something else not usually considered clothing material.  But why not?  It was fun!  When you’re a little kid not yet in kindergarten, no one tells you “that’s not for sewing!”  So you get to be more creative.

I wanted to figure out more than just making doll clothes, and so my mom got an embroidery hoop and fabric, and I drew a picture on the fabric, then spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to emulate different fabric stitches I saw in magazines.  It was the 80s, and embroidery on stuff was still cool.  I was in Modesto, California then.

After a spell, I started making cloth dolls after finding panels for them at Fabricland.  The first fabric store I ever went to was Fabricland and the Vintage Faire Mall in Modest.  It was huge.  Such fond memories, I have, of how overwhelming that store as.

Then my mom got a sewing machine.  Oh, yeah, everything before this was by hand.  That’s why I can hand-sew so well and don’t think twice about it.  But anyway, that machine ended up living in my bedroom.  I put it on my desk in front of the window so that I could look outside while sewing.  Now, that sewing machine lives in my sewing supply room. Between the my mom got it and when I was in the hospital again at 21 and got a new machine, that old machine much have seen thousands of miles of thread.

Anyway, over the next few years, I started sewing a few small clothing items, always with patterns at that time.  The thought of drafting didn’t really cross my mind.  When I wasn’t sewing, I was painting (I also had an easel and paints and all set up in my room) or reading.  And then back to sewing.

When I was 13, I had to take a hiatus from sewing.  13, 14, and 15 were all spent trying not to die.  Not good times, and I lost some organs in those years.  I remember almost nothing from the year 1995.  A lot of not fun.  Thinking about it too much upsets me.  So let’s just skip that.

But when I got back in the saddle, hundreds of pounds heavier (80mg of prednisone a day for 3 years will do that to you–I reached 400), I found that sewing patterns just plain didn’t go that big.  There’s more variety in sizing today, yet patterns for larger people are still scarce, and still top out smaller than I was.  So I sewed for other people.  One year, I made my brother a ninja-White Ranger (Power Rangers were a big thing) type costume.  But when I needed an old-fashioned-looking gown for a drama final (last two scenes of the second act of Phantom of the Opera), my choices were scant.  Nothing was made anywhere near my size, patterns weren’t big enough…

Then I got the idea to make my own pattern.  And let me tell you, internets, that first pattern sucked so bad that it’s embarrassing.  But I would show you if I knew where it is.  It’s in the garage, which is a disaster.  When I find that dress, I’ll take a picture and share it.  It’s not great, but it was a start, and that’s what matters!  That was May or June of 1997, whichever month finals were.

Then, several months later, right after I turned 17, this obscure little movie came out.  It was this little flick called Titanic.  Some of you may have heard of it.  😉 I saw it the night it opened, before the entire world found out that Jack died.  When I got out of the theater, I was still crying my eyes out, as were so, so many other people.

That opened a new chapter for me.  I desperately wanted one of those dresses, but I was still a good 300 pounds and out of the range of patterns to alter, and couldn’t afford paying someone else to do it for me.  By the time I started senior year of high school in 1998, I had sworn off patterns.  It never crossed my mind to check Silverton’s tiny library for sewing books, but I was dead-determined, and sewed all the things.

Through a series of events that were entirely not my fault (my dad getting a job transfer, an assistant principal messing up some information, moving to a school district that required such different credits than my old high school and would have delayed graduation by a whopping THREE YEARS), I ended up being pulled from school altogether in December 1998.  Let’s not get into how devastated I was to get to within six months of graduation after striving so hard to still finish school on time, despite those years of extreme illness and still dealing with ongoing illness (I still, all these years later, deal with illnesses, and this will never get better because organs don’t regrow and the medical focus is on the organs you’ll die without, not the ones you’re inconvenienced without).  I went from Oregon back to California and out to Massachusetts in a matter of one month.

