Sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to posting about the mini-convention costuming retreat we attended at the end of July. I was already exhausted going into the weekend, so I guess I only had enough energy and focus to get photos online — at least I managed to do that! Heheheh.
Anyway, I’m not sure how much detail I’ll go into, especially since Festive Attyre did such a great break-down on her own blog with a few entries, but I’ll give it a shot.
My husband (Christopher) and I arrived a day early, on Friday. We’ve actually stayed at the hotel before (the Crowne Plaza in Addison) for another conference, and really enjoyed the experience. We opted to stay higher up in the hotel, on the fourth floor, instead of closer to the action near the conference room the DFWCG had, and where most of the members stayed I think. It meant a lot of walking to get where I needed to go, but I actually don’t mind that (it’s kind of fun — I have a weird obsession with being able to wander around long hallways in business buildings, especially at night).
This was my first multi-day costuming event where I didn’t have to drive far to get to the actual location. How nice! No more stuffing myself into a car, since I prefer to fully dress before leaving home, and I already am uncomfortable in small cars since I’m tall! What a treat!
Thing is, I also had to pack three costumes — one had a bustle I needed to collapse (I had to remove a length of boning that held the bustle full), and the other was my false rump. All three costumes had lots of long layers, and I had two pairs of shoes to pack (18th century and Victorian boots). I ended up using our biggest suitcase to pack all of our costumes, and then the smaller suitcase for regular clothes and anything that wouldn’t fit in the costume case like shoes.
We also brought other stuff with us, and one of these days I’m going to learn my lesson and just not bring my laptop. I used it once. Since Christopher also brought his laptop and spent the time writing, it was too much of a pain for me to move his stuff over and plug in my computer and boot it up, plus I was having some trouble with a recent update locking my computer up every few minutes. So yeah, note to self, save yourself the trouble and leave it home, Cynthia. Still, better to be safe than sorry! I even brought extra things like thread, sewing notions, pins, and things like that. You never know when you might have a costume emergency, or if a friend might need help as well!
We were silly-sillies and didn’t bother looking for one of those big rolling carts you can pack all your luggage on, and we made three trips to our fourth floor room from the parking lot. It’s the middle of summer, and it has been very hot, so we were wiped out! You’d think we’d guzzle water, but no! We had a coupon for a free drink from the bar and that’s what we did first. Then we had dinner. We meant to go try a nice restaurant, but we were so hot and ready to just relax so we ate from the hotel restaurant. Here was my error, I think! I forgot at the conference two years before, that I’d packed a lot of food. I’d been eating very healthy and light, and although what we ate was relatively healthy, it was a salty greasebomb compared to what we were used to eating. I ended up sick until Sunday morning. 🙁
Okay, so I know most of you are more interested in the actual retreat-related info, so let’s get to it!
I originally wasn’t going to dress up for the classes during the day on Saturday, but I heard a couple of people were going to wear costumes. I realized that I had something simple to get into — my very first costume! It had lots of mistakes on it from when I didn’t know what I was doing, so the week before the retreat, I tried fixing some of them.
Although it was very hot, I was glad I brought it. Very fun to get another chance to wear it, and I thought it was fitting to wear to my first costume convention. I ended up changing out of it before the end of the day, though, because I’d helped a few other members bring up lots of gear and luggage and decided I’d had enough of the bulky layers.
The classes were great, and my main regret is I forgot to bring something to take notes. I was also focused on taking photos — the room did something weird to all of our cameras. It made it difficult to get good photos. I had to learn to guess when someone would hold still long enough to take a photo due to lots of blurring. Still, I got as many as I could of the various classes.
The first class of the day was for Photography. This is something we all need, because what’s the point of costuming if you can’t capture the fun and share it with others? The biggest tip was this: focus on the costume and get as many details as you can. You want to be able to tell what fabric it is, and see those details.
One of my favorites, and one I need lots of help with (because I thought a lot of the information could work for many eras and costuming needs), was Jen’s Big Edwardian Hair class. After purchasing my first wig recently, I think I want to run out and get a few more hair pieces!
Jen’s class ran long even though she worked as quickly as she could — we had so many questions for her, I seriously think we could still have more classes covering things like hair! We rushed around to get lunch, and some of us (like me) didn’t actually get to eat until later. Christopher picked something up for me, but I ate it quickly after the next class.
Ginger’s Vintage pattern class was very interesting. I most likely won’t sew vintage clothing as my costuming interest tends to end around 1900 or so, but I still found it fascinating to hear about some of those patterns. She has a nice teaching presence, like Jen, and it really made me want to learn even more!
At this point, I rushed back to my room to scarf my lunch down as quickly as I could, and before I got back to the classroom, I came across some friends who were bringing up lots of gear and luggage. I missed the next few classes helping them, and then cooling off and changing into regular clothes.
Even though Christopher had a full pass for all classes, he decided to stay in our room writing. I kept teasing him that he was missing really fun and interesting stuff, so he decided to go down with me to the last class Ginger taught about Civil War clothing. That’s when he took over taking photos. I kept nudging him “get a photo of this! and that!” and he got used to what I was wanting.
