Wild Wild

Yep, this weekend is the annual Wild Wild West Con (WWWC) in Tucson, AZ. I hadn’t considered going because even before my procrastination/broken foot I didn’t think I’d have time to finish our steampunk X-Men cosplays before the con. And what’s a con without cosplay, right? Imagine what a difference a few years can make.

At my first con (Phoenix Comicon 2012), I couldn’t fathom going to a con in cosplay. I thought cosplay was all skimpy clothes and I was (and still am, really) quite overweight. The next year, I did a cosplay of River Song from Doctor Who and it’s been cosplay every year ever since. So in five years I went from “I’m never going to cosplay” to “Wait, I can go to a con without cosplaying?”

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It’s been quite the journey. The first year, I purchased all the things I needed for cosplay. Then, in 2014, I hand-sewed an entire costume that was supposed to be steampunk but ended up more burlesque. My angel wasn’t quite a “hit,” but it got some looks and a few people liked the wings (even though, if I ever get back down to that weight, I need to redo the wings because they totally look like a grade-school craft project).

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I guess this costume was enough of a hit, though, because shortly after I joined Twitter a year or so later I had an a spam porn account follow me that was using the above pic for their profile pic. Creepy and flattering at the same time lol

The next year was mostly “casual” cosplays, with very little actual sewing involved. Still, I cosplayed most of the days I was at the con.

And then last year it began in earnest. For my birthday in 2015 I got a sewing machine, and a monster was created. I sewed my first machine-sewed cosplay in a few months (complete with corset–go big or go home!) and then sewed a second cosplay for my husband to coordinate with me after that. Then, about a month before Phoenix Comicon last year I sewed another two full cosplays, including designing a vest from scratch, and helped my husband make a prop for his (my prop we purchased online).

THEN, for Dragon Con last year, I worked on two more cosplays, this time with new props built for both of them. I made some alterations to the character design, because the character I was cosplaying had a crop top and shorty shorts, which I was not about to wear to a con in my current weight:

Those are the characters we went with. These are the results:

lot of design alteration occurred with these cosplays. I had to alter the shrug that went over the corset considerably before I sewed it, and my husband’s coat started out as a full-length solid-color trench coat pattern. We had some help from friends for the props, but they turned out well. We re-wore these cosplays and the Star Wars/Doctor Who mashups for Phoenix Fan Fest in October, so I had a break from mad sewing for a while.

Next up are the steampunk Cyclops and Dark Phoenix for this year’s Phoenix Comicon. We’ve started on the leatherworking but not much is done otherwise, partly due to my procrastination and partly due to the fact that, once I was ready to start sewing, I broke my damn foot. Still, we’ve got some well-made (and expensive!) top hats purchased and I have the phoenix breastplate made (still need to do the leatherwork for the harness on that), so at least we’ve got a start on them.

Yes, a monster has been born. Well, two monsters. I kindamaybesorta got my husband looked on couples’ cosplays after the Shamy cosplay (Sheldon/Amy from The Big Bang Theory). Still, I think I’ll manage the con this weekend without being in costume. I may feel a tad naked and out-of-place, but it should be fun 🙂

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Ideas aplenty, but lost for motivation

Pinterest is both heaven and hell.

I have found dozens and dozens of ideas and tutorials for the steampunk cosplays I’m making for next year’s Phoenix Comicon, but I haven’t been able to motivate myself to get started on anything but the breastplate for my Dark Phoenix.

Well, I take that back. I cut two pieces for my husband’s steampunk pants and pinned several more pieces. And that’s about it.

I don’t know why I can’t seem to get started in earnest. It’s not like I don’t have the time. I just can’t seem to force myself to work on it for very long before I drift back to the computer. Or, like yesterday, to my adult coloring books. Because coloring is fun…or something.

Tomorrow morning I may have some time to get started in earnest before we go to my parents’ house for laundry & our weekly “family bonding time” visit. I’m also going to spray paint the phoenix breastplate gold. I’m really hoping the color comes out nice. I picked a spray paint that wasn’t super shiny (because I didn’t really want that “smooth” look; I’m kinda digging how so far the craft foam has a leathery texture to it) but still would bring some of that bright gold to the piece. Maybe once I get most of the breastplate done–or at least this part; I won’t be able to do the harness for a while yet–I can focus more on my husband’s outfit.

