Friday, August 18, 2017

Corset in 6 hours

It's been a while since I made myself a corset, but I really needed a new one to be able to wear a few new costumes that I have planned. Most people find a corset intimidating to make, but honestly, it's a fairly simplistic pattern -- mostly straight seams, but it is fiddly and time consuming. I took a full 8-hour day workshop to make my very first corset, and it still took me 2 hours AFTER the class to finish (total of 10 hours).

Now that I've made several of these, I've streamlined it down to about 6 hours to create a corset (not including the time it takes to wash and iron fabric for it.

First, I made a mockup. Because I hadn't made myself a corset in a while, I thought it best to double check the measurements and fit. I did have to adjust the pattern to fit, but the modifications were relatively minor. I used a simple muslin mockup to check the fit.

Originally, I was going to make a boring white corset, but realized that I have a lot of fun, geeky fabric to choose from in my Stash, especially since a corset only takes about 1-1.5 yards of fabric to make. For this one, I chose a wonderful TARDIS pattern from my collection. (I already have an outfit planned for this very corset. :-)

The TARDIS a simple printed cotton and the lining is a glazed red cotton.
Not pictured is the coutil I used for the interlining.

Cutting the Fabric: 1.5 hours
It took about 1.5 hours to cut the fabric mostly because I was pattern matching the TARDI(s) to meet along the front of the corset and to be symmetrical on all sides. I was pleased with how well the pattern matched up so it was well worth the effort.

Assembly & First fitting: 1.5 hour
The initial assembly of the fashion fabric went by fairly quickly. As mentioned previously, a corset is primarily a lot of straight seams. Adding the busk (the front part of the corset) took a bit as I had to carefully measure out the openings for it. It was during this time, I had my Viking check for fit. I had to take in some of the back seams to get a proper fit on the fashion fabric. Once the fashion shell fit well, I made modifications to the lining and sewed together the lining shell.

Hand-sewing Waist band: 30 minutes
Once the fabric shell fitted, I attached a twill ribbon to the waist band for reinforcement. This piece had to be sewn into both halves of the fabric shell. It took about 15 minutes for me to sew each 16" length of twill.

Attaching the Lining: 40 minutes
Once the waist reinforcement was in place, I attached the lining to the fabric, pressed all of the seams and made sure that the outside fabric shell and the lining fabric lined up correctly. I had to rip out a couple of seams, because I didn't give a proper seam allowance so that the lining was slightly larger than the fabric shell. Once everything aligned correctly, I stitched down the lining to the fabric at the top & bottom, then hand-stitched each of the seams so that the lining wouldn't shift for the next part of the process --- boning!

Boning: 30minutes

Boning is a fairly simple process. You stitch an appropriate number of boning channels along each seam. For myself, I used 1/4" flat and spiral boning. As I'm fairly petite, I only needed to create 6 channels for each panel (12 in total). These channels were right next to each seam, so I used each seam as a guide to create said channels.

Grommets: 30 minutes

Adding grommets is an annoying process as it has to be done with an awl and a grommet setter. First, you poke a hole through your fabric using an awl, then place your grommet in the hole, and use the grommet setter to put it into place. I timed myself for fun, and it took an average of 52 seconds to add a single grommet, which I rounded up to 60 seconds. I had to place 12 grommets in each half (24 in total). It took about 24 minutes to add all 24 grommets. I rounded up to 30 minutes.

Hand-sewing binding: 60 minutes

The bindings at the top and bottom needed to be hand-sewn. It generally takes me a long time to hand-sew, so I turned on Netflix and watched an episode or two of mindless t.v. so I could complete the sewing.

Final Corset: 6 hours later

Here's the final corset about 6 hours later. I'm happy with the overall project, but I forgot to take a few things into account during the fitting. Oops.

The corset is just a "tiny" bit too big for me, even after all that fitting. It fits well enough as an "outer" corset (meaning if I wear a long sleeve blouse under the corset, it fits fine). However, as "underwear" for a Victorian outfit, it's not suitable.

I'm slightly disappointed in myself for not getting the fit exactly right. However, I shall be making another one with the correct fit. I have more than enough of this particular fabric to make a secondary corset. :-)

You'll hear more on that soon enough. But insofar as this one, I already have plans to make a full matching outfit for that. I've sketched out what I want to do, and now it's a matter of finding the time to make all of the pieces.


