DFWCG Magazine Summer 2015

Page 1


Summer 2015

Magazine DFWCG.ORG


Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~John Lubbock

Table of Contents








History with a Twist A 1920s Speakeasy party

Costumers Lost Weekend A weekend costuming retreat



1890s Gothic The Clothes of Penny Dreadful

A Beginner’s Guide to Costume Blogging How to get started and what to know



1812 Overture Picnic At Concerts in the Garden

The Netherfield Ball And evening with the Jane Austen Socieity



Japan, England, and the Bustle How Japan and West Influenced Each Other’s Fashion

Calendar of Events Join us at one of our Fall events

232 Costume Showcase Erin’s Regency Era Ballgown





Note from the Editor Summer is traditionally our least active time of year. It’s a time where, instead, we focus on sewing, finishing projects, and getting ready for the busy Fall costume season. While we didn’t have as many events, we hope you enjoy reading about the few we did have, and that you’ll enjoy the other costume related articles in our Summer edition! Currently Seeking: Tutorials – Pattern Reviews – Event Reports – Costume Articles If you would like to contribute, please email dfwcgmagazine@gmail.com Visit us at: DFWCG.ORG

History with a

Twist Heritage Village in Dallas is usually associated with school groups, kids learning about local history, and pioneer era crafts and demonstrations. In order to keep the educational programs at Heritage Village going strongly, they have an annual fundraiser known as History with a Twist. Billed as a celebration of the American cocktail, History with a Twist is a Prohibition themed Jazz party, with swing music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and cocktail stations scattered through the village’s Main Street, serving up offerings from Dallas mixologist Brian McCullough of Standard Pour. There were also silent and live auctions, offering everything from beaded handbags to vacations in the Texas wine country.

5 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Upon arriving at the village, guests were greeted with a red carpet entrance to “The Heritage Club”, a section of Main Street that had been transformed into a 1920s speakeasy. The Singapore Slingers, one of the few Jazz orchestras that play music from the early years of the Jazz Age, were set up on a banquette that was serving as a bandstand, and members of the Rhythm Room dance studio were out on the dance floor, teaching some willing participants the steps to the Charleston and Peabody. Drink stations were set up all through the town, with five different offerings. The “gin smash”, a combination of gin, lemon, mint, and simple syrup, was the overwhelming favorite of the evening as a crisp, refreshing drink for a warm evening. The Old Fashioned, served with burnt orange, was both delicious and exciting to see made, as the orange oils were set alight by a small blowtorch.

6 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

There were two other cocktails on offer – a pink rum drink that was sweet and fruity, and a “Mexicano”, which was a twist on the classic Americano. The bartender described it as “rather aggressive”, which is quite possibly the understatement of the century.

There were only three members representing the Guild that evening, but we had a lot of interest from other attendees. There was some talk of the Guild possibly buying a table at next year’s event, or donating a period-appropriate costume item to the silent auction.

The hors d’oeuvres stations were set up at the far end of Main Street. The offerings were all themed to go along with the event, with names as “The New York Speakeasy”, “Great Gatsby Splendor”, and “Mafia Gangster”. My favorite treat was the pastry wrapped asparagus, which was simple, delicate, and delicious.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of Heritage Village, and the evening was full of excited whispers about what treats the organizers might have in store for the occasion. I know I’m looking forward to seeing what wonderful things will be offered, and I’m already excited for next year’s event.

The entire evening was an enjoyable affair of swinging music, delicious food and drinks, quickpaced dancing, and enjoyable company.

7 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015


As a television show, Penny Dreadful certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. The series melds together characters from classic horror literature, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and Dorian Gray, and it does it with a decidedly gory flourish. The series is not faint about showing grisly murders, demonic possession, and oh yeah, lots of sex, especially when Dorian Gray is around. If you don’t mind the graphicness of the show, and you have a soft spot for classic horror, you should definitely check out this show. If you give the show a chance, you’ll find a well-acted, intriguing series, peppered with classic horror villains and protagonists, and tons and tons of excellent costumes. The show takes place primarily in 1891, though there are several flashbacks throughout the series that transport us to the 1880s and ‘70s. At the helm in the costume department is Gabriella Pescucci, who previously worked on Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dangerous Beauty, The Age of Innocence, and The Borgias television series. In Penny Dreadful, she manages to marry historical styles with gothic aesthetics, the costuming for each character helping to illustrate their personalities, circumstances, and their pasts. Vanessa Ives, played by Eva Green , has some of the most lavish costuming in the series. As the daughter of a wealthy family, she’s routinely clothed in lace, silk, and jet. Vanessa is technically in mourning during the course of the series, which dictates her color palette, but her clothes are rich, with fantastic prints and styling.

