Ren Fest Costumes

My friends and I got together for a day at the Renaissance Fair. This should be a fun sewing opportuity  for me, but I have to admit, it drives me crazy. Half of me wants to study the period it’s set in and go Historically Accurate, the other half wants to go full out fantasy.  Que internal battling, dozens of hours on pinterest trying to decide, several calls into the bff and one extremely stressed out me. I do this every freaking time. This usually leaves me with a week to a few days to get my costume together.

Of course, I’d volunteered to dress my friends too, so here’s what we all eventually decided on.

Dragon knight

To match the theme of the helmet she bought last year, I made a knight’s tabard. To mimic chainmaile I used this old cloak that my mom had bought from party city eons ago. It was made of this strange, silvery, meshy, stretchy material and the cloak itself was torn and old. I squeezed out just enough and I think it got the point across!

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Poisoned Rose Corset

This is the first part of what will eventually be a full costume, but all we had time for was the corset. Made of a rose pattered green jacquard and boned with steel, my friend paired it with faux leather pants and a lovely black shirt.

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Dragon Queen

This is what I finally decided on (obviously I went with fantasy in the end) Floor length sleeves mimic wings and the shoulders and top of the bodice are adorned with dozens of black scales and dripping silver chains. I cut out the scales individually out of some sturdy black satin then ran the edges above a candle flame to seal it. The stomach is designed to look like a dragons chest and stomach scales.

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I really wanted to get pictures that looked more, I dunno, Fierce? You know to fit the whole dragon queen idea of the dress. Sigh, it can really suck to have such a baby face. Last night I was running a quick Irish dance show at a pub that just opened. I walk in and greet the owner. She say’s “oh! The dancers! Great I was just looking for you!” and walks right past me and goes to my mother. I am twenty four years old, darn it, my mom was only there because she and my dad enjoy getting out and having a drink at these events, and half the time no one believes I’m in charge because they assume I’m sixteen or so.

Anyway, that little anecdote out of the way, I’d like to find a new setting to shoot some more pictures of this dress. I don’t *love* it, but I put so much work into that I think it deserves some better pictures. Anyone have a dragon I could borrow for a photo shoot? Please? I’ll return it, I swear. Maybe.

Halloween Photoshoot

First week of October I had a photoshoot with an actual photographer (as opposed to my friends and I snapping away on our phones). The experience itself was really incredible, most of the time I’m completely awkward when getting my picture taken. Someone will ask me “Ok, how do you want to do this?” Or worse, “Pose.” And my brain freezes.

Melissa of Priceless Photos was great, she came prepared with ideas for poses and gave me the perfect instructions. Check out her website http://www.pricelessphotosbymelissa.com/ And then scroll down to see her work!

 

Dress 1 The Hallow Queen.

Funny story… I had months to prepare for this shoot I had plenty of dresses but nothing that I was super excited about. The night before, the words Hallow Queen popped into my head and I dove into my stash like it was the deep end of the pool. The corset was something I’d previously started then forgot about, so all I had to do there was finish sewing the boning channels, bone it, then bind the edge and pop some grommets in that sucker. The skirt I whipped together, blessing myself for accidentally buying that orange chiffon. The spiderwebby shrug is something I’ve had hanging around for years.

Any way, I finished the dress about two hours before I had to leave to meet Melissa. Why do I do this to my self??

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Oh… That’s why.

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Apparently this was Melissa’s first time having a skull in her photos! 😉

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Quick note, the tree in the above photo is kinda special. We found it in this park when I was a kid and immediately noticed that it is extremely different from all the other trees. It simply looks like a magic tree. I’ve been visiting this tree for most of my life and it’s always a great place for pictures.

 

Dress 2 My friend called this my dark sleeping beauty dress and I made a face at her because I don’t agree, but now it’s stuck in my head and that’s all I can think to call it.

I made this over a weekend, posting the steps on my facebook page as I went. Some of my followers answered when I asked what sort of sleeves/ skirt I should give it and here we go! I matched it with a burgundy rose patterned cloak for some shots, the cloak is available on my Etsy page.

 

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*note to self, petticoat not long enough*

 

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2016 Quick Review

So I sort of neglected this blog for the last couple of months. Time to play some catch up!

What have I been doing? Well, I’ve worked at a couple of crafts shows.

