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Costume Design and Construction, for Fun, not Profit ^_^

November 1, 2012
Three Rangers (Costumes and photo by E.G.D.)

Three Rangers (Costumes and photo by E.G.D.)

Well, what can I say?  I am a theatrical designer and technician who is currently working as a housekeeper and nanny.  Soooo, it should come as no surprise that I just went 110% all-out in designing Renaissance Festival and Halloween costumes for pretty much everyone in the household that is under my care (my brother-in-law opted out for reasons unknown, but I sure made my sister, niece and nephew happy!).  Seeing as this website is the platform from which I am currently attempting to sell my skills to the theatrical world, I thought it might be a good idea to show some pictures.  Please note that I designed all of these costumes and created my own patterns from scratch from drafted body blocks.  I subsequently did all my own cutting, stitching, and embellishing.  I made all the bags, pouches, pockets, sword sheathes, sword belts, and accessories, as well.  The corset I am wearing in the Ren Fest pictures is 100% my own work from my own pattern (based on a historical model from the late 1800s).  For each and every piece, I did all the grommet work by hand (no store-bought grommet tape for me!).  Mostly, what I believe I am trying to say, is that I am highly skilled, and I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living, especially if it were for a theatrical organization.  If anyone reading this is interesting in hiring a costume shop technician, please feel free to e-mail me for details and portfolios!  Without further ado:

Just Tunics and Shoes (Photo by Ryan McLin)

This picture was taken at home before we left for the Ren Fest, so we aren’t wearing our full array of accessories.  I like this picture because you can get a good idea of the shape of the lace-up tunics I made for the “Fantasy Ranger” line of costumes.  Please note that I made the boot-caps and shoe covers for my niece and nephew completely from scratch and from my own pattern.  My “Fantasy Bard” costume in this picture is pretty much complete as I wore it.  Note the sleeves are functional as “Water Sleeves” which I learned how to manipulate when I was studying Beijing Opera, and they are held in place by lace-up arm cuffs.  You can’t see them, but I have boot-sheath daggers and jingle-bell ribbons tied to my boots!  Finally, I would like to proudly note that the only things in this picture that are made of fabric that I did not design and construct myself are the tights worn with the three ranger costumes.

Ren Fest Parking Lot (Photo by F. Travis Riley)

Tada!  Accessories have been added, and on the far right is my friend Sarah, for whom I designed and constructed the bodice piece/sword belt and sheath.  I hand-embellished the hilts and pommels of all the weapons, too.  My sister is wearing her archer gloves backward at this point, though we turned them around and fixed it as soon as we got out of the parking lot.

Liam on a Llama (photo by me)

Oona on a Pony (photo by me)

Aaaaaaaaaaaand here are my niece and nephew riding the “carousel” at the Ren Fest.  How cute is that!

Halloween (photo by Ryan McLin)

And here we are on Halloween, yesterday.  As you can see, I made myself a new costume so that I could match the other three!  My bodice laces down both sides and I used chain and gilded-leaf embellishments that I made myself using a Gerber multi-tool.  I had to get really creative to make the bodice, because I used the tail-end scraps leftover from the other five costumes (well, perhaps it’s four and a half, since my mom actually made that dress Sarah’s wearing for my Halloween costume in 1998, when I was in high school), and there were barely even tiny scraps of that pleather left once I was finished!  I got exceptionally creative with pattern placement in order to get that kind of mileage out of a yard and a half of fabric (seriously!  For two bodice pieces, boot caps, shoe caps, belts, bags, pockets, accessories, arm cuffs, archer gloves… you’d be hard-pressed to beat me in a battle of fabric economy.  Incidentally, I just realized that in all these pictures, you can’t tell that except for the buckle area, my sister’s belt is underbust-bodice width with utility pockets and the like worked in.  Clearly, I need to get some pictures of that costume from the back).  Anyway, I made my new costume yesterday morning based on the inspiration thought I had soon after I woke up:  “Y’know, I really don’t feel like wearing a corset today.”  I basically used my body block as the pattern and made fitting adjustments on myself with pins.  Anyone who has ever tailored for herself without a dressmaker’s dummy knows how crazy that can be, but my arms and shoulders are pretty flexible, so it worked out well, all the same.

Halloween Again (Photo by Ryan McLin)

So, happy November, everyone!  I hope you enjoyed my little design gallery.  I certainly enjoyed constructing it!  Warm regards at the start of cold season- E.G.D.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2012 6:23 pm

    Wonderful! Everyone looks very happy to be dressing up in your handiwork.

    • November 2, 2012 9:29 am

      And happily, those make great play-clothes, too! Oona sat in a mud puddle at the Ren Fest and Liam’s been playing ranger in the back yard, but the costumes are durable and machine washable, so all the better! ^_^

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