Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Final Christmas projects!

So, I finished up my last few Christmas projects in great time. There was no stressing over time limits, and it was so good after the clusterfuck that was Halloween. 

So, let's start with the Pikachus. I made two, one for my niece Alara and one for Shannon.

The pattern I used is here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bigger-pikachu-pokemon

So, basically what I did was I made the body and arms and legs in the blueish grey yarn. Then I kind of fudged a pattern for the ears and tail (not pictured) based on what I remembered from when I made a regular Totoro for my brother's old girlfriend, and later again for my daughter. I then made a white circle for the tummy, and a yellow one for the face, and after the face was sewn on, I picked up a ring of stitches around the face and crocheted a few times around to create a hoodie-type look. I think they're pretty damn adorable. I did make the face and tummy a little bigger for the second Pikachu because I felt like it looked better, but they're both pretty adorable. Getting the faces right was hard, though, and I still feel like I could have done better. But Shannon and Alara will love them, that's all that matters.

The other thing I had to do was paint my mom's tiles for her gift. I did five tiles, figuring if I messed one up I'd have an extra. I based the color scheme on the fact that she has one wall in her living room painted sage green, and worked on complimenting that. I took freshly poured and after dried pictures of each tile so you could see the way they changed as they dried. Dirty cup pours are so fascinating!

You can see the way the cells changed shape and new ones formed as it dried. Also, I have no idea where the purple came from. There was no purple in this mix, it was all greens and blues and one brown for contrast. That happened after I put the clear coat on top, and I'm completely mystified.

I like the way the dark blue lines twisted and bent on this one. Sorry about the glare on the edge of the dried tile, these things were so hard to photograph laid out on the table the way they were.

I loved the big brown spot that opened up near the center of this one. Also, this was another one that had some mysteriously appearing purple.

I was super, super into that random dark blue slash in the corner, it was just so dramatic with all the lighter colors around it. I was a little sad that it kind of got smaller as it dried, but it still looks amazing.

This one basically just developed a lot more cells and circles, but it was probably the least changed when it was done.

So I decided to keep the third one for myself, since it had the least amount of green showing, and then I attached wall hanging hooks and felt pads to the back of each one, so these have the option of either being used as coasters or trivets or whatever, or being hung on the wall and used as art. They were super fun to do, and really quick and easy. The cool thing was I used the same colors on each one, poured in the same order in each cup, but each one is spectacularly unique. I want to make so many more of these, they're just so cool! And doing it on tiles that cost 46 cents at the hardware store, it's a pretty cheap hobby too. As long as you get cheap paint, since you're gonna burn right through it, haha.

The last Christmas project I had was Shannon and I wanted to make pajama pants, because new pajamas is a Christmas tradition. I usually just bought them from Old Navy, because Old Navy sold pajama pants that came in tall sizes, but apparently they discontinued that, so fuck those guys.  So Shannon and I went to Joann's and bought some cute polar fleece and made warm cuddly pants for ourselves, using pants we already owned as a pattern. There's dozens of tutorials for how to do that on the internet if you're interested, I didn't use any specific one. I just kinda figured it out. I also allowed Shannon to do her own sewing and cutting, so she made hers basically on her own, I was very proud of her. And proud of myself for resisting the urge to take it from her and do it myself because my perfectionist brain was dying a little watching her do it. But I let her do it, that's how she learns.  Unfortunately, I have neglected to take any pictures of the pants, so I'll have to get back to you on that.

When I bought the fleece, the stuff I picked out just happened to be near the end of the roll, so I got an extra yard of fabric for a steep discount, and now I have so much left over that I think I'm going to use it to make myself a new hoodie. I'll get back to you when that's done.

I have one more project that I'm working on right now, but it's not for Christmas, it's for New Year's. My friends Matt and Cari are having a New Year's eve party, and it's "Thrift store fancy dress". Which is a very loose guideline, basically dress fancy if you want, but keep it thrifty, thrift store purchases get extra points. And I decided that what I wanted to wear was my old junior year of high school prom dress, because with all the weight I've lost I was pretty sure I could fit into it. And I was right, with a little room to spare. So I'm overhauling the dress to make it more fun, and I have a whole outfit planned around it. But that is a project for another post, when I have pictures. 

It's gonna be amazing though. You'll see.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Crafty Things and Christmas Projects

So, I've been crafty again. I mean, it's nearly Christmas, so that makes sense, I'm exactly the type of person that loves to DIY Christmas presents, and not just because I'm broke! It's just what I do.

