Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Torchwood Costumes

So Matt is thinking about making a John Hart costume from Torchwood, and I'd like to come up with a cool Torchwood costume as well.  Gwen's costumes are all totally boring; plus, I don't like her.

So I was thinking of a few that I could possibly do:

Alice Guppy - Torchwood operative from the early 1900's.  She and Emily are the ones who originally found Jack; after torturing him, they recruited him as a freelance agent.   After John Hart buried Jack, Alice is one of the agents who discovered him. So that's kind of appropriate.  However, someone has already done a TERRIFIC Alice Guppy, and I hate doing repeats of really good costumes.  Although, honestly, I really want to do a costume that can be photographed at the Peabody Mansion, and this would be perfect ...

Then there's Diane Holmes, who appeared in Out of Time.  Owen fell in love with her, but that's not why I like her.  I absolutely love her jacket!  I think this is the costume I'm leaning towards the most, just because I think it will be the less stressful one to make!

I could make Emma-Louise's costume for the same reason - I just adore her clothes!

Or, I could do a Buffy crossover and go as Drusilla ...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More of Belle's Cape

Tonight I was working on Christmas stuff and watching Prince Caspian, and I really felt like doing my favorite thing in the whole wide world - ripping.  So, I took Belle's cape off the dummy, grabbed my seam ripper, got comfy, and ripped the sides of the capelet while Disney took massive liberties with the second Narnia film.  Not that I mind that as much as the horrible ice river collapsing scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which was just bloody awful.  I have less issues with the liberties taken in the second film because I'm not a huge fan of Prince Caspian.  I kind of don't understand the point of bringing the Pevensies back, they play such a tiny role in the book.

Also, I really love Susan's dresses.  I can't wait to remake the leather corset and assemble new maile.

I digress.

I ripped and refitted the capelet, so hopefully it now will less ginormous.  While it seems to sit pretty well just with the pins, I probably won't get around to sewing it for a few more days.

Also, I purchased 8 yards of baby blue velvet (closest color I could get within my price range, as this isn't a "real" costume) for my Eowyn robe.  It was on sale for $4.79/yard, regularly priced $7.89/yard.  I had budgeted $60 for the costume, and so far, I've only spent about $39.  I won't have to buy more fake fur, as the only fur is really around the collar.  I'm trying to decide what to do for the cream lining - fleece?  Flannel?  I'll probably wait until I have the outer layer done so I know exactly how many yards to get, since I estimated on the velvet (those sleeves are HUUUUGE).

I'm excited to be working on costumes again.  I've been getting inspired by The Ornamented Being blog.  Check it out if you've never heard of it.  You'll be saying, "I want to make that ... and that ... and that ... and that ..."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I really should be working on Christmas gifts ...

... but I have gotten the cosplay bug again since leading the Costuming Basics panel at ChicagoTARDIS, and now I want to research some Lord of the Rings costumes!  Someone please drag me away from the computer!  Since I'm a brunette, it makes more sense to make an Arwen costume, but everyone has done her costumes to death.  Plus, there aren't any of her costumes that I just absolutely love.

I'd like to do Arwen's riding outfit for the sole reason of having photos done on my friend's horse, but Kate from made it perfectly and way better than I ever could.  Check out all of her other LOTR costumes here.  The detail that she includes in her work is breathtaking!

Nadine from Celtic Ruin's Costumes made a gorgeous Elrond costume.  This photo does not do it justice, but here is some detail from the back.  Nadine and Kate lead a LOTR Costuming panel at Dragon*Con each year, and I was just drooling over the detail on all the costumes that they create.  They do a fantastic job on their panel, too, so if you're at Dragon*Con, be sure to check them out.  You'll learn so much, even if you're an experienced costumer.

This year their friend Dustin was there in his Aragorn outfit, and I again was drooling over the level of detail that was put into the leatherwork.  I'm so mad that the shot wasn't in focus, but you get the idea - this costume is absolutely gorgeous.  I don't even want to know how much money it took to create the entire thing, as I know that my Queen Susan costume was hundreds of dollars, and I didn't even use real leather.

If I ever do a LOTR dress, I'd probably want to do this Eowyn dress.  I absolutely love it, and I prefer dark colors to anything too light.

However, the thought of making Eowyn's armor makes me want to jump up and down.  If I did this costume, I know that Matt would want to make Eomer's costume to compliment it.  He's wanted to make Eomer's armor from the first time we saw the film.  Again, both costumes would require extensive leatherwork.  I wonder if we can take classes in leatherwork around here?

I also love this robe, which Eowyn wears in the extended edition when she dreams about Numenor, and I would love to make it, but only to lounge around the house in!  Doesn't it just look so comfortable?

