5 Fandom Friday: Fandoms I’m Thankful For


Happy Friday! No Lulu post this week since all my spare time has been devoted to actually finishing her. Instead, have a 5 Fandom Friday post!

Sailor Jupiter
Sailor Jupiter. Photo by Aperture Ashley.

1. Sailor Moon : How do I even begin to define how Sailor Moon has impacted my life? It’s such an emotional connection for me. I remember being a kid and waking up every Saturday morning to catch the DiC broadcast at 6am. I remember pulling clothes out of my closet to dress as a senshi. As an adult, Sailor Moon fandom has brought so many friends into my life, and even though it’s campy and silly at times, it’s very dear to me.

Rogue - Green and Yellow
Kotobukiya Rogue. Photo by Aperture Ashley

2. X-Men : This was another formative fandom for me. Much like Sailor Moon, my introduction to this fandom was through Saturday morning cartoons as a child. I’d always make sure to catch the Fox morning block, with a heavy emphasis on X-Men. That was when I really started gravitating towards Rogue. I loved her in those cartoons! She’s so strong and yet vulnerable at the same time.

hoodie front
Moogle hoodie

3. Final Fantasy : I came into the FF fandom later in my teen years. My first FF game was Final Fantasy X, and man, I was hooked right off the bat. I think I was 15 or 16 when I first started playing, and along the way I put around 300 hours into the game. The story (especially Yuna’s Final Sending) made me weep repeatedly. FFX will always be my favorite in the series, and I’m so happy to finally have a costume from this game!

Star Wars Cambie

4. Star Wars : Another formative fandom! My dad is responsible for getting me hooked on the movies as a kid. For quite a while, we made it a holiday tradition to marathon all the original films. When Episodes I-III came out, he even took us out of school to go see them in theaters (thanks, dad!). I’m really looking forward to the new film next month!

Captain Marvel. Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

5. Captain Marvel / Carol Corps : The Carol Corps is unlike any other fandom I’ve seen. They’re so welcoming and supportive, and there’s such an amazing emphasis on feminism and kick-ass ladies! I wasn’t always a Carol Danvers fan, mostly due to the aforementioned X-Men cartoon. She always came off as a villain to me. My fandom was inspired by a stashbusting cosplay build of Ms. Marvel’s Warbird costume, and the more I learned about her, the more I loved her, especially as Captain Marvel.

And there you have it! Funny how most of my major fandoms are represented in my cosplays :P Eventually I’ll get around to a Star Wars costume!

What are your favorite fandoms? Check out more responses on Twitter by following the hashtag #Fandom5. 

Costume Notes: Lulu pt. 1

Happy Friday, folks! This week’s post is a little out of the ordinary for me. Lulu has been my main build for a little over a month now, and though I’m not quite finished with her yet, I wanted to go ahead and start detailing my construction process. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons: 1) To help me remember all the details of this build for craftsmanship judging; 2) Because I am way too wordy and this will be a novella otherwise; and, 3) Because it frustrates me to no end that Lulu was THE character to cosplay when FFX came out over a decade ago and yet there are only a handful of cosplayers on the web with detailed descriptions of their builds. Now that the preamble is out of the way, I’ll start by going over this costume in chronological order of construction.


Jewelry: Though I’ve been researching this costume for about three years and purchasing pieces since last November, the first real parts I worked on were Lulu’s necklaces and earrings. This was mostly a matter of scheduling. I stayed in Portland for a week in March and wanted something to work on in my down time that was easy to transport. Lulu’s jewelry fit the bill perfectly!

For the largest necklace, I snagged some rubber purple flat circles off of eBay. They’re separated by ivory faux pearls from Michael’s. The middle necklace is made from red jade cylinder beads and dark green jade beads I found on Etsy. The shortest necklace is made from faux pearls from Michael’s. All the necklaces close with lobster clasps.

The earrings pictured above wound up being waaaaaay too heavy, so after spending far too much money on various beads on Etsy, I finally settled on pink agate oval beads with small faux gold pearls. I’ll share updated images next week.

Helpful tutorials:

Time estimation: 10 hours


“Fur” Stole: Once I got back from Portland, I decided to tackle Lulu’s fur stole. I picked up some gorgeous faux fur from Golden D’Or early this year along with some royal purple polyester haubute. The stole is pretty simple in terms of patterning. It’s a very long rectangle, just long enough to go around my shoulders with a bit of overlap in the front, and the lining piece is about a half inch shorter on each side to account for turn of cloth. Once I had my pieces cut, I sewed them right sides together, flipped them, and hand stitched the opening gap.

