dragoncon

Dragon con 2017 Wrap Up

Wow. It’s November. How did that happen?

I haven’t made a new post in a while because, well, I’ve been busy in the world! But here I am trying to catch you up on my goings on.

Dragoncon 2017 was once again the giant party known as “Nerdy Gras”. Since I have been so crazy busy with real life stuff I set my sewing goals sort of low by only committing to two new outfits. In a strange turn of events, they both ended up being 1920s style. While I still don’t think this is the proper era for me, I’m not as scared of it as I used to be. I’ve learned to “embrace the frump” as it were and just go for it.

My first outfit was based on this Retro Hogwarts fan art by Savannah Alexandra Art:17973657_1305274152919865_4067429283595783083_o

I once again used my trusty 1980s 2276 McCalls for this dress. The pattern already had the collar style I needed.

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I accessorized with a Slytherin head girl pin from Universal Studios, an Automatic Honey brooch, my trust Broomrider hat from Blonde Swan hats and a black wig. I generally hate wearing wigs, especially with hats, but I figured that the wig would really help me look closer to the original art. I also now have a perfect wig if I even want to cosplay a vulcan. The green tones are a little bit shifted from the original drawing but I got lucky finding that green stripe and the purple both on sale from Fashion Fabrics Club.

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My cohort Megan’s Gryffindor outfit was also based on Savannah’s art. We wore these house outfits to run the tea dueling tournament. What is tea dueling? Well, to fully explain that would take another whole post but the short answer is that it is a silly parlor sport originally invented by a couple of British Steampunk gentlemen. I am the founder of the American Tea Dueling Society and we have been running a very popular tournament at DragonCon for the last four years.

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In this year’s final we had the 2016 tournament winner pitted against a complete newcomer to the sport.

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In the end though, newcomer Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls was the tournament winner.

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As for the rest of my DragonCon silliness, I went all out in my other cosplay, Birdperson from Rick and Morty.

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Once again I went for a 1920s spin on the character. I had kind of crazy socialite in mind when I was thinking about this cosplay. I bought all of my feathers from Motherplucker when I was in LA for Costume College. I used McCalls 2276 yet again.DSC_1734

All the feather elements except for the trim on the cape are made as separate pieces so I can wear them with different outfits. Sadly, my puppy ate those boots I was wearing right after Dragoncon. Good thing I thought they were kind of uncomfortable. While I see the 1920s in this outfit I don’t think the vibe is a strong as it could be. But still, who cares, I’m Birdperson!

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All Vintage DragonCon – Part 2 Aqua Scouts

Continuing this year’s all vintage DragonCon was my big topical group costume, Aqua Scouts. All of us have been pretty obsessed and excited about the release of Pokemon Go. I’ve willingly gone out in the hot humid Georgia air to walk my dog and hunt the pocket monsters.

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Realizing that the time was “now”, we decided to be a squad of vintage, water based Pokemon trainers, aka Aqua Scouts. We took our inspiration from old scouting and military uniforms, fan art, military and sailor lolita and the Pokemons themselves. (The mood board is here). We chose the Vaporeon as our symbol and mascot. We based our color scheme on the Vaporeon as well.

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Sketch by Megan Maude

Based on my ideas Megan did an awesome design sketch that we could share with our other scouts to give them their own design ideas. We agreed that whatever we made should have color blocked elements and some sort of contrast stripe. We purchased 17 yards total of two coordinating blue twills. Each person was free to choose which blue they wanted to use as the main color and which for the accent color. I opted to use the aqua as my main and the cadet blue for my accent.

