Saturday, January 12, 2013

Where It Started

My interest in costuming started around the time I was in high school, but I've been sewing for as long as I can remember. My mother is a talented quilter and throughout my childhood she always had a fun craft or project for me to do. I remember a little box I had full of her precisely cut squares and triangles that I was going to sew together into my own little quilt. That never happened though, as I found out very quickly that I did not share my mother's incredible patience for perfectly piecing together quilt blocks. I was more of the slap-dash type who would jump in without looking, often ending in a big mess that I would have to go back and find the patience to fix it the right way. I learned very quickly, mostly by making every mistake there was to make.

In high school I was given a chance to costume my first theatrical production, Macbeth, in which I also played one of the witches. My love for costuming took off from there. I made my very first corset for my senior prom, and what a sight it was! I didn't know where to find a busk or half of the other notions the pattern called for, so I improvised. The front closed with a row of large hook and eye closures, and the lacing was a piece of twine I found laying around the house that snapped halfway through prom and had to be tied back together by my friend in the bathroom.

When I began college I put my costumes on the back burner for a few years, but they fought their way back to the front. I interned with a small children's theater group and continued working with them for a few productions after my internship ended. I began exploring more historical clothing on my own and even made my first one hundred percent historical dress as a pastiche for one of my classes. It was a Medieval houppelande inspired by the illustrations in Tres Riches Heures.

The Medieval dress was a lot of fun and turned out gorgeous but my true passion still lay with Victorian and Edwardian fashion and especially with corsets. I've made several corsets over the years, but I've never found the time to make a truly historical Edwardian dress. I've made facsimiles in the past, such as the grey striped dress I wore for my senior thesis show.

Recently I had a little fling with steampunk fashion and out of that came a lovely blue corset made from some leftovers of the medieval dress fabric.

Also somewhat inspired by steampunk was my Halloween costume that year, Mrs. Lovett. It was my first attempt at a bustle skirt but unfortunately there just isn't much photographic evidence of the dress and the corset has since been cannibalized to make a red one instead. The apron was probably my favorite part of the costume, it came out so lovely but my plans for the costume involved bloodying it up, and bloody it got. The Mrs. Lovett dress now has a new home at my second job with Frightful Acts as the costume for a very creepy old mask. 

And there you have a brief look into my costuming history. These are some of the standouts from my own personal collection but I have a few more dresses to introduce you to in the future, as well as the new projects I'll be taking on in the historical challenge and my work with Frightful Acts.

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