Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Princess Progress!

All right! Nothing makes me blog like having a project. When I have a project on my mind, I kind of can't think about anything else. So when I'm at work I spend a lot of time doing research and looking at tutorials on Pinterest to make sure I really know what I'm doing. But there comes a point at which I've seen all the tutorials, I have a good solid plan, I'm just stuck at the stupid office and can't work on it right now. And that's when I blog. Because I still can't think about anything else, but this is literally all I can do about it.

SO.

I have accomplished some things. First of all, while out shopping looking for a cheap ring for my costume, I stumbled across sheets of stick on rhinestones that were on clearance at a nearby craft store. Now, I knew from other tutorials and screenshots that Peach's crown actually had some extra little sparkles and decoration, but I wasn't going to worry about it until I saw those. So I bought them and bedazzled the hell out of my crown.



I kind of love it. And if you manage to get a good enough look at Peach's crown you will notice that the gems are places to match more or less where they're supposed to be.  I also added some sparkle to my brooch, because why the hell not?


Now, I was supposed to be shopping for my ring at this point. I tried about six different stores, Goodwill, Walmart, Claire's, two different craft stores and a Halloween store, all with nothing. Nothing even close. I needed a fairly large, round bluish green stone on a gold ring, big enough to fit on the middle finger of my left hand while I'm wearing gloves. I was about to give up and go home when I remembered that right near me was a store called Charming Charlie's, which sells almost nothing but accessories. Jewelry, scarves, bags, hats, all that stuff. And the style there tended towards the trendy, and statement rings are definitely trendy. So I went there. I spent probably a solid 45 minutes digging through a dozen different baskets of rings scattered throughout the store, but I finally tracked something down. It was just a plain, large pearl ring, white, but set in gold, and I figured I could paint it. It was even on sale, so it only cost me $4. I don't have a before picture, but here it is after I painted it, using the same paints I did on the earrings:


Turns out my middle finger with gloves on is about a size 8. Well, it's actually a little tighter than I'd like with gloves, but it still fits and doesn't feel like it's gonna get stuck or anything. It does the job beautifully. Man, I didn't think finding such a simple ring would be so difficult.

After that, it was time to stop procrastinating with accessories, I really needed to start on the actual sewing. The first thing I needed to do was make piping for the seams. I'd never done that before, but I understood the basic idea and figured I was experienced enough with sewing that I could handle it. I had some of that craft cording left over from my Jessica Albert whip project, or I could use the paracord I bought intending to use for corset lacing, but ended up not liking. I thought I could even take a shortcut and use some satin ribbon for the fabric strips instead of spending all that time cutting out my own strips. I mean, Walmart even sold a ribbon that was the same shade of pink as my fabric! It was gonna be so easy. 

Anyone who's ever made their own piping or knows anything about sewing is now shaking their heads and face palming at my foolishness.

This is what happened:


Wrinkles and ripples and puckers, oh my!

God, it was so ugly. Covered in bumps and wrinkles, and of course it puckered like mad when I tried to curve or bend it. You know, like it would need to do in order to go through the curved seams of a bodice. All of this was made worse by the braided texture of the craft cording that showed plainly through the thinness of the ribbon. I got about 6-8 inches in before I realized this was never going to work.  So I bit the bullet, looked up a tutorial to make sure I knew what I was doing, and made real piping, out of strips of fabric, cut on the bias. (That means diagonally on the fabric, if you're not familiar with sewing terms. This allows the fabric to stretch and bend and move without puckering.) I also decided to use the paracord instead of craft cord because it has a smooth surface.  The end result of that was this:


Look at those smooth, beautiful curves. No matter how I flexed or moved it it stayed smooth and pretty. Once I'd seen this I was so glad I did it properly, it's so gorgeous. I needed to make it in the dark pink and white as well, so I got that done. The tutorial I used even told me how to make one continuous strip of fabric out of a not very big square, so it didn't take very much fabric. I did fudge a little because the white piping was only going to be in straight lines, so I didn't do bias strips for that, I just did a straight strip of fabric off the edge. For reference, here's a picture of all my piping so you you can see the difference:


See how stiff and straight the white is? And if you bend it it ripples and puckers in a very unpleasant way. But since I only needed it to be straight across the white sections, that was fine. It didn't need to bend, and it looked just fine when straight.

