Costume Notes: Margaret

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The Empress

Completed: May 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 20 hours

Debuted: A-Kon 26

Why This Costume: One of my friends is a huge Persona fan, and asked if I’d join her and her boyfriend for a Velvet Room group at A-Kon. I had just finished playing though Persona 4 Golden when she asked, and thought it sounded like a fun opportunity!

Between shots with Aperture Ashley, so don't mind the derpy faces. Zwookiez got this photo!
Between shots with Aperture Ashley, so don’t mind the derpy faces. Zwookiez got this photo!

How I made it: Much like Batwoman, this wasn’t a particularly challenging build, but it did have a couple of unique elements to it.

The dress: 

My first step was to create a mock-up of the base dress. I used McCall’s 6028 as a starting point. After blending out the shoulder yoke, I did a 1.5″ FBA and raised the front of the neckline 3/4″ to allow for the collar. I made the center front of the base dress hip length to allow for that super high leg slit.

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Base dress. Don’t mind the other con chaos happening in the background.

I used quilted broadcloth for this dress from Fabric.com. Broadcloth is not my go-to fabric for garments since it’s overall very meh, but I knew going into this project that time was essential. So convenience trumped quality.

The front panel is an entirely separate piece made from a matching broadcloth. It’s 3 layers total: a lining, a heavily interfaced base, and a flat piped front. Once I sewed the front panel together, I very carefully sewed it to the front half of my dress by machine. I opted to top-stitch it instead of stitch-in-the-ditch to give it an extra visual pop. A huge thank-you to Yossi on Tumblr and Gen of Team Blase Cosplay for explaining how they made their Margarets!

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Front panel pinned in place.

All of the trim on the dress is bias tape and other bits made from my Batwoman cape scraps. I wish I’d gone with my gut and taken the extra step to make regular piping opposed to doing flat piping. My flat piping was not as even all around as I’d like. I also wish that I’d made the shoulder section a bit larger.

The collar gave me a small bit of trouble. Since this dress wasn’t drafted for a collar, I did have to play with the level of the neckline a bit to get it to work out. The gold buttons on the front were from my Captain Marvel boots, since I had to cut them off for Batwoman.

Accessories: 

My buttons were surprisingly fun to make! I have pretty shaky hands, so I didn’t trust myself to paint circles evenly. Instead, I picked up some jar toppers in the clearance aisle of Hobby Lobby, painted those gold, and topped them off with sticky-back resin domes that I painted blue. I didn’t trust the stick part of the domes to work after I painted them, so I used E6000 for added security. The smaller buttons are wooden buttons that I painted gold and blue. All of the buttons attach with Velcro. I used fabric fusible Velcro on the dress itself and industrial strength Velcro on the buttons. They held quite well after several hours of wear!

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Finished dress.

The belt is made from the same material as the front panel and also trimmed with scrap Batwoman vinyl. The buckle is the largest one I could find at Jo-Ann’s, and I painted it gold to match the buttons.The shoes were a reminder that monitor settings do not necessarily translate to real life. I started off painting my shoes in Angelus Dark Blue, but the first layer dried nearly black. So I ordered a second bottle of Sapphire (off of eBay since Dharma Trading Company’s shipping is insane), and that did the trick!

Props: 

Photo by Alan Tijernia.
Photo by Alan Tijernia.

The book was by far the most time-consuming part of this costume. It took nearly 2 full weeks of working every evening. I used Callula Cosplay‘s tutorial on her Elphaeba Grimmerie, and pestered her with a ridiculous amount of questions. I will say that taking the time to properly sand and prime your book is essential. My first go at the book was a horrible flop with lots of air bubbles because I rushed the priming stage.

I did notice some chipping on the edge of my book where the front flap opened, and Callula said it was probably due to the quality of my paint. Sad panda :( I’m looking into ways to mend (or at least disguise) the chipping on mine so I can use it again in the future.

Double Margaret! Photo by Payton Renee Photography.
Double Margaret! Photo by Payton Renee Photography.

Callula cut out the letters for her book, but my attempt at that did not work well. Instead, I bought some scrapbook letters and painted them gold. Worked like a charm!

The inside of my book is lined with blue and white thumb lights attached with industrial strength Velcro to give it that creepy magic vibe.

Photo by Alan Tijernia.
Photo by Alan Tijernia.

