Miscellaneous, Sewing Projects

Once Upon a Time Costume Replicas

I’m afraid I’m long overdue in updating this blog; there’s been so many changes in my life lately and it’s been a challenge finding time to sit down and actually post! Back in August I resigned from my 9-5 office job with the intent of pursuing my costume design career while also offering princess parties and appearances.. and then along came Sephora. Many years ago I freelanced as a makeup artist (and continue to do so when possible) and had an opportunity to join as a seasonal cast member, so I figured why not? I had the intent of balancing both sewing and makeup, but as often happens with life plans reality came along and pretty much laughed in my face. I had no idea just how busy the holiday season can be for a store like that and now that I’ve experienced it I realize that trying to pull off both had landed me in the same boat as I was in while at the office; trying to balance a regular job, freelance job, and still having some semblance of a life.

With that said I’ve loved the ~3 months I’ve spent at Sephora; it was a great opportunity to work with some lovely people and learn new things. It’ll all be coming to an end shortly, and in preparation for that I’m in the process of getting back to all things costume related including party appearances as Elsa. I’ve re-opened the Etsy shop, updated social media accounts and am now working on the blog!

The project I’ve most been waiting to post about is my masquerade group from this year that I mentioned a few months ago. We ended up with 7 total characters from Once Upon a Time: Killian Jones/Captain Hook, Emma Swan, Snow White, Prince Charming, Queen Regina, Queen Cora and Belle. It took 7 weeks of insanity (while balancing Sephora and trying to sew!) with plenty of bedazzling assistance from J & D, but together we pulled it off. In the interest of not writing 7 individual posts I’m just going to include some photos and explain a bit about each costume; should anyone be intending on replicating these feel free to ask for further detail and I’d be happy to explain.

Killian Jones was my best fabric find; after some serious online research I tracked down one of the fabric sources that Once Upon a Time uses and managed to acquire the exact same fabric (even the exact same bolt it came from) that the show used for Killian’s jacket from S03E22, Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home. It’s a gorgeous embossed silk and was surprisingly easy to work with, just a challenge to press and steam without wrecking the pattern! My lovely husband was pleased to wear this outfit. The jacket was lined with a soft taupe cotton and French microtwill black facing and accents, with black grosgrain ribbon and more buttons than I ever again want to buy from Fabricland. I also whipped up a bright white sateen cotton shirt and coordinating French microtwill black vest as well; because I am determined, the vest itself was made entirely the morning of the masquerade. I am so beyond proud of his ensemble, the jacket is a particular point of pride for me partly due to fabric source and partly due to how it looks on the husband!

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Since he’s in the above photo as well, we also had Prince Charming. I’m responsible for his shirt and tunic, the pants and boots were his own (and he insisted on cowboy boots to make it more ‘him’). His shirt was the same as Killian Jones’, but in a soft ivory cotton instead. The collar was a particular pain in the butt, as Charming’s is quite frayed. I sat with it for hours with a pin gradually unraveling the edges to keep it frayed without letting it fall apart. The tunic is a beautiful black faux leather with a natural grain, lined in red Kona cotton and trimmed with chocolate brown microsuede. The real tunic has perforated leather sleeves, which was a fabric I couldn’t find, so we went with a diamond quilted pattern instead.

DSC2689The boys’ costumes were actually the easiest ones to put together, the ladies are the ones with all the insane amounts of detail. Regina nearly killed me; K chose her dress from S03E02, Lost Girl, and of course it was plastered in rhinestones, hand painted lace and feathers. I found the original fabric for this one as well, but at $30/yard with a 10 yard minimum order it was just way too pricey, especially when we only needed 7 yards. Instead I opted for a satin charmeuse that came in a black/fuschia print, which was then dyed piece by piece with iDye Poly in Crimson. There’s roughly 600 black rooster feathers and 2000+ rhinestones on this one (all individually attached), but it was a labour of love even though it took the longest. It’s two separate pieces, a big skirt with pockets and then the bodice, worn over a bum roll and a triple hoopskirt.

