Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Behind Burlesque, The Sewing Series - Voodoo's Space

A little while ago my sister did a nice little blog post titled "Home as Temple/Temple as Home" and while it had to do with more magical spaces in the home it did get both of us thinking about decor and functionality in small spaces. As a result both of us did some altering in our apartments which led me to re-organize one of my most important spaces:

My costume/sewing area.

Now, while both me and my sister are witches we are both different in how we create things and weave spells. Mandy is much more the scribe in the family - creating things through words, knowledge and will. Where as I think of myself as more of the hands on type, it may be weird to think that sewing costumes and what not can be considered magic but to that I say why not? It has some of the same fundamentals as any spell. Such as figuring out what the intent is, creating the base, infusing it with energy/power and voila!

There is something very powerful and lovely about being able to slip into a costume you have made yourself, feel the power between the fabric and then use it to dazzle a room full of people. It's almost like the ultimate glamour spell.

This isn't to say that every single costume I make I weave a spell into, but even with simple projects there is a place my mind goes to when I get into that sewing zone. It's special to me, it makes me tingle with a creative force and because of that I am very particular about my sewing station and set up.

And so, without further ado I take you on a little tour of my space and how I work.

My actual sewing station is set up next to my living room mantel, off to one side and near the corner closet that stores all my clothes. The reasons I picked here for my work station was because it's close to my candles and ritual things, I like to keep those close as I find it inspires and relaxes me while I work. It is also close to any clothes I might want to use as a sewing example, and as an added bonus I can put my cup of tea on the mantel.

You can see that I try to keep my sewing area fairly tidy, main threads stay out and I keep all my bobbins/needles/etc in a pretty little book box. The rest of my thread and scissors I store in the two drawers that are in the desk.

The rest of my sewing supplies and work tools are actually spread out through the whole living room, I don't have a large place so I have to be very smart about where and what I store. My sewing form and tools such as glue gun, hammer, wire cutters and the like I keep across the way by the window in a little rolling Ikea cart. I like having the form by the window because it allows me to look outside while I work, or to get some fresh air if I'm caught up in a particular sewing frenzy.

A large portion of my fringe and fabric goes into nice vintage looking boxes on the other side of the window, the top box is for my boyfriend's bow-tie collection, the middle is all fringe and the bottom is fabric.

On the other side of the mantel are some hand stained crates that hold the larger pieces of fabric that I own, the bottom is for non stretch fabric where as the top is for all the spandex and stretchy fabric I own and use. And yes, that's a banjo case.

This fun little box, sitting on top of my Lovecraft Ouija board is what stores all my wigs and drag accessories. If you're curious as to what these items sit on it is a little side dresser that also contains my underwear, socks, leg warmers and tights. A lot of the items in my house do double duty.

And speaking of double duty, whoever said you had to keep only food and dishes in your kitchen? Not this girl! I was actually blessed with a fairly large kitchen in my apartment so rather then waste it I now use the bottom cupboards to  house my many boxes of supplies such as rhinestones, sewing patterns, trim, beads, and so on.

The last bit of storage is my huge walk in closet that houses all my regular clothes (which are hung up on the first rack) and the costumes I use the most (which are hung up on the second rack), any other costumes that don't get as much use I pack into two suitcases and keep in the downstairs locker of the apartment building.

And there you have it! This is how I use my small space to house a very large collection of sewing and costume projects. Next time we will explore one of the other burlesque ladies sewing/craft areas so stay tuned!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Cold Feet - Washboard Edition

A while back, while discussing boyfriends and dating, my sister proclaimed that I make the perfect 'band girlfriend'. We laughed and I cheerfully agreed with her because it is partially true.

I say partially true because it doesn't only apply to the people I date, it extends to my friends. There have been numerous times that I have either come early or stayed behind at a Blue Morris band rehearsal just because I like hearing them play and work out the kinks. Also, come on....we all know I would die happy if I could just listen to Red Heartbreaker sing all day.

I have dated more than a few musicians in my life and been interested in many men who play some kind of instrument, but more than just liking the person that the guitar is attached to and wanting to take interest in their playing I think I just really love seeing how music and songs are created and fine tuned. Where as my sister would go insane if she had to date a musician (she has told me this on numerous occasions) I don't ever seem to tire of it.

So it's been interesting dating my trusty sidekick, aka: Arnt Arntzen, who is the only professional musician I have ever dated. All the other men I've dated were only doing it as hobbies or, not to sound like a bitch, but playing at it because it made them seem artistic and soulful and it's a good way to pick up chicks.

