Victorian Black Taffeta Ballgown Friday, Dec 15 2017 

I was being kind to myself.
I only planned on one new outfit for Teslacon this year.
It would have worked out so well, if I hadn’t waited until the week before to start it!

At any rate, here is the saga:
I found ( 2 months after the Teslacon that “happened” in 1883 Paris) this gorgeous black faux silk taffeta with a little embroidered fleur de lis pattern. I don’t remember how much it was, but I know it wasn’t expensive because I can’t afford that shit this year.

I decided this black and gold taffeta would become a ballgown. I love the look of Truly Victorian’s French Fan Skirt, so early on I planned to use the pattern again for the bottom half of this gown. Now, this particular skirt pattern doesn’t usually lend itself to fabric with directional stripes or patterns, but the little fleur de lis are small enough that I felt it wouldn’t be distracting.

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My vintage research provided the inspiration for the bodice:

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I love the pleating here, as well as the off-the-shoulder feel, but I tend to like a longer bodice, so I knew I would just be taking this look and running with it.

I found this *adorable* trim on Etsy, a black and gold embroidered ribbon with little skulls and fleur de lis. Perfect!

I started with the skirt, since the bodice would have to be fitted over the actual undergarments and skirt. Following the pattern was painless… thanks Truly Victorian! (I am an !unpaid! fan of their patterns)

The *interesting* part came in at the trim… I cut evenly spaced strips of the black taffeta and sewed them together into one long piece, giving the top and bottom edge of the strip a narrow hem.

Then, I box-pleated…. COMPLETELY ignoring the fact that I said I would never box pleat again (I remembered about 20 minutes in). I centered one fleur de lis on each pleat, measuring, folding and ironing along the entire length. Then I sewed the skull ribbon onto the top  edge of the strip. With the skirt on the dressform at the correct level for the shoes I had planned for the gown, I pinned the ribbon and pleats onto the bottom of the skirt. Here are some pics that cannot express the pain:

20171030_201612Here is the finished skirt over the bustle and petticoat, before ironing:

(I had my dress form set to my measurements with the corset I planned to wear)

One more step…. take vintage rhinestones harvested from a disintegrating 1940’s crepe dress and stitch one to each eye socket of the little skulls!! Because, insanity.

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Next up, the bodice. I was really short on time (2 days before the con), so I took the muslin mockup of a jacket that I’d made a couple years ago and just cut it down to the general shape I wanted for the ballgown bodice. Then it was cutting out the fashion fabric (paying attention to matching the pattern!), the interlining and the lining, and flatlining all of them together.
For flatlining I just use a big ol’ needle and embroidery or upholstery thread, and run big stitches along the edges of each piece so when I sew them together the three layers stay in place and don’t do any sliding around. I zigzagged each edge afterwards to reduce fraying.

 

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You can see in the above image how large the stitches are- they don’t need to be small to keep the fabric from shifting around.

Once the panels were sewn together I got them up onto the dressform and decided how I wanted the bodice to close. Originally I was going to have a hidden front closure, but my planned decoration shut that shit right down.  I also didn’t want a closure down the back due to some lovely pattern centering I did.

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The only thing left to do? I decided to go a bit unconventional and lace it down both sides (after reinforcing the sides with boning, of course).

Finishing the interior of the bodice included stitching steel bone casings along most of the seams for structural support. I turned the edges over and hand-stitched them on the top edge, only finishing the bottom edge with handmade bias trim…. mostly to save time.

The exterior bodice decoration was completed in a mad three hour frenzy of experimentation, pleating, ironing, cursing and hand-stitching. I got caught up and didn’t take pictures of the process. 😦

But you’ll see in the pictures I DO have that I applied the same trim (and rhinestones) to the pleats on the bodice, and made more fleur de lis centered pleats for the little cap sleeve decoration. Two shades of gold mesh went between the bodice base and the pleats, much like in the inspiration photo- though the actual pleating on the front only went halfway down the bodice and ends in a V shape. I used gold accents, and a large German black glass shield as decor on the bodice. Since the shield had no holes of attachment, I made a base with prongs from black Sculpey and baked it onto the glass gem. The gem matched those in a crown I made to wear with the gown. Yes, a crown. Well, see for yourself:

20171101_184955 Done, the night before the con.

And below, at the con with gloves, crown, and completely inappropriate jewelry because I never wear gold. But how about that immaculately centered trim?23456400_10209921706254866_8496993106251255603_o - Copy

(No, it’s not the photo, I had red contacts in. It made perfect sense at the time, trust me.)

 

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Edwardian Gown, after Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix Wednesday, Nov 15 2017 

Before 1908, Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix was known for the sleek corsets with minimal boning that she designed for her mother’s couture house in Paris. But in 1908, during the Prix du Prince de Galles at Longchamp racecourse, she created a sensation with her draped dress designs that would inspire the next shape of the century, the “directoire gown”.

