When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Bluebird of Happiness Fancy Dress

For a local fashion show I put together, I chose Victorian Fancy Dress as my theme.  Victorians loved costume parties too!  The models were so creative in their choices, such as a chess game, pirate ship, marionette, photography, starry night, Anne Boleyn, duchess of desserts, and many, many more.

My choice was The Bluebird of Happiness.  A few years ago, I had purchased 3 yards of Michael Miller fabric called "Bird on the Vine" for a sewing challenge.   Unfortunately, the challenge was cancelled, and the fabric sat.

I liked the idea of an 18th century silhouette for my costume, and the shorter length that many fancy dress costumes seemed to have.  Here are a few examples of shorter skirts.

 Since I was not worried about being period correct, I chose a very easy pattern, Simplicity 4092.  Instead of the back closure, I closed up the back seam, and moved the opening to the front right side of the bodice insert, which I closed with hooks and eyes.  I made the yellow version, with a petticoat and overdress.  For the bodice, I centered a bluebird near the center, and backed it with quilted fabric to give it body.  The overdress was a pretty blue linen I bought from Val. She has the best fabric closet to shop in!

The first thing I made was the skirt.  Since I only had 3 yards, I used it for the front and part of the side panels.  I found a coordinating print in the same colors, and used it on the backside. To tie it together, I used the same coordinating print as the ruffle fabric. One top of the ruffle I made pleated grosgrain ribbon with tiny white trim on top.  Once the polonaise was completed, it would cover the non-bluebird fabric in back. I cut about 8 inches from the bottom of the skirt.
I also cut 8 inches off of the overdress.   For the trim around the neckline and down the front to the hem, I used scalloped pinking shears on contrasting fabric strips, pleated, and topped with blue grosgrain ribbon and white floral lace.  The sleeves stopped just below the elbows, and I added two lace flounces, pinked fabric strips, and blue pleated grosgrain ribbon with tiny white trim on top.

Bows were added on the flounces, and finally, a little bluebird was glued on top.  The overdress was pulled up a la polonaise.  A bow and lace were added to the neckline.

The hat was a remake from another outfit.  In an earlier post of mine  a Polonaise from Georgian to Victorian   I turned an 18th century outfit (purchased from Val) into a 19th century outfit.  I still had the bergere hat from the original outfit.  I removed the orange trim, and substituted blue trim to match the dress.  Three bluebirds were added to the front.   I have been trying to  re-purpose what I can.

With the finished hem of the dress ending nine inches off the ground, I knew I had to decorate shoes to match.  I purchased some white Victorian shoes with a slight Louis heel.   I then pleated satin ribbon and hand sewed it around the shoe openings.  I had to push the needle through the shoes with the back of a spoon.  It took quite a while.  I filled in the instep opening with lace, added organza ribbon ties and of course, more little birds.


As each model came out, I showed a slide in keeping with the theme of their costume.  On my slide, I had fancy dress costumes with birds on it.  Val, "Sunrise", read for me while I walked. 

The costumes were all very special, so I want you to see them. 

Val L.  Sunrise.   Carol W.  Peacock.   
                                       Kelly V. Artemis.                                       

Karina W. Cthulhu.   Val L. Chess.   Cynthia B. Oriental Mystere.

Jody R. Mother Goose.   Gina L. Anne Boleyn.  Kristen G. I am the Map.

Diane Y.  Photo-Mania.   Evah A.  Starry Night.   Nancy and Russell S.  Phantom and Christine.

Sarah P.  Pirate Ship.  April D. Duchess of Desserts.  Darleene R.  Witch.

Birda N.  Fiery Shepherdess.  Heather B. Marionette.  Susan D.  Floral Fantasy.

Joanne W.  Alice.  Gina L. Statue of Liberty. 
Melinda L. Josephine Bonaparte.

Jody R.  Evil Queen.  Cynthia B. Thea, Queen of the Sea.  Jeanette P.  Little Bo Peep.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Boris and Natasha, International Spies

Spy fun with my favorite cartoon International spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale!  Together with Fearless Leader, these no good-niks get into all kinds of mischief trying to eradicate Moose and Squirrel.   I wanted an easy dress for both Costume College's Friday night spy party, and Tiki Oasis spy themed weekend.

I had to have a Boris and Natasha dress. After looking all over, I found this fantastic fabric!
 Well of course, it was out of print.  I was only able to find one continuous yard of this fabric (I was finding fat quarters for quilting).  How do I make a dress from one yard??? 

Out came my favorite pattern, which I make once a year.  See pattern here    If I were careful, I could squeeze the bodice pieces out of it.   It was soooo tight, I even had to use the selvage for the center back where the zipper went!  It does not show in the finished dress.

I decided to attach it to a black skirt, and decorate it somehow with left over scraps. There was a strip of fabric and two square pieces left over.   One square I would incorporate into the black skirt somehow, and the other square was for sleeves.  

I cut out the skirt and sewed that up so I could attach the strip around the bottom.  I had to take a few tucks so it would bend with the curve of the skirt.  I sewed some tiny black and white check ribbon across the top, and then hemmed the bottom.

Then on to the cap sleeves cut from the second left over square piece.  Oh dear, it wasn't quite wide enough at the ends of the sleeves where the underarms meet.  I decided to piece the ends with the tiny left over scraps.  It would be in an area no one would see.   The pattern doesn't match up, but its such a busy print it didn't matter.

I found a cute little Boris cloth doll, and wanted to use him.  My second square of leftover fabric became a pocket!   I can always take him out and use the pocket for small items later. For now, he is riding along.  I am currently looking for a turquoise belt, but will use the red one until I find one I like.  Still have to sew on the pocket, its just pinned on here.

First event was Costume College's Friday Night Social: Casino Royale-Our Favorite Spies.  I was Chair for this event.   I hired the wonderful Richard Halpern to appear as Austin Powers and work the crowd.  He was amazing! This is his website     Here are a few photos from the event.

Above left, Richard "Austin Powers" Halpern with Birda and me.  Above right, a lovely lady from the UK as Natasha. Love the way she's holding a gun on Bullwinkle.



 Next, Tiki Oasis!   For this event, I added belt loops on the dress, because when I raised my arms, the belt would shift.   I changed out my hair accessories, because my friend Erin made the cutest bomb/red eyeball flower hair piece, and it went perfect with the dress.  I also wore comfy black sneakers, as I was at this event for 13 hours.   AND.... a Boris and Natasha won the couples costume contest!  If I come across their photo, I will add it here.

Tiki Oasis photos below!

 Above, at the Deadhead Rum tiki trailer.

Above right, hangin' with da boys.

Right, Men (and Women) from U.N.C.L.E.

Below, end of the night room party line!