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!

Why are seamstresses undercutting each other?

More and more, I’m seeing seamstresses undercutting each other in prices to try to get business.  This is really sad, but it’s due to people expecting us to compete with cheap prices out of China.  The reality is we can’t do that.  The costs out of China are often less than the cost of even cheap, poly fabrics that we seamstresses can obtain.  I’d like to go over the expenses of one of my dresses, and that one that I will use is my Tim Burton/Disney Alice in Wonderland dress.

The cost of the French cotton organdie, which I bought in Paris, that I used is 60€, which is about $75, and the child-size took 5 yards.  $375.  The cotton for the layer underneath was a total of 50€ for the full piece, about $60.  I got the striped fabric for the petticoat on sale, and paid just under $50 for it all.  The horsehair braid (not really made from horse hair) was about $80.  The buttons were another $35.  The rest of the notions, such as the cording I used as the core for piping, the embroidery thread, the stabilizer, etc., was about $50.  Stabilizer an embroidery thread are not cheap.  So we’re at about $650.  I very much underestimated it in my Etsy listing, now that I’m adding it up.  In silk organza and silk taffeta instead of the organdie and fabric I used for the petticoat, the differences would be about $$200 total for the organza, and $180 for the taffeta.  This is a savings of only $105.

So let’s use the lower price, $545 in silk instead of $650 for the French fabrics because, frankly, probably no one else happened to be in Paris and to have found that fabric, making that purchase an anomaly.  Right now, I have this gown listed at $1200, which leaves $655.  The child-size took about 60 hours of skilled labor.  Before all taxes and Etsy and payment processing fees, this is a whopping total of $10.92 per hour.  Most Walmarts are now starting at a higher pay.  Self-employed people have to pay the full 12.4% for social security tax alone.  Employers pay half, when your pay check comes from an employer.  Our expenses, such as the fabrics we buy, or the fees we pay, are no longer tax-write-offs.  So we now have to pay tax on the entire total we charge, in this case, $1200, even though the amount we earn after supplies an fees is less than half that.  But let’s just deal with the social security tax.  $148.80 is the tax owed now.  That comes out of that $655.  $506.20.  Payment processing fees are on the entire amount as well, and is about 3.5%.  There’s another $42.  Etsy fees are about the same.  Another $42.  $422.20 is the net, before even considering income taxes.  So, after just a few fees and one tax, this is $7.04 per hour.  Even if you want to try to say, “but everyone’s wage rate is before any taxes come out,” please remember that no one else has to pay taxes on the supplies.

But if you insist, let’s add that $148.80 back in.  At $571 after the payment and etsy fees, this is still $9.52 per hour.  A fair wage would be $25 per hour, especially since we have to absorb all the taxes on even the supplies, and this would put a dress like this at just over $2,000.  The absolute most I’ve seen it listed for is $1,500.  About $16 is better, but still very low when you start knocking out about 7% for etsy and payment fees, which is another $105, and then $186 for the full social security tax.

We also pay processing and etsy fees on the shipping, and we have to pay taxes on that shipping since that is no longer able to be written off on taxes either.  We also have to buy the machinery that is needed (my embroidery machine was $5,000 alone…).  We have to pay for maintenance, and for the extra utilities, and for the studio space in our homes.  $9.52, and we have to pay for so much out of that.

Yet I’m seeing this particular ensemble being listed at $1000, even $900, and one listing for $850, and these are all in silk.  Take a look back at how much the supplies in silk cost.  $545.  Before payment fees, taxes, or anything else, that listing at $1000 is going to be $455 after the supplies.  I’m a faster seamstress than many, but let’s still use that 60 hours.   $7.58 per hour.  At $900, that’s $5.92 per hour, and at $850,  that’s $5.08.  Again, this is for skilled labor, and is before payment processing and etsy fees.  My $9.52 per hour seems like good pay compared to $5.08, but it’s still $1.48 below my state’s minimum wage of $11.  I’m in Washington State.  In Oregon, a stone’s throw from me, minimum wage is $10.25.  So not only does Walmart pay more, literally every job pays more.