Finally, I made a set of magic cards after chatting with Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe at Dallas Comic Con. This is a super simple project, but people absolutely loved it. After getting my cards printed off from OfficeDepot (thanks to Gen and Fe for the files!), I threaded them with fishing wire and secured them with clear masking tape. Riddle used magnets to do her deck for Heroes of Cosplay, but since Margaret doesn’t wear gloves, I just made a loop at the top of my deck to run my finger through. Works well enough for photos! The base card is secured to the book with Velcro. I do need to work on posing with these, though.

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Photo by Payton Renee Photography. Both sets of magic decks made by me!

Thoughts on this costume: 

Overall, I absolutely loved this costume. Our group was very well received and it was great to get some shots with a full Velvet Room group! It’s also nice to have another comfortable costume in my arsenal, though I think I’ll save future wears on this one for cooler weather cons. After my experience with Batwoman at DCC, I only wandered outside for about 45 minutes, but even that was enough to turn me into a sweat monster!

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Velvet Room derpage. Clearly elder sister Margaret is not to be taken seriously.

All of that said, I’m really looking forward to turning my attention toward my individual costumes again. I’m bumping up some more weather appropriate costumes for the rest of the summer!

Have you ever made a costume that was totally inappropriate for the season you wore it? How did you handle it? 

Life According to Instagram: June 2015

June1. I kicked off June with a trip to A-Kon! This convention is near and dear to me, since it marks my 3rd year of cosplay and attending conventions. Overall, I had a blast, and this was definitely my best experience yet! I got some beautiful shots back from various A-Kon shoots. One of my favorites is this  Captain Marvel profile from Kristi Grunden photography. You can find more photos of my A-Kon experience on my Facebook Page.

2. As I mentioned in my last WIP post, I wrapped up a couple of commissions this month. I was pretty pleased with how both of them turned out, especially Ghrihahim. It’s one of the craziest bodysuits I’ve made to date!

3. I did some cat-sitting for Callula Cosplay while she was out and about on world travels. Her cat Bella is so adorable! As much as I love Thor pup, I’ll always be a crazy cat lady at heart.

4. My boyfriend’s dad visited us a few weeks ago. We trekked out to see the Rangers vs. Twins baseball game. The game got delayed by rain, but we did see a very neat double rainbow!

5. Thor. Because Thor. He’s taken to chewing up his dog beds recently, so we’re taking him on even more walks in an effort to tire him out. My co-worker also just recommended a bed we’ll look into if he destroys his current bed. Have any of you had this kind of issue?

6. I’m making small bits of progress here and there on Lulu! Part of me wants to push all of my other projects to the side and just knock this out. I’ve put this costume off since I started cosplaying 3 years ago, and I’ve made it a monumental beast in my head. I think I’ll feel better once I really dive into it.

7. I had my first live-stream experience at the end of June! I was unsure how it’d go, since I’ve only seen a few and never done something like this before. It was pretty cool to just chat while doing some simple crafting. I wouldn’t mind doing something like this again soon!

8. My friend Allison invited me out to her library as Belle for their summer reading program! They had a storybook/Disney theme with lots of interactive crafts and I was in my own section with a castle backdrop. Hopefully I’ll have more photos to share soon!

9. I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing FFXIV this month since Heavensward dropped. My boyfriend and I took an entire 3 day weekend to chill and play video games and it was glorious. I’m leisurely leveling my White Mage and Astrologian, and I’m really enjoying my new flying mounts. Though all this game play has me thinking I may have to make a cosplay from the game soonish. Ysele is a strong contender (and much easier than her Shiva counterpart :P)!

Etsy Shop is Live!

If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I’ve been talking about getting an Etsy shop up and running for several months now. So over the holiday weekend, I sat down and made an initial run of geeky themed bow clutches.

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Avengers clutch

When I initially set out to open a shop, I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to focus on. Pillows and handbags are great, but there are lots of those already available on Etsy. What I hadn’t seen before were nerd-friendly clutches quite like the ones I’ve made (based on the Elm Street Life tutorial). With a little color blocking, these clutches go from basic zipper bag to a super cute clutch ready for the con floor.

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Wonder Woman – Supergirl – Batgirl clutch

I made my first set of bow clutches back in 2013 out of some scrap fabric. I gave one to my mom as a gift and kept one for myself. My mom and I both still use our initial clutches on a regular basis. Mine is most often used as a make-up bag, but I also use it as my con bag while in costume. It’s just big enough to hold my contact cards, phone, money, and touch-up make-up. Plus, it’s small enough to be discreet and easy to hide when I pose for photos. I’ve made several similar clutches out of scrap costume fabric when I want an exact match!

