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.
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.
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 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
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.
Also, Midna related.
Should be available for voting on in the Halloween contest soon.
I’m calling this ‘done’. There may be a few other things I could do, but I’m pretty happy with it.
Saturday photo from Animazement of myself as Imp Midna and my good friend Mary as Wolf Link. This weekend was amazing and I love seeing my friends and hanging out with them in and out of epic costume time. The reactions I got were beyond wonderful and much photo mobbing was had.
The glow on my suit is more reflective tape. I haven’t seen any other Midna’s do it, and I’m looking forward to a real photoshoot (SOON) with my puppy in more convincing surroundings. The hair is a giant fleece ponytail that I gradient dyed. I really love the effect and am just completely thrilled with how it came out. I may replace it with a (lot of) real wigs bundled together but I kinda like it just the way it is.
I totally forgot to post this here!
Finished Midna Helm!
WIP – Midna’s helmet.
I needed to take a break from working on commissions and to keep myself from going insane during a 7 day work week. I wasn’t able to work on my commissions, but I was able to throw time at the helmet while spending time with my husband. I probably should have kept better track of time, but I believe this is currently over 15 hours of work, possibly 20. The layers of sealant and paint won’t take up too much time, but it may depend on how I decide to finish the final layer of paint. I want shine, but not too much. The helmet in game is almost like ore – not shiny like metal, but not entirely rocky either. It’s a weird mix. The fact that there are broken bits and cracks makes me think it’s not pure metal, but it’s not polished granite either. That said, a granite type finish might be a good idea, with speckles. hmm..
This thing is HUGE. When I started on this journey (haha) I knew I wanted to make it as proportional as possible to the original Imp form of Midna, who is of course very small and stout. This helmet is about two feet wide and the crown is a full 40 inches around. I have a lot of extra space inside the helmet, so after this thing is painted and sealed, the next step will be adding interior padding so it’s comfortable, and of course, the ears need to be added. Looking back at the model, I should probably add a half inch rim all the way around the bottom edge of the top half of the crown. WHEE MORE GLUE.
… This thing is going to be HEAVY. I haven’t even added the wig yet. Which may be fleece.
Materials: Several butchered anti-fatigue floor mats, nearly 24 sticks of very large hot glue sticks (about 3 wasted and discarded), thick floral foam wire, some craft foam for raised areas, model magic for the rope snake and other raised puffy areas and elmers glue for sealant before painting. The white stuff was my first attempt to seal the helmet with spackle. It didn’t really work. The front piece of the helmet is lined on the outside edge with Worbla, for strength and to resist denting should I drop it. I had some gap issues with it though, so I decided not to use it on the rest of the crown.
I found the original textures and blew them up, by a lot. It messes with the details a bit, but I was able to cut an exact replica with the edges. The front piece is exactly the right shape. I do have a tiny bit of an issue where the crown is about an inch or so too high – you shouldn’t be able to see the blocks above the rim of the front piece of the helmet, but I think it looks okay. I can’t cut any more off the bottom edge, nor off the top and the only other option is remaking either the crown or the front piece, and neither of those is going to happen.
I’m sorting out my schedule leading up to Animazement 2013, but I have a number of costume commissions to finish, including at least one of my own projects. Some time at the end of June, I’ll be starting on my Twilight Princess Zelda.
I feel like I’m spending all my free time sewing, but I’m really enjoying it. It gets me away from computers. If it paid well enough, I’d just sew all day instead. One commission is done, with 3 more to finish, and one stuffed animal before June 10th.
In snatches of free time, I’m playing the new Tomb Raider on PS3. It’s really quite fun, and satisfies my urge to Explore All The Things. I’m happy there appear to be no zombies in the game. I never finished the first uncharted due to unexpected super fast monster zombies. And the fact the area I’m in you have to start over from the beginning of a ten minute run when you die. I could jack it down to ‘easy’ I suppose and try to finish it that way.