Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Otakon 2012: What We Saw

Among the 40,000 or so attendees at Otakon, there are always costumes that amaze. And as I go through the web, I'm finding pictures of costumes I never even got the chance to see. Really, it's impossible to see it all. But it's fun trying!
Here are pictures of some of the better or more interesting costumes we got to see last weekend.
A trio of Avengers. Magneto on the right had rigged a coin to float in his palm, thanks to some monofilament.

This guy was so thrilled that I recognized his costume as being the iconic Banksy street art. He said I was the first one who got it.

There were quite a few costumes that were extra-wide or extra-deep, or otherwise just jutted out. We agreed that anyone who has costume extensions they can't see easily really should have a "wrangler" with them to make sure they don't whack someone in passing. One of the funnier moments for costumes like this was when we saw several people with very wide wings having to crab-walk through the hallways so they didn't snowplow the crowds.

Costumes don't always make a lot of sense. Take this one: it turns out that there's a video game where chickens will attack you if you do something wrong.

And some costumes are just eye-poppingly bright.

Many, many costumes had heavy body paint. Getting a good, solid black takes a LOT of paint. I was impressed that this character's paint hadn't smudged or smeared in the heat.

Even this service dog was in costume, as "Bane" from Batman!


Here we have a "Tale of two costumes." The two above are the same character, just differing interpretations. It really was interesting to see the variation in the way people chose to do their costumes. There were two different approaches to doing a cosplay: either "strictly accurate" or "my interpretation." For our costumes, Ian and I chose to go the accuracy route, while Diana chose to do an interpretation.


Someone in a goat costume. Not sure why. It's probably a character from a game, but I'm not familiar with most games. And again, this had to be uncomfortably hot.

Harley Quinn and Catwoman. There were a LOT of these roaming around, with mallets of varying sizes and styles.
And while we're here, let's have a word about spandex and other form-fitting costumes. Luckily, most of the people wearing them had the figures to pull them off. But there were a few unfortunate costume choices: Really, now; Spiderman shouldn't have a huge beer belly.


Jessica Rabbit! She was actually heading in to the dealer hall to work in a booth.

The garden patio at the convention center was a popular spot for photos. I loved the detail on this costume.

This guy completely encased his camera in Lego!

The Black Knight, King Arthur, and Patsy. See the Knight's left arm? It was held on with Velcro. Every now and then they would stage a fight and the arm would be lopped off.

I was sweating just looking at this furry orange costume.

I loved this bazooka! It was made with PVC pipe and toilet flanges.

A Pokemon (again with the body paint), and I think that's supposed to be Hulk Hogan on the right.

A character from the game "Resident Evil." The only reason I could tell is the Umbrella Corporation logo on the helmet.

There were half a dozen Robins there. I liked this one best because of the iconic sound effect graphic she had on her hand.

I took this guy's picture in the Artist Alley, and after I was done he said to me, "Why did I smile when you took my picture?"

Not sure what these guys were, other than winged unicorns. I suspect it might have something to do with My Little Pony. There was a LOT of that to be found; it's a cult following.

Another common costume element was the Morph Suit, the full-body stretchy unitard. We saw many in lots of different colors and patterns. But I always wondered: first, how did they eat or drink, and second, how did they use the restroom??

I'm told this is Hawkeye. I'll take Ian's word for it.

Elaborate armor and weaponry were common. What made me happy was that the vast majority of costumes were hand-crafted.

Another costume where you have to know the game to understand the reference. Evidently there's a video game with a running gag in it of a cabbage salesman.

This was a cute costume that she said was inspired by the little black fuzzballs known as Soot Sprites, which appear in "Spirited Away."

Again, not sure what or who he's supposed to be, but the glowing eyes were very cool.

I loved seeing little kids dressed up in costume and obviously relishing the attention.

This was a nice Phantom of the Opera costume, but their pose completely obscured her lovely dress.

