These are all great costuming elements, and should pique your imagination as to what you want to include in your personal style. Try clicking on the alternate searches, try browsing the ebay stores. I guarantee you will find SOMETHING you like. Don’t spend a ton at first. I can’t tell you how many times I have opened a package with bated breath, only to be confronted with a crappy, imitation piece of jewelry, imagining the other things I could have bought with the money I spent on this….”THING”.
There is a button right next to the current bid/price and a link at the top right corner in every single auction on ebay that says”:
"Watch This Item".
I recommend that you use only that for the first few times you use ebay. Don’t buy ANYTHING yet. Just look. Whittle it down to stuff you’re going to use right away, or you will see your bank account dwindle needlessly.
Pay STRICT attention to the measurements given by any ebay seller worth their salt. You might wanna have a tape measure and a ruler for reference.
Also, check their feedback rating. If it’s low, or if they’ve got a lot of negative or neutral comments, skip them for now.
You wanna check these places out. Look at the jewelry…See that crappy rhinestone piece? Take it apart and sew it to your bra. See that 70’s coin belt? The one with the nice heavy coins? Sew that to the bottom of your belt. The plastic ugly necklace? Just leave it be.
See that old velvet hippie skirt? The one without the cheesy embroidery? Buy it. Cut a couple of inches off the waist so it sits nice and low on your hips, fold it down two inches, sew that edge down. Then grab a piece of elastic about an inch wide, stick a big safety pin through the end of it, and work it through the waistband of your sexy new skirt, safety pin first. Scrunch the fabric, pull the pin through, scrunch, pull, scrunch, pull. Once it’s through the other side, pin the ends together, pull on the skirt, and see where it looks the best on you. Pin the crap out of it, or add a few seams to the elastic ends by hand or machine. You can add a ruffle to the bottom hem with some contrasting taffeta or velvet, and you’ll have an awesome skirt that NOBODY else will have.
The neat fringed lace tablecloth? Not the cheapy acrylic new one. The old cotton one. Yep. That one. Dye it any color you want with Jacquard dye. Cut it in half horizontally. Tie it over yer butt. Slap your belt on top. Damn, your ass looks great!!
Coins, keys, old jewelry, plain vintage hats, amazing scarves, weird sequined dresses, pennies…These things are great for costuming. You can take a plain, undrilled coin, put a piece of double stick tape on the back of it, and stick it to your bra. Now sew around it across the middle, then go across the coin the other way. Imagine how a cut pizza looks. Thats how your thread can cross the coin too. Keep doing that.
You can cut the bottom of an old sequined dress off, cut it in half along the seams, and cut it in half again. Make a panel skirt out of that. Do the same thing to the two pieces that you did (or didn’t do) to the velvet skirt. Pin. Elastic. Scrunch n pull.
Put it on. You look awesome. And sparkly. And stuff.
Get it? You can pretty much take anything you want and stick it on yourself. People will think you’re brilliant, you’ll look great, and nobody else will look like you. Vintage stuff is great like that. Most likely, you won’t have found the exact same weird little sparkly thing as anyone else did for their costume.
See this costume?
This is my friend Princess Farhana. She made this WIDELY copied costume out of things she mostly found at the 99 cent store and in the trash. Mardi gras beads. Cheap tassels. Spray paint. Lace scraps. Glitter. Felt. She also has a really awesome blog I read all the time.
You can wear any damn thing you want. Wear what you dig.
This blog has started as a way to cope with a hideous bout of insomnia, and being laid up by my recovering from a spazzy neck with a slipped disc in it.
In the coming days, weeks, months, etc.: Planning on covering lots of material, from headdress construction, performance makeup and application, to music selection and professional etiquette, and a whole bunch of other crap that you may or may not find useful.
To qualify, I’ve been performing in one form or another professionally since high school, was a very unhappy fashion model for too many years, and have also made my living at one time or another as a singer/dancer/pastry assistant/stylist/clown/belly dancer/makeup artist/talent wrangler, and a whole bunch of other things that I probably shouldn’t talk about here. As a general rule, I make my living from Ebay and Etsy, selling my handmade costuming, and the random vintage find. IIt can take up to six months for me to complete a costume for someone else, because I gotta hunt down the perfect elements, and then once I have everything, I have to stare at everything for a week until it (basically) makes itself. It takes time. I’ve made a LOT of mistakes, and will continue to make more of them as I progress. This blog is to help you avoid some of the simplest and most easily remedied ones.
Okay. First things first: This is how I work.
I have really particular tastes, and very few rules for what I will not use to construct a costume. I love rusty things, old silver things, and decrepitude in general.
I drape most of my work or take apart old things and pinch at them until they fit.. My approach is somewhat autistic in this manner, but it usually works out in the end.
