Costuming, Public Appearances, Sewing Projects

A Long Overdue Update

A lot has changed in my life since the last time I posted, and while I normally wouldn’t go this into detail about my personal life on a blog about sewing and costuming, I feel like I owe some sort of explanation for not having written anything in months.

Shortly after my last entry, my life was turned upside down. I had been working from home for a few months trying to make sewing and costuming my full time job, and had actually landed a pretty decent contract. All of my materials had arrived, and then suddenly I was getting a divorce and possibly moving from BC back home to Ontario with my family before I’d even cut anything out. Things were difficult for a while; I made it through the sewing contract and got everything turned in on time (just barely.. as in 7am the day they were due by 11am!), and I started a new full time job that same day.

At the risk of oversharing, I admit that the divorce itself was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to face in my life. It was terrible timing (is there ever a right time for a divorce?), I didn’t know how I was going to start over or put myself back together. It took time, and a lot of learning about things that had happened during the marriage that I wasn’t aware of that helped me move forward, and I’m happy to say that I made it through okay.

With getting back into the regular workforce and putting my life back together I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I used to. I’ve made a few things here and there with fabric I had laying around the apartment – a Poison Ivy costume, a dress, and I’ve been gradually working on a leather jacket when I’ve had the time. Things seem to have settled into a routine now and I’m hoping I can get into more sewing projects before the year is out. Unfortunately the crappy Canadian dollar has put a limit on what I can do; usually I order my supplies online as it’s insanely cheaper, but with the poor exchange rate it’s not quite the same anymore.

With that said, my posts may be less frequent than they used to, but I will do my best to keep updating. My new job is wonderful but as it’s been quite a while since I worked full time hours away from home it feels like it’s taken over all of my free time. I’ve been trying to get back into doing birthday parties when I can; I really miss playing Elsa regularly but it’s a challenge to balance work and hobbies.

I do have some photos to share of the Poison Ivy costume as well as the dress to keep this blog going until I have something new. 🙂

Costuming, Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances

Queen Elsa visited Whistler Blackcomb

February was a very busy month! In addition to princess birthday party appearances as The Snow Queen I had the opportunity to volunteer in my Elsa cosplay for The Mustard Seed’s Coldest Night of the Year walk. The Mustard Seed is a local organization that acts as a street church, food bank, family counselling centre and an addictions recovery centre, all supporting Victoria’s vulnerable populations. The walk itself took place all across Canada while fundraising for the hungry, homeless and hurting. Marty the Marmot (the Victoria Royals hockey team mascot, and a good friend!) and the Superheroes of Victoria were attending the event, so I sent off a couple emails to be able to join. In Victoria we raised $17,000, and I’m very proud to have been able to help at this event.

 

A few days before The Coldest Night of the Year walk, I was visiting friends in Vancouver and took a day trip up to Whistler with my good friend (and absolutely phenomenal photographer) Mark Klotz. We’ve been discussing a snowy Elsa photoshoot since I started making my first Elsa costume, but given that where we live is not often snowy, it’s been a challenge. After I finished Elsa 2.0, I finally felt like it was worth a photoshoot, and after realizing the North Shore mountains were severely lacking in snow, we opted to take the 90 minute drive up to Whistler. After all, I’d already taken a ferry to get to the mainland, what was a little bit of a drive on top of that? It really became a go big or go home scenario, so after loading up on Tim Hortons we ventured up to Whistler.

It was an amazing and fun day, and one hell of a ridiculous experience. I wore my wig and makeup throughout the village and up the village gondola, and put my costume on in the lodge when we got up to the top of Whistler mountain.

And of course, all hell broke loose. A crowd started forming, people were staying a little bit away from us because they were incredibly confused . Who wouldn’t be? Disney royalty shows up at the top of a ski resort’s most popular mountain, not wearing skis, well.. I’d be confused too! A few people came up to ask for pictures and then we ventured outside into the snow. That’s where the crowds really started. If you’ve ever been to the top of Whistler, there’s the big Olympic rings and a giant Canadian flag. I ended up in front of that flag for a good 15 minutes just non stop taking pictures with people. It gave Mark a chance to adjust his camera for the snow so it all worked out, but it was pretty funny. We had some great funny moments while shooting; I missed it but Mark swears that while he was taking photos a guy was coming down the mountain behind me and ended up wiping out when he saw me. No matter where we stopped for our own photos I was taking more with others; it was so much fun and so many people were entertained. I even got to jump on a snowmobile!

After a couple hours worth of photos on Whistler we took the Peak 2 Peak gondola to Blackcomb mountain, and the shots we got there were just magical. It’s ridiculous really, we were looking at them all on Mark’s camera on the way back over to Whistler to take the village gondola back down, and I wanted to cry. They were so perfect, the lighting couldn’t have been better and I can’t stop looking at them now 3 weeks later.

