costumes

All posts tagged costumes

Costume-palooza: The Swedish Chef

Published November 1, 2017 by admin

What, it’s Halloweek, you really expect me to stop celebrating because it’s November? Silly reader! Sadly, I didn’t touch on all my favorite past costumes this year (gotta leave something for next year), but I definitely want to include this year’s effort. Plus, hey, how about a fun, light post while you’re waking up from your candy coma this morning, right?

One of the big influences from my growing up was the Muppets. Jim Henson was and is a big part of my life – his fantasy work got my mind working in ways it never could have without Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and The Storyteller. The Muppet Movie provided the optimism and idealism I needed at certain times in my life. I grew up a hardcore Sesame Street devotee. Somewhere along the way enjoying everything Henson turned into me really wanting to figure out how all of that was done, and most likely was a reason I started getting into making big character suits, complex outfits that involve rigging, and working with puppets professionally. It’s really not that hard to make the leap from point A to point B in this case. For better or worse, I’ve not gotten to work with a Henson property yet, and after this they will probably never let me near them in the future, but oh well. This costume was totally worth it.

The Swedish Chef has been a long-running inside joke for years with me – it’s one of the voices I can do really well, and he just amuses me. I love puns, love silly stuff, and the old chef sketches just make me laugh so much. Depending on how bored I am and how good of a friend you are, you may or may not have had to suffer through me serenading you with popular ballads as done by the Swedish Chef on your voicemail if you don’t pick up.

So yeah, ta-da!

 

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Or is that ‘Bork bork bork!’?

 

 

As far as difficulty level, it wasn’t so bad, just mostly finding the different pieces. Apron, tie, and pants were shopped (and the pants were a miracle find that I didn’t expect), shirt is something I own for some reason. Obviously made the head, hat, and hands. Part of me is sad I didn’t spring for the antron fleece, but part of this exercise is I wanted to see if it was absolutely necessary to use it to do something like this. Short answer is no, but I do prefer it or a fabric with a stretch to felt. I think some of the detail work might have been smoother otherwise, but this idea was happening fast and on a budget. I played around with a spray adhesive vs some of the more industrial glues I’ve used in the past, and it actually worked out because I went back and adjusted some structural things on the head several times and I don’t know if I could’ve done that with something heavier.

All in all, this was a little bit of trial and error to make, but still a ton of fun. He’s fairly comfortable to wear, and I can foresee him being part of my notorious holiday card schemes in the future.

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Costume-palooza: Bring on the Weird!

Published October 27, 2017 by admin

Every so often, it seems like I feel the need to just go way over the top and do something…different. I’m not sure if this is from some subconscious need to prove myself or sheer boredom with the typical types of Halloween costumes, but this usually puts me in a really good mood until the moment everything starts falling apart and I have to make it all work. And then I love it again.

I know, it’s complicated. What can I say.

I was doing some work on an event one year and stumbled onto a French artist who does work with combining synthetic skin with fashion pieces (no, I have no idea what I googled to even find that), and it got me thinking of ways to use that concept which has led to a multitude of diverse projects – everything from a revamp of Elizabeth Bathory and a gruesome clown for the event I was designing for, to pouches and purses to spice up those late night trips to the grocery store (Okay, they’re actually for cons. I only accidentally wore one to the store once and it was completely worth it).

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And this thing. The whole killer prom queen archetype admittedly fascinates me for various reasons, and this was my take on it: cuteness on the top, party on the skirt (or however the saying goes). Originally this was made for a Simplicity Pattern design contest where you had to use one of their patterns in a new way. I’m not sure if this just wasn’t what they had in mind or it was the fact that I may have used one of their Disney patterns to base this off of, but obviously I didn’t win because people are no fun.

I’ve never quite gotten the whole look where I want it – I probably need to make a prom queen banner, and admittedly if I’m wearing it out I have no desire to dump a ton of fake blood on me because I have been there for professional reasons and I am not that invested in a look in my personal life. I’ve toyed with the idea of latex and paint up my arms to gore it up a bit, but again, I don’t really cherish the thought of doing that in a hotel bathroom. Anywho, skirt is latex over fabric with various (fake) parts ordered through the interwebz. Also molded the hand for the bag, though I’d likely try it a slightly different way if I had to do it again (also makes me wonder where I put that mold).

