Friday, January 31, 2014

World Cosplay Summit Part 1: How it Works

It's incredibly hard to get good info on World Cosplay Summit because it's spread all over and buried in places.  Most of the world information is in foreign languages, and most of the US information is buried on facebook in posts that (thanks to facebook's screwy algorithms) bury themselves over time, show sometimes and don't show other times, and are just plain crazy.  I'm trying to demystify the process a bit for myself and Milo, and you guys get to come along for the ride!

First, how it works.  WCS is a tiered system.  You compete at a Regional Qualifier.  If you win first place you get a free, paid trip to the convention hosting the National Qualifier.  If you win second place you can compete at the National Qualifier but have to pay your own way there.  First place at the National Qualifier wins a trip to Japan to compete at the World Cosplay Summit.

This year there were four Regional Qualifiers in the United States:

San Japan, Texas
Nan Desu Kan, Colorado
Katsucon, Maryland
Anime St. Louis, Illinois

The National Qualifier will be held at ACen in Chicago.

There are tons of rules to this contest.  Some are standard and some are strange.  Here's a link to the whole list if you want to look it over.  Here are some things that stuck out to me:

Teams are two people and only two people.  Not one, not three, just two.

Professionals not allowed (boo!)

Costumes must debut at Regionals, and should not change between Regionals and Nationals or WCS.

"Judges are permitted to take poor conduct into consideration during evaluation."

Limit 30 entries per competition (I think this is just cya, there are usually 5-8 although Katsucon this year has 13!!!).

"The costumes are limited to Japanese created manga, anime, games, and tokusatsu", no Hentai sources (even if the skit is pg), other various rules on what you can and can't source from.

Skit time limit is 2:30.  WHOA THAT IS A LONG TIME WHEN YOU'RE USED TO 60 SEC!!

"All equipment, costumes, hand props and stage props for all of the performance rounds are limited to a maximum weight of 40 kilograms (roughly 88 lbs) combined for both performers.I guess this makes sense when you think that someone has to pay to ship it to Japan, but it's funny to see.

"All large props or backdrops set on stage before the performance begins are limited to a maximum combined weight of 10 kilograms (roughly 22 lbs) Of the overall 4-0 Kilogram (roughly 88 lbs) limit.  Prop dimensions are limited to 2100 millimeters (approx 6.8 ft) in height, 2100 millimeters (approx 6.8 ft) in width and 900 millimeters (approx 2.95 ft) in depth."

Limit 3 set pieces/stage props.

Judging is split into Craftsmanship and Performance.  "Each judge can award 10 points for costume, 10 points for performance, 5 points for fidelity, 5 points for professionalism, and 5 points for stage impact."

WCS Team USA 2013

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stuff Day: From Her Majesty's Jewel Vault

This is my other favorite jewelry blog.  It tracks the tiaras, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, earrings, and other bits and bobs that are owned by the Queen of England.  Not only does it have informative posts about the history of pieces, it also does daily-ish updates about what's being worn in events and out and about in the everyday life of the Queen.  So fun, check it out!

World Cosplay Summit

I have two things to announce.  First is that my good friend Milo Martinez has started his own cosplay facebook here:  Go friend him for costumey goodness!

Also, there's a second reason you should friend him.  Milo and I are going to be partnering together to try for World Cosplay Summit this year!  We're aiming to compete at Anime St. Louis.  The next few days will be full of WCS stuff so you can find out what all this is about and why it's totally different from anything either of us has ever done before!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Prosthetic, Part 2

 I wanted a light, flexible prosthetic that I could make from things that were readily available, so I started by looking up gelatin recipes.  I discovered a number of foaming gelatin recipes:

I decided to use a combination of recipe ideas.  I bought knox gelatin (grocery store), liquid glycerin (Whole Foods) and sorbitol (Walgreens).  I started by using equal parts of each, mixing them together, then heating until clear.  I then added a few drops of dish soap and mixed until white and foamy.  The result was very stiff and fluffy (rather like marshmallow fluff, but stiffer).  I spooned it into my mold and seated the face onto it as best I could, but it was very difficult because of the stiffness of the foam.  I tried this twice but was never happy with the resulting thickness of the edges, they didn't feather well.