First of all, this isn't strictly a Christmas project, but it led to one. I learned recently about acrylic pours, or dirty cup pours, or whatever you want to call them. Basically it's where you mix paint with water and a little silicone, and then combine several colors into a cup and dump it onto a canvas or whatever and let it spread and mix and see how it comes out. (Also, for some reason I totally just typed 'color' with a 'u' in it, which is the weirdest typo I think I've ever made. Apparently I get a little British when I'm sleep deprived. Might need another cup of coffee today.) I thought these dirty pour painting looked amazing, and I also thought it would be a great thing to do with Shannon. So I picked  up a bunch of cheap acrylic paint and some silicone power tool lubricant and we tried it.  Here's the result:

The one on the left is mine, and the one on the right is Shannon's. Initially mine came out really muddy, I think I overmixed or something, so I actually added in more orange and turquoise and used a swiping technique to spread it and mix it, and in the end I was fairly happy with it. Shannon's was just beautiful from the beginning, she was very proud of herself. However, after drying for some reason the orange in mine faded to almost invisibility, making the whole thing look rather dull, and I was not happy with it. Shannon's stayed lovely, and was left alone. But I decided to do a new pour overtop of mine and try not mixing quite so much.

The second time I chose a different color palette. 

This one came out super, super cool and I was amazingly happy with it. Look at all those cells! And it dried just fine too, which I was also happy about. However I had too much paint mixed up for pouring, so to avoid wasting it I needed something else to pour on. I ended up using a smaller canvas and an old clock I had from years ago, which I intend to buy new clockwork for, because it looks so cool now.

Here is the small canvas:

This one came out super amazing, I love the way the cells form in the middle of the paint. What's really fascinating about these pours is that more cells and shapes will form as it sits, making it look cooler and cooler as it dries. I'll show you here with the clock I painted, the one on the left is right after I poured the paint, and the one on the right is after it had been sitting for a few hours.

You can see how there are a lot more cells and swirls in the second picture, it's so cool! 

One of the youtubers whose videos I watched to learn how to do this does all her pours on six inch ceramic tiles, which gave me the idea to do a set of them as coasters for my mom for Christmas. I haven't done them yet, but that's coming, you'll get pictures when I do.

The other thing I decided I wanted to do as gifts for people was etched glasses, wine glasses or beer mugs, depending on the person. I got the idea because I wanted to get one for Rachel with the homunculus tattoo from Fullmetal Alchemist, but even when I could find a reasonably priced glass, the shipping would cost twice as much. I knew that Danny, Stu's roommate, happened to have a bottle of glass etching cream he had used for something some time ago, and had told me previously that I was welcome to use it, since I've been curious about glass etching before. So I decided to make my own glass for Rachel. And then the decision I made to go with Stu to his parent's house in Arizona for Christmas led to me needing gifts for them, which led to more custom glass ideas, and then that led to a set for my dad and step mom, and then my brother, and then birthday presents for some friends with an idea I'd been wanting to do for ages, and then one for Danny for letting me use his etching cream since I know that stuff isn't cheap... and well, I etched a lot of things.  

I bought a lot of beer mugs and wine glasses from the dollar store, which was pretty great, because I knew it would be cheap and easy to redo if I messed something up. I also bought some stick on shelf liner from the dollar store because it would make perfect sticky but removable stencils. I printed off all my different designs at work, and then I would tape each design to a piece of shelf liner, cut it out with an xacto knife, and stick it to the cup. It worked really well, with only a few small instances of etching cream seeping a bit under the edges.

  I started with the glasses for Stu's parents. 

Simple monogrammed glasses.These were just stickers and tape, no shelf liner here. I got a little fancy with borders, but I kept it pretty straightforward since this was my first time doing it. But they came out really well, and I'm happy with them. Nice, simple gifts for my boyfriend's parents, since I'm spending Christmas with them.

Next I did Rachel's glass, but the placement was bad so I decided to redo it, and it came out much better the second time.

Photographing etched glasses is so hard, the flash brings out the etching but creates so much glare on the glass. Plus, with this one, the design was a bit big to easily capture. But it looks really cool.

After that I did my dad and stepmom's.  Wendy loves dragonflies, so that was an easy choice. For my dad, I chose to do his crest from his persona in the medieval recreation society he's part of, basically it's the symbol that he paints on his shield and things like that to represent himself.

See what I mean? Glare. Uhg. But they both came out really well. My dad's was a challenge with all those little details, the dots are actually supposed to be stars, but I tried to cut out two stars and realized this was never going to work. Luckily one of my dad's shields does have circles instead of stars, so this is totally legit.

Next was my brother Josh's gift. My family always just does a name draw for Christmas presents, since I have four brothers and that's a lot of gifts to buy. This way we each only have to buy one, and I got Josh.