Photo courtesy of Morgan Turner PhotographyIn keeping with the evil queens we also had Cora, Regina’s mother. Our Cora was less of an exact replica and more of an ‘inspired by’ type of deal. It’s actually what prompted the whole group masquerade idea; husband’s and my original plan was Red Death Phantom of the Opera and Christine (her movie masquerade gown) but the fabric I ordered did not look anything like it had on the website. In the hopes of actually getting some use out of it I suggested J join us for the masquerade, which led to an interpretation of Cora’s wedding gown from S02E18, The Miller’s Daughter. This is a duochrome taffeta and tulle mix with beaded bridal lace and more rhinestones than I really want to count. Tulle is an awful skirt choice when done in single layer, by the way.. especially when you’ll be walking around outside, hence the uneven hem as this was towards the end of the night when it got caught on stuff. The top is a proper steel boned corset (also worn over a much heavier steel undergarment corset) and the skirt is a gathered poofy concoction worn over a triple hoopskirt, also with pockets. I really like ballgowns with pockets. Our Cora is also best friend J who is usually behind the scenes manning my Nikon to take photos of Elsa and Anna!

Photo courtesy of Morgan Turner PhotographyAnd now the non-evil ladies! Belle was the original OUAT take on Belle’s classic yellow gown, the one she was seen in through seasons 1-3. My version was done with yellow satin and dyed brown satin, as well as brown beaded and heavily rhinestoned lace. The top was a proper steel boned corset as well, with the pleated skirt and pockets. Worn over a single hoop skirt and a small bum roll. Unfortunately Belle’s gown best shows how much my garment steamer failed me the day of the masquerade; while I’d pressed my seams during construction I didn’t iron the entire thing in the process as I’d planned to put the men to work steaming while us ladies handled the makeup and hair. Sadly the Rowenta upright steamer I’d purchased just for this occasion decided to spit water instead, and of course I was informed of this when I was in the process of dressing everyone and it was too late to bust out the ironing board. Therefore, please pardon the creases in the fabric. 😦

Snow White is the purple gown she’s most often pictured in (the one worn to Cinderella’s ball) from S01E04, The Price of Gold. It’s a beautiful lilac shantung two piece (sensing a theme here?) with a proper steel boned corset as the bodice, covered in hand painted lace and plenty of rhinestones. The skirt was pleated and also had pockets, and was worn with a bum roll over a triple hoopskirt. She didn’t take a single photo, but I do have one of her with Charming!

DSC2678And last but not least, my own gown. This is Emma Swan’s fairytale princess dress from S03E21 & S03E22, Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home. I hate to point this out, but in the rush to get everyone laced into their dresses and to the masquerade I forgot to throw my bum roll over my petticoat, so I won’t be posting photos of me standing. I do, however, have a lovely photo that one of the photographers suggested that is my favourite! My dress was 10 yards of satin, with a steel boned bodice worn over a fully steel boned undergarment corset, and a massive pleated skirt with pockets over a triple hoopskirt (and designed for the bum roll I forgot to put on!). The original dress from the show had  bit of embellishment along the neckline but that was it; as anyone reading this blog knows I’m a huge fan of all things sparkly so of course I had to add more. The lace around the neckline was rhinestoned, but the hem is where it really stood out. It’s 9.7 yards around, and had scalloped lace sewn on the whole way. I then hand beaded that lace with Swarovski bicone beads and seed beads, and attached quite a few clear Swarovski crystals along with an insane amount of red crystals.

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All 7 of these costumes were a TON of work, but they were an absolute pleasure to do and one hell of an experience. We had a lovely night at the masquerade, and we all looked amazing! Hopefully we’ll be able to visit the mainland in the spring to do a photoshoot in Steveston, where Once Upon a Time films their Storybrooke scenes.

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Costuming, Sewing Projects

Spring & Summer Projects – The Pirate and the Princess (Princesses?!)

Believe it or not, I am not dead. There is life after Fan Expo, and it’s been filled with ridiculous quantities of fabric, steel boning, and pirate gear. This sounds weird, I know, as I normally handle princess stuff and not pirates, but bear with me.

