Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tutorial Link: Removing Contact Lenses

A short post since it's just a link to a video but I've always had a ton of issues getting contacts OUT. Putting them in is fairly easy, maybe takes 15 min but taking them out could take me a few hours.

But then I found this and now it is fairly quick too~! Yay!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #19: Wood, Metal, Bone

Challenge #19 is ‘Wood, Metal, Bone’: Cloth may be the most obvious material in historic costuming, but wood, metal, and bone are just as important to creating the right look and silhouette.  They are often, literally, the foundations of a period garment, with shoes made from wood; skirt supports made from wood, metal or bone; and bodies and bodices shaped with the same.  Wood, metal and bone provided the finishing touches too garments too, in metal jewellery, wood and bone fan sticks, and straw hats. For this challenge, make anything that incorporates wood, metal, or bone.

1/2 yard off white muslin and 1/3 yard stiff batik like material
Self drafted, 1 trapezoid front piece, two kinda trapezoid back pieces (backlacing) and a gusset on each hip. One layer lining, one stiff lining and one outer.
1839 for front inspiration and 1810-20s for back.
6 12" white steel bones and 18 metal eyelets
How historically accurate is it?
Fairly! Aside from forgetting to add shoulder straps but that shall be soon. And I think metal eyelets aren't quite period but I'll be flossing over them  eventually to reinforce them anyways.
Hours to complete:
1 day
First worn:
Today! Trial run to see how comfortable it is. It actually hides under a tshirt pretty well.
Total cost:
$3 for the muslin, everything else was in my stash.
I'm making Summer Stays!
I didn't really take any progress pics while working on this since I wanted to see if I could get it done in a day. :x I drafted the pattern after gazing through a pinterest board of extant Regency stays the night before. 
I settled on these as my solid inspirations for quilting patterning and front pattern piece shaping. The first is honestly a little late to be considered Regency but I loved the corded design and it was made for someone with hips which is my issue. All my previous stays/corsets have ALWAYS been uncomfortable in the hip area. I also decided on my rather Spartan materials (just three layers and two of them muslin and quilting in place of cording) because I need something that will breath and not overheat here in the South. I also left out bust gussets and just quilted faux gusset designs on that area since I really don't have anything up top at all.
The quilting took up 2/3 of my time but it actually really helps with shaping and support (and looks pretty too).

I'm actually quite happy with this set of stays and after an extended wear test I can definitely say that hip gussets and not putting boning directly over my hip bones solved all those fitting issues. So yay. I did forget to put shoulder straps on but staring at the pinterest board more, I think I can just tack those on and it'll be just fine. There is also space for a busk in the front but after the story about how your paramore is supposed to carve one for you I decided to not make one and see if someone will one day give me one. :) I'm also debating adding half boning or some nature of boning in the chest side since it does bunch a smidgen under my arms but it's hardly noticeable and they're really comfortable as is.

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge 18: RenFest to Regency

I'm a bit late to the game on these but I may have this be my #1 do the full set so this time next year I'll have 26 things! :D But for those who don't know, there's this thing where there's a challenge to make a historical garment of some nature every fortnight. And my historical wardrobe needs expanding so this is perfect for me.

The Challenge:
#18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion "Sew something that pays homage to the historical idea of re-using, re-making and re-fashioning.  Turn one thing into another.  Re-fit or re-fashion an old gown into something you would wear again.  Re-trim a hat for a new outfit, or re-shape a modern hat to be a historical hat.  Re-purpose the fabric from an old garment (your own or a commercial one) into a new garment."
An old Ren Fest dress that belonged to my mother when she was my age. Also about half a yard of muslin (part of the cut of muslin I got that will also be used in the next challenge).

None, winged it.
Wide detail/band at the hem combined with detailing on the bust
Less of a train back
Three sets of hooks and eyes which I had in my stash.
How historically accurate is it?
Ehhh, the skirt portion should be more of a column pleated in the back to give that width of the hem while conforming to my under bust but I didn't want to try adding in a panel to give an illusion to that effect. Also the lace panels are CLEARLY from, like, the 1970s/early 80s. Need to take up the bust line even further too, doesn't seem quite narrow enough. :/
Hours to complete:
First worn:
Not yet!
Total cost:
Okay, so let's get into this. I wasn't sure what to do with this challenge when I first read it since I didn't think I had anything to remake (historical at least). Then I snapped recently and reorganized my stash and my costume storage and found this dress. I still remember the first time I got to wear this dress in middle school, I was so excited. My mom had worn it to every RenFest we'd gone to when I was a wee kittybot so I guess I felt grown up when I was a)able to fit into it and b) allowed to wear it.

