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Pondering the past.... - Random babblings of a fiber-obsessed nutcase

About Pondering the past....

Previous Entry Pondering the past.... Aug. 22nd, 2011 @ 10:35 am Next Entry
Since Hearth asked, and I got nuthin' for today........let's see what I remember about the weird world of costuming. Please bear in mind, I met DH#1 in 1994, we married in '96, and Herself was born in '97 (13 months to the DAY of our wedding) -so I'm blurry on some of the details. Some thing you just don't forget, though....

DH1 was a geeky fan-boy from day 1. By the time he graduated HS, he had already made his mark - he had his own prop-making business, he had made the paper by portraying both Superman and Darth Vader (which was his most popular costume *ever*), and he was well-known locally as THE guy to go to for Star Trek uniforms. By the time I met him, he had sort of phased out the prop-making (didn't have the time to vacuum-form the parts, from what I remember) and was - at that time - focused on custom-fit vampire fangs.

Yup. Vampire fangs. "Interview with a Vampire" and "Forever Knight" were popular, and he charged $100 a pop for custom fit fangs. I know how to make a dental impression (using dental aginate :ick:), I know how to pour the mold, sculpt the fangs (out of modelling clay, of all things!), cast *that* in silicone, then pour the dental acrylic (used by dentists for bridge-making) into the fangs and use the original mouth-cast to ensure that the caps fit over the teeth. It was weird......but people were lined UP for these silly things. (I still have the set he made for me - I was his de facto model for a lot of this stuff. Cons were fun...we'd be talking to somebody, and I'd smile big and their eyes would bug out when they'd see the fangs. :snicker:) People are weird - nobody batted an eye at dropping $100 on a set of FAKE teeth. :shakes head:

The sewing was the big money-maker for a while. Anytime we needed $$$, he'd put the word out that he was accepting commissions - and they'd pour in. Apparently, there's a huge market for authentic Star Trek Uniforms.....most of the folks wanted REAL ones - same fabric as the originals (which comes from a particular shop in CA, and - Original Trek, anyway - has to be hand-dyed by an indie dyer. All of which adds $$$ to the cost, of course - but again, some Fans are WEIRD.) Folks that wanted *costumes* got "close enough" fabric - *I* can't tell the difference, to be honest, except that some of the "real" fabric is slightly heavier weight. :whatever: (I'm of the "close enough is good enough" camp, but then again - I'm OBVIOUSLY not a Fan. :lol:)

Uniforms got French seams, and all the proper tailoring techniques. I understand how to do most of it - but I've never DONE them. See......I break sewing machines. Not by using them - no, that'd be easy to fix. No, I break them by simply being in the SAME room as them - and we tested that many times. It got so bad that I wasn't allowed in the same room when he was sewing something - and when the serger came out, I had to leave the house. (Seriously. If I walked to the door when he was using the serger it would immediately jam. We tested it with other people, too - same thing. It's weird.....he went out and bought me a brand-new, top-of-the-line basic machine once, under the theory that if I knew HOW it worked, maybe I'd quit breaking them. He got it home, set it up for me (I was in the other room nursing Herself), and ran it thru it's paces. Worked great. Then I sat down at it - 2 minutes later, the timing was off, the thread was jammed, and I was in tears. That machine is up in the attic now......I have a White from 1950 that - SO FAR - seems immune to my...whatever.)

The one thing I got from all this is that you need to let your machine do all the work. Yes, sounds stupid - but a lot of people don't. They'll tug the fabric (I was guilty of that!), they don't use all the accessories (one of the BEST things is the hemming foot. If you don't have one, run out and buy one - they make life SO MUCH EASIER. My White came with EVERYTHING - the original owner had kept it all, even the manual. I have 2 hemming feet, a flat-fell foot, and a bunch of other stuff I have no idea what is. The hemming feet are GREAT - I set it up and it turns a double-hem for me.), and they try to sew thru problems. And, you don't need a machine with all the bells-n-whistles; a plain-Jane machine is fine. Too many extras, and the machine can become a liability.

After the kids were born, he got back into prop-making. The BIG thing was lightsabers. These were "beauty props" - belt-hangers. They didn't do anything but hang on a belt and look pretty - and Fans spent BIG $$$$ on them. (I'm used to SCA-types spending $$$; the difference is that SCA-type props tend to be, well, usable. Fandom props.....aren't). Customized light-saber hilts were a HUGE hit - we'd go to cons as a Jedi-family, and our sabers always drew lots of attention (mine was Celtic-ized. Different, but very, very eye-catching. Cute little toddler-padawans didn't hurt, either. :lol:). ST props were still popular...but Star Wars had taken off again.

His big claim was that he was basically a "one-stop shop". You want a full Jedi outfit? You got it - even down to the boots (he spent HOURS watching Phantom Menace - the fight scene between Darth Maul and Qui-Jon, freeze-framing the death scene so he could properly sketch the boots. BOOTS. The proto-type was close, but not quite good enough, but he was killed before he finished them. But, I mean - boots! That are mostly hidden by the stupid robe!) Want to be a Klingon warrior? He could do everything from the outfit to the head...thingies. (And the teeth....:lol:) Makeup? He could do that, too....

It was weird - because when we went to Cons, people didn't see "us", they saw the costumes. I never got used to that - I mean, I like playing dress-up and all, but I don't need my costumes to be movie-perfect. He did - and most Fans do, too (which is why I am a fan, not a Fan. :lol:) He was also a typical SCA-costumer - costumes were usually finished IN THE CAR on the way to the drop-off/event (I spent many car trips frantically hand-stitching hems/buttons/patches. MANY. :lol:) I didn't try to do anything difficult, but I can hand-sew pretty well, thanks to him. (That turned out to be a boon for quilting, because I can invisibly sew on appliques like no one's business! :lol:)

It was fun, and I learned a lot that I don't realize I know (for example, SG wants to do wood-turning. Well...I have a lot of "head knowledge" about that, since a lot of props required using a lathe. I can't DO it, but I can certainly give him advice...which is a really weird thing.) I know how to make molds...even if I've never done that. I know how to draft patterns - but I can NOT do that. I've seen it done enough, just like I've seen draping done....but the execution of both are beyond me. (DH1 made me a gown from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion" - one of the Italian Medici gowns. It fit perfectly - and the pattern was small. He had to draft it up.....I saw it, I know how he did it, but *I* can't do that.) I know some short-cuts, but I don't know WHEN to use them (or why.)

It's funny, because I can talk the talk, but I can't actually DO a lot of it. I mean, you'd think, listening to me, that I would be able to whip out a simple blouse with no problems...and yet the damn facings are beyond me. It's frustrating, too, because I feel like I KNOW this, and I should be able to DO it....but can't. :sigh:

Still, I wouldn't trade the past for anything. I just wish I'd had more hands-on, so that now I'd be able to do stuff. If that makes sense.
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