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 😛 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!

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WIP: Setember Edition

Gah, we’re already in October. Whaaaa…? I feel like this year has just flown by. Here are a few of the projects I worked on in September along with some things I’m wrapping up for Fan Days!

Commission: Steampunk Dorothy blouse and skirt

tumblr_ncmovfcDkV1sxq29yo1_500Back in August, a local cosplayer contacted me about making the fabric bits for a Steampunk Dorothy at Fan Days, based on this Tonner doll. This wasn’t too difficult of a project, but did require some drafting skills.

For the blouse, I turned to a pattern I used in the past: New Look 6244. I used this dress for my Inara costume a few years ago. My client is a bit larger than me in the waist, but shares my chest and arm measurements, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to get this to fit properly. I hacked the pattern off at the hips to turn it into a blouse, slashed and spread the appropriate pieces, and added sleeves from Simplicity 2813. I wanted to keep this blouse as comfortable as possible (given the layers this client will be wearing), so I cut it on the bias, which means no zippers! The only issue with that was the arm part of the sleeve got twisty, so I hacked it off and made arm bits out of spandex. The rest of the blouse is made of peachskin with netting in the sleeves for a bit more volume.

The skirt is made from a modified Butterick 6196 skirt. I took 3 panels of the skirt, hacked them off at the knee and swapped out the regular waistband for an elastic one (again, comfort). The seams all have 3/8″ elastic in them to create loose gathers, and I created ruffles for the bottom of the skirt on my serger. Gathering on my serger was a new technique, but I’m really happy with how it turned out!

My client is coming over for a fit test this weekend, then this project will be wrapped up. Can’t wait to see her with all of her other pieces!

Commission: Deadpool

Pants before I added the waistband.
Pants before I added the waistband.

This commission is also for Fan Days. One of my old high school friends asked if I could make a Deadpool for him, but more grounded in reality. Kind of Christopher Nolan-esque. Our first task was to ditch the spandex bodysuit and swap it out for cargo pants and an Under Armor-style top. I used Kwik Sew 4045 as a base and topstitched black twill on red twill to get the effect he was looking for.

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Stovetop dyeing. Not to be confused with dying.

The spandex for the top was a nightmare. My go-to spandex shop didn’t have what I was looking for, so I turned to my back-up: Spandex World. FedEx wound up losing my order, so I went through a two-week ordeal trying to get a reshipment. Fortunately, Spandex World is awesome and replaced my order as soon as they could, but I only got it in at the end of last week. Turns out, I should have ordered a swatch, because the color was a bright, almost orangey red. In a last ditch effort, I tried dyeing the spandex, and it actually worked! I’m in the process of wrapping up the top and mask, then this project will be done.

Sailor Ariel

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A cosplay friend recently asked me to join her Disney Sailor Scouts group at Fan Days. I was hesitant to create a new costume with just a few weeks until the con, but their Ariel has other costume commitments, so I’m using my Sailor Jupiter to create Ariel! All I have to do is touch-up my shoes, make a trident, make the bows, and style my wig. And maybe buy a Flounder 🙂

Ms. Marvel

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Photo by Aperture Ashley, who was kind enough to give me some BA Binary powers!

I’m also planning to touch-up my Ms. Marvel for Fan Days and hopefully enter her in the Costume Contest. I’m planning to tweak the sash, raise the leg holes, and make flames to represent her Binary powers. Hopefully that will all be finished by the end of next week!

That’s all I’ve got for this month. Once these projects are complete, I’m planning to tackle my Halloween costumes (see: slightly modify), another commission, and get started on Ikkicon costumes! Not going to lie, I’m so ready to be done with Fan Days so that I can get started on Princess Jupiter. That costume needs to be made!

What’s on your craft table right now?

A-Fest

Probably my favorite selfie from A-fest. Cosplay repair assembly line!
Probably my favorite selfie from A-fest. Cosplay repair assembly line!

A few weeks ago, I attended Anime Fest! Anime Fest is held at the Sheraton Dallas, where A-Kon used to be before changing locations two years ago. I only attended one A-Kon at the Sheraton, so it heading back was a bit of a surreal experience. Honestly, it’s kind of a shame that they moved locations, as I like the old location better.

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Ran into the lovely Dallas Fan Girl!

On Friday, I headed in mid-afternoon (as soon as I could scurry away from work) decked out as a casual Captain Marvel. A-Fest did a brilliant thing this year and offered pre-registered members the opportunity to mail out their badges in advance. I really hope A-Kon gets on board with this idea, because it only took me 10 minutes to pick up my lanyard on Friday. Not having to wait in line absolutely wonderful.