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She sent a trio of beautiful models to the racecourse to show off three gowns of a style she first introduced in 1899, in L’art et la Mode, as “sans corset”. These gowns were touted as being incredibly slimming, as their draping eliminated the need for “bulky undergarments”.
Yes, when the models strode across the enclosure, it was plain to all that they wore neither chemise, petticoat nor corset beneath their gowns. In fact, their skirts were split up to the knee, their legs masked only by a thin underskirt of muslin! The crowd was aghast, even for fashionable Parisians, and the models were mobbed with onlookers.

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Now, I ask you, who *wouldn’t* be inspired by this?

For my part, I decided to create an iteration of this gown as my outfit during the Teslacon Fashion Show in 2016for which I was designing a collection.

My materials were an eggplant silk 4-ply crepe and eggplant silk double georgette from Mood Fabrics, black sheer fabric that was pre-pleated and hemmed, and some vintage beaded silk fabric. I also used black tassels, a black straw hat and enormous feather, and a cameo featuring a succubus purchased on Etsy and set into a vintage cameo setting.

In honor of Margaine-Lacroix’s style, I draped the entire dress. I used no pattern (though I’m sure she had patterns of her own), but simply began by pinning a corner of the fabric to the neck of my dressform. I draped thrice and cut once… you can be sure, with silk crepe!!

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens when I get swept up in a project, I created the dress in one day and didn’t come up for air until it was essentially done. I could swear I took a couple pictures in-progress, but alas I’m unable to locate even a solitary example.

So this post is more a tribute to the gowns that shocked a nation, and rocketed Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix’s designs to fame, even though her name has faded from the most common annals of fashion history.

Some notes:
The hat was just a large straw garden hat, and I pulled one side up to create the dramatic sweep, accented by a ridonculous black ostrich feather and some artfully arranged crepe.  I decided on long fingerless gloves instead of the sheer sleeves with many buttons, mostly due to time constraints. Perhaps I’ll add the sleeves one day.

The band beneath the bust was created by cutting out the shape desired in 2 layers of the fashion fabric, using iron on interfacing to add sturdiness and sewing them together. I turned them right side out and pressed the band, then used an embroidery stitch to embellish the edges. Then I tacked it to the seams and hand-stitched it at the center and back.

Instead of creating a muslin underskirt, I inserted the pleated sheer fabric into the side slits of the skirt, and that worked very well. True to the original aesthetic, this dress is indeed “sans corset”…  I hope you enjoy the results of this little experiment!

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Artist Talk at MOWA Saturday, Jul 22 2017 

Several months ago I was approached with the prospect of giving a presentation on 19th century undergarments at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, and I happily accepted!2017-07-11 (2)

The crowd was much bigger than the usual for these events, I was told, and they needed to bring out another couple dozen chairs. There were between 60 and 70 people, all told.(!! No time to get nervous!!)
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They had two mannequins available, and I utilized both. I gave an overview of the entire century, though my favorite period is Late Victorian. (Which I may have mentioned a couple of times)

I was able to pepper in some socio/cultural facts regarding the reasons for and impact of changing fashions, which I find to be just as fascinating as the garments themselves.

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I also used some images of my own finished gowns, in a shameless display of pride and self promotion. 😀

I did make a brief mention of men’s unmentionables, but there has been much less substantial change with men’s undergarments than with women’s.

I wasn’t used to using a handheld microphone, but I had a good time!

The crowd was responsive and had some good questions for me at the end of the talk.

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I closed with a scandalous (!) undressing of a mannequin in Victorian garb, to visually illustrate the logistics of all the layers I had been talking about. I also brought in several books I’ve referenced in my work and samples of corsets, bustles, and boning.

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It was a great experience, the people who worked with me to make it happen were very pleasant and professional, and I loved seeing the exhibit afterwards!

I’ve linked to the powerpoint below- please note that non-vintage images in the slides were used specifically for the purpose of this presentation and are not licensed for redistribution or sale.

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You can see the Powerpoint I put together for the presentation here!19th Century Undergarments

TC7- Teslacon Victorian Silk Day Dress Saturday, Jul 1 2017 

First: the bulk of my Master’s program is complete! So, here’s a post, finally!

I made several new items for the Teslacon 7, 2017, Fashion Show, Paris Edition.  The crowning glory among the new pieces was a grey and cream striped silk Victorian day dress. My inspiration pic:

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I set my sights on making a fancy day dress. I’d fallen in love with a beautiful sample of cream and grey striped silk while visiting a tailor’s booth at Teslacon but he didn’t have any yardage left. He admired the dress I was wearing, and I believe if he’d *had* had any of the fabric he would have sold it to me.

So I set out to find a reasonable facsimile of that lovely fabric.

I knew I’d be looking for a drapery weight fabric, so I delved into Google and branched out from there… I ended up finding a striped silk in three large pieces all from one seller on E-bay. The colors, weight and finish were perfect, there was just one problem…
The stripe was twice the width I needed.

However, I’m not one to be dissuaded by a challenge.
I decided to buy the silk and create narrower stripes myself. I cut each stripe in half and then sewed them together. Here’s a picture of me with $300 of shredded silk (eek!)…

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Nope, not nervous at all…

I had chosen two Truly Victorian patterns to start from; TV466- 1887 Alexandra Bodice and TV367- 1887 Cascade Overskirt. The Alexandra bodice had the appropriate level of Victorian repression I was looking for, and the overskirt would show off the stripes wonderfully.

