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!

WIP: August 2015 + Con Announcement!

Goodbye, summer. Hello, fall! Well, sorta. We’re still in 90+ degree weather, so really fall is more or less wishful thinking right now.

tumblr_ntynoqvWz11sxq29yo1_500Hanie Mohd Wonder Woman: 100% Complete

I sure have taken my sweet time with this costume! Originally, I anticipated it only taking 2 weeks, and had I not worked on other projects in between that probably would have been true. That said, it’s been nice to take a very leisurely approach with this costume. Having time to finish my hems by hand is a luxury I normally don’t have! I’ll share more about this costume after A-fest.

IMG_2823Lulu from FFX: 15% Complete

Whoooo!!!! Real progress! This project has been hanging over my head for months, so over the summer I decided to shuffle my cosplay line-up for the rest of the year and make it my priority for the fall. This month, I decided to go ahead and make one of the big pieces for the costume: the hoop skirt which will act as the base for the belts. You can read more about this project here.


IMG_27751970s Supergirl Blouse

This was one of my first embroidery projects. One of my returning clients asked if I’d make a 1970s Supergirl blouse to go with some hot-pants I altered for her a few months back. The basic shape was pretty simple. I used Simplicity 1779 as a base with a few alterations. Namely altering the front to cut on the fold and slashing and spreading the sleeve to accommodate a larger poof. I finished the neckline with bias tape since the main fabric was pretty thick and I didn’t want her to have to worry about a neckline facing flipping up in photos.

The fun part of this project was learning how to embroider. I definitely have a lot to learn, but I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out!


I added several projects to my Etsy shop this month! Lots of Whovians asked for Doctor Who themed prints, so I added 4 new clutches along with coin purses. I also made some pillows, but I haven’t photographed them yet. They’ll be up soon! Check everything out here. As always, if you have suggestions for product, feel free to ask!

Con Line-Up: AnimeFest 2015

FotorCreatedFriday: Hanie Mohd Wonder Woman

Saturday: I’ll be Margaret in the morning with my Velvet Room siblings, then I’m switching to Sailor Jupiter! I’m not sure at the moment if I’ll attend the semi-formal ball. If I do, I’ll probably bring my Ms. Marvel gown.

Sunday: Casual Jupiter

Are any of you heading to A-Fest? Feel free to say hi if you see me!

Pattern Review: Truly Victorian #103

IMG_2823After months of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to take the leap and get started on Lulu! The first part I completed was the hoop skirt which will act as the base for her belts.

Lots of Lulu cosplayers have gone with a faux apron approach for the belts and created a separate piece that the skirt snaps on. I took that a step further with this project for a couple of reasons: 1) I’ve always like artwork where Lulu had a fuller skirt in the back, and a hoop skirt is a great way to get that effect, and 2) I wanted something fairly sturdy that wouldn’t kill me after wearing it all day. The shape of this crinoline was popular in the mid- to late- 1860s, and provides an excellent base for several pounds worth of floofy skirts. Fingers crossed that it also works out for my belts!

The Basics: 

Pattern: Truly Victorian 103

Total Hours: Around 20

Fabric: About 2 yards of fabric (I used duck cloth for the front half and a mystery cotton blend from my stash for the back half).

Alterations: Added about 3″ length and reduced the overall circumference of the hoops.

Notions: Thread, grosgrain ribbon, steel boning, boning tips and connectors, duct tape (yes, you read that right), boning channels, belting, thin ribbons.

Did it look like the pattern illustration?: More or less, given that I pretty drastically reduced the overall circumference.

Were the instructions easy to follow?: For the most part.

Make it again?: If I have a need for another hoop skirt, for sure! Otherwise, not a chance. My fingers are still raw from all the hand stitching.


Other thoughts: The overall construction of this hoop skirt is pretty straight forward. The directions are mostly clear, though there were a few times I had to read over directions a couple of extra times to wrap my head around it since I’ve never made something like this before. If you’re following instructions to the letter, it’s not bad at all, as they provide all the mark lines necessary to give you an even, balanced cage. However, I made quite a number of alterations that definitely added to the overall time for construction.

The one piece I'm still uncertain about. I may go back and reduce the circumference of the middle hoop in the near future.
The one piece I’m still uncertain about. I may go back and reduce the circumference of the middle hoop in the near future.

My big alteration right off the bat was to reduce the circumference of the skirt. That required a fair amount of calculations, and I used this tutorial to determine the circumference for each of my hoops. Ultimately, I decided to go with a 100″ circumference on my bottom hoop, which is almost 30″ smaller than the original pattern.