I’ll definitely post pictures once the gold is on there, because I’m excited for that part to be done. The breastplate looks good black, and there is a version of Dark Phoenix that has a black breastplate, but, well….

dark-phoenix-black-costume

Yeah, no. Not for me. Not unless I lose like 100 lbs before Phoenix Comicon 2017 (highly unlikely)…and even then, I’m not relying on Spirit Glue or dress tape or whatever it is that’s keeping that fucker on there. Hell no. No, my breastplate is going to be over a shirt and corset. I may like corsets in my cosplays, but I don’t like showing skin too much, at least not at my weight. (Not that there’s anything wrong with plus-size cosplay or even plus-size cosplay that shows skin…just not my gig.) And I’m not risking a “wardrobe malfunction” when that thing inevitably falls off of me.

Last night I figured out the color scheme for my dress and corset. I was having a hard time deciding on colors, because I wanted to incorporate a bronze-colored fabric to tie in to the hints of bronze on the top hat, but then I had the epiphany to import an image of the pattern I’ll be using–Simplicity 8159, by LoriAnn Costume Designs (Google her! She is amazing and she’s designed a bunch of patterns for Simplicity…and they all look gorgeous. I’ve become somewhat of a collector of them, even though I doubt I’ll get around to making all of the ones I have)–to Photoshop and play around with the fabric colors I want.

This is what the finished dress on the pattern package looks like:

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And this is the color scheme I am going for (keeping in mind that my Photoshop skills suck, but at least it gave me a visual on what I was doing):

8159-front-concept-colors

I’ll be omitting the hat, collar/tie, white gloves (I’ll probably make yellow ones), and book (of course), but here it shows that I’ll be keeping it mostly red and yellow (the more traditional colors for Dark Phoenix’s costume) with just that hint of bronze to tie it all in. And the brown binding will all be gold. I think it’ll turn out looking excellent, and can’t wait to get started on it.

Maybe that’s why I am dragging my feet on making my husband’s cosplay: I’m so excited to get mine started! His will look cool as well, but sometimes the men’s patterns frustrate me when I get to sewing and I often have to take breaks to work out how the pieces are supposed to go together. The patterns always have pictures/diagrams on what to do, but sometimes the mechanics of it don’t “click” with me until I’ve taken time off to think it over. Then it clicks, and I go back to sewing with a vengeance.

This weekend I need to get started on his costume in earnest. I have to, or else I might never get my ass in gear. I know I have plenty of time, but my costume will be time-consuming as well because of the massive amounts of fabric I’ll be working with.

Gotta get started. This evening. Or maybe tomorrow……

Boob Pockets! A Tutorial

Did the title grab you? If you’re a cosplayer (or anyone really) who, like me, is lacking in the boobage department, you may get frustrated by some overbust corset patterns that are totally cute but totally too big. Where’s the cleave? Not here…

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Nothing. It’s a damn shame, because I worked hard on that corset. Pleather is a bitch to work with. And, seeing as how I don’t know how to alter corset patterns (yet), I thought I was stuck with it.

Not so! I came up with an idea that has turned out great, and I decided to make a pictorial to show how I “fixed” the corset to fit and look great…in time for Dragon Con, no less 🙂

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So this is the corset top. Pretty er, flat when laid flat, but still obviously not flat enough to push the girls up the way I want. My solution? Those little silicone cutlet things you can buy to go inside your bra. Buuuuut….how do I prevent a fashion faux pas and keep the buggers from falling out in the middle of the con? Of course! Boob pockets!

Thus my boob pockets were conceived. Now, this would be difficult and damn near impossible with a corset that has fused layers instead of sewn layers, so I have no advice on fused fabric corsets. I may be a noob on sewing, but I can sew through one or two layers without sewing through the top layer. So that helped a lot. It takes some practice, so maybe playing around with some scrap fabric first will help get the technique down. I’ll show you how I do it later on here. I also recommend sewing the corset first and getting the boning channels and bones in, because you certainly don’t want to accidentally sew either your boning channel or your boob pocket shut!