After that, I eventually managed to work myself up to cutting out the bodice pieces. I was really nervous about this part because I was working from a self made duct tape pattern. There is a constant fear of running out of fabric looming over my head, so the thought of messing something up and wasting fabric is really terrible. But I got it cut out. And it seemed okay. I started by doing the ruching on the front side pieces. That was a pain in the ass, let me tell you what. I spent forever fighting and arranging those gathers. It's something that really has to be dealt with on a case by case basis, so I really can't explain it better than that. Make the gathers, arrange them until they look nice. Then stitch them down to the foundation piece.


There's extra fabric off the edge because I thought I would need more to make space for my bust, but turns out I didn't, so I just stitched the gathers down where they laid naturally, and trimmed the extra fabric off.

Then came my next lesson in the importance of bias. The white panel down the front of the dress is three separate pieces, gathered and then sewn together with piping. I originally cut them as one solid piece straight up and down on the fabric, and then cut them in segments when I realized I needed an actual seam there for the piping. So, I put in my gather stitches and started to gather the fabric in, and the damn things started to literally dissolve in my hands from fraying. It was awful. It actually frayed up past the gather stitches, causing those to just fall out. So I recut the pieces, this time diagonally on the bias, and adding a little to the seam allowance to make sure there was plenty of room to gather. I'm less worried about running out of white fabric, I have plenty of that. But since the new pieces were cut on the bias, they no longer frayed, allowing me to get everything gathered and sewn together. I did the same thing with the pieces for the white section on the back of the dress.

I'm very annoyed that I have to put a white panel on the back of the dress. I was going to just have the back lace up like a corset, because I couldn't find any good pictures of the back of Peach's dress. I found a series of youtube videos made by a girl who made this dress and very carefully documented everything, (https://www.youtube.com/user/UrsaMinorSewing) which was very helpful, but when I saw her put the white panel on the back, I thought she was just mimicking the front out of a lack of any better ideas, and I didn't really like it.  But then I found some other, better screenshots that did show the back, and I realized, no, that's just really what it looks like. Sigh. And I have to do it right, that's just how I am. I'd never be able to stand it if I went off book with that. Anyways.

I had a little debate with myself on the lace trim on the top of the white piece, as I had two different ones that would work:


Very slight differences, really, but after looking at some more reference pictures more closely, I went with the lace on the right, I thought it looked more accurate.  

With my bodice pieces ready to go, I was ready to sew them together.


There's an immediate problem here, that I simply didn't see at first. See the gap at the top between the dark pink piece and the ruched pieces? The way they angled away from each other meant that that spot was going to poof outward dramatically. Which might have been fine if that's where my bust was going to be, but that's more where my collarbone was going to be. Not good. There was also some bad shaping in the armpit when I sewed in the side pieces that aren't pictured here. Luckily I knew there would be some fit issues so I just basted everything together without the piping first just to get the fit. I trimmed down the curve at the top of the ruched pieces, and had to make a whole new dark pink piece that was a little wider at the top, and I took in the armpit seam. When I was sure it all fit right, I took it apart and resewed it with the piping in the seams.


Oh my god, I love piped seams. They're so neat and clean and professional looking. The piping just makes everything better. As you can see the white piece is too long, but it is supposed to show under the dark pink panniers at the hips of the dress, so that's intentional. I haven't put the zipper in yet, of course, but I did put it on and try to get some pictures:


I'm like, ridiculously happy with how that looks. It fits so nicely and lays very neatly. So much better than the mock up, right? It actually looks like what it's supposed to be. 

Yesterday, I did the sleeves. And I swear to god, the sleeves took just as long as the rest of the whole damn bodice. 

