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Lapsed anthropologist-turned-burlesque performer and post-modern punk housewife/homesteader living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with a hunky husband, gorgeous daughter, adorable corgi, fluffy rabbit, and three clucking fabulous chickens.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What to do with those pesky scraps? A Tutorial.

If you're anything like me, after a burlesque show your craftroom is strewn with scraps from your many many costumes. Now, you could just throw all those scraps away, or you could make them into awesome souveniers of the show!
Our most recent show was the Hot Mess show, in which I was variously a Twisted Sister megafan, Snooki from the Jersey Shore, a contestant on Rock of Love, and a protester outside an abortion clinic. The scraps I had left over from said show were all of the dayglo green/zebra/leopard variety, and to me scream "Zombie Prom hair accessory", so here we go:

Supplies: A cutting mat, a rotary cutter or scissors, a ruler or straight-edge, some patterned felt, a pile of scrap fabric, bobby pins, needle, thread. You could use ribbon, buttons, just about any kind of scrap embellishment you wanted on these, they really lend themselves to adaptation.

First, lay out your scrap fabric. It doesn't have to be squared at this point.

Cut away and part you don't want to use. Pictures, patterns, seams, etc.

You should now have some oddly shapes bits of fabric.

Line up the top rough edges of your pieces.

Lay down your ruler/straight edge/ etc. and more or less line it up with your top edge. Square off the top edge with your cutter. If you don't have a fancy ruler or rotary cutter, you can absolutely just mark your cutting lines in pencil or chalk and cut them with regular scissors. No need to be fancy, unless that's what you're going for!

Using the top edge as a guide, cut your fabric into even strips. I cut mine 1" wide.

Square off the bottom edge and remove the excess from both top and bottom.

You can square the sides too, if you want, but they're not as important.

You should now have a pile of strips.

For contrast I took the patterned felt I had left over from making my pasties. What are pasties? Why, these are:

Just a taste of how awesomely tacky my costumes were!

Turn your felt face down, square the edges like we did with the fabric, and cut into even strips smaller than your fabric strips. I cut these in 1/2" strips. Once again, feel free to just draw your lines on and cut with scissors if you like.

Rotate your ruler or straight edge and cut the strips widthwise into small strips. Mine are 2" long.

You should now have piles that look somewhat like this.

For the following steps, bust out that needle and thread.

Take one of your strips and determine how big you want your bow to be. This one will be about 2 1/2". Overlap the ends of your strip and thread your needle.

Do a running basting stitch up and then back down through the middle.

Gather your strip into a bow.

Take a piece of felt and wrap around the middle, covering your stitches.

Slightly overlap the felt in the back and cut off any excess. Stitch the felt in place, being careful not to push the needle all the way through to the front. Don't break your thread when you are through.

Now we're going to attach the bobby pin. Mine is brown, I couldn't find black. You don't have to attach it to a bobby pin, either. You can put the bows on barrettes, or pin backs. Have fun with it!

Place the bobby pin in the center back of the bow, and whipstitch around it several times to lock it in place. When it is secure, make a knot and push the needle under the felt, pulling the thread through. Cut off the thread close to the edge of the felt so that it is hidden.

Your bow should now look a bit like this.

And the front.

Use it to pin your hair back and no one will know you haven't brushed it today! Genius!

Realize you have lots of different fabric scraps left over and get to experimenting with different pattern combinations and sizes. Give away to other performers and momentos of the show, or to friends who couldn't make it. Contemplate opening an Etsy shop to sell the excess because you now have enough supplies to make hundreds of these things. Enjoy!

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  1. Oh, if only I was attractive enough to rock pasties and be in a burlesque show! I will have to live vicariously through your awesome lady-friends! You make lovely things~! <3

  2. We're a Body Positive burlesque show, the vast majority of the cast are plus-size, several are mothers with all the body issues that go along with childbirth. I'm not remotely satisfied with my dress size or the perkiness of my breasts, but on stage it's all about confidence and acting. Specifically acting confident. No one in the audience knows I have body image issues, they just see me kicking ass on stage. And lots of audience members have said that seeing all of us onstage with our varied physiques has made them feel better about their own bodies.
    Which is my long-winded way of saying, rock those pasties! Everyone is attractive enough to own their sex appeal.


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