|In progress. At the pattern drafting stage.|
|Lace for pantaloons||£23.90||Bought|
|Art supplies for wig||£4.74||Bought|
|Extra extensions in Black Cherry||£10.45||Bought|
|Second hand wig & 1 pack of extensions||£28.45||Bought|
|100% Cotton lining, 12 metres||£33.95||Bought|
|Silk fabrics (Satin, Habutai lining) and taffeta||£220.95||Bought|
|15 Pale Pink Foam Florist's Roses||£16.45||Bought|
|Hat (to use as base)||£2.00||Bought|
|Black leather gloves||£22.80||Bought|
When It All Goes Wrong... (Posted 16th November 2010)
So, as usual, procrastination won over good sense and Ciel got left until the last two weeks before Expo.
And I was so close.
Ultimately, of course, I went wrong in a big enough way that I needed more yardage than I had, three days before we were supposed to leave. There was some last minute damage control which lead to me having two closet cosplays (I am possibly the only person alive for whom a leopard print burlesque dress and a lavender and black 1885 walking gown are closet cosplays) but basically, instead of having the five I had planned, I had NO costumes for October Expo.
I am VERY DISAPPOINTED IN MYSELF.
Ciel will, of course, be finished - he's cost me too much money to abandon - and I am steadily working on the wig in odd spare moments. It was my first attempt at stubbing a wig (Which was easier than I expected) and putting in a parting (Which was not) and I'm almost ready to start building the pigtails.
I have re-envisioned Ciel and am now convinced I want to do the full - and historically accurate - underpinnings. I may have to tweak my bloomers as they were done in a hurry but the basic concept - fitted French knickers with knee-length layered lace ruffles - is sound. The cage bustle I would rather like to do in pink and white or black and white ticking stripe cotton. I also intend to make a matching corset - the same pink with black ribbons as the dress and several layers of ruffled scallop trim on the hips - and an embroidered corset cover now I have the time. I may well also go ahead and do the DVD cover version, with the extra trim on the top of the gloves, the boot garters, and the embroidered anklet.
I'm trying to work out some kind of skit that would allow me to show off the whole deal right down to the stockings, but since it's an all-ages show a strip tease is right out. Perhaps if I'm putting the clothes ON...?
Fear and Loathing in the Inner Cotswolds (Posted 27th September 2010)
So - the pattern is finished (More or less), the wig has arrived and been stubbed (Somewhat inexpertly, I must say - it's my first ever attempt and even though it was a lot easier than I was expecting it to be, it's definitely not as neat as some of the super professional looking ones I've seen), I submitted my entry to the masquerade yesterday and I just ordered the fabric.
Wait... what did you just say?
Yes, you heard me. I ordered the fabric TODAY, about twenty minutes ago (Thank you, student loan) and to say I am somewhat petrified by the whole thing is an understatement of the highest order.
Now we wait.
We wait for more extensions to arrive so I can make the pigtails for my wig.
We wait for the fabric to arrive, so I can make everything else.
We wait as the date when I'm supposed to get up on stage in front of many, many people (It's the day after the European Total Cosplay finals, for god's sake!) and show off the limits of my abilities creeps closer and closer while I still have nothing that even resembles a finished outfit.
Please excuse me while I scream into my pillow for twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes EXACTLY, after which I have to get back to work. I hope you understand.
Almost There... (Posted 3rd September 2010)
... well, I've almost ordered the fabric. Almost.
One of the fun things about making your own patterns is that you then have to calculate your own yardages. Since all of my patterns consist of two parts - the shaped pieces, and then a piece of paper with the dimensions of any straightforward rectangles (Many Oriental garments end up just being the piece of paper!) - the usual way of calculating yardages in full scale turns out to be a bit of a pain.
So I do it in 1/10th scale. This much detailed drawing is time consuming, but overall I feel it saves me time and materials from drawing out all those rectangles on pattern paper and figuring in full scale. Plus I don't always have that much space!
After drawing and cutting out each of the pieces in 1/10th of the original size, I make a 1/10th scale piece of 'fabric' - usually different coloured thin paper in the right width for the fabric I'll be using and as long as I can get it, marked every 10cm to represent metres - and use bits of blue tac to hold the (tiny!) pattern pieces in place. Then it's just like a strange elaborate jigsaw puzzle until I figure out the best layout.
