Welcome to "How to Stock," a short series of articles on how to do some stock basics. We'll ask the big names in stock for their tips and opinions on how to get the best out of your stock shoot!
For the fourth article, I asked Elandria
, and Tasastock
all about costumes. Let's see what wisdom they have for us!
Where do I even start?
Wherever you like! Pick a theme or a colour or a character from your favorite movie or book - whatever inspires you can lead you to creating an awesome costume - and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune!
Start with what you have around you, and if making something, your level of skill.
For the first, it is amazing what pieces of your own wardrobe and linen closet can be turned into when you look at it from a different angle. The secret is to play around - Put things together that you normally wouldn't. Also, op shops are a great place to visit to get inspiration... and get some pieces to complete your costume.
As for sewing... well, we'll touch on that a little later
Start at the beginning, and when you come to the end. Stop.
(Sorry I couldn't resist that.
) It totally depends on what you want to do costume wise, what kind of skills you have, and what your budget is. If you happen to be rolling in money and your pool is filled with money instead of water, well then you go right ahead and buy all the handmade gorgeous costumes off other people and buy me some too! For those on a tighter budget, and not looking for anything in particular, Ebay is your friend! I already touched on this for my tutorial... Go to Ebay, search for something like "dress" then in the boxes to the left tick the sizes that will fit you. And also choose Auction Only, Ending Soonest. That way you can see all the stuff that has only a couple of minutes left, hasn't been bid on and is going for 99p. (just make sure they're not ripping you off on postage). I've picked up a bridesmaids dress for £2.50(including postage) on there, and a black dress for £1.50 (including postage) before. Get something plain, and you can always make it look more funky with accessories or stretches of fabric.
That's the cheap bridesmaid dress. I can wear it on its own (which, i kinda haven't done yet. I have an idea for that though but I need to get up off my butt and do it) Or make it look different by wrapping scrap of lengths of fabric around you (Safety pins are a godsend. Seriously.)
Another thing to do, which doesn't involve ebay, is go to your local fabric shop or market where there is a fabric stall, and buy a couple of metres of fabric of your choice. You can then make this into a dress/toga/trousers. Whatever you like, without actually sewing it, just make sure you have plenty of safety pins and imagination.
When DaeStock came to visit me we had nothing in the way of costumes.. What he's wearing is actually a bedsheet I pinned together to make into baggy trousers XD
Judge me! For those thumbs are of ooooold oooold stock from way back when i still had the handheld camera! And my black hair.. i miss my black hair. But these are examples of stuff you can pin together easily. The right hand side one is a set I keep meaning to redo but never have got around to it yet. But I'm wearing a corset and that's pretty much the only thing there that isn't pinned together. I used underskirts and bedsheets scrunched up and pinned scrunched to create a bigger underneath skirt. and the black netting stuff also kinda acts as an underskirt part too. it's about 3m long. If you're buying lengths of fabric to do this, I say the longer the better, cause you can always pin it underneath and double it up. but if you don't have enough for what you need you're pretty much scuppered.
Borrow stuff off your friends! The married ones? Hey I like your wedding dress! Wear your normal clothes in an unusual way! (that long skirt could be a dress, pin a scarf around your middle and no one will know!)
What are some ways to throw a quick fantasy outfit together with materials I already have and/or minimal cheap purchased things?
Its extremely cliche but "thinking outside the box" with the things you (and your friends and family) already own can add that extra flair! Beg, borrow (try not to steal!) and don't be put off by clothing that might look simple. Modern and contemporary styled stock is greatly popular, why not mix it up with a little vintage or even some futuristic elements. Belts can become leg wraps or arm wraps, or gun holsters, summer skirts can become short dresses, old shirts can be trimmed up to make boleros, even lengths of unused fabric can become beautifully draped Grecian style gowns or togas with a little thought and a little sticky tape or string if you have no ribbon.
Charity shops may have a legacy of old lady smell and "things" you would never have in your own house, but for props, accessories and clothing that can be altered for a small amount of money can be an excellent way of starting off your own costuming wardrobe.
Wrap a sheet around you - BANG - you are a Greek goddess.
Or put on a pair of tights, boots, jacket, belt and pin a pillow case of two to make a bustle - BANG - you are a Steampunk civilian.
Or put on a big flowy dress (like a wedding dress - maybe even dye it a colour before taking stock in it) and put some flowers in your hair - BANG - you are a fantasy princess from the realm Goondathar.
The limit is your imagination. And like any experimental art, some things will work, and others won't. And sometimes, you won't be able to tell until after. If it doesn't look right, just keep adding more layers
Once again - OP shops are a great way to get more items on the cheap. And there is no guilt associated with dyeing or ripping up the items.
Another great tip is ebay. You will find some many cheap bits and pieces on there. The quality isn't always great, but they look spectacular on camera. I've bought a range of items from corsets to steampunk goggles to large petticoats from ebay.
Depends if you're male or female and what you already have in your wardrobe.
Example, this is all my own clothes. (I realise some of you won't have the same style as I do.. so may find using your own clothes a little tougher for a fantasy theme) The skirt, thing... it isn't a skirt.. but I can't think of what to call it, I found in a sale in this totally awesome hippyish shop in Sydney. One, I love it. Two, i can see lots of possibilities for stock. (That is, incidentally, when you know you're hooked; you start evaluating your clothing choices on "i could also use this for stock!") the under-bust corset was a present, and the bird skull necklace I made myself based off one I saw in one of my favourite films from when i was a teenager. Leggings are just universal... thing.. I have a few leggings and I must admit that only the black ones I've actually worn out in public as part of my own wardrobe... the time i wore the brown ones out as an Elf Ranger doesn't count... Though I would love to wear pointy ears all the time if I could.