I was creating the look as part of (mentioned above) a line for the 2016 Teslacon fashion show, with a theme set in 1884 Paris. The color scheme I developed for my looks consisted of black and white, grey, cream, and deep purple, with silver accents. Specifically, I tapped a highly talented jewelry maker, the owner of Rogue Maille, to design and supply the jewelry for the line… they were all highly detailed, sumptuous chainmaille creations and each piece took my breath away.

For the cream and grey dress I decided to use some of the eggplant silk crepe from a gown I was making for myself as an accent for the bodice collar and cuffs. But the very first thing I needed to do was shred 8 yards of silk and sew it back together, alternating the stripes. Then, so much ironing of seams.

A before & after shot:

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Big stripes, little stripes!

I cut out the bodice first, with special attention to matching the stripes, because I knew I didn’t have a ton of fabric to work with. For the bodice, I wanted to made an offset front closure, with decorative buttons down the front. I gave the front panel additional reinforcement with a sturdy interlining, and used a hook and eye closure. It’s mildly cramp-inducing to close, but it lays beautifully.

The actual fitting was done with the skirt on as well, but I didn’t want to put EVERYTHING on for a quick pic of my progress:

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Before setting the sleeves in, testing out how the front closure sits. I decided to add the purple accent after this fitting, for shoulder mobility 😉

The overskirt was cut out next. It seemed that there were discrepancies between how my cascade overskirt was laying in the back, the image on the cover of the pattern, and the image inside the pattern instructions… so I just decided on an aesthetically pleasing arrangement and called it good.

The skirt was a different challenge. Even knowing there wasn’t excess yardage, as I laid out the pattern pieces for the basic 6 gore underskirt, it was going to be closer than I thought.

I did everything I could, playing with placement on the pieces of fabric that were left, and I knew I’d have to sub in some cotton for the top half of the underskirt. After the cutting and stitching was complete, the seams between the cotton and silk were close enough to the hem of the overskirt to warrant tacking down the outer edges to keep them from peeking out during the runway show.

When all was said and done, I I barely had enough silk left over to make a pocket square.

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You can see the placement of the offset closure for the bodice…. it was a little tricky.

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Dat bustle!

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I lined the underside of the pleats in the back with the eggplant fabric also. this is before I put in the eggplant accent at the top back center.

Some adjustments I made to the pattern:
Besides the usual adjustments for fitting (done over the corset, undergarments and finished skirts, of course), in the end I decided that the classic high-necked Victorian style was a little stuffier than I really wanted, so I changed it to a modest V-neck, with a decorative cameo at the base. I interlined the bodice, but did not bone the interior. I may go back and do so to avoid the bunching seen at the waist in the picture of me in the outfit.

For the hat, I took an ivory 1950’s hat with netting I had in my collection and trimmed it with extra eggplant material and a purple butterfly.

Overall, the outfit was a success, though I really could have used just one more yard of fabric.

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The eggplant accents in the back really popped.

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A view of the front of the bodice, finished with bias tape of the same material and tiny silk buttons. Shawna, stand up straight!

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A side view.

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The full collection that day, with beautiful jewelry from Rogue Maille on nearly every lovely model.

TC7 Paris Runway 1- Foundation garments Tuesday, Sep 13 2016 

In preparation for Teslacon 7, the grand journey to Paris circa 1884-ish, I’m designing several looks inspired by the period for the Teslacon Fashion Show. I decided to make three sets of corsets and bustles, and two or three new petticoats to serve as foundation garments for some of the looks.

The corsets and bustles were made from a champagne/golden taffeta embroidered with fluer de lis… so appropriate!

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I made two double layer corsets with interior boning channels and closed fronts, and one triple layer corset with boning channels sewn into the layers, lined in ivory silk and with a front busk. A matching bustle accompanies each corset. I’ll keep the front closing corset and one bustle, and if one of my models from the Teslacon fashion show wants to buy their foundation set I’ll offer a good-buddy price.

I made my own bias tape for the edging, 1 1/2″ strips cut at a 45 degree angle.

Thought it would be lovely to make matching petticoats, but when I searched for this fabric online I couldn’t find it for less that $20/yd… and I just know I didn’t spend that when I got it… either at the Discount Textile Outlet in Chicago or at a JoAnn Fabrics with a coupon, I don’t recall.

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In the meantime, the foundation garments for the Highborn Collection are done, and I’m on to the first gown!

 

Jaime Lannister Costume- Game of Thrones Friday, Apr 29 2016 

got blog (3)The making of the Jaime Lannister costume- Captain of the Kingsguard Edition.

Game of Thrones is an interesting show, from a costuming standpoint. It’s a mishmosh of styles, feeling generally medieval-y to Renaissance-y, with worldwide influences, from Asia to Africa.

