I now have two offerings for sale as patterns.
The hand stitching cord pattern as printable sheets with instructions
And Midna has been updated to include skirt design patterns.
It’s the end of November and I have just one month left in 2014 to Get Stuff Done.
I ended up taking a staycation last week and got three sewing projects knocked out and done, two of which were just finishing them for commission work, the third was my Arwen. Last night I sculpted and baked the belt buckle, so the things left are fixing the collar, maybe removing the zipper and figuring out if I’m going to baseball stitch the seams or not. The leather seams have a lot of bulk and it’s hard to keep the stitches nice and tight since they’re decorative and not functional. I also have to decide if I want to take in the bodice or not. I think I’ll pick up gloves at some point rather than making them, I don’t really have time to hand stitch a pair of gloves.
Things I Have to do this year:
1) Finish Brandon’s stupid uniform I volunteered to remake because I wasn’t 100% happy with the first one.
2) Eventually make Danielle’s Mara Jade jumpsuit.
3) Finish Arwen this year before the last Hobbit movie. If I don’t, it will never be completely finished.
Rocket Racoon, D&D cartoon characters and Purple Padme. Possible commissions on the horizon.
First con of 2015 MIGHT be Ichiban, we shall see.
Following various online sites for the “Chase Dress” from Lord of the Rings, I have mostly finished my grey leather Arwen costume.
I have a new costume I can literally throw on at a moments notice (yay) with minimal extra stuff.
This site had I think the most helpful photos. The movie is over ten years old now??? and some of the other sites had links to images on other pages that no longer exist.
This one is also full of embedded photos, but I didn’t always find it again when I googled the dress.
This page was most helpful with pattern suggestions.
I started with seven goatskin hides. They’re the right color but I mistakenly thought they were suede, which is what I really needed. In the end though, I really like the goatskin finish, even though they’re white on the insides of the skins. The ebay price was very good too – I couldn’t find ‘dove grey’ suede leather, and when I could, it was outrageously priced or far too thick. So this ended up being a really good compromise between settling for microsuede fabric and going for using all leather. I used 4 full skins for the skirts, which overlap very nicely and are full. 1 skin went to the sleeve bottoms, which are huge, and the other skins were enough for the bodice and upper arms. I had to re-cut one upper sleeve because the embroidery didn’t work out the way I wanted. It’s still hard to tell exactly how the design was done on the sleeves, but I’m happy with the machine embroidery, and it didn’t give me an issue with the leather. The bodice is unlined, but I’m considering either lining it or finding another way to reinforce the leather so it won’t stretch over time. I think I already have to take it in a bit.
Yesterday I re-hemmed the goldish sleeve material and fray-checked it. I glued down the inside of the sleeve material and trimmed it up – which is blue microsuede cut from a thrift store shirt. I trimmed down my ears yesterday too, so they should sit better next time. I still don’t have my 3D printed belt buckle, so it looks like I’ll just be making it out of worbla or wire reinforced sculpey. The last bit is baseball stitching the seams, but I don’t like the way I’ve started them. The good news is, this leather has been surprisingly forgiving of oopsie needle punches. I’m not entirely sure why the bodice pulls so much on the side near the arm scythe, so I’ll have to see if that’s fixable.
I think I’m planning on removing the front zipper entirely and replacing it with hand sewn in hooks and eyes. I don’t like that the zipper is somewhat visible, and that there’s a line of top stitching that is visible at the front.
The collar is still kind of crazy and needs adjustment. I should have done a pattern test on the collar, but alas, I did not.
I will probably not be offering this as a possible commission. The leather is too hard to find.
If we ever go back to New Zealand, I’m totally bringing this along.
We just bought a house, and it’s going to have a two-car garage, potential backyard space for a workshop shed and my sewing area will be doubled. We’ll finally have a room we can put all his grandparent’s antiques in and not leave them somewhere and hope they don’t get scratched. The house will be built to the design we want, and will be ready in a few months. Which means we have to move again.
Hubby’s working on a large vacuum former, which right now is taking up a lot of space in our rental place, but soon things will be changing. We’re one big step closer to renting out our original home after this weekend. In the mean time, we’re plotting up next DragonCon’s costume line up. I think the bug finally bit my husband and now he’s eager to put his workshop skills and tools to use on some fun projects.
This year, we went as our first ‘paired’ costume set, Rocket(te) and Groot. By DragonCon next year, we’ll likely again be Upgraded (fursuit)Rocket and (latex)Groot, some D&D characters from the cartoon back in the day, and a RIFTS duo. His costume, I think is secret for now, so I’ll just say I’m starting plans for making myself a Lay-line Walker and leaving it at that. My purple padme gown will make four costumes, and hopefully by then I’ll be in shape to wear Cursed Midna again, making that more or less my costume limit, allowing for one surprise outfit of some kind, maybe. I’m finding myself just not wanting to change all that often anymore. I’m having more fun wearing a well-made costume ‘all day’ rather than switching out to something I haven’t spent as much time on.