So that tided me over for a couple years, and then I had the need to go further, to be bolder, to be…more.

Again, I was playing with stuff professionally and a friend and co-designer and I somehow hit on the idea of delving into the world of stalkabouts, but tried to make things somewhat more user friendly for a gal – not that gals can’t wear a full suit, lord knows I have – but in this particular situation it was better to do everything possible to keep full visibility. We decided to play with a few different variations, and of course I wanted to incorporate this into my definitely not having a life crisis costume moments, so we ended up combining my fascination with Gothic Lolita street fashion and, well…weirdness.

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So what this is supposed to be is a creepy girl with her imaginary friend/demon companion/whatever – admittedly I think I can do more for it to read better, but I was literally finishing it as we were going out the door to road test it (and that, itself, had some more entertaining moments of my life that aren’t suitable for a public blog). Eventually I’d like to put a leash on Martin (that’s the demon’s name, because I was watching a lot of Doc Martin at the time) to kind of pull things together a bit. Unfortunately, poor Martin caught a hand in my car door at one point, and got dropped on his head, so I’m going to have to give him some TLC before wearing him out again – I’d also like to adjust his height because while walking through a convention hall is fine, the actual doors are not so easy. And I probably need to adjust his arm position, too, because he grabbed a lot of people’s butts and I just don’t need that problem in my life. The rigging, too, probably needs some slight re-calculating, but overall it’s actually more comfortable than it looks, just a bit hard to get into and navigate. Much to the distaste of those around me, Martin lived in my car for a while and then hung out in various rooms for my own amusement before retiring to current lair.

My friend the Amazing Larry did the initial dress, but I’ve since added things to it and adjusted the fit a bit. I did the cape, but have since swapped that bonnet out for one I was given. Obviously the bag is all me, and I did most of Martin, though I was working a lot at that point so Larry cut the basic skeleton pieces so I wouldn’t be a hazard to myself.

Like anything else, everything is in progress, and fluid, and I think that’s important to keep in mind, especially when doing big, weird things like this. It’s always how it is at the moment, or where I’m content for it to be for right now, but I fully expect for things to keep morphing and adjusting in the future – just like my life, oddly enough, so I suppose these are less reflective of some weird discontented breakdown and more reflective of me being in process. And that I am positively cool with.

Costume-palooza: Princess Leia

Published October 14, 2017 by admin

Some more Halloween costume fun for the weekend:

This was actually made for a Star Wars party, but I’ve worn it off and on for some Halloweens, so I’m counting it. I was a huge Star Wars geek growing up, and though I’ve burned out some, I’m still always going to love the originals. And Leia is always going to be one of those characters that I always love. It’s weird, because growing up I was Vader and a Jedi for Halloween, but I never really fathomed myself being Princess Leia. Somehow that felt beyond me, that I was too geeky or awkward or plain or whatever. I don’t really know why it took me so long to do this outfit, but it was a long time coming.

And no, it’s not the outfit you’re hoping for.

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This took more picture research than I would have anticipated, and the friend who helped pattern it with me and I did change it slightly. The original is done as a big giant T with the side seams sewn, but there was no way I could find white stretch jersey that had that kind of wingspan. So, we added the sleeves on separately. I also had to double up the fabric to make it opaque, and figuring out the hood attachment and the neck was a little bit of a job, too. Boots are borrowed, wig is bought, blaster is actually one of the sound effect toy storm trooper blasters that I sanded and painted and now can never take anywhere without huge disclaimers. The belt is a vinyl base, with silver vinyl over car liner and some convenient look alike buttons I found. I can’t remember the total cost of this one (it’s been a while ago), and I still need to actually buy my own set of boots for wearing this out (I’ve cheated and worn black flat boots if it’s dark out when I’m wearing it. The real versions are flat white boots and if you’ve ever tried to source those, you’ll know how fun it isn’t).