I’ll be blunt: When prices get low enough, there’s an incentive to start using different fabrics, such as poly organza, and hope that a client doesn’t know the difference.  I wouldn’t dream of doing this, and will even tell my clients how to tell the difference if they want to know, but I personally know someone who does this on occasion, and justifies it as “she’s paying me almost nothing for my time, and I really need to make something out of this to be worth it.”  No, that’s not okay, and she has gotten mad at me when I’ve told her she’s risking the reputation of this industry by making seamstresses appear untrustworthy if one of those clients find out, but it is a risk that you take when you start to look for the lowest price, or when you try to influence a seamstress who is already making so little to keep going down in price.  I’ve literally seen some things listed for less than the cost of the stated fabrics and fiber contents.  Barring someone destashing or using something they’ve had in their stash for a while (as I do on occasion, and I will openly state that as the reason I’m listing something for what it is), I can nearly guarantee you that you aren’t going to get what you’re paying for, and that those are probably seamstresses who are not making enough to get by, but who don’t want to give up on what they love to do, and so are hoping you won’t know the difference between a silk satin and a silky satin that they listed as a silk satin…or it may be possible that they found a cheaper polyester listed as silk (follow that link to see a chilling example of a very-well-known fabric store, one of the world’s largest and best-known, titling a polyester fabric as silk), and are hoping to use that as plausible deniability.

So please, when you’re looking for a deal, please keep in mind that many of us are already working for less than minimum wage, and then have to pay income taxes and social security taxes on not only that wage, but also all the fabrics and supplies we have to buy.  So please, please, do not try to get us to underbid each other.  It’s not fair to us.  We deserve as much of a living wage as anyone else, or at least minimum wage, especially considering that we pay taxes on even the supplies we need to buy.  We do this because we love to do it.  But here’s the catch–even if someone were to not pay taxes as required, this is still less than pre-tax minimum wage.  No one making minimum wage is only going to take home $5.08 per hour, yet that is the pre-tax for at least one seamstress, and that’s before the processing fees that she can’t get out of because, whether she’s using Paypal or Square, that’s taken out automatically.

I have friends making baby tutus for $15 with $5 in supplies.  That’s about $4 after shipping and fees, and even then, they’re being told that someone else will do it for $14, so will they take $13.  (There are a lot of Facebook groups for custom-makers to support each other, and yes, we discuss these things in furious detail.)  I know people making custom die-cut invitations for $3 each, or $2.50 if you buy 50 or more, and are being told that’s too expensive.  Folks, I made my daughter’s birthday invitations this year, using my die-cutter, and it cost me about $2 each, and that is just the card stock I had to buy (the gold–I had the parchment on hand and don’t count that in the cost) and surprisingly-expensive, surprisingly-short-lasting blades.  I made 60.  It literally would have cost me less to have someone else make them and use their labor than I spent on just two of the supplies I needed.  Something’s wrong with that, with them being told $2.50 or $3 is too much.  It’s really too little.  Thos invitations and tutus are almost an act of charity.  Yet $3 an invitation is too much.  $15 for a tutu is too much.  $1200 for a dress is too much.

I implore you, please do not try to get us to undercut each other.  I will not play along.  I, unlike some others, can survive losing a commission.  My husband’s income supports our household necessities, and I’m in a very fortunate position for that.  Some others aren’t so lucky, and would rather take $5.08 than nothing because they can’t afford not to, and they can’t because of how much prices are expected to be dropped when labor prices are often already below minimum wage.

It’s disheartening.  And yet we’re still expected to try to undercut each other.  And some do, because they can’t afford not to.  Please, folks, don’t expect us to work for less than you’d accept for your skilled labor, especially considering we have to pay high taxes and payment and etsy fees on even the supplies.  Doing what we do is already an act of love, and a bit of pride, but mostly of love.  Please, in return, love what we do enough to not make us have to undercut each other.

