Ramping Up for MN Renaissance Festival: Kristin Thesing’s Elaborate Costume Tops

As the Minnesota Renaissance Festival finds itself once again upon us, there is no better time to showcase some of the artisans who can be spotted on the festival grounds. Not all of the talented artists have a booth at the renaissance festival, but they are still important contributors of wonderful art that bring the spirit of the fest to life. Our first featured artist is Kristin Thesing.

Kristin Thesing modeling a blue top with adornments Kristin Thesing modeling a purple top.

Kelly Starsmore (TCG): What got you into designing Renaissance faire gear?

Kristin Thesing: I started going to fest when I was about 15 and I always wanted to have an elaborate gypsy outfit. They are so beautiful. So I started buying a few things to get a costume going, but noticed that it was costing me a pretty penny. I started talking to a lot of people and they were all saying that they just make their own costumes.

So my third year going, I bought a bra and started sewing a few simple things onto it. I was hooked. Not only was it cheaper, but I was able to put my own style into my pieces.

TCG: How long have you been costuming?

Kristin: I have been costuming since I was about 18. So about eight years.

TCG: What materials do you use in your designs?

Kristin: The first thing I always get is a good bra—one that I can wear without having to adjust it or having it not be supportive. Then I take a trip to the fabric store and pick a fabric. I love color and so whichever colorful fabric jumps out at me (oriental fabrics are a favorite), I plan the whole theme around it. Going to art school has made me quite good at color selecting. After the fabric, I look for jewels, rhinestones, beads, chains, trim, and pendants to adorn the top. That’s my favorite part because it is the most fun to do.

TCG: Are there any pieces you have done that you are particularly proud of?

Kristin: The ones that become most challenging are the pieces that I am the most proud of because they are the most rewarding. Two pieces in particular come to mind. Two years ago, I made one for friend and the fabric I picked up for it wasn’t working as well as the others, so I made the decision to do a gathered fabric look—kind of a ruching technique. The fabric was royal blue and when I was able to perfectly piece it down to look gathered, it ended up looking very regal. It was beautiful. I threw on a bunch of rhinestones and a big gem pendant and it was just beautiful.

Photo of the top with the royal blue fabric

Royal Blue Top by Kristin Thesing

The second one that I am thinking of is one that I just finished. Usually when covering the bra cup with fabric, my intention is to cover the whole thing with one piece of fabric so it’s laying flat. I am very picky about that. But this year, I was unable to get it to lay flat due to the cup being a bigger size then I have done before. I spent almost a week laying and relaying fabric but nothing was working. I finally came up with the idea to cut the fabric into strips and hand sew all the pieces plus a velvet trim onto the bra. That process took three days by itself. It was very painstaking. But once I got passed that point and I was on to the adornment part, I had so much fun and it turned out absolutely phenomenal. I am so glad that I didn’t give up on it. It was so worth it.

Photo of the top with large cups and velvet strips

The velvet strips create a gorgeous effect

TCG: If someone wants to get a piece from you, how would they best go about doing that?

Kristin: Contacting me via Facebook or by email is a good was of getting hold of me. My Facebook page is Custom Art by Kristin Thesing and my email is [email protected]

Knowing exactly what you are looking for isn’t necessary. I will help you with everything—color scheme, level of bling, and different decisions like that to help create a top that is all about you.

TCG: Where can you be found at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival?

Kristin: I do not have a booth at the festival, but I am there every weekend walking around and doing some photography. If anyone sees me and wants to talk about a project, please feel free to come and talk to me. I will be wearing one of two new pieces this year. People will be able to see them in person. So come chat; I am super friendly!

For a list of artisans who have booths at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, please visit the MN Renaissance Festival’s Website.

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