Sharron Hawthorne of Alfheim Creations is a local Las Vegas costumer whose main focus is on corsets, fantasy, steampunk and faire costumes. Here she answers my top questions for local Las Vegas sewists so you can get some insight into other sewer’s habits here in the valley and stay inspired.
When did you start sewing?
When I joined a reenactment group in 1992, I learned to sew on a machine about 15 years ago.
Did you receive any training and/or did you go to school for sewing?
Formal training, no, but I recently finished a class on lingerie sewing techniques.
How often do you sew each week?
Nearly every day.
Do you prefer hand or machine sewing?
I do both, nothing compares to hand finishing the binding on a corset or where it’s needed for a couture finish on a garment.
Do you sketch ideas before you create them?
Sometimes, I try to do that more now, but sometimes the project just takes shape on my cutting table.
Do you prefer store bought patterns, making your own patterns or no patterns?
I do use commercial patterns, but I alter them a great deal depending on the costume. There are some small press historical patterns I use and often change to what I want. They are a framework and often the muslin toile for custom work ends up becoming the final pattern I use.
What is your favorite local fabric/sewing supply store?
Quiltique, it’s a wonderful family run business in Henderson with a wonderful staff. Heddy’s is another favorite of mine, they carry many items you can’t find anywhere else.
What sewing tool would you recommend to others (include brand/where they could find it)?
A rotary cutter saves a lot of time & wear on your hands, the new ergonomic ones are really comfortable, especially if you are doing a lot of cutting at once. You can find them at just about any sewing or quilting shop.
What is your sewing specialty/what is your favorite thing to create?
Costumes, I make a wide variety of looks from the viking era to steampunk and fantasy. I really love working with someone to make their dream costume come true. There is nothing like handing a person a costume they have wanted for 20 years to try on or seeing someone’s face when they feel so beautiful in a corset.
Do you sell any of your creations? If so where can people shop your line?
Yes, I have an Etsy store (www.AlfheimCreations.etsy.com) and I have a face book page with WIP (works in progress) items from the 2010 Bad Faire Ball and custom corsets.
Do you showcase your creations at any local shows? If so where?
I have showcased my costumes at last year’s Urban Faerie Ball, I am booked for this year’s Faerie Ball, but planning on next year.
What designers/sewers inspire you? Why?
-Eiko, she did such incredible work for Francis Ford Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1991) “The costumes are the sets.” Simply stunning.
-Ngila Dickson, her work on the Lord of the Rings films and Hercules and Xena, just beautiful. She said this for the Lord of the Rings, “On a project of this size and scope you have to design what you believe in, and on this film there wasn’t a day in the 274 days of shooting that the costumes didn’t look and feel real.”
That is how costuming should be, looking and feeling real. What works for 20 minutes on film, won’t always hold up for an event, much less a day at a convention. If the costume is meant to be worn on stage, or through the day, I do what I can to make the person wearing it as comfortable as they can be.
-Shawna Trpcic, Costume designer of Firefly, Angel, Dr. Horrible, Torchwood and much more. She has dressed such a variety of characters and even designed for the Wonder Woman movie that didn’t happen. Teaching other costumer designers how to draw, her passion for art & costume shows in the details.
Do you read any sewing books/blogs/magazines? If so what are your favorites?
I have a small library of reference books for historical fashions and always adding to it. Threads magazine is a favorite of mine as are the Victoria & Albert museum books.
What would be your top 3 tips to those who are new to sewing?
1. Start small, don’t try to make something really complicated at first. You will just get frustrated and I don’t know anyone who sews who hasn’t at some point or another thrown their project in the trash. Only to have someone else fish it out of the trash and tell them to take a break.
2. Always, always make something in muslin first for garments to test the pattern and fit so you don’t ruin the fabric you have for the project, it will save a lot of costly mistakes, and you know just how much fabric you need.
3. Don’t give up if you aren’t happy with what the finished project is. If this is your passion, practice, learn more.