8 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

1891 was a bit of a transitional period between the earlier bustle styles of the 1880s and the extreme styles of later in the decade, where enormous sleeves dominated ladies fashion. This lends itself well to the series, as the viewer isn’t distracted by large costume elements, and can instead be drawn into the show, with the costumes accenting the characters. Vanessa, as a wealthy lady, can afford to keep up with the latest fashions of the time. Her clothes are in keeping with the silhouette of the early 1890s, and while her colors are somber, she doesn’t fail to reflect the fashions of the day. There are many beautiful details to her wardrobe, such as rows and rows of inset lace, pleating and tucking, and manipulation of prints and designs. Costume designer Pescucci said that she looked for inspiration in the period sketches of London, drawing inspiration from the mechanical qualities of those drawings, which reflected the Industrial Revolution, in full swing at the time and reflected in the lace that Vanessa wears. As often as possible, the designer used vintage pieces. When that wasn’t an option, she used original pieces of lace, embroidery, and buttons found in London antique markets to accent the newly made pieces her costume department produced. Pescucci described Vanessa as “a young tormented woman who doesn’t like the superfluous,” which she reflects in the clothing designs and choices for the character. While Vanessa might not like the superfluous, other characters are more colorfully attired, metaphorically if not actually. Josh Hartnett’s character, Ethan Chandler, a wild-west show gunslinger with a dark past, is first attired in the slightly vulgar and hilarious costume of his sideshow

9 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

persona, complete with false mustache, wig, and fringe-covered coat. Later he changes into his normal clothes, but he still looks every bit the gunslinger, with his long duster and very fashionable bowler hat. Sir Malcolm Murray, whose search for his daughter drives the plot of the first season, is a wealthy explorer who would much rather be in Africa than London. He wears fashionable, expensive clothing, silk waistcoats and furcollared coats. He even wears a waistcoat with a very subtle cheetah print silk, a nod to his love of exploring Africa and longing to return. Victor Frankenstein is much more plainly attired. He’s a poor researcher and cannot afford the wealthy attire of Sir Malcolm or even some of the pieces Mr. Chandler wears. His clothes are entirely ordinary, perhaps to conceal the fact that he is performing extraordinary experiments in the hidden lab in his tenement building. Dorian Gray is dressed as a aesthete, with rich velvet coats and bright silk shirts. The director and costume designer wanted a timelessness to his look, so he tends to look somewhat more modern among the rest of the cast. Mina Harker is rarely seen on screen, but when she’s there she’s dressed in flowing white gowns that lend to her appearance of innocence and vulnerability. She is also one of the most colorfully attired characters, as in flash backs she gets to wear all sorts of colored silks. Finally, there’s Brona, a prostitute that Mr. Chandler falls in love with. Her clothing is not your typical TV drama streetwalker clothes of nothing but petticoats and corsets. She wears regular, lower-class clothing for the time, rather threadbare at times, but well-fitting and suited to her character.

10 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

The few times we see color in anyone’s wardrobes are in the flashback scenes. Vanessa and Mina grow up as next door neighbors, and are like sisters. They often wear matching dresses, sometimes even the same dress in different colors, which helps to illustrate their closeness. We also get to see some lovely natural form dresses during the flashbacks, a time period not often seen in television dramas. Everything in the past is lighter and brighter, a stark contrast to the darkness of the circumstances our heroes are currently struggling through. Frankenstein’s mother, who we glimpse only briefly in a flashback, has a wonderful blue bustle gown. It’s rather a shame we don’t get to see more of it. If you aren’t squeamish and you want some nice period/gothic costume eye candy to check out, definitely give Penny Dreadful a chance. Besides the wonderful costuming you’ll find compelling characters, intriguing stories, and plenty of mystery. Each season is only eight episodes long and season two has just concluded, so there’s still time to catch up with the story!

All images included fall under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

11 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Last Spring, the DFWCG had planned to attend the Jane Austen Society’s Netherfield Ball as their June event. When the Ball ended up being cancelled, we were left without an event for the month! At the last minute, we decided to meet at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens for their annual Concert in the Gardens performance of The 1812 Overture. It turned out to be a massive success, so we decided to repeat the event this year. The opening time of the gates had been pushed back by 30 minutes, so when the first of us arrived before 6, we managed to get a prime spot in line. It turned out to have been a lucky thing, too. By the time the gates opened, the entry line was snaking down the road and back toward the far parking lot! We were some of the first in the gate, and we quickly made our way to the front of the lawn seating in order to secure a prime firework viewing spot. The rest of our party found us quickly, and we soon were settled in. We had quite the spread of food with us, too. There were meats and cheeses of all kinds, fresh fruits, hot and cold tea, and even an 18 th century dessert that one of us was brave enough to attempt from a period recipe! Everything was delicious, and we had ample time before the music began to chat and take pictures of our new outfits. We also had an assortment of games, and one of our ladies even brought her knitting! We were certainly the talk of the park again, and several people stopped by to take photos of our group. It turned out to be Donor's Night for Concert in the Gardens, so the line-up had been selected by those that had supported the Symphony during the past year. This meant that we had