The show’s first costumer, Michele Carragher, is a master of decorative embroidery, and this was evident in the thick, sumptuous adornments on many costumes.
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There are design elements in the clothing and aspects of armor pulled from that of samurai warrior dress, like the plated-look hip gores in many Lannister costume designs.

 

 

 

got blog (9)One can see an obvious direct influence of the traditional Indian nehru  jacket in Joffrey’s and Petyr Baelish’s exceedingly fitted costumes.

 

 

 

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Brienne of Tarth’s expensive plate and chainmail armor speaks to a classic medieval knight style, though check the studded leather skirt for more Samurai influence (appropriate, as the armor was gifted by a Lannister).

 

 

 

 

got blog (1)Shae, Missandei, and at times Daenerys Targaryen’s flowing robes strongly bring to mind images of ancient Greek and Roman goddesses.

 

 

 

 

got blog (1)Margaery Tyrell’s and (again) Daenery’s more fitted gowns have architectural features that feel distinctly more modern, like decorative cutouts and minimalist asymmetry.

 

 

 

 

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Though pulling inspiration from all corners and time-frames, there is intentional consistency, particularly within family groups or by character region (aforementioned styles of Lannisters, the studded details of the Ironborn, the plentiful fur trims of the northern families).

 

 

 

In a series known for its plethora of characters, this can give visual cues to familial ties or allegiances.

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SO.

What this means when cosplaying the show’s characters is that there is some flexibility in construction, even if you’re the type to usually go with historically accurate details or techniques. The goal is to achieve the look, and it’s easier to take a little creative license in achieving that when there is not a strict time period’s style being replicated.

 

 

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When developing the costumes for Jaime and Cersei Lannister I had to decide first the look that I wanted to replicate, and then the most iconic and identifiable details of those costumes.  For Cersei there is a wide range of looks to choose from, but I wasn’t interested in one of her structured, wide 1950’s style necklines, and I also didn’t want to try to create her decorative, sculpted body armor. An early and frequently seen Cersei was in a red gown heavily embroidered at the neckline and sleeves, and the Lannister lion embroidered on hip gores of gold fabric. With a wide metal and maille belt, the look is regal and still comfortable.

Choosing Jaime’s costume was easier- he has one primary leather coat that he wears, with or without his armor. I chose the most iconic look- Jaime in the coat with his Captain of the Kingsguard armor.

 

However. I don’t have access to limitless funds, so the prospect of finding enough of this beautiful, oiled, battered leather for a long coat was rather cost prohibitive.  Instead, I found a great silk blend woven drapery fabric in a $6 bag at a thrift store and had enough for the coat and Cersei’s hip gores as well. That made me a happy camper! The color and weight were right, and there was a rich luster to the fabric that kept it believable.

blog thrones (1)I used a commercial pattern for this jacket because I had 9 days to complete both Jaime and Cersei. I’ve used this pattern before, and found the fit was on the better than acceptable side. The double breasted style and length were also appropriate for my goals.

Changes I made: The collar was made higher, and extended the length of the front breast flap. I flared the skirt of the coat a bit more, joined the side pieces and cut out the hip gore. When measuring the piece to be inserted in that space, I gave it a couple extra inches all around, attached iron-on interfacing for a little extra structure, and stitched in some horizontal tucks to look like the banded strips of leather in the original costume. I also extended the sleeve of the right arm by about 4 inches, to allow for a false hand.

After that I focused on the armor.

  1. The scale mail
  2. The breastplate/Pauldrons
  3. The belts
  4. The cape

jaimecersei4The scale mail: I had some thin leather that I had planned to use for a book making project, oh say, a few years ago. I took that leather and spray painted the unfinished side dark gold. Then on the finished side I marked lines to cut out a whole bunch of 1″ x 2″ diamonds and used my rotary mat and blade to do the rest. Then I took a piece of the jacket fabric, cut out a shape that I wanted the scales to be in, and finished the edges. Using the longest stitch, I sewed across the top section of each diamond, placing them so the centers overlapped slightly as I went. The next line was about an inch up. The end result, while it could have been more orderly (and you can certainly measure everything precisely, if you’re not on a strict deadline) it looks like golden scalemail for zero cost, since I happened to have the leather and spray paint. Even if you have to buy both items, the cost and time factor is so minimal, for me it’s a no-brainer.

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Looks pretty good, eh?

Looks pretty good, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Breastplate/Pauldrons: You’re going to laugh, and that’s okay- I kinda giggled myself. The breastplate was a two piece “roman gladiator” purchase (about $17) online from a Halloween costume store, with a dark bronze, black and gold dry-brush repaint. You could, of course, go with a more accurate breastplate design- there are examples and tutorials out there, I’m sure. But this took about an hour. We replaced the flimsy ribbon ties with leather straps that we fastened (reinforced on the other side of the cheap plastic breastplate also) with brass double cap rivets. We had some small buckles laying around, so we added them to leather straps on one side and it already looked much better.

