Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Yards. Lots of them.

Kate Middleton wasn't the only one to enjoy something beautiful and extravagant this week.

Behold, ten yards of lavender brocade:

I took some shots with the flash and some without, so that you get a better idea of the actual color.

My modeling team was on hand to help out, of course:

(Doesn't he do that so well?)

Really love this one of Lucy Loo Hoo a lot.  It really captures how little she is.  I think the delicacy of the fabric compliments her.  ;-)

Having the fabric in my hands is very inspiring.  I've made an airtight schedule tomorrow that includes costuming.  

I won't be cutting into this gorgeous stuff for a while yet, but it will certainly not be able to hide...

X is for X marks the spot of the missing day

Stupid X.

I couldn't think of anything cool.  I had a couple of 'meh' ideas that I was going to maybe use for backup, but I kept getting sidetracked and then I wen to bed and it was too late.

So... here lies the post that wasn't.  RIP, X.  My advice?  Next year get an agent and get some more words with you at the beginning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Workspace

I do not have a formal sewing room.  I have a sewing box, which I bought in high school for toting my cross stitch projects around.  Darth Stitch isn't even mine-- he technically belongs to my mom.

I buy my supplies on an as-needed basis, and although I don't have any sort of fancy set-up, I do try to keep things in some semblance of order:

Previous (introductory) picture of Darth Stitch and his battle-scarred Star Destroyer card table.

The little things (read: the things the cats will hide if left in the open), are safely tucked into the sewing box each night.

And finally, from left to right we have: test projects, pattern pieces, bolts of unused fabric, and my final Work-in-Process (just the skirt at this point).

Some nights this all gets put away nicely as you see it here, other nights not.  

(Right now, it's most definitely NOT.  Hehehe...)

In any case, there is a preferred method to my madness.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Von Trapp

Rehearsals for "The Sound of Music" have begun in earnest.  This week I am working on the arrangement and choreography of both of my songs.

Most people (that I've ever talked to, anyway) who know "The Sound of Music" are surprised to learn that in the stage version of the musical, the Baroness sings.  She doesn't have a solo, but is part of two numbers with the Captain and Max Detweiler. 

The first song "How Can Love Survive?" takes place when the Captain returns to his home with Elsa and Max in tow, and has to do with the fact that the Captain and Elsa, as two rich, independent people, have no conventional obstacles (no "slings and arrows", as it were) to challenge and strengthen their love.  

The second song (my favorite of the two) is "No Way to Stop It" and is a discussion/debate of sorts on the best way to face the oncoming invasion of Austria by the Germans.  Elsa and Max feel that passive caution and soft-stepping are the order of the day, while the Captain believes strongly in overt opposition.  It is this difference, really, that cause Elsa and the Captain to part ways in the stage play.  Undoubtedly Maria would have been the cause eventually (as she is in the movie), but they don't let it get that far.

It's a really catchy song, and extremely fun to sing. 

This evening we worked on some light choreography for "No Way to Stop it"  Tomorrow and Thursday we'll do "How Can Love Survive?"

So I will not be sewing.

However, the fabric company finally charged my credit card and sent me an email receipt for the first part of my order, which, I presume, means that my lavender brocade is finally on its way!

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Underneath

Okay.   I have one more week of A-Z to go, and only about half of my letters determined and a full docket of rehearsals, so they might be bit entries in comparison with the top half of the month, but I'm still 1 for 1 on posting, golly, we will get something going here.

There are two pieces to Rapunzel's costume that I will need to consider in order for it to be complete that are under the surface.

(1) The petticoat.  Simple enough: find some nice white lining material, cut it out like a second skirt, put some pretty lace on the bottom and petticoat, skirt, and lining together nicely.

(2) The undershirt.

Here, I am torn.  I believe from watching the movie closely that Rapunzel is actually wearing a completely independent shirt underneath her corset.  The white lace that lines her neck is attached to this undershirt, not the corset part.  The undershirt also serves as the modesty panel behind the lacing of the corset.  Finally, in the back it goes all the way up to her neck and has little pink buttons.

I could sew another shirt, but I'm 95% decided upon cheating.  Firstly, I don't feel like figuring out another pattern, though it probably wouldn't be that difficult.  Secondly, I don't want the costume to be any hotter than it has to.  Thirdly, I could save on a little bit of material.

