Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Legend: Dark Lilly

   Well, I've been plotting this costume for YEARS...I remember this movie from when I was little, and how beautiful it was.  Unicorns, fairies, a princess, a forest-boy, a dark lord, gorgeous settings...what's not to love there?  This dress, though, required some strategy, in more ways than one.
   I used no patterns....that's right, I had to start from scratch for this one.  The 'base' is the bodysuit, which I made using a textured spandex (more April Johnston fabric---I love it!).  It's basically a sleeveless pull-on bodysuit with elastic around the legs to prevent ride-up.  I had to take it in across the shoulders, as it wanted to pucker and not rest across the back.  This part has to be pretty stable, as everything attaches to it.
   Watching the movie, you never get a terribly fantastic view of the dress.  I watched it on the dark dancer, and took many screengrabs.  I did the same when Lilly wore it, and it seems the shoulders have a different silhouette.  Maybe there were 2 dresses made, with little differences.  Who knows?  So I went with the silhouette on the dancer. 
   The shoulderpads are made from 2 layers of thick fun foam sandwiching a stem of steel hoop boning that I cut off to about 14".  It is bent so that it curves upward off the shoulder.  To attach them to the bodysuit, I used wide industrial strength black velcro.Then, to keep them from working off the shoulders (they can be heavy), I strung thin black elastic between them in the back (the elastic criss-crosses across my back just below the neck, and isn't noticable once the collar is on).  That did the trick.
   The collar is 2 layers of thick funfoam reinforced with wooden dowels.  I covered it all in a shimmer black chiffon, then trimmed it out in sequin trim.  A lond wooden dowel runs down the center and extends about 8 inches down the back, keeping it stable.  The front of the collar is part of it, and attaches to the neckline of the bodysuit with the same elastic.  This keeps the neckline very sturdy (I used garment tape anyway, of course, to prevent wardrobe malfunctions). 

The drapes and skirt are made from an assortment of black silk charmeuse (dyed), black lace, black chiffon, and black sequined chiffon.  It is distressed at the edges, and I even burned holes in the chiffon to create a creepy vibe (I did this very carefully!).  The skirt is gored and quite full, with a drape added which attaches to my arm with a clear elastic band that is sewn in.  The wing-drapes, which fall off the shoulder structure is distressed in the same manner, and attaches to my fingers in the same way the skirt attaches to my arms.  Movement in the dress, then, tends to look elegant and flowy, as it does in the film.

The jeweled sash looks quite beautiful in the film, and is the only part of my version I would like to re-do.  I made mine with silver spandex (dancewear) and covered it in acrylic gems of various shapes.  The top is a ruffled rosette made of the same fabric, and I strung rhinestone strands from it.
I actually used chicken wire to make the headpiece, shaping it the way I needed in order for it to wear well and look reasonably accurate.
This gown was not terribly uncomfortable to wear, but did chafe my neck a little.  I was very cautious of the neckline, but it all held together well.  I actually edited it a bit, as it should plunge a bit lower.  I also made the collar a little smaller so that I could get through doors and elevators with no problem.
photos by David Skirmont
Created: Summer of '12
Events: Dragon*Con '12
Awards: Runner-Up: Craftsmanship, Dragon After Dark
               Finalist for Best in Show, Dragon After Dark


Scottish Punk Gown?

   This gown was tons of fun to make...I must have went through a dozen ideas for collars, silhouettes, and accessories before deciding on what you see here.  I wanted to do a gown for sure, but with some punk influences from the '80s....fingerless lace gloves, spikes, plaid, safety pins, etc.  It also needed to be a bit risque, or at least risque to me;)
   I used the Simplicity Elizabeth Swann pattern for most of the gown, modifying the sleeves, neckline, and stomacher  It needed to look a little disheveled, so the sleeves don't exactly match. The fabric is black satin from the stash, and several yards of plaid (it is the April Johnston/Project Runway fabric that has sadly been discontinued, I think).  What was the most fun, I think, is making the big gathered poofy train.  The plaid is pleated and sewn in on one side, then left to drape.  So I put her on the dressform with a hoop and started gathering wherever I thought it would look good.  I used hundreds of safety pins to keep the gathers in place, like little accessories themselves.  The underskirt ties around the waist and has 2 layers of blue ruffles.  I put the remainder of the plaid on one side for a little asymmetry. 
   To be 'punkier,' I kept the front open.  Originally, I had planned to wear black fishnet tights, but made myself a pair of black shimmery leggings then cut them off super short.  The boots are above the knee platforms which are intended to be altered for my TRON:  Quorra costume (still in progress).  To me, the cooooolest part is the spikes.  I ordered spikes from etsy (some are metal, some are acrylic) and applied them all over one shoulder.  I also use them on the fascinator, along with plaid ruffles and a large pheasant plume.  My hair is mostly my own, except for a few blue clip-in extensions and some synthetic hair wrapped around a styrofoam ball and pinned to the top of my head.
  This costume was so much fun to wear!!  All the fabric came from my stash, and with the exception of the hair, styrofoam, and spikes, nothing had to be purchased.  It received a great deal of positive feedback as well.
  I really don't know what to call this one....80's Scottish Punk maybe?                                                                                          photos by David Skirmont
In the photo on the left, I am wearing huge (and heavy) false-hip-pads. On the right, I left them out. Versatile!
Created: Summer 2012
Debuted: Dragon*Con '12

Friday, July 20, 2012

Black Swan Costume

This costume was put on the back burner for such a long time.  But I felt I had to finish, if for no other reason, than to stash it in my etsy shop.  This is not an actuall tutu that a dancer would wear onstage--I created this as a costume, and wears quite like any little black dress (but you can still dance in it:).  It's two parts:  bodice and skirt.  They are both embellished with distressed tulle, coq feather trim, black and crystal gems, black trim, and more black tulle than I can keep up with.  The top layer of the skirt is black organza, and I put a sprinkling of gems on the left of the skirt like the film version.  I had to make this one long enough to cover my rear...but, I do have a 'pancake' style underskirt that can be worn underneath to raise the skirt and flatten it all out.
For the shoot I left my pink leather ballet slippers at home and opted for dressy combat boots.  This is a fun costume to make...any costume that involved feathers and gems is a sure winner!

