Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finally some sewing... and why I haven't been sewing lately

It's been a while since I've been able to post some actual garment sewing projects -- mostly because it's been a while since I've actually sewn any garments! The second half of this year was quite busy for me: I decided to take the training to become a Home Inspector, so I can join my husband's company, Inspections by Bob, as a fellow inspector! This meant that I had to devote a lot of time to classwork and studying, so the sewing room was lightly visited. But in early December, I took the National Home Inspector Exam and passed with flying colors! Now I am just waiting for Maryland to shuffle the paperwork from one corner of a desk to another and send me my license. I will then be able to start doing Home Inspections!
First, however, I had to get ready to attend the annual conference of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The shirts I had made for the Las Vegas conference two years ago really didn't look as nice as I would have liked (plus my measurements aren't quite the same, unfortunately), so I wanted to make some new shirts, along with a pair of pants and a skirt.
Everything was drafted with PatternMaster Boutique, version 5.
Here's one outfit:

I'm really, really happy with how the shirt turned out. I hadn't had much luck with long-sleeve button-down shirts until now. Even the sleeve plackets came out beautifully! I'm also very happy with the buttonholes; my Bernina 930 does beautiful buttonholes.
The pants feel nice, but I'm kind of wishing I had dropped the waist just a little bit. Next time. But the length is good; the pockets are deep enough to hold my cell phone without risk of it falling out (a pet peeve of mine in RTW pants).
Here's the second outfit:

The shirt pattern is the same as the one above, except the fabric is a little lighter and I shortened the sleeves. The skirt is a simple gored design, with inseam pockets (gotta have pockets!!).
What I really love about wearing these shirts is the logo:

I just took the company's logo and modified it a little! After all, lots of the people we work with call me "Mrs. Bob," so why mess with what works? I had digitized Bob's original logo years ago, and just used Embird Studio to add the little caret and new letters!

I'm hoping to get back to the sewing room in 2012; much of my wardrobe needs updating and I really want to whittle down some of my stash. But right now, I need to start packing for my trip to Phoenix on Monday. Have a safe New Year's Eve, and I look forward to sharing more of my creations in the coming months!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Make Your Own Longcat (or Tacgnol)!

My daughter sent me a picture of a scarf she saw on the web as a suggestion for a Christmas gift for her. Naturally, rather than just buy them, I decided to make my own version. It was really quite simple!

The scarf is based on an internet "meme" called Longcat. There are many versions floating around the web, and looking at a few gave me enough information to put together my own pattern.
It's really pretty simple: you just need about half a yard or so of fleece and just a little bit of polyfill stuffing. If you have an embroidery machine, you can add the face and paws to the scarf, but those can also be added by hand. I digitized a face and paws to use on mine.

Here you can see the little pink paws:

(I pinned the paws up for this picture; they're quite floppy in real life!)

I gave her two versions: Longcat (in white) and Tacgnol (the dark version -- "longcat" spelled backwards). She absolutely loved them.

Instructions to make your own Longcat Scarf are now available by clicking on this link:

The new post has a link to the ZIP file containing the pattern, embroidery files for face and paws, and assembly instructions.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My favorite Christmas present

My daughter gave me the most perfect Christmas present ever this year.

For those of you too young to remember, this is Carol Burnett in her fabulous costume from her show's famous skit, "Went with the Wind."

For those who haven't seen it...

Those of you who have followed my sewing over the years know that I have a penchant for making gowns out of drapery fabrics... or even out of draperies. So this is just a perfect addition to my sewing room!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saying goodbye to our kitty

Yesterday was a sad day here. We lost our wonderful 13-year-old kitty, Stripe. He hadn't been showing signs of illness (other than being on thyroid medication), but we found him pale and weak by our bedroom door around lunchtime. Bob hurried him to the vet but it appeared that he had lost a large amount of blood due to a tumor that ruptured his stomach. He wouldn't have survived the trip to the animal hospital in the next city that could perform a transfusion, so we chose to let him go painlessly and with dignity.

