AmandaJaneDesigner

Costume and Graphic Design


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Dress Form

I have a duct tape form that I made a couple of years ago, and it has served me well.

She was a wonderful replica of me, had the same bumps and lumps, and was the same height as me in my short heals. I could make costumes to fit me perfectly! I loved her!
Time is not always kind, and this was certainly true of my tape copy. The glue on the tape has started to decay, and the layers are pulling apart, allowing the falling stuffing to droop even further. She is probably a good couple of inches bigger than she was when I made her. Add this to the fact that I have lost a couple of inches, you can see that she is almost useless now for anything but the most casual of fittings! There is no way I can use her for drafting anything from scratch…
I considered rebuilding her. The post and base are still good, I would just need to replace the tape form. And I had been wanting to attach the foam head I have so I could work on things with hoods, or other head-involved pieces. But, that much tape gets expensive, not to mention I would have to convince my husband to spend an hour wrapping me in it. Having done it once before, he knew exactly what he would be getting into, and asked me if I really wanted to do another one, and would it be worth buying a proper one. I had to admit that I had looked into it, and told him the approximate cost of purchasing one. We agreed that it would be a good idea. No risk of the form sagging and expanding with age, I can adjust it to the measurements that I am at that moment, and if I ever agree to sew something for someone other than myself, I can adjust it to them, provided that they are similar in build to me! She will only adjust so far in either direction, right?
So, I ordered one from the fabric store, after searching several other sources. Buying used is always an option, and would come with a much lower pricetag, but uncertain on the timeframe… Nothing currently for sale in my area. Ebay came up with similar pricing as retail, once you factor in international shipping. My local fabric store still has to have one shipped in special, because they don’t carry them as regular stock. They just don’t sell enough of them. But, their shipping costs are much lower than any I could hope for from Ebay.

So this is what I have ordered. A Diana dress form, not top of the line, but for my price range, she will do just fine! There are much much nicer forms out there, and as much as I would love to have one of those, I just can’t afford $1000 + for a dress form!

Once she arrives, I can begin drafting my Wraith Queen! Super excited!

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Halloween Fever

That special day is still two months away, but anyone who has made their own costume, or at least attempted it, knows how long it takes… and it is usually longer than you think. Even after making many many costumes, I still often underestimate the time I need. So, now that I have my idea, some preliminary sketches, and the eagerness that comes at the beginning of a project, I am almost bouncing out of my chair. I have seen the signs going up on the fronts of empty stores, and am taking mental notes on their locations so when they (finally!!) open, I know exactly where to go. And I tell ya, they can’t open soon enough! At lunch, disappointed by the fact that the Halloween Distributers I saw was NOT open yet, I went to the London Drugs across the street to get my fix. They still have the remnants of summer sales in their seasonal aisle. I am getting restless! Maybe Zellers or Walmart is starting to put their Halloween stuff out…
And just the other day, I was thinking how absurd it was that the Dollar Store has their Halloween aisle in full swing!


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New Costume Idea

I am putting one queen away in exchange for another…. my queen of hearts will retire to a bin for a few months, probably February, when all the heart shaped stuff comes out again. I am having a heck of a time finding what I want for the details, and I really want to have a full picture when I start back up again.

So, my new project is another queen, of the alien variety. I love Stargate, and have been watching Atlantis, which I didn’t have time to watch when I was given the dvd set for a wedding gift from my hubby.
For anyone who doesn’t know what a wraith queen is, here is one of several from the show:

They all have different outfits, mostly kinda gothic looking. Some wear black, others white. Some have bright red hair, white hair, and one even had just plain brown. I think I want to go dramatic. I collected all the white fabric I have, and put it in a pile, along with all the zippers, fasteners, hooks, and whatever else I had that wasn’t lacy and girly. They may be queens, but they are nasty. I am going to start looking for a red wig. (Another reason I want to start working on this one now, the halloween stores are starting to open, so I have a nice choice of props!) They don’t wear jewelry, so that will be easy. I found a couple of patterns to use as a base, but I think this is one project where I have to wing it most of the time. That should be interesting!

My hope is to have the costume done in time for Pure Speculation, which is usually held in October-ish. Late fall, anyway, so I had better get started! Concept sketches in next post!


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Pixel

I recently purchased a new camera, and have been playing around with it. Ok, so this isn’t about sewing, but I couldn’t help sharing this too. My cat is my most willing (or least objectionable, anyway) subject. She is also super duper cute, and I have loved photographing her since she was a tiny kitten. So, I was playing with my new camera, testing its limits to see just how close I could get, and how far I could be with the simple lens it came with. I need to know, after all, what I want in a new lens. They are a little too expensive to be purchasing willy nilly! This is one of my fav close ups of Pixel!