I also have to say, it was hysterical since I usually stayed near the back of the audience for all classes, that every time Ginger lifted her skirts to show the hoops or another garment normally hidden, up came the cameras! She stood on a chair to help everyone see. I haven’t worked on anything from that era yet, but I’m hoping to. She had a lot of information for us, so we definitely know who to ask if we’re stuck or having a hard time!
After the last class, it was time to set up for the party.
If you remember, the whole reason our event came about was due to a few members feeling so down because they couldn’t attend other events out of state. We all joked that we should throw a pity party, and it started from there. When we were trying to decide on the theme for the party, we knew we wanted to be a little different from normal, and we realized… this was supposed to be a sad pity party — let’s make the theme mourning!
This also made me happy, because you would think Halloween parties with a group of costumers would be a normal thing… but Halloween seems to be one of those difficult holidays to get everyone together for fun!
So the basic theme of “mourning” allowed us to do historical clothing we normally don’t get to do, and for those not interested in historical, it gave them a chance to have fun with the idea and get creative.
I didn’t have time to make an actual mourning gown, or sew anything for Christopher. He wore his kilt (he likes to wear this if he’s feeling left out, plus the dark colors worked well), and I made a gray skirt to match the gray bodice I wore with a plaid skirt for the train ride. I also made some quick black arm bands for a little extra accessory.
We had a fortune teller…
We had a table to make voodoo dolls for sewing annoyances…
There were fun decorations…
And we also had a photo booth so we could make some fun “period” style old photos to be edited later…
Sadly, this is the point where everything seemed to hit me. I hadn’t slept well, and getting off on my usual diet made me feel sick. Within minutes of arriving at the party, I thought I would have to leave again. I wish I’d pushed myself just a little, because I felt like such a dork sitting in one corner of the room barely chatting and only eventually taking a few photos in the booth. I’m sure I missed out on a lot of fun and conversation.
I also learned my costume shoes aren’t as comfortable as I’d like. I wore my 18th century shoes with my day costume, and then I wore my Victorian boots for the evening party. By the time I went to bed, I had blisters on my feet and was hobbling around barely able to walk. I was a little worried having to wear the 18th century shoes the next morning would totally cause my feet to hate me. As it turned out, I was feeling better and in such a good mood, I didn’t even notice if I had any shoe issues!
Sunday morning, we had our last event to attend. The Time Traveler’s Brunch! Leave it to me to wear the costume with the most steps to put on, but it was definitely worth it!
When we went downstairs and found the group, they had gathered in the perfect spot with beautiful morning light:
It was a blast to see what everyone decided to wear for this event.
We had a Victorian zombie…
A nice mixture of sci-fi and historical…
After some photo-taking fun, including a group photo, we went into the private room for brunch.
We had such a large group, they decided to give us our own private room. That worked out well, since we were all very chatty and had a blast talking about costume stuff. I’m sure our wandering around the dining area was quite entertaining for the other hotel guests too! 😉
And then, like that, it was time to head out and start packing.
Of course, I couldn’t resist getting some photos of my own. Finally! I’d planned on doing that two years before when I was there for the other conference, but the hotel was crowded Friday and Saturday.
And just as we were finishing up, I spotted three friends walking by and waved them over for a few more photos.
I was thrilled to be able to get one more photo with a friend I’d wanted before I went back to my room…
And then it was back to our room.
I was a little nervous about getting everything back into the luggage without trouble, so I handed my checklist to Christopher and he kept me focused while I tried packing by myself. We’d lucked out and found one of those big carts by the elevator on the way up, and not wanting to make three or more trips to the car…. oh yeah, we grabbed it! “Score!!” yelled Christopher.
There was one terror while packing. My gray bustle outfit wasn’t finished annoying me — as I pulled the skirt out to fold up, I gasped and started freaking out. Poor Christopher couldn’t see what I saw, and asked what was wrong. I finally managed to say “gecko!” as I shook the skirt and the little critter dropped to the floor.
We’ve had bad some bad experiences with them. Oh, they’re cute, but trust me you really don’t want these geckos indoors (let’s just say they’re silly enough to get stepped on, hide in places they shouldn’t, or get trapped and eventually die), and so Christopher managed to keep the gecko away from my packing and safe until we were finished.
I’m sometimes crazy enough to immediately start putting things away, so when we got home I jumped to unpack and hang my costumes up. Christopher was thankfully very helpful and it went quickly.
A few days after the retreat, a survey went out asking what our thoughts were on each part of the weekend and any helpful tips for next time. I have to admit, even Christopher is looking forward to next year’s retreat. I just hope, since I’ve been cutting back on sewing projects (or trying to anyway) and attending events, that the costumes I’m planning will fit in with the theme and events at next year’s retreat.
Well, that was long and babbly! If you want to see all of my photos, go check them out on Flickr!
And I hope our costuming friends out there keep an eye on the Guild’s website and join us next time! Best Wishes!