Friday, December 8, 2017

Costumes of 2017

Homura (Madoka: Rebeliion), San (Princess Mononoke); Punk! Usagi (Sailor Moon); Astrid (HTTYD 2); Alice (Alice: Madness Returns)
This was my initial costume list for 2017:
I only made one of these costumes: the Sailor Moon punk design. I started San, and have the materials for Alice and Astrid. Homura might not happen for a while.
So what DID I make or finish this year?

Punk! Usagi (Sailor Moon inspired)

A fun costume to wear, and it was easy to put together. I customised the t-shirt and waistcoat, and made a bat from foam (since airport security sadly confiscated the wooden bat)

Marceline the Vampire Queen (Adventure Time)

This turned out better than I had anticipated. We used HD powder to set the makeup but it didn't really work; next time I'll try talcum powder.

Chie Satonaka (Persona 4)

This costume was challenging because it had to make all the edges look so clean. The welt pockets were also difficult to make. I'm really pleased with the result. As a bonus, I made the jacket only from recycled materials.

Princess Serenity (Sailor Moon)
I made this costume a few years ago but only got the wig recently. I also swapped some of the trim. I might have to change more trim: the pearl leaf trim kept getting tangled in the wig.

Beatrice (Over the Garden Wall)
I really want to get a proper photoshoot with this costume. Hopefully I can persuade my boyfriend to be Wirt.

Velma (Scooby Doo) and Daria (Daria)

No photos yet, but these are ready. Some of the clothes were made or altered, but a few I owned or bought, such as socks and the orange jumper. 

Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)

Probably the most detailed costume that I made this year. I'd never done such detailed embroidery before and I'm really pleased with the result. The base dress was easy, but details such as the collar were more difficult to construct. 

Skeleton/Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (A Christmas Carol)
A simple costume I wore for the second day of Malta Comic Con 2017. I made the skeleton dress a few months before the con, and had made the cloak over the summer. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Walkthrough: Black winter cloak

I've wanted a cloak to wear during winter for a while. I'm also trying to use up some of the materials in my collection. I had black cotton with a fleur de lys design, and this beautiful feathery faux fur. I decided to make a cloak using these materials. In hindsight, I didn't have quite enough cloth so this cloak is a bit small for me, but it should be fine for winter, it just won't close all the way shut. 
 The pattern I used was for a 1/4 circle skirt, using my neck measurement at the circumference. I would recommend making a 1/2 circle skirt, because you'll have a lot more material to work with. Many cloak tutorials recommend this, and for good reason: a 1/4 is a little tight on the shoulders.
I cut out a back piece and two front pieces initially (from the outer material and the lining: I lined my cloak with wool and faux fur).  
 I wanted to add slits to the front for my hands, so I also cut the front panel in half. I prefer this look to that of bound slits.
 I draped the pieces on my dressform and played with fit. I made the neckline slightly lower and altered the shaped of the shoulder seam for a better fit. 
 Once I was happy with the look of the cape, I drafted and cut out my hood. 
 The hood is very large and is lined with this beautiful faux fur that I bought in Hungary. It was expensive but worth it. It resembles feathers, and is very soft to the touch. 
 Once all the pieces were cut out, I started to assemble my cloak. I should have been a lot more careful with my pattern cutting, as some the seams did not match up lengthwise. I think I should have sewn the side seams and left the cloak to hang, because the differences in seam length was probably due to the cloak stretching as it hung from the dressform (circle skirts stretch in this way as they are cut on the bias, the stretchiest part of the fabric). Oh well, next time I'll be more careful. 

I also made things more difficult by adding faux fur to the front panels. I had just enough to cover half of each front panel. I cut up my fur and sewed it into long rectangles, then attached that to my lining and played around until it fitted. Next time I will actually draft this on to my paper pattern to avoid all this imprecise messing around. Luckily the end result looks very nice. 
 I sewed all the sides seams and ironed them open. I put the cloak back on the dress form to help me match up all my seams, then I hand sewed the edges of the slits shuts, then handsewed the lining to the cloak (I remembered to add internal pockets before I sewed all of the lining to the cloak). I was inspired by Angela Clayton's cloak tutorial, as her cloak had a mostly handstitch lining and looked very lovely. I sewed on the hood in two parts: first I sewed the outer fabric to the neck of the cloak, creating a strong seam, then I used a whip stitch to sew down the fur lining of the hood.  

To hem the cloak, I cut a strip of bias tape and sewed it on to the hem, finishing it by hand with a whip stitch. I'm not too pleased with the hem, but it looks neat from the outside. 