Cheating would be, of course, cutting out exactly the pieces that I need and tacking them behind.  In the case of the back, I would sew the false shirt back into the shoulder straps and upper hem of the corset.  In the case of the front lace I'd probably just put the lace on the corset and cut out a modesty panel stitched to the lining on one side of the lacing and fastened with snaps on the other.

In any case, these details are about seventy-three obstacles down the road.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Tangled

There really wasn't any other choice for T.

How much do I love Tangled? That's hard to answer, really.  But we could start with one very special young lady.

Rapunzel is my favorite Disney princess.  Or heroine, because, really, they've got a few pretty awesome gals who aren't princesses (Mulan, anyone?)  I thought it a pretty tall order that someone would bump Belle from that spot-- she's been there for almost twenty years, but there's something about Rapunzel that I just can't get enough of.

It begins with the hair.  I am from a very conservative Christian tradition, one which goes so far as to interpret New Testament instruction about female modesty as having long hair and wearing long skirts and dresses. So for obvious reasons, Rapunzel was a fairy tale that always interested me in particular.  When I found out Disney was going to be making Rapunzel, I was very excited, and that was before the preliminary artwork was released.

Flash forward through the conceptual art, the kerfluffle surrounding the film's renaming, the trailers, and one very particular voice casting that vaulted my interest in this movie from 'excited' to 'bouncing around the clouds' (more on that later-- it's particularly well-suited to a "Z" post).  I'm sitting in a movie theater, November 2010, the weekend of Thanksgiving, opening night.  I had already memorized the soundtrack.  The prologue began to roll and the grin on my face never faded.

I think it was my sister who put it best.  "It felt like it did when we were little."

Warning: Various spoilers ahead.

Tangled is infallible proof that you can use a well-worn formula and still have something special and something fresh.  The colors are beautiful, the story is solid, the music is breathtaking, the comedy is spot-on, and the romance is as charming as every Disney fairy tale love story should be. (Have to throw that qualifier in there because quite a number of fairy tales are in fact the opposite of charming).

But I digress.  Rapunzel is my favorite.  She's naive yes, but smart, resourceful, positive, talented, and effervescent.  I love that she can chart stars on her own.  I love that she has long hair.  I love that she respects her mother.  Yes, her mother was a very bad person, but with nothing much to go on, Rapunzel loved her and wanted to be a good daughter, which is not a characteristic we see very much in teenagers these days in popular media.

And when she finally realized her abuse, she did two more awesome things.  First, she fought back by refusing to cower.  Second, she offered to sacrifice her freedom for the sake of someone she loved.

Indeed, a princess worth waiting for.  

I know that Disney has its share of bad rap.  Among many other things, I've known of people who consider the "Princess" push a restriction of young girls ideas about how 'girls' should be.  I can admit, the marketing campaigns can be a bit nauseating at times.  But behind the ribbons and embroidery and SO MUCH PURPLE, Rapunzel is a female role model I would be more than happy to have my own daughter emulate someday.  The same with Mulan, or Tiana, or Belle, or others.  Let's move past the pretty gowns and the convenient prince charmings and focus on what's to love about these young ladies all by themselves. 

(I'm not actually that into purple.  But I want to make this costume because I will never stop loving to play pretend, and just for one day every now and again, I want to mingle with my fellow nerds and be Rapunzel for a little while) :-)

And everyone should see Tangled.  Like, yesterday, if you haven't already!

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Shoes

My mother and I went shopping today.  I wanted to get shoes to go with the skirt I was planning on wearing for Easter, which I've had for a while, but which is notoriously difficult to match in the footwear department.  That was all I specifically set out to buy.

I did succeed... with these shiny but tasteful gold sandals....

... but before (and after) that I kind of got carried away...

(Don't ask me what I'm going to wear these with yet.
I haven't quite figured it out myself.)

But in case you're wondering "What does a shoe binge have to do with your Rapunzel costume, Faith? Well, I'll tell you.  No, I'll show you:

I found purple shoes to match my costume!!!

As anyone who has seen the movie will know, of course, Rapunzel's footwear is actually even easier than a lucky find on the clearance rack at Burlington Coat Factory.  She doesn't wear any shoes at all for the entire movie (Well, I suppose she could be at the end-- I'm not sure we see ever see her feet in the last scene).

Alas, as much as I love bare feet, conventions are not the place you want to be exercising that particular whimsy.  It's certainly not for me.