13 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

fantastic music! We started with the Overture from The Marriage of Figaro, then we heard the 1st movement from Beethoven's 5th Symphony. They continued with Mendelssohn's Wedding March, the 2nd movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony, and three movements from Stravinsky's 1919 revision of The Firebird. We had a short intermission before they continued with Fanfare for the Common Man by Copeland and Morning Mood, Anitra's Dance, and In the Hall of the Mountain King from Grieg's Peer Gynt. The conductor was really fantastic. Between each piece he addressed the audience and told us really interesting background information on the pieces and composers. Did you know that Dvorak spend some time in a small town in Iowa and absolutely loved it there? I had no idea! It really added a lot to the evening to learn all sorts of interesting new music facts. The symphony ended the evening with the piece the concert was named for, The 1812 Overture. Instead of cannons, they had a wonderful fireworks display.

14 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

How Japan and the West Influenced Each Other’s Fashion

When we think of Japanese influence on fashion, we might imagine kimono sleeves on summer dresses or rich brocade fabrics for evening wear. If we consider the influence of Western fashion on Japanese style, we may think of the Lolita movement, with Japanese girls dressing in sweet Rococo and Victorian inspired outfits. But Japan and the West were influencing each other’s fashion long before the influx of anime into the Western television market. In the 1860s, France and England experienced a surge in the popularity of Japonisme, which saw Japanese aesthetics influence fashion, art, furniture, and household items. At the same time in Japan, the Tokugawa shogunate dissolved, bringing an end to the feudal Edo period and a restoration of the Imperial throne, known as the Meiji Restoration. Emperor Meiji was extremely interested in modernizing Japan, and he opened the doors to industrialization and trade, and there was an influx of Western style goods onto the Japanese market. So what did this cross cultural influence look like? In England, wealthy ladies could import Japanese kimono, which dressmakers could then remake into fashionable, English style dresses. A common practice was to make kimono up into dressing gowns, the bath robes of their day, for fashionable ladies to wear at home.

FIDM 16 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Kimono were also fashioned into day dresses and evening wear. Japanese embroidery heavily influenced designers like Charles Worth, who included Asianinspired motifs on many of his gowns. While Western women enjoyed using kimono silks in their ensembles, there are some distinct style differences that distinguish them from Japanese bustle gowns. Where a Japanese woman might pair a contrasting color with her gown, Westerners would go with complimentary colors, such as the cream underskirt paired with the overskirt and bodice made of cream kimono silk in the lower right image. The blue dressing gown, while keeping the red lining of the original kimono, is paired with a light blue silk in the center front.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Other designers followed the same trend. They paired brown wool with pink and cream flowers, or pink kimono silk with pink or cream. The trend was always toward subtlety. Even when Japanese style embroidery was mimicked, the colors were never ostentatious, and the patterns were never overwhelming. Gown patterning could also show Japanese influence. The large sleeves of furisode kimono may be reused in their entirety, hanging long and loose, but gathered at the top into a fashionable puff. Cross-fronts may be featured on some gowns, a nod to the crossover of the kimono collars in traditional Japanese garb. The Kyoto Collection 17 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Left to Right, top row: Kyoto Costume Institute, Museum at FIT, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Bottom row: Kyoto Costume Institute, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Kyoto Costume Institute

18 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

While English and French women were quick to embrace Japanese aesthetics, Western Fashion didn’t catch on immediately in Japan. The Kimono remained the standard, daily garment of men and women across the country for decades after Emperor Meiji opened the door to the West. Western dress was almost entirely the realm of wealthy aristocrats, who could afford to import Western style clothing or have it custom made. They were, however, quick to adopt Western accessories and hairstyles. Both men and women quickly embraced Western hairstyles, men growing beards and mustaches while women kept up with the ever-changing trends in Victorian hairstyles. Accessories such as umbrellas, hats, jewelry, and gloves were regularly paired with traditional kimono and geta. 19 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