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My Belle clutch was made of leftover satin and brocade so I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about passing it off to a friend or setting it down when posing. Photo by Gone Catawampus

My favorite clutches from this initial run are the Star Wars ones, both the black and grey bows. The black fabric is a mystery poly blend, and the grey is a cotton sateen.

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Star Wars in grey

I hope you guys like these! I have some ideas for Moonie themed ones in the near future, and a few people have already requested Dr. Who. If you have suggestions or requests for future clutches, let me know!

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Star Wars in black

I’m running a sale on everything in my store right now (which also includes some of my older costumes). Use the offer code GEEKYSEWS10 by 7/12/15 for 10% off of your purchase.

How do you store your con essentials while in costume? 

13 Tips to Making the Most of Limited Craft Time

A common comment people make to me these days is: “I wish I had the time to sew like you do.” This is both frustrating and exciting, since I love sharing my passion for crafting, but I think people tend to forget that they have to make time for recreation. Like a lot cosplayers and home sewists, I work a full-time job, have family/relationship/friend obligations, and other personal activities like exercise.

Many (see: most) days, I only have 1-2 hours tops to work on a project. On a good week, that translates to about 12 hours of sewing time a week, assuming I also sew 3-4 hours a day on weekends. But “good” weeks are rarities. They really only happen when I have back to back deadlines or a convention coming up. Most weeks, it’s really closer to 6-10 hours of crafting, since there are nights when I have to do adult stuff (bleh, laundry). Some nights I have obligations with friends or simply don’t want to sew.

As my skills have improved, my projects have gone faster, but I still have to find ways to make the most of otherwise limited craft time. Here are a few tips and tricks I use to speed up the process:

sewing quotes164-11. Figure out a committed, uninterrupted time. 

I’ve changed time frames when I sew several times over the last few years. When I had a 30-45 minute commute, I got up around 5am and sewed for about an hour or 2 before I left for work. It was the easiest time since my boyfriend got up around the same time to leave for his workout.

My commute now is closer to 10 minutes, and the best time for me to sew is in the evenings once I’ve had dinner (see: hanger abated) and the dog has been walked and distracted by a toy. Keep an open mind with your craft time, but make sure you carve out a set time and make it yours!

2. Work on similar tasks at the same time.

Need to cut patterns? Do that on one day. Need to finish hems? Do that another day. Working on similar tasks at the same time cuts down on dead time between steps. With my sewing, for example, I’ll sew all of the hems/darts/etc. I can before it’s absolutely necessary to finish and press seams.

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My cutting table is still one of my favorite storage pieces in my craft room!

3. Keep your stuff organized. And preferably in an area where it’s easily accessible. Corner off a section of the dining room or your bedroom. Label your stuff. Keep it handy. I have a whole craft room at my disposal now, but my last apartment was a 500sq foot loft. I relied heavily on my collapsible sewing desk and all the storage space it provided. I also have some cheap plastic rolling storage units for fabric and other items. Underbed storage is also great for limited space.

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Some of my most frequently used sewing tools from left to right: Rotary cutter, Gingher scissors, pattern weights, and stretchy needles!

4. Invest in quality tools and supplies.

Nothing is worse than taking the time to assemble all your pieces only for a faulty set of scissors to mangle your fabric. Or carefully cutting and planning a costume with cheap fabric only to make a mistake and have the fabric *literally* unravel. A few tools that can change your life: rotary cutter, pinking shears, pattern weights (really prefer these to pins when cutting), and a waist-level table stationed next to your sewing machine for quick pressing.

sewing-meme5. Craft in the right frame of mind.

Hobbies should be enjoyable. I really like sewing most days, but if I’m tired, sick, or just don’t want to sew, I’m going to make a mistake. When I make that mistake, I then wind up trashing a project or having to correct it. Just don’t do it. Take a break, have a drink, play a game, or work on something else. Come back when your head is clear and you’ll be much more productive.

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Image credit: Cosplaytutorial.com

6. Plan in advance. 

This is one of your biggest allies with time management. Allow yourself plenty of time to create and fix mistakes (because they happen). Nothing like botching a piece and finding out the fabric store is out of the fabric you need! Remember the golden rule of crafting: good, fast, and cheap. You can have 2 of the three.

There are a lot of people who get a creative rush on waiting until the week (or the night) before a con to get started on a costume. If that’s your thing, power to you. I can’t do that because it stresses me out sooooo much. The only time I’ll really do that is if I’m working on a simple project like a basic leotard or bodysuit. Otherwise, I make lots of weekly and monthly check-lists to keep me on track with personal projects, costume builds, and commissions. Apps like Trello and Google Docs are fantastic for check-lists!