As you can see from the above photos, I made it so the cutlet would be removable for ease of washing…and for reuse of the cutlet with other bras and such. It took me forever to get the placement right and pick out the right kind of fabric for it. I mean, anything too rigid and the cutlet’s not going to fit right unless I sew it just right…and I’m not skilled enough to guarantee that. I decided on something stretchy, but not too stretchy. I had a pair of stretch leggings that never fit, so they were sacrificed to the fashion gods. This is how I got started:

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I placed a self-adhesive bra cup on the leggings and cut around it with the fabric folded so I got two even pieces (you can also just set the cutlet directly down on the fabric). I cut a little wider than the actual cup because A: 3 dimensions–don’t forget this in your design; and B: I wanted to give myself room to sew my basic pocket into shape before I placed it on the corset…that way I could position it easier without having to fight with an unruly cutlet.

So as you can see, I made sure the cutlet would “fit,” then I pinned around it with it between the two pieces of fabric. I left room for the cutlet to be taken out (don’t forget this!) and then removed it with the pins still intact. Now I knew that it could be stuffed in and taken out with the seam where it was, and I was ready to sew my pocket halves together, once again leaving a space open for the cutlet to be inserted and removed. Once that was done (I serged the seam, but you can zig-zag or maybe baste? I haven’t worked with stretch fabrics for very long…maybe a couple of weeks…so I’m no expert on which stitch is the best for this), I put on my corset, put the cutlet in the pocket, and started adjusting and pinning until I had the placement down. Adjust and pin carefully! You don’t want to puncture yourself, and you don’t want to puncture the top layer of corset fabric if you can avoid it.

I tried to get it roughly even with the first pocket. Since these pockets will be on the inside, they don’t have to be perfect. Besides, once you get the first one sewn, it’ll be easier to sew the other one in place evenly. Again, leave a space open for inserting and removing the cutlet. I’d put that in bold again, but I think you get the point. Next we get sewing.

So here comes the one-layer pinning and sewing. As you can see, if you’re careful, you can get the pins and needles/thread through the inner layer(s) without puncturing the top layer. On the pleather that I was using, that was particularly important because, again, the stuff is a bitch to work with. Once a hole’s there, it’s pretty much there.

You can sew it with the cutlet in or out, I guess. I sewed it with the cutlet in because I wanted to make sure it stretched tight and held the cutlet in place well. I didn’t want saggy cutlets, after all!

When you take the cutlet out, as you can see the pocket will pucker and look wonky. That’s okay. You want it like that, because that means it’ll stretch to fit the cutlet firmly. This is why stretchy fabric is so nice for this; you can accidentally sew it too tight and not have to worry about it, because it’ll stretch and you won’t have to seam rip any of your hard work.

In the bottom picture above, you can see that I also sewed the corset side of the opening down. I don’t know that this is a really necessary step, but I figured it would reduce the chance of the pocket ripping off and secure it better. Be careful not to sew the opening shut if you plan on removing the cutlet at any time.

Okay, you’ve gotten your pockets cut, pinned, sewn, placed, pinned again, and sewn onto the corset. Next, let’s see how it turned out…..

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Omg, look at that cleave! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Ready for Dragon Con, without risk of a rogue cutlet escaping 🙂

I hope this tutorial is helpful to someone. It’s my first time doing one of these, so I tried not to forget any steps.

Breathing room

Okay, so I finished the corset as much as I can before the boning arrives in the mail. There’s still a lot to do on it, but just getting that much done makes me feel so much better. I’m still working on a mockup of the shrug because I have sausage arms & broad shoulders, so the last thing I want to do is go straight by the pattern only to discover that oops! it doesn’t fit and I’ve wasted a shitton of pleather. So yeah, mockup. Cheap fabric that I accidentally bought a crapton of a while back because my husband & I kindamaybesortareally jacked up the math on how much we would need. Which actually worked out in our favor, because I’ve used that fabric for tons of mockups and it ended up being the perfect color for my Jedi TARDIS cosplay. Still haven’t gotten the size of the back/front of the jacket right (mostly need to make the back/shoulders wider & the sleeve holes too), but I think I have the sleeves worked out. I think.

