Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

And My Resume Gets More Convoluted

I have so many things to share! This is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge post.

Some of you may already know from talking to me directly or seeing it on Twitter, I no longer work part-time at Fabrique Fabrics. It was fun for the year and a half it lasted and I’ll miss my coworkers, but since it was never really my “career” I’m not really upset about it. (I think everyone who knows the details is more upset about it than I am.) The short explanation is my boss decided to reduce my hours to “none” to save some money, so I’m moving on to other things instead of waiting around.

On to more exciting things (and LOTS of links)…

  • Something I worked on last summer will finally be on display at the Dallas Arboretum for the holidays! The 12 Days of Christmas exhibit is “an elaborate collection of life-size Victorian gazebos filled with the charming costumed characters made famous by the beloved Christmas carol.”** You can see it for yourself from November 16, 2014–January 4, 2015. Since the opening was delayed a year, I’m looking forward to remembering what I did. I can’t wait to see it installed and share some photos (and possibly video) once it opens!
  • I helped make some youth circus costumes back in May. Lots and lots of tiny appliqué (spandex on spandex) and ruffles… and thread! I really blew through the thread on this project:

Circus costumes with detailed appliqué designs and what the trashcan next to my machine looked like halfway through.

And here’s a teaser video of this year’s show, in which you can see some of the costumes in motion:

  • If you will be in San Antonio this weekend (September 26-28), you can see some of the fun costumes I helped build this summer in the opera The Fantastic Mr. Fox put on by the new Opera San Antonio.
  • More of my summer sewing work will be in a Christmas parade at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri this year.

Hopefully, I will have more photos of both the opera and the parade to share later. (I’m crossing my fingers that someone will post a video of the parade on YouTube at some point!) Update: Post about the parade.

  • If you will be in Dallas, TX anytime now until October 5, go see the Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. It’s fashion inspiration! I went and took a ton of photos a few weeks ago, so if you aren’t able to see it yourself, I promise a detailed blog post about it soon. Here’s a teaser:

Oscar de la Renta – Five Decades of Style exhibit

Recent freelancing has suddenly gone from “absolutely nothing” to “I’m booked into the beginning of next year!” Such is my career.


Meet Keira, one of the mannequins I’ll be making a custom dress for. She’s had a hard life and it’s time for new hair and better clothes.

  • Then it looks like I’ll be finishing out the year working at The Dallas Opera. They have a few new costumes to build. =)

And just because I’ve been looking for a place to share a couple of great costuming videos, I’m going to include them here.

I found the first video because of the second one. It is a really nice overview of what it’s like in any professional costume shop – whether it’s opera, theatre, dance, or film – when there are costumes to construct and fit. “Recreating a Tutu” at the New York City Ballet:

And if you have the time to watch (it’s over 26 minutes long), the following is a truly fascinating video on how a ballet pointe shoe is made (teaser-not-quite-spoiler: inside out!). If you don’t have time to watch it now, come back and watch it later when you do! I promise you will enjoy it.

They use some cool sewing machines and do an amazing amount of the work by hand. And to think that all shoes used to be made this well! “What’s in a Ballet Shoe”:

** What my husband/editor read at first glance: “An elaborate collection of life-size Vulcan gizmos filled with charred costumed characters made famous by the beloved Christmas carrots”  ??

23 responses to “And My Resume Gets More Convoluted

  1. Barbara September 26, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Since I didn’t see you last Sunday, I learned from your blog that you’re no longer at the fabric shop, Your new projects sound fascinating! I love all the photos you include.

    • Brooke September 26, 2014 at 11:00 am

      Yes, I missed you Sunday (hope you are doing okay!) and meant to email, but then I suddenly had work to do when I wasn’t expecting it. My new projects definitely aren’t boring! Variety is good. =)

  2. Fifty Dresses September 26, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I like hodge podge posts, especially this one! How I would love to see the Oscar de la Renta exhibit. (I’ll be in the Dallas airport next week, but not long enough to see the Exhibit, sadly…). I am thanking you in advance for a detailed blog post about it. It’s good to see how busy you are, even without the fabric store job.

    • Brooke September 26, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Thanks! I always feel like my random lists are going to be a boring read – so glad you don’t think so!

      And bummer that you won’t be stopping long enough on your way through Dallas to see the exhibit! I’d have loved to show you around! Maybe another time we can meet up for lunch or something. =)

      My job is always feast or famine it seems. And just when I think I’ll have nothing for weeks, I get a call and my schedule changes completely!

  3. Aleksandra @ Liveaboard Takes the Suburbs September 26, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Omg! It is so cool that you made costumes for Circus Smirkus! They had a reality show back when I was younger, I think on the Disney channel? I wanted to go and be part of it so badly, but it’s massively expensive. So cool!

