Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Tintype Photography Revisited

nonedited-47 VPS Tintype 2

One of the limits you think of with tintype photography is going to the studio. Except, that doesn't have to be--the Victorian Photo Studio can take a tintype of a digital photo. All the things I love about tintypes are evident--the color shifts, the changes in emphasis, the different expressions--and are so obvious because they're copies of photos, not just the closest you can get with a camera while taking a tintype, which a group of friends and I did during our trip in 2017.

Because of the different format, I decided to be creative with my choice of photos. The 1930s Melisandre dress I wore to the 2019 Costume College gala was an obvious choice. It's red silk satin with sequined flames embroidered around the hem, and we were lucky to take pictures at the fire fountain in the outside courtyard at night. Definitely perfect for the dress--and the tintype! I love how the sequins stand out, the flames become suggestions, and the general moodiness of it all.

DSC_4200a VPS Tintype 5

There were so many textures in the pictures I took of my silver and black Game of Thrones handmaiden dress that I wanted to see those in a tintype as well. The dress is black and silver silk taffeta with stenciled lions with beaded and embroidered swirls. The belt is made of Worbla and silver leaf, and I'm wearing cut steel combs in my hair. The picture was taken in late afternoon in mid October, and I like how the light worked to highlight the tintype. The way the tintype picked up my hem is especially interesting--the dust it gathered from being worn to faire is so clear.

DSC_4737 VPS Tintype 6

My embroidered 1830s dress is earlier than tintype photography, but the contrast of the wool tambour embroidery and the background-the Huntington Library in Pasadena--seemed ideal for a tintype anyway. It's so interesting what the technique picks up--my expression is so different. Friends and I always look more serious in the studio tintypes we've done than the modern photographs taken at the same time, but here it's obvious that at least part of that is what the camera decides to pick up and focus on.

DSC_3899 VPS Tintype 3

I chose my black and silver 1830s evening dress for much the same reasons as the day dress--the contrast and location--this time, the Joseph Ambler Inn near Philadelphia. The dress is trimmed with black net with silver spots and I love how much the spots stand out. Meanwhile, my hairpiece with ribbons and silver foliage becomes part of the trees. In all three of these outside pictures, the green becomes so dark. It's amazing how much contrast is lost between me and the backgroud.

DSC_3589VPS Tintype 1

My 1918 plaid silk dress is from a time when many people owned cameras. Still, I thought the plaid and the background of the Great War Gallop hosted by Wearing History would make for a good tintype. This one was reversed as it was taken, so the sign is correct. I like that this tintype picked up the differences in the tones of the dress colors fairly accurately, while the poster behind me looks like it was printed with just one color. This picture really feels like time travelling to me!

nonedited-17 VPS Tintype 7

And one last picture--Alyxx as Crowley joining me at the fire fountain--how perfect! The shadows from the flames in this one are just fantastic.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

What I Would've Worn to Costume College 2020

1830s Melisandre 1

So, 2020 has turned out, uh, not exactly as planned? Still, I did have plans for Costume College, and I did a photoshoot the weekend that Costume College was supposed to be with what I had done. For the gala this year, inspired by last year's gala dress, typos, and the fire fountain at Costume College, I was going to make an 1830s version of Melisandre. I still hope to--bringing in fantasy elements, beyond what 1830s fancy dress would've done--is something I'm looking forward to.

1830s Melisandre 3 1830s Melisandre 2

For this costume I have 1830s underthings, shoes, a necklace, and an idea. Posing in my show version of the Melisandre dress worn as a wrapper seemed appropriate!

30s Melisandre 3

And the 1930s Melisandre from the 2019 Costume College gala that inspired the 1830s dress. It's silk satin with I think close to 30,000 sequins at the hem. I planned to wear this on a trip to the Queen Mary too. Now, with more time, I'm planning on a matching sequined cape.

30s Melisandre 1 30s Melisandre 2

The bodice is bias in the front and open in the back. I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but somehow it came together.

Cersei 1

This is the state of my latest Cersei dress was in when WonderCon was cancelled on March 12. At the rate I was sewing, it probably had two or three hours before it would be done. The main dress, anyway. I still had wig styling and an updated belt.

Cersei 2 Cersei 3

I've since been adding more embroidery--Italian mesh ribbon and tiny beads--to the sleeves. This dress fairly perfectly captures my current mood.

Regency 1

I always like to include something that I just want to wear again. I picked this little cotton spencer and white dress at the last minute when I was taking pictures.

