Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fancy in Life

My day job boss is having a luau-themed party this coming weekend, so I'm making myself a gigantic hair flower and making one for a co-worker so she can have a fancy flower as well.  (My flower is the gigantic one because they would expect nothing less from me, while the flowers for my co-worker are a bit more conservative.)  Hair flowers are great for sharing your fabulousness with people in the real world, and they doesn't cost a ton.  (Princess Farhana had a great blog in December for using leftover costume and craft supplies for gifts.)

For this project you will need: Mod Podge (I'm using glossy since my jar of matte is on loan), flowers, glitter, paintbrush you can ruin, dixie cups & a toothpick or cocktail sword (for stirring), hair clips, hot glue, felt or fun foam, leaves leftover from your flower stems, clothespins.

To remove the flowers from the stems, use wire cutters to cut as close to the underside of the flower as you can.

I used fine glitter on this project, but you can use whatever glitter you want.  The fine glitter gives a delicate shimmer, where thick glitter is a bit more aggressive in its glitziness.

Pour enough Mod Podge in your dixie cup to coat the bottom.  (You may see some pink in the bottom of the cup.  That's because I did a coat of glitter on parts of my flower before snapping the photo.  This makes it easier to see how much Mod Podge I actually used each time I mixed up the glitter goo.)

Pour enough glitter onto the Mod Podge to cover it well.  (You know about heaping spoons in cooking?  You want a heaping cover of glitter on your Mod Podge.)  I used three kinds of glitter for variety and better texture: hot pink cosmetic glitter, fine pink glitter, and fine iridescent glitter.  You can mix glitter shades and sizes.

Use your toothpick or cocktail sword to mix up the glitter and Mod Podge until fully blended.

It's handy to have dixie cups on hand for mixing small quantities of paint or glitter.  They make clean up very easy.

I use toothpicks or cocktail swords all the time for mixing paint and glitter, and for rhinestoning.

Paint each petal of your flower with the glitter mixture.  Be sure to work in a circular fashion so it doesn't look wonky if you run out of a particular shade of glitter before you finish the flower.  You can paint the edge or the entire petal.

The Mod Podge will stiffen the petals a bit.

I used a cheap, crappy paintbrush because the glitter doesn't always wash out completely.

Cut felt or fun foam circles to cover the green frame on the back of your flower.  I used felt for the smaller flowers and thick fun foam for the large flower.  This gives you a place to attach the clip and stabilizes the flower so it doesn't flop around on your head.

Hot glue leftover leaves to the top of the circle.  You don't have to cover the circle completely.  It's okay if the leaves peep out from behind the completed flower.

Cut a piece of grosgrain ribbon to cover the inside back of your clip.   For the small flowers I used pin curl clips.  The metal gets really hot from the glue.  The grosgrain ribbon keeps you from burning yourself as badly with the hot glue, and it prevents the clip from getting glued shut. 

With the larger flower, I used a larger clip with teeth.  Since I didn't use a metal clip for that one and since it had teeth, I had to position the grosgrain ribbon at the inside top and bottom of the clip so the teeth were free.  This will make it more secure.

With the flower face down and the clip on the felt circle facing you, glue the circle to the back of the flower.  I had to glue some of the backs of the petals of the large flower to the circle to make it more secure.  Use clothespins as needed to pinch the felt circle to the flower while the glue cools.

Double check everything you've hot glued and touch up as needed.  Use a piece of tape or lint roller to get rid of any glue strings.

Here is my completed flower, secured above a simple bun.  This flower is bigger than my head but it's stable and pretty.   I initially planned to teach my co-worker how to make her own hair flower, but I'm presently at home with a fever.  So I don't have idle hands at home, I'll use the same glitter treatment on the hair flowers for my co-worker.

There are great sales on last season's flowers at many chain stores that sell silk flowers.  I bought the giant flower for $5, and spent under $2 each for the two smaller flowers.

Make these simple and inexpensive flowers to share with friends, or forward the link to this blog to them so they can learn to do it themselves.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chorus Costumes

I was watching She Done Him Wrong (Mae West & Cary Grant, 1933) and had a crazy thought.  What if we had a chorus line in the next Rumpus Revue?  The chorus line in the film was dressed simply: swimsuit-style bodysuits, striped leg warmers, and really big hats.  I watched the film last Thursday and decided it was doable.  My plan was to buy three blue swimsuits and stick some rhinestones on them, buy three hat bases and leg warmers, then make the magic happen.

