Megpoid Camellia for Anime-Zap! 2015

Ah, it feels so good to cross things off lists!  Yesterday I tackled the white dress for my sister’s Megpoid cosplay.

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Here, if you need reminding, is an image of the costume in question.

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And here’s my version!  I spent all day yesterday constructing the dress, but admittedly I was working pretty leisurely on it.  The construction is simple and I probably could have finished in half a day.

I didn’t take many pictures of it during construction, but here’s a close up of the bodice and the inside of the bodice:

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I drafted the pattern on my dress form, to my sister’s measurements.  Since it’s a strapless dress, I built it more sturdily than my own.  The inner layer is an old thrifted white sheet, the fashion layer is white peach skin, and it’s lined with white lining fabric.  I added a hefty amount of boning (some industrial-size zip ties that my dad gave me for free; score!)  There are two bones to each seam and some in between seam, as well.  One thing I really hate sometimes is seeing a good costume – historical or otherwise – ruined by looking slummy because of a lack of proper undergarments/structuring.  Stays and corsets are important for historical costuming, and I guess for me that carries over into modern costuming as well; the silhouette is important.  So, anyway, that’s the reason for that.  (Sorry for the spiel!)

The skirt is a half-circle.  It took me some thinking to decide how to do the skirt of the dress, because the green petticoat was cut in a full circle only for fullness – I didn’t want the dress skirt to be that full.  In the picture, it pretty much lays flat over the green fluff layer.  So I played around with some fabric and the petticoat on my dress form until I decided that a half-circle would do.

And also…

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A hat!  I whipped this together in about ten minutes with some hot glue and an old black felt hat I happened to have laying around.  The green flowers I had gone shopping for last week, and I went to every craft store in town to find what I wanted – but I was working off memory and didn’t have a picture of the costume with me, so maybe I was being more picky than I needed to be.  Anyhow, none of the flowers I found were actually camellias, but they’re all a good close match.  The flowers on the dress were bought for this project; the white flower on the hat and the crystals were bought a while back on clearance, as well as the green striped ribbon.

This project is essentially finished (“essentially finished” – my catchphrase) and it’s nice to have finally completed something!  I’ve been working on bits and pieces of stuff but there’s a sense of accomplishment in having a costume all done.  All I have left on this one is to add a bit more green tulle to the petticoat (or maybe I’ll add it to the white skirt itself) to cover that little gap where I pulled the skirt up to attach the flower.

 

And what did I work on today…?

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Hint: it involves… yet more ruffles!  I’ll post about that tomorrow.

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Camellias for Anime-Zap! – skirts, part one

I’ve officially hit that point where I am way the heck behind on my sister’s and my convention costumes.  I have three to make for each of us; as of the start of this week, I had one of them started, and nothing else.  So it’s time to get my butt in gear with these things.

On Saturday of the convention, we’re planning to do sort-of matching Vocaloid costumes.

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My sister wanted to do Megpoid (the green one) and she picked out Meiko (in red) for me.  These are costumes I love.  Big and fluffy and ruffly.  Immediately I knew what I wanted: yards and yards… and yards… of tulle.

I knew these skirts were going to be a pain so I decided to get them out of the way first this week.  I went out and got a few bolts worth of tulle, and some matching colored broadcloth for the skirts.  I began with a simple circle skirt pattern:

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Then, before cutting into my tulle, I sat down with a calculator, a pen and paper, and a stumped expression, and did some math.  and some calculating.  and some more math.  and still more math.

The truth is, I almost never measure or calculate anything when I sew, and that does fairly often come back to bite me in the ass.  Even when I do, I somehow always get things wrong.  For instance, I figured that I needed nineteen pieces of 10″ by 28″ to make the ruffle that would go at the hem of the skirt, and I ended up using fifteen.  That might have been due to under-gathering in some spots, but that’s still a lot of extra yardage to waste.  So anyway, after that, I went back to my usual method of doing things: eyeballing it.

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I made a makeshift cutting board out of some other fabric I had at hand, because no way can I cut nineteen straight lines in tulle.  I can maybe do it in regular fabric.

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Four little piles of tulle strips.  I sewed them together, end t0 end.  I was so happy when I was finished because it seemed like I had not screwed it up and gotten some of the seams on the wrong side… when it turned out that I had, in fact, somehow flipped it over halfway through, so half of my seams went one way and half went the other.  Not that you can tell, it’s tulle.

I folded the entire long as hell strip in half, pressed it (carefully) so it would hold a crease, and then I sewed a loooong piece of cord down one side for gathering.  I’m really fond of cord gathering, rather than doing it on a thread.  Then I sewed the whole mess to the hem of the skirt.

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Here it is with one tier of ruffles, just the one at the hem.

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Here it is with two.  The second tier was two inches longer than the first, and sewn on right above it.  But already I knew that if I kept going like this, not only would I need a gajillion yards of tulle, but the shape wasn’t what I wanted.  So for the next layer, I went back to 5″ wide ruffles, and sewed them to a long piece of green broadcloth, which was then gathered and stitched down two inches under the waistline.

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The inside of the skirt, with the “yoke”.  Not the easiest thing to assemble – I kind of went about the whole skirt backwards, I think.

It was still not quite enough poof.  I took my remaining tulle and cut it into four 18″ wide strips, which were joined together, and folded in half to make 9″.  This I gathered and stitched down on the underside of the yoke, to give the hip part of the skirt a little more oomph.

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The completed skirt, laying flat(ish), and a view of the poof.

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And here it is on my dress form – complete with an underskirt view ;D

Tomorrow, I tackle the red version of this poofy mess, which is going to have twice as many ruffles!  We’ll see if I can finish it in a day; this green one took me two afternoons, but I probably could have finished it in one day if I’d gotten out of bed earlier.

a little more Ciel

All’s quiet on the blogging front, eh?  I haven’t really done any sewing since finishing my last project.  I’ve been out of town for the most part of the last three weeks.  I did have some sewing to do last week, but due to an unexpected eye injury that left me unable to do anything but sit in a dark room with blankets over my head for four days, I didn’t get to it.  I’m going to try to this week, though.

anywho, I got a chance to take my Ciel costume for a test drive a few weeks ago, during a rare stretch of nice weather in the Chicago area.  my sister and I went to a nearby park and snapped some photos, a few serious, but mostly for the lols.  so I’ll share a few of my photos with you.

this is the complete costume, minus only the hat, which I naturally forgot at home.  I have such a problem with hats!

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some nice full-body shots, wherein you can see the bustle effect of the gown nicely.  the back is not laced completely shut because I can’t do it by myself.  I’m going to need someone to help me into this outfit the next time I put it on.

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my “glamour shot”, I suppose.  I’m wearing Super Pinky Blue lenses from PinkyParadise.com.  I feel like they really bring up the effect of the costume as a whole, so I’m glad I went for them.  this is my first experience with costume contact lenses, and I’m really pleased with the look of them, and the ease of wearing them.  I think my make-up could use some improvement, so I’m going to play with looks a little more before the convention.  I’d like to achieve a little more of an “anime-y” look if I can.  any tips from cosplayers out there?

now for the silly photos:

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the first one is a really becoming pic of me about to sneeze.  I guess that’s what I get for taking pictures in the brush!  the second one is me wearing my sister’s little frilly maid hat.  then we did a bunch of pictures doing really ridiculous poses.  on the whole, it was a lot of fun!  I wouldn’t consider myself a “cosplayer” – that is, I like to make costumes and dress up, but I don’t get into character and I can’t act or model for the life of me.  in fact, I was hard put to get a handful of pictures with a straight face, because I’m so bad in front of a camera.  I guess that’s something else to work on…!

the Ciel “roses” gown – part one

I mentioned in my last post that I’ll be going to Anime Central in May.  I haven’t been to an anime convention in at least ten years, but it’s a wonderful chance to dress up and show off my costumes, so I’m going this year!  I started working on my costume this week, and I’ve made pretty good progress, if I do say so myself!

I’m going with my little sister, and she was the one who picked our characters.

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I’ll be going as the girl version of Ciel from Black Butler.  which means I get to build a big, frilly ball gown!

I planned things out, and decided what changes I wanted to make to the original idea.  the story is set in the Victorian era, in the late 1880s, so I wanted to make my costume more reflective of that period of fashion than it is in the anime.  even the best-made versions of this gown I’ve seen still look… well, costumey, so I aimed to make mine look more like a real outfit from that time, a formal gown that a woman might have worn at that time.  also, I wanted to change the color scheme from pink and white to pink and ivory, just out of personal preference.

