Secret Cinema – Star Wars

Secret Cinema, for those that don’t know, is an events company specialising in ‘Live Cinema’ experiences, combining film screenings with interactive performances in purpose-built sets.  I have been on their email list for years and cry a little each time they put on a show featuring a movie I love, but that I can’t go to (I was quite desperate to see The Red Shoes and I’d have sold my children to go to Blade Runner ).  So when I heard the next film would be Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, I jumped online and bought tickets and decided I’d worry about getting someone to look after the kids at a later point.

DSC_0136I am a big Star Wars fan (see my house keys above!!), not in a crazy way, just in that it was the main series of films of my childhood (and I’m talking the original three here, naturally), if I ever had to commit to a top 10 list of my favourite movies they would be in there…probably in the top 5, and as anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows, I do love an opportunity to get dressed up (again, long term readers know already, but for any new folk my sadly no longer used degree is in Theatre Design, specialising in costume, so I can get a bit geeky when dressing up is involved), going to this kind of event was a no-brainer.starwars4

I bought the above book last year (Star Wars – Costumes by Brandon Alinger), but hadn’t really read it properly, so researching costume ideas was a good opportunity to geek out on all the details.  It’s such a good book, I had lots of fun deciding on which greeblies I would make.


Without giving anything away, when you register for the event, after buying your tickets, you are put into a ‘faction’, I had originally decided, in my head, that I was going to be a Mercenary (Han Solo costume here I come) but no, apparently, due to my being highly organised, my analytical mind and my leadership skills (????!!!! to this last one) I was given the role of a Governor of the Alliance.  You are then given a basic outline of the costume brief for your group, which for mine was pretty much a military style, white or metallic jumpsuit.  Now I’m quite lazy about making actual costumes, I find the cost of the fabric and the time involved often outweighs the time it’s worn, so I bought a very cheap sale jumpsuit from Warehouse and pimped it.


I can’t really wear off the shoulder, so I added some padded bits to the top and my oh-so-carefully-made *ahem* rank badge.  I was quite pleased with the result, actually.

DSC_0138This then left me with lots of time for the fun bits, which in my case involved deciding which false eyelashes I’d wear (still loving Paperself for crazy lashes) and how much glitter is appropriate for my attempt at space style make-up.

starwars2Lots of glitter, apparently.

starwars3I’m afraid there was no chance of a full length photo, this is the best I could get.DSC_0145I had equal amounts of fun gathering any bartering items needed (listed with your faction details) , my Sister (who I went with) laughed when I told her I’d tea stained my blueprints…hey, I have two kids in primary school, I spend half my life distressing and tea staining paper!!

I can’t say a lot about the show itself because it’s, well, a secret.  You are not allowed mobile phones or cameras inside (any ‘devices’ you have with you are sealed in pouches before you enter, I just didn’t even bother taking mine) but I can say it was absolutely awesome, one of the best theatre experiences I have ever been to and worth every penny of the ticket price, which I know has been quite grumbled about on the web.  You can enter into the spirit of it as much, or as little as you like, personally I think it’s more fun if you just go for it, we were very early in (which I recommend) and so found we had time to absorb all the details, and it really is all in the detail, a huge amount of effort has been put into the staging and sets, the atmosphere is great, we chose to do all the available interactive options which involve quite a lot of running around (it’s set over 18 acres, apparently, which I can well believe), dancing and being shouted at by various Rebel leaders and Imperial Guards.  I must say, a polyester jumpsuit is not necessarily the best option as you do get quite sweaty, but then full marks to those dressed in the full gear and big shout out for the girl wearing an amazing R2D2 dress.DSC_0141

I wasn’t expecting to buy anything from any of the stalls, but I fell in love with these stirling silver rings made by Iris Musel of Amygdalae Design (she has an Etsy shop here), sorry about the appalling photo but the rain is tipping it down here so the light is dreadful.

Do I have any other tips if you’re thinking of going along and a recap? (and do go, I really do recommend it and you can often buy late tickets for sold out days via the SC FB page from people who can no longer go)….arrive early, we were there for 5.15 and were amongst the first in, by which time the queue behind us was huge, they do have lots of great tactics to stagger the audience so everyone gets to make the most of each section, but it was nice being amongst the first group in.  Take your time and soak up the details, chat to any cast members you get the opportunity to talk to, it’s fun and they tell you things that lead to bits you might otherwise miss.  Make sure you do bring any items you are asked to, you will need your scarf and trading things.  It’s hot, hot, hot in there and you do have to move around a lot, they say no heals and I’d go with that as good advice.  You can’t bring in drinks etc (your bag is searched at the beginning) and any gadgets are sealed up for the duration.  It’s credit cards only, ideally contactless, I’ve read on the web that the food and drinks are considered a bit pricey, but we had a delicious chicken satay and I drank (rather a lot) of wine during the movie, the cocktails have a decent kick to them too, yep I felt it was necessary to try those as well, so for me, the price was worth it.  One thing I would say, I felt quite bad about not taking the boys, but apart from the fact it would have become a very expensive night out, had they come too, I’m really glad I didn’t bring them.  There were a few kids there and they were well included by the actors, but it felt like quite a grown up show to me. It’s hot, dark, and in places crowded.  You do genuinely get shouted at quite a bit and I think the boys might not have got some of it, or perhaps have felt a bit intimidated, and they would have been bored in places so I’d have had to concentrate on looking after them, rather than immersing myself, saying that the kids I did see where having lots of fun.