These photos are some of the best I’ve ever had taken of me in my entire life, and I can’t thank Mark enough for collaborating on this project. He and I have both been editing them, his are posted in an album on Flickr, click here if you’d like to see his! Mine are also on Flickr, I’ve been editing in snow effects, and since it’s my own Flickr account I can actually embed an album into this post. There’s only 8 photos so far (we took nearly 400!), but I will be adding more to this album as I get through the editing process.

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This is one of the best experiences of my life, and I am beyond glad that Mark and I did this. It was worth the trip and the money, the frostbite and the cold that haunted me for two weeks after given we were at 7,000ft elevation and it was -17C. I would happily do this again!

Costuming, Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances, Sewing Projects

Queen Elsa v2.0

After nearly a year straight of wearing my Elsa costume on a regular basis for big public appearances and birthday parties, it’s time to retire my original costume and bring out a new one. I’ve enjoyed so many great experiences in my first design that it’s bittersweet retiring it, but after so many outdoor events its taken quite a beating and sadly.. it’s time. Frozen has had such a huge impact on my life this past year and it’s only fair that my favourite character get a new costume worthy of portraying her.

The upside of making Elsa for a second time is that I learned a lot from the first one, and there are way better fabric options available now. Sequins were a terrible choice as they cut into the organza cape and made the shirtsleeves pill, and the organza cape itself did not want to stay together anywhere there was a seam on the bias. With the popularity of Frozen there are new fabrics available that have been designed specifically for Elsa and Anna costumes, and I fully took advantage of that.

Supplies were ordered in late November, and even though a good chunk of them came from China they all arrived before Christmas! The early arrival was incredibly convenient as I actually ended up ridiculously sick over the holidays which led to loads of time sitting on my couch and therefore time for incredible amounts of detail. It’s entirely wearable at this point but I’m still wearing my old shirt; the new one is cut out but this time I’d like to rhinestone it before sewing it, and I just haven’t found the time yet this year to sit down and do that.

The skirt was first, and the same as my original with a slight change to the hem. My original had a pointed hem that flowed nicely with the cape, but made the skirt a lot more cumbersome when getting in and out of a vehicle. I’m usually driving to and from events/parties dressed as Elsa (unless lovely husband is available and willing to come with), so trying to fit the skirt and cape into the drivers seat was a challenge. The point also wasn’t accurate, which became more apparent when higher resolution reference material was available. This time I used fabric I purchased on Etsy, which was actually a bit more of a challenge than I expected. It wasn’t clear from the photos, but the silver threading in the fabric ran from selvage edge to selvage edge, meaning I had to cut my skirt pieces horizontally instead of the usual way. The back two panels are pieced together up at the waist; it was the only way to get the length I wanted and the seams are hidden by the corset. The skirt is fully lined with a periwinkle blue heritage cotton.

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Next came the corset which was the most involved piece of all this time. It’s the same overbust style I used for Snow White from Once Upon a Time with a few adjustments; I brought the neckline up a bit for some more coverage and trimmed the bottom edge for the refined point. This corset is four layers; the Etsy fabric and heavy twill flatlined together for the outer layer, and the periwinkle blue heritage cotton and heavy twill flatlined together for the inner layer. To keep the outer layer smooth all of the boning channels are on the lining layer; there’s flat steel in the center and at the lacing panel, and spring steel along each seam and in the middle of the panels. The grommets are hand painted, originally antique brass (as that’s all I have on hand that fits my press right now) but painted with a mix of Jacquard fabric paints to match the fabric. The edges were bound with the Etsy fabric after this picture was taken.

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Next came the part that nearly drove me insane, made my hands ache, but killed a lot of couch time while I was dreadfully sick. I took some 14 gauge vinyl and painted the back of the sheets with a mix of white, teal and blue fabric paints. It took a few layers until it was opaque enough, and once it was completely dry it was cut into rectangles. I did the majority of it a uniform shade but there is a section along the top of the corset that is a few shades lighter, I had some smaller sheets left that I added a bit more white into the paint to give it a bit of an ombre effect. After cutting each sheet into rectangles I then spent more hours than I am comfortable counting cutting each rectangle into a rounded rectangle.

IMG-20141221-WA0000 IMG-20141221-WA0003 IMG-20141224-WA0010 IMG-20141224-WA0002Of course, the tiny rectangle insanity couldn’t end there. Oh no. That was just nearly two days straight (and I do mean straight, from the time I woke up til the time I went to bed) of cutting. These little buggers still needed to be attached. Armed with a tube of E6000 glue, a lot of patience and the biggest bottle of Dayquil I could buy, I sat with the corset and my bowls of rounded rectangles and gradually glued each little rectangle down onto the fabric, one by one.

IMG-20141224-WA0015IMG-20141224-WA0017IMG_20141225_124405Once the rectangles were glued down I took a break, let it dry and then attacked it with rhinestones, beads and even more glue.