For now, these are just dream costumes.  I'll have to get more freelance jobs before I can even start to seriously think about making any of these!  In the meantime, I'll be ordering new rings to remake my Queen Susan chain maile.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I love this dress ...

I had to post this -  I absolutely love this dress!  It's in the commercial for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Shadow Weaver

I often run across costumes that I'd like to make, and one that I've been considering for a while is Shadow Weaver, one of the villains on She-Ra.  I think I may make this for Dragon*Con next year!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Notes from ChicagoTARDIS 2011 Costuming Basics

Here are some of my notes from my Costuming Basics panel at ChicagoTARDIS.

Choosing Your Character

Decide which character you'd like to do, how much time and money it would take to create that costume, and if you can actually create the costume.  Personally, I love to see specific, unique costumes, like Rory with glasses and a magnifying glass from The Girl Who Waited.  Put time and effort into your research - learn the details of your costumes.  Details are what makes a costume go from, "oh, there's another Doctor", to "HOLY CRAP, I need a photo with the Tenth Doctor RIGHT NOW!"  The same goes for a unique costume.  You can do a basic Amy with skirt, sweater, and scarf, or you can make her kick-ass leather armor from The Girl Who Waited.  Keep in mind, it is absolutely fine for you to do a very basic costume, especially if you're new to cosplay.  However, if you want to enter a costume contest or even just stand out, then definitely try to do something that no one's done before, or no one's done well.

Doctor Who Costuming Resources

Look at hi-res screen captures.  Watch Doctor Who Confidential.  Watch any behind-the-scenes footage you can of anyone in any film making props and costumes.  Visit websites for photos, how-tos, props, etc.  Follow famous cosplayers like Ana Aesthetic, who often talk about their costumes.

You can find a great Weeping Angel costume how-to here.

Sewing Tips:

- Find patterns on Ebay, or on sale at Hobby Lobby and JoAnn Fabrics.  Never, ever, ever pay full price for a pattern!

- When buying a pattern, measure your hips, waist, chest, and shoulders (depending on what the pattern is for).  Look at the back of the pattern, and whichever size corresponds to your largest body part is the size that you should purchase.  It's much easier to reshape the rest of it by cutting the pattern down rather than trying to make it larger.
Keep in mind that pattern sizes are the same as formal wear - if you wear an 8 or 10 off the rack, you'll probably end up buying a pattern size of 14 or 16.

- For homemade patterns, I recommend using large gridded presentation easels from Office Depot or similar office supply store.  Your pattern will be much more accurate than if you just try to cut something out of newspaper.  These are also great if you need to modify a pattern to make it bigger, make the skirt longer or wider, etc.  Just tape them onto the existing pattern.

- Get a good pair of shears, and ONLY use them for cutting material.  Paper will dull the blade.

- Plan on making the first version out of cheap material - learn what works and what doesn't.

- New costumers should stay away from difficult fabrics like chiffon, velvet, and silks and satins.

- Advanced sewers should invest in a serger to make beautifully-finished seams.  A serger also makes working with chiffon and other thin materials much easier, as it will prevent the edges from unraveling.

- The seam ripper is your friend.  You will use it often.  You will throw it across the room.  Buy two.  You will also throw your costume across the room, swear at it, threaten to throw it out, etc.  You will probably have to take the entire thing apart at some point.  Do not despair - everyone does it at one point or another.  Or every costume, in my case. 

- You will probably have to make one piece of your costume over again.  Be prepared for this - if you think you're going to struggle with something, buy an extra yard of fabric if you can afford it.  This will save you time, as you won't have to try to figure out where you got the fabric from and which fabric it was exactly.  And, if you never use it, you can always repurpose it into something else.

- If you can afford a dressmaker's form, buy an adjustable one.  That way you can use it for you and a friend!  Check Ebay or JoAnn Fabrics.  Again, never pay full-price for a form.

- If you don't have the room or the funds for a form, you can make your own out of duct tape!  You can find a tutorial here.

- Sign up for any mailing list your local fabric store offers.  Chains like JoAnn Fabrics offer weekly 40% off coupons that are good for anything, and often have additional coupons for fabric, notions, etc.

- Take your time!  If you read my blog, you'll see that I mess up all the time because oftentimes I don't pay attention to simple things like which way the velvet lies ...

Selecting Fabrics

- Keep in mind that the color of the costume onscreen may not be the color of the costume off-screen.  This is because the DP might use a filter, the editor might color correct.  This means two things:  one - you can either make the costume reflect the on-screen version or the off-screen version; two - you don't need to worry about matching your fabric color exactly.

- Pick fabrics that look similar to the ones used in the costume, but are cheaper and easier to work with.

- Heavier fabrics = heavier and hotter costumes, so consider how hot (or how breezy) your costume would be if you decided to make it out of wool (or chiffon).

