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Now that our trip to Chincoteague is well behind us, I'm going to be using this blog to track two things: I'm going to start running (again) with the goal of doing a half marathon by September.

And, since I've taken the job of costumer for a local community theater group, I'm going to be blogging about that journey.

Things about me, the runner:
I've done this before, with my max distance being 10K as a workout. Never ran a race that was more than 5K. I've not run since...November, I think. So, starting from the beginning again. But with the knowledge that I've successfully done this in the past. That's probably offset by the hefty dose of self-loathing for having let it all fall apart, the weight come back on, stopped tracking my blood sugars...yeah, depression is a BITCH. But next week, starting Monday, I'm back at it.

Things about me, the costumer:
I do not have a theater degree. I've not taken a sewing class since Home Ec in high school. But I love crafting and I love costumes and I love theater. And, let's be honest, these things make me an attractive prospect for a small group with slim budgets.

My first show is a period melodrama, which I'll probably be costuming at the same time as my second show, Singin' in the Rain Junior. The other thing I need to do is create a costume inventory. I've been approved as a storage facility for the entire stock, I guess it's a lot, so I'm currently working on a spreadsheet type record, perhaps tied to a photographic catalog. I'm under no illusions that this will be fast, or easy, or that I'm going to make even minimum wage.

But I have always wanted to do this sort of thing. Always. For various reasons, I let that dream go. But it came back to find me, and I'm going to grab that thing with both hands and hold on TIGHT.

So, that's that. Time to make up some tags, I guess. And decide on a posting schedule.
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There's a convention in town every July: CONvergence Convention. It's Sci-Fi, Fantasy, all media. Good fun. I've been twice, and this year the whole entire family is going.

Which prompted the new family rule: ONE costume, per person, per year. That's all *I* will be responsible for.

My first year was testing the waters; no costume required.

The second year, I went with oldest daughter. We decided to do Kitsune costumes, with great big yarn tails. It took several months to make the tails.

Last year we went to Chincoteague and D.C. instead.

I have ALWAYS wanted to do a Steampunk costume. I don't necessarily love the dystopian themes in a lot of the novels, but the aesthetic appeals greatly. When I started this, I knew I was too heavy to buy a ready-made corset, didn't have the budget for custom, and didn't have the skills to make my own. So I started with that concept: a corset-less costume. Well, bicycles were new in the era, and bicycle bloomers seemed like they'd be fun and funky. A vest, and a lace jabot, and I'd be good.

I found a pattern for bloomers. It was styled for a 28 inch waist. Okay, I figured, no problem, time to learn a new skill. The pattern was free, and tracing paper isn't terribly expensive. I printed and assembled the pattern, watched a few youtube tutes (maybe more than a few; I put in several weeks of research), read a few blog posts, and graded it myself. Made up a mock, adjusted what needed, made up a second mock, made a few more adjustments, and finally had a working pattern. The thrift shop is my favorite source for costume fabric. Bedsheets are great for making up the muslin mock. Sometimes there is uncut yardage, and sometimes things like curtains can be repurposed. Pro-tip: watch for fading, staining, and unpleasant smells.

Here are the bloomers, made up in an iridescent copper/verdigris taffeta.

After these were finished, I chanced to have lunch with a friend. Who used to be a professional costumer. I made mention that I was having trouble coming up with a vest pattern for my steampunk adventuress, and explained the corset situation. She pointed out that she knows how to make a corset, and would love to teach me. Okay. Let's do this. In the meantime, I started looking for a hat. I figured to just get a frame, and cover it with coordinating fabric.

Which proved more challenging than anticipated (are you seeing a theme, here?) First of all, frames aren't easy to find. Once I'd finally tracked one down, and ordered it, covering it was not quite as straightforward as I'd thought. In a moment of inspiration (not that I knew that at the time), I decided to try decoupaging torn up ancient map paper. Mod podge, paint, some scraps from other projects for embellishments, and now I had a hat.

Time to order a busk, some laces, grommets, and get started on the corset.

We started with a set of directions for drafting a pattern from your measurements, but that didn't work out very well; the end result was a corset that would draw the waist in by 10 inches . No.

Plan B: we made a dressmaker's dummy. Out of an old tee-shirt and duct tape.

Then we made the pattern by draping it. And made up a mock, and adjusted, and mocked again, and there was our pattern. We stuck it on Gerti (the dummy needed a name, yes?), and I thought, "oh, I should go get the bloomers and put, wait. I can't do that, because they're closed at the crotch. Which means, if I wear them under the corset at con, I won't be able to go to the bathroom."

Right. Guess I was making a skirt, then. Back to the thrift shop. Two curtains, and a very long window scarf, became a skirt and bustle. I made a bustle pad with scraps I had left over (there was a LOT of stuffing left from making Gerti).

We finished the corset. Now, in the months since this project got started, I was also diagnosed with type II diabetes and high cholesterol and triglycerides. Medication, diet, exercise. The total draw in on the corset? Yeah, as of the time of writing, I've actually lost MORE on my initial waist measurement. The corset does still fit, because it was designed with a modesty panel, rather than to lace completely shut.

I found a blouse at the thrift shop, that is perfect with the whole ensemble. Socks I can order online; I'm thinking ivory crochet looking knee highs.

Which brings us to this morning. A purse. I'm working on a design for a bracer, with a flap that has inner pockets to hold a bank card, ID, and some cash. But there's the matter of my phone. I love my phone. With all five of us on site, I will need access to my phone. I can build another pocket into the bracer to hold it. But.

I have the biggest phone available: Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge Plus. It's huge. I love my huge phone. But it's too big to strap to my arm. I need a purse.

I spent this morning looking at various carpet bags, tapestry wristlets, beaded vintage look things. And I found one. It's a drawstring bag with petals, and pockets inside the petals, and then a second drawstring pocket inside all that. A bit of research tells me it's called a Petal Hussif. Also, that the pattern can only be found in a book about Elizabethan Embroidered Accessories.

That's out of print.

And not available at the library.

The book will cost more than any other single piece, except the corset, and that's not including the fabric for the actual bag. Remember, I've purchased everything at the thrift shop (and I already owned the shoes).

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't actually debate about this for very long. I should have the book in hand within a week.

Oh, right.

Did I mention that I don't actually know how to do embroidery?


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