My daughter took this picture of Stripe a few months ago. He was such a beautiful guy. He loved (and tolerated) children; my neighbor's little boy loved coming over and petting him.

Stripe came to us as a stray back in 1998. We had recently adopted two other strays, Gaia and her kitten Gingevere. When this sleek tabby started nosing around the property, we were sure the two cats would chase him off. Instead, they welcomed him into the family. We were worried they would welcome more of their stray friends, but any subsequent cat was quickly chased away.

We lost Gaia in 2006; now Gingevere is the lone kitty in the house.We've been giving him lots more scritches and hugs. We'll all need time to adjust to life without Stripe. He is sorely missed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and a New Project

Tomorrow will be a landmark Thanksgiving for Bob and me. It will be the first time in 22 years that we will not have one of our children with us. Our son is in Arizona finishing up his Senior year, and coming home for a long weekend is just too much of a hassle and expense. Our daughter is spending the weekend visiting her boyfriend. So it's just the two of us.

But not really. We tried to resurrect our "Orphan Family Thanksgiving" that we did a few times before, but didn't get any takers. But we were invited to join the fun at a friend's house, where we have been promised abundant food, fun and, perhaps, a Trivial Pursuit marathon (oh boy!).

The hostesses are a couple we have known for years. They're Wiccan, so I wanted to make them something that would be both meaningful and useful for them.

Hooray for Urban Threads! Their Wheel of the Year design was just what I wanted. I used it as the center design on a table runner.

It's really nothing fancy, but I hope they will like it. The main fabric is a "linen look" from my stash.

Urban Threads' designs stitch out so beautifully.

I added the "Blessed Be" to both ends of the runner. I created the design using Embird's Font Engine.

And, in case they ever just want to have a regular runner, the back side is a drapery fabric remnant from my stash.

I will be giving this to them tomorrow afternoon, as I acknowledge my good fortune in having a wonderful "chosen family" to spend Thanksgiving with.

May your feast be bountiful and your blessings be many!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm officially a lost cause.

I might as well just admit it; I'm a complete lost cause when it comes to doing projects for my "practice grandchild." He's been pretty sick this past week, and I've missed seeing him, so I decided to make him a little "feel better" present.
The first time I made a stuffed animal from the Carol's Zoo pattern was when my kids were in Montessori school, and one of them was in a production of "The Velveteen Rabbit." I made the rabbit for the play, using this pattern, and loved how easy it was.
This evening I decided to make a "Feel Better Bunny" for Gavin. Rather than use fleece (of which I didn't have any appropriate color anyway), I decided to use two thrift store sweaters (pure lambswool, for $2 each!) that I had felted last year for an as-yet-undetermined project. The pattern pieces just barely fit, but the end result was worth it! I also added a design for the tummy to make it more personal.

I'm going to give him the bunny tomorrow morning. I might add buttons for eyes, but then again, I kind of like the plain look too. The sweaters were easy to work with and should stand up to lots of cuddles.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recovering an old footstool

A few months ago, my hubby and I took a day trip to Baltimore to scope out some antique/vintage stores, including HouseWerks and Second Chance. Both these places are treasure troves, especially if you're a fan of digging through musty, dusty areas to find that one special gem. Or, just something cute that calls to you and says "Take me home!" (This happens all too often. Which is why I'm not allowed to go to pet stores).
I confess that I especially love Second Chance, simply because its mission has two very laudable goals: first, to deconstruct old buildings and salvage their parts for resale, thus preventing lots of building materials from ending up in the landfill. Second, they offer a "second chance" to the unemployed, underemployed, and others facing barriers to employment.
Anyway, during our meander through their FIVE warehouses, I came across this cute little footstool:
What attracted me to it was the shape of the feet: they are an almost perfect match to the two chairs in our breakfast room. I knew it would need some "TLC", of course, but since when would that stop me?

This evening I finally started the restoration process, beginning with taking the footstool apart. Luckily, getting the top off was a matter of just undoing four long screws.

(Yeah, those feet do need help.)

The upholstered top just came right off.

