Friday, August 29, 2014

Demonic sewing

As part of an online gift exchange, I wanted to make something for an H.P. Lovecraft fan. What better than their own personal Cthulhu?
To my surprise, I actually found a free pattern for it! It was quite easy to put together, and I'm planning on making several more for my Lovecraft-loving friends.

I'm not sure the front tentacles benefit from having a little stuffing in them, but oh well.

Here's the back view:

A cute and fuzzy little demon... How dangerous could that be?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Otakon 2014: More costumes

Once Ian's costume was ready to go, it was obvious that he would need a handler. His vision was limited to the two small circles of scrim right in front of his eyes. He couldn't bend over to see his feet, or even to see where a handrail was. The Baltimore Convention Center has a lot of escalators and stairs, and even if we had gotten a special pass to use the elevators, the costume wouldn't have fit. As it was, Ian had to do a lot of ducking down to get through doors.

So I would have to be his handler. The question then became, Do I make a costume for myself, or just be a handler? I decided it would be fun to be in costume as well, but it had to be something that fit with the Looney Tunes world that Gossamer was in. After some thought, I decided on dressing as Granny.

Pretty simple: a white blouse, purple skirt, and grey wig. And indeed, it was pretty quick to put together. The key was finding the accessories: I would need a Tweety bird and a Sylvester.

Fortunately, I had a Sylvester doll that I inherited from my mother (Sylvester was her favorite character). A friend provided me with a small Tweety figurine that was perfectly in scale with Sylvester, and I rounded it out with a small cage purchased at a craft store.

I'll be honest: I really thought nobody would recognize the character. But I was wrong! I got a lot of people shrieking "Granny!" and taking my picture. And they even recognized the character before they saw Tweety and Sylvester! I was very happy, especially because it was a very comfortable costume. I was able to help Ian get around, guiding his hand onto escalator handrails and making sure he wasn't about to walk into anything.

To give you an idea of the scale of Ian's costume, here's a picture of the two of us together.

Diana's Costume

This year, Diana decided she wanted to create her own character. She discovered she has a knack for fixing costume issues, so she created her own superhero: Cosplay Rescue!

The basis for the costume was this sketch:

She designed the logo herself, and I cut it out of heat-set vinyl (using my Silhouette Cameo). She made the "needle" out of wood. I made the red top with the attached cape, plus the "utility belt." The belt was stocked with all sorts of repair supplies: glue, tape, pins, thread, bobby pins... She had a veritable hardware store in there. And during the convention, she repaired more than a dozen costumes!

Here she is in action, fixing a cosplayer's wig that had started to slide off.

It was so funny to have people come up to her during the day and ask, very tentatively, "Are you really doing Cosplay Rescue?" She would then manage to pull out just what they needed to fix their costumes.

Doing the Cosplay Rescue was so much fun for her that she and I are planning on doing it in an official capacity at next year's Otakon! So I'll be making my own shirt and cape next year, and will be helping her.

By the way, did you notice the button earrings and the thread spool bracelets? Those were such fun finishing touches!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Otakon 2014: How to Build a Monster

"I want to be Gossamer."

My son Ian's favorite cartoon character has always been Gossamer, the big orange furry monster from Looney Tunes.

So when he told me that's what he wanted to cosplay for Otakon 2014, I was a bit taken aback. That's not an intimidating request at all. Nope.

I mean, it's not like McCalls makes a pattern for it, right? So I was totally on my own.

I did a lot of planning and strategizing for the costume. It would be heavy; how would it be supported? How would he see out? How would he get in and out of it?

After much thought, I figured that using backpack frames would be best for the supportive structure. One backpack wasn't tall enough, so I used two frames fastened together.

Now that I knew how tall the frame was, I could think about how to support the "head," and how tall it would ultimately be. I used a piece of thick rigid foam insulation to make a sort of "platform" that was fastened to the top of the frame, and on that I attached two rough "pillows" to form the twin lumps of his head. Once I had those shapes roughed out, I laid the whole assembly on the floor on a piece of drapery lining (as muslin) and drew a rough outline around the frame that looked to be the right shape for the monster. I then sewed it up and Ian tried it on.

Okay, not bad for a first try. The legs were too skinny and the arms weren't the right shape, but the basic idea was there. As to how he would get it on and off, there were zippers in the inseams. You can just see them in this picture, as well as the insulation board and the two cushions. You can also see where his eyes were, which was important as I would need to be able to position the monster's eyes in the correct position so he would have at least a bit of vision. You can also get an idea of the scale of the monster, as Ian is over six feet tall himself, so the monster was over seven feet tall.

I don't have any pictures of the construction process, as I was too busy trying to get it done on time. But here's the final costume, as photographed at Otakon:

The response to the costume was so gratifying!! He was photographed at almost every step.

One last technical note: The eyes were made of thin craft foam, glued into place (after the fur had been shaved away). The pupils were black scrim, so he could see out. The hands were made of work gloves stuffed with polyfil and glued into place. There were slits in the wrists so he could get his real hand out to hold onto railings. The nails were made of Fimo and glued onto the gloves.

The only drawback of the costume was that it was terribly hot inside it. Even though Ian had a battery powered fan and a cooling neck wrap, he could only endure wearing the costume for about twenty minutes, and would then need a ten minute break to cool off. In the end, he was only able to wear it for a few hours on Friday morning, after which he was simply too overheated to want to wear it any more. Still, he was very happy with the reception it got, and so was I!