Sunday, May 18, 2014

HOWTO: Jewel Costume

I got a question on Tumblr about my Jewel costume; I'm posting the answer here because it's easier for me to format.  Without further adieu here's how I made my...

Jewel costume AKA the super spandex tube top

you'll need:

* 1-2 yds white spandex - enough to wrap around your torso
 (You may want to source some 'wet look' or metallic spandex - it's more opaque than regular spandex.  Try
* 1 yd turquoise spandex
* ...and matching thread
* some scraps of lightweight interfacing (NOT iron on), wide enough to go across your chest.
* a sewing machine with a stretch stitch 
 (preferably not zig zag - a stretch stitch is a stitch that goes forwards and backwards so that the stitch has give but is still sews a thin straight line.  My Kenmore converts to stretch stitch if you set the stitch length slider backwards - check your manual)
* stretch ballpoint needles
 (Using the right needle for the right fabric is important - the ballpoint keeps the fabric from snagging and helps maintain correct tension)
* Washable marker 
 (I like using washable Crayola markers but you can also use a sewing pen)
* Pins
* Iron & ironing board

Take measurements around your bust, waist, hips, and from clavicle to mid-hip.  Make sure you are wearing the same kind of undergarments you'll be wearing when you're in costume (especially a bra).  Using these measurements, take two pieces of white spandex and sew a basic, curvy tube.  

Remember to sew it with the stretch stitch and stretch knit needle.  Leave the top and bottom unfinished, we'll get to that later.

With it still inside out, try it on and check the fit.   If needs to be tightened anywhere, you can mark those places with your handy marker while it's on your body.

...then take it off and sew it tighter where you've marked.  You should now have a perfect fitting tube top!

Now cut the asymetrical "V" shape out of the interfacing.  You will use this as a pattern for the spandex, and also to stiffen the fabric so it will hold the pointed shape.  

Hold it up to your body to make sure it looks the way you want, and make sure it is as wide as the front of your tube top.  FYI Jessica's V peaks on her left side. 

Figure out how wide you want the turquoise part to be - my stripe is about 2.25" thick and I think that feels right but you might need to adjust for your proportions.

Turn the white tube right-side out and put it on again.  Take the interfacing V and hold it up to your body 1/2 higher than where you would like her turquoise V to be.   Put a dot on the spandex just under the point of the V, then take it off and line the interfacing up again with the dot.  Carefully trace the bottom of the interfacing shape onto the spandex.

Using the interfacing as a pattern, cut two pieces of turquoise spandex, leaving an extra 1/2 inch on all sides for seam allowance.   Then measure the back of your spandex tube, and cut a rectangle that is as wide as the tube, plus 1", and 3.25" high (or as tall as yours is plus 1" seam allowances).  Sew these four pieces together: sew each back piece to each front piece first, making two turquoise circles.   Then pin the two tubes right sides together, sew together across the top and turn inside out, to form the top of the costume. should look something like this except maybe less derpy.

Iron down all the seams on LOW HEAT - spandex melts VERY easily be careful.  You may even want to put a piece of fabric in between your iron and the spandex to keep it cooler, test it on a scrap of fabric before you do your sewn costume.

Slip the interfacing into the front piece but don't sew it in - the interfacing helps hold the shape of the point but it isn't stretchy, so it's better if it moves freely inside the spandex.

Pin the turquoise piece to the white piece so that the bottom edge lines up to the line you drew earlier.  This is going to be a little awkward because the shape is now inverted, but if you pin the vertex of the V first and then the sides it should work out.  

The fold in the turquoise piece should now be pinned so that it is pointed down on the costume.  Switch to turquoise thread and sew 1/2 inch from the unfinished edge of the turquoise piece.  Push the interfacing in so you don't catch it with your needle, and sew all the way around the tube.

Turn the turquoise piece up so that the fold is pointing up.  Cut away the excess white fabric, rinse away the marker lines, and then iron the seam down (again, LOW HEAT).  

And you're done!

(Captain Marvel: underthenerdhood Spiderwoman: prodigium)

Other notes:

For Jewel's costume I originally made it as all one piece, but the combination of the straplessness and the attached feet meant that every step pulled the whole costume down (eek), so I switched it to a shirt with matching pants and separate shoes.  Not accurate but much more practical.  

This is why I left the bottom unfinished, so it wouldn't make such a big bump when I tucked it into my pants.  No worries, spandex won't fray.

I used these tights in white, and these boots (leftover from my Dr. Girlfriend costume ^_^ )

Her belt is the remainder the turquoise spandex, sewn into a simple loop.  

Her 'jewel' is two diamond pieces craft foam, one slightly smaller than the other.  They are papier mache'd together and then sprayed with several layers of Plasti-Dip for smoothness, and finished with Testors Spray Enamel in Electric Pink.  It's attached to the belt with a loop of velcro.

I made her earrings using some pink chandelier beads wired onto basic earring findings from Michaels.  

And I used these gloves in Marine Blue, which were a close match for the turquoise spandex I got from Joann Fabrics.

Hope that answers all your questions, brilliant-but-scary-bad-wolf!  Sorry it took so long!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shabby Nightstand Update

I haven't posted much in while have I?   I've been really busy with home reno since we moved in here last year, but I haven't wanted to take pictures until it's 'done' and there's still so much to do. I think it might never be done.

Anyway so I painted this nightstand.

I've had this nighstand for a while; I picked it up for $20 on Craiglist. I liked it that it was small enough to fit in our narrow space, and it had a handy shelf and drawer. But it was plain blonde laminate and very boring.

When I was looking for ideas I saw this end table project. Pretty great right? I also happened to have a piece of wood that I 'reclaimed' from our storage space- the previous tenants had left it there when they moved. I had no idea what it was but it looked pretty nice.


It was originally a long narrow board (sorry I forgot to take pics), maybe it was a shelf or something.  I cut it in half and then Gorilla glued both pieces on top of my nightstand after I painted it, and filled in the gap with some wood filler.  You can sort of see the seam here.

My inspiration was more white/modern, but I'm not so modern and I didn't really want white.  I've been ogling this cool coffee table every time I go to the Galleria, so I almost did turquoise too, but like everything in our house is aqua or teal or turquoise.

I looked through my much-too-full box of paint samples and decided to go with Benjamin Moore Apple Blossom green, a color I almost used in my bedroom.


I thought it was too much for a whole bedroom, but pretty cute for a lil nightstand right?

made plaster-of-paris chalk paint, so I wouldn't have to prime.  That stuff is pretty great!  Definitely understand why the blogosphere was nuts over it, it's so easy to use and thick and chalky.  I guess you're supposed to use furniture wax, but I finished it with oil-based poly, because I had some, and I thought the yellow color would make a nice antique-y look.

The little trim is from my favorite moulding store and also stuck on with Gorilla glue.  The knob is from World Market. I'm not sure it works but it's good enough for now.

Here it is in my bedroom:


The mismatched nightstands are a little weird but the ceiling is actually slanted so I think the height difference works.  Half tempted to paint the other one green too but it's actually nice wood, so maybe not.  Also I have so much else to do.  Let's just leave it weird for now...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Painted dresser

Hi people! Wow, it has been so long since I last posted, google has changed their posting tools. I am a bad blogger.

But I've still been doing a lot of crafting for my new place.

I got this little dresser/nightstand thing from a friend - it was just plain wood, and boxy. I thought it would a great thing to try painting. I've been enamored of decorate painting on dressers since this picture by Laura Gunn. Hers is nicer but she's a professional painter or whatever.

I used a bunch of house paint samples that I had lying around, and I painted it on my new patio:

It goes great in my aqua-red-white-gold office.

(This picture is awful. There is not enough light in this room yet, so I had to use a flash. Funny story: when I moved, I somehow lost the plates that hold a pair of wall sconces that I planned to put in this room. I keep hoping they'll show up, so I haven't bought new lights. But they haven't shown up. And it is dark. SIGH. )

I put in some antique blue milk glass knobs. Again terrible picture. So dark. But trust me they are adorable?

Please send me some sconce-wall-plate finding vibes, and I'll try to post more stuff!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'm Alive!

Wow, I'm sorry for the lack of activity here, folks!

We moved in February and I'm still putting my life back together. But I've been crafting loads of stuff for the new place and I have a lot to share. Just give me a moment to get some pictures together...

I've also done four new costumes this year! I made Howl and Sophie for Anime Expo, Jewel from Marvel, and I finished this too. I'll post more about them later, but if anyone is interested, I usually post my costume stuff first on my Deviant Art page. Feel free to check it out, 'n stuff.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bethany Hawke cosplay

Preview for my next costume, Bethany's Circle Robes from Dragon Age 2. I want to do Dragon Age again, but I don't really want to show my navel anymore. I still have to do some detail, like the buttons and the shoulders and the collar, but it's almost done.

I really like the color and the fuzzy sleeves.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

HOWTO: Toddler Totoro Costume

You may recall Charlie was Totoro for Halloween, and I promised a tutorial, way back then. Well, here it is, finally!

This costume was really easy and I finished it in a single (long) afternoon naptime, about 3 hours.

1.5 yards charcoal grey fleece
(you could also use blue)
18"x12" scrap of ivory or white fleece
1 sheet craft foam (the thickest white one)
1 22 inch matching grey zipper

First, to make the basic jumpsuit pattern I laid down a set of my son's clothes and traced VERY loosely around them:

This was how I made sure it was roughly the right size - much easier than trying to measure a two year old! The fit is very baggy, so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Trace one side, then fold the fabric in half and cut that piece out for the front. Then fold that whole piece in half, and use that as a pattern piece for the two back pieces, leaving a half inch for seam allowance:

So the body is composed of three pieces that look roughly like this:

Pin & sew the back pieces together from the crotch up to the "butt", leaving the rest open for the zipper. Then pin and sew the front and back together, right sides together, around the arms, body and legs.

Like the body, I also traced loosely around one of my son's hoodies to make the pattern for the hood:

Again, it's loose, so the shape is approximate, but make sure the length of the bottom will approximately match the size of the neck on the body, after hemming.

Sew these two pieces together starting at the top of the head (the zipper opening has to go all the way to the top or your baby will get stuck), then hem the front around the face opening. Pin into either side of the neck hole, right sides together, and sew in.

For the belly design, I cut a 17.5"x11" oval out of the lighter fleece and then ironed it on with fusible web. I sewed this down for safety, like an applique, and then did all the little triangles, similarly, on top of this.

The tail is just two elongated "D" shaped pieces, sewn right sides together, flipped inside out, and stuffed with scraps of fleece.

Tail pattern is about 7" long.

To finish the body, sew the tail on by pinning it to the butt, the round part of the "D" facing up. Sew across, then fold down. Finally, install the zipper from the butt to the top of the head.

The ears are made using this general pattern, pattern piece is about 6" tall:

Cut four ear pieces from grey fleece, then each pair sew right side together and reverse. Trace the resulting shape onto craft foam then stuff the foam piece into the ear so it's stiff.

Then sew onto the top of the head, the same way as the tail. I also sewed in a craft foam "head band" on the inside of the hood, for stability, and sewed the ears to that as well.

I finished with a leaf made out of craft foam - this didn't survive the night, but you could make one out of felt, or even grab something from the floral department.

And that's how to make a super easy Totoro toddler costume!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hey let's go!

Charlie is Totoro for Halloween...

This costume was super easy... like, it took me about three hours, for real. Tutorial coming soon :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Staff of Newspapers and Duct Tape

I actually have some non-Dragon Age related crafts coming up real soon, I swear. Halloween!!! Anyway...

Geoff mentioned more than once that he thought the Anders costume really needed a staff. "He's not a mage without a staff," he insisted. But I didn't know how to make something like that, so I went about the internet until I found this amazing blog, where the author explains in detail how she makes incredible WoW staves.

I don't think I'll ever be able to make anything on that level, but I was inspired to make something like this staff. I started with a large stick and a bunch of wire, from the hardware store. I wrapped the wire around the top of the stick and then taped it down.

Then I wrapped it in newspaper and duct tape, and formed it into something like the shape I wanted.

Then a layer of paper tape. I made the spines out of cardboard and taped them on.

After that I started with papier mache.

My first few layers were old school newspaper strips and Mod Podge. I had to do this on my patio, so everyone in my building started asking about my weird dragon sculpture. Yeah, now they know...

Then I built it up using papier mache powder (CelluClay). This stuff was more difficult to work with than it appeared in the video, so I'm not sure if I mixed it wrong or if it was a different brand, but it looked a lot like igneous rock when it hardened. Still, very strong and hard.

Then I finished with a layer of gesso, to smooth it, and black-brown acrylic paint.

I wish I had known that gesso came in black because that would have made painting it a lot easier.

The staff has some glowing green eyes. I happened to have some "jewels" left over from the Morrigan necklace, I cut the centers out of these and used them for shiny eyeballs.

I hot glued them on and then painted around them with puffy black fabric paint, to give it an "eyelid."

And that's it! A very cheap, if somewhat time consuming, mage staff.

