the “Kiki” Dress

My sister and I are going to be hitting up Anime Central for three days this year – and since time is short, I figured I could make one new costume for each of us and we could reuse some of the ones from the last convention (my Black Lady cosplay is something I definitely want to wear again.)  However, since none of my other projects are going right at the moment, I was feeling frustrated today and I wanted to do something else, something easy to get me out of my funk.  Well, there’s a super-easy cosplay that I’ve always wanted to do – Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service, one of my favorite movies.  So, I thought about what I wanted my cosplay to look like, made a run to the fabric store, and started and finished this cosplay today.

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Luna cosplay – part one

So, an honest moment here.  This blog is not the best showcase of my work.  I do make some efforts at a more professional-looking blog, but it’s not high on my list of priorities.  Anyway, all of what I post here is probably only about half of what I make, and it’s not necessarily the better half – my best items are the ones I make for other people, where I hold myself to extremely high standards – higher than costumes I make for my own enjoyment.  So what you get here on my blog is a mix of the good and the bad – and naturally, there will be some total failures from time to time.

So… I had really big ambitions this past week.  It began with a wig.

I ordered a cheap blue wig from Ebay a while ago, for my Dark Althena cosplay, but when I decided to change to the Lucia cosplay instead, I realized that the wig wasn’t going to work.  Lucia’s hair is more teal, and the wig I had was definitely blue, and I find I’m extremely picky about certain things when it comes to cosplay.  So, I ordered another one in a more teal-ish color – no harm done, very little money wasted.

But that blue wig just stared at me.  I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stand the though of not using it – I did, after all, go to some trouble to style it and make it look presentable, including five days of soaking it in some fabric softener to get rid of the horrible cheap wig shine (as a result, my apartment still smells like a field of flowers some weeks later.)  I was really determined to get some good out of it, for whatever reason.  So I started thinking about costumes I could use it for and then I had this brilliant idea.

Duh – Luna.

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I did some study of her costume, and broke it down into basically four parts – an underdress, a dress, a vest, and a shawl.  I thought to myself, this will be an easy make – I can probably get the whole thing done in less than a week!  Heck, I can probably get it done in a day!  I had plans to call this post “one-day cosplay” and show off how much you can get accomplished in a short amount of time.

Well – that plan got shot pretty quickly.  I severely underestimated this costume, and severely overestimated myself.

Of course, I wasn’t feeling my best this week to begin with, and I should know better than to try and sew too much when I’m already sick and tired – I always make mistakes.  But I overwhelmed myself with this costume.  I spent a good four days on it, and it’s still not done – it is nearly there; it’s 95% done according to my Cosplanner.  But it irks me that I didn’t finish it the way I planned.  Because, in theory, it should have been an easy make – it’s just four pieces, after all.

Well – on to the costume.

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Unlike the Lucia costume, there are some pretty good reference pics of Luna’s outfit.  What it looked like to me is that she has on a white underdress/shift type thing, followed by the yellow dress, then the blue and white overdress/vest/whatever, and the shawl tied around her hips.  I went digging through my newly-orginized stash, and found that I had nearly everything I needed – the only things I bought for this costume were some blue and purple remnants, and the fuzzy stuff for the bottom of her dress.

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I started with the shift, and made it your basic white shift – almost identical to my 18th century shift, except it has no gussets under the arms.  It’s made from an old linen curtain I got at the thrift store (price tag read $2 for a pair) and I cut my pieces at the bottom so I didn’t even have to hem it.  Although, I realized later that it’s a bit too long, so I’ll have to hem it after all…

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The yellow dress is made of some heavy yellow linen I’ve had laying around for a while now.  I was a little bit at a loss for how to build this – the image of Luna in her yellow dress shows it as being seamless with no visible opening or how to get it on.  You can see that it has a black collar and presumably laces or buttons at the neck.  I decided to open it up the front and make it lace up, cotehardie-style.  The hem is trimmed with maribou; I though that real (faux) fur would be too heavy and the maribou has a nice fluffy look to it.

The belt and the shawl are both finished, and the vest just needs a collar and closures put on for that to be finished, too – so really, this costume came together pretty well.  Just not as optimistically well as I wanted.  I’ll cover the vest and the shawl in my next post about this costume.

Bonus – here’s a pic of me modeling my wig, looking not-so-hot at six in the morning:

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I can’t decide whether or not to be pleased with my progress on this costume as a whole – on one hand, I got a lot done in a fairly short amount of time, but on the other hand, I literally had no reason to make this costume except for that I wanted to challenge myself.  I could have been working on my Anime-Zap! costumes instead, because that’s coming up quite fast.  Oh well – at least I learned my own limitations, if nothing else.

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.

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.

Capes!

Seems like fall is the perfect time to think about capes.