DSC_0196Well, that’s all, I guess.  One last photo though, this is Buster, the final animal to come and live in the Foster zoo.  We’ve had him a few weeks now, he’s a ‘proper’ stray from Battersea, a bit mangled in the ears and some nice scars on his poor face from his years of living rough, but a nice addition to the other two (pretty, young) girl cats and I was very happy to adopt an older, black cat as I know they are difficult to re-home.  He gets to appear here because I tried very hard to persuade the boys that Vader was a good name for a black cat, but they were having non of it and Buster was the only name we could agree on, so Buster it is.

I’m busy sewing blinds, which isn’t very inspiring for blogging, but come September I’ll be back to Linen Cat work so hopefully I’ll be back in blogworld more frequently 🙂

Tudor Boy Revisited…(and other costumes)


Back in January 2011, I made a Tudor boy’s costume for F, for school.  I blogged about it here and it is one of the most visited posts on my blog.  I remember grumbling quite a bit at the time about the idea of providing an outfit to be worn for just one day (and to be absolutely fair, there were lots of suggestions from the school about cobbling one together from jogging bottoms tucked into long socks etc) before deciding to just get on with it, which has more than proved it’s worth, as I had hoped, and the outfit comes out at every possible opportunity.


Both my boys tend to be quite tall for their ages (due to a 6′ 5″ husband, probably) and I  made the original costume quite long (but slim fitted, in keeping with the time), knowing I would need it again a year later – here F is in 2012, for his second Tudor Day at school.


Since then the costume has been used frequently, at least twice as a pirate costume for parties,  even once with the above mask (from the boys Halloween skeleton outfits) to make a ‘ghost pirate’,


and most recently for C to wear for his first school Tudor Day.


Although his favourite bit is the un-Tudor like bag, which he kept his tissues in.  Bless.


Another bit to get regularly recycled are the capes from the boys vampire outfits


Here being enthusiastically (he was a lot happier than he looks, I promise, he just doesn’t do posing in the same was as F) modeled by C, who had a magic party to go to last year.


The only outfit that hasn’t been worn again, is F’s Messy Monster one (from Okido magazine), made for World Book Day in 2011.  Shame, as I like this the most.


Which brings me neatly back to today, also World Book Day and two happy little boys in cobbled together Tom outfits from Beast Quest.  My boys are quite particular and F, especially, always wants very exact details….I may have myself to blame for this, from past years, but these days I have less enthusiasm I’m afraid, and I try to find the quickest efficient solution, so roll out Tudor boy again!  If you are looking at this photo and thinking – well they aren’t bad – wait, you can’t see the shields, which are rubbish, but hey, they are only for one day….or not, perhaps I can stretch out Beast Quest Tom for a second year?…maybe 😉

Still here…

Just in case you wondered where I’d gone, I am still here.  I was working hard on new products but then half term arrived and it all went a bit awry, I’d assumed everything would kick back into place  this week but I’m struggling to get back into the swing of things, I’ve lost my mojo.

F has recently taken to drawing continuously which is great, he has a ‘weak wrist’ which makes it difficult for him to hold a pencil correctly, I’m amazing how quickly he’s improving now he’s on a roll.  We mostly get aliens or, as above; ghosts, vampires, spiders and bats so in honour of this and his general love of all things spooky I’ve invested in some new coasters.

I love them.  I appreciate not everyone gets excited by zombies munching on brains under their cup of coffee but they fit right into this house, as I’ve mentioned many times, we have very eclectic taste. They are by the very talented Fiona T and you can find more of her work here.  The immaculately stitched designs are based on Fiona’s sister drawings which can be found here, if monsters are not your thing then there are many other designs available but personally, I have my eye on an embroidered pink zombie notebook cover.

Over half term I did manage a little sewing, a Messy Monster costume from Okido for F’s school book day.  I know I’ve shouted about Okido magazines before but they really are great, the perfect mix of fun and education and packaged in such an arty, funky style.  I was so pleased he chose this as his perfect costume…that was until I had to make it and my lost mojo got in the way.  After forcing myself to get on with it (time is running out),  I rather enjoyed myself.  I hope to get a photo of F wearing it but in case I don’t have time here you go.