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Panelists left to right: My Geeky Geeky Ways, Samurai Pizza Kitten Cosplay, Mia, and Liz.

The only panel I actually made it to on Friday was the Confidence in Cosplay panel, hosted by my friends over at Superhero-esque. Lots of discussion on body image, how to handle haters, and more! You can check out a video of the panel below.

I kicked off Saturday with a photoshoot with Aperture Ashley! Ashley’s done several shoots at A-Kon before, so she had some great spots picked out for maximum magical girl shots. I can’t wait to show you the final photos!

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I love this hall shot of my Jupiter! Courtesy of Overbeck.

Saturday overall was pretty chill. I wandered around with my friends Mia and Liz, said hi to lots of people, got recorded by Cosplay with Me for his con tour video (I’ll post a link when it’s up!), dropped by a Sailor Moon photoshoot, and just generally hung out and had a good time. I really enjoyed this experience, even if I did miss a lot of the people I hoped to see. Hopefully if time works out, I’ll be back next year! Thank you to everyone who said hi 🙂 You can see more photos from the event on my Facebook page!

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Loved seeing so many Moonies gathered in one spot!

My con season is slowly but surely winding down. I only have two cons left this year: Dallas Fan Days in October and Anime North Texas in November. I may or may not have a new costume for both. We’ll see how time and funds are doing in a few weeks!

Selfie-con! I changed into my Ms. Marvel gown in the evening and hung out with Liz, Samurai Pizza Kitten, and Mia.
Selfie-con! I changed into my Ms. Marvel gown in the evening and hung out with Liz, Samurai Pizza Kitten, and Mia.

Are you still going strong with cons? Or are you winding down and getting ready for next year?

Costume Notes: Ms. Marvel Ballgown

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Still feels weird to see myself as a blonde.

Completed: June 2014

Hours Spent: 20~

Debuted: A-Kon 25

Why This Costume: I was positively thrilled to see that A-Kon was holding a masquerade ball this year. Any excuse to wear a pretty dress! I hemmed and hawed over what I wanted to wear. I was pretty much set on just costuming up my satin Cambie or thrifting a prom dress, but then I saw this gorgeous artwork by Hanie Mohd. Done.

How I made it: 

The base of this dress is Kwik Sew 3400 (view A with the train), which was gifted to me when I first started sewing. It’s a fairly straight-forward design: empire waist and six panels. Easy-peasy, right? Well, I hoped.

I decided that I should attempt a FBA (full bust adjustment) on this dress since I wanted the bust to be as precise as possible. One of these days, I will master a FBA, but this dress was not that occasion. I made the FBA way too big, despite checking and double checking my measurements, AND making a muslin. I wound up with massive underbust puckers that had me ready to trash this dress. After getting very thoroughly friendly with my seam-ripper (seam ripping serged stitches blows), I finally went back to the drawing board and cut a straight XL for the bust and tapering to a L at the waist. Much better.

EDIT: Did you guys know that Kwik-Sew actually accommodates for different bust sizes based on the size pattern you cut? So I basically attempted to do a FBA on a pattern that was already drafted for my cup size. The more you know…

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My initial run at this. Bad bust. Bad.

Once I got the bust issue sorted, I had to deal with the lightning bolt. The bolt is made of a gold charmeuse. I double-layered it and applied interfacing to help hold the shape. I topstitched around the edges for design and to help it lay flatter. This was another situation where I checked my measurements multiple times and made up a muslin, but I wasn’t happy with the initial result. I was afraid that the charmeuse would be too shiny and glare like crazy in pictures, so I used the wrong side of the fabric. Meh…

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Bolt the first. Bleh.

The bigger issue was that the shape was just… wrong. To get it to lay flat, I would have needed to add massive darts to the bolt, but I wasn’t liking the look of it. Fortunately, I had just enough charmeuse to cut another bolt, so I used the dart-ified bolt to draft another bolt and use the proper side of the fabric. Much better.

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Once I was satisfied with the bolt, I hand stitched the bolt to the shell of the dress. I secured the neckline by attaching jeweled straps from the top of the bolt to the back of the dress. I ultimately decided to change the zipper in the back to an invisible one and used Tasia’s method for attaching the lining. The pattern instructs you to understitch the lining before adding the zipper. In hindsight, that probably would have been better for my version of this dress, since I can’t get it under my machine to understitch now. I’ll probably do that by hand before I wear it again.

The pattern calls for boning in the side seams, but I also added some in the seams under the bust. I harvested the plastic boning from a crappy fashion corset I got ages ago and used bias tape for the casing.

A moment of silence for the corset that gave its life for a pretty dress.
A moment of silence for the corset that gave its life for a pretty dress.