Arnt is a full time musician and pays his half of our rent and all the food bills through musical work, which has been very interesting for me to witness. Not only do I now have a better understanding as to how a song is created but I have also seen how a whole album is created, produced and then sold. I know more of the nitty gritty details that one would never think to ask, and while I enjoy seeing these aspects I still mostly enjoy watching him create a song out of thin air. Or in some cases, some random joke that we came up with on my couch while we were goofing off.

Now it is safe to say that Arnt sticks out above a lot of the other musicians I've dated, but not just because he's a professional. He sticks out because out of all the men I've been with he is the first to ever ask and then encourage me to join in with him.

I once told him that I've had a lot of guys play music at me, but never any that wanted to play music with me.
And that is something very very special to me.

Because I love music, I really do. I love being able to move my body and perform to it, to help express an emotion or story through dance but I have also always wanted to be able to be a part of bringing it to life.

And so I started playing washboard.

Dorky I know but there are a few aspects to it that I fell in love with, first and probably the strongest aspect is that it's simple enough that it's not intimidating yet once you get good enough you can develop a lot of style and energy with it. Another bonus is that it's not a super heavy instrument that you have to lug around with you.

I hadn't been playing that long when Arnt decided that I should play outside my apartment and our little jam sessions, he wanted me to try and expand a little more and work on my musical cold feet. Which he did very gently.

By you know.....throwing me up on stage with him during his cd release party for one song.

I was terrified.
Yet excited.
Yet terrified.

Which is strange to think right? I'm on stage all the time, usually wearing next to nothing and loving every second of it! But this? THIS?!
So. Fucking. Terrified.

I did get through it however and apparently I sounded decent enough, but more importantly when asked if I had enjoyed it all I could do was grin.

I have now done a few more gigs on washboard and slowly my confidence is growing with it, there's still tons for me to learn but I'm feeling comfortable enough to either guess at which pattern and rhythm I should be playing or to ask someone to tap it out for me. I'm even starting to add a few bits of my own style in there.
I still refuse to do any solos though, but again, I think that will just take a bit more time.

I leave you with a few of my favourite inspirational washboard clips:

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rosemary's Yellow Dress

If you know me well enough you know that I have a strange obsession with the film Rosemary's Baby, it is one of my all time favourite movies. There are a many reasons why I love it, many of which are explained very well in this article here.

This article also touches on one of my favourite aspects of the film, the use of colour. Specifically the colour yellow. For some bizarre reason I absolutely adore the colour of that soft buttercream yellow that is used through the movie in both the set design and Rosemary's clothing.

And so, it was only a matter of time before I made a dress in that same shade. (I mean come on, my blog is already designed in a similar vein.)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Stevie Nicks Fringed Robe

Last weekend was the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival and while I could go on and on about how awesome it was and how lucky I felt to be performing alongside some of the top performers from all over the world as well as being able to perform side by side with my boyfriend, I'm not going to.
Because that gets boring to anyone who wasn't there. We all know it was awesome so let's focus on something else

The after party. Or more specifically, what I wore to the after party.

You see, the after party was on Saturday night and I kept my entire day free because my boyfriend was leaving the next morning to go on a jazz tour across Canada and I thought that it would be nice to spend as much time together before he left for like two weeks. But due to lots of little last minuete things that he had to get done for the tour I wound up waiting around a lot.

And what does Voodoo do when she gets bored and has to wait around? She sews things.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Scars and Secrets Part 2

Warning! These photos are NSFW and might be gross to some people.

Want to know something interesting?
It's been almost a month since I had surgery on my breast and only now am I starting to feel like myself again.
Strange isn't it?
Then again maybe not.

The surgery itself was...okay. I mean, it's never going to be fun but I seem to remember that this one was more difficult compared to my ear surgery. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything past midnight the night before and I didn't go in for my surgery till about 2pm so I was STARVING. Not to mention extremely anxious and scared, I cried a lot before they finally took me in. Luckily I have the best mother in the world who drove into town and stayed with me as well as took me to the hospital.
She also kept me calm by being silly with me.

If you're wondering why I'm wearing a mask it's because I'm THAT mysterious! No, really, it's because I didn't get a flu shot this year so I had to wear it.

When they finally took me in I struggled to not have a panic attack, laying on the stretcher with all these strangers around you, strapping you down and marking you with pens.They actually gave me the option to not be put under, to just have heavy sedation and freezing but when I asked my surgeon if there was a chance I could wake up in the middle she said yes.

"Knock me out then. I don't want to go through that."