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I chose Patt-O-Rama 8311. I am not sure when this pattern was released. It is very similar to Patt-O-Rama 1115 which dates from the late 40s or early 50s. This was my first time using an unprinted pattern. Using a perforated pattern was not hard exactly but it was rather fussy having to go back and front between the instruction sheet and the pattern pieces to make sure I knew what was going on. I also had a much harder time lining up the grain to three holes versus a nice black arrow. This pattern was also a little on the big side as I’m usually a 43 bust / 22 1/2. Another thing I found to be really strange about this pattern is how insanely long it was. I think I took six inches off the hem. I found this odd as half sized patterns are generally sized for someone who is no taller than 5’3″ — like me. I had to fuss with the fit some since it was too large in the bust and shoulders. I remember it being kind of a pain but obviously since it is figured now, it would be easier going if I made this pattern again.

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The other issue I had was that this particular pattern, although previously unused, was quite delicate. It could not stand much handling. I know some people swear by tracing their vintage patterns first but that’s not me. I think these patterns are just more cheaply made. It did add an extra layer of fuss to the project.

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We made the garrison caps using an old magazine tutorial that I stumbled upon. Garrison caps seem like they should be a really fast. They trick you because they have a lot more detail than you perceive at first. This was one of the better versions I’ve come across. The hats turned out really cute. Our Vaporeon cap pins and Vaporeon ear collar “points” (along with a ton of other awesome Pokemon badges) were made by Lauren of Stingray Cosplay

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The Aqua Scouts – L to R: Me, Austin, Megan, Lauren.

Here’s the whole group at DragonCon. Megan made her skirt and a shorter version for Lauren from an Advance pattern. She also made Lauren’s beret and Austin’s cap. Austin’s vest and knickers were made by Nick and Jason of The Gin Rebellion. I made all the kerchiefs. My blouse and shoes were goodwill finds. I just love Austin’s look especially his argyle socks.

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We all had matching backpacks from Amazon. You can see all of the cool pins that Lauren made. We had our team affliation on our backpacks. Being Aqua Scouts, we are obviously Team Blue (Mystic).

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I think we all look great. When people understood what we were, everyone thought we were really clever. But at a fast glance wandering around a giant con I don’t think most people got it. I admit, the idea was maybe a little bit “high concept” but sometimes you have to go with it. And I mean really, we all are adorable!

all group photos by Michael Blitch

All Vintage DragonCon – Part 1

I love a giant costume! Big skirts, crazy fabrics, giant props. I also love comfy shoes, not sweating and being able to sit down. That brings us to DragonCon. It’s insane and truly an event where you should go big or go home. Yet if you go too big (in a myriad of ways), and Atlanta provides a fairly common brutally hot Labor Day, you can burn out / overheat / peak too early / whatever yourself before the con has barely begun.

I’ve only been seriously attending DragonCon for about six years. Over that time I have become more and more fond of the clever yet comfy costume. With the explosion of nerd culture there are also so many more cute fandom prints (like the Sugar Skull Star Wars) to use for vintage dresses. I’ve talked about not making any costumes per se and just wearing only fandom inspired dresses. This year, I came pretty close to that as everything I made was all from vintage and vintage repro patterns.

I started off by wearing my Rockabilly Boy Wonder in the Vintage Vogue Fashion show. Along with my crimefighting chum Megan Maude, we hit the runway to lots of cheers (which was delightful!) and music from the original 1966 Batman. While we each made our own outfit for last year’s con, we wore them at drunk o’clock so they didn’t get a lot of comments or reaction. This year though, we couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without a compliment or photo-op. That’s really gratifying at an event like DragonCon, but it did make our walk to the food court very slow. I sure took my dinner into custody!

Another somewhat entertaining adventure was my trip to Kroger. I stopped there on my way home from the con. I certainly got all the comments!

My first new make for DragonCon was vintage Princess Daisy from Mario Brothers. Again, I teamed up Megan as Princess Peach. Peach and Daisy wear the same basic dress with different embellishments.

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The challenge here was to make two separate dresses that shared the same basic elements. I chose vintage Simplicity 3442. I’m not sure what year this pattern is but going from the hair I would say very early 1960s.

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I chose this pattern because it already has a bunch of elements I needed — a peter pan collar, sleeve cuffs and instead of the bow I had a perfect place to pin Princess Daisy’s jewel. I used three colors of cotton sateen. The yellow and white I bought in the LA fashion district and the orange I got here in Atlanta at Gail K.