But I don't wear it to RenFests any more so this has sat, unworn for years now. And it's a shame as I do love it. So I sat staring at it and wondering what to do since I had this challenge in mind and I loved the idea of making it into something I'd have occasion to wear again. But what to do with an off white muslin dress? I didn't want to change it too much especially since I also wanted to fit making a Regency era dress into my schedule. And then it hit me. Raise the bust and modify a few things and it could totally pretend to be kinda Regency. Maybe. Then it was off to the internet to see if there were similar garments out there that I could use as inspiration.

See, I'm not completely insane. Although admittedly the bottom one is a silk evening dress. They all may be evening dresses and I'm shooting for a day dress. Regency fashion is rather new to me. But now I had a game plan.
1) Sew a panel behind the lace up bust front and sew down the lace.
2)Take up the waist from sitting at my natural waist to the natural lower bust area.
3) Replace the lace sleeves with matching muslin sleeves and removable long sleeves.
4)Extend the lace waist band onto the back.
5) Replace zipper with more period closings
6) Adjust the hem (the dress is a bit too long).

 First was ripping the seams of the sleeves
 Taking the sleeves apart.
 Using the laces sleeves as a pattern. I cut a little smaller that the lace sleeves since I wanted the sleeves a little smaller. I wish I would have made them a bit shorter to be honest.
 Then sew the sleeves together and add a band to each.

Then I cut a strip of that extra muslin for a backing for the lace up front. I lifted the decorative lace and stitched the cluny to the backing.

 The raschel lace then got hand stitched down while I was sitting at my desk at work.
 Next was extending the waist band onto the back! I used the lace from the sleeves to do that.
 All pinned and ready to be stitched.
 I removed the ribbon and raschel from the second lace sleeve...
 ...So I could sew it to the top of the back waistband.
 Then to finish the waist band I folded the bodice up about an inch and a quarter and stitched in the raschel to hide the seam.
 See, just folded up. I wanted to make sure that if I wanted to change this back to a more normal waist I could.
Second to last was making long sleeves from my extra muslin, I basically measured my arm, cut out a slightly nipped tube and fitted one to each arm (my left arm cannot completely straighten and has scar tissue in the elbow so it has different fitting needs than my right arm). I hand stitched the long sleeves onto the dress's sleeves with an easy to remove ladder stitch to make sure this dress could be convertible. :D

Lastly was taking up the hem (and more ironing)!
And then, it was done! Had to wait to do this write up until I finished the next challenge since that was a set of stays!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: Draping Period Costumes

Sobel, S. (2013.) Draping Period Costumes: Classical Greek to Victorian. Focal Press. isbn: 9780240821337

Okay so last week I showed you a good book for draping basic things, this week we're diving into a book on something much more highly specified: historical costuming. Now for anyone who has looked into or done legit historic costuming, as in basing it off extent garments and/or using a historical pattern book which directs you how to make the patterns but doesn't give you 1:1 scale patterns, you know that this is a much more interesting process. Most historical costumes use different shapes (and shapewear) and seam lines that contemporary clothes so it can be a challenge even for an experienced cosplayer. Draping this sort of costume really helps to make sure it will actually fit (take it from someone who took eight tries to get a functioning mid 1800s sleeve). 

This book is best used by someone not completely new to draping but it does give a few pages for how to modify a dress form to fit you (or your friends) and some information on materials. She uses muslin for all of her draping which looks lovely but I'm more of a fan of something with lines myself (like gingham).

And here's what most of the book looks like. She shows the final pattern pieces as well as a fairly step by step process of how she gets there. She doesn't hold your hand nearly as much as Draping Basics does, however, a major part of why I wouldn't suggest this book for absolute beginners. But it is easy to follow along and one of the bonuses is that she shows how to drape and cut both women's and men's historical garments. She also shows how to adjust your dress form to be similar to a man's silhouette.

8/10 All in all a very good overview on historical costuming draping. It chooses major representations of each major time period so it is a good starting place for historical costuming but would be best paired with a historical pattern book if ultimate historical accuracy is your bag. Also not well suited for someone who has never draped before but still usable by someone of that skill level, it'll just take patience and a bit of trial and error.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Review: Draping Basics

Di Marco, S. (2010.) Draping Basics. Fairchild Books. isbn:9781563677366

Howdy everyone! Since I'm running low on cosplay specific books I thought I'd venture into the world of books that could help you make cosplay, so things about sewing, draping, working with plastics, etc. I figured I'd start off on some very good draping books since this not only is a useful skill for making dresses and cloth costumes it is also helpful for making armor and robots. None of these books show draping with craft foam for armor obviously (how cool would that be if they did) but a lot of the same ideas are at play. That is placing foam where the final armor will be and playing drawing on seams and cutting and adjusting until you get it right. And yes, I do have some craft foam draping tuts in the works! They're still a little ways out though.

The first thing this book does is lay out and explain the tools that professionals use to drape. While it is nice to have all of these tools don't be afraid to start going at it if all you have is a dress form, a marker, some tape and scissors. But the explanation of what each of these things are and their purpose is really helpful.

