29 December 2012

Dedicate Rosethorn - Design and Patterning

I've always hoped to make a cosplay from one of Tamora Pierce's novels.  I grew up on her works and even now they hold a special place in my heart.  Now I've got the chance due to another cosplay I am retiring and re-purposing!

This is the kimono and skirt from my original Eisen (Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time) cosplay.  I wore it once at Ikkicon V, but I decided to remake the entire cosplay once my sewing skills improved.  These garments no longer serve any purpose, but they are made of a linen-rayon blend fabric in a beautiful shade of green.

For my Tamora Pierce cosplay, I chose Dedicate Initiate Rosethorn from the Circle of Magic series.  Rosethorn is Briar's teacher for plant magic and one of my favourite characters after reading Briar's Book.  (click here for Rosethorn's Wikia article)

In appearance and personality we are quite similar, and this is how I chose to cosplay her.  I also won't be spending a lot of money on materials because I've got all the fabric and boning and buttons and shoes I'll need already on hand.  The only thing I'll need to purchase is fabric for the cloak.

My design includes a doublet worn over an undyed cotton shirt (which I'll be making anyway to go with another doublet I already made).  There will also be a skirt.  I've already got a skit leftover from my Eisen cosplay that should require little modification.  I'll add channels on either side to facilitate the ruching.  The ruching can be removed if a full-length habit is desired, but Rosethorn often hikes hers up.

Also mentioned in the novels is a cloak that dedicates sometimes wear.  Mine will be full-length and flowy, made of a darker green fabric than the doublet and skirt.  I don't have enough linen left from my Eisen cosplay to make the cloak :/

A few notes about why I designed the habit the way I did.  Throughout the Circle of Magic series and ensuing novels, there is little description of the dedicates' habits.  There is a mention of Dedicate Lark pulling her hands into the wide sleeves of her habit.  I used a wide-sleeved cotton shirt for to accommodate this detail.  Historically, most Western religious habits were loose-fitting and plain.  There were exceptions, such as pope and cardinal garments, but even these were fairly loose-fitting.
I chose the fitted doublet because it is utilitarian.  You don't need many undergarments (boning provides support for the breasts) and it's a durable design.  Mine is based on a pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women, C.1560-1620.  It's taken directly from a garment worn by a young woman during that time period.  Men's doublets could be highly decorated and ceremonial, or they could be used for cold weather or hunting.  Like I say, the garment can stand up to the hard work, such as what Rosethorn does in her garden.
My cloak is an extremely basic design with a large hood in back.  It clasps in front with a simple cloak pin or loop.  I'd like to make sleeves or armholes and I may use the same draping technique I came up for to make Luminara Unduli's cloak (Star Wars).  The cloak adds detail to the ensemble and gives me something to wear against cold weather.

My boots are a knee-length Native American style made of brown suede leather.  I got them on sale many years ago and they've seen a lot of wear because they are so comfortable.  They seem to me like a good accompaniment to the other colours in Rosethorn's habit.


Janet Arnold's doublet pattern is made for a very small young woman.  It's too short on me and does not have enough girth.  I revised the pattern and made a bottle green velvet doublet from it.  This one fits quite nicely, but it could do to have a little more girth in the breast.  To accommodate this, I added one inch to the fronts and one inch to the back.

All told, that adds four inches.  The garment may be a little loose, however it is quite easy to add darts or take in at the seams.  I also added about two inches to the shoulder so the doublet sleeve would end right on top of my shoulder.

Now that all that's done I can cut out the fabric pieces!

Everything except the collar (which needs to be cut on the fold of the fabric) fit onto one of the wide sleeves I removed from Eisen's kimono.

All cut!

Next step is to cut out interlining pieces for the fronts and back, then sew boning channels onto those pieces.

19 December 2012

Raven Roth: Cloak

I love making cloaks.  I don't love buying fabric for them.  Expensive -_-

Raven's cloak flows, but it's not amorphous.  Some artwork shows it floor-length, some show it having a train.  My fabric ultimately decided for me which length it would be...Joann's did not have enough of the fabric that I wanted and I ended up having to get fabric from a 44 inch bolt instead of a 60 inch bolt.

