Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your sewing tip!

Avoid sewing over pins.

I know it seems like it’ll be faster if you sew first and remove the pins later, but you risk hitting one of the with the needle. This can nick or bend your needle or, worst of all, cause it to break and perhaps fling a tiny shard of sharp metal at your face. (you are wearing your safety goggles, right?). It’s especially tempting if you’re one of those people, like me, who inserts the pins perpendicular to the seam line.

If the fabric is so slithery or bulky or otherwise badly behaved that removing the pins as you go makes things go awry, consider hand basting with the pins in place and then removing them as you sew on the machine. It’ll be extra secure!

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

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Published in: on 20 July 2018 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Continuing with my costuming theme for July, this week’s tip is about keeping your sewing machine in good shape.

Keep your presser foot down when your sewing machine is not in use and keep a scrap of fabric between the presser foot and the throat plate.

There are a couple of reasons for doing this. Keeping the presser foot down relieves pressure on the spring that raises and lowers it. Also the presser foot lever can’t get knocked down (say, by a curious pet wandering around your work table) so that the foot suddenly drops onto the feed dogs. The scrap fabric is to provide a little cushioning so you don’t have metal resting on metal. It’s also a good idea to lower the needle into the fabric, especially if you are transporting your machine. This protects the needle and also lowers the feed dogs.

That’s my machine in the picture and the scrap is from when the repair shop tested the stitch disks the last time I had the machine serviced.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 13 July 2018 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It has been beastly hot in Boston. My atelier, where my writing desk is, has no air conditioning, which is why there have been no missives this week. However, I would never neglect your tip. July is sewing month at The Manor, and so the tips will be on topic as well.

Press your seams.

For really great seams, press on the wrong side, then flip the item over and press on the right side. It’s absolutely vital that you press the heck out of multi-part seams, like French or flat-felled. Press each seam after you sew it, rather than saving them all for the end. I know all this pressing seems like a hassle, but it will make a huge difference for your garment. Your iron is your friend.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 6 July 2018 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope I’m going to see you tonight at Burlesque Roadshow.

Your tip this week is in honor of Jo Weldon’s new book Fierce: The History of Leopard Print:
Leopard print is a neutral — it goes with everything!

It can be an accessory…

…or the complete outfit.

No matter what you’re wearing, leopard print won’t clash!

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 29 June 2018 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! And a very happy birthday to Emporium 32! 10 years of being purveyors of cool stuff you didn’t realize you needed, but you really do. I’ll be at their party this evening. Will you?

This is my 350th tip! Here we go:
Take something from your stash of unfinished costume projects… and finish it!

We all have that pile of projects that we’ve been meaning to complete, called by some UFOs (UnFinished Objects). My advice for you this week is to go through that pile, find one thing and do whatever you need to finish it. Really evaluate what’s in the unfinished collection and figure out what you need to do to finish everything. Then pick one thing and concentrate on that. It’s possible there are some lost causes and you should recycle the materials into another project.

Just think how good you’ll feel when that pile gets smaller and your wardrobe is larger!

***
Help a traveling showgirl out! I’m going to Canada in August and it’s made a big dent in my rhinestone fund, Buy a book! Book me to perform or teach! Become a Patron! I’m going to come up with a Special Something for everyone who supports me on Patreon between now and August 17th. Stay tuned to learn what it is…
***

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 22 June 2018 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Before I get to your tip I just want to mention that The Boston BeauTease are performing on June 29th at Down the Road Beer Co. in Everett, MA.
image
It’s the first time they’ve had burlesque at this venue and we’d like to make a good impression. We’re bringing all our favorite booze-themed acts and some brand-new ones. You can get your tickets here.

And now, here’s your tip!

Listen, really listen.

Too often we hear what someone else is saying without actually listening to them. Someone once said that to have a good argument you need to speak like you’re right, but listen like you’re wrong. I rather like that. I think there would be less strife and misunderstandings if we just listened to one another.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 15 June 2018 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I usually try to phrase my tips so that they are positive advice (“do”) rather than negative (“don’t”), but I just couldn’t figure out how to do so with this one. Here’s it is!

Don’t change your clothes in the bathroom.

This simple statement actually covers two situations.

Often at studios, gyms, and the like, where a locker room or changing area is provided, some women will choose to lock themselves in the bathroom to change their clothes. It’s selfish, rude, and annoys those waiting to use the bathroom for its designated purpose. Just don’t.

If a performance venue expects you to use a public bathroom as your dressing room, reconsider working there. As a performer, you need a clean, private, secure space. A public restroom is none of those things. Just don’t.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 8 June 2018 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Much of the burlesque world is in Las Vegas at the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend. I, myself, am at home, as usual. I will probably, also as usual, watch Exotic Word and the Burlesque Revival (and probably get weepy). By the way, the persistent rumor that I have never been to BHoF is completely untrue, as you can see from the photographic evidence.

