Summer Small Talk

April to August has been quite a ride in the Costuming Community, but we’re not going to talk about that today. Instead, I’ll touch on standard water cooler chat–the weather, weekend plans, and…uh…walking.

I’ve written this [no longer] Birthday Month blog post a handful of times. It seemed like whenever I was ready to publish, another issue would crop up in one of the costuming sects and I’d need a week to process. I try not to write for the internet when I’m in my feelings, so it’s now a lovely Saturday in early August (and I should be at a ren faire…any ren faire). I’ve finally had a quiet few days, and I’m caffeinated enough for proofreading, video editing, and planning ahead for fall shenanigans. 

At the rate we’re going, most of the shenanigans will be virtual again. Thanks, Ascots. But at least I get to meet people from far away lands.

In May, we celebrated Black Fae Day with some super rushed outfits and glittered tea. I busted some stash, frolicked with the babies, and realized that I hadn’t cleaned my makeup brushes in quite a long time. I was reminded of how much I do not like [self-imposed] Con Crunch even though I have some of my best ideas while I’m sleep-deprived. My social media feeds were filled with beautiful, fantastical interpretations of the theme, and there was an outpouring of love and shares from the general costuming community. Following that up with a boost, Enchanted Asian Day happened in the month following, and once again, my feed was graced with magic and wonder. I fully support new internet holidays, so keep ‘em coming. In the fray, I realized just how much of my fabric stash consists of pieces too small for “real” projects, too modern for historically inspired projects, and too hard to work with for any project, which is why it’s still just sitting on the shelf tempting the carpet bugs. I have always trusted in my stash, so I won’t do a cull this year, I’m just speaking my truth and hoping for another good stash busting costume to come along and make some more space.

We’re at the point where making clothes for the kids takes actual skill.

My 1790s Princess Tiana project has been stalled pretty much since it started. I’d been counting on having the refurbished embroidery machine in my hands months ago. The shop never sent me the promised update, and I am not a deal chaser. If the machine needs that much work and they’re too busy or held up by shipping delays to respond, then I’m too busy (and spitefully Cancer) to give them my attention at this time. But I also won’t travel to a big name store to buy a brand new machine, since I have a number of words about the sewing industry and it’s incomprehensible code of secrecy. I can continue to leave the big embroidery pieces on hold for now, while I rework the smaller motifs in the digitizing software. With a few good hours, I should be able to fire up my little Brother embroidery machine this week. The same goes for Regency Sailor Mercury, though that digitizing should require half as much effort and thread. 

I keep saying that I’m going back to my beloved 16th century, but there is little evidence of that claim.

I put some more stitches into the generic renaissance shirt that I started last year. This experiment was supposed to be a camicia for my next Lady Poppy outfit, which has no real timeline so it’s nice to have one simmering project when I need a brain break. I cut some linen from my Fabrics-Store bolt and referenced Patterns of Fashion 4 for the pieces. My primary goal was to hand embroider the seams and a decorative neckline, so the actual construction was done by machine. I ordered a crapton of embroidery floss in colors with which I could create a lovely floral array above my bust. Too bad I’m easily distracted and not entirely sure that I added enough panels to the piece…. Honestly, I just like having pick-up hand sewing nearby, and when I’m watching horror movies with Hench Hubby, putting my eyes to my stitching is way cooler than hiding under my Blanket of Protection +1. Now that the Margo Anderson gamurra pattern has arrived and the cioppa is on the way, I might fast track the Lady Poppy ensemble. My mid-Tudor kirtle is sitting in a sad pile of questionable shapes on the sewing table, but I’m afraid to declare it as this month’s UFO project, so…yeah. Hawkgirl may not see the light of day at this point either, but TudorCon is still on the calendar for October and I have no idea what’s in my rennie wardrobe anymore.

Medieval Princess Zelda is still on the rack awaiting her turn in the embroidery queue.

Since we all know that I’m not going to get through this update without whispering some thoughts about recent events, I’ll get it out now, and hope that those of you without any context or ponies in this race will just glaze over and skip to the end. Please. If it doesn’t concern you, I invite you to scroll down to the next picture. 

