Category Archives: DIY

All on a Mardi Gras Day

 

Mardi Gras Day is always a fabulously magical experience, and this year was extra special. My brother and his boyfriend were in town for carnival for the first time since 2009, so we went all out. It was also our tenant’s first Mardi Gras as a New Orleans resident, so I felt obligated to help her navigate the crazy. We ended up doing four nights of Uptown parades, hosted a pre-Bacchus party at our house replete with Chris’ Get Your Life Right Gumbo, cornbread and Jello shots (lololol), caught the Red Beans Parade on Lundi Gras, and left the house at 8 a.m. on Fat Tuesday to wander the French Quarter and Marigny.

Highlights from Tuesday include getting a choice downtown parking spot, seeing Solange walk past us as if she was gliding on a glitter cloud, running into a ton of friends, seeing a grown man naked on Frenchmen St. (not a highlight, but truly memorable), and getting five people home all in one piece. No one got lost, shit faced, or misplaced their pants. Mardi Gras Magic.

Okay, on to the costume details.

Crowning glory: I bought my hat back in 2011 but never figured out what to do with it. The colors are so vivid I knew the outfit needed to stand up to the topper. I made Thomas’ hat from scratch to complement mine. His hat looks fancy but it was relatively easy to make. All I needed was a buckram hat base (I used a cadet style), metallic blue fabric to cover the base with, a piece of foam board, and a metric ton of feathers and Mod Podge.

The shoes: I usually don’t get too hung up on my shoes since 1. comfort is paramount and 2. no one is going to notice them. Thomas, however, opts for matching shoes. I had a pair of lace-up boots that lost their luster but were still comfortable, so I spray painted them blue and glittered them up. The glitter/Mod Podge layer started to break at the stress points, but Thomas’ loafers managed to hold up.

His costume: My cardinal rule is to never repeat a costume on Mardi Gras Day. This year, we broke that rule by reusing his pants from last year’s getup. They were too perfect not to and it saved time and money. I added blue fringe and gold sequins to the back pockets to incorporate in the blue from the shirt. He bought the metallic blue shirt on Amazon and I found the vintage beaded belt at The New Orleans Costume Center. I added gold stretch fabric to the back so it would fit him properly. I like the cummerbund effect this had and it added interest and variety to what is otherwise just a t-shirt and tuxedo pants.

My costume: I bought the gold sequined bra from Trashy Diva, the crop top from Swap Boutique and the gold shorts from ASOS. Those shorts, by the way, were hideous when I first got them. They looked like glorified boxer shorts and did nothing for my legs. I took them in, added ruching and blue fringe on the sides and created a peplum with red and orange trim to hide the cheap looking elastic waistband. I originally wanted a gold ballgown skirt similar to the hot pink one I wore for our flamingo costumes back in 2012. I went with shorts because I like showing my legs and the shorts were inexpensive. The only ballgown skirts I found either looked cheap or cost more than I wanted to spend. Plus, I didn’t feel like making a skirt from scratch.

How much our costumes cost:

Total cost this year: about $320

Trim, etc…: about $170 for all the trim, feathers, his hat form, foam board and an X-acto knife

My costume: $33 bra, $20 shirt, $15 shorts

His costume: Shirt: $25, Evil eye applique: $35, belt $20

Where we saved money: I already owned my hat, the red fishnet stockings, the blonde wig and my necklace. We already had both pairs of shoes and his pants. I have a stockpile of thread, needles, and pins,  so I didn’t need to purchase sewing supplies. I also had some leftover sequins and gold appliques from last year, so I just used those. I tend to overbuy trim in case a piece needs to be repaired. I like to repurpose pieces for other costume events; I also loan costumes to friends on occasion, so it’s important to me to be able to reuse these things.

How we could have saved more money: Uh, it’s Mardi Gras. We go big or go home, and our asses never stay at home on Fat Tuesday. For me, it’s important to feel like I’m contributing to the splendid frenzy that it Fat Tuesday. See y’all on the parade route next year.

 

How much it costs to make a zine

 

Making art is an expensive endeavor. Last year I started Catahoula Zine, a quarterly print publication that features eight to ten writers and artists reacting to a singular theme. Zines are the original self-publishing platforms. Anyone with access to pen and paper can make one and the beauty of zines lies in their DIY roots. However, you can also make your zine as fancy schmancy as you’d like. I like to collect all types of zines including beautiful risograph prints and ones that more closely resemble scratch paper.

I’m breaking down my expenses from my first year of zine-making in case anyone is interested in starting their own. I print with MagCloud, a print on demand service that offers high quality, perfect bound glossy publications. Depending on the pages and size, I pay between $4-$6 an issue and sell them for $8-$12. That profit doesn’t even cover my expenses though, which I’ve broken down below.