The base of the skirt is constructed with a bag, which prevents the wearer from walking through the hoops. It’s assembled in 6 pieces. To accommodate my reduced hoops, I removed the back 2 pieces.

Most of the vertical straps are connected in the center back via this crescent piece. Since this pattern is designed for historical costumes, it's intended as a space for bustles. Obviously, I won't be wearing one.
Most of the vertical straps are connected in the center back via this crescent piece. Since this pattern is designed for historical costumes, it’s intended as a space for bustles. Obviously, I won’t be wearing one.

Once the bag is assembled, you add the vertical grosgrain ribbon straps which act as the basic support structure for the skirt. This is where things started getting tricky for me, since I initially added 5″ based on my waist to floor measurement, but then had to reduce that overall length since it proved too long. Figuring out where to place the vertical straps on the bag was also a challenge, since I couldn’t use the original marks on the pattern. My placement changed quite a bit as I started adding the upper hoops.

Still a little fuzzy, but if you squint, you can see the scrap fabric I used to cover the hoop gaps.

Hoop connectors made forming the lower hoops pretty simple. I struggled with the first couple, but then I started using duct tape to temporarily hold the ends of the hoop together. This was a great fix while I clamped the hoop connectors in place. I had the best luck using my normal pliers to do the initial clamping, then using my jewelry pliers to really get a tight fit. The only drawback to this configuration is that I had a hard time getting my boning casing over the connectors, so I covered them with some scrap fabric. Probably won’t be visible once the belts are on, but why not?

The ties on the top half hoops are part of what force the crinoline into an elliptical shape.

For the upper loops, I did have a bit of a coordination challenge sliding the U-tips over the ends. I found it easiest to hold the tip down with my finger and clamp the sides with one set of pliers. While holding the pliers, I grabbed a second set of pliers and clamped the tip and around any exposed edges.

Leveling the hoops was one of the biggest challenges of this project. Again, I couldn’t go off the placement lines from the pattern, so it took a lot of eyeballing and readjusting with pins. Once I was finally happy with the placement of all the hoops, I set about hand stitching the top and bottom of each intersection. I initially tried doing this with a zipper foot on my machine, but my pins kept getting knocked out of place. So I just put it on my sad dress form, grabbed a drink, and went after it. It took about 3 sessions of 3-4 hours of sewing at a time. I think I watched 3 seasons of Parks and Rec while doing this :P

All that said, I’m pretty pleased with how this project turned out. I’m really looking forward to adding the belts and getting started on Lulu’s other pieces!

Thor trying to be a helpful craft pup.
Thor trying to be a helpful craft pup.

Newbie Adventures in Embroidery

I mentioned a while back that I finally indulged in a sewing machine with embroidery capabilities. This was mostly for Lulu and her insane lace trim, but I thought it’d be fun to learn how to do other things like making patches and such. Almost six months later, I finally got around to turning on my machine for the first time!

To break in my machine, I did a couple test runs of a Superman logo for a 1970s hotpants Supergirl commission. I purchased the logo off of Etsy, and it was pretty simple to transfer to my machine. Once I unzipped the file, I dragged it to the desktop on my Mac. After plugging my laptop to my machine, it was pretty simple to drag it to the machine’s drive and transfer the file. The machine came pre-installed with a bobbin of white embroidery thread, so all I had to do was put my embroidery thread in for the needle and let it go to work!


I did 2 initial test runs of this project on scrap fabric before moving on to the real thing. With my initial run, I mixed up the order of the thread, but it wound up working out anyway since I didn’t like the 2″ size.

For my second run, I went with a 3.5″ logo. This time, I got the colors in the correct order and was overall pretty pleased with how it turned out. No problems whatsoever!


It was only when I got started with my commission that things started going awry. As soon as it started, the white bobbin thread was the only thing showing. Okay, no big deal. I threaded the bobbin incorrectly. Easy fix.

Then the bobbin not only ran out of thread, but it created a huge knot on the wrong side of the project. Okay, deep breaths. Snip away all the extra threads, re-thread the bobbin, and install everything correctly this time.

At this point, my stabilizer was perforated and wonky, but I was also concerned about re-hooping my fabric and hitting the wrong place. So I snapped the hoop back in place and hoped for the best. While the final product turned out fine, it’s not quite as awesome as my second test run.


So here are my main take-aways from this first dive into machine embroidery:

  • While I wouldn’t call the embroidery interface intuitive, it’s pretty easy to use once you figure out where all the buttons are and what all the symbols mean. I had to stop in the middle of my final project, but once I figured out how to jump to different steps in the embroidery process, I was able to finish pretty quickly. Thanks, user manual!
  • Stabilizers are your friend! This fabric is a medium weight twill with a touch of stretch to it. I used a cut-away Sulky stabilizer that I had on hand for this project. I do need to pick up a can of basting spray ASAP though. I think that would have helped with my final logo.
  • When in trouble, double check threading. Most of my final issues were due to user error.

And here are a couple of resources I found super helpful:

  • BurleySew: Lots of video tutorials on working specifically with the Brother SE400.
  • Embroidery Library: Some great tips and tricks on embroidery, including information on which stabilizers to use with different types of fabric! They’ve also recently released several video tutorials.

Have you done any machine embroidery before? How did you like it?

Costume Breakdown: Casual Wonder Woman

Today I thought I’d do something a little different and show you how I plan my costumes and determine quotes for commissions. I find the planning stage one of the most stressful but also one of the most crucial stages of creating a costume. Planning a costume is where I figure out how much it will cost, how long it will take, what skills I need to learn, etc. Most of my costumes take at least a few weeks of planning before I even start purchasing materials, and all of that starts with a costume breakdown in Google Docs. Let’s take one of my upcoming costumes as an example.

WW 1
Art by Hanie Mohd.

Side note: I actually thought about doing this post using Lulu from FFX as an example, but I got to about 1,000 words and gave up.

My first step in breaking down a costume is looking at each component. Sometimes I’ll draw it out on a fashion croquis even if I have reference art, because I’ll catch small details that I might have missed otherwise. Here’s a quick example of what a breakdown looks like for this costume:

  • Wig: Despite owning 4 black wigs, I didn’t have one wig that quite matched this art, so I picked one up from Purple Plum. This is my first wig from them, and I really like it so far! When I plan costumes, I like to overlap as many materials as possible, and this wig is a solid base for one of my future costumes.
  • Contacts: I was fortunate that I had a couple other blue-eyed characters this year, so my contacts from Pinky Paradise have gone a long way! This is of course an optional purchase. Always, always, always check with your optometrist before ordering contacts!
  • Headband/bracelets: I have a similar tiara and bracelets used for a previous Wonder Woman outfit, so money saved.
  • Corset: This bodice could easily be modified as a corset, which actually works out well as a practice piece for Lulu. I had some of the materials on hand, but I still had to purchase the fashion fabric (1 yd casa satin), duck cloth for a strength layer (1 yd), grommets (1 set), binding (2 packs), and lacing (16 yds since I didn’t have a busk).
  • Gold “armor”: I can easily make the gold embellishments on the top and bottom using craft foam covered in gold spandex. I have all the necessary materials to construct these pieces.
  • Skirt: Fairly basic design, but the pattern was the tricky part. I opted for a double circle skirt with an elastic waist band. Callula Cosplay came up with the graphic for the fabric, which I printed from Spoonflower. I used leftover horsehair braid from a different project for the hem.
  • Petticoat: This skirt has a lot of volume, so I’ll probably wear a petticoat under it. I already have one, so money saved!
  • Character shoes: Easy enough purchase, though I had to paint them and still need to find scrap leather to form the T. Fortunately, I had leftover paint materials from Bombshell Wonder Woman.
OMG, shoes.
OMG, shoes.

At this point, I need to figure out details, extras, and skills I need to work on:

  • I think I’d like to make a matching bolero for cold weather cons, maybe with an embroidered Wonder Woman symbol.
  • Aside from the bracelets, there’s no jewelry drawn. I might skip a necklace, but I’ll definitely add earrings that I currently have.
Nearly finished corset!
Nearly finished corset!

Once I’ve got an idea of what skills and extras I want, it’s time to window shop and budget. I do a lot of this online through eBay, Amazon, Etsy and various fabric shops. When I do my budgeting, I also take a look at mailers to see when various companies are having sales. So if I need to buy patterns, I’ll check when my local Hancock’s and Jo-Ann’s are having sales and plan around those pieces.

Planning a commission quote follows all these steps as well, with the added exception of labor. I try to estimate how many hours a project will take based on previous experience and charge based on expected hours.

That’s just a brief look at how I plan my costumes. Do you plan your costumes out or do you wing it?

WIP July 2015 Edition

Another month has completely flown by! After the craziness of my early summer cons, I decided to take July slow(ish) with my workload. It’s been nice to take a few breaks and not rush projects!

Prior to adding horsehair braid to the skirt and finishing the corset.
Prior to adding horsehair braid to the skirt and finishing the corset.

Hanie Mohd Wonder Woman: 60% complete

This has been my big personal project for the month. I finished hemming the skirt over the weekend, and I also knocked out the other big component of this costume: the corset. I went back and forth on making an actual corset. With this style, a boned bodice probably would have been more appropriate (not to mention cheaper). That said, I really wanted to try out some different corset making methods to figure out how I want to make Lulu. So corset it is! All that’s left is making the “armor” and painting my shoes!

Cut all the lace!

Lulu: 6% complete

Oh, Lulu… I didn’t really get around to doing anything with Lulu this month other than shopping for EVEN MORE LACE and a few other materials. After some thought, I decided to bump Lulu up on my costume roster. I’m still planning to make Shulkie soon (and maybe squeeze in one more simple costume this year), but this is going to be my primary costume build for more or less the next 4 months. I kind of just need to make this costume and get it out of my system. So look forward to lots and lots of lace and belts in the near future! My goal for next month is to make  her corset and a hoop skirt as the base for the belts.


11040603_746740975452011_6846321515076192671_nMy first commission this month was a Codex corset for Callula Cosplay! To pattern this, I made a mock-up of my trusty TV110 in her size. I marked the top edge while she wore it.

The fashion fabric for this is a burgandy upholstery fabric I found at Jo-Anns. I cut the fabric on the cross-grain (technically a corsetry no-no) to match the appearance of “stripes” on Felicia Day’s corset. The fashion fabric is fused to duck cloth which acts as a strength layer, and I used muslin for the lining. The whole thing is constructed using the welt seam method, which is pretty forgiving of cutting errors and also very durable. I bound the edges in pre-made gold bias tape. The front white panel is made of casa satin fused to duck cloth and lined with more muslin. It attaches separately with snaps. Overall I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out, and Dana looks great in it!

Close-up of the side panel detail prior to topstitching.

My other commission this month is a bodysuit for Kevin Dale. He’s the guy who made my fantastic Captain Marvel cowl! I don’t really want to mention what this is from since he hasn’t announced his plans yet, but with all that red, it should be pretty easy to guess (Hint: it’s a spin on a classic Marvel character with a recently released show ;) ). I constructed this suit pretty much with the same approach I used on my Grihahim commission.

Once we got the mock-up fitted, I drew in seam lines for some visual interest. The base of the suit is red moleskin, and the side panels are high performance red spandex. I interfaced and topstitched 2″ faux panels on the sides and under the arms. I also topstitched the edges of these panels and extra seam lines for more visual interest. I can’t wait to see all of this come together!

wonder woman - blue 2The other major project I completed this month was making the initial run of product for my Etsy shop! I’ve accumulated lots of geeky prints over the last few months, so I sat down over a 3 day weekend and sewed up 18 clutches. So far, I’ve got Avengers, Batgirl/Supergirl/Wonder Woman, Disney villains, Anna and Elsa, and 2 different Star Wars prints. I picked up some Dr. Who fabric recently and will add a few samples to the shop soon!

Do you have any requests for specific clutches? I’m always on the hunt for geeky themed fabric. If you’ve got suggestions for other products you’d like to see (clutches without bows, coin purses, pillows, etc.) let me know!

What have you been working on this month?

5 Fandom Friday: Five Fictional Pets I’d Like To Adopt


5fandomfridayIt’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I couldn’t pass up today’s topic!

fandom 5
Clockwise from top left: Luna, Ghost, Fat Chocobo, Dragon from Dragon Riders of Pern, and Black Hayate.

1. Luna from Sailor Moon: C’mon, admit it. How many of  you Moonies have stumbled across a black cat and checked to see if it had a crescent moon symbol? My inner magical girl as a child (and adult, if we’re being perfectly honest) wanted an adorable black cat to come give me a transformation brooch and tell me I have super powers. Sadly, my black cat did not come with a transformation pen and the ability to talk. Didn’t stop me from talking to her!

2. Black Hayate from Fullmetal Alchemist:  The beau and I are currently watching Brotherhood, and watching it reminds me how much I love Hayate. Shibu Inus are so adorable, and he’s incredibly loyal, coming to Hawkeye’s aid no matter how dangerous the situation.

3. Ghost from Game of Thrones: I went back and forth on whether I’d want a dragon from GoT or a direwolf, and ultimately went with direwolves since Dany’s dragons go from cute to “Oh crap, I think they might eat her.” Direwolves seem much more loyal by comparison, and I love Ghost’s gorgeous fur. That said, I’d also totally adopt a…

4. Dragon from the Dragon Riders of Pern series: I devoured this series growing up, specifically the Harper Hall of Pern books. It’d be so cool to telepathically communicate with a dragon that can also teleport! I also like the fire-lizards from this series too

5. Chocobo from Final Fantasy: Specifically, the fat chocobo from FFXIV. Because LOOK AT IT.

Which video game pets are your favorites? You can see more responses over at The Nerdy Girlie and SuperSpaceChick!