Author Archives: MNSOC Hotdish

We’ve Moved!


The MNSOC blog has moved!

Please follow us here.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Operation Glass Slipper Annual Dress Sale 2012

(click on image to enlarge)

Operation Glass Slipper’s Website


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Frayed Nerves Over Frayed Laces

by Steve Schulz

We have all at one time or another struggled with the fraying ends of a cotton cord that is commonly used for bodices, doublets and even boot laces.  Consequently, I have been on a mission to find a fix that works.

I have tried different kinds of fray check, Elmer’s glue, scotch tape, vinyl tape, have burned my fingers trying to use hot glue, etc., almost everything I could think of, with little or no luck.  Then I discovered Fabri-Tac™ and thought, “I think I have finally found an answer to my dilemma!”

If you are having the same problem and haven’t already discovered this for yourself, give it a try!

Simply put a good amount of the Fabri-Tac™ on about ½” of the cut end of the cord.  Then roll it between your fingers to saturate the fibers and form a nice round lacing end.  It begins to start to firm up fairly quickly, but is still workable.

When you are satisfied with the shape, set it aside and let it dry overnight.  When it’s dry you will have a nice solid end that I believe is better than a factory lace because it shouldn’t pull off or crack.  It will also hold up to a lot of abuse because of this, and so far it has worked great for me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Inspirational Minnesota Costumers

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
City: Minneapolis

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?

Yancey: Yes

Damon: No, I work retail.

3. Historical or Fantasy?

Yancey: Historical with some fantasy thrown in to shake it up a little.

Damon: Fantasy

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.

5. What was the first costume you ever made? Where is it now?

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?

Yancey: Yes

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?

Yancey: Yes!

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.

13. What is your favorite movie costume, or movie for costumes?

Yancey: Dangerous Liaisons. I personally don’t have a costume from this period, but have made them.

Damon: I have a few, Dune has amazing costumes, I love the 80’s Batman films, all 4 of them and I love the new Thor movie costumes.

14. What costume is on your Must Make Someday List?

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.

17. What kind of resources do you use to design your costumes?

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Give the Gift…

Give the gift of a MNSOC Membership this Holiday Season!

Single Membership: $25  ♦  CYBER MONDAY SPECIAL – $12.50

Couples Membership: $40  ♦  CYBER MONDAY SPECIAL – $20.00

Student Membership: $15  ♦  CYBER MONDAY SPECIAL – $8.00

Click Here to Purchase a Membership


Give an early gift of tickets to the Steampunk Christmas Carol!

Cyber Monday Special

Buy one ticket get one half off!

Click Here to Purchase Tickets

All Cyber Monday Specials End at 11:59 p.m. 11/28/11

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What are you doing this Dec. 3rd? Come join us!

Come join MNSOC in celebrating the holidays, Steampunk style!

Event:  A Steampunk Christmas Carol/Fezziwig’s Party!
Date:  Dec. 3, 2011
Time:  6-10pm
Location:  The Outing Lodge

Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire to see upon a winter’s night…  There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was toddy, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer… When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke up. Mr and Mrs Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas.“

                                                -Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol.”

Hosts:  Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig request your presence at their annual Holiday Party!

Attire:  Your best Victorian, Steampunk, Lolita, Gothic, Air Pirate, etc. clothing is admired but not required.

Need some inspiration? We have a few previous blog posts to help you get inspired:

Food and Drink:  Hors d’ouevres, dessert and punch will be provided.  Other drinks available for purchase.

Activity:  Dancing will commence at 7pm with music from our Time Traveling DJ.  A Caricature Artist will be available to draw your likeness.  Mr. Fezziwig’s personal photographer Mr. Jim Jordan will be on hand to document the party, and is available for individual posed photos for a fee.  Mr. Fezziwig will be judging the Costume Contest at the end of the evening with his lovely wife, and the winner will receive a free ticket to the next event.  If the weather cooperates, we will also have sleigh rides!

Lodging:  Rooms at the Outing Lodge have all been booked for the night, but we have found other places in the area if you need some where to stay for the night.

  1. Water Street Inn
  2. AmericInn Lodge and Suites
  3. America’s Best Value Inn
  4. Stillwater Super 8
  5. Lexington Inn & Suites
  6. Crossings by GrandStay Inn & Suites
  7. Lowell Inn

Tickets:  Admission to this grand event is $35.00 for paid members of MNSOC and $40.00 for non-paid members of MNSOC.  You may purchase tickets here.


