Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eowyn - Where Do I Even Start?

The next bits of fun that we'll be working on is Eomer and Eowyn.  Matt has already made the new chain maile for the top of my Susan dress, so I have to figure out if that will work just as well for Eowyn as well.

This is the outfit that I'm planning to make.  This must be what going mad feels like ...

How will I have this done in time for Dragon*Con?  Beats me.  I may have to put Shadow Weaver on hold for another year.

And here's Eomer ...

We're both still trying to figure out what we'll make everything out of.  I'm not sure if I'll do straight leather for Eowyn or not.  All I know is that I'm going to take a short break from all this cosplay stuff so I don't go completely insane.  Maybe after Christmas ...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chicago TARDIS 2012 Wrap-Up

This weekend was Chicago TARDIS, and this year was the best so far!  We went for the full weekend this year, and I am so glad that we did.  Friday was my birthday (also the anniversary of Doctor Who!) and I decided to leave work a half hour early so that I could get home, change, and get in the virtual queue for the Burn Gorman autograph session.  Burn was so nice to every single fan that he met.  He took the time to talk to everyone, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy himself.  He had a smile on his face the whole time, and when he talked, he put so much energy into everything he said.  There was a 10-year-old boy in front of me, and Burn didn't change his tone of voice, he just talked to the kid like he was an adult.  It was fantastic!  When I got up to him, I told him that Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books, and that he nailed the part of Hindley in the 2009 Masterpiece Theatre movie.  He smiled wide and said, "oh, you saw that!"  He seemed so pleased, and he laughed and said, "I play a lot of asses!"  He asked how I was enjoying my day, and I said, "Well, today is my birthday, so I'm having a GREAT birthday!"  He wished me a happy birthday, commented that between Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Chicago TARDIS, I must have a lot of celebrating to do this weekend, and he also signed "Happy Birthday" on the photo.  I'm excited that now my "Torchwood boys" autograph collection is complete.

After that I had to run home and go to my in-laws' pre-Christmas party, so that was all I did on Friday.

However, on Saturday, we went to Chicago TARDIS for the noon "Cosplay Support Group" panel.  I was one of the panelists, as was a Captain Jack cosplayer that the Space Gypsies and I had seen at C2E2 singing "The Doctor and I" with John Barrowman.  I had my doubts about the panel, since it was about what to do when your character leaves the show and 99% of the characters have left the show.  I guess it went okay, though; there were a lot of discussions about various characters.

We went to a few panels, and then we came home for dinner and a costume change.  It's so crazy to me - it takes us less time to drive to Chicago TARDIS, park, and go in the building than it takes us to go from our room in the Atlanta Hilton to the Marriott!  After dinner, we headed back to the con for the Masquerade.  There were some great costumes, and while the judges were conferring, Tony Lee organized a last-minute performance he used to do as a street performer called The Scarlet Blade.  He selected people from the audience to play all the different roles - Captain Jack was the hero, a kid dressed as Rory was the sidekick, etc.  It was unbelievably funny, because the hero was supposed to get killed at one point, but since Jack can't die, he kept popping back up.  And the sidekick died a bunch, too, just like Rory.  Everyone was fantastic, and I think it was the most fun I've ever had at a con!

After the Masquerade, we hung around for Toby Hadoke's (HAY-doke) new show My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver.  It was funny and sometimes poignant, and I didn't even get all the jokes (some were about the classic series, some were about Britain).

Afterwards, we hung out at LobbyCon for a while as the Clockwork Droid and Captain John Hart and chatted with other cosplayers, including this fabulous Silurian who won the Masquerade!  I should have taken my mask off to take a closer look at her mask.  She looked pretty epic.

I always suspected Mary Poppins was a Time Lord.