    • Brooke September 26, 2014 at 10:52 am

      I confess I know almost nothing about it. I didn’t even know the name of the circus I was helping make costumes for (I was only told it was a “kids’ circus in Vermont”). The costume designer just handed me bags full of pre-pinned applique and ruffle work and I just stitched everything down. Another costumer friend knew the name of the circus so he googled it and hey, look! a video of stuff I worked on. =)

  4. smittenness September 27, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Those circus costumes are so beautiful. So much work gone into them. Sorry about your job but hope this means bigger and better things are around the corner. Looking forward to the Oscar de la Renta post!

    • Brooke September 27, 2014 at 10:22 am

      Thank you for the nice comment! Yes, those circus costumes had a lot of detail work! There’s always something interesting down the road with freelance costuming jobs. =) Hopefully, I will have a little time to start going through the exhibit photos this weekend…

  5. sewbusylizzy September 27, 2014 at 4:56 am

    Oh this is perfect! I’m so keen to make a tutu for my daughter so this is inspiring. I’ve got no idea where to start but I guess that’s half the fun & challenge. She will love to see that pointe shoe piece as she’s just gone ‘on pointe’

    • Brooke September 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

      So glad you like the ballet video links! I’ve enjoyed seeing the photos of your little ballerina on IG – she has beautiful costumes!

      I’ve made a few tutus and tutu-like things in the past – they are a pain but so satisfying in the end. It’s usually easiest to start with the bottom ruffle and work your way up. And if you point the seam allowance down on all or half of the ruffles, it will help hold the ruffles up naturally. Good luck with your tutu-making – I look forward to seeing it!

  6. prttynpnk September 27, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Farming equipment. Our local museum is exhibiting hoes. I am living vicariously thru your videos. Thank you for the burst of color and inspiration to oooh over this morning!

    • Brooke September 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

      I think I’d be tempted to go see the farming equipment just to find out if anyone is getting excited about it, hehe.

      Glad I can help with the more inspiring vicarious living, at least a little. I think my photos of the Oscar de la Renta will be almost as good as being able to go since I took soooo many! My friend and I were there so long, the exhibit guards got nervous and then curious because they found out we knew more than they did about how things were made. It’s an amusing story. =)

  7. Chuleenan - C Sews October 9, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Gee – can’t believe Fabrique let you go! But more time for you to work on your other projects. Their loss… Thanks for posting the videos. I hope to have time to view the ballet ones soon. It was fun to see the circus one – especially b/c I’ve seen your IG photos. I remember all those circles you were sewing!

    How fun that all your X-mas costumes will be on display. I look forward to seeing photos! Have fun with Giant Barbie! 🙂

    • Brooke October 9, 2014 at 8:31 am

      Glad you enjoyed the circus video! You will love the ballet ones – and the first one is less than 7 minutes, so hopefully, you can find time for at least that one. =)

  8. Eurielle October 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    First time reading your blog and I really love your posts hodge podge or not. Glad your career involves more sewing ; good for you and for your viewers😜

  9. Gjeometry October 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Oooh, Brooke, this is all so exciting!! (Although sorry to hear of your fabric store job, it sounded like you really enjoyed it, but…..everything happens for a reason, so on to something different!) I wish I was in the position to come and visit now so that I could see the Christmas exhibit. And, the circus and costumes looks like SO MUCH FUN! Did you go and see it and your costumes in all their glory? I can’t wait to watch the ballet costume videos. I use to dance ballet (recreation-ally) when I was young and the shoes and costumes are part of the best thing about it.

    • Brooke October 30, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      I wish you could come down to see the Christmas display too! Maybe next year we can get together at some point. =)

      I did not see any of the circus costumes finished until finding that video. I only saw them when they were still just halfway finished because my only part of the construction was the meticulous applique work. (I think the designer finished the last bits of construction in Vermont.) I rarely ever see my finished work on any project outside of a costume shop or my own sewing room.

      You will love the ballet videos!

  10. Allison November 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Just curious if you made it to the American Brides exhibit? My mother and I loved it! We spent ages looking at construction and stitching on the older pieces. Really great show. Thanks for the blog!

    • Brooke November 4, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Yes, I did make it! =) I took tons of photos of the vintage wedding gowns (I skipped some of the modern ones) and will blog them later. It really was a great exhibit, wasn’t it?

  11. O! Jolly! November 15, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Just got the chance to return to this post and see the videos I wasn’t able to watch the first time. Great post! I imagine you’re deep in the season now. Hope it’s all going well! It’s all so beautiful! Enjoy!

    • Brooke November 15, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks! I’m finally getting to some less busy times with work. The Christmas display dresses are finished and out of my house and now I’m helping with the prep work for the upcoming opera build. I feel like I’m spending most of my time commuting and just doing little alterations and fabric ironing, but I know part of that feeling is caused by the shorter daylight hours.

  12. Pingback: Craft Table Chats – Looking back | The Fabric Alchemist

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