This is another one where it was difficult to capture the full image. Josh is a Denver Broncos fan, so it's just a Broncos logo and his name. Pretty simple, although cutting out and placing some of those thin lines was a challenge. I nearly put his name as 'Doshie' instead of Josh since that's what I used to call him when I was little. It might have been funny, but I decided against it.

The last actual Christmas glass I did was for Danny, to thank him for letting me use his etching cream. I wanted to do the sign of the Prancing Pony from Lord of the Rings, because Danny is super into LOTR. But goddamn, did that have some fine lines and tiny details. Just getting it cut out was a challenge. I was not sure it would work. After it was cut out I actually placed a second layer of shelf liner over it to hold everything in place while I took the backing off and then stuck it to the glass, and then very carefully removed the top layer. It actually worked pretty well.

There's a little bit of blurring of lines around the horse's front legs, but it wasn't a complete disaster, and I'm pretty happy with how that came out. Not that I want to try something that detailed again, haha. That was a challenge.

After that, I did two wine glasses and a beer mug with a phrase I'd seen on etsy and wanted, but didn't want to pay nearly $30 a glass.

It says "Because Kids" if you can't read it. I did two wine glasses because one is for me and one is for my friend Cari, and the mug is for her husband Matt. I already have a Christmas present for Cari, so these glasses are going to hang around until their birthdays, I think.

So that's all the glass etching I did. It was quite a bit, but a lot of fun to see the designs come out. It did make me wish I owned a Cricut or a Silhouette cutting machine so I didn't have to cut all this stuff out myself though. I still own two other plain wine glasses that I think I may try to come up with something for before I return the etching cream though, because cups with designs are just so much more fun. 

Speaking about fun glasses, some time ago I found a wine glass on Etsy that I just had to own.

I mean, it's the goddamn Crescent Moon Wand from Sailor Moon in the form of a wine glass. I just... I just didn't understand a universe in which I didn't own this glass. Sadly for me, this one was already sold. So I immediately messaged the Etsy shop owner offering just all the money for one of these. This was in April of this year. And I got... crickets.  Nothing. No response. I investigated the seller's shop, all the reviews were good except for the most recent one from December of 2016, where the shop owner basically stopped communicating with the customer, never sent the ordered item, and ended up just cancelling the order with no warning or reason. There had been nothing since then, despite the fact that the seller's shop appeared to still be up and running. I realized for some reason this seller had dropped off the face of the planet.

I continued to wait for a bit, hopeful. But I eventually realized I wasn't going to hear anything. And then I had this idea. I mean, I'm a crafty person. The decorations on this glass were made of polymer clay, and I may not be a sculptor, but these were really pretty simple shapes. I bet I could do that. So I bought an extra wine glass when I was buying stuff for etching, and got some pink and yellow Fimo from the craft store. 

I used this image for reference, along with the picture of the original wine glass:

To start with, I made a long, fairly wide yellow oval and pointed the tips. I cut a slit a little further than halfway to allow me to wrap it around the wine glass stem, and then shaped that to the curve of the glass.

It actually ended up being slightly too far to one side, so I just rolled a small snake of clay and pressed that into the too narrow side and smoothed them together, using an xacto knife to neaten and straighten the edges. 

After that I covered the stem in a thin, but not too thin, layer of pink clay, and covered the base in a layer of yellow. I rolled a thicker snake of yellow that went around the seam between the pink and yellow at the base. Then I made a ball out of the pink clay, just sort of eyeballing the size, cut it in half, and then, lining it up with the direction the crescent was going, smoothed that into the top of the stem.

In the end, I got this:

For the decorations on that round part, I made two small yellow disks, slightly smaller around than the pink part, made two smaller red circles out of the clay I still had left from my Sailor Pluto earrings, put those on the yellow circles near the top, made small crescent moons and the little wing/ribbon things that come out of the top of the circle, and a dozen tiny yellow balls. Put them all together based on my reference, and got something that looked pretty damn accurate.  After that was done I added two small pink stars just under the round part. Obviously since I was making two of everything I was mirroring each side so they'd both look good no matter which side you looked at the cup from.

For the record, my version is more accurate than the Etsy glass, she just did a sparkly ball with some weird wing things that don't look anything like the real thing. I modeled mine after the details on the actual Crescent Moon Wand.

I was terrified of the baking stage, I was so scared that the wine glass would shatter. I baked it for two hours at 230 degrees. When it was done, I turned the oven off, but didn't open it, let it sit for a half hour, then cracked the oven open and let it sit for another half hour, and only then would I remove it from the oven. I let that thing cool nice and slow to avoid temperature shocking the glass.  This is what I had when it came out:

Picture made larger so you can see the details at the top of the stem.