Fur, whether real or fake, is a tricky beast to work with. When cutting, it’s advisable to cut your piece from the wrong side of the fabric with a box cutter, taking care not to give your fur an inadvertent hair cut. This is also something to be mindful of when sewing. You’ll want to brush the fur away from your stitching and use a comb to release any fur that gets caught when you turn everything inside out. Have a vacuum and lint brush on hand to clean up when you finish! The stole attaches to my corset via hand-sewn snaps.

Helpful tutorials:

Time estimation: 6 hours (with patterning and a do-over piece)


Crinoline: Ah, the big piece that made me go, “Oh shit, I guess I’m really doing this.” This was my big hold-up with Lulu construction. Lulu’s skirt of belts was insanely daunting to me as a nooblet. I’ve seen a lot of people take the “apron” approach, where they build a faux apron out of the belts and hold it up with a harness around the waist. I took this a step further by building a crinoline based on an 1860s design. My rationale was that if these crinolines were built to hold several pounds worth of skirts, hopefully it’d also do the same with belts (I still have to test this theory. I’ll report back after this weekend :P). Another reason I went with the crinoline approach was because I prefer artwork of Lulu with a full skirt in the back, and a crinoline is a great way to get that effect.

I won’t go into too much detail here, since I already wrote about this topic in my TV103 pattern review. My big recommendation if you take on a project like this is to prepare for a LOT of hand sewing, especially if you deviate from the pattern markings AT ALL. Had I not altered this pattern as drastically as I did, I probably could have just sewn the bulk of the crinoline on my machine and then inserted the hoops. However, my alterations required me to do a lot of eyeballing and readjustments for a well-balanced crinoline. If you’ve got a lot of weight on yours, you might also consider using a heavy-duty belt buckle.

Helpful tutorials:

Time estimation: 20 hours (mostly hand-stitching)


Corset: (One of) the main event(s)! This is what all my corset practice this year has been leading to. I knew I wanted this corset to be a major focus piece of the costume, so I went all out. I again turned to TV110 for construction. The only major pattern alteration I made was lengthening the front pieces to accommodate the points of the corset.

I made this corset using the welt seam approach. My strength layers are a cotton/viscose blend coutil with a gorgeous floral motif and duck cloth. I also made a floating liner layer out of Kona cotton. I wanted this corset to be super sturdy and able to withstand tightlacing, so I double-boned each seam with 1/4″ inch spiral steel boning.

Initial binding around the busk. This was 1" wide, and it was waaaay too wide for my taste. I seam ripped both sides, reduced them to 5/8", and used my zipper foot to edge stitch them down again.
Initial binding around the busk. This was 1″ wide, and it was waaaay too wide for my taste. I seam ripped both sides, reduced them to 5/8″, and used my zipper foot to edge stitch them down again.

One of my bigger challenges with this corset was adding the binding around the busk. Inserting a busk requires precision, and I had to add the satin binding to my coutil layer before I could construct the busk pocket. I drew in all my seam allowances with tailor’s chalk and went VERY slowly with the whole process. Once I had my hook side inserted, I stitched it down, and then brought my binding over and stitched that down as well. Unfortunately, my initial measurement of 1″ faux boning channels was far too wide for my taste, so I had to seam rip it up and reduce it to 5/8″.

Creating the rest of the faux grey boning channels was slightly easier. I created the channels by cutting my satin blanket binding in half, then sewing the strips WRONG sides together. I then pressed the tubes using quilter’s bars and cut my excess seam allowance away to reduce bulk. Once my tubes were created, I placed them on my corset using Wundertape and edgestitched them down. This also required a LOT of precision, since I was stitching directly into my boning channels.

After my channels were sewn and boning inserted, I used my blanket binding to edge the corset. The trickiest part was getting those corners to look mitered. I kind of want to seam rip these and do them again, buuuuuut that may have to wait until after the con.

For the back of the corset, I pretty much ignored the game art entirely for a couple of reasons, the primary being that Lulu’s corset is designed with zero lacing gap. In terms of corsets, this means that the corset is too big. You should have about a 2″ gap for a properly fitted corset. Since I did create this corset with a gap in mind, I also made a floating modesty panel made from leftover coutil and black bias tape. I laced it with parachute cord.

Helpful tutorials:

Time estimation: 20 hours

That about does it for this week’s post. Next week I’ll share more details!

What’s the biggest cosplay you’ve made?  

WIP: October 2015

Lulu: 50% complete

I also finished up the corset! Couldn't resist trying everything on :)
I also finished up the corset! Couldn’t resist trying everything on :)

I’m finally making some decent progress on Lulu! One of my big tasks for this month was knocking out her base skirt and sleeves. I debated on how to do this. There’s some discussion among cosplayers as to what Lulu’s skirt and sleeves are supposed to be: separate pieces or a dress with an extremely low cut back. I opted for multiple pieces for easier cleaning and repairs. These pieces are made with a material that was advertised as cow leather, but definitely does not feel like real leather. Regardless, it’s still a nice fabric with a great drape, weight, and sheen.