 

Then after years of dreaming of doing it, I finally was given the opportunity of creating and performing an Irish dance drama based on How To Train Your Dragon!! I have probably never been more excited to perform something. I mixed the music out of various pieces from the first and second movie (how awesome is it that so much of the soundtrack is in dance timing??) The only non HTTYD music in the piece was a short section of dragon sound effects I took from Nox Arcana’s Blood of the Dragon, and Warriors from Feet of Flames for the battling the red death scene. With the music set, I then choreographed the entire 6 minute drama. Then of course there were props to paint/make and costumes to sew. My best friend and I took the role of Hiccup and Toothless and the rest of my dancers filled in the ranks as dragons and vikings.

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One of the backdrops to simulate the idea of being on Berk.

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My three little dragons before the show. 

I have never been so proud of those kids, I’m telling you. We performed it on a great stage for our school’s recital and they nailed it!  I still have parents coming up to me to tell me how it was so much better than they expected.

And funny story, apparently no one knew that I had acquired a brown wig for the role of Hiccup (since my hip-length blonde hair would have been out of place). I had about ten minutes to get ready between my last number and the drama and I whipped that wig out and manged to shove all my hair in it. When I got on stage my own parents didn’t even recognize me, everyone thought I was one of the boys in our group!

 

My best friend and I almost share a birthday, I’m the 25th of October, she’s the 26th. We always try to do special things for each others birthday (like the previous years Disney birthday extravaganza). Obviously she is a huge Disnerd and her favorite movie is Beauty and the Beast. She’s always wanted Belle’s dress but we’d never quite got around to making it. So I decided to surprise her with it for her birthday! This is my own representation of her iconic gown of course, I went with a goldish/yellow, rose patterned jacquard  with a matching chiffon over skirt. This is her right after receiving it.

She wore it to Mickey’s not so scary shortly after and apparently a kid started crying because her gown was prettier then the kid’s. It probably makes me an awful person but that cracked me up, sorry-not-sorry.

 

 

Then came Halloween. Like the previous year, we set up our backyard as a haunted trail and invited my dance school to come through. Our theme was haunted fairy tales and we spent an entire week decorating (and months planning and making props…) It was fantastic, we had two gnomes in a cave, sleeping beauty’s room, a witch luring the kids into her candy house, and a fairy exterminator. Our ‘guide’ through the trail was little red riding hood, leading the kids on a hunt after the wolf who killed her grandma. Unfortunately the wolf pops out and killed her, leaving the groups to make their own way! We even had a killer mermaid in a tank which was probably my favorite part visually. The bummer? WE FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES.

Literally, this is all we’ve got,

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*smacks head repeatedly into wall*

 

2016 was also our first year dancing at Camelot days a small medieval faire in Hollywood. We performed their he first weekend, three shows a day. I’m including this as important because it was really the first time I handled such a big show. I got us the performance than organized everything from there (with my best friends help thank goodness!) The best thing was that it went perfectly, the numbers went smoothly, the dancers did great and everyone had loads of fun.

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Photo by Melissa Price

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Photo by Jenny

Here’s to dancing again there this year!

 

At almost the last moment, I saw this fashion plate from the late 1850s. I’d sort of wanted to make a new dress for a Christmas photo shoot, but I couldn’t make up my mind on what to make and with less than a week till Christmas I’d mostly given upon the idea. Until I saw that blasted fashion plate. A frenzied trip to Joann’s and two days of non stop sewing later and I had finished the reproduction enough to take some pictures at our Christmas party. It is NOT finished in this picture, I still have the blackwork on collar and sleeves to complete, I ran out of the black velvet trim before I got to the skirt, I’d never even tried on the bodice with my corset before this wearing so the bodice still needs o be fitted… you get the idea. But all in all, I am very pleased with how it turns out and I am very excited to finish it properly for a photo shoot before it gets warm.

Feel free to laugh at my attempt to copy the pose in the fashion plate. And I’m not sure why he bodice looks so long here, it must be the angle.

 

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Since I was getting dressed up, obviously it wasn’t long before I stuffed my friends into costumes as well. I wanted a nice picture of the three of us. You have NO IDEA how long it took to get this damn picture. Without fail, someone laughed or blinked, or almost fell of the stairs.

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There were many pictures like this .

 

It was wonderful to finish off the year with a last big costume win. But there was one thing we could have down without that Christmas…

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That’s right, right in the middle of our big Christmas Eve dinner, our oven died with a great explosion of sparks and a brief brown-out though out the house! Party leftovers for Christmas dinner!