Upon retrospect, perhaps I should have expected the pink clay to darken like that, I didn't pick the lightest shade of pink, really. But other than the too dark pink, that looks pretty damn sweet. I was so excited at this part. I knew the pink was wrong, but I also knew I owned some pearly pink paint that I had bought for yet another Sailor Moon project (Makoto's pink rose earrings, freaking forever ago) that would be exactly the right color, and I know polymer clay has no objection to being painted.

So I painted. And painted. And painted some more. It took like freaking five or six coats to cover that dark pink.

This is like three coats in I think? And look how blotchy it still is. Geez. But I did eventually get it smooth. I also ended up doing like three coats of yellow over the yellow parts, there were some bits of lint and things in the yellow clay that I didn't like the look of, but since I wasn't actually changing the base color it didn't take as many coats as the pink. 

Partway through this process, Rachel had just the most amazing idea. You know how partway through Sailor Moon using this wand it gets the silver crystal planted in the crescent? Well, obviously with this wine glass the glass itself is kinda being the crystal, but what if one were to buy an actual round crystal and glue it to the bottom inside the glass? How amazing would that be? I promptly became obsessed with this idea and started looking into it. Obviously I couldn't just use any old glue and crystal in something I intended to pour liquid into and then drink, that's just asking to get poisoned. So after exhaustive research I located a food safe waterproof silicone adhesive that was meant for things like aquarium repair, which sounded perfect, and a nice safe non-lead poisoning glass crystal. Goddamn, did I search hard for that crystal. I didn't want to order it online because I didn't want to wait, but after hitting every damn craft store I could find and getting nowhere, I broke down and ordered one. 

Once it arrived, I glued it in, added the red, yellow and green gems to the red circle, (which I already had from some other project, I don't even remember what) added a coat of clear Minwax Polycrylic, (god, I love that stuff, I use it on everything) just on the clay parts to protect the paint finish, and then my Sailor Moon Crescent Wand wine glass was complete!

Oh my god it's so pretty, I love it so much. So, if I had ordered it from the Etsy seller, she had been selling them for $40-$50, I believe, and I don't know what shipping would have been but for something like this it's gotta be minimum $10, and I'd count myself lucky if it was that cheap.  I spent $1 on the glass, $4 on the clay, $4 on the glue and $4 on the crystal. And I don't really count the glue, because I used such a small amount, and now I have the tube to use for whatever else I might need it for. It'll be handy for things like dish repair, if it's ever needed. And obviously the paint and gems don't count, since I had them from a previous project. So, even if you count the extras that I already had, this still cost me less than $20. And really, only cost me like $13. I'd say that's a pretty damn good deal, and I can't wait to drink out of this glass. 

Okay, okay, I swear I'm almost done here. There's just one more project to mention, it's not done yet, but I'm working on it. I decided I wanted to just crochet something for my niece Alara, she's only one, so crocheted toys are perfect, and I was gonna make her a Totoro. But then I found this image on Pinterest:

Oh my god, isn't that so cute you could die? Shannon saw it and immediately demanded one, but there was no pattern for it, just an image.  But after thinking about it, I realized it was really just a pikachu pattern done in grey with a yellow face and a border around the face to make it look like a hoodie. I could totally do that. So that's what I'm working on. Once I get it assembled I'll get some pictures. And yes, I am making two, I couldn't really just make one for Alara when I knew Shannon wanted one too that badly. I should have plenty of yarn, I hope. 

Okay. You tired of this post yet? I totally am. And I'm out.

Monday, October 30, 2017

And the result!

Okay, so I know I should have done at least one other progress post before doing the finished thing, but all of the sudden I realized I was not really that far on my costume, and I was also supposed to be making costumes for Rachel and Shannon, and I had very, very little time to get it done, since I'm not usually getting anything done on weekends. So my whole life became figuring out what I still needed to get done and how long it was going to take and when I could get it done. There was just this massive list hanging over my head and any time spent doing anything else felt like time wasted and made me incredibly anxious. And of course there were all kinds of interruptions like family night with my mom, and my dad visiting, and my niece's birthday, and then my birthday. All things I wanted to relax and enjoy, but there was so much I needed to do. Basically I was just one giant ball of stress since my last blog post. It's been kind of awful. Next year I swear I'm gonna not procrastinate so much and get it done early. The funniest and most terrible part is I did this same thing last year with Sailor Pluto, if you remember. I was putting the wig together the day of the party. I'm so hopeless. Sigh.


When last we spoke I had assembled the main bulk of the bodice. It still needed a collar, and Peach's is a standing scalloped collar. I figured I'd just sew two strips of fabric together in scallops, turn it right side out, iron flat and sew it on. And then since the scallops are trimmed in white, I'd probably have to hand sew some ribbon on or something. Easy peasy.

Hah. When has that ever worked out the way I wanted it to?