These babies are comfortable AND so deliciously purple.  Also, should anyone want to take my picture as "movie" Rapunzel (i.e. no shoes), they are as easy as breathing to step in and out of again.

So in conclusion, I found purple shoes for my costume today! And I wasn't even planning on it!! 

(Apparently compelled by some subconscious need to make up for my lack of stereotypical girliness in my adolescent years, I also bought two new handbags:) 

... and a new dress and a new skirt and three new tops...

.... somebody stop me. Please.  My credit card thanks you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Reference Guide

Last year when I was killing time at Borders I found this book in the craft section.  It was $40, but after spending almost a full hour with it, I knew it would be one of the best $40 outlays of my life:

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith
This is an amazing resource, most especially to someone who needs to know what a nap is (apart from a cozy time of sleep in the middle of the day), or can't visualize how to put in a zipper by written instructions only.  I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Questions

Quick question, since my schedule has been scheduley today.  I'm just curious, is there anyone out there following this blog who is attempting their own Rapunzel costume? Have you started? Are you hoping to learn from my experience? Do you know more about sewing than me and can point out something really newbie dumb that I'm doing?

(Yesterday I learned what a Serger is.  Haha)

Until tomorrow, then.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Progress!!!

I actually sewed today! Huzzah!!!

(Since I really wanted to post "progress" for my P post, I actually had to, you know, make some.  Ergo, my motivation. So... thank you, A-Z blog challenge!)

Behold, the fruit of my efforts:

Obviously, this photo is not really worth a thousand words because it looks exactly like all the other test bustiers that I have posted so far in this blog.  But be not deceived! 

Here, in trusty word format, are the things I accomplished:
  • I ensured that the skirt pieces of the bustier would align with the bust pieces after all my alterations (and that I would be able to make tiny adjustments as needed when I came around to the final process)
  • Tested the height of the back (It goes up almost two inches further than the original pattern)
  • Tested and tweaked the curvature of the two bustier pieces in combination for the armhole I'm trying to piece together from scratch.

The next step is to make shoulder strap patterns that will finish off the armhole.  This much will be accomplished on Thursday.  Or at least a first draft.

You can see below a collection of all the pieces that are required (sans the aforementioned shoulder straps which I still need) for the bustier.  Note the elegant use of wax paper and packing tape (and red markers and staples) to keep track of all of my alterations.

Cutting out all of those bottom pieces is a PAIN IN THE NECK.  Fortunately, my efforts today have satisfied me that I don't need to do it again until we're making the real deal.

It may not look like much, but progress indeed we have made today, my friends! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Overstretched

I have too many hobbies.  Way, way too many hobbies.

I read. I write. I do theater. I write novels about theater. I blog. I watch dozens of popular television shows. I partake in intense, super-competitive Settlers of Catan tournaments with my friends. I go to conventions (and other travel).

Want to know how much progress I made on this costume over the weekend?

Friday: Went to a baseball game in Cleveland, got back late.
Saturday: Spent more than half the day with my nephew, who unexpectedly was staying over with us for fun.
Sunday: Church, and then taking my friend Sharon out for her birthday, since she's up visiting from South Carolina and how often did we get that chance?

Notice anything missing?  Oh, right.  SEWING!!!

And tonight was the first night of rehearsal for The Sound of Music...AND I am going to Indiana for Easter.

Why do I do this to myself?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Needle

The Tale of Darth Stitch and Captain Needle:

 Darth Stitch and his officer, Captain Needle, are attempting to create a critical seam.

Disaster strikes!

"Captain Needle, the seam is no longer straight in our sights!"

Captain Needle: "Untangle it.  I shall take full responsibility, and apologize to Lord Stitch."

(Apology in progress)

Darth Stitch: "Apology accepted, Captain Needle."

The moral of this story is not to use a dull needle.  Also, it's better to use a fine tip needle if you're sewing with satin.  And finally, it is of course wise to do your very best not to upset a sewing machine who is also a Sith Lord.

(Also, let us please observe a moment of silence for Captain Needle, who could probably have been sharpened, but who nobly sacrificed himself for the sake of this post's attempted humor)

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Muslin

I'm cheating today.  I just got home from work and in half an hour I'm leaving for a baseball game in Cleveland (go Indians!)  So no pictures, no clever stories, just a report that yesterday I bought a 25-yard bolt of cream-colored muslin to use for practicing patterns.

