fredag den 21. februar 2014

The Icequeen ensemble -the headdress

The next interesting part of the ensemble was to make the headdress. My beloved burlesquedancer Lady Effulgent had contacts that could help us get access to a lasercutter and also teach me how to make my patterns for it and use it. Very exciting!

We started out making a rough pattern for the headdress, so it sat in the right position on the head. An interesting note here is, that the perspective of the viewer is very important here! I started out sculpting the headdress while Lady E was sitting, but the silouette was all wrong when she stood up. We then realised that we needed to check everything while she was wearing her showheels, in order to know just how it all would look.

Next step was to design the snowflake pattern on each of the peaks. I looked at a lot of different snowflakes on google, and this is what I ended up with. It was a very rough sketch, but it was enough to go by and after it got scanned I had something to work with at the lasercutting center.

At the center I learned to clean up my sketch and turn it into a vector pattern using CorelDraw. This was really fun, as I originally started out playing with this program when I was 13 (I used Corel Photopaint for 5-7 years before I switched to Adobe Photoshop for my drawings).
Using this vector we first tested the pattern on cardboard, and then when we were happy with it, cut it out in 3 mm filt. The filt is flexible but solid enough to make the self-supporting snowflake pattern. It should handle accidental crushing better than a stiff material, and still be able to carry the weight of the rhinestones.

To asssemble the headdress, I glued the peaks together and onto a thin layer of filt. I planned to use a gluegun, but unfortunately did not have time to buy one. Instead I used wood-glue, something I rather regret now:
First off, I tried to brighten the cream white of the filt with clothpaint. In order to quicken the drying process, I put the whole piece in the oven at 75 celcius. The woodglue did not take kindly to that. It turned an horrible shade of burnt orange, that clashed with the white and blue colortheme.
Secondly, when I started to move the headpiece around to work on it, I realised the woodglue did not keep it together very well, and I had to re-glue most of the areas.

All in all a very good reason to buy that gluegun:/

Rhinestoning the headpiece was pretty much the same story as with any other piece of this outfit: Patience and more patience. Between gluing everything else and this, I had to cut down my nails (I broke one at work) and found out that having long nails to grab the stones with is a huge help in rhinestoning. And thus, not having long nails slows me down.

To attach the headpiece, I added one hairclip in each side, and checked that I had enough hairpins to secure with behind each spike. It held on very tight!

Hold tight, as next up is the boa, stola and skirt, all covered with fakefur!

fredag den 14. februar 2014

Tutus for kids!

Yeah, these will definitely not fit me, but that is ok, -it is for a colleagues daughter as a thank you present for the children's bed I got from her for free.

The first tutu (the pink one) had a 1 m diameter of the skirt and thus is a little big, as it is almost as wide as most children are tall at that age (its for a girl up to 5-6 years old). So I made a smaller tutu by skipping the two top layers of tulle (the orange one), and ended up with a nice 80 cm diameter.

Anyways, I guess other people would have fun making one too, so here is a little tutorial.

25 cm matching non-stretch cloth
2 m dark tulle (150 cm wide) (should be skipped for smaller diameter)
2 m tulle in a lighter color (150 cm wide)
appr. 50 cm elastic

base layer:
cut a rectangle of 25 x 60 cm from the non-stretch cloth and fold over all edges. Fold over one of the long sides to create a tunnel for the elastic band.

Cut the dark tulle into four pieces (each 2 m long):
2 pieces of 40 cm
2 pieces of 35 cm

Cut the lighter tulle into six pieces (each 2 m long):
2 pieces of 30 cm
2 pieces of 25 cm
2 pieces of 20 cm

Sew each layer of tulle on to the base layer, starting with the widest piece (top piece). Pleat the tulle in 6:1. I bought a pleating foot for my pfaff machine, and it does it by itself as a 6,66:1 pleat (you can adjust the pleating length). The layers should be spaced evenly out on the baselayer.

Here you can see the lines from where the tulle layers are sewn onto the baselayer.

A little video showing how my pleatingfoot works.

Keep the tulle from catching on anything while you sew, and make sure you do not accidentally sew fold and sew over the baselayer (I did, and it was very annoying).