So, first, I took my strips of interfacing lined fabric and divided them into evenly distributed scallops. I didn't do any math, I just folded each section in half and half again until the size was roughly what I was going for, and sketched out the scallops.

See? Makes sense. I then slowly and carefully stitched around those curved lines, trimmed the excess fabric, and then turned it right side out. And after much shifting and pulling and adjusting, this is what I got.

Oh god. It's so bad. Just so, so bad.They're uneven and lumpy, and just... just bad. I hate it so much. So I figured my scallops weren't super even and maybe too small, so I'd try with bigger, more careful scallops. I went back to the Ursa Minor Sewing youtube channel and rewatched her video where she did the collar, and it looked like she was doing what I tried to do, but with scallops that were 1.5 inches across. It just so happened that I had an easy way to measure that.

This little thing just holds all my snaps and hook and eye things, and skirt hooks, and just happens to be exactly 1.5" across. So I traced that to make my scallops.

Same process, stitch around the scallops, then flip it inside out. This time, it looked like this:

I swear to god, this one's actually worse. I know I could have pushed and smoothed the curves better, but the fabric still pulled and puckered in between each scallop and nothing I did made it lay flat. I don't understand how Samantha with Ursa Minor Sewing got hers to look so nice when mine were just a continual nightmare. I really needed to succeed the third time, I might have had more of the dark pink fabric, but that doesn't mean I could keep throwing it away on redoing the collar.  This time, I just decided to sew it together right side out, and just use the ribbon that I was going to trim it in to hide the stitches.  I used the same container to trace my scallops, stitched and cut them out. After a few minutes of trying to line up the narrow white ribbon I had, I realized that was never going to work. The ribbon simply wouldn't curve neatly like that. So I decided to attempt to satin stitch around the tops of the curves. that went about as well as someone with my embroidery skills could expect. (Read: badly.)

It's not as terrible as the previous versions, but I also knew that wasn't going to work. At this point, I had a fuck everything tantrum, I ran to the craft store and I bought white puffy paint. I laid that fucker out and carefully outlined each scallop in puffy paint, making sure to cover all the stitching. I was even able to cover the satin stitching I had done.  And wouldn't you know it, the result was flawless.

Loooooook at how smooth and pretty and neat it looks! It's so damn perfect that I was pissed at myself for not just doing this to begin with. And those neat lines are damn impressive with how naturally shaky my hands are. I was so happy. I let it dry and sewed it to the bodice and everything was good.

It's so lovely!

So, next was the dark pink hip poofs. I don't know what to call them, I had thought they were panniers but I'm not certain that's right, so whatever. Hip poofs.  Basically, those were made by cutting out one big circle and dividing it in half.

I also cut circles of the crinoline netting. I hemmed the straight edge, and then gathered the curved edge and sewed that to the bodice. Doing it that way causes the fabric to kind of scoop and poof outward a bit. However I ended up removing the crinoline netting, I didn't realize they could be too poofy, but they definitely were.  There wasn't any drama over these poofs though, they went together pretty smoothly, although sewing them to the bodice was a bit of a challenge, there was a lot of fabric going on.

Here it is on the dressform, starting to look like a real thing. Although it really didn't fit on the dressform well since that dressform is me 40 pounds ago, and this dress is designed to fit me now while wearing a corset. But it held it up well enough at least.

At this point it was time to do the skirt. I had intended to make the overskirt a circle skirt that I just cut the front away from, but I realized that was gonna be too big. I wanted it to lay smooth with all the gold designs, and a circle skirt would be too full to do that, my hoop skirt wasn't big enough to spread that out. So instead, I faked a skirt pattern. I started by cutting large triangles out of this extra white fabric I had and sewed them together to make a rough skirt for the dress form that would fit over the hoop skirt.

I'd been unable to really measure how big around my skirt needed to be until this point, it was impossible to just measure the hoop skirt. This helped immensely.  Next, I used my tape measure to measure from the waist and down and around the back to get an idea where I wanted the overskirt to lay. I used a sharpie to draw these lines on the white skirt, and then used that to cut out a rough mockup of the overskirt out of some different extra fabric.

From here I was able to use the mockup to cut the pieces out of my actual pink fabric. I ended up having to recut them, because they were just a little small. I wasn't happy about that wasted fabric, but it worked out alright in the end. And I'm pretty sure I can use those rejected pieces to cut out pieces for Peach's parasol that I'm still gonna make.  And so we got here:

I ended up having to actually make a small white piece to go in the gap between the two hip poofs in the front because the fabric I had left hanging down the front of the bodice wasn't wide enough. But that was easy, it was just a rectangle with some quick gathers and binding on the bottom stitched in.