I plan to finish the juggling act tonight and order the fabric tonight or tomorrow (I might have to check my bank balance first - oops!) and then that's me pretty much stalled until it arrives. Luckily that shouldn't take more than a week.
I should really use that week to work on patterns for my other cosplays this Expo - sometimes I forget I had plans other than Ciel! I've also got the Cosplay Ball in November to think about - part of me knows that the sensible thing to do would be to wear Ciel for that as well, but another part of me rather wants to make Lotti's dress from the newest chapter of Pandora Hearts. Sigh.
Ciel has sort of taken over my life for the past month. He easily has to be the biggest project I've ever attempted on a deadline, and now - when I'm at the point poised between preparation and actually beginning the final product - I'm sort of amazed at myself. I'm normally so easily distracted. Normally I wouldn't have started my cosplay yet, and I'd still be at the stage of changing my mind six or seven times. This is convincing me I do actually have it in me to pull off elaborate, long haul projects.
This final stage of actually MAKING Ciel is likely only going to take me a fortnight - figure in an extra week for the wig and various odds and ends - and that still gives me five or six weeks to do my other costumes. I did Grell and Tieria in a month - Saber in two days, plus a week of hand sewing (But look how that turned out...) - I think I've already put more work in on Ciel, given that I was making a pattern from scratch and all that jazz, but I've been dawdling.Time to pick up the pace.
The next time you hear from me, there should be PROGRESS PHOTOS...
On Cheating, With A Little More Maths (Posted 31st August 2010)
Today - having taken a short break from sewing which turned into an extended flu-fueled period of lethargy - I finished the second toile. The first was too large - as always happens when I draft from a draped pattern rather than a block - and as usual, it's not until I'm convinced that the pattern pieces wouldn't fit one of my DOLLS, let alone me, that I get a properly fitted bodice with the corset on.
Technically, if I was a GOOD seamstress, I'd be doing a third toile (I forgot to standardise the length of the underskirt pattern pieces on the first draft, and got slightly over enthusiastic on shortening the second - also, the bodice needs a good extra inch or so at centre front to properly clear the top of my corset) but for me, the fit is good enough to go ahead and start on the real fabric after adjusting the pattern this time. I just need to figure out how much fabric I need and order.
So, where do we stand?
The petticoat is going to be mostly acetate taffeta. I only ever want to make TWO kinds of petticoats - 100% cotton (With LOTS of starch!) or taffeta. This is firstly because of the body you get from these two quite stiff fabrics and secondly because of the WONDERFUL rustling, hissing noise they make when you walk. I decided on taffeta for this one because of the shine - if someone catches a glimpse of it on camera, it won't look TOO different from the silk satin and hopefully won't draw much attention. The tiered ruffles at the back will be silk satin, the same as the rest of the gown. The front and sides of the petticoat will have a single long ruffle from two thirds of the way down to give the over skirt some body, in taffeta.
Here's where I hit the first problem. Up until now, I was pretty much winging the petticoat - after all, it was mostly invisible, certainly invisible enough that nobody (Including me) realised it was a separate skirt - but now we have a NEW piece of reference material. The Komadori figurine of Ciel, released next month, will arrive too late to have any bearing on my costume design process but the photos available online are surprisingly useful.
If you haven't seen it (You should, it's not only hilariously suggestive but a rather good sculpt) it is pretty much the only view of the rest of the petticoat we have other than the Japanese DVD cover illustration, which is a slightly variant design anyway. Thanks to this, we can see that there is indeed two layers to the petticoat around the front as well - seems like I was on to something with the long ruffle, I imagine that possibly they envisioned the three tiers of the petticoat going the entire way around but realistically, that's going to make a very lumpy overskirt - and they're edged with the same 'lace' as the back tiers. The 'lace' is not very detailed at all - I had though broiderie anglais, but all that can be made out is that it has a regular scalloped edge in large arcs and a crepe texture.
Remarkably like if I used the 'scalloped' setting on my sewing machine to edge a well-washed piece of crepe de chine.
Hang on a minute...
