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By Elizabeth

V2858-6I have this pattern, Vintage Vogue 2858, that I love and has been sitting in my pattern drawer since it went out of print.  Like, oh, 2008?  It is beautiful, but so far remains unused.

It shall be unused no more!  I have 3.5 yards of gorgeous red velvet with which to make the long, evening version.  It shall be decorated with gold braid, the skirt lined in a gold fabric, and I will acquire red opera-length gloves and red and gold shoes.

Do you see where I’m going with this dress?  I hope you do because it’s part one of three for my next big art project.  There will be sunbursts and LEDs and a truly amazing 40s hat.

San Jose Short Film Festival

By Elizabeth

I love film festivals and I love short films. The San Jose Short Film Festival is two good things that are great together.

An international festival, the SJSFF has pulled nearly eighty world class films. The festival will run October 18th through the 21st at the CineArts theater Santana Row.

Clues from behind the scenes, you really must see “Asad” from Somalia.

Sixth Doctor coat, premiered at Dragon*con 2012

By Elizabeth

One of the benefits of doing a less well-known Doctor is that you are not one of a sea of Nines, Tens, or Elevens.

Downside is that fewer people recognize your costume. 🙁

But the people who do get super excited about it. 😀




Tenth Doctor suit: it sounded like a good idea at the time.

By Elizabeth

Ask any Doctor Who cosplayer and they will go on and on about how hard it is to find the Tenth Doctor’s trademark suit fabric.  Dark brown with tealy-blue pinstripe, the outfit was originally based off a pair of Gap pants the costumer thought were perfect and had matching fabric commissioned.  Needless to say, finding appropriate fabric from which to sew your perfect Ten suit without scouring eBay for months for every single pair of those Gap pants you can find and then carefully cutting your jacket from them is difficult.  For a while Joanns had a linen blend that was, while not perfect, a passable potting soil brown with turquoise stripe. People set up charts and maps of stores that still had the fabric in stock.  It is long since gone.

In a theme for my life, I don’t remember how or why it came up, but at some point I offered to make a friend of mine a Ten suit if I ever found appropriate fabric.  Possibly because I like dressing up, didn’t want to alone, pestered her until she agreed, and a female version of Ten was something she would accept doing as it was neither too obvious nor too weird.  A suit is a suit and it could be worn as workplace wear with the added benefit of stealth geekery.

Finding the fabric was a big if though, so I didn’t expect too much of it.  There are places that offer accurate reproductions of the fabric, right down to dye color, stripe width, and fiber content and weave.  They’re about $60 a yard.  Costuming can be a serious hobby.  I wasn’t going to go that far.

Some time last December, I was in Britex Fabrics (oh frabjous day!) for something with the idea in the back of my head that I would keep an eye out for brown fabric with thin blue stripes.  I wasn’t expecting much.  Ha.  I was wandering through the third floor when I turned around and there it was.  Brown suiting fabric with blue pinstripes.  It’s not a perfect match for the original.  It’s not cotton sateen, the stripes are much thinner, woven rather than printed, in a different pattern and width, and the colors are a bit different.  The brown is darker and the blue has a bit more green.

I didn’t care.  I called her, thankful that she picked up in spite of being at work, and excitedly announced that I found It.  I had found Ten fabric.  I needed her permission to buy, on the agreement that she would pay me back, and was granted it.  I purchased four and a half yards.

The fabric I found is really, really classy.  It has a beautiful drape and I love the stripe pattern.  It’s much more suit-like.  Besides, I wasn’t going for a screen-accurate reproduction.  I was doing an interpretation.  This was going to be a woman’s suit, not a man’s suit for a woman.  Genderswap, not crossplay.

It took a while to chose a pattern to use, partly because I am picky and partly because my friend was no help.  I was making her a Ten!suit, that was more than enough to make her happy; opinions on style and cut and the like were not forthcoming.  I eventually remembered that I had a Simplicity pattern of a retro 1940s woman’s suit that had all the details I wanted.  It had vertical princess seams, rounded rather than pointed lapels, a neater fit, and two-piece sleeves.  I suggested that pattern to her and then the opinion came in: that it was PERFECT.

Thus, an epic costume was begun.  I even have enough fabric to make a matching fedora.  😀

Femme!Sixth Doctor: the birth of insanity

By Elizabeth

Perhaps one of the most memorable looks of Classic Doctor Who is the Sixth Doctor’s striking frock coat ensemble.  Described as “an explosion in a rainbow factory”, the coat is an eyesore of vivid colors, mis-matched prints, unrelated textures, and unusual layout.  Combined with yellow and black striped trousers, equally bright vests, red spats, and a rainbow umbrella, it’s a garish visual representation of the Sixth Doctor’s chaotic and unstable nature.

It’s precisely why I love it.

