16 February 2015

Holo the Wisewolf - Wolf and Silk

It's been awhile since I made one of these cosplay posts!  As some of you may know, I just got back six weeks ago from a four-month-long study abroad semester in Spain, followed by a beautiful six days in Portugal.  It was a great trip, just not very facilitating for cosplay work.  But I am back now!

I announced that I would be making Holo the Wisewolf from Spice and Wolf last year after Anime Boston, way back in late March.  I haven't forgotten, I promise!  She's changed forms a few times in true Holo style, but we are currently on track for her entry into the masquerade at this year's Anime Boston.

Perhaps the most drastic change is my decision to make a version of Holo's outfit that hasn't been seen on-screen:

Design-wise, this one excites me a lot more than Holo's standard outfits.  So that's why I chose it.  I still have pieces of Holo's standard outfit partially constructed; no idea what I'll do with those, though.

From the start I wanted to avoid making this look too Christmassy even though it was released as Christmastime promotional artwork for the series.  To me it doesn't look super Christmassy in the drawing and more like an Austrian traditional dirndi or something similar.  Except for the corset, of course.  And the ears and tail.

What I wanted to to, then, was choose reds and greens that weren't the normal shades used at Christmastime.  I chose a red silk dupioni that borders more on the orange side than the red:

The seller only had two yards of this fabric, which I knew would be a problem considering I needed to squeeze both a skirt AND a bodice out of it.  It worked out in the end along with a scrap of similarly-coloured poly taffeta from a Victorian dress I made a few years back.  That piece functions as the back of the bodice, and I just hope that it looks intentional enough to not betray the fact that I didn't have enough of the dupioni.

Now, full skirts such as Holo's necessarily have very long hems.  I do not like hemming.  So for the green layer I looked around at things that would not need to be hemmed.  This beautiful used sari came from Etsy:

Saris are nice because they have a ton of fabric in them.  My skirt didn't use much of the sari, so I still have a lot left for a future project.  The only difficulty was cutting up such a beautiful garment, but alas, what else would I have done with it?  Let it sit in my closet unused and unloved? 

Anyway, so I cut out a long rectangle of the sari and gathered it to the waistband using my ruffler(!):

It is so nice not to have to gather things by hand as often anymore.  

A waistband and a zipper later, here is what we have:

I have to say, I am really pleased with how this has turned out so far.  While I haven't worked at all on the corset, ears, or tail, most of the skirt and bodice are complete.  The bodice stills needs its embroidery completed.  One partially-finished piece is already stitched onto the collar: you can see it in the above photos.  Right now I don't have the purple embroidery thread that I need to finish it.  Soon, though, when it warms up a little, I hope to get over to Joann's or Michael's to pick that up.

The purple collar, just so you know, doesn't belong to Holo, but rather to Sansa Stark.  Yes, I am trying to make more progress on her.  After Anime Boston we will see what my schedule looks like.

Besides the embroidery on the collar, I made these two heads of wheat to stitch onto the bodice:

Now that the bodice is mostly complete, I am at a bit of a loss for where to put these.  They don't fit wonderfully anywhere, but maybe that's because I haven't added the embroidery that would surround them yet?  I don't know.  I may yet nix them.

More later!  I at least owe you guys a post on Sibyll Trelawney and possibly also Sansa!

08 February 2015

20th Century Photo Collection

This is the third installment in a series of posts to display my antique photo collection.  Most of these come from the first half of the 20th century, but there may be a little overlap with the 1800s due to inaccuracies in knowing exactly when these photos were taken.

A note on the back of this photo indicates that it is a wedding photo--we even know the lucky couple's names are Edith and Monty!  Is that short for Montgomery?  Maybe.

This photo is one of the few that could be either Victorian or 20th century.  Edith's dress could be 1890s at the earliest, but it looks to me more like an early 20th century style.  With so much information about the couple, plus a little time at some point, I may be able to find a wedding date in some online record.

I do not know the name of the man in this portrait, but I DO know based on his uniform that he was a World War One soldier and that, based on the chevron on his sleeve, he was wounded once before this portrait was taken.

Based on the cross this girl has in her hands, I am guessing this would have been a portrait take on on the occasion of her Confirmation or other important religious event.  Look at those beautiful shoes!