- Drape is important, so keep in mind that heavier fabrics don't drape well, and lighter fabrics will show off every curve.

- Look for fabric in every department, even upholstery.  You never know where you'll find the perfect pattern or weight.  Also look in upholstery for trim.

- Thrift stores are great for finding huge batches of fabric.  Look for curtains, tablecloths, and bedspreads.

- In Chicagoland, there is a fantastic store called Vogue.  There are two locations, one in Evanston and one in Chicago.  Each location consists of room upon room of fabric bolts.  I know other cities have a fabric district as well, so do an online search and see what you find.

There are also some great online fabric stores.  Make sure you order swatches, because color might be different from the photo, and it's hard to tell weight and texture from a photo. (This is the online site for the store in Chicago/Evanston, and the selection online is hit or miss.  I recommend visiting one of the stores if you can.)

Accuracy vs. Cost

Your costume can be accurate, or it can be cheap, but rarely can it be both!  Decide before you start if you're going to set a budget, or if you're just going to go all out there and screw the money (I usually have the latter approach).

However, keep in mind that there are lots of ways you can cheat and make a really good costume without spending tons of money.  All of the "buttons" on my Clockwork Droid costume are wood that I got from Hobby Lobby's wood aisle and are just painted gold.  If I'd purchased actual buttons, I'd have easily spent over $100.  And remember, you can always go back and remake parts of your costume later when you have more skills or more money.  Basically, I go cheap where I can so that I can spend the money where its needed.


- Visit the Replica Prop Forum to start learning how to use different techniques.  Look at things you won't even use for your own costume - often it will give you ideas anyway.

- When building props or non-fabric parts of your costume, wander the aisles at Home Depot or other hardware stores.  The jewelry sections of craft stores are great for decorations and wire.

- A great substitute for leather and metal is craft foam.  There are some great websites that teach you how to use craft foam, like this one.  You can shape it, paint it, carve it, you name it!  I've used it for my Queen Susan vanbrace.  I've seen some fantastic armor that looks like metal.

- Seriously - and I can't stress this enough - learn how to cheat.  Found items can be repurposed with a little paint and glue.  Plastic can be painted to look like metal.  Just please, please, please do not make a sword out of aluminum foil!

The Cosplay Community

- Join to see if someone else has already made your costume.  If so, you can get an idea on how to go about creating yours, or see how you can improve upon someone else's technique.

- As I said before, follow famous cosplayers on Twitter or Facebook.

- Pay attention to what other costumers are doing.  Ask questions.  Most people would love to share how they made their costume.

At the Convention

- Bring a quick-fix kit that consists of thread, needle, safety pins, double-sided tape, velcro, a hot glue gun - anything you might need to slap your costume back together.  Remember, even in films they're sometimes fixing costumes between each take, so don't be upset if things start falling off of your costume in the middle of the day.  Just run back to your hotel room and remember to do a better fix when you get home.

- Even if you have a basic costume, chances are someone is going to take a photo of you, so be prepared!  Practice a pose in your costume before you get into the halls - pick something your character does.

- Be confident!  Putting on a costume and walking around in public is scary, but remember - you're surrounded by people who are huge geeks and who love the same show that you do.  Cosplayers are icing on the convention cake.

- Connect with other cosplayers!

Next Year

- Learn from your mistakes.  If something didn't work before, why didn't it work?

- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses - build on your talents, and work on things you're having trouble with (it used to take me 8 hours to put in a zipper, I've got it down to about a half an hour now!)

- Think about what you liked best about your last costume and incorporate that into your new costume.  If you liked making props, then make a costume that requires a lot of props.  If you liked working with lots of fabric, then make a costume that contains yards of fabric!

- Challenge yourself.  It will make your costuming experience more rewarding, and it will make your costume more interesting.

- Branch out into other areas like masks, leather, or metalwork.  Even if you want to try, but you think you can't do it, try anyway.  Give yourself months to work on learning how to make molds or shape leather.  The worst that can happen is that you hate it and you find a different way to make that piece.

Good luck, and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ChicagoTARDIS Recap

Today was the last day of ChicagoTARDIS 2011, Chicagoland's annual Doctor Who convention, and I led my very first panel.  A call came out a few weeks ago for panelists, and I volunteered for the Costuming Basics panel.   It was very exciting to see my name listed in the program, along with two other presenters.  However, I was nervous that everyone would show up and have no real idea what to talk about, and I'm the kind of person who gets anxious if if there isn't A PLAN.  So, on Friday, I sat down and created a pretty good outline, just in case.  I doubted I would end up using it.

When we got to the convention, we lurked around for a while.  I scared quite a few kids just by staring at them, but most worked up the courage and bravely came over to give me a high five or have their picture taken with me.  One little guy saw me and literally took two steps backward.  I really could just stand around all day without moving too much, just freaking people out.  I love it when they think I'm a statue ...

