8 September

DragonCon 2014

This was possibly our most successful DragonCon to date. Last year was much more hectic and stressful, but despite managing 7 costumes and making last minute hot glue gun repairs in our room, we had a great time.  My husband and I and a good friend all made it to the giant 600 person Marvel Photoshoot and we had a blast.

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We are planning improvements to next years ‘Guardians” group.  My green friend there put her outfit together last minute and rounded up our Ronan and Star Lord. I’m going to update to a full or partial fur suit, and Groot will be updated with an internal cooling system, a better paint job and longer legs.  My husband survived his first full body suit experience quite well, and still give tons of “Groot Hugs” on the way back to the hotel room when by all rights, he should have been exhausted.

The rest of my costumes went over pretty well, but none of them were really meant to be amazing this year.  Mara was a repeat and my lightsaber only lit up half way. I thought I’d forgotten ALL my wigs, my Zelda crown crumbled in my hands and my bow got tangled in some chick’s armor and pulled it apart. I almost lost my friend’s elf ears, and Catra wasn’t done before Sunday night. At DragonCon. I forgot hubby’s green belt for his Jedi, and I couldn’t find my other silver glove for this photoshoot.  The only costume that worked 100% correctly was Ginger from Legend of Korra, and now I want to go back and shorten the skirt.  Oh well.  Other than costume malfunctions, it was a great weekend.

This was the first year I didn’t paint myself blue at all either.

We’re already talking about next years group plans, and roping more people into them, so we’ll see how it goes.

30 April

River: recent commission

River

 

A friend requested this River outfit for her appearance at ConNooga 2014. It was a little last minute, but it came together nicely. She helped me research the dress, and while the colors are a little more royal blue than I wanted, she is happy with the result. A later version of the dress may be painted to look like the print that the overlay is supposed to be.  Like the dress in Serenity, the overdress is made of a sheer poly fabric and all seams serged in white – close fitting at the torso and flowing out into a half-circle.  Because of how lightweight the material was, all the seams are reinforced with a straight stitch in blue thread and fray-checked.

The underdress is knit and cut on the bias for extra flow. The lower hem is turned under once, and the seams serged and reinforced. I made the straps with some trial and error, and the top of the dress has a soft bra panel lining to avoid outer seam stitching showing.  She found a prop sword on Ebay that is close to screen accurate.

Photography by Russell Harrison.

27 April

Paul Cory and a suede coat

Paul Cory Photography Photo taken by Paul Cory, at the Festival of Legends just outside of Chapel Hill, NC 4/26/14.

Meeting new people and running into current friends at like-minded festivals is always fun, but sometimes not as much fun as finding the photos later. I’ve known Paul Cory through con circles and other people, and I always love his work.  He’s taken a few shots of me that I adore, so I’m a little biased.  He’s always around North Carolina sci-fi and fantasy conventions, and sells sessions for reasonable fees.

I also wanted to show off the suede cloak.

About 2 weeks ago, that cloak started out as six pieces of soft pigskin suede. I used every single bit of it, with only tiny scraps left over. The cloak is patterned roughly after a fleece version that a company in UK sells. Their cloaks look hand-serged, and nice and full and flowy. My friend wanted one that was real leather suede, and through fortunate timing, we found a pile of it on sale at our local  Tandy Leather store.  We inspected and unrolled around 10 pieces and chose six that were closest matched in tone and color.  I gleefully took them home, petted them, then hung them vertically to let the skins stretch naturally for a few days. I knew the cloak was going to be heavy, and it would stretch on its’ own and possibly pull any seams I had done if I didn’t let them hang first and pre-stretch.

I made one mockup of muslin following a simplicity pattern. We weren’t totally happy with the results, so I cut off the sleeves and skirt, and made a new bodice using McCall’s ‘snow white’ pattern. The sleeve holes were better fitted for movement, and I used the bodice pattern pieces 1-4 and the upper arm, cut in half along the upper curve, then cut the pieces so the top curved in and removed the need for any sleeve ease. You really don’t ever want to try to ease a leather sleeve. This bodice fit better under the arms and in front, and I was able to fit a hood to it and the existing bell sleeves and skirt with no problem.

The biggest change ended up being the fullness of the coat.  The cloth mock-up had 8 panels, but we reduced it to 6, because a leather coat didn’t have to be as full as the dress pattern, and we would have had to buy another hide to fill it out.

The suede sewed together like a dream. I really didn’t expect it to just zip through my machine so well, even using my non-digital ‘heavy duty’ machine (I also own a digital machine and 2 sergers, and an embroidery machine).  It was thick, but easy to work with, no worse than any other dense, slightly stretchy fabric.  My machine does worse with vinyl and breaks more needles.

