Costume Notes: Lulu pt. 3

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

Welcome back to my final post on Lulu! If you’ve stuck with me through all these posts, you deserve a whole big ol’ batch of cookies.

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Mmmm…. cookies

Today I’ll discuss a few final details and lots of photos! But first, a few things I forgot to write about already.

Completed: November 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 150 hours

Debuted: Anime North Texas 2015

Awards: Best Craftsmanship (ANT)

Why This Costume: If you’ve been following these posts, it’s probably obvious that I’m a pretty hardcore FFX fan. Final Fantasy X was my introduction to the FF series, and it’s held a special place in my fangirl heart for years. I logged close to 300 hours on it as a teenager, and I’m not even going to discuss how much I played it when the HD Remaster came out a little while back.

Lulu was my favorite character from the game both in terms of design and personality. She comes off as cold, but she’s so maternal and protective of Yuna, and I loved that side of her. Plus, black magic. What can I say? I like my spell casters.

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

Accessories: My accessories for this costume were a mix of things I purchased and things I already had on hand.

Purchased pieces:

  • Garter belt: Fantastic fit and feel! These were super comfortable under my costume all day long.
  • Stockings: I went with silicone-backed leggings since I hate fashion tape, and these miraculously stayed up all day on their own! I got the garter belt for extra support, but I really didn’t need it.
  • Thumb ring and miscellaneous earrings: Claire’s
  • Venus Eye Bright Red contacts: PinkyParadise

Re-used pieces:

  • Purple stone ring: A gift from Italy
  • Ballet flats: These are my work shoes!
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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Callula’s beautiful chopsticks. She made these using dowel rods, Worbla, beads, and other bits and bobs. They’re absolutely stunning! As I mentioned in my last post, my bun has a styrofoam core, and I secured the chopsticks with hotglue.

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

Makeup: Next to Shulkie, this is the most extreme makeup I’ve done in for cosplay. Here are a few tutorials I found helpful:

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

Things to change: Overall, this is the happiest I’ve been with my final costume. That said, there’s always something I want to tweak after a full day of wear at a con. In order of importance:

  • I need to make the sleeve elastic a little snugger. The left sleeve kept slipping down my arm, and I kept mucking up my fur stole trying to fix it. In addition to making the elastic tighter, I think I’ll also add a hook and eye to the armpit area of the corset for a little extra security.
  • I absolutely must swap buckles and/or get a wider belt for the hoop skirt. The military buckle I used dug into my skin so much throughout the day that it made me nauseous at one point, and I didn’t even lace my corset very tight.
  • Speaking of the hoopskirt, I definitely need to add some padding to the center front on the interior hoop bag. I noticed I had some bruising on my lower shins and the top of my foot.
  • Again going back to the hoopskirt, I’d like to fix the placement of a few belts. I didn’t make the red belt quite long enough, so I want to cover the end with some diagonal belts.
  • The bangs of this wig aren’t quite as long as I’d like them to be, so I sprang for a clip-in long black bang from Arda’s recent sale.
  • The purple beads left residue on my chest. I’m not sure if I had a weird reaction to it or if the beads weren’t properly sealed. I need to play with this and see if I need to remake that necklace.
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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

Final thoughts: Man, this costume has been such a crazy learning experience. I’ve been building skills specifically for this costume for a few years now, and it’s still kind of a shock to realize that it’s done. I nearly gave up soooooo many times. It’s been a huge confidence booster to actually say that I did it. It definitely makes me realize I can tackle even bigger projects in the future!

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography. Thanks to Callula, SpaceCadet, and Showva for being my handlers!

This definitely isn’t a comfortable costume, so I’m restricting it to hotel-based cons when I have friends available to play handler. I do have some future photo shoots in mind. I’d love to find a beach setting to mimic Besaid Island, and it’d be cool to do a shoot in a cemetery with grand headstones. Or catacombs. Of course, I’d also love to do a big group shoot with other FFX cosplayers!

Additional photos from the con and my photoshoot are on my Facebook page!

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

What costume build are you most proud of? Feel free to share photos/links below! 

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WIP: October 2015

Lulu: 50% complete

I also finished up the corset! Couldn't resist trying everything on :)
I also finished up the corset! Couldn’t resist trying everything on 🙂

I’m finally making some decent progress on Lulu! One of my big tasks for this month was knocking out her base skirt and sleeves. I debated on how to do this. There’s some discussion among cosplayers as to what Lulu’s skirt and sleeves are supposed to be: separate pieces or a dress with an extremely low cut back. I opted for multiple pieces for easier cleaning and repairs. These pieces are made with a material that was advertised as cow leather, but definitely does not feel like real leather. Regardless, it’s still a nice fabric with a great drape, weight, and sheen.

I used Kwik-Sew 3400 up to the waist to create a base for the skirt. I blended out the princess seams in the front and back of View B and chopped off the front pieces at my desired length. From there, I used the sewn front and back to create a facing with the knit side facing my stomach for comfort.

