My Top 13 Con Essentials

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Happy Friday! My summer con season kicks off in short two weeks, so today I thought I’d talk about my top 13 con essentials.

So without further ado, here’s my list of con essentials:

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Even superheroes have to sends texts! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

1. Fully charged cell phone (and your charger!): My phone is basically my lifeline at cons. I use it to take photos of celebs and cool cosplays, contact friends and photographers for meet-ups, and keep up with my social media. At Fan Days, I made the mistake of bringing in a half-charged phone and leaving my charger at my house. I wasn’t able to contact ANYONE throughout the day and wound up coming home to hundreds of messages and notifications. Lesson learned!

Pro-tip: cosplaying with gloves? Sew in a bit of conductive thread into the thumb so that you don’t have to take your gloves off and on all day.

2.  Cash and ID: While vendors now offer credit card or even PayPal sales, some still don’t. Or worse, the wireless signal is stupid weak and you have to wander around trying to get a signal. No, thank you. Got other places to check out! Cash is also useful if you have to pay for parking. Many places will require an ID to pick-up your badge, so don’t leave it at home!

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More often than not, I carry my necessities (powder, lipstick, contact cards, phone, ID, cash, and a few other miscellaneous things) in a matching clutch made from scrap fabric. That way if I forget to take it off in photos, at least it doesn’t look out of place! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

3. A small first-aid kit: I like to prepare for worst-case scenarios, whether that’s a wig-induced headache, blistered heels, or cuts from random pokey props. Antiseptic wipes, band-aids, and ibuprofen are always in my go bag.

4. Touch-up make-up: I normally bring a large amount of make-up that I leave in my big bag, but I always hit the floor with my powder, lipstick, and lash glue if I’m wearing falsies. Hair spray is also handy for wig touch-ups!

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Muscle arm poses are great for superheroes! Ms. Marvel photo by Black Vest Photography.

5. A fantastic pose (or 3): It’s always handy to practice a couple of go-to poses for when you’re stopped for pictures. Having more than one pose ready keeps you from getting bored and only having the same look in all your pictures.

6. A water bottle: Stay hydrated! There’s nothing worse than being in a costume in the middle of the summer and getting sick from dehydration. I normally keep a water bottle on me at all times.

7. Snackage: Most cons don’t have the greatest food options, and if they do, wait times are atrocious. Plus, why spend your con money on food when you could spend it on dealer’s room goodies? I like to pack a couple of granola bars, fruit snacks, almonds, and raisins to get me through the day.

8. A con repair kit: No matter how well you prepare, sometimes shit just happens. I like to have a small sewing kit, a stain remover pen, and a small bottle of craft glue on me in case something happens. You may also want to include small bottles of paint in the colors of your costume and/or a hot glue gun. Many cons now have costume repair rooms, which is great if you need to do a bigger repair!

I get my contact cards through Moo! They're really fast and their cards are gorgeous.
I get my contact cards through Moo (referral link)! They’re really fast and their cards are gorgeous.

9. Contact cards: These are great for getting in touch with people after cons! I never remember everyone’s cosplay names, so it’s useful to go back and look people up using their cards. Contact cards are also super useful when you’re working with photographers.

10. Tic-tacs and deodorant: Let’s face it, we all get a little stinky at cons between sweating and all the crowding. Take a shower before you hit the floor and make sure you stay fresh throughout the day!

11. Make-up/baby wipes/hand sanitizer: Hygiene! No one wants to catch con crud, so make sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if necessary. I also like to have make-up wipes on hand so that at the end of the day, I can wipe all my makeup off on the ride home.

I knew I wouldn't be able to make it more than about 10-12 hours in Belle, so I picked up this cute Beauty and the Beast skater dress from Hot Topic along with some other Disney merch!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it more than about 10-12 hours in Belle, so I picked up this cute Beauty and the Beast skater dress from Hot Topic along with some other Disney merch!

12. A change of clothes: Very useful for uncomfortable costumes! Or if you plan to go out to eat afterwards and want to protect your costume. At the very least, bring a hoodie so you don’t spill anything on your costume!

13. A great attitude: Smile! Have fun being a big ol’ geek with the rest of your geeky buddies for the weekend.

What are some of your con essentials?