Tomorrow I'm going to actually use it, by golly.

Also, tonight I am taking my graph book and printouts of Rapunzel's skirt with me to the stadium to work on my embroidery transfers.  I like baseball.  Some say it's boring. I say it's relaxing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Learning experiences

The thing about decidings to (1) Work with expensive, delicate fabric and (2) Alter your patterns (for both of your first two major sewing projects) is recognizing that getting from Point Dream to Point Reality will require copious amounts of patience and tedium.

For one thing, you have to be willing to cut out the same pattern pieces over and over and over.

Fitted shirts have a LOT of small pattern pieces.

I can think of at least four trials I made for my Inara shirt before I finally felt ready to cut into my beautiful orange jacquard.  That fabric terrified me with its pristine beauty, and I wasn't going to betray it.

Test #1 - I made a drab, basic shirt pattern and learned about sewing sleeves (highly important).
Test #2 - Tested the pattern I decided to use as my actual costume base.  Decided that I wanted to make some alterations to make it truer to the source costume.
Test #3 - Implemented my alterations and made sure they worked, and carefully noted what I was doing so it could be repeated.
Test #4 - Tried the whole thing out AGAIN on cheap practice satin (I should note that the first three trials were in muslin, which is a very kind fabric to a newbie).

For Rapunzel so far I have made two test skirts and three whole or partial bustiers.  Below you can see some of these castoffs (in progressive order):

I used the red fabric for the latest bustier because I really wanted to try my hand at fully lining something, and it was easier with two distinct fabrics.

My trial pieces are invaluable learning experiences, and each one teaches me a lot. Alas, I am not quite finished making trial bustiers.  Adding proper armholes for sleeves (in conjunction with the alterations I've already made to the bust) is a very precise and tricky business, and I don't have the fancy tools or training to do it with a compass and an equation on a drafting board.  I'm sort of doing it by instinct, small tweaks, and everything I've learned along the way.

I actually spent a couple of hours last Saturday night making some of these very adjustments.  As soon as I have something substantially worth posting, I will be sure to do so.

In the meantime, don't you guys just love the berber carpet in our basement?  You're spending quite a lot of quality time gazing at its beautiful oatmealy speckledness!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kitties

I love cats and I have two of them, both of them adoptees from the Humane Society* They have only been with our family for two months. It took me a long time to cajole my mom into agreeing, since it's her house and all the furniture and carpets are new. Understandable.

My kitties, Lucy and Toby, love sewing too. They are extremely helpful, as you can see from the pictures below:

Here we have the lovely Lucy helping to lay out the pattern.

And this is Toby, making sure that this red fabric is properly softened. (I call him Maharajah when he does this).

They like to help me cut out patterns:

Their most favorite task, however, is helping me to ensure my measuring tape is in proper working order.

So three cheers for Lucy and Toby, who always make a sewing session an adventure!

*I know we all love kittens and puppies, but if you're thinking of adopting an animal, can I just be an advocate for grown-up animals in shelters? I decided to go this route because I've wanted a cuddly lap cat my whole life, and the only other indoor cat I ever had was almost feral. For me, getting an adult cat was a guaranteed way to make sure I got a cat with the personality that I wanted, and I have that in my snuggle bug Lucy. Mom likes 'ornery' cats, so we also have Toby, who doesn't like to be cuddled, but investigates everything, and will play with your stare if you let him. Both of them have very friendly, non skittish personalities, which I knew because of how receptive they were at the shelter.

The shelter volunteers usually know the animals, and you'll get them with most of their shots and basics already taken care of, plus a discount on getting them fixed if they aren't already. All of this makes the adoption fee a very reasonable bargain, plus you'll be helping a great charity keep its gears running smoothly.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Jandi, Junpyo, and Jihoo

The three names above are the three main characters in the Korean TV drama "Boys Over Flowers" (also sometimes referred to as "Boys Before Flowers") based on a popular Japanese manga. It is available on Hulu, which is how I discovered it. In the past it has also been adapted for Japanese television, and I believe Taiwanese as well.

It is the reason I haven't made any substantial sewing progress for the past week. I liked the show so much on Hulu that I decided to go ahead and buy the Region 1 dvds. They came in last week and since that time, my mom and I have been devouring them. We've now watched 17 episodes out of 25.

