Wednesday, May 29, 2013

White Rabbit - Completed

This was a very last-minute and makeshift costume, and that probably shows, but it was fun anyway.  

I put this together specifically for and wore this at WonderCon 2013.  Living in Long Beach at the time and being lucky enough to have pro badges, my roommate and I went to the convention on something of a whim.  Some friends who were staying with us for the weekend had a booth in Artist’s Alley, so we planned to just help with their booth and cruise the floor without the fuss of costumes - it was going to be a laid back weekend.  On Saturday morning, however, we decided it might be fun to dress up after all.  

Our options were limited to begin with, and most of my costume things were packed up in boxes for my impending move.  We really only had Dorothy and Mad Hatter as actual ready-to-wear costumes.  I didn't want to wear Dorothy again until I had sewn one myself and it was sized to me, and I didn't have my Ruby Slippers on hand anyway.  My roommate wasn't really thrilled with wearing her Mad Hatter as it was either - it needed some repairs - so she decided to ditch the water-spotted skirt and wear some wide-leg trousers with it instead.  In a stroke of rare genius, I remembered that I still had my novelty bunny ears unpacked and got an idea.

I initially planned to dress as the March Hare to match the Hatter.  It seemed simple enough.  When I looked up an image of the Hare, however, I knew almost immediately that I didn't have anything that looked close enough - I had pieces of similar styles, but not in the right color palette.  And unlike the Hare's brown ears, the ears I had were white and pink.  Then I just started pulling things out of the closet that matched the ears and were similar in style to what my roommate was wearing.  Simply by the nature of the pieces - primarily the white on the ears and the white blazer - the costume evolved into a generic dapper white rabbit.  By my association with the Hatter people still recognized me as belonging to Alice in Wonderland so I became the White Rabbit, but the design was very much my own interpretation and not meant to be screen accurate or even screen reminiscent (as I was putting the costume together I never even looked up an image of the film's White Rabbit, and looking at the White Rabbit after I realized his clothes are very similar in color scheme to the March Hare so my wardrobe was just as unsuited).

With the Hatter.  (Photo from
In the end I used the ears, a pink and purple plaid belt (as a necktie), white silver-pinstriped blouse, pink cardigan, ivory blazer, black wide-leg trousers, white socks, and black flats.

Detail.  (Photos from Free Isabelo and Steve Lee DeZarn)
It wasn't very grand and I didn't even stay in costume the whole day but it served its purpose, and I’m actually quite proud that I was able to make this from things just in my closet, the ears being the only actual costume-y piece.

 *All photos are property of their respective owners.

Product Review - Rosie's Daughters

I haven't really had an opportunity to do this before, but after getting a few new pieces for my "We Can Do It!" Rosie the Riveter costume I thought I would start a series of product reviews of costuming-related items from various sellers.

So first in what I hope will be a regular series is Rosie's Daughters.


Rosie's Daughters is a website based around a book of the same title, centered around the women of wartime and post-WWII America.  From their website: 
"We named our book to honor both the heroic and hardworking women who kept America going during World War II—and the women born during those war years. This figurative mother-daughter combination resulted in a fascinating generation of women who broke open the doors for the Baby Boomers."
Their website has a store that carries all their products, and they also have an Etsy store at RosiesLegacy that has a few of the products with slightly different pricing and shipping costs.

I haven't read the book yet, though I definitely plan to, so my interest in and experience with the company so far pertains only to their spin-off products.

They have a wide variety of Rosie-related items for sale.  

They also provide a lengthy description of each item and the history behind its design and manufacture.  The historical and artistic accuracy and background of these products is clearly outlined, which is something I always appreciate.

I ended up ordering just the bandana and employment pin for now, as that's what I need the most for costuming purposes, though I plan to get a few more things at some point (including the blank posing poster).  
I also chose to order from their Etsy because there they offer a discounted price for the bandana and pin as a combined package, and the shipping ended up being a tad cheaper too.  So I can't speak on their customer service or the purchase process through their own website store, but I was very happy with them on Etsy.  They shipped the package within 24 hours of me placing the order, and though they didn't provide a tracking number, they responded within a few hours to my email asking about tracking.  Depending on what is ordered and when (I think I read on one of their sites that shipping method and price goes up around Halloween), they tend to ship by First Class mail, which doesn't come with tracking.  In their reply email, they guessed I might get my package within maybe five days, but it arrived after three.
The bandana is about 27"x27", with the polka dots being about 3/4" in diameter.  It's made in the USA, which is a nice touch, and has a cute little Rosie "stamp" in the corner.  The fabric is probably cotton or a blend, and is nice and thick.  The printed polka dots (as well as the Rosie stamp in the corner and the website info on one edge) are high quality and slightly rubberized so to speak. 