Directions to the Lodge from the Twin Cities Metro Area can be found here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Laura’s 21 Top Tips on Measuring

by Laura Ulak

Having the correct measurements can make fitting an outfit a successful or agonizing experience.  These are some of the things that I do and recommend to others.

  1. Always make sure the person to be measured is wearing the correct undergarments.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you are making a bridal outfit, something for cosplay, a historical outfit, whatever – if the person being measured is not wearing the correct undergarments, you will not get the correct measurements.  If you are making a French gown, do not measure the person in their Elizabethan corset.  It will not give you the same measurements.  If the person is wearing “an old bra” that day that does not give them the same amount of lift, you will not get the correct measurements.  And it is OK to request that the person return wearing the correct undergarments to be measured again.  Also – if the person being measured is a woman, ask them when they had their last bra fitting.  If it is over 6-9 months ago, recommend that they have one as soon as possible.
  2. Make sure the person being measured is wearing the correct footwear.  If you are making an outfit for someone who will be wearing 2 inch heels or large boots, make sure they are wearing those shoes.
  3. Request that the person being measured arrives in a fitted top and pants.  Loose layers and skirts do not allow you to see the shape of the person properly.
  4. Take a photo of the person you are measuring.  You might have measurements and notes after your measurement session, but it is useful to have a visual of the person that allows you to take into account their actual body shape.  It is helpful to take photos during each fitting as well.
  5. Make sure that the person understands that they must NOT look down while being measured.  This will change the measurement of any lengths you are measuring, such as waist to floor.  I find this most often with children, but adults need to be reminded just as frequently.
  6. Measure both sides of the body.  This means both arms, both shoulder to waist measurements, both arms, both waist to floor measurements, etc.  No person is built perfectly symmetrical, and often there is a difference in hip height, back curvature, or shoulder heights.
  7. If there is a significant difference in measurement from one side of the body to the other, you will need to made adjustments to the garment to compensate for this.  For uneven shoulders, often a shoulder pad on the lower shoulder can make up the difference.  For uneven hips, skirts or pants should always be marked for hemming on the body.  You may not notice a difference while the person is standing, but after having someone walk in pants for a minute or so the pants will settle into place and you might discover that one side needs to be shorter than the other.
  8. Stand back and look at the shape of the person to be measured.  Often you will discover that people have built up muscle on one shoulder near their neck.  Usually this is the shoulder women carry their purses on, or where men carry their laptop bags.  You need to note this in your measurements, as this can affect the way a neckline will lay on the body and how a collar might fit.  If fabric is pulling on one side, or the person says they can never get their necklines to fit properly, this is often the reason why.  If a woman complains that her bra straps slide off all the time, a sloping shoulder can be the culprit.
  9. Make sure when measuring someone that you measure at their natural waist, not at their belly button, and not the top of their pants.  The natural waist is where the body naturally bends in when a person bends from side to side.  It is often right underneath the bottom of the ribcage.  Most people don’t understand that their waist is much higher up than what they think is normal.  However, garments will not fit properly if they are not fitted to this measurement.
  10. Note whether the person is long-waisted or short-waisted.  Typically short-waisted people have their belly button much closer to their natural waist and have long legs.  Long waisted people have a much greater distance between their natural waist and their belly button and have shorter legs.  Knowing this for the person being measured can be the difference between having a properly fitting doublet and having a bare midriff.
  11. When asking someone their measurements via e-mail or phone, ask women for their full bust measurement.  Specify that it goes over the fullest part of the bust.  A bra measurement is not the same thing as a full bust measurement.  Especially since 8 out of 10 women are usually wearing the wrong size bra.
  12. Recognize that for women, not all breasts are built the same.  Note if the person’s bust wraps around their body more, or is mostly on the front of their body.  This can make a difference in how clothing fits under the arms, and can help you to alleviate the pull marks that you see on clothing on the side of the bust in bustier women.
  13. When measuring men, make sure to get a waist measurement under the belly, as well as over the belly if the gentleman is large waisted.  Most men are wearing pants that are sizes smaller than they think they are, even under the belly.  Clarify with the person where they are going to wear their pants – at waist level, or under the belly.  This will make a huge difference in the amount of fabric needed at the front of the pants.  If you make it for over the belly and they wear it under, there will be a lot of fabric bunching in front.