Happy New Year to everyone!

 

 

Upcycling an evening dress into an Edwardian ball gown.

Knowing that I sew, more than a few people have given me bags of old dresses and clothes for me to rip apart and reuse the material. I love it, you never know what sort of fabric you might score, it’s like Christmas! However, I’m getting a huge pile of dresses in my closet all of which are intended for ‘cutting up one day’. The truth is my pile is getting a little out of hand!

Anyway, one of the dresses I had back there was my size, in colors I like, so I tried it on for kicks. Urgh. It has an empire waist which personally I think is the most hideous fashion ever. Sorry, not sorry. It also had thin little spaghetti straps. Not really a flattering look for me as I have broad shoulders and strong arms. 

 But then, wait! The general shape and cut was right, it just needed a little work and tada! Edwardian ball gown!

Usually, I hate wearing something I haven’t made completely. It’s not that I’m snobby (well, that much) but when you sew, everyone expects that everything you wear comes from your own hand, and I hate disappointing them by saying that ‘I didn’t actually make this’. Also, why wear something someone else made when usually I have so many ideas to make my own?

But is it always practical? A frugal budget can leave little room to afford yards and yards of new fabric every time you need a new gown. No shame there, that’s just being responsible. Also, I’ve wanted an Edwardian gown for some time now… but when I’m I ever going to get a good chance to wear one? Unless I throw my own party, none.  So why not upcycle an old dress into a new one?

Or, in this case, a new dress into an old one!

 

The dress before alteration. The under skirt is a very pale, creamy gold.

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Adding sleeves, just pinned down here. Sorry about the wrinkles, the chiffon scrap have been bundled in a bag for a month or two.

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The sleeves drape down the back, making the very distinct v-shaped back that you saw at this time.

 

…And a sash. The sash is cream colored, I tried a black and gold sash but the gold on it was too gold an clashed with the skirt. I think the cream gives it a very authentic look!

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Then I added some applique at the bottom of the cream/gold skirt. Normally ball gowns were heavily beaded but my patience doesn’t run towards beading for hours on end, so the appliques are sequined designs cut out of a remnant and sewn on. Good enough for me.

 

And done!

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Yeah, still a mass of wrinkles!

In barely an hour, I added a complete, new historical dress to my wardrobe, how fantastic is that??

Historical accuracy: Well, the general shape is good, we won’t discuss the fabric, or zipper placement.

Cost: Dress -free, Sash-free, Chiffon for sleeves- 2 small folded squares from a MASSIVE length of chiffon I bought cheap earlier this year. Let’s say $1?  Other expenses sequined applique cut from remnant fabric from Joann’s, two black glass beads for the points of the sleeves. Both remnant fabric and beads were bought for other projects a while ago and I used barely any, so yes, I bought them, but it hardly counts. Let’s say $2?

Still need: Full length black gloves. Pick up from a Halloween store next month. I really need a period corset, the Edwardian shape is very distinctive. However, since I really have no place to wear this, the time and money it would take to make a proper Edwardian corset really isn’t practical, or high on my list of things to do. Eventually!

 

I have a lot more dresses, so consider this the first in my Upcycling series. This was definitely the easiest one, the rest should be a bit more tricky!

Querying Again!

Hello! It’s been forever and a day since I last posted! I’ve been so busy the last few months, I’ve vended at several more shows, I’ve taken up a new hobby (wood burning), I’ve taught at several dance camps, and, most importantly, I’ve finished my current manuscript!

That’s right people, I am once more facing the daunting task of querying agents.

Basically, my book has been completely rewritten. But the biggest change I made was to cut it in half. At its initial completion it weighed in at 117K words. Now, I don’t think that’s huge, I prefer to read big books, but we all know how it goes. As an unpublished writer, I knew I had to knock that word count down. By the time I was querying the first time around the word count was hovering a little over 105K words. ‘Too long’ No takers. (for which I am actually glad, my book was so much less than it could have been)

I took a big step back and thought about this for a long time. What was really frustrating me was that there was so much more I wanted to add, which was going to send my word count soaring!

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Cut that sucker in half and went to town rewriting. Best. Decision. Ever.

Moral here? Don’t be afraid to make the big changes to your book. My word count is now 93K which fits perfectly in the suggested word counts for YA High Fantasy.