For my third try I decided to try just straight gelatin.  I found a new recipe source outlining the properties of different ratios:  After watching this video I decided to try the 3:2:2 recipe and not foam it.  The prosthetic was very sticky (I  had to break the mold again to get it out) but I think it worked really well:

The edges weren't blended as well as I would like, but I'll work on that for next time.  I'm also thinking of restarting with DragonSkin silicone if I ever try again for a more permanent result.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Prosthetic, part 1

The biggest part of getting the Penguin prosthetic right was sculpting it.  Fortunately I already had a good cast of my face, so I started with molding plastiline clay on top of the face.  I went through a few different phases of sculpting to get what we thought was a good nose:

The last one seemed good, so I built a dam around the edges with clay and stuck it in a box in case of spillover:

Here's where the fun began.  I sprayed the whole thing liberally with mold release and slathered on plaster.  After a day I went to remold it only to find that the mold release really doesn't work well with plaster-on-plaster.  Cue panic!  Fortunately the plaster I was using was low-quality, and the face cast was high-quality, plus the new stuff was fresh so I was able to "release" the mold from the face with the liberal application of a hammer.  Then I resculpted the nose and got advice.  My experienced sources said to use vaseline next time, so I did.  A thorough coat of vaseline served as a good release, and this time I got a nice plaster mold of the nose with very little clay to clean out:

Next post: casting.

Wonder Woman Skirt

I've been wanting to do a Wonder Woman costume for a long time.  She's just such a cool character.  I finally found some fan art I felt comfortable making:

So I made a 4 1/2 circle skirt and free handed all the stars on it.  Finished pics soon!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stuff Day: Tiaras and Trianon Blog

This is one of my two favorite jewelry blogs.  I love the posts on tiaras and their history.  The research on this blog absolutely blows my mind!  If you want a dose of the shiny check it out!!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wig Styling Book

Kendra at Demode is kickstarting a wig book!

18th Century Hair & Wig Styling: History & Step-by-Step Techniques is a book that combines meticulous research with easy to follow instructions to help you create historically accurate hairstyles of the 18th century.  The book includes a detailed history of men's and women's hair from 1700 to 1799:  which styles were worn when, as well as how hair and wigs were styled.  It provides practical techniques for styling hair and wigs that will be useful to anyone who wants to learn more about historical hairstyling, from beginners to advanced users.  Step-by-step instructions show how to create 25 individual hairstyles -- 22 for women, and 3 for men -- that span the century, and suggestions are included for ways to vary the different styles.

She's got some great benefits, so check it out here:

You can also friend the book's facebook page:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Spring Patterns

Of course as soon as I post about Spring Patterns they change.  Here is the new Butterick patterns just out:

Retro Butterick 6022.  I LOVE this dress!  I don't know what I'd do with it, but I want to make it up in a ton of colors!  So pretty!

Retro Butterick 6018.  Not incredibly exciting, but I do like the funnel skirt shape.  That should be useful for some things.

Unfortunately there are no costume patterns for Spring, but this is not unusual.  They did give us some good stuff, and hopefully we'll see more from other companies!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Costume Resource

There's an awesome video up at Pret-a-Porter with interviews with five costume designers talking about their costumes from recent movies.  So excited because it gives us a close-up look at wonderful details of great costumes, including this one of Katniss' from Catching Fire that I love:

It has tons of detailed, colorful embroidery that just doesn't translate on screen!  Watch it here:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BAFTA Award Nominations

BAFTA Award nominations came out on the 8th and I haven't had the chance to post about them till now!  It's a great clue as to what will be nominated for the Oscars tomorrow:

AMERICAN HUSTLE Michael Wilkinson
THE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin
SAVING MR. BANKS Daniel Orlandi

I'm disappointed that none of the great SF/F films this year were nominated.  I thought the Catching Fire costumes were great, and Oz was pretty good, too.  Ah, well, keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #1

For this challenge I didn't want to buy suspenders, so I made do with stash stuff!

The Challenge: Make Do and Mend

Fabric: Cotton belting, Leather

Year: 1920
Notions: Metal U rings, suspender clips

How historically accurate is it?  About as good as I can get.