After the shrug, which really shouldn’t be too bad once I get the sizing worked out, I just have the Spandex stuff to sew. That’s going to be the real challenge, but I’m trying to psych myself up and tell myself I can do it.

My husband keeps “reminding” me of how much work is left to do, which he really doesn’t need to do because OMFG IT’S LESS THAN A MONTH UNTIL DRAGON CON!!! I need to just tell him that the added pressure isn’t helping me at all. I need to be able to breathe and not panic. Panic will not help me.

Just a few more things to sew. Just a few. I have to keep telling myself that. It’s a lot of cutting and pinning and whatnot still, but if I think about all of the steps it’s going to make my con anxiety worse.

There are a couple of things that my husband wants “fixed” on his cosplays from Phoenix Comicon, but those are going to kind of be “if I have time for it before Dragon Con” kinda things. It’s little adjustments/alterations that, in my opinion, can wait. Yeah, it won’t be 100% perfectly the way he wants them, but at least one of them worked well enough for Phoenix Comicon so he can just deal for Dragon Con as far as I’m concerned. Sorry, babe, but I have to focus on the new stuff and try not to add to the pressure. I’ll fix the one part that made him super uncomfortable, though. I’m not going to make him suffer for a whole day of Dragon Con just because I’m trying to stave off the con panic.

He has been a great help, though. He painted my gloves for me last night (they were a dark grey instead of the black that they need to be) and he’s been helping where he can with props and what little fabric-type stuff he can do. I need to have him sew on the buttons for his Shatterstar pants. I haven’t figured out the button foot on my sewing machine, & he figured it out for the Gaara pants, which is the same pattern.

I also need to organize the fuck outta my sewing room. My fabric/scrap stash has grown exponentially since purchasing the fabric we needed for these new cosplays, so I have piles of fabric everywhere. I also kinda have pattern pieces scattered about because I keep forgetting to fold up the pieces I’ve finished with and put them away. My craft room is a total mess. Fabric everywhere. Everywhere. I barely have room on my cutting table to cut out the pieces for the mockup, & they’re fairly small pieces.

In addition, I have my new boots that I need to do some modifying to, mostly stripping the coating off the synthetic leather and then painting them black (the only ones I could get in my size were dark grey instead of black, so yeah, more changes to make).  Maybe I could get my husband to do that part, too? He did pretty well painting the gloves, so the boots theoretically shouldn’t be much different. It would really help me out and take one thing off my long, long list.

Less than one month. The Crunch is squeezing ever tighter, and I am doing my best to remain calm about it.

Crunchy crunchy

Yep, Con Crunch is still on. Less than a month left to go before we leave for Dragon Con. On the plus side? I’m almost done sewing the boning channels for the corset. The negative? I have a shrug, a pair of Spandex pants, & a bodysuit to sew still. And I’ve never sewn with Spandex. Oh yeah, and when my boots come in the mail (I ordered the wrong size at first), I have to paint them black because they were out of my size in the black. So there’s that. Oh! And next Saturday is another propmaking session at our friends’ house (I feel like there aren’t enough thanks in the UNIVERSE to properly express our gratitude for their help and teaching).

I think I can do it, though, if I just buckle down. I’m trying to force myself to get to work and do more than I have been. It’s tedious sewing the channels because I have to pin thin paper to the fabric to allow the pleather to feed through the machine properly, which makes it hard to get even lines (and I end up with wider channels than I intended, meaning I’ll need thicker boning than the pattern calls for).

I think it’ll be easier for the pleather shrug, though, because I’ll be sewing the inside seams of the pleather and I don’t think there will be any outside seams to sew. That should eliminate the need for the paper pinning (I hope).

Enough of the whining for now. Off to the day job for a busy day, then back home for more sewing 🙂

Surreal

Taking big steps lately to becoming, like, a real adult. More than just working and paying bills. Sure, there’s work involved–and paying bills–but it’s both exciting and a little unreal. I mean, I don’t think I ever imagined being at this point in my life. Suddenly, things are happening. Okay, starting to happen. Like, they won’t happen for a while, but plans are being made and things are going from theory to discussion to hopefully reality.