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I’m usually a last minute stitcher but I really took sewing this down to the wire. I thought I just had a couple of hours left on it. You know those things that you think won’t take that long? Right…I put away my groceries from Kroger and got down to finish thinking it wouldn’t be a long night. I finished at about 5am on Saturday and wore it Saturday night. It was kind of crazy and I don’t recommend it!

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All the effort though, worth it! I even used little daisy shaped buttons. This was also my first effort using a covered buckle and belt kit. I’m glad I bought two buckle kits because I destroyed the first one. It’s a pretty terrible looking belt close up but works just fine for the cosplay. The pattern illustration is misleading. The skirt just is not that bell shaped. Maybe it would look that way with a petticoat? My sparkly gold platform heels were on sale from BAIT Footwear. They were shockingly comfortable especially because I had not even attempted to break them in.

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I’m wearing the Dany Classic wig in Pumpkin by Arda Wigs. The crowns, jewels and earrings were all made by Perfect Tommy Automail.

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I’m kind of bummed that all we have are these hotel photos cause we were pretty cute and definitely comfortable. I was surprised to have a few people stop us and only want my photo. I guess Princess Daisy has her own special fanbase. It’s always entertaining to hear someone yell your character name excitedly as you walk by.

 

 

 

2015 Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge – Final Results

We’re just a mere 24 hours or so into 2016 so it’s time to do all the wrap ups from activities in 2015. I suppose a lot of people get on the ball and have this ready to go before the calendar turns but I actually tried to sneak one more pattern in under the 2015 wire by making a New Year’s Eve dress. I did the mock up and as it had issues and I had a great, never yet worn dress in the closet, that will be conquered in 2016.

My personal goal for the 2015 Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge was to sew five vintage patterns (for me personally, repros did not count, although I sewed those as well). Additionally, one of the patterns had to be made with vintage fabric. I’m proud to say that I ended up with completed projects from eight different vintage patterns and two repro patterns! While I didn’t exactly sew with vintage fabric quite as I had envisioned, I did use some fabric and trims of unknown age. I also made a skirt with vintage Christmas fabric, but I didn’t use a pattern to make it. I figure I came close enough though with this requirement to consider it fulfilled.

It was really fun to take this pledge and play with vintage patterns. I must say I’m quite obsessed with them now and regularly search etsy and eBay for more to add to my collection. I’m not particularly interested in doing serious grading work so I tend to look only for patterns that come close to my actual measurements. That makes things tougher but I’ve found that the size 22 1/2 from the 50s-60s seems to work quite well for me. I wish they still made the half size patterns “for a woman who is 5’2″ to 5’3″” I think it would make a lot of sewers’ lives much easier!

Take a look at my makes below. I’m quite happy with them. I even tried sewing with knits! I’m far from having that mastered but it’s on my list of things to keep exploring for 2016. I also plan on doing the pledge again!

1. Tentacular Robe. Vintage Simplicity 8510 from 1969

2. Jiffy Knit Tunic. Vintage Simplicity 5556 from 1973

3. Derpy Mouse Toy. Vintage Butterick 3419 from the 70s

4. Groovy Flannel Tunic (modeled by my mom, made from what was originally her pattern. I gave her this shirt. It fit her much better than it fit me). Vintage Simplicity 7446 from 1976

5. Zip Front Step-in Dress. Vintage Simplicity 6499 from 1966. I used a goodwill sheet for this.

6. Batman Fabric Dress. Vintage McCalls 3191 from ?. I believe this Batman fabric is “vintage” of some variety. My friend Megan bought it quite a while ago at a fabric store in Florida that was going out of business. Based on the color and the style of the Batman design it has to be at least as old as the 80s. This pattern was a real pain for me. I ended up putting a dirndl skirt on the bodice versus the one from the pattern. I wore the dress successfully at Dragoncon but the fit was really problematic.

