Film

Secret Cinema and Sewing Experiments

On my latest trip to London I attended my first Secret Cinema, an immersive film experience. While it isn’t so secret anymore (they used to not tell you the movie until you arrived), it’s still a very fun, very detailed evening out. Essentially Secret Cinema creates an environment based on a film, gives its attendees “characters” and provides a sort of LARP lite immersion before you watch the event’s film. When I found out they would be screening Blade Runner, well, I was there.

I received my character brief and set to figuring out what exactly it meant and what I should wear.

 

Upon reading more about the Job Title: Professional Friend, it became clear to me that I was a “basic pleasure model” similar to the replicant Pris. So what would an overweight, middle aged sexbot wear, I wondered?

Originally, I was going to wear my black lace fetish dress but then I thought, “Why aren’t I making a new outfit like I do for every event? Don’t be cheap and lazy!” So I set out to figure something that would be kind of spacey and future but still wearable by me.

I decided to experiment and try something I’d never done, sew with scuba. I really stay away from unusual fabrics but my idea seemed simple enough and I had a backup plan (the fetish dress). I went out looking at my retail options but ultimately found my fabric online from Fashion Fabrics Club. I found a neoprene that is black on one side and white on the other. So I decided to do a kind of 60s space take by sewing a color blocked mini dress.

I chose the trusty New Look 6889 as my pattern. It has the lines I needed and it is very fast and easy. I read up on sewing scuba / neoprene, which seemed pretty straightforward and similar to sewing most knits (use a new ball point needle). What I did not realize is that scuba fabric and neoprene, while similar in look, are not the same. Scuba is a polyester double knit fashion fabric. Neoprene has a foam core between the layers of double knit. The fabric I bought had a very thin core but it was there. That core also can make neoprene more hot to wear.

The neoprene was very easy to sew but not forgiving. It shows stitch marks but they do basically come out. Like all knits you need to make sure that you don’t stretch while you sew. I was also concerned the neoprene might snag on my feed dogs but I didn’t have an issue.

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The dress on top of other things that hang out on my dress form.

Originally I was going to leave all my edges raw but I am bad at cutting a straight line so I turned everything over and did a narrow hem. I also originally planned on making the dress more like a checkerboard so the back was the reverse of the front. I cut out my pieces incorrectly so the left side was black and the right side was white — not what I intended but it worked just fine.

To accessorize, I purchased a pink holographic harness from Apatico. I got a ton of compliments on the harness at the event and one of the immersion actors even tried to barter it off me. I turned her down.

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Zhora and her raincoat

As part of the immersion we were are told repeatedly to bring umbrellas, raincoats and to wear flat shoes due to “LA’s persistent acid rain”. This is because they actually made it rain, repeatedly, inside the immersion. I really wanted a clear raincoat like Zhora’s but I couldn’t find one in my size. I figured I’d try to make that too.

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to make a cape to avoid setting sleeves made out of vinyl. I already had a teflon presser foot. I bought heavy duty needles and set to work.

I was shocked how easy it was to sew the vinyl together. It did not get torn up by the feed dogs. I did have to be a little careful that the vinyl did not stick to the metal plate though. It started off really great! Then I started trying to topstitch my seams and it started going wrong. I put it on. The cape flared out in a really weird way. It could have been a cool effect but I wasn’t buying it. Between the topstitch issues, the weird fit and the fact that I was trying to do this at the 11th hour, I gave up. I bought a super cute white vinyl raincoat on Amazon (it’s in the 1st photo on the dress form) instead.

IMG_8983As it turned out, London had some freaky weather while I was visiting. The day of Secret Cinema it was almost 80 degrees! Londoners were dying and it definitely was not a day for a vinyl raincoat. I was both glad I didn’t suffer through trying to make the clear one and annoyed that it was too hot to wear my white one. One of my friends was cast as a private detective and bought a super cute trench coat to wear. It was too hot for that as well.

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I bought a light up clear umbrella when I arrived on the site and boy did I need it. They were not kidding about the acid rain! It “rained” about every 15 minutes and it was not a light sprinkling. There were food stalls surrounding the rainy area and you could eat noodles barely shaded from the rain just like Deckard did in the film. A couple of times I was caught without my umbrella up and my neoprene dress turned out to be the right choice because rather than being soaked the rain just rolled off! We also had drinks in The Snake Pit after being let in the backdoor by Zhora herself.

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I had a great time during my trip to 2019 Los Angeles. That’s next year! Wow.

Oscar Party dress, or I finally managed to sew a thing!

My first post of 2018 was an ambitious list of my sewing hopes for this year. So what did I not do at all in January and February? Yep, no sewing at all.

I finally was able to get back behind the machine to make a formal dress for an Oscar Party.

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I was very excited to give Simplicity 2506 from 1958 a spin. It was a good score to find this pattern in a 24 1/2 (45 bust). That’s actually a size too big for me but I made the dress with no alterations. This turned out to be a mistake as it was too big in the shoulders and at the neckline. I can make a fast and dirty fix on the dress I already made. I should take a wedge out of the center front and redraft that piece before I make this again.