If you are at BHoF, enjoy! If you are competing, best of luck! Big congratulations to the Legend of the Year, Kitten Natividad!

Here is your tip:
Look at festivals and similar events as marathons, not sprints.

Conserve your energy. You’re going to be busy and “on” all weekend. And don’t forget to drink lots of water and to alternate alcohol with water. Also, wear sunscreen. And, of course, make a little time for yourself.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 1 June 2018 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stripper’s Holiday: The Work

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve been writing about my time at Stripper’s Holiday. It was such an inspiring and humbling experience and it’s been taking me a long time to find the right words. You can read about it here and here.

This is why we were all here: the work. For three days we spent four hours a day in the studio. We started two of the sessions with a killer warm up. I was grateful for my personal workout ethic so it didn’t actually kill me, because that was just the start of the session. We also worked on technique and choreography. On the last day we were treated to Michelle’s Pussy Confidence and Sensual Movement classes.

One of the things we talked about in the Pussy Confidence class was vulnerability and how vulnerability is strength. So, here’s some vulnerability. This stuff was really hard for me. I don’t pick up choreography quickly. I just don’t have a 5-6-7-8 brain and it’s hard for me to hear the beats of the music sometimes. I learn choreography by incessant drilling and really burning it into muscle memory. But like I kept telling myself, if this was easy, I wouldn’t need to be there. It was good for me to move *way* outside my comfort zone, but it certainly was frustrating. I wanted to work on refining details, but I needed to absorb the foundations first.

Here we all are after the first day:

Photo by One Chance Fancy.

Before I get to the centerpiece of the studio work, I want to mention a couple of related things we did at the house. One night after dinner we had “Idea Day” (I guess really “Idea Night”) where everyone went around the table and would share an idea they had for an act, usually just one element, like a song or a concept, and would get thoughts and feedback for a direction to go in. I was a complete blank and then I remembered my Hedy Jo Star peacock costume, which deserves to be back on stage. I’ve got some good ideas now; we shall see if they come to fruition. Also, if Scratch is willing to build some set pieces…

Also, before we went into the studio on the last day, Franky ran a meditation on beauty, which was also about imperfection. It was lovely and very pertinent to our work. We were supposed to consider a work of art and the first one that popped into my head was a Hellenistic statuette dancer, which I’ve loved for a long time. Kind of appropriate in many ways.

Back to the studio now…

Everyone brought an act on which they wanted to work. During the first two days we each presented our act and got feedback. On the last day we all presented again, showing how we incorporated the suggestions (a couple showed different acts instead). I was in the first group to present. I was nervous, but glad to get it over with early. I brought my newest act, which had just debuted in December (photo by George Ross of me performing it at The Expo). I thought it was pretty solid, but needed some oomph. After I showed it, Michelle made some very good suggestions, but I felt like I had to burn the whole thing down and start all over. The element I was using as a hook to hang the whole act on had to go.

When I got back to the house, I made an alteration to one of my costume pieces and played with it a little. After studio time the next day, I brought the whole act down into the home theatre room and ran it again and again, trying out Michelle’s suggestions and working on some stuff for the weaker parts. I realized I didn’t have to burn it down after all. A lot of the structure could stay as it was; it was the details that needed to change.

I filmed my last run, as best I could with my tablet, and sent it off to Scratch, because I was filled with self-doubt. He didn’t give me any feedback, just told me to be true to myself, since I was the one who was going to have to perform it. And reminded me that I was good at this and to have faith in myself. That bolstered my confidence a bit (and maybe made me cry a little). Still, I was up early the next morning, working on it again.

On the last day we all presented our acts again. I know this was more nerve-wracking for some than the first time, because there were a couple of camera people there for a project of Michelle’s (no, you’re not going to see the footage). Once I started performing I just tuned them out — I was nervous for all sorts of other reasons! Michelle had lots of praise and more suggestions. I felt a lot better, but knew it wasn’t there yet. Parts were stronger, but I still had holes to fill. I’m still working on it, in fact.

On our very last morning, Michelle gave everyone handwritten cards. It was a sweet touch and made the whole time even more special. This is a treasure I’ll return to when I need encouragement.

On the whole, this was an incredibly challenging time, but challenge is a good thing. I learned a lot on many levels. I got to see a dozen other performers with very different styles (which was an amazing experience) and see them also be vulnerable and put their work out there to be critiqued. Hearing the feedback they received also gave me new ideas and insights. I know that other people were nervous and insecure, which gave me comfort that I wasn’t alone.

I’ve admired Michelle for such a long time and working with her on such a personal level was intimidating to be sure, but also kind of liberating. She’s a very honest person, which I think encouraged honesty in others. The experience was very intense, with a lot crammed into 3-plus days, physically and emotionally. I’m still fumbling for words, but I promised myself I’d send this out today no matter what, so these words will have to do.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 31 May 2018 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip:

Leave the drama on the stage.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 25 May 2018 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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