This year for Dragon*Con, I decided to finally make that Lord of the Rings costume I've always wanted. Lacking an Elflike physique, I opted to go with a hobbit, and used it as a challenge for my embroidery skills. This was entirely done freehand, with no pattern or hoop or plan, mostly on moving vehicles and at one point while I was actually wearing it. I researched the design by examining natural riverside plants (well, as close to natural as you can get when you live in Philadelphia) and just sort of let the design evolve as I went. For all the detail, I have to say this was one of the most fun costuming bits I did this year.
This is the bodice design, based on a weeping willow growing near my home. I finished this bit in about a week.
This is a closeup of the hem embroidery. The vine was done while camping, the leaves on two 20 hours stints on Greyhound, and the flowers on a SEPTA bus to work. It encircles a 108 inch hem.
A closeup of the flowers at the base of the tree:
The bits together, with an overskirt I eventually covered in leaves like the ones on the vine:
And finally, because this became the quote of the trip on our utterly sleep deprived ride to the Ren Faire: "Hey! I can embroider something while I'm wearing it!" (The hem of the bodice, constructed in a sleepless night before the trip):
The moral of this story is: Don't tell me I can't do something. I will do it just to spite you, as my friend Abby learned when she said I probably couldn't make Kaylee's fluffy pink layer cake dress for Dragon*Con.
Somewhere among the insanity that was con prep season, I had to hand gather more chiffon than I want to count, learn that Internet fabric sources might interpret rose pink as neon cotton candy, buy the pink chiffon twice, run out of budget for hoop skirts after the stores took the summer hula hoops out, find the tackiest upholstery trim I have ever seen, and curse Joss Whedon's costuming team in six languages. It's kind of a budget version- so very polyester, the underskirt is pieced together from thrifted linen skirts, the sleeves are triple layered to look like the impossible to locate brocade, and the hoop skirts had to be replaced with a petticoat so large that the thrift store practically gave it away for lack of storage space (with my friend's bright orange tutu underneath for more volume). Next year, with proper skirt support, this thing will rock.
At Dragon*Con, my friend wanted to costume Rapunzel, largely as an excuse for a dramatic haircut. We couldn't afford fabric by the yard, so I was forced to work with two prom dresses, an aging sewing machine, an old button down shirt, and some ribbon. The designs and hem on the skirt are hand embroidered, and I drew them out with a piece of chalk put through a pencil sharpener and sewed them in various places, like on moving school buses with four year old children sleeping on me, or on subways, or during earthquakes. Even the eyelets are hand sewn. And yes, the hair she's holding is her own.
The front panel in progress:
The top before we fixed the sleeve and buttons:
The first bit I embroidered:
The petticoat was sewn on during a hurricane at 2:45 in the morning on a strange sewing machine after mine died.
The back before we put the skirt together:
And finally, a tribute to Inanna, my beautiful machine, who died in the service of this dress.
I made a costume that required five tries to get the turquoise dye right, and therefore had an abundance of turquoise cotton. One piece, a beautiful gauze weave, was begging to be a skirt. So I interlined it with some cotton/poly for shape and drafted up a quick panel skirt. Somehow, I decided to shape the hem into points instead of rounding it. The suspenders are some leftover trim from a friend's Rainbow Dash costume. It's so fun to wear.
Action shots: In the ocean. In November. Yes, it was cold.
Close up shots:
Showing the spread of the skirt. It's six very flared panels.
Close up on the suspenders
And the points on the hem (each one has a differently shaped button at the point):
This took much longer than I originally intended it to, and I absolutely love it.
Sometimes I do a little sewing for people in the ageplay community. Think cute little kid clothes, only in adult proportions. As you can guess, the fabric costs many dollars-unless you recycle it.
This used to be an ugly shapeless jumper and a bedsheet:
See, I'd been commissioned to make a dress for someone. So off to the local thrift store went I. This was the original ugly sack of corduroy, fit for the 60 year old kindergarten teacher of your dreams and modeled by yours truly (who clearly does not fit into it).
A little resizing, making it shorter, and adding a few cute scavenged buttons and a ruffle made out of an old bedsheet, and... voila!
Which just goes to show you can remake anything, you just have to find the right person for it.
The story begins about a month before Dragon*Con. A friend who loves the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson asks me if I can sew a mistcloak so she can be Vin. For reference, this is Vin:
So we acquire some thrift store wool blend and cut strips. And strips. And strips. A lot of them. One hundred and twenty three of them, to be exact. We draft a hidden yoke to hold the thing together. A lot of pinning, sewing, and cursing (some in Elvish) later, we get the cloak together. We get a cheap wig and go gangbusters on it with scissors, because her hair is damn near her waist and Vin's is... not. The end result? It impressed Sanderson himself. Yes. We impressed the author. The wearer was very comfortable, except for the tripping over her own cloak thingy.