I know I’ve been lax in updating lately; I haven’t had much going on.  I got kicked in the teeth by Real Life the past few weeks so costuming is on hold (which reeeeally pains me to say because the months are ticking away toward January so quickly!)  recently, I sold my first custom order through my Etsy store, which I feel is a big step!  I meant to dedicate a lot more time to beefing up my store over the summer, but what with one thing and another, it got put on the back burner.  I’d like to start putting more effort into it now that things have calmed down a (very) little bit.

anyhow, my first sale was an 18th century wool cloak, which turned out quite beautifully!  then, at a department store the other day, I was wandering around the accessories area when I happened upon racks and racks of capes for fall!  capes everywhere!  I tried on a bunch for fun, and remembered how much I love a good cape.  of course, when I checked the price tags, my enthusiasm popped like a balloon.  who’s gonna pay $150 for a fleece cape?!  and naturally, I thought: why not make my own?

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this was the cape I liked and used as my inspiration.  what was the price on this cape, you ask?  $120.  I headed over to the fabric store, grabbed some rolls of fleece and faux fur out of the remnants bin, and got to work.

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a fairly unflattering picture of me wearing the finished product.

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this thing took me maybe a whole hour to whip together, and only that long because I hand-finished the edges where the fur is attached.  It’s basically a circle cloak, slightly stretched and gathered at the back neckline (inspired by 18th century cloaks, just because I like the look of it.)  It’s made of thick gray fleece and some shaggy faux fur.  it closes with a hook at the neckline.  it’s sort of an oblong circle, I suppose, because the center front and back are longer than the sides.  if I did it again, I’d make the sides longer.

gray fleece remnant: $3

faux fur remnant: $4

total cost: $7

can you even beat that?  huh?

Odette photoshoot

the pictures from the Odette photoshoot I did a few weeks ago.  warning: image heavy post!

 

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we had a gorgeous full strawberry moon that Friday night… which was unfortunately so hidden in fog that I didn’t really get any good moon pictures.  sigh!  but it was a nice night and we took a lot of pictures regardless.

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this was at the Kemper Center in Kenosha, a really lovely old building.  lots of nice steps, doorways, and arches for me to pose nearby!

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I posed near a great many doors.

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I really like this picture for some reason, even though it doesn’t show my face… who am I kidding, that’s exactly why I like it! :3

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these are my favorite pictures.

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the last shot of the night, we finally got a moon in the picture!  well, I had fun anyway.  even though this was a “throw-together” costume, I’m really pleased with the results.

Refashion Costumes – Odette

I have a confession to make: I am a velvet junkie.  I have a legitimate addiction to velvet.  But I do refuse to pay $15/yd+ for the stuff.  So one of my best sources for velvet – and a lot of things – is thrifting.

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Thrift stores are excellent for velvet, because there always seem to be racks full of those plus-size floor-length velvet formal dresses that were in style about twenty years ago.  (Maybe they still are, I don’t know?)  I bought this 2XL black stretch velvet dress for a buck, with the intention of making a costume I’d been wanting to have since I was a kid – Odette from The Swan Princess.

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The first thing to do was to take in the sides by a good amount, and create some darts in front and back.  I also cut the straps down because the gown in question is off-shoulder.  Then I used the extra fabric I had cut from the sides to create sleeves.  All in all, the reshaping of this dress took me less than two hours.  It’s not perfect; the sleeves have four seams and the left one has what was originally a bust dart at the wrist, all due to the piecing I had to do.  But I think the result is quite nice, flaws aside!

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The shoulder piece caused me some trouble.  The first version I made was of a dark red satin I had in stash, and the problem was that the dress is stretchy and simply pulls on over the head, but the shoulder piece was not stretchy.  The next day I was out yard saleing and happened across a very lovely red velvet dress – a girl’s christmas dress, by the look of it – and couldn’t pass up such a perfect match of fabric!  So I scrapped the first shoulder piece and fashioned this one, which is not attached to the dress at all; it pins on around my shoulders (although the friction of velvet on velvet was almost enough to hold it in place without pinning at all.)  The brooch is another yard sale buy; it started out as a pearl brooch and I gave it a makeover with some nail polish.

This weekend we had a most wonderful coincidence of a full moon on Friday the 13th – not just that, but a beautiful strawberry moon.  So I threw this bad boy on and we went out into the night to get some pictures.  I’ll have those in my next post.

Cost for this costume:

black dress: $1

red velvet: $5

brooch: $1

total: $7

All in all, a very cheap, very easy costume to throw together with great results.

 

I’d like this post to be the first I do of a series like this – refashion costumes being something I enjoy almost more than traditional costuming.  Not only are they a good deal cheaper than going to the fabric store and buying yards of fabric, but I find them a nice challenge as well – taking something and making it into something else.  So look forward to more refashion posts in the future!