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Challenge #13 ” THE BIG TOP” was all about fun, excitement, the bold and the daring!

Come one, come all and behold the magic and wonder of our winners’ Challenge #13 “Big Top” creations!

Third Place: “Tiger Tamer” by Cynthia of Country Dove

Cynthia says:

I’m happy to be able to share this with someone. It was a TON of work in the making (took over a year to figure part of it out) and I was very happy with it.”

The pictures are my daughter Brianna, who models, and these were taken at a photo shoot. One of the pictures is professional (dark blue background one – from Menka Belgal) and the rest were my pictures from the photoshoot.

Judges’ comments:

I love the concept. I love the pocket hoops as cages. The colors are lovely.”

Very cute and would be extremely fun to wear. The colors are bright and she looks like she stepped out of a graphic novel.

It is such a unique idea to use the pannier as a cage! The dress itself is simple, but I love the secret skirt.

Congratulations, Cynthia!

The creator based this design on a piece of art he/she found on Pinterest. If you recognize the original inspiration artwork, please share in the comments below!

Second Place:  “Turn of the Century Showgirl” by Lori Clayson!

Lori says:

“This is my circus entry I made for myself to wear to a recent party. The concept is a turn of the century circus showgirl.”
Lori’s inspiration image:

“My favorite part to create was the the mini hat because I had fun learning how to make ribbon rosettes and curling feathers.”

Judges’ comments:

The concept is great, and I think she did a good job translating the photo…I love the fabric.

This is a lovely, classic showgirl look with a Victorian/Steampunk twist. She is obviously having a wonderful time in her outfit, and I think that confidence really adds the finishing touch.

My goodness, that detail is amazing! Especially on the hat.

Congratulations, Lori!

First Place:  “Victorian Circus Girl”  by Mara Perry!

Mara says:

“I made this outfit for Costume College 2016. They had a circus themed Friday Night Social. I spent some time looking at vintage photos of circus performers. It was a really fun project! I knew I wanted to stick with the 1890s. As luck would have it I found 3 yards of brightly colored harlequin style fabric at the thrift store. Score!!! 3.99! I had some black cotton sateen in my stash, so a costume was born. I used Truly Victorian walking skirt TV291 and Truly Victorian Ripple bodice TV496.

“The skirt was simple. I just shortened it to knee length. I used the bright fabric on the front panel only. I also sewed little moon and stars sequins randomly on the skirt. The bright orange scalloped trim was an antique shop find. A whole gallon ziplock bag stuffed with organdy picot edge scallop trim. The trim was strung together. I dyed it orange and gave it a nice press. On top of the orange trim I used black string fringe and black sequins.”

“The bodice had a few changes. I used the TV490 ballgown sleeves. they are pretty dang cute! I was running out of black cotton sateen and harlequin fabric so I used some black clip dot lawn instead. I left off the collar since I knew I was going to use my orange trim anyways. I kind of wanted a ruff look around my neck. The front is closed with 3 sets of blue ribbon ties. The bodice is trimmed with red chenille ball and black sequined trim.
“That hat! It is from a 1940s clown suit pattern. I had a great time making it!

One purchased red crinoline, black tank top, white tights and my American Duchess Tango boots.
This is just an example of how creative you can be with existing patterns.”

Judges’ comments:

Fantastic seams and tailoring…Love the attitude!

The fit is superb and it’s a very Victorian look: the color scheme looks straight out of Victorian fancy dress plate!

I love the colors and how the bodice stands out!”

Congratulations, Mara!

The judges also decided to award the following Honorable Mention awards:

Honorable Mention for Most Colorful Commentary: “Circus Lolita Mannequin” by Leah Lloyd

From Leah:

“This has been on the stupid mannequin since before DragonCon, and then I got my awful 6 month depression and touched nothing until about 2 weeks ago and started thinking ‘hey I should make that Circus Lolita for Zenkaikon I have a month, right?’ and then Liz literally the next day posts the reminder of the cutoff date being today and I am like CRAAAAAAP and she is like “post what you got!” so I am like CRAAAAAAAP and if you need filler bunny, here is my Circus Lolita which is NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING FINISHED”

“I bought two acid green silk saree, initially planning to make them into the most eye-searing screw you Victorian Early bustle gown, and that never happened, because i am lazy like that and have an attic g—— full of d— bins and shelves of fabric that I don’t even remember why I bought the d— yardage in the first place and what was I thinking and yeah never gonna make that, so Imma use if for this other project that I then also completely forget about and am then surprised when I dig it out looking for something else. Anyway, one of the saree is this great habatoi with pink omg ugly trimming on it and I figure that will be great for the skirt ruffles but the layout/yardage of the pattern is freaking stupid and I can’t use the pink the way I want to so g—— it. The other saree has these no-s— real metal bits set in the fabric, like some poor bastard had to set these gold leaf rivets or something in the weave just so which is great except when I start to cut it I realize I am using my silk scissors to cut g—— metal leaf and that was some s—- so there was some cursing there. And then I realized after sewing it together that the section I used had a blemish right on the nipple but hey that is cool because I have like 6 yards so no problem. I sew up the bodice (again) and the collar and then I realize I should have assembled the lining a different way what the f— was I thinking d—– okay I can make it work whatever, at least I have the front placket in correctly. ”

“The placket is cheap cotton broadcloth and an overlay of green sheer no kidding with pink g—— polka dots who thought this was a good idea to produce but it’s perfect and I have had it in the stash since 2008, so better use it before it rots. It may end up being used on the hat too. Or not. At this point, who the hell knows how it will look. Took me 4 g—— months to realize I didn’t like the original design of the tailcoat which is why I got stuck in the first place.”

“But wait, there is MORE! I legit found these ribbons (of which I bought 4 rolls each because goddamn ruffles take up freaking acres of yardage and they suck but better to have too much amirite) and there I was in this Amish fabric warehouse in the middle of Cowflop, PA, and I find shelves of pink and green I shit you not polka dot ribbons for like .50 a roll and I am like B*TCHES and it’s a fuzzy pic but you get the idea.”

“And these hair falls holy crap yes, plus cyberdreads of green and pink because gurrrl you know I have them and it’s gonna be insane if I can just make it not suck. And, you know, finish it.”

“But anyway, here is my initial sketch. Only the gods of sewing know how it will turn out.”

Judges comments:

She was such a trooper for submitting her outfit even though it wasn’t finished. That takes pluck and I admire that….the commentary she submitted is over-the-top hilarious and the outfit looks like it will be loads of fun when it’s done.

I can’t wait until the day it is complete – green and pink is one of my favorite color combinations!

Thanks to all the wonderful entries we received for Challenge #13!  We look forward to seeing what you have in store for Challenge #14!


  1. Pamela Kay says:

    Also, congratulations to Cynthia and Lori. Well done!
    Leah, your comments were a hoot to read…..congrats, to you!!

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