When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

SUPER LATE POST -Costume College 2018

I am super late on my post about Costume College at the end of last July, and the great theme of Royalty.   There were five costumed events to attend:

Thursday night poolside party: The Realm of the Goblin King.
Friday night social: A Princess in Paris set in 1890s.
Saturday night gala:  The Royal Coronation Ball.
Sunday morning: The Royal Breakfast.
Sunday afternoon:  Queen Victoria's Fancy Dress Tea.

Phew!  That's a lot of events.  I could only attend four.  I had to miss the Sunday breakfast because I was in charge of the afternoon tea, and needed to get everything ready for 130 guests.  So I came up with four costumes.

The Sunday tea was easy.  I wore my outfit "The Bluebird of Happiness" from my fancy dress fashion show in October 2017. See previous post about dress  Here are a few photos from the tea, taken in our photobooths.


For the Thursday night pool party, I wore my Aquawoman costume from Comic Con the week before.  This was a super easy costume, all bought pieces.  I found a pair of green mermaid leggings on Amazon, added a green chiffon high-low skirt over it.  I used my green belt from my Green Lantern costume, and swapped out the buckle for an official Aquaman one from Ebay.  An orange T-shirt covered with a black fishnet T-shirt to represent the fish scales in the cartoon version.  I had regular green gloves, but didn't want to take them off and on all day to use the phone and camera, so I got some green fishnet gloves at Party City.  Also at Party City I found a gold "goddess" crown.  I glued a shell and seahorse on it and sprayed it gold.  I got a cheap $8 wig on ebay, that was better than the $22 one I bought and didn't like.  Finally, I made a trident from a black plastic pitchfork from a Halloween store I had for a few years. I glued shells on it and sprayed the whole thing gold, then glued a jewel on it.  Here are a few pics from Comic Con and Costume College.


The Friday night social was fun!   The social chairpersons Kristen and Joyce and I wore Paris themed 1890s blouses.  We used the Truly Victorian 1894 shirtwaist pattern.  I used the 1898 flared skirt pattern.  I am not sure what skirt patterns Kristen and Joyce used.

For the blouse, I bought 3 yards of Eiffel Tower fabric at Walmart for about $15.  The skirt fabric was from the L.A. fabric district and only cost $12.  Buttons were about $3.  I had a bright pink velvet ribbon which was attached to the back of the neck and went down to about hip length.  My purse was Fifi the dog, bought on ebay for $10 shipped. I decorated a boater hat with left over ribbon and fabric and a buckle.  Below are construction photos and to the right, one with Kristin and Joyce.

Putting the blouse together.  This was a very easy pattern.  I used a few layers of netting in the sleeve heads to make them poof out.   Not a big fan of the huge sleeves, but for this outfit, I wanted them, as it was more of a "fun" look than historical. 

 Left:  Almost done!   I did end up using a wider belt.  I added black velvet ribbon to the seam lines to give it some pop. I added large black buttons where the two seams meet on the bottom fronts.

Below:  Isn't Debbie cute in her red Eiffel tower hat? She took the other two photos.

I didn't have a lot of time for sewing and wanted a simple but elegant royal gown.  Originally I was going to wear this to the Friday social, but was invited to the Royal gala dinner by Val.  In fact, the lovely velour fabric was a birthday gift from Val!  I used this Simplicity pattern, but extended the bodice in front in order to be able to pin it together under the bust.  Now that I think of it, the pretty gold trim was purchased from Val's stash. For the dress, I used a cream cotton with gold dots. 
I made a few Royal orders to attach to the sash.  Yet again, Val added to this outfit by gifting me with a lovely Order, with my initial. Look at Debbie's beautiful Russian outfit!

Above, my royal friends Birda, Joanne, April and Debbie.

And as all Royals do a a party, here I am with April doing "The Time Warp"

Another wonderful year of Costume College done, and it went by so fast. See you next time!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Alfred Shaheen, The Master Printer

Alfred Shaheen. Just his name brings to mind exotic settings, richly colored fabrics, block prints, tapa, florals and ocean breezes.

During post-WW2, Shaheen began to build what would become the largest textile printing and garment company Hawaii had ever seen.  He started by working with his parents George and Mary in their garment manufacturing business.  Alfred wanted to expand into Hawaiian/aloha wear, so in 1948, he created Surf 'N Sand Hand Prints, his own textile company. Within two years he developed his own machinery to print, dye and cut his own fabrics. over the next several years, he built an $8,000,000 factory and office complex, and had 400 employees. He had multiple stores in Hawaii, and sold his fashions worldwide.  He continued his business until he retired in 1988.


Shaheen created over 100 metallic colors, including gold, silver, sapphire, ruby, and emerald.
These metallic dyes are lightfast, chlorine- and saltwater-resistant, and can withstand the rigors of the tropics. Sometimes the metallics would outline a print, and other times the metallics were used for the print itself.

Here are a few examples of metallic elements stamped on the fabrics. It is, however, difficult to see the shimmer in these photos. The age of these garments has softened the color over time.


Below are early Surf 'n Sand hand print advertisements, and a color photo of the dress in this pattern.   Shaheen and his staff visited Tahiti, Samoa, Hong Kong and Tokyo to study the designs of the Eastern Pacific Rim. Shaheen adapted these designs to textiles and produced the Pua Lani Pareau, Antique Tapa, and Joss Sticks hand prints. He established “East Meets West” boutiques in the mid-1960s in major department stores across the country.  


 One of the most glamorous fashions produced by Shaheen were the beautiful Sarongs.  Here are several photos from 1950s/early 60s collections.


There are beautiful sundresses galore!

For beach time: play/swim suits and rompers. Hand printed, and saltwater and chlorine resistant.


How did Alfred Shaheen get the title Master Printer?   Alfred's daughter Camille Shaheen-Tunsberg stated in an interview:  "My father produced five lines a year. In a matter of days after breaking a line, he would see copies of his prints being offered by other manufacturers for a less expensive price.  When my father discussed this problem with his staff, someone suggested it was important to tell customers that Shaheen clothing is more expensive because Shaheen is the original -- Shaheen is the Master Printer. My father felt comfortable with the phrase and the label "Alfred Shaheen, the Master Printer", was established. 

An example of one of these copied prints is the Tiare Tapa. Because Elvis Presley wore the Tiare Tapa in his movie poster for Blue Hawaii, the Tiare Tapa has been reproduced for decades by clothing manufacturers and those seeking to market Elvis. Some have even renamed the print "Blue Hawaii." But, as my father stated, the Tiare Tapa was a famous Shaheen print long before Elvis wore it." 

Camille Shaheen-Tunsberg also stated in the interview:  "My father drew his inspiration from authentic cultural art, museums, and rare books. He visited foreign countries with his design staff. They would immerse themselves in the local culture and design new prints and a line of clothing based on their experiences. This is why Shaheen fabrics and clothing are filled with imagery drawn from many different cultures. This is also why you find labels with names such as "Hong Kong by Alfred Shaheen," which is the line of clothing he created based on their experiences in Hong Kong". Source

Here are some images from the Hong Kong line.  


The following are a few of my favorites.


Love this fish print!

Chinese lanterns.                           Above, a bold, bright print.

Beautiful teal
Aloha shirt

Tiki Drums

Metallic Koi


For quite awhile, there was a traveling museum display of Shaheen fashions across the United States.

Bishop Museum Exhibit 2010   Full Display Link
I urge you to click on this link, and especially the sub-links once there,- labeled Hall 1 East and West and Hall 2 East and West-  to see a dazzling display of all things Shaheen!  A sample:

A switch to more casual attire


From 1969, pattern number 101 was created to go with a dozen different screen printed panels of fabric, so you could make your own Shaheen shift dress!   Pick the view you want to sew, and the fabric panel of your choice. The two shift patterns shown are the same, just different envelopes. 

Pattern 102 is a 1970s his and her fashion pattern.

Today, you can still buy that special Shaheen look.  The company Unique Vintage has recently acquired the licensing to reproduce certain patterns, and have some beautiful new retro fashions.  Here is their website:  https://www.unique-vintage.com/collections/alfred-shaheen-collection

"Cranes, a brilliant homage to the noble crane with pink feathered creatures flying between pink clouds and a lovely green backdrop".   "This blue print is an officially licensed Alfred Shaheen reproduction of Tapa Tapestry, a gorgeous homage to island fab with repeated motifs of pineapple, hibiscus, and geometric patterns throughout."

This romper pattern is originally from the Hong Kong collection.  "A stunning array of deep red Asian styled banners and scrolls line themselves throughout an ivory backdrop, highlighted with gleaming golden accents and cast on marvelous cotton",  and  Cherry Blossom. "A swirling collage of frothy waves with golden gleaming outlines boast stunning pink cherry blossoms and yellow camellias cascading throughout the cotton silhouette".                                                                  

Also being reproduced today are handbags by Lilinoe Handbags.  The ones shown below are all made from upholstery fabric by Duralee, licensed to produce Shaheen’s Surf ‘n Sand Collection You may find this seller on Etsy. 
  I am sure there are other "Modern" Shaheen reproductions out there.   Have fun discovering them!