Posts Tagged ‘cosplay’

After figuring out how to make my own custom plus-sized 20’s “flapper” dress, I wanted to finish the look off with a period headpiece. The dress was an evening style, so a fascinator or headband was the way to go and I ended up with something that was a bit of both.

We had recently found a group of tubular peyote bead woven necklaces and bracelets. One necklace had beads that matched the beaded details on the waist scarf and trim from the dress so it was the starting point. It was a bit too short to work as a headband so was sewn to a short band of black covered elastic. That gave the needed additional length and some flexibility to the fit. Plus, I find a bit of stretch is always more comfortable and stable on headpieces.


The necklace/headband looked pretty good already, but I wanted it to have more impact. The scarf that makes up the main body of the dress had been cut apart in the process and some of the middle was also taken out in shaping the neckline. I’d held on to the leftovers and was able to salvage a piece with some nice shape and sparkly accents that was about as long as my palm.


The edges were sealed by burning, like the dress neckline,and then it was mounted to a piece of black felt with some interfacing. This gave it body and stability. Some rhinestones were added. A scrap of the black silk velvet was used to make a small poof and a vintage rhinestone button was added to the centre. An ostrich plume and a few coque feathers were an easy way to get impact, height and movement with very little weight. The velvet poof was used to cover the bottom of the feather cluster. A bit of the same beaded trim that was used on the dress was added along the bottom edge. A pair of felt straps on the back secure it to the headband but allow it to slide freely so it’s very easy to position for the best look and comfort.


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After making a prototype plus-sized 20’s flapper style dress for myself from some scarves and a refashioned skirt, I felt confident about trying another and using the “better” scarf. What I liked about it was that it had a very period appropriate, Art Deco pattern and sparkly details. I’d also found a black satin, tiered skirt to use for the bottom.

Having had a trial run at the design, I knew exactly the length I needed for the front and back panels of the dress. This scarf was a bit shorter than the “practice” one, but was the same width. I still cut from the middle, but this meant there was a bit less left-over for the sleeves.


To finish the top, the cut seams were sewn together to close the shoulders. I then cut out the neckline, working around what looked good with the pattern and my comfort. The scarf looks like silk but is polyester, so I was able to finish the edges of the neck-line by careful burning. This is a great trick when it works but you MUST do fabric tests before risking a bigger piece. It’s also important to keep safety in mind at all times when setting fabric on fire!


The sides were done with pieces of a fine black crepe from the stash. I used the same fabric for most of the sleeves but was able to edge the top of the sleeve slits with what came out of the middle of the scarf. A vintage black button with a white rhinestone, closed each sleeve slit.

A pretty black silk burnout scarf was used to make up the dropped waistline. It had beaded details on each end as well as long beaded fringe and a pair of small black fur balls on each end. All of these were perfect for the period and I wanted to show them off as much as possible. To do so, I figured out how much I’d need of the ends to get the look of a knot and some swing. Those pieces were cut from each end. The centre piece was then roughly hand-sewn down to a strip of black satin along the top and bottom edges. The satin was slightly narrower than the scarf so it has some bag and movement, to further sell the look of the waistband being a scarf. The centre wasn’t long enough to cover the whole waistband but I had another black silk scarf and I was able to cheat and use it on the back. The removed ends of the scarf were shaped into a knot and then hand- stitched back on to the waistband.


The light satin skirt that was chosen for the bottom started with 3 tiers of fabric. The top tier was too small to use so it was taken off. The gathering along the top of the second tier was really helpful because it made it very easy to exactly match the width to the bottom of the waistband. I just had to let the gathering out enough to line them up! Losing the top layer also kept the length from being too long. It came to below the knee on me, but would be almost floor length for a shorter person.


We had some beaded trim in our supply stash that not only matched the beading on the waist scarf, but also tied into the bead and sequin details on the skirt! A line of the trim was added between the top and waist and again between the waist and the bottom skirt. There was also a fine fringe on the main body scarf that was left and it falls over to further accent the beading.

This design came together very quickly with the waistband details being the most complicated sewing involved. The finished dress has great swing and flow and is light and comfortable to wear. There is still the issue of the burnout in the velvet being see-through but I just wore a camisole under it and that worked perfectly. I realized after you could tie in any other colours you wanted by wearing a close-fitting tank or even long-sleeved shirt underneath and it would show through.

I made a headpiece to go with it, but that will get it’s own post.

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With the refashioning and remaking of men’s shirts, I’ve been mostly making casual and “work” wear plus-sized dresses but that’s not all I’ve needed. One of the other problems with finding suitable plus-sized clothing is when you have an special event or need things a bit more costumey. Last fall I was going to a 20’s themed event and wanted a period flapper style dress. There are some places doing repro dresses, but I couldn’t find anything I liked in my size so making it became necessary. I did a bit of research into period dress styles first to see if I was going to have to invest in a pattern but looking at how big the range of variations was, I decided it was possible to get away with just upping my modding game.

We had a couple of beaded/sequined jackets in the stash and the original plan was to salvage panels from them, mix the panels with silk or crepe fabric and make the bottom from another skirt or a scarf. We had a couple of black silk burnout velvet scarves but went looking and found another silk scarf and 2 large polyester velvet ones.

As I was laying out the various possible parts, and sketching some options, I realized that the scarves were large enough that we could just skip the whole plan of fussing with the beaded stuff and use the scarves as the upper body of the dress. The 2 polyester scarves were quite large and rectangular and had designs that were already very 20’s while the new silk scarf was long and narrow with a great chevron pattern and beading that coordinated with some beaded trim in the stash. I had seen a few period dresses that used a faux scarf detail as the low “waist” so that seemed like a good way to transition to a skirt and complete the dress.


