Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Burning Man Feather Bustle, Buttons, and Sleevelets

With an extra free day today, I spent the morning finishing up my Burning Man costume.

First up was the "bustle". I had a general idea of how I wanted this to look, so dug into building the base, which all the feathers and frills would be attached to. Using buckram and millinery wire, I made a heart shaped pad which I essentially quilted with batting and some thick fabric scraps, and backed with some faux leather. What I ended up with was a strong, solid base which I will snap and hook onto the bottom center back of the corset - that way the costume can travel easier and will last longer!

First I used millinery wire to wire a strip of lace I cut to use as a large bow. After pinning said bow in place, it was time to play with feather and fabric placement. Once I figured out how I wanted the colors of the feathers to blend and where I wanted them to lay, I heated up the trusty hot glue gun and started adhering them to the heart. All the feathers were glued down first, followed by the bow, some fabric scraps, and finally a vintage hair clip I've had forever. I finished it off with some of the same glass beaded fringe from the corset.
I think it turned out really cute! The last step, which will have to wait until I can get to a fabric store, is to sew on giant whopper poppers (the very technical name for giant snaps) to the corset and to the heart. Than, voila! A feather bustle fit for a Cigarette Girl!

Earlier this week I finished the closure on the pumpkin breeches - four cute gold buttons.

And finally, I also whipped up some cute little lace sleevelets. They're almost done, though I'm keeping my eyes open for the perfect lace to trim the hand in.

So the costume is almost complete! The last big component is the hat, which I hope to start in on soon!!

Thanks for reading and if you have any ideas or suggestions please let me know!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Burning Man Corset

Thanks to the fact that I'm technically unemployed, I have plenty of time to pursue my craftiness. And, since I just received my Burning Man ticket in the mail this week, I'm getting excited and going into planning and preparation mode.

Today's project was finishing the corset. I placed buttons down the front panels and strung beaded drapes, as well as punched grommets and laced the back.

Next, I believe I'll make some sleevelets and then either onto the bustle or cap. And I can't forget the tray! I hope to distribute gifts that are somehow adorned with the Burning Man logo, so I started looking into sticker making. That can be the next project.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Hello. I'm Shelby - a seamstress living in the Bay Area, lending her hands to Cirque, Theatre, Steampunk, Dance, and Historical costume. I've started this blog to feature projects I'm working on, materials I'm experimenting with, and finished pieces.

I have an store which I started in December. Unsure of what I wanted to focus in, I opened "La Petite Menagerie" to sell the result of any craft/sewing endeavor I was working on at the time. However, it's far too broad an outlet, and if I want to get anything done I need to focus my line into a specific idea.
I'm not there yet. Though I do know that I want to sell costumes. It's narrowing the scope of that I'm working on.

Right now I'm building corsets, circus costumes, belly dance costumes, and hats by buckram & wire construction.

I'm currently building my costume for Burning Man this Summer. With no reason to start this early other than over-zealousness, I'm finishing it quickly. It is my take on a Cigarette Girl costume, of which my desire to build I'm lending to my internship at Teatro Zinzanni, where I'm constantly working on adorable "Cocktailer" costumes and I want one for my own! It is a corseted bodice over puffy pantaloon shorts, with a feather bustle, gloves, and cap. The classic tray which I'll wear on a strap around my neck will hold the gifts I plan to give out to people I meet on the playa - matchbooks, candy, jewelry, glowsticks, other small, cheap, and lightweight things.

So far, I've spent about 12 hours on the corset, which is close to completion. It's flat lined in coutil, a strongly woven lining fabric, and fully boned using spiral steel, which my loving boyfriend generously tipped for me. The trims are a combination of ones I had on hand, and ones I purchased for this project specifically. After years of sewing, I've accumulated quite a stockpile of fabrics and notions! As for decoration, I'm not sure if I want to add three "frog" closures down the front panels because I'm afraid that will make it too busy. However, it is Burning Man after all - can there really be too much?

The shorts I made from an altered bloomers pattern out of carefully selected coordinating fabric. I love this woven blend, which I found at Discount Fabric on Ashby and San Pablo in Berkeley. It has a light sparkle from the metallic thread woven throughout it.

I'll post photos as soon as I finish more pieces of the costume.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!