Friday, March 9, 2012

Pirate Wedding - Skirt 3 - Underskirt

For my pirate skirt 2.0, I went to the Goodwill just down the street. I found a lovely brown bedskirt ($8.99) with "microstripes" of red & gold shades. The fabric content is a silk/polyester blend. Score!

I also found a fringed ivory valance ($2.99) that I thought I could attach to the bedskirt above the brown silk fabric to look sort of like an overskirt. Then I found a  cotton/polyester blend red & gold brocade round tablecloth ($4.99 or $6.99, can't remember) that I think might make the perfect overskirt, because it will have the coverage without the bulk and there are instructions online for how to turn a round tablecloth into a circle skirt.

The tablecloth matches the bedskirt so nicely!

Right now, I want to say something about using household linens as costuming materials.

I used to work as a living history interpreter. I did it for less than a year, it was all new and exciting to me to get paid to play dress up and pretend to be a pioneer. The lady that made my costumes is enormously talented. I was very fortunate that I didn't have to pay for any of it. My employer paid for my costuming expenses.

Here in Texas, all the old Indian Wars forts have living history days throughout the year. Lots of people attend--volunteer interpreters, paid staff, and regular people that just like to dress up in old-timey clothing and walk around feeling special and different once in a while. Kind of like Renaissance festivals. Some costumes are amazing, some are awful.

The big names in historical costuming would laugh/sneer at the costumes that were obviously awful. I was one of them. I remember hearing one of the historical gurus say something about how she read on a blog or forum of some sort that someone was giving instructions about how to make a skirt out of sheets or something like that. And you could hear the major CONCERN in her voice, like "this has to be stopped!"

There was one lady who they singled out. Her outfit was, frankly, the worst thing I've ever seen. I've seen Halloween costumes at Walmart that looked better. Her skirt wasn't full enough to accommodate her hoopskirt, it was made out of cheap "faux" satin fabric like what cheap negligees are made of. Very overweight, and no corset. And one of the costuming gurus told her he wanted to take her picture and I don't remember what he said, but she immediately responded, "What, so you can make fun of me?" And he said no, something I can't remember, but she let him take her picture. And he was taking her picture precisely so that he could use her as an example of how NOT to do living history clothing. He was also taking her picture to make fun of her.

Okay, as I've said. I laughed along with the rest of them. It's easy to do that when you're not having to pay for your own gorgeously, authentically recreated historical clothing.

That job didn't last long, I moved onto other things, and 7 years later found myself buying a lovely medieval-style dress to wear to a Renaissance festival with my sister. I loved the experience so much that I decided to start making my own costumes, even though I have zero experience in sewing clothes, because there was so much stuff that I wanted and I couldn't afford to buy all of it. And that is when it hit home.

Fabric is expensive! It's so much cheaper to get your costuming materials from thrift store bedding and household linens than by the yard at the fabric store.

Now, granted, there were a lot of bad costumes I saw at the ren fest. Stuff that would have looked nice if... (...if they hadn't used broadcloth, if the skirt had been fuller, if the skirt had had a petticoat, if the bodice had been in proportion with the person's figure). The point of it all was that people were having FUN.

I have high standards and try to accommodate them the best I can within my means. I can't afford silk or cotton damask, brocades, or velvet by the yard. But I have a creative mind and a good eye, and so I figure that if I find something at the thrift store linens section that looks more "period appropriate" than poly-cotton broadcloth, I should be able to make a decent looking costume out of it. Which is so incredibly wonderful for someone like me who is on a limited budget and whose latest obsession is making costumes.

In the end, FABRIC IS FABRIC. Does it really matter whether it's been used to make curtains or a kirtle?

So... Eff you, snobby, elitist living history interpreters. Including my past self. Time to have fun. Time to be creative. Time to say, "You know what? I've always wanted to go to the ren fest in costume. I'm going to do it!" And do what it takes to get you there. Who cares what anyone else thinks.

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