 

 

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So we had the breastplate and the scale mail for the arms, but we needed the shoulder armor- pauldrons. I went to the dollar store. I got two child knight helmets. That is what they are. Really. Fastened to the shoulders of the breastplate by more rivets and leather straps. I didn’t even repaint them, it was such a close match. 😀 The scalemail pieces were riveted to the underside.  (Though I plan on making more scale mail for the thigh armor, in the interim it is two knight’s shields from the same store. Did a little dry-brushing on those.)

The Belts: Jaime wears a few belts crisscrossed and tied, and they have fancy bits of metal on them. If you have a sword and hang a frog from one of them, great. But generally, just visit a few resale stores, get some leather belts and make em work for you. You may find some metal belts that will work wonderfully, you never know.

 

 

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Niiiiice curtains…

The Cape: The Captain of the Kingsguard has a long flowing, superhero-esque cape. Seems counter-intuitive to effective fighting, but what do I know? Perhaps it’s more of a statement that, as the Captain, he should never even have to fight and so will send his cape-less underlings to deal with you, bwaahahaa. At any rate, this was one good-looking curtain panel, almost a microsuede texture. I pleated the two top corners and tacked the pleats as I wanted them, then used heavy button thread to attach them to the top of the breastplate shoulders. Since it was a curtain, the edges were already finished and the extent of my sewing was tacking down the pleats and tying a lion’s head button over the handstitched area on each one. Easy peasy.

Add some boots and gloves (false hand coming later, ran out of time), and you’re good to go!

Final Result? A respectable Jaime, though not completely accurate to the series. (Note that in the pictures, his scarf had worked above the collar, and should have been under it.)cerseijaime (4) cerseijaime (12)cerseijaime (10)

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The actual costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cersei Lannister Cosplay… Jaime up next! Wednesday, Apr 6 2016 

“Costume”.

When I think of the word, I’ve usually associated it with quality… or the lack thereof.

This is an inaccurate association than *can* be true, but certainly is not true all- or even most- of the time; many costumes I see, at Concinnity, Teslacon, C2E2, etc., are well thought out and executed across covering a wide range of sewing, crafting and tailoring skill levels.

So I’ve reassessed my view of costumes, and cosplay, over the last few years. Now when I talk about costumes I’m making, it’s usually an outfit replicating a specific character, without always worrying about fiber content, historical accuracy in technique or (sometimes) finishing techniques.

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Cersei and Jaime have a date night

If I’m making a Victorian-era gown, I refer to it as such because I will be building it like a high quality piece of clothing & not a quickie “on & off” theatrical piece (not to dismiss all theatrical pieces either- often there is much research that goes into theater costuming, and just look at what the team at First Stage Children’s Theater turns out for their shows!).

All this to say, it had been a long time since I had made a “costume” when I began the Cersei and Jaime Lannister costumes for Halloween 2015.  I thought that, as far as a couple’s costume goes, it was just the right amount of wrong.  And I’ll start by proudly stating that 90% of the fabric and “armor” was from thrift stores (curtains!) and dollar stores.

 

 

 

blog thrones (2)I rarely use commercial patterns, but I picked up one I thought would be good to start with, during $1 sales at JoAnn Fabrics. It was a McCall’s brand, 6940. Honestly, I had some dark gold “silkessence” fabric from curtains I made ages ago and I had found these red dupioni-look curtains with gold embroidered swirls that absolutely made the whole look.

 

Working from a number of source photos, I decided on how to change the pattern:

 

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Dress- I didn’t haveto adjust much on Cersei’s pattern- I raised the hip gore, as it starts directly beneath the belt. I also shortened the sleeves- a necessity due to a shortage of embroidered fabric. This is one negative side effect of thrifting your supplies… you must work with what you have, and have to face the fact that there is no more available if you screw up. (No pressure though) Other than that, I raised the armscye a bit, for mobility.

jaimecersei8I ended up finding more curtains with a gold embroidered dark red sheer overlay. The embroidery was a close enough match in color and style to the sleeves that I didn’t have to scrimp much on sleeve length, and still had embroidery circling from the center back to wrap front. Lucky find, honestly. The obvious detail I left out was the edging of the hip gore fabric on the center front, neckline at cuffs. I could add it at some point,  but with our time constraints (9 working days for both costumes) I deemed it unnecessary.

jaimecersei7More fabric I found, as I didn’t have enough of the above embroidery to wrap both the neckline and sleeve cuffs, had a similar embroidery pattern on a sheer overlay (applied to the same base fabric). I am a lucky thrifter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

cersei (1)The coup de grâce was the (Lannister) lion embroidered on the hips. This was a process… I found an image of a lion that was similar. Then I lengthened, narrowed and enlarged the image, estimating an appropriate size. It ended up being about 20″x 8″. I divided the image in half to fit onto two A4 pieces of cardstock. After printing I taped them together. Then I outlined the image (mirrored, one facing left, the other facing right) onto two pieces of the red fabric that I had attached interfacing to (good stiff iron-on). I pinned the interfaced fabric lions to the hip gore pieces.

 

 

jaimecersei6The longest step was using a wide tight (nearly) buttonhole stitch to outline the lions. Then I carefully cut them out and pinned them onto the hip gores. The last step was stitching them onto the fabric. I found that a med to long zigzag worked well, going over the edging in the same thread color.

