Saturday, August 10, 2013

Otakon 2013: The Family that Geeks Together

Some people get dressed up in their Sunday best for their family pictures. Not us.

At Otakon, our first stop is the Photo Suite, where professional photographers take pictures of attendees in their costumes. You can then buy prints and/or digital files. This year we had a fabulous photographer who took great pains to capture our family at its playful best.

Bob as Qui Gon Jinn; Diana as the Queen of Hearts; Ian as Captain Hook, and me as Ursula. Do we look like we're having fun or what?

We also had individual pictures taken.
Ah, my handsome Jedi knight.

The dashing Captain Cook.

The Queen of Hearts getting ready to smash a poor hedgehog through a wicket in the next county.

And me, in full makeup, with several people off-camera blowing bubbles.

Ah, Flotsam and Jetsam. I loved making these (even though I had to tear the second one apart about four times because I kept getting pieces mixed up). They are actually purses! I will post more pictures of them separately to show how they were constructed. I was very happy that they were attached to my hips via skirt hooks, so I could remove them if I wanted but didn't have to carry them in my hands. My new costuming rule of thumb is that any accessories must be worn, not carried!

Other Disney Villains


On Saturday afternoon there was a "meet-up" of attendees wearing Disney costumes. This meant a boatload of Princesses, a handful of Princes, and just a few Villains.

 There were two other Ursulas, a Mother Gothel (from Tangled), Doctor Facilier (from The Princess and the Frog), Scar (from Lion King), and Oogie Boogie (from Nightmare Before Christmas).

Anyway, we're home, exhausted, but so happy to have had another fun time at Otakon. I'll post pictures of the other costumes we saw.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Otakon 2013: Off with their heads!

Diana's Otakon costume is done! She elected to go as the Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland" (the original Disney version, not the Tim Burton remake). The costume has three parts: a knit undershirt, fitted bodice, and color-blocked skirt, all drafted with PatternMaster. Her accessories include a crown, a flamingo croquet mallet, and a small hedgehog.


The most difficult part of this whole project was keeping track of which side of the costume I was working on, as the colors keep switching back and forth.

Back view:
 The bodice isn't boned; just closely fitted and interfaced with Decor Bond to help hold its shape.

Diana created her "croquet mallet" all by herself, by modifying a standard lawn flamingo. She added a dowel for the legs and painted the whole thing to look as goofy as the ones in the animated version. Our neighbor lent us a little toy hedgehog to use as the croquet ball!
The crown started out as a cardboard cone from Michaels; she cut it down and painted it, and it is held in place with a headband.
If she gets tired of holding on to the flamingo, here's how she can carry it:
The only thing left to do on her costume is add a skirt hook to the waistband of her skirt.

Down to the wire

I've still got a few little details to attend to for the costumes, but it's a short list... just six things. However, one of those things ended up consuming the entire day as I had to rip the thing apart about six times because I just kept getting the orientation wrong. But the end product is worth it, and I'll take pictures tomorrow.
Our "dress rehearsal" will be tomorrow morning, and then we head to Baltimore to pick up our badges (it has to be done in person). Then we'll head back home, get a good night's rest, and be up at some inhumane hour Friday to get into our costumes and head for the convention!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Otakon 2013: Pirates vs. Jedis

Busy, busy day today!! Two costumes are 99% done; just some very minor tweaking and fine tuning needed.

Captain Hook

Ian decided to go as Captain Hook from "Peter Pan" this year. Fortunately, this is actually a pretty simple costume, without much frill or ornamentation. The most fiddly element was the hat; it took some experimentation to get the brim to stay in the proper position. The winning solution: shape some clothes hanger wire to the proper curve, then sew it in place inside a bias binding edge. Worked like a charm. The rest of the brim is stiffened with Timtex.
Ian made the sword himself, out of a piece of PVC pipe and half a toy ball. He wanted to look as close as the cartoon version as he could. The only thing missing from this picture are the flaps on the front of the shoes, and the ostrich plume on the hat. He also has an old-fashioned alarm clock as a prop for photos.
My only beef is that the hook prop is really too small for his hand, and I'm trying to figure out what to do about it. Maybe some kind of soft leather cover? I have some time to play around with it.

Qui Gon Jinn

Bob really doesn't know what he's in for. I'm very happy with how his costume turned out; I just need to take in the pants a little bit.
Here's the full get-up. The poor guy is wearing four top layers.

A view with the hood down:
This is probably how he'll wear the robe most of the time.

