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I got a client friend who's commissioning a David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust costume for Halloween this year. Here are some pictures I used for references. I later realized that there were two versions of this. I noticed because while trying to study the painting, the styles on two pictures were different and the boots/bootcovers were also different in these two versions. Duh... lol. The first pic is one version and the last three is the other. Notice the paintings and boots/covers (on some pictures, they were drape-y and in others, they looked like they were reinforced with something thicker and not shiny...). In the final costume designed, I kinda just incorporated the two. What the hell, right?

It looked fairly simple to make but I still wanted to do a few fittings. I did learn some new skills: 1) How to insert an invisible zipper into a dart -- which I applied on the inside of the shoes so that he can slip his feet in easier. 2) How to make shoes/boots covers. I'll talk more about these new methods in later posts. Oh yeah 3) Painted on silk.

So after extensive research on google and trying to find pictures of the paintings on his top... I decided to do a little practice on piece of scrap double sided silk. 10 minutes practice. I just wanted to make sure I got the brush strokes right for the pine trees and able to do the detailing on the cranes. Brushes were good, paints were good. I used Jacquard Textile fabric paints for natural and synthetic fibers. Round-head brushes.

So here is me laying down the kanji first (it actually doesn't mean anything -- just phonetics for David Bowie, and actually this isn't even the original kanji for this specific outfit but was from the other version... yes yes... confusion ensued. lol) Where is Stephanie when I need her for her calligraphy skills?!?! ... Yes that is a glass of red wine.
After that, I laid down them branches! Huzzah! And threw on some pine trees with yellow highlights! Wheeee!
Flower details and the cranes. I couldn't really tell what the upper left crane was really doing in any of the pictures, so I kind of improvised!

I did the same process in the back... but there were really no good pics of it. So I took the liberty to experiment painting the crane in a different position: in FLIGHT! ... but sadly I didn't place it right so part of it fell into the armhole. But it's okay, it still looks epic.

All paintings were freehand -- I didn't pre draw/sketch anything. It's a good damn thing I know and trust my own talents. And my client is a BRAVE man for doing so as well. Hahaha!!
And here are a couple of pictures of the boots/covers assembly. When we went fabric shopping, the associates at Britex Fabric recommended us using batting to help him not freeze his legs off. Literally. But we got felt instead cuz they didn't cut by the yard for batting. I used felt the same way I used interface to reduce bulk at at the seams. So yes... it required lots of cross stitching. But it was well worth it as you can see the outcome of the end piece, no slags!
I'm so proud of my darted invisible zippers!! :3 But I think if I practice a little more it'd be perfect. I had to fix it once or twice to get it laying the way I want it to.

Finally sewing the boot/cover all around, and attaching it to the canvas shoes, bought from ChinaTown in SF I believe -- but you can get them anywhere. They are slipons.
I attached them using a curved needle and pliers. Took me a while to get used to the curved needles. I was a klutz with it and actually gave up to use straight needles again. Poked myself a few times and bleed onto the shoe (washed off) ... then decided to give the curve needles another chance. Turns out you just have to mess around with which angle is easiest/most comfortable to insert into the canvas and through the fabric. I think I finally figured out my best way near the end. Go figure - below right is actually not my best method using it but I'll take pictures when I do this again since I'll know what I'm doing this time around. Ha. Yay curved needles! I had to be careful pulling it out with the pliers... broke the small needle already. Hahahahah!! I was praying to GOD I would not break the second one!
The finished! ... It took me about 1.5 hour to finish each since well... I guess I'm just slow. Had to take a few breaks to give my hands/wrist a break. Last details was attaching the rope... I just looped a few strands of thread around it so client can adjust where to tie it. Maybe he likes it in the front or the side? Get your mind outta the gutter.
That's about how far I got in the last two days. Lots and lots of hand sewing... but that part is done now! The tunic should be easy breezy and hopefully can get it to the client by Wednesday evening. YES. Deadline would be met. The finishing of the project will be in future post. :) YAAAY CAFFEINE!!!


by Anita Riggs on Wed, 12/14/2011 - 02:27

Impressive ^^

by Rebecca on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 09:25

I made this costume for Halloween back in the mid-80's. I did not have the high collar or the fabulous paint job that you have done here, but I also sewed the boots to a pair of slippers. Just works easier that way - and more comfortable. I loved that costume! Thanks for sharing!

by david kiley on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 09:34

I am very impressed :) you do excellent work and have a great eye for detail.Good show :)

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by Van on Sat, 03/15/2014 - 04:05

Thanks, Rebecca and David. :) 

@Rebecca I thought sewing it to slippers would be too flimsy, but I'll give it a try next time when I experiment with other costumes that call for similar footwear. :)

I'm known to be detailed oriented. Can be a bad thing at times... lol