Loving the monster feet, I want some.

Finally, thanks for all your recent comments I really do enjoy reading them and I’m so glad you liked the new lavender bird.  Sorry for my sloppy lack of replies as of late, time has been running away, I haven’t even caught up on my Google Reader list which says I have over 400 posts to read. Yikes!

OK, off to hunt down my mojo 🙂

Tudor Boy…

I’m having the nicest day, not entirely sure why.  I think as for many, January has been proving a bit of a challenge but I just went downstairs to make a coffee and for a brief moment the sun came out, suddenly I remembered why we have so much glass in this house as it streamed through, highlighting my dirty windows but making me smile.  I’m also listening to Simon & Garfunkel whilst I sew, I really feel in the mood for harmonies and as there’s no-one here but me I can sing along to my heart’s content.

And so, we had a letter from school a while ago telling us that to accompany the children’s learning could we please dress them in Tudor costume for a day, oh and if we like we can buy them an outfit from a recommended site for £30 (oddly, the same company that are coming in to teach the kids more about living in that period).  I then moaned on twitter about providing a costume to be worn for one day and about the expectation from some that because I used to be a Costume Designer that it’s easy for me to whip one up in a moment.  It doesn’t really work like that, I find it quite difficult not to over think these things and make full on mini period costumes that take me hours and along with the cost of fabrics this just doesn’t scale.  Then I stopped moaning and decided to get on with it and in the end rather enjoyed myself!

I even made an outfit for a friend’s daughter (I do think these things are especially hard on parents who can’t sew or have more than 1 child in the age group).

For F, I made an outfit that will also double as a Pirate costume afterwards.  I did cut the doublet pattern correctly for the period but obviously stitched it on the machine and used fabrics from my stash.  F is most concerned that I’ve chased a pheasant around the garden and stolen some feathers for the hat, he’s not convinced they are ones we’ve picked up on our walks.

He also took the posing for camera this morning quite seriously, this is his, “Oh, look!  The Vikings are coming” pose.  I have no idea why Vikings are involved, he’s 5.

I’m thinking the shirt is very New Romantic, I hear ‘Stand and Deliver’ in my head each time I look at it.  I may have gone a little overboard in the fullness of the sleeves.

Obviously, I could have cobbled something together quickly, or bought on-line but I decided it would be good to practice my skills plus I did buy his last costume from Tesco’s (a Shepherd’s outfit for £8 and you even got a sheep!) and I did really enjoy myself, more importantly he was very happy so that makes it worth it.

Back to S & G and sewing I think, make the most of my one full day at home child free, much as I love my boys it’s so nice to get a little time to myself 🙂

Scary stuff, the sequel…

And so, at 2 am in the morning when poor F was being very poorly last Thursday, his main concern was that he’d miss the school Disco.  There had been a haircut especially and we’d even bought gel and there were many, many tears so in feeble attempt to cheer him up I promised I’d make Vampire capes and we could carve pumpkins over the weekend.  Now in true ‘I used to be a costume designer in a  former life’ style, I had been planning proper miniature period capes but due to time and circumstances, abandoned that plan for the easiest pattern I could find online.  I found a great simple solution via Martha S.  To be honest I didn’t even read the pattern, but took the picture entirely for inspiration and this is our version.

Obviously it will be worn with the rest of the ‘costume’ (school shirt, cravat and cummerbund made from the lining fabric, lots of white face makeup and dripping blood, you get the idea?) and then come Halloween we will go scare Aunti T and make her give us some sweets 🙂

The lining fabric looked black with dark red flowers on-line but is in fact a bit more…er…girly?  You can imagine the conversation:

F (from his sickbed overseeing the making),  “I don’t like that fabric, it’s for girls”

Me, ” No it’s not sweetheart, it’s posh fabric for a posh Vampire cape.”

F, ” But I don’t want to be a posh vampire, I want to be a normal one.”

Me, ” Well, Count Dracula is posh….he’s a Count, that’s posh.”

F, “I don’t want to be Count  Duckula !!?”

(We’ve been watching a lot of old kids TV shows recently).

It was a grit teeth day but we got there in the end and we also made these

(see those fancy squash on the left?  I grew those 🙂 ) and I took some time this week to get a few more decorations up,

now I bought this fantastic pumpkin card ages ago and feel very bad for taking so long to post about it, especially as the boys love it so much.  You can have one of your very own from Love Poppet at Folksy and you can read all about Claire’s work over at her blog.

We’ve also bought these fabulous printable Witches from Sally Boyle, again from Folksy.  I’m using Sally’s photo here as the weather really isn’t on our side today and I can’t get a decent shot of them but again, they are great and I love that we can print them off each year for decoration.

Now, what am I going to dress up as for Halloween…..somehow I don’t think the old black tights and polo neck jumper cat is going to work, although I would certainly look scary dressed in something that tight – ha!