7. Know your skills. 

And cater to them. Are you great with fabric? Awesome, make costumes that rely on fabric. Can you build armor like no one’s business? Cool, go make Iron Man (and e-mail me, because I need your skills). Building on skills is one of the greatest parts of costuming, but remember to keep a reality check. If you only have 3-5 hours a week to craft, it’s going to take a while to learn a new skill. If you’ve got an intricate costume and limited time, be prepared to cut other costumes from your roster. And while we’re on the topic…

Photo by Gone Catawampus.
Callula Cosplay made this beautiful mirror for me since I fail at props. I made her Huntress bodysuit in return! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Whether it’s someone you follow or a friend. I’m not great with props, but I have friends who are. We often swap skills to cut down on wasted time and materials, and we also help each other learn new skills. Obviously, don’t be a jerk and ask, “Hey, give me a step-by-step breakdown of how to make X costume.” You’re being inconsiderate of that person’s time and also robbing yourself of the learning process. But if you have a specific question, by all means, ask away!

9. Research on your lunch break.

There are so many tutorials out there. If you’re hitting a snag with a project, check out the interwebs. More than likely, someone has had the same question and there’s already a solution. I stalk search cosplay.com regularly for suggestions.

Skater dresses: great instant gratification practice projects!
Skater dresses: great instant gratification practice projects!

10.  Use it or lose it.

One of my favorite sewing blogs mentioned that you should sew *something* every week just to keep in the practice. I agree with that. Even if you’re not working on a specific project, keep your skills up. Been meaning to make yourself a cute skirt or dress? Need to repair a pair of pants? How about making some cool jewelry from a resin cast? Heck, even just working on mock-ups for future ideas  can keep you in the habit. Maybe not every week, but often enough to keep you fresh. Also, the more you practice, the faster you’ll get!

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Mock-ups are also great to figure out crazy designs like my Captain Marvel dress!

11. Use mock-ups when possible. Especially if you’re new to a project and trying to test the waters. Destroying $30+/yd fabric  is traumatizing and can be a major time setback.

And while it seems counter-intuitive, doing a mock-up can make the final product go faster. You get to work out all the kinks in the mock-up stage, and you’re already familiar with the end process, so you can proceed with confidence. Or at least, that’s what I try to tell myself :P

12. Micro-craft! Ever have one of those mornings where you wake up 20-30 minutes before your alarm goes off and you just can’t fall back asleep? Or you’ve got half an hour before you have to leave for something? I often use those moments to check off small to-dos on my normal crafting list like pinning zippers, stay-stitching, or even just setting out all the items I’ll need to complete a project. Every little bit helps!rogue13. Build on what you already have. Alternate versions of characters or characters with similar costumes can be a great way to save time and money. For example, my Marvel Now! Rogue took less than 10 hours to make since I only had to make the spandex pieces. It was also super cheap since I had all the materials on hand from previous projects.

Got other tips on time management? Sound off in the comments!

WIP June 2015 Edition

Ah, sweet, sweet summer heat. My two biggest cons of the year are over, but I still have several cons and big builds on the horizon!

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Photo by Alan Tijernia.

Margaret: 100% complete

I made this costume for an A-Kon group with friends. The big thing I finished in early June was my grimerie. This is probably the best prop I’ve made to date, and the cards were definitely a crowd pleaser :) A huge thank you to Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe for showing me her Elizabeth book and cards!

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Hannie Mohd Wonder Woman: 25% complete

I got started on my new Wonder Woman during our live stream last week! I’ve wanted to make this costume for almost a year now and have been shopping for a good fabric pretty much since then. After months of only finding patriotic quilting cotton and Elsa fabric, I finally gave up and decided to have the fabric printed on Spoonflower. Callula Cosplay graciously created the file for me, and it only took about a week for the fabric to arrive in my mailbox! I had this printed off on satin. It is shiny, but not overwhelmingly so. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how painless this process was. I’m planning to debut this costume at Anime Fest over Labor Day Weekend.

Lulu: 6% complete

It’s almost comical at this point documenting Lulu. I bought about 10 yards of lace from Golden D’Or last time I was there, and started cutting out the pieces I want for the trim on my dress. After about 3 hours of cutting, I realized 10 yards was nowhere near enough. Thankfully, Ohheyabear Cosplay donated some lace to my stash, and I’m purchasing 60 yards of lace from cheaptrims.com soon. Yay wholesale prices! Hopefully another 70 yards of lace will do the trick :P In July, I’m hoping to cut and paint the remaining lace and get started on the crinoline that will be the base for the belt skirt.

