In case you hadn’t noticed, my recent spate of costume posts was inspired by my upcoming trip to Costume College this year. I went this past weekend and it was fabulous! Also, my daughter sent her Cat-icorn (above) with me to keep me and my tiaras company.
These are totally my people– detail-obsessed lovers of gorgeous and/or hilarious outfits, willing to discuss the intricacies of fabric design or corsetry at the drop of a hat, and always appreciative of the work we all put into these things! I can’t wait to go back next year!
I did take a few photos of randomly beautiful costumes, but not nearly as many as I should have. Also, I was wearing gloves for two of the big events and it’s a lot harder to manage taking pictures with my phone that way. Next year, fewer gloves = more pictures!
As I mentioned earlier, the inspiration for this suit came from these dragonfly hair clips, which I found on eBay. I think they look pretty awesome as-is, but one thing I wanted to change was the transparency of the wings– with the exception of some printed veins they’re completely clear, making them almost invisible from most angles.
I decided to get some iridescent paint to add just a bit more dimension to the wings. I used two thin layers of diluted shimmery white paint– Art Deco Dazzling Metallics White Pearl— to make them slightly more opaque. The paint got a little streaky, to my dismay, but I really didn’t have the time or the inclination to figure out how to fix it, so I left them as-is. I’m going to clip one to my suit lapel and create thread loops to clip the other to my chest.
To make my lilypad-shaped fascinator, I started off by picking out a remnant of celery-green fabric from my stash– it’s satin on one side and dupioni-ish on the other, and I’d originally bought it to line my Regency ribbon-rose reticule. I thought it would coordinate well with my suit– however, once I actually got it out it was clearly too pale a green to stand out next to the bright turquoise suit. I decided to try dyeing it with Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow, which is my go-to for tiny dye jobs like this since it works on both natural and synthetic fibers.
I did a few test swatches and ended up using a combination of Turquoise and Chartreuse in a 3:1 ratio. Because my fabric was super-non-absorbent (seriously, water and dye just beaded up on its surface) I had to soak it in water for a good long time to get it wet, and then painted the undiluted dye directly onto the dampened fabric. The dye still wouldn’t spread naturally, so I ended up rubbing dyed parts of the fabric onto the un-dyed parts to get it to distribute evenly. It was a hassle, but the finished shade was a nice springy green.
The most important part of the suit embellishment was the appliqué. To create the design, I eyeballed the dimensions of the suit and started cutting some grass shapes out of paper and placing them on the suit.
I traced the shapes onto tissue paper and numbered the pieces from left to right, assigning them each a color so I could get an idea of how to distribute the four shades of green– I had a light spring green, a medium spring green, an olive green, and a teal, and I wanted to use all of them pretty much equally.
For Costume College I got tickets to the Fantasy Tea, and the theme this year is “Victorian Fancy Dress.” The thing is, I had a hard time reconciling the idea of fancy dress– which was popular for evening balls in the Victorian era and involved some seriously involved costumes– with an afternoon tea, which implies “prim and proper” attire. I couldn’t figure out how to make a Victorian-style fancy dress outfit that was still appropriate for daytime and teatime, not to mention the fact that I didn’t think I could handle yet another elaborate outfit made from scratch (or pack it in my limited luggage)
And then it came to me– I didn’t have to do Victorian at all! Instead, I decided to embrace the “afternoon tea” theme and go with a 1950s-style skirt suit, gussying it up to be appropriate for a fancy-dress event. After some brainstorming I chose to focus my costume on these lovely dragonfly hairclips– I’d had my eye on them for ages on eBay, but hadn’t had any excuse at all for purchasing them. I bought four.