Sunday, August 24, 2014

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

You may recall that for last year's DragonCon, my husband Matt made Eomer's costume.

This year, we can't make it to DragonCon because we're going to the UK for two weeks at the end of September and have no extra time off.  We've been pretty bummed about missing our favorite con, especially after last year's epic Tolkien track programming, including Evening at Bree and 80's Dance Party.

While making his armor last year, Matt ran out of time to make the helmet.  In June, he started casually working on it, thinking he'd have it done in time for DragonCon 2015.

Then we found out that Karl Urban (the actor who portrayed Eomer, for you non-Ringers) was going to be a guest at DragonCon this year, and we went from being bummed to throwing things and cursing.

Before I go on, I should explain something about Matt.  We've now gone to almost a dozen cons together, and he has never shown any interest in meeting celebrities (although, he seems to run into them an awful lot in elevators).  He's barely interested in celebrity panels, and usually just tags along to keep me company.  But Karl Urban is a different story because of the costume.

And THEN, Karl Urban was announced as a guest at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.  I immediately purchased tickets and a photo op for Saturday.  Matt immediately dropped everything and began working on his helmet during every spare moment - from the second we were done with dinner until past midnight.  It was worth it - check out these photos on his Tumblr! 

We knew we didn't want to be at the con all day because we wouldn't have a hotel room to decompress in, and both of our costumes are quite hot.  We arrived around 11:30, and before we'd even had a chance to register, we were bombarded with photo requests.  That's how it went for the rest of the day, mostly accompanied by shouts of, "Horse Lord!"  He was even approached by a few women who were fangirling over his gorgeous face.  Costume.  Whatever.

Even the guys from Tandy Leather thought he did a fantastic job!

Our photo op was scheduled for 3:15, and we could queue up at 2:45.  Several people waiting in line came over to get photos with Matt (they weren't too interested in me, and one girl even asked me to take the photo!)  I've never done a photo op before, so I don't know if they're always so rushed, but we were essentially herded like cattle through the photo op area, spending less than 20 seconds with Karl.  However, as we entered, Karl said, "awesome costume!"  As we left, he told Matt that the costume was phenomenal.

We also both went a bit nuts today after hearing from a friend that he'd mentioned Matt's costume to her during her autograph signing (not knowing that she knew us).  It seems that he really was impressed!  Does it get any better than that?

Our photo was snapped by so many people, like this one (courtesy of Max/Gandalf on Flickr (  Let us know if you see any floating around out there in the Interwebs, as we have very few photos of us together.

We had a great time, and left around 4:30.  We're both still completely exhausted - my whole body hurts from wearing ballet slippers for seven hours, and Matt's totally worn out from wearing that helmet (which is quite heavy!) and not being able to sit down.

Even though we can't go to DragonCon, we had a blast Ringing it up at Wizard World!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Well, I'm Still Boycotting Hobby Lobby

I'm still pretty upset over the SCOTUS ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby.  I'm not going to get all political here - the main thing is that I'm still boycotting Hobby Lobby, and this time, it's a total boycott.

I've been boycotting them for the past year, although I've had to go no more than a dozen times to get things there that I can't get anywhere else.  I absolutely hate when that happens, but I always use a 40% off coupon (not that it makes THAT much difference, as I'm still giving them my money).  However, it's a far cry from the kind of money I used to spend there.  Between fabric, thread, jewelry materials, and candy-making supplies, I used to probably spend about $1000 per year at Hobby Lobby.  Since deciding to boycott them, I've spent less than $100.

Now, they're not going to get even that.

Michael's has coupons.  So does Joann Fabrics.  In fact, I rarely purchase anything at full-price.

Are other stores further away?  Yep.  Will it cost more to order the hard-to-find things I need online instead of at Hobby Lobby?  Yep.  But I'm so infuriated by this entire situation that I'm just totally done with them.

I suggest that you are, too.

If you're still not convinced, here's a great article that debunks the most common arguments as to why Hobby Lobby isn't as evil as they seem.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Crafter's Apron

I've added two new items to my Etsy store - Buttons and Shears crafter's aprons.  It's available with or without a ruffle.  Both styles have a deep pocket on the front left and a pocket for shears on the right hip.

Buttons and Shears with Ruffles

Buttons and Shears

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Casual Costumer on Etsy!

I've opened a new shop on Etsy where I'll be selling various items, but mostly a variety of aprons.  Right now I've opened with matching mother/daughter apron sets, but will be adding more items over the next few weeks.  Check it out! 

Here are some of the items currently on sale:

Apples and Pears

Tiny Flowers

Spring Flowers

Spring Has Sprung


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Projects for Nieces and Nephew

As I mentioned before, I'm taking a break from costuming.  There are a lot of other projects that I'm working on, though, and I've been at the sewing machine for a good portion of 2014!  Below are the projects that I made for my nieces and nephew.

Dresses for A and E:

I made these dresses using Butterick 4718.  The green one is a size 6, the pink is a size 5.  I used cotton fabric from JoAnn's.  I made the shoulder straps per the pattern on the green dress, but then altered them slightly on the pink dress to be straight.