Back in May, darling husband and I decided to join a local LARPing group. After spending most of last year and the early part of 2014 doing the whole prince/princess volunteer thing, I figured it was only fair that I go along with what he wanted to do this summer.. especially since it still meant I got to make costumes! Shortly after we decided this I didn’t want to let all of my princess gowns just hang in my closet taking up space and collecting dust, so I opted to sell them.

I know. You’re probably shocked.

I kept Elsa, but every other costume I still had has moved on to Victoria Costumes, which is a costume rental shop up in Brentwood Bay. The owner and I came to an agreement that worked for both of us, and I believe we found a new friend in each other as well. I can still visit any of the costumes any time I want, and still occasionally make appearances in costume for her!

Of course I can’t completely let go of princessing, and am in the midst of having Anna ready to go by late June for a joint appearance with Elsa. There will be a post on her soon, but in the mean time let me tell you about pirate insanity.

I started with a pirate shirt and vest for the husband, and whipped up an underbust corset and pirate shirt for myself. We wore these up to our first afternoon with the larping group where we observed how things go. At that point we also had fabric at home for a fabulous pirate jacket for Devin and some more corsets for me, but I only have so much free time outside of my regular 9-5 job! Just before that first adventure we also found out that husband was to be shipped off for a new training course out in Halifax for the majority of the summer, so I put his pirate stuff on hold and went to work on my own.

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This glorious jacket happened, and it’s officially one of my favourite costume pieces to date. It’s an ivory/pearl/gold upholstery fabric with the coordinating red/gold fabric as an underbust corset. The jacket is lined with an ivory cotton sateen and just absolutely plastered in buttons. It’s a modified version of the Simplicity Pirates of the Caribbean pattern; I bought the mens version AGES ago for husband should he ever feel the need to turn pirate, and since Fabricland no longer carries Simplicity I opted to mess around with the men’s version til I was happy with how it fit me. They also don’t have a collar on theirs but I feel that any pirate captain (or pirate queen, in my case) worth their salt would have an epic collar, so that had to be added. This jacket is comfortable as hell, I feel positively regal in it, and it just makes me stupidly happy. Before husband returns from training I’ll be making his jacket from a sturdy brown twill, and will likely embroider the crap out of it.

I also put together a corseted tailcoat for myself recently. I do a lot of Pinterest browsing for ideas and kept seeing this gorgeous corset/coat combos coming up whenever I searched for pirate corsets, and decided what the hell I might as well make one. After a bit of experimentation this is what I came up with:

In addition to Anna there’s a couple of small projects I’m working on; it’s pretty much guaranteed that at any point I have some sort of corset on the go at the very least. There’s one big project I have coming up, my first fabric order arrived yesterday and another should be coming in before the end of the week. I’m very fortunate in that I have an amazing group of friends who enjoy dressing up as much as I do, and they’ve all agreed to do Once Upon a Time costumes for the masquerade at the Fairmont Empress this October.

Our group is fairly large (there’s 6 right now but we may get more between now and October!) and as I’m costuming for all of us I know I’m going to be downright swamped this summer. Awesome husband is 100% on board as the dashing Killian Jones/Captain Hook, I will be Emma Swan, and awesome friends K, J, D and L are going as Regina, Cora, Snow White and Belle. I am stupidly excited for this as I am really looking forward to making these gowns, but so far my best find for this has been the fabric for the jacket Killian wears in the finale. Husband and I are opting for the ‘Prince Charles/Princess Leia’ outfits from King Midas’ ball, so the big red long sleeved dress for Emma and the brown/black jacket for Killian. I was lucky enough to track down the exact same fabric that the show costumers used for Killian’s jacket, which has basically had me giddy for a full week.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, and I can’t wait. I have Emma and Cora’s fabric already, Regina’s should be here by Friday, and Belle and Snow are ordering next month.

Like I said, I’m not too good at getting away from princesses. Gowns and corsets are what I do best, but sometimes it’s nice to be a pirate as well!

Costuming, Sewing Projects

December is Crazy

The last month or so has been absolutely crazy. Between holiday Princess appearances, sewing Christmas presents for friends and family and putting together a dress for New Years Eve, time has just absolutely flown by.