  14. When measuring the rise (from the natural waist in front, through the legs and to the natural waist in back), note where the inside side seams of the pants intersect with the rise measurement.  It is helpful to know the measurement from the waist in front to the intersection and from the waist in back to the intersection.  In someone with a larger behind, the back number will be larger.  In someone with extra girth in front, the front number will be larger.  Make sure to adjust your pattern accordingly to those numbers so that any pants you make will not ride up or down.
  15. Most teenagers are very self-conscious about their bodies and are jumpy about being measured.  I usually remind them that measurements are just numbers, and that prior to 100 years ago people had their own clothing made, and there were no such thing as dress sizes.  That no measurement is bad or wrong, it is just the way the person is made.  Be careful not to say things like, “You have very broad shoulders” or “That is quite a difference in shoulder heights” to teenagers.  They are already fairly body conscious, and this can make them more so.
  16. Children usually find being measured a fascinating experience, or if they are particularly small, they don’t really want to be bothered, as there are other more exciting things to do.  I usually turn this into a game and also measure things like the width of their ears, or their nose to the end of their fingers.  I also allow them to measure some part of me, such as my wrist, or my pinky length.  Children are very hesitant to have their rise or girth, (which is from one shoulder, through the legs, and back up to the same shoulder, and is often used for measurement in dancewear) measured because they don’t want anyone near their private parts.  I will say, “OK, this is the SILLIEST measurement ever.  Are you ready for the silliness?”  And this typically relaxes children who then agree that the idea of a rise measurement is indeed very silly.  If the child is very small, it helps to have another person hold the child in place to measure them.  If this is not going to work due to the squirm factor of small children, measure some clothing that you know fits the child well and hope for the best.
  17. Occasionally you may discover a discrepancy in measurements that is alarming (such as an inch or more difference in shoulder height.  If the person is an adult, you may want to mention that they have a larger than typical (never say normal) difference in a particular measurement and suggest that they might want to let their doctor/chiropractor know in the event that they have any back pain, etc.  If you find this in a child/teenager, particularly a child who has not yet been scanned for scoliosis, you will want to mention this to the parent, again by calling the measurement not “typical” and suggesting it might be worth looking into.  The most extreme case I saw was a girl who had an almost 2 inch difference in her shoulder heights and her parents had never noticed, even though she was almost 10.  Unless people are having something custom made, most people don’t notice the odd little idiocyncracies of their bodies, or those of their friends or family.
  18. Many adults are also self conscious about their bodies and their measurements.  I do not ever announce a measurement that I am taking out loud.  I also refrain from saying things like “That can’t be right!  That is much bigger/smaller than it should be.”  Always keep in mind that the person being measured is a person with their own particular body concerns.  Even if the person seems to be very positive about their body they will still have something they are not happy about, and it is your job to help them leave the measuring session feeling good – not bad about their body.
  19. Make sure your measuring tape is long enough.  A basic measuring tape is 60 inches long.  If you are measuring a plus size person, this tape may not be long enough, and there is nothing quite as embarrassing for a person being measured as discovering they are bigger than the measuring tape.  You can find some longer tapes at your local fabric store, or in the hardware section of stores like Home Depot.  Make sure that you are also careful in measuring a larger person.  If you do not think you can fit your arms around them, do not try.  It can cause you pain by reaching, and it can be potentially embarrassing for the person if you can’t reach around them.  I will usually have them hold the tape in one spot and have them spin around.  This also allows me to make sure the tape is going to be lying in the correct spot.  People who are plus size can have rolls of flesh that can change the measurement of a part of the body you are trying to measure if the tape gets caught in the wrong spot.  Walking around the person to wrap the tape around them can make them again feel embarrassed that they are large enough that someone can’t just reach around them.  Spinning seems a little silly and fun, and not as embarrassing.  You can then walk around adjusting the tape, which is not as embarrassing- just let them know that you always check to make sure the tape is in the right spot.
  20. Take more measurements than you think you might need.  You may not plan on making pants this time around, but the person may change their mind, and if you already have the measurements that saves them a trip and you the time of having to work around another measurement appointment.  Better to over-measure than under-measure.
  21. And most importantly, make sure to have a positive attitude while measuring someone.  People find being measured to be slightly embarrassing and they are never completely happy with the results.  If you are unhappy about something, don’t take that feeling into the measuring room with you – people can assume it is a reflection on them and their measurements.  Be positive and affirming of their fabulousness and how great that final garment is going to look on them.  Everyone can use a little positive boost to their self-confidence.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized