Wherin Lil’ Duchie Justifies the Purchase of All Those Feathers…

If you read last night’s tedious entry about feathers, you might have been shocked by how much money I just spent on feathers. I was a little shocked myself as I punched in my credit card information, but as I thought later about what I had done, I realized that I have spent less on costuming this year-to-date than it seems.

I have been determined this year to start using fabrics from my stash instead of amassing more, and thus spending more money. By using stash fabrics, I’ve saved myself a bundle. True, I bought those fabrics at one time or another, but some of that yardage was purchased literally YEARS ago, and for discount prices then. Some was given to me (old sheets for lining fabrics), and some had been made into dresses, then deconstructed, and re-made. In addition to using stash fabrics, I have also been very good about using stash trims and stash notions. Everything from scraps of ribbon, to hook n’ eye tape, to bias in sometimes interesting colors was dug out, used, recycled, cannibalized (like that corset busk), and only seldom added to with newly purchased items.

I have not been so good with all of my costumes thus far. The 1850s ballgown was completely new, as was the 18th c. wool coat, and the recent 1795 robe and gown. However, with these costumes, I tried very hard to use minimum yardages, or buy decently priced fabrics – I never like to pay more than $10/yard for, well, anything.

Here’s a rundown of stash costumes from this year-thus-far:

Robe a l’Anglaise
Stash – striped taffetta, lace cuffs, organza skirt lining, canvas interlining, cotton lining, hook&eye tape, scrap of voile for the fichu
Worn over a cotton petticoat, which I already had from years ago
Bought – green ribbon, rhinestone buckle

Steampunk Corset
Stash – burgundy italian linen, grey gabardine, black bias binding, black & silver grommets, corset busk
Bought – black bows, ribbons for lacing, ziptie boning, black silk dupioni (3 yards, to double as my Elizabethan noble’s skirt)

Steampunk Mini Top Hat
Stash – velvet, black and white feathers, black ostrich feather, black bias, black velvet ribbon
Bought – bow, ribbon, cross stitch plastic for the base

Elizabethan Nobles
Stash – gold jacquard, ochre linen, black bias binding, black piping
Bought – black silk dupioni (same as above), 12 yards black velvet trim, cross stitch canvas hat base, heavy felt hat base, wide velvet ribbon hat band, feather cockade, shirt-weight muslin

18th c. Stays
Stash – flowered cotton, striped cotton, canvas interlining, bias binding, grommets, laces

18th c. Great Hat
Stash – straw hat, white ostrich feathers, green ribbon
Bought – rhinestone buckle, tulle stuffing, yellow linen

It is true that I am now making more costumes-per-year than ever before. I blame this on Maggie. Thus I am spending more money overall, but I have also a full-time job now, which allows me disposable income (however meager) that I get to spend on basic survival and the things I love – costuming, my puppydog, and dancing.

Another factor in allowing myself the cost of the feathers is that I hope to auction the robe when it’s all over and donewith. Will it sell? No idea, but I’m still going to try. Partially this is to recover some of the cost of the gown, but also because it’s such a unique piece that I cannot see that I would wear it often enough. Instead it will just sit in my closet, so why not pass it on to someone who will adore it, wear it, and maybe then in turn sell it? What do you all think?


  • The Dreamstress

    June 23, 2009 at 1:33 AM

    Everyone has to have a good costuming splurge every once in a while. Don't feel bad about it (and don't use credit cards!)

    I can't believe you are going to on-sell the dress though. I have the hardest time letting go of anything!

  • Jenny

    June 24, 2009 at 11:01 PM

    I'm sure someone will buy it, I'm guessing you will be selling it on eBay? Use lots of key words, and maybe sell it around either Halloween, or wait and sell it around Mardi Gras. Do you have a page where you have ALL your costumes listed, similar to what you have just posted? I'd love to see them all!

  • Lauren R

    June 26, 2009 at 6:44 PM

    Hey Jenny. I don't have a portfolio of costumes anywhere anymore – the closest thing is on my Facebook profile, but that doesn't have much old stuff either.

    I plan to try selling the robe on Etsy first, and if that doesn't work, then eBay (with some other things). I think waiting until Mardi Gras/Carnevale time is a great idea, thanks for the tip!

    Leimomi, why not use credit/debit cards? Identity theft? Sometimes I use Paypal.

  • Anonymous

    August 11, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    You in the nobles outfit is so cute 😀
    I don't see alot of "period crossdressing", there should be more of it! (Although I am not sure if it is accepted?)
    I look forward to my own Robe a l'Anglaise, it will be a crossdressing for me (but not the first)

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