Commissions:

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Shortly after A-Kon, I knocked out a 1966 Adam West style Batman cape (I promise, a cape tutorial is coming soon!). I turned to Williams Studio 2 for tips and drafting information. I thought about buying their pattern, but it calls for 9 yards of fabric, which seemed a little ridiculous to me. This cape has 6 yards of poly satin. There’s twill tape sewn into the lining side for stability, and it closes at the front with a heavy duty snap. Also, I recently realized I’ve been sewing snaps wrong for YEARS. Oops. The more you learn, right?

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I also knocked out a Ghirahim bodysuit commission this month. This has definitely been one of my most challenging bodysuit builds to date! I combined the top and pants (with a few alterations) on Kwik Sew 3029 to create this suit.

Cutouts on spandex can be very particular, so I made a mock-up and drew all the squares on my client while he was wearing it. To make life a little easier for both of us, I underlined the pants with a grey milliskin to match his bodypaint and treated the squares on the white moleskin as reverse appliques. For the top, I underlined it with an extra layer of white moleskin, faced the cut-outs with scraps, and top-stitched it down. The top opening, sleeve, and exposed portion of the waist cut-out are closed with 3/8″ elastic to give it a bit of extra stability. I also added small strips of 3/8″ elastic to the exposed shoulder so my client can use clear straps to hold the suit up if necessary.

All in all, it’s been a pretty busy month. I’m grateful that I have a small break in commissions coming up and that my next two costume builds are simple and they don’t need to be finished for another 2 months. I’m really looking forward to having time for non-cosplay projects and finally getting my Etsy store set up in July!

What costumes are you working on right now?

Summer 2015 Sewing Projects

Summer is finally in full swing here, and all that crazy rain Texas was getting is a distant memory. Well, at least it is where I am.

Summer is one of my busier times in terms of cons and cosplay, and the last two months have been no exception. I realized recently that I haven’t sewn any non-cosplay garments for myself this year, and I miss it. While I enjoy sewing costumes and commissions, I also love sewing up geeky dresses and clothes just for fun. And to be honest, I’m a little burned out on cosplay at the moment. Fortunately, I’m coming up on a brief break in cosplay and commission projects, so I’m hoping to make the following non-cosplay things:

1. A craft apron

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I picked up this sewing-themed fabric several months ago, and my first thought was to make a craft apron. They’re so cute! This would be great for running around and working on crafts at home, and very useful when I eventually get around to my goal of selling at fairs and cons.

2. Gabriola Skirt

1401_Sewaholic_Gabriola_skirt_front__65008.1405347492.1280.1280I mentioned at the end of last  year that I really wanted to add a pretty maxi skirt to my collection. While I love things like skater dresses, it’s nice to have a swishy skirt on hand, especially now that we’re in decidedly in non-trouser and non-leggings weather. I’d love to make this in a soft, flowing fabric like a linen blend.

3. Davie Dress

1503_Sewaholic_Davie_Envelope__98130.1425076640.1280.1280Another dress I’ve wanted since I first saw the design! I love a good knit dress pattern for work and fun, and this is a beautiful design! It’s perfect for how I normally dress and still casual enough to hit happy hour after work. I’d love to make 1 or 2 of these in the coming weeks. Maybe one in the black/grey combination used for the sample and another in lighter summer colors. I’m definitely making the sleeveless one!

I’m trying not to take on too many projects, since I want to take my time and really enjoy sewing just for me. Really, these projects are all about getting me back to my sewing roots and doing this crazy hobby just for fun.

What’s on your summer crafting list?

Convention Report: A-Kon 26

Happy Friday! I was hoping to share my costume notes for Margaret today, but I’m still waiting on some photos and it’s been ages since I wrote up a proper convention report.

Velvet Room derp-age.
Velvet Room derp-age.

A-Kon 26 was my best A-Kon yet. This convention will always have a special place in my heart, since it was the first convention I ever attended, and 2015 was my best experience yet! This year marks my 3rd year of cosplay as well.

I got into the con on Thursday with the sole intention of picking up my badge. In previous years, I’ve waited 2-3 hours or more, even with pre-registering. A-Kon is finally listening to people, though, and upgraded to an electronic system. I was able to pick up my badge in about 20 minutes!

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New badges for this year.

