Saturday, June 26, 2010

Enchanted Menagerie with Dances of Vice

As a rather last-minute plan (mother's car accident had me thinking we wouldn't be able to go, but she got a rental car - she is also fine), I went traipsing off to New York on Friday with mother and a friend. We had a delicious dinner with my aunt, and went to a Dances of Vice event.

The event was called "The Enchanted Menagerie," and we decided to go all out on the costuming. We both wore fantastic wigs made by Sweet Hayseed. We also went all out with the makeup, as you will see in a moment. She wore a dress (one of those "in progress" forever projects), which was delightfully spiffy with the addition of pretty butterfly fabric and rhinestones! The rhinestones don't show up well in photographs, but they looked really great, especially considering how much rhinstone-ing she did in the car. Very impressive.

I made new stuff! I threw together an 18th century underwear outfit with things I had, and then I made gold cage panniers. Bird cages! You know, "enchanted menagerie"... I am pretty proud of this last minute bit of construction. I was hitting them with spray paint up to the last minute... waiting for things to dry is such a pain. Now, to fully document the outfit!(Me, getting birds in their cages)(The back)(The front)(Friend from the front)(Us being cute)(Me, panicking! Oh no!)

The actual event was delightful. I had never gotten to see Shien Lee (the organizer of Dances of Vice) sing before, and she was really lovely. Wish her a happy birthday! Also, the band she was singing with was great. Check out Grandpa Mussleman and his Syncopators, and when they play with Shien they go by Shanghai Foxtrot. There were some other performances too, like a really impressive fashion show of animal-inspired fashions by Kristen Costa Designs, and a very strange performance piece by Sequinette involving glitter (my friend approves very much) and the most incredible violin costume. Wow. All the performers were really talented.I met a lot of nice people at the event, and drooled over some really incredible costumes (as usual), but one of the more fun moments was walking back to the car. We were photographed, we were questioned, we were repeatedly bowed and curtsied to. Keep in mind this is all at 3 in the morning on the Bowery. My friend was drukenly molested in a harmless kind of way (We frequently get questions about our clothes, so "Can I touch you," didn't seem so ridiculous at the time...). Some foreigners said something nice about Lady Gaga having a hard time out-doing us. I even met a girl who knew that I was wearing panniers, and knew how to pronounce that, and even had made some herself! Note to self: you meet the most suprisingly lovely people when you run around in crazy clothes at 3 in the morning.(Us in the street, walking to the car, hilariously juxtaposed with prolific graffiti)

All in all, an excellent adventure!

Friday, June 25, 2010

ALHFAM Dance, and a New Hair Wreath

Mother was hired to go out to Old Sturbridge Village, where ALHFAM, "the Association for Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums" was haveing a conference. They hired Spare Parts for some wonderful music, and we did some dancing. The background noise level was higher than at some events we do because of the bar, but the people were nice enough that this wasn't really a problem. We did several dances, and I think people had a lot of fun. As always, Spare Parts is a really great band, so it was lovely to see them again.

We had a minor embarrasment with out hoops. The event was Thursday night. Wednesday afternoon, mother was in a car accident. She wasn't hurt, and it was very obviously not her fault at all, so it is mostly inconvenient. We had to get a rental car. The issues is that we were wearing 1860s, and our hoops were in the back of her car, which was at the shop! So we wore our dresses hoop-less, and they actually worked just fine. In the final analysis, with the tiny dance floor at out disposal, this was probably for the best. Oops.
I wore a newly-made hair wreath. We bought the flowers, and I made the wreath. Then, when I was feeling very accomplished, all the little blue flowers kept falling off their stems. So I painstakingly took every single one off, and super-glued them back on. Those suckers aren't going anywhere now! I like the look of the drippy blue flowers.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Last night I went to Klockwerq, a steampunk event at Club Oberon in Harvard Square. It being steampunk, I wore my underwear on the outside with a bustle. For a very thrown together outfit, I though this was quite respectable. Well, not respectable from the point of view of "Oh, I forgot to wear an actual skirt," but respectable in terms of "I threw this outfit together last minute and it looks fundamentally intentional." The event itself was lovely, though entirely devoid of waltzes. You would be amazed how much music it is possible, if ill-advised, to polka or charleston to. A waltz needs a waltz, though.

I caught a ride on a very snazzy scooter to get there. And just for the record, it is possible to ride a scooter side-saddle. And just for the record, it is much cooler that way.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fur Cloak

Rev. Matthew William Peters. Portrait of a Lady in a White Dress and a Fur Rimmed Cape.

A very descriptive title, no? Now that it is hot out and there is no need for muffs, I find myself drawn to them. I think she has a very cute cape. I will have to give some thought to winter-wear, although I have a lot of higher priority sewing projects for the summer. Stay tuned for some new ballgowns... eventually!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1842 Red Ballgown

I will never make this dress. I will never need an 1840s ballgown. It is not a period I love, and it is really not a period I ever do. But I still think this red ballgown is quite lovely. Check out the details at the Met Costume Institute website here, or just look at the pretty picture.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Silent Bat Man

When I first saw this, I thought it was delightful. And then I was struck by confusion. Wasn't Batman a thing rather later than the 1920s? In fact, yes. This is a modern splicing of 1920s footage with new cards to do a Batman story with not-originally-Batman footage. But it is really well done. Enough so that I was fooled into thinking it was something original. So take a moment to check it out. If nothing else, it is really cool that someone was able to do this. Also, I love bats, so I think the bat movie footage, bat special effects, and semi-frightening bat costume are all fantastic. You can find the rest easily on youtube if you find this fascinating.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Truely Completed Hat

A while ago I made that hat with the pink woosh on the crown and the pink ruched underside. But the poor thing was still aching for more trim! "I need flowers!" it cried.
So what do you think?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

1910 Astor Dress... with Sequins!

More sparkle! Check out this very cool 1910 dress worn by a member of the fabulous Astor family. I love the sequins so much. Super pretty. Check out the Met Costume Institute website entry here.
The Met's description: "The over-the-top expression of opulence seen in this ball gown worn by a prominent member of the Astor family is a testament to the degree of ostentation required at certain events in order to stand out from the crowd. The dense sequin and bead embroidery on the gown would have created a beautiful shimmering effect.