I like my work to look like it has a long and sordid past,
I have a thing for old-school quality, and
I love using antique things because they are made well.
They are generally unique, exquisitely detailed, and more often than not, utterly awesome.
I’ve spent countless hours reading about, pawing at and scrolling through everything from Japanese Kanzashi to old farm equipment. Somehow, I have amassed a not-too-inconsiderable amount of information and knowledge on all kinds of stuff related to getting dressed up to perform, and I want more people to share this wonderful burden.
::insert maniacal cackle here::
Enough editorializing. Time to start with the meat.
What do you like? I mean what do you really like?
Take 10 minutes and rifle through the internet for pictures of things that inspire you….Something you saw once and wanted your entire life to look like, sound like, smell like, feel like. Musicians, artists, painters, album covers, writers, scientists, philosophers, photographers, etc. Pick a theme - Orientalism
, Vaudeville, Film Noir, Western, Cops and Robbers, Mexico
, India, Space Age, etc. Make sure that these are the things you like for no other reason than it simply pleases you to look at them. Not what you think someone else would like to see. Things that really make you gasp/pause/shriek/sigh. This is you, and probably only you that you’re representing here.
Your costume - Make it special, make it yours, and make it something you’re proud of.
Collect pictures, bits, and bobs into one place, whether it be a bulletin board, a collage, an “inspiration” folder on your desktop, or a little altar on a shelf. It goes without saying that it should be easily viewed from your work area.
TOOLS:These things are my best friends for costuming.
Best glue ever. Dries flexible. Have put together entire costumes with this stuff in a pinch. Much better than hot glue guns, IMHO. You can also get this stuff in a slightly smaller tube with a finer nozzle, which does make for less mess.
- Duh. They don’t have to be Ginghers, but get yourself a decent pair of Fiskars, and don’t use them for ANYTHING but fabric. You might want to write FABRIC ONLY on the blade so nobody in your house snaps them up to cut cardboard. The $8 sets from Michael’s are going to make you crazy for anything but paper, since they dull SO fast.
Try making your first costume out of pre-existing clothing. I’m not saying you have to depend on ol’ Victoria’s Secret forever, but it might make your life a bit easier when you’re first starting.
Use a bra that fits you decently. If you have big boobs, let me tell you from first hand experience, halter style bras will hurt. Cross back or T-back is much more comfortable to move in, and won’t limit mobility.
Moulded/foam lined cups are integral. Soft cup bras are near impossible to cover with fabric.
Upholstery fabric is great for covering bras, takes a lot of abuse, and comes in some great patterns and textures.
A very cheap sewing machine will also make your life somewhat easier. I have a $60 Brother model, and it’s great for light sewing, covering elastic, and making bases for belts and headdresses.
The ugly truth is that you should use the best materials you can afford. This doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Go by touch, and common sense. If it feels crappy, it probably is. For example: If you’re making a pair of pantaloons, don’t use upholstery weight velvet. You will be able to do two hip drops before you pass out from heat exhaustion. Save that stuff for your bra. Use silk velvet burnout, silk jacquard, silk habotai, or any other drapey gorgeousness that takes your fancy. Just try for lightweight.
, mostly with safety pins. I made it a halter because I thought that was how all good tribal fusion dancers wore their belly dance bras. Because, like an asshole; I’d only been belly dancing for 6 months when I filmed my segment. Most of the BDSS girls are modestly endowed, whereupon I am egregiously endowed. The back of my neck was BRUISED for a week.
In the next post, I’ll be dealing with collecting (the funnest and slowest part of costuming), and construction, the autistic way. I can’t think of anything else to add to this one right now.
As the Inaugural post for The Kill Room, I’d like to take a moment to explain why I chose the title.
Embarrassingly enough, it does come from a T.V. show, but a decently fucked up show at that. Dexter. If you haven’t seen it, A forensic blood spatter analyst named Dexter moonlights as a serial killer. He preys upon other murderers that he locates mostly from cold case files, usually selecting them by whether he feels justice was served or not served in each particular case. He’s very good at what he does, and he’s very exacting about how and where he carries out his “work”, being that he has to keep up his front of being a spatter analyst that does not murder people on the side. Anyhow, he’s pretty fucked up, orphaned as a little boy, left in a shipping container for days in three inches of blood with the remains of his hacked-to-pieces-with-a-chainsaw mother . Understandably, he’s a bit of a sociopath. Killing is therapeutic for him, keeps him calm and able to move through society with relative ease. While I am not a killer, I am a person that has to be creative in order to keep some scrap of balance, some sort of dazzle camouflage game face that I can then present to the world at large.. He does his thing in a transient place he calls, “The Kill Room”, and now, so do I.