The crazy kicked off with the Christmas parade on November 23rd. Devin and I had already arranged with the DVBA to visit Centennial Square in costume and hand out candy canes. Best friend K was coming over for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode, so she planned to come with us. We then had a request from Ballet Victoria to join them on their parade float, which was an absolute dream come true! Since I won their Halloween costume contest we’ve worked with them quite a bit, but the parade was just the beginning.

Of course it was cold out, so with the DVBA Centennial Square visit I had already picked up a ridiculous quantity of fleece to make hooded cloaks for K and I. Putting them together was quite easy until I ran out of ribbon about 85% of the way through K’s.. poor Devin had to brave Michael’s on a Saturday afternoon to try and find me more, hours before we were due downtown, and ended up convincing another customer to part with her roll of ribbon. Brave husband! It all worked out perfectly with the parade, so after handing out quite a bit of candy in Centennial Square we made our way over to the start of the parade and spent the next hour or so waving at the crowds from atop Ballet Victoria’s float promoting their Christmas show, The Gift.

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After the parade came loads of Christmas presents. Those I didn’t take photos of, mainly because it was the same concept over and over with different variations. Everyone got pajama pants this year with some form of embroidery. Side pockets either had monograms or custom designs like Hello Kitty, a vintage Singer sewing machine, and various tattoo concept ideas for my parents. I made a plaid onesie for Devin’s best friend, and have a snowflake patterned one on the go for best friend K.

In between getting Christmas presents ready there were rehearsals for The Gift, which was on December 28th and 29th. Every week Devin and I attended rehearsals, partly to attempt to learn choreography (we are both painfully aware we are not dancers by any means) and partly to ensure that we could make our way around the stage and interact with the dancers without getting in anyone’s way. It was an amazing behind the scenes experience that culminated in the actual performances this past weekend.

Having done musical theatre quite a bit in school when I was younger, I was fully prepared to be a basket case prior to the curtain going up. You can imagine my surprise when I realized just how full the Royal Theatre was (with a 1416 seat capacity!) and the panic didn’t set in. It was the first time I’ve been on stage in ages, the largest crowd I’ve ever been in front of, and I was fine. Devin and I were wandering the theatre before the show and during intermission to take photos with guests, and adding that to actually being a part of the first act made for an amazing experience overall. I am so thankful to Ballet Victoria for including us, and am hoping to work with them more in the future.

This video also shows you a bit more about the ballet and cast, it’s worth watching!

To make things even crazier, I fell in love with some fabric and a dress concept, and ended up express shipping the fabric in from Thailand when I couldn’t find any local substitutes that weren’t three times the cost! I wanted something amazing for New Years Eve. Last year Devin was deployed so I went out with best friend K, and our choice of venue was a bar so I wore a short black sequin and rhinestone dress I threw together. This year we’re attending a black tie party being thrown at the Victoria Public Market by Brink Events, so given Devin’s and my shared love of all things retro I went with something 50’s inspired. I worked quickly on this one so there aren’t any progress photos to share, but I am 100% thrilled with the final product. I have yet to photograph this fabric and have it show up as it does in real life, but I will keep trying until I am successful!

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Tonight is the actual NYE event and I am beyond excited. Any chance to get dressed up is fun, and to do it in a dress of my own creation is even better.

Costuming, Disney Princess Series

Belle is finished!

12 days of sewing, roughly 10 yards combined of taffeta and chiffon, 4 yards of spiral steel boning, 11 chiffon covered gold buttons and around 7 metres of broadcloth and lace gathered onto one massive hoopskirt. It’s done!! 

Last we left off, I had done the outside of the corset and pinned it onto the skirt. Here’s how it progressed as well as some awesome photos of the finished dress.




Sleeve drafting and lacing was a bit more tedious than I expected it would be, but it came out well. I took a large strip of broadcloth and pinned it until I was happy with it, then cut matching pieces of taffeta and chiffon and attached it to the neckline of the corset. The lacing loops were very skinny taffeta tubes over cotton cord for strength, and the lacing itself is about a 1/2″ wide.

