Saturday, August 22, 2015

Walkthrough: Princess Serenity

Before university starts, I wanted to finish the last cosplay project of the summer, but I didn't want to buy new material. I had a lot of white satin, a lot of pearl beads and acrylic gems, some white tulle, and gold satin. So I decided to make Princess Serenity's dress (Sailor Moon).
 The advantage of making this costume is that it also doubles as a Fionna the Human (Adventure Time) costume. It's not identical, but close enough, especially if I wear the bunny hat. I quickly sewed a fleece bunny hat, just in case I can't get hold of a wig for Usagi.
The first step was the cut the bodice and the skirt. I used a Burda style pattern for the bodice. it was originally a sweetheart neckline but I altered it. If I were to do it again, I would have made it straighter along the top, as currently it has a slight curve. I started by cutting the bodice from white cotton, so that I oculd alter it to suit the dress. I cut the half circle skirt immediately from white satin; it's the same material I used to make Sakziou Juliet's skirt.

Next I made the circles. This would have been easier if the top of the bodice had been straight. The easiest method is to decide how many circles you want. Measure along the bodice top edge (not including seam allowances), and divide it by the number of circles that you want. This gives you the diameter of the largest circles. Divide that in half to get your radius. I then measured out the smaller circle on my template. Next I cut out circles of fusible web, which I ironed on to gold satin. Then I peeled off the paper on the back, and ironed the circles on to the dress, securing them with a satin stitch (or as near as my sewing machine can get to one)
I could not attach the lining fully until I had completed embellishing the bodice, so I simply attached the lining at the top to create the scallops. In hindsight it would have been simpler to make the top of the bodice straight, then to tack on the circles. Before I added the lining, I used the seam allowance to create boning channels in all the seams except for the back seam. I added a boning channel in the centre front for extra support.
 The anime Princess Serenity has quite a simple design on her bodice, with just the circles and a line of beads under the bust. 

I wasn't making an empire line dress, and I preferred the more detailed look of the dress from the art books, so I added a lot more embellishment.

Firstly I sewed a piece of white lace on to the bodice. I had to fold it slightly to make it fit the curve of the bust. Next I sewed a line of pearl bead under the gold circles, and some gold-painted cord in loop shapes underneath (I think the technique is called couching).

I thought it still looked plain, so I sewed on some more beads and gems.
I took a break from the bodice and made the sleeves. Each sleeve is a rectangle of slightly transparent cloth. I folded the cloth rectangles in half and sewed them into a tube. I turned each tube inside out. Down one edge I sewed a piece of lace, then I sewed channels for elastic at the top and bottom of the rectangle. I threaded elastic through each casing, then over locked the edges and sewed them together. The sleeves were probably the easiest part of the costume.
The bow is made of tulle. I used My Cute Bow's tutorial. The bow is a little bit floppy and might be remade. It is basically two rectangles of tulle sewn together, and a piece of tulle shaped a bit like a swallow-tail butterfly. 
Before adding a zip, I overlocked the hem, and added an in seam pocket. Weirdly, the skirt pieces seemed to stretch, so that some edges were much longer. I think the dress needed to hang for longer, but I didn't want to waste time. I trimmed the hem, Overlocked it again, and sewed everything together. I tacked and sewed an invisible zip, and hand sewed the lining to the inside of the bodice. I also added some clear elastic straps. The final step was to sew a row of pearl beads all around the waist of the dress. 

Here's what the dress looks like. I shoved on my Female Titan wig because it was the first one at hand. I don't have an Usagi wig, so I styled it as Fionna the Human's ball gown (Adventure Time) with a fleece hat.
And a look at the details 
The only thing that I might change is to add an overlay of net or chiffon to the skirt. It would be a little bit expensive to do so, because chiffon costs around 6.50 Euro per metre, and I'd need around 5 metres for a half circle skirt, though I could get away with about 3 metres if I made a gathered skirt.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Old versus new: Khaleesi Daenerys vs Astapor Daenerys

My first Daenerys costume was well constructed, even if I didn't have the correct leggings, and my wig wasn't the right colour. In hindsight, platinum blonde looks so much nicer than white for this costume.

I also managed to get much nicer photos of my costume this time around. I didn't have the problem of my hair peeking out from under the wig, because I didn't braid the fringe (also, my hair is significantly shorte0.