Since they do not sell fabric in the right colour, it was necessary to use fabric dye.  I went to the fabric store and brought home four yards of linen and a bottle of liquid purple RIT dye.

First dye bath: not dark enough.  Phooey.  It was beautiful, but only a kind of baby purple.

It came out of the dye bath really dark in colour, then it all washed out in the sink.  Back to the fabric store we go!

I digress for a moment.  Who the hell decided that it was a perfectly good idea to cancel the bus that's always full and that countless students use to do their shopping?  GRAAAGGHSDfargasjdl;fgkalrjt
Anyway, it now takes me two hours to get to the fabric store.  Two hours there, two hours back, while waiting out in the cold for the bus connection.  It used to take only half an hour each way with no bus changes.  I hope whomever made this decision gets spinach stuck in their teeth and always runs out of toilet paper when they take a shit.

It took me awhile to get the fabric dye I needed thanks to the WONDERFULLY IMPROVED BUS SCHEDULE.

Now it's done:

Perfect colour!  It's a little darker than the photo shows.  Thank my camera for the glare.

I cut out the hood pattern based on one I've used before to make a Jedi cloak.  It's lined with the same black fabric I used to make the pants for my Drocell cosplay.

The cloak is gathered at the top into a thin yoke.  It's not particularly sightly, but it all gets covered up with excess fabric.

At completion, the cloak is lined and has about a 15 inch train.  It flows beautifully and I can wrap myself in it.  The hood lining tends to bag a little, but this shouldn't be a problem.  I'll add the front clasp later, and maybe a strap to tie over my shoulders, under my arms, and around my back to prevent the cloak from choking me.

Very nice so far!  I've also got some beautiful gray tights which work well as long as I can keep the fucking "control top panty" under my leotard.  it's a different colour than the rest of the tights and quite obvious when it shows -_-

Raven Roth: Design process and leotard

It's been awhile.  Too long!  Sorry about that.  I'm still not sure how to motivate myself to make regular posts, even though I love it while I'm doing it...

For Arisia 2013 (January 18-21), I am putting together a cosplay that is not anime-related: Raven Roth.  She's been on my cosplay list for quite some time and it seemed like a good idea to wear something like that to a convention that's more scifi and comics than anime.


My design is based off artwork from the animated series Teen Titans.  Due to the nature of animation, the costume design is rather undetailed, so I decided to rework things a little to make it more interesting:

Some ideas stayed, some got thrown out as the cosplay progressed.

First piece I made was the leotard.  Patterns for these are not common at the fabric store unless you are making a toddler's Halloween costume.  A summer visit to an antique store netted me this swimsuit pattern from the '80s:

My leotard is made based on view 1 with modifications to the armholes and front.

I already knew that I wanted a textured fabric on the front and side front panels, but I needed to use something stretchy for the back so that I could get the garment on.  At Joann's I found a beautiful pleated fabric with some stretch owing simply to the existence of the pleats.

Instead of lacing up the front like the Simplicity design has, I cut the front in one piece and used stretchy fabrics to accommodate putting on the garment.  The side fronts were cut at a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric to create a streamlined appearance.  The front and side fronts are all interlined with the same stretchy knit fabric I used for the side back and back of the garment.

 I drafted a sleeve cap and combined it with a chapel mitt pattern from Patterns for Costume Accessories.  I would have liked to cut the sleeves along a different grainline, but I was ultimately limited because of the way I needed the fabric to stretch.

This whole garment came out wonderfully.  I haven't added the red jewels yet, or the loops to keep the tip of the sleeve in place.  Somewhat to my chagrin, I noticed that I don't seem to stand with my shoulders square.  The neckline is not symmetrical when I wear this leotard, even though I confirmed that I did not make a mistake when I hemmed it.  Sad -_-
At least this problem will be covered up by the cloak!

01 December 2012

Seth Nightroad: Fabric Pieces

Another long blog post...

Overall I probably used 15-20 yards of fabric for this cosplay.  It's hard to quantify exactly.  There are four yards each in the train and bodice/hat, while the skirt/lace sleeves used around eight yards.   A yard and a half of white brocade gave its all for the overskirt "wings."

The train was the largest (and most time-consuming) part of this cosplay.  Work began in July, I lost motivation for a few weeks, then I finally completed it in September.  I can't be sure how many appliques I stitched on this piece, but it's well over fifty!  I also used seed beads and cut glass beads as accents.

 My bodice feels like a feat of engineering.  The pattern started out so basic, based off a simple sloper, but it quickly got really complex.  I attached the applique, soutache trim, and beadwork before sewing up the garment.  The garment has eight steel bones, all sewn into the interlining or seam allowances.

Finally I sewed up the entire bodice, and...it all bunched up around my waist.  I should have expected that because, really, you can't make a perfectly fitted garment out of five pieces with no darts.  So, DARTS!

I added four darts, two on each side of the center back seam.  There's still a little bit of trouble with bunching up around my waist, but this mitigated most of it.  Sewing the sleeves on was a trial in itself.  Each sleeve is made in nine pieces, including four layers of white lace inside the sleeve bell!  To finish the garment I added gold bullion trim to the hem and installed fourteen two-piece eyelets to the fronts to facilitate the lace-up closure.

Three of the four layers of lace inside the sleeve bell

This thing is a parfait of lace.  Overall I purchased well over fifty yards of lace and I actually ended up using most of it.  Thank goodness for Etsy sellers who frequent estate sales, because I found some beautiful lace patterns.  Only thing that pisses me off is when they say it's white, the photos make it look white, but what I receive in the mail is cream or brownish in colour -_-

Even though the hat wasn't finished, I decided to wear this cosplay to my school's Halloween dance.  The event was stupid, but it did give me valuable feedback about what did and did not work for the costume.  The problem is that debuting the costume always decreases my motivation to complete pieces I haven't made yet.  Stupid hat.

I put off the hat for a really long time because I had to fucking clue how I could keep it stiff and attach it securely to my wig.  I am proud to announce that there's still no system for attaching it to my wig...
A piece of mat board became the stiffener.   The fabric pieces were worked in the exact same way as the bodice and train, with applique and soutache and beads.

The only difference was the addition of hot glue shapes.  Bead dangles on either side of the hat are strung on beading thread and then stitched through the mat board for extra support.  They are tipped with magenta Swarovski cut glass teardrops!

The totals for this cosplay:
  • 15-20 yards of fabric
  • Over 50 yards of lace
  • 14 eyelets
  • One 12-pack of large craft foam pieces
  • 150 sticks of hot glue
  • 1 pair of pointe shoes
  • 10 yards of gold braid trim
  • 1 yard of gold bullion trim
  • 2 yards of gold ribbon trim
  • 3 yards of spiral steel boning
  • 80 yards of soutache in two different shades of gold
  • Six hook and eye sets
  • 1 yard of velcro
  • 2 yards of corset lacing
  • 18x24 inch piece of mat board
  • Brass brads
  • 3 cans of spray paint

Finally finished!

Seth Nightroad: Armor

Most of my blog posts won't be this long.  Why?  It's too much work!  But I just recently finished and photographed my Seth Nightroad cosplay and it feels like such a large achievement that it deserved a blog post even though its construction never overlapped with the existence of this blog.

I worked from a reference drawn by Thores Shibamoto for one of the Trinity Blood light novels.  It provides less source material for the construction process, but this particular design is less-cosplayed and therefore more unique.

For interests' sake, here's my main reference:

It's one of my favourite images from the entire series!

I started construction in June of this year, right before spending a month working out in the boondocks at a Girl Scout Camp.  It was my Camp Project.

