24 December 2015

Queen Elinor's Hair Problem

I admit it, I'm not good with wigs.  I don't like tangles.  I don't like having fiber all over my hands.  And I definitely don't like having fiber all over my floor for MONTHS because that shit gets everywhere.  So why the everloving fuck did I think it was a good idea to make this awful hairstyle?

So much no, so little time, but a promise is a promise, I guess.  My mother's hair is not long enough or, dare I say it, thick enough for me to steer clear of a wig.  So let's do this thing.

The base style is a Pippin from Arda Wigs, which has been a good style for me in the past, especially for Howl.  It's long, but not too long, and my Howl wig at least didn't have much layering.  The wig I received, however, had layering that didn't like to be tamed and pulled into ties.  Let's just say that I ended up using a lot of Got 2B Glued and hairspray.

First order of business was to add in Elinor's gray streaks.  I stabbed them into the scalp and stitched them in place.  It's not elegant, but if you're looking inside the wig cap you're standing too damn close, man.  I also added a lace front using leftover lace after I trimmed back another wig.  It's ventilated into a slight widow's peak with both gray and brown fibers.  I don't really know why I bothered, it'll be covered by the crown, but there you have it.

I was pretty restless during the rest of the wig construction period.  It was during finals time and I felt the time crunch.  Let's just say that I pulled the wig into pigtails with a couple of rubber bands.  Then, using a Katie Bair technique, I chopped off all the excess fiber and sealed the pigtail ends using caulk.  This should keep all the fiber in place permanently.

Next order of business was the tube...things.  What are these?  I know the Italians used to wrap their hair into tubes in the 1400s and 1500s, but this shit is weird.  Animation artists, amirite?

This is another Katie Bair method.  I rolled quilt batting into tubes, stitched it, and then spray painted it dark brown.  I then laid stripes of caulk along the length of the tubes and attached the fiber.  This isn't a perfect method, and it took me a few tries to get it right.  There was a large casualty in the form of a halfway hair-covered tube that had to be stripped of all its hair.

Caulk didn't turn out to be a foolproof method of keeping the fiber in place and covering all of the batting.  I covered the caulked layer with a layer of loose wefts that could be combed and hairsprayed into place later, then I sealed the ends of my tubes with caulk and sewed them to the wig.  No photos of that process, sorry.  I forget to take photos when I'm frustrated and tired.

It's not a bad end result, though!  I had a lot of stub to cover (meaning I had to deviate from the design, but I didn't plan it that way), so I improvised with hair ribbons.  Before the con I'll ad a couple of beads to ends to make them prettier.

I was delighted with how the trim I wrapped around the tube things created that little kink that Elinor has in the designs!

There you go.  Elinor's basically done.  The final bit that I need to do is assemble the waist portion of the belt.  I can't wait to see my mother wear the entire costume!

Queen Elinor, or, You Thought You Knew How To Do Things

Facebook will show you that I've been working on this cosplay actively since June and at this point I just want it done.  It's been sitting in my queue for what seems like forever.  Good for me, the finishing line is in sight!  Elinor and Merida enter competition in less than a month in Boston at Arisia 2016.

As you might imagine, cosplays like this always start off simply enough, you know, before you get far enough along to realize that your planning skills truly DO suck despite whatever faith you may have had in your skills at the beginning.  I really didn't know much at all, I have realized, which over the last few months has made me doubt every skill I have as a costumer.


In this case I began with a bodice pattern from The Tudor Tailor and a five-yard cut of fabric that was a lucky find on Etsy.  It's a mirage green polyester and the best approximation I have yet seen of Elinor's on-screen dress fabric.

The first version of the dress looked great and pretty accurate.  My only casualty thus far was realizing that those sleeves, no matter how you cut them, take up an enormous amount of fabric.  Any plans I had to self-line the skirt went straight out the window.  Sigh.  To explain the problem this created, I need to back up a little.

When cutting cutaway overskirts such as this, you are much better off to cut on the bias because bias cutting=better drape.  That wasn't possible due to a vertical weave pattern, so it causes the overskirt to hang at a wonky angle that I'll have to fix later on.  Probably I'll install a few sets of tapes in the seams, which I'll tie to keep the fullness to the back instead of falling forward and creating strange puckers at the waist.

Elinor's belt was my first foray into the world of worbla.  This is tragically expensive stuff, and tricky to travel with, which are two problems right off the bat that have prevented me from using it before.

These are a craft foam core sandwiched between two layers of worbla.

Here are the three types of pieces that will be part of the belt.  The round knotwork pieces encircle the waist, while the plain rings hang from the centerpiece down the center.  It's all spraypainted gold and weathered using brown paint.  The above pieces have been reworked somewhat so that the knots are more three-dimensional.  I also re-sanded them to a smoother finish and repainted them.  The final central piece has four stones set in it, one at the center, and one on each of the three spokes, handily covering the oopsie I made while embossing the knot overlaps at the center.

Assembled the front piece looks like this:

While I apologize for the low-quality image, it does show how I chose to solve some issues with the sleeves.  Experience has shown me that medieval sleeves don't have a good range of motion.  They weren't meant to: these women didn't work.  I can't ask my mother to wear that for twelve or more hours, however, so I solved that problem by tying the sleeves to the dress, which is absolutely appropriate for this type of dress.  A few days ago I added in a puffed dark green wool undersleeve, but you won't see that until I have final photos, I bet.

I had a lot of issues with the collar facing and trim, for some reason, producing casualties in the forms of two separate failed attempts at creating something that lays flat.  The facing in the upper image has been removed in favor of a dark green wool one that is much more agreeable AND lies flat!  I used the same dark green wool for the underskirt, which you also won't see until I have final photos.
My wig deserves its own post due to its complexity, but I thought I'd give you a look at the crown as well.  There are two types of acrylic "gems".  The central ones are sparkly dragonglass ones that I special-ordered from an Etsy seller, while the smaller ones are fiber optic gems that I got from a craft store.  They don't look like precious gems, per se, but I think they fit in with the 'fantasy' look that I was aiming for with this set of cosplays.

That's all for now!  Expect two new posts soon: one about Elinor's wig, and one about Merida's finishing touches.

22 December 2015

Basque Dance Costume Photo Gallery

I completed this costume in May 2015 as part of my undergraduate thesis on Spanish traditional costume from Valencia and the Basque Country.  It wasn't required, but I did it anyway as a little extra something and because it was fun.

No progress posts since this was about a week-long build only, but I made the red linen skirt, applied the black stripes, and made the bodice based on a Tudor Tailor pattern.  The apron and headscarf are made from scraps of muslin and then embroidered.  I didn't make the shirt, but really I didn't have time to, and I imported the traditional abarkak shoes from the Basque Country.

Researching this project made me realize that I would very much like to learn the Basque language Euskera.  Let's put that down for the hypothetical future in which I have free time.

Included at the bottom is a selfie that I took the day of the presentation, for those who are interested.