So now it’s January 1999, and I was again obsessed with a Titanic gown.  I scoured the baby internet for all the photos I could find of the Jump gown, and still have all the pages I printed out somewhere.  It’s funny to look back on my notes and what I thought was what.  Then I started sewing and beading my heart out, and made a rather decent Jump dress.  That dress is somewhere in the garage as well.  But it was popular enough that I was encouraged to offer to make them for people.  So, in March 1999, I launched a webpage back when AOL Hometown was still in existence.  Oh geez, the old days of the interwebs.

From there, it’s just been learning a new method here, what a new fabric is there, and acquiring different machines and supplies as I went.  Rather than saying “I can’t do that!” I was stubborn and said “Eh, I can figure it out.”  That’s the huge thing right there.  Be stubborn.  Don’t say you can’t.  Sure, at that exact moment, you might not have the skills or know-how, so can’t at that exact moment, but you CAN learn how.

There’s nothing really new or exciting.  Just doing more sewing and taking on new challenges to figure out. 😀


Effects of tariffs on textiles

Well, I woke up to some greeeeaaaaat news from a few of my fabric suppliers.  Since I like to run Aria Couture with as much transparency as possible, here is another oh-so-fun business post.  Sarcasm is dripping.  March of next year will be 19 years that I’ve had my small business.  It has been through a recession.  It’s been through me being homeless.  (Try sewing without a home–it’s incredibly difficult.) It’s been through me being very sick.  This is the first time I’ve genuinely worried for the future of Aria Couture.

Due to anticipated new tariffs, pricing of fabrics is going up, or, in a couple cases, went up overnight.  The National Council of Textile Organization is actually pushing FOR tariffs, despite the lack of infrastructure in place in America to take over production.  The list of items about to be hit with new tariffs is disheartening.  It includes not only fabrics, but a lot of supplies, including things like bobbins, plastic spools, cardboard spools, thread, all kinds of eyelets, yarn (do you like to knit or crochet?), and more.  Even diaries and journals and notebooks are on the list.  Companies and importers aren’t going to eat these costs.  They’re going to get passed along to the next in line.  This means that I will pay more to buy supplies.  Small things like extra tariffs on needles (they’re metal, and metal is already hit) and corset boning (steel, also already hit) are not overly difficult for me to absorb due to the relatively low cost (an extra $20–steel is a higher tariff–for corset boning  isn’t a make-of-break for me), but fabrics are another matter.

Fabrics are already expensive, and when using many, many yards (I’ve used as many as 300 yards in some gowns), even a dollar per yard very quickly adds up to quite a hit.  That would be the added tariff on fabric that is $10 per yard at a tariff of 10%.  Unfortunately, most fabrics I use aren’t as low as $10 per yard since I use mostly natural fabrics, like silk, which is already notoriously expensive, and I use high quality silk.  No, all silk taffeta isn’t the same.  The bolt pictured is silk taffeta that is sitting in my supply room.  Let’s say I use that fabric for a regency gown, and use five yards.  At a 10%-tariff, that’s an extra $50.  Remember when I broke down the costs of a dress to figure out the hourly wage?  Let’s do that again.  There is a huge reason for this.

Since I compete with seamstresses who use the cheapest available (I don’t because quality is a huge issue for me) and are willing to take just a few dollars per hour, I can’t charge more than I already do.  Typically I charge $400 for a regency round gown in silk taffeta.  At $50 per yard for five yards, this is $250.  At a payment processing fee of 3.5%, that’s $14.  Social security tax is 12.4%, for another $49.60.   I’m down to $86.40.  Due to how much hand-sewing silk taffeta needs, such as hand-sewn hems, I can spend 8-10 hours on a gown fro drafting to finish.  On the lower end, 8 hours, That’s $10.80 per hour in a state with an $11-minimum wage.

But…increase the cost of fabric by 10%.  That’s an additional $25 out.  So I’m at $61.40 for labor, which is $7.67 per hour.