I used Kwik-Sew 3400 up to the waist to create a base for the skirt. I blended out the princess seams in the front and back of View B and chopped off the front pieces at my desired length. From there, I used the sewn front and back to create a facing with the knit side facing my stomach for comfort.

To create the sleeves, I took one of my basic sleeve templates and slashed and spread it to create the bell effect, using my French curve to create the drop in the sleeves. It’s held up with elastic backed with silicone, so it’ll (hopefully) grip my arm a little better than straight up elastic casings.


For both the sleeves and skirt, I opted to finish off the seams with a bound bias finish. Leather and pleather don’t *technically* need a finish since they won’t unravel, but since this is a competition piece, I wanted to have a nice, clean interior for craftsmanship judging. I topstitched the remaining seam allowances down to match the game art.


My other big project on Lulu was creating ALL THE LACE. I painted all the Venetian lace I purchased over the last few months by hand, which took several weeks of Netflix and evening painting.


I created several more pieces by using lace embroidery pieces available from emblibrary.com. This is such a cool technique. You “embroider” the lace pieces on water soluble stabilizer, then drop the finished piece in a basin of water. Once the stabilizer has dissolved, you iron the final piece and are left with a gorgeous lace flower. These are intended as coasters and Christmas ornaments, but they work perfectly as filler pieces for Lulu.


I’m about 2 weeks away from the con, so I’m definitely in crunch mode! My final to-dos are styling the wig, finishing the moogle, gluing all the lace and belts on, and creating a bit of flame magic. Wish me luck!

She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk: 100% complete

Not much to say here that I didn’t say in my She-Hulks post. Body painting was one heck of a learning experience, but I’m glad I went through it! I’m looking forward to brainstorming our next mother-daughter build.

Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.
Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.

What’s on your craft table right now? 

Fandom Friday: Favorite Halloween Episodes of TV Shows


Happy Friday! It’s been a little while since I participated in one of these. With Halloween just around the corner, I’m in the mood for all things Halloween. Here are a few of my favorite Halloween episodes of TV shows:

97tTMBuffy the Vampire Slayer: I like almost all of the Halloween episodes of Buffy, but my favorite has to be Fear, Itself. In this episode, the Scoobies (most of them, anyway), are trapped in a frat house and a demon feeds on their individual fears. There are some great moments here, including Anya in a bunny suit, ala A Christmas Carol, and Giles wearing a sombrero.

tumblr_ll9s5pb57r1qbgx8ao1_500Angel: I adore Lorne-centric episodes, and Life of the Party is one of my favorites. Lorne has his sleep removed in order to plan an office party to smooth over Angel’s transition into the big boss, and as a result, he winds up suppressing his empathic subconscious, resulting in all sorts of out of character behavior for the main cast. Favorite moments include: Angel and Eve getting it on in the office, “drunk” Fred and Wesley, and dancing Spike.

tumblr_n7phxq5oHY1tfr7zvo2_500Bob’s Burgers: Again, I like almost every Halloween episode of Bob’s Burgers, but my favorite has to be Fort Night. In this episode, the Belcher kids get trapped in their makeshift fort with some of their friends, and their classmate, Millie, refuses to get help after Louise insults her. Meanwhile, Bob and Linda are rushing to finish a Chinese dragon costume for the kids for trick-or-treating. The kids’ escape plans are hilarious, and the guest stars Aziz Ansari and Sarah and Laura Silverman give some great performances.


Parks and Recreation: I debated this one. Parks Halloween episodes are pretty solid. Halloween Surprise has a lot of great moments (including Ben’s proposal to Leslie) and Recall Vote had Ben and Leslie in fabulous Princess Bride costumes (made by Castle Corsetry!). But my favorite is Greg Pikitis. This episode really helps push the show in a new direction after a fairly rough start. In it, Ann throws a Halloween party that’s not going well, but starts picking up when Tom arrives and turns the place into a dance party. Leslie’s “arch-nemesis”, Greg, is introduced as well. Some of my favorite parts from this episode include Leslie’s overall insanity geared towards Greg (tee-peeing Leslie is fantastic), Raggedy Ann, and Louis C.K.’s guest appearance.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-3720-1440245432-5How I Met Your Mother: Again, I debated this one. Ultimately, I decided on The Slutty Pumpkin Returns. After years of searching, Ted finally locates the girl who wore the Slutty Pumpkin costume in the first season of the show, and they begin dating, only to realize they have zero chemistry in hilarious fashion. Meanwhile, pregnant Lilly is convinced she and Marshall must move to the suburbs. We also find out that Barney is one-quarter Canadian, much to Robyn’s delight. Some of my favorite moments include: Ted having a hard time figuring out how to hold Naomi’s (the Slutty Pumpkin) hand, Lilly handing out a stapler to trick-or-treaters, and Barney going to a rooftop Halloween party in an American themed boxing outfit.

