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!

 

Gown featured in CA Victorian museum 2016-17 exhibit! Wednesday, Jun 22 2016 

I have exciting news- I was asked if I would be willing to loan one of my gowns to a Victorian Bridal Museum in California for the next year, for an exhibit! They’re featuring various period pieces alongside creations by master costumers in a “Then and Now” exhibition, and they contacted me when they saw my work online. I was very honored, of course, and from everything I’ve seen of the museum, it looks like a beautifully staged operation with well chosen pieces.

The museum is in Hemet, California, and is located in the town’s historic Opera House…. how very!

Even better, it is attached to a vintage consignment boutique called La Boutique, so your lusting for vintage fashion needn’t be left unsatisfied. 😉   (also, I’ve haunted enough antique stores, resale shops and thrift stores to recognize a very discerning eye in the pieces they accept for sale- check them out! www.victorianbridalmuseum.com

The owner, Eve Faulkner, also has a Facebook page which gets lots of updates with beautiful pictures of happy clients

Which gown is featured, you ask? Why, one that I wrote a post on… the burgundy and bronze!  If you’re around southern California, I think it would be a worthwhile cultural side trip plus shopping excursion all in one!  If you live far far away and have no hope of getting there in the next year, here are some pictures of the exhibit, courtesy of Ms. Faulkner!

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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 and Petyr Baelish’s exceedingly fitted costumes.

 

 

 

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Brienne of Tarth’s expensive plate and chain-mail 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 gives 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 “roam 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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CERSEI-

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!

Teslacon 6- The Evil Queen Tuesday, Jan 26 2016 

Corsets, leather and Evil?  Read on…

With the usual craziness of the Halloween season, being one of the designers for Milwaukee Fashion Week’s Couture & High Fashion evening, and new outfits for Teslacon, it was a *very* busy summer and fall. It’s not an excuse for neglecting you, but it’s as close as I’ll come. So, what have I been up to? Here are the highlights:

Check out this article about my Milwaukee Fashion Week collection, “Retrospective”, here.

Two costumes (in 9 working days) for Halloween this year… Cersei and Jaime Lannister! Just the right amount of wrong 😉  More details to come in the next post, but for now, a picture:

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Jaime and Cersei

 

And new outfits for Teslacon, as well as bringing two friends- and newcomers to TC- and dressing them for the duration of the con. Did I mention they entered and won the Group category of the costume contest while wearing my designs? Another picture for you:

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The new outfits I created for my husband and I were a…. departure…. from our usual. For mine, I was inspired by the film Maleficent, and I wanted to create an outfit that had a darker tone but still incorporated Victorian elements, while playing to the year’s Teslacon theme (Wild Wild West, and Dark Circus) as well.

In the meantime, I had promised Jim a new frock coat and possibly a vest. I’d also cut out a new pair of pants for him, so I had to finish all of that- after Halloween, mind you- before starting my own outfit. I knew that once I started mine I would be unlikely to pull myself away to give proper attention to anything else. He ended up with the new pants in a fine dark grey and charcoal stripe, a vest in a striped purple woven material, and a dark grey waxed denim frock coat lined with the vest’s fabric, and patterned from an 1890’s frock coat from “Men’s Garments 1830-1900; A Guide to pattern Cutting and Tailoring”, by R.I. Davis. The results:

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My own outfit would consist of a black and red striped silk corset (from an 1890-1900 pattern in “Corsets: Historical Patterns and Techniques”, by Jill Salen”, a heavily edited version of the “1887 Corsage w/Pleated Surah Vest” by Ageless Patterns, and a pair of black pleather pants of my own design. Additionally, I planned to tart up a black velvet and tulle vintage hat with some antique French millinery feathers, and make a ridiculously epic hairpiece to top it all off. Judge for yourself:

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The Evil Queen

Continue to scroll below for details on red leather inserts, chiffon screened to look like muscles, and details on that hairpiece.

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1887 Corsage w/Pleated Surah Vest

Inspirations for the new design:

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Jacket and sass above, pleather and split sleeves below.

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I extended the jacket  to make it full length and created an under-skirt for it. I made the sleeves fuller, as I planned to open them and have the pleather/chiffon details underneath. I made piping and lined the jacket and both sleeves with it. Some personal design touches include the red leather diamond insert in the back, and a full 9″ of black leather encircling the hem. The split sleeves with the chiffon and pleather undersleeves were also a personal innovation. The jacket was lined, boned, custom fitted for my corseted measurements, and fully edged in handmade self-fabric piping.

The red and black silk corset was created by taking a 1/2 scale antique pattern, re-sizing it in Photoshop and printing, then modifying it to my corseted measurements. I used garter straps to create two tie-on “pockets”; a holster for a small LED-lit pistol that started life as a pirate-y butane lighter, and a sleek red leather pouch for holding money & ID, etc.

The pleather pants have a sailor-style front closure, wide waistband and matched curving seams along the legs. All the pleather I used in the outfit is embossed with a black-on black rose design.

But really, can I show you the back?

