Saturday, December 26, 2009

Victorian Christmas Dress

Whew! Made it! I finished my dress in time. (Note to those following my crazy train of thoughts: the curtains for my Baby's room and Christmas Stockings are not done. Sorry Sweetheart!)

Once again, no one took pictures of me wearing the thing. Thank you every one! I mean, I only worked like crazy! (I myself only took pictures on my Daughter... But she was so cute!)

So, all I have to bring you for now are picture of the dress on my sewing dummy, and I will just have to do some sort of photo shoot eventually to show you how good I look in it (yeah, I know, I'm also supposed to get pictures of me wearing my
"Water" Irish Dance Solo Dress).

Victorian Christmas Dress - Front

Victorian Christmas Dress - Side

Victorian Christmas Dress - Close-up

I am done with crazy last minute sewing projects (for now). I'm really happy with the way it came out. After all, this was my first attempt at a Bustle Skirt. And I did stick to the rule I imposed upon myself for this project about materials having to come from my Stash; all I bought was some fusing, boning and hook and eye tape for the bodice, but hey, those are notions, not fabric! OK, I also bought the trim for the bodice, but it was really cheap: it came from WalMart!

Now I really have to finish those curtains before I get caught up in another crazy project. (I've been putting off the Christmas Stockings for five years already - they can wait yet another year!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day is here!

Christmas is here, and I'm adding the finishing touches to my Victorian-esque bodice (it's not going to be Victorian per se, just a bodice with off the shoulder sleeves).

In the mean time, Merry Christmas! I hope you had a lovely Christmas Eve.

Because I am getting my daughter into costuming at a young age, I get to post pictures of what she wore last night. Why wear a plain old pretty outfit when you can dress up as Frosty the Snowbaby!

My Baby being held up by her Aunt D.

Wasn't she cute? I know it's a little hard to see, but there is even a little Top Hat sewn to the hood. Now I have to say, I did not make that. It was given to me by Sciath who had it for her daughter last year. Judging from the tag, I think it's from Zellers. But she was very comfortable (and warm, an important factor when going to my Aunt S.' house).

Opening presents is exhausting

To go with the "Frosty" suit, my Baby wore her "Santa's Elf" onesie and Christmas socks with gingerbread men on them.

I know, some will say she will one day hate me for this, but I think she will just grow up having lots of fun with her slightly crazy mom! After all, every kid loves to play dress up!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to town

It's Christmas, it's Christmas! OK, it's not quite yet, but it's Christmas eve, and every kid know that today is the day that Santa comes! And since I'm a big kid at heart...

Two years ago, I was asked to make a Santa Claus and Mother Claus costume for
Troupe Fantasia's Christmas play. While I went with a traditional cookie baking look for Mother Claus (a red dress with a frill on the hem of the skirt and lace at the neckline and cuffs, paired with a frilly apron), The art director and I agreed on a more Victorian looking Santa, inspired by Nicolas Noël, The real Santa Claus' look. I therefore made a waistcoat, which Santa wears over a red shirt and pants he got elsewhere, a fur trimmed, deep red velvet robe, belted with a gold cord, and of course, a hat.

Note: The following pictures are a courtesy of Troupe Fantasia. I only made the Santa Claus and Mother Claus costumes. The others were made by other seamstresses over the years.

Santa Claus on his throne

Mother Claus and Santa Claus with a couple of children

Santa's home!

Mother Claus and Santa Claus with Rudolph

The Claus go South!

For those interested, here are the patterns I used. for the Mother Claus costume, I used Butterick 6816; for Santa's waistcoat, I used Simplicity 8910; Santa's robe and hat were made using Butterick 3648. As for materials, the Mother Claus costume as well as Santa's waistcoat were made out of Christmas quilter's cotton, and as previously mentioned, Santa Claus' robe is made of expensive velvet and good quality faux-fur (the Troupe will be using this costume for the next 20 years, so it is well worth the price).