So, Peach's sleeves have a slash down the middle of the darker pink fabric, that's then tied together with bows. So basically I cut out the middle section of the sleeves and sewed in a chunk of dark pink fabric. I've seen this technique used in Pinterest tutorials from people making Snow White's costume, with the red stripes she has on her sleeves. It looks like this:


I pleated the light pink over the dark pink sections, and then gathered the rest. Each sleeve is lined with two layers of stiff crinoline netting that I had leftover from when I made my white petticoat, and as a result the damn things are so fluffy they can stand by themselves.


Of course, that netting is hella itchy and pokey. Around the cuff that is solved by the cuff itself, that covers that seam. The under arm seam I actually sewed satin ribbon over it to cover it. The armpit seam attaching the sleeves to the bodice so far has just been serged over like four times, which covers it pretty well, but it might still need a ribbon cover to prevent chafing and scratching. Doing all those gathers and getting them arranged and fitted to the bodice took forever, but I'm very happy with how they turned out. I still need to attach the bows, but I'll be doing that by hand. I wanted to get the sleeves in position and shaped correctly before I did that. I don't have a picture of me wearing it at this stage, but here is the bodice with the sleeves attached:


Told you, they stand by themselves. Those sleeves don't need any help. 

Side note, I also decided to try dyeing my wig. Every time I've put that thing on, I've honestly been kind of upset about how it looks, and I think part of it is that the color looks terrible with my skin. I know covering my eyebrows would help, but still. I bought some Rit Dyemore, meant for synthetic fibers, and I got a big pot from the thrift store. Basically just mixed the dye with water, heated it up on the stove and dunked my wig in. It's a much nicer yellow blonde now, although of course it needs to be restyled. I'll take pictures once that's done. 

So, next I do the bows, and the collar, and then probably the gold paint trim on the chest piece where the brooch goes, and then the panniers, and then it's on to the skirt!

And all this while I'm also making a corset for Rachel and a Stampy Minecraft costume for my kid. Whew.  It's okay though, I have my own little cheering section in my sewing room:


Aren't they cute? I borrowed the Peach amiibo from my cousin to use for reference, and that Toad, well, he has a different purpose. I'm actually going to cut open his head, remove the stuffing, line it with canvas, and turn him into a shoulder bag that I can carry while in costume to carry things like my phone and keys and lipstick or whatever without taking away from the look of my costume.  But that is way down on the list of things I need to get done.

So.... at least we're getting somewhere.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Well, Halloween is coming again. Time to try too hard.

So, it's nearly the end of September, and Halloween is coming. As of now I don't even have a Halloween party to go to, although the same could be said of last year as I was working on my Sailor Pluto costume. But I just love making costumes, especially elaborate ones, so I had to come up with a good one for this year. And then there were some fabric sales going on, and things just happened.  This is this year's project:


Princess Peach!

Being a girl gamer, Princess Peach is one of the first female video game characters I was really aware of.  And I was thrilled when she started entering the Smash Bros games as an ass kicker. This specific dress is the one that she wears in Smash Bros Brawl. I have loved this dress since I first saw it. Her dress was always so plain before. I know it was her classic look and whatever, but a little flounce and lace never hurt anybody. Sure, I could do the plain classic design in my sleep, but wouldn't it be more interesting to make myself a real fancy ball gown? We're going with interesting for now, knowing that that will probably change to hair pulling screamingly frustrating.
So, I ordered some fabric, and while I was waiting for it, I got started on some accessories.

Now, I know of an Etsy seller that makes just beautiful accessories for Princess Peach. And I wanted them, badly, but it would have been more than $100 to get the crown, the jewel, and the earrings. So I needed a cheaper option. I found the officially Nintendo licensed crown and jewel:

On ebay for like $15. I could swing that. And they actually look pretty nice. The jewel is meant to be attached with sticky stuff on the back, but I just glued felt over that and attached a brooch pin, I had extras from doing Shannon's Chibi Moon brooch.  All I needed after that was earrings. I'm already a jewelry maker, so I had all the basic foundations for making earrings. So I went to the dollar store and bought some ping pong balls.