For those who could afford it, Western fashion was either imported or made from local silks. The Japanese love of color and pattern would not be suppressed with the new Western fashions, either. Bold prints were often mixed together and worn with brightly colored solids. The color gradient nioi, similar to ombre, was favored as well, something unseen in the West. Japanese embroidery endured in Westernized fashion, as well. Prints could be accented with additional embroidery to compliment or enhance the design motif, or solid colored gowns could be embellished with fantastic dense embroidery. Red was also favored as an accent color. Traditional kimono often had red linings, which would show at the hem and sleeves, and kimono undergarments were often red as well, the collar sometimes showing underneath the collar of the outer kimono. This was carried over into Western style dress, with red accents often appearing as hem ruffles, cuffs, or panels at the center front of bodices. Hats and shoes were also adopted with gusto by the Japanese, and were regular accessories when leaving the house to go about town. However, most Japanese who wore Western clothing outside of the home still preferred to wear kimono at home. This may have been a practicality issue – the large skirts of Western fashion were ill-suited to the small, traditional Japanese houses that most people called home. 20 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Top Row, left to right: Empress Haruko in Western dress, Suzuki Shinichi, Kusakabe Kimbei, Portrait of a Young Couple in Western Clothing Bottom row: Bustle gown of Nabeshima Naohiro Keishitsu Eiko, Court Gown of Empress Haruko, cotton dress by Watanabe Koreshirushi

21 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

In 1873, the Emperor issued a decree that all officials had to wear Western style clothing when attending to court business. The Empress didn’t embrace Western fashion as quickly or enthusiastically as her husband, still appearing in court wearing the traditional Heian-era style robes that had been court fashion for 900 years. However, the Empress was taking on more and more Western-style roles in court, such as appearing in public with her husband, and even acting in his capacity at court when he fell ill. This new modernized attitude clashed with her very traditional appearance, especially when she appeared beside her husband who preferred Western attire.

of Japan was slow to accept Western fashion, and the popularity of it seemed to peak between 1887 and 1890, though it was seen as early as 1877 and still seen as late as 1915. A surge of nationalism in the 1890s brought the kimono back to popularity, as it was seen as the dress of the “good wife, wise mother”. The Empress, however, continued to wear Western dress until her death in 1914. The following Empress, Teimei, also continued to wear Western clothing.

The Empress finally appeared in Western dress for the Emperor’s birthday celebration in 1886, and shortly thereafter she issued her own proclamation that the ladies of the court should appear only in Western clothing. Western clothing became the official court uniform of both men and women. She took the proclamation a step further than her husband, though, stating that all materials should be sourced in Japan, an attempt on her part to strengthen Japan’s textile industry, which was suffering under unfair trade agreements. Western dress was consumed mainly by the members of the court – the royal family, ladies in waiting, extended royal family members, and court appointees. The rest 22 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Costume Showcase Regency Era Ballgown Costumer: Erin Cullman Website: beyondthehourglass.com DFWCG member Erin Cullman of Beyond The Hourglass created this stunning Josephine-inspired ballgown. We asked her to tell us a bit about bringing this beautiful dress to life. I’ve called this gown The Empress Josephine Ballgown not because it’s based on a particular gown of hers, but it was definitely inspired by the types of gowns she wore in her portraits. The outer layer is a silk organza with a gold stripe and the inner layer is a gold/ivory shot taffeta. The gold lace along the bottom of the hem was cut from lace yardage and hand sewn onto the organza. The one thing I did copy from Josephine’s portrait was her jewelry. I contacted a shop on etsy and had a necklace and earring set made based on several portraits and I love how it turned out. I decided to make a cotton version of the Laughing Moon 126 to test it out first and so I’d have something to wear to the 1812 Overture event. While it’s wearable, I decided that it needed more length in the front as the underbust seam didn’t actually sit under my bust. To fix this, I did 23 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

a sort-of full bust adjustment by lowering and therefore lengthening the front bodice similar to another Regency pattern I’ve used before. I started the ballgown on June 10th and finished it June 19th. The interior seams are machine stitched but I hand stitched anything that would show from the outside. Figuring out how to make the lace curve around the bottom of the train was the most challenging part. I ended up having to cut into it at several points and overlapping areas to make the curve, which meant a lot of stitches to keep it from unraveling which took most of an afternoon and many episodes of So You Think You Can Dance. There were definitely moments that I questioned my sanity, but I really love how the lace and the train turned out and it’s my favorite thing about the gown.

24 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

By Sandi Dreer On Friday, June 12th, 13 costumers gathered at Barb & Ron’s Piney Woods oasis, Crossroads Retreat Center, for a weekend of relaxed fun. Friday was our arrival day at the Retreat Center and as everyone’s arrival varied from 11 am to 7 pm, we spent the afternoon mummy wrapping several attendees. Oh, we really made 3 duct tape dummies! No mummies, mommies, or effigies were actually prepared for burial. After the dummies were completed, we spent hours relaxing, looking though the many pages of books everyone brought (and added to our amazon shopping lists!), and got to know each other in a beautiful setting Friday evening we enjoyed the pool for the DFW Costumers Guild’s first ever pool party! The water was lovely after a several hours on the road for our attendees. It was the perfect way to unwind after a long day!