When all the tulle has been attched, insert the elastic band and measure how tight it should be on the kid. There is no need to sew the baselayer together in the side, the tulle should push everything in place.

Et voila!
One tutu is ready for being dragged through mud and glitter:)

The size of the tutu can be adjusted for older kids (like grownups) by altering the length of the baselayer and correspondingly the tulle length. Remember that you need appr. 6-7 m tulle for each m baselayer. As I said, all five layers makes for a rather big tutu, so experiment with either 3 or 4 layers for the real kids.

fredag den 7. februar 2014

The Ice queen ensemble

As I have mentioned before, I have my very own pet burlesque dancer Lady Effulgent, that I occasionally sew for. A big relief in my time of volume, as this means that I can still make huge gowns that are larger than life!

 Foto by Pao-Lung Tsai

This February Lady Effulgent needed a dress for the "Wicked Waltzes at the Russian Cabaret Verboten", aka Copenhagen Burlesque's winter party. With the theme set as a winter wonderland, I soon came up with a costumedesign, that we both liked: The ice queen ensemble.

 (yep, that is how my conceptdrawings looks like today, rather random, and often on whatever paper is avaliable. Also: I store them as crappy photos taken with my old smartphone that has a rather poor camera. )

As such, we believed this would not be such a hard dress to make. I had already made her both a corset and a pencilskirt before, so nothing new there. So we added a little bit of finesse to the design: For the headdress we wanted to try out lasercutting, and why not cover corset, bra and headdress in rhinestones?
Snow glitters after all.

Yup. This is going to take more than one post to tell you about!

The Ice corset and bra, and how to become philosophical from too much rhinestoning

A rough calculation told us that the corset alone would need 5600 stones, that one of us was going to glue on the corset by hand. Oh, and we wanted an iciclepattern on the corset too.

 So, I sewed up one of my by now classical single layer underbusts: 1 layer of coutil, same fabric for boning channels, spiralsteels and flatsteels for boning and nice big grommets to make it easy to take off on stage.

As I am a controlfreak, I also ended up doing the rhinestoning. That way I was sure to get the corset exactly as I wanted it.

Now, I am becoming quite fast at adding rhinestones, but 5600 stones are not set in one day. So after a couple of evenings rhinestoning, I ended up rather philosophical on the subject of sewing and rhinestones:

 Aaaalmost there!

A lot of people comment on me being creative... I find that somewhat amusing.
Honestly; creativity really isn't the main characteristic you need, when making big bold dresses.

Creativity is good and nice and entertaining. Creativity is what gives you the initial design, and it helps you along the way, when stuff blows up and you have to well, be creative.
But most of the time, what you need is dedication. Dedication, Precision and Patience.

You need to find references for your concept, you need to find the right material at the right price. You need to find a pattern, alter it, test it, and then alter it again, just to be sure you don't fuck up your expensive cloth. You need to sew the dress and then rip up the seams because it wasn't perfect. You need to take your time doing things right, and when you fuck up, you fix them. And when you decide you want to use 5000+ rhinestones, you sit down and glue each and every one of them on, in the right pattern and in the right spot, no matter how long it takes. Because at this point, you just made the dress of your life and god damn it, it's going to be perfect!

So, creativity really isn't that big a thing for me. Nor is the ever elusive 'talent' everybody seems to be obsessing about. Having an inherited talent is absolutely useless, if you do not back it up with hours and hours of hard work to improve yourself. And this is where motivation and inspiration comes in.

Nobody does anything without some sort of motivation, and everything is possible with the right motivation.
Having fun, getting praise or mere inspiration, it doesn't really matter what rocks your boat. If you get it from doing something, you get motivated, you will keep on doing it and you will become good at what you do.

So that is why I am having loads of fun, doing the same menial task 5600+ times.

I am not creative.
I am merely so inspired by the project, that I just HAVE to see it done. And then I'll become good on the way.

Minor rant over, it should be safe to come out now:)

The corset ended up with 6350 stones on it and it is sparkly! We also bought a white bra to match, and covered the cups in matching rhinestones, approximately 1450. So the total of rhinestones is currently 7800 pcs with more to come.