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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holiday Dress

Happy Holidays!

For my last outfit of 2014, I wanted to make something simple for the Costume Guild holiday dinner.  I had bought a beautiful black taffeta skirt from Val, who was selling some of her costumes.  A quick piece to make to go with the skirt is the Truly Victorian polonaise.  However, since I have made this pattern several times, I wanted something a bit different.  I decided to make it up as I went along.

I bought four yards of a faux silk red patterned fabric for $2.50 a yard.  First,  I cut out the polonaise body, but not the sleeves.  I decided to draft my own sleeves.  I didn't want the usual facings that go with this pattern, so I bought plain red cotton and completely bag lined the entire thing.  Not only did it give this limp fabric some body, it finished off the hem around the front, back and neckline very nicely.

Here is the basic body of the polonaise.  Note:  My dummy half-Maude (because its just a torso on a bar stool) is too big in the chest so my dresses never close in the front.  I use her for height and draping.  She works great for making skirts, just not bodices.   

Next I started playing with the bustling on the skirt back. To do this, I turned the polonaise inside out and draped it over the back of Maude. I sewed three long ribbons to the inside waist band, center, left and right.   I then pinched up sections and pinned to the ribbon where I thought the poofs should be.  Once I had my pinches pinned, I turned the polonaise over to view the effect.   I adjusted the pinned sections as needed.   Once satisfied, I sewed the pinned on sections down.

For the front, I wanted to do something different for the bodice section.  I began folding the front of the square neck back, sort of like lapels, but this fabric is too limp.   I bought a small piece of black brocade and some matching buttons.   I made two sides to a square vest-like insert, and put in 10 buttons and button holes.  There was no pattern to this, so I started fooling around with placement. I put on the polonaise, and pinned the brocade insert to the front opening.  I then starting folding, turning and pretty much played with it until I found a V formation I liked.  I sewed the two front sections of the polonaise to the brocade insert.  On the inside, I cut away the excess fabric.

For the neck trim, I got inexpensive black ribbon which I pleated and sewed around the neck opening and down the V.   I had a scrap of red and white trim that I sewed on top of that. Next, I bought four yards of black pom pom fringe and put all around the bottom edge and up the front of the polonaise, and the three back pieces of the polonaise.  Finally, I added a black satin bow to the waist.

Truly Victorian sleeves are two pieces, an outer and inner sleeve.  I wanted one continuous sleeve that did not have two seams.  For these sleeves, I used for a modified straight sleeve pattern from a Simplicity dress I liked.  I made a pattern from an old sheet and basted it in the polonaise armhole to see if it would fit.  It worked!  For the cuffs, I used the rest of the black brocade, pleated more ribbon around it and added 1/4 inch red ribbon on top.
I ran out of time to put boning in, but that will go in soon.

Not too bad for a quickie project :)

Taken by Debbie Boyd

Cost breakdown:

$10.00  Red faux silk   4 yds @ $2.50         
$10.00  Red cotton lining 4 yds @ $2.50      
$4.00    Black brocade 1/2 yd @ $8.00         
$2.50    Buttons                                           
$6.00    Pompom trim 4 yds @ $1.50          
Black ribbon - stash
                    TOTAL                 $32.50

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Throwback Post - Repo! The Genetic Opera

While I am finishing up my current holiday outfit, I thought I would post some photos of costumes I made for a production of Repo! The Genetic Opera back in 2010.  While this movie is not for everyone, the costuming was fun to do!  Costuming was done on a near non-existent budget, so it fit right in with the Broke Costumer's ideals.  The actors perform on stage with the movie playing on the screen behind it, similar to midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The first costumes I made were "GENtern" costumes (kind of a sexy nurse).  I made 6 white and 1 black.  All were made from  doubleknit and only took about two yards each, as they were very short, as you can see.  Easy slip on over the head with a velcro neck for a closure.  We made the red masks from red acetate and elastic bands.  Here is a shot from the movie, a few of the girls, and the pattern I used and modified.

The next costumes I made were for the character Amber Sweet, played by Paris Hilton.  Amber is in many of the movie's scenes. There were a few actresses of different sizes who played the role, so I had to make Amber's costumes to fit any size girl, and that were easy to get in and out of. 

 For this costume, I ended up getting a $12 white corset on ebay and added a large modesty panel in the back, so it could expand or cinch down.   Black and White yarn was attached to the bottom of the corset all around to just below the knee.  I used cheesecloth on the corset and stretched it out like cobwebs and hand sewed it on.  No pattern used here.  Here is a shot from the movie, and two different sized actresses.


I also made for Amber a black strap skirt with D rings for another scene.  Again, no pattern was used, just fitted to the actress' body.   Here is Paris Hilton on the left and the actress on the right. Uncanny resemblance!

In another scene, Amber is wearing a pink print dress with yarn flowers around the bottom, and a short purple wig.  I found a cheap polyester print that was as close as I could find.  For the bottom, I simple sewed those fuzzy pompoms all around the hem.   Easy on and off, pulls down over her head.  The hardest part was finding a short purple wig.   I ended up getting a long one and giving it a haircut!  Here is the movie shot, the actresses and the pattern I modified.

 The last one was a challenge.  Amber appears on stage in an extremely short and very wide 18th Century gown.  I found a Halloween pattern similar to what we needed, but the problem was the under structure. With a zero budget, I had to come up with something for huge panniers that were lightweight, and could be taken off and on quickly.  I went to Big Lots looking for something.   I found some plastic lawn edging for $5.  I was able to bend it into a very strange structure that fit around the actress' hips, and  to keep its shape, tied cords around and around it.  This was covered in scrap fabric and then attached to a thin belt so the actress  basically stepped into it and  fastened the belt.  I don't have a photo of it, as it was tossed a few years ago. Here is the movie shot, the actress and the pattern I modified.  Yes that IS a Paris Hilton mask.  In this scene her face falls off from too much plastic surgery, which is why she is bloody is some photos.


So there you have it!  A fun, one of a kind costuming project :)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tiki Day at Disneyland!

I am sitting in the front, just right of center.
 Amy and I had a blast at Tiki Day.   We had been planning on going for several months, and wanted new dresses for this fun day.   I was itching to make Butterick 5882.   When I was at Costume College, there was a lady at the pool party who had on the cutest dress with birds on it.   I just loved the fabric!  She was kind enough to tell me she got it at Joann Fabrics.  I went to one Joanns and they didn’t have it.

I went to Yardage Town, and found a real cute tropical bird print - and there was only a smidge less than three yards :( They told me the warehouse in National City would have more, so I took the risk and bought the end of the bolt.  A week or so later, I went to the warehouse.  We went through the rows of stock twice.  Nothing.  Well darn, can’t make a dress with less than three yards. 

Butterick 5882
The "almost a dress" fabric

As I was leaving the warehouse, I remembered there was a Joanns down the street.  I popped in, and there was the fabric!  I had a 50% off coupon, and a cellphone coupon for 15% off on top of that.  It was originally 4 yards at $10 a yard, totaling $40.  50% off made it $20, then another 15% off of the $20 made the final cost $17!

I did some modification to the pattern.  First, I wasn’t too happy with how low cut the front was.  I am small busted and like a higher, more modest bodice.  The pattern has you cut two bra shapes, and two more pieces that are pleated and sewn on to the bra shapes.  I tried this, but it basically flopped around and had no fit to it, sticking out away from my bust so you could look right down the front.  Then I had an idea.  Since I have a second dress cut out for this same pattern, I decided to cover an actual bra that could be used for both dresses!   The straps and bodice pieces for both dresses were made from red scrap in my stash, so I went to Walmart and found a red bra that was a near perfect color match!  I pleated it my own way over the bra, filling in the middle where cleavage would normally be seen.  It worked great!

The pattern calls for the entire dress to be lined.  I did not line the skirt, there was no need to.  I wore a crinoline under it.   I did line the bodice and sewed lightweight boning to the seams.  I added a little red shrug to the dress, and all done!

The second dress I am making from the pattern is my Route 66 dress.  I worked out all the bugs on the first one, so it should go fairly quickly.  This dress was FREE!! I sold one of my vintage purses, and with part of the money I got the Route 66 fabric.   This dress is perfect for vintage car shows.  The rest of the purse sale money went to fabric too, but I will save that blog for later.
Fabric:  $17
red fabric and lining:  stash scraps
boning:  $2
zipper: $2
red bra: $8
TOTAL   $29              

Elizabeth and me

Amy's dress was an easy pattern, McCall's M6958, view A.  Just 3 1/8th yards.  I made it in a day. A great plus size pattern, as it has vertical tucks in the front and back that can be taken in and fitted to a curvy gal.  Cost for fabric at Yardage Town with discount:  around $15.  Zipper $2.

Amy, me and Elizabeth
I finally got a Dole Whip at the Tiki Room!

Boarding the Columbia.  We filled the entire ship!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Green Lantern - Retro Style


The Green Lantern's Oath

“In brightest day, in blackest night, 
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might, 
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!“    

In addition to my Comic Con Victorian Wonder Woman, I also did a retro Green Lantern dress. I had seen this fabric in Yardage Town about six months before Comic Con, and knew I had to make a dress out of it.  The pattern I chose was Vintage Vogue 8789, (yellow version) on sale at Joann’s for $3.99.   

The pattern calls for 4  7/8th yards, so I got 5 yards.  It was on sale 30% off, which brought it down to $24.50.   NOT the cheapest dress I have made, but I was paying for the licensed character, I’m sure!

I wanted to incorporate the Green Lantern’s symbol, so I decided to make a belt, using a buckle with that image.   I got the buckle on ebay.  They advertised it for $7.99, with a “make an offer” option.  I offered $5, and they accepted it!  I found a $1 belt at the thrift store, removed that buckle and replaced it with my new one.  I covered the belt in a piece of green scrape fabric I had.

Of course, what is the Green Lantern without his lantern??? Since I didn’t want to carry it around all day, I wanted a small, lightweight one I could attach to my belt.  I found a light wood one at Michaels on sale for $4.  It had glass panes on all four sides that were removable, which is what I wanted.  First, a coat of green paint.  Next, I asked my friend Joanne to print the symbol on a clear acetate sheet she had available at her work.  I took out the glass and put the acetate sheets in their place.   For the green light, I found a clear glass “gem” that had a screw in green led light.  

  White 50s gloves were perfect for this look, as were a pair of green slip on shoes I had.   To top it off, I wore a bright kelly green shrug I got on ebay for $8. 
Yuly as Wonder Woman

I also made a matching tote bag from left over fabric to wear with it!  I was happy I got stopped several times and complemented.  Everyone liked the twist I put on a traditional character.  Even the DC "bombshell gals" versions of characters liked it, and wanted to take a photo with me!  Well, if I were 20 years younger...........
Bombshell Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Big Barda and Bat Woman
Wonder Woman and Batman

Belle as Harley Quinn
All the above photos were taken by my sister-in-law Kathy.    Last photo - LOKI!   You can see the tote bag I made on my left shoulder.  It blends right in with my dress.  Now, what to make for next year?