thing-a-day three: two-day dress turning into three

Oops!  I was so worn out after a day of professional development at school I couldn’t sew past 9:30… I didn’t have it in me to set sleeves after 9, alas!  I’ll finish it up tomorrow.  I just need the sleeves and skirt set, and buttons and holes added to the back.


See, I even got one sleeve pinned in place.  See you tomorrow!

thing-a-day two: day one of two dress

Just a sneak peek today… I’ll finish up tomorrow!  I would have finished today, but some of my fabric is still in the dryer!  Oops!


Also I’m excited once again about my sewing machine with fancy vine stitches!  Perfect for this project!

Cool EL Wire projects

I saw the new Tron: Legacy movie this weekend and LOVED IT!  I may need a Tron costume in the future… but in the meantime, I went looking for cool EL wire projects.  EL wire, short for electroluminescent wire, is a copper wire coated with phosphor that produces a 360 degree unbroken line of visible light (rather than points of light such as in a LED rope light).  It’s a neat product that’s accessible for a lot of projects, including a costume I created, Juliet here.  I used EL wire in the hem of the dress and in the swirly hat (as well as some fiber optics added to my wig!). 


There are a lot of costumes out there that use EL wire – particularly the Tron costumes, but I wanted to take a look at what other projects were out there!  Take a look as some of these amazing artworks and craft projects!


Loving this glowing jellyfish, created by Jason Eppink.  I can totally see this reproduced for a lighting feature – it’s gorgeous!


Fantastic EL wire spider web by rogueg at Instructables!  It’s delicate and still really functional as a light feature… or even just as a work of art by itself.


Okay, so I’m not totally over the Tron thing yet… Here’s an awesome and easy mod for a bag from Lady Ada!

What’s your favorite use for EL wire?

A Costumed Christmas

My five-year-old nephew is on a serious cowboy kick lately, and I was asked by my mother (his grandma!) to make a ‘real cowboy vest’ as a gift.  However, as I am completely tapped out on funds by this point (thanks student teaching =p), I wanted to see if I could manage to fanangle this out of nothing and air.  And maybe spit.image

I raided the fabric stash and got really lucky finding a great faux leather pillow cover (from the pillow project earlier this summer) that provided JUST enough base material for this mini-sized vest.  I copied and shrank a vintage vest pattern that I’ve been saving for making Sarah from Labyrinth, and I had all the supplies I needed, already on hand!  No worries there!

Because the leather-like material was such good quality, I decided to do a really authentic look and lapped seams instead of doing a regular seam.  I stitched each one twice for durability as well as for a more authentic rustic look.  That made construction really easy and really attractive.  Finally, I top stitched all around the outside and the sleeve openings of the vest for a finishing touch.

I’m delighted with the finished product, and I hope my nephew will be as well!  This is a sturdy little garment that should last for years… at least until he outgrows it!

What’s your favorite handmade Christmas costume?

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!

Quick and Easy Day of the Dead Costumes

deaddaySo my attempt at Han Solo and Princess Leia costumes failed with an overwhelming week prior to Halloween.  We didn’t even make it to the main party we usually attend, and we missed our friends bunches!   We did make it out for a short trip to another party on Saturday, but I struggled to come up with a last minute costume for each of us.

Climbing into the costume closet, I returned with all the pieces of black clothing we owned and proposed a fitting Dia de los Muertos theme!  I printed out these decorated skull images (or calaveras) and mounted them on cardstock and construction paper to create handheld masks for each of us.  With a little coloring, they really popped!  A few flowers borrowed from Ophelia completed our costumes.

The outfits were a big hit (and they go really well with the black and white floor at my friend’s house!  Heehee!).  I’ve seen a lot of similar costumes created with makeup and really incredible styling, so that’s another option you could go for!  I liked this option for us because we didn’t have the makeup available, and we didn’t run the risk of scaring the host’s 8-month-old daughter.  It’s also interesting to learn more about Dia de los Muertos!

How was your Halloween?

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!



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.


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

Dressing Ophelia – Part 3

I finally found time on Monday to get the dress pieced together, as well as the collar in place (sleeves are coming up today!).  I decided the dress would be more period appropriate without lining and worn with a  chemise underneath instead.  seamThis is a good choice because with all the beadwork and pearls that will eventually be installed on the dress, it won’t make for an easy cleaning.   I’ll probably still put in some underarm shields to save myself some struggle later, too!

That still requires some work for the collar, a facing, something.  Since the collar of this dress shows the same gold accent on the cuffs and above the hem, I went that direction and did a sort of inside-out neckline facing.  This is something I learned in the SCA as it’s an easy way to add the common neckline detail seen in a lot of medieval clothing.  It’s prepared just the same way as a typical neckline facing, only with the facing coming to the outside instead of being hidden inside the garment.

backwardsTo make this reverse facing especially successful, finish your inside shoulder seams using a French seam or other treatment (I simply folded under the raw edges of the seam and ironed them in place).  Then you won’t have to be concerned with any raw edges of seams showing at your neckline.

Here’s where the inside-out/backwards part comes in.  Instead of right side to right side, sew the pieces together right side of facing to wrong side of garment.  This makes it so you can display the facing (the right side of the facing, without any seams or interfacing!) on the outside of the garment!  It still enables a really tidy edge, but you get a nice contrast. 

I went in after everything was ironed out (don’t forget to trim and grade those inside edges so the collar edge sits very nice; I just used my serger) and stitched the bottom edgcollare down, as can be seen in the photo.  Since you have this raw edge, zig zag stitching or covering the edge with trim is advisable, though if you feel like going to the trouble of hemming and stitching it down, that’s a nice look, too!  I think I’ll be using a pretty strand of top-drilled pearls to accent the REST of the beading that will go into this dress.  I liked the more earthy look of the offset pattern in the beads.

So there we are!  I’ve also finally received all the beads I’m going to use on this costume, so it’s just a matter of getting the trim on sleeves and hem, and getting the beading done!  The wig is also in my possession, and I think I’ll toss in a few flowers in as well!  Just a few more steps and Ophelia should be finished!

How are your projects going?