The first piece constructed was the breasplate.  I had never made armor before, but luckily I was able to borrow some techniques from Shushuwafflez on DeviantART.  What I ended up doing was gluing together three layers of craftfoam to create a sturdy base, then I smoothed out the edges using bias tape.  The small designs were made by injecting hot glue into fondant molds.  I discovered that is extremely frustrating to prevent bubbles from forming in the hot glue as it is injected.  Fortunately the only casualties of this process were a few pieces of craft foam and some hot glue shapes that were fatally wounded by bubbles.

After my fingers had sufficiently recovered for a or week two (hot glue guns make for sore hands!) I made Seth's upper arm armor.  The process was very similar to the breastplate, only this this I would be using only a single layer of craft foam.  This became a bit of a casualty later because the craft foam needs to curve a lot to fit around my arm.  I used brass brads to attach these pieces to the sleeves of my bodice.  This makes my armor 100% removable so I can store the bodice folded without risking damage to the rigid pieces.

One of the largest pieces of armor was actually part of my hat.  It's the piece that fits over the front of Seth's head to hold the hat in place.  What I imagined and what I could actually make using my supplies were, unfortunately, two completely different things.  The finished piece does not fit over my head as far as I would like.  Fortunately there were no casualties at this stage, except for a few more hot glue shapes.

 Final pieces of armor were part of my shoes.  I purchased pointe shoes specifically for the stiff toe that would be able to support craft foam armor.  One note: hot glue works EXTREMELY well on pointe shoes.  Those damn armor pieces are NEVER coming off...

I used hot glue shapes in a few other places on the costume, hot glued directly to the fabric.  The hat and skirt each have accents.  In retrospect I wish I had used hot glue shapes on the train, however my fingers are probably happy not to have been used to make all those extra hot glue shapes!

Finally everything was spray painted gold.  Out of three shades of spray paint I tried out, Krylon's Bright Gold looked the most realistic.  Funny story!  Due to TSA rules I wasn't able to carry my cans of spray paint with me when I flew back to New York for college.  This instigated quite a search for more Krylon because the local hardware store does not carry the Krylon line.  Odd, yes.  I am forever grateful that my costume design professor was able to pick me up a can on one of her trips to Wal Mart.

I've had a few problems with spray paint rubbing off, but otherwise this process was an extremely good one.  A bit of orange craft foam is showing through around the edges of my shoe armor, but due to the way I walk where my shoes sometimes scuff together, it is unlikely that I will be able to fix this completely. 

What's this?! A blog?!

A few things prevented me from creating a blog in the past.  In retrospect those hurdles were rather small.  Mostly?  I'm just lazy.  Also, I couldn't think up a good title.  So at least there's that.  Is my title alright?  Seems a little lacking in creativity.

Sooooooo...now that I've spent a couple hours wrestling with the layout, what do you think?  I had to shove some coal into my old graphics tablet, get it up and running again, but I'm pretty happy with the result.  When I finally start making blog posts (hang on, is this a blog post?  Am I blogging?  What's going on?  Why am I writing in parentheses?) the links will run over my face in the right sidebar.  Until then I think everything looks swell.

Now that you've read this much, you're probably wondering what the hell this blog is gonna be about.  If you're not wondering, I bet you're one of my friends who got this link off my DeviantART or Cosplay.com.  Then you stumbled over here, probably by mistake, and now you're reading this scrawl.


I'm a cosplayer.  I make costumes.  Some of these costumes are anime characters, some movie/TV characters...some are original characters or historical costumes.  This blog will be a chronicle of the design and construction process, as well as the events I wear them to.  It's going to take a day or two to sort through photos of my current project(s), but then I'll be able to make the first *real* blog post.  Every time I post I'll try to list all the projects I'm working on, just to keep you updated!

Time for bed, I think...it's getting rather late here.

Oh, yeah...here are my current projects:

1.  Raven Roth (Teen Titans):

2.  Luminara Unduli (Star Wars):

3.  Kijin Ko (The Story of Saiunkoku):

4.  France (Hetalia):

5.  Barnabas Collins (Dark Shadows):

¡Hasta luego!