10 Ways to Save Money on Cosplay

Budgeting for cosplay is something that’s come up a lot in my feeds recently. Con season is quickly creeping up on us, and I’m seeing a lot of new people express anxiety over the potential cost of getting into this hobby. Believe me, I get it. Cosplay can get expensive, especially when you do big, detailed builds. But it doesn’t have to be! This hobby is what you make of it. Even when you do go for those huge builds, there are ways to keep your bank account from crying (too much). Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your costs down:

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My original line-up for this year. As you can see, I’ve swapped out a bit. Belle and Batwoman replaced Vanessa and Zatanna, but both are relatively equal in terms of cost. It’s also okay to decide that you don’t want to do costumes! I opted to drop NoFlutter Jupiter since Lulu is going to be such a big project.

1. Plan in advance: At the beginning of the year, I create a list of the costumes I want to create. It’s always subject to change, but for the most part, I stick with my list, since deviation from the list normally means extra $$$. Doing this helps me plan out when I need to buy materials and how much work I’ll need to do on my costumes. That second part is just as important as money to me, since I plan my more intense costumes around non-hectic work time (*cough* Lulu *cough*). You can also plan around sales to get things cheaper. We’ll touch more on that in just a moment.

2. Create an itemized budget: In the process of planning out all my costumes at the beginning of the year, I also create an itemized budget. I started doing this when I began offering commissions, but it’s also really helpful for keeping me on track with my own stuff.

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Just as an example, here’s a look at the budget for my current project, Margaret. My first step in creating an itemized budget is to gather up all the reference images I can and make detailed notes on what all is involved. Most of my research is done at this phase. I typically look up other cosplayers’ builds to get an idea of what patterns and materials to use and look up tutorials for new techniques. I also do some preliminary online shopping to get my prices as accurate as possible. In addition, I take stock of what I have on hand and see what can be used to help cut down on costs.

When it comes to pricing, I always go for retail price to prepare for a worst case scenario. Sometimes big sales don’t always lineup with my payday, so getting a discount is a pleasant surprise rather than something I absolutely have to rely on.

Once I set my budget, I figure out how much I need to set aside each month to make my costume happen and time out sales shopping. With Margaret, for example, I waited for one of Arda’s sales since the lacefront wig is one of the most expensive pieces. Which leads me to…

Some of my goodies from last year's Black Friday sales. I bought most of my materials for Captain Marvel through sales!
Some of my goodies from last year’s Black Friday sales. I bought most of my materials for Captain Marvel through sales!

3. Work those sales!: This is one of the biggest reasons I plan most of my costumes a year or more in advance. Black Friday sales are one of the best times to pick up costume pieces, including wigs, contact lenses, spandex, and more. I often use Black Friday/Cyber Monday to buy big materials for costume pieces for the first half of the next year.

E-mail and mobile newsletters are really useful tools plan out your sales shopping. I always keep an eye out for weekly advertisements for Jo-Ann’s and Hancocks, since they’ll list when patterns go on sale.

Liking your go-to shops on Facebook and other social media platforms is also a good way to keep in the loop on upcoming sales, especially for places like Arda, Epic Cosplay, Golden D’Or, and Spandex World.

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Another instance where coupons saved my butt. The quilted blue fabric is for Margaret. If you hit Fabric.com, a box will pop up asking you to join their e-mail newsletter list, and you’ll also get a 20 or 30% off your total order coupon. I waited until I got the offer for a 30% off coupon before buying this fabric.

4. Use those coupons!: Coupons are seriously a cosplayer’s best friend, especially when you hit the big box craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, and Hancocks. Each of these shops almost always has coupons available, especially if you sign up for mail, e-mail, and/or mobile notifications. Many of these stores also have mobile apps with coupons, so make sure to snag those too!

Even if you don’t happen to have a mailer coupon, these websites all have coupons listed on their sites. Just Google “[insert store name here] coupon.” Most of the time these are for about 40% off, so it’s always worth your time to print one off, especially if you’re picking up a big ticket item!

Another perk to going to these shops is that most of them will accept competitors’ coupons, so keep those coupons handy no matter where you go!

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3 different costumes, all using the same wig!

5. Re-use costume pieces: Reusing costume pieces is one of the easiest ways to cut down on cosplay costs. For example, high quality wigs can get pretty costly, so I try to do different variations on characters. My good Rogue wig, for example, cost about $80 to make, so I get as much mileage out of it as I can. I’ve worn it for my Kotobukiya, casual, and Marvel Now! Rogue.