Marie Antoinette's Black Masquerade Gown

Another costume based on the fantastic 'Marie Antoinette!'  I want to make all of them, of course, but one at a time; one at a time.....
I really love the black shimmery ballgown she wears to the Parisian Masked Ball.  It's so different---aside from her mourning gowns, it's the only time we see her in a dark color.  Plus, you gotta love a black dress;)  So I used my trusty Simplicity pattern, made the neccessary modifications, and concocted my version of the gown.  I had to be creative with the beaded embellishment on the bodice.  Luckily, I have a vintage silk beaded blouse that I wanted to use for parts, and the heavy beadwork was ripe for picking.  I cut symmetrical sections of the beadwork out and hand-stitiched them to the stomacher and sleeve caps.  The sleeves themselves are made of tulle, which make the dress sooooo much more comfy to move in (the tight curve of the 'normal' sleeve can be a little constrictive), and are trimmed out with some pretty sequined scalloped trim.  There is a black sparkle tulle overlay to the skirt as well.  I cannot wait to wear this one out!  Not too sure about the wig, though.  It really needs some work...looks like a giant cotton ball on my head.  I ended up just pulling it off my head during the shoot!

Lady Gaga: Just Dance Dress

I was stewing on a few Lady Gaga costumes some time ago; I wanted to make one that was wearable and that I could possibly commission, not necessarily for myself.  Since I don't really keep up with her video wardrobe (I have seen some of the highly publicized red carpet costumes), this one nearly slipped by me!  But I came across it online and thought it would be a fun costume to try.
So....I watched the video, then drafted myself a pattern.  It looks like a pretty simple but very cute batwing dress in a pseudo-zebra style print.  The collar is made with what looks like a black and white leopard print.  I actually found two fabrics that will work.  One (the one in the photos) looks more 'zebra' than the other.  As for the black/white leopard print...after some searcing, I found a similar fabric.  The collar stands pretty well in the video, so I added an extra layer to it and reinforced it with interfacing. 
It's actually very wearable--you can adjust the length by a few inches and move freely in it, which is more than I can say for a lot of costumes I've worn:).  I'll hopefully be putting this one in my etsy shop very soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Swan Tiara

I've had my own Black Swan costume on the back burner for several months now, and while I am working on a version to sell in my etsy shop, I thought that it would be a good idea to tinker with the tiara and bun topper.  After playing around with different types of clay, I finally found one that I was comfortable with.  So then I just did a couple of trial-and-error runs, shaping wire bases to see which one I like the best, then forming the clay over the bases (I am no clay expert, but it is fun!). 
After it dries, I filled in any problem areas with more clay and let it dry.  When it started to look the way I wanted, I was finally able to paint it, first with metallic pewter spray, then highlights by hand with acrylic in black, silver and graphite.  It's hard to see the highlights in the pictures.
My favorite part...the rhinestones!  I found some vintage Czech glass rhinestones on ebay, the only problem was, it's virtually impossible to find settings to fit them.  Oh, well, I was still able to attach them to the tiara no problems.
The posting:

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Hunger Games: Glimmer's Parade Costume

One of my New Year's resolutions (one of the ones I do intende to keep) was to make some costumes to offer up in my etsy shop and/or take on a few commissions this year.  So I got to work over Christmas break.  And as the toddler-doodle slept at night and during naps, I read the Hunger Games trilogy and sewed.  Then I combined the two.  As I read the first book, I actually tabbed pages that described clothes and costumes that sounded interesting to make.  There were several....then there was the 'Mockingjay' dress later on....maybe I'll do that one later....
Anyway, there is a brief description of the District 1 Tribute costumes for the Opening Ceremony parade..."tasteful tunics glittering with jewels" (Collins).  So I just went with that.  I made a simple A-line dress with silver satin, then lined it in white muslin (although the pattern didn't call for lining, it seemed like a good idea).  After I sewed in the zipper and the hook and eye, I started pairing off the gems.  I wanted the design across the chest to be symmetrical, then the smaller gems that sprinkle toward the bottom can be sprinkled across at random.  There are hundreds....placed one at a time with gem-tac.  Hot glue won't hold, and e-6000 eats away at the foil on the back of the gems.  The gem tac holds them quite well.  So, yeah, the process of be-jewelling the dress took many, many hours-the back is adorned as well.  But so much fun.
I couldn't make this one without one glittery accessory, since District 1 does make luxury items.  So I used some leftover satin to cover a fascinator base, made some puffy ruffles, and jewelled the front.  I also cut out a "1" and glittered it then placed some leftover Swarovski crystals (from another project) then set it in the middle of the ruffles.  It needed that extra something to identify it, and the number seemed like the reight thing to do--it's small and subtle, and a Hunger Games fan will know exactly what it means.  Top it off with a white ostrich plume and voila!
I also have another Hunger Games costume in the works, and will post pics here as soon as it is done!
Check out my dress here and on my etsy site: