So you want a costumers’ fantasy vacation?

The ladies at Blo Norton, a 16th-c. English manor house

The ladies at Blo Norton, a 16th-c. English manor house

It’s easier than you might think

Have you ever dreamed of waking up in a canopied bed, throwing open the curtains to look out over rolling green hills, then dressing in your finest period costume to stroll about those hills with your best friends? Do you fantasize about candlelit dinners in wood-paneled rooms with you and your closest pals all dressed in proper period gear dining upon sumptuous historically inspired food, and then you meander up to your own bedroom after the meal, go to bed, wake the next morning, and do it all over again for a week or more?

This is the costumers’ fantasy vacation, where a group rents out a historic building for the purpose of holding private historically themed events over the course of several days or weeks. It may sound crazy, like something that happens only in the movies or for millionaires, but it’s not. I know because I’ve done it twice now with my friends, and I’m not a Hollywood starlet nor wealthy in the least. I’m an ordinary office worker from the U.S. of A., without a lot of vacation days, but with big dreams and some fabulous friends who aren’t afraid to live out those dreams with me.

You can too. Here’s how… Read the rest of this entry »

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My Favorite (and Least Favorite) Books on Film

In case you haven’t noticed, I kinda like to combine books and costumes a bit. Also, books and costumes and movies. So over on Frock Flicks for National Book Month, I rounded up my top five and bottom five movies adapted from books, with an emphasis on costume.

There’s some Jane Austen, natch, and a Merchant-Ivory adaption of an E.M. Forester novel, of course. But astute viewers may notice that adaptions of Wuthering Heights make it on both sides of the list. OK, it’s one of my very favourite books of all time, so I’m a little critical. That’s what happens when you write an undergrad thesis and an unfinished Master’s thesis on the Brontës’ works.

And I made a certain slightly pretentious costume based on Wuthering Heights too, which I might just make an ever better, even more awesomely pretentious version of for next year’s Costume College Gala, since the theme is literature…

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The Great Sewing Room Reorg of 2014

It started, as most projects do these days, with a Pinterest board. Or maybe it started even before that with this room layout tool, mentioned in an Offbeat Home post. Because what’s more fun than screwing around with make-believe room diagrams where you can rearrange things to your heart’s content?

Anyway, it all came down to feeling like my once-organized sewing room had become a crappy mess most of the time. It was hard to get at fabrics when they were all in plastic tubs (no matter that the tubs were see-through) because there were stacks of junk in front of and piled around those tubs. I always had to move something to get into anything in drawers or hanging on the garment rack. Oh and that garment rack, ugh, what originally seemed like a great idea had become an excuse for not putting things away.

And where do you go for organizational furniture? IKEA, natch. Well, some stuff can be had cheaper at Home Depot and the like, but IKEA formed the basis of my inspiration. Thanks to the room layout too, I decided I could rearrange things and open up a whole wall for more shelving. And in small spaces, you always have to go up, thus I needed a floor-to-ceiling unit, and I settled on IKEA’s Stolmen wardrobe system. Read the rest of this entry »

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Book-Themed Francaise

Did you know Kendra wrote a book? My BFF Kendra wrote an awesome book about how to style 18th-century hair & wigs, chock full of historical research & documentation. It was ready for sale at Costume College 2014, so I wanted to help promote it. I decided to wear the wig I modeled for her in the book at the CoCo Gala with my black silk francaise (coincidentally, it was draped by her).

And then it got weird … in the book, my wig had a ship in it. So how about having a miniature version of her book in it? And then miniature books as jewelry? And pages of the book as roses decorating my dress? And print the book’s table of contents as a stomacher? Yeah, I went there. Kendra, our friend Karen, & I were all wearing 18th-century gowns with wigs made by her for the Gala, so we all went with this theme. Read the rest of this entry »

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Femme Fourth Doctor Who

One of my first fandoms was Doctor Who, and Tom Baker is my One True Doctor. So when Loren suggested doing femme versions of the Doctors for Costume College 2014, oh yeah, I had to make it happen. Even better, I realized I could do it with stuff I already had or things I could buy off eBay and later wear to work!

I went for a season one / two look when I realized a burgundy corduroy blazer from my work wardrobe was a reasonable match for the Doctor’s, and I built the look around that with a black and white tweed skirt and a grey plaid vest from eBay, a white T-shirt from Old Navy (instead of a button-down shirt, better for the summer temps), and burgundy boots and black tights, also from my work attire. I used the same brown curly wig as from the Eddie AbFab cosplay, topped with an battered brown fedora I’ve had since college.

The scarf was a perfect find from the Etsy shop Geeks With Scissors — I really did not want to wear 10 lbs. of wool all day, especially since this ended up being the day I taught two classes. This scarf was lightweight, made from strips of poly silk, beautifully replicating the style of Baker’s iconic scarf but in a girly fashion. The last touches were a bag of Jelly Babies I got on Amazon.com, a toy Sonic Screwdriver I already had, and a TARDIS key necklace that I’d made back when I was 12 and had kept ever since.

Our group had Loren as the 5th Doctor, Alyxx as the War Doctor, Aimee as the 11th Doctor, Sarah as the TARDIS, & Karen as Jack Harkness (who, in a sad but appropriate turn of events, missed meeting up with us for pictures). Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s baaaaaak!

just like an insane poltergeist, FROCK FLICKS IS BACK! and you can't stop us

FROCK FLICK! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, after an unexpectedly long hiatus, the one and only, original podcast snarking historical movie costumes is back! Now we have a blog, a Facebook page, Pinterest boards, and Twitter. Follow us everywhere, we enjoy that kind of stalkerazzi action.

Over on Facebook, we’re particularly active in discussing what movies to podcast next, plus ripping a new one into a certain costume designer’s theories on 18th-century hygiene. Which Sarah took on point by point in our blog.

There will be more, oh yes, lots more. Watch out!

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Drag Queen Bling for Club Ice

When Costume College 2014 announced that the theme for the Friday Night Social was “Club Ice” & made allusions to bling, sparkle, diamonds, rhinestones, & the like, well, I took this as a personal challenge to wear something eye-blindingly sparkly. I went through a lot of options of what to make or buy & finally settled on this fairly cheap sequined column dress from a Chinese vendor on eBay. The strapless bra I had to buy to wear with it cost more! Then I wore my traditional drag queen wig & a every last rhinestone I own, plus more that I bought (& got two new necklaces that I cut & wired / glued together to make a bigger bib necklace). Also, drag makeup, though I still can’t get it as good as the queens I admire.

Still, it was a fun outfit, and I may have had my photo taken more wearing this than at any point since my wedding. Historical costumes, pshaw, I was apparently meant to wear cheap flash!

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Edwina Monsoon from “Absolutely Fabulous”

My BFF Sarah & I have talked about doing this cosplay for ages, & I’m SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY we finally did it at Costume College 2014!!! This is perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had in costume. She was Patsy, I was Eddie. We stumbled around, pretending to be drunk, acting bitchy (shush, we were acting!), with snarky British accents, unlit cigs hanging from our lips, making weird snide comments about everything & everyone. The people who got the joke loved it, & the people who didn’t probably thought we were insane, which made it even more funny.

I had watched a bunch of AbFab episodes in preparation & realized that Eddie’s humor is very physical. She’s all loose & floppy, to contrast with Patsy’s rigid, sneering stance. Eddie swings quickly between whining about herself & cajoling other people, with a dash of wanna-be hippie BS. We both stayed in character, plus our friend Karen played Bubble brilliantly, perfectly loopy. It made for a trifecta of performance art.

And then we did the busted, end-of-the-party scene in the hotel bathtub. SO MUCH FUN. Read the rest of this entry »

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10 Tips for Sewing and Blogging With Injuries (and How to Avoid Injuries in the First Place)

Note: I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on the internet. This article does not constitute actual medical advice — it’s just what I’ve done, what works for me, and what I think is a good idea. Consult with professionals so you don’t hurt yourself or make what hurts worse!

It’s a sad fact that sewing and computer use can be rough on the body. OK, these aren’t exactly contact football or extreme mountaineering in the level of potential injury, but you can wind up with pretty painful long-term damage all along your hands, arms, shoulders, and back from the repetitive activities involved in sewing and blogging. I’m combining the two because, well, I obviously do both, and I know a lot of you do too. The injuries sustained by each are so close as to be easily combined, and that makes a lot of the tricks for combating them somewhat similar too.

I’ve had off and on repetitive strain injury in my right wrist and forearm for the past 15-20 years — basically the length of my online career, plus my most active costuming life. Coincidence? I think not. Recently, after cancer surgery and treatments, I’ve been diagnosed with mild lymphedema in my right arm, and this, plus my new job’s desk setup have wildly aggravated my wrist as well (my left shoulder is also injured due to overcompensation from my right arm being weak; good times!). So I’ve been doing a lot of things to mitigate my own injuries, and then I noticed Samantha of The Couture Courtesan writing about new RSI injuries. Thus, this post.

Per my caveat above, I’m not a medical professional, and my advice is purely based on my own experience and research. Don’t take this as gospel. But DO address the issue early so you don’t get seriously injured and can pursue your hobby without (further) injury for years to come! Read the rest of this entry »

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Get Them in the Door: Promoting Your SCA Event

By Baroness Violet Ruthvene in the SCA

This is an accompaniment to a lecture class I taught at the West Kingdom Arts & Sciences Tourney in June 2014. The goal is to help those running SCA events increase attendance by using modern public relations techniques.

 

Ways to Promote Your SCA Event:

Use all of these! But understand the pros & cons of each so you can manage your resources most effectively.

  • Kingdom, Principality, & Branch Websites — Official, easy to find online & by general public, unlimited word count, can post as early as you want, can update frequently.
  • Page Newsletter — Official & required, limited reach, limited word count, only 2 months exposure.
  • Yahoo! Groups/Email Lists — Limited & dwindling reach (on SCA-West, traffic dropped by 80% in past 4 years; average 90 messages/month in 2014), unlimited word count, can post as early as you want, can update frequently.
  • Facebook — Expanding reach (on West Kingdom SCA page, average 450 interactions/month in 2014), unlimited word count + photos, can post as early as you want, can update frequently.
  • Flyers at Events — Limited but targeted reach, easy to do.
  • Court Announcements — Limited but targeted reach, hard to guarantee getting on schedule.
  • Word of Mouth — Potentially huge reach. All of the other things you do can help build this up.

Read the rest of this entry »

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