27 July 2017

Sybill Trelawney Photo Gallery

I like Professor Trelawney. I think she's somewhat unfairly maligned. As someone who can come off as excessively eccentric myself, I sympathize with how she's come to have such a fraught relationship with the world around her.  So I cosplayed her.  My favorite part of the costume is the sleeveless overcoat that she wears in The Deathly Hallows Part 2, so that's where the lion's share of my references come from.

Shall we start with the sleeveless overcoat?  I made mine out of boiled wool.  Hers must be wool, too, but I couldn't find anything with a similar geometric star motif, so I made those myself with a stencil and discharge paste.  The boiled wool was a calculated choice on my part, as it looks to me like the original overcoat has raw edges and is unhemmed, meaning the textile cannot ravel along the cut edges.  Boiled wool is woven and then felted, so it's well-suited for this sort of thing.  My mother was kind enough to spin the wool yarn I used to blanket stitch the edges of the overcoat.

My tunic is made of a beautifully-woven "coarse" silk.  The original has vine patterns on it, but I came to the conclusion that these were machine-embroidered on the yardage before the garment was made rather than hand-embroidered.  I couldn't find anything similar, and much of the tunic would be covered, so I only embroidered the sleeves.  The tassel fringe was a lucky find in that it matched the color of the silk perfectly.

To emulate Professor Trelawney's wild curls, I tightly curled a straight wig and then saturated it with pomade to help the curls maintain their definition.  There's some frizz to her hair, but not a huge amount, so I wanted to make sure that the curls wouldn't break up too much with wear.

The tunic and overcoat have since become one of my favorite winter ensembles.  There is nothing like wool and silk to keep warm during northeastern winters!

Progress posts:
Making the Impossible Possible


Dr. Mary Edwards Walker's Reform Ensemble

I made this ensemble based on a photograph of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker from 1864 when she visited England and met with Queen Victoria.  Dr. Walker was a dress reformer from a progressive family.  Her father stipulated that she would not wear corsetry as a child, and she continued to eschew it as an adult, instead choosing to join the American Dress Reform movement.  She worked for several years with Dr. Lydia Sayer on The Sibyl, a feminist dress reform newspaper during the 1850s and 60s.  She later rejected conventional feminine clothing entirely and from the 1870s onward wore exclusively men's suits.

My version of this dress is for summer wear.  The textile is a dual-toned cotton (tan warps, teal wefts) with dual-tone silk trimmings.  I drafted the pattern for the dress based on princess-line dressmaker's patterns as well as measurements from an extant 1860s bodice.  The trousers were drafted in a similar manner using measurements from a pair of 19th century men's trousers in my personal collection.

The completion of this ensemble comes close to a year after I became a scholar of 19th and early 20th century dress reform.  I found through my research that dress reformers refused corsetry but were not averse to boning in their dresses.  My dress has six bones to maintain its smoothness over the waist.

In the photographs below I have accessorized the dress for a later date, c.1880s.  The event I was at tended towards the latter part of the 19th century.  Though I am undoubtedly too young to accurately represent dress reformers in the later 19th century, the truth is that lifelong dress reformers lived into the 20th century and adhered to this style of dress until their deaths.  Dress reform was not fashion-averse and photographs show that some dress reformers stayed abreast of fashion trends as long as those trends did not disrupt the core principles of dress reform, that is, health and ease of movement.

In other photographs Mary often wore her hair in tight curls, completely unbound or in a part-updo.  I chose the latter to provide the support my hat requires to be worn properly.

Photo on left by Elisa Libratty, photo on right by Kathy Libratty
Photo by Kathy Libratty

Amira Photo Gallery

Amira was my entry in the Anime Boston 2017 masquerade.  It was another complex build that I tried to squeeze into too little time, but I was so very fortunate at how well it turned out.  I did not sleep the night before the competition for trying to get every last stitch of embroidery completed in time.  The work paid off, as I won first place master division craftsmanship, the second-highest craftsmanship award in the competition.  This is one of the toughest competitions on the east coast, and I am so excited to have taken home one of the top prizes!  She later went on, after many more grueling months, to win third place in the needlework category at New York Comic Con 2017.

The character of Amira, from the manga Bride Stories, is a 19th century Turkic woman from an unspecified region.  Though in an arranged marriage to a boy much younger than she is, she is an independent woman who frequently does other than she ought to.

I was wary of cultural appropriation/exploitation when approaching this costume.  Since there are so many regional costume differences in the Turkic region, and I lacked the benefit of knowing from which region Amira hails, I conducted general research into the cut and construction of Ottoman garments.  This allowed me to draft all my garments as close to the way they ought to have been as possible.  That meant introducing some changes to the original design.  One such change can be seen in the hang of the sleeves.

The entire costume is hand embroidered using cotton embroidery thread, synthetic and metal thread, glass beads, metal passing, mirrors, and steel paillets.  I received copious compliments from the masquerade judges about how neat my embroidery is on the reverse.

As much as possible I adhered to materials that would have been available in Turkey in the 19th century.  The coat and hat are wool, the underdress is cotton, and the pants, vest, and scarf are silk.  The boots I also made.  They were drafted, like the other garments, based on cutting layouts of Ottoman footwear, tooled, wet-molded, and tinted.  I should be clear that, as I had never made a pair of boots like this before, the outcome was pleasing and wholly comfortable.

In the photos below you'll see a progression of changes in the costume, from its first iteration in April 2017 until the final stage of completion in October of that year for New York Comic Con.  This encompassed an enormous amount of additional embroidery, my bow, quiver and arrows, a 12-braid wool quiver belt, a complete remake of my necklaces, new triangular side pieces on my hat, and the decision to double French braid my own hair in place of my original wig.

(You'll have to excuse my lack of photos for the moment, as of December 2017 New York Comic Con has yet to post their official masquerade photos, of which a great deal were taken and among which I hope are some excellent ones!)

Photography by David G. Whitham/DGW Photography
 Left: Photography by Andrea Pierce/SDE Photography
Right: Photography by Rodrigo Ramirez

Left: Photography by Rodrigo Ramirez
Right: Photography by Madd Joey


Yelek, finished at top, interior and detail photos below
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Chemise, front and back

Left to right: Handstitched finishing inside cap, beaded edge of headscarf, braided ties at center front closure on chemise
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 Left to right: short necklace, prayer box necklace, 12-strand braid hair tie and quiver belt
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