Tuesday, March 27, 2012

All-Con Top 15 (or so) Favorite Costumes

Every convention I go to is always full of AMAZING costumes.

I mean, I consider myself an adept costumer but, man, some of these people floor me. So here are a few of my favorite costumes that I saw this past weekend.... and these aren't in any order...because I don't think I could choose a #1 favorite.

PS. some of these pictures are mine but some were borrowed from various places on the internet because I didn't have all the pictures I wanted for this blog.

Okay so the scary guy with the sword and the crazy mask... he won first prize at the Cosplay competition. His costume was awesome. (From Monster Hunter, I belive) And mad props for Ryu back there with his light up Hadouken power.

These ladies swept the costume competition and deservedly so. Original creations, that look very Everquest or Warcrafty, but not.

Okay, I love me some Disney Villains. And Cruella is no exception.

I love when costumes are approached in a new and clever way. This also shows that sexy can be done tastefully. And hello, her skirt is the Death Star!!!

So my nephew watches Adventure Time and out of all the Finn and Jake's I saw at the con, this one was one of the best.

Anastasia is such a good movie and here are two lovely Anastasia costumes. The one on the right is my friend Rebecca!!!

Poor, my friend Heather, she kept getting mistake for some character when she was actually just in one of her Ringmaster Costumes. Heather's a fellow circus type like me!!!

As a child of the 80's, I'm a sucker for nostalgia. And Rainbow Bright was awesome!

"Wow" is all I can say about this. A homemade Predator? I can't even fathom how they made this!

I think we're crossing some genres here, but two amazing costumes. I think the one on the left is Scarecrow from one of the Batman universes, and the other is MegaMan

Another lovely, original. I love the peacock feather headdress!!!

First a predator now an alien>!?!? I smell a movie plot!!! But, wow, to walk around in that all day!

And I'm sure there were several amazing costumes that I missed. But these are some of the awesome costumes I remember seeing.

Till next time!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sailor Senshi Uniform Tutorial -- Part 1

Let's face it, Sailor Fukus (outfits) are HARD!!! So, I took notes when I made the two fukus pictured above.  Now I don't mean to brag, but I think these came out AMAZING!  So I'm going to share all of my secrets with you!!!

Bodysuit Basics:
The base pattern you'll need is going to be Kwik-Sew 3836.  I liked that this pattern has a lot of the ideal details that fukus have -- the underbust seamline, and the sewn in skirt with the attached trunks, etc.  I also used pieces from McCalls 6166.

I left mine open at the crotch and the dress goes on overhead and fastens at the crotch with hooks and snaps.  That way I didn't have to sneak any zippers in there.  

For fabric, I used a medium-heavy stretch satin that I found at Jo-ann Fabrics. And using a 40% off coupon I think I got it for around 6 or 7 bucks a yard.

The downside is that while the satin looks pretty, there isn’t that much of a stretch to it so the dress is difficult to get on and off.  If you use spandex you may be able to get in and out of the dress from the neck opening but either way, you won't have as much difficulty. 

Alterations to pattern:
Okay, so below are a few pictures of my modified patterns.  You'll need to figure out the exact new cutting lines, but my red lines in the photos should give you an idea. 

First, lay the the UPPER FRONTS over each other, matching the shoulder seams and center front seams.  Because I was using stretch satin, I had to use the XL size lines on the Kwik-Sew pattern for it to be big enough.  I just matched up the size of the McCalls pattern that was closest in size to the Kwik-Sew.  In the photo above I'm matching the XL on the Kwik-Sew with the 14 lines of the McCalls.  The neck lines are the only lines you need to change on the Kwik-sew.  Everything else is fine. Do the same thing for the UPPER BACKS.  It's easiest to match the shoulder seams and the Center back lines.  The back of the Kwik-Sew is a deep scoop back, so you'll definitely need to change that.

It's also possible that I used a bigger size on the upper bodice than needed so the upper portion would have a little more volume and the bottom bodice would be form fitting.  I can't remember 100% but it looks like I did. 

Next look at the LOWER FRONT piece.  It's fine just the way it is, but I prefer for there to be a more distinct "V" shape rather than the rounded seam line of the the actual garment.  You'll need to make sure that the seam of the FRONT PANTY piece (below) is drawn to match.  The lines in these pics appear straight but I think I had to curve them slightly for them to lay on the body correctly.  I suggest you do a practice run or two with muslin or something. 