And a view without the robe:
The only thing left to do is figure out how to attach that stupid light saber to his belt! It may end up getting clipped on, even though that's not terribly "accurate." We do what we can.

Everything for these costumes was drafted using Wild Ginger's Tailor Made software, so fitting was a breeze.
I now have two more work days for getting the remaining two costumes completed. So far, so good!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Otakon 2013: Ursula Lives!!!

Thanks to a great suggestion from a friend of mine, I managed to get the tentacles filled with very little trouble (excepting, of course, the snowdrift of little white styrofoam pellets on the floor next to my sewing table... Those things get everywhere!). The magic solution? Pantyhose! I bought four pairs of cheap panty hose, cut off the legs, filled them with pellets, and slid them into the tentacles. Perfect!
I also tried the wig on today, and played around with the shell necklace. The wig will work well, but the necklace needs tweaking.
Diana took some pictures:
The dress really is surprisingly comfortable to wear; I can sit down in it without a problem. I haven't tried sitting on the floor yet, though, which is where we do end up sitting a lot as there aren't a lot of chairs at the convention center.
Back view:
The only thing left to do on the costume itself is to add some suckers to the tentacles. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to do that... I'm tempted just to draw circles on the purple areas with a Sharpie marker. Now I need to work on one of the accessories I'll be carrying: a shawl/handbag in the shape of her eels, Flotsam and Jetsam.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Otakon 2013: Tackling an Octopus

I am making pretty good progress on costumes for Otakon (which is a good thing, seeing as how it starts in just one week!). Today I'm focusing on my own costume.
The kids and I are going as Disney villains again, since we had so much fun doing them last year. Although I liked my Maleficent costume, I wanted to do something different. And after working on The Little Mermaid for Northwest High School last year, I was inspired to go as Ursula, the Sea Witch.
I wasn't really happy with how the tentacles turned out on the stage costumes I did, so did some brainstorming with my own design diva (Diana) to come up with my own version.

Un peu d'histoire*

When I went up to New Haven for my 35th high school reunion, I took a detour and visited Fabric Mart in Sinking Springs, PA. They were having a please-take-this-stuff-off-our-hands sale: $1 per yard on anything in the middle of the store. One of the finds was a bolt of brown-black Neoprene, about a dozen yards. I had no idea what I might want to do with it, but at a buck a yard, who could resist?
Once I decided on Ursula, the question was then, what to make the costume out of? I shared my quandary at my monthly PatternMaster Users Group, and one of the members (thank you Lynn!!) suggested using the Neoprene.

Uncharted Territory

I had never sewn with Neoprene before, and had no idea of its properties or how finicky it would be to work with. So I tested three different seam types: overlapped, serged, and regular. And to my surprise, the regular seam worked the best. I will have to glue the seam allowances down when it's all done, but that's minor.
The pattern was drafted with PatternMaster, of course. It started out as a sundress sheath and was heavily modified in Pattern Editor.

Here's the front view:
This is just the outer shell; it will get a lining to help hold it up. But I'm thrilled with the fit so far! Neoprene turned out to be very easy to work with. I'm going to add some "padding" to the bust area, and I think with the addition of a boned lining with a waist stay, it will be pretty darned stable. It is, however, on the heavy side.
Rear view:
The rear view shows one tentacle "test-filled". The tentacles are longer in back than in front, so I will have to be careful about anyone stepping on them. The convention hall gets VERY crowded.
One of the quandaries was what to use to fill out the tentacles. I wanted them to be full, but not so heavy that they would drag down the entire costume! Again, serendipity played a role.
The poly tubing was left over from my drapery-making days, and on the right you can see a big bag of polystyrene beads. These are the lightweight beads that are used as bean bag filling; not the heavy kind like in beanie babies, but very airy. It turned out to be the perfect solution: I made a sleeve of the poly tubing, added the beads, and slid the sleeve into the tentacle.
Now I need to complete the lining, make seven more tentacle fillers, and figure out how to make the "suckers" on the tentacles. I also need to resign myself to slathering body paint or powder on me to get the right skin tone. I was hoping to avoid lots of body paint by making a dyed bodysuit to go under the dress, but it ended up looking really terrible. Not because the bodysuit didn't fit, but because it really didn't look anything like proper skin. This raises another big issue: since we drive to Baltimore rather than staying in a hotel, I need to do all my makeup at home, and it needs to survive the hour-long car trip to the city. I'm going to go shopping for makeup today and tomorrow; hope I find something that will be durable. Suggestions welcomed!!

*(A reference from the movie "Diva" -- it means "A little history")