Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Costuming a visit to the past

Part of being a costumer is nitpicking costumes on tv shows and movies. For example, don't even get me started on Braveheart.

This week we saw the premiere of two shows with unique costuming challenges -- period drama Pan Am, and the science fiction adventure Terra Nova.

Pan Am is right on the money and the costumes are just one piece of creating a beautiful picture in every frame.

Terra Nova has me curious, though. The prehistoric colony definitely does not have any sort of clothing production line, much less a fashion industry. So why do all of the characters wear fairly fashionable stuff? Is it all imported from the future? Each new group brings bales of clothes with them?

The show canon seems to indicate that the colony has been around for at least a decade. So they have to have some system for getting clothes and it seems that function would be a greater issue than style.

I really want to know what the costumer of the show is thinking and whether we'll get any answers to this in the future.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Geeking out about Fibers

I am such a nerd.

I don't mean computer/sci-fiction nerd (although I'm that too). I mean a fabric/costume/fiber nerd.

For instance. Some people might think that a class called 'Textiles' would be boring beyond belief.

But me? I sit there soaking in happily everything about fibers and filaments and natural vs. manufactured and am overjoyed when we actually get to touch fibers and fabrics.

On Wednesday we learned all about cotton. We got to see pictures of it through the beginning of the process, including some from a cotton factory in Ecuador. We learned all about it's attributes, what it is good for, etc. We also discussed different kinds of cotton and what they are each good for. I asked why Egyptian Cotton was called Egyptian -- was it really from Egypt? I wondered. My Professor wasn't sure enough to answer then, but today she came back with a whole website on the subject. Sure enough, Egyptian Cotton is grown in Egypt and something about being grown by the Nile makes the fibers especially long and fine.

Today was flax and a brief discussion of other plant fibers. Did you know you can get fibers from the leaves of pineapple and banana trees? Or that hemp is in the same family as marijuana?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Of Sewing Baskets

Nowadays you don't see sewing baskets much anymore. I mean, everything sits in there in a pile and you have to dig around to find things. Who wouldn't prefer one of those nifty boxes with trays and pretty patterned fabric coverings?


I find the boxes rather clunky and difficult to carry, and things tend to fall out too easily. When I was in Virginia last year I had my sewing supplies, but nothing to keep them in, which was pretty frustrating. Then I got a really perfect basket for Easter and decided to turn it into my sewing basket.

It worked pretty well, but I started to accumulate too much stuff and... yeah, things got lost at the bottom. So this weekend I cleaned it out and decided to put in a lining with pockets.

The only suitable piece I had was white satin, but I figured I could spare a bit of it and it would actually be the ideal fabric.
Cut out a circle for the bottom and a long rectangle for the sides. And yes... I decided to hand sew it!
Laid out all of the things I wanted to make pockets for...
And cut appropriately sized pieces.
I did a sort of rolled hem.
Tada! Doesn't it look beautiful and organized???

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What is that lovely smell?

It's a warm evening in Alexandria, Egypt. The year is roughly 1000 BC, give or take a century or two. You're dressed up in your finest linen tunic, perhaps you're even wealthy enough to wear two layers, or a beaded net dress over a simple sheath. You certainly have plenty of jewelry to accent your white robes. You probably are also wearing an elaborate wig. After all, a wig is much easier to clean, care for and style than your real hair, and then you can keep your head nicely shaved and cool at night.

You're going to a party at your cousin's estate and are excited for a chance to see your best friends and hear some beautiful music from the visiting musicians. Of course it is rather warm and there will be a lot of body odor, but everyone will be wearing their wax cones so you don't have to worry about the stink.

Uh... wait... wax cones? What wax cones?

We've been studying ancient dress in my history of fashion class and I have to say, the Egyptian practice of placing scented wax cones on their heads at night for parties and stuff is probably the weirdest custom I've come across so far. It makes some sense, of course. Wax melts at a very low temperature, so all you'd need to do is have a hot evening and... trickle trickle. As it dripped down into the wig it would release a pleasant scent. Sort of an early form of deodorant, I guess.

Don't believe me? Search 'Egyptian Wax Cones' and check out all the pictures and blogs that come up. No joke.