 

 

In 2016 I spent about $1,300 to print four issues, two supplementary issues, and some mini photo prints. I also attended three zine and book fests: Press Fest in Austin, New Orleans Comic and Zine Fest and the New Orleans Bookfair. You don’t have to spend as much as I did to start a zine, but prepare to fork over some cash if you plan on distributing them.

Expenses:

Shipping & postage: $162.34

Printing: $800

Business cards plus a vinyl banner for zine fests: $64

Festival fees: $68

Hotel for one night: $151

Uber in Austin: $35

Grand total: $1,280.34

Expenses not factored in:

Meals in Austin, gas, domain purchase, and monthly Adobe subscription. My true grand total is between $1,600 and $1,800.

Where I saved money:

The Austin trip was part business, part pleasure. I stayed with my sister a few nights (she lives an hour from Austin) so I saved money on hotels. I also have an Adobe student subscription, which gives me access to the programs I need (InDesign, Photoshop, Lightroom) for the price of one program.

Where I could have saved money:

I definitely overspent on dog.bites, the supplementary, cheaper zine I produced specifically to sell at zine fests.  I went to Kinko’s and shelled out more than I wanted. I originally wanted to sell dog.bites for $3 a piece but had to sell them for $6 to recoup my costs. I made about $1.40 off each one sold.

I paid for tables at three zine fests but I didn’t have to. NOCAZ offered free tables to locals and New Orleans Bookfair offered a sliding scale. I could have opted for the free table but decided to donate to the cause anyway.

Three of my four first issues had contributors. I sent each writer and artist one free copy of the zine. I could have just sent a PDF of the issue but since I’m not paying anyone I thought a print copy was only fair. This year I’m only accepting submissions for two of the four issues in an effort to save money on shipping and printing costs.

Where I made money:

The fests were my real money makers. I made between $130-$180 per day at NOCAZ (two days) and over $100 at the New Orleans Bookfair. I made $55 at Press Fest. It was the least lucrative fest but I met several people and it was an excuse to visit my sister. I also made money selling issues on the retail level (after the store takes a cut) and directly to readers at two issue launch parties, a pop up art gallery I hosted, and through the Catahoula website.

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful and the financial aspect of zine-making isn’t too discouraging. Money aside, I was introduced to lots of great people doing interesting things and really feel privileged that people trust me to publish their work. Drop a line at hello@catahoulazine.com if you want to chat about zines via email or IRL.

 

 

 

Catahoula: Winter issue in stores now, accepting spring submissions

Defend New OrleansA little zine news for ya: Catahoula is now in stores! That’s right, you can pick up the winter issue at Defend New Orleans on Magazine St. in the Garden District or at Crescent City Comics on Freret St. The current issue features “Allons,” a story (written by yours truly) about what it was like growing up with a swamp for a backyard. Print copies are $8 (plus tax), but you can also pick up a digital copy for a measly $2 by clicking here.

What is Catahoula? A labor of love, mostly. I’ve been wanting to make a print zine for about three years, and after graduation I felt the need to tackle a new creative project.

Since the first zine only featured my words and art, I want to open the spring issue to writers and artists eager to share their own work. Interested in submitting your work? I’m looking for short stories, personal essays and poems (2,000 word max), photography and original artwork.

The theme is “wander.” From travel to day dreams, I’m leaving this wide open to interpretation. Anyone can submit; you don’t have to live in Louisiana.

Send me your best work to christy@slowsouthernstyle.com with the words “Catahoula Spring Issue” in the subject line.  Please send artwork as a JPEG or TIFF file and everything else as a Word document. Deadline is March 20.

 

Halloween: Space Age Vikings

Thanks for the picture, Daniele!

Halloween used to be a special time for me. It was all treats, with the occasional trick from a finicky sewing machine. I used to labor away on our costumes, until a few years ago. A friend told me she didn’t realize how awesome our costumes were until she saw the pictures on Facebook the next day. “It was too dark and I was too drunk to appreciate them that night,” she admitted. That comment made me realize it wasn’t worth the hours hunched over leopard print faux fur, stitching wooden beads and hand cut fabric leaves to a chest plate. Halloween has lost a little bit of its luster, unfortunately, and I don’t know how to get it back. It’s the equivalent of your parents telling you Santa isn’t real. 
This year we slapped viking costumes together using pieces that we already owned. A few last minute purchases pulled the look together; his helmet and my shell necklace tied everything together. I told myself I would be okay with going light on the costumes this year, but everything about our look bothers me. I need a headpiece, his cape and loin cloth look half assed, and we’re more Ziggy Stardust than Eric “Bloodaxe” Haraldsson. My laissez-faire attitude caught up with me; next year I’ll focus on what satisfies my creative spirit and not let other people influence my decisions as much. 

Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Mardi Gras: Look ma, no pants!