"Boys Over Flowers" is a story that bears a lot in common with "Pride and Prejudice", combined with all of the lavish cliché and exaggerated drama of any good soap opera. I can't explain why, but I just love the stupid thing. The romance is so sweet and unrealistic that in a lot of ways, it's every bit as much a fairy tale as Rapunzel. With a Korean pop soundtrack.

In other news, I have been having drama of my own on the fabric front. I went to the website to order the brocade this weekend, only to find they'd completely overhauled their sales strategy which seemed to include not selling just the raw fabric anymore by the yard.


Since I didn't want to have to by a minimum five tablecloths in both colors, I called yesterday and asked if I could just buy the fabric I needed (in the amount I needed).

They said yes!! Commence celebration.

Then they left me a voicemail!! Uh-oh.

They took back half of the yes!!

(Translation: I could order the fabric straight-up, but I had to go with the minimum ten yards apiece as before. Which means after all that rigmarole I was right back where I started. Oh well. I'd already made peace with that particular annoyance).

So... the brocade is ordered. I think.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Incentive

"Here's your pan. Here's your frog."
~ Flynn Rider; Tangled

In addition to Rapunzel's costume being so wonderfully iconic, the thing that I am most excited about are the props. Namely, Pascal the chameleon, Rapunzel's best friend and sidekick, and her trusty frying pan, with which she fends off a world of dubious intent (she probably also uses it to fry things, though this is never confirmed in the movie). ;-)

"I will use this." ~ Rapunzel

The frying pan and the chameleon are fabulous accessories for a fabulous ensemble. Rapunzel doesn't take anything else with her when she leaves the tower, which I find just so adorable.

Today's post is about incentive. Namely, that I haven't allowed myself to acquire these props yet, and I'm not letting myself get them until my costume is finished. I'm looking forward to them that much.

(Obviously, I already have a frying pan of my own. Several, in fact. But I'm not going to use my actual everyday cookware for a costume-- I'll get one exclusive to my costume. I'm going to be dragging it heaven only knows how many places, and putting it down a lot. Oh, and speaking of dragging, I'll probably opt for something smaller and lighter than the movie version. I mean, there are practical aspects, after all).

Pascal has been surprisingly hard to find. I was hoping for a vinyl figurine of some kind of the character, life-sized and durable. But the only thing they seem to sell at this point are tiny figurines or plushes that don't actually look like Pascal. I did a cursory search for generic chameleon figurines as well, and didn't find anything satisfactory at first glance.

Still, it's a minor detail, and one I'm not letting myself worry about until the hard part is done.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for History

Rapunzel is not quite my first costume project. No, it all started last year when I finally had the financial means to haul out to California and see the fabled San Diego Comic Con with my own eyes. And no way was I going to be going just as myself. No, sir. Not when I've loved to dress up since childhood and found out there was more scope for such nerdiness than just Halloween.

SDCC passes have to be purchased well in advance. I believe my friend and I had ours by November of the prior year, so I had a lot of time to plan.

I started small. The thing I was most excited about at Comic Con was the panel for my favorite TV show Chuck (starring Tangled's own Zachary Levi), so I figured a Chuck-inspired costume would be a good place to start.

The Nerdherder

Super easy. You don't have to make anything, just buy (or print, in the case of the badge). I already had the skirt and some shoes. I bought a white top suitably cute to my tastes, a skinny gray tie in the exact right color, and the official NerdHerd lanyard from

(I was going for a generic NerdHerd, not any specific character such as Sarah or Anna-- pictured above.)

The finishing touches: An ID badge compiled and printed from a handy website, and talking my friend Tirzah into getting the Buy More polo to go as my "Morgan" I must say, we looked adorable:

This was us at the Chuck panel itself, officially waiting for it to begin. The smile on my face is largely because of the fact that I had gotten a seat close to the microphone so I could be assured a spot in the queue for Q&A, but alas, the panel ran too long and nobody got to ask any questions. :-(

So the Nerdherder costume was a cinch. And I still had months of time to kill, and a rampant, ambitious imagination. My thoughts turned ahead....

After much consideration, I settled upon one of the beautiful costumes worn by the character Inara Serra from Firefly. Some of the fans call it the "Oatmeal and Orange" outfit:

Inara Serra

("Arrrrrgh!! Look at all the ruffles!!!")