It was really starting to look like a dress at this point, so I was starting to get excited. I even realized that I was going to have enough fabric to do the underskirt legitimately rather than having to cheat. I was planning on cutting a few short panels and gathering them and sewing them to the white skirt in front to give the illusion of the tiered underskirt, with the rest disguised by the overskirt, but I definitely had enough light pink to just make a proper tiered underskirt instead, that made me happy.

The next step was sewing the lace trim to the edge of the overskirt. I had found a lace trim in my mom's stash that was actually pretty close to the way Peach's lace looks, which was awesome, because it didn't cost me a penny. I had just slightly more of it than I needed, so it was perfect. I sewed it on, and immediately there was a problem.  You know how on a jogging track, the inner track is a little shorter than the outer track because it goes around in a circle? Well sewing flat lace on a curved line demonstrated this issue, in that the outer edge of the lace was pulled inwards by the fact that it needed to be a little longer than the inner edge, and it wasn't. So then I had to remove the lace. I wasn't able to just unpick the seams either, it just ripped up the lace, so I had to actually cut it off. I cut it as close and tiny as I could to avoid losing too much width. I thought I might have to use a different lace, but in the end it was still useable. I ended up having to gather the inner edge around the curve ever so slightly to ease it around without it being gathered and ruffle-y. I wanted it to lay flat, so the gathers were very tiny and very carefully placed. It took some time, but it worked. I only have pictures of the lace on the finished dress, so you'll have to wait for that to see it.

So next was the tiered underskirt. I just looked up a basic tiered skirt tutorial on Pinterest and followed that and everything seemed to be going well, until I realized the tutorial is intended for a skirt that would be worn on it's own, not over a hoop skirt, and as such, the skirt was not big enough around to accommodate my hoop skirt. Which meant that even though I wanted to make the skirt legit, I ended up  having to add a flat triangular panel in the back to make it reach around. But like my original cheat plan, the overskirt hides it completely, and I only needed it for the top three tiers, the bottom two I had measured against my mock up skirt so that I knew for sure they would be big enough around.  So basically I sewed the triangle panel to the back to the top three tiers, and then sewed the bottom two tiers on all the way around like normal. After I'd painted the bottom band, of course.  But we haven't addressed the painting yet. Ohhhhhh man.

So. I did not attach the bottom bands to the underskirt immediately because I knew I wanted to paint the gold filigree designs on before sewing it. It was the bottom two bands rather than just the bottom one because I knew the fourth light pink tier needed to be the same size as the bottom dark pink one because there were no gathers between the two, that's where the wide white lace band goes. So I just got putting those two bands together out of the way first.

Now, my plan for painting was to mix textile medium with one of the gold acrylic paints I already owned to make my own fabric paint to save money. I had found a person online who had drawn out all the gold designs on Peach's dress and uploaded them to deviantart in a huge file that could be printed off, which saved me a ton of effort in figuring out exactly what those look like. I've been terrified of the gold designs since I started this project, I knew this is where it could all go wrong. They're such an elaborate, fancy part, I just knew I was gonna fuck it up.

If you're interested, here is the image I used for the designs:


They're exactly what I needed to feel like this was possible. And up until I saw this image, I didn't even know there were designs on the back of the bodice. Upon further research, there are indeed those two gold swoopy swirls on her back, they go across her shoulders, and they're almost always covered by her hair, so how was I supposed to know they were there?

The only problem here, was this didn't include the gold designs on the bottom dark pink band of her skirt. So using the Peach amiibo I borrowed from my cousin, I just sort of free hand sketched the designs onto a piece of paper, and then scanned them and printed them up large enough to go around the bottom band. Here's what I came up with:

I realize they're a scribbly ugly mess. But when they're cut out nice and smooth, the scribbles don't matter anymore. The red line is where they connect, due to image sizing I couldn't just make it a straight line. And obviously this is only half, you mirror it to get the other half.

So I wanted to use all these as stencils basically. I had read about cutting designs out in freezer paper, ironing that onto your fabric, and painting over it, so I wanted to do that. So I figured out how to print off these designs in the actual size I wanted, (turns out it was as easy as changing the print settings in MS Paint) and with some blind guessing figured out that printing them off at 4 pages by 4 pages got me to almost exactly the right size. When laying them out I had to spread out the sections a little to fit perfectly, but not too badly. It worked out pretty well.

Now that I had my outlines, next came hours and hours of brutal hand torture as I painstakingly cut out each scrolly swoopy little design with an xacto knife on the freezer paper. I just taped the printed outlines to the freezer paper and went for it. Of course it didn't occur to me until I had already finished cutting out the overskirt designs that I was going to need a mirror image of the stencil for the other side, I couldn't just flip the stencil because freezer paper will only stick to fabric on one side. This meant that I had to cut out the overskirt pattern twice. So that was super neat. At least I learned my lesson for the bottom band designs and folded the freezer paper in half to get two copies of the stencil that were mirror images. But by this time I already had a permanent ache in my fingers and my wrist from all the cutting I'd already done. God, that part was a nightmare. My hand still hurts today, although that's because I wasn't done torturing it at this point. But we'll get to that.