It seemed like a good design concept, but I was concerned about how well it would work out in practice and I wanted to be sure that the fit would be right. Rather than making a muslin prototype, I figured that we had 2 of the big scarves and a pair of possible skirts so I might as well go ahead and make a second dress.

The first step was basic math. I measured the scarf in both directions and then myself, both around the widest section and then down the front to get the dropped waist length. The scarf was quite a bit longer than needed for the top so a section was taken out of the middle, leaving 2 pieces the right length. (and handily with finished hems on 3 sides) I calculated the size for a pair of fabric inserts for the sides. They were a bit narrower at the top, and slightly curved there since that was the bottom of the arm-holes. The thin black crepe that was used for the inserts also made up the bottom of the sleeves. The sleeve tops were done using the left-over section of the scarf. The split-top style really appealed to me since it gives a sense of being sleeveless without actually exposing the upper-arms and is still period accurate.


For the bottom of the dress, I used a pleated black satin skirt. It was small, but I only needed the bottom 1′ or so and there was enough flair to it that it fit just fine. It had some nice button details on the waist band so that was removed and used as the front panel of the transition section. The back was cut from some black satin we had in the stash.

The donor scarf was dark pink/purple as well as black and we had some beaded trim that matched so a line of it was added between the bottom of the scarf and the top of the transition section.

The neckline had to be hand-finished with a rolled hem but I cheated on the inside of the sleeves and did those with the machine.


The whole thing came together really quickly and mostly had simple straight seams. Making the trial version helped out since this one came out a bit bigger than needed as well as too short for me. I also found the beaded trim more of hassle than expected but figured out how to work with it by doing this one. It didn’t help that the trim was on a bright pink ribbon so any spots where it wasn’t perfectly caught are super obvious.

The biggest issue is that the burnout velvet is partially see-through. I’m wearing a sports-bra in the pictures, which is an option, but any black or colour coordinating slip, tank or camisole worn underneath will work.

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Last year I made my first steampunk mods from some Nerf guns. For my next modding project IMG_6147 I decided to go sonic. There was a fun, mixable set of make-your-own sonic screwdrivers that I found on ThinkGeek. What appealed to me was that there were three screwdrivers, each made up of four swappable parts. (the sound and light emitting guts fit inside any combination) This meant that I would have lots of options to work with as well as having multiple possible fall-backs if a planned mod didn’t work. My intent was to produce a single one for myself that could just be an add-on to one of the Steampunk outfits but I ended up altering all twelve parts. The set that got the most work was this one. It already had a bit of a steamy feel to it, but the all plastic parts just didn’t work for me. There was a good supply of many different metal watch bands in the stash and they came in handy for this project. I think that shortening and linking the one that wraps around behind the light-up window was one of the most difficult parts, IMG_6143 but the finished look is exactly what I wanted. I was also grateful for the size of the parts stash when it came to matching up a watch case to the window. Some gilding and an antique mother-of-pearl button accent the on/off switch and detailed metal panels cover over where I cut off the fake, plastic gears. On the lower end of the case, I used some more of my salvaged antique ivory panels and am still trying to decide if they need to have some Gallifreyian symbols scrimshawed into them. The end is a large, solid resin crystal with a jointed gold metal edging. The top was heavily rebuilt with the surrounding prongs being cut back, shaped and capped with metal to fit a light green faceted stone. I liked the stone since it tied to the existing colours but is still translucent enough to transmit the light from the working insert. All the parts were also either painted or gilded and then hit with antiquing washes to give them realistic ageing. (great existing wear/ageing on both the metal parts and the ivory help too)  All the changes also give the finished screwdriver a nice substantial weight when held.

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One of the things we really wanted to have done Exif_JPEG_PICTURE in time for the Medieval show last weekend was a period suitable outfit for Dad. I’ve had a selection of mixable pieces for myself but we were starting from scratch with him. Mother was working like a fiend on the sewing machine to get it finished in time but succeeded. We’re describing the finished look as a “merchant with aspirations”. Considering that my outfits are not quite as high end as his we figured that his character is reaping the rewards of our labour and moving into the middle class while his hard-working daughter still dresses mostly like a peasant. We’d done well, finding the fabrics so the shirt is a fine linen and the pants/hat are a mid-weight wool. The brocade that makes up img_5909 the tunic is also not too heavy and close enough to period that we were really happy with it. We’ve got some plans for additions to the costume, but a few of them will take a while to get done. I’d like to incorporate more aspects of the mutant stuffies. For now, all he had was this itty bitty demon bear, accenting his hat.

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This is the larger of the two Nerf guns. The same Krylon paints in brown and silver were used

Nerf "barrel break"

Nerf “barrel break”

on it as on the Maverick, to cover the original yellow and orange. It’s a “barrel-break”, so the barrels pull out and down for loading. I had been a bit worried about how well the painting would go, but there was enough space between the sliding parts and the Krylon paints seem to have very little body so the movement wasn’t affected. (and no seam lines appeared) This one had a trio of

complete steampunk mod

complete steampunk mod

flat panels on each side so it got named “Dragon’s Breath’ and I stuck to a dragon theme in it’s Scrimshaw panels. Luckily, the widths of each panel were an exact match to the widths of the side veneers, on the smaller ones, and the tops for the wider. The only trimming I had to do was on the lengths. For the wider picture panels, each one used a pair of piano key tops. A pair of clock parts replaced the grill, on the back and a snowflake obsidian cabochon, set in copper, was added to the pommel. The joining of it could have been a bit cleaner, but since it was all going to be covered by the reclaimed leather wrapping, on the grip, I didn’t worry about it much.

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