And, here's my cat, Pharaoh, who was kind enough to supervise in the making.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Wig Maintenance for Shego

While I was working on my Lazarus wig, I decided that I needed to do some wig maintenance on my Shego wig. It was starting to frizz and get a bit tangled at the ends.  I take care of my wigs, but just wearing it can cause general frizziness and tangling as it rubs against your clothes or skin, or from being handled one too many times.

Shego's hair is long and has a slight curl to it.

I grabbed my basic tools for wig maintenance --- a oil based spray to help with frizz, a steel brush, a hair straightener, and some curling rollers. (The Shego wig is from Arda, and is heat resistant and can be styled using a hair straightener.)

After carefully detangling the hair (using my fingers and a comb) and using the oil spray to tame the frizz parts, I used the hair straightener to warm up a section of hair then used the roller.

I used several different sizes at various heights, then let the wig cool down.

I got a nice curl from the curlers, and using various sizes gave me both and tight loose curls.

Overall, I was pretty happy with how the finished wig came out. I got a chance to show off my costume to Stephen Silver, who is the character designer for the show, Kim Possible (and Shego). He saw me from his booth and came out to greet me. It was a good feeling when he said, "Look, there's a well done, Shego!"

Monday, July 31, 2017

SDCC Masquerade Evening

From previous posts, you already know that our group did a tribute to David Bowie at the SDCC Masquerade. We had a total of 18 (!!) people in our group -- 16 Bowies and 2 Ninjas, who helped get our backdrop set in place. We were the last act of the night (#39) and we got a rousing reaction from the crowd.

Unfortunately, we didn't win any of the awards this year (we can't win every single year). It wasn't quite comic book related nor was it really "media" related (such as the Game of Thrones presentation or any of the Star Wars skits), so we didn't quite fit into the general theme of the convention.

However, we got a lot of compliments from members of the Motion Picture Costumer's Association, John Landis (the director), and many from the crowd, including our MC host, Kaja Folio, said that it really touched them and made them cry for David Bowie, who passed in 2016.

And as a cosplayer and performer, that's the best prize we can ask for.

Here are a few photos from the various Bowie. (courtesy of: The OCR)

Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Southern California News Group

Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG

In this one, you can see the whole of the skit.

This video is a bit better in terms of getting a good look at our costumes.

For a complete list of elements for this outfit:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Building a Suit for SDCC: Lazarus

Now that SDCC is over, I can finally reveal the cosplay that I had been working on two months leading up to SDCC.

Our group was doing a tribute to David Bowie at the SDCC masquerade, and I was going to be his final incarnation, Lazarus, from the Black Star album.

It's not your typical cosplay outfit, but one that I enjoyed making. I'm a big fan of David Bowie and making this outfit was somewhat cathartic.

Insofar as costumes, it's not the most difficult one I've ever made, but it was time three-piece suits generally have quite a bit of tailoring. An added benefit is that I'll be able to wear this outfit outside of any convention.

In addition to his suit, there were a few other things that I needed to create --- his hair as well as the blindfold.

The hair was a bit of a challenge since Bowie's hair is shaved along the sides. I thought some of that could at least be mitigated using the blindfold. I purchased a lace-front wig from Arda Wigs and did a bit of styling -- mostly to have the hair standup along the crown.

The blindfold was a bit trickier only because I needed to be able to SEE well enough on stage to walk around and perform without falling over. I found some light weight gauze at the fabric store that I cut into a long strip.

After wrapping my head while wearing the wig, I marked out where the "eyes" should go that would look about "right" but still allow me to see well enough on stage.

The last thing I needed was the Black Star "bible" that Lazarus carries around.

It looked to be about the size of a trade paperback. So, I took one of the books on my "To Read" stack and drew out a paper template, and traced it on some leather that was in my Leather Stash. My intent was to make a book "cover" that I could use for any book the size of a trade paperback.

I used some matte board to stiffen the sides, and used BARGE glue to attach it to the leather.

After making the book cover. I drew a perfect 5-pointed star, transferred it to suede leather, and attached it to the front of the book.

I'll have a few more posts on our group, video, and other photos.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Building a Suit for SDCC: Button Down Shirt

The last piece that I made for this cosplay was the button down shirt. Now, you may ask yourself, "WHY did you make a button down shirt? Couldn't you have just bought one?"