Yes, that was one of my thoughts too.

This costume taught me worlds of useful skills. Patterns, basic sleeves, how to line something, how to do alterations. It also established my habit of jumping right into sewing projects that involve strange or delicate fabrics. *foreheadsmack* My favorite story, though, is probably how I found the fabric for the skirt.

I found an interview with Firefly's costumer that said she actually used a waffle-patterned chenille that was supposed to be couch upholstery. I searched high and low (even went to a sewing convention up in Cleveland which turned out to be 98% for quilters and people who want to sew clothes scrounge around in the scraps back in the corner). But I couldn't ever quite find anything I liked well enough. I am, remember, something of a purist.

Wanna know where I found my eventual winner?

I was upstairs looking for something else in the spare bedroom and opened the linen closet. Staring back at me was a cream-colored chenille blanket from Wal-Mart with a pretty weave. Not waffle, but it was close enough.

"Mom? Do you have an sentimental attachment to this blanket?..."

Much practice and eleven grueling ruffles later, we had a winner.

This is the best pic that I have of the full costume, except I took it before I added the ruffles.

And finally, you can see the infamous ruffles themselves here. This picture was taken at last year's Dragon Con (which I also attended for the first time) during a photo shoot for Firefly costumes. This is me and the other Inaras (and one Zoe). If you're a fan of Firefly, you might be interested in the useless trivia that the most popular Firefly lady to costume is Kaylee, followed by River. I was surprised, because I'm a girly girl who likes super pretty things and Inara's costumes are all the most gorgeous. But that's my opinion, of course. They're also probably the most difficult to recreate.

Anyway, that's my costume history. For now. :-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Gothel

Since this is a Tangled blog (for now, anyway), and because I was having a strange amount of trouble coming up with a sewing anecdote for "G"...

I'm seriously considering doing a Mother Gothel costume in the future as well as Rapunzel. Physically, I'm actually much more like Gothel (being tall as I am) and her dress is both gorgeous and FIFTY TIMES EASIER TO SEW.

No, really. It would require a lot of fabric, but there are a lot patterns out there that I could follow verbatim. I could probably have it done in two weeks once I found the material.

As staggering as all the detail work on Rapunzel's dress is, though, I do love what the fact of it says about the writers of Tangled. I mean, what else did she have to do besides hand-embroider, ribbon, and lace, every last corner of her dress?

Mother Gothel's beautiful dress says a lot about her vanity too. I really think she's one of the most insidious Disney villains ever. I sort of love the fact that all of her evil was the product of her own two hands, and not any magic spells or powerful sidekicks. She put a lot of work into achieving her goals! And I think you could write a psychology dissertation on her relationship with Rapunzel.

So that's my lazy Friday post. Thank you all who have been following and leaving comments. I'm glad you're enjoying!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Fabric

"Awash we are in a sea of purple."
- Faith King, Tangled Costuming blog, April 7th 2011

(In case you thought that was an actual famous quote because I put it in italics at the beginning of my entry)

There are two major fabric components to my Rapunzel skirt, and both of them have their own tales to tell.

PART ONE: The Main Skirt

With the exception of the embroidery (see previous post), Rapunzel's skirt is actually pretty straight-forward. It's a calf-length, A-line, multi-paneled example of practical and comfortable design (I wear skirts every day. I know comfortable and practical). All panels except the front and center one are plain, shiny purple satin.

Flashback to 2002 and my sister's wedding: the regular bridesmaids had gowns of soft sea-green satin. But as the maid-of-honor, my gown was singular. It was, in fact, made out of ...*drumroll*... you guessed it. Shiny purple satin. In more or less the right color. It's slightly darker, but the fabric is so completely gorgeous that I honestly don't care.

I pulled it apart. I experimented with a couple of multi-panel skirt patterns. I spent one Friday evening late into the night, finding an acceptable marriage between what I needed and what I had to work with. Happy day! It was just barely enough. It was a brilliant exercise in thrift and resourcefulness. I would NOT have to buy plain purple satin for my Rapunzel skirt.

I think, though, it was my friend Anna who best summed up this happy ending:

"Exactly how much fabric did you rescue from Bridesmaid Gown Purgatory?!"

I haven't measured, but it was enough. And my sister was 'happy to contribute' (though I could hear something a little more snarky ratting around unspoken in her head-- we know each other well).