What are some of your favorite Halloween episodes of TV shows? Check out more responses by following the hashtag #5fandomfriday or #fandom5 on Twitter.

Disclaimer: All images are copyrighted to their respective companies.

Costume Notes: She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk

Photo by Alan Tijernia.
Photo by Alan Tijernia.

Completed: October 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 10 hours

Debuted: Dallas Comic Con Fan Days

Why This Costume: I’ve been interested in making Jennifer’s classic suit for a while, but the final push for this costume came from my mom. Apparently the cosplay bug bit her after going with me to Dallas Comic Con last year as Supergirl, and she wanted to team up with me for another costume. When she mentioned that she liked She-Hulk, I knew we had to team up as She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk!

Photo from David on FB.
Photo from David on FB.

How I made it: All in all, this is a pretty simple build with the exception of body paint. Aside from the leotards, most of the pieces were purchased.

Purchased pieces:


As I mentioned in my review of M7217, Yaya Han‘s Ultimate Bodysuit pattern is pretty straight forward. For regular She-Hulk, I underlined all the white portions with white spandex scraps from other projects. My outer layer of white is moleskin from SpandexWorld. The black on Red She-Hulk was leftover scraps from Callula Cosplay‘s Huntress.

Red She-Hulk joined the Dark Side of the Force!

I wanted to give both of the Shulkie leotards a bit of pop for more visual appeal. To do that, I made the purple portions on both She-Hulks with milliskin from SpandexWorld overlaid with purple jersey cut from a pair of men’s basketball shorts. There was a bit of stretch to the jersey, so I cut the width of the pattern on the stretchiest part of the fabric. I attempted to dye the shorts, but I didn’t notice any real change in color.


On regular She-Hulk, I also added a strip of grey piping to between the white and purple sections. Check out this tutorial for detailed instructions on adding piping to spandex. It’s somewhat time consuming, but the results are so pretty!

Finally, I ditched the pattern instructions for a centered zipper and used an exposed zipper, as mentioned in the M7217 sewalong on the Cosplay by McCall’s blog. Such a simple detail, but it really makes the suit stand out!


I knew right away that I didn’t want to paint my entire body for this costume (just painting my face and doing makeup took about 2.5 hours), so I turned to We Love Colors for tights that I could use for the arms and legs of these costumes. For regular She-Hulk, I used olive as a base layer, and covered them with a pair of emerald tights I got off of eBay. I plan to swap those out with emerald tights from We Love Colors next time I wear this costume. My mom wore a double layer of scarlet red for the legs and a single layer in the same color for the arms. We both double layered for the legs due to opacity issues. I would highly recommend ordering a smaller size for your arms!


To make the tights work for the arms, I cut a hole out of the crotch and sewed a strip of 3/8″ elastic around the crotch hole to keep it from stretching out. I didn’t have time to do this on Red She-Hulk, and oh man, it makes a big difference as the day went on. Once the hole was in place, we wore the tights as a crop top, with the butt side in the front to accommodate the bust. After that, we used embroidery scissors to snip holes for the fingers and used Fray Check to keep them from running too much.


Body painting was definitely my biggest challenge with these costumes. I’d never painted myself before, and it was a much bigger undertaking than I expected. I’m so glad I did a makeup test in advance! I was pretty pleased with the coverage I got from Mehron’s Paradise collection. Definitely, definitely, definitely let your paint dry between layers and seal it! Also, take allergy medication if necessary. My allergies are bugging the crap out of me right now, so I kept having to touch up the inner corners of my eyes and my nose.

Derping it up with Callula Cosplay.

My makeup lasted quite well throughout the day, though I did get some on my costume by the sheer nature of it being white. Here are a few tutorials I found helpful for body painting:

Photo by Scott Vanz.
Photo by Scott Vanz.

Thoughts on this costume: I had so much fun wearing this! Jennifer is such a bad-ass babe, and it was awesome to embrace that. My mom and I are both trained in martial arts, so posing for our photoshoot was a lot of fun. Our photographer asked us to do a little sparring match for a video, which was one of the highlights of the day. I can’t wait to come up with our next mother/daughter costume!

Have you ever done a costume that required body paint? What did you think of it? 

Pattern Review: M7217

12115489_785108354948606_6219879557741383976_nThe Basics: 

Pattern: McCall’s M7127 (a.k.a. the Yaya Han bodysuit pattern)

Total Hours: About 4 hours for the first suit and 6 hours for the 2nd one

Fabric: Approximately 1 yard of 4 way stretch pleather for Red She-Hulk and a half-yard of purple milliskin. Approximately 2 yards of heavy white moleskin for She-Hulk, a half-yard of purple milliskin, and scraps of grey for piping. The purple milliskin on both suits is covered with fabric from men’s basketball shorts.