My panel was at 11, and I'm so glad that I did create an outline, because only two of us showed up, and the other panelist didn't really seem to have a plan.  There were about twenty people in attendance, which isn't bad, considering that ChicagoTARDIS is such a small con, and we were opposite a big panel in the main programming ballroom.

I kind of took over the entire panel, going off of my notes and comments from the audience.  Everyone seemed pretty engaged, so I hope they learned at least a little something.  I absolutely want to do this again next year!  I had a lot of fun, and let's face it, I love telling people what to do.

After my panel, I put my Clockwork Droid mask back on and went to the Dealer's Room to get my book, Running Through Corridors, signed by Rob Shearman.  He and Toby Hadoke sat down a few years ago and started rewatching Doctor Who from the very beginning.  Matt and I have been reading it since we started watching the classic series, and it's fantastic.  Not only that, it's gotten us through some of the horrible reconstructions!

Rob loved my Clockwork Droid costume.  He said that I was so scary, and that he imagined that if I took off my mask, there would be nothing but a void ... we chatted for a bit (me through the mask).  He was so lovely, and he seemed very impressed by the entire costume.  He even drew a Dalek in my book!  Tony Lee, a fantastic graphic novelist and writer whom I follow on Twitter, was signing next to Rob.  He kept chuckling over my costume, and at one point took a picture, saying, "this is Rob signing for a Clockwork Droid!"  Rob kept saying that if I saw him later sans mask, I should say hi.  Because we weren't planning on sticking around for too much longer, I said, "I'll just take off my mask now", and lifted it off enough so he could see me.  He said something like, "oh, it is a real person, and it's rather nice, too."  He said I didn't look very evil.

That just made my day!  Later, after attending a panel called The Good, the Bad, and the Torchwood, hosted by David Vox Mullen of the DVM Podcasting Empire, Matt and I decide to walk around a bit more.  We went back to the Dealer's Room, where we both were a huge hit.  As we wandered towards the back, lo and behold, there was Rob, talking to some people.  He saw me and introduced me (by name!  He didn't even look at my badge, he remembered my name!) to the people he was with.  I grabbed Matt and motioned that he should introduce himself.    Rob then felt bad because he's autographed the book "To Nat", instead of Matt.  He offered to fix it, but we'd already put the book in the car, and it wasn't a big deal.  But he chatted with us for about a minute about Running Through Corridors.  He is really a great guy!
We lurked around a bit more before heading to one last panel.  We left the convention feeling pretty good.  Matt's Inspector Spacetime costume (from Community) was a hit, we both met Rob Shearman, I got to talk to some of my new Doctor Who friends, and my panel went really well.

Oh, and I just checked my Twitter feed, and Tony Lee tweeted a few hours ago that he heard there's an Inspector Spacetime cosplayer, and he needs a photo.  That's Matt!  He even retweeted a picture of him!  Even the actor who plays Inspector Spacetime retweeted a photo.  Matt is famous!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Belle Dress and Cape

I thought I'd blogged about this before, but apparently not!  I've been working on this Belle Winter Dress for about two years - it's not complicated, but I'm not making it for any specific reason other than the fact that it's always been my favorite.

The bodice and skirt are actually made from two different patterns:  Simplicity 9891 for the sleeves and skirt and Simplicty 4940 for the bodice.  The sleeves are pink chiffon that I had left over, the skirt is a low-quality, lightweight velvet, and the bodice is satin.  The cape is also made from a lightweight velvet.  I got the velvet and satin from

Well, the other night I decided to try to finish my Belle dress for the work Halloween party today.  It's not completely finished - I still need to add the ribbon down the front and around the waist, and I need to add the ruffle to the bottom of the dress.  However, it's good enough for right now!

I attached the ruffles to the sleeves and then the sleeves to the dress.  I was absolutely shocked at the fact that I sewed the sleeve on correctly the first time!  Sleeves and zippers were always my two worst parts of a dress, and I've made great strides in both over the last two years.
The sleeves were finished with the serger, which I think adds a nice weight to them.  They're a little long, though, so I'm going to shorten them up.  The top portion of the arm is a bit tight and the seams are cutting into my arms,  but instead of trying to rip them out and put in new sleeves, I think I just won't eat as much Halloween candy.

Here is the (semi) finished dress:



Because Belle's cape is really more of a capelet with a long back, I used two different patterns:

 Simplicity 5840 view B for the cape (only two panels).
McCall's 3033 view A for the front capelet.

I cut out the cape and attached it to the capelet, which I cut about three inches shorter than the pattern.  once because I had an error in the sewing, then I pinned it right sides together, then I got distracted and thought I'd already unpinned and repinned it and ended up sewing it right sides together, so I had to rip it out.  Oy!!!