That's when it happened.  I had some downtime at work and needed to make something.  Idle hands and all that.  So I dug through my spare fabric and found this stuff that was given to me by Penny Starr, Jr. in a junk bag three years ago.  Sure, the fabric was red and black, but it was free.  I have a one-piece swimsuit pattern I copied from Evie.  Free time + free fabric + free pattern = three chorus costumes.  I cut them all yesterday, stitched the fronts last night and today, and ordered swimsuit cups and elastic today.  I'm fresh out of power net, so I'll have to pick up some of that.  I'm going to drop a few sequin appliques on the finished swimsuits to gussy them up.  Yes, I am spending some money on them, but I'm saving by using free things.

For the hats, I've decided to go the DIY route.  I have buckram.  I need some liquid starch and and some measurements (and guidance from the internet).  I'll spray paint the hats black, hand stitch some black bias tape around the brim, embellish with some red and black stuff I have in one of my two craft rooms, and voila!  I'm still going to have to buy stuff for leg warmers (or get them ready made), but the dancers can supply black fishnets and shoes easily.

Because of the color palette and simple style, these costumes can be used for more than one show.  They're not restricted to a particular theme.  I'll post photos when they're done.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fabric Testing & a Spare Iron

We have two irons. The first one got a little funky when I tried an iron-on project and scorched some fragile elastic. My husband, the one who actually presses clothing regularly, bought a new iron just for regular clothes. We kept the old iron for projects so I wouldn't junk up a new iron with accidents.

I'm trying to follow directions and do things right in my old age, so I always test new fabrics on my sewing machine and with the project iron, particularly if they're not some poly-cotton blend. I pressed most of my latest project dress with a pressing cloth and the project iron, but the bust darts needed more attention. I tested the project iron directly on some spare fabric and it was fine at a low setting. I then ironed the center back seam to prepare for the zipper, and three of the four bust darts. All was fine until I hit one of the darts a second time and the iron made a couple tiny holes in the fabric. Either the iron got too hot or the surface snagged the taffeta. Whatever happened, I spent some time removing the front bodice piece this morning. Looks like I'll be cutting a new bodice front in the next few days. Good thing I'm not on a deadline.

The lesson here is to always test your fabric, keep a project iron on hand, and make sure the surface of that project iron isn't so scratchy that it will snag your fabric. Also order extra fabric when you buy online.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Month of Sundays: Week Two

My brunch plans aren't really working out.  I have to book my studio time more than sixteen hours in advance.  I'm working on next week's booking now, in hopes I can do a proper brunch next weekend.

My studio time was great.  I haven't worked on the costume changes I noted needed to be made last weekend, so I spent an hour working with my fans.  I tried out my silk fans again and got a splinter. :(  I'll have to hit the bamboo staves with a nail file.  I ran my Flower Duet number (sans costume), and I started roughing in some choreography for the number I'm taking to Texas in December.  I had a brilliant costume idea for that number, so the hour was well spent.

I'm hopeful I can get my costume repairs done and get my scheduling settled so next weekend ends in brunch.  Fingers crossed.  I really want to talk burlesque with the strippers of my city outside of a gig.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lucky DeLuxe's Giggle-n-Grind at Improv Lab

Breaking out my Girl Scout number and my school girl number.  Come out!

Month of Sundays: Week One

I'm experimenting this month to see if I can get a ritual going.  Every Sunday I'm booking studio time to work on some aspect of my performance, and I'm doing brunch sometime before or after with burlesque discussion as the focus of my brunch.  Last Sunday I had a morning event and my studio time wasn't brunch convenient, so I had to lunch.

I attended a lecture on sexuality in America before lunch.  I'll get into that later.  Because of my scheduling issues, it was just Mr. Snapper and I for lunch and discussion.  We talked about sexuality, nudity, and the limits in burlesque performances.  (The night before we saw a play where one character was fully nude for several minutes of the second act, so that was fresh on our minds.)  I'm hoping to have bigger brunches with fellow performers to discuss these kinds of things.  Maybe I can schedule better for tomorrow.

I spent my studio time working on my newest number.  I haven't rehearsed the number since I performed it for a second time in front of an audience a month ago, spending that time thinking about the piece in great detail.  I watched the video from my second performance before I hit the studio so I could see what worked and how the audience responded.  I made a list of adjustments I need to make to the costume so it works even better.  I altered a few small things in the choreography.  I also *gasp* asked Mr. Snapper for feedback on the number.  Live performance is a constantly evolving thing.  There was no way to know exactly how the audience would respond without having that audience.  My goal is to entertain the audience, so I have to make adjustments so they get the best experience possible.

I need to get the next three weeks booked at the studio now so I can better plan for brunch.  If this works well, it may become a regular thing for me.