Hooray, stencils!

So next came ironing the stencils on and painting. Ironing on the stencils was actually pretty annoying, they don't stick well and peel off at the slightest provocation, so it was very difficult to do such a large area when moving the fabric made the stencils come off. But with enough careful maneuvering I managed. I mixed two parts textile medium to one part gold acrylic paint, and laid everything out on the floor and painted it. I'd already made a mistake at this point, and if you've ever used textile medium you may have spotted it.

Why yes, my workspace is just the entryway of my house. There really wasn't anywhere else I could do it. As you can see, I did have to cut individual segments apart and spread them about a bit to get them to fit, but not too dramatically.  I used a sponge to dab the paint on carefully. As I went I noticed it didn't cover the fabric well, it wasn't very opaque. And in places where I'd put the paint, it got dark around the edges like it was wet. I didn't stress, I figured it would dry as the paint did. After the paint had set for like an hour or so, I did a second coat and that made a much more opaque gold color. I left it sitting overnight, and the next day, I pulled the stencils off.

Oh my god. Not only had the dark stains not dried but rather set into the fabric, but the gold paint had bled like crazy under the edges of the stencils. It was a disaster, and I was so sick about it I almost cried while I was pulling off the stencils. What I didn't realize yet was that I was supposed to only mix one part textile medium to two parts acrylic paint. I don't know how much of a difference that would have made, but what I did know was that there was no way in hell I was using that paint for the other gold designs. Luckily, this was on the bottom border that gets partially covered by the lace band, so the world probably wasn't going to end. I almost immediately went to the craft store and bought some proper gold fabric paint. I also bought some gold puffy paint with the theory that I could outline those gold designs in the puffy paint thereby disguising a large number of the flaws in the paint edges, and at least partially hiding the dark stains. It actually worked pretty well, here's what that exact same segment looked like after being outlined:

See? Significantly better. And when the puffy paint dried it darkened and actually matched the other gold paint almost exactly, so it looked even nicer than this in the end. On the whole it wasn't actually a complete disaster. But damn did it freak me out. It all just about ended right there. And my poor hand wasn't happy about it anyways, drawing in all those gold lines so slowly and carefully was not fun on my hand that was already sore from the stencil cutting.

 The gold designs on the back shoulders are pretty messy too, not only was I still using the crappy paint at the time, but the seams of the sleeves and everything made getting in there very difficult. But it turned out well enough that I can live with it.

The overskirt was where I was super nervous, because it would be the most visible. And it was a huge section, so there wasn't going to be an easy way to lay it out. I ended up having to put it smack dab in the middle of my living room, which was terrifying while the paint was wet.

As you can see, I had to spread out the different sections of this design as well to get it to fit. It also didn't quite match the curve of my skirt so I had to angle some of the pieces a bit, but that wasn't a big deal. To iron the pieces down I ended up actually just bringing my iron and my cutting mat into the living room and then sliding the mat under each section and ironing them exactly where they laid. I knew there would be no moving this piece.

Also, please note how nice and flat that lace is lying. :D

Here it is all painted. I originally started trying to use a sponge to dab it on like I did the other, but this real fabric paint was significantly thicker than the other, and the stickiness of it actually was causing the stencil to separate from the fabric. Not good. So I switched to a regular paint brush and just brushed it on. This allowed me to be much more careful around corners and points, and any place where the stencil wasn't really firmly attached. This paint was more opaque than the other, but I did still feel that it needed a second coat to be really solid, so I did that. 

Later when I pulled off the stencils, this is what we got:

It's actually super hard to capture in pictures, but those are some pretty damn neat clean designs. However, they weren't quite perfect. There were places where the paint snuck under the stencils and made some weirdness. I really desperately didn't want to have to outline all of this in puffy paint, so I tried taking a small paint brush and the extra fabric paint and just touching up some spots, but in the end it wasn't good enough. The puffy paint was necessary to make it look good.

It just cleans up the edges so much and makes everything look so neat and professional. So I did it. It took TWO. GODDAMN. HOURS. Two hours of just kneeling there crouched over the fabric, squeezing this paint bottle consistently and carefully as I drew each curvy little line. I've never felt such pain in my hands. And my back and my hips were piiiiiiiiiiissed. It was so bad. I was so sore when I was done. I just kind of collapsed on the couch afterward and just felt the pain pulsing in my hand. And since that day any time I push a button with my index finger or try to spray down my yoga mat after working out, I can feel it there in my hand, the leftover aches. It's pretty sad actually. But the important thing is that the paint looked fantastic when I was done.