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Detail Than You Ever Needed

Here are some construction notes on the Anders costume, for anyone who's interested. I think this is the most complicated character I've ever done.

The Top Coat

Or whatever you want to call this. The bolero? Anders' bolero is made of a single layer cotton bottomweight twill from Joann Fabrics, because I wanted it to breath. I used black twill, and then I used color remover to bring it down to a worn charcoal gray. I started with the same pattern as my Gaius Baltar coat (Butterick 3927), except I lengthened the collar, shortened the coat, and skipped the lining.

I made the piping myself, using some gold lining fabric from my stash, and this piping twine (size 1). I have no idea how one is officially supposed to make piping, I don't really understand how one makes corners, but I used a zipper foot on my sewing machine and... whatever you call the stitch where the needle is over to the right instead of in the middle.

Since the Renegade Coat is closed, I added a jacket zipper to the middle (it's hidden under the piping). Then I put in interfacing and sewed in the edge detail using a very short wide zigzag stitch (eg, the poor man's satin stitch).

And his collar. Oy. I know there are supposed to be two rows of pips on his collar. I tried to make two rows of pips on his collar, but those little pips were a bear and after a lot of frustration I had to give in and accept one row of pips. They are made out of the same satin as the piping, turned into applique using some iron-on interfacing, and then sewed down for security with a satin stitch.

There might have been an easier way to do this. I think gold fabric paint stenciled on with freezer paper might have looked great, for example. But this is how I did it, and so I only have one row of pips. I think they look pretty okay anyway.

That snap there is to keep the feathers in place (more on that later).

The Long Coat

Or, the under coat. This was made out of black upholstery-weight ultrasuede, also from Joann Fabrics. Upholstery fabrics go on sale for half price all the time there, don't ever pay full price. This required about a yard and a half.

I made the pattern myself using some cheap fabric I had lying around, just a basic robe out of three pieces, and then when the coat was made, I topstitched a grid pattern using gold thread. Anders' coat in the game actually has a more complicated square pattern... but I wanted to finish this in this lifetime.

I also didn't want to spend a million years putting rivets in this thing, so I cheated and used mini brass brads from the scrapbooking section of Michaels instead of rivets on this part. They can snag but it took me 20 minutes instead of hours. I used real rivets on the tabs on the front (rapid rivets from Tandy Leather).

And the gold strip in the front is the same gold lining material as the piping.

The Belt

I used the same ultra suede material for the belt, reinforced with heavy interfacing and topstitched with gold thread. The brass rings are from a leather supplier on ebay, here. I used the 2.5" size for the belt (one in front and one in the back) and the 2" size for the little dangling rings near the boots. I used black buttons to hold it together, because that's what I had around.

You can also see here the other side of the brads... yeah they are really brads!

The fabric in the middle is a lightweight quilting cotton. I tie-dyed it using black RIT to give it a faded look, and I don't think it was entirely successful but it looks interesting.

Armbands and Other Details

Although you could definitely just tie fabric around your arms and hope for the best, my experience is that tends to fall off, so I sewed these together to look tied. The fabric was white muslin, tinted off-white with strong coffee so that it wouldn't glow on camera. I spent a lot of time dying fabric on this costume, actually...

The leatherette for the guard is Cordoba Brown, which I also used for my Mission Vao boots and I love. It's goes right through the sewing machine and is super cheap. I used the same vinyl for the canteen and the belt pouch.

The Feathers

The feathers look really impressive, but this was probably the easiest part of the costume. They are just two layers of black hackle feather trim (two yards total), sewn onto a piece of black fabric. The gold chain is just a basic chain from Michaels jewelry section. I hid a snap under the chain to keep the feathers where I wanted them on his shoulders.

Sorry about the camera strap in the picture, there...

The Boots

The boots were the last thing I did and I love them. I spent a lot of time looking at military boots, and I almost bought some really expensive goth boots until I found these, cheapy cheap ultra suede boots. I bought the biggest size, which fit Geoff fine.

I cut the boots free from the lining, so that they weren't slouchy any more. Then I cut a slit down the front, hemmed the edges, and sewed in a tongue (that I made from that same ultra suede above). Then I added eyelets (the large gold ones from Joann Fabrics), and connected them with wide elastic bands.

I sewed the elastic down, just to secure the eyelets (those buggers always pop out). Geoff added some inserts for extra arch support, and then the boots were actually really comfy.

...and I think that covers it for the clothes. I'm impressed you read this whole thing!