I then made the hood and a hood lining so that you can't see the seams when the hood is down.  After attaching those to each other, I sewed them to the cape/capelet (yes, it's four layers of fabric - blech). The cape is actually shorter than I would have liked.  See, I had to open the fabric to a single layer and cut each piece at a time because the pattern is so wide.  And on the second piece, I forgot to flip the pattern upside down.  So I cut two of the same side.  The material that I had left wasn't long enough to cut an entire piece, so I ended up cutting about four inches off of the bottom of the cape.  (But I think it still works - I wouldn't want white fur swishing along the floor getting dirty!)

I then had to add the fur lining.  I found fake fur on a bolt at JoAnn Fabrics at $10.99/yard.  It was on sale for 40% off, so I purchased 1.5 yards in case I made a mistake.  I ended up cutting three 5" pieces from that 1.5 yards, and that's all, so don't get too much!

It was much, much easier to put on the fur than I thought it would be.  I pinned it right sides together to the bottom of the cape (with the bottom hem and the bottom of the fur together, just like if you were sewing a regular seam).  I could have just folded the fur fabric in half and sewed it onto the fabric that way, but because it's so thick, I found it was difficult to match up the edge of the fabric and keep it pinned in place.  Therefore, once I had the fur sewn onto the cape, I then folded it in half and sewed it right onto that same seam.  I did the same thing for the edge of the capelet.  Sewing it to the seam ensured that no stitches showed on the outside edge of the fur or on the fabric.  Also, there are a few spots where the fur had to overlap because the pieces weren't long enough.  I tacked the length of those together by hand, and you can't even tell where the seams are.

However, I had to sew the fur onto the hood differently, since I didn't want any seam to show.  I followed the first step, but then after sewing it on, I turned the edge over the inside of the seam, so that the fabric was between the two edges of the fur.  Therefore, the outer fabric of the hood was sewn right sides together, and the inside fabric was sewn "wrong" sides together (because the hood has a lining, it's technically not the wrong side of the fabric, but it is the wrong side of the fur).  I then hand-stitched the edge of the fur to the seam I'd created so that there would be no visible stitching.  Whew!

And so that's the finished product (so far).  The capelet looks great until I put it on, and then I feel, to paraphrase some of Kaylee's cut dialogue from Shindig, "like the clapper of a bell".   The problem is that the fur makes the fabric stand out more instead of just draping.  I'm going to rip it at the bottom of the shoulder seams and, while keeping the top two inches intact, cut some of the excess material out of the bottom portion of it so it lays a bit flatter.  I also need to correctly hem the dress - I was in a rush last night and just hemmed it to the floor.  It's about an inch too long!  And as I mentioned earlier, I still need to put on the ribbon, but that will take a while because it has to be tacked on by hand, and that's really nerve wracking, so I want to do it when I don't have to rush.

My husband thinks I look like Mrs. Claus, and at my work party, 90% of people also thought I was Mrs. Claus (the other 10% thought I was Little Red Riding Hood or Sleeping Beauty).  It didn't help that someone was dressed up as Santa (though he didn't suggest I was cosplaying his wife).

And here is the final-ish product!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Padme's Aqua Georgette

I had a request in the comments last week about how I created the Aqua Georgette dress that Padme wears in Revenge of the Sith.  I made this costume for Celebration III, which was held in Indianapolis.  I believe this was only the third or fourth costume that I'd ever made, and it was probably the most complex dress that I've ever done.

I spent a lot of time studying the extremely helpful reference shots on Padawan's Guide, which is an absolute godsend if you're doing any kind of Star Wars costuming.  

I started out using McCall's Pattern 3535, and I adjusted it to correspond with Padme's dress.  Instead of making spaghetti straps, I made the straps a little over an inch wide.  The underskirt is satin, and the overskirt is something which I can't even remember the name of anymore.  It is a gorgeous, flowing fabric which I believe had "lamb" somewhere in the name.  I can't find it anywhere now, but I believe I originally found it near the chiffon at Hobby Lobby.  I actually bought them out because I used the same fabric for an evening gown the next year, and after the fabric was gone, they never restocked it!

Another thing that I had to mod was the bodice - because of the way that Padme's dress looks with the lace, the bodice doesn't just go straight across, it's kind of heart shaped, starting at the split.  Though the split was in the same place as the pattern, the bodice couldn't be as long or the seam would show; therefore, I adjusted the length of the bodice accordingly, and didn't split the overskirt all the way to the bodice seam.  The way I made the overskirt, then, was that instead of having two separate front pieces, I put the two pieces of the front pattern together and cut out one big piece of fabric, then cut it by hand up the middle.