25 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Saturday morning, just like Bilbo Baggins we were treated to both 1st breakfast and later 2nd breakfast! Breakfast gave us the energy we would later use in making three, yes, three projects! We started our crafting by reprising the very successful Wirework Accessories workshop by Beth Klimek from CLW2013. The creativity and individuality really showed when everyone began shaping their wire and adding beads. Our next project was Regency Turbans with Jennifer Thompson. Jen showed us some beautiful examples and we soon began to cut away our straw beachcomber hats and worked on our own masterpieces. Jay was even able to wear her new turban at brunch on Sunday! Our hands had gotten a short reprieve when we started work on our collapsible bustles.

27 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Saturday evening, we gathered for a wonderful meal – some already dressed for the Oscars! The evening event was short, as the pool was calling our names! But we did take time for photo ops.

Sunday morning came with the realization that it was the last day of our relaxing time spent with fellow costumers. We started the day with an At Home breakfast, followed by looking at a LOT of capes, personal sewing time, and beginning our 4th project – a Regency reticule. These photos and more are available on our Flickr stream and were taken by Sandi Dreer & Jen Thompson. Make plans to join us next year for CLW2015!

29 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

30 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

A Beginner’s Guide to Costume Blogging You follow them online. You watch the progress of your favorite costumers as they take you step-by-step through the journey of making their latest outfit. They make it look so magical, and so easy. They must be a natural talent, born with a sewing needle in their hand and never having to touch a seam ripper! Well, it’s either that, or they’re just really good at blogging. Costume blogging has really taken off. What was once a handful of well-known blogs and websites has expanded into an online community of crafters and sewists, eager to share their latest creations with each other, offer encouragement, and give advice. Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of having your very own costume blog for a while now. After all, look at all the fun, creative things that are happening! But how do you go about having an interesting, good-looking blog, without having to have professional webmaster skills? And, just as importantly, how do you gain readers? Blogging itself doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It’s a skill, and like all skills, it can be honed with practice. It isn’t just about writing an interesting post, it’s about engaging your audience. First, let’s look at how to get your blog started. Choosing your host There are a lot of different blog platforms that offer a variety of features. One of the oldest is Livejournal, which offers a very active costuming community. Livejournal is a great place to blog if you want to interact with other costumers. The community is active and vibrant, eager to talk about construction techniques, answer questions or give advice, and they love seeing other people’s creations. Blogging here is really more like keeping an online dress diary. It’s a good place to get to know other costumers. If you want more of a showcase platform, Blogger has offered costumers a great place to build their blogging websites. It offers a bit more in the way of layout features than livejournal, and the look is a little more customizable than Livejournal. However, the community on Blogger is not quite as active as on Livejournal, so don’t be

31 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

discouraged if you don’t receive as many comments on your posts as you expect. People are reading, they just may not be saying anything. Wordpress is another blog option that has been around a long time. Wordpress offers a wide spectrum of formats and layouts, much more so than either Blogger or Livejournal, and can really give you a professional looking website. There are tons of premade layouts to choose from, many of them free. It offers you a lot a bang for no bucks at all (or very few if you choose to purchase a premium template). Lastly, Tumblr is an image-centric blogging platform. Customization is easy, if somewhat limited. However, if you want to reach a lot of people with very little effort, Tumblr is the way to do it. A couple of photos and a short write-up is all that’s needed here. Starting your blog Once you’ve decided on your platform, take your time setting up and formatting your blog. You don’t want to start publishing until all the design work is finished. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be neat. Make sure your readers aren’t confused by your layout and known how to find what they’re looking for. Once you’ve completed the design work, it’s time to get started blogging. You have a project you’re eager to share with others, and you’re ready to dive in. Here are a few things to remember before you hit that “publish post” button. Don’t be a robot You want to seem human, like there’s someone actually behind the screen talking about the work they’ve done on this outfit. If you fall into the format of “I drafted the bodice using instructions from X, the fabric is Y”, etc, you run the risk of people simply scrolling through to see the pictures and moving on. You’ll have much better audience engagement if you write like you’re talking to someone. Think of your blog as a conversation. It even helps to have a specific person in mind when you’re writing, so that things flow more naturally as you type. “This costume was a complete beast!” or “When I saw this fashion plate the first time, I knew the dress was my soulmate” are much more interesting than “I used a fashion plate from Godey’s 1865 March edition as my reference.” Still include the relevant information to the project, but make it fun and interesting to read. Develop your own style and voice. A great looking blog won’t save you if you’re boring to read.