I said there is a huge reason for this breakdown.  Textile companies are already raising prices in anticipation of tariffs being approved.  And it’s not at 10%.  Here is the old versus new pricing of one of the lower-priced fabrics I use.


This is what I woke up to.  Depending on whether I buy 1 yard or a full bolt, this is an increase of between 29% and 44%, and yes, it is in response to the tariffs according to the emails sent out about this.  Yes, this is higher than 10%.  A little known fact is that the US is one of the world’s top exporters of raw cotton and raw wool, and when that goes into some of these countries, like China, it’s getting hit with tariff, which raises the costs for manufacturers there.  Even without US-added tariffs, this alone would increase prices here.  But when the finished yarn and fabrics are sent back here, it’s getting slammed with higher tariffs (textile tariffs are already typically between 14% and 62%…yes, 62%…and these new tariffs are on top of that) on a higher cost.  This is double-tariffing, if not triple in some instances.  Tese higher rates are potentially disastrous.

Let’s apply a difference of 29% to my little breakdown above on the assumption that this will be the new normal.  Instead of $250 for fabric, that would be $322.50 for fabric.  That leaves $13.90 for labor, which is $1.73 per hour.  My options would be to work for that little, or to raise the cost of that gown by $72.50, or try to find middle ground.  Commissioners don’t take kindly to increases in costs.  I’m still competing with people using the cheapest supplies and who are willing to work for peanuts.  For some brevity, $13.90 is enough to Amazon Prime a container of peanuts with $1.81 left over.  Literally peanuts. Wages for most Americans is either stagnant or falling.  How can I raise prices when wages aren’t going up?

Thankfully, I have some time to figure things out thanks to doing something that other seamstresses told me was a waste of money.  Why buy more than is needed for current commissions?

This is some of my stash.  The case to the far right there is all silk, and the rest are cottons, all bought at prices not yet affected by tariffs.  So I can keep my prices stable for a while.  But after that, I just don’t know.  If I’m lucky, fabric suppliers will only raise prices by 10%.  I can justify doing this for $7.67 per hour.  But $1.73 per hour is too close to the line that there’s a risk I’ll lose money, especially on Etsy sales (the fee just rose to 5% and includes 5% of shipping, so take out $20, and I’m losing money out of pocket).

By the way, don’t think that store-bought clothing is safe.  These tariffs apply to that as well.

I don’t know what to do, folks.  I can keep prices as they are until I’ve gone through my stash, but beyond that, what should I do?  I just don’t know.  Since this has the ability to affect everyone reading this, I think it’s only fair to welcome input, whether through comments below, through my Contact page, or through my Facebook page.  Should I raise prices?  Keep them the same?  Compromise on quality of fabrics or production?  Keep everything as is and hope for the best?  Please let me know your thoughts.  Thank you.

Decreasing quality in supplies

In the past, I’ve alluded to declining quality in fabrics and trims as the options dwindle.  Well, I have a very clear example of that that I think shows up in photos.  See, usually, when I know I will use a lot of a supply, I will buy full bolts of fabric or rolls of ribbon or trim, often enough to last for a couple years at least, if not more.  This is how I’m able to provide the same lace for many corsets, or the same fabric for many robes.  So I miss the small, incremental slips that acclimate people to changes over a longer time, and get to see the full leaps.

Tonight I didn’t have enough of an eyelet trim I needed for a corset, and ran off to the store.  I managed to find the same patterned trim, but it felt…thinner.  I bought just what I needed for this corset.  If the quality was slipping as much as I thought, I didn’t want to buy a full, pricy roll as I’d rather find something newer and high enough quality to meet my standards.

Well.  Well, well, well.

The lace is indeed much thinner.  The lace on the right is the older lace.  There are three notable differences.  First, yes, the cotton is definitely thinner. This isn’t meant to be delicate, in which case thinness can be good.  The second is related to the first.  Take a closer look at the space between the flowers.  In the newer trim, there is more pulling.  The cotton fabric isn’t substantial enough to handle the embroidery without stabilizer, though the older fabric could.  The third irks me to no end.  The edge of the older lace is pretty clean while the new lace has frayed edges.