Below you can see some of the customized adaptations that I did with the prior dress panels to make this crazy notion work. I think they're quite telling, but I could be wrong.

PART TWO: The Bustier (and the rest of the Skirt)

We've already talked about the structure of the Bustier, including a mention that it was made out of Lavender brocade (also sometimes listed as Jacquard if you're looking for satin fabric with an thin embroidered pattern on top-- I am learning!).

The center panel of the skirt is also brocade, and it has the same pattern as the brocade for the bustier, BUT it is a different color.

I trolled the interwebz for something appropriate and found this wonderful place called Prestige Linens that had a beautiful floral satin brocade in a whole slew of gorgeous colors, including three different shades of purple and the price was AWESOME. I was ecstatic.

Lavender (for the bustier):

Plum (Center skirt panel)

Last week I went to order what I thought I would need and discovered a problem:

There was a minimum yardage requirement. And I need TWO COLORS!

If you poke around this company's website, they don't really produce for individual users. They mostly make seat covers for weddings and sell wholesale to smaller establishments. This explains the great price, but I still didn't have any additional use for 17 extra yards of purple brocade.

As with the embroidery, we now come to another example of my stubbornness. I had my heart set on this fabric. It was almost perfect (the design wasn't quite right, but I think Disney probably has a copyright on theirs and I ain't gonna be able to buy it anywhere). My friends very helpfully pointed out some other options (including dyeing my own material, but I am lazy and I don't want to learn something else new when I'm already learning quite a number of new things in this project).

My friends were correct and sensible and all of that.

But I am just stubborn.

I am going to buy the fabric anyway.

However! Because I am not a wastrel at heart I have already made arrangement with a couple of friends to pool our resources for this fabric since they are also doing Rapunzel costumes at some point down the road. And I don't think we've still quite used it up between the three of us, so if anybody finds this blog and would be interested in contributing, don't hesitate to ask.

PART THREE: Minor fabrics

Down the road I will have to decide what to use for (1) the undershirt or modesty panel for the bustier (2) the upper sleeves (3) the 3/4 length lower sleeves and (4) the petticoat. But compared to the two major components described above, these will be very painless choices in comparison.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Embroidery and for Elsa

The thing that could truly make or break this costume is the embroidery on the skirt. Observe below:

I pondered for a while the best way to go about doing this part. I came up with four options: fabric paint, screen printing, sewn-on appliques, and actual embroidery. The Disneyland version of Rapunzel's costume has appliques. They're okay, and probably a safer choice for the amount of wear that Disney's official Rapunzel actress will be putting into it, but I actually think they look too busy. And I quickly dismissed the fabric paint/screen printing options because, well, I just really want to be purist on this point.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my costume will have real embroidery. And I'll probably be doing it by hand.

I can hear the chorus of voices now: "But you could program a machine to do it!" Yes... I know. And there's a slim chance I yet may-- I have a friend who has an embroidery machine with customized pattern software, but for a number of reasons I don't think I'll go that route.

(1) She's never tried it out, so it would be a learning experience and I don't have any extra satin if it fails.
(2) Anybody else I would have to pay.
(3) This is weird, I know, but... I like hand-stitching. I find it soothing.

A couple of months ago, before I'd even started playing with patterns, I got out a scrap of my purple satin and some embroidery thread, and attempted to stitch a petal from one of the flowers in the design. I was very pleased with how it turned out. And it only took about twenty minutes.

Something else has come up in my life that will make the prospect of so much hand embroidery not quite as insane a prospect as you might be thinking. Two nights ago I auditioned for a local community theater production of "The Sound of Music" which my brother is directing. This morning I found out I got the part I wanted: Baroness Elsa Schraeder.

If you've never done theater before, I will tell you that there is a lot of down time, especially if you're not a lead. Down time in which you need to be hanging around, attentive, and quiet. It is okay (though not ideal) for doing homework or trying to write or read, but it's even better for playing solitaire or doing something mindless and repetitive with your hands-- like embroidery.

I was going to scan and post the drawings of the main designs I had already worked out on graph paper, but I left my notebook and the designs at my aunt's house last time I was there and she confessed she might have thrown them away thinking they were her daughter's scribbles. Whoops. In either case, I need to get them all finished and scaled as soon as possible. I think that will be my official costuming goal for this coming Saturday. I will report back with my success or failure.