***You could use double sided iron on interfacing… You would iron one side to the lion fabric and cut it out, then lay it onto the hip gore and iron on the other side of the interfacing… this would reduce some movement and eliminate some extensive pinning. I just thought of this. /le sigh

 

 

 

 

 

jaimecersei9Belt-My husband was the mastermind behind this- starting with four pieces of machined aluminum, he added holes for rings and decorative elements. He shaped them for fitting a curved surface (my waist) and I assisted with a dry brush technique for antiquing the surface color. The costume will eventually have a metal mesh or chainmail back to the belt, but for now I used a piece of heavy leather, laced with ribbon to the metal rings at the sides. It was adequate for our purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

cerseijaime (11)Misc- I found a wig online that served nicely, for less than $30. Cersei has long, waved, dark golden blonde hair, but affordable wig options tend to be white (Khaleesi), light blonde, or brown… I chose light blonde. Her makeup was a very important part of capturing the Cersei look… in particular, her eyebrows. I did my research, watched some less-than-helpful tutorials on YouTube, and practiced. I feel like I nailed them. You may also want to practice her sneer… if just for fun.

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Necklace- Using Sculpey, I also made a medallion pendant by pressing a large lion’s head button into sculpey. Once it dried, I used that as a mold and pressed fresh sculpey into it to create the medallion. I used cling film in between the dried and fresh to make it easy to remove. Once the impression is made, you clean up the edges and make a hole for a necklace chain, and you’re done! Bake it and paint it- I used metallic spray paint.

 

 

 

 

 

jaimecersei12For accessories, I thrifted a glass decanter and gilded wine glass… so very Cersei! She wears red leather ankle boots over tights- I have some burgundy stamped leather boots that worked well… no-one will really see your shoes, as the dress is floor length.

The Jaime Lannister Cosplay post will be finished and up within the month- watch for it!

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Work that sneer for all it’s worth!

Seven of Nine Costume Tuesday, Jun 2 2015 

Firstly, I am appropriately chastened by the span of time that has passed since my last post. #chastened.

I have 2 new Victorian dresses and 1 new costume to show you…. Forgiven??

This post is focused on the Seven of Nine (Portrayed by Jeri Ryan, and possibly the best character arc, ever.) costume I built for Halloween last year. Unfortunately, there were precisely zero decent pictures of it from the evening. When I wore it again, at Concinnity, I took advantage of a photographer on location (well, resistance WAS futile) and had some better pictures taken.  In conjunction with some in progress images, we have enough fuel for a blog!

Now, this fabric was purchased probably 15 years ago and has been in my sewing room ever since, as I thought wistfully, “One day, I will lose weight and make a 7 of 9 costume”. A year ago I finally DID something about my weight (see my post) and last October I pulled the fabric out from storage…  In conjunction with a few hi-res pictures online, I was off & running!

The parts comprising this costume include the bodysuit with incorporated shoes (heels, for the oh-so-practical borg), a corset underneath with “borg bone” exoskeleton, a padded bra (may not be necessary for everyone, but even Jeri had … help), and of course the “borg” prosthetics on her face and hand. Above the left eye is an “occipital ocular implant”, a small nano-something is in front of the left ear, and a glove-like series of silver “nanoprobes” stretching over her left hand and fingers. Picture time:

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The original metallic suit was, according to actress Jeri Ryan, the most uncomfortable by far. My guess is, that was due to the unforgiving nature of the fabric. Later spandex knit costumes were much more comfortable while still being skintight.

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This is the costume I re-created, working with colors and fabrics available. I ended up using a spandex velour in two shades of blue, though you can see that the original fabrics were gray and blue ribbed knits with metallic woven in.

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These are a couple decent images of the glove. Further details include the communicator insignia, the tri-corder she frequently carries, and the look (make-up and hairstyle).

Prosthetics:

I purchased the facial prosthetics from ebay. They were made of silicone, and far too thick to be of any use. Don’t buy them in silicone. To make the best of the situation, I thought I could use the silicone implants as a mold base to make my own from latex.  And I learned something about myself- I have the patience to hand bead a forepart, but I have no desire to make something that is meant to be a replica, and which I could purchase at a reasonable price. I ended up finding the two pieces online in a SFX store. As it turned out I had to paint them myself, so they ended up having my own personal stamp anyway. I tried a few different types of paint, and much of it didn’t work (even theatrical metallic face paint with a “glue” additive. The most effective was actually metallic eye shadow.  Spirit gum works just fine to hold the prosthetics on for a day.

The glove was another story, because no-one makes it (to my knowledge).  I found this blog post very useful, but still went in another direction. I purchased a yellow rubber kitchen glove and drew the outline for the glove, according to the many pictures available online. I then painted on about 8 layers of liquid latex, following the lines I drew and allowing drying time between each layer, to create a three dimensional look. Then I used an exacto knife to cut out the gloves, leaving the fingertips on and cutting about an inch down, leaving a thimble-like pocket (because you need some way to keep them on your fingers). I also left a strip at the wrist and across the hand just below the fingers- both of these strips are authentic to the original and, I believe, increase stability. I then painted it with black multi-surface paint and dry-brushed it with metallic silver and gold. I did not glue the glove to my hand, and it was acceptable. After a few wearings I have found the paint is cracking & I may need to come up with a new design, but I think version 2.0 will go much faster now that I’ve done the first one.