32 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Provide lots of pictures Once common mistake that a lot of first-time bloggers (and some veterans, too) is that they neglect to provide pictures of what they’re working on. You could write the best, most engaging post about your progress, but if there aren’t photos to accompany it you run the risk of people skipping right over the post. Costume blogs, especially, live and die by their photos. (This is not so much the case on Livejournal, however, since the community there is much more conversational in general.) This is an age of “click and scan” and large blocks of text are likely to get skipped over, so give them something to look at! Things to keep in mind while you’re taking pictures for your posts: Avoid clutter

Make sure the background of your pictures isn’t full of boxes or dirty dishes. A neutral colored background is the best for showing off the main subject. If you’re working on a bodice, you can lay it on a piece of white or grey fabric and position it to showcase your latest work on it. If you’re working on a dress form, close-up pictures of stitching or draping will help to minimize background noise and allow readers to focus on the subject. You don’t have to go as far as purchasing a photographer’s backdrop, just make sure there aren’t other things in the photo distracting from the main subject. If you’re taking pictures of your final project on a mannequin, you can hang an old sheet behind the subject to cover up any mess (because really, who has a pristine clean sewing space?)

33 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

For small items, like jewelry or accessories, it may be a good idea to create a photography box. This is not as complicated as it sounds. All you need are four pieces of foam board and some packing tape. You could even use a large cardboard box you already have and line it with computer paper. Stick a small light with a white hue to it into the box, out of the way from where you’ll be aiming the camera (you could even just point a desk lamp into the box), and the white paper will diffuse the light. It takes all of 10 minutes to build one, and the resulting photos look very professional. An alternative is to simply drape a piece of fabric behind the item and use natural lighting on the object. Below are two photos – one taken in a “black box” made of black foamboard, another with a single piece of posterboard propped behind the object.

Take more pictures than you think you’ll need

This is especially true at events. A professional photographer may take 800 photos at an event and only post 50 of them. The more pictures you take, the more likely you’ll be to catch a good shot, and you won’t be left with someone’s weird midword facial expression, closed eyes, or unflattering angle. When taking photos of your outfits, whether during construction or after completion, play around with the angles. Reposition the piece and see if that highlights the best parts of the outfit better. Adjust your lighting and take more pictures. You may end up with a bunch of photos, but it will also allow you to choose the ones that best showcase your work. Get to know your camera

Most cameras, even basic point and shoot cameras, have a selection of settings built into the camera’s function. Even some smart phones, especially new models, will

34 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

also boast a range of settings, from low-light to macro. Experiment with the settings on your camera and get to know what conditions to use each one in. Play with lowlight and bright sunlight to see what your camera does in each situation. Knowing how your camera will react in different lighting is essential to creating good costume photos. If you’re shooting your sewing space most of the time and your camera is set to do its best in fluorescent lighting, don’t forget to change your settings when you change locations. You can also experiment with your settings while you’re shooting your costume photos, to see which brings out the best in your outfit. Take inspiration from others

If you can’t seem to figure out how to best showcase your work in your photos, take a look at other costume blogs. Your favorite blogs are showing you the way! Study how they set up their shots. What did you like about how they photographed their work? Learn from those that have come before to help you get your shots the way you like them. Post regularly So you now have an engaging, entertaining blog post, full of great pictures. You’re ready to publish. Once you’ve begun publishing, you need to keep your audience engaged, which means updating your blog regularly. Don’t worry about building up enough work to make a post “worth it”. All you need are a few good pictures and a short post about what you’ve been doing. Short, informative posts are a great way to keep your blog regularly updated with content, while not taking much time to create. Set a schedule for your posting, and publish something at least every two weeks. Engage your audience This is a big one. If you want to build your readership, you’re going to have to go and find them. Post a link to your blog on your Facebook. While you’re there, set up a Facebook page for your costuming blog. Post regular updates there. Facebook is a great, easy way to engage and grow your audience. Visit other costuming pages and comment as your blog page instead of your personal page. This will direct people back to your costume blog. Every time you update your blog, post a link to the new article on Facebook. Many costumers who maintain an online presence do so through many