On Sunday we dressed up in our Inspector Spacetime garb again, parked, and went down to the lobby.  The elevator doors opened upon Sylvester McCoy checking his smart phone.  That was pretty cool, even though we haven't seen any of the Seventh Doctor episodes yet.  Radagast!  We hit a few panels, then went to get autographs from Tony Lee and Toby Hadoke.  Tony loved our Inspector Spacetime costumes and snapped a photo; Toby chatted with us about Running Through Corridors, and how Rob Shearman spelled Matt's name wrong last year.  He drew us a classic series Cyberman in response to the Dalek that Rob had drawn.

And that was about it!  We had a great weekend!  Here are a few more photos from Chicago TARDIS 2012.

The 11th Inspector and Femme Hart

Scarecrow from Family of Blood

The 11th Inspector meets his biggest fan!

Female Clockwork!  We were in IS costume when we saw her, though.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Constable Geneva and the 11th Inspector

Here we are at Chicago TARDIS - Constable Geneva and the 11th Inspector!

Here's a reference shot of the original costume.  I hope I did it justice!

Constable Geneva - Final Chapter

I apologize for not updating earlier this week.  My stiff neck really set me back, and I've been spending every second of my free time finishing my dress.  While I finished on Wednesday, then it was Thanksgiving, and then it was the first day of Chicago TARDIS (and the 49th anniversary of Doctor Who, AND my birthday!)

The dress is finished now, but before I post a final picture, I'm going to go back and finish describing the construction of Constable Geneva.

I'm not sure if I made it clear earlier, but the majority of this costume is hand-stitched.  The seams on the dress, the hem, and the seams of the lower sleeves are machine-stitched, but that's it.  Everything else was stitched by hand.

As I said last time, I pleated four yards of organza for the sleeves, and they were in four parts, two that were just slightly more than a yard long, and two slightly less than a yard long.  (I'd pleat until I couldn't keep the fabric tacked down anymore.)  I stitched them together so I had two yards for each sleeve.

At this point, I decided to try the dress on so that I would know where to attach the lower sleeves to the chiffon.  My husband was at work, but I gave it a shot anyway.  And I got stuck.  The straps in the back wouldn't let me get the dress off, and since I can't move my arms up too much, I couldn't pull the sleeves off of my arms.  I absolutely panicked.  I begged my husband to come home. (You should see the IMs that I sent him.  In retrospect, it was pretty hilarious.)  I wasn't even sure he'd be able to get it off of me.  Luckily, he was getting off early due to the holiday, so an hour and a half later, he was home.  I took the opportunity to ask him to help me figure out where to place the sleeves, and then with his help, I managed to wriggle out of it.  I did rip the stitch out of one armpit, but it wasn't very good anyway, so I restitched it.

I then took off the straps and made new ones, then attached Velcro to the bottom ends and underneath the sequined trim.  Of course, the second I move my arms, it pops off, so now I have to also use safety pins, but then again, it's not a costume if it doesn't involve safety pins ...

I then gathered the top of the sleeves so that they'd be the same diameter as the chiffon about midway up the arm, and hand-stitched the organza over the chiffon.  In addition, I tacked the gold organza down onto the under dress.

I then attached the top of the sequined trim to the chiffon using a whip stitch.  I had to be careful, though, not to let the stitches show.  I left the bottom of the sequined trim unattached so that I could then sew the triangle trim to it.  After stitching the triangle trim on (again, being careful because I could only stitch through the very top of the trim or it would show), I then stitched the bottom of that to the organza.  I had to be very careful, because the ribbon wanted to scrunch up.

I then cut off the remaining chiffon and put Fray Check on the edges, since I couldn't serge it or otherwise stop it from unraveling.  My friend told me about this a few months ago, and I flipping love it!  It's just a clear glue that keeps the fabric from fraying, and it's not something you want to use on a visible part of the fabric, so it shouldn't replace sewing or serging unless you can't get to it.  And, that often happens with my costumes, so it's come in handy quite a few times.

The last thing to do was to attach the rhinestones.  If you look at the packages, I used the fourth row from the right.  I actually used up all of the rhinestones of that size that I purchased.  These had adhesive backs, so I first put them all on to make sure I had enough, and that they were spaced correctly.  After being satisfied with placement, I started gluing them on one by one using Gem Tac.  It dries clear, so even if you put too much on, you can't tell once it dries.