The Corset:

I’ll admit, I somewhat cheated and did not make this from scratch… I took a cheap corset I had laying around (like one does), and cut it to be an under-bust style. I replaced the plastic boning with steel (told you it was cheap!), and replaced the grommets with a separating zipper. I could do this because the corset was too big, allowing me to find a good snug fit and then insert the zipper at a point before the grommets began. BUT- the important part is to have an under-bust corset that fits- it should be snug in the waist but not pooching you out at the top or bottom… this is not a waist-training corset! If you can avoid it, don’t use one with plastic boning- plastic warps when it is warmed (by your body) and then retains that warped shape when it cools.  Once I had the fit determined and the zipper in, I used large piping cord and whip-stitched it along the corset horizontally (marked in chalk) to create “borg bones”. Voila.

The Bra:

This wasn’t too- I bought a big full coverage bra from a discount store, making sure it had pockets for  push-up pads. Then (after adjusting band and straps) I started stuffing.  After sending a somewhat hilarious tank top picture to my husband, I took out one of the pads. I think it was a good call. Then I whip-stitched everything into place with sturdy thread.

*Interesting note- Jeri Ryan’s costume actually consisted of a “merry widow” style bodysuit, incorporating both the bra and corset-like piece in one. Probably helped create a smooth line from top to bottom.

The Bodysuit:

This is the really important piece- it’s 80% of the costume, really. Now, one plus to working with stretch fabric: there’s a lot of give, literally. It’s pretty easy to edit your leg or your waistline… the exceptions here are areas like the crotch. Be careful there, or you’ll end up with the dreaded camel-toe. Another touchy area is the zipper. I went with an invisible zipper, and I put in knit interfacing to help avoid weird pulls and bumps. I put it in after getting weird pulls and bumps and seam-ripping the whole thing, of course. Learn from my mistakes… use interfacing and pin religiously!

So, from the starting point, there’s the top and the bottom, joined at the hip- I lined up the bottom “borg bone” of the corset to match with the hip seam. The zipper from neck to tailbone is how you get in and out of this thing.

I took apart a really close fitting pair of yoga pants to get a baseline for the leg pattern. The seam on the leg is on the inside, so I wanted to keep it as authentic as possible. When you have a mostly monochromatic bodysuit, seams stand out. I left a little extra at the hip to play with, and plenty at the foot/ankle area because I still had the shoes to attach! *Make sure you give yourself at least as many inches as the top of your foot from ankle to toes!

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Hip line at left, LOTS of room for the shoe at right.

The shoes in the original costume have a stacked wooden heel. I was able to find a pair of heels that matched the silhouette pretty closely, covered in brown “suede” down to the heel. This served the second purpose of giving more surface area for the fabric glue to grab onto when I eventually glued the bodysuit fabric to the shoes. This required much pinning and cursing, as I was wearing the shoes and bodysuit leggings. After gluing, an exacto knife came in handy again to get a nice, clean edge. * Make the ankle as tight as you like, but… you DO have to get your foot in there.

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The top part of the bodysuit was particularly challenging because the front is made up of 5 pieces- two sections for each breast, plus the single piece beneath them, with a pointed bottom to mach the long, zippered back piece. I made a pattern and mocked it up with swimsuit fabric scraps I had lying around. I made the mock up short sleeved because the length is really secondary, and not necessary in this mock up.

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Front and back.

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“Inner boob” and “outer boob”. In my defense, I refrained from calling it “side boob”.

The sleeves were a challenge also, because (I had no idea) there are several types of raglan sleeves. What I did was cut away from the paper pattern for the chest and upper back, and added the ( I hoped) right shape to the sleeve pattern block. I ended up stitching the angle with more of an angular bend, but it was just about on target…. again, the stretch fabric allowed flexibility in certain aspects.

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Sleeve with the addition of fabric for the raglan style.

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Cutting out the sleeves… dont mess up!!

The mock up looked pretty good, but resulted- again- in a confused husband when I sent him progress pics.

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I explained it was scrap fabric, not a new, funky “Seven of Nine”.  I finished cutting out the good fabric, sewed it together, made some adjustments and there it was! I did double stitch every seam, and zigzag stitch them to finish it… so even if a seam rips, I have a backup plan to preserve my modesty 😉

I bought a magnetic Voyager communicator insignia online (I think it was at Think Geek) and, surprisingly, my old Razr made a great tricorder!

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So very futuristic!

Now, without further ado, some images of the finished product at Concinnity (with my darling Red-Shirt) and one from the costume contest we won on Halloween 2014.

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seven of nine (1) One of my favorites!

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Next up, one of the two Victorian gowns, and sooner rather than later!

Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Nomination Thursday, Apr 2 2015 

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UPDATE!!

