It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s October!  Fall starts, squash and pumpkins are in season, cooler days, maybe even some snow!  And finally, Halloween!

I often get comments from my non-costuming friends that Halloween must be an easy holiday for me… just head into the costume closet, pull something out, tada, set for Halloween!  Oddly enough, nothing could be farther from the truth!  Because so many of my costumes are tied to sources not in the mainstream, they’re typically not recognizable to the general public (ah, the downfall of cosplay!).  Not to mention that even if I’m doing something recognizable, I admit to a bit of fussiness and perfectionism in the creation of it.  i mean, I’ve been creating costumes and competing for over ten years now… I guess I just can’t help myself a little!

Last year I wore one of my favorites, Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, to my elementary school.  It was a success, but not as Sophie… Everyone thought I was Laura from Little House on the Prairie!  Oops!  I can definitely see where the resemblance might be:

sophielaura

Can’t really argue with that!  And being that those were some of my favorite books from my childhood, too, I decided I was perfectly willing to accept that conclusion.  Funny how things work out!

This year Nick and I are planning on Princess Leia and Han Solo; pretty recognizable characters!  I still find myself fussing over details (let me tell you, the ordeal of finding a very soft-handed fabric for Leia’s dress… well, I can’t really complain since it was on the search for this fabric that I ran into Mondo and Michael C.!), but I’m also willing to let things go!  For example, Nick’s costume is mostly altered secondhand clothing; more information about the process will come out as I continue working on them.

What’s your plan for Halloween?

Purple 80s Hair

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!

flutterina_02

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?

Sewnday!

I will stop making up stupid names for days of the week.  Thanks.

IMG_2369Today is shaping  up to be great!  I finally have a weekend day absolutely free of any prior obligations and the time is open for me to do anything I want to do!  Over the past month or two I’ve been able to cross a lot of big projects off my to do lists, all the home improvements Nick and I wanted to do have gotten done (on deck for this week is a post about our shelves repurposed as… well, shelves!), and a lot of family obligations for an upcoming wedding have been completed.  It feels great to cross those things off my list and feel prepared for the start of fall.  I try to do a little bit on projects whenever I have a spare moment, but having a full day is a good way to get really focused for me.

So today I plan on indulging in a day of sewing work, plowing through Ophelia and Vanille’s outfits as far as I can… and well, maybe playing a little Sims 3.  ‘Cause you know.  So I’ll get started here in a few minutes… Once Disaster DIY is over…

What do you like to do with a day all your own?

Dressing Ophelia – Part 2

This was not a terribly technical portion, mostly it was just a really tedious job.  The details of Ophelia’s dress include a lion rampant along the skirt hem in a pretty gold.  What’s a lion rampant you say?  It’s basically one of those lion designs where it’s up on its hind feet and roaring or something.  It’s a heraldic symbol often seen on family shields and things. IMG_2370

So!  I went on a hunt for a design I liked.  There were a lot of nice lions rampant out there, and I wanted to get close to what the design on the skirt looks like, but I also wanted something interesting and to my preference.  That’s when I found this cool lion rampant with a forked tail!  That was totally the guy.

Next, I needed to size it up.  At 5’2”, I am fun sized and I know it.  In Ophelia’s portrait, the lion starts just at the top of the gold trim on the skirt and doesn’t quite come to her knee.  So while I initially thought I would need a large design, it turns out the best size for me is really just about a regular sheet of paper sized.  That made printing pretty convenient!

The next portion was one of the tedious parts.  There are of course of a lot of little scrolly bits and fur on knees and things, and I carefully cut out the design all the way around.  Then there was YET MORE TEDIOUS TRACING.  After I affixed a section of the gold charmuse to some WonderUnder (WU is a paper-backed fusible webbing that comes in several weights.  You can use it to basically make appliqués, bonding fabric to fabric, or even fabric to other porous materials), I started tracing the design onto the paper backing from the original print.  Tracing the design onto the paper backing means I don’t have to mark the fabric and risk getting a mark in a place I don’t want.  Yikes!

Once again, there was MORE TEDIOUS cutting, but I came out with a really good result!

IMG_2374

Which awaits application to the skirt of the dress, when it’s time.  Using the WonderUnder makes it really easy: all I have to do is iron it on!  Ta da!

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:

wingframe

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:

backofdress

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!