I know a lot of people complained about them using paper badges this year, but I’m so willing to go for paper badges if it means waiting a fraction of the time I have in the past. In the future, it’d be great if they separated pre-reg from on-site. It wasn’t a big deal on Thursday, but several of my friends were stuck in line for 2 hours on Saturday because of that set-up.

Since I was able to get through line so quickly, I spent the rest of Thursday doing my normal con shopping in the Artists’ Alley. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my loot (bad blogger), but I did pick up several pieces from thealicechan on Tumblr. Her work is absolutely beautiful!

Photo by ACCosplay.
Photo by ACCosplay.

Friday was all about photoshoots! I booked a shoot with ACCosplay at 10am on Friday morning. Big mistake! We stayed up pretty late on Thursday, so I got a late start and totally forgot my gloves. My hoopskirt also lost the lowest hoop on the walk from the Doubletree to the Anatole. Still, Sherwin was a total trooper and got some absolutely stunning shots of my dress. I highly recommend working with him, especially if you’ve got some pretty gowns!

After my Belle shoot, I wandered over to the Hallway Costume Contest. I’d never participated in one before, so I figured why not? While I didn’t win any awards, I was very pleased with how the contest was organized. I was in and out in 20 minutes, but really got quality time to chat with the judges (I think most of them were from Titanesque Cosplay) about costume construction. This is something I think most cosplay contests lack. I consider myself more of a craftsman than a performer, so I really value any chance I get to focus on that aspect of competitions. I’ll definitely participate again in the future!

Photo from John Welke on FB.
Photo from John Welke on FB.

In the afternoon, I changed into Captain Marvel for a shoot with Kristi Grunden Photography. I really enjoyed working with her! She was excellent at communication and captured some gorgeous images. She’s in the process of editing a few more shots, but here’s a teaser.

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography.

I was also happy to run into several Carol fans at the con, including an awesome guy in a Carol Corps t-shirt! Sadly, I didn’t get a photo on my phone, but if you’re reading this: represent!

Between shots with Aperture Ashley, so don't mind the derpy faces. Zwookiez got this photo!
Between shots with Aperture Ashley, so don’t mind the derpy faces. Zwookiez got this photo!

On Saturday, I joined some friends for a Velvet Room group from the Persona series. Even though this was a down-to-the-wire finish, it turned out quite well! We definitely got more recognition than I expected, and it was a blast to run around with my “siblings” for the better part of the day.

Double Margaret! Photo by Payton Renee Photography.
Double Margaret! Photo by Payton Renee Photography.

I also made it out to the Shin Megami Tensei meet-up in the afternoon. Definitely loads of fun, even though a quilted dress is not ideal for 90+ degree weather. Thank goodness for Kat Von D setting spray, otherwise my face would have been a puddle of foundation goo!

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Selfie time with Callula Cosplay and Showva!

Aside from silly photos, I really enjoyed the opportunity to kick back and chill with friends. Staying at the hotel definitely improved my overall experience at this con, since I could run back and forth to my room at all hours and not worry about leaving things at home. I’m definitely going to try to book a room in the host hotel next year. Or the Doubletree, since they had great service and a very nice complimentary breakfast spread. I had a fantastic time this year, and I’m really excited to get ready for A-fest in September! More photos are available on my Facebook Page.

Have you stayed at the host hotel for a con before? How was your experience?

Life According to Instagram: May 2015 (+ Con Announcement)

FotorCreated1. The lovely Taffeta Darling asked me to help out as a cosplay guest at Keith’s Comics for Free Comic Book Day. It was a really fun experience, and I even got my first sampling of contest judging! I had a great time at Keith’s and would love to visit again next year.

2. I finally put the final touches on all the Gotham costumes this month, including my friend’s Spoiler.

3. The beau and I decided recently to shake up our date nights. We have a habit of staying in, ordering takeout, and watching Netflix for our dates, so this month we decided to hit a local gourmet BBQ restaurant. The ribs were delicious! I forgot to be an obnoxious foodie IG-er, so this was my look for our date.

4. The middle of the month was kind of rough for me between work being INSANE and trying to finish up commissions. My BF was super sweet and surprised me with a whole set of plush direwolf pups!

5. Since graduating, I haven’t read as much for fun as I used to. I recently started bringing books to work to read during my breaks, and my BF and I read a chapter of a book a night together. It’s kind of our own mini-book club. So far I’ve made it through 4 books in the last 2 months. It’s nowhere near as fast as I used to read, but it’s a start!