Same goes for my Princess Jupiter and Ms. Marvel variants. Both of those costumes happened since I already had a large amount of materials on hand, making my “total” cost for each of those costumes around $75. Definitely cheaper than my Sailor Jupiter!

Photo by Gone Catawampus.
Callula Cosplay and I swap skills quite a bit. She made this gorgeous mirror for my Belle, and I made her Huntress bodysuit.

6. Trade skills: This is a new thing for me and I’m absolutely loving it. I have several friends who are great with props and leather, but not so great at sewing. So we work out agreements in advance and trade sewn pieces for props and such. It’s been great! Not only do I get something made much better than I ever could, I don’t drop the money I normally do in failure (I tend to muck up even the most basic armor. Whomp whomp).

Of  course, you could also expand on this idea for other services, such as photography and web design. Of course, your mileage may vary, but think outside the box in terms of potential swaps.

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Repurposed work flats for Fluttershy. I wanted to see if adding glitter worked well, and it did! I also added my gel inserts.

7. Thrift, thrift, thrift!: Buying gently used stuff from local thrift stores, eBay, or even re-purposing old things from your house is a great way to cut back on costs. I do this a lot with old shoes. I’m not willing to pay a lot of money for shoes I’m going to tear apart and rebuild anyway. Once my flats and pumps are too scuffed for work, I’ll hold on to them until I need them for a costume. And as an added bonus, they’re already broken in and comfortable.

Keep an eye out for used costumes as well. Many cosplayers will sell their used creations for cheap. Storenvy, Etsy, eBay, and cosplay pages are a great way to keep an eye out for such sales.

Ms. Marvel was made largely from scraps. I had leftover gold from Supergirl and black from Rogue.
Ms. Marvel was made largely from scraps. I had leftover gold from Supergirl and black from Rogue. The original mask was made from scrap Worbla. I also got the wig second hand from another cosplayer. Photo by Aperture Ashley.

8. Keep an open mind, especially when it comes to the bargain bin: Sometimes stuff I find in the remnant bin or even in my personal stash inspires my costumes. This was definitely true for Marvel Now! Rogue and Ms. Marvel. Marvel Now! Rogue was inspired by a trip to my local spandex outlet, where I found the perfect green fabric for about $3/yd. I already had black and white fabric on hand, in addition to a leather belt, white leather paint, and an X-shaped belt buckle from my classic Rogue. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a pleasant surprise!

Commissions have been a really useful way to give me a little more flexibility for larger projects.
Commissions have been a really useful way to give me a little more flexibility for larger projects.

9. Monetize your hobby: One of the main reasons I started offering commissions was so that I could have a bit of extra spending money for bigger costumes like Lulu. But commissions aren’t the only way to recoup costs and fund future projects. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Set up an online storefront for trinkets or accessories. Something that doesn’t take away too much craft time, but is also profitable. I’m hoping to do this soon!
  • If you have a blog, set up sponsorships through a resource like Passionfruit.
  • Sell your used costumes and accessories.
  • Sell cosplay prints.

10. Learn to say no: This is probably the hardest one on the list for me. It’s so  easy to get caught up in the race of “Who can make the most costumes?” Theoretically, I could make a costume a week, but that’s not enjoyable or anywhere near affordable for me. If it works for you, by all means, go for it. But remember that it’s okay to say no to doing a group costume if you’re not feeling it or bumping a costume back to a time when you can afford it. Real life comes first!

I hope this list helps! Do you have any tips on budgeting for cosplay?

Life According to Instagram: April 2015

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1. Y’all are probably sick of seeing these suits, but they took up a lot of craft time this month, so they’re worth mentioning (again). I’m really looking forward to this group!

2. The weather in April was been a mix of ridiculous rain and gorgeous spring weather. This is one of the few times Texas has such nice weather, and I love it! The roses in our backyard were in full bloom most of the month.

3. I don’t collect many figures (one expensive hobby is more than enough :P), but the ones I do collect are normally characters I have cosplayed or intend to cosplay. Lulu is one of the figures from the original FFX Kotobukiya line I didn’t snag back in the early 2000s. I think I have Tidus and Yuna in a storage box in my garage. Fortunately, eBay is a beautiful thing and I got this lovely lady to add to my collection! Because collecting figures totally counts as research, right?