My birthday chemise gown was started with the intention of blending some costuming trends in the summer make-train. All I wanted to do was send Lady Dimitrescu back in time, the way my mash-up brain saw her. However, the “CW Incident” invaded my studio and pushed me down a different, but arguably better path. With the privilege of time and internet access, anyone can be an independent researcher. Paywalls still exist, but there are untold avenues with a library card, the correct search terms, and a translator app. If I can find and review for context information on the cotton industry in the 18th century and its ecological, political, and socio-economic impact, Y’all can take a minute to review the CW calendar months before a monumental frak-up. I’m not going to address the plantation dress-up aspect of this situation because I keep rolling back to the Disney-Historybounding links and I just can’t untangle them. I appreciate the outrage by people just now learning historical facts, and I fully encourage “see something, say something”. That said, please make sure that you’re fighting for the right piece of the outrage puzzle, and you’re not just protecting yourself from actual allyship. Next, I had a great time at BlerDCon. Full stop. I shopped, hung out, ate well, communicated with humans in a face-to-face manner for the first time in 18 months, and had a really comfy couple of nights rest. We’ve been attending the con since Year One and have no intentions to stop that streak. This year felt different (not bad, just not the same) in both the scope and the crowd. [Thanks, 2020.] But by the time I checked social media on Monday, the community follow-up to some very specific issues was entirely out of control and generally disgusting. Again, I had a great time–elevator waits included, so seeing people bash and try to cancel the only convention where i’m not called “Black [Character]”…it’s hurtful. Express your dissent in a survey. Publish a YouTube video and provide your receipts along with your feelings. Line up your suggestions for improvement and email that to every single departmental email address on the website. Don’t start a train on a FB post spreading rumors and talking sugar about a con you didn’t attend and have no plans to support. Do you keyboard rant at any other con owners to step down? Are you that person who screams at prop check volunteers because the zip ties will show in your photos? Did you say,”Screw the rules” and walk around without a mask claiming that the public spaces in the hotel aren’t all con areas? If so, you are the problem. This five year old convention is not perfect. Neither is Baltimore Comic Con. Neither is Dragon Con. Neither is [insert your local library] Con. Neither are any of the Wizard World / ReedPop cons, so why is it so difficult to help the convention work through its growing pains without calling for an earth-salting end? If my comments section ever got half as bad as The Con Chair’s first response video, I would have deleted it too. I go to BlerDCon to relax in costume with cool people while being introduced to and supporting black nerd talent. There are missteps and, yes, levels of disregard that can not and should not be ignored in the next planning meeting. But nothing will improve through all of the literal shouting. Sign-up to volunteer in 2022 and BE THE CHANGE. 

Thank you for coming to my debriefing.

Some exciting developments this quarter included purchases for some WIPs, shoes, stays, kits, and books. I did a couple of backyard photo shoots–mostly for one-off IG posts or YouTube bits, so don’t judge me. I finished the first part of Regency Sailor Mercury, a pillowcase Tudor petticoat, that chemise gown for reaching Level 41, a Victorian bathing corset, Squidsmith for Blerdcon, and my first short sacque or pet en l’air with a new petticoat. I also randomly ordered some USB lights to supplement my ring light, and used it for a quick IG live with SheProp. We chatted about last year’s Georgian Princess Allura and geeked out about historically inspired cosplay. 

In a meandering glance toward the future, I frequently get the suggestion to share my work in groups, compete, and take on commissions, but I very rarely comply. I’m hugely uncomfortable with self-promotion, don’t like asking questions that I can research, and am not motivated by accolades or even money. I’m busy enough with my nuclear family model and a soul-draining 9-to-5 that pays me in actual dolla-dolla bills. However, I do believe in positive exposure for overlooked groups. Sometimes, you just need to be a checked box, and in the “traditional” view, I am an old, fat, black, geeky wife and mom, so I check a number of boxes. You don’t have to like it, and the position is not for everyone. I love myself and am essentially dead to those feelings of indignation, so I’m planning for my first “real” competition piece in many, many years. It would be nice to revisit competition now that I have considerably more in my arsenal than when I started this hobby decades ago. There are no firm plans yet, but I’ll provide updates as they develop.  When you’ve convinced yourself that you’re “doing it for the culture” because there isn’t enough visibility, you take that opportunity and do your very best to put forward your face–desirable to The Community or not. 

This may not be the face that everyone wants to see, but they WILL see it. I still don’t plan on taking commissions though, cuz…ew.

And finally, on the docket for this weekend, I’ve smushed over 12 hours of footage into two slightly smaller chunks to cover my recent 18th century pet en l’air project (7 minutes and 1 hour). It was slated as my July project, but then BlerDCon happened and I just barely eeked it out in time for a super fun photoshoot with Dames a la Mode. If you’ve made it this far, watched the videos, and still want something closer to an explanation for any part of any project, I am happy to throw together content for you. You specifically. I’m not joking. One IG follower requested an 18th century hair video, so that’s next weekend’s recording task. This hobby has given me so much, mostly in the form of artistic expression, and I will do whatever it takes, however small, to encourage others to gain the same. Today, I’m also editing a dance video for the appropriately named “Hafla Con” where we perform belly dance routines as comic book, video game, and pop culture characters. It’s basically my favorite thing ever. If I decide to release that video, I’ll provide the link here on the blog the next time around.  

I’ll wrap up with a simple note: We don’t all have to be going somewhere. We can just wade in the pool, sipping mocktails while trying to avoid the splashing and sunburn. Don’t be an ascot. I love you.

Author: SciFiCheerGirl

Hobby costumer, wife, and mom with a dancey-dance problem and a hankerin' for moar books

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