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sewing Stuff - Summer Hawaiian Dress

The other weekend I was cleaning my apartment and going through my costumes, getting rid of the smelly and old ones, when I came across a pile of fabric that I had totally forgotten about. It was this black and cream Hawaiian pattern that I had originally bought for my sister so that she could get our friend Melody to make her a swishy dress. That never happened and its just been sitting there waiting for me to find it.
All 5 meters of it....
I think we bought so much of it at the time was because a.) it was on sale and b.) my sister is VERY chesty so we wanted to make sure there was enough to go around. On reflection we totally bought waaaaay too much. Oh well.

So when I found all this random free fabric I decided what better way to spend my morning that sewing a totally random summer dress! I didn't have a real pattern but after cruising around on the Internet I decided to try and make a funky high waisted circle skirt with a sort of retro bra top.

The skirt was easy enough for me to do, I just slapped down my black circle skirt as my base pattern and then added a long strip at the top to make it high waisted. Sewing the zipper into the back was a little tricky because I'm an idiot and don't have a zipper foot for my sewing machine but in the end I managed to get it all working.
 Next up was the top, which I found on this website. The original pattern is for a retro bra but I thought that it might work just as well for a regular top with a few adjustments. So I sketched the pattern out loosely and cut it all out.
Looks kind of weird right? While I was cutting it out I was a little mystified by where things were supposed to go but after looking at the blog again and moving things around like a jig saw puzzle I figured it out.
See? Not too difficult once you see the placement of things!
I sewed everything together, and then wound up going back to change a few parts to make it into a halter top instead of bra-top and then voila it was all done!
Looks pretty cute right? I liked the idea of having just a little bit of my stomach showing, modest but still having it be kind of flirty. The bra top works well but I might get a halter bra to wear underneath it as it's pretty low cut and I don't want my tits popping out if I dance in it during the summer time.
Summertime here I come!

Total Time to Make: 4 hours
Total Cost: Free
Things I learned while making this item: I really need to get a sewing foot for zippers and snap tape, it will make my life easier and will make me hate using zippers in things a lot less. You can't always live and work with spandex Voodoo.....

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Sewing Stuff - 1960s Jumpsuit

A few months ago my friend Diva asked me and a bunch of other friends to come visit her after hours at her work, which normally wouldn't be that much fun except that Diva works at the fabulous Watts Costume store. It seems that the website doesn't have a lot of photos that actually show what a HUGE amount of awesome costumes they have there and she had taken it upon herself to remedy that.

What this meant of course was that I got to play dress up for like 4 hours straight while drunk on pink wine.

While we were there Diva presented me with a costume that I fell in love with and didn't want to take off, like....EVER. It was a silver 1960s disco jumpsuit. Sounds awful right?
It was amazing, comfortable and looked fantastic on my ass.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah! The best part about that jumpsuit was how wide the legs were, it was so swishy and so fun. So of course I decided that for my second sewing project I should make my own.

I still had money on my dressew gift card so I went and purchased 3 meters of black stretchy fabric, a zipper, and an actual pattern this time. I mainly bought the pattern because I haven't had a lot of experience in making pants and the one I found was almost exactly what I was looking for.

Plus the artwork was super cute. ;)

It took me a while to actually start this project due to my work schedule getting crazy busy but after I had surgery on my breast I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time and I needed something to distract myself so this was almost perfect timing.

So Step 1: was to cut out my pattern (I used pattern A over B because the legs were wider), slap it onto my doubled over black fabric, pin and and cut it all out.
Step 2: I slapped the front and back parts together and sewed up the two length sides of them.
Step 3: The semi tricky part was mashing the two legs together and sewing up the crotch/ass area. But I managed to do and then slipped the pants on only to find that they were HUGE. could have fit 2 of me in there.
So I took them off, re-measured my hips and what not and took it in about 3 inches on either side until they would up like this:

Step 4: To make the top I basically took a t-shirt that I liked the look of and laid it out on the black fabric and drew what the basic shape was, then I cut it, sewed up the sides and tried it on. It was too big at first but with some little fixes it fit how I wanted. The final bit that added a bit of jazz to it was a bit of  rushing that I added to the neckline.

Step 5: It was time for the actual tricky part, sewing the top to the bottom pants. I had to maneuver things around to get it to be seamless but it all worked out and voila! I was all done! I also wound up not even needing to use the zipper because the fabric was so stretchy I can just wiggle into it. Bonus!

The end result was this:

Total Time to Make: 4 hoursTotal Cost: 40$
Things I learned while making this Item: I need to trust patterns more, if it says I'm a certain size then that means that I am. And I shouldn't over estimate because that just means I will need to take stuff in later on in the process.
Also? Jumpsuits are so comfortable and rad.