I stabbed small needle holes in the top and worked the flat end of a flat topped wire into the holes. I dabbed a small bit of glue around the hole to make sure the post didn't come out of the ping pong ball, and when that was dry, bent the wire into a tiny loop and trimmed off the extra, then attached them to the earring hooks. I also used styrofoam balls, toothpicks and toilet paper tubes to make temporary earring hangers for paint drying purposes.

I bought two different metallic blue paints because I couldn't find exactly the shade I was looking for.


It was just the cheapest brand available at Hobby Lobby, and it was on sale! I wanted the color less green than the teal, but more green than the blue, so I did a roughly 50/50 mix. I initially started painting it on with a brush, but the brush marks were insane, and I could see many layers of paint and frustration in my future. So I mixed my paint with some Floetrol (which I have because I've been learning about acrylic pour painting, I should make another post about the paintings I've made, they're cool!) and then basically dunked the ping pong balls in the paint. After that I just hung them up to dry.

Extra styrofoam balls and toilet paper tubes had to be added because I was worried about them tipping over or sliding off the toothpicks.

My paint dunking method did mean that I did have to keep an eye on them and swipe the bottoms of them every so often with an extra toothpick to try and keep the paint from drying in a little drop/bump on the bottom, but once the tops were dry I was able to flip them over and stand them up in more toilet paper tubes upside down, which allowed the drop on the bottom to flatten out and dry.  They turned out nice and smooth and even.

After that was dry, I dunked them again in my can of Minwax polycrylic to protect the paint and make them shiny, which led to another round of hanging and swiping off droplets with a toothpick, but once again it came out nice and smooth, and they look very nice.

Aaaaaaand, turns out I haven't taken a picture of the final product. I guess I better get on that. Anyways, they look really nice and I'm very happy.

I also needed Peach's shoes. It looked like they were just some simple ballet flats in dark pink, and wouldn't you know it? Walmart just happens to sell a pair that was exactly what I wanted. I also decided to get a little fancy and add some pink gems to the toe. I know it's not accurate, but I just wanted to dress the shoes up a little and they came out so pretty! I'm gonna wear these just for the fun of it with my every day wardrobe.


Besides, under that fluffy pink skirt, what are the chances that people will even see that? Best part is, those shoes cost me $5. Gorgeous. I may have bought a second olive green pair just because I love ballet flats and they were cheap. I should get another black pair before my current ones wear out...

I also needed a wig, obviously. So I ordered one off of ebay. They were having a sale at the time if you bought two, so I also bought a reddish orange one to improve my old Jessica Albert costume, (I've been playing Dragon Quest 8 with my boyfriend recently, and it's really made me remember how much I love Jessica, and I'd like to take that costume out sometime) and potentially  use for a future Jessica Rabbit costume, if I don't have to permanently cut it to make pigtails for Jessica Albert. (why are all fictional Jessicas red heads? Why did I dye my hair red? Are all Jessicas just meant to be red heads?)



This is SOOOOOOOOOOOO not what it looked like when it arrived. It was thin and scraggly, you could see the wig cap right through the hair on the bangs, it was awful. The red one looked pretty good, weirdly enough, since they came from the same seller.  I was frustrated and a little sick with the thought of having to return it, I hate returning things. On an impulse, Stu and I hit a thrift store shortly after that, and I bought a plain straight blonde Halloween wig for like $4. I very carefully cut the thrift store wig into its individual wefts and then hand sewed those throughout the ebay wig. Including some shorter bits at the bangs to thicken that up. The end result was actually a pretty good looking wig. I was much much happier. And it only took an extra $4 and an evening of my time.  I then had to straighten the wig, because the straight thrift store wig strands did not match the curly ebay wig.

I used the hot water method, where you basically boil some water and dump it over the wig, and the heat from the water straightens the strands. When it was dry I brushed it out, rolled it up in foam rollers and then dunked it in boiling water again. Let that cool and dry, took out the rollers, and had a freshly curled wig.