Breaunna’s Arwen-inspired Blood Red gown

Navy and rose-wine velvet, red and gold brocade, and trim so pricy I grit my teeth when cutting it. The sleeves are very long. They will cover her hands when her hands are lowered. The train has a built-in French bustle. This isn’t an easy gown to get into, and will require help. The velvet has some stretch, but is still slightly fitted through the bust. This is a tier 2 costume edition (aka upgraded costume version) that doesn’t use silk. As such, a back zipper, which the original Lord of the Rings film gown had, would have run the risk of puckering unattractively throughout the day. The sleeves have some good weight to them, and will try pulling the off-the-shoulder neckline lower. Body tape is made for this. 🙂 I loved making this gown!

More photos are in this gown’s Facebook album.

Titanic Dinner gown

All silk, crystal, all hand-beaded. 🙂 Seven packs of 3mm crystal beads at 2,400 per pack. I had 142 beads left. Four packs of 4mm crystal beads at 2,400 per pack. I had 67 beads left. One pack of 6mm crystal beads at 600 per pack. I could actually have used a few more, but substituted the 4mm. None left. One pack of sequins at apps. 25,000 per pack, and I wasn’t even about to count how many are left. Maybe a third were left. Add in about 15 yards of various silks, one spool of thread at 1000 meters, most another spool at 500 meters, part of another 1000m-spool… Oh my god, this gown was finally finished. It tops the last Heaven gown I made years ago. That one only had 23,000 beads. Heh. Only.

Of course, more photos are in this gown’s Facebook album.


1797 Silk Transition Gown

I made this silk over-gown for Lady Nora of Baronet’s Daughter Designs (she made the white gown beneath) for a 12th Night Soireeé a fe years ago. Very fun event! I had a night to make this gown, including drafting a pattern. It’s based on a fashion plate found on page 44 of Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion. It crosses over in the front, and closes with a pin. Just plain pins that we use to pin pieces of fabric together was a common method of closure in that era! One side is longer in front while the other is shorter and pleated. The biggest change, aside from color and trim, is sleeve length. This gown has a short little train. The party wouldn’t have been a good place for a longer train. The gold trim gives it a regal feel.

More photos are in this Facebook album.

Blue silk regency robe

Sometimes I am sent the most beautiful fabrics and trims to work with, and this is no exception!  Kat sent this gorgeous blue silk and the trim, and asked for a regency robe to wear for a sailing event. Here is the result! I’m not sure that there’s much to say aside from the bodice is lined in cotton, and the skirt is box-pleated. The center back is double-box pleated for more fullness while keeping a slim silhouette. By request, the pleats on the sleeves were moved to the top instead of the period-correct location of toward the back. The gold gown under it is one of mine, and it for the photos only. It looks so much better than just putting the robe on the dress form.

More photos?  Of course.  Here, in this Facebook album.

Cinderella Prom

This princess prom gown was inspired by Carly Rae Jepsen’s Cinderella gown. Inspired-by is key here. As we went along designing, elements changed, up to and including in the last hour!! The corset IS a full corset, despite the lack of seams on the outside. I’ve devised a method of corset-construction that doesn’t lack the integrity of traditional assembly, yet allows for not having those seams. (They’re on the inside lining in a special way.) The rosettes have pink Swarovski crystals in them, and these are special crystals, magic, one might say. See, Haley was in a production of Legally Blonde, and these crystals were left over from that production. I got them from the director and worked them into this gown so that Haley could have a part of Metro with her. She was going to star in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but funding didn’t come together, so I really wanted her to have Metro with her for prom.

The skirt has 200 yards of tulle in pink and blush over a cotton lining. Cotton isn’t as reflective as most satins, and so had the desired effect with flash. All of the fluff is tulle, no other supporting layer. The top layer is split, and draped back. The skirt is what was changed in the last hour. The flowers on the skirt weren’t there, but I was staring at the gown on my dress form, and something just seemed off. Then it hit me. So I grabbed chiffon rosettes and the rest of the crystals I had, and had at it. 🙂

As almost always, more photos are in a Facebook album dedicated to the gown.