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That is a red leather diamond, with the collar portion pattern matched to the back portion. Yes. And very fancy- I tore up a thrifted $6 red leather skirt for the fabric… it doesn’t ALL have to cost an arm and a leg!

I also incorporated hidden hooks and loops to enable the skirt to be “bustled” up, a look that plays peek-a-boo with the red satin lining. (Will have to add a bustled image later)

And the hairpiece, which was dark blonde with an elasticized attachment for over a bun. I took two red-to-black ombre hair falls that I’ve had FOREVER (see proof) and twisted them into the blonde hairpiece, to create a massive and impressive final structure. I also used a hair rat I took a year to collect beneath the center of the hairpiece for added volume, but the majority is fake hair.

Some images of the hair, at the end of a very long day:

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I needed the hairpiece to be high enough to tilt my hat forward, and also for the bottom to be high enough off the nape of my neck so as not to interfere with my jacket collar.

The chiffon is screen printed with a red and black pattern that is reminiscent of muscles sans skin, and I used it to make the gathered sleeves spilling out of the jacket’s split sleeves, and headed by black fitted pleather “gauntlets”, a’la Maleficent’s battle costume sleeves.

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This outfit was a lot of fun to make, and it was helpful to have the original vintage pattern to use as a starting point, though it barely resembles the original when all is said & done.

More to come soon, I promise 😉

 

 

 

 

Corseted Edwardian Skirt, or Adventures With Dutch Pattern Translations Wednesday, Aug 12 2015 

I have wanted to created a corseted skirt for a time now, and meandered into a search on Pinterest along those lines, coming up with this:

11113633_391349101069026_6048540763192940002_n corseted skirt (3) corseted skirt (2)

So, this looks lovely and during a fabric shopping excursion to Chicago I found a delicious spring green fabric (unusual, I’m not a particularly “spring green” kind of gal) that prompted me to jump into this with both feet. Note, of course, that this pattern is in Dutch. And that the image quality is approximately 72 dpi, which is shite for printing. I printed an 8″x 10″ of the pattern and it was difficult to read, even that small.

The first challenge, besides translating the dutch, was switching the measurements from centimeters to inches. Not necessary, but I find it easier to work in imperial units… what can I say, I’m used to it.  Several numbers were difficult to read, so I guessed at times- a six or a five, an eight or a three…. at times I ended up with a curve that didn’t quite make sense, so I went back and checked to see if the number was questionable, and replaced my first guess with the second choice.

It went pretty smoothly.  The measurements lined up pretty closely with my own, so I drafted the pattern as-is, after adding seam allowances.  The one adjustment I would make is giving a tad less generosity to the hip measurements- you can see in the images to follow, there is a visible line at the bottom of the corseted portion which I may still creatively disguise, but am dealing with for now. If it were just a tad smaller, I believe the line would flow more smoothly. Another layer of interlining or a thicker fabric may have also helped with this issue. Something to keep in mind when choosing a fabric- mine was pretty thin.

I also have not inserted pleated gores, as pictured in the last image… debating on whether to add them until after I decide on a hip-line cover-up.

For the interlining I used two layers of canvas and sandwiched the boning between them, and a thin cotton for the lining. If you know how to make a skirt, and how to make a corset, this pattern is not terribly challenging…. historically, however, it wouldn’t have been all too common for one person to have made both. Usually tradespeople had a specialty, and would have stuck with it…. corsets or skirts, linens or hats, shoes or hose, etc.

I was really slacking on taking pictures because this outfit was created in a fast and furious blaze of inspiration, but I lined the grommets on both sides with spring steel, made my own bias tape and hemmed each skirt panel individually so that if I chose to insert gores later I wouldn’t have to re-hem the whole thing. I also hand-stitched a beaded applique onto the bodice and did some (very little) decorative stitching at the seams… possibly more in the future. I would say this outfit is still officially evolving.

It was interesting, but knowing what I know NOW, I’d suggest checking out Truly Victorian’s 10-gore Edwardian princess skirt… beautiful, same look and period, with (knowing Truly Victorian) clear instructions and extensive directions on adjustments. Just saying.

So, without further ado, here is the final product- photo credits to Kathy Berger Photography.

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For October: Victorian Skating Outfit, with much more in-progress detail!

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 

Teslacon 2012

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!

Off Topic- I lost 40 lbs. Warning: Spoilers! Thursday, Dec 18 2014 

Okay, so today I officially hit my official goal of 150lbs, down from 192 as of January 3rd, 2014. At 5’7″, after 2.5 rounds of P90X and 2 rounds of P90X3, that means I’m a size 6, sometimes 8. It feels surreal to say that, because most of my life I have been a 12, lately edging up toward a 14.

(And I am not being reimbursed by any exercise program, app or other any other thing that I mention in this post)

Family and friends have asked me what I’m doing/have done to achieve this, and make references to my “diet” that I’m on, that I must be “cheating” when they see me eat a piece of candy or have a beer.

So, let me tell you, and you’ll have the benefit of what I’ve learned over the last two to three years, and how I lost 40 lbs in 12 months.