The mask on the left was hand-crafted. And very disturbing.

Diana (in character) walked up to this Tintin and asked, "How attached are you to your little dog?" I don't think he got it.
So there you have some of the many pictures I took at Otakon. If you want to see more, you should do a Google image search and you'll see thousands.

Next up: Lessons learned.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Otakon 2012: Our Costumes!

After an exhausting series of days, I finally have time to go through the pictures from Otakon and post about our costumes and the experience as a whole. Since there's so much to go through, I'm going to split it into several posts over the coming days, so as not to overwhelm.
First of all, I want to share the professional pictures we got in the Otakon PhotoSuite. Our favorite photographer wasn't there this year, but we still got some great shots, and were invited to come back for the "after hours" photo shoot to get some more creative shots done.
So here we are!
This is one of the pictures taken at the after-hours shoot, so it's a bit more "edgy" than the traditional picture.
Here's one of us "in the wild" -- we met up with someone in an Ursula costume, so we posed for pictures. It really took us quite a long time to get from one place to another... we were stopped about every five feet for a picture request. All throughout the day, we heard shouts of "JAFAR!!!" After all, Ian had one of the tallest costumes in the building. In the picture below, you can just barely see Ian's tall headpiece just left of dead center, with a clutch of photographers around him.

Yes, the costumes were a smashing success. We got hugs, high-fives, fist bumps and were photographed hundreds of times. Ian's costume was by far the most popular; people wanted their picture taken with him. He was having a blast!! We were also interviewed for the Congoer blog, but I have no idea when that will show up.
One of the real highlights of the weekend was the "Disney Meet-Up". This was a time when anyone in a Disney-related costume was supposed to come to the atrium of the convention center for a giant photo-op session. It was hysterical! I've never seen so many Disney princesses in one place.

There were only a few guys in the group (and one was dressed as Belle -- sitting second from right -- and he comes every year as a different Disney princess). And so few villains!! Besides us, there was an Ursula and a Mother Gothel. We did run into another Maleficent and another Cruella, but Ian was the only Jafar!



Luckily there was also an Aladdin there:
Ian also tried to use the power of his staff to beat poor Aladdin...
And what's a Jafar without a Jasmine to woo? There were two... one on Friday, and one on Saturday.

Maleficent!

I really haven't written much about my own Maleficent costume. It was finished at the last minute so I didn't get any progress pictures of it. Here's the full-body view:
Now, this was a far simpler costume than it looks. The outer robe is simply a poncho!! The "sleeves" are held in place by those red wrist pieces, which fasten to my arm with Velcro. The red skirt is just a simple elastic-waisted pull-on skirt with a few patch pockets to hold my money, camera and cell phone. And I'm wearing a simple tank top under the robe, which allowed me to drive to Baltimore in comfort and just slip my costume on in the parking garage.
Now, how about that staff? I'm quite proud of it.
The globe came from a $7 solar garden light that I took apart. I painted the inside green and added an LED light powered by two AA batteries, with a switch so I could turn it on and off, like Ian's. The crow on top was really a last-minute addition: on Wednesday morning, I lucked across the first of the Halloween stuff at Michaels, and there was a black life-sized crow. All I needed to do was paint the exaggerated beak and red-rimmed eyes and glue it to the top of the globe.

So that's the story about our costumes. Next time I'll share some pictures of the other costumes we saw. I didn't get as many pictures as I'd like because I was being photographed so much myself!! And this thought will lead to my third post, which I will have up in a few days.

Thanks for following along with the costume progress over the last few months, and for all the encouragement!! It really did mean a lot.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Otakon 2012: Jafar is Done!

Two down, one to go! I finished* the Jafar costume this afternoon.

(*Okay, not 100% finished... I have to add a pocket to the robe, and hem the red drape on the headpiece. But he was in a hurry to get to work, and I wanted to get pictures...)