I liked the ringlets, but that's not really how Peach's hair looks, so I brushed those out so they would just be general wavy/curliness. I trimmed the bangs to a reasonable length, although I have not styled them into Peach's little forehead point thing. I won't have all her little flippy-outy bits, because I simply don't think I have the skill to sculpt a wig like that. I'm bad at hair styling just in general, and I have almost no experience with wigs. So we will just suggest the existence of flippy-outy bits with waves and curls.

Also. In order to pull off a skirt like that, I was gonna need a hell of a petticoat. Or, even better, a hoop skirt. I had a full length petticoat from my steampunk stuff, but I really wanted something bigger than that, and if I didn't want it to weigh a million pounds, I was gonna need hoops.

Based on some Pinterest tutorials, I went to the hardware store and bought three 10 foot lengths of 1/2" plastic piping from the plumbing section.  I was only gonna do three hoops, because I didn't want to get crazy, and I thought the 1/2" tubing might still be pretty heavy. I'd have liked a smaller size pipe, but wasn't able to find any. And didn't feel strongly enough about it to try harder.

So I arranged the pipes in three hoops of descending size, starting with the biggest to determine whether I was gonna be able to walk through doors or not. (Barely. The hoop is too big, but it flexes when I push it through doorways, haha.) I think the biggest was like 36" or 37" across? I'd have to double check on the smaller ones, because I just eyeballed what looked right to me.  After that, I attached them to five long ribbons that were designed to go from my waist to just above the floor. I just sewed around them through the ribbon that I had pinned on the waist of my dress form.


The nice thing about this, is the hoop size can be adjusted if I want, all I have to do is cut out a section and retape it, and then slide the ribbons around to evenly space them again. I may have to do that, if I decide it's just too annoying to squeeze my dress through every doorway. I just... I just really love the fluffiness of it.

After the hoops were attached I threw my steampunk petticoat over top, and then sewed the tops of the ribbons to the waist of the petticoat.  Why yes, it was incredibly awkward to sew things onto the skirt with all those hoops in the way. I also added a drawstring waist to the petticoat, since apparently it used to just sit on my hips unassisted, but my hips are quite a bit smaller than they used to be.



Sorry, the only picture I have of me not wearing it is a snapchat. In case the scope of that skirt is hard to see when it's by itself, here it is with me wearing one of my full circle skirt maxi dresses over top:


It's pretty damn fluffy. And I freaking love it.  It is a little heavy on my hips, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to attach these little skirt hooks:

You know, these guys.  I'm going to sew several of the bigger part on the inside of the waist of the hoop skirt, and the small parts are going to be sewn onto the corset I'm going to be wearing with this outfit. Those are small and easily removed from the corset if I want. And this will allow me to hook the hoop skirt to the corset, and then tie with the drawstring, which should more evenly support the weight and make it much more comfortable.

Whew, this post is getting long. I have all kinds of plans for the dress itself, but due to the length here, I'm only going to go into what I've done.

Now, obviously I don't have a pattern for this dress. So I decided to try my hand at duct tape patterning. So I put on my corset, wrapped myself in plastic wrap, and then with Shannon's help, wrapped myself in duct tape.


Super hot. In every sense, man it was sweaty in there.

I cut that off of me, and cut it into the pattern pieces I needed. I transferred those to paper, and then cut those out of some scrap fabric to make a mock up. There was lots of adjusting for the gathers and the sleeve size, but I ended up here:


Look how excited I am about how wildly attractive that looks!  Uhhhhhg. It's just for fit, it's just for fit, it's just for fit.

Anyways. I got the sleeve right. It's so puffy, I love it. The triangle panel in the middle of my chest needs to be bigger and the fabric to either side of that needs to be smaller and gathered more. I also learned that the gathered middle panel down the front needs to be sewn to a foundation of ungathered fabric so the gathers can's stretch in weird ways and ruin the shape. But I think the end result is that this looks enough like the top of Peach's dress that I can proceed. I do have my pink fabric now. Hilariously enough the light pink is a little more peach colored than I'd prefer, but it will still work.