So now I can refinish the frame. I'm actually thinking of spray painting it, rather than staining it. But it will depend upon what fabric I end up choosing for the new top.

The footstool wasn't very "cushy", so rather than just attach new fabric over the old, I used my staple remover to pry up the old, old staples holding the fabric in place.

Cough, cough. I swear, the thing was padded with STRAW!

Sure looked like straw, with just a token covering of batting. It all went into the trash, leaving me with a bare piece of wood for a nice, fresh start.
I've been thinking about my options, and I might actually want to do something a bit more fun than just a flat fabric top. How about tufting? And maybe a fringe around the edge? Or nailhead trim? One thing's for sure: it's going to have more padding and it sure as heck won't be straw!!
Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A One-Hour Pillow (whose hour took about 8 months to arrive)

This was supposed to be one of those quick, satisfying projects to whip up and get done.


The design is from Urban Threads, and was a freebie much earlier this year (it's now $7.00). I actually stitched it out within a day or so of its release, and intended to make it into a neck roll pillow. I set the embroidered fabric aside, along with the pillow form, and then... somehow... well, you know how it goes.

Finally, yesterday I got tired of the fabric laying there, mocking me every time I passed that corner of the workroom. It was dusty, but the beautiful embroidery was still just as lovely. I'm not sure what possessed me, but I snatched it up, shook it off, and proceeded to make the pillow. The hardest thing was resisting the urge to make it "perfect." The little voice in my head kept shrieking "Add cording!! Add ruffles!! Add something!!" But I just wanted it done, so it could become a useful item in my home, rather than yet another UFO in the workroom.

And, plain as it is, I actually like how it came out.

When my daughter and I were at the Maryland Renaissance Festival this weekend, I spotted a pillow that said "Queen of Unfinished Projects." I need to make that pillow... someday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Something to go with Ian's Tron bag

After I posted the Tron bag pictures, my friend Sarah from the Creative Machine list suggested I might consider making this accessory to go with it:

Sarah is such an enabler. How could I resist a challenge like that? Especially since I haven't touched a soldering iron since high school? So I ordered the kit (actually, I ordered four of them... you never know when you'll need some flashing LEDs!). Today I finally had all the components needed to complete the project, so I got to work.

Assembling the kit is very easy; it took me less than 2 hours start to finish. Then I spent another hour modifying a tie I got from Salvation Army to insert the kit.

And here's the finished tie:

And here is the tie in action:

I did make one modification to the kit to make the battery operation easier. The instructions tell you to use a binder clip to clip the bare leads to a CR2032 button battery. However, that's mighty fiddly and, after a while, the leads would likely start fraying. Instead, I took apart a battery-powered tealight, removed the LED light and soldered the leads to the clips.

While it lacks an on-off switch, the battery now has a secure connection, and you just have to remove the battery to turn it off.

This tie will be going to Arizona as a surprise for my son Ian. I hope he gets an opportunity to wear it for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"I Spy" quilt finished!

It's been a while since I've had anything of interest to post about. But finally, I have something worth showing pictures of!
Earlier this year, I joined an "I Spy" fabric swap at Kimbo West's blog, A Girl and a Glue Gun. Now, I'm not a quilter, but I do have a "practice grandchild" -- my next-door-neighbor's little boy. He's turning two this month, and I wanted to make him something special from his "Tante" (as he calls me). What better than an I Spy quilt? So I signed up. I sent in my squares (I had to send in 10 squares each of 10 different fabrics; in return, I would get a package of 100 squares, all different). I got my package of squares back during the summer, and the project sat awaiting my attention. Finally, its turn came a few weeks ago, and I got started piecing the squares together.
The only hitch was that there were quite a few very "girly" fabrics in the mix, and this boy's parents are kind of on the "traditional" side, so I had to substitute about 15 fabrics. I didn't have that many in my own stash, but the amazing Julie Bowersett came to my rescue and provided the missing fabrics that were just perfect. Thank you, Julie!!!
I was also in a quandary as to what to use for backing. The solution presented itself when I was at the Sewing Expo, and I came across the SewBatik booth. I had bought their extra-wide border print batiks in the past to make the Folkwear Kimono. Well, they had something new: extra-wide batik flannel!! I bought two yards in a mottled dark blue/green colorway.
The assembly itself went pretty quickly; it was all done by machine. There are a few spots where the seams didn't quite line up, but hey, I never claimed to be a master quilter! It was also quilted on my Juki industrial -- which doesn't have a walking foot, yet somehow I ended up with virtually no shifting or puckering. I'm constantly amazed by that machine. I just stitched in the ditch along all the seam lines. The binding was a strip of the same flannel as the backing, on the straight of grain, machine-stitched to the front, then turned and hand-stitched to the backing. I digitized the label with Embird and machine-stitched it to the backing (before sandwiching the quilt, of course) with a fine zigzag stitch.
And here's the final product!

