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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tiki Oasis Saturday - Creature from the Black Lagoon!

Saturday was awesome!    I didn't think I would get this dress done on time but I did.   When we attended Rockabilly Weekend in April, I kept my eyes open for Monster inspiration at the 100+ vendor booths.  I saw Frankenstein and Wolf man accessories all over, but I kept looking.  I finally found my treasure: this Creature purse!  He is my favorite classic monster, and I love the movies made about him.

I searched on line for fabric to make a creature dress, but didn't really see much.  I googled "creature dresses" for the heck of it, and found this adorable skater dress from China.  It was "One Size", which I am sure meant for a 12 year old. It was only about $15, and I decided to get it anyway.  I saw that the skirt was a circle, and the top was a simple tank.  I could take it apart easily and use the pieces, filling in with black fabric to make it my size.  When I received it, I simply took out the stitching at the waist and separated the two half circles.  I removed the side seams from the tank top.  Later, I cut the straps off the top and kind of appliqued the print on the black.
The skirt length barely covered my backside.  The tank part went just below the bust.  It was very stretchy.  I bought a few yards of black poly poplin to use as my base dress.   First, I needed a short circle skirt pattern.   I had just finished the Circus outfit, and the under dress was a full circle.  I cut it out, and laid the sea monster pieces on top of it.  The waist circle of the monster skirt was way smaller than the waist circle of the black. I would need to adjust that to fit.  

As you can see, the smaller circumference of the monster skirt makes it a bit uneven, but I fixed that later by applying trim - under the print where the black is wider and over the print where the black is narrower.  Please note my assistant, who directed me through the whole process.   I tried it on, and it fit. Up and over my dress dummy....wait!   Why are there suddenly 3 extra inches in the waist?  It was stretching faster than I could pin it!   And yes I did stay stitch the waist first.  I pinned it and stitched it as fast as I could.   This is a real Frankenpattern.   I made it up of pieces from different patterns.  I found a basic bodice pattern, but instead of cutting the back down the center I cut it on the fold and moved the zipper to the side.  I didn't want the back of the monster tank cut.  I stitched the bodice to the skirt. I placed it on my dummy again and just laid the tank part over the front.  Needs a lot of work!  I bought 7 1/2 yards of black and green grosgrain ribbon, and made freeform pleats around the bottom edge, between the print and the black underskirt.  I added belt loops at the waist and used a thin vinyl patent belt.    Accessories were a giant green flower for my hair, two 1 inch Creature buttons, vintage bracelets and my friend Joanne bought me a glow in the dark Creature necklace!   Adding lots of photos here so you can see part of the event as well.
Dress and black fabric cost:  $23.00
Above left, my sister-in-law Kathy.  Above right, they are setting up the stage on Saturday.  
Below, in the hotel's courtyard/atrium.
 Below, Kevin, April, me, Michelle and Joanne all enjoying the concert.
Below, classic car show.
  Below left, waiting in a room party line with "Gill".  Below right, a Creature hole-in-one game.

The original gill man!

Tiki Oasis Thursday/Friday-Party on Monster Island!

Time for Tiki Oasis again. Thursday night through Sunday night full of retro Polynesian, 60s pop culture and tiki wonder. Live bands, dance performances, burlesque, Mai Tais, symposiums, vendors, car show, continuous pool party (mermaids!), Mai Tais, costume contests, Miss Tiki Oasis contest and Mai Tais. Every year there is a theme, and this year's theme is Monster Island. Check out their website Here
Thursday night is held at the Bali Hai, an opening night reception with dinner available, live entertainment and socializing. It seems that a lot of people dress in Hawaiian attire for this first evening, and I have each year. I have been wearing long mumus to the Bali Hai evening, but this year I decided to wear a short dress.

 I had an entire draft of a post written about a dress I made. I wrote about every step I did, how I used a yard and an eighth piece of awesome tiki fabric and combined it with a solid color. It turned into a disaster, and I threw it in the corner. So, with 3 days to go until the first night, I raided my closet. I found a Hawaiian print dress I wore to Palm Springs a few years ago. I never blogged about it, so I am sharing it now.  Here is a photo of of me from 2014, at an event which the artist Shag attended.  The fabric has plumeria and hibiscus and is very summery. The pattern I believe I used was a New Look pattern by Simplicity. It has a side zipper, which I like, as it leaves the back smooth.  Here is a photo taken in a photo booth at the Bali Hai.


Monsters galore! I grew up watching classic monster flicks: Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Mummy, Dracula and my favorite, Creature from the Black Lagoon! My brother collected and made all the Aurora plastic Monster model kits. My father taught us how to create bloody scars and all kinds of make up tricks. For Halloween we set up Frankenstein's lab in our front hallway, with foil lined walls, electrodes and Jacob's ladders which crackled and shot off electric current. A severed hand in a bubbling fish tank that was eerily lit. So I was excited for this year's Tiki Oasis theme.

I  already have a classic Universal monster dress which I have worn several times to other events. I decided to crank out a quick dress, using a different monster fabric. This one has fake movie posters on it - vampires, zombies and the Glob! I used a pattern I had made before for my mid century modern house dress. See it here

3 yards Fabric $21.00

The first night, I cut out all the pieces, sewed the pleats in the skirt waist and sewed skirt together. I made the sleeves and set aside. This took about 2 hours. The second night, I put darts in the bodice pieces and sewed them to the skirt, prepared and attached the facings, put in the zipper and sewed the sleeves in. Another 2 hours, and all done!

Above left is a photo of a fitting, pre-sleeves and hem. Cute and easy.   Above right is a photo in front of the stage, which is being set up for the night concert. Left is at the concert, and the monsters are starting to appear!      

The King of Monster Island!

End of the night room party.....see you on Saturday :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Run Away to the Circus

For Costume College this year, I was in charge of the Friday night social, titled "Run Away to the Circus".  My partner-in-crime Birda and I had a blast decorating the room in a circus theme, with a game midway, circus foods, photo booth and a live performer!  Joanne printed beautiful posters that we used for decor.

I wanted something easy but festive to wear as I would be running around during the event.  I came up with the following.

I saved a few Ringmaster jacket photos from Pinterest (love that site) and pulled elements from them that I liked and would be super easy. I really liked the stripes on this one, which is actually a costume jacket from Party City!

One jacket photo I saved looked like a pattern I had seen in the Simplicity costume section.  I found the pattern online and it was super easy.   I didn't like the flouncy sleeves, so left them off.

I bought some nice red fabric in downtown LA.   I had scraps of black and white stripe fabric left over from a pirate outfit.  Birda gave me some large gold trim she had in her stash, and I had small gold trim in my stash.

The under dress was made first.  I got the cheapest black cotton I could find, as it would be mostly covered.  It consists of a front bodice, back bodice and full, round skirt.  It slips over your head kind of like an apron. The edges are bound with black bias tape and simple straps hold it up.   In the final stages, I ran the larger gold trim across the front of the bodice, and the smaller gold trim around the hem.  I put a big fluffy crinoline underneath, giving it body and an extra layer of texture peeking out.

Next I decorated the sleeves.  I didn't have enough stripe for full cuffed sleeves, so I just added a flat layer around with gold trim.  Gold piping, left over from my 1960s Wonder Woman dress (see previous post) was placed around the top edge.

The fun part was the collar. I really had to stretch out my striped scraps, as I had barely enough after putting around the cuffs.  I used the last of my gold piping around the collar pieces.  I am sure glad I hoard my scraps!

Here is a photo when I was placing cut pieces on my dummy just to get a feel of what it might look like.

Next, I lined the jacket pieces and the peplum pieces.   That was a slippery job!  Then the jacket pieces were sewn together.  Its starting to look like something now!   

The pattern calls for laces through grommets to close the jacket in the front.  I decided not to do that.   

First, I sewed the smaller gold trim in four rows across the front of the jacket.  The same trim I sewed around the edge of the peplum. In this photo, its only pinned onto the dummy through the unfinished black dress, so its all bunched up at the moment.

Next, I added 4 gold buttons to each side of the horizontal trim.  Finally, I used gold ribbons, tacked to the front edges, to make gold bows to tie it on. 


Boots.   I had a boot decision to make.   Should I go with traditional black boots, or go with my flashy gold boots I wore to go with this outfit.   The gold ones won!
Top hat.   I've had this old hat for years, and just changed out the trim.
Wig.  My Wonder Woman wig, which is starting to get ratty.
Whip.  bought on ebay for $7.
Tights.   I love these.  I have a few pair.  These are from downtown LA. They also carry them in thigh high stockings, but tights are more my speed :)

Outfit fabric approximately $22 (red, black and lining)
Buttons $3.50    Trim all from stash.

My wonderful friends April and Joanne and awesome assistant Birda.  
                     Ringmaster General                                           Birda used the same pattern in blue and silver.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Costume College - Mod Pool Party

They had a great theme for the Costume College pool party this year - Its a Mod Mod Mod Mod World.   I love mod 60s clothing, and if you do too, I have a pinterest board of groovy dresses for inspiration  check it out here

While working on a draft of an upcoming blog post on airline uniforms of the past (will be soon) I fell in love with these Braniff outfits.  They flew in style.  Dig those awesome tights!  I love the color combination and I remember all the neat clothing from 1960s sitcoms with similar bright colors. This photo became the major inspiration for my mod dress.
A few more inspiration photos for my dress are:  1.  Color blocking.  These blue and purple dresses are wonderful!  2.  Tights and color blocking on center gal in blue and white.  3.  Lost in Space, because orange and yellow! One of my favorite TV shows from the 60s.                                       
I liked the idea of a lightweight knit rather than a cotton.  Penny and Judy Robinson look so comfy, don't you think?  I went to Yardage Town about two blocks from my house to see what they had.  I came across some lightweight poly poplin, which was perfect!  They had bright colors, just what I was looking for.  Guess what else I found?  A Help Wanted sign in the window. I called my daughter and she came over the next day and was hired.   Family discount!!!!!!
Next, a pattern.  I have tons of 60s patterns, and I searched for one I could color block.  I got it down to two choices.  First I picked the one on the left with the triangle inserts.  I love this dress.  But then I really liked the one on the right.   As you can see on the black and white sample, the skirt is actually two pieces with a center seam.  It seemed more "blocky" to me, so this is what I used.


Back to Yardage Town with my family discount.  I picked these three rainbow sherbet colors.  I cut out the pieces and laid them on the floor to see how it would look.

I found the perfect tights to go with it!  Other accessories are true 60s vintage:  bangle bracelets, earrings, necklace, pin and hair scarf.   I wore pink ballet flats.  Here is dress under construction.  I was trying to decide if I wanted sleeves or not.  I ended up with sleeves.

Here are some photos from the pool party as Costume College. We had a blast!  Above left, April wears a dress she made out of vintage fabric.  Loved her pink fuzzy hat and loafers!  Above right, my lovely friend Vanessa is wearing her groovy pink and white vintage dress.

Joanne looks cute with her 60s beatnik outfit.  Here we are posing with our golden guns (cue Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger) 
The lady on the right in yellow and blue used the other pattern I almost used.  See above.

We had a great time.  I got lots of compliments on my outfit - especially the tights!  Everyone loved them.

Dress Fabric:  about $15
Tights are called "retro metro" by Foot Traffic. $18 (more than the dress!)