Sleeves sewn on, and then pinned along the top where I later hand stitched them.


The swags on the skirt came next, and ended up being one long tube of taffeta and chiffon. I pinned them on just for fun in the next picture, and then later hand stitched them on. When I sewed them on they were more even than they are here. All of the buttons were metallic gold; I covered them in chiffon by sewing the chiffon around the shank of the button, and then added a bit of glue to keep it all there.



And the finished product!





Yes, I walked into a book store like this. They loved it.



I found Phillipe!


The fundraising event was pretty good, but there were hardly any kids who were excited about a Disney princess! It was more of a car show than anything, the most excited little girl who saw me was with her mother going into the fabric store as I was leaving. (Fabric store is across from the arena we were at, and I promised my favourite girl there that I’d show her my dress.) 

After the fundraiser, the husband and I went downtown to take some awesome photos of the dress. We completely forgot that there was both a parade and a bike race going on, so trying to maneuver to the locations we wanted was pretty ridiculous. We walked 3/4 around the race before we finally found a point where we could cross and get to the book shop. There was also a pirate boat going through the harbour with a bunch of kids on board, and when they saw me they were yelling ‘LOOK! A PRINCESS! COME DOWN HERE PRINCESS, WE WANT YOUR JEWELS!’ ..Pretty funny! 


My favourite moment, though, was one of the little girls we passed while trying to get to the bookshop. She’d whacked her head on the fence separating the road from the sidewalk and was crying, so I stopped to talk to her. She was really sniffly and upset so I gave her a hug but she said it still hurt and asked me to kiss her head better. It was so damned cute. I talked with her for a few minutes and then her dad took a few photos of us, and she was much happier by the time I left.


I’m looking forward to making the rest of the princess dresses; I have Ariel’s pink dinner gown in the works right now, and will be doing Cinderella after that. 


Husband is still going to be my Prince Adam, but I’m holding off on his costume for a bit. I knew I couldn’t get it done by Sunday, and then we also found out that he may be deploying again in the next week or so. If he is, he’ll miss our next event. I don’t want to rush to make his costume if he won’t be here to wear it, so I may just hang onto the fabric for the masquerade ball in October and make it closer to then.

Costuming

Belle, Beauty & the Beast

Since I was little, Belle has been my all-time favourite Disney princess. When I was a kid I had an amazing Belle costume my mom had bought, and done some seriously awesome work on the skirt to actually make it poofy. She also made me a Mrs. Potts costume out of an old wedding dress.

I knew I wanted to do a Belle dress again when I was older (this was 2009), but of course Halloween parties at my age usually involve bars, clubs and places were long skirts aren’t exactly the wisest choice. Of course, this meant doing the typical ‘skank’ version of what would otherwise be a really nice costume! I tried to keep it as non-skanky as I could, as least I wasn’t flashing any inappropriate parts.

The exact pattern I used isn’t in print anymore, but Simplicity #2400 is almost the exact same.

Basically I cut everything out as per the pattern, but shortened the length of the fabric so it came to just below my knees. From the bottom of the bodice boning, I ran a ribbon through the seam allowance on each seam to create the ruching on the skirt. I used a lighter yellow tulle for the sash that hangs between each fabric panel, as well as yellow ribbon to create roses to hold the tulle at each seam. 

The off-the-shoulder sleeves were rectangles of fabric that I pleated and then stitched along the top of the bodice. Each seam in the dress was hand-beaded for sparkle, and beads were added randomly across the sleeves. The petticoat was a quick creation of my own, covered in lace that I added rhinestones to. It was just a bunch of white craft netting attached to the lining of the skirt, with lace sewn on the bottom.

My shoes were a thrift store find, they used to be light pink satin. They were painted yellow, rhinestoned like crazy, and I painted the bottoms Louboutin red because I am in love with that style.

I really wish there were better photos of this dress. I found a few of the inbetween process, though, as well as my shoes! This is another one that was later cleaned and sold to a local shop that now rents it out.


Extra bonus; my friend asked me to make her a vampire costume to wear at the nightclub she worked at. She decided on a corset and bustle skirt.