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? 

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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)!

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!

A-Kon Wrap-Up

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Because it’s not a con without costume selfies. With Mia, Peony, and Samurai Pizza Kitten.

In early June, I attended A-Kon 25, which is one of the biggest anime conventions in Texas and held in Dallas. A-Kon will always have a special place in my heart, since it was the very first con I attended three years ago!

This was A-Kon’s second year in their new location, and staff has taken feedback and problems last year to heart. Last year, I attended only on Saturday. Even though I showed up for on-site registration at 7am, I still stood in line for close to six hours. Insane. This year, I pre-registered, but I only stood in line for two hours. It’s still a hassle, but it’s much better than the confuddled lines of last year. Next year, I’ll probably opt for the charity option, which had no wait at all.

Thursday

Lovely ladies! With GlitzyGeekGirl and Morgan as Belle.
Lovely ladies! With GlitzyGeekGirl and Morgan as Belle.

A-Kon ran from Thursday through Sunday this year, and Thursday’s main event was the Masquerade Ball. I made a ballgown inspired by Ms. Marvel (original design by Hanie Mohd). I was super excited when ACCosplay asked to do a photoshoot of my gown. He’s posted a teaser of our shoot, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to share the final results with you guys!

I met up with a few other cosplayers on Thursday, but I didn’t stay late, knowing how busy the weekend would be.

Friday

Gotta catch 'em all!
Gotta catch ’em all!

I hit up the con in the afternoon and evening on Friday. I dressed in my new Pokemon trainer cosplay so that I could wander around and be comfortable while scoping out the con. There were so many fun costumes, but my favorite part of the night was hitting up the Repo! The Genetic Opera shadowcast by Amber Does Dallas. Repo is one of my guilty pleasure movies, and this was my first time watching it live. Shadowcast performances are always fun, so I’ll definitely try to make the next one!

Ran into the lovely Yaya Han while I was wandering about!
Ran into the lovely Yaya Han while I was wandering about!

Saturday

Cos-ception. A woman spotted me at the con and sprinted to me, asking me to pose with this print. Now I have to buy this print when I move.
Cos-ception. A woman spotted me at the con and sprinted over, asking me to pose with this print. Now I have to buy this print.

Saturday was cosplay day! I had hoped to debut my Sailor Jupiter, but it didn’t come together in time. Instead, I wore my Bombshell Wonder Woman with a few improvements (I’ll post about those later this week) and looked at costumes. I made it over to the DC Photoshoot that afternoon and actually ran into a Bombshell Batgirl, which is my second favorite Bombshell design.

Da stick of truth!!!
Da stick of truth!!!

I sat Sunday out since I had a lot of family obligations that weekend. Overall, the con was much better than last year and I had a really good time! Next year will be an interesting challenge, since there’s only going to be a week between Dallas Comic Con and A-Kon 0_o. It’s definitely going to require some costume scheduling and planning!

Nanananananana... Batgirl!
Nanananananana… Batgirl!

You can see more photos on my Facebook page!

Avatar: The Legend of Korra (Season 1 version)

Completed: May 2012

Hours Spent: 10~

Worn at: A-Kon 23

Why this costume: I was a late convert to the original Avatar series, but once I started watching, I was hooked (at some point, I want to make a costume as one of the original characters). I was super excited when I heard they were coming out with the new series, especially one that featured a badass girl avatar.

How I made this costume: I created the top using a muslin from an old workout tank. The neck of the top is held up with craft foam. The gauntlets are scraps of leftover fabric and the arm band is molded plastic with some design, courtesy of another costuming friend. I found the pants at Wal-Mart for pretty cheap and just tucked those into a pair of boots I already had. The pelt is some clearance faux leather I found at Hancock. I just cut it to look like a pelt and sewed some fur trim on it, then tucked it into my pants. I used a couple strips of dark blue knit fabric for her front flap and drawstring.

Thoughts on this costume: I really like the idea of this costume, but I definitely did not give myself enough time for this, especially with it being one of my first costumes and attempts at sewing (I finished this one in the hotel a few minutes before walking to the con). I’m planning to revisit this costume for a future con. I’ll go back to the pelt, shorten it, do a better job of sewing on the trim, and create a drawstring for it (I held it in place by tucking it into my pants and fastening it with safety pins. Not a good idea for bathroom breaks). I’ll have to go back and start over on the top, preferably with a pattern this time. I’ll also dedicate more time to the accessories for a more complete look.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any pictures of this costume. If I find some, I’ll post them just for the reminder of how terrible it was, lol. Always keeps pics of your first cosplay! It’s a great motivator to see how far you’ve come.