This year, through a series of whirlwind events, I’m part of a themed cosplay group for Dragon*con.  We’re doing genderswapped Doctor Who.  Eleven female Doctors and a handful of male Companions.  Let the double takes, the commentary, the hilarity begin.  I had already promised a friend that I would make her a Tenth Doctor suit (see related post) so that was that locked in.  I had originally planned to make myself Donna’s lovely purple dress from “The Fires of Pompeii” to coordinate, but when the massive genderswap!Who project began, it didn’t take much persuasion to convince me to leave that for another time.

I, of course, placed dibs on Six.

How, thought I, could I do an interpretation of the Sixth Doctor’s look that was female but not too difficult to create?  (I have seen the Sixth Doctor’s outfit done as an 18th century court gown complete with pocket panniers.  I <3 cosplayers.)

I don’t remember how or when the idea came to me, but soon after I was designing, of all things, a lolita-eque version of Six.  Ruffles!  Poofy skirt!  Not the most original, but fun.  I would be the eyesore you wanted to hug.  Or run away from.  Either works.

Then I began to search for the right fabrics.  And searched.  And searched.

“Sal” (Salt)

By Elizabeth

Meet Sergio.  Sergio is an aspiring writer/director whose Western script “Sal” (Salt) has been turned down by every producer he meets.  There’s no story, they say.  It is clear that nothing has ever happened to you, Sergio, they tell him.  It reads like you have never been to the (?) desert, Sergio.  So, in an attempt to get a better feel for the place and hoping that the change of location will help him infuse some soul into his script, Sergio flies out to Chile.

The last thing he expected was to be mistaken for the local hero, Diego.

Only, not everyone is thrilled to see “Diego” again.  Victor, the man Diego had an altercation with before leaving, is especially displeased.

What follows is Sergio’s continuing embroilment with the locals’ problems as well as his unwilling descent into being Sergio.

There’s a particular bit I like where Sergio/Diego is treking barefoot through the desert and instead of having the actor pant or moan about how thirsty he is, water water water, or any of those clichés, the filmmakers have instead opted to use sound to get their point across.  As Sergio shuffles through the sand, each of his footsteps is replaced with the sound of sloshing water.

Winter’s Bone

By Elizabeth

One of the joys of independent films is how they can tell regional stories.

Winter’s Bone is an example of pitch-perfect independent filmmaking that is steeped in the region of its story.  Set not so much as against the backdrop of the Ozarks as

and filmed in the rural Ozarks of Missouri, teenager Ree Dolly is searching for her father in order to save the family homestead.  Mr. Dolly had placed the house as collateral for his bail and now a few days before his trial, looks to be skipping town.

San Jose Short Film Festival Pt1

By Elizabeth

The San Jose Short Film Festival (Dec 9, 11, 12) completed its second year with a stunning array of high-quality short films from around the world.  Shown in downtown San Jose at the Camera 3 theater, it was a small but vibrant festival celebrating short films under fifteen minutes long.

“Blueberry” (dir. Matthew Sanger) is a twelve-minute short from the United Kingdom that will steal your heart with its innocent charm while having you on the edge of your seat with building suspense.  Starring Harley Bird as Daisy, a small girl for whom the world is forever wonderful.  Convinced that mummy has simply gone on holiday (without either her or her father and with her uncle) and that daddy (Jay Simpson) has the sniffles and an eye infection (that he treats with “medicine”), Daisy falls in love with an enormous python in the pet shop and takes it, the eponymous Blueberry, home.  Soon Blueberry becomes the focus of Daisy’s play and attention, but there is something not quite right with the snake…

“Los Gritones” (“The Screamers”) (dir. Roberto Perex Toledo) is a short film from Spain that reminds you that good stories can be told in very little time.  The shortest film it the festival with a running time just under two minutes, including the title and credits, Los Gritones allows you to share a moment of revelation with a couple as they yell into an urban void.

Taking Woodstock

By Elizabeth

Ang Lee’s Ode to 1969

Taking Woodstock is not a concert film.  Let’s get that out of the way first.  If you’re looking to see footage of Janis Joplin or hear the strains of Jimi Hendrix, this is not the movie for you.

The use of what looks like archival footage is lovely touch as is the now-dated look of split-screen action.  In most films they wouldn’t work, but in a film about an era in which they were originally used, it would be out of place not to use the techniques.

The film is rosy-tinted in its view.  Though it hints at a darker side with police raids on gay clubs and angry neighbors painting swastikas, it remains a brightly-colored world of love and hope and joy.

I can see why Mr. Lee wanted to make this film; as he said, after six tragedies in a row, he wanted to do a comedy.  This light, effervescent film is a love song to bright new beginnings and to what might be.

The American

By Elizabeth

The American, directed by Anton Corbijn and starring George Clooney is a moody little gem of a film about an assassin Jack (Clooney) on what his to be his last assignment: to build a custom rifle for the woman Mathilde while hiding away in  a small mountain town in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

It is a thriller light on the thrills, but heavy on atmosphere.  The film is beautifully shot and while the dialogue is sparse, it adds exactly what it needs to the story and no more.  And when the wrong person says the wrong words, it all goes downhill from there.

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