24 January 2014

Sansa Stark: Wedding Dress Patterning and Bodice Construction

EDIT: For a comprehensive look at how I patterned this dress, I wrote about it HERE.

This is Sansa Stark's wedding dress, amazingly beautiful considering the ugly circumstances in which she was forced to wear it.

In working on this costume, I have quickly come to realize that this seemingly simple dress is anything but, and that it eats fabric like no tomorrow.  It's used all 6.5 yards of damask that I ordered and could have used more if I wanted the train to be as long as the original!  As it stands, I think my train is quite respectable and only a few inches short.

The dress is made of a kind of "illusion" fabric that likes to change colour depending on the light.  It's given me a lot of trouble for reasons I'll get to later on in this post.

...another colour?!

...And another?! (this image comes from costumer Michele Carragher's website, which is worth a look-see: http://www.michelecarragherembroidery.com/index.htm )

And just to give you an idea of the general silhouette of the dress:

I wish I could say I designed something this beautiful!  That embroidery is to die for...and it may very well kill me before I am done because I intend to give it my best go so as to maintain accuracy.

I spent a long time on the interwebs searching for the right fabric.  Believe me, fabric like this is damn expensive.  Unfortunately I'm a college student who doesn't make much and has to buy food, so I settled for something a little less fancy.

What a pity that the fabric I received looked nothing like the photo.  It was much more yellow and the pattern was, like chenille.  It's a pretty weave, but the colour reminds me of the godawful couch we had when I was a kid that had a curved back that you couldn't rest your head comfortably on.

Ewwww.  The fabric is also polyester.  I didn't expect it to take dyes.  And so I had 6.5 yards of useless fabric lying around.

Fortunately I experimented with dye anyway.

It turns out that, while dye does not work well on synthetics, it does stain a little.  A little was all I needed to get that purple-y colour, and it turned out that the dye adhered very well to the chenille parts and not so much to the satin-y parts.  Two-tone fabric the easy way!

Let's pop this sucker in the dyebath.

If this fabric weighs a ton when it's dry, think how much it weighed when it was wet.  I almost couldn't lift it.

This was the result.  It's not perfect.  But it's pretty close, and I can say that the colours match the photo from Michele Carragher's website.  So that's something at least.

I patterned the bodice in nine pieces: two fronts, two side fronts, two side backs, two square skirt panels, and one back.  The front and back are full-length, while the side front and side back join with the skirt panel slightly below my hips.

The skirt panels were pleated to fit the side fronts and side backs.  That's about 54 inches of fabric gathered into just over ten inches!  Wow!

The skirt panels were too thick to stitch by machine so I went ahead and basted the pleats, then used buttonhole thread to stitch them to the side front/backs.

That's what we have so far!  It's very heavy, but I love how swishy the train is.  I enjoy dresses with trains despite their impracticality.  I'm a little bummed I didn't get better fabric, but I guess you work with what ya got and since I just bought some chainmail I couldn't really afford I'm trying to not spend too much until I start getting paychecks again :/

01 January 2014

Drocell Cainz Photo Gallery

Drocell was my second Black Butler cosplay after Undertaker and I made him not necessarily because I liked the character but because I enjoyed some of the design elements of his costume and I wanted to try my hand at making them.  He was made for presentation in the Anime Boston 2012 masquerade, thus his completion date was around March 2012.

I do not remember a lot about how I made this cosplay as I had not yet established documentation procedures.  What I do remember is that I had a lot of trouble fitting men's garment patterns for both the coat and pants to fit my feminine curves.  I also had never worked with velvet before.  Let's just say this was a learning experience about what you are and are not supposed to do with velvet!

In the end I was rather impressed with the result.  The costume has a very regal appearance and received a lot of praise.  After it failed to place in competition at both Anime Boston and Albuquerque Comic Expo, however, I mostly retired the cosplay and repurposed some of its pieces, such as the boots, millinery flowers, and striped socks.  Maybe I'll wear it again sometime, but it does not seem likely.  In fact, if you are interested in purchasing this cosplay, then please send me an email (albinoshadowfire@gmail.com) and we shall discuss that possibility!

If you are interested in the series artwork I used as a reference, please keep scrolling to the end of this post.

From the Black Butler photoshoot at Anime Boston 2012.  Photographer is my friend Jenny Donnelly (ShinakoPhoto)
Official photo from the Anime Boston 2012 masquerade

Rosethorn Photo Gallery

Rosethorn was completed in November 2013 based upon a character from Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic novels.  For the most part the character design is my own, incorporating the few appearance descriptions from the novels.

The doublet pattern comes from The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies.  I patterned the skirt, cloak, and loose pants myself based upon my own design sketches, which will be included at the end of this post.

This was a very involved costume in terms of hand-sewing.  Many seams were sewn by hand for historical authenticity, and all garments except the pants were embroidered by hand.  The doublet is boned with strong cable ties to maintain its shape, and it laces up the front via hand-worked eyelets.  The buttons on the front are functional, but as you can imagine spherical buttons are not the best at staying in their buttonholes.  They require the support of the hidden lacing strip.  Buttonholes were done by hand, and the buttons themselves are pearl beads that I covered with thread.

The wig is the only part of this costume that I am not completely comfortable with.  The issue was finding a short wig that is made well enough that it does not show wefts anywhere.  I had to opt for something a little longer, thus I used a Magnum in dark copper red from Arda Wigs.

Progress posts can be found here:
Design and Patterning
Finishing Stages

Detail shots of the doublet: embroidery and thread-covered buttons.

Luminara Unduli Photo Gallery

I made Luminara because I wanted to do a Star Wars cosplay alongside my friend Amy who planned to cosplay Jaina Solo.  Actually as a birthday gift I ended up making most of her cosplay as well...!  Both cosplays were finished in March 2013.

This is an extremely heavy cosplay, but well worth it considering I wore it during the winter and had to walk from my college campus to the campus where Genericon was being held.

There are a lot of unique aspects of this costume's construction.  For that I'm going to direct you to my blog posts, because if I tried to sum it up here I would probably just end up leaving out a lot of information!

Progress posts can be found here:
Hood and Cloak Patterning
Finishing Up

The last three photos were taken by the photobooth photographer at Genericon 2013.  I do not know the photographer's name, for all they gave me were printouts of the photos, no business information.

All the other photos are from my Luminara photoshoot on 14 March 2014.  All lightsaber glow effects were added in later via Photoshop, as my saber does not glow well in dayligh!