Tag Archives: costumes

Home Again, Home Again

Well!

It is good to be back, I must say, though my room is half-packed and my sewing machine is in a box! Obviously I’m going to take it out of the box, but I spent yesterday (my first full day home) trying to figure out what to sew next. I’ve used up all my fabric, for better or worse, except for the lawn that I’m saving for something special (I’m not sure what, yet–better sewing skills I expect!). I went to Goodwill in search of cute sheets I could make clothing out of, but didn’t find anything, so I went to Mill End to buy a seamripper. And oh! My! what a glorious store! I am fairly budget-minded at the moment, but I think even if I had an enormous fabric budget, I wouldn’t know where to start in that store! I spent a very long time wandering about ogling the silks and the light summery cottons and the 25%-off linens (ohhh linen) and the forest green velvet at thirty dollars a yard, and walked out with an itty-bitty seamripper, a pack of blue bias tape, and a resolve to never ever go back without a clear project in mind and someone to drag me out after half an hour.

My lack of fabric has inspired me to focus on mending and altering what is already in my closet. Coming back from three weeks with nothing but a suitcase full of work skirts and t-shirts and seeing my closet bursting with beautiful clothes also made me realize that, while there are definitely things that my wardrobe is lacking, I can’t really justify creating a new item a week when I already don’t wear everything that I have. But nor can I bring myself to get rid of a glorious vintage dress if it fits well and looks good. So all I can do is make what alterations are necessary to make everything wearable and make an effort to not wear the same skirts and dresses every day. I will of course keep sewing things, but I’d like to get everything I have in good condition first.

The result of this decision is a very large and exciting mending/alterations pile.

mending pile

Exciting to wear, anyway. I can’t say the prospect of hemming and sewing on hook-and-eyes is very exciting, but it will prolong the lives of these lovely garments (and some ordinary ones), so that’s all right.

The pile of shiny off-white things at the end are some Shakespeare/pirate shirts created for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, a couple of years ago now (wow!) We were on a budget then and whipped them up with no great care from a bolt of some sort of slippery lining material we found in the theater loft. Eight of them. I gave a couple of them away, but somehow I still managed to find four packed away in a box of costume stuff, and I know I have at least two in storage on campus. I can’t get rid of them, because they keep coming in handy for costumes, but I can’t bear to look at the raw edges and loose threads. My only alternative is to fix them all myself, but there are six of them all told and the fabric is miserable to work with, which is why they look like that in the first place! I am tempted to go back to Goodwill, buy a number of cheap white sheets, and make new, better pirate shirts–but then what do I do with the old ones? And so I do nothing. Maybe eventually I will give so many of them away that I won’t have any more and I can start fresh.

I have accumulated so many costume pieces in the hopes that they will be useful, and now I find that I can’t get rid of them because they ARE useful. This is either really great (I love costuming) or incredibly frustrating (I have to fit so many clothes into my dorm room!). Or both! Clothes. I love playing with them, but I hate having to cart them around.

On a sadder note, the blue silk chiffon vintage evening dress that I have hoped to restore for years is pretty much hopeless. I overcasted most of the lining seams, so it’s a little less fragile than it was, but when I took it to the dry-cleaner’s she informed me that there was nothing she could do for it, and dry-cleaning it would only make the stains darker and possibly further disintegrate the fabric. So I guess I can still wear it, but it has to be in a consciously antique, worn-looking manner. Oh, tattered finery. Or stained finery, in this case.

evening gown

I couldn’t get any decent photos of me wearing it, and hanging up it loses all its shape, so you’ll have to make do with a picture of it laying on the floor with the thread and scraps of fabric. Isn’t it lovely? If only it was clean . . .

Now, time to actually try and make a dent in the massive pile of clothes needing attention. Perhaps pictures of the more noteworthy items will appear, or perhaps they’ll wait until I actually wear them in real life. Who knows!

Some Thoughts on Costumes

Today I took a pair of scissors to an old t-shirt with the idea of turning it into a dirndl-y sort of bodice with ribbons up the front. I cut off the hem, the sleeves, and cut out a square neckline, then looked at it and thought “This won’t look the way I want it to and will probably fall apart–why not just wait until I make a quality one?” And then I didn’t go any farther. I think this is the beginning of a victory over shoddy and unsatisfying costume pieces. Hurrah!

Here are some pictures of a costume that has inspired me since I was six years old: Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations of Snow White.

Snow White

I think I might try to replicate it. It looks like a fairly simple dress, with maybe a crimson shift underneath. Aprons are easy, the belt might be harder . . . I did try to make the belt when I was younger but the leather was too soft and scrunched up around my waist.

The evil queen has a pretty awesome dress too, which I can maybe aspire to sewing when I have a better grasp of princess seams. I can only imagine sewing it in a knit fabric, and that feels like cheating. It should probably be velvet or satin-y, to be honest.

Oh, to be reunited with my sewing machine! In the meantime, I suppose I can scour the internet for suitable patterns for the Snow White dress (or I could just wing it like I usually do). Any pattern suggestions?