Alterations: Added 2″ of length at the bodice cut line. In hindsight, I probably should have also added a half inch to the crotch cut line. I also ditched the sleeves and made my suits with an exposed zipper, as detailed in the Cosplay by McCall’s blog.

Notions: Thread, zippers, knit interfacing, clear elastic, 3/8″ elastic, stretch cord (regular She-Hulk)


Did it look like the pattern illustration?: Pretty much.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: Overall, yes, though some of the directions weren’t really the norm for spandex suits.

Make it again?: Absolutely. Hoping to make a new Rogue with this pattern soon!


Other thoughts: My main thought when I first saw this pattern was, “How useful is this really going to be for superhero suits?” While this suit is great in a lot of ways, it will still require a lot of alterations for most superheroes, especially any superheroes that have crazy seam lines (looking at you, Carol) or seamlines that don’t match up to this pattern.

That said, if you want a suit that will be a great resource for a tailored fit, this pattern is fantastic. I’ve never had a suit fit me quite this well, especially under the bust. I’m adding that feature on ALL my suits from now on. If I get around to remaking my Batwoman suit, I’m definitely going to use this pattern.

So now that the pre-amble is out of the way, here are a few tips to make your process go a little bit smoother than mine. In order to give this pattern a fair review, I tried to stick with the design as is for the most part.


So first up: directions. For the most part, these are pretty straight forward. But there are a few steps that made me shake my head a little. My main complaint was that the instructions call for a casing in the leg holes. While you *can* do this, it’s suuuuuuuuuuper annoying. Instead, I sewed the elastic directly to the leg holes, which is far more common for swimsuits and is a staple in Kwik-Sew spandex instructions. While I didn’t include arms on this leotard, I did take a look at the instructions and again shook my head. You’re instructed to set the sleeves here as you would a woven garment. Again, nothing technically *wrong* with this, but I almost ALWAYS take the RTW sleeve setting approach in spandex suits.

Next up: fit. I don’t know about y’all, but this suit had way more ease built in than I was used to, especially compared to Kwik-Sew. I wound up cutting the sides a size smaller than my pattern measurements, and I also took out a full 2″ at the waist of the front princess seams. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, no pattern will fit every body perfectly right out of the envelope, and lots of seam lines means you have flexibility with tailoring. Still, I’m very glad I made a mock-up with my go-to spandex undergarments.

Finally, difficulty. I would honestly hesitate to recommend this pattern to a complete spandex novice. My suits each had 13 pattern pieces (double that on Jen since everything is double-layered), which is a bit overwhelming for a newbie spandex sewer. Kwik-Sew’s basic catsuits by comparison have 5 pieces. Pattern matching is a big deal here as well, especially at all the bust points, and that can be tricky for folks not accustomed to sewing with stretchy fabrics. I highly recommend basting before you commit to  your final stitches.


Have any of you used this pattern yet? What did you think of it?

WIP: September 2015

Another month has flown by! The end of the year is quickly approaching, which means that my costume list is slowly starting to die down for the year (Don’t worry. I’ve already got big plans for 2016 ;) ). Here’s what’s been on my craft table this month:

Lulu: 25% complete

wipI feel like I actually made some real progress on Lulu this month! My main focus with her was the corset, and I’m about 90% complete. If time works in my favor, I’m hoping to put the final touches on it today. Once again, I turned to my trusty TV110 with a few modifications. For Wonder Woman, I raised the height of the bust for modesty. Lulu doesn’t share that concern, so I dropped it back down to the originally drafted pattern. I also modified the bottom front panels of the corset to accommodate the points.

The fashion fabric layer is a cotton/viscose coutil with a lovely floral motif, and the strength layer of the corset is duck cloth. I constructed these two layers using the welt seam approach, and made a floating liner out of some black cotton in my stash.

To create the silver stripes on Lulu’s corset, I cut some satin blanket binding in half, sewed the wrong sides together, pressed them with quilter’s bars, and then topstitched them over the seams of the corset. I used Wundertape to keep the strips from moving around as I sewed. I intend to wear this costume as a competition piece, so I went all out on the boning. Each seam is double-boned with 1/4″ spiral spring steel, and the back has 1/4″ flat steel on each side of the grommets.

buskThis was my first time inserting a busk on a corset. Actually inserting it wasn’t difficult, but accommodating the silver stripes on the front sure was! I had to take precise measurements and stitch everything down prior to inserting the busk.

laceI also started experimenting with lace dyeing this month. Over the last few months, I’ve purchased lace from several places, and many friends have also donated some lace to my ever-growing stash. Thanks, friends! I’m using this tutorial and Dye-na-flow to create pastel colors for the lace.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my progress for this month, but I’m also kind of freaking out about the amount of work I have left to do on this project! Once I get through She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk, expect to see a lot more Lulu progress. You can keep up with my Lulu WIP photos on Instagram by searching for the hashtag #geekysewslulu.