I went fabric shopping this weekend… and really was disappointed, even more so than I usually am by my local fabric store.  they didn’t have much in the colors I was looking for.  as for fabric, I was determined to avoid satin – again out of personal preference; I don’t like shiny fabrics – and in the end I went with cotton calico, because they had both the colors and yardage I needed.  it’s not as fancy as I’d have liked, but then again, this is a costume – something I’m going to be traipsing around in for hours, something that’s going to get dirty and probably stepped on.

I started working on the bodice on Sunday.

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this was my first draft, which ended up fitting the best.  I pinned it on my dress form with canvas, and then cut a mock-up out of a lighter weight cotton.  the only alteration it needed was to cut the armhole a little smaller, so I was good to go!

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the inner layer of the bodice is two layers of a heavier cotton calico that I had laying around.  I put two bones at every seam and along the darts.  I used cable ties for a few reasons: I had some available, for one, and I didn’t want this thing to be as heavy as a corset.  the inner lining is heavy enough to keep the bodice up on its own, but the bones give it that little extra support.  the shape was important to me, because a gown like this would have been worn over a corset in period, but I didn’t want to actually have to wear a corset under my costume, for reasons of comfort.

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here’s the bodice with the outer layer attached.  I made a mistake, and cut the fashion fabric using my first un-altered pattern, and so the arm holes were a little too deep.  I didn’t realize until I had the thing put together.  I left it that way because I didn’t feel like taking it apart, and because it doesn’t make a difference in how the bodice fits.

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the pleated trim was just a tube of the ivory fabric turned inside out and pleated to fit.  I somehow miscalculated and ended up with twice the length I needed for the top of the bodice… but no worries, because I need a mile of pleats for the underskirt, so I’m a bit ahead of the game there.

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the bodice is finished!  it looks bad on my dress form, but it fits me to a tee.  it laces up the back with grommets.  I debated a back-lacing bodice versus one that closed in the front, and went with back-lacing for two reasons: the gown in the anime does have a corset-ish black ribbon decoration up the back, and I thought it would look better than a front-closing gown with all that stuff right smack in the front.  plus, I have seen a fashion plate with a back-lacing bodice on a ball gown, so I can call it period accurate 😀

I bought a grommet setter, and this project was the first time I used it.  I’ve always used an awl and a hammer to set grommets in the past, but after slicing my hand open for the third time with my awl, I got frustrated, and decided to give the tool a try.  I’m pleased with the way it works, after I got the hang of it!  (my first few grommets came out pretty ugly, though!)  I still don’t like the idea of punching holes in fabric – I think the awl is better – but it sure is quicker.

the black trim is grosgrain ribbon.  the rose comes from a bouquet I deconstructed.  the bow is the same ivory cotton which I painted with black fabric paint to get the stripes just right.  I never thought of using fabric paint in this way before, but I’m pleased with the end result.

next week, I’ll tackle the skirts.  I already have the ivory underskirt pattern made, and the skirt is finished except for needing hemming.  then I have to figure out how to drape the pink overskirt, and of course I have to trim the both of them with a gajillion pleats.  the pleating and the trim is going to be the worst part of the whole outfit, so if I can get it done on my next off week, I’ll be golden!

18th century inspired cape

just a quick and dirty post with some quick and dirty pictures of the pelisse I made a few weeks ago.  it’s inspired by the styles of capes in the mid to late 18th century, but isn’t wholly period.  I was experimenting with styles and techniques.

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it’s made of almost entirely thrifted materials, and was therefore wonderfully cheap.  the faux fur came from a huge fur coat I picked up at a thrift store (I really mean huge; I’ve still got enough fur left for a whole other cape after this one!) and the red velvet I snagged at an estate sale a while back.  it’s not really as vibrant as it appears in the photos.  the cape is inner-lined in flannel from my stash, and lined with maroon cotton, which was the only thing I bought for this project.

I’m not sure I’m happy with the way the hood looks; at the time I was working on it, I was feeling too lazy to mess around with pleats and get that characteristic look of 18th century hoods.  the hood is entirely lined with fur, for warmth, but it’s pretty full and pointy looking.  something I may redo at some future point.

I’m just waiting for the weather to warm up a little – at least to bearable temperatures – to get some decent photos of my pretty new winter things out in the snow.  but I also have another project that I’m working on this week, of which I may have some pictures soon.