Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! How do you know? Here’s a tip!

This week your tip is from special guest contributor, Devastasia!

Threading elastic (or whatever) through things with a bobby pin of some kind is 1000x easier than using a stupid safety pin..

Brilliant!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip Devastasia if you liked this.

Published in: on 15 May 2020 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve been having a lovely time, however you chose to celebrate this season. This is your last tip of 2019! Thank you so much for reading my humble missives this year.

Secure your bead fringe.

A lot of bead fringe is strung on a single long thread, so when you cut it to the right length, the beads fall off the end. And keep falling off…

I like to sacrifice one strand of fringe to get a piece of thread long enough to tie a knot. Tie a tight knot right up against the next bead and then dab some glue on the knot for extra security. Then I grab a needle and take a few stitches with the thread into the apron of the fringe and knot it again.

If you would like a tutorial on making your own beaded fringe (which is much more secure than commercial fringe), leave a comment here!

Your next tip will be next year! If I don’t write before then, have a wonderful New Year’s celebration!

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

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 27 December 2019 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

When making tear-away cup bras, use two bras.

It may seem like the logical thing to do is cut the cups off a bra and then reattach them to the bra with fasteners. Trust me on this, you are only setting the stage for sorrow.

In order to have a good structure, you want underwire on both the cups and the frame. So, get two bras. From one cut the cups from one just below the underwire — these are going to be your cups. From the second cut the cups just above the underwire — this is going to be the bra frame. I know it’s a bit wasteful, but you want both pieces to have that wire. I salvage the straps and hardware from the now-cupless (and useless) frame for other projects, so it doesn’t all go to waste. If you’ve got other ideas of how to use the leftover bits, I’d love to hear them!

If you want a little extra lift, or you need to conform to decency laws that prohibit underboob, instead of cutting away the entire cup, you can leave part of it attached to the frame. Don’t forget to finish the edge! A little bias binding works great for this.

Attach your fasteners (I use snaps) so the underwire of the cups sits on top of the underwire on the frame.

Have fun tearing away!

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

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 27 September 2019 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Tale of Two G-Strings

Dear Constant Reader,

Ever since I realized it was okay to wear G-strings (both that I was pleased with how I looked and that it was legal in our venues) I’ve been making my own.

Mostly I make what I call the “Old-school G-string”. This is the type worn by Legends in the ’60s, which I learned how to make from Dusty Summers, Las Vegas’s Only Nude Magician.

It’s a simple, but very clever, design and has minimal material requirements. You get barely-there coverage, especially in the back. Because it’s not made from stretch fabric, I always recommend taping this style of G in place. It’s easy to adjust or change out the elastic. Despite the small amount of surface area, you’ve still got a good space for decorating. The other thing I really like — I can knock one of these babies out in no time.

Here’s one in action, both sides!

     

Mina Murray Mina Murray

Photos by Kenneth Ingham at ABurlyQ 2017

You can learn how to make your very own in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming. I’m thinking of putting together a video tutorial for my Patrons. If I get four more Patrons, I will!

Last night I made an adjustable G-string as designed by Christina Manuge of Manuge et Toi. You’ve probably seen her stunning costumes on performers like Roxy Dlite and Kalani Kokonuts. Through her Patreon, she’s been producing video tutorials called Tips on Tap. They are so worth the subscription!

The videos are only available for a short time (for the Patreon tier I support), so I watch them several times and take copious notes. This tutorial was accompanied by a downloadable pattern (for personal use only) and a second video on how to adjust the pattern to fit you.

Unlike my go-to G-string above, this one required some specialty material, like rings, siders, and lingerie elastic, all of which I got from a bra supply vendor. The only item that came from my stash was the black stretch satin. It took me an evening (having previously created my pattern), and that was working slowly, so I didn’t screw up, and with frequent breaks for cat snuggles, dinner, and other important things. Stitching the elastic took the longest and required the most precision. I learned some great little tricks along the way. I’m sure next time it will go faster. I particularly like the straps and how they adjust, just like bra straps.

Here it is! (no back view because I couldn’t get a good shot of my own butt)

It fits perfectly!

It’s quite a different look from the old-school G-string, but there are certainly advantages to each one. I expect I’ll be incorporating this style into my costuming repertoire as well.