This was a pretty challenging costume to make, and I'm not really completely happy with the shoulder pieces. However, I'm going to stop working on them until I am done with the Maleficent costume for me (which is about 90% done).

Here's the whole costume:


A few technical notes: the robe and shirt were drafted with Wild Ginger's Tailor Made program. The robe was heavily modified with pencil and paper to get those shoulder wing shapes right. But it only took one muslin! The cape and cummerbund were done freehand; the cummerbund is fastened with Velcro in the back.

That headpiece was a nightmare!! I ended up using 1" foam (thanks to a suggestion from Bill on the Creative Machine list). The shoulder pieces were stiffened with Inn-Spire, thanks to another suggestion. Right now the only issue is that the weight of the cape pulls the whole robe backwards on his shoulders, so I might end up having to rig some kind of belt or something to keep it in place.

Back view:
The cape is hand-stitched onto the upper edge of the robe. Yes, it's wrinkly at the hem... depending upon my state of mind (and sanity) on Wednesday, I'll iron it out.

Here's a close-up of the headpiece.
The gold accent lines are single-fold bias tape, attached with a drapery product called Millenium Tape (essentially a very, very aggressive double-sided sticky tape).

Let's take a closer look...

One of the most distiguishing features of Jafar's headpiece is that big red gem. I searched everywhere for a red cabochon of the correct size and color, without success. Then I had a flash...


Why not make my own, by painting the inside of a soap mold and surrounding it with gold braid trim? As you can see, it worked like a charm. Hooray for hot glue guns!

The last part of Ian's costume will be makeup: he'll have a skinny, twisting beard glued onto his chin with spirit gum. And somehow I've got to make him look gaunt and angular!!!

So, we're heading into the home stretch. We are planning to do a "dress rehearsal" tomorrow afternoon, trying on full makeup and such and making sure it all looks good. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm a Featured Blogger!

I'm so tickled!! Mary Wilson of Mary Sews chose to feature me in her monthly blog roll post!


Thanks for your wonderful comments! I'm so honored to be on your blog roll.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Otakon 2012: Cruella is DONE!

One down, two to go. I finished all the details of Diana's Cruella DeVil costume and I'm quite happy with how it all worked out.
The coat was really the last stumbling block. We couldn't find any decent faux fur at the fabric store (well, at least none that were in our price range!). Diana found an inexpensive coat online for under $30 and bought it as a "just in case". It looked truly awful, and would have required adding a red lining.
Then, last week, my neighbor was at a flea market and texted me that a vendor had some white faux fur fabric for sale; would a bit over 2 yards be enough? For $10? Buy it, I told her. When she brought it over, I saw that it was just perfect: a medium-pile faux mink, 60 inches wide. After doing some quick drafting with PatternMaster and laying it out with their included Yardage Calculator, I saw to my delight that I could, indeed, get a 42" long coat out of two yards... providing I used some of the purchased jacket as the undercollar.
After a quick muslin to check the overall draft, the construction of the coat was pretty straightforward. I also added some zippered pockets to the lining (per Diana's request).
So her costume is done, and this afternoon she braved the 95-degree heat in her new fur coat and wig so I could get pictures.


You can just see the red coat lining peeking out!

She plans to have the coat slouched down from her shoulders most of the time. The puppy purse really finishes the outfit!

The red lining... sewn entirely by machine! The only hand-stitching is to tack the facing down in a few places so it doesn't roll out. I'm not thrilled with the inside lining hem but hey... it's a costume!

'Oh yes, Dahling, I just LOVE my furs!!"

The back view of the dress, showing the pleated godet. The little red bow is actually just snapped on, and she wants me to make a few extra bows in different colors, so she can change them when she wants a different look.

So, that's one costume complete and ready to go out the door! I'm really quite happy with how the coat turned out; it's the first time I've worked with faux fur for a garment; my last experience was making a fur throw and that's just a totally different level.

Now it's back to the sewing room to get cracking on Ian's Jafar robe and headpiece.