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by Chelsey Barnes
It may be slightly specialized, but I can think of a number of reasons one might want to wear slippers with their costume: your costume is that of a little kid (or a costume for a little kid), your costume is themed around lounging (spa day, sick day, playing hookie), or you found some really kick butt Angry Bird slippers that would go great with your video game themed Day of Wrong. However specialized it may be, I can think of at least twice as many reasons why: they get dirty outside; the bottoms would wear out on rough terrain; the soles aren’t thick enough to protect your feet from rocks, sticks, glass, flair pins that fell off someone’s costume; they easily fall off your feet; you could lose it during a conga line when you kick your foot out and it goes flying across the room; you could trip and fall down the stairs because your footwear is unstable. Or maybe that’s just me.
Never fear: There is a solution to this conundrum, and that solution is what I affectionately call “Slipper Spats.” And thankfully, it’s a surprisingly easy solution to boot. All you need is one pair of slippers:
On super puffy novelty slippers, you usually find a one inch thick (approx) foam base covered in the slipper fabric. We want to get rid of this base. Start by carefully ripping out the stitches that hold the head to the base at the opening of the slipper. You will find that there are three layers of fabric here: the bottom/sides of the base, the top of the base, and the head. Because it’s easier on the manufacturer, the head should be sealed shut and the stuffing well contained. Continue ripping out stitches until the head pops off. Repeat for second slipper.
At this point you have a neat little stuffy to toss at structurally impossible “buildings” housing smug looking pigs, which you will then have a frustratingly hard time knocking down. You will not, however, be able to just slap them onto your pumped up kicks and call it a day.
This is where the “spats” part comes in. Much like the more “high-brow” item of the same name, these spats are worn over the shoe, attaching underneath and at the back. For my purposes I used three thin pieces of elastic for each spat. Measurements vary, but on the bottom of the spat I used a pieces just long enough to reach from one side to the other of the slipper head. For the back I did a rough measure of the distance from one corner of the slipper head, around my ankle and back to the other corner, then chopped off an inch or so for tension. YMMV.
Next is a tiny bit of hand sewing. Don’t be scared. I hate hand sewing, and I still made it through this alive. Simply hand tack the ends of your elastic pieces at strategic points along the bottom of the slipper head. I’m sure I could have gotten away with one piece of elastic under the shoe, but I wanted to make sure it didn’t flop around.
And there you have it. A simple way to be incredibly goofy and look great doing it.
by Tracie Fullerton
Finally! I have things to write about.
I’m going to kick off with the loads of learning experiences from my Christmas Steampunk jacket.
So, what I had decided on was red and green velvet, with white fur trim and something resembling the Stewart dress plaid for lining (it’s only right as it’s my Scottish clan). I planned on using the Simplicity 2172 pattern. While I know it’s the current favorite, I love the jacket and it’s fairly easy to make. What I plotted to be a nice walk in the park, turned out to be…an adventure? Sure…we’ll call it that.
First off, I used Panne Crushed Velvet and learned it’s a B***kitty to work with! I love the look, but what a pest (should I mention I want to work with brocade next…I either like challenges, or I’m bloody nuts!).
But before I even got to cutting the fabric, there were a series of unfortunate events. The culprit?
She in her spare time (when not begging for food, eating food and being apathetic that is) chewed apart most of my pattern pieces. After a few words, I’m not allowed to say around my students or mother, I learned a fast lesson in pattern drafting. Newspaper is my new best friend ever.
So, I get my patterns figured out and get to work. Yeah, the velvet was nice and stretchy and oh so deceptive (really, it felt like an abusive relationship), but eventually, we got along. Yeah, anyone new to this world of costuming, should definitely do a few trial runs with it. I may even make a couple pieces smaller due to the stretch factor because it was a bit big on me.
Also, this was my first time doing a lining and admittedly I cheated a bit because I got fed up with it and had a couple projects I had to finish for others. So for the lining I wound up “hemming into” the shell, in other words, I hemmed around the lining. It was easier for me but someday I’ll do it the right way. This definitely worked for me in a pinch though.
Speaking of pinches; the biggest lesson I learned in all this was sewing through your finger HURTS! Yep, I did it. As I was threading the needle and trying to get my bobbin thread through (it was a really fine silver thread I used for the fur fabric), my foot accidentally hit the foot pedal and sent the needle straight through the nail all the way through the finger. I would say, if this happens, I suggest calmly back it out, but really, there’s no way to calmly do that! I’m sure my neighbors think I’m psychotic as I was screaming while Spongebob played in the background (Spongebob…makes me productive…don’t ask). The downside; my sewing machine has had a taste for blood ever since and hasn’t been behaving the same. I’m a bit worried. That or it’s just old and being crotchety with me.
Anyway, I wound up instead of using buttons for the front, I used small leather straps and buckles to hold it together. This was done on a whim, and after working on various projects, found objects are the best way to craft in my opinion. I had this leather cuff sitting around that I never wore and cut the straps and buckles off, glued them onto the jacket and ta-da! Steampunk-y fabulousness. I will be re-enforcing them this week and hand sewing them as well as re-gluing. The front placket pattern piece mysteriously went missing and was one I had to re-draft….and I drafted it slightly too wide. I intend to re-size it this week before the Sherlock event. I also plan to cut the arm hole for my brass arm a bit bigger and I need to remember to always size any garments I wear with it to the arm. So that was my little adventure with new fabrics, linings and sewing machines on a quest for world domination. More next month!
by Laura Ulak
The Thrift Brothers are Minnesota Costumers who are well known for their love of costuming. From super heroes to cartoon characters to the Steampunk Doctor Who Tardis and Dalek that they wore to CONvergence this year, they are an inspiration to other costumers in a variety of genres.