4. After an unexpected (and very costly) car repair this week, I’m finally biting the bullet and setting up an online storefront. Nothing like a car repair bill to light a fire under your butt :P I hope to have some product ready to go in the next 2-3 weeks. I’ve had all the materials for these clutches sitting in my craft room for months, so it’ll be nice to make some space again. I’m planning to do small runs of about 15 items or so initially to get a feel for demand. I’ll probably post some old costumes and wigs as well since my closet’s getting pretty full. For those of you who have storefronts which do you prefer: Etsy or Storenvy? I like the free side of Storenvy, but Etsy seems to have better overall exposure.

5. Scarborough Faire was a blast! I haven’t been in years. Since I’m neck deep in spandex suits and other summer costume builds right now I decided to go with a quick and easy costume. I bought the dress off eBay, wore my old Wonder Woman boots and a corset I bought at my last trip to Texas Renaissance Faire, and then picked up a flower crown once we entered. Very comfy for trekking across the fair grounds!

6. I finally got my custom PC up and running thanks to friends who are far more tech-savvy than me. My new computer is a dream and playing FFXIV on it is so much better than playing on my old PS3!

7. Age of Ultron was a blast! I wasn’t able to get off work early, so unfortunately I didn’t get to cosplaying. But my trial run of Marvel Collector Corps had me covered. Literally ;)

8. Thor is still adorable as ever, in case you’re wondering. We sort of flopped on finishing his puppy training classes, but his trainer is awesome and offered to let us make them up for free. He is thankfully responding to most of the basic commands and is pretty good on a leash these days. We’re still working on impulse control and chewing everything in sight, though.

9. Batwoman is so close to done. I’m hoping to put the final touches on everything this weekend! ‘Cause, uh…. I still have a Spoiler commission, Princess Jupiter to repair, and Margaret to make in the next 4-5 weeks. At least I already have the materials?

Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends!

WIP: April 2015

Man, I regret saying that things have been slow the last few months, because April was insane!

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Fun fact: According to the DC Wiki, Kate is 5’10”. Yay for cosplaying tall ladies! :D

Batwoman: 85% complete

My big personal project this month was Batwoman. I managed to knock out the bodysuit, belt, gloves, and I nearly finished cape. I’m planning to re-style my Ariel wig for this costume and use my Captain Marvel boots (sans gold buttons, of course). All that’s left to finish this costume is finishing the last bit of the cape (hopefully tonight), picking up my mask, putting everything on the belt, washing my wig, and figuring out how I want to handle my makeup. I’m inclined to go with the white face makeup the more I read her comics. I’m very excited to debut this at Fan Expo in May with my friends’ Gotham Girls group!

I also picked up some Lulu figures. Because... research?
I also picked up some Lulu figures. Because… research?

Lulu: 5%/Research and Gathering

Slowly but surely, I’m creeping up on start time for Lulu. Six weeks and counting! I had hoped to tweak my moogle plush and knock out another to-do this month. I bought it while I was in Japan for a summer study abroad stint back in college, so I thought it’d be a cool (and simple) way to incorporate a fun travel memento into my costume. But the more I looked at my moogle, the more I realized that it’s far too small in proportion to my body. It’s only 9″ tall and Lulu’s is basically the length of her upper torso, which on me translates to about 18″. I did some research and found a few Simplicity patterns for teddy bears that I plan to alter for my costume. Should be an interesting experience!

I’m also sourcing more swatches for Lulu’s base dress and hunting for Venice lace to supplement the embroidery designs. And taking donations for belts :P.

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Nananananananana… Bat-ladies!

Commissions:

These took up the bulk of my craft time this month. Several members of the Gotham Girls group asked me to make their bodysuits. All of these suits are variations on Kwik Sew 3052.

Mia’s Batgirl is made from black stretch vinyl, purple milliskin, and yellow milliskin for the logo. The Spoiler is made from purple milliskin. Callula Cosplay’s Huntress is made from black and white stretch vinyl, and the side panels on the top are made from black athletic mesh and purple milliskin. I still need to make the hood and cape for Spoiler. Hopefully this weekend!

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Oops, only photo I have of the Ms. Marvel commission. Derp.

I also did a couple of smaller commissions this month, including adding the gold lightning bolt logo to a purchased leotard for a Ms. Marvel, tweaking Taffeta’s Squirrel Girl so that it has a scoop neck instead of a turtleneck, and several other minor alterations.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the progress I made this month. May is going to be a very busy month for me both in terms of crafting and events, so having the Gotham group projects pretty much done makes life much easier!

What’s on your craft table right now?

Fandom Friday: Games I Love to Play

IMG_0731It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! I’m playing a lot more games these days, so I thought I’d hop back on the bandwagon for this week’s post.

1. Final Fantasy X: This is the first video game I fell in love with. As a teenager, I logged close to 300 hours on it thanks to multiple plays. So when the remaster/HD version came out last year, I hit pre-order the second it was available. I’m really enjoying all the extra international content that wasn’t initially released, though I’m a lot slower at leveling these days. I’d love to beat all the Dark Aeons and extra bosses eventually, though it’ll probably take me another year at this pace :P

Half the entertainment value in FFXIV is running around and making my lala emote.
Half the entertainment value in FFXIV is running around and making my lala emote.

2. Final Fantasy XIV: My boyfriend introduced me to this game a little over a year ago as something we could do together. I resisted getting into MMORPGs for a long time, since I tend to have an obsessive personality and feared I’d turn into Felicia Day’s character from The Guild. It took me a while to come around on it, but I now enjoy playing a daily roulette and a few miscellaneous missions. Of course, it helps that my lalafell is incredibly adorable. Unlike FFX, it’s pretty easy to only play for 30 minutes to an hour at a time if you’re so inclined (and I totally am). Do any of you play? I’m on Goblin!

3. Persona 4: This is another one my boyfriend introduced me to. I love the combination of dating sim/dungeoun crawler. I play this game primarily on the Vita, which makes it pretty simple to play for small chunks at a time. I recently finished my initial playthrough, and I’d like to go through again to max out some of the social links I missed the first time, including Margaret’s!

4. Catherine: Another game from Atlus! I normally don’t play through a game more than once, but I’ve played through this one twice and want to knock out another run soon. I don’t know exactly why this one is so addictive. It helps that the game is pretty quick. I think my last run was about 10 hours. I also like the various endings and answering the questions as ridiculously as possible.

5. Drawful: Something a little different for this last one. It’s part of the Jackbox Games party pack and it’s a fantastic party game. The idea is that you pull up the game on your console and everyone uses their smartphones to play an electronic version of Pictionary. It’s hilarious the later you get into the night (and/or the more you drink).  The other games in the pack are also fun, but Drawful is my favorite!

What are some of your favorite games? You can see more responses on The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick!

Suit Up!

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4 suits, 4 bodies, 1 pattern.

Or: An ode to Kwik Sew 3052.

I typically save my commission posts for the end of the month, but since I’ve been working on several Gotham-themed bodysuits lately, I thought I’d share a few extra tips and tricks on working with them (P.S. You can find more spandex tips in my Spandex 101 series!).

My go-to pattern for a basic catsuit is Kwik Sew 3052. View A is a perfect blank slate for pretty much ANY superhero suit you can think of (and yes, with a few tweaks it will work for dudes!). A basic, single-color suit using this pattern exactly as drafted takes me approximately 2 hours from cutting to finishing the last seam. It really is a super simple build and a great introduction to working with catsuits. That said, most superhero suits aren’t a single color and often have all sorts of funky design lines on them. So let’s talk about some of the alterations you can do to this pattern.

My first step with this pattern is typically to move the front zipper to the back. You can do this by subtracting the seam allowance for the zipper from the front seam and adding it to the back seam. Voila! Back zipper.

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Obviously, this isn’t Spoiler, but I took a similar approach when drafting out the pattern for my Captain Marvel. I used the same pattern bodice to figure out the general curve of the side seam for the front and back. Don’t worry if you fudge up a little. The stretchy factor will help conceal it!

One of the issues you might run into with this pattern is fitting. Since you only have a front and back seam to work with, it’s easy to look like a giant garbage bag. Adding side seams is a good way to give yourself more flexibility for alterations. I did this for Spoiler since her suit in the reference images I used had a very prominent side seam. This also makes setting your sleeves much easier!

I turned to Kwik Sew 3154 for guidance on how to draft the side seams, since this Spoiler is much smaller than me. Sadly, this pattern is OOP, but you can still find it on Etsy and eBay!

Your curves doesn’t have to be exact. The big idea here is to give yourself a curve for your bust, waist, and hips. Most of us aren’t straight up and down!

Batgirl! I opted for princess seams on Batgirl instead of the the straight up and down strip of purple she's drawn with. Curves are more flattering to those of us who live in 3D!
Batgirl! I opted for princess seams on Batgirl instead of the the straight up and down strip of purple she’s drawn with. Curves are more flattering to those of us who live in 3D!