Anyway, it’s currently being read by my mom in an attempt to get useful feedback before I thrust it under the critiquing eye of an agent. I’m not going to look at it, I’m not even going to think about it, for at least a week. Then I’ll take the feedback and reread through the entire thing one more time.

And then I query.

Now, I can’t wait to share some pictures of the shows I’ve worked at and of the stuff I’ve been making, but quite frankly, I’ve been editing for a month straight, I can’t stare at a computer screen any more! I’m going to go read, work on some art, maybe do a stretching session, anything but stare at the computer. And tomorrow I’ll be back, promise!

Some of my Favorite Resources For Medieval/Fantasy Writers

Since I’m currently reworking my main manuscript I’ve been critiquing every aspect of the world I’ve created, trying to give it the edge of accuracy. Much of my world is (like the majority of fantasy) based on Medieval Europe precepts (but, you know, with Demons… =D ) Obviously I have worked hard to make this a unique land with its own cultures and customs but the historical accuracy nerd inside me won’t be content until I make some of this worlds’ aspects line up with their real world counterparts.

My main concern is hierarchy, both in a court/castle setting and in the military. I’m still struggling with Medieval military rankings, from my reasearch it seems like one hot mess! Might be time to create my own army ranks and structure, after all, fantasy writer!

But for everything else I have come across these sites that offer a ton of fantastic information.

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This site offers a description of dozens of Medieval characters, raging from nobility, gentry peasants, clergy, etc. with an explanation of their place in things. Honestly wish I had found this one sooner!

Medieval People, Titles, Positions, Trades & Classes

http://www.lscacamp.org/Portals/0/Medieval%20People.pdf

Compiled by Tammie Pattie

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This one is great for understanding how titles work

A Quick And Dirty Guide To Feudal Nobility

http://dankoboldt.com/feudal-nobility-guide/

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Dictionary of Medieval Words

Tired of every medieval-based character carrying a boring old sword? Pick out one of the more interesting named weapons from this list of ‘Medieval Words’. It also includes the parts of a castle and of knights armor.

http://medieval.stormthecastle.com/medieval-words.htm

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Ye Olde Medieval English Terms

And to finish off, I’ve always loved old-fashioned slang (Though my favorite is Victorian!) So here is well put together list of Medieval slang, sure to bring color to any manuscript!

http://www.citrus.k12.fl.us/staffdev/Social%20Studies/PDF/Medieval%20English.pdf

 

Well, now that we have all this knowledge, what are you waiting for?

Hahaha!!!!:

 

St. Patrick’s Day Craziness

I probably should have guessed this would happen, St. Patrick’s Day preparation started and I completely abandoned my blog! In my defense-Damn was I busy!

Last year I made our school new performance skirts, well this year it was time to make the matching tops. You might recall that last year I made almost 30 skirts and completed two solo dresses-in two weeks. Crazy, right? I promised that there was no way that would happen again.

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Yeah yeah yeah…

With one thing and another it was suddenly the end of February and I had *Drum Roll* OVER FORTY PIECES TO SEW. And, just to be perverse, I once again had exactly two weeks to make them all. Well played universe. On top of the sewing, this year I was also in charge of making the matching headbands. Yes, thankfully headbands are a good deal easier… but I had around 20 to make.

 The new costume tops were to premier on March 11th, 8:00 Pm.

I finished sewing March 11th, 3:00 Pm.  A whole five hours to spare!

In the end I sewed 45 costume pieces (Tops, boys’ vests, and more of the skirts from last year) and made 20-25 headbands, I forget exactly. There were several days were a sewed for 15 hours…Whew!

The tops were a collaboration between myself and a local Irish Dance Solo Dress maker, LinDesigns of Florida. She did the embroidery and created the shirts. But enough talking, here are the pictures!

 

The front panels fresh from the embroiderer.

Embroidered with the Aranmore 'A'.

Embroidered with the Aranmore ‘A’.

The very first show to use the entire costume!

Boynton Blarney Bash, 2016

Boynton Blarney Bash, 2016

And from the parades!

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Photo credit to Melissa Price of Priceless Photography.

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My best friend and I ready to dance through the parade! Photo credit to Melissa Price of Priceless Photography.

 

In one weekend, my work danced in three parades and multiple festivals and then danced through St. patrick’s day. I know I like to complain about the work, but honestly, it’s worth every moment of it to see my hard work on stage and hear the dancers tell me how much they like it. I feel so lucky to be able to both dance and sew for my amazing school!

Hope everyone else had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day season!