Monday, September 30, 2013

So you want to learn to sew?

 Most of what I do on this blog is advanced sewing. But I get a lot of readers here who just love costumes... and would like to learn to sew but aren't ready to tackle the steps I'm talking about. Today I came across a blogger who has written a photo-heavy series illustrating every step of setting up your machine and learning to sew. It's not exactly the same as taking a class, but from the posts I've read so far, it's pretty good!

There's no reason not to learn to sew and many reasons why being able to repair, alter or create your own clothes is a fantastic way to go. My one caution before picking up any "how to sew" book is this...

Don't learn how to sew on a cheap machine.

Seriously. I strongly believe that one major reason that most women hate sewing is that they attempted to learn on cheap machines that kept having problems. I'm not saying that you have to go out and buy a $1000 machine (or even my $400 Husquvarna which has served me beautifully for 12 years with one servicing), but please please please do NOT pick up a $99 singer and learn to sew on that. If you're not ready to invest, find someone who owns a good machine and borrow it/offer babysitting to go use it/rent it from them. You can also talk to sewing machine repair shops to see if they have a good model they'd be willing to rent out to you. Then you can see if sewing is for you - using a machine that does what a sewing machine is supposed to do: work properly.

That said, hop on over to Tilly's sewing lessons and check it out!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Littlefinger" Game of Thrones

I've not done a "Costumes of..." post for Game of Thrones (others have that covered) but I'm a fan of the costuming choices the show has made. Recently I got a chance to recreate this costume worn by Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish.

(Not my picture...)

(also not my picture. Customer provided reference.)

(Another customer provided reference)

This is actually my picture.

It was a bit tricky for me to determine the exact colors and fiber content of the different fabrics. In the end, we decided on the above grayish-brown suiting for the surcoat.

It was kind of fun to put the tucks in the upper body.

Finding appropriate trim was HARD. I thought I had lucked out with a trim that was both narrow and wavy... but what I got was round, not flat. Ugh. Thankfully my customer was happy with straight edges, which was much easier to procure.

That took a lot of trim.

I was specifically requested not to make the costume too hot and heavy, so I chose to leave the tunic unlined. This did mean that we handstitched the hems to keep them as invisible as possible, as seen above.

Hemming the facing.

Invisible zipper up the front.

Laying it out...

With the belt!

A look at the inside finishing.

The brocade we choose for the tunic is a bit more vivid that what's seen on the show, but it was the closest we could find in a reasonable price range.

Collar fastens with a hook. You'll note the matching pattern at the top of the zipper... that was unintentional, but cool.

The belt was pretty simple, just cord and a clasp.

The surcoat has a closure at the waistline.

Overall I am pleased with the detail we accomplished in this deceptively simple costume. My client was quite pleased with it as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Princess of Fairies (Pink Corset Photoshoot)

I made this pink corset earlier this year, but did not have a chance to photograph it until now. Also, I'd been meaning to complete an entire costume with more coordinating fabric, but business has been so intense that I simply don't have time for personal sewing anymore. However yesterday my sister had the time and energy to do a photoshoot, and I pulled together a blouse from an earlier costume, a thrifted skirt, my new dagger, and some black lace to create this ensemble. It's neither historically accurate nor completely fantasy (to my mind anyhow) but a friend thought I looked like a fairy so that's what I titled this post.

Hair influenced by The White Queen
Lacing makes everything better


I liked my hair up, but my sister insisted we take some shots with it down as well.

Wreath was $1 from Claires. Knew I'd have a use for it...

Beware of girl with dagger

Sometimes my hair is so close to being red!

Spot the engagement ring?

Now this, I think, is a fairy shot...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sculptures all dressed up

Classical sculptures often look like distant relics of the past, with proportions and poses of their own era.

Or are they?

Leo Caillard and Alexis Persani have beautifully merged photography, lighting and the magic of the computer to clothe some famous statues from the Louvre Museum in modern clothing. The end result is to bring these ancient artifacts and their historical models infinitely closer to us modern observers.

The one I've shared here is probably my favorite of the series, but I also really love the Hercules one. You can see that and the rest of the gallery at Caillard's page, or read more about the process at Resource Magazine, or watch a making of video at the Huffington Post.

What do you think? Are there other famous statues/works of art you'd like to see in modern dress?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall Wardrobes for Baby Dolls

I'm still recovering from the weekend's migraine, so today's post will be short and sweet. My aunt, who is a kindergarten teacher, asked me if I'd be able to make some new doll clothes for her classroom. Here are the results:

The first dress was interesting because I didn't really have quite enough fabric so I had to get creative. The second outfit was really fun though. I love the crazy Victorian influence.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Commission Procedure is Officially Updated

I have completely updated the Commission a Costume page to reflect the new system. Please let me know if you are confused about any point so that I can clarify any necessary segments.