Merry Christmas everyone! Watch out for Santa tonight (I like to keep track of him with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Necile

From the time they start airing all of the Christmas specials and cartoons on TV, I watch as many as I can. One I discovered a few years back is The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (2000), based on a 1902 children's book by L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

I loved the presence of all of the mythological looking characters. Of course, right away I had my favorite: Necile. In the cartoon (I haven't read the book, but I think it's the same in there too), she is the Nymph who raises Nicholas.

Her outfit is simple, but I would like to make it one day. I consists of a blue dress with light blue yoke and sleeves, two-toned golden green wings and a flower headdress made of five teal and lilac petals. And as she is a nymph, I would have to get myself a pair of pointy ears.

That's it for today. I have a bodice to finish!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Progress Report: Finished Red Taffeta Bustle Skirt

A package has just arrived in the mail. It came from very, very far. It contains something that has to do with costumes and I am itching to tell you all about it... but I can't. It's a Christmas present for Nancy-Raven and it would ruin the surprise. (Let's hope I get to give her her gift before Easter this year - or later, which is what happens pretty much every year - so I can tell you what it is soon!)

In the mean time, I have managed to finish my bustle skirt. Yep, all finished! My, that's like, in advance! That's what you're thinking too, right? Wrong, I still have the bodice to finish. (Well at least it is already cut.)

I know, you're thinking "Enough chit-chat, we want pictures!"

Geesh! Patience. OK, here you go. Now please ignore the carpet, my sewing room is in need of a good vacuuming (amongst other cleaning duties).

Red Taffeta Bustle Skirt - Front

Red Taffeta Bustle Skirt - Side

Red Taffeta Bustle Skirt - Back

I'm really loving it. It just looks so good, if I do say so myself!

I added a piece of lace to the apron piece because there was a few big seems in the valence that I wanted to hide. And yes, the lace is also a leftover. Do you recognize the project it came from? That's right, my Edwardian / Titanic inspired Evening Dress. I just cut the fabric away from the lace design, as close as possible, and turned it upside down.

I can't wait to show my co-worker what I did with her curtains!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Monday: Nine

What is a better source of costumes than a musical? A musical set in the 60's! Nine (2009) promises many beautiful eye candy outfits to costumers, and entertainment for the rest of the world.

"Nine tells the story of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a world famous film director as he confronts an epic mid-life crisis with both creative and personal problems. He must balance the many women of his life, including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), the whore from his youth (Fergie) and his mother (Sophia Loren)." (From Synopsis for Nine on

With such a line up of impressive actors, it's bound to be good, no?

If you are interested in the costumes from that movie, I suggest you head over to YouTube to watch The Costumes of Nine. I'm going right now, want to join me?

I love making-of, especially when it is about the Costumes!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"La Fée des Étoiles", a French Christmas Character

For most of you, Santa Claus' feminine partner has probably always been Mother Claus. It is not so for everyone. You see, In France and French tradition in general, Le Père Noël is accompanied by La Fée des Étoiles (The Star Fairy). In the past, in families where some male relative played the role of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, there was often an aunt dressed in a white or blue dress decorated with stars. It is our tradition.

My favorite depiction of the Star Fairy comes from a 1984 French movie, J'ai rencontré le Père Noël. I was at the local premiere with my parents, I was given the soundtrack and I still have it (it is a vinyl 45 rpm). It is not a great movie by far, but to me, it is associated with Christmas and I love to watch it and listen to the music.

In the movie, the Fairy is played by French Singer Karen Chéryl. Her dress looks nothing like the usual descrition: she wears a cream coloured Elizabethan inspired dress, complete with puffed and slashed upper sleeves and sheer fan collar.

In the following video (a clip from the TV show Champs-Elisées (1982) that originally aired on November 24, 1984), starting at around 2:20 minutes, you can see Karen Chéryl in her Fairy dress, full length and in detail.

Nowadays, the character of Mother Claus has been adapted in French too as La Mère Noël; but it is nice to remember our traditions and not forget the Star Fairy. After all, "every time someone says 'I do not believe in fairies', somewhere there's a fairy that falls down dead"*.

*Line from Tinkerbell in Hook (1991).