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?