Hours to complete: 2

First worn: Arisia 2014

Total cost: Stash except suspender clips, so $4

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Progress Update: January 13th

Arisia's so soon and I still have so much to do!

Here's what I've done this week:

I made most of my Morning Coat:

It needs its sleeves and lining, and the vents need to be done.  Not a lot of work, really!


This is what the innards of the front pieces look like.  Each front is lined in hair canvas, the shoulder is reinforced with another layer of hair canvas, the left front has a welt pocket, then the lapels are padstitched and the roll line is coverd in stay tape.  After this the whole canvas got covered in stay tape before the pieces were sewn together and the lapels were sewn on.

This is the collar.  Like the lapels it is padstiched like whoa, then steamed into this shape.  So pretty!

Next up: to finish the vest.  I had a gorgeous silk brocade picked out months ago for this project:

 Unfortunately I only bought a yard of 22" wide fabric, and the store I bought it from searched but they are all out!  So I got this instead:

Not as pretty as the original, but still very nice.  I'll be working hard on this tomorrow.

I also almost finished Holo this week:

I started with the shirt.  It is a highly modified button-down shirt pattern, changed to have a zip up the back and added cuffs to the sleeves and put on a neck facing instead of a collar.  The skirt is a 3/4 circle with an elastic waist band.  The fur was cut to shape so it curves nicely with the fabric.  The vest is based on the same pattern the shirt is only a size bigger with a front opening and neck and armhole facings.  The collar was freehanded based on the neckline.  The waist scarf is just a long length of silky fabric satin-stitched around the edges.  The hanging thingee is a hoop from a small embroidery hoop spraypainted silver and attached to three strips of quilting cotton that are braided.  It doesn't have the same look in the picture as it does in person, I may fix that later on.  The necklace is just a circle tucked around some cloth scraps and tied with a length of leather cord, and the neck tab is cotton duck cut to shape and satin stitched.  It looks pretty crappy, though, so I'll probably replace it.

Here are the leg warmer things she wears over her booties.  They're felt cut to my calf shape then boned with plastic boning.  The grey fleece is pinned over the felt and turned over at the top and bottom and a separating grey zipper is installed on the inside calf.  The fur trim is pinned on right now, I hope to hand-stitch it on tomorrow.

 Also started Wonder Woman.  Got her corset cut out and pinned.  Not a lot, but it's a start!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Patterns for Spring


6911 is a Steampunk pattern.  It looks like it has some great costume separates, including a bolero (which is hard to get nowadays), a bustier, a short bustle skirt, and a long back-swept skirt.  I'm not sure what kind of crack someone was smoking when they made this up in these colors/patterns, but I think the base pattern looks pretty good.

6897 is a bog standard princess costume.  I do like that it has the option of a collar like that on little girls, though.


5985 is a dress pattern, but I can imagine it being steampunked pretty easily.  It's a more unique shape among patterns right now.

5987 is a grecian dress pattern.  Is one-shoulder back and no one told me?


8973 is the first Vintage Vogue pattern this season.  I find it pretty boring, even with all those tucks.

8974 is a sundress with a jacket.  So-so.


I gave up on waiting for them to update their catalog.  Andrea Schewe pre-posted about her Not-Game-of-Thrones pattern, so we know about that at least.  I'll post here when they finally put up patterns online.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stuff Day - Tailoring by the Editors of CPi

I've been doing quite a lot of tailoring these last few weeks.  This is the book that I've been using as my tailoring bible.  It's got great illustrations, and while it seems geared towards women's tailoring in pictures all the techniques are transferring to men's wear nicely.  I do have a tendency to back-up half the information by looking it up online, but mostly the techniques in the book are clearer than what I'm finding online and they don't skip any steps.  Highly recommend if you're going to take on a tailoring project.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Costume Designers' Guild Award Nominations

Costume Designers' Guild Award nominations are out today.  I'm excited about all the films in Fantasy, they were all excellent.