35 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

different avenues. They may have a main blog, a livejournal blog to keep up with the community, a Facebook page, and a Twitter handle. Others keep a Tumblr page for “mini-blogging”, where they post a few photos with a short write-up while they’re working on construction, and keep the big showcase posts with longer write-ups and descriptions of the project for their main blog. Others maintain a minimal presence, with just their main blog and a Facebook page. The more avenues you have leading back to your blog, the wider your audience will be, but you’ll also have to remember to regularly update all of your social media to keep your audience engaged. This is made a lot easier by pre-scheduling posts so you don’t have to be at your computer every day updating one site or another. No matter how many different media platforms you choose to use, make sure that you respond to your audience. You’ll be receiving comments not only on your main blog, but also on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Be sure to acknowledge your readers and take the time to answer any questions they may ask about the project. It doesn’t have to go in-depth, and you can even answer “I’m keeping that a surprise!” if you don’t want to share any details about your finished project. Be courteous and gracious to your readers. They’ll understand if you don’t want to share some of the secrets behind the magic as long as you are friendly. Remember, a blog is a conversation! Networking is key to getting your blog out there, and it will introduce you to many other wonderful costumers. Tag appropriately and consistently Readers won’t just be interested in your current project, they’ll be interested in what you blogged about in the past. Make sure to keep your tags simple, and to tag each post appropriately for the project you’re working on. Don’t one day tag a post “1812 Green Dress” and the next day tag a post about the same project as “Regency Green Dress”. Make sure your tags are consistent so past projects are easy to access and all the information stays together. Most blogs allow you to include a list of tags in a sidebar on your site, which will also help your readers access posts they are interested in. Also, make sure each project receives its own tag. If you only tag something as “18th Century”, then that project’s posts will be lumped in to all the other 18th Century projects you have worked on, and they’ll eventually be buried. You can either name your project, such as “Autumn Leaf Francaise Gown” or you can be more technical

36 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

and name it “18th Century – Red and Gold Francaise Gown”. It’s entirely up to you how you choose to tag, just be sure to stick to a tag once you’ve created it. Maintain a costume gallery This is optional, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to find a past project on someone’s blog and have had to waste time sifting through dozens of posts because they were only vaguely tagged to the century and not the individual project. Remember those well organized tags you’ve kept? This is where they come in handy. All you really need to maintain a good costume gallery is a single pinned post or a separate page on your blog which you then link to in your menu. Include a single full-length picture of your completed costume and a link to the tag for that project for each outfit you’ve finished. Your blog isn’t just a showcase for your work, you’re creating a reference for other costumers. They may come back to look at how you did the construction on a certain bodice, or to see how a certain fabric behaved when you used it so they know what to expect with their own project. Keeping your blog organized and your individual costumes easy to find is essential, and your readers will thank you for it. Share your research Research posts are some of the most informative and useful posts for other costumers. If you’re researching a particular type of gown, a method of seam construction, a style of hat, etc, your audience would likely enjoy reading about what you’ve learned. Chances are that if you were curious about it or wondered how to do it, others have, as well. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you do this, of course, but your readers will probably enjoy reading about your research process as well as your construction process. Enjoy Yourself The most important thing in maintaining a blog is to enjoy it! If you aren’t having fun keeping up with your blog, it will probably translate through to your writing. Don’t write posts when you’re crunched for a deadline or otherwise stressed. Save those posts for after you’ve finished your project or after the event is over so you can sit down and really take pleasure in going over the details. It’s all about sharing your love of costume, so have fun with it!

37 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

The Jane Austen Society’s

The Netherfield Ball! In the heart of every Jane Austen fan, it elicits images of ladies in their finest silk gowns, the glitter of jewels, sharply dressed gentlemen, and the swoosh of skirts as couples wind through complicated dance figures. The Jane Austen Society of North Texas aimed to recreate just such an evening for their Netherfield Ball this year. Held in a historic church, the furnishings and stained glass windows lent a period feel to the venue. The Ball itself was held in one of the church’s fellowship rooms, while other rooms were set up for drinks and light refreshments. Before the Ball, the ladies of the Costumer’s Guild met at an Italian restaurant across the street from the dance venue, where they enjoyed a bit of dinner and good conversation before heading over to the main event. 38 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

We arrived between dances, giving us just the opportunity we needed to mingle a little bit and get right into the swing of things. Even though we arrived without partners of our own, the other attendees were quick to invite us in for a set or two, and we were soon dancing the night away. It was a pleasant surprise to see that ladies did not significantly outnumber gentlemen, as so often happens at costumed events! And, despite the fact that Regency dress was not required, a majority of the attendees had made an effort to come in period clothing. Throughout the course of the evening, we tried to guess who had used what pattern for their gowns and suits, which turned into quite a fun game. Between dances, there were light refreshments, finger sandwiches and small desserts, as well as cold drinks. The library was open for the attendees to visit, which offered excellent backdrops for photos. The music played on until 11 o’clock. Once the last dance had concluded, attendees began trickling back toward the parking lot, and the Ball was over. The Jane Austen Society didn’t hold the Ball last year, so it was especially exciting to attend this year. There are hopes that it will become an annual event again, and it certainly had an excellent turnout, nearly selling out completely. The dances were made simple to follow by the caller, who walked us through every figure stepby-step, and the musical accompaniment, provided by a group called Ladies at Play was the perfect addition to the dancing. I am certainly looking forward to the next Ball!

