My friend Laura is an inspirational seamstress with a great sense of humor. This photo above was taken at Costume College in 2009, when we first met. She’s on the right.

The Costume College experience was overwhelming to me. It was the first time I’d attended and the folks I knew there were all caught up in different aspects of it: the classes, the events, preparing for the events and taking day trips to local museums and schools around Los Angeles. I didn’t know I was going until the last minute and most of the classes were filled by then, so I sat in on several workshops and presentations and met lots of new people.

I met Laura in a board room in the hotel that was set aside for Costume College attendees who needed to complete a sewing project. We needed space outside of the room we were sleeping in to “make it work,” as they say on Project Runway. It was also a place to show up and get help, if you needed help. It turned out that we spent hours in that room and stayed up very late. There were many people sitting around the table. I was assisting a young woman who had talked her mother into flying in from Canada to go to this weekend-long event. She needed help with a lovely 1870s-era dress (a la Anne of Green Gables) for the Gala the next night.

Meanwhile, Laura was sitting down the table from us, making very funny remarks and completing a truly amazing outfit. Laura’s outfit was a Tudor era woman’s costume made in modern fabrics out of camoflage-patterned parachute silk trimmed in reflective tape.  She said she had a posse back home that usually offered a lot of help and I think she was missing them. I would have been missing them, if I were her.  So we ended up in this room, working side by side with other costumers.  I really liked her approach and her friendliness. That feeling of “we are all in this together.”  If it isn’t fun, let’s find a way to make it fun, or heck, just move along. Let’s remember why we are here. She looked great at the event the next night. But the best part was the process: making something and sharing that experience with someone who laughs with you, is willing to help and share stories while you sew.

We kept talking all weekend, into the wee hours. She even let me crash in her room and we found that we shared a love of science fiction. It turns out that Laura had been making costumes with –and for– her friends for many years. They had a regular “Day of Wrong” tradition at their Renaissance Fair:


Laura said her group also attended the Dickens Fair in their area and were active in organizing costume events. She said she’d been making a living sewing Santa Claus outfits and called herself the “accidental seamstress.” I met a lot of people that weekend but Laura and I kept up our dialogue.

After Costume College we kept in touch via e-mail, shared our stories and tales of what was happening in our costuming and creative lives. She made me an “honorary member” of her posse, even though I live several states away. She and her husband came to visit California and we got to have dinner and enjoy a great visit. Her blog is called the Eleanora Project and she’s documenting her birthday and all the creative hoopla leading up to it,  as well as her ongoing costume projects.

Here’s the latest photo of one of Laura’s recent creations for a holiday Steampunk event:


Now that I no longer have a Feline Overlord named Roo, I am an official Minion of the Wench Posse. We have found that we have a lot of fun talking, planning projects, sharing materials by mail and just egging each other on. Through Laura, I’ve gotten to know several other incredibly creative, weird, fun-loving and fabric-obsessed people. In 2012, we have plans to meet up at two different costume conventions where I will get to meet several of Laura’s Wench Posse in person. I plan to assist them them with the assembly of a project or two. I am so looking forward to that!

Laura is a kindred spirit. And I am very grateful for her friendship. Happy Birthday, Laura!

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Laura Ulak”

  • By Laura - Reply

    You are the bomb. However, we have no Dickens Fair here – we WANT to have one! So we are creating the stuff ourselves. And you are a wonderful person and excellent addition to the Wench Posse. Thanks for being such a great friend.

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