She has the most beautiful eyes! I am working on getting a good picture of her spots, and I would love to capture her “glitter” in her fur. Glitter is what they call the sparkly quality in a Bengal’s coat. When the light hits them, they shine like crazy! In the sun, especially, she gets nice and glittery! 
Well, I hope to get back into the sewing room this week. The hoop at the knee is starting to push forward, making the front part of the skirt stick out too far in the front. The weight of the material in the back is causing this, and I am thinking that the solution might be to remove the hoop from the knee. I have a fair amount of “poof” with the layers coming down from the waist and hips, along with the bumroll, so really, I just need the hoop near the bottom to make sure the bottom of the skirt doesn’t flop. I hope that works! 
While I have been typing this, Pixel has fallen asleep on her table near the window next to my desk. I reached over and pet her head, and she opened her mouth, let out a silent meow (just the sound of her breath!) and rolled her head around so her chin is up. She loves her Mommy!


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The Disaster Crinoline

My first attempt at this costume had me running out of time fast. I discovered that my thread kept knotting up when I tried to sew tulle to a slip by machine. That left me stitching ever last fluffy piece of that crunchy hell by hand. Hence the very sparse, not so productive item below:

So, when I decided to re-do the whole thing, I spent lots of time (I mean LOTS!) hand sewing a new one. It is almost finished, and still requires a bumroll underneath, and some light boning in the slip to get the fullness I was looking for. I still have one or two layers of crinkly tulle, and probably a light cotton, to smooth out the ruffles. Yes, I could have gone with hoops, but I want to be able to sit comfortably. And I need to be able to get in and out of an RX7 while wearing this thing. (The RX7 is my husband’s little red car, and you need to be able to get very low to get in and out of it! Hard enough to do in a corset, never mind huge rings hanging about your legs!) 
The construction started with a tube, gathered to a waistband at the top, with two rings of lightweight boning, one just above the knees, and one near the hem. This was to get as much volume out of the bottom layer of material as possible. 
I then drew rings around the skirt, marking the areas where I wanted to sew the gathered layers that would add more volume. The bottom ruffly layer is some fabric I found in the bins my mom had given to me. Now that crazy mix-matched patterns are back in fashion, maybe this fabric could have gone to something… nevermind! It works in this invisible, yet so important piece of clothing! On top of that, I hand stitched a layer of tulle. And under it. And above it. There are several layers of this stuff! This is where I am now. All around the skirt, from just under the waistband, I intend to sew another layer of tulle, and then on top of that, a layer of something else, perhaps cotton, or maybe more of that crazy 90’s fabric, to smooth it out, and I should be done. So far, so good! (What I failed to mention so far, is that I stitched several layers of tulle that I had to remove because they didn’t do what I wanted them to! A pain to sew on, and a pain to remove!!) This should give it enough poof to look quite grand, without being too awkward to sit or drive around in. I don’t have a nice roomy carriage to ride around in!


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A Project Fit for a Queen… of Hearts that is!

I decided I wanted to chronicle the journey this costume is taking me on. What began as a great Halloween costume two years ago (and was successfully worn that year) has become the most extensive and most researched costume I have ever done. 


To start, I will share some history on this costume… As I said, I did wear it one Halloween, almost two months after I started it. Being more than I could chew in that time, and also working on the accompanying Mad Hatter for my fiance, the dress was rushed. There were many late nights, and many compromises made, and in the end the outer bodice had to be safety pinned to the corset beneath to stop it from gaping open, and the skirt was limp with little support from the rushed mess of tulle under it.  I enjoyed the evening, and put the dress away, and for several months, it sat. But something kept nagging me. I put so much into it, and sacrificed so much, it was not my vision… I would rebuild it… better, bigger, something Queen Lizzy the First would have worn! This is going to have embellishments, and lace, beads, everything a Queen would have! Now, I am not aiming for historically accurate Elizabethan fashion here. But I love how wonderfully adorned her outfits were, and I believe the Queen of Hearts, what ever era she might live in, would have made Lizzy proud. Or put her to shame, perhaps!!  So, I will share this journey with any who might care to follow. If my history with this project stays true to form, there will be good times, and bad, and I intend to share even my most horrific mistakes, as well as, of course, my triumphs!