Next the author gives you an overview of a standard dress form, explaining everything you may ever need to know. This isn't necessary to memorize but is very handy as a reference should you ever encounter anything that seems unfamiliar. The same could be said of the tools section.

Once you get to the actual draping the author starts out with a fairly simple skirt then eases into harder and more complex items like inset sleeves. She also shows how she uses the tools which I find very helpful, just as helpful as how she uses gingham fabric for her draping. Muslin is pretty but something with lines is like using graph paper which I find more helpful. Also all your different patterns can be different colors of gingham so if you want to reuse a pattern that the blouse pattern you really like is the lavender gingham and the long sleeve one is pink.
She also shows some more complex things like cowl necklines which I wouldn't really think to put in what is clearly a beginners books but it is handy to have if you ever need to do some of those stranger things like cowls or yokes. It makes it a fairly complete reference book for modern clothing cuts.

10/10 A very good and thorough reference book on draping and draping tools. Easy for a beginner to use and good to look back on if you've got experience but something is stumping you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: Everybody Cosplay!

This book is much more what I want to see (as compared to the 1001 Costume Ideas book), it has good, large pictures of each costume and shares a bit about the character and what went into the costume.
This followed only one costumer though, it was implied this was a compilation of columns run in Newtype USA. It was interesting to see the mix of quick homemade stuff, more involved builds and stuff that she put together or bought. It showed even a nationally syndicated columnist cosplayer buys things or even whole costumes. It was a cool glimpse into one cosplayer's method and wardrobe.

But that's the thing, this book was about glimpses. There were two details about construction per costume at most and several had no notes about actual construction at all. I liked the blog feel of this book but I'd have loved to look further in.
7/10 (An interesting look into one cosplayer's wardrobe and the thought that went into the choosing and creation of the costume. Not very detailed but detailed enough to be enjoyable. Would love either a continuation of this theme to books following other prominent cosplayers or a compilation of such portfolios. It is looking like Cosplay in America vol 2 which is currently being Kickstarted is going to do that so I'm really looking forward to it.)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: 1000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas

2013. 1000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas. Quarry Books. ISBN: 9781592536986

1000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas, I thought it would have cosplay crafting ideas. Or photo tips. Something how to. But it isn't. It's a book of cosplayers from photo shoots (so there's some amazing shots but many of them are so tiny it makes their amazingness almost moot.

The photos despite being vaguely divided into chapters by Anime/Manga, Videogames, Comic Books, Custom Characters, Props, etc, don't really have a set reason for being grouped together. On most pages it seems like it's because they are all share a similar color palete and on others it is because everyone is posing a similar way or with a similar prop. If everything but grouping was kept the same and the costumes were grouped first by character (so all Yuko cosplayers in the same spread or two spreads) then by general style (like all armor or all poofy princess dresses) so then at least you could get ideas from comparing similar costumes or characters I'd be a bit more down.

As it is I can't really tell what this book is trying to do. Most of the photos are too small to make this a coffee table book for showcasing the costumes/photos, there's no tips for creation or even anything really useful for costume creation. The best I can make out of this book is some ideas on how to pose for pictures maybe. But the title of the book doesn't really give the impression that this is what the book is really for. :/

I dig the photo credits though and there's lots of cool shots but I'm really glad I got this through interlibrary loan since it doesn't even really make a good coffee table book.

4/10 (It's an awkwardly laid out photo book which doesn't seem to have a cohesive idea as to what it wants to do. Which is a shame because I'd love to see either larger pictures of the costumes in it since they're all very nice or I'd love a focus on construction/details if the pics are going to be small and numerous. Preferably more of the second option given the title.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Review: Cosplay Fever Red

Dunlop, R. and Lumby, P. (2010). Cosplay Fever Red. Ablaze Media Ltd. ISBN:9780954300845

Here is the sequel to Cosplay Fever! In the intro they mention how they took reader comments into consideration when doing this one so below character they now have series they're from and they have a section in back sorted by series and character to make finding costumes in the book easier. I think that was a super awesome touch. Another thing they did was interview four cosplayers who are supposedly big in the UK and include those interviews. I'm not part of the UK cosplay scene so I don't really know who these people are but their costumes in the book are amazing and their interviews are well done.
The pages are similar in layout to the last book with the posed convention snap with info somewhere overlaid. Most have the following info:
-A quote
-Notes about the costume
and sometimes:
-Best thing (in cosplayer's opinion) about the costume
-Why the cosplayer loves the character