Another option for fitting on a basic suit is adding princess seams. Princess seams run over the bust and give you a lot of control over your bust and waist. I opted to add princess seams to my Batwoman and Mia‘s Batgirl suit for a more flattering shape. I used a stretch vinyl for my suit which has a limited degree of stretch, so I needed more seams for tailoring.

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Bathroom selfies are the worst for showing seams, but I promise, they’re there!

To add my princess seams, I tried on one of my old muslins and figured out where my bust apex (i.e., the fullest part of your bewb) was. From there, I just drew in the curve I wanted. Once that was done, I transferred the line over to my pattern piece and added a seam allowance. And that’s it! I mucked up a little on Batwoman since I didn’t wear the bra I intend to wear while drawing on myself. I haven’t decided yet if I care enough to remake it. Always wear your intended undergarments when drafting, kiddos!

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Callula Cosplay modeling her Huntress mock-up. We take ourselves very seriously in the cosplay biz :-P

For more complex superhero designs, I like to make a muslin out of cheap fabric and draw on my designs. For Callula Cosplay‘s Huntress, I did just that. To start, I made a quick mock-up, and once we tweaked the fit, I pulled out a Sharpie and drew all the lines she wanted to add while she was wearing it. After we finished, I labeled and cut all the pieces, added a small seam allowance, and went from there. If your suit is symmetrical (like this one), you only need to mark up one half of the suit.

A note: it is vital that your muslin has a similar degree of stretchiness as your final fabric. Otherwise, this is going to be an exercise in futility.

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The process of building Huntress.

Hope that helps for all you aspiring superheroes! Check out my Spandex 101 series for additional information on working with spandex. I’ll post more tips and tricks for all you wannabe vigilantes as I continue working on Batwoman.

A Tour of my Sewing Space

After almost eight months, my sewing room is (almost) finished! I was really particular about how I wanted my sewing room to look in my new house. I spend a lot of time in there, and I wanted it to be a space that I would really enjoy using and a space that would be highly functional.

Here’s a quick look at some of my favorite features:

cutting tableCutting Table: This is still my favorite part of my craft room. It’s got ample space for fabric, patterns, sewing tools, and even my comic books! Over the holidays, I spent some time weeding and organizing my fabric and pattern stashes. I gave the fabric boxes labels so I wouldn’t have to rifle through several bins (I’m a fabric hoarder. Shhh…). I’d still like to digitize and further organize my pattern collection, but that will have to wait until summer or the next time I decide to take a personal day.

pegboard finalPegboard Organization: This has been SO USEFUL. Seriously, this clears up so much room on my table for big sewing projects. I love that everything is in arm’s reach. Also, the iPad rack has been a fantastic addition to my craft room. I don’t watch much Netflix while sewing these days, but it’s still useful for podcasts and Spotify.

Sewing Table: This was a gift from my stepmother when I first started sewing. I really love this thing. It folds in to be more compact, but I don’t really need to do that since I’m not in an apartment anymore. The door on the table has racks to sort notions and it’s where I keep my pins, Wundertape, marking tools, etc. I sort the rest of my notions with spare shoe boxes on the shelves to the right of the desk. There’s plenty of space for another machine, but I prefer to keep my serger on a spare folding table for lots of room.tumblr_nloalsSJED1sxq29yo1_500

Curtain Rod Paper Dispenser: I mentioned in my last Instagram post that I added this recently. I use large rolls of butcher paper to trace and draft my patterns, and it was annoying to keep the roll in place while I was working. A cheap $10 rod over my sewing table was the perfect solution!

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Giant Closet: This has been a lifesaver for storing old costumes. In my old apartment, I had to cram costumes into underbed storage boxes and hope and pray that things wouldn’t get ruined. I’ve got a huge closet now to give everything space (and keep my bedroom closet clear of cosplay).

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Display shelf: This was one of the final hold-ups for my craft room. I had 2 tubs of collectibles sitting on the floor for months. Over the holidays, I finally caved and bought a cheap 5 level bookshelf from Target. The top 3 shelves are for my collectibles and the bottom levels are for overflow fabrics.

Of course, there are still a few small tweaks I’d like to make eventually. My next big to-do is installing a kind of drape on the ceiling so I have a good spot to photograph costumes on my dress form. I now have 3 sewing machines, so I’d like to pick up a long table for my serger and embroidery machine next time I go to IKEA. I’d also like to hang some of my favorite comic covers in sleeves around the top of my wall.