Dress for K:

This is a dress that I made for K, who is 18 months old.  I used McCall's 6541.  I think I put the button holes a bit too high.  Also, I have so much trouble making button holes!  I can do it perfectly four or five times on test fabric, and then when I do it on the actual fabric, it goes crooked, or the foot stops moving.  It's so aggravating.

Another Dress for A:

What can I say - I spoil her!  She loves my dresses, though, and because her mother always shows gratitude, I like making things for her.   This one was made with McCall's 6061.  The yellow trim goes all the way around the dress.

Apron for P:

Last, but not least, I had to make something for P since I'd made dresses for his two sisters.  I decided to make him a Bears apron so that he could help his dad grill this summer.  The pattern is my own, based off of several adult patterns.  I put a double pocket on the front, since kids LOVE to carry things around in pockets!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Doctor Who Fan Orchestra #8: 50th Anniversary Suite

I participated in the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra's 8th collaboration, the 50th Anniversary Suite!  Check it out here - I'm the Clara playing the viola!  But the most exciting thing is that Ben Foster, the Doctor Who orchestrator, appears in the video!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's Time for a Break ...

I've been making costumes for over ten years, but I've spent the past five years cosplaying.  I try to make costumes that no one else makes, and I try to expand my skillset by trying more and more complicated costumes.

Cosplaying is something I've always enjoyed.  While cosplaying at a con is always the best part of making any costume, I've always also liked the challenge of altering a pattern and the thrill of finally getting something right.  I've found it to be an incredibly rewarding hobby.

I say that my motto is, "It's not a cosplay until there's blood and tears" because it's true: I (accidentally) injure myself during almost every costume construction, and I end up breaking down in tears once or twice per project as well.  There have always been days when I just get completely aggravated and throw the costume it across the room (or hit the serger in frustration and unintentionally put a hole in the wall), but I think that's all part of the creative process. Once I get that frustration out of my system, I can refocus with a new energy.  This has always been a part of making costumes for me, but it's never been the dominant theme.

This past year, though, something changed.

I've had quite a difficult year, struggling with issues at work and feeling worthless and like I couldn't do anything right.  I haven't felt so shitty since I was in junior high.  And that transferred over into my cosplays.  I went from feeling pretty confident in my skills to feeling like I'd never made a costume before.

This year, I made three extremely difficult costumes: Shadow Weaver, which I had to draft most of myself; Eowyn, which required a lot of major alterations and drafting; and Clara, which shouldn't have been as difficult as it was, but ended up being a lot more work than expected because of the difficulties I had with the fabric.  The fabric alone for Eowyn and Clara took almost as much work as making a costume, since I had to scour the Internet and every fabric store in the Chicago area, only to have to give up and dye fabric from JoAnn's.

And those once-a-costume breakdowns turned into every-other-day breakdowns.  With every costume I made this year, I said, "I can't do this anymore."  I felt completely stupid every time I sat down to work on something.  I made careless mistakes.  The simplest things, like keeping a gorram machine threaded, turned into impossible tasks.  Things that I thought were going really well ended up disasters.  A hobby that used to be fulfilling and give me a lot of joy became a burden; instead of being eager to work on my costume at night, I began to dread it.

Worst of all, I felt like a fraud.

When I said that I didn't expect to win anything at the Chicago TARDIS Masquerade, I wasn't being humble, I meant it.  The Clara costume kept me up at night, and when I did fall asleep, I had nightmares about it.  I almost gave up on it entirely two or three times.

So it's time to take a break, at least from new costumes.  For a while now, I've wanted to remake parts of my Susan costume and remake my Liesl costume entirely.  I'd like to work on embroidering Eowyn's bodice, and I want to learn to knit so I can make Clara's shawl (and remake the Gryffindor scarf that was stolen out of my office when I was in grad school).

But none of these are projects that I HAVE to do.  If I don't feel like working on them, I don't have to.  We're not going to Dragon Con in 2014 because we're taking a trip to the UK in the fall, so there's no pressure to make anything new.  I have plenty of clothing projects (skirts, tops, dresses) that I keep putting off in favor of costumes, so I'll still be sewing, but if something goes wrong, I can take my time, or forget about the piece entirely.

I should probably fix that serger-shaped hole in the wall, too.

I just think that if I take a break from cosplay, then I can relieve some of the pressure I put on myself. For as much as I tell new cosplayers not to worry about being perfect, I can't bring myself to settle for "okay".  Now, that doesn't mean that I think all of my costumes are perfect, but that the final product is what I envisioned.  A lot of that has to do with knowing that I made something to the best of my ability, and I just feel that the costumes I made this year could have been better.  I had to settle for a lot, and I don't like putting out a final product that doesn't meet MY expectations.  Being a perfectionist used to be a positive part of costuming for me, but now it's a burden.  What's the point of having a hobby if you aren't getting any enjoyment from it?

Matt says that because we won Best in Show, I shouldn't take a break.  On the other hand, I think there couldn't be a more perfect time to stop.

That being said, I still plan on posting about the projects I'm working on, and we will have some more photo shoots coming up, so the blog should still be updated on a fairly regular basis.  So, don't go away, and remember - if there's something about one of my costumes you'd like me to go into more detail about, just leave me a comment and if I'm able (i.e. I remember how I made it), I'll write a post about it.