It. Was. A. Nightmare.

The stupid things just kept popping off.  I'd barely touch them, and they'd all stick to my fingers.  Then, the glue would start to dry on my hands, and the gems wouldn't transfer from my fingers to the chiffon.  I ended up having to glue it in a few sessions, just because the gems I'd put on with the glue would sometimes pop off if I touched them.  Finally, I got all of the rhinestones on.  I have no doubt that I will be finding them for months in the carpet of my sewing room.

New straps

My mother pinned up the hem for me after Thanksgiving, and then this morning, I serged the hem.  I hadn't planned on it, but it's just easier.  My final addition to the costume was a cute little bag that took me about twenty minutes to make out of the lining and gold organza.  And here's the final product!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Constable Geneva - Intermission

I currently have one of the worst stiff necks I've ever had, accompanied by quite a bit of pain, so I've been working pretty slowly on Geneva the last two days.  I don't have many photos, but I did want to post an update.  I have a tendency to just completely fall behind if I don't make the effort.

When I think about who designed this dress, I picture Joss Whedon discussing the production of the Fruity Oaty Bar video.

Today I finished hand-pleating 4+ yards of organza.  It only took me most of the Bears game last night and about an hour today.

I also hand-stitched on the trim around the neck.  Tomorrow I'll finish up the sleeves, and on Thanksgiving, my mom will help me hem.  Hemming is my one failure as a seamstress.  I'm not sure I've EVER sewed a straight hem.

That's all for now.   I'll just leave you with this.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Constable Geneva - Part 3

I spent most of the day working on the Geneva costume again, and I'm completely exhausted.

I started out working on the sleeves, which have been the bane of my existence this weekend.  I finally managed to get them worked out, and I hand-stitched the upper sleeve to the dress and the bra straps.  It took forever!  I also finished shaping the lower sleeve and put seam stop stuff on all of the seams so I wouldn't have to worry about serging everything.

That all took me most of the day, but I'll admit - I was procrastinating.

Lower sleeve

Pattern for upper sleeve
This evening, I finally buckled down and laid out all of the patterns on the gold organza.  Once I was satisfied that it would all fit, I made the first cut!  It was incredibly nerve-wracking, but everything went well.  I had lined up the patterns so that when I sewed the pieces together, the squares would all match up.  I did "mess" one piece up, but it was no big deal.  I could have just left it (there would have been two clear squares between the gold squares), but I had more than a yard left over, so I just cut another piece.

I sewed it all together VERY carefully.

Here it is so far (I haven't attached the lower sleeves yet because I'm not positive I like them yet).  The only regret I have is that I would have been able to get the squares to slant inward more.  I thought I had it all figured out, but when I put it together, it just didn't fall right.  That's okay, no one will know.  Well, except for all of you.

Here's the back - the chiffon helps keep the sleeves up.  It's not perfect, but my hair will be covering most of it.  The edges will be covered in trim, but that's the last step.  Also, the chiffon won't stay plain for long.  Tomorrow I'm BEDAZZLING!!!  Yes, that's right - I found chiffon that would look good, but it was sequins, not rhinestones, and since I've been putting so much time, effort, and money into this costume, I decided to make it look right.  Thank goodness for the Michael's gift card I have, because I'm not sure I could otherwise justify purchasing $30 worth of rhinestones.

I'll be finishing up everything else tomorrow.  Good night!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Constable Geneva - Part 2

I've been working on the costume for the last few hours, and thought I'd take a break to blog about what I've done so far today.

I went to JoAnn Fabrics this morning and purchased some organza to use as a mock-up.  I worked on a few variations of the front of the dress to see how it would best fall with three pieces (center front, side front).  With a three-piece front, I'll be able to cut out the organza so that it slants in, just like the original costume.  In addition, the way that the fabric falls should pretty much hide the seam as long as I match up the squares correctly.