As you can see, I didn't do any sashing or anything like that. I just wanted to have the jumble of pictures, for maximum confusion fun.

Here you can see the backing fabric:

In between is a layer of high-loft batting. It really is a very plush and cushy quilt.

The label:

I'll be presenting the quilt to the birthday boy on Saturday, and can't wait to see his reaction. In the meantime, I'm glad I'm done, as I'll be spending the next two days in a computer class and will have zero time for sewing!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My sewing room has a floor!

Over the last few days I finally decided to knuckle down and tackle the mess that was threatening to overwhelm my sewing room. I'm not done yet, but much progress has been made.

Open floor! Space to move around! The only areas left to be tackled are the ones at the far left of this picture, where I have about 7 bins and boxes of fabric and "stuff" to be sorted out. Also, I need to go through all the bookcases and organize the books, binders and pattern boxes stored there.

Here's the view from the opposite corner:

I love the open space! I'm not tripping over anything anymore!

But here's the best improvement, and the one that took the most time:

This is a built-in bookcase original to the house. I love to organize things into plastic bins, but there wasn't a real "system" in place, and I ended up with duplicates, overstuffed bins and underutilized bins. Plus, there was no real way to corral the itty-bitty stuff like snaps, cord locks, zipper pulls and the like that would get lost in even the smaller boxes.

So I went through every single plastic box, sorting and purging as I went along, and then labeled every thing with my P-touch labeling machine (I love that thing!). I also found a nice-sized storage thing with little plastic drawers; you can see it on the far right of the top shelf. I have no idea what these things are called, but they're great for small parts!

So, I'm getting there. Once I've gone through and processed all the bins and boxes still lined up against the railing, and dealt with the bookcases, I'm sure I will feel much happier in the space, and that will translate to a whole lot of creativity!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Designing the Tron Bag

Thanks for all the incredibly nice comments on the Tron bag! I guess I kind of take it for granted that I can look at a picture and figure out how to translate it into a finished product. So, here's a glimpse into my thought processes surrounding this bag.

First, the sketch stage. All I had to go with were the two pictures in my previous post, plus the necessary dimensions for the finished bag, based on the measurements of Ian's laptop.

Looking at the pictures, I saw a flap with a pocket in it, and two main compartments, with smaller pockets on the front: one zippered, one with Velcro. And it looked like one of the main compartments was not covered by the cover flap, so that was going to present an interesting challenge.

Here's the first sketch I made of the bag:

Not terribly detailed, but enough to help me visualize the relative size of the pockets. Note that I added side pockets, which weren't on the original bag, but I knew they'd come in handy.

Then I had to start figuring out the depths of the various compartments, so I would know how big to cut the pieces. This required a second sketch:

The sketch shows a height of 11", but I changed that to 12" on the off chance Ian would switch to a larger laptop. Here you can also see how the flap is anchored between the two main zippered areas, which would allow him access to his laptop without having to open up the flap. As it turns out, this was not a feature of the original bag, but he loves it.

Now I was ready to cut fabric. I'm sure I wasted quite a bit, simply because I was making it all up as I went along, but the black denim had been in my stash for at least eight years so I figured its time had come. I did line some of the pieces with black drapery lining (still have a roll of that hanging around from my drapery workroom days!).