Well, yes I could, but I wanted to be able to say that I made a full three-piece suit for myself. It's just my sense of crazy.

I made a simple mockup out of muslin, which fit fairly well. I had to do a few alterations, primarily to the sleeves and armscye, which are my primary problem areas.

One of the things that I changed was to have a French cuff instead of a simple sleeve band. This particular cosplay "appears" to have unfolded French cuffs.

The final shirt, sans buttons.

For a complete list of elements for this outfit:

Building a Suit for SDCC: Jacket

SDCC has come and gone, and I really need to catch up on these costuming posts. I'll have a full write-up on SDCC soon.

Insofar as THIS cosplay, I'm really enjoying making outfits I've made before. You don't need to re-tailor, re-work, or fit the piece to you because you've already done that work. You can just cut the fabric, sew, and you're done!

I tend to save all of my mockups, because you never know when you need to remake an outfit or create another. Plus, it's helpful to understand how costumes are put together. Here's my bedraggled mockup from the previous costume.

I tried it on, and it still fits perfectly, so I proceeded to cut out all of the fabric pieces and begin immediate assembly.

I had very little issue with making this coat again, except for getting the sleeves eased into the coat.

It's also very hard to take a photo of the black fabric of the costume.

Here's the nearly finished coat.

You'll see the final coat in the upcoming posts.

For a complete list of elements for this outfit:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Building a Suit for SDCC: Slacks

In previous posts on this topic, I've already mentioned that I had already made this particular pattern for a different cosplay outfit, but the base can be used for this cosplay as well. After all, pants are pants are pants, right?

I took out my previous two mockups --- I had made the slim and average fit of this pair of pants. I consulted my notes written on the pattern, which told me the slim fit was a bit more tailored to fit me than the average fit. (My current self is pleased with my past self on all the copious notes that she took.)

I tried on the slim fit mockups again to be sure, and they still fit me well. It was then a matter of cutting out the fabric and creating them per the instructions.

However, this time around, I also wanted to line my pants to give it a better flow and to provide reinforcement. Also, if you've never worn linen before, I will tell you that linen ITCHES until it softens enough through a multitude of washing. I didn't have time to wash the linen a few dozen times (not to mention the wasted water), so I opted to line these pants.

I watched a few YouTube Video on lining pants to better understand how to do it. It was relatively easy and will help the longevity of said pants.(And act as a barrier for that aforementioned itchiness)

While I was making these pants, I was very much reminded that my grandfather wore black linen pants much like what I'm making currently. It was a surprisingly nostalgic moment.

I'm happy with how it turned out  and I'm pleased with the fit.

For a complete list of elements for this outfit:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Building Suit for SDCC: Waistcoat

In planning this costume out, I thought that the smallest piece of the suit --- the waistcoat --- would be the most straightforward to sew first. After all, I've made myself several different waistcoats and they all follow the same patterning. It was just a matter of tailoring it to my measurements.

For this character, I needed to make a waistcoat with lapels. I decided to use a pattern I've used before, except I had made the versions without lapels.

Previously, I had already copied the main pattern pieces out to brown butcher paper and needed to copy the patterns for the lapels and collar.

I decided to make a mockup so I could better understand the collar and lapel structure. I played around with different lapel sizes to find a size preference.

In the course of following the pattern instructions, I realized that the pockets in the front of the pattern were FAKE! I was severely disappointed by this fact and decided to turn the faux-pockets into real welt pockets.

Once the fashion shell of the front half of the jacket was completed, I cut out a suitable pocket lining and drew the welt lines on it. Basted down the welt flap to the fashion shell.

Added a suitable pocket lining and redrew the lines. 

Sewed along the drawn lines and then CUT in between.

Pushed everything through hole I cut and then sewed the edges of the welt along the side. I was left with a 3.5" deep pocket. (On the inside, I sewed the edges and bottoms of my pocket fabric)

If you want to learn how to make a welt pocket, check out this tutorial. Mine is slightly different, but the concepts are the same.

Here's the final waistcoat. I still have to add buttons for it, but I want the buttons on the jacket and waistcoat to match so I'm going to wait until the jacket is also completed so I can just do a production run of buttons.

For a complete list of elements for this outfit: