So, sometime in the past, News 14 asked for a Gas Station sort of virtual set. The reporter that requested it wanted to be able to render out a short animation that showed the entire gas station from a distance and then zoomed into the pump. My boss okayed the project, and then never told me to stop working on it after I finished what the reporter asked for. For a few extra weeks between other projects, I added a bunch of extra props to flesh out the scene. I added dumpsters modeled after the ones in our parking lot, a phone booth and air/vacuum pump, some basic shelves inside the store, wooden pallets, the ice machine, and a few other bits. They finally got around to telling me to stop working on it, or I would have flattened the curb in front of the store to make a wheelchair access, and improved the lighting rigs. I made or modified all the textures in Photoshop, and took some of the texture photos myself from a local gas station.
Close up of the pumps:
further back, older file but shows more.
A cat post. It had to happen sooner or later. Meet Lieutenant McFluffypants.
Louie here is 19 years old this year. That’s roughly six billion in cat years. Here’s a shout-out to you, buddy, I hope you stick around for another 20 years, cause you aren’t allowed to die. My world would end.
He was adopted by my husband in ’96 from the Wake County Animal Shelter, and he was already almost an adult then, probably about a year old but no one knows for sure. He’s at the vet here for his usual check-ups and a refill of his allergy and arthritis/pain drugs. His vet says he has the heart and lungs of a much younger cat, plus no signs of anything bad about to happen – knock wood – but he is legitimately is old as dirt so we’ll keep a close eye on him.
Here’s to you, Louie. Keeping being a kitty.
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 totally forgot to post this here!
Finished Midna Helm!
Fighting off ConCrud. whoohoo. Not too bad though. I did call LifeSouth and told them they probably can’t use the blood I donated. I’m assuming they’ll double check it. The Red Cross called on the way down. They told me to ask for my THREE GALLON pin when I go in next time . DragonCon was my 31st donation, officially. DCon only had 2 donations on record, but I know I’ve donated at least 4 times previously.
DRAGONCON WAS AWESOME.
ALSO, I’M ON CNN. They used my photo on their before/after site. Apparently, I was also mentioned on air, but I haven’t seen the story yet.
The crowds were really rediculous though. There were times we almost couldn’t move through the Marriott levels.
My glowing cloak was a huge hit, and bronies loved my Chrysalis w/ fangs.
Over all, I dragged most of the weekend. I nearly passed out Friday night and my anxiety level didn’t really start winding down until Sunday. For a change, i didn’t sleep well, even though we stayed in nearly the exact same room as last year (might have actually BEEN the same room. The adult sci-fi panel wasn’t as fun as last year – some stupid woman kept howling incessantly about every five seconds. Like, wolf howling, not laugh howling. The pony group apparently was a disaster. I missed being in the parade because I woke up late and thought ‘fuck it’ and didn’t bother costuming until later. I technically didn’t use 2 of my costumes, though one was meant to wear if the rained during the parade and one meant for if it didn’t rain.
The high points were great though – I got to see Morgan again and hang out a bit, meet some of Jason’s friends, have some great costume duos with Mary, and bought a bunch of t-shirts. I got to judge a Whedon-verse costume contest, and that went very fast and easy. We didn’t have time to really talk to contestants and there was no pre-judging, but it was pretty obvious who was winning and who wasn’t. The Firefly winners were the 2 guys who contacted the company that made the beads for the uniform jackets and had new beads cast just for their costumes. They made everything themselves, and researched the type of armor used by the troopers in Serenity. There was pretty much no disagreement, and I think it went really well.
I got told that I was the ‘best Midna EVER’, which I’m still super excited about. He sounded like he’d seen a few others. As far as I could tell, I was the only Midna of my type this year, but I could be wrong. I saw a few Imps around too. While I wish I’d had more energy this year, not pushing myself to stay in costume the whole con was kind of nice too.