IMG_20141208_140754_nopm_IMG-20141226-WA0000 IMG-20141226-WA0002 There’s a modesty panel made just of fabric between the lacing panels; I’ve contemplated adding the vinyl rectangles to that as well but am concerned about the wear of the corset laces on it. I may experiment at a later date but for now, it’s just fabric.

I will admit that I bought the cape pre-made this time around. Making it last time was okay, but trying to find a fabric I liked this time that would also hold up to the methods available to me for putting the snowflake pattern on, well.. my choices were limited. I heavily contemplated chiffon this time over my previous organza, but as chiffon frays so easily I opted against it. I saw someone post a picture of a cape they’d ordered and fell in love , and after much digging I found a seller with it in stock. It was roughly the same price to buy the cape as it would have been to acquire fabric and supplies to make it, and saved me a load of time. As much as I pride myself in the things I make from scratch, the saved hours of labour and the screen accurate print were too hard to resist. Bought the cape, love the cape, greatly enjoy the cape. The below two photos are from prior to finishing the corset (and I realized after I hadn’t tucked the cape into the back of the corset) but it was Christmas Day, my best friend was here and she wanted to see it all together.

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With my old shirt, I wore this version out to its first event at the end of December. Ballet Victoria invited us to join them again this year for their production of The Gift, this time to greet children before the show and during intermission for their weekend performances. We met so many wonderful kids, and had a blast seeing my husband dressed up as Olaf. Anna had a hat and cape this time courtesy of Victoria Costumes, who were also kind enough to make it available to us when we walked in the Sidney Christmas Parade. I will get around to making them myself eventually, but other things keep getting in the way!

I’m so excited to have my new Elsa costume ready for the birthday parties I have lined up so far in 2015, and am scheduling as many appearances as I can.

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Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances

Queen Elsa & Princess Anna from Frozen visit Westshore Parks & Rec

Last night we had another amazing outdoor showing of Frozen, with the biggest crowd we’ve faced yet! I’ve been told there were over 1500 people in attendance which is just incredible. Elsa and Anna started greeting children at 7pm and due to the overwhelming popularity we kept our lineup running past the posted 8:45pm time and stayed until 10pm to see everyone who had waited. We met so many adorable children and had a really great time getting to make them all smile.

The entire team at Westshore deserves a huge thank you for all the effort they put into this event. The staff made sure that we had everything we needed and the security team was beyond helpful. We couldn’t have moved around without their assistance!

Once again we had best friend J on hand to take photos for anyone without a camera as well as just to take pictures anyway, and they’re all available here on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jackandgingerco/sets/72157646330220770/

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Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances

Anna & Elsa visit Uptown in Victoria for an outdoor showing of Frozen!

First things first, just.. WOW. I can’t say that enough. Yesterday was absolutely amazing and it’s all thanks to the awesome folks at Uptown. They’ve been planning this event for quite a while, and even when there were hiccups (like technical problems with the giant blow up screen they’d rented, leading to a last minute acquisition of the biggest TV they could find) they just kept rolling with it and did everything they could to try and make the experience as great as possible. I feel that the hardworking staff at Uptown deserves a massive thank you for voluntarily putting on a free event like this for the community. With an event of this nature it’s impossible to predict just how many people will come out, and let’s be honest, Disney themselves weren’t even prepared for the popularity of Frozen and are still struggling 8 months after it opened to keep up with the demand for merchandise. Uptown took on a huge challenge and did everything in their power to make it work.

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I understand that it was very busy and hopefully we’ll be able to see anyone we missed at our next event at Westshore Parks & Recreation Centre on August 21st where they’ll be showing Frozen on an outdoor screen. I have to admit I was surprised our line time was only ~45 minutes, as I’ve seen lines of 4+ hours at Disneyland and Disneyworld! We tried to meet as many people as we could and stayed longer than originally planned, but did have to leave as I am actually quite injured right now. I currently have a severely sprained foot that I’m supposed to be staying off of, and with all the movement yesterday it had swollen to a point where it was difficult to remove my shoe by the time we did leave. I greatly appreciate everyone being so understanding and accommodating with us. Anna and Elsa both had an amazing time and met so many wonderful children and we can’t wait to do it again in August.

The calm before the storm!

All of the photos taken by our amazing friend J (who also deserves a HUGE thank you for taking care of us as well as playing photographer) are available in high resolution on Flickr. The way my website is built, there’s just no tidy way to put 500+ photos on here without it being a huge mess, so I’ve opted for Flickr. Immediately following this paragraph is a direct link to the album on Flickr, and a slideshow below to see all of the photos. When you find your photos on Flickr, click on them and in the bottom right corner there will be a little download arrow where you can choose what resolution you’d like to download them in. Also if anyone has any photos or videos of us that you’re willing to share please send them to crystal@jackandgingerco.ca as we’d love to see them!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jackandgingerco/sets/72157645257698748/

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