Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’m at the ABurlyQ! Burlesque & Sideshow Spectaculár, but I would not forget your tip. I can’t believe I never shared this one before, but apparently not…

Attach a tassel or other decorative item to your zipper pull to make it easier to grab.

At the right you can see Devora Darling illustrating this tip (see it up close and personal at Cover Girls tonight in Salem and tomorrow in Dover, NH). Of course, it doesn’t have to be a tassel; you could use ribbon, trim, bits of jewelry. you’re just trying to make it easy to find by touch.

The other advantage to this is that you are extending the zipper pull, like those extra-long pull-cords on overhead lights for us short people. You won’t have to reach up awkwardly high to pull down the zipper — a boon for dresses with a high back.

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 18 August 2017 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! This is my 300th tip!

Plan to decorate your costumes in stages.

We often don’t have the time or the money to realize our costume dream all at once. If you plan out how you are going to decorate in phases, you end up with a coherent design that looks good at any time. Create an over-all plan, which you can break down into stages.

For example, you’ll start with a spattering of rhinestones on the cups of a bra, but you’ll place them so you can add additional stones in other colors and sizes later. Next time, you’ll add some fringe, which is easy because you made sure to keep the fringe area clear of rhinestones in your first phase. Then, some more rhinestones, which integrate into the ultimate rhinestone pattern. Later, some swags of beads. More rhinestones. &c ad infinitum.

The bra to the right, isn’t the best example of this, but it’s the one I had to hand. And I know how much you love pictures. I think it took 3 decorating sessions, with performing in between, to get to this point. Betty is really terrific at this form of incremental decorating.

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 7 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 21 July 2017 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip:

When working with slippery, slithery, or otherwise difficult fabrics, baste them in place first.

Yes, it takes extra time and thread, but you’ll thank me later. I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.

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 12 May 2017 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’ve been working on a new costume piece for The Big Time and that reminded me of this tip:

Canned food makes great pattern weights.

I like to use short cans, like tuna (I always get the kind with the mermaid!), pineapple, or water chestnuts.

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

Published in: on 28 April 2017 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Other Pasttimes

Dear Constant Reader,

Besides making costumes, I also indulge in embroidery and other handwork. When I have time. Which, sadly, is not as often as I’d like. I have a big basket of unfinished projects, and every now and then I buckle down and complete one, as I did last night.

Ta da!
Trapunto tea cozy
A trapunto tea cozy!

A what?, you ask. Trapunto is an Italian quilting technique that involves extra stuffing in the design elements to get a dimensional effect. It’s very time consuming. This is the front, which was hand-quilted and stuffed. The back is a simpler version of this design, which was machine-quilted and has no trapunto work (it was never going to be finished if I had to do two sides by hand).

A tea cozy, for those poor unfortunate souls who have never been to a proper tea, is like a winter coat for your tea pot to keep the contents nice and warm. This is a traditional style of cozy that sits over the pot, like an over-sized hat.

cozyTo the right you can see a different style of cozy, which was knitted by my doting mother. One can pour the tea without taking the cozy off. Sometimes it’s known as a “bachelor’s cozy”, presumably because men are too busy or lazy to remove a cozy or that’s a woman’s job or some other Victorian nonsense.

One project down! Many more in progress. However, The Expo and other events loom close and I fear my embroidery time has come to an end for now.

M2

Published in: on 4 January 2017 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Costume in Search of an Act

Dear Constant Reader,

Before I was a performer, I was a costumer. Thus when I am creating an act, the first thing I think is “what will I wear?” and that often dictates the choreography.

Sometime I make or acquire costumes and I have no idea how they want to be presented on stage. Case in point, this beauty.

Untitled

When I joined the costume presentation “Victorian Secret“, I told myself I’d have to reuse the corset in a burlesque costume (I decided the chemise and drawers were exempt). Since then I’ve added a bra, garter belt, and side-tie panties. A skirt is in the works. Possibly gloves. Maybe a headpiece. It’s going to be stunning, if I do say so myself.

Except I have no idea how to use it. Nothing is coming to mind. No concept, no music, no hook. Nothing.

Alas. I shall keep working on the costume in hopes that inspiration strikes. However, soon I am going to have to set it aside in favor of costumes for Wrathskellar Tales.

M2

Published in: on 23 August 2016 at 11:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader.

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Sticky zipper? Lubricate it!

UntitledIf your zipper is not gliding smoothly, rub the teeth with a lubricant (but not that kind…). There are various kinds of commercial zipper lubricants for sale, but there’s really no need to spend the money. You can use a candle, a bar of soap, a crayon, even lip balm, as long as it’s waxy. If the zipper is metal, you can also rub it with the lead of a pencil. This trick also works for a key if a lock is hard to open.

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

Published in: on 5 August 2016 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Safety goggles are for the sewing room as well as the workshop.

Having a broken machine needle fly in your face is an experience most sewers don’t soon forget! When sewing particularly tough materials (canvas, leather) or ones with hard little bits (sequined or beaded fabrics) or sewing through lots of layers or near metal bits — any time you’re likely to break a needle — wear safety goggles. They may not be chic, but they are sexier than an eyepatch!

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

Published in: on 8 July 2016 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Make metal hardware (snaps, hooks, zipper pulls, &c) coordinate with your costume by painting them with the appropriate color of nail polish.

M2

Published in: on 1 April 2016 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

When making pants tear-away, start with a pair that is at least one size larger than usual.

The easiest way to make tear-away pants is to cut open the outside seam and add snap tape (we’ve used velcro and don’t like it). However, the creates an overlap and thus reduces the size of the pant leg. Your leg is going to create pressure on the snaps if the pants are too tight and you’re at risk of premature poppage.

The picture to the right shows Brigitte and me in our “Factory Girls” overalls. Because I’m leaning over and putting some tension on the fabric, you can see the line of snap tape at the overlap. It would have been better if those overalls were maybe one size bigger, but they were originally made for someone other than me.

You can always make pants fit better with a larger overlap at the waistband. We like to use a whopper popper at the top to keep everything nice & secure and then release them right before the tearaway.

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

Published in: on 25 March 2016 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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