The last step was to sew a few hooks and eyes at the neck to fasten the cloak, and then it was done. 

If I make another cloak, I will definitely use a 1/2 circle pattern for a roomier cloak. Having said that, I'm very pleased with this cloak. This summer I've made a total of three cloaks: one for Sansa, a Wirt cloak for my boyfriend, and this one (yep, I'm making cloaks in summer, because WINTER IS COMING damnit!)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sansa Stark Direwolf Dress: The Embroidery,The Cloak, The Dress

The last time I worked on Sansa's costume was way back in February. I got back from university at the end of June, and decided to push on and finish the costume. 
The first thing to get to grips with was the embroidery and remaking the bib section of the dress. 

I used an excellent tutorial by Emily Reginalds as a guide for the embroidery.
I highly recommend her blog!
I bought embroidery thread in similar colours, and embroidered the wolf's head on a piece of organza. Parts of the wolf's face were a little too light, so I diluted some sepia acrylic ink and carefully painted it on to stain the thread to a darker shade of brown.

I then followed another tutorial by Ria Regalia and sewed the wolf's head on to the bib (I cut a new front bib. I was sure to make it longer so that it was more accurate).
If you want a fantastic guide to embroidery in the style of Game Of Thrones, I highly recommend Ria Regalia's channel.

Once the wolf applique was stitched in place, I used chalk to draw on the vines bit by bit. I then used chain-stitch embroidery to create the vines.
I alternated between using an embroidery hoop and not using the hoop, depending on what I was stitching. The hoop was useful for seewing on the wolf's head and sewing the vines. For the leaves and beading it was easier to not use the hoop.
To create the leaves, I used a satin stitch. Once the embroidery was done, I started sewing on the beads. I used long tubular beads to define the lines of the wolf's fur. I used pearl and gold seed beads to define the lines of the wolf's head. I also used these beads on the vines. 
I also sewed on the "shell" beads (they were advertised as shell beads but they look like plastic. They're still pretty though). I looked the the original embroidery by Michelle Carragher for reference.
Once the details of the wolf were sewn, I started adding beadwork to the vines. In the original design, the vines have metallic looking black beads, almost like hematite, and dark beads with a slight rainbow sheen.  

I kept sewing on beads, looking at the original design for colour reference.
 Sewing . . .
 . . . more sewing . . . 
 Angela Clayton has some very useful beading tutorials that I referred to, though I didn't follow all of the steps. 
 The final step was to sew on the scattered beads near the wolf's neck and some of the vines, and the beadwork was done.
 Here's the underside: not very pretty!

The Bib
 The first bib that I made was too short in front. I unpicked the seams and remade the front. Once all the beading and embroidery was done I sewed it back on. I cut all the pieces again from my lining material, then lined the piece. I used a combination of machine and handstitching. I think the easiest method would be to fold over the seams and then handsew the lining on: Angela Clayton uses this method a lot in her costume making and explains it better than I do:

All the while, I kept pinning it on the dress form to check the fit and look. 

Here's a view of the front and back. The only unsewn seams are the backseam, and the front side seam (I left that unpinned so that I could adjust the fit). I also unpicked the ugly zipper on the back of the bib.
My method was overly complicated. I would have preferred to sew the whole thing by machine and flip it right-side out, but parts of the bib were so narrow that I couldn't turn it inside out. That's why I had to partly handsew and machine sew this piece.

Once the bib was sewn, I cut open the back of the dress, tacked the bib to the dress, and added a zip to close everything (I should have cut the back as two pieces and not on fold, but when I started this project I was thinking of making the bib as a completely separate piece).

So here's the finished dress (though not hemmed in these pictures) and bib.

The Fur Stole
The fur stole was very easy to make. I found an ideal faux fur scarf in a shop. It was originally a circle scarf. I used a craft knife to cut the scarf open, so that I had a straight line. I then turned the raw edges under and hand-stitched them closed. 

The Cloak
I had 4 metres of a nice medium to heavy weight cotton with a fleur de lys pattern. I thought that it would work well for Sansa's cloak. I cut a piece of cloth that was slightly longer than I need, to allow for a double-turned hem and the neck drawstring.

I made the drawstring from acrylic yarn. I found an excellent tutorial that explains how to make cord from wool:

 I sewed the casing for the drawstring, threaded it through, and used it to gather the top of the cloak to the right size. I tacked it in place for security. The cloak sits on my shoulders, with the cord going round my should and tying at the back. It is surprisingly secure. 

 I turned up the hem twice and sewed it in place with a blind-hem stitch. 

And then Sansa's costume was done!
Now all I have to do is wait for winter to get some good photos!