28 April 2013

Caterina Sforza, Queen of Steam-A-Seam

This costume's got to get done soon for Anime Boston.  I only  have two more weeks until I have to move out of my dorm and won't be able to use my sewing machine!  Uh-oh.

So it makes a lot of sense that what I did this week didn't involve a lot of sewing.

This post is kind of an homage to this wonderful material:


This is a gift from the Cosplay Gods.  It works a little something like this.

You cut your shapes out of regular paper, using a ruler for maximum symmetry.  Peel off one side of the wax paper protecting the Steam-A-Seam, then stick that to the wrong side of the fabric you're appliqueing.  Then you trace your shape onto the Steam-A-Seam and cut it out, like so:

It's still got the wax paper on one side so the sticky part doesn't pick up stuff.

Then you just peel the remaining wax paper and stick it to the main fabric piece.  AND IT STICKS.  OMG.

Now you hit that baby with a hot iron and a little bit of steam.  OMG.

No fraying.  It's permanent.  OMG.

Then you just paint it like it's the bloody Mona Lisa or something.  OMG.

We've also got both shoulder patches done.  I posted the right shoulder in my last post...here's the left.  I'm gonna add something more to the shield.

The sleeve cuffs were a little different because they required such minute details in such a small amount of space.  I suspect they could have been painted directly onto the garment fabric, but I don't have any silver fabric paint.

I started off just by printing out the words I wanted in the correct size and font, then cutting out each letter with scissors.

I was worried about fraying because, like all things in the mortal realms, Steam-A-Seam is not infallible.  I decided to use paint later on to add the small details to the letters.  This photo is from after I ironed the letters to one of the cuffs:

After initial painting, it looks like this:

There's still trim to add later and a little more paint, but it looks very crisp.  By now I've sewn both cuffs onto the sleeves and they only await trim (which still needs to be spray painted silver).

Here's what we have thus far (taken earlier in the week without cuffs and left shoulder patch):

The second-to-last thing I'd like to talk about tonight is the silver piping I used along my hems and seams.  It's something I never tried before now, but it seemed like an obvious alternative to the fake-looking trim that I've seen on other Rosencreutz Orden cosplays.

Since I'm super cheap, I started with some fabric scrap left over from one of my Victorian dresses:

I never would have chosen this fabric for any part of the garment where you might actually notice the paisley pattern.  It's too weird and...Southwestern.  It's great for the piping, though, because only a little bit shows.

To avoid having to buy expensive cording like what they use in commercial piping, I decided to use craft shoelaces instead.  I pinned strips of the silver fabric in half, with the shoelace in the crease.  To join the shoelace ends, I cut off the aglets (the plastic tips) and used hot glue to splice the ends together.  It took ten shoelaces, each 48 inches long, to make enough piping for the entire cosplay!

Once I sewed up the piping, I pinned it to the right side of the fabric edge I wanted it on.  Then this got stitched down, slightly to the left of the stitching I made in the previous step so that the stitching won't show when I'm done.

This piping is in a seam along the side of the front panel of the bodice.  The next thing I did was pin the front panel to the side front panel with the right sides of the fabric facing.  Here you can see my interlining, made out of some old butterfly print flannel left over from my Victorian undergarments.

Again, so that no stitching will show on the right side, I stitched slightly to the left of the stitching I used to affix the piping to the front.  This also squeezes the shoelace slightly so that the piping is nice an crisp and fat.

And that was one seam done!  Here's what it looked like before pressing:

Later on I opted not to put piping on the sleeve cuffs because it will be covered with braid trim.  Of all the piping I made, there's only about 18 inches or so left.

Final order of business tonight is a quick preview of my wig.  I'd like to preface this by saying that I have no freaking clue how I'm going to style this thing.  There's enough hair for certain.  In fact, I swore I'd never get another wig more than one meter long (like my Ukitake wig) because they are a pain in the ass to care for, but alas, here we are again.  On me, this wig is about mid-thigh length.  Maybe 1.2 or 1.3 meters long?  Anyway, it's longer than I really want to deal with.

They designed this wig for a Vocaloid named Seeu.  I've never heard of her before, but then I never really got past Gakupo's beautiful voice.  The seller photo looked a little yellow to me, but the wig I received is about perfect.  It's got some beautiful colour variation as well for a more natural look, which is pleasing because the last few wigs I bought from this seller were a little low-quality.  There's also a small patch of false scalp where the wig is parted.

Anyway, as with most wigs like this, the godawful frizzies are the bane of my existence.  It's been awhile since I worked with a wig this long so I guess I'd forgotten just how awful it was.  To solve this I created a solution of water and hand lotion and spritzed it all over the wig.  The idea was to make the wig greasy enough that individual strands stick to each other a little bit.

Hey, grease works on my own hair whether I want it to or not.  Why not a wig?

My initial coat of hand lotion goop tamed a lot of frizz and made the curl look a lot nicer:

I hope the college won't be mad that the dresser smells like cheap lavender hand lotion now.

The result seems pleasing, but we'll know better once it's dry.  Tomorrow I'm taking this thing to the costume shop to use a real wig head and see what can be done to style it properly for Caterina.

I anticipate this is gonna be a nightmare -_-


  1. Oh man, I had a super long wig for my Undertaker cosplay (when it actually SHOWED UP) and it was AWFUL to deal with!!! Good luck with this one!
    The piping technique looks really neat!!! :D

    1. Mm-hmm, Undertaker's hair is really nice and messy. I'm surprised he doesn't have hair mats with birds nesting in them.

      Thanks. My theatre design professor had some really good ideas for Cat's wig. I'll try some of them out as long as I can get to Sally's to purchase the necessary hair rats and other stuff.