CM raceCaptain Marvel Race Outfit: This was such a fun request! A client recently asked if I could turn Captain Marvel’s uniform into a racing outfit, and I was happy to help! For the top, I made a raglan sleeve top using McCall’s 7100 as a base. I modified it to fold on the front, cut the sleeves at T-shirt length, modified the collar, and of course added the stripes. Altelier Heidi’s tutorial on inset points was such a fantastic help with this project. These points look way better than the ones on my Captain Marvel!

The pants are McCall’s 6360, though I totally would have used Sewaholic’s Pacific Leggings instead had they been out at the time. Would have made sewing a hidden pocket in these a heck of a lot easier!

dressRamona/Thor crossover: Another fun request! This client asked if I could make a spandex dress based off of this Ramona/Thor crossover on DeviantArt. To come up with the pattern, I made a mock-up of Kwik-Sew 3154 (with the skirt) and drew in the princess seam stripes. From there, I cut up all the pieces, added seam allowances, and sewed it all back up. The most challenging part of this commission was the yellow band on the bottom front of the dress. All sorts of inset corners to deal with! I can’t wait to see this on my client at Fan Days :)

That’s what’s been on my craft table this month. What are all of you currently working on?

Fandom Friday: 5 Pumpkin Items Cannot Wait To Purchase

5fandomfridayHappy Friday! Now that fall is in full swing, I’m jumping the bandwagon for all the pumpkin things! Here are a few items I can’t wait to get my hands on:

  1. A legit pumpkin: Now that I have a house with a real front porch, I’m looking forward to hitting my local fall festival and carving a pumpkin. I think I’m going to go with something simple, but nerdy. Probably Mario related!
  2. Pumpkin spice Oreos. Callula Cosplay is to blame for this one. She raved and raved about them recently, so now I’m dying to try them!
  3. Brach’s Pumpkin Candy: Not to be confused with Brach’s pumpkin spice candy. These bad boys take me back to childhood. Such a delicious sugary concoction! I can easily eat a bag of these by myself (and won’t admit how many times I have :P)
  4. Bath and Bodyworks Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin: I adore Bath and Bodyworks scents, and cinnamon pumpkin sounds divine. I really want to pick up some of their lotion in this scent along with some candles!
  5. Pumpkin fabric: I’m really feeling the itch to decorate my place right now. Probably unrealistic given all the projects I need to complete, oh, yesterday, but that won’t stop me from eyeballing all the cute fall themed cottons at JoAnn’s and Hancock right now.

You’ll notice that pumpkin spice latte is not on this list. As much as I want to like it, I’m really more of a salted caramel mocha kind of gal. I love that sea salt!

imageWhat’s on your pumpkin wishlist? Check out more responses over at The Nerdy Girlie!

8 Tips on How Not to Screw Up Your First Corset

Over the weekend, I’m planning to fully dive into my corset for Lulu. This will mark my fourth corset, so I thought today’s post would be a good opportunity to share some of my mishaps and learning experiences in the hopes of helping out a few other newbie corset makers.

Cosplayer’s first corset!

1.Do your homework: Corset making is not for the faint of heart. While none of the basic steps are particularly difficult, you do need to have a solid understanding of every step required if you want your corset to last longer than one event. Here is a list of a few tutorials and resources I found particularly helpful:

  • Corset Making by Julia Bramble is an amazing book and covers every part of beginner corsetry from types of fabrics to use to seams, grommeting, lacing, and more! Her website also has some great tutorials.
  • Sidney Eileen has some fantastic tutorials. Many take you through the entire process of making a corset, and several also focus on specific corset tasks, such as installing a waist stay or a busk.
  • Foundations Revealed is one of the go-to resources for the corset community. Tons and tons of in-depth tutorials!

2. Make a game plan: Just like other garments, there are dozens of ways you can approach a corset. Do you want a single layer corset? Do you want exposed boning channels? Do you not want visible boning channels? Think about what you want your final product to look like, because your process may change as a result.

Floating strength layer for Belle.

For example, I knew going into Belle that I didn’t want visible boning channels, which meant that I needed a floating strength layer. All my hardware went into this layer so that the fashion layer could retain the appearance of a bodice. This also meant that I had to construct each layer separately, which impacted the order of construction.

