Costume Notes: Batwoman

Photo by Scott Van.
Photo by Scott Van.

Completed: May 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 20 hours

Debuted: Dallas Comic Con Fan Expo 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Photo by Kristin Bomba.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suit Up!

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.

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.

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!

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

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.

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.

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:

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!

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.

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?