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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
Bits and bobs seemed like an appropriate title for a post about miscellaneous things. (It is a favorite expression of my Scottish-born costumer friend Rona, so I always hear it in my head the cute Glaswegian way she says it.) Bits & pieces (the American version) just isn’t quite as colorful to me.
Currently, I am helping build the costumes for The Dallas Shakespeare Festival’s summer productions of Twelfth Night and Coriolanus. Costumes for both shows are designed by Leila Heise, who I have enjoyed having as a co-worker on many occasions, but this is the first time I have had the pleasure of sewing her designs.
This production of Twelfth Night is styled in a historic setting with turbans and such a-la-Spartacus. For the last couple of days, I have been embellishing the Duke’s fancy coat using pieces of beautiful hand-embroidered and sequined net fabric – it’s so bee-U-tee-full it cost $92 a yard! (Good thing Leila only needed one yard for her design!)
I still have at least one more day of hand-sewing the fanciness (it will be mirrored on the other side). Here’s a close-up of the ornate fabric:
Besides the coat, I’ve had a blast sewing things like capes and harem pants, and just generally enjoying the company of my fellow costumers in the shop. We have way too much fun talking and laughing as we work! =)
Speaking of good company, a few weeks ago, I was bestowed the honor of the “Versatile Blogger Award” by fellow blogger A Girl in Winter. She is very sweet to think I deserve such a thing, and I am touched that she finds me interesting. =) I have enjoyed following her first sewing adventures and seeing the wonderful fabrics she chooses for her projects.
I’ve seen the Versatile Blogger Award on other people’s blogs in the past, yet it never seems to have the same “rules”. So I hope no one will be terribly offended that I have decided not to pass it on (I’m not very fond of chain-letters either – I always break them!). The rules that come with the award remind me a little of the “telephone game” where a friend whispers a phrase and it gets passed on so that everyone can laugh at how badly the original phrase gets distorted at the end.
Speaking of rules, Cindy of Cation Designs recently wrote a post about getting a prom “do-over” with her husband and how much more stylish she was the second time. (Luh-kee!)
I left her a comment about my own thrifted senior-year homecoming dress that I didn’t think was all that bad (considering all the dress-code rules we had to follow) but my husband (who met me a little over a year later) thinks it was awful. He deadpans his Napoleon Dynamite impression every time he sees a photo of me in that dress – “I like your sleeves. They’re real big.”
(Things are about to get embarrassing…)
So, Cindy, since you asked to see it, here’s the photo!
I absolutely HATED my hair that night. My mom took me to have it done at a salon, and the hair-stylist didn’t really listen to what I wanted in an up-do. I wanted it to be a softer and looser style, but I got a tight French-twist and crunchy hair-sprayed curls instead. (This is the main reason I did my own hair on my wedding day!)
Later that school year, I had an opportunity to have a better photo taken in the same homecoming dress (with my normal hairstyle) for Senior portraits. I didn’t use this formal look for my official yearbook photo, but I liked it in black & white and it’s currently hanging in my hallway among other family photos.
Speaking of red dresses, today was the Festival of Pentecost (celebrating the birthday of the Christian Church) and red is the color associated with Pentecost. So I wore my slightly retro 50’s-style dress and coordinated with red heels and red headband this morning.
These days, I have a variety of looks when I dress up, but overall, I would say that my style is slightly retro, ranging from the 40’s to the 70’s, without being too costumey. I promise my style sense has greatly improved since the restrictive dress-code days of private high school! I wish we’d simply had uniforms!
Speaking of uniforms, I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day!
Oh, that coat is loveliness itself! Thanks for sharing the fun photos–I personally shudder at the thought of my high school (and mid school) photos! LOL
Thanks! I have so much fun building other costumers’ designs because I get to focus on my favorite part – the construction! =)
I think high school is meant to be a collection of cringe-worthy fashion statements – that way you can really feel like your style has improved in your adult years, hehe.
Awww, thanks for posting your photo! I really like you in red, and it looks like the dress has really nice lines (at least from what I can tell), but I do kind of see what your husband means about the sleeves. Napoleon Dynamite is one of my favorite movies, though, so it’s not that bad! Your retro dress is super cute, and I wish I’d known that about Pentecost Sunday…I could’ve worn red too!
I love getting to see your hand stitching process with the coat…looks like it’s going to be beautiful when it’s completed!
Glad you like my dresses! The saddest thing about having a stupid school dresscode was the fact that there was another dress at the thrift store that was even more perfect – I loved it, my mom loved it, and everyone who saw me come out of the dressing room loved it. It was a textured fabric in an antique gold color, ankle length shift, and fit me like it was made for me but the sleeves were off the shoulder too much to fit the dresscode. It made me think of the Oscars. But I could only get one dress at the time. =( I was just glad the red dress wasn’t covered in awful ruffles, hehe.
You can’t really tell from the cell phone pictures, but that coat is going to be BLINDING under the stage lights when I’m finished stitching all the embellishments on it! I’m so glad I get to work on it.
Having worked in a couple of private schools, I can confirm that dress code for formals is indeed ridiculous! A good half of my female students end up taking their dresses in to have random straps and ruffles added, which mostly detract from the gowns that weren’t bad to begin with…but your dress-that-could-have-been sounds lovely indeed.
I hope you get lots of pictures of the finished coat! I can’t wait to be blinded.
We are famous!! That’s exciting. I really think all our Homecoming fashions were good choices as far as they have held up well over time. Nothing about that picture looks crazy enough to make it onto Ellen’s embarrassing prom photos or anything! I wish I still had that purple dress….not that it would fit, but I really liked it.
The coat you are embellishing is really pretty! I would have given up on that laborious project about three hundred times by now. It looks really neat. I am supposed to be designing math worksheets right now to align with Texas’s sixth grade math curriculum and I can’t get motivated to work on that either. It feels like too much work!
I think you, Tim, and I have all improved our style since high school (don’t know about the others, since I haven’t seen them in years). Your dress was the prettiest color and probably why the photographer put you in the center – I just wish he had swapped Carrie and Missy to balance out the color better (that has always bugged me!).
Okay, only NOW do I fully accept that you’re older than me… those homecoming sleeves are impressive. I especially love the red Pentecost dress, that color is so rich!
lol – so my sleeves convinced you i’m older?
That red dress I wear to church was one of those random jems I found at Forever 21 all those years ago! Every once in a while, you can find something amazing at that store.
Yeah… This was me showing off my costuming skills in 1996: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/31178_1312239486732_7402753_n.jpg
Brooke, what fabulous looking fabric/trim….I want the tiny scraps and bits from the coat trim. You know me. I know it looked beautiful when you finished with your hand.
That fabric really is great, isn’t it? Leila had to prepay for the yard she bought before they would even cut it, hehe.
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