thing-a-day twenty: Refia’s boot cuffs

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Into the twenties we go!  Just eight days left!  I believe I will be able to finish Refia’s costume in this last week; that’ll be my goal for the end of this experience!

I purchased these great boots and only needed to add a white cuff to them to create the effect in the images of the character.  A bit of the main dress fabric lined with some leftover white satin and done!  They’re even removable, set in temporarily with washable hem tape so I can wear the boots without them in the future.

I’ll be wearing this to Animeland Wasabi next month if you’ll be there, so keep an eye out for me (but look fast ‘cause I’ll be gone in another second, organizing the cosplay contest again!).  See you there!

thing-a-day seventeen: Refia’s Brooch

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I’ve started working on Refia from Final Fantasy III.  Since I’ve made other faux metal and armor from craft foam and had a lot of success, I decided to go that route with this small piece.  It’s made of two layers, one for the base, and the other with the cross shape.  The entire piece is covered with white glue which stiffens the foam and makes it smooth for spray painting.  A little gold spray paint, and it’s done!

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Cosplay Friday!

I REALIZE that I need to put a little more focus on costuming because, hello, that’s a thing I do.  Crafts are so distracting, augh!  So on Fridays I will try to focus on some aspect of cosplay or costuming.  I am sewing, after all!  I didn’t buy that awesome new machine for nothing!

imageToday I want to focus on one of my favorite cosplay places on the internet: the AC Paradise Network!  With places for every kind of cosplayer, from the ladies, to the gentlemen, to the photographers who capture them all, ACP has organized and carved out a space for every cosplayer on the internet.

One of the neat things about this website is the cross-referencing features that can help you find photos of your costumes.  By searching by tags of your name, the convention you attended, the character or series your costume is from, or any combination thereof, there’s a good chance you’ll find a photo you haven’t seen yet.  I love to use this to reminisce about fun cons of years gone past, like in this photo from Anime Central 2007 with some of my favorite peoples!  “What’s that over there?!”  Ha!

There are also several levels of membership that you can purchase for yourself or others can choose as gifts.  Really love someone’s stuff and want to encourage them more?  Pick up a Celestial Membership for them!  Believe me, it’ll really make their day!

ACP has grown and evolved alongside the cosplay community since their creation in 2000, making good on their motto of “A Site for Cosplayers, by Cosplayers."  With them as a supporter of the community, the last decade of cosplay has proven to be a great one for everyone!  Thanks for all the great memories, Wayne and Genjitsu!  We love ya!

Dressing Ophelia – Complete!

She’s done!  In fact, she’s been done for a week, but I wanted to get a few nice photos.  I had a lot of fun at Mile Hi Con, too, and took home 1st place in the adult category!  Nick and I took these photos yesterday – so Happy Halloween, too!

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I did all the beading in about 12 hours total, using about a dozen types of stones and glass: pearls, rose & crystal quartz, aventurine, amazonite, jade, jasper, garnet, labradorite, and others.  I even got to use a friend’s great embroidery machine to add some much needed detail. I still have a little beading to do; my tiny pearls for the sleeves just got in this week.  But overall I’m really thrilled with the outcome and I can’t wait to wear it again!

Obscure Costume Sources

As a cosplayer, this is certainly not a foreign idea to me, as I’ve mentioned before.  Cosplay costumes don’t make good Halloween costumes, of course, but I’ve found myself picking out even more obscure designs for creation among books – especially children’s books.  I blame it all on the teaching thing.  Here are some ideas I’d love to go after:

imageThe pretty maiden from East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Mercer Mayer.

I’m working on an author study of Mr. Mayer for graduate school, and this is one of the main reasons I chose him: his beautiful illustrations and tales. East of the Sun, West of the Moon is one of my favorite fairy tales (linked with Psyche and Cupid, the Frog Prince, etc), and I adore the detailed dresses and lush fabrics in Mayer’s illustrations.  I’d love to create one of the pretty dresses from this story someday.

imageThe Beloved from the Twelve Days of Christmas Golden Book.

This little book was such a surprise!  I got it in a collection of free kids books that were donated to my future classroom,  and this was indeed a treasure.  Filled with beautiful illustrations of a girl and her holiday sweetheart, I fell in love with the medieval inspired dresses the girl changes throughout the twelve days.  Also I HAVE A THING FOR PRETTY DRESSES.

Now that I think about it, I actually have done a slightly obscure book character: Arha, the Eaten One from the Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin.

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And of course Ophelia, in her Waterhouse incarnation… that’ll be finished up soon.  What sort of obscure projects are you dreaming of?

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This is all I have to offer in exchange for the post I missed on Friday.  I was too busy parading around in my delightful winged finery.  And by parading, I mean sitting at the bar!

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Courtesy of Lilacwire!  See you tomorrow!