I’ve worn this one while handing out candy in the past, and I’ve gotten some great reactions over it (except the mini Vader who cried because he thought I wouldn’t give him candy when I opened the door. That was nearly a galactic emergency). I’m a little particular with this one since it’s gleaming white, but I love it and love wearing it.

Costume-palooza: Batgirl

Published October 3, 2017 by admin

It’s one of those weeks where I’ve got nothin’ new goin’ on, so let’s go to the archives and see what we can talk about. And since it’s Halloween and my daily artistic life is costumes, guess what another theme this month is…

Pssst, it’s costumes. Totally costumes.

At the moment I’ll stick with stuff I’ve done for myself, because I’m still going through the 9 million possible portfolio shots I’ve taken in my lifetime of other stuff that I have yet to edit and arrange (seriously. So great with documentation, not so great about doing stuff with it). I also like showing stuff I’ve done for myself, because some years I pull out all the stops and other years I am tired and lazy and end up being a car lot noodle (and you think I’m kidding).

This one falls somewhat between extremes, and is admittedly one of my faves. Babs Gordon/Batgirl somehow ended up as like a giant beacon of a role model for me as a kid. I grew up watching reruns of the old Adam West show, I vaguely remember reading comics during church choir practice when I was supposed to be paying attention (I guess I felt I wouldn’t be allowed to borrow them from my guy friends, so I have no idea. It seems silly that I was hiding that habit, now). Of course, as I grew up and really delved into her storyline, it just blew me away. The fact that this character could go through intense trauma, be forced to give up the one of the things that made her who she was, and then come blazing back as Oracle has always stuck with me through my own changes and growth. And sorry, I do not accept non-Oracle plotline Babs. Not gonna happen.

It was the animated series, though, that really grabbed me by the nostrils as a teen. That whole show had an artistic sensibility and design that I really hadn’t seen up to that point. The storylines blended humor with some really serious plot points, and kept the characters fairly true to their roots. I can’t help but think that I learned a lot about story development from that show, as well as episodic fiction, because I just straight up devoured it as long as it was on. Beyond the Tim Burton movies or anything else that I’d grown up on, Batman TAS was and will always be my Batman. So years ago when I was part of a group costume challenge where we decided the theme was cartoons, after some brief debate, I went with Batgirl. ¬†Admittedly I had to go with the redesign because I was also working a ton of hours building Halloween event stuff, but I’m pretty in love with the outcome.

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The basic suit was actually done with cuddleduds – they have a nice sheen and honestly with my body proportions (long torso, wide hips, short legs), I didn’t have the time or desire to build my own catsuit (and I likely would have had to. I’ve had some bad moments with store-bought catsuits). The tops are usually pretty long, so if I keep it pulled under the belt, you really don’t notice from a distance that it’s not all one piece.

The cape was fairly easy to do out of stretch jersey, and it took some off and on googling to figure out which bat was the right bat for that uniform. Admittedly the belt isn’t completely right (I think it’s actually like a series of circles). At the time I could only find partial views of her head to toe (or mid-move where things were blocked), so I went off the original belt a litle bit combined with what I could see, but I don’t really mind it. I was going for a purposefully cartoon look to match the TAS feel, so I used car upholstry liner as the base then covered it with fabric. Gloves and boots are bought because I don’t hate myself that much, and I made gauntlets to go over the gloves out of a yellow party satin and more car liner. The mask is spandex and involved me sitting still for it to be draped to the shape of my head – the one thing I didn’t do (and should have) is put the wig on for that (it may have still been in transit, actually), so the fit is a smidge off, but nothing too bad. The mask was the thing that did take me a while to do since I wasn’t the one draping it. Figuring out how far the darts had to go and positioning the holes did give me some fits, but it was definitely worth it. I think, all in all, I got this done for a little over 150 – for as simple as it looks it did take a little bit to pull off.

 

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Obviously I don’t have fun with this one at all.

 

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Want a creepy read for Halloween? I’ve got ya covered! Check out Mooner, my historical vampire tale, or try any of the genre-defying shorts in Lost in the Shadows! Not into horror? No prob, check out all the other fun titles I’ve written!

 

 

Guest Post Round Up

Published December 1, 2015 by admin

So I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend who celebrates, and even if you don’t I hope you had a relaxing weekend full of things you like and hold dear.

So whilst I’m working on some more in-depth posts, I thought I’d share some guest posts I’ve gotten to do in the past few weeks. I know, I can’t believe other people want my input on anything, either! These are circa Halloween, so they’re horror related in some form or another.

Talking about my short Released on HorrorAddicts.net

 

Y’all know my feelings on the vampire genre, so I decided to condense them and do a post for HorrorAddicts.net about vampires. Sooner or later they’re going to stop asking me to guest, I’m sure…

I realize it’s kinda ironic that I don’t talk more about my sewing and design work, since that’s been the bulk of my artistic career, so in an attempt to start rectifying that, here’s a post about my experience making weird stuff.¬†

My friend Ellie had me on to talk about Halloween and how it impacted my future career making costumes. So more sewing talk here, too!

 

 

 

 

Getting Into a Project (literally)

Published July 18, 2015 by admin

As I’ve been getting back in the swing of things, I’ve noticed something. As much as I don’t mind using a laptop, there’s something about a notebook of the paper variety. I don’t know if it feels like there’s less pressure with a composition book, that I’m not being judged if I’m scribbling in public versus yanking out a computer (which always feels very HEY LOOK AT ME I’M WRITIN’ or HEY LOOK AT ME I SHOULD BE WRITIN’ AND i’M ON FACEBOOK). There’s something about the physical act of scrawling out ideas, though, of being able to doodle in the margins, of being able to alternate a story with my to do or grocery lists.

Admittedly, I write some epic and artistic to do lists. I’ll have to start taking pictures of them, because there are days I venture into abstract art territory.

I’ve learned through the years that I really like to get physical with a project. When I used to have a costume shop with a cutting table, it wasn’t unusual to see me sitting up on it, cutting out things, pinning things, or generally fussing with things around me. I liked sitting atop that little wooden island, in a creative world to myself. Likewise, I’m just as likely to roll around on the floor if I’m cutting out giant pieces of things, or want to see what something looks like pieced out. I’m not one of those who sit primly at a machine. You’ll likely see me throwing fabric everywhere, and I’ve walked away from a project covered with thread, fuzz, and fake fur more likely than not.

When I do renderings, I tend to channel my inner five year old and want ALL the pencils and watercolors out around me. There are days when I’ve come away from projects involving latex, contact cement, and paint looking like I’ve sustained mortal injury – there has been at least one incident at a former workplace where security detained me because they were sure I was somehow bleeding out in front of them as I attempted to leave work that evening. I may have been politely questioned one evening when I went to get my hair cut after working on stuff for various haunted houses and really didn’t think about going out in public after a ‘blood day’ (where we added blood and distress/wear marks/other signs of grossness to costumes all at one go to get it over with/make it easier on ourselves).

I’ve gotten tangled in yarn as much as I’ve made things with it, gotten bits of fiber fill everywhere, and on and on.

When I made the Paddlelump troll suit, I may have gotten in a fight with a neighbor’s dog who tried to run off with the head, I’ve knocked over just as many cans of glue and other materials as I’ve used. There are days I come away from a job or a project feeling utterly worn out, sweatier than a day at the gym, covered with paint, glue, and fabric.

I always feel completely beautiful on those days, too. I don’t know if it’s the satisfaction of a job well done, of seeing an idea become reality, or the joy of physical exertion, but I love it. There are days I just need to color, to put things together, to actively use my hands and brain in a way that a laptop doesn’t let me. There’s something zen about getting so involved with making something that you realize your hands are taking over, and you’re just letting the idea do what it wants. It’s one of the closest things to magic I’ve ever discovered, and I love that I can take part in those moments.

Blank pages on a notebook taunt me less than a blinking cursor, in some ways. Plus, I love all the lovely and silly covers I can accumulate. I may have a horribly diverse collection of half-notebooks – there are days I don’t even go down a school/office aisle, because I know I won’t be able to resist that temptation. Lately, though, they’ve been the thing to get me moving again, to get me creating, jotting notes, doodling, writing. Plus, the more pages I fill, the more notebooks I can buy.