I also found the color for the under dress that I've been looking for, so I remade the under dress out of the new gold taffeta.  I then made a mock-up out of the cheap organza and threw that over.  I was pretty satisfied, so I finalized the pattern on new paper.

The back of the dress wasn't sitting tight across my back like I'd hoped, so I put in some darts on the sides of the back panel where the organza will cover them.  In addition, I realized that I would need some support for the dress so that it was not solely reliant upon the sleeves and trim.  In the photos from Community, a thin strap is visible, but it's either a bra strap or a strap made out of the same material as the under dress.  Well, that just won't do for Ms. Perfection, so my wonderful husband offered to drive back to JoAnn's and buy some clear bra straps for me.  I attached them to the front where the trim will cover them, and then ran them over the shoulder and attached them just to the inside of the darts.

The trim was completed earlier in the week.  The trim on the top of the photo actually goes beneath the other trim on the sleeves.  It's a wide brown ribbon (I believe 1.5")  that I painted with gold acrylic paint.  To make the triangles, I measured 1.5" inches down a 26" long piece of ribbon and marked it with a pencil, then connected the marks.  The other trim, which I found at JoAnn's, is made out of sequins and will go around the neck and sleeves.  It technically should be beads, but the only beaded trim that was passable was about $30 per yard, and if I'm going to spend $60 on trim, I'm going to hand-bead it myself in the correct pattern.  And that's certainly not going to happen, so I'm settling for the sequins!

I'm going to go work on the sleeves now.  I won't cut the organza until tomorrow, as I want that to be the very last step before stitching on the trim around the neck.  Also, I'd like to have a VERY clear head when I do it, because I'll have to check everything about five times before I cut it.  I'll probably hand-stitch all of the trim and organza, just so that I don't mess it up with the machine.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Constable Geneva - Beginnings

Chicago TARDIS is coming up next weekend, and I had been thinking about cosplaying a character from Torchwood.  But then, Community came out with the episode Virtual Systems Analysis, where Annie plays Constable Geneva in the Dreamatorium.  Since Matt cosplayed Inspector Spacetime last year, I decided to make the Constable Geneva costume.

At first, I was just going to make it really simple, and not spend much time on it.  Then I remembered, I'm me.  Consequently, I've been trying to find material for this costume for months, but I just could not find any fabric that would work.  It looks like embroidered organza, but a thorough search of every online fabric store and a trip to Vogue Fabrics yielded no results.  I finally decided to just make a gold under dress, and get some plain organza for the over dress.

And then, after a morning of running every possible search I could think of, after scrolling through hundreds of pages of Google images, I found it - the listing on eBay.  The fabric was perfect.  It was the perfect size, its squares were even spaced out the same as the costume fabric on Community.  The only thing is that the color isn't quite right, but then again, if I could apply the same lighting and filters as they do on TV, it would probably be correct.

It was insanely expensive.

Then I realized - I'd just won $100 at the company Halloween party, and I'd been given a $50 gift card to Michael's for converting a video for a coworker.  So, I decided to buy the fabric.

In the meantime, I started working on the under dress, which is gold satin.  I used a pattern that was essentially a shift, and then just kept cutting it down until it was the right shape.  I also shaped the top to accommodate the trim.

I also got to work on the crown.  I used fun foam and plastic canvas, and painted both with a gold acrylic paint.

I also got to work on the crown.  I used fun foam and plastic canvas, and painted both with a gold acrylic paint.  I need to clip a few bits of canvas off of the top, but it's essentially finished.

I laid out the under dress to make the pattern for the over dress this evening, and the material isn't wide enough.  Also, if you look at the picture, you can see that the squares slant inward on the sides.  I couldn't figure out how they did that, but I think if I make the front panel of the dress three panels instead of one, I can cut the sides on an angle to create the slant.

I also worked on the sleeves and the trim for the sleeves, but they're not ready to go yet.  I'll be working on that, as well as reshaping the dress, tomorrow.  I'm hoping to have the whole costume finished by the end of the weekend.