Friday, February 26, 2021

A Jolly Hobby - The First Costume

I often hear new costumers ask "How did you get started?" and "Where do you wear your costumes?"  Costuming has brought me experiences I would not have had with any other hobby and I want everyone to experience the same if they desire.  With that in mind I'm starting a #costumeflashback segment in both my blog and YouTube videos for anyone to draw on my journey as they begin their own.  I will share the process in creating costumes from the past as well as events I've attended and hosted. 

I started The Perfect Touch blog in 2009 but I began my costume hobby in 2007.  October 2007 to be exact.  I owned a very basic Singer Sewing Machine from the 1980s purchased at a Spiegel outlet store for $75.  What  a deal, I thought, until I plugged it in and it ran backwards!  Being brave I opened it, found that a cam was inserted incorrectly, changed it, and voila! perfect seams.  I had taken a sewing class in grade school and happily made an apron and then a few curtains and pillow covers over the years.

While my sewing skills were weak, my attention to detail and attention to instructions was strong.  Apparently my confidence was also good as one day I decided I wanted to create costumes for myself, my husband, and my German Shepherd puppy for the annual photo sessions at my local pet store.  I had found a penguin hat which would fit my pup, and the Jolly Holiday idea was born.

I knew I couldn't sew an entire costume but felt I could upcycle something into my Jolly Holiday dress and I created an ebay search and each day ebay would let me know what matched my keywords.  And one day there she was!  A used wedding gown in my size and budget and just perfect to make even Mary Poppins happy!  As if she could get any happier, right?  I found some embroidered fabric at a local store and planned to make an additional skirt and cover a hat.  The fabric is organza but it was years before I knew anything about fabrics.  I only knew this fabric didn't stretch, had the right feel I wanted and, most importantly, was the right price.  I still have several yards of it on this same cardboard tube and have used it for many many costumes over the years.

I wasn't a part of the Facebook community at this time but my husband and I had become aware of a local group of people involved in a hobby called Cowboy Action Shooting.  Part of this hobby required wearing clothing from the cowboy era which is the same as the Victorian era and I had joined an online group dedicated to the hobby.  It was similar but much smaller than today's Facebook sewing groups but it was there I learned about sewing patterns available for creating Victorian and cowboy clothing.  I learned about Truly Victorian patterns and used TV280 to create the organza circle skirt which would be worn over the base gown.

I can't find the words to tell you how excited I was to create this skirt!  It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen!  LOL  There is something truly magical about taking flat fabric, adding some thread, and creating something that can be worn.  Textile art!

Being happy with the Truly Victorian pattern for the skirt, I purchased the TV492 1890s Victorian Corselet.  Again I found some red fabric and to this day I don't know what it was but it seemed right.  Trusting yourself is an important part of costuming.  It is just fabric and thread and unless you are cutting into something very expensive, any mistake can be done over.  I've learned much more from my mistakes than my successes.  And I always buy a bit extra fabric because the only way to avoid mistakes is to do nothing.  I found some white ribbon, a spool of covered plastic boning, eyelets and tools, and lacing at a local store.  They aren't completely correct as I've since learned, but sometimes just doing the project is the only way to learn.

As I said before I believe my only early skill was following instructions in order and carefully.  I still do.  I never assume I know what comes next and I trust the pattern designers.  If I'm really in a bind I've been fortunate to always get an answer from the pattern designer in the multiple Facebook groups they run or through their website.  They want us successful!!

Here is the red mystery fabric backed with a white cotton and all pieces ready for assembly.

The 2-layer front is finished and the white ribbon sewn over the seams.

The eyelets are added by hand..

..and the back panel with boning added.

My second project is complete!  I've made a Victorian corselet and I'm thrilled!

Following the illustration in my book I add red ribbon bows on the circle skirt and neckline and sleeves.

Last I sew red cord to outline the neckline.  I've since learned it's called rattail.  I don't always know what things are called but I know it's what I want when I see it.  LOL

I've been certain from the beginning that accessories are what make a costume and I spend a lot of time sourcing the perfect touches.  I found (yes, on ebay) a pair of used white Victorian-esque boots and sheer red and white striped gloves.  The straw hat came from a local shop and the Parrot Parasol came from the Disney online store.  It is so cute!  There is a toggle that makes his mouth open and close.  Very fun!

I covered the hat with the embroidered organza fabric and created bows and a chin tie by just draping the fabric until it looked right and then sewing everything in place.

The Parrot Parasol had a black cover which I wanted to keep in place so I cut a circle of the same white patterned cotton I used in the corselet, trimmed the outer edge, and then gathered and tied it around the parasol with red ribbon.

The Jolly Holiday dress and accessories are complete!

I knew I wouldn't be able to make a Jolly Holiday jacket for my husband but I thought I could try making a vest.  Folkwear had and still has an amazing Vintage Vests pattern 222.  I found a coral and cream seersucker remnant and had some of the white patterned cotton left over and dove in.

This vest was a challenge!  Folkwear's instructions are exceptional and I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did without them!  Welt pockets!  Shawl collar!  Lining!  Buttonholes!  All new skills for me but so well explained that I've kept what I learned all these years thanks to Folkwear.  Every new pattern teaches me something.  While the vest fit my husband despite the strange placement of my buttons, it was a bit short and he hated the fabric.  He refused to wear it!  But I know better than to push and I didn't.  And thank goodness I didn't because not long after he began to join me in my costume fun and we have had great times together!

So I wore my Jolly Holiday costume on my front porch and took photos with my camera's timer and had an excellent time enjoying my creation.  I don't remember, but chances are I also had tea.

What about the puppy photo?  She and I had our photo taken together later at her puppy graduation.  Without the penguin hat!  I suspect she was happy about that...



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