Based on this sketch, I knew that I had to cut four pieces for the largest components of the bag; since the finished dimensions were 17" x 12", the pieces were cut at 18" x 13", with a 1/2" seam allowance. The zippered front pocket was cut 18" x 9", and the pocket with Velcro was cut at 14" x 6. The pockets all had sides; this made doing the zippers much easier. So the main compartment, with a finished depth of 3", had sides cut to 4".

The laptop pocket got a layer of quilt batting between the main fabric and the lining, to cushion the laptop. In retrospect I should have added a layer of Decor Bond, but it's too late for that now.

I didn't take any pictures during the assembly process, and I won't try to describe how I put the bag together. The one part that almost flummoxed me was how to sew the two main compartments together while enclosing the end of the flap. I had already sewed the two compartments as separate pieces, and there was no way I was going to be able to machine-stitch the two together and have it look half decent. In the end, I machine-stitched the flap onto one main compartment, then pinned the two pieces together and hand-stitched the two together at the edges.

When I look at a project like this, I tend to break it down into measurements and relationships between the parts. I also think about the construction sequence: the pocket with Velcro had to be sewn onto the front of the zippered pocket before the zippered pocket was attached to the front of the main compartment... things like that. And I did have to adjust and re-cut a few pieces as I went along because they didn't quite go together right. But that's part of the fun and the adventure of trying to tease the details out of an experimental project. Still, any project can be broken down into the simplest of steps, and one just has to take the steps one at a time.

So I challenge you: find a picture of something you would like to make, and see if you can figure out how to make it. And let me know how it goes!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Tron Bag: A Journey

This project has a LONG history behind it. Let's go back about two years, to the Sewing Expo at Puyallup in 2010. That's where I spotted something called "Dazzle Wire" at Tammy O'Connell's Peacock Patterns booth. I bought a 5-foot piece, not knowing what I was going to do with it, but knowing that it had to be a part of something pretty cool.
So it came home, and sat in my workroom, waiting for a project.

And waited.

Finally, I showed it to my son, and he said, "Wow, that would be great on the front of a messenger bag." His favorite messenger bag (a "Bag of Holding" from ThinkGeek) wasn't holding up as well as he would like, and wasn't quite the right size for his needs, so he asked me to make him a new bag, but using the Dazzle Wire to give it a "Tron" feel.

What could I say? I seldom get the chance to sew anything for my son. All I had to go on was two pictures:

From these two pictures, I could figure out approximately how the bag had to come together. One of the requirements for Ian was that his laptop had to fit into the bag. So, with his measurements in hand, I knew the bag had to measure 17" wide by 12" high.

Time for some deep thought.

It looked like the bag had two main compartments, one of which was intended to hold a laptop. It also looked like the laptop compartment was not covered by the front flap. Hmm. There was a zippered compartment in the flap, as well as two smaller compartments attached to the front of the bag. And, although the original bag didn't have them, I figured side pockets would be a good thing.

So I got to work.

The first element was how to do the Dazzle Wire. I thought about couching it, using thick thread covering to fill in the gaps, but finally realized that the only logical way to approach it was to thread it in and out of the front via eyelets. So, I mapped out an abstract path for the wire, and made eyelets for each "in" and "out" point. Once they were all sewn, I threaded the wire through the eyelets and glued the exposed portions to the fabric. I also made openings in the flap so the end of the wire could hook up to the power supply, nestled in its own little pocket in the bag.

I wish I could say I knew what I was doing, but really I was just winging it the whole way through. I cut and sewed pockets and flaps that looked right, and put everything together so it matched what I thought it should look like. And, lo and behold, it all worked out in the end, because Ian absolutely loves his new bag.

So, here are some pictures.

Ian admiring his new Tron-inspired messenger bag.

With the flap open, the inner compartments are revealed.

There's a zippered pocket in the front.

Also, a Velcro-fastened pocket.