Interestingly, this photo came from the same studio as the previous photo of a girl holding a cross, and both came from the same box in the same antique shop.  I wonder, then if they are related?  My father suggested they were the same girl, but I have no basis for making that assumption.  At least we know this girl's name was Helene!

The way Helene's dress hangs is just beautiful--no one sells dresses like that anymore!  I wondered, upon seeing the scroll, if this may have been a graduation photo, but that is far from the only possibility.

Victorian Photo Collection

This page will serve as an archive for the Victorian-era photos I have in my vintage photo collection.  These comes from many difference sources and some did not come with any additional information, so in some cases the best I can do is guess about when they were taken based on clothing and other elements.

This woman in a beautiful Victorian dress was one of my first vintage photos and to this day still one of my favourites.  I found her in an antique shop in Lincoln City, Oregon.

She is one of few photos I have that did not have a studio name printed on the front OR back of the photo, which makes dating it or figuring out its provenance rather difficult.  Based on the clothing, however, I would say 1870s or 80s...this style of dress was not not in-style until then and styles changed dramatically in the 1890s.

In this case, while I don't have an information about the subjects of the photo, at least I know which studio this stern couple's photo came from.  I found them in the same box as the previous photo at a shop in Lincoln City, Oregon.

My interest, as always, lies a great deal in the fashion.  Isn't that skirt cool?  The bodice, however, is kind of frumpy...I was wondering if she was not wearing a corset underneath it, or if it was simply ill-fitted, but I guess I will probably never know.

This dapper gentleman also comes from Lincoln City, Oregon.  Men's fashion didn't change as much as women's did, so it's a lot harder to pinpoint a date for this photo.  I'm going to guess last two or three decades of the 1800s, but it could well have been the early 1900s as well.

Note the "don't know" written on the back of this photo...people, you need to ask your family members to write the name of the person on the back of family photos so they don't end up anonymous like this poor gentleman!

This photo is kind of cool because we have names written on the back identifying all of these people!  This is a portrait, seemingly, of the Lytle family and friend.  I can't make out the first name of the lady on the left, but she and Lilly have fantastic cameo brooches.

From an antique shop in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

These two ladies come from the same box in the same antique shop in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, as the last photo, but unfortunately there is no writing on the back identifying them.

If I was guessing a date based on fashion, I would place this in either the 1870s or late 1880s, based on the older lady's bustle and the fact that those went out of style in the early 1880s, came back in the late 1880s, then disappeared completely in the 1890s.

Look at the younger girl's short dress!  She must have been fairly young to be able to show that much leg.  Both dresses have beautiful ruffles in them.

Of all the photos I own, this one is my absolute favourite.  What originally drew me in to this photo of Lydia Fuller was the beautiful pleating done on that bodice and cameo with chain at her collar.  The entire dress has a beautiful, graceful look to it.  In the theoretical future when I have time, I would really like to make a reproduction.

I have done a lot more research on this photo than on some of the others I own--for instance, I DID find a Fuller family from Wisconsin (the back of the photo seems to indicate Sparta, Wisconsin...but the handwriting is very hard to read).  I found a grave marker for a Lydia Fuller in Wisconsin who would have been about the right age to have had this photo taken in the 1870s or 80s.

I am putting this young boy's photo with my Victorian photos because I honestly have no idea where else to put it.  He is definitely wearing a Civil War uniform, but that's completely useless as a basis for dating this photo because they didn't produce this kind of paper photo until long after the Civil War.  That said, I doubt he was a Civil War soldier either.  Look at how young he is!  Even if this were taken i the 1870s, seriously, he would have been a babe in arms during the war.

If I were to guess, I would wonder if this young boy went to a photo studio that had the uniform for him to wear.  It could even have been a family possession...maybe his father's?  For all I know this photo was taken during the 20th century.

What is kind of cool is that I bought this photo in Troy, NY, which is right where it was taken according to the studio information below the photo.

07 February 2015

Tintype Collection

Tintypes were a very early type of photo taken primarily in the 1860s and 70s created by covering a thin piece of dark iron with one of many types of photo-sensitive chemicals, then exposing it to the light.  I rarely find these in antique shops, but when I do it is quite exciting!  Here are the tintypes I have in my collection...