Oh, Mardi Gras. It was one of the coldest and rainiest Fat Tuesdays ever, but that didn’t stop the die hard crazies from heading out, including us. Since I never take the weather into consideration when planning a costume, wool socks under wool tights under green tights under fishnets was the only way to go. I felt like a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race underneath all that hosiery. Despite how nasty it was, we managed to laissez les bon temps rouler anyway. Needless to say, I didn’t bring my camera in fear of getting it wet, so these were the only non iPhone pics we took. 
This year, I decided to make our hats. With about 12 hours total of hand stitching ( I rarely glue anything, unless sewing isn’t an option) I gave myself a bit of a break and thrifted our tops, minus some embellishments that I added. It’s always fun to play dress up, but I’m allowing myself a sweatshirt and jeans day today after freezing my toes off. Hopefully we’ll have better weather next year but hey, a little rain never stopped me from having a good time anyway. 

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Tips to get your costume together

It’s officially carnival season- are you as giddy as I am? While I’ve already got most of my costume supplies, I haven’t done a lick of sewing yet. I’m keeping it all a secret this year, but three words: orange short shorts. Want another hint? That’s what my husband is wearing. 



If you need a little help figuring out what in the hell you’re going to be for Mardi Gras, fear not. I’m sharing my tips to get your costume together at the East Bank Regional library on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00pm. From what to look out for when shopping, to a list of stores you’ll need to make it happen, consider this DIY Costume 101.  For more information check out the library’s calendar listing by clicking here or sign up on the Facebook event page. Have a question you’d like answered? Leave it in the comments below, or send it to slowsouthernstylellc@gmail.com.



Mardi Gras 2012







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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Four

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY is a four part series. Catch up and read parts one, two and three here, here, and here.

The devil is in the details, so make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to accessorize accordingly. Since the husband and I are flamingos this year, we can’t let any opportunities for glitz slip by. Some feathered eyelashes here, some sequined trim there, I always try to max out what we are wearing. The problem lies with time constraints. Without fail, every year I’m up to my eyeballs in bead work or sewing sequins, only to come up with more and more ideas for the perfect costume. Just when I think I’m getting close to finishing my creation, one more detail pops into my head. 

Be sure to check in next Friday when all will be revealed!
black & pink feather eyelashes

handmade tiny top hat
70’s collar gets a sequin trim upgrade
john waters and/or portlandia would be proud
Twitter: slowsouthstyle Facebook: Slow Southern Style

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Three

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY is a four part series. Catch up and read parts one and two here and here.

What separates the men from the boys on Fat Tuesday are the details. Anyone can throw on a bagged costume and say they are dressed. But you wouldn’t do that, right? I’m a sucker for those important final touches, or rather a glutton for punishment. Anytime I think a costume is complete, I find one more minute embellishment that transforms it from plain to over the top. Last year, I was hand sewing tiny shells into the hairline of my husband’s wig the night before. Did anyone notice? Probably not, but when you are Poseidon, King of the Sea,  you can’t sport a pedestrian hairdo. 
This year it is all about going over the top gaudy. We’ve got more sequins and feathers than Liberace had piano keys. I like for our costumes to complement each other, but not mimic each other so I gave our flamingo hats their own personal touches.
The gal is on the left, the gentleman on the right. And kitty makes friends.

Ruffles add a feminine touch for her
A dapper bow tie for him
Minuscule millinery work is for the birds
Crumpled up homemade top hat pattern serves as stuffing

So how’s your Mardi Gras costume progressing this year? Are you almost done or haven’t even started?

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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Two

If you missed Part One check it out here.

So that sequined jacket I bought for my husband might be passable for other holidays, but for Fat Tuesday it’s a downright plain piece of clothing. A good base for sure, but let’s be real- the gaudier the better for Mardi Gras is my rule.

 I initially wanted to hand sew feathers onto the lapel and front flap pockets, but after sanity set in I realized that a few factors were working against me.

1. If it rains, all of my handiwork is destroyed
2. Sewing feathers is about as fun as getting a root canal.

So I decided on a combination of fringe and marabou to add some over the top details. Remember it’s not about having to start from scratch, just make it look like you did. First up was this great fringe that I bought. Not only is it hot pink, but there are sequins in there as well! Talk about going overboard, right?

Last year I transformed a woman’s sequined blouse into a sleeveless shirt. I vowed not to run sequins through my sewing machine again this year, so my only option was to hand stitch. It’s a good skill to practice anyway. 

Marabou feathers stay put on a cord, just like a feather boa. It’s much easier to sew through the cotton cord then hand stitch individual shafts down. While the effect is different, for my purposes this was just fine. I just needed something fluffy and fun vs. elegant. And you can’t do a flamingo costume without feathers, right?


Next week: tiny top hats for plush animals

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