You can also see the short pieces with the snaps on them; these allow the top flap to be closed in two different positions, depending upon how full the bag is.

A nice, big main compartment. You can see the wire on the left, coming out of the flap.

This little pocket holds the battery pack that powers the Dazzle Wire.

And a second large compartment, not covered by the flap, is a padded laptop pocket.

There are also two side pockets with Velcro-closure flaps; perfect for a cell phone.

The Dazzle Wire lights up when the battery pack is turned on; here's a picture of what the effect is like in a darkened room.

Ian is absolutely thrilled with his bag; he's already trying to figure out whether he should use it as his carry-on luggage when he goes back to Arizona on Sunday. How does one explain to a TSA agent that one's carry-on bag has wires and a battery pack? I think I'll encourage him to simply put it in his suitcase instead.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Montgomery County Fair results

The Montgomery County Fair ended on August 20. All six items I entered received ribbons! Although I didn't do as well with some items as I would have liked, I'm still happy they all got something.

The Otakon dress was entered as a "day dress" rather than a costume (you're only allowed one entry per category). It received a fourth place ribbon.

The Smithson Gown was entered as a "formal ensemble" and got a third place ribbon.

Diana's "Ocean Goddess" Otakon costume got a third place ribbon.

The tie I made for Bob for his part of the Smithson gala outfit got a second place.

The vest I made for Bob got a first place ribbon!

And I am most proud of my entry in the Accessories department: the diaper bag I made for my neighbor. It took first place AND a Champion ribbon!

Next year I'm determined to enter more items. I had wanted to enter some of the things I made for Diana during the year but completely forgot to ask her to give them to me in time. Oh well! Just another excuse to make more stuff!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another t-shirt quilt

Earlier this summer, a friend of mine contacted me to ask if I would be interested in making a t-shirt quilt for her sister-in-law. Since the timeframe wasn't immediate and I could work it into the other projects littering my sewing room, I said sure.

Well, the quilt was given to its recipient today and I got a picture of the proud new owner.

I was sent a box of shirts from his running career and pieced them into a 60" x 60" blanket. The shirts were all stabilized with fusible knit from Rowley's, and the back was a fleece chosen by the sister-in-law. The quilt has a layer of medium-loft batting to give it some extra warmth, and the whole thing is bound with a brown knit fabric, double-folded and machine-stitched to the front, then the corners were mitered and the back hand-stitched in place. The layers were secured with knotted embroidery floss at the intersection of each block.

The mitered corners were actually interesting to figure out; I'm going to do a tutorial on how to mark and sew them because, really, once I wrapped my head around the topology of the folds, it was quite easy and quick to do.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crabby scarves

My daughter is finishing up her summer internship with the Smithsonian this week. I suggested she give her supervisors a gift for putting up with her providing such a great experience, and offered to embroider something. She told me one of the "running gags" at SERC was that whenever someone saw a crab, someone else would say "I pinch!" I had no idea what this meant until she pointed me at the following commercial:

So, I suggested doing polar fleece scarves with a crab on one end and "I pinch!" on the other.

I finished them just in time for her to take back with her for her final week.

The crabs are from Embroidery Library, although I had to edit out all the background swirls because my hoop isn't big enough.

They stitched out at just a few millimeters under the legal eating size!\

I did the text with Embird's Font Engine:

The scarves were lined with some cotton remnants I had in my stash. I look forward to hearing how the recipients like them!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Otakon 2011: Back to Reality!

My first Otakon experience is now over, and I can honestly say it was one of the most interesting and fun things I've ever done! Being one of over 31,000 people swarming around the Baltimore Convention Center and Inner Harbor area was a real study in sensory overload. So many costumes!!!

My costume got some attention but not much; I had about two dozen picture requests. Compare that to some of the costumes where the wearer simply couldn't go anywhere because they were always surrounded by attendees asking to take their picture. Diana and I wore our costumes on Friday only; we went in street clothes on Saturday. Part of the reason was that the costumes weren't getting a lot of attention; the other part was that the makeup was time-consuming and inconvenient, especially when it came to eating or using the facilities! Lesson learned: no more body paint for me.