3. Consider your needs: Many corset makers will tell you that your corset isn’t a “real” corset unless it’s made with coutil and steel boning. Well, that might be useful if you’re planning to waist train and wear your corset on a regular basis, but many cosplayers only wear their corsets for a few hours at a time. And let’s also not forget costuming budgets. Thirty-plus dollars a yard for coutil fabric is way more than I normally spend for costumes!

Plastic boning is a perfectly viable alternative to steel boning if you don’t intend to do tight lacing, and German plastic boning is one of my favorite types of boning to use. That said, most of the boning from your big box craft stores is built more for bodices and strapless gowns and is very prone to warping after a few wears. If German plastic boning doesn’t work for your project, consider using zip ties from the hardware store as an alternative.

When one makes a geeky corset, one must include a geeky lining ;)
If you look close, you can see some of the boning I used for Wonder Woman poking out. The only places I used steel boning on this corset were in the center front and in the back by the grommets. Everything else was German plastic boning!

As for fabric, I like cotton duck or a very tightly woven twill for my strength layer. I can get either through my local craft store, and it’s about $10 a yard full price versus $30+ for standard coutil.

A note about fabric: In corsetry, your fabric is what does the work of cinching in your waist, so it’s vital to use a strength layer. The boning is there to keep the fabric from wrinkling. You can have a strength layer separate from your fashion layer, or you can fuse your strength and fashion layers together (as I did with my recent Wonder Woman) using fusible web or flat lining them.

4. Pick the right pattern: Big 4 patterns are notorious for building excess ease into their patterns for corsets, making them more appropriate for bodices. A corset is one of those garments that should have negative ease, meaning that it should be smaller than your body’s natural measurements. It’s certainly possible to make big 4 patterns work, but you’ll need to pay attention to the finished measurements on the back of the pattern envelope and absolutely make a mock-up. Many corset makers recommend going down at least 2 sizes if you use a big 4 pattern.

Callula in her Codex. I made the corset and she did everything else!

My personal recommendation would be to go with a company known for producing corset patterns even though they’re a little pricier. Truly Victorian and Laughing Moon have some great basic patterns, and TV110  is by far my favorite 12 panel corset. I’ve used it for 2 of my costumes so far as well as Callula Cosplay’s Codex, and it’s been a champ.

Matching notches is suuuuuper important with corsets, especially when working with this many layers!
Matching notches is suuuuuper important with corsets, especially when working with this many layers!

5. Mark your shit: You know those lovely marks on sewing patterns that are supposed to line up? Well, they’re super vital with corsets. Being off even as much as a quarter of an inch can throw off your final product. Make sure to mark and use those notches! Marking your seam allowances for your first couple of corsets can also be really useful.

6. Pay attention to grain lines: You know the saying “Measure twice, cut once?”. With corsetry, it’s more like, “Measure thrice, cut once.” Grain lines are hugely important to corsets. Why? Well, let’s have a brief discussion about fabric grain.

Photo by Roger Enyart on FB.
Circle skirts have large chunks of bias, which stretches over time. This is why you let them hang for a few days before leveling the hem! Photo by Roger Enyart on FB.

Woven (non-stretchy) fabrics are comprised of a grain and a cross grain that run vertically and horizontally on your fabric. These are typically the least stretchy parts of your fabric. The part of your fabric that runs diagonally to the grain and cross grain is the bias, and it’s the stretchiest part of your fabric. You know those packs of bias tape you can get at the fabric store? They’re made of material cut on this angle. Since corsets are designed to cinch everything in, it’s important to use the part of the fabric that *won’t* stretch, thus keeping the corset’s shape even when under heavy stress. So make sure everything is lined up properly when you cut!

7. Make a mock-up: I get it, making mock-ups isn’t a lot of fun. But if there’s any garment I recommend making a mock-up of, it’s a corset. Corsets are incredibly time consuming, so it’d be heartbreaking to pour 20 hours into a project only to realize it doesn’t fit. You also really need to make sure that it will be comfortable for extended wear and that you aren’t inadvertently flashing more (or less) boob than you mean to.

I normally make my corset mock-ups out of duck cloth, since that’s one less set of pieces I have to worry about cutting when I get to my final fabric. I also cut a 3″ wide rectangle of fabric the same length as my back piece to mimic the lacing in the back. Many corset suppliers also have pre-grommeted strips you can use for mock-ups, but I’m not a fan of lacing myself in and out of a mock-up multiple times for fittings. So far the basic rectangle has worked for me!

In lieu of a busk, I baste in a zipper. Speaking of basting, I also baste all my seams and press them one direction. When fitting, I turn my corset inside out and make all my markings on the wrong side so that it’s easier to see places I need to make adjustments. Taping your boning to the channels is also a useful way to see how your corset will fit!

Nearly finished corset!
Wonder Woman corset!

