megan maude

Recent Costume Goings On: Anachrocon and Cirque de Soleil

While my costume sewing has slowed down a bit, my costume wearing has been quite steady the past couple of weeks!

Last weekend was Anachrocon, Atlanta’s Alternative History / Steampunk convention. I was on hand to officiate the Tea Duelling Tournament as I am the founder of the American Tea Duelling Society. Anachrocon is the longest running tournament for the society and it was a great one. Everything went super smooth and the tourney, duellists and spectators were all on point!

bloomerallsI commissioned a pair of bloomeralls from Megan Maude. Megan has worn hers to several cons we’ve both attended and I finally just had to have my own pair. Megan is probably one of the only people who could make a pair of overalls that would actually fit me. They are super comfy. I foresee wearing them far more than just for casual con wear.

To accessorize I finally had a reason to trot out my new biscuit beret and purse from Taobao. IMG_9732.JPG

Megan often serves as my Pot Mistress at Tea Duels. This means she makes all the tea and keeps the tournament running while I make funny (?) quips and force the competitors to shake hands multiple times for my amusement. She, like all Pot Mistresses, does the hard, hot work and a tourney really can’t run without a good one! Since we both have bloomeralls now, it seems that she and I have created a new tea duelling uniform.

me and megan bloomeralls

another great image from David Leo of Leo Photography

Generally, the prize for winning a tea duel is a fez emblazoned with the official Tea Duelling patch, which was designed by the one and only Doctor Geof (who also is one of the inventors of tea duelling). This year I decided to make a cockade instead. I referenced the tutorial from American Duchess but mostly winged it.

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While I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, it’s also a pretty huge cockade, as you can see with it being proudly worn by our tourney winner.

tea duelling winner

Our winner in another of David Leo’s images.

Another Anachrocon attendee wore a couple of my creations. She was attending the event for the first time and needed some wardrobe. I sold her a red and black houndstooth corset I had made a while ago and a ribbon and D-ring embellished skirt & capelette set that had been lingering in my UFO pile. Her crafty husband made her belt and the cameo badges on the skirt. His finishing touches really pulled everything together. I thought she looked adorable and she seemed to be enjoying her first visit to Anachrocon.

victoria in my gear

Cirque de Soleil’s touring show Kurios: Cabinet of Curiousities just opened here in Atlanta. Members of The Artifice Club were invited to work the Kurios premiere as costumed background flavor. Kurios is steampunk themed so the brief was “as steampunk as possible”. I went in my orange and brown leopard print natural form gown. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain that night. Good thing my umbrella featuring the grand drape of Lyric Opera of Chicago was a perfect match and grand coverage from the curses of the elements. Kurios also sells pretty groovy umbrellas too. They could have made a killing if they had a stand outside before the doors opened!

Since I took a photo just in my undergarments, I’m posting it. I should have ironed my petticoat!

cirque under and outwear

Corset made by House of Canney, everything else made of fabric sewn by me.

My gown used these Truly Victorian patterns: 1879 Cuirass Bodice, 1878 Long Draped Overskirt and 1878 Tie-Back Underskirt. I made the belt and embellished the vintage straw hat. The fur is vintage and has four heads, four tails and eight feet. I’m quite fond of this dress. Natural form is easy to wear, especially while sitting in stadium style seating while watching a circus. I’ve meant to go to a Cirque de Soleil show for a long time but never actually managed it. Considering my interests, this show was the obvious one to fix that. I really enjoyed it! I was very glad that it had a low factor of creepy art clown. While the acts and visuals were all excellent, the thing that surprised me the most was the music. I always hear about how great the Cirque music is and this show’s ragtime / electroswing style got my feet tapping. I might even get the soundtrack. I’m hoping to see the show again, this time without a corset!

You can catch a fast shot of me in this promo video. I’m posing with some patrons at 1:23.

Things I Forgot To Mention From 2014, Part 2: Totoro

You might have noticed from my last post that I have been, in some ways, spending the start of 2015 in the past.  I figured why not continue that theme with the 2nd installment of “Things I Forgot to Mention from 2014”.

You might remember that I never finished running down my costumes from DragonCon. My epic Sunday cosplay was The Blue Totoro Bustle Gown. I did this cosplay with my great friend, designer and costuming cohort Ms. Megan Maude. We were at my house one night far too close to DragonCon brainstorming our cosplays. We were sort of at a loss. I mentioned Totoro and her eyes lit up. Yes. We were going to do this!

“You said you you liked hand sewing…” Image by Leo Photography 2014.

We decided to make bustle dresses that were recognizable both as Totoro inspired and also as straight up Victorian fashion. We both wanted to make gowns that were period fashion appropriate versus some odd semi-historic fantasia. This gown seemed very doable to me as I have made several bustle gowns and I had all the foundations ready to go. It was much more work for Megan who was new to this period of sewing and also had to make her bustle and undergarments.

It was decided, due to our considerable height difference, that Megan would be the main gray Totoro and I would be the small blue Totoro. We discussed designs and even got into a couple of heated discussions about what was and wasn’t appropriate. In the end, we went with this:

Totoro Bustle Design Sketch. Drawing by Megan Maude.

You can see some of the variations we discussed on the right side — how many pleats, what do to at the cuff. The only non-historial concession we made was to add the Totoro ears to our bonnets. We had a design and were ready to sew our respective dresses.

We used all patterns from Truly Victorian. The 1884 French Vest Bodice with a modified square neckline for the bodice. The 1885 Four-Gore Underskirt with no modifications for the skirt and hats from the 1880s French Bonnet Frame.

My fabric was white and periwinkle Kaufmann Essex Linen Blend (55% Linen / 45% Cotton). I bought a small piece of bright green linen to make ginkgo leaves for my bonnet. The leaves, beyond being a super cute Totoro reference served to cover some of my hat’s wonkiness and my needle puncture blood stains. I bag lined my bodice per the Truly Victorian pattern using some vintage cotton curtains that had been gifted to me. I thought the texture, color and pattern of the curtains matched the mood of the gown perfectly. I had the lining cut out and then realized that there was actually a tear in one of my pieces. So I added a funny little patch since there was no more curtain to cut another piece.  I also happened to find some perfect leaf buttons so I added those as accents to the collar, cuffs and above the back bodice pleats.

Vintage curtain lining complete with patch and leaf button details.

Megan opted to finish with facings, thinking that it would end up being a cooler garment to wear in the DragonCon swelter. This is actually the more historically accurate way to finish but ended up being a bit of a frustrating choice for the hand sewing adverse Ms. Maude.

I made a little reticule out of some natural cotton and a drawstring made of braided hemp twine. The blue Totoro always seems to be running around with a sack and this was extra convenient for my cell phone, cash and hand fan.

We were both thrilled with how our gowns turned out and had a fabulous time on promenade Sunday night. I have to say this was probably the most squee-able cosplay I have ever done. The squees were audible as we heard people exclaim “OMG Totoro!” and the like. We also had our share of people wanting photo ops. I think I pretty much giggled and smiled the entire time we wore the gowns!

Classic Totoro by RBC Image.

I even have a Totoro fan in my hand. RBC Image

Urban Totoros by RBC Image.