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!

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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Costuming, Disney Princess Series

Disney Princess Series Part 9 – Princess Anna (Frozen)

As promised, I am posting about Anna from Frozen now that she’s finished! Thanks to J I’ve found the most amazing Anna I could possibly ask for in new friend D; not only is she just as nuts as I am but she makes an absolutely perfect Anna. We had our first costumed outing yesterday which led to quite the photoshoot afterwards, and for those of you who were looking for photos we took with you and/or your kids, they’re all going to be at the end of this post.

I bought Anna fabric back in early May and didn’t know when I’d get around to it, but a friend of Devin’s asked if I could stop by his daughter’s birthday party and I just knew I had to have both Anna and Elsa there. I started the corset embroidery one Saturday morning and nearly drove myself crazy with it. The design had a lot of unexpected jump stitches in it that resulted in a few broken needles, so after the third try I finally knew where to run over and pause the machine to keep it from snapping more needles in half. The corset was sadly the easy part.

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The skirt was INSANELY tedious. The scalloped hem was done with a cardboard template after a bunch of math to figure out how to make it even. The seam joining the light blue to the royal blue is just inside the edge of the hem, and a 4mm wide satin stitch attaches it to the rest of the skirt. There’s something like 30 embroidery designs total on it, and it took at least 25 hours to do them all. I had the same problem with jump stitches and snapped needles (I think about 16 needles were sacrificed to the skirt), but finally managed to figure out where things were snapping and then broke up the design into blocks so I could manage it manually. The smaller designs were around 30-40 mins each, and they were the first ones I did.

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The bigger designs on the skirt each took about an hour, and were the bane of my existence. While they were running on the embroidery machine, I put together the shirt and bound the edges of the corset in gold satin bias tape. The shirt was drafted up from an old button down shirt that’s too small for me, so I had to size it up to fit better. I didn’t like how the shoulders sat afterwards so they were adjusted. While I’m aware Anna has a covered button placket, I sadly did not have the patience to make the shirt that way. I was running out of time with two projects due at the same time, so I made it like a normal placket and added decorative stitching.

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Finally the skirt embroidery was done late Saturday, and I sat on my couch for a couple of hours snipping all the stabilizer off the back of the fabric. Sunday I rushed to make a waistband and put a zipper into the skirt so it’d be ready for our birthday party visit!

I don’t have birthday party photos, but below is a Flickr slideshow of the entire photoshoot! People who are looking for photos we took with you, they will be in here. You can also view them directly on Flickr where they’re downloadable in high res. 🙂

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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, Disney Princess Series

Disney Princess Series Part 8 – Ariel, The Little Mermaid (actual mermaid version!)

I accidentally a mermaid.

I had no plans to create the mermaid version of Ariel until the summer when the weather and ocean water is warmer here in Victoria, but then an opportunity for amazing photos came along and there was no way I could resist. Husband and I were to attend my company’s annual conference in the Dominican but it was cancelled last minute, so we opted to plan our own trip to Cuba. We booked it on a Monday with plans to fly out that Saturday, and it didn’t occur to me until Wednesday that since the trip was no longer work-sponsored I could be as weird as I wanted. I had contemplated making mermaid!Ariel and taking it to the conference to get beach photos, but this would also have been the first time I met everyone else in the company nationwide and figured introducing myself while wearing a mermaid fin might be awkward.

So along came Wednesday and I realized I had everything sitting in various bins at home to put together the mermaid version of Ariel, and enough room in my suitcase to fit the fin. I am nothing if not determined, and by the time I got home from work that day I had already started drafting up my tail. Since I was working quickly I didn’t take many photos, but what I do have I will post!

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With Devin’s help I stuck a giant piece of tape from my waist down to my ankles along the side of my leg, and than had him measure around my body every two inches and mark it on the tape. The tape was then put in the middle of some brown craft paper and I drew out the measurements til I had a passable shape that would fit my body snugly. At the bottom by my ankle measurement I placed my mermaid fin over the paper and traced around it to get the complete shape.