Here is a closer look at the fabric and the embroidery.

I’m pretty sure that you can tell which is which.

Do you think the cost is going down to reflect this, or even staying stable (which would amount to the price going down due to inflation)?  Either of those would be mildly acceptable.  But no.  The price has nearly doubled.  Since I usually buy full rolls, the rolls I have in my supply room have the prices on them.  So I’m not relying on memory for this.  Fairly recently, I shared how the cost of fabric is drastically increasing as choices shrink.

Fewer choices, rising costs, decreasing quality.  Sometimes I want to rip my hair out over this.

Jareth Ball ensemble: A costume study, pt. 1.5

Well!  I spent many, many hours searching for something: video showing Jareth without his ball coat on.  After I posted the costume study part 1, TWO people commented with it!  Like the Sarah study 2.5, this one isn’t a full study in its own, but rather an addition that is substantial enough to be a new post, but not enough to be a full part.

Angela is to thank for the gif to the right, and Glass Spider found the video below, which shows the gif starting a few seconds before it and going to a few seconds afterward.

So the cummerbund-vest thing is a cummerbund that closes in the back with suspenders.  The second photo shows that the front is a good few inches higher than the back.

These vides and photos confirm that the shirt closes in the front.  They also show some sleeve detail, such as the very narrow cuff at his wrist, and slight gathering at the top of the sleeve.  This next photo shows the top the best.  They stumbled down some stairs, and were laughing.

Thank you to Angela and Glass Spider!

Laura brought up a bit she found in a book that I actually have ordered, but is back-ordered until next week.  Since I had more time than anticipated after an appointment today, I managed to get to a bookstore in Portland that has it.  (On the best of days, it can take 20 minutes to find parking, but then add in a bunch of construction…yet I managed to find immediate parking and got around the construction.).  That book is called David Bowie: A Life, and it’s a book made up almost entirely of what those who have worked with him or who knew him had to say, as well as passages from David himself.

Said Brian Henson, son of the esteemed Jim Henson:

My dad was a little worried about the sexual connotations of the relationship between Jareth and Jennifer Connelly, but then that’s what the movie’s really about. I do know that David’s codpiece had to be reduced as it was far too large originally. The whole movie is about the aggressive phallus, as Jareth represents male sexuality.

Despite not being the review I read, this confirms the slight enhancement.

The next passage was by Steve Whitmire, a puppeteer on the film.

…I know there is some kind of online cult surrounding his “package,” and my understanding is that David as not altogether happy with his costume choice.  Regardless of whether or not he wanted to play a seductive character, I don’t think he was crazy about his leotard.  There are a couple of shots in the film that really focus on his groin, but they’re actually focusing on characters next to him, and it just looks that way.  They just happen to be only waist tall.

And, though this isn’t related to costuming, I thought it was interesting anyway.  It is all by Whitmire.

I know that his son, Duncan, wore in the creature department on that film, as a puppet builder.  He was there for a few years.

I had no idea that David Bowie’s son was into puppetry!  Toby Froud, son of costume designer Brian Froud and Toby, as in the babe whose got the power, is into puppetry and special effects, and is actually local to me now.  He works as LAIKA, which has produced films such as Coraline.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but Labyrinth makes me want to go into puppetry. My daughter and I having puppets who ensemble muppets doesn’t help matters. 🙂

Would anyone be interested in a pattern to make Ludo?  The original Ludo toy was at the exhibit, and I’ve been toying with the idea of making that as a pattern.

So long until next time!  I’ve got my work cut out for me in trying to convince my husband to let me make him into a Jareth model.

Jareth Ball ensemble: A costume study, pt. 1

So I had this done and posted once before, and then it disappeared.  Due to the time it takes to go though more photos than I care to think about, to find the best ones, and then to try to analyze it all, and how busy my schedule has been, I haven’t had the time to redo it.  But now?  Well.  I have a bit of time before me, and so here I am!  Skip the next section to get right to the study.

