My husband’s opening conversation with me back in November of 2010 was to invite me to a Steampunk Purim party that he was hosting. Having no idea what Steampunk or Purim were, I did a bunch of research. Steampunk was easy to find, and I quickly fell in love with the idea of the costuming, having a love of the Victorian Era. As to Purim, I’ll be honest, even growing up with Jewish friends, I had never heard of it! I honestly thought that he might be making it up. Luckily for me, I had a friend who lived in the apartment below mine, he was a son of a rabbi.
He filled me in on Purim. First of all, yes, it was a real holiday. Purim is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire where a plot had been formed to destroy them. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther. And it is celebrated like a Jewish Halloween.
To quote Wikipedia:
According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus (presumed to be Xeres I of Persia), planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai (Mor-di-khai) and his adopted daughter Esther who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing.
Based on the conclusions of the Scroll of Esther (Esther 9:22): “[…] that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor” Purim therefore celebrated by:
- Exchanging reciprocal gifts of food and drink known as mishloach manot.
- Donating charity to the poor known as mattanot la-evyonim.
- Eating a celebratory meal known as a se’udat Purim’.
- Public recitation, usually in synagogue, of the Scroll of Esther known as kriat ha-megillah.
- Reciting additions to the daily prayers and the grace after meals known as Al HaNissim.
- Other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration.
Having our own place now, we have been hosting as many get togethers as we can, and Purim is a fun holiday to celebrate! Come on, getting to dress up in fun costumes and eat, drink and be merry? What is better than that?
This year, I had been pondering what I wanted to do for my costume. I first wanted to make a new Steampunk outfit. One based on my favorite character in the Parasol Protectorate series written by Gail Carriger. This character is Madame Genevieve Lefoux. I ADORE this character. I designed what I think she would wear, found patterns to tweak to make it, the whole nine yards!
(Here is a link to Gail’s live journal about Madame Lefoux http://gailcarriger.livejournal.com/179631.html )
Anyway, after pricing it out, both money and time wise, to do it right, made it a VERY involved costume. So back to the drawing board for me.
This time I came away with a new inspiration. I was doing a bit of research about Purim costumes (read as: googled images of ‘Purim costumes’). I came across this picture:
You know me and princesses and pretty dresses and all things stunning, I was mesmerized! I had to make this outfit. I contacted my friend, the son of a rabbi, to make sure that dressing as Queen Esther was not in poor taste, frowned upon, sac-relig, going to get me in trouble, etc. I learned that dressing up like the characters from the story of Esther is traditional. So I was totally on track.
Chipmunk’s Corner has been great for inspiring this outfit! But it did not fall into place that quickly. I had the idea, sure, but the dress wasn’t in my head yet.
I went through my pattern drawers and came across a McCalls pattern for crowns. After searching multiple fabric stores, I was disappointed because there was no gold vinyl to be found. (I did find one, but there was no way I was paying over $80 for a yard!) So, I gave up on the actual crown idea. I did see a cute mini crown, but it is more Queen of Hearts than Queen Esther. I will have to play around with my hair to see what inspires me for a crown.
I came across an old Halloween costume pattern that has an Egypian-esk outfit. My dress idea started fleshing out from there. Not loving the bodice of the Egytpian pattern, I also pulled out a sundress pattern that I have yet to make, and decided to use that bodice with the fuller skirt option of the Egyptian pattern. Boom! I also saw the contrasting band along the bottom of one of the sundress options, and thought, if I see a brocade that matches my other fabrics I will do the band. Well kids, I found one. But first the patterns I am working with:
I just needed the fabric! My husband and I wandered through a fabric store in Lakewood, New Jersey, suggested to us by his grandmother, and I had the AH-HA moment I had been waiting for. Inspiration had FINALLY struck! We stumbled across a beautiful burgundy crushed velvet. I knew what I was doing in that moment: burgundy/red crushed velvet dress with a gold chiffony drape. Brilliant!
I picked up the fabric today. I have to tell you, the gold sheer is more beautiful that I thought it was in the store! And with the red … stunning! I cannot wait to wear this outfit!
Stay tuned for my progress!