Regency 2 Regency 3

The train on this dress was a victim of Jane Austen Festival mud. The stripes on the pleated back of the spencer were quite fun to pleat.

1840s 1

For the Young Victoria Dinner, hosted by my friend Robin, I was going to make an 1840s dress based on a dress in the Museum of London. The miles of bias ruffles on the skirt are done. Not much else.

1840s 2 1840s 3

I do have accessories! Time was short so I bought a Timely Tresses straw bonnet, and I've had the black bonnet veil for years.

1930s 3

Before Costume College, a group of us were going to go to the Wizarding World theme park at Universal and wear vintage Hogwarts costumes. Mine was going to be 1930s Ravenclaw, as if I were dressing for a reunion. It's still going to be a great 1930s outfit, even if I'm not quite comfortable cosplaying Harry Potter right now. Rowling's stances on trans rights are so saddening and frustrating.

1930s 2 1930s 1

I'm posing with the 1930s skirt and sweater I made to wear on the Queen Mary. That trip will still happen, and I imagine small trips like that will be possible before we can have events again.

I have a few more pictures of these on Instagram--taking these pictures the weekend of Costume College was very good for me--using #costumecollegethatwasnt. My sewing Instagram is linked in the navigation above. I have lots of progress pictures there--costuming is so much more than completed costume!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Melisandre's Glowing Necklace--For Those Who Know Nothing, A Tutorial

DSC_3956 (1)

I think half the reason I wanted to make a Melisandre cosplay was to make her necklace. Once my friend Loren of the Costumer's Closet--who's done a lot of interesting work with props--suggested that the necklace light up, I knew I had to make it work. I found a few other necklaces online that lit up, but none of the ideas quite worked for my necklace, so I had to come up with my own way of doing it. This is an entirely new area for me! I know nothing about electronics--especially making them so small!

And about the post title--clearly, my subconscious was at work. I didn't really mean to make the reference, but since I do know nothing about this, it was a logical title, which obviously needed to be kept. More details about my trials and false starts at the bottom of this post.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A Late 1790s Bird Print Dress with a Diamond Back

katregency-32 katregency-27

My late 1790s dress is based on examples of cotton print dresses, and a remodeled 18th century dress from An Agreeable Tyrant at the DAR Museum. It's made of a cotton print from Colonial Williamsburg, lined with linen from Burnley and Trowbridge, and worn over stays, shift, and strapped petticoat.

I made the dress for the Jane Austen Festival in Kentucky, and it was as comfortable as a dress can be there. The pictures here were taken by my friend (in much better weather!), whose photography Instagram, @journeyofaphotog, can be seen here.

Construction for the dress can be seen here

A Late 1790s Dress with a Diamond Back--A Tutorial

DSC_2833 DSC_2838

My late 1790s print dress worn at the Jane Austen Festival. It's made of bird print cotton from Colonial Williamsburg, lined with linen from Burnley and Trowbridge, and worn over short stays made with springs (here--other pictures I was wearing my cupped short stays), a linen shift, and petticoat on straps. The dress closes with drawstrings in the front over a pinned linen lining. More pictures of the dress, including how it closes, can be seen here.


In 2017, I was lucky to be able to see An Agreeable Tyrant at the DAR Museum. I already owned the catalog, which has scaled patterns for many of the dresses. I had been thinking of making a print dress when we saw a remodeled silk taffeta dress with just the sort of back I had been meaning to make for years, but never did. Seeing one in person made things click, and I knew that my new dress would finally have that back.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

1830s Day and Evening Hair

DSC_3843 - Edited DSC_3901 - Edited

For my friend Robin's Young Victoria Dinner, I knew I needed to give as much attention to my hair as my dress--the 1830s had some of the most distinctive hair in history. Hair is not my strong point as a costumer, but the architectural qualities of 1830s hair gave me some reassurance that I could do it. It looked extremely strange as it was coming together, but when all the pieces are in place--the side curls, bun, and sleeve, it's remarkably balanced.

Monday, November 19, 2018

A 1918 Plaid Silk Dress

Plaid Dress 1

When my friend Lauren of Wearing History announced she was hosting the Great War Gallop to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, I immediately wanted to go, and wanted a new dress. After a little searching, I found this plaid dress from Antique dress. I found the perfect pink and green small scale plaid from Pure Silks, and, less than a week before the dance, made the dress.