10/10 (Seriously one of the best for getting an idea about what cosplay at cons looks like. The photos are respectful to the cosplayer and the info is a cool look into each costume. There was more focus on handmade versus bought costumes but that might just be because so many in this book are really fantastic and elaborate costumes which eBay sellers are less inclined to make. The quotes aren't even that bad this time. Also, the poses and costumes in the book would most likely not make your parents pass out if they saw it if you're looking for a book to show cosplay to your parents.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Book Review: Cosplay Fever

Dunlop, R., & Lumby, P. (2009). Cosplay Fever. London: Ablaze Media. ISBN: 9780954300838

This is a pretty neat book. It has a short foreword and an intro which kind of gives a feel for what cosplay is and why some people do it as well as when and where these shots were collected (the UK, 2009) but otherwise is a collection of costume shots. I think this is my favorite of the coffee table docubooks so far as it lists on the page right next to the costumer:

1) Who they are.
2) What their costume is.
3) Details about the costume like price, something memorable about the construction, if they bought it and where.
4) Their favorite thing about the character they're cosplaying.
5) Why they cosplay.

There is also a quote from the cosplayer on each page but about half of them are "You lost the game." which hilariously enough makes it very clear when the material for this book was collected even if you don't read the introduction!

My third favorite thing, after the good convention snaps and the cosplay info right next to the cosplayer, is that the cosplays span everything. There's furries and lolita versions of characters and stuff from games and stuff from books and homemade and closet cosplay and commissioned costumes and stuff bought out of cosplay shops. It is all presented with equal respect.

9/10 (I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants an idea/to give an idea of the convention cosplay scene. There are a scant few cosplayers included who are posing in suggestive or otherwise less than parent friendly ways (one has another on a leash and their quotes made my eyes roll so hard) so maybe not the best to give to particularly reserved or conservative parents to show how amazing the cosplay community is. Only lost a point because the quotes off away from the cosplayer info tended to be pretty lame, the book would be a 10 if those had been omitted.)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Favorite (And Least Favorite) Commercial Patterns

 I don’t use commercial patterns all too often, especially for cosplay. I really try to make cosplay straight from scratch but sometimes I do use patterns. Especially for bodices.

I don’t think I’ve actually made a blouse of any nature from this I’ve just made dresses! But they fit really well once I made a few slight adjustments to the pattern itself.

Image from
Simplicity 3637
I use the bodice for this a lot but that’s because it fits me really well since I don’t have much curves up top. It’s a favorite for lolita dresses but is my go to for any costume that needs a square neckline or to be stupid fitted to my torso.

Image from
Simplicity 4381
Best. Basic. Pants. Pattern. I use it for all pants and bloomers I make. Love love love it.

Simplicity 9613 (Vintage)
Alright but so similar to M6035 that I just use that one now.
I’ve only used the cape pattern from this but it worked well for my Riddler hench cape.

Not a Fan
It just doesn’t go together well and it is hard to not have your undergarments showing.

Least Favorites
This one doesn’t fit well at all, with period undergarments or without. Either it is designed for someone with very strange dimensions or something happened during printing. This wasn't one that could be saved with some alteration, it gave me a completely unusable garment (thank goodness I tested it in muslin first!).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Review: How to Cosplay volume 1

Cosnote (2009). How to Cosplay. Graphic-Sha. ISBN: 9784766119602

As the title says, this book is about teaching you how to cosplay. Volume 1 has a make-up focus and has tutorials for all sorts of make-up things. It's a good book for not only beginners but also intermediate level cosplayers.
It starts with basic tutorials like how to apply foundation.
Then progresses to all manner of sculpting the face using make-up placement.
And the last tutorials are for things like making and applying scars, bullet holes, webbed fingers and even how to do decent looking body paint.

Then after the tutorials there's convention reports with cosplay highlights. They interviewed the cosplayers too and found out character/series and (what really interests me) cost. It's super cool seeing what $100 in materials can get you in Japan. All of the conventions were in Japan but they did have a cool four page spread on World Cosplay Summit 2008!

The very last pages are adverts for cosplay related things like premade costumes, make-up and wigs.

This is a really cool book, it's got photo shoot pictures all throughout in addition to the pretty good tutorials. The only things I didn't like were that all of the products listed in their tutorials and advertisements are from Japanese suppliers. Make Up For Ever you can get Stateside but a lot of other things you can't. The other things I didn't like were their white and grey body/face paint tutorials because their finished results were uneven and splotchy! On the grey face paint one in particular they missed the bottom of the nose and several other small areas completely! But aside from those minor issues I think this is a solid book.

Sadly volumes two and beyond appear to be incredibly rare and I can't find them either in WorldCat (I try to get these review books through Interlibrary Loan because when they're free I can review more and see which ones I like best) or Amazon. :(
8/10 Lots of very solid tutorials and cool convention cosplay summaries. The photos are well done and the layout is very nice too. Loses points for a few bad tutorials. Did not lose points for showcasing make up that Japanese cosplayers would have easy access to since this is a translation of a Japanese text.