This tintype of a young girl comes from an antique mall in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  To me the most interesting thing to note is her obvious bedhead, for which I have no explanation.  Going to the photo studio would have been a momentous occasion for which you would dress very nice and style your hair.  One of my favourites nonetheless!

The photo is very small, less than two inches wide and maybe two inches tall.  It came in an intricate embossed paper frame and lists a photographer's studio in Illinois on the back.

This photo of a young boy is much larger than our Lady with Bedhead, about two inches wide and slightly less than four inches tall.  I will try to get a better scan at some point, because the original has a very pretty sepia tone to it.  Unfortunately, there was no studio information with this photo.

Two interesting things: the painted backdrop was quite popular for photography at this time.  Also, you can see the base of some kind of stand behind the boy's feet.  This may be a stand used to help photography subjects stand still during very long exposure times for this type of photo!

01 February 2015


This page is an overview of the work that I have done.  Each example will include a brief description and a link to a page with additional photos and my blog posts concerning its construction, where they are available, for those who are interested.

Additional photos of all my work, including work not displayed here, are available in my Costume Gallery.

Daenerys Targaryen - Game of Thrones
This was made based on a dress worn by the character Daenerys Targaryen in the second season of Game of Thrones.  The textile is habbotai silk to which I added a gold texture to using a stippling sponge.  The bottom of the skirt and "cloak" were ombrĂ© dyed and then the whole garment was twisted while wet to create a wrinkle texture that would assist with draping.  The gold belt and shoulder pieces are leather.
Photo Gallery: Daenerys Targaryen

Merida and Queen Elinor - Brave
I made this pair of cosplays for my mother and I and we won best in show when we entered them in competition.  All props, garments, jewelry, wigs, and leatherworked pieces were made by me, with the exception of the bear paws, which were my mother's contribution.  The sausage roll wig worn by my mother is built on tubes of batting to create volume without excessive weight.  These were spray painted to match the hair color and then covered in wefts.  The "pigtails" on the base wig and the ends of the tubes were sealed with silicone and stitched together.  It is a lot of hair and a hefty wig, but we were happy with how well it moved considering it replicates an unrealistic fantasy hairsyle.

Photography by Douglas Pouliot of Light Painting Portraits
Cat Trzaskowski Photography

Doctor Poison
This is my screen-accurate costume of the villain Doctor Poison from the 2017 Wonder Woman film.  The dress is drafted using a Bunka sloper and cut from a luxurious green cotton twill.  The trousers were made using measurements taken from a pair of 1890s men's trousers in my personal collection, with a fully functional button fly front.  Top stitching is applied on seams and hems where indicated by the original costume.  My hood was also drafted from scratch and then draped for the proper fit, which was no small task.  The prosthetic is built on a plaster bandage base, smoothed with paper clay, and then painted using a combination of acrylic paint and chalk pastel dust (a great way of "airbrushing" without the expensive equipment).  The eyelets on the belt are hand-embroidered.

Photography by the Arisia photo booth, used with permission
For this costume I used Tudor-era design elements to create an original design to recycle fabric from an old project.  Stitching was done mostly by hand to preserve authenticity, including embroidery along the hems, thread-covered buttons, and hand-worked buttonholes.  The doublet has hidden lacing down the center front with hand-worked eyelets.  The pattern for the doublet was sourced from The Tudor Tailor by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies; all garments drafted by me.
The top three photos show details of the doublet before its completion.
Photo Gallery: Rosethorn

19th Century American Reform Dress
I made this American Reform dress based on a photograph of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker taken in the 1860s.  While dress reformers often had their own personal style preferences, and indeed the shape of the trousers was a subject for debate, I appreciate the preference in Dr. Walker's community for a straight-legged trouser.  Mine are drafted based on measurements I took of a pair of late 19th century men's trousers and the bodice is drafted in much the same way with measurements from an 1860s afternoon bodice.
The dress reform style endured until the last of the lifelong adherents passed away in the early twentieth century.  I have styled my accessories for an event focused on the later 1800s.
Please excuse the wrinkles, which are the result of an extremely hot New York City subway ride!


Amira - Bride Stories
This costume was made based on a 19th century Turkic character from the manga Bride Stories.  Though the character hails from an unspecified region, I was able to glean information from garments in museum collections as well as historic pattern layouts so that I could draft the garments as they would have been during that period of history.  Embroideries were all performed by hand using cotton and metal embroidery threads, as well as glass seed beads, metal mirrors, and steel paillets.  I also patterned, molded, tooled, and tinted, the leather boots.  This costume won the first place master division craftsmanship award at Anime Boston, one of the toughest cosplay competitions on the east coast.

Photography by David G. Whitham/DGW Photography
Photo by NerdCaliber, used with permission
Click to enlarge
Puck (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
An original design based on the character from the play by Shakespeare.  It includes a wrap dress of Japanese rayon brocade, accented with smocking I made from the same fabric, and embroidered using thread and beadwork.  Gussets were added under the arms to improve range of motion.  The skirt and cloak are made of organza in different colours and "tattered" using a soldering iron to melt the edges and prevent fraying.  The cloak is attached to the dress using leaf-shaped bracelet clasps and handmade bead tassels.  My wig is a lace front that I partially French braided into an updo.  Sixty or so additional small braids were added individually, as well as two larger ones.  The horns were made of paper clay, painted, then sewn into the wig along with flowers and other small decorations.

Progress shot that shows smocking and some beadwork
Photo on right by NerdCaliber, used with permission
Photo on left by Steven Rosen Photography, used with permission

 Leo Irving - In the Next Room (The Vibrator Play)
This vest was built as part of the Theatre Institute at Sage's February 2014 production of In the Next Room.  The garment includes four welt pockets, the lower of which are functional with pocket bags, and upper ones that are just for decoration.


Fanny - On the Verge
Victorian-style trek/safari coat built from the ground up for Theatre Institute at Sage's March 2014 production.  The front pockets are provide plenty of storage space for various small props used during the production.


Sally and other characters - Cat in the Hat
Sally's costume was built from scratch, except for the blouse, for Theatre Institute at Sage's June 2014 production of the play.  The jumper is blue corduroy and zips up the back.  I also styled the wig into the cute classic curl style that Sally wears.  The bow is sewn into the wig to keep it secure during Cat in the Hat antics.  Though I cannot take full credit, I also partially designed and stitched the costumes for the Cat and Kittens, as well as Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Two 1940s-inspired dresses
Designed, draped, and made to be worn by my roommate and I at the Creede Repertory Theatre Cabaret fundraiser 2015.  Base fabrics are both silk.  The red dress is overlaid with red chiffon.


Elsa - Frozen
This was an independent project, a costume that I made for my own wear based on Elsa from Disney's popular movie Frozen.  It is one of my favourite costumes so far.  The corset, a Victorian style, is fully boned, laces up the back, and is covered with embroidery and beadwork.  The hem is "trimmed" with scale mail (incomplete in one of the detail photographs below).   My cloak is made of a sheer, nonwoven glitter netting, with the snowflake patterns fused to the underside using Steam a Seam.  It laces to my corset.


Elsa embroidery details: I designed this embroidery based on Elsa's character.  The wing motif and swirlies, as well as the star on the shirt, are all applied directly to the fabric.  The snowflake pattern down the center was completed on an embroidery frame, before I covered its backing with fabric glue and appliqued it onto the corset.  Materials involved include embroidery thread, metal thread for the goldwork, beads, check purl, jump rings, small metal leaves, and various larger beads and pins.

The Schoolboys - Spring Awakening
These six sack coats were made to serve as the uniform coats for the Theatre Institute at Sage Spring 2015 production of Spring Awakening.  They are wool and semi-tailored as time allowed.  The collar and lapels are pad-stitched.


Guys and Dolls - Creede Repertory Theatre 2015 Season
Various 1950s dresses, chorus ensembles, and six male Missionary Band uniforms.
All photos by John Gary Brown

Creede Repertory Theatre Street Party - 50th anniversary, August 2015
I designed the costumes used during the party--about sixteen total, including twelve sixties costumes used to reenact the photo of the original twelve members of the company taken for the first season program.