I did it! Thanks to all you wonderful readers who voted for me, I won the “Best Dressed- Female” category! Winners were announced at the International Steampunk Symposium in April! I’m thrilled to have received this honor, and will work even harder on future efforts… which you’ll see *very* soon!! 😉

 

Exciting news- I have been nominated in the Steampunk Chronicle’s “reader’s Choice Awards”, in the category of Best Dressed Female!

If you’ve been following my blog, you know how much work and pride I put into my designs, so this is a great honor.  If you’re inclined to vote for me, the link is here, but even if you don’t it’s worth the jump to check out all the other fantastic categories and nominees-   Thanks so much!

(A note, you do have to register/log in,  in order to cast your vote.)

PS- Next outfit is almost done, Victorian ice-skating costume, watch for the post!

The Paroxysm of Fashion That is Teslacon Saturday, Nov 22 2014 

So, if you don’t know that I attend Teslacon in Madison each year, you must just come here for the pretty pictures. Which I’m fine with. 🙂

However, I do go, and it’s a great time- for panels, music, (of course) steampunk storyline and character immersion, shopping, and ultimately for the people-watching.

From Victorian-era reproductions to astounding Dieselpunk contraptions, from re-purposed Renaissance Faire get-ups to… *unique* Furry costumes, you will see it ALL.

An outfit I wore- a favorite of mine that I’ve worn to the last three Teslacons but with new additions this year- was mentioned favorable in a blog post by Geek Fashion Week that was (I acknowledge) much better at attributing photo subjects than I am about to be.

Now, I will humbly admit that in 2013 I unceremoniously leapt from the table where my husband and I were having dinner with two friends, rushed across the room, nearly tripping on my skirts, to stop a woman walking by in a ridiculously beautiful re-imagining of the black and white “wrought iron” Charles Worth dress…. only to realize I didn’t have a camera. Seriously.

I later also realized that, as this was dinner time before the ball, she was likely in her ballgown and I would -likely- see her later and did not in fact need to make a silly goose of myself.  But if I must be a goose, then it shall be for ridiculously beautfiul clothing.

For your edification:

The worth gown.

Click on the image below to see her blog post about this dress, and the other looks she sported over the weekend.

Nearly face-planted right in front of her. Srsly.

The re-imagining of the Worth gown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her blog post says “I was moderately happy with how it turned out, although it was well received.”

I wonder if she was thinking of the chick in the blue and yellow dress who nearly face-planted in front of her.

For your further edification:

Afore-mentioned potential Faceplant

Aaaanyway, back to the point- There is a lot to see! I premiered my new gown as detailed in my post “Victorian Orient-Inspired Dress“, I brought out a “casual” safari outfit repurposed from thrift-store finds- complete with a flashy gun and holster made by my husband and I, and I made a Victorian style “ermine” muff and mantle for the chilly part of the Journey to the Center of the Earth!  I also wore a bodice I made to go with an existing skirt, essentially creating an all new ballgown this year!

Now, my own sphere of interest as a “maker” runs heavily towards straight neo-Victorian, with the dashes of steampunk left to gadgets and accessories. But I always appreciate creativity and give credit where credit is due, at all skill levels.

So, without further ado, the rest of the post will be picture highlights from the weekend (click for a larger image)- some things you should know:

1.There were dinsoaurs! (and they drank tea… particularly the Tea-Rexes)

there were dinosaurs

2a.Lord & Lady Winslet, the Duke and Duchess vas Normandy, funded the mission to the center of the earth, presumably to find new stores of thorium, aided by an ancient navigational stone.

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2b. Lord Bobbins dropped the stone.

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3. We were surrounded by many unusual folk. Some had gadgets strapped to their backs.

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4. Some of the gadgets were on their shoulders, or heads.

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5. Some were covered in leather and brass.

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6. Some seemed to belong to another universe altogether…

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7. But either way, there were many explorers gathering artifacts.

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8. Even entertainers!

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9. And lovely dresses abounded!

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I must make a note here- the lovely dark-haired bundle of talent pictured with me in two of these photos, and featured in a third, is Heather Dawson, who operates “The Duchess Collection”, currently on Facebook and soon on a dedicated site. Simply beautiful work. Julie Feirtag, in the third photo from the left, also had a lovely dress!

10. I had some wardrobe debuts:

our outfits

The center outfit wasn’t new, but styling it as a “Steampunk 7 of 9” was. I also made a fur mantle and muff for it, shown above in #2.

11.Some notable figures attended…

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The Admiral

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Steampunk Pope

 

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Mark Twain

 

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Amelia Earhart… and her questionably effective co-pilot

 

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And the Tea Lady, sporting a new hat!

12. Did I mention all the FANCINESS at the ball??

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Well, I should have- it was a damn good time.

Event the dinosaurs wanted to see the pictures!

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But in the end, it was really all about the Epic Primordial Flowers we found in the Center of the Earth. (yes, the pink thing is a primordial flower)

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Thanks for watching! I’ll be back soon with another creation….. up next is a velvet and satin double breasted 1880’s jacket!

 

 

 

 

 

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