Anyway, I did take pictures of the other costumes, and will share some of them with you. I really have no idea who many of these characters are; I was just taking pictures of costumes I liked!

 Diana getting her picture taken by the professional photographer in the PhotoSuite.

 Not quite sure who this was supposed to be, but I loved the colors, and his makeup was great.

 We braved the 101-degree heat for some pictures at the fountain by the Inner Harbor.

 Spandex, corsets and skimpy costumes abounded.

 Men in Black observing the Green Arrow.

Recursive cosplay: Video game character costumes made out of video game cartridges.

I thought this gnome was cute!

 This Tron: Legacy costume was quite good, except he couldn't quite reach the disc on his back, and had to ask for help retrieving it!

 This woman couldn't get ten feet without hearing someone squeal, "Miss Frizzle!!!!"

A beautiful costume; she had someone with her to help her navigate the aisles because the headdress prevented her from seeing anything next to her.

Dr. Who was quite well represented this year, in many of his incarnations (I even saw a Tom Peters version). This Dalek wasn't motorized (I don't think), but appeared in various places throughout the convention center to pose with the many Doctors (as well as with the people dressed up as a Tardis).

I was impressed with the quality of this guy's body paint!

Here was one of the group shot sessions for the Doctors; you can see some of the Tardis costumes as well.

A collection of Sailor Moon costumes.

 Not sure who these two were supposed to be, but they couldn't see through their headdresses, so every time someone wanted a picture, they had to put the headdresses on.

I found Waldo! There were actually at least three of them wandering around; this one was the best.

 A full-body costume. I saw her later in the PhotoSuite without the shoes, tag and backpack; it was a much better look. But I guess having shoes was necessary for walking around!

 One of at least three "Tangled" princess costumes; this one had the best braid.

Again, not quite sure what this is a costume of, but it was incredibly detailed and frilly!

Commercial icons made for popular costumes!

 I'm not sure if the backpack is historically accurate, but this Samurai costume was very good!

 There were quite a few Disney Princesses, plus a prince or two.

 A Tetris game piece. Pretty much anything related to a video game was fair play for a costume. There was also a Rubiks Cube costume!

 The Fountain Atrium of the Convention Center was where many of the popular costumed attendees stayed to be photographed. Many of them were groups, or had awkward props that would be unmanageable in the crowded hallways.

 Another group in the Fountain Atrium. I can only imagine how sore the two front characters were after hours of dipping in and out of their poses.

 Another popular feature of Otakon is the Video Gaming Hall. This cavernous space was filled with oversize monitors and every video system imaginable, with every game imaginable being played. This was the one area with very few costumes in evidence; the people were here to play. This was a chance for them to indulge in hours of play, all included in the admission price. I loved the rules that were posted, especially about good personal hygiene.

 It was impossible to capture the room in just one shot. But you can see the size of the monitors... and there were dozens of them. The room was also kept quite chilly. I can't imagine what the electric bill was for just this one room!

 There weren't just video games in the hall, either. The area with the tables was devoted to a "Magic: The Gathering" card game tournament. There were people lined up for their turn to play; there were probably 30 tables with players, many with thick binders of cards and very serious expressions. These weren't casual gamers!

 Another group of costumed characters; I'm told they are from the webcomic "MS Paint Adventures".

Superman!! Again, there was more than one at the convention.

So how about Diana and me? Well, here are some of the pictures taken at the PhotoSuite.

 This picture really captures the flow of the dress! Too bad none of the pictures really captured the sparkle of the sequins scattered over the dress and the "wave" cape. Oh well.

 I love this one for its contrast!

We went back to the PhotoSuite at the end of the day at the invitation of the photographer. My makeup was really starting to wear off by this point, but I think it lends just the right amount of creepiness to the shot!

So there you have it... We had a great time, and I'm looking forward to going again next year. But I might not go in costume; instead, I'm tempted to volunteer to work at the PhotoSuite instead!