I tested it out as soon as I opened the package and it's the perfect size for tying over one's hair a la Rosie.  The fabric seemed a bit too thick for tying that way at first, but given that all my headscarves I use that way are very thin, it could just be I'm used to very different material.  In any case, other people might not notice it and I'm sure I'll get used to it, and even so the thickness isn't a problem and doesn't detract at all.  If anything, the thickness adds to the sense of quality. 

The employment pin is 2 1/4" in diameter.  I don't know enough about how items like this are manufactured to really comment on that aspect of it, but basically the image and text are "printed" for lack of a better term on what looks like brushed chrome.  In any case, the image is very clear and sharp and the pin as a whole is high quality.  As a bonus, the overall layout looks fairly identical to Rosie's pin on the poster, and the face on the pin is exactly that of Rosie from the poster.
The pin seemed a little smaller than I expected.  Initially I would have said that based on how big the pin looks in the poster, the replica could have been a little larger.  But when I placed it against the collar of my shirt it looked perfect, so for wearing in real life the seemingly smaller size is actually an improvement.


I wore the bandana and employment pin with my Rosie the Riveter costume to the Queen Mary's Dark Harbor and around Long Beach on Halloween.  The bandana was wonderfully comfortable and stayed in place all night with no fuss, even while running around the mazes.  There were no problems with the pin either.  I got several compliments on the costume overall (and was even asked to pose with someone for a photo), and I feel sure that the pieces I ordered from Rosie's Daughters were key to getting the look right and making my costume that much better.  

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with what I bought.  I'll definitely be going back to them for their other products and I'll be recommending them to anyone else  looking for these kinds of items.  The price is reasonable to begin, and then for the quality of what you get the price seems low.  Provided the initial quality holds up over time, the bandana and pin at least are definitely worth their cost and then some.  I really don't have anything bad to say about the company or what I bought from them, which is unusual for me because I tend to be picky when I'm spending money on things.  Aces in my book.

*All photos are property of their respective owners.

*My use and opinion of the products listed is by personal choice and availability.  I am not paid to use or endorse them.

Ruby Slippers Version III (Character Shoes) - Completed

In a lot of ways, this pair was more of a learning process than the first two I made.  The changes I made to the bows were a revelation that saved me a lot of heartache this time around and will in the future too.  The alternate sequin layout was almost my undoing, but I learned in what circumstances it's the right choice (it would be perfect for display, but not so much for wearing).  I was also harshly reminded of some things I already know: Don't leave things until the last minute.  Sometimes there is no good choice, but make a choice anyway or risk falling behind.  Saving a whopping $0.30 per yard doesn't mean much in the end if the cheaper materials almost ruin the project (my particular favorite lesson this time), so don't buy things sight unseen or reputation unknown from an unfamiliar seller, and always test materials thoroughly before starting the project itself, and leave plenty of time and money to get replacement parts if it comes down to it.  And and and.

Going into pair number two of this commission, I'll definitely be keeping this pair in mind.  I'm doing an exact duplicate on the process (and hopefully results) of the bows save for maybe how they were attached since I feel like I rushed that step this time.  Despite the added non-reimbursable cost to myself, my pride and sanity demand that I use better sequins on the next pair so I'm inevitably going to break down and buy a reel of good Wrights sequins. 

They look better in the photos than in person, though being a theatre production this isn't as much of a problem as it would be in some cases (the things theatre seamstresses, myself included, sometimes get away with makes the film costumer in me cringe and jealous at the same time).  And I still want to try the new sequin layout again, probably on my eventual display pair so I can use craft glue to get cleaner results without worrying about how the attachment will hold up to walking or dancing.

The absolutely best thing to come from this project was the feedback from the actress's mother: 
"The shoes arrived today!!!!  Yeah!  They are beautiful...  I think [my daughter] performed last night better than ever before - I think it is the shoes! ;-)" 
That kind of reaction just makes everything worthwhile.

Because this was a long-distance commission, I took a lot more photos of the construction process than I normally would so the actress playing Dorothy and the actress's family could see how things were coming along.  I've actually really enjoyed having the extra photos of more stages in the process, so I might get into the habit of taking more photos even on my own projects.

The whole kit and caboodle.
Just before being wrapped up and sent off.
Before and after.
The actress wearing the shoes for the first time the day they arrived.

*All photos are property of their respective owners.