Do you have a dedicated craft space? What’s your favorite part about it?

Life According to Instagram: March 2015

Another month from 2015 is officially in the past! I’m both excited and super anxious about that. We’re now about 2 months out from some of the big cons in the Dallas area, but that means I only have 2 months to finish up costumes for myself and others! I’m going to binge watch ALL THE SHOWS and sew like a demon this weekend :P.

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1. Texas (my part of it, anyway) got its last winter freak out this year a little late. We got a full 4″ of legit snow in March! Winter for us is normally a few days of ice, so real snow is a special treat. Thor loved it! Once he got used to stepping on it, he started sprinting circles around the yard nonstop.

2. I finished Belle in time for All-Con! It’s definitely not perfect, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

3. Speaking of All-Con, I definitely enjoyed it more than last year. Having con friends makes a huge difference, especially at chill cons like this one. Also, Calliopunk and I are now making this a thing for ALL of our costumes (but especially when we get around to doing Rat Queens).

4. I made a couple of improvements to my craft room this month, including installing a curtain rod above my craft table to hold my butcher/tracing paper. It makes drafting and tracing so much more convenient.

5. I finally snagged an embroidery machine! This was definitely a “treat yo-self” indulgence after I got my tax refund :P It’s a Brother SE400 combo sewing/embroidery machine. I like the idea of having it available as a backup sewing machine if my Singer Stylist flukes out on me at some point. Hopefully I’ll get time to play with for more than 10 minutes soon!

6. Last week, I travelled to Portland for the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference. The trip was a blast and I learned so much. I don’t talk about it much online, but I struggle with my desire (or lack thereof) to stay in my current profession. I don’t know if it’s burnout or what. I’ve been working in this field for about a decade, and now that I’m approaching 30, I’m wondering what the next step is for me. Work conferences are a good way to get excited about my career again, and ACRL is one of the best conferences I’ve attended in years. Plus, meeting G. Willow Wilson (the writer for Ms. Marvel) is basically the highlight of my nerdy life at the moment. I’m just kicking myself for not getting photos of the cherry blossoms while I was in Portland!

Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends!

WIP: March 2015

Hello, spring! Weather in my area has finally cleared up into something resembling a season between Hoth-like winter and Tattoine-esque summer.

I debated on putting up a WIP post this month. Aside from Belle, I haven’t done much crafting this month. February and March have been more than a little hectic for me professionally and personally, so I haven’t been able to get as much sewing done as I’d like. Especially non-cosplay stuff. I have a new work Cambie sitting in limbo right now, which is such a bummer. Hopefully I can knock it out when I get back from Portland!

Still, I have been making some slow but steady progress on my summer cosplays. In order of planned appearance:

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All the spandex!

Gotham Girls: I’m working on several catsuits for a Gotham Girls group in May, including a Batwoman for myself. The other suits are a Huntress for Callula Cosplay, a Stephanie Brown Spoiler, a Stephanie Brown Batgirl for Mia, and possibly a Harley Quinn. I finally got all the fabric in, so my plan is to set up shop and knock out the majority of the suits next weekend. We’ll see how it goes!

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My quilted fabric for Margaret and some sample swatches for Lulu.

Margaret from Persona 4: Early this year, I mentioned that I’m joining some friends for a Velvet Room group. I finally found some quilted blue fabric in a good color, and I ordered my wig and contacts. I’ve been talking to other Margaret cosplayers to figure out the front panel of her coat/dress. Some people do it as an entirely separate piece that attaches with snaps, while others actually hand stitched the front panel on. I’m still debating how I want to handle mine since I don’t want it to be too bulky. Either way, I’ll more than likely have to do some *shudder* dyeing. Blargh.

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Baby steps!

Lulu from FFX: It has officially started! I’m still mostly in the materials-gathering phase, but I’m trying to knock out some of the smaller pieces of this costume so that it’s not too overwhelming come summer. After months of searching, I finally found a faux fox fur for Lulu and made the stole last week. It’s lined with poly purple haubuti I snagged from Golden D’Or at their last sale. Since I couldn’t pack my sewing machine for my trip to Portland, I brought my jewelry supplies and started working on her necklaces and earrings. Next up is the moogle and raiding ALL the local thrift stores for belts!

What projects are on your craft table?