I'm also including the primary new material here, as some of it is inserted into existing text and may be easy to miss.

The Costume Queue is: CLOSED
Why am I changing the commission procedure? Read more details here. 

You can see pictures of my past work on my Costume Diaries page.

I accept costume commissions in blocks, to minimize the amount of time I have to spend on correspondence and maximize actual sewing time. I am currently scheduled through approximately March, 2014. Sometime in December or January I will open up the Spring Commissions Block, for those wishing to have costumes by July. This block will only be open for a short time, and once it's closed I will not accept commissions until the Summer Commission Block opens. To ensure that you are alerted as soon as the block opens so that you can get your order in immediately, please sign up for the Costume Queue Alert on the Right Sidebar. The alert will go out about three days before the block actual opens, and I will indicate both on this blog and the facebook page when I am getting close to sending an alert out.

Costume Queue FAQ's

How do I know how much my commission will cost?
Please complete the cost query form here, and I'll reply with either an estimate (for new pieces) or a set price (for pieces I've done before). Note that this price might change slightly if there is a great deal of time between your cost query and the opening of the Queue Block.

How do you decide which costumes to take?
I operate on a first come, first served basis, although I reserve the right to reject any costume that I do not feel adequate to complete.

How many costumes can you take in a single commission block?
It will vary depending on the costume. If you want a very elaborate costume, you will need to be early on the queue, as I would not be able to take it on if I already have a nearly full block. 4 complete ensembles would be my estimate. Individual pieces, like cloaks, take less time and therefore could be more easily fit in.

How will I place my order?
I will put up an order form on the website. As soon as your order form is accepted, I will send you a request for a 10% down payment to reserve your queue spot. If the down payment is not sent within 24 hours, your spot will be given to another.


"How do I pay you? Is a deposit required?"
I use Paypal for all transactions. A 10% down payment is required immediately. The remainder will be required in two separate payments, one at the beginning of costume construction, the other about a week before the costume's due date.

Why aren't there pictures of my costume on your blog yet?
While I occasionally post in-progress sneak peeks on the facebook page and my tumblr, I do not post full write-ups until the costume is completed. This way my readers do not have to wait weeks between the parts, and I can post the write-up when I have time in between costumes. I do however e-mail my clients in-progress pictures of their pieces for feedback and verification. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gambit Cosplay

Nathan and I knew we wanted to cosplay Gambit and Rogue, but we were pretty picky about just what Gambit costume we wanted to utilize. We liked the coat from the above picture, but with our time, budget and aesthetic preferences, we really weren't sold on the underarmor.

Then we found this cosplay. Very doable foam armor in black, with magenta detailing. Perfect!

Thankfully I had done foam armor before and knew how to do it. Nathan was quite eager to construct it himself, so I helped a bit with the pattern and directions, but he did the bulk of the work himself.

You can learn how to make foam armor with this awesome tutorial.

I have learned that I cannot make gloves. I gave it a try but it really didn't pan out. I did end up modifying a pair of winter gloves that looked cool... but then we forgot them at home! Lamesauce, right?

Anyhow, here is the coat coming together. I lined the interior (but not the sleeves) and used the exterior broadcloth for the front facing as well.

It was a bit difficult to determine how long the coat should be, and after cutting it out I realized that it wasn't long enough. So I cut it in half and added a long waistband.

And then I had fun with gathers. Cool, eh?

Foam armor isn't difficult, but it takes time because you have to apply several layers of glue mixture and those have to dry. I kept the armor out on my second worktable and just applied glue twice a day.

The leg armor didn't get quite as much work, but I think they turned out pretty snazzy! My sister came to our assistance and helped cut out all of the overlay pieces.

Metallic spray paint is the coolest thing ever. Look how it transformed the leg armor!

To complete the costume, Nathan found black boots and shirt, and I modified a pair of pants for him. We attached straps to all of the pieces, added the magenta detailing to the chestplate, I sewed a binding around the coat (but we weren't able to get all the buckles in time, boo), and we cut a ski mask to the correct shape. A ton of hair gel and... voila! The ragin' Cajun!

Nathan did look into contacts, but they weren't feasible for us this time around. So the red-eyes in this picture, as well as the card effects are in photoshop. Next time I hope we'll have the time to make actual light-up cards!

It was really fun to see Nathan have such a good time pulling this cosplay together and wearing it, and I loved being a coordinating couple!

I'd like to polish up the coat eventually and add a belt and such to the costume for future outings.

Want to learn how I made my Rogue costume? Check it out here!