8. Take your time: Corsets might seem daunting when you first dive into them, but the saying, “If you can sew a straight line, you can sew a corset,” is true. The main thing to keep in mind during construction is to take your time and make sure you’re doing everything properly, and you’ll end up with a beautiful corset!

Where I buy corset supplies:

  • Corset Making Supplies : Go-to resource. Do double-check on some supplies though. Their coutil in particular is a little higher than some Etsy sellers.
  • Vogue Fabrics : Expensive shipping, but very fast and prompt customer service.
  • Farthingales : Great service, but based in Canada. Shipping takes a while.
  • Various Etsy sellers

I hope that helps some aspiring corset makers. Have you made a corset before? What tips would you share?

Costume Notes: Casual Wonder Woman (based on art by Hanie Mohd)

Photo by Anjelly Dax Macubbi on FB.
Photo by Anjelly Dax Macubbi on FB.

Completed: August 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 30 hours

Debuted: A-Fest 2015

Why This Costume: I adore Hanie Mohd’s take on several superhero ladies and have at least 5 more of her designs on my cosplay wishlist (my first was fancy pants Ms. Marvel). I’ve wanted to make this Wondie ever since I saw it over a year ago!

How I made it: One of the reasons I love this design is because it’s simple, but still offered me the chance to try out some new things and brush up on old skills.

Purchased pieces:

tumblr_nsj7ruOaG11sxq29yo1_500The first piece I tackled on this costume was the skirt. My big hold-up was fabric. I’ve been searching for a good potential fabric since late last year, but every fabric I found was basically an American flag print or something more suitable for Elsa. I toyed with the idea of either painting the stars or appliqueing them, but both options were far too time consuming and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it justice with my super shaky hands.

This gave me the opportunity to try Spoonflower for the first time. Callula Cosplay created the file for me, and I just uploaded it to their system and printed it out on satin. Overall, the process was pretty painless and very quick, though a bit more expensive than what I try to spend on fabric, even with the creator’s discount. In hindsight, I do wish that I’d bought a swatch before ordering my final fabric. The blue is just a touch off from the original artwork in person, even though Dana pulled the color directly from the artwork. I also wish that I’d thought to ask Dana to scatter the stars in a circular pattern to flow with the way I cut the fabric.

Twirl-tastic skirt powers activate! Photos by Poisonous Kristin on FB.
Twirl-tastic skirt powers activate! Photos by Poisonous Kristin on FB.

I knew I wanted a skirt with massive volume and twirl power, so I opted to make 2 full circle skirts for ultimate swishiness. The construction was very simple. It’s 4 half circle panels, and the front panel has inseam pockets. The skirt has an elastic waistband for comfort under the corset and there’s horsehair braid in the hem for a pretty magical girl-esque waves.

When one makes a geeky corset, one must include a geeky lining ;)
When one makes a geeky corset, one must include a geeky lining ;)

I went back and forth on how to tackle the bodice. A boned bodice probably would have been more in line with the style of this art, but I also liked the idea of making a corset as another practice piece for Lulu. I opted to create this corset using the welt seam approach, partly because it’s a very strong technique and partly because I wanted to see if I liked it for Lulu. It’s not much faster than my approach for Belle, but overall I really like how it turned out. And as an added bonus, it’s perfect if/when I decide to tackle classic Wondie!

PRO-TIP: If you do this with plastic boning, add a bit of extra width to your boning channels. They’re thicker than steel bones and make life a lot more difficult of you make them just the width of your presser foot. Ask me how I know. :P

tumblr_ntynoqvWz11sxq29yo1_500For the “armor”, I covered some foamie sheets with scrap gold spandex using this tutorial. I used this approach on Supergirl’s belt. The only thing I don’t really like about this is how it looks around the eagle’s head. I may remake it for another con. The foamie/spandex sheets attach with velcro. I hot glued the loop pieces on the back side of the foam and hand stitched the corresponding pieces on the corset. I opted for hand stitching so that I could take them out easily if I want to wear this corset on its own or with a different costume.

Prior to adding the straps.
Prior to adding the straps.

To create the shoes, I scoured eBay until I stumbled across some tan character shoes for a stupidly low price ($12 for $90 shoes, score!). Once I had them, I painted the base red and white (leftover Angelus paint from previous projects) to match the art. To create the T-strap, I snagged a scrap bit of faux leather from Dana, painted it white, then glued it to the shoe with Bondo.

Photo by Roger Enyart on FB.
Photo by Roger Enyart on FB.

Thoughts on this costume: All in all, I really enjoy this costume! It’s quite comfortable to wear and the design is so damn cute. It’s a nice combination of my desires to be an Amazon warrior and magical girl. Eventually I’d like to make a matching bolero for cold weather cons as well as a matching clutch. Next time!

Do you have a favorite comfy costume? Feel free to share below!