Going back a bit to what I said about being male or female.. If you're female, you can get away with wearing like, pretty much nothing at all if you're really good at make up or know someone who is.
This, is just me wearing a thong, with a bit of scrap fabric and A LOT of feathers and make up.. I'm not recommending this approach. It's cold and took 6 hours to do. But it's a good example for, you can wear something quite plain and ordinary almost, and let the make up carry it into being fantasy. (and look at me being good and behaving and not going into a feminist rant about how it's acceptable for a woman to be practically naked but it's ridiculous for a man.. oh. i think i ruined it. XD)
If not. Buy something cheap! Example. for a tenner I got a Lycra black catsuit. For the lulz. Nah it was for a shoot. Once you've used it plainly, there is absolutely NO reason for it to stay that way!
After I'd used it with all the black body paint and talons and hair grease stuff, I then sewed in those silver spiral patterns onto the thighs. (the strings were something i picked up cheap, about 100 plastic strings, in a market for 75p. I figured they could be wires for doing a cyborg shoot) Add in those little details, and then the right accessories and make up just finish off the rest of it.
I've recently been looking at ways to make horns.. they seem quite cheap and easy to make, hell you could do that, have the right make up then just tie scraps of fabric around you, and that would work fabulously. XD
What are some patterns/pattern companies you've used in the past that have worked well? Do you have any favorite websites for buying costume pieces?
If you are adventurous enough to try creating your own costumes from scratch I recommend "the big 3"ButterickMcCall'sSimplicity
all do a range of "costume" patterns, but be warned - some of them are not for the fainthearted and you will need a little knowledge of using a sewing machine etc
For more historical patterns tryLaughing MoonReconstructing History
Etsy and Ebay are great for getting unique props and accessories - or entire costumes, check your budget however - bespoke work from artisans will cost you more (and rightly so!) and at the same time, don't expect the extreme cheap end of ebay to last as low quality materials don't stand up as well to the rigors of stock shoots. It's true when they say you get what you pay for with ebay and etsy!
I find that if you have a basic knowledge of sewing, Simplicity Patterns are the best and easiest to work with. I've used a few of their patterns and been very happy with the end product. Their ladies Lord of the Rings dress is one of the easiest and flattering patterns I have ever worked with and will turn you from average girl into an elven princess.
I think I've gone with free patterns in the past.. And I don't have the websites any more because they were bookmarked on the old computer. I used to buy proper costumes as well, but I soon stopped that because it wasn't economically viable for me. I think the best costume I bought was from ebay. But you have to be prepared to pay a little more for it. One of these days I'll make something amazing, but I'm so lazy that I doubt it. XD
What resources do you use for making costumes and costume props?
I personally use a lot of historical and fantasy references, but this is purely a personal thing for each stock provider, and it mostly comes down to whatever it is that inspires you to create stock, and how you go about creating your costumes
As a sewer - fabric is my medium. And I like using LOTS of fabric for my Epic dresses. But I also like using scrap/ left over material too for other items.
I think, if you have an idea, just run with it. Cross mediums if you like.
Deviantart itself is a great resource for making costumes and props. There are so many fantastic tutorials on here that are well written and easy to follow. Kimonos, fantasy dresses, armour... just do a search and see what comes up.
Also, youtube is a great way to learn some new skills.
Safety pins, sometimes a sewing machine. I've made my own shoes for a shoot before using fake leather, etc. Collect old brooches and beads and stuff, you can quickly attach them to things to make them look more fabulously than they perhaps are. Lengths of fabric can be pinned into making a one-off dress.
Do you have any good tricks?
Carry a pair of scissors and a box of safety pins with you always on any shoot, be it in the studio or out on location, both are completely essential. (Mine are stashed in my camera bag so I never forget them)
A few well created accessories can work much much better than many poorly created ones. Lay out your costumes before you get ready for the shoot to have a quick look at how everything works together.
Keep adding layers if you are unsure. The most interesting characters are those with details.
Always use safety pins, but keep them hidden from view.
Mix clothing types/ linen. Don't always use an item for what it was originally designed for. I.E. A skirt can become a top, a sheet can become a headpiece, a necklace can become a crown.
And don't ever be afraid to use props - and strapping props to your costume. I always think of the costume/ prop designers in LOTR - Whilst all the other hobbits and heroes were simple like - Sam had all these pots and pans with him. So much about his character was reflected in that choice.
Oh I've already gone all over that. XD uuuh any other costume tricks lemme think... But yeah I've done the scarf as a top thing. A few times. It's good. Especially since I have a lot of scarves. I went through a phase where I was a little obsessed with them XD But mainly, even if you have plain stuff, I trick it into looking completely different by using accessories and sewing on extra things, like beads, feathers, sometimes leaves and twigs (it depends what look you're going for) then the eye is drawn to the things you've added, and not onto the plain fabric say, you've made it with... don't be afraid to dream up a fabulous costume and think of the cheapest possible way to make it. Masks can add a lot to things, and modroc is cheap and easy to use. i made vambraces out of a cereal box and some scrap faux-leather fabric. They don't have to be hard-wearing.