Back to our (stretchy) roots…

A project coming to fruition in about a week is completing some classic Sailormoon costumes!  Ah, Sailormoon, how long our love affair has been! Super Sailormoon was my Very First Costume as a cosplayer, and that was a Long Time Ago at SDCC 1998.  Interestingly, a classic Sailormoon costume is one I never did!  No time like the present!  I’m joined by my friends Lilacwire and Mara Lune for this endeavor.  ‘Cause we’re nerds.

imageI wanted to really focus on a good fabric for our purposes.  We wanted to go with a stretch knit for obvious reasons – the costume is basically a leotard, after all.  Lilacwire sent me a link to Spandex World, which offered me a great opportunity: to get swatches!  Spandex World provides up to ten (it says 12 on the website, but I kept getting batches of 10) FREE swatches!  That really gave us the chance to review our options in texture and color without the commitment of several yards. Their swatches of stretch moleskin turned out to be exactly what we wanted.  Moleskin is a heavyweight fabric that is matte – not shiny!  It also has a 4 way stretch (stretching across the grain and up and down), and was just what we were looking for.

The only falter was an unavailable orange in moleskin, so we replaced that with milliskin; similar in texture to the moleskin, slightly lighter weight, which was fine for the skirt.  They were quick to notify me on the order and we got it taken care of in no time!  Thanks, Spandex World!

This week we complete the costumes and next will be the debut!  Stay tuned!

The Mess

IMG_2400 One of the unfortunate and hilarious side effects of the costuming I do is the grand and beautiful messes I make.  Some of the best have been dyeing messes.  These inevitably end up looking like murder scenes in the bathroom, as you can see.  This was my initial attempt at a gradient dyeing of Vanille’s skirt.  Nick complained for days and actually began avoiding that bathroom.  I just laughed and drove the sewing machine faster.

Gradient dyeing is an experimental art form, from what I can tell.  I have never been able to discern any methodology to what generally becomes a mess of green hands and stained grout lines.  With this final failure (I used spray fabric paint on wet fabric, thinking it would soften the gradient, and only succeeded in streaking the crap out of the dye), I turned to my greatest teacher, the Internet, for more information.

With the gradient dyeing trend from last year in full swing, a whole new slew of information made itself available as people turned to DiY alterations and projects.  The dye experts over at Dharma Trading got enough questions that they finally decided to outline the whole thing, called Ombré.  It did seem pretty similar to the techniques I tried when gradient dyeing my Yuna side skirt, for example: dipping and adjusting and dipping and adjusting.

My interest in using the spray fabric paint as opposed to Ombré dyeing was because it’s a circle skirt and not a rectangle of fabric like detailed in their instructions.  How on earth would I get a circle to hang straight across?  I can see now that I actually used some of the points they discussed in the Ombré directions.  I will probably give this another shot using a dip dye and a hanger (or two, to avoid the fabric touching each other and streaking) with extra clips; with proper adjustment, I should be able to get the skirt to carefully hang straight… maybe not perfectly, but dyeing is always a little unpredictable!  And messy.  Did I mention messy?

Pretty Floaty Serenity Wings

I’ve gotten several questions about the process of making the wings that I wore along with my Neo-Queen Serenity costume, so I wanted to come out with a tutorial on how to get the look.  It was one of my favorites, and the wings were a super simple part of the project!  They’re fun not just for this costume, but any costume that has large, floating style wings.  I used the same structure for my wings that went along with Flutterina, too.

imageHere’s what you need:

Wing fabric
Double-sided tape
12 gauge steel wire
Wire cutters 
Garment wings will go with
Bias tape
Serger (optional)

Start out with designing the size and shape of wing that you want.  Serenity has a sort of softly rounded traditional open wing shape, but butterfly, fairy wings, or teardrop shapes will work, too.  This won’t work as well for shapes with a lot of small offshoots; all of the support is coming from the top, so a solid shape is best.

Once you have your wing shape, cut your fabric according to your pattern and finish the edges.  I’ve finished the edges of mine using the rolled hem on my serger, but you can use a blanket stitch or another finishing method.  Now, cut a section of wire twice as long as the top edges of your wing (or the span of both wings) PLUS about a 18-20 inches.  Starting at the tip of one wing, create a general shape for the wire – it doesn’t have to be exact – of your wing.  Before you move on to the second one, create an upside-down U shape; basically, two prongs pointing down:

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Next, install some channels on the back of your garment.  Important note: the garment pretty much needs to be fitted close and structured, like a boned bodice or corset.  If you can wear a structured garment underneath somewhere, that will still work, more on that in a moment.  There are two ways to go about this.  The Easy Way is to simply install the channels the same distance apart as the prongs on your wing frame on the outside back of the garment.  The Slightly Less Easy Way is to install the channels on the inside of the garment – effectively hiding them – and create buttonhole openings through the garment so you still have access to them.  Referring back to having your structured garment underneath, this works the same way: add your channels to the structured garment, and put buttonholes on the outside garment to provide access to the channels.  Make these channels about 4-5 inches long running vertically, and leave the tops open:

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Finally, take the double sided tape and run it along the length of the wire, from the base of the U to the tip (don’t cover any of the part that goes into the channels).  Then, just carefully apply the very upper edge of your wings to the wire frame, slightly wrapping the top hem around the wire and tape.  Insert the base into the channels and ta-da, you’re done!  Your wings are fully adjustable at this point, if you want them to stick out to the sides or straight to the back, just bend your wire accordingly.  For safety, apply just a little dab of hot glue to the tips to keep the sharp wire from poking anything.

You can add additional touches to your wings if you like; for example, with the Flutterina wings, I used Wonder Under to add some colored spots to the butterfly style wings.  Just don’t add anything too heavy!  Enjoy!