To create the sleeves, I took one of my basic sleeve templates and slashed and spread it to create the bell effect, using my French curve to create the drop in the sleeves. It’s held up with elastic backed with silicone, so it’ll (hopefully) grip my arm a little better than straight up elastic casings.

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For both the sleeves and skirt, I opted to finish off the seams with a bound bias finish. Leather and pleather don’t *technically* need a finish since they won’t unravel, but since this is a competition piece, I wanted to have a nice, clean interior for craftsmanship judging. I topstitched the remaining seam allowances down to match the game art.

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My other big project on Lulu was creating ALL THE LACE. I painted all the Venetian lace I purchased over the last few months by hand, which took several weeks of Netflix and evening painting.

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I created several more pieces by using lace embroidery pieces available from emblibrary.com. This is such a cool technique. You “embroider” the lace pieces on water soluble stabilizer, then drop the finished piece in a basin of water. Once the stabilizer has dissolved, you iron the final piece and are left with a gorgeous lace flower. These are intended as coasters and Christmas ornaments, but they work perfectly as filler pieces for Lulu.

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I’m about 2 weeks away from the con, so I’m definitely in crunch mode! My final to-dos are styling the wig, finishing the moogle, gluing all the lace and belts on, and creating a bit of flame magic. Wish me luck!

She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk: 100% complete

Not much to say here that I didn’t say in my She-Hulks post. Body painting was one heck of a learning experience, but I’m glad I went through it! I’m looking forward to brainstorming our next mother-daughter build.

Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.
Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.

What’s on your craft table right now? 

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? 

Costume Notes: Pokemon Trainer Serena

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

Completed: June 2014

Hours Spent: 12-15~

Debuted: A-Kon 25

Why This Costume: Several of my cosplay friends have Pokemon trainer costumes, so I decided to make one to join them. I couldn’t figure out which one I wanted for a while, but I loved the design of Serena, and I really enjoyed playing as her in Pokemon X! Plus, Fennekin is the most adorable starter Pokemon ever.

How I made it: 

There aren’t too many pieces to this costume, and fortunately it came together pretty easily. I made the top using Sewaholic’s Alma blouse as the base. To make the blouse sleeveless, I just used the band from the cap sleeve version to finish the armhole.

While the Peter Pan collar is cute, I wanted to give myself styling options with this blouse. It’s actually a pretty good work top! I made the collar detachable by adding snaps to the underside of the collar and behind the shoulder seam of the blouse. I used a cotton sateen from Jo-Ann’s with 3% stretch, which was just enough to let me slide this on without a zipper.

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The skirt is my first truly self-drafted piece! I probably made it significantly more difficult than it needed to be, but I figured if I was going to make it, I wanted it to be screen accurate. Most people I’ve seen making this costume just add an extra panel to the sides over the pleats. I only had a yard of fabric to work with, so this was my solution.

I’m planning to write an in-depth tutorial on this soon(ish), but here are the CliffNotes:

I broke it down into 4 components: front/back sides and side panels. For the front/back pieces, I measured myself hipbone-to-hipbone, and I measured the side panels from the front to the back of my hipbone. I also measured out my desired length, which was 13″ (because apparently I like short skirts). Once I had those measurements, I drafted out my pattern. I should note that the side panels flare out towards the bottom, so keep that in mind if you’re drafting this skirt. For the front/back pieces, I split them in half to get the top and the bottom pleated section. For the top, I did a double-fold of fabric and topstitched an extra piece of fabric. The bottom half is a set of deep knife-pleats. I made the buttons with the largest button kit I could find at Jo-Ann’s, but they’re still a bit small for my liking. I’ll have to figure out a better method in the future.

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This fabric is a *super* cheap poly poplin that doesn’t photograph well, but you can kind of see the much too small button. Anyone know of a giant fabric covered button kit?

The thigh-highs are an upcycle project! I had a pair of leggings that didn’t fit me well, so I cut them off at the right height and added elastic to the top to keep them from sagging.

I found the shoes on eBay and used some fabric paint from Jo-Ann’s to make the Pokeball. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the paint has glitter in it!

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Shiny, shiny 🙂

The bag is based off of Very Purple Person’s reversible handbag tutorial. I used a pink cotton base and fusible fleece to give the bag more of a puff. From there, I sketched out the lines from the game as well as the Pokeball emblem in the center and topstitched everything down. The lining/reversible side is from a failed blouse project, but the colors work well together. The fleece made it a bit difficult to reverse the bag in the end, so if you go with this tutorial/pattern, definitely make the straps wider.

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My glasses and hat were purchased off of Amazon, and I picked up my Fennekin from a con last year. This wig was originally intended for Ms. Marvel, but I didn’t like the color. It’s perfect for Serena, though! I got it from EpicCosplay.

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Double Serena!

I think this may be one of my favorite costumes from this year. Any costume that’s super comfortable is always a win in my book. Surprisingly, I felt super cute! I tend to go for more of the badass/warrior woman characters since 1) I identify with them more, and 2) I feel like I pull that look off better, but this was a happy exception.

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

You can see more pictures of this costume and my other costumes from A-Kon on my Facebook page!