Thursday, February 26, 2015

Move Along, Nothing to See Here...

Ever have one of those weeks where just nothing quite works right? That's my week.

Taking out what was right...

After failing to create a suitable pattern, I then unpicked a huge section of my guardian project, only to realize I had done it right the first time...

Lessons Learned (again):
 - Go with my gut.
 - Double check anyway.

Roll on next week....

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Adventures in Glove Making

I'll be honest, I was worried. I'd read up on glove making, but had never done so before. In my reading and in following other costumes on their progress, I kept seeing comments about how finicky and frustrating glove-making could be. So, I was worried. 

I have always found gloves to be too long in the fingers for my stubby little hands, so I knew working with a generic glove sloper wasn't going to produce particularly good results for me. So my first task was to create a pattern. 

I followed this guide for creating a glove pattern- a latex glove, covered in masking tape/painters tape instead of duct tape as its easier to work with one handed. I followed her guide on how to pattern your cuts, and cut it all out. Then I let it sit there while I panicked about how I hadn't gotten it quite flat and did I cut the hole for my thumb large enough and OH MY GOD ITS GOING TO BE A DISASTER!! (Because, you know, that's how my brain works)

Anyway, when we got back from the States, I knew I couldn't put it off any longer, not if I wanted to get things done by my self-imposed deadline. I had not one, but two costumes planned that involved gloves, so I really needed to sort the pattern out.

In the end, I needn't have worried. I don't know how the guide ended up with a pattern so large it required several alterations, but my first pair fit nearly perfectly. I'd made the set of gloves that would end up fingerless eventually in case I messed things up, but actually, they looked pretty well before I chopped the fingers off. 

The second pair I changed things up a little, skipping the flechettes altogether, as I wanted them a little snugger with more width past the wrist. Even they worked out first time although I went back and changed the them slightly once I compared it to reference pics.

I chose to make one continuous flechette (the part in between your fingers) for the pattern, which was the right call. Far less to piece together doing it that way. My seam was a mere 1/8" but anything greater would result in some oddities, I think. Really, though, the guide was very solid.

And now I have two pairs of self-made gloves. I feel rather accomplished with this, and have vague ideas of making non-costume gloves for myself, but that will have to wait. 

I never realized quite how knobby my knuckles were though until now...

Thursday, February 12, 2015


don't know how I managed it, but I completed my Korra costume last year without ever mentioning it here. 

Reference Pic
Korra, for those who don't know, comes from the animated series The Legend of Korra. She is a badass, impetuous, girl who goes through some truly troubling experiences. While I started this before having seen the final season, her troubles through that season made me love her even more. her challenges come in the form of the psychological and spiritual, which speaks to me in ways many characters don't. The physical she can deal with, but overcoming the hidden, harder to see and articulate psychological and spiritual questions she faces is a lot more difficult (not helped by her teenage years, no doubt).

In considering my costume for Korra, I didn't want to do a straight copy. I wanted it to be functional. Korra comes from the southern Water Tribe in the frozen southern pole. I wanted her costume to obviously reflect not only how they drew her, but how that people would dress. I wanted my materials especially to be legitimate for the people and the time period, which feels very 1920's in spite of the clear fantasy setting. Fortunately, that gave me a lot to play with.

Sourcing materials took me the greater part of a year, as I was very particular about what I wanted. Leather, fur- these had to be good quality. Her upper skirt is a thrift shop leather skirt that I found and altered. In actuality, it became two skirts- one for everyday wear, and this.

I found real leather in both the right colors and weight. For her lower arm bands I found beautiful white and dark blue leather, and when you flipped the blue over it was near-perfect light blue for her hair bobbles. While you can't see it in most of the photos, my explorations in hand-embroidery on leather was for this. I embroidered the Water Tribe mon onto each band. I had hoped to do more (and may revisit it to do that) but time pressures meant that was all I finished.

Small photos that belie how long this took.
I had intended to have her upper armband be paint, as that feels more authentic to me, but the water-based makeup I had on hand didn't work out. Oil based makeup probably would work and was what I had intended originally, however I've gone and made a band with the leathers instead.

The shirt is a stretchy jersey, which fortunately is still fairly period. The collar gave me a bit of difficulty, but overall, it's comfy and easy. After buying 4 different fabrics, I finally found the perfect shade of blue in a sweatshirt-type material for the pants. I had intended on a wool blend, but finding the right shade proved nearly impossible (and expensive) and I've never had much success with dying wool. The sweatshirt material worked well in the end and is super comfortable.

Photos fail to capture pain and angst of these boots.
The boots were one of the larger projects, as I wanted "real" boots for her. I sourced a decent basic leather boot, cut it apart, added different leather and fur, and put it all back together. They took much longer than I had hoped as the awkwardness of the shoes meant they couldn't be done on my machine. A solid two weeks of hand stitching had my wrists and fingers in agony, but the result is one I'm rather happy with.

Korra, November 2014. Photo by Kevin Goss Ross.
All in all, I was pretty happy with Korra, especially as she was one of my first forays into "proper" cosplay. I still want to add her jacket to the mix, which I have the fabric for, but that's for another day.