The donors Orme Wilson (1885-1966) and R. Thornton Wilson (1923-1995) were great-great grandsons of fur trader and entrepreneur John Jacob Astor (1763-1848). The ball gown may have been worn by their mother, Caroline Schermerhorn Astor Wilson (1861-1948), daughter of William Backhouse Astor, Jr. (1830-1892) and Caroline Webster Schermerhorn (1830-1908), who was popularly known at "the" Mrs. Astor."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Plaid Silk Hugenot Skirt and Temporary Hat

Plans just didn't work out today. First, we were going to go to a birthday party picnic for a friend in Boston. A medical situation canceled the picnic. Then we thought we would go to a different event, but it started raining. Not wanting to ruin the lovely new skirt I had just finished, I didn't want to wear it out in the rain, so we canceled those plans too. Bummer.

On the other hand, I had a delightfully productive morning because of these potential plans. I finished this new plaid Hugenot skirt. I started it on Wednesday, finished cutting pieces on Thursday, completely assembled it Friday, and then woke up to throw together a hat to match! Remember how into Tissot and the Tissot-bow-hat I am. Well, this is made from scraps, and I intend to re-do it later and do it more justice. But for 20 minutes work, not bad at all.I also, this morning, put most of the eyelets (I couldn't find enough! Boo hoo!) into this gorgeous blue plaid silk Edwardian corset I made. It's been sitting around, finished except for eyelets, beautiful but totally unwearable, for ages. Now it can be worn, and I am inspired to add the last four eyelets soon! So please enjoy the pretty pictures and forgive the slight weirdness of the lacing... I just adore the shape of this corset. The pretty swoops over the hips are so pretty. It is a Past Patterns pattern... check out that company for some lovely things.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian - More Kate Bush Wuthering Heights

These guys are so cool. So if you liked Kate Bush, check out their version of her song. Or perhaps if you hated her, check it out for a less... something-or-other version of the song. Anyway, check them out because they are adorable.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush

This is one of the most ridiculous and frightening and wonderful things you may ever see. I have to learn the choreography for this. While the dancing (is it dancing? really?) may be fantastic, make sure you also listen to the words. You know, I really hated Wuthering Heights when I read it. But this song will haunt you. You will wake in the night hearing "Heathcliff, its me, Cathy, I've come home...." Don't watch this if you aren't prepared for that to happen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sisi Choker - Part Three

Another example for you! I actually just realized this one recently. I've always loved this 1855 Winterhalter painting of Eugenie and ladies. They are all so lovely. But I had never noticed the choker before. Look at the middle bottom one in the green... she's wearing a Sisi-style choker! Actually, I should stop calling it that since there are so many other ladies who wear ones like it! There is also a girl to the left with a black ribbon bow, which is similar but not as good. This is so exciting for me, and I feel very justified by my lovely choker. I think I will wear it more, now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sisi Choker - Part Two

Check out this adorable girl that I found. She's 1850s, and not only has she got fantastic hair, but she's got a very similar choker to the one I've been looking at. So, further justification. Her choker tails are much shorter than Sisi's, but they are still very cute, and even Sisi's were variable in length.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Sisi Choker - Part One

The inspiration for my choker from the Returning Heroes ball mostly comes from Empress Elizabeth of Austria, or Sisi. You have already heard from me before about her sparkly goodness (here, for example). I have a star, inspired by hers, and bought in Vienna. I wore it with a black ribbon, emulating a choker she had and worn. I even saw the original in a museum in Vienna, but I can't find a picture of it anywhere on the internet, and I didn't take a picture of it then (wasn't allowed to take pictures in that museum). I remember being confused at the time, because it said "a choker owned by Sisi," but it looked like a sparkly brooch and long random black ribbon, sort of crossed and wrapped around a piece of cardboard. How is that a choker? Later I was looking at pictures of her and found several that explain it. Since then I have decided that this is the coolest choker design ever. So here are my inspiration pictures of Sisi in her choker. For the last one, look to the right.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Returning Heroes 2010

Sorry for going missing for so many days. I went on a pretty last minute trip to visit a friend in Florida, and I didn't have time to think about setting up posts while I was away. So major fail on my part.

Picking up where I left off, we did the Returning Heroes Ball. It was lovely. Unfortunately, I had a major camera fail, so I have exactly one picture to commemorate the event and show you what I wore. So check that out.This dress is almost exactly a year old (I wore it for the first time, almost completed, to the Newport Vintage Dance Week in August), so it is definitely time for a new one. Stay tuned for some sewing in the next couple of weeks... I feel inspired!

Also, the choker was new. I will explain that some time later, but I really like how that worked out. I promise historical justification in the next few days.