Firstly, let me say that I never felt that I ate much, that I ate unhealthily, or that I was particularly inactive. I didn’t frequent fast food often & enjoyed cooking. My husband and I took up walking/jogging about 3 miles a couple times a week over the last few years. But after looking at pictures of ourselves while in Arizona visiting my parents, we decided it was time to take a more active approach.  Allow me to share a couple “before” images:

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Not the most flattering pic of me on the left here, but more and more weren’t.

 

Now, the trip I mentioned was in January of 2013, and we had been thinking of starting this P90X program we’d heard of. Diet-wise we really didn’t make any adjustments, though we had been incorporating a few meatless nights into our weekly menu for a couple years already.

Long story short, we did the 90-day program 2.5 times over the course of a year. We gained flexibility, strength, I noticed my resting heart rate was lower, but I really didn’t lose any weight. My husband lost about 10 pounds, but he had also cut the Coke (Zero) out of his weekend Jack & Cokes.

I was disappointed; though we’d seen improvements to our health and my clothes fit a little differently, I still had hoped the number on the scale would be affected.

2013’s holidays took their toll, and we were both at our all time highs the first week of January 2014- my husband (I think) was at 254 and I was at 192 when we baseline-weighed in. I had purchased P90X3 over the holidays and this time we decided to incorporate diet adjustments too. Tony (Horton) had always said it’s 80% diet & 20% exercise, after all. We figured he was exaggerating- how could you go from not working out to 6 days a week without losing weight? Well, there you go.

We cut out almost all alcohol for about a month to kickstart things, and started sticking to tracking our food and exercise on an app called MyFitnessPal, something we had tried sporadically the year before. We also gleaned some really good information from visiting a nutritionist twice this spring. (The app is free, and entering food is pretty user friendly- it searches an interactive online database, can look up recipes by url, and can even scan barcodes to make entering food easy)

My husband lost 40 pounds by the middle of the year. I lost half that in the same time frame. He had a heart rate monitor, and I was using his calorie-burn total, which was a big mistake- I purchased my own Heart Rate Monitor (HRM), and discovered I burn about 1/3 fewer calories doing the same workout. That helped, and my weight continued to drop.

We plan our week’s meals, as much as possible, and usually go out to eat once or twice a month. At restaurants our easiest method of controlling calorie intake is to turn down the rolls/bread at the beginning (they’re never anything amazing anyway), and not to order alcoholic drinks during dinner (if we finish and still want something, we do, but it’s easier for your body to process food without alcohol on top of it).

We weigh in once a week, every Thursday morning. Doing the weigh in just before the weekend is a win-win: if our weight has gone up we are watching our intake more closely over the weekend, and if it has dropped we’re encouraged by our success & don’t want to ruin it. My husband has been in “maintenance mode” the second half of the year & has been holding around his goal 5 pound range.

So, the short and skinny (pardon the pun) of it, is this– there are three aspects to what we did, and only one of them directly caused the weight loss.

1. Weight loss is calorie in vs calorie out. Period.  Never in the last year did I take in fewer than 1200 calories per day. To do so is unhealthy, and you can easily lose weight at 1200-1700. The app we used calculated our daily calorie goal based on height/weight/age/activity level/etc. If you have said “Oh my god, I could never take ALL the time to keep track of my food!”, let me tell you- it takes about 3-5 minutes per day, and 40 pounds is SO worth it.
That is it. You don’t NEED to eat healthy. You don’t NEED to exercise. I would suggest doing both, though.

2. Working out gives you “extra” calories, and makes you burn them faster. If you’ve ever looked at 1200 calories, you know there is NO wiggle room. That is not a lot of food. Our apps (we hooked up the HRM to the Endomondo app to automatically record our exercise and update our calorie totals in MyFitnessPal) added the calories burned to our daily total, adding some breathing room. Also, exercise increases muscle and muscle burns calories more quickly than fat. Your circulation improves, your heart rate improves. (Have I mentioned how great my skin looks suddenly?) It sounds cheeseball, but exercise helps you to become a “fat burning machine”, truly.

3. Eating quality calories is very important. You don’t have a ton of calories to eat. You’re working out. You need energy, and you need to keep healthy. What you choose to put into your body is going to affect your energy levels, you appetite, your mood… so choose wisely.  Not to say you can’t indulge- nothing is actually off my menu options…I can have chocolate, candy, doughnuts, french fries, etc.  I just have less. And honestly, once you start working out you crave more protein and rarely even look twice at sweets, or all those white carbs. Eating good food reduces snacking too… I rarely eat anything after dinner now. I eat three times a day- I don’t “graze”… I’m not hungry between meals, because my meals are satisfying.

So, there are the big “secre ts”. It’s so easy, I feel stupid for not just keeping track years ago- I could have been so much more fit & active all those years! Hence, I wrote this. If you want to improve your health, or shape, or whatever,

And here’s a couple recent pictures- the striped one is from 10 pounds ago, though. Oh, I also made a “Seven of Nine” and “Red shirt” costume combo for Halloween this year. That was a goal 15 years in the making.

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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??

the Ball

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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