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Originally I was going to make this dress in a sort of tiki inspired fabric of tan tropical leaves and flowers on a black ground. I misread the pattern however and after I had cut several pieces I realized I was at least a yard short of fabric. Since that fabric was essentially free, this error turned out to only be extremely annoying versus tragic or expensive. I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash with enough yardage so I went out the day before the Oscars to try to find something else.

I, like most people, was totally thrilled by Black Panther. After watching, I immediately put a vintage dress out of African wax cotton on my sewing list so I’d have something “Wakandan” for DragonCon. I was striking out with Oscar dress fabric but the shop I was at has a wide selection of wax cottons. I immediately fell in love with this one. I love all the colors and the almost tech or cellular look to it. I also didn’t realize that African wax cotton prints come in set yardages. So I was a little worried about making that work with my big skirt pieces but bought a little extra it turned out fine. I was a little worried with how stiff the wax cotton was but I figured it had to soften up with washing. It softened up and had an almost brushed texture after a trip in the washing machine. It was a dream to work with and very easy to sew.

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I finished the dress at 7:30pm the night of the party. The red carpet started at 7pm so by the time I got dressed and ready I made a very late entrance. But, I did finish the dress, I did make it to the party and in addition to looking fab, I was super comfortable. I also had pocket since I put one in! I accessorized with an earring necklace combo from Dames a la Mode. While you can’t see them I’m wearing very cute blue suede heels I just rediscovered after several years being lost under my bed. This dress would look even more period with a small crinoline underneath. I actually have the perfect one, but in my rush to get the party I totally forgot about wearing it.

While I now I have the perfect gown for next year’s Oscars (I’m sure Black Panther will win something — costume design seems obvious), I’m still planning to make another more casual dress as a Black Panther homage. I’d like to use a print that is a little more traditional. Also, African wax cotton was a dream to work with and affordable so I’m completely down with sewing it again and often.

Friday Night Viewing: La Grande Bellezza

Tonight I watched La Grande Bellezza (“The Great Beauty”) directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

I’d never heard of this film but it won the best foreign film Oscar a couple of years ago. It’s definitely atmospheric and meandering but it rewards with beautiful imagery and some very witty and cutting dialogue. It starts Toni Servillo, in a virtuoso performance as Jep, an aging playboy who wrote a great novel in his 20s but then devolved to living a party fueled society life in Rome. He has some demons and regrets that play out in fabulous Roma locations.

The film is surreal but in a way that is not creepy or disturbing, which seems unique these days. It plays in some ways as a love letter to Rome itself. The scenery isn’t just set pieces, but a character in itself. Also, as a fashionista, I couldn’t help but appreciate the sartorial splendor of Jep’s endless parade of colorful and natty shirts, coats and shoes.

This kind of film falls into my category of a “coffee movie”. That’s a film that can be well enjoyed either late on a calm night or on a rainy afternoon with a pot of coffee. It’s long at 2 1/2 hours but I found it worth the time.

La Grande Bellezza is available as part of The Critereon Collection on Hulu Plus. (That’s where we found it.)

My Log Does Not Judge Your Thoughts On Twin Peaks.

I’m revisiting Twin Peaks as my current sewing background. I’ve been meaning to re watch this for ages. I don’t think I’ve ever seen all the episodes and I certainly don’t remember a lot of the more soap opera aspects of the series. I do remember who killed Laura Palmer, but really at this point, does it matter?

My Log Will Have Something To Say About This.

Twin Peaks is soooo good. And soooo terrible. I guess that’s sacrilege to say, but really, it’s kind of unwatchable, especially the first couple of episodes. Lynchian screechiness is in full effect. Twin Peaks is simultaneously hypnotic and in places, snortingly funny. It’s also all over the goddamned place. Donut art. Waldo the myna bird. Leaden melodrama. 90s tweed jackets. Saddle shoes. Ham-fisted teenage longing. Taxidermy. Pie.

I’m surprised Twin Peaks made it as long as it did on network television. Nowadays it would have been cancelled by mid-season.

Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman’s Blazer

The provenance of Twin Peaks can be felt in shows like True Detective, both in its more gonzo aspects and also in the general tenor of the plot. True Detective is certainly more gritty and narrowly focused, where Twin Peaks meanders and sprawls, not sure where it hopes to go. Twin Peaks left a particular personal mark on me, encouraging my mastery of a seminal parlor trick.

Where are all the One Eyed Jacks cosplays?

Twin Peaks is streaming on Netflix. As the show predates hi-definition, you’ll be stuck watching it in the side letterbox 4:3 square ratio we all had to previously endure. A 1080p version is apparently available for purchase on iTunes. A deluxe Blu-Ray including the entire series, deleted footage and the film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is rumored for release this summer.