Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

This makes it two posts in a week! I blame Halloween and the fact I have power here. So important. I also finished a Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge! EARLY!

So here we go:

About 6 years ago I made this costume for Halloween. It was my first big project. Complete with a corset I drafted myself, petticoat, bustle pad, and chemise. I admit to there being a zipper in the back of the bodice, but I couldn't think of anything else to use, and it is put in so well so it stays. This is what it looked like:

Yes I am quite young in this shot. A senior in high school. Note the long sleeves, the slight bustle and the train. I never like how the skirt fell. It didn't have enough weight. I then made a new bodice to this posted in a post a year ago. But this would be the skirt with the new bodice. 

I still need to adjust the bodice for this look, but the cape shows up later. It's so pretty. With silver moons and stars on the tulle.

So last year I got it in my head that I needed to repair the skirt, line it with something. I bought several yards of black cotton broadcloth, took apart the skirt, laid it out and cut out the lining. The next part should be easy. It was until I ended up with a wicked headcold that left me unable to look down. I got better and then we lost power. Damn you Sandy. I tried stitching by candlelight which failed miserably. So I put it aside. This year I was motivated and on October 28th, I tore out seams and redid the skirt, did crash course research and made an Order sash, and removed the sleeves from the original bodice. Throw in Catwoman's velvet gloves, some pretty pins, and sparkly jewelry and you get the Queen of Darkness in Court Dress.

Upon taking these pics I realized for this type of dress, I should be in a tiara. I don't currently have one for the Queen. For now her Bat headpiece will have to do. She is much pleased by her cats and her throne. You can see two in the pictures above. (the black one refused to be photographed from anywhere but the stairs.

And now for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Facts:

The Challenge #22: Masquerade
Fabric: Originally 3 black velvet curtains, 1 yard muslin. Added in: 4 yards black broad cloth, about ¼ purple satin
Pattern: Originally from “Patterns for Theatrical Costume”, there was a lot of research about court attire.
Year: Um…bustle era? There is a bustle under there. Maybe more Steampunk
Notions: Three fancy pins for the sash, thread, gloves, jewelry
How Historically Accurate: It looks historically accurate. But it’s really not. There’s a zipper in the back of the bodice. And it was never meant to be historically accurate.
Hours to Complete: I originally made the bodice and skirt 6 years ago. Started the skirt redo last Halloween, got sick, Sandy came. Finally finished. Maybe three or four working straight.
First Worn: Day before Halloween for pics. Grad Students don’t dress on Halloween for Class
Total Cost: Um….maybe $50 overall from the beginning?

The Queen and Her Pirate Wish You All
Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

What Has Become of Halloween?

I love Halloween, it is one of my favorite holidays. Not necessarily for the sake of being scared, I am very close to several of the top haunted attractions and yet have never attended. I only do scary at certain times of the day. I love Halloween for the chance to dress as someone you're not for a little while. As I have learned to sew, Halloween has become more about showing what I can make rather than what I purchase. However it is what is purchased as "costume" that has become increasingly more disturbing.

It first hit me when I was in the locker rooms after working out. A fellow classmate who happens to be fourteen asked me what I was going to be for Halloween. Having to attend class and fight my way through costumed celebrators on Halloween, I answer "a tired grad student". This being my costume for the last time Halloween happened here. (more on that later). "What about you?" She answers that she doesn't know because she feels to young for the costumes.

I think about her words as I get home, shower, and hit the internet for a bit of research. I tend to avoid Halloween stores for several reasons but mostly because I make my own costumes. My last purchased costume was ten years ago. A quick Google search turns up what I want. I have stumbled upon the land of the short skirts, the land of too much sexy! Everything has been sexed up from Darth Vader to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Even Snow White is showing quite a bit of skin, seriously, she's a princess!

The more depressing part continues as you look through the teens and then the girls' costumes. I was unaware a short skirt was mandatory to dress up for Halloween! Where are the fun costumes that let girls be girls! Certainly we have Supergirl - dressed in her traditional colors but then also in PINK. Because girls are supposed to like pink. I have never worn pink willingly in my life. Partially because it doesn't work with red hair and partially because it's been defined as the "norm" for girls. And yes, why must a little girl look like such a sexed up Red Riding Hood?

I'm a little okay with the pink Supergirl. She's at least standing in a powerful pose. But the Red Riding Hood? Really? If anyone watches Once Upon A Time, there is such a better costume idea! After much searching through the "Top Costumes" (don't get me started on the "Unique Costumes" - the identical ones...) I have found girls' costumes that I would actually allow my children to wear if I had any.

Yes the boxer is in pink. But I'm a First Degree Black Belt in MMA, I'd rather have a daughter in that then something else. And the little magician is just so cute! And a Wonder Woman that's actually appropriate to a child! Yay! Personally I'm partial to Wonder Woman, I wore a toddler's version when I was really little.

To me, these over sexed costumes don't work. Partially because they're so silly. (Anyone ever seen a firefighter in a dress?) And partially because they're not fair. I have participated in costume contests where I spent hard work, time and effort to craft a unique Halloween costume, but have lost to a cookie cutter over sex prepackaged costume.

In addition, Halloween tends to be very cold around here, cold enough to require a sweatshirt and a turtleneck under one's costume (ah the fond arguments of my childhood). At least the smart ones tend to choose their costumes that way. Especially since last year we had no power and the year before that there was snow on the ground.

Am I knocking sexy costumes? No. I've worn them. I went as Catwoman one year for Halloween, fully covered in a purple catsuit. I froze, and kept my green cape on for most of it. But I made that costume. The only sexy costumes I have brought are for non public wear. So no, I'm not knocking sexy costumes, but they have their place, and that certainly isn't on a child. I was 21 when I was Catwoman. When I was 14, I went as Zorro, the male version.

Now I'm plotting to finish my Queen of Darkness Costume which is Victorian influenced. But I can still be sexy, because that's about character and attitude, not what you're wearing. So until they bring back the good costumes, I'm gonna continue to promote creativity and dressing up like a super heroine, because that is much better than cookie cutter overdone costumes.


PS: Pictures of Halloween Costumes, save my Catwoman Costume are from They are not used for any financial gain and all may be found online. I have not individually linked each pic back nor written citations. Catwoman is my costume based off the DC version from the 90s.