Blue Jasmine – Suzy Benzinger
Her – Casey Storm
Nebraska – Wendy Chuck
Philomena – Consolata Boyle
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty– Sarah Edwards

12 Years a Slave – Patricia Norris
American Hustle – Michael Wilkinson
Dallas Buyers Club – Kurt & Bart
The Great Gatsby – Catherine Martin
Saving Mr. Banks – Daniel Orlandi

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor, Bob Buck
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Trish Summerville
Oz: The Great and Powerful – Gary Jones, Michael Kutsche

Breaking Bad – Jennifer Bryan
House of Cards – Tom Broecker
Nashville – Susie DeSanto
Scandal – Lyn Paolo
Saturday Night Live – Tom Broecker, Eric Justian

Boardwalk Empire – John Dunn, Lisa Padovani
The Borgias– Gabriella Pescucci
Downton Abbey – Caroline McCall
Game of Thrones – Michele Clapton
Mad Men – Janie Bryant

American Horror Story: Coven – Lou Eyrich
Behind the Candelabra – Ellen Mirojnick
Bonnie & Clyde – Marilyn Vance
House of Versace – Claire Nadon
Phil Spector – Debra McGuire

Call of Duty “Ghosts Masked Warriors” – Nancy Steiner
Dos Equis: “Most Interesting Man in the World Feeds a Bear” – Julie Vogel
Fiat “British Invasion” – Donna Zakowska

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Handsewing Tip

I was padstitching my pretty collar for my Morning Dress coat this morning when something crossed my mind.  How many of you iron your thread?  I'm serious.  I've been made fun of before for doing this, but it really makes a difference in handsewing.  After you run thread through your wax line it up on your board and run it under your iron (I use a press cloth).  It melts the wax into the thread, making it stronger and less likely to knot and tangle.  The wax also isn't lumpy or flaky afterward.  It's little steps like these that seem to take a long time in the moment, but the time saved in not having to detangle thread makes it worth it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Progress Update: January 6th

Beatrice almost complete.  I haven't worked on her this week, still waiting on the bias to come in, but I got a picture of the almost-done:

I hope to get the bias in soon so I can finish this.

I also finished my pants.  This pic has only one leg hemmed, but since then both legs have gotten done.

This is where we last left the shirt.  Since I've put buttons and hand buttonholes up the front and added a collar stand.  Eventually I'll be getting a paper collar and collar studs which will need their own holes, but I'm not sure of the size and position yet.

This is where we left my Morning Coat yesterday.  Since then I've refined it, cutting the pattern and doing two mock ups.

So here's where Morning Dress is:

Pants and shirt with suspenders.  Pants are hemmed a little high, as was the style in the early 1920's.

Current coat mockup.  I think the front armscye is too large, and the back suffers from a horrid static cling, but otherwise I'm hopeful it's good.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


In working on my Morning Coat I was faced with a dilemma.  There really are no Morning Coat patterns out there commercially.  I could take a suit coat pattern and modify it, but it would need heavy modification and I didn't want to take the time.  Then I found this pattern in a 1920's German tailoring manual available online.

It was perfect,  but I didn't want to take the time to draft it all up to my size.  Enlarging patterns is time consuming.  So instead I took it to Fed Ex and had them enlarge it and print it up on their printer.  I didn't waste a lot of time trying to get it exactly the right size.  Instead I concentrated on the length, knowing it would be easier to adjust the width.  The printout cost less than $10, so it was comparable to a commercial pattern.

Once I got it home I cut it apart and worked on making it my size.  My preferred method of enlarging a pattern like this is slash-and-spread.  Trying to keep the length and shoulder seams the same size, I slashed the width of the pieces and taped them back together when they matched my measurements.

There are tons of books and tutorials that can teach you how to do this, maybe I'll look for some good online resources later this week.  To end, though, I cut the pieces, adding seam allowance, out of my mock-up fabric.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll get my coat fitted and start on the real one!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hand Sewn Buttonholes

I spent the day finishing up my pants.  All that remains is buttons and hemming.

I did a lot of hand-buttonholes today, what with the two closure buttons and five fly buttons.

Hand buttonholes are really easy and they don't really take that long.  It's rather relaxing once you get the rhythm of it.  Here are some links to tutorials on how to do hand buttonholes:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Welt Pockets

Working on my Morning Dress today.  I made two pretty wicked welt pockets on the backs, with matching welts and everything.  I'm super proud of them:

Want to know how I did it?  Here are the links I used, along with the instructions in Vogue 2383, which is the pant pattern I'm using (although I've heavily modified it, it's almost unrecognizable now).