39 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Calendar of Events For more information about the events listed here, please see our “Upcoming Events� page on the DFWCG website.


Candlelight & Roses Tea Party


Summer/Fall Business Meeting


Dracula the Ballet at Bass Hall





Join the hosts of the Candlelight & Roses Civil War Ball for an afternoon Tea Party! Event includes a tablescape contest, with prizes going to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Tickets are $25, and are on sale on the event website

Comfort Inn, 8111 S. I-35 E Corinth, Corinth, TX 76210


Whether you are a new member or old, or you are just wanting to check us out for the first time, we would love to have your input in making plans for the next year's events. We will be holding our summer business meeting at La Madeleine restaurant on Collins Street in Arlington, north of I-30, and enjoying a lovely dinner after the meeting. Our meetings usually last for around 2 hours, and are a great way to get to know other members of the Guild! Costumes are not necessary, and there is no fee to attend the meeting. We would love to have you join us!

La Madeleine, 2101 N Collins St, Arlington, TX 76011


Join the DFWCG as we enjoy an evening of ballet and bustle gowns! The Texas Ballet Theater will be performing Ben Stevenson's original ballet, Dracula. Ticket prices range from $15 - 140, and attendees are responsible for purchasing their own tickets. Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime so we have a chance to meet and mingle! After the ballet, we'll meet at the stairs near the west portal, and head across the street to Bird Cafe for a late dinner. Victorian or Edwardian dress highly encouraged! Tickets to the ballet can be purchased through the TBT website.

Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102

40 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015


Bustles at the Japanese Festival


Candlelight & Roses Civil War Ball



41 |DFWCG.ORG|Summer 2015

Join the DFWCG as we enjoy the annual Japanese Festival at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens for a bustle-era outing! Bustle fashion was popular among Japanese well-to-dos during the 1870s and '80s, and they made it uniquely their own with Japanese prints and bright colours. Whether you're wearing your favourite bustle gown, a Western gown made of kimono fabrics, or a Japanese gown with bright colours and prints, come enjoy the fall foliage and traditional tea, dance, and martial arts demonstrations at the Japanese Festival! Gates open at 10AM, and we will meet by the main gate to the Japanese Garden before all heading in together.

1860's Fancy Dress Theme of Candlelight and Roses Grand Ball, book reading, music, dancing, and dinner. 1860's period Fancy Dress or after 5:00 formal/semi formal dress are requested. There will be Period Music by Sweet Song String Band with dance caller, Wine tasting, Book reading by author Karen Knaus of The Thorny Truth and Their Civil War. Tickets are $47, and are on sale on the event website

10AM Japanese Gardens at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas 76107

6:30 - 10:30PM Chandlers Rose Gardens, 7032 CR 971 Celina, Texas 75009

We would like to thank all of our readers for their support We look forward to bringing you our Summer issue in July



Erin Cullman Sandi Dreer Megan Martin

Events are added to our calendar as we learn of them, and so the list in DFWCG magazine may not reflect the entire list of upcoming events for the DFW area. If you are hosting or know of an event that you would like to see listed in our Upcoming Events calendar, please email dfwcgmagazine@gmail.com. For the most up to date information on Guild events, and other costume events in DFW, please visit our website at DFWCG.org.

Costume Showcase

Contributing to DFWCG Magazine

Our Costume Showcase is designed to celebrate excellence in costuming displayed by the members of our Guild. If you are a member of the DFW Costumers Guild and would like to have your costume considered for our Costume Showcase, please email dfwcgmagazine@gmail.com with a clear fulllength color photograph of your costume and a short description of the inspiration, materials, and construction process. If you costume is chosen for the Showcase, we will contact you for a more in-depth interview.

We are always seeking contributors to our magazine! If you have a sewing or costuming tutorial, an event report, a costuming research article, costume movie review, or any other costume related content that you would like to see included in an upcoming issue of the magazine, please email us! Submissions can be sent as Microsoft Word documents or PDF files, and will be formatted to best fit into the magazine. For tutorials, please include a clear color photo of each step that you have written in your article.

All images included in these articles fall under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use� for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.


Magazine DFWCG.ORG

Dallas-Fort Worth Costumers Guild Magazine

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.