The LOWER BACK piece has that same deep rounded scoop seam line.  So I just evened it off.   You'll need to alter the PANTY BACK to match.  You may have to do the same thing as the front and slight arc the lines to make them lay correctly on the body. 

Oh, and you may want to extend the crotch seam of the BACK PANTY a little.  With the lack of stretch in the satin, the extra fabric makes it easier to fasten.

Now the Kwik-Sew pattern is gonna talk about lining the UPPER FRONT and then tell you to sew channels and run ribbon through the channels to gather the front.... blah blah blah.  Now, depending on your fabric, you may want to add lining, but mostly that's for extra support as this pattern is originally intended for dance wear to be worn with no bra.  However, with the alterations to the pattern, a bra can now be worn. So you can probably skip the lining.

I DID however gather the center front just using a gathering stitch.  Just leave about 5/8" of the fabric flat at the top and bottom edges to allow for seam allowance.  According to the instructions the gathered portion should be about  2 1/4".  Once I had it gathered like I wanted it, I just ran a line of stitches down the center front with my machine to lock the gathers into place.

You can then sew the UPPER FRONT and UPPER BACK to their respective LOWER FRONT and LOWER BACK.  Then sew the FRONT to the back at the SIDE and SHOULDER seam. 

You can also sew the PANTY pieces together and add the elastic to the leg openings as per the instructions.  But do not sew them to the BODICE yet.  (Remember to not sew the crotch together if you're going to put the dress on that way.)

However, you can pin or tack it all together and test it for fit. 

You can probably use the skirt pattern pieces in the Kwik-Sew Pattern. But I opted to just draft a double circle skirt. You can do just a regular, single, circle skirt, but I like the double because it gives a nice fullness and there are only 2 seams.

Here's a diagram of how to make a double circle skirt.  Don't worry about the numbers and measurements yet... we'll get to that.

Okay, now let's look at the mathematical part.

For the inner arc we need to do some algebra or geometry or whatever to figure out how big to make the arc.

For just a normal circle skirt the formula is....

r = c /6.28

Don't freak out, let's break this down.

R is for radius, we'll use that to mark our inside arc.
C means circumference... in this case, the circumference is the waist measurement.
6.28 = 2 times Pi  -- I don't really understand that, I just know it works... have faith...

So lets say our waist is 30 inches.  The formula would be

R = 30 divided by 6.28
R =   4.77

Or about 4 3/4"

You would then measure from the inner corner of the fabric where the folds meet and measure out mark 4 3/4" in an arc--you can also use a compass or a length of string and two pencils, etc.


Since we're doing a DOUBLE circle skirt, that means we're using 2 full circles.  1 circle is the skirt front, the other is the skirt back.  So we need to divide our measurement by 2 or your inner circle will be 60 inches once you sew both pieces together.  If you want a really gathered skirt, or a pleated skirt, that would be okay.

Another note.  These skirts actually use your high hip measurement, not your waist, so, to find the length of the skirt, you can tack/pin the body suit together and put it on, or on your mannequin, and measure from the garment's waist seam at the hip around your body for your "waist" measurement.  And don't worry about following the "V" of the seam line just measure like normal. 

 For the length of the skirt measure from the garment's waist seam at the hip and down to however long you want the skirt to be.  I always add a few inches to the length  for seam allowance and room to adjust later... remember, it's easier to cut fabric away than it is to add it later so it's better if the skirt starts out too long and you have to trim away the excess. 

Go ahead and sew the skirt pieces together at the side seams, and attach the skirt to the panty.  Remember that when you get to the "V" part of the front, you'll want to keep the skirt edges even with the rest of the skirt, so it will NOT match the edge of the panty.  You can trim way that bit of excess fabric later.

 Next pin your skirt/panty combo to the bodice again and mark out your final hem. 

One thing I did was made the skirt shorter at the side seams and longer in the front and back--it's not necessary, but more an ascetic thing.  Once you have that set, just finish the hem with a rolled/shirt-tail hem.

This took some trial and error to get a collar that would lay properly. Again there are a few how-to’s online.


Just a side note on this link.  If you're using stretch fabric, remember your body suit pattern is printed smaller than the actual bodysuit will be when you're wearing it.  So, I suggest putting the dress on a mannequin to adjust the pattern and do a practice run out of muslin.  I had to remake my collars because the original versions weren't drafted correctly and didn't lay flat. 