Based on the struggles I had with the paint, I also knew I would never be able to get the stencil in for the gold designs on the front chest piece of the bodice, so I actually ended up using the stencil to roughly trace the design onto the piece with a fabric marker, and then I drew it in with just straight puffy paint. It worked beautifully.

I then needed to add the wide white lace band to the bottom of the skirt. I didn't have a single piece of lace that was wide enough to do what I wanted, but I did have something that looked close to it, it just needed to be wider. So I actually ended up stacking four layers of this lace together, sewing that to the skirt, adding a round of the same lace I used on the bodice around the top of it, and then a round of pink ribbon between the two.

I actually love how that came out, it's so fancy looking!

After that it was really only a matter of assembling the pieces and adding the zipper. The zipper was a bitch, because of the piping on the back I was not able to make the invisible zipper actually be invisible, I probably should have switched to a regular zipper but I was working with what I had. It is quite difficult to zip up when I'm wearing it, but it can be done.

So I sewed the bottom bands onto the underskirt, sewed the underskirt to the overskirt, and then sewed those to the bodice. It was all rough and very difficult, there was so much fabric everywhere, but I got it eventually. I hand sewed ribbon to the sleeves to make the bows that go over the darker pink slash in the sleeves, and those came out super cute.

Those were damn impossible to get a halfway decent picture of that wasn't just a pink satiny blob.  This dress is actually obnoxiously difficult to photograph without making it look insane, haha.

And then it was done! It was so hard to actually call the dress done. I'd been working on it so long and there were so many details I never really thought I'd be able to call it finished. I kept feeling like there was something else I should do.

I fought with the wig a bit more, trying my best to style it and make it look good, but I never really got it somewhere where I was happy with it. I won't use that wig again. I fought it so much, but it never really became what I wanted it to be, so I'm done with it. It worked well enough when I assembled the whole costume, but I wasn't really happy with it. It really didn't do the dress justice.

And here's the whole thing all put together!!

I'm honestly thrilled with how the dress came out. And it was a hit at the party. I did actually take Toad with me and carry him around just cuz it was cute. I utterly failed at trying to color my eyebrows. I'd read all these tutorials about using glue sticks to cover it so you can basically paint concealer over top to draw in new eyebrows in whatever color, but it super didn't work for me. My eyebrows were just too powerful to be defeated that way. I think my glue sticks were just too crappy, I think new ones would have helped. I'll try again another time. I really should have done a wig and makeup test run before the party. Oh well. I still like the way it came out for the most part. The dress at least. I'll get a new wig and better eyebrow covering techniques and try again.

Throughout all of this I've left out the parts where I was working on the other costumes, so there was a lot of other things going on. I was so damn busy. But I got those done too!

Honestly, Shannon did a lot of the work for her costume. I mostly just supervised and helped her cut out the cardboard pieces. But I think her Stampy Longnose turned out pretty good. It's incredibly awkward for her to walk around in but she likes it.  Rachel is dressed as a can can girl, I did manage to successfully draft and sew a corset for her. I'd never done one for someone with a larger bust like that so it was an adventure, but it came out great. The corset is underneath, I made the bodice as well to go overtop. And technically I did make the skirt, but you might recognise that as the one I made long long ago to go with all my steampunk stuff. That's the lacy bustle skirt I wore to Beerfest with Amanda, years and years ago. So, yeah I made it, but a long time ago.  Anyways, the point is, Rachel looks fantastic.

The last thing that I did, because apparently I didn't have enough to do, is that I wanted to get a Mario hat for Stu. He doesn't like dressing up, so he didn't want to go full Mario, but he was willing to wear the hat at least. After all the sewing I'd done, I just wanted to go to the costume store and just buy a damn hat, but the one that we found looked like cheap garbage and cost $22. I couldn't bring myself to do it, not when I knew I could do better for much cheaper.

Oh, did I mention that this was on the night before the party? I mean, everything else was done at this point, but still. 

We went to a nearby craft store and I bought half a yard of red cotton for like $4, and using a Pinterest tutorial I cut out the pieces that night and sewed them together in less than an hour the next morning. It was great, and super easy. And came out much better than that crappy costume one.  Here's us ready for the party:

Aren't we cute? 

So against all odds, I completed everything I set out to do this month. I have about a month's worth of housework to catch up on that got neglected, so that'll be fun, but I did it. 

And now I think it's time for this record breaking blog post to come to an end. I'm tired of typing, I bet you're tired of reading.

Until my next project!