So I took the mock up apart to use as a pattern, and then just kinda left the pieces lying around...


And that's where we're at. Next step, actually getting into the pink fabric!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

T-shirt Refashion!

I'm doing all kinds of stuff with t-shirts lately.

So, my brother Corey subscribes to Loot Crate, and greatly enjoys it. However, every so often he gets a t-shirt in the crates that he either doesn't really get or doesn't care about, it's not a fandom he's interested in. So if it's something that appeals to me, he will let me have the shirt since we aren't too far from the same size.  His shirts are one size bigger than I would get, so they're a little loose, but with my sewing skills that doesn't bother me. I know I can fix it. However, as previously mentioned, I have so many t-shirts. And since it's summer now I don't always want to wear shirts with sleeves, I'd rather wear tank tops. So when I went to adjust the sizing, I decided to turn them into tank tops. I saw a picture online of an altered t-shirt that I liked and decided to copy it, so this is what I did.


So here's the shirt. Classic 80s Transformers. Corey is too young to appreciate classic Transformers, and too smart to appreciate new Transformers. So I took it.


To start, I cut off the sleeves and collar. If all you were looking for was a classy way to show off your guns, feel free to stop here.


Make sure you're only cutting one layer of fabric, start roughly halfway on the sleeve cut upward at an angle through the shoulder and around the collar to create two triangular straps. Do this on both sides.
I hope that makes sense. By cutting it like this you get long straps that can be tied together.

For the next step I put the shirt on my mannequin, Lumpy Space Princess for simplicity's sake.  Then the straps are tied together right at the shoulder, aiming to make the knot on top of the shoulder seam.


The last step is to make all the sizing adjustments, taking in the sides and trimming off any extra or weirdly shaped areas to make it look nice. In the end, you get this.


I had four shirts that I did this with, and I'm pretty happy about it. I have cool new tank tops for summer!

T Shirt Quilt!

So, who doesn't love awesome nerdy t-shirts? I've bought so many of them over the years that I honestly couldn't say how much I've spent on them. I used to follow shirt.woot.com religiously and bought shirts constantly. However I always had a problem with woot shirts being just slightly too short for me. And as time went on and other shirt a day sites surfaced I found other places who's shirts fit me better, and that resulted in my poor woot shirts getting shoved in a drawer and never being worn. But just because I didn't wear them didn't make them less awesome. And it made me really sad that they never got any attention, especially with how many of them I had. So I decided to turn them into a wonderful cuddly t-shirt quilt. It may be on of the ugliest things I've ever made, and I was not careful on the straightness of the quilting lines, since I don't like quilting. It's so half-assed, but I don't even care. I love it so much. It's soft and snuggly and awesome.


I use it constantly.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

And Finally, Ghibli Deck, Wands Suit

And here's the last suit!  Since I didn't blog each suit as I went along you don't realize how long it took me to do each suit, but each one was wildly different. It took weeks to do the swords suit, but I knocked this suit out in a single day, just today at the office. Wands aren't too difficult, and I knew from the beginning  that the Catbus was the eight of wands. That was an easy choice, and I like it. I just need to throw the box design together and this thing is ready to print! God, I love my nerdy decks.

**Fun side note: The elemental symbols at the bottom of each card are actually the symbols for the different elemental attributes creatures can have in Studio Ghibli's video game Ni No Kuni. But no one will pick up on a detail that small unless I tell them. It just makes me happy.








Sources

ace. http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=41934731
2. official art
3. official art
4. http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=16047305
5. http://hetiru.deviantart.com/art/The-rain-of-sadness-and-happiness-587599231
6. official art
7. http://stabat.deviantart.com/art/mononoke-354937576
8. official art
9. http://tiny-mint.deviantart.com/art/The-Cat-Returns-392374726
10. screenshot
page. screenshot
knight. http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=24413655
queen. official art
king. http://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=31803546