First, though, I had people on my Facebook page encourage me to start a Patreon page.  I hesitated a lot, and sought advice from several people.  See, to me, if feels like begging.  I can see now why some of my favorite YouTubers and bloggers hesitated so much, and mentioned it like they were pups with their tails between their legs.  (Awwwww, look at the cute Bowie doggy!)  I always thought it was completely fair that they start them.  They were spending their time and money creating stuff to give away for free.  But I’m a hypocrite since, when it comes to me, I’m not taking the advice I’d post to them to just do it.  But the reality is these studies cost a good deal of money.  I’m about $1,000 in for just these two Labyrinth ensembles, not including the time, and, rather than keeping this info to myself to try to lure in commissions, and giving it away which can actually cost me commissions on top of the money I’ve spent.  I took a daytrip to London (literally arrived in the morning from out of the country, left that evening back out of the country–border patrol was very curious about why an American was making such a fast trip to England) literally just because I found out a museum had a couple popular regency ensembles on display, and I thought those would make excellent studies.  Well, a Patreon really could help offset the costs, both cash out of pocket as well as the time these take, and enable me to do more of them and faster.  So I did it.  I started one.  Aria Couture is on Patreon.  There are different levels, including access to far more photos than make the cut for these studies, not only for these Labyrinth studies, but for all of them that I do.

This next part will only matter to those who are claiming my photos as their own: Stop trying to claim the rights to my photos.  I traveled a few hours away multiple times to get these photos, paid the cost of parking in downtown Seattle, and a hotel, because driving that round trip in a day is just exhausting.  So getting these photos wasn’t at all inexpensive.  I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time analyzing the construction the best I can, figuring out the ways that disclosed supplies were used (hot glue…?), and anything else I can about them.  Prior to my photos, there were no clear photos of either of these ensembles online, at all, and only one known full photo of the Sarah gown, which was a small, blurry photo in Labyrinth: The Photo Album.  Thus far, all I’ve asked in return is that I receive the credit for these photos I’ve taken.  So please, PLEASE work with me on this.  There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by trying to claim my photos as your own.  But there is a lot for all of us to lose.

– – – – – – –

Now, this is a study best broken down into at least four posts, one on the boots, trousers, shirt, and under-waistcoat, one on their recreation, one or two on the jacket, and one on the hair and makeup to complete the look.

Let us start with the easiest part: The boots.

The are patent poly vinyl, a very inexpensive material in the early 1980’s, and still inexpensive now.  Folks, the supplies used really were considered cheap at the time, and most are still fairly cheap now (hot glue…).  So, of course, this means that finding some of the supplies (Sarah’s ball gown fabric) is very difficult and costly.  Because of course it does.  For reasons.  That’s why.

(Really, it’s due to fabric stores collapsing into fewer, which means that they don’t need to compete with each other by having different fabrics at lower prices.  For instance, when Hancock’s closed, and left JoAnn Fabrics as the only dog in town in nearly every market they were both in, JoAnn Fabrics really don’t need to have a large variety or low prices to get local business.  Where else are shoppers going to go?  So this means that they’re going to carry less variety at some shockingly high prices that are still ridiculously high after coupons.  A lot of websites are also starting to stock the exact same fabrics because that’s what the mills are making.  As cheap fabrics rise in price due to the lack of competition, the nicer fabrics are bumped up as well.)

So back to the boots.  They could hardly be simpler, which…say it with me…of course means finding anything like them is difficult.  It doesn’t help that most boots now have zippers on the inside because consumers don’t like to use the energy to pull on fitter boots, or to actually have to tie them (and consumers write negative reviews about the rare pairs that don’t have zippers).  These are about as basic of a style as can be, just a cuffed pirate-style or Robin Hood-style boot.  Even then, a lot of those are more detailed.  These are the closest I’ve found, and even then, all of them would need some modifying.  Click on the pics to be taken to their listings:


The first pair, which is the most expensive and made of leather, doesn’t have a zipper.  Both of the other pairs do.  The second pair would need the cuff piece cut to be straight, and all of them need to be polished to a shine with a patent polish.  If the last pair was stiffer instead of slouching, and had no zipper, those would be the closest.  They have the same tongue detail in the front and everything.  The second would also be close, if they didn’t have the longer zipper and pointed cuff.  The first is nearly perfect, except that that pair lacks the tongue detail.

On to the trousers.  Let’s just get the giggling out of the way.  I try to keep this blog family friendly, but there is no getting around that crotch.  How many of us got our first inkings while watching this movie, and we didn’t understand it?  How many of us now still…oh, never mind.  *giggles*  Anyway, that’s not on accident.  Jareth’s mindless toying with some balls…  No, not at all on accident.  This movie overtly deals with sexual awakening.  Part of that is drawing attention to sexuality, and what better way than to highlight the genitalia of a major rock star?

There’s no way to avoid the subject.  Jareth’s pants are undeniably tight, undeniably revealing, and, at first glance, almost over the line for the garb of an adult male character in a film with a young teenaged heroine.  “We got in a bit of trouble about ow tight his pant were,” [Brian] Proud admits, “but the choice was deliberate.”

Within the contest of the film, Fraud explains, those pants are representative of that young innocent girls’s imagination.  “We’re not looking at reality.  We’re inside this girl’s head.  Jareth has the tight pants because he is many, many things that a teenaged girl related to.  He is a rock star.”

So, yes.  There’s just no way to be professional when talking about it.  I’m sorry, folks, I’m one of those who crushed on Bowie and couldn’t explain it at the time, and now my 8-year-old has a major crush on him and believes he is literally a god.

These high-waisted trousers, but really, we can call them leggings, are make of velour with some stretch to them.  That plays up The Bulge better than a woven-backed velvet.  As you can see, there isn’t a center seam.  Those are so uncomfortable and can create camel-toe.  Not so comfortable.  Or attractive.  The seams instead are from the waist, starting perhaps 12″ across, then heading down and following the groin.  This solid piece in the front both I framed by those seams and will smooth and mold better to highlight what’s underneath.  (No one knows how hard it is to write this post without laughing.)  I shall presume that the back has the standard single seam.  Though Bowie was said to be naturally endowed and in need of no help in that area (warning: those links should only be clicked by those who are okay with frank discussions of adult matters), some way was used of “enhancing” what what there.  I doubt this was built-in padding in the trousers, but more likely a dance belt with some sort of padding in that.  Since I can’t find what I think would be an acceptable image to post, you can see what a dance belt is on this page from Discount Dance.  If there was nudity, then that page wouldn’t show it.

I have spent an absurd number of hours trying to track down a video someone told me about that shows Jareth with his ball coat off, showing it to be a vest that is low cut in the front.

A leafy gold metallic brocade was used.  I thought it looked like a cummerbund because there is no closure in the front.  now, it’s possible that it’s got a full back that closes in the back, or my source may have been mistaken.  At this point, the construction would speculation since, in a good 20 hours of searching and watching videos and pouring through photos and stills, I haven’t been able to find anything to hint at either direction.  What’s for sure is that there is no front closure that would indicate a vest, though a vest cut still makes more sense than a cummerbund.

Now on to the shirt.  Once more, we are left to speculate on the closure.  It could be buttons or hooks under the ruffle, or closing somehow in the back.  The ruffle is full enough that it would easily close in the front, likely with hooks and eyes.  Much easier than dealing with buttons.  What we can see is the neck and those ruffles.

