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")


  1. LOOKS GREAT! Is this what you were worried about sewing?
    Can't wait to see it in person at our next PMB meeting

  2. I can not wait to see you and your family in full costume. You're all going to look sooooo great. Diane


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