Monday, May 12, 2014

Mundane Monday's Costumer Spotlight: Katherine C-G

As I mentioned last week, the end of my school semester is upon me, but I didn't want to abandon Mundane Mondays. Thankfully a few of my favorite costumers have been happy to help fill the void while I am gone.
It was a little hard to choose who to ask because so many inspire me on a regular basis. Of course this gives a positive outlook to being at the beginning of my college years. I have many, MANY more school semesters to wrap up, and hopefully many more costumer spotlights. In deciding who to ask this time around I chose to ask costumers who inspired me when I was first starting out and who continue to inspire me today.

Mundane Monday's first costumer spotlight is Katherine C-G or, as she is more often known, Koshka-the-Cat.

What started you in costuming? What was your first costume? Are there any surviving pictures? Any that you are willing to share? 

One day I was bored and looking things up online. I don’t even remember what. I came across the Sense and Sensibility website and the instructions to make the Regency dress and thought, “I could do that!” I ordered the pattern, bought a sewing machine, and that was that. 

This was in 2001, and I really need to get that film developed! 

Many of us are not fond of our first few costumes when we look back on them. Can you tell me a couple things that you did like about yours? What about them inspired you to continue and make more?

I’m not sure how, but somehow I managed to get my first few costumes to fit pretty decently. They definitely weren't the most exciting things, but they fit.
 I wore my pink linen 18c dress to my first Costume College gala, and while that made me realize how plain it was, it also made me realize that fit was the most important thing about a dress. The rest is just fabric choices and decoration! Just being around so many gorgeous dresses there convinced me I had to continue. 

What inspires you most when choosing what costumes you want to make?
It’s usually pictures. I rarely have an event that requires a particular costume, so I mostly make whatever I want. I like to think of places like the Met as my own personal catalog. And Pinterest is the best thing ever. If I do have that rare I need something from a time period event, I’ll look through extant clothing and pictures or portraits of the time period. 

I have been following you for several years and am always inspired by your costumes. But your magenta silk 1869 Evening Dress, was one of the first to completely "wow" me. Can you share with us, why you choose to undertake this dress. 
I showed my mom Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail. She saw the dress on the cover and said, “You couldn't make that, could you?” I told her that I could, but I’d never find the fabric. A little while later, I was looking for something else at Fashion Fabrics Club, and they had the fabric. Of course I had to get it! I made an evening dress because I wanted to wear it to the Costume College gala. I later made the day bodice that’s pictured inside the book. 

Day Bodice
Close up of the sleeve detail.

What is YOUR favorite costume of all that you've made and why?

It sometimes changes to my newest costume, but it always seems to go back to my black 1860s ball gown. 
 I’m really not sure why I like it so much. I’ve always liked black though, and it has a little bit of sparkle, and a low neckline, which I always enjoy wearing more than high necklines. 

Which costume did you either learn or progress the most as a costumer and why/what did you learn?

It’s been a very gradual process for me. I don’t think there’s one costume that I really made that jump in. One of the more surprising moments though, was when I was making my first court dress. I was using my 1780s stays pattern as a base, and I added a trial amount to the back to make it close in back. I guessed the right amount. I thought it was a fluke, but similar things kept on happen
ing, so I finally took it as a sign that I knew what I was doing!

The spotty dress is probably my most technically challenging dress. With three separate closures and highly decorated skirt, it was somewhat crazy to put together, especially as my friend Aubry and I were making matching dresses while 2000 miles apart. It was a great exercise in communicating techniques!

Are there any fields in costuming that you think are interesting, intimidating or that you just haven’t gotten to yet? What about that specific part of costuming makes you want to try it?

I’ve actually tried pretty much everything I’ve wanted to do. That said, there are many areas of costuming that I find impressive and intimidating! Anything not made with fabric, to be exact. Armor is just amazing. As for work with fabric, true tailoring is just beautiful and at the same time, something I’m happy doesn't really appear in women’s clothing for my usual time periods. I’m very historically based, and even the fantasy I’ve done is historically based fantasy, and I’ve approached it using mainly historical techniques.

Any big projects planned for the future that we can look forward to following?

I have an ambitious line up for Costume College this year. New dresses include a King’s Landing style Game of Thrones dress with beaded embroidery and beetle wings, a 1920s tennis dress with hand hemstitching, a silver and black robe de style with real machine hemstitching and about a million (ok, 180) thread covered beads, and a spencer covered with braid. I think I can do it all! And then, finally the 1890s bicycling sweater I've wanted for ages for next Costume College. 

You can follow Katherine at her costuming blog: The Fashionable Past, Her dress site, her Live Journal, or her Flickr account.
She also has a blog dedicated to her antiques that she takes detailed photos of and offers invaluable construction details.

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