 Getting better shoes also helped. Those Uggs just didn't look right. I'm still very pleased iwth the construction of the top and skirt of the Khaleesi costume.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback: Babydoll

I haven't done a post like this for a while. I've been cosplaying for about 5 and a half years now, so I suppose this is technically an old costume.
I actually remade this costume about 3 times until I was happy with it. \
 Made this before the film came out. I was quite inexperienced and tried making it out of jersey. The stripes were painted on. The skirt and top didn't even match: I tried dying the top blue, but it was the wrong shade. The wig was a cheap carnival wig, and I'm not sure what happened with the hair band. The shoes are on point, though, as was the sword belt. Oh, and I think I had a cardboard sword, which really wan't up to fighting ninjas.
I totally remade the costume out of cotton drill. I had to make the skirt twice because the first time I made it too short.  I used SecreLifeofaBionerd's tutorial for the skirt, and made the top from an altered Burda pattern.
The stripes were made from white bias tape. I used muslin to make the sailor collar and neck scarf. i actually dyed the scarf with watered down acrylic paint to get that strange bluish tint. The stripes on the collar were painted on with acrylic paint.
  I upgraded to a slightly better wig (not much better. Paid 30 Euro for it, and it shed a lot and the wefts showed a lot. Not a good investment). Whoa, my wig styling skills need improvement. Those ponytails ae very bunched up at the top (probably to stop the wefts showing).

I made the gun and holster too (can't find the holster, and sold the gun and costume so no photos of the whole ensemble). The gun was a simple toy gun with gold cor to tie the charms on.
The charms are not pretty. I used spray paint, nail polish, and acrylic paint to colour the polymer clay pieces. They were fragile, and the spray paint/varnish didn't dry properly, so the charms were quite sticky. They are also quite ugly pieces.

Despite the costume's flaws, I think it was a good piece of work for my skill level at the time (even if I sewed the sleeves on upside down by mistake). I finished all the edges, and sewed everything neatly. The buttonholes were neat, and I was recognizably Babydoll. Not 100 percent accurate, but I was working with limited images of the character. I don't know if I will ever revisit Babydoll; perhaps the glamorous show outfit she wears, or the amazing coral corset.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Daenerys Season 3 Blue Dress Part 2

Once the mockup was done, I cut out the lining pieces from a linen-type of material, then pinned them over a dress form to see what they looked like. I borrowed this form from my mum, and it was vital for this project. I then cut out the pieces from the shiny blue material (some polyester material, as I found it in the furnishing section). 
I overlocked all the pieces together, except for the back. This was because I wanted to make the back circle very smooth so there would be no raw edges. I used Addie Marie's tutorial and it worked brilliantly.
The next step was adding the decorative stitches on the dress skirt. In the photos they look like running stitches, but it was hard to be certain. I used a longer stitch on my sewing machine and sewed many straight lines in a darker blue thread. This technique also had the benefit of firmly attaching the lining and outer layer together, and creating a nice texture. Pippa cat helped by looking pretty.
 I then covered the hem with bias tape, and also turned over the top edge of the skirt pieces and sewed it down. One skirt piece is attached to the bodice, and the other is completely separate, and is held round my waist with snaps. 
 The next step was sewing the darts. The darts I initially drafted were not accurate, so instead I pinched the darts and pinned them until they looked right, then basted and sewed them. There are no darts in the back, only in the front.
 Once the main dress was finished, I had to make the cross over straps in the front. This meant a lot of smocking. It took about 2 or 3 days to finish all the smocking just for these pieces. I followed Michelle Carragher's tutorial, and it worked beautifully
I cut out 4 cross over pieces. I added interfacing to 2 of them, but I didn't need to, as the smocking makes the fabric stiffer. I hand-sewed the smocking to the non interfaced pieces, then faced them right sides together with the interfaced pieces, sewed, and turned them right sides out. I actually advise not adding smocking near the seam allowance, as this is bulky and it will be difficult to close if you use an invisible zip.

My cats "helped".

I then added the sleeves. They stick out  bit too much and are a little too stuff, but look quite nice.
I made two versions of Daenerys' dragon claw necklace. One was made from a random pendant I had. I painted the top with gold acrylic, then blended the gold into the black.
 The other was made from a shell. I painted it, and filled the middle hollow with hot glue and pushed a loop of cord into the glue. This is quite fragile and a bit too small, but still looks good.

Daenerys Season 3 Blue Dress: Part 1

I've wanted to make this dress for quite a while. Daenerys is one of my favourtie characters from both "A Song of Ice and Fire" and "Game of Thrones" (even if both occasionally grate at me. Like the awkward awful dialogue written for Tyene in Season 5. Or the stupid change to Dany and Drogo's wedding night. Urgh). 
The costume is beautiful but also practical and modest. 

 It looks simple but is actually quite detailed and complicated. Dany has many costumes featuring dragonscale smocking, which is beautifully explained here 
This dress also has some beadwork and a net applique decoration.

 I started with this pair of linen trousers. They were much too big, so I knew would have to remake them
 Firstly I removed the beads and embroidery until I was left with a plain pair of linen trousers.
 I took the trousers apart and cut out a new pattern, using a Burdastyle pattern.
 I'm pleased with these trousers. They have a lapped zip and front pockets

The Dress  
I wish I'd had a pattern to use. I tried to make my own pattern by altering an existing one, and it didn't work as well as I thought it would. Simplicty and McCalls both have useful patterns; Simplicity has a pattern which is almost a replica of Dany's gown (Pattern 1246). Andrea Schewe, the pattern designer, wrote about it 
It took a while to get the pattern to look exactly how I wanted it too, and my lack of expertise shows in the finished dress