P.S. The fabric I used for the skirt and collar (and bows) was the stretch satin charmeuse from SyFabrics.com. $6.00 per yard and they have the right colors for all of the sailors.


You’ll need to interface all of the collar pieces as well.  The other thing I did was made a facing for the collar that wraps under the neck line of the bodice so you don't see any white body suit.  Just make another copy of your collar pattern and cut it down to, like, a 2 1/2" horseshoe shape... and you'll have to taper the ends to fit in the collar points.

View of the facing of the collar.

Basically they’re rectangles of fabric. The bows are each two pieces. A bow and then the tail.

Here are the dimensions for each piece.  You will need to cut two of each and you can adjust the dimensions if necessary.

Front Bow:  7 x 13
Front Bow Tail:  7 x 15
Back Bow:  11 x 18
Back Bow Tail:  8 x 13

Sew around all four sides of each pair of rectangles right sides together.  Leave about a 2 inch opening at the center of the long edges so you can turn them and go ahead and turn them.  You can press them if you want.

Instead of interfacing, I used 6" horsehair braid inside the bows.  The horsehair keeps it shape WAY better than interfacing does.  Seriously, I can pull these dresses out of their bags after months of storage and the bows pop right up to their giant perky selves.

For the bows (not the tails) you're going to cut a piece of braid 2 times the length of the bow plus about 1" for overlap.  So, 15" for the front bow.  Cover the cut edges of the braid in bias tape and sew that down.  Now make bring the taped edges together and sew the braid into a loop.  Stuff that into the Front bow and work it into position.  Work the bias tape seam into one of the bow edges.

You're going to the same thing for the back bow but you'll need to sew two widths of horsehair together along the long edge to make it wide enough.

For the tails, just cut a piece of braid the same length as the tail.  Bias tape the cut edges and stuff into the bow tails.

All that's left is to center the Bows to the tails and gather the centers and stitch into place.  You can then cover the center with a scrap piece of fabric for the knot.

I also made the front bow centers kind of flat to accommodate for the brooch.

Click here for Pt. 2 of the tutorial

Sunday, March 25, 2012

All-Con 2012 Top 5 Moments

So last weekend I went to All-Con in Dallas. This was my second year at this particular convention and I really loved it last year. Now sometimes you run into the risk of a convention being awesome one year and being super lame the next year. But this was NOT the case at All-Con.

In fact, All-Con has become my favorite convention of the year! And I HIGHLY recommend that everyone check it out in 2013. It's a great con especially for first timers. There's something for everyone--whether you're into sci-fi, anime, steampunk, faire... if you're a gamer, an artisan, it doesn't matter, there's so many shenanigans to be had.

It's also a smaller convention so there's not the tendency to get overwhelmed by crowds and stuff to see. I've been to cons that were so large that I would see people I knew and tell them that I'd catch up with them later, only to never see them again the entire weekend.

All-con is not like that. There's lots of time to chat and hang out with your con friends.

So... here's my top 5 favorite moments of All-Con 2012... in no particular order.

Hosting my costuming panel. It was one of the first panels on the first day so turnout wasn't great, but I did manage to cover everything in the 45 minute time slot.

Seeing the Damsels of Dorkington!!! They're an improv comedy group that butchers classic literature by infusing it with ridiculousness and nerd trivia all for the sake of comedy. I even got to guest star in one of their shows again. It was a blast! They're an awesome group of people. Check out their website: http://damselsofdorkington.com/

Winning Runner Up in the Cosplay competition for the 2nd year in a row. (This is last years trophy but they look just the same.) The Sailors rocked it out!

Meeting Camden Toy. For those of you scratching your head, Camden Toy is a character actor who's played many of the demons on Buffy and Angel... Including one of the Gentlemen in the silent episode of Buffy, "Hush". (We're holding scalpels, btw.)

Seeing an amazing replica of the Delorean from Back to the Future.

And of course the bonus moment.

Hanging out with all my friends! AND celebrating the 1 year friendship anniversary with Heather and Amanda, whom Michelle and I met last year at All-Con. (We never went and took pictures at our table). Heather squeed over me because I was dressed as Hughes from Fullmetal Alchemist and I latter squeed cause she and Amanda were dressed as Zoe and Kaylee from Firefly.

Well that's it for today, I have to go to work now.

Stay tuned for my top 10 favorite costumes!!!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yay Spring Break!!!