I hacked off the bottom lining to view B so that it wouldn’t get caught in my shoes and finished it off with a rolled hem on my serger. Hemming the shell was surprisingly fun. I decided to hem it with horsehair as practice for my upcoming sailor fuku. The result is lovely, even if it did take several hours. I used a bit of ribbon I had in my stash to create a wrist strap on the train.

The rest of the outfit was pulled from my previous Ms. Marvel, making this one of my cheapest costumes to date at about $60 for materials. Not bad for a formal gown! I did spring for a masquerade mask from my new favorite costume shop, Dallas Vintage Shop (they carry Ben Nye!), but I didn’t wind up wearing it. Oh well. There’s always the A-fest ball!

I was really happy to shoot this dress with ACCosplay at A-Kon. He’s got a background in fashion photography, and I learned so much by working with him. I love how he captured the lighting with this dress and really made the colors pop.

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Photos by ACCosplay. I love this piano, and we stumbled across it completely by accident!

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You can see more pictures of this costume and my other costumes from A-Kon on my Facebook page! Also, I promise a non-cosplay thing later this week 🙂

Costume Notes: Ms. Marvel

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Completed: May 2014

Hours Spent: 10~12~

Debuted: Dallas Comic Con 2014

Why This Costume: This costume started out as a stashbusting project. I had a little over a yard of black spandex that I got from Spandex World last year as well as some gold spandex. The easiest and most obvious answer was to make a Ms. Marvel costume!

Honestly, I resisted making this costume for a while since my first introduction was via the X-Men animated series in the ’90s and she’s painted more as a bad guy. Since getting more into comics over the last year, I picked up her greatest hits issues. She’s such a badass character and has gone through a lot of great character growth, especially in recent years and in her Captain Marvel form.

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Of course, I caved and had to find Rogues to steal my powers. This lovely Rogue is Hopie of Twinzik Cosplay.

How I Made It: This is a fairly simple costume. If you’re into cosplay but intimidated by spandex, this is a great starter project.

I made the leotard from Kwik-Sew 3154, though the pattern now appears to be out of print. Many basic leotard patterns could work for this. I did make a couple of alterations. The pattern closes in the back at the neck with snaps and has a large hole in the back. I just cut the back straight up, ignoring the hole. I also added an invisible zip in the back. For the arms, I finished them off the same way as the leg holes, taking 3/8″ elastic and folding it over.

To measure out how large the bolt should be, I drew the outline of my leotard front on the wrong side of my gold fabric and sketched it out using a disappearing fabric pen (I swear, I had a picture of this, but it disappeared into the camera vortex). I opted to topstitch the bolt, since that’s what matched my reference image. It looks scary, but it’s not as bad as it seems. Check out this tutorial for tips on how to stabilize your fabric and stitch it down. Do remember that the top of the bolt should start on your left shoulder!

The boot covers were made using a Kwik-Sew leggings pattern and previous spandex boots as a base pattern. I stitched the boots directly to my dance tights using this tutorial. I absolutely loathe fashion tape, so this method worked out really well! To keep myself from slipping while walking around the con, I hand sewed vinyl to the bottom.

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The sash is just a really long rectangle sewn together. I do think it would have looked a bit better cutting the edges at an angle for a better drape. Next time!

The mask is made from Worbla, using this tutorial. I just made a template out of craft foam and then traced it onto my Worbla. After heating it, I molded it to my face, ensuring a precise fit. Then I just spray-painted that bad boy and used a matte varnish to finish it. I attach it to my face with Spirit Gum, though I think I should add a bit of elastic as well, since I sweat the Sprit Gum off pretty quickly at the con.

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It’s a little weird to see myself with blue eyes and blonde hair 😛

My wig is a used Arda Buttercup that I picked up from Nicole Marie Jean a few months ago and my gloves were purchased from We Love Colors.

Thoughts on this costume: I really, really like this costume. Even though I’m in a corset/heels/massive push-up, it’s still pretty comfortable. I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know Carol ala the old comics and run into other fans. I would like to do some touch-ups and make some new things for this costume. I’d also love to make the Captain Marvel suit at some point in the future, since I’m really enjoying that comic.

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Oh, one more fun thing to share! I ran into great Captain Marvel cosplayer at Dallas Comic Con and posted our pic to tumblr. The writer of the Captain Marvel comic, Kelly Sue Deconnick, reblogged us! We got nearly 200 likes and reblogs in a day 0_0. It was kind of weird, but super cool. Carol Corps represent!

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This fantastic Captain Marvel is Shelby of Cerberus Productions.

You can see more images of this costume and others on my Facebook page!