7. Rockabilly Day Dress x2. Vintage Simplicity 1577 from 1956. I made this one twice. The first dress was the test and it came out basically perfect. No adjustments! That never happens. The 2nd version was my Christmas dress. I used vintage red scallop trim on the collar and pockets. This is my current favorite vintage pattern.

8. Pencil Skirt. Vintage Simplicity 4491 from 1953. I used this skirt for my Rockabilly Boy Wonder costume for DragonCon. The top is Simplicity Retro 1460.

I wore a variation of this outfit to a Halloween party. I think I look cuter in this photo also!

My other reprint makes were both Butterick Retro 5748 from 1960. I’ve sewn this dress three times now, twice in 2015. I made a version with “steamderp” cotton I found in the NYC garment district and vintage tan eyelet trim. I also made this dress for the Nancy Drew tea at Costume College in a blood splatter print. I don’t have a good image of that one but I do have a photo of the matching Clue game fascinator I made.

Finally, I made a skirt from vintage Christmas fabric. No pattern used and executed about 90 minutes before I wore it to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Puppetry Arts Center. I only had two yards of the 36 wide border print so it’s not as full as I would prefer, but what can you do? Not bad considering.

 

 

 

Things I Forgot To Mention From 2014, Part 2: Totoro

You might have noticed from my last post that I have been, in some ways, spending the start of 2015 in the past.  I figured why not continue that theme with the 2nd installment of “Things I Forgot to Mention from 2014”.

You might remember that I never finished running down my costumes from DragonCon. My epic Sunday cosplay was The Blue Totoro Bustle Gown. I did this cosplay with my great friend, designer and costuming cohort Ms. Megan Maude. We were at my house one night far too close to DragonCon brainstorming our cosplays. We were sort of at a loss. I mentioned Totoro and her eyes lit up. Yes. We were going to do this!

“You said you you liked hand sewing…” Image by Leo Photography 2014.

We decided to make bustle dresses that were recognizable both as Totoro inspired and also as straight up Victorian fashion. We both wanted to make gowns that were period fashion appropriate versus some odd semi-historic fantasia. This gown seemed very doable to me as I have made several bustle gowns and I had all the foundations ready to go. It was much more work for Megan who was new to this period of sewing and also had to make her bustle and undergarments.

It was decided, due to our considerable height difference, that Megan would be the main gray Totoro and I would be the small blue Totoro. We discussed designs and even got into a couple of heated discussions about what was and wasn’t appropriate. In the end, we went with this:

Totoro Bustle Design Sketch. Drawing by Megan Maude.

You can see some of the variations we discussed on the right side — how many pleats, what do to at the cuff. The only non-historial concession we made was to add the Totoro ears to our bonnets. We had a design and were ready to sew our respective dresses.

We used all patterns from Truly Victorian. The 1884 French Vest Bodice with a modified square neckline for the bodice. The 1885 Four-Gore Underskirt with no modifications for the skirt and hats from the 1880s French Bonnet Frame.

My fabric was white and periwinkle Kaufmann Essex Linen Blend (55% Linen / 45% Cotton). I bought a small piece of bright green linen to make ginkgo leaves for my bonnet. The leaves, beyond being a super cute Totoro reference served to cover some of my hat’s wonkiness and my needle puncture blood stains. I bag lined my bodice per the Truly Victorian pattern using some vintage cotton curtains that had been gifted to me. I thought the texture, color and pattern of the curtains matched the mood of the gown perfectly. I had the lining cut out and then realized that there was actually a tear in one of my pieces. So I added a funny little patch since there was no more curtain to cut another piece.  I also happened to find some perfect leaf buttons so I added those as accents to the collar, cuffs and above the back bodice pleats.

Vintage curtain lining complete with patch and leaf button details.

Megan opted to finish with facings, thinking that it would end up being a cooler garment to wear in the DragonCon swelter. This is actually the more historically accurate way to finish but ended up being a bit of a frustrating choice for the hand sewing adverse Ms. Maude.