Poking around for Rocket Racoon reference images, I think this is my favorite thing that showed up. (artist and original comic book unknown)
I’m now sure that I can finish Padme’s Purple Senate gown.
Now I just have to find out what kind of dye to use.
Disclaimer: All photos of the dress are from Padawan’s guide. I haven’t made my own YET. But I’m working on it. The Padawan’s Guide photos are from here: http://www.padawansguide.com/purple.shtml – they are used only as references and to explain how the cord is laid out.
Use the photo below for how the cords should be finished – four rows of a single unbroken running bourdon cord (or two cords), as best described by Kay-Dee on her page here: http://kay-dee.net/costumes/purple/index.htm
The only thing her extremely helpful site did not have were the layout patterns for the cording; I am providing them here. I couldn’t have gotten this far without her pages and pages of tips and suggestions, so thank you Kay-Dee!!!
The reprinted images do not belong to me, but my traced pattern lines do. I you share them, please credit me back for the printable patterns.
Steps for using my patterns
- The images should all be printed out full size and taped together – they should all overlap by a few inches.
- Using wax-free tracing paper, put the colored paper face down on your fabric, the printout on top and trace the middle most inner line onto your fabric using the wheel. Pin the paper in place with regular straight pins so it stays straight up and down on your fabric. Your inner cord will fall along either side of this middle line, and then your outer cord will fall outside the inner cords. Use my printouts as a reference
The cording should end up looking nice and snug up against each other, in a flowing vine layout, done with a couching stitch and hoop. Use a silvery metallic thread if possible for shine.
The inner cord becomes the base for the outer cord. Snug the outer cord right up against the inner when you finish the full inner loop, which will run all the way around at the top, and then loop over your starting point. Add single loopys to the outer cord. Pay attention, some are single ‘tails’ and some are fully doubled, like the one on the inside that hooks off a bigger loopy
The cord will extend out past the top of the pattern I have here, but up until that point is all that is visible. I haven’t seen the dress in person so I don’t know if it extends further. Since the dress is always worn with the coat and the neckline under the coat is never seen, you could get away with just tying it off and not continuing the cord around the upper neckline and back of the neck.
I strongly suggest cutting my neck pattern down the middle and aligning the sides on your dress as needed for a wider or narrower “V” cording pattern. Unlike the front skirt panel and sleeves, there doesn’t appear to be any single loops using only the outer cord.
The sleeve cording pattern is ALMOST mirrored on each side of both sleeves, so you need four patterns total.
It doesn’t show the top of the arm, but we can infer from this and other shots that the sleeve pattern extends up and into the coat.
I like that these shots show the reflected purple glow from the velvet so you can really tell it’s not black.
Above is another shot from Padawan’s Guide – you can clearly see the cording extending all the way up to the sleeve cap/sleeve opening.
In this shot here (also from Padawan’s Guide, you can clearly see the waist seam, and you can kind of see a new curly pattern on the arm up at the top, which I’m including in my pattern. Anything above the mid-upper arm really is just guesswork on my part, so feel free to use the top sections as I have drawn them, or not.
It might be difficult to hoop the sleeves and neckline, but you can still do it by basting your cut sleeve pieces down on another piece of non-stretchy material at the edges, and then hooping. Cut the material off around the sleeves and you have an instant layer of interfacing. The sleeves seem pretty stiff in photos, so this might work out well in the long run. My sleeve pattern might have to be cut into a few pieces to get it lined up on your fabric correctly, depending on your pattern.
The reason I say the sleeve pattern is ALMOST mirrored is due to this infuriating shot here:
Granted, I find EVERY shot of this dress infuriating because the color seems to change EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. But what am I looking at specifically? I’ll tell you. (PS, there’s a great shot of the crinkle fabric coat lining here)
This. This right here.
You can clearly see some of the loopy’s at the seam pointed down against the outer ones pointed up. I’m not going to redraw the pattern just for these couple of differences, so I’ll either conveniently ignore them or do the outer sleeve panels first and decide if I want to give myself a migraine or not.
I don’t have any other good shots that I can reference of the inside of the sleeves, so I’m going to just have to assume these are the only differences, if only for my own sanity.
The neckline might be best done after the dress is complete; just make sure it’s very well interfaced. Saving it to the very end/post attachment means you can cord around the upper neck easily. If you aren’t sure if you have enough to go around the back, start at a shoulder seam and stitch in place while the dress is on a manikin or a patient friend.
And that’s it for my contribution for your own costume’s construction. For everything else, go check out Kay-Dee’s tutorial, or if a Rebel Legion member, there are lots of helpful people on the forums who have already constructed this dress or can help with specific techniques.
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.