After I put the two pieces together, I had to put on the lace.  I found a bolt of pale blue lace at JoAnn Fabrics, I believe.  It had a rosy pattern to it with a nice edging, and it looked enough like the embroidering on Padme's dress.  The lace was the most difficult thing that I had to do with the entire dress.  First, I cut off some of the edging and ran it up both sides of the split, and tacked it by hand.  I then went over it with a machine stitch, on both the outer and inner edges so that it didn't move around.  I then cut out long pieces for the straps, and wrapped the lace around the straps before sewing it on.  I also had to do a lot of tacking so that the lace laid flat on the bodice.  I then cut a huge piece from the middle of the lace, laid it over the dress and cut it to fit the shape of the bodice.  I again hand-stitched it into place and then did a machine stitch.  I then cut the edging off and shaped it into the heart-shaped bottom of the design.  That was very difficult, because I had to make sure that not only were both sides equally spaced, they were the same shape.  The edging only went on the front of the bodice - in the back, I turned the lace under and hand-stitched the edge.

The next step was to make the sleeves.  For this, I simply measured my bicep, my wrist, and the length of my arm, then cut a pattern out of paper (making sure to add in about a 1/4 inch allowance on each side).  I also cut out the lace for the sleeves at the same time, and sewed it on before sewing the sleeves together.  I put in elastic at the top of the sleeve to help it stay up.  I also hand-stitched some blue ribbon at the top, but did not add any beads because they were uncomfortable.  (Please ignore the stains on the sleeves - we got caught in the rain at CIII, and when I got home, I found that there was discoloration at the elbows.  Not sure how it happened!)

The wings were created by making a large T-shaped pattern on a piece of poster board (I now use huge presentation easels from Office Depot to make my patterns.)  I shaped the inner corners of the T so that they curved nicely. 

You'll see that at the top of the T, I cut a V into the fabric, and I attached the wings to the very top of the straps.  I then gathered the fabric at each shoulder blade and put in one or two stitches so that the edges of the wings (the top of the T) would fall correctly.

The final step was the headband.  For this, I purchased a plain, wire crafting headband at Hobby Lobby.  I'm not sure what the flat pieces are - I'm sure they were some kind of jewelry item.  I know I have the extras somewhere in my sewing room, but I couldn't find them.  I hot-glued those to the headband, and then I hot-glued blue plastic gems on top of those.

As far as shoes, I just wore silver heels.  I did NOT make a pregnant belly, because it weirded me out.  It's so funny - as I've been writing about making this dress, I see so many things about it that I don't like now.  For instance, if I were to make this dress now, I would definitely have to do the pregnant belly, and that means that I would NOT make it!  In addition, I'd probably learn how to embroider and actually do the embroidery on the dress instead of use lace or some other method.  And, of course, I'd have to include the beads at the top of the sleeves.  I also can tell how much better my sewing skills are now!

However, I still love the dress because it's so pretty, and I made it so many years ago when I was more interested in just being recognized as the character.  Also, I'm not George Lucas.  I know to leave my creations alone and not go back and try to "fix" them!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, let me know!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Clockwork Droid Elements

This past weekend was Dragon*Con!  I had a blast, and my new clockwork droid elements worked out perfectly.  I have a new mask, which my husband made, and a new wig.  I decided to keep count of all the photos taken of me, and by the end of the weekend (three days of costuming) I had almost 600 people snap pictures of my costume!  We saw another clockwork droid, but its mask wasn't even as good as my first mask.  It looks like there was a group of four other droids there as well, but we never saw them.  According to pictures, though, my costume was the best (am I modest or what?)

If you know nothing about Dragon*Con, let me enlighten you - it's four days of everything geeky: costumes, celebrity guests, science panels, podcasts, supernatural stuff, sci-fi TV, novels, you name it.  Over 40,000 people converge on five hotels in Atlanta every Labor Day weekend for Dragon*Con!  There are literally thousands of events to attend, a costume contest, a masquerade, several balls, tons of parties, and floor upon floor of drinking and socializing with other nerds!  Oh, and queues!  LOTS of queues!

My friends Samm and Sera with Kermit
It is a very scary concept if you're not into all of that - last year I came across a family of four clutching their bags in terror, clearly not aware of what was going on around them.  They had just come to Atlanta for vacation or something, and appeared terrified.  We also saw some pilots last year who had the same bewildered expressions on their faces - I'm sure they'd been complimented on their "costumes"!

Dragon*Con is totally surreal.  While in costume, I had a girl hug me, another girl tell me that I was the creepiest thing at the entire con, a drunk guy kissed me on my clockworky lips (eeeewwwwww ....) and I had several people thank me because The Girl in the Fireplace was their favorite Doctor Who episode.  At least a dozen people told me that they wanted to make a clockwork droid costume.