Cosplay, on the other hand, has suffered due to my increasing obsession with Pokémon Go and the exercise I’ve been getting. I haven’t been spending as much time in the craft room, and now that I’m only a month out from when we leave for Dragon Con I’m feeling the Crunch. I have to step things up on the sewing, but tomorrow is reserved for prop-building with some new friends. They’re much more experienced than we are, so we’re hoping they can give us more pointers than the panels we attended at Phoenix Comicon. We’re still a little in over our heads, but we’re willing to learn and we’ve gotten most of the supplies and (we think) all of the materials we’ll need. Basically the only thing left to buy is the corset boning, and I have to get off my Poké-ass and get to sewing so I know what lengths of boning I’ll need.

Writing is pretty much at a standstill…again. I keep getting new ideas on how my society will play out, trying to imagine what life will be like a couple hundred years from now. Will space travel be a common thing, or will it have been a passing fad? What kind of tech will be available? What about society itself? Will things improve from today’s media-fed nightmare, or will it all go to shit? Well, it’s a dystopian setting I’m aiming for so I’m guessing things will go to shit, but to what extreme?

But this new thing–this adulting thing–this is a vision of the future that is tangible, that I can actually see and envision with clarity. Change, in this case, is something that I think is a good thing.

Pleather problems

So I didn’t realize the pleather would stretch so much when I started sewing it to the interfacing I have. Like, a lot. I wanted to use the stronger sew-on interfacing that I had left over from the jacket I made for my husband, but it’s clear now that I need to use the fusible interfacing that the pattern suggests. When I find it, that is…it is most likely underneath a huge pile of fabric, so I need to straighten up in the craft room a bit. I should be straightening up right now…but I don’t feel like it lol I’m frustrated by this development, thus I am taking a break before I take my frustration out on my fabric.

Now I know how the pleather reacts, though, and the leather needles I bought to sew it with seem to work really well for it. Clean punches through the pleather, no jamming. So that’s good.

In other news, the Pokémon Go exercise is still in full swing. I think I’ve missed only two or three days since I started playing two weeks ago, which for me is fantastic. That’s 2 1/2 miles a day on average, not counting missed days. Not bad for a couch potato. Bed potato? Regardless, I have the shape and mannerisms of a potato. Minus the extra eyes. Or something. I haven’t lost much weight–mere ounces, if the scale at my work is any indication–but I’m still proud of myself for getting the exercise. And hey, it keeps me off drugs. (Okay, so I never did drugs anyway…what was my point again?) I even got to hang out with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a few months.

I’m tempted to go on a Poké-walk when the sun comes up, regardless of whether or not my husband is awake. He’s three levels ahead of me; I need to step up my game. Maybe I’ll mess around with strengthening the gym that we (the blue team) hold down the street. I’m not 100% sure on how to do that, but from what I understand it’s just like taking control of a gym except you’re fighting your own guys? I don’t know. I only just fought in a gym for the first time last night. Not the most thrilling thing, but it was cool taking down Pokémons stronger than mine. Yes, I know that’s not the plural. I’m still calling them Pokémons.

Let’s see, what else has happened in the two days I missed posting? Uh…nothing much, really.

Oh! I am seriously considering dyeing my hair, if I can find a person that can do what I want.

fire hair

I would rock this. I just can’t do it myself, and I don’t know anyone in town here that I would trust to do it. I know a great stylist in Phoenix, but not only is she expensive (for my budget) but she’s usually pretty booked, and for good reason. She’s had two local artist showcases of her clients’ hair up in Phoenix, which is pretty cool. It helps that she’s also incredibly friendly and personable. The bubbly type, at least the one time I met her in person. I’ve known her for a year through Facebook, but only met her once at Phoenix Comicon. Anyway, sidetracked–I want that hair pictured above. A lot. I want to flip my hair and have it look like flickering fire. And I can pull off red tones–I’ve done it plenty of times before. Maybe after Dragon Con? But I don’t know that I want to wait that long. I’m really digging this look.