(note... blogger is being a pain right now and not uploading images... so those will be added later)

So this past week I think my anatomy prof was trying to kill me because we had two exams. And since I "accidentally" missed my class the previous Thursday, I didn't get the heads up on the exam this past Thursday. So I found out about the exam on Thursday right before the exam on Tuesday...

Confused yet?

It's ok. I made an A on Tuesday's exam, and I feel really good about Thursday's.

Anyway. Now it's time for spring break.

But in costuming news, here's a rundown of what's going down.

I finished all of the chicken costumes for Turducken... besides the finishing steps like closures and such. I didn't have my camera on Thursday to take pictures, though. And we even did fittings. So I had the costumes on the girls and no camera... lame. But I'm sure there will be plenty of time for all that.

We have two weeks when we go back to finish everything. And everything is pretty much done except for all the finishing.

Oh, I get to make a giant squirrel tail. Stay tuned for that. Lol!

Now that I have time for my own stuff. I've started working on things for All-con.

Sadly, there will be no new costumes to be debuted... well... the sailors will be new to All-con but not new.

And Jack's mask won't be done either. I COULD rush it and have it done, but it wouldn't be done well, so I'll just wait.

I do have a few new things for Jack though.

New shoes. Nice and platformy and tall.

A new shirt/body pad to make my ribcage look bigger and my waist smaller... This isn't totally necessary, but when the new mask is finished, it'll help because the new mask is bigger than the current mask and it'll help to balance the proportions.

I'm making it from camping foam because camping foam is awesome and cheap. I'm just going to cover it in white fabric and MAYBE make a new bat tie if there's time... if not then DEFINITELY for A-kon!

I'll probably need to let out the coat, but I'm going to wait until after All-con for that.

And I'm altering my current mask. I've cut out the eye pieces and I'm recovering the openings with 2 layers of chiffon. I can see out of it pretty well and it doesn't flash out.

Also, I'm hoping the larger openings will help the ventilation. lol!

Well that's it for now. I'm gonna grab some food and then work on stuff...

Wanna see my "to do" list.

Revise panel presentation
Make business cards
Sew Jack's pants back together
Finish his shirt
Finish his mask alterations
Sew the closures on the sailors
Make a sheath for my sword (so it's more con-friendly)
Choreograph a 1 and a half minute cosplay skit.

Also.... work.

Better get on it!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's been awhile...

But I have been working on things... I just haven't had any really good progress pics to show ya.

Jack is STILL drying. This humidity is not helpful at all. However, he was dry enough to take off of the foil/foam head mold--which I did. Then I went on the inside and evened out the paperclay in there... filling in the shallow spots and scraping down the thick parts.

I attempted sanding some of the mask but it was really uneven, so today I went and applied a thin coat of paperclay to hopefully even out the surface a bit. When that dries I'll go back to sanding.

Does anyone know if you can put paperclay in the oven on a really low heat for a bit? I have GOT to get this mask dry.

I'm thinking this weekend, I'll film a how-to video on the whole process I've used so far.

In Turducken news. I've completed Chicken #1 down to the finishing. She just needs a zipper in the back and her boa sewn on. Here are a few shots.

This design uses McCall's pattern 6166. I've evened out the handkerchief hem and made the short sleeve a full length sleeve. For "wings" we're sewing half-circles of fabric down the side and sleeve seams.

It's made out of bridaly satin stuff that's from Jo-Ann because 90% of MCC's fabric comes from there.

The character is the lead soprano and she's your typical opera diva, hence the white and the feathers. I'm hoping to stone it as well.

I have to make another dress just like this for the understudy/alternate actress. Then 2 more "normal" chickens using the same design ideas. (PS. KC! Maybe we can get some marabou trim--like the not as fancy boa--for the normal chickens to trim the necklines.)

All of these little dresses will go over tights and oversized, ruffly, lacy, bloomers.

Who wants to see turkey pics???

So there are yards and yards and yards and yards of ruffles on this skirt. It looks fantastic... the downer is, they have to be sewn on by hand. Boo. But it's gonna be awesome.

Originally we thought to give her a big Vegas showgirl fan tail, but this gives the same idea and is pretty flipping cool.

The bodice pics are from last week but she does have her giant mutton sleeves sewn on now.

This opera is more or less the fun costume show this semester. The others were/will be shopped or pulled from stock. So this is the show we get to make stuff for.

Anyway. That's all for tonight. I'll take some updated pics of Jack tomorrow and post an update.

Ruffly yours,