Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life and Kitties

So costuming isn't the only thing we've been up to lately. We've been INCREDIBLY busy. And  I know what you're thinking - so what else is new, right?

I know, but here's a little update on just details in general.

Since I'm done with school I kind of have my evenings back again. So I've been costuming like a crazy person, but I also often end up working some in the evenings too. I know I shouldn't (work-life balance and all of that) so I'm trying to change that. I've also been up to my parent's a few times, and we've had some friends over for a few different things which has been a lot of fun. But really the busy one right now is Brian.

He's student teaching right now, getting ready to graduate from school (FINALLY). And it's going incredibly well, but he's completely exhausted. He also is taking 1 last class that he needed AND still working at Lowe's part time. So his school/work days are usually 12-14 hours long and he almost never gets a full day off. It has been rough for him, but also for both of us because we spend almost no time together right now. The good news is that if all goes to plan he'll be done in 2 months! Then hopefully he can find a job before too long and we can stop all this 'working nights' nonsense.

So I spend a lot of my evenings at home with the kitties right now. Ah yes, the kitties. I mentioned we added to our little family in the form of a new kitten. And he's a pill. Seriously.

Odin is very sweet, and loving and snuggly - but he does his best to drive us and Goji up the wall. When he's not wrestling with Goji he's trying to get up on the table and other places he's not supposed to go. We tried putting tape on the table, but he's too smart and just waited for us to remove the tape a few days later and then he was right back up there. Goji's taking the disturbance like a champ (a really noisy, growly champ). He's getting more relaxed around the little fuzzball and slowly returning to his normal behaviors, so he'll only get better as Odin grows out of kittenhood I think.

They definitely are extremely entertaining, and seem to enjoy eachother's company. Sometimes.

What? We weren't doing anything...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

SDCC Costume: Zelda Part 3 - Embellishment

So, to keep up with the progress I've been making on the costume, I'll keep up with making progress documenting it.

One of the biggest concerns for me when designing how this dress would work was how to create the details on the skirt. In the game documentation and concept art, there are hints of some type of complex embroidery (or something) above the trim at the hem, but there's no clear way of telling what it really is or how it's constructed. So I looked to see what other costumers had done, and that didn't really give me any answers. So I decided this was one of those places where I could make it my own and interpret it in a way that I would find cool.

I opted for applique. First I figured out what the shape of the pattern was, and how big it should be by sketching it out.

Then I figured out how I would break up that pattern into individual pieces and what material would go where, and cut those 'patterns' out of tracing paper. For the material, I opted for a mix of metallic and white leathers (fake). I liked the texture, and the fact that they won't fray makes my life easier.

Materials and a charcoal yarn for 'trim'
Pieces cut out!

Then, after measuring where on the skirt they should go I spent 2 evenings placing all the pieces with adhesive. I wasn't sure at this point how I wanted to add in the additional detail. I started with using the charcoal yarn I bought as a trim... but I hated it. And the act of experimenting with it destroyed the pattern I'd done it on as it marred the (extremely fickle) pleather.

I tried stitching it on by machine, by hand, gluing it... no matter what I did it looked 'crafty' and distracted from the material. It also made the appliques appear harsh and stuck on instead of flowing with the skirt.

It had to go. Unfortunately the only way to fix it? Completely replacing that panel of the underdress - fun right? I did that fairly quickly but I spent most of that time cursing anyway.

Then I opted to add the criss-cross detail by actually removing slivers from the gold pieces, and added detail will be done with little silver and gold rhinestones. I'll add those at the very end after I get ALL of these appliques on. There are additional scroll-work portions that connect the individual shapes all the way around (but I of course needed to get these main pieces attached first so I could guarantee that my measurements are right and all the pieces are exactly equidistant).

That's where I am with the embellishments  so far (don't worry, there's a pic at the bottom).


Along with working on the tricky stuff above I opted to finish the additional piece to go with my pauldrons. Now that I knew for sure where the neckline of the dress would be, I could measure to make sure this piece was the right size sat in the proper place.

 The crystals took forever to find. I ended up finding the perfect ones on ebay from a chandelier supplier for only a few dollars (I got 10)!

I made the 'metal' parts out of foam, fabric, glue, spray rubber and paint in the same fashion as the shoulder pieces. Everything was attached using a mix of metal rings and felt. I glued felt loops inside where they would not be seen where I could attach the metal rings. Since glued felt is so strong, I was confident this method would be tough without wearing out the foam (so far so good).

I still have more stones and crystals to add on the shoulder pieces, but I still have to find the right ones. For the time being, I was excited to try it on and see how it fit...

It fits great! I'm so happy, the addition of the new piece in the front makes the armor sit perfectly and it requires next to no adjustment while wearing to stay on and centered.

This is getting exciting, but I'm not sure what piece I should accomplish next...

Monday, February 18, 2013

SDCC Costume: Zelda Part 2 - The Dress

So I'm finally ready to start recapping the progress I've been making on the latest costume (the one with the armor I started last summer). As I mentioned I had to put it aside while I finished up school, but now I'm back at it and after a slow start while I adjusted to my non-academic schedule, progress has been happening!

I decided before continuing on the armor, I should probably make the base dress. Since that is the foundation for everything, it would be helpful to make sure that my proportions for everything else were on target.

 Here is a reference picture again of what the completed costume looks like.

Instead of reinventing the wheel I opted to start from a pattern. I usually drape everything on my dress form, but the shape of the dress is so straightforward I figured it wasn't worth the time. 

After shopping around for fabric I opted for a poly satin  in a wonderful purple tone, and a pearly-white crinkled satin for the underdress. I really liked the depth the slightly crinkled texture gave to it, especially when contrasted with the smooth purple on top.

I started with pattern M6027 from Maccall's. The pattern itself is for a knee-length dress, so all I changed was the length, I added an additional 2+ feet to the bottom of each pattern piece to create the underdress:

Sorry for the bad picture.

This part came out very easily, fit like a dream, and made me excited. It's lined with simple cotton muslin for structure (and to keep it from being see-through) with a zip-up back that will be hidden under the corset lacing of the purple overdress.

The next part was the purple overdress. I opted to use the same pattern as I used for the underdress, and this ended up being a mistake - a very annoying one, for 2 reasons.
  1. The front is supposed to be in 2 pieces with darts instead of 4 full pieces.
  2. There's a lot of flare in the skirt, which made it nearly impossible to get it to lay flat.
Of course, I didn't notice these things until I had it all sewn together and lined. I opted ignore the dart problem (you can't hardly tell anyway) and to cut the center-front out and then fiddle with the rippling problem the flare caused in the skirt... then I cut too much away out of the center. crap.

All pinned together with the pauldrons set on top. (I was having fun with my hair this day).

Usually I would have redone it, but that would have required more fabric (meaning more $$$) and I thought I could salvage the piece. I finally was able to tweak the seams enough to both bring in the center front, and fix the rippling in back enough to call it 'acceptable'.

I whip stitched the necklines of the under and overdresses together, then stitched binding tape around the hem by hand, and pinned it back to be stitched to the lining. The tape also offered additional structure to that edge:

 So that's where the dress stands. Still a ton to do including hemming, adding lacing holes and TONS of decorating, but the base is ready to go.

Up next: skirt embellishments! This update will be written very shortly as I had a few days of insane progress this week.