Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pride and Prejudice... and zombies | 2015 Halloween Costume

I should probably start this post by saying this disclaimer: to be honest I don't really like any of Jane Austen's books, or any regency literature for that matter (shock!), BUT I do love zombies and historical clothing! My Halloween costume was originally going to be a pin up zombie, but when I saw the trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I just knew I just had to go as a regency zombie. I also wanted to carry on the theme of using historical dress projects in my costumes, as last year I went as a French Revolution Guillotine victim and a Victorian vampire. 

The Dress

I've never sewn anything remotely related to the regency era, and I wasn't about to do a really historically accurate project as I knew it would be covered in fake blood that potentially might not wash out. I also didn't want to spend a lot of time fiddling around with scaling up a pattern from Janet Arnold, so I decided to buy Simplicity 4055 as it looked the most period accurate out of all the commercial pattern brands out there and fairly simple (and fast) to put together.

I bought a light grey poplin to make the gown. I chose this for two main reasons: it resembles a light cotton (like muslin) which was a popular fabric choice at the time, and because poplin is a poly-cotton blend I thought that the less natural fibres the less likely the fake blood would stain. I also bought some aged linen looking ribbon to embellish the dress and add to the overall historical undead effect.

The dress went together really easily and the pattern is easy to follow. However, I realised after I finished the dress that because I made view A's skirt from the underskirt pattern pieces (as I didn't want a top skirt overlay), it does not have the pleating at the back that dresses from this period usually had. Doh! Oh well, if I ever do make this again I'll make sure to include it.

The Special Effects Makeup

Of course no zombie costume is complete without some gory special effects makeup. For the makeup I used a combination of different products, mainly: Mehron's Extra Flesh to create the wounds, Mehron's congealed blood as well as some other cheap stage blood, Ben Nye's amazing Bruise and Abrasion wheel, Graftobian's creme foundation in the shade Buff to pale myself down. For contouring I used a taupe-grey shade of eye shadow from MAC called Copperplate, and for the dead looking colour around my eyes I used some brown, burgundy and purple shades from a cheap coastal scents blush palette that I've had for a few years.

I also put one white colour contact lense in my left eye to give a creepy effect (and also because I hate putting in contacts so I didn't want to have to bother with doing both eyes!) I did actually make and wear some fake teeth out of a playdough mold into which I poured liquid latex, to look like my cheek had ripped open exposing the teeth inside. However, after I did my makeup I realised that it didn't actually look like teeth anyway, and I'm not sure whether I didn't use enough latex to adhere it or the movement of my cheeks slowly disturbed it, but it came off half way through the night. But that's okay because it left a pretty disgusting looking flap of skin which actually looked better.

Rather than taking pictures and going through the process I actually decided to film it in time lapse which turned out pretty great. This is an hour or so worth of footage, condensed into a minute. Tell me what's scarier, the start without makeup or the end zombie!

The Regency Hairstyle

For the hair, I decided to channel Elizabeth Bennett from the BBCs production of Pride and Prejudice.


It was pretty simply. On three day old hair (I'm a zombie so it didn't matter if it was a bit dirty) I just parted my hair down the middle and rolled my hair into hotsticks, making sure I sectioned off the curls I wanted at the front of my face. I wanted it to be kinda messy and not perfect, as zombies aren't really known for their perfect 'dos. After I had finished my makeup I removed the hotsticks, took the a small part of hair near the nape of my neck and did two plaits. Then I pulled the rest of the back section of my hair into a high pony tail and bobby pinned the curls into a messy bun at the back. Then I took the plaits and wrapped them around the bun. I let the front curls hang exactly as they'd come out of the hotsticks. To finish I hair-sprayed everything into place.

The Finished Look

Once the my dress was on, this was the finished costume!

And what good is a zombie costume without a brain prop?

I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween! Oh, and yes, the fake blood did wash off - so I'll be able to wear this costume again, hoorah!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Late 1950s/early 1960s Gathered Skirt using Vintage Butterick 2294

One of Australia's biggest fabric stores, Spotlight, recently had a 40% off sale. So like any keen seamstress I made a date to take myself over to the one nearest to where I live. When I was there I found this amazing retro printed mid-weight cotton drill fabric that just screamed at me to make something out of it.

Amazing kitschy 1950s Mexico Travel Advertisements Fabric Print

Coincidentally, I also recently acquired about 40 vintage sewing patterns from the 1950s and 1960s off a friend whose Grandmother was a keen sewer. So I sifted through the bag I'd been given and found the perfect vintage pattern: Butterick 2294.

I'm not sure exactly when the pattern was printed as there is no date on the package but judging from the hairstyle of the model on the front of the envelope, I'd place it from the very early 1960s.

This pattern is super simple - all that is required is three rectangular pieces of fabric that are gathered into the waistband. I made view B. The pattern was slightly too small for me so I adjusted the waistband by a few inches but didn't bother enlarging the rectangles themselves. As my body shape is quite rectangular (not a mid-20th century hourglass) the less bulk in the gathered waistline the better.

Finished skirt with a petticoat underneath

It only took me one afternoon on a weekend - probably about 4 hours altogether. Overall I'm super pleased with it and I've got lots of comments when I've worn it. I'll definitely be making this pattern again with some other fabric I bought in the sale!