I learned something important while stitching embroidery on real leather suede.  The sewing needle gets hot, very fast. I could only embroider around 6 inches at a time, and that was pressing my luck.  I had to clean the needle regularly with nail polish remover.  When it overheats, it melts the suede and the needle becomes sticky with seared animal proteins.  The thread broke often, but not in ways that hurt the leather, and the Coats embroidery thread is working well so far.  The leather is backed with non-fusible interfacing, then the extra was cut away after stitching.  It took me 8 hours of sewing to embroider the middle back, sleeve back and shoulders. It will probably take me another 12 to do the bottom edges and front.  Fortunately, I found that I can prop open my laptop and have re-runs of Buffy running on Amazon Prime. I have to stop often to clean and let the needle cool off every five minutes anyway, so it was a nice distraction.

I’ve only used about 3-4 leather needles so far, which is pretty good, considering.  I have more embroidering to do on the cloak, but I got as much done as I promised I could within a 2 week period.  My customer is thrilled with her product.

23 April

Toothless 2 – Hoodie adventures

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is coming out in a few months, and I think I need to make something that’s going to be too warm to wear in June.

The first HTYD movie was wonderful and my husband and I both bawled at the end.  I still can’t watch the damn thing without crying. Toothless grew on me fast – his style threw me off at first, but the animation of his expressions and body movements  and especially the eyes won me over fast.  My favorite dragons have traditionally been D&D versions, with strong, well defined bodies and distinct shining scales.  I’m still annoyed that Smaug is technically a Wyvern rather than a dragon – his arms are build into the wings rather than as another set of limbs.  Back to topic: last year, I made this Toothless for my nephew:

Toothless

Toothless was partially completed on the plane to New Zealand and during the first few days of travel.  He was finished in time to pose for photos on the South Island near the Franz-Josef glacier.  Which we got some good shots of, but our helicopter ride was canceled at the last minute due to weather, so we never actually got to go set foot on it.  That would have been my first helicopter trip ever too.  Ah well.  This Toothless was delivered over Christmas, and apparently has not left my nephew’s side since.  He was put together following a free pattern by “KatyA” on DeviantArt.  The pattern can be found here – http://katy-a.deviantart.com/art/Toothless-Pattern-Part-1-of-4-161986741 It is NOT released for commercial purposes, so I can’t make more of these for sale, only personal use.

Which leads me to this = Toothless Dragon Hoodie

Dragonhoodie

This dragon hoodie, on the other hand has no released pattern, but I suspect I can bastardize a few pieces of the DA pattern, or at least blow up the tail portion for the hoodie.  It is done by a Canadian company, and it simply looks amazing.  I’m plotting on doing my own, and I don’t know at this point if I’m going to make the whole thing from scratch or purchase 2 hoodies and scavenge tail, claw, wing and horn material from one of them.  I found a few base designs that I like – I prefer the ‘slim’ fit style, and I found a hoodie on ebay with a double zipper style that I would like to use as a base.  If I go the buy and modify route, I’d need two of the same style hoodie, maybe one the largest size they carry so I can harvest the bigger one for material. I like the diagonal seam across the front and would like to try drafting a pattern with raglan sleeves, and the lower pockets as in the ebay example (not the front pouch that most hoodies seem to have). I also like the draw string hood, so I’ll use that as well. I don’t like the puffy arms as much, however, so I don’t know if I’ll keep those as part of my design. I think that would make it different enough for me to sell if I don’t.

Using 2 hoodies – I have matching material, but it may not be enough. having a base to start with could, in theory, save me some time but I’ve become wary of ‘time saving’ shortcuts. It would be nice to not have to go through the whole fitting process though.

Using hoodie fabric – I can do my own design, make a pattern of my own (and in theory, digitize and sell that) but it will take extra time to do everything. On the other hand, I’ll have fabric to burn, and I can pick fabric that I can be sure won’t be too bulky with the added tail and whatnot.  There are advantages to being able to make another one, say for my nephew, with fabric I can buy readily.

Either way, I’ll need some black fabric paint and maybe a nice stencil for clean paint edges. I know for sure I”ll be doing a half-red tail with the viking symbol instead of all black like the one for sale.  I’d like to do my own design and sell it – perhaps a Smaug hoodie for sale instead of a Toothless, so I don’t risk stepping on the other shop’s figurative toes. My own Toothless hoodie will have the center back wing spines as well as seven pointed flappy wings rather than the four points that the already existing hoodie has.

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