2015 Holiday

Holiday Story: Halloween Party Snafu Lends Itself to Ghosts From Xmas Past Narrative

The fall of 2015 was the year I thought I’d finally use that black and white stripe fabric that had been haunting me to do something delightful with. It leant itself to a small corselet, which I would use over a black net skirt with a top hat a la New Orleans. For a Halloween party that is. (For notes and thoughts on cultural appropriation, see 2014 Holiday post.)

Alas, the night before I thought the Halloween party was scheduled, I discovered it was going down that evening. I don’t know about you, but the idea of making myself up fully after an evening’s work was not enticing, especially on a Friday, so I lived that weekend in a state of cancellation.

Then I thought, I need an idea for this year’s Xmas card. And why not? So the ghosts of Xmas past idea was born.

The ghost of Xmas past is a character from Dickens, and if you haven’t seen or heard of the Scrooge mythology, then you have kind of missed a major part of Christmas culture.

Anyhoo, it was such a great costume, and one shouldn’t let good inspiration go to waste.

The Build

Corselet & Skirt

There comes a time in every costumier’s life when they must build a corset. I’ve made more than a few. But this one was for me!! And not a traditional corset (I don’t quite do the traditional, if you haven’t noticed), but rather a corselet.

Flat patterning pieces for corselet. Typically, you do a corset in a series of pieces that can achieve the ultimate fit, hugging the body and extremely customizable.

I drew up the pattern based off of my measurements. This is called flat patterning (for the uninitiated).

Mockup of the corselet.

I used a heavy cotton for the mockup (or, in the parlance of french haute couture houses, a toile), also planning to use the same fabric, if possible for the lining.

Clockwise from left, bolt cutter, to cut off the steel bones; bones of sizes that I needed, cut and tipped with a rubber type fluid so they don’t scratch you; and the dremel tool you need to sand down and curve the steel boning ends.

Then comes the best part! Fun with (mini) power tools! It’s always a good time to purchase a dremel tool at the home improvement store and when the cashier asks what you need it for, you say, to grind the ends of my [corselet] bones. 😀

Grommeting fun. You can see where the bone casing is right on the edge where the two corselet fronts meet.
Fit looks pretty good!
Tulle skirt

I made up a tulle skirt for the bottom half.

Hat and Makeup

At left the makeup, based on skull makeup, but with some definite sugar skull references. At right the hat. I wish I had tried setting my makeup with powder or using a primer underneath. At this date, primer, to go under makeup, did not actually yet exist.

My makeup was based on pictures of skull makeup I found online. I did do some lines that were definitely inspired by the sugar skull makeup from Day of the Dead celebrations. The hat at right I sewed a feather and ribbon on. Easiest part of the whole process!

The Photoshoot

Set Up

The set up: a photo background of white paper, my props, and lights all set up and ready to go. Notice the faux ruby embedded crucifix at the top of the tree.

I brought over my light kit that I had been storing elsewhere. I also included my small Christmas tree! Had to lend an air of merry somewhere!!

Two untouched photos from the original shoot with Phe

This year Phe was a member of our family. I managed to get, after several rounds of treat bribes, some photos with Phe. I tried to tie a collar of gathered net around her neck, but that wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. At least you get to see her white tummy!

Untouched photos with the Amp. Lighting needs help!
Alas, the shelves didn’t stretch quite as far as the paper. I also think I’ve really got too many props going on here, even though I love all the ideas. I needed my Tim Gunn editing eye.

Photos also achieved after multiple bribes.

Covers 3

Portrait size covers for two version of the card.

And I couldn’t decide which version I preferred. I bought the background somewhere online. I might have purchased the frame or lifted it from somewhere as well. Who can remember now!

Cover version #3, cause apparently I thought this photo of Amp and I too cute for school.

Inside Stories

The stories inside were all the same, just arranged differently.

The Back

Again, all three cards were riffs on this one for the landscape style card.

Let this be a lesson to us, that creativity is just ideas remixed and re-imagined and applicable to almost anything.