6. My mom graduated with her Bachelor’s degree! I’m so proud of her. She put off her own education when she had us, but going back to school has been a dream of hers for years. She’s taking the summer and fall semester off and then going back for her Master’s in the spring 2016 semester!

7. Thor is still adorable, just in case you were wondering.

8. I finally got around to cutting materials for clutches! I’m hoping to get these knocked out the week after A-Kon and my storefront set up shortly after that. I’ll let y’all know as soon as they’re up!

9. I wrapped up May with a trip out to Dallas Comic Con Fan Expo! I didn’t stay long on Saturday with my overheating incident, but Friday was pretty fun. I got to visit Ksenia Solo of Lost Girl, wandered around the dealer’s room quite a bit, and chatted with Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe. She was such a sweetheart and even showed me how she made her Elizabeth book so I could replicate it for Margaret.

tumblr_np9p6l0fei1sxq29yo1_500Today kicks off A-Kon for me! Well, I got in on Thursday, but today is when all the good stuff starts. I’m wandering around today as Belle in the morning and Captain Marvel in the afternoon/early evening. On Saturday, I’m wearing Margaret the first part of the day, and when that gets too hot to deal with I’ll switch to Bombshell Wondie. If you guys are there please feel free to say hi!

Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends!

Costume Notes: Batwoman

Photo by Scott Van.
Photo by Scott Van.

Completed: May 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 20 hours

Debuted: Dallas Comic Con Fan Expo 2015

Why This Costume: My friends over at Gone Catawampus had the idea for a Gotham Girls group several months ago and asked me to participate. I hemmed and hawed over which character to make for a while since I’m not a big DC fan. Originally, I planned to make Zatanna since I figured she’d be a quick, easy make, but after reading a couple of Batwoman trades at my library, I switched over to Kate Kane. I love her simple, yet powerful design and she’s such a badass lady!

Photo by Scott Van.
The Question is Kat from Puku Cosplay Productions. Photo by Scott Van.

How I made it: This wasn’t a particularly challenging costume, but it did have a couple of unique elements.

The bodysuit is pretty basic, so I focused more on the fabric and tailoring it to fit well. I used my go-to Kwik-Sew 3052 and added princess seams to the front and back of the pattern. I used a gorgeous stretch vinyl. However, there’s not a lot of stretch to the fabric, so I had to size up and really pay attention to tailoring, especially at my bust and hips. I added the Bat logo out of red stretch pleather using my favorite applique tutorial.

tumblr_nmvncbFwPQ1sxq29yo1_500I had zero interest in even trying to make gloves this time around, so I ordered 2 pairs of red pleather gloves off of eBay that were a close enough match to my red pleather. I carefully seam ripped the outside seam of my base gloves and constructed the fins out of the 2nd pair of gloves. The fins are stuffed with craft foam to help them keep their shape.

Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Photo by Kristin Bomba.

My utility belt was pretty fun to build. I made 8 functional pouches large enough to fit my phone and my other con floor necessities. They have belt loops sewn on the back and slide onto thick webbing with a parachute snap in the back (Side question: Would anyone be interested in a short tutorial on how I made the pouches?). I think I’ll add snaps to the belt itself along with the back of the pouches to keep them from sliding around. The buckle was made by Callula Cosplay out of Worbla and painted by me.

The boots are my old Captain Marvel boots! I just cut off the buttons and painted them a few shades lighter to better match my red pleather. The bonus? Now they match my Captain Marvel better!

Best running joke leading up to the con. How many Bat-ladies can fit under my cape? Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Best running joke leading up to the con. How many Bat-ladies can fit under my cape? Answer: 4. Photo by Kristin Bomba.

My cape is definitely my favorite part of this costume. It’s by far the biggest cape I’ve made to date. To start, I used this general sketch from the RPF to help me figure out dimensions. In hindsight, I probably should have gone for smaller scallops, as the points near the top of my cape liked to fold over when I raised my cape up. I opted for a six-panel cape to cut down on the amount of fabric I needed to buy.

Probably my favorite Question/Batwoman photo EVER. Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Probably my favorite Question/Batwoman photo EVER. Photo by Kristin Bomba.

Pro-tip: anytime you have something cut on the bias (like this cape), let your fabric hang for a few days. The charmeuse I used for my cape lining stretched out a ton and was super slippery to sew with. I top-stitched the edges of the cape to keep everything in place. There are also BB pellets in the cape to weight it down a bit, and removable dowel channels on the outside edges for when I decide to act like a badass and intimidate everyone with my cape. Of course, I was a massive derp and left my dowel rods on my kitchen table the day of the con :P

My mask is another creation from the very talented Kevin Dale. It fits beautifully! My wig is a gently used one I bought off of Etsy a while back. It’s okay, but I think I’ll order something from Epic Cosplay or Purple Plum next time I wear this character.