The fabric is silk.  The texture in the photo below looks like sueded/sanded silk charmeuse.  This is a glorious fabric.  Some sort of interlining is definitely used in the neck to be able to support that brooch.   The light dove silk, called silver in the Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History, is roll-hemmed with a medium grey thread.  The ruffle is made from a curved piece of fabric, not a single piece gathered down the middle.  The clue on this is how the ruffles lay in those folds.  The way that those wedge-shaped folds happen is for there to be more length at the edges than in the middle.  A standard gather would have as much fabric in the middle, which would impede the ability for the folds to lay forward.  The Sarah gown doesn’t use any unusual methods.  But this one?  Creative uses ahoy!  I don’t know if there’s really a name for the method of making this sort of ruffle.   This is something I will demonstrate in part 2 of this study.  That’s why I want to make this one along with just talking about it and showing photos.

The final piece of his ensemble, aside from his coat, is that brooch.  Unless polished regularly, I doubt it’s sterling silver.  It’s possible that it was polished before display, but that would be such a pain that I doubt it was done.  Just look at the lack of tarnish even inside the loops of chain.  The way the metal has aged looks like that nickel-free metal used in a lot of inexpensive jewelry findings.  Considering the complete lack of materials and supplies that would have had to be custom-made with special equipment rather than things that could possibly be found on the stash of typical seamstresses/tailors and jewelry-crafters, this was probably fabricated using whatever mass-produced jewelry findings could be found.  The dangles to the sides are on pieces of craft chain with black teardrops, possibly plastic, and the piece down the center is similar to vintage pieces of costume jewelry that I’ve seen, but broken in half, with black cabochons glued on.  The top part of the pendant has lost a couple of them.  The glue has even yellowed over time.  A cabochon on each side is missing.  There should be four, as show in the gif below.  The faceted jewel in the center is almost certainly plastic.  There’s a larger one farther down.  The facets are quite large and too perfect to be cheap glass, which are almost always irregularly cut, but don’t have enough shine to them to be glass or crystal.  Glass is cut, with lower quality being done too quickly to be perfect, but plastic is molded.

That’s something I love about these ensembles.  Cellophane, hot glue, chunky glitter…these beautiful creations were made out of standard craft supplies, and that’s so freaking cool and creative and inspiring and shows that the humblest, most-accessible things can be used to make things that people will still be drooling over over three decades later.

If there’s anything here that isn’t too clear, please comment below to let me know, and I’ll make sure to cover that in part 2 of this study.

Sarah Study Pt. 1
Sarah Study Pt. 2
Sarah Study Pt. 2.5


Sarah’s Labyrinth Ball Gown: A Costume Study Pt. 2.5

This isn’t really a full post, but it’s worth mentioning.  While double-checking on a quote in a book I have, I found this:
Thirty years on, Connelly still remembers the dress she wore: a billowing silver-white ball gown of iridescent fabric, with puffed sleeves a silver lace bodice, and a pannier, or hooped petticoat, beneath the skirt. “It was so elaborate,” she says. “And it was made of such unusual fabric. I thin there may have been some cellophane in it.”
“We made her dress out of silver lamé and iridescent rainbow paper, overlaid with lace and jewels on the bodice,” recalls Ellis Flyte. “We had costume breakdowns and a color chart on every character, and in this scene, her silver and mint color pallet se her apart from the others in the ballroom. Lovely young Jennifer suddenly was a beaitoul princess. Her hair was dressed jeweled glue particles. It all took a great deal of work, but she did look otherworldly!”
“Oh, that enormous hair!” Connelly gasps today. “Who can forget that?” The hairdressers opted not to give her an elegant updo; instead they wove delicate tendrils of silver through her dark hair, like enchanted spiderwebs.
This is from Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History.  It’s a beautiful book.  I paid the full $45 for it, and don’t regret it.  If you want to buy it on Amazon, here’s my affiliate link to it (and you an read other reviews) where I’ll get about three cents, but it’s really worth going down to your local Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, or what-have-you, and coughing up $45 for both this book as well as to help keep brick-and-mortar stores from going the way of the dodo.
Anyhoo!  I thought that piece is something interesting enough to bring here.  Back to finalizing post numero uno in the Jareth set!