Monday, February 23, 2015

And the Oscar for Best Dressed goes to...

Last night I got to watch the 87th Academy Awards on my parents HD television. This was brilliant for getting all the details on the gorgeous dresses, and I couldn't wait to share my favorites with you today!

(All photos retrieved from on 2/23/2015)

Now this is a "best dressed" list, so even though I might note some things I'd change, it's not featuring the dresses that I thought were "misses." That's not how I roll - this year, at least!

While I would have given Octavia Spencer (such a cutie!) a different neckline, there's no denying that the draping on her baby blue dress is gorgeous and flattering.

This photograph does not do justice to Lupita's dress of 6000 pearls. Seeing the detail in High Definition was amazing, and easily made this my favorite gown of the night - although I can't imagine it was comfortable to sit in!

My mother thought that Chloe Grace Moretz was not flattering her hips by sticking her hands in her pockets - but I pointed out that she was just demonstrating the cool feature all the gals want in their dresses these days - POCKETS. It's a really lovely dress that flatters her quite well.

Personal taste leads me to wish for a higher neckline or thicker straps on this dress because I think it'd be a bit classier, but the seamstress in me is in awe of the fantastic structuring of the dress.

Rosamund Pike's red lace gown was another top favorite. I love how it has a great silhouette from far away, and then as you get closer you see more and more detailing.

I'm not entirely sure that Scarlett Johansson's dress was the best compliment to her necklace - it probably would have worked a bit better in a shade brighter green or black - but come on, that necklace is amazing!

Okay, so on first viewing, I really liked the peach gown Anna Kendrick's chose. However, when I saw it in action while she was presenting, there was a sad lack of structure over the bodice, and the HD on my television was revealing some more detail than I think was intended. Let's just say, there was no bra under this dress and there really should have been something, which was quite sad because Anna is gorgeous and this dress was really close to working really well for her.

Cate Blanchett went safe with this simple but elegant black dress - however it all just allows the statement necklace to shine, giving her a great Oscar look.

Oprah had one of the best dresses of the night - she literally seemed to glow inside of it! Great color and fantastic detail that didn't take away from the excellent fit and structure to tastefully showcase her curves.

Speaking of curves... I really wanted to like this dress, because that skirt was a cloudy dream of tulle and beads. However that neckline was really more suited to the Globes than the Oscars and distracted from Jennifer Lopez's beautiful smile.

(The gentlemen will have to forgive me for not sharing their ensembles as well, especially since there were some really elegant suits on display.)

So, Lupita wins in my book, with runners up being Rosamund and Oprah. What are you choices? Who did I leave out that you really enjoyed?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Stuff's a bubbling, stuff's a brewing

The lack of awesome new content on the blog isn't because I'm not making stuff, but rather because I'm in the middle of some big projects.

Our first Cloak Batch with the new method is all set up - the queue is filled and the fabric is ordered! We're making four versions of Red's Cloak, one replica of Belle's cloak, and one replica of Snow's cloak. It's quite the undertaking!

I'm also hard at work on the steampunk pirate costume to accompany the gun I told you about last week. Lots of details on that one, so it'll be a bit before that is done.

I also have a Steampowered Giraffe vest replica that has been drafted but needs to be cut out, and a Kamelot jacket replica that needs the fabric sourced. Plus I'm supposed to be editing my manuscript for my publisher. Ahhhh!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Steampunk Pistol Tutorial

When Nathan and I debuted our Steampunk Pirate costumes last year, we neglected to take photos of the gun-embellisment process. This was poor planning, as people were pretty curious about how we pulled them together! So when I got a commission to make a custom designed steampunk pirate costume for a client, I made sure to take plenty of photos of the process this time!

My client and I explored several different base options. Although you can find plenty of very inexpensive water pistols around, we both really liked the Han Solo replica. It was $16, but very sturdy and proved to be an excellent starting platform for a steampunk gun.

I attempted to cheat and apply the base coat before sanding. It didn't work. So I took some find sandpaper and ran it over all the surfaces. Much better results!

Using regular painting acrylics, I applied a coat of black paint to the entire gun, except for the very front nozzle which I left orange for safety reasons.

Although none of the black would ultimately make it through to the top layer, it was a lot easier to visualize the different section colors when working over a single color palate. Also, if any color was going to show through, black was by far the best.

Here you can see I've applied the very first coat of the flat colors to most of the components!

One interesting feature of this gun was that it is not symmetrical - the sides are very different. This added a lot of interest and made it feel more realistic - and more steampunk, since asymmetry is a common feature of steampunk designs.

After applying two layers of the flat colors, it was time to add some shine and dimension! My husband let me raid his stash of high quality miniature paints. These are fairly expensive, so it was important that I have the flat colors underneath so I could get away with applying just one topcoat of the expensive stuff.

One color he didn't have was bronze, but I achieved the shade I wanted by mixing a dab of red and brown in with gold.

Gorgeous bronze!

Here I've applied the metallics to all of the bronze sections!

A close-up so you can see the difference between the flat colors and the metallic layer.

SO cool to see all of the metalics in place! I also used a brown wash to weather the gun.

Embellishment time! I placed little gears all over, added fake leather to the handle, and applied some metallic embossing powder around the edges of the pleather. Everything was secured with tacky glue.

Almost done...

As you can see, I played around with adding some purple and my client's initials. In the end, it was just too busy and didn't look good so I painted over them.

The embossing powder (melted by my heat gun) left some glittery specks on the gun that I painted over. This left the pleather looking rather dull. Thankfully I could restore the shine easily in the final step - the varnish.

I applied a satin varnish with a sponge. Here you can see it drying...

And it is DONE!

It's really crazy how much work went into it, but I am tremendously happy with the results!

Monday, February 2, 2015

In which I discuss Steampunk, not the Superbowl.

While watching the Superbowl last night, my dad said I should begin this blog post with "We now take a break from writing about Once Upon a Time to discuss the Seahawks uniforms..."

Don't worry guys, I'm not going to do that (I was rooting for the Patriots anyhow).

I am hard at work on a couple of different costumes, and I'm going to give you a sneak peek at the design for one of them.

Here I've taken my original sketch, photographed it next to the trim that inspired it, and photoshopped in the brocade fabric we picked for the overskirt. Technology is Amazing.

This is the first time a client has commissioned me to design a piece specifically for them, so it's a tremendously exciting milestone. She's also getting a steampunk gun. You can see some shots of that in progress over here.