My friends Samm and Sera went as the Snowths from The Muppet Show and were the hit of the con.  Everywhere they went, people were singing, "Manah manah!"  We even heard people singing it when they weren't around.  It really got into the con-goers heads!  They had their picture taken with Felicia Day of The Guild and she tweeted the photo on her Twitter stream.  So Samm and Sera are famous!

One of my favorite things to do as a clockwork droid is to just stand in a corner, or in front of a pillar, and not move.  Sometimes I'd turn my head or arm or something, especially if it was for a picture, but most of the time, I'm just frozen.  A girl even poked me in the chest because she didn't think I was real, then practically ran away screaming after discovering that I wasn't a mannequin (although, you'd think the badge would be a dead giveaway).

Bob and Carl and Bellatrix Lestrange

I posed with quite a few interesting characters, and one of my favorite photos was taken with Bob and Carl: Sci-Fi Janitors, who are the stars of many, many Dragon*ConTV sketches, and Bellatrix Lestrange.

Matt was the Tenth Doctor again, and I think he just looks fantastic when he's trussed up like David Tennant.  We saw a TON of Eleventh Doctors, and most of them were just sloppy and lazy.  Trousers, bow tie, and tweed coat does not an Eleventh Doctor make.  I will constantly be baffled by the people who don't put effort into researching their costume.

Two Tens and an Eleven
All weekend long, Dragon*Con TV runs bumpers, videos, and live panels.  It is total geek saturation for four days straight.  There are panels on Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Buffy, Firefly, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and practically every sci-fi show that's on the air.  Costumes include superheroes, comic book characters, TV and movie characters, original characters, steampunk, and crazy interpretations of all of them.  The very best cosplayers come out and it is just amazing to hear people talk about how they create their costumes.  I mentioned how some of the Eleventh Doctor costumes were sloppy - even the worst Eleventh Doctor costume is better than most costumes you'll see at other cons.  Dragon*Con attendees are dedicated.  Serious art goes into the best costumes, and I can't even imagine how many hundreds of hours the winners of the costume contest and masquerade put into their costume.

I'll eventually post official Clockwork Droid pictures up here and at my profile on, with a side-by-side comparison to the original masks from the show.  Now the big question is - what do I do next year?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

I haven't posted anything in a l-o-n-g time, partly because I've been super busy training for a marathon, and also because I've been taking a break from costuming.  I'll be starting back up this week, however, working on some touch-ups for my Clockwork Droid costume, which I'll be wearing to Dragon*Con!

However, this past weekend I attended Wizard World Chicago Comic Con as press with some of my friends, the Space Gypsies.  I was there to film panels and general Con activities.

After having been to Dragon*Con, I have to say - I wasn't that impressed with WWCC.  They had no idea how to handle crowd control, their volunteers were clueless and rude, their exhibit hall was way too small, they had a shockingly small number of panels, and some of the autograph tables had organized lines and some didn't.  There were very few costumes - I had expected some pretty kickass comic book characters, but most of the costumes I saw seemed to be held together with duct tape.  Of course, there were several really well-done costumes, but after the high level of work that I've seen at Dragon*Con, some of the costumes at WWCC were almost pathetic.

I did not wear any costume, since I was working, but I was dressed up in my best geek attire; on Saturday I wore my Let's Play Doctor shirt, and Sunday I wore a Jayne-inspired graphic tee.  It was so strange not to have people stop me every ten feet to take my photo, but one girl did tell me that she liked my SPEW button!

I attended the Julie Benz panel and the Charisma Carpenter panel.  Julie was a total sweetheart, and Charisma was very personable.  I've noticed that all of the Whedonverse panels I've seen have been the most enjoyable; not only do the guests seem down-to-earth and pleasant, and they're really good at acting like each question is unique and they've never been asked it before.  Late in the day on Sunday, I even saw Charisma buying her son some Asian candy at one of the booths, just like a (gasp) normal person!  It was kind of surreal to walk about two feet from Cordelia Chase while being jostled by the crowd.

For as disorganized and frustrating WWCC was at times, I had a great time.  I spent the weekend walking around taking video, and to be able to do that in whatever way I wanted (as opposed to the strict rules I have to follow at work) was very liberating.  I also was able to have a few conversations with David Vox Mullen of DVM Podcast Empire about his New Who Podcast, which he produces with his stepdaughter, and Torchcast, which covers Torchwood: Miracle Day.

Not only that, but both Kai Owen and Gareth David-Lloyd of Torchwood fame were there.  I had met Gareth at ChicagoTARDIS last November, but I was in full Clockwork Droid gear and with the wig and mask off, I look a wreck (hair sticking out everywhere, creases all over my face from the mask).  So, I'd kept the wig and mask on, and the mask makes it impossible to speak, so I'd just kind of mimed my way through the autograph.  I'm always so much braver when I'm a Clockwork Droid ... So at this Con, I wanted to meet him properly, but DANG - he's so much hotter in person that it took me the entire weekend to get up the nerve to meet him!

On Saturday I noticed Kai was by himself (no Gareth around) and I took the opportunity to get his autograph.  He is a very lovely and gracious person, and he took the time to answer one of my questions about Miracle Day.  I wanted to know who Rhys and Gwen were hiding from in Wales, since at the end of Children of Earth it doesn't seem like anyone is after them anymore.  He said that he thinks the government still wants to get rid of Gwen since she knows about the government taking children to give to the 456.  I felt kind of dumb because it seemed so obvious, but really, it wasn't clear at all.  Anyway, he was great and I'm so glad I met him.  Over the last year or so, Rhys has become one of my favorite characters on Torchwood, and I love that he and Gareth do so many conventions together.  They clearly are good friends and their panels (which I have yet to see in full and in person, since I only caught about 15 minutes at ChicagoTARDIS due to the masquerade meeting) are hilarious.

On Sunday I finally worked up the nerve to say hi to Gareth, and he was just as sweet as Kai.  He seemed a bit amused when I told him I'd gotten his autograph last year while dressed as a Clockwork Droid.  After I left his table, I pulled out my iPhone to text my husband, and as I brushed some hair out of my face, a crumpled piece of paper fell out of my hair.  I almost died!  I had checked myself in the mirror before venturing over to Gareth's table!  However, on closer inspection, it was a gum wrapper that I'd had in my pocket, so I think it got caught on my iPhone and fluttered off as I reached up to my hair.  I hope so.  Oh god, I hope Gareth wasn't smiling at me because I had junk in my hair!

About two minutes after that, some nerd hit on my and shook my hand, tainting the hand that Gareth had just shaken.  ARGH!

Peter Tork from the Monkees was also there, and one of my friends is a big fan, so instead of buying her an autograph (which really doesn't mean much unless you get it yourself), I bought her a video message!  He was fantastic and super nice, and I am so grateful that he was willing to do something a little out of the ordinary.  Yeah, I know he was making money off of it, but some stars are very picky.

I also picked up some fantastic Doctor Who artwork from Kurt Wood.  I'm not into comics - even when I read the Buffy comics, I mostly ignore the artwork - but I was really attracted to his drawings of the Tenth Doctor.  (I also got an Eleventh Doctor and Amy poster for Matt.)

All in all, it was a long weekend, my feet still hurt, my shoulder hurts from carrying around the bag, and I'm just plain exhausted - but I had a lot of fun.  I'm not sure I would go back, but I definitely have Con Fever (the good kind, not anything contagious) and can't wait to see Gareth again at Dragon*Con (god, he's going to think I'm stalking him) as well as Lea Thompson.  I'm trying to decide if I should get a photo op with her and wear my Lorraine Baines dress ... Also, I'm really excited for ChicagoTARDIS, even if no one I know shows up, just because I like to lurk in corners and scare people!  Although, I know Toby Hadoke is booked, and I'm loving his book Running Through Corridors, in which he and Rob Shearman go through classic Doctor Who one episode at a time (which is what Matt and I are currently doing). 

That's all, I'll be back soon with photos of my brand new Clockwork Droid mask, wig, and shoes.  And dang it, I just found a new photo that shows that all the ruffles are lace - not sure if I want to go and replace all of my current ruffles or not ... decisions, decisions ...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Chocolate Shop!

Whoa, it's been over a month since I posted last!  I haven't really done much costuming.  I did sew the sleeves of my Belle costume, but nothing worth taking photos of.

I am announcing that I've opened up an Etsy shop for my chocolate frogs!  If you're a Harry Potter fan or know someone who is, or just someone who'd love to eat some chocolate frog truffles, check it out!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chocolate Frogs!

This isn't a sewing project, but I'm still pretty proud of it and wanted to share.  I am selling chocolates to raise money for Team in Training, part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  My friend got me a frog mold, and since then, I've been making a ton of chocolate frogs, Harry Potter-style.  (I've also made Crunchy Frogs for those Monty Python fans out there - peanut butter-filled with pretzel "bones"!)

 The green frogs have a vanilla-flavored white chocolate shell and are filled with a chocolate ganache.

The chocolate frogs have a dark chocolate shell and are filled with peanut butter!

I made Harry Potter cards based on characters from the books (not the actual wizards and witches that appear on the "real" chocolate frog cards).  The photos are printed on white cardstock.  The backs of the cards are a 12"x12" sticker that I found at Hobby Lobby.


I then wrap each frog individually in a clear bag (to keep the card from getting damaged).  Then I place the card in a decorated back and put the frog on top so that you can't see which character card you're getting.

So those are my chocolate frogs!  I am selling them 12 for $10 or $1 each with the card.  100% goes towards my Team in Training fund raising.