Costume Notes: Belle’s Ballgown

Photo by Gone Catawampus.
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Photo by Gone Catawampus.

Completed: March 2015

Hours Spent: About 40 hours spread out over a month

Debuted: All-Con 2015

Why This Costume: Belle is one of my favorite Disney princesses. I made her village dress back in 2013, but her yellow dress has been one of my wish list costumes for a while. I ultimately decided to tackle this costume to practice making a corset prior to Lulu.

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Photo by Gone Catawampus.

How I Made It: So obviously, this isn’t an exact replica of the animated dress. I like the silhouette of the film version, but I looked to the Broadway version, her recent promotion art, and the park versions for inspiration. When I started this project, I knew right away that I wanted a mix of fabrics to give it some vibrancy and depth. I used the matte side of poly satin, rose print brocade, glitter tulle, and organdy.

I talked a bit about constructing the corset in my last post. It’s a 3 layer corset made using TV110. The fashion layer is interfaced poly satin with brocade on the center panels. I found some lovely gold venice lace on eBay and used it to trim the seams on the bust and at the back by the eyelets. The center panel is made from duck cloth, and the lining layer is made with Disney princess cotton. I trimmed the edges with bias tape made from scrap brocade.

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Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The skirt is self-drafted 6-panel skirt. To figure out the measurements, I took my hip measurement (since I was using an elastic waistband) and the circumference of the hoop skirt and divided them by six, adding in 1/2 on each side for seam allowance. I measured over the hoop skirt to the floor to figure out the length I needed. I multiplied that by 1.5 to get the length I needed for the top skirt.

Speaking of hoop skirts, you absolutely need on to make this skirt work. I opted for a 4-hoop skirt that I snagged off of eBay. I also used a petticoat, since the hoops show through the base skirt when I just use a hoop skirt.

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So much fluff in this skirt. Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The base skirt is made from the matte side of my poly satin and hemmed with a blind hem by machine. The top skirt is made from organdy underlined with glitter tulle. Like its cousin organza, organdy frays like a bitch, so as soon as I cut my pieces and basted them together, I ran all the edges through my serger. From there, I ran gather lines over each panel, stopping just above the bottom, then basted the top edge to my underskirt. I did a 3-thread rolled hem on the bottom of the organza, then gathered up each panel by hand, securing the basting with a zig-zag stitch. After playing with a few options, I opted for a cascading drape, with the highest gather line being in the front center.

I wanted to bling up the skirt a bit, so I found some lovely pale yellow faux roses at Hobby Lobby and used a spray glitter to give them a little gleam and added some gold glitter on top for some extra shine.

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With the lovely Ohheyabear Cosplay. Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The sleeves are made from the same combination of glitter tulle and organdy. They’re just rectangles that I finished with a French seam. I gathered them at slight angles at the center front and back of the corset. They attach with velcro, which is fused to the lining of the corset.

My wig is a Matilda from Arda in Spanish brown. It’s actually the same wig I used for my first Belle! I used this tutorial to get the bangs in order, then I used pre-styled bun from Arda. I covered the bun in a matching hair net to keep the fly aways in check. I also re-styled the curls. The yellow hair piece is a folded over rectangle made from scrap brocade. It connects with velcro.

No, Hades! Don't steal my soul! Photo by Gone Catawampus.
No, Hades! Don’t steal my soul! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

The shoes are dyeable bridal shoes I picked up from eBay. I dyed them a yellow-gold using iDye Poly in yellow (this tutorial is a great reference). To finish them off, I picked up some faux rose clips.

I picked up a few extra accessories for this costume off of Etsy, including a lovely faux pearl broach and some beautiful rose earrings. The gloves are from We Love Colors. I also made a quickie clutch from leftover fabric. The gorgeous mirror was made by Callula Cosplay.

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I love that the mirror lights up! Kudos to Callula Cosplay on this fantastic prop. Photo by Gone Catawampus.

Thoughts on this costume: I AM A PRETTY, PRETTY PRINCESS! But seriously, this costume was so much fun to wear. It was a blast getting to run around all day as a Disney princess. The kids especially loved it!

I’d like to tweak this costume a bit (mostly blinging it up a bit more with some crystals and rhinestones), but overall I’m pretty happy with it. Now to re-make her village dress! You know, once I get through Lulu. :P

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The best part about dressing like a Disney princess? Seeing the kids’ reactions! Photo by Mutants, Maidens, and Munchkins.

Who’s your favorite Disney princess?