@shoecrazy1983 | Sewing Influencer
Taylor Bethea, known on Instagram as @shoecrazy1983, is an avid costume creator from Virginia, who grew up in Germany. Her social media shows how much fun you can have when you customize almost any period (with a preference for Regency through Victorian and Edwardian) to your personal taste. She’s got a knack for wearing stays, heavily embellished gowns, jewel tones and jewels, and fabulous hats. And, somehow, she seems to put a gothic spin on unexpected things. Her willingness to throw herself into making a costume or cosplay, figuring it out along the way, proves she has the creative spirit of a true artist, and we love how she commits to her brilliant work.
How did you learn to sew?
For the most part, I have taught myself how to sew by just diving in. I learn best by doing, so if I make a mistake, I try again and learn along the way. YouTube and costuming/sewing blogs help me a lot, as well. I knew basics (how to thread a needle and basic stitches) from school, but that’s it.
I always felt that I had a creative streak but just didn’t know what it was. I dabbled in jewelry making in the past, but it didn’t really give me the fulfillment I needed. As a child, I was always fascinated with the beautiful dresses from historical movies and always wanted to wear such a dress one day in my life. In 2017, I decided to just buy a starter sewing machine and go for it. I made my first Regency gown with a commercial pattern and some quilting cotton. I wore it to an event and from then on, there was no stopping. I learn with every new project and have also met some people with amazing talent and these friends help me with fitting questions and brainstorming new techniques.
Which sewing word or term is your favorite?
“Going rogue,” does that count? I’m very much a rogue when it comes to sewing processes and techniques. I will do it right the first time, usually for the mock-up, and then will find a way to make it easier or quicker or just different in the final product. I will change a design last minute. Most of the time, going rogue pays off, and I end up having created something unique to my taste.
Which fabric do you enjoy sewing the most?
That’s difficult. I don’t really have a favorite fabric to sew with. I focus more on what I envision as the result and so, for me, most fabrics are equally fun to sew with. Every fabric has its pros and cons, and my final vision gets me through the fabric struggles. A good example is velvet. It is a pain to sew, but I love how it looks. So I end up working a lot with velvet, even though you can hear me screaming all the time.
What are you currently sewing?
Currently, I am adding finishing touches to a 16th-century linen kirtle and pirate chemise to wear to a Renaissance faire. After that is completed, I will start a bucket list project, which is a mourning gown worn by Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It includes a very rare mourning mask and bonnet. And I always have some small 1890s’ projects planned with big sleeves and amazingly goth touches for a cosplay as Nadja from What We Do in the Shadows.
Please share what you love best about sewing.
Sewing costumes and historical fashion has given me so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I have been able to apply to other aspects of my life and career. Sewing has taught me perseverance and the ability to push through a project even when the road gets tough. My projects are visual representations of the emotions I am working through, and I really see sewing as a helpful therapy when I am feeling down or depressed. I can get lost in a project and can sometimes sit and work on something for hours straight if able. This, in return, fulfills me with a big sense of accomplishment.
That accomplishment I feel when wearing a gown I have made with my own two hands is exciting and emotional, because I allow myself to be proud for accomplishing something I never thought I would be able to do just four years ago.