The mermaid fin! Last summer, after a few beers, I ended up purchasing a monofin on eBay. My monofin came from FinFunMermaid and it’s the adult sized ‘pro’ version. It’s actually surprisingly easy to swim with, but when maneuvering in a full tail across sand it gets a bit awkward. Also holy crap does it accumulate sand when in the ocean.

Once I had my complete shape, I drew a little V by my ankles to separate the colours, with the emerald green spandex being the majority of my legs and then lime green for the tail. Everything got cut out and then assembled with a straight stretch stitch and serged on the inside. The waist was a bit looser than I’d intended, so I ended up putting it on inside out to re-mark where I’d prefer the seams and then stitching it up again.

Ariel tail test fit Fin over monofin

 

I should point out that the blue monofin showing was irritating me, but that gap needs to be open for water to flow through and not weigh down the tail. I ended up stitching some lime green spandex straight onto the monofin so that it would blend in. You’ll be able to see later when the tail is wet! It was a lot easier than I thought it would be getting this together, so I set the tail aside to get started on the shells for the bra. I still had padded hip fins to do, but the shell paint would need time to dry and then cure in the oven.

I picked up some porcelain acrylic paint at Michaels and started painting my shells. I did a few coats of light purple on the inner parts, then used a darker purple along the outside to blend into the lighter center. Once I was happy with the colour I brushed on some lilac AB glitter and then popped them in the oven to cure as per the directions on the paint.IMG_20140326_200831 IMG_20140326_202759

 

After baking and cooling, I decided the shells needed to be more sparkly. I have more rhinestones laying around my house than I know what to do with, so I used some E6000 glue and added crystal AB, turquoise AB and tiny pearls all over the shells.

The bra was an easy thing to do as well, I took purple lycra and stretched it over the cups til it sat like the bra fabric did and then hand stitched them over the cups. I found this way preferable to machine stitching as I didn’t have to worry about the underwire, and it didn’t leave a visible seam on the cups. The sides were just covered with more lycra and then zig-zagged on. The straps are done like a spaghetti strap, but I left the tubes wide enough to feed the actual bra straps through.

The padded hip fins were a bit of a chore and I sadly didn’t photograph that part, but I am very happy with how they came out. I made two long ovals for each side and then sewed them together at a point for the front. They were stuffed with ripped up strips and pieces of tulle I had laying around, and then straight stretch stitched along the waistband. I also zig zagged some bathing suit elastic right underneath it to help keep it upright.

Because I am not entirely sane, I packed up the tail, shell bra, starfish hair combs and my Ariel wig and took them to Cuba like it’s a totally normal thing to bring a mermaid costume on vacation.

On our last night at the resort I got all Ariel’d up and marched down to the beach with my fin in tow. It’s a bit awkward to wiggle into as I have to put the fabric tail on first, followed by stuffing my feet into the monofin and then stretching the fin fabric over it. People were definitely staring at me like I was a bit nuts, but it was totally worth it. Once I had the fin on I kinda shuffled my butt down into the water, and then a couple of little girls came over to see me. Very cute!

Awesome husband took several photos while I rolled around along the shoreline, and we had a blast. Totally worth the weird looks on the way to the beach.

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

Eric & Ariel go to the Masquerade Ball

As I mentioned in my last post, the husband and I were planning to attend the annual masquerade ball for Halloween. I changed up his Prince Charming jacket and threw together a pair of matching pants super quickly, and we were ready to go! I got some photos back from two of the photographers there that night and thought I would share.

As always the ball itself was lovely. Brief performances from the Pacific Ballet and the Canadian College of Performing Arts, excellent live music, hors d’ouevres and an all around great time.

We’re already planning and hunting supplies for next year.. Devin’s wanted Gerard Butler’s Red Death costume from Phantom of the Opera for ages and I can hardly turn down Christine’s pink ball gown, so Phantom movie costumes it is!