Photo by Kristin Bomba.
The ladies of Gotham! Photo by Kristin Bomba.

Thoughts on this costume: I…. had some issues with this costume. Mainly with my choice of fabric. I mentioned above that the vinyl didn’t stretch well, which definitely affected fit on my body. I was so irked that Yaya Han’s bodysuit pattern came out like 2 weeks after I finished Batwoman. It would have been perfect for this costume, especially those bust cups!

I also had a major issue with overheating. While the vinyl was gorgeous, it did not breathe AT ALL and I left my cold packs at home since I figured the convention center was cool enough to keep that from being an issue. I probably won’t wear this costume again until late fall or winter, but when I do, I’ll likely remake the suit and add mesh paneling on the sides like I did with Callula Cosplay’s Huntress. That will go a long way to help with the heat problem.

BAT-FAM! Photo by Kristin Bomba.
BAT-FAM! Photo by Kristin Bomba.

Overall, this was a fun build! While not my first choice of costume, it was fun to run around with my friends as a group.

Have you made a costume for a group that wasn’t your first choice? What did you think about the experience?

WIP: May 2015 + Con Announcement

Ahhh!!! May is almost over, which means it’s nearly time for my biggest cons of the year: Dallas Fan Expo and A-Kon! Prepping for these cons has kept me very busy this month.

tumblr_notc6g31vW1sxq29yo1_500Batwoman: 100% complete

I’m finished! This wasn’t a particularly time-consuming costume. The cape was definitely the most difficult part. I used almost 12 yards of fabric, and it’s almost 350″ in circumference. I love it! I’ve never made a cape this big before, so it was definitely a learning experience. I’d love to incorporate more cape costumes in my future line-ups. I’ll post a full-write-up on this costume next week!

tumblr_noqbs2ZJlB1sxq29yo1_500Margaret: 95% complete

This was my big project for the month. A few months ago, some of my friends asked if I’d join them for a Velvet Room group at A-Kon. When they asked, I had just finished playing Persona 4 and was trying to figure out which character to cosplay, so I jumped at the chance. As of this writing, I’m done with all the base pieces for the costume and finishing up my props. Hopefully they’ll be done in time! I’ll post a full write-up after A-Kon.

Lulu: 5% complete, gathering materials

Lulu is still slow-going since I’ve been so focused on A-Kon and Fan Expo prep. After some thought, I decided to bump her back to a late fall/early winter convention. I was recently offered a chance to collaborate on a really fun project (I’ll announce details later this summer), but it will cut severely into my solo craft time. I’m ultimately grateful for this decision, since Lulu will be my biggest build to date and I have no desire to rush any part of her. I’m still going to be working on various pieces every month, though! I recently decided to re-do the earrings, so I bought a new set of gems. I also picked up a teddy bear pattern to alter for her moogle. I’m hoping to make a hoop skirt base to attach the belts to next month.

Commissions:  tumblr_nnyi1gozYa1sxq29yo1_500I finished up my friend’s Spoiler commission this month as well. I made her cape from a purple poly poplin. The cape portion is self-drafted (side note: is anyone interested in a general post on cape drafting?), and I modified the hood based on McCall’s 4139. The whole thing is self-lined and top-stitched along the edges. It’s got snaps at the collarbone, in the back on both sides of the zipper to help distribute the weight, and on top of the spandex mask so that the hood doesn’t slide around on her. I also added twill tape to the inside of the lining to help stabilize the neckline.

I’m also working on a few other commissions right now, so there are a lot of mock-ups and pattern drafts littering my craft room, but nothing worth showing right now. Next month!

IMG_0845.JPG

And here’s what I’m most excited about: clutches! I’ve been toying with opening an online storefront for months, but never got around to it. After finishing all my costume “to-dos” this month, I started cutting materials for a series of geeky clutches and pillows to put up as an initial test-run. I’m hoping to get everything finished up shortly after A-Kon! I’ll also put up some of my old costumes and wigs.

I’m very excited to debut my new costumes and run around with friends soon. Here’s my line-up for Dallas Fan Expo this weekend:

Friday: Geeky dress Saturday: Batwoman Sunday: Captain Marvel
Friday: Geeky dress, Saturday: Batwoman, Sunday: Captain Marvel

What’s on your craft table?