I made a little reticule out of some natural cotton and a drawstring made of braided hemp twine. The blue Totoro always seems to be running around with a sack and this was extra convenient for my cell phone, cash and hand fan.

We were both thrilled with how our gowns turned out and had a fabulous time on promenade Sunday night. I have to say this was probably the most squee-able cosplay I have ever done. The squees were audible as we heard people exclaim “OMG Totoro!” and the like. We also had our share of people wanting photo ops. I think I pretty much giggled and smiled the entire time we wore the gowns!

Classic Totoro by RBC Image.

I even have a Totoro fan in my hand. RBC Image

Urban Totoros by RBC Image.

All the things I forgot to mention from 2014, Part 1: Wizardpunk

Well happy new year! Hope all the holidays and whatnot went well for all of you. I had a lovely, if frenzied time. I am quite hopefully for 2015. 2014 wasn’t an especially wonderful year for me, although it was far from the worst. The fall was actually filled with quite a bit of fun and travel which is why this post is entitled “All the things I forgot to mention from 2014, Part 1”.

I previously blogged about my planned costumes for Dragon Con but I never showed you how they turned out. Well, in one case, they didn’t. I ended up dropping my Robin costume. I just didn’t have the time to make it properly. It’s partially cut out and I have have all the elements so it’s just waiting for the future.

Saturday was devoted to Wizardpunk. The idea behind it was, I thought, Dungeons and Dragons mashed up with 70s punk. But as I started to see other people in my costume group post what they were doing I started getting more confused what Wizardpunk was supposed to mean. This was a costume that I almost dropped instead of Robin but I decided to just go for it instead. I decided to make Wizard robes from cut up t-shirts. Some were mine and others were from Goodwill. My original idea was only to use black / metal / punk / somehow wizard related shirts. I did pretty good on that front but after cutting up umpteen tees and still not having quite enough panels I added in a few that weren’t exactly on theme but close enough. A couple of my Goodwill scores were a Harry Potter shirt that said “Speak parseltongue and carry a big wand”, another that said “Majik Water” (?) and finally a  XXXL shirt from a previous Dragon Con.

I used Simplicity 1582 as my guide. I cut the images and logos from the shirts and then zigzag stitched them together somewhat haphazardly into shapes that were close to the pattern pieces. When I had enough panels assembled I actually cut the pattern pieces out and then serged the entire thing together, leaving all edges raw. It was very time costuming and also simple and really fun. I was thrilled with how it ended up. Also, it was, by far the most comfortable and coolest (tempwise) costume I have ever made for DragonCon.

To further the Wizardpunkness, I made some accessories. I used clear plastic christmas ornaments to make some potion vials. I filled them with random things and used an old skool label maker to name them things like Unicorn Vomit and Yeti Pubes. I also made a goofy staff with some stuff from the floral department, various “punk” ribbons, a battery operated candle and some black duct tape.

Minions, Nature’s Bullshit and Yeti Pubes

 

Here are a few photos of my final look and our complete Wizardpunk group.

Wizardpunk by Leo Photography

“I’m a fucking wizard” by RBC Image

All the Wizarrrrrrds by RBC Image

 

I was also caught by DragonCon institution Atlanta Fashion Police!

Caught by Atlanta Fashion Police

As it so happens, I have continued wearing my wizard robes as a house robe. Being just a bunch of tshirts the robes are super comfy to lay around in. There were a few of my old band shirts I didn’t end up using for this project because I couldn’t quite bring myself to cut them up. Considering how much I wear my wizard robes, I wish I had. Wizardpunk has ended up being my most worn costume ever! Putting the robes on just makes me happy and my pup Uno likes to curl up in the big wizard sleeves. My mom just asked me if I would make her some wizard robes from some old favorite shirts of hers! Of course, I said yes. When I have them done, I’ll post a photo, hopefully of both of us being all magikal!