And here’s a side by side of the two styles. I think you can figure out which is which…

Do you make your own G-strings? What’s your favorite style? Do you buy them? Who’s your favorite designer?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 3 September 2019 at 1:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Stripteaser’s Education

Dear Constant Reader,

I performed “The Stripteaser’s Education” at Hot in Topeka’s fundraising show in June. It’s an act that’s been around for a long time and seen some changes.

It’s adapted from Gypsy Rose Lee’s famous talking act. Rather than do a strict recreation, we changed and updated some of the wording. She references people and places that wouldn’t mean anything to our current audiences. Our version has changed over the years and we’ve thrown in a few New England references. For example, Gypsy used to say she’d attended Sweet Briar; I say Wellesley. Neither statement is true.

When I performed it in Topeka, I checked with the producer about using some local references. She gave me some suggestions and I worked them in. Instead of Wellesley, I used Washburn University plus a few other references specific to Topeka. From the cheers, they went over really well.

When I first started performing the act, I just wore gowns and gloves from my wardrobe, nothing special. In 2011, we gave the act to Devora for Madame Burlesque. We had a costumer for that show (our first tour!) and she made a lovely costume for D.D. based on a photo of Gypsy.

        

I used mostly the same costume when I did the act (we had to make a matching bra to fit me).

When I got the word I was going to do this act in Topeka, I decided to upgrade the costume, really make it match the photo. I had asked for advice in finding a hat like that when I learned, to my shock, we’d been laboring under a false assumption. That wasn’t Gypsy! It was Burgundy Brixx *as* Gypsy! Clearly our costume designed hadn’t done her research very well, but I admit, I hadn’t looked closely enough.

Well, there was absolutely no reason to recreate someone else’s interpretation of Gypsy. I went back to photos that I know were actually of Gypsy and picked out some of the hallmarks of her costumes — full skirt, modest blouse with a big collar, stockings, wide-brimmed hat.

The skirt came from The Wrathskellar. It was sort of inspired by a saloon girl look, with alternating panels of black lace over black jacquard and embroidered green lace. It has matching panties and a bra, so I figured I would use them. I also had a garter belt that coordinated nicely. The next challenge, the hat and the blouse.

I didn’t want to use the hat D.D. is wearing above. It doesn’t fit me very well and it doesn’t pack easily. I wanted to do this trip with just a carry-on and I also wanted to be able to have my ubiquitous sunhat. After some fruitless searching, I was in Emporium 32 and they had the perfect hat! Big brim, black straw, good price. I decided I’d give my signature leopard-print sunhat a break (I’ve been wearing it every summer for almost 20 years) and make this my new everyday hat, as well as use it in this performance. If I’d had more time, I would have added some big white roses and a new hat band for the show.

I looked all over for a blouse with the right look and just found nothing. I ended up grabbing the blouse from my “Li’l Red Riding Hood” act, but while it has the right shape, it’s a sturdy white cotton and didn’t blend so well with the lacy skirt. Fortunately, I still had some of the two kinds of lace I used to make the skirt. I used it to make a big collar, like Gypsy had in some iterations of her costume. It helped tie things together, and since it was just pinned in place, I can easily transfer it to a more appropriate blouse once I find or make one.

Lastly, I upgraded the pasties. They had just been black brocade with a ring of green rhinestones around the edge. Good for The Wrathskellar, but not exactly projecting glamour. Some radiating lines of more stones and they had sufficient sparkle.

And here’s a bit of the act on stage at Jayhawk Theatre.

Photos by Sarah Kietzman

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 7 August 2019 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! And happy August! Here’s your tip!

Make your own bias tape.

Bias tape is great for finishing work on costumes, especially where you don’t want much bulk, like the edges of corsets. Its ability to smoothly curve makes it perfect for binding necklines, armholes, and hems.

Sure, you can buy it, but there’s a limited range of colors and most are a polyester-cotton blend. I think having a perfect match to your fabric makes for a more polished look.

It’s not as hard as it might seem with a couple of simple tools.

  • A rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. Use these to cut the bias strips. Make sure you’re cutting on the true bias, diagonally across the grain. Sometimes very slippery fabric shifts around making this s difficult process. You can read about a solution for that problem here.
  • A bias tape maker, as seen in the photo above. This simple little tool is the key to easy bias tape. The most tedious part of making your own tape is pressing the tiny little seam allowance under. This tool folds the long raw edges under for you! Feed the bias strip through the wide end and then pull with the little handle along the strip. Neatly folded tape comes out the narrow end!

    Tape makers come in multiple sizes for most standard widths of tape. Pictured is a 1/2″ tape maker. I also have a 1″, and you can get 1/4″, 3/4″ and 2″ as well. These tools make single-fold bias tape. If you want double-fold, you’ll need to make a tape twice the size of the desired result and then press it in half length-wise.

  • An iron. As you move the tape maker along the strip, press the tape as it comes out the narrow end to set the fold.
  • That’s it! You’re all set to make yards and yards of tape in no time.

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

    These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 2 August 2019 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! I hope you’re staying cool. Here’s your tip!

    Finish the ends of ribbons.

    Ribbons are so useful in costuming, but the cut ends fray easily and can dissolve into a mass of threads from one wrong pull. You could just tie a knot in the end, but it’s not that nice looking. Here are some attractive and easy finishes.

    Sewn: Fold the end of the ribbon twice, so the raw edge is neatly hidden and then stitch. No machine necessary — I prefer to sew these small hems by hand.

    Cut: Cut the ribbon on a diagonal (along the bias). I like the swallowtail shown in the picture, but a simple diagonal or an arrow shape work too.

    Sealed: Dab a little FrayCheck or fabric glue along the cut edge. I used glitter paint in the above example for a little contrast and sparkle.

    Melted: This is only for ribbons made from artificial fibers (most ribbons qualify). Hold the end of the ribbon near a flame. It will melt from the heat and neatly seal the edge. Don’t put the ribbon in the flame — we’re looking for melted, not burnt. I like to use one of those barbecue lighters for this method.

    Enjoy the clean finish on your ribbons!

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

    These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 19 July 2019 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! This week I’ve got another sewing tip for you!

    A little wax can smooth your way.

    When you’re sewing through thick fabric or using multiple strands of thread in your needles, it can help a lot to wax the thread. It strengthens the thread and holds the strands together which helps prevent tangles and fraying. You can buy wax in a cake, like in the picture, which comes in a plastic holder with notches to run the thread through (I took it out of the case for the photo — too much glare) or in pretty shapes. or you can just use a candle end.

    To wax the thread, just hold the thread against the wax and pull it the whole length once or twice. Some people wax their thread first, but I prefer to thread my needle, knot the thread, and then run it through the wax.

    I wish you smooth sewing!

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

    These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 28 June 2019 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Many of those in the burlesque world are off at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. I hope you’re having fun, drinking lots of water, and maybe even getting a little sleep.

    I’m so excited to share with you a tip (my 400th!) from the brilliant Betty Blaize. It’s so simple and so clever.

    When you’ve got a tear-away cup bra, it’s important to make sure you attach the cups on the correct sides. There’s a subtle, but important, difference between the left cup and the right, but they look so similar. Betty, ever the engineer, came up with this simple solution.

    On one side of the bra, sew the male halves of the snaps on the cup and female halves on the frame. For the other side do the opposite.


    Here’s the bra she just made for Devastasia. I know it’s hard to see the details, so there’s a close up below.

    You can see the female snap on the cup and the male snap on the frame. It’s exactly the reverse on the other side. It’s impossible to snap a cup onto the wrong side!

    This works for detachable panel skirts too! Sew the snaps one way for the front panel and the other way for the back.

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

    These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 7 June 2019 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! I’ve been making pasties like crazy for all the Burly-Q Parties we have booked, so this tip came to mind.

    If you make pasties frequently, make templates of your most-used shapes.

    Pictured is my round pastie template, which is made it out of quilter’s template plastic. Paper templates, even cardstock, just weren’t durable enough for the number of pasties I make. Especially if you make shaped pasties or pasties in multiple sizes, a sturdy template is going to make your life so much easier.

    M2Like this tip? There is more costuming information in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming, Vol 1: The Foundations.

    These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 10 May 2019 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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