How about you? Do you prefer creative pastimes that keep things clean and proper, or do you like getting into the thick of things? What’s your favorite way to get really involved in a project, no matter the type?

Project: Desert Bluffs Outfit (Welcome to Night Vale)

Published June 1, 2015 by admin

To mix things up, I thought I’d talk a little bit about a project I did recently. The friend who introduced me to Welcome to Night Vale is also who I went to the live show with, and we decided that just showing up wouldn’t do. This is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to cosplaying in my life, and besides a gown commission I did in February, it’s the first ensemble I’ve done since Paddlelump last summer. We talked a little bit about who we could go as, but since we really wanted to showcase our skills and own special blend of eccentricity, we just weren’t sure…until she hit on the idea of us each going as one of the towns in the podcast. Since she’d gotten to the fandom first, she obviously got Night Vale. That left me with the pleasant, yet gloriously creepy town of Desert Bluffs.

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She did the jewelry, I did the top hats and plushies, and we did our respective outfits. Not bad for a week/week and a half of work. It’s one of those things where I wanted to do it, but actively making myself sit down and figure things out and sew again (after sewing all day at work)..eeecccch. Don’t let anyone ever make you believe that creative people/artists love what they’re doing 24/7. That is a lie. Especially when there’s good tv on and all we want to do is fall onto the couch after a long day.

Still, I’m pretty stoked with how these turned out, and the sheer fact that it’s been forever since I’ve done non monster/creature/male clothes.

We decided that Simplicity pattern 2172 could be modified to suit our needs. The sleeves and ruffle were dropped from the jacket since it was getting to be summer, and we went with a different skirt pattern. Basically the coat was done as is save for leaving off bits (I shortened the back ties, as well, because I am graceless enough without dragging tails along, to boot). I also opted for clasps instead of buttons because again, honest confession time: I’m tired, I was doing this after a full day at work, and I didn’t want to get everything right and then ruin the thing because I got the buttonholes wrong.

Did the same bodice from the pattern, though here’s where my friend had it way easier. This is the downside to having an hourglass figure. I know you think you want it. Everyone thinks that’s the body type they want. No, no it is not, because nothing ever freakin’ fits and even patterns are a pain if they’re supposed to be somewhat body-hugging. To make things easier on myself I cut to the biggest size of the pattern I could, used canvas instead of interfacing, put that and the top layer together, then pinned every loose-fitting part in as much as I could, darting in parts of the seams where needed. Once things were taken in I put in the boning (another neat trick when you have a huge amount of seam allowance: stitch the seam allowance down and let it be your boning channels instead of adding more pieces), and finished it up. We decided to do the bodice fabric as the coat ties, to keep the color scheme.

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Skirt was from an out-of-print pattern, and we wanted to applique the town part of the logos onto the bottom edge. This is where my friend totally beat me because she got all the power lines and everything on hers and i ran out of time and didn’t get the radio tower spindle on mine. Meh, I’ll have to embroider it on later. This was also where I found a way to incorporate the orange from the logo. Because the skirts were black, the color schemes for Desert Bluffs were somewhat reversed and I had to figure out what would actually look best and make things pop. The eye of Night Vale and the Sun in Desert Bluffs ended up as our necklaces because I cringed every time I thought of trying to applique that sun.

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Where the Night Vale logo has three or so specific colors, Desert Bluffs is a little trickier. I really, really didn’t want to walk around in straight yellow and orange, so I opted to have the coat as the font color of the logo. The bodice had started as orange, but honestly the gold/off-yellow I found really went better with the maroon, so that was that.

I’m happy with the way things turned out and we did get a ton of compliments, so that’s a definite plus. There is something mildly thrilling about seeing Mara Wilson stop in her tracks and look at you, and go “Wait…you’re Desert Bluffs!” We’ve also been told our outfits are “awesome” and “banging” by various cast members from the show, so mission accomplished.

It was definitely something to be back making regular (female) clothes, so I’ll probably be putting myself back through my paces every so often in these next few months. It was the slight kick I needed, though I’m probably going to focus on writing first for a little bit, because I need to get back in the swing, there, too.

As for the five million accessories we had to go with our outfits? Oh, don’t worry, there will be pictures…