Name: Yancey Thrift
Name: Damon Thrift
City: Waverly, MN
1. How did you get into costuming? Did you do any schooling for it?
Yancey: I started sewing in college. I was required to put in hours for my intro to theater class. I continued to work in the college costume shop. That’s where my love of costuming started.
Damon: I got into costuming in college (1986-1989), I was into making props and I did some work on several shows. I started helping out in the costume shop at Mankato State. I helped redesign and make a new, friendlier MSU Mavericks mascot. The summer of 1989 I worked on Sesame Street Live at Vee Corp in Mpls. I did a few costumes after that, my Joker, a fantasy costume with a muscle suit, then a clown costume, which I later turned into a Simpsons Krusty the clown costume. I stopped for 10 years and started back up after going to Marscon in 2007.
2. Do you do this for a living?
Damon: No, I work retail.
3. Historical or Fantasy?
Yancey: Historical with some fantasy thrown in to shake it up a little.
4. Within Historical or Fantasy, what is your favorite genre or time period?
Yancey: I don’t really have a favorite. I like many genres and time periods.
Damon: Most of my costumes have been super hero related. But after we made our Steampunk Doctor Who costumes I am really loving the Victorian inspired Steampunk stuff.
Yancey: A “renaissance” pair of breeches and shirt. Donated it.
Damon: I made a Tim Burton Batman Joker costume. It is in storage.
6. What is your favorite costume you have made? Your least favorite?
Yancey: I, of course, like them all, but I think my favorite might be my Music Meister.
Least favorite? I guess, I would have to say my Hank Venture/Venture Bros. but Damon and I bought pretty much everything for that.
Damon: I love them all, but I really love the last costumes we made, our Steampunk Tardis and Dalek.
Least favorite from me, the first costume we made was my Green Arrow, not that I don’t like the costume, we just chose the wrong fabric, polyester and it was hot and scratchy. The polyester parts have since been remade in a nicer fabric.
7. Hand or Machine Sewing?
Yancey: Both, whatever the task requires.
Damon: I like both, depends on what I am doing.
8. If machine, what kind of sewing machine do you have?
Yancey: A 27 year old Kenmore.
Damon: My old costumes from 20 years ago were sewn on an old machine my mom had, I have a sewing machine, I have no idea what it is, it is in a box. I rarely use it, I do 99% of my sewing at Yancey’s on his machine.
9. Do you have a dedicated sewing space?
Damon: No, I have a work area in the basement I work on props and I use the garage and driveway in the summer for working on the props. All my sewing I do at Yancey’s house.
10. Where do you store your costumes/wigs/accessories?
Yancey: A closet in my spare bedroom.
Damon: Either at Yancey’s house or in the upstairs bedroom.
11. Do you attend any Cons?
Damon: Yes, Marscon was my first con 5 1/2 years ago. Then CONvergence that same year. 3 years ago I started going to Dragoncon in Atlanta, the best costume con I’ve ever been too. Yancey is finally coming with me in 2012.
12. Where do you get your inspiration for costumes?
Yancey: Many sources…movies, television, comic books, action figures, books, the internet.
Damon: Cartoons, action figures, movies.
Yancey: Dangerous Liaisons. I personally don’t have a costume from this period, but have made them.
Yancey: The Fifth Doctor from Doctor Who.
Damon: I’ve always wanted to make an Optimus Prime Transformer costume.
15. What costuming won’t you do?
Yancey: Anything involving spandex.
Damon: Spandex, lol
16. Is costuming about the character for you, or about dressing up?
Yancey: Both, but mostly dressing up.
Damon: Dressing up mostly, but you do tend to feel like that character when you are dressing as them.
Yancey: My brother Damon. He does most of our designing.
Damon: Movies, comic books, Action figures, the internet.
18. What are your favorite sewing tools?
Yancey: I have a 4’x8′ cutting/work table that makes my work go a whole lot easier.
Damon: I do all our props, I couldn’t live without my Dremel.
19. What is your favorite fabric store?
Yancey: SR Harris, but I go wherever I need to, to hopefully find what I’m looking for.
Damon: SR Harris, but go where you have to find what you need.
20. What are you currently working on?
Yancey: A cosy flannel bathrobe for myself. I know, not very costumey.
Damon: We are in the design stage for Steampunk Wonder Twins from the Super Friends.
21. What do you like best about costuming?
Yancey: It’s great when you do something that a number of people have a big reaction to. I also like that it lets me spend more time with my brother.
Damon: I really love searching for fabric and working with my brother Yancey to create the costumes. I love the creative process with him. Then it is the cherry on top to wear them together and show them off.
22. What is the one thing you’ve learned over the course of your sewing life that would have saved you a ton of time had you known it from the start?
Yancey: If at all possible, pick the right fabric for the job. You can make a garment out of most any fabric, but the degree of success will depend on your fabric choice.
Damon: I’ve learned give yourself more time then you think you are going to need, it always takes longer.
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