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!


  1. Wow. Your craftsmanship is supurb. I have some vintage African fabric. Maybe I can commission something??

  2. wonderful eye for colors & texture! Can't wait to see the completed project!

  3. Miss Shelby Welby Woo:

    What a long way you have come....from the outfits you made for your 4H chickens.
    Lots of love