I need to figure out if I can afford the extra £20 or £30 that the silk crepe will run to, but even if I have to use another, cheaper material this is a really good alternative to searching through thousands of different kinds of lace.
The over skirt is going to be silk satin lined in 100% cotton, with silk ribbons. That one's fairly straightforward once I figure out the lengths I'll need for the ruffles.
The dress involves the most different kinds of fabric. The main part will be crushed rose pink silk satin, lined in matching habutai. The bow, bias drapes and pintucked ruffles will be double sided in silk satin and possibly interlined with cotton if I feel they need the body. They're also edged in a scalloped lace, and I may well use more edged crepe de chine - since it would literally be inch wide strips, this isn't going to make a huge dent on my yardage. The white ruffles around the shoulders will also be silk satin. The details will be done either in black silk ribbon (Where they're narrow enough) or bias cut silk satin.
The hat is being covered first in white cotton jersey (It's a dark navy colour, and I needed something that would stretch to give me the best possible finish) and then covered in the silk satin, with a silk satin sash and bow (Possibly also interlined in cotton).
The roses are foam bridal roses. I may be airbrushing the edges slightly paler, but they're lovely and realistic. The actual flowers look more like peonies (Rose petals curl outwards!) but it's incredibly hard to find anything closer.
The wig, since I am Not Good with wigs and violently against having a grey one (This is my pet gripe, ignore me) is likely going to be a Cosworx Clover in Black Cherry. Being scarily pale and having chosen slightly darker colours than is completely accurate for the dress, I decided to go darker rather than lighter. I'm putting a back part in, stubbing it, and making pigtails. This is probably the part of the process I'm most terrified of.
The gloves are 60cm leather opera gloves (Ah, ebay) that I will likely have to tailor a little. Luckily my nails will be short that weekend as I'm crossplaying at least once. Certainly I will be adding a vent and buttons on the inside of the wrist, which is NOT an accurate detail for the costume but IS an accurate detail for the period and the fit. Plus I LOVE wrist buttons. I wish I could get a real pair of Victorian kid gloves, to squeeze myself into with glove stretchers and powder, but they're rare and incredibly expensive. I haven't decided if I want to add the little extra details from the DVD cover version.
The boots were wonderfully cheap, fit like a dream, and look gorgeous. I haven't decided if I want to make the DVD cover version boot garters. He also wears a beaded anklet in the DVD cover version, and jewellery making is... not my favourite activity.
The figurine shows Ciel as barefooted under his boots. This is, quite frankly, a load of crap. I would quite like pink stockings with Victorian style garters (That no one will see...) but this very much depends on how much time and inclination I have.
The dress doesn't allow me to wear a chemise under the corset, so I'll have one of my jersey sleeves instead. Considering making a corset cover as well. Considering embroidering a Kuroshitsuji design onto it. Considering smacking my head against the wall to make sure this doesn't happen. Embroidery requires more patience than I possess.
The bloomers, on the other hand, are a necessity and are going to be white cotton with pink and white lace. Whether or not I embroider 'Property of Sebastian' inside a pink heart (You see, it's just lines. I can do single lines) onto one of the back panels will remain, forever, a mystery.
If there's any fabric left over from that lot, I should really make myself a bag or something, otherwise I'll be tucking my samsung into my garters.
There's No Such Thing As Too Much Reference Material (Posted 20th August 2010)
This is what I'm discovering with Ciel.
Although it is only visible for about three seconds in the anime and in one panel of the manga, the back of Ciel's ballgown - which I discovered last entry was not, in fact, a detailed panel but a separate skirt - does not have three rows of lace ruffles, but rather three separate tiers edged in lace ruffles. Hmmm.
Luckily, I don't think this is going to make much of a difference at this point, which is somewhere between the first paper pattern and the first toile (which is a mock-up in cheap fabric. Mine are usually old sheets). If I'd figured this out several drafts down the line, however, or after I'd ordered the fabric, I would have a serious problem on my hands.
Normally by now, I'd have a working sketch - done from at least three angles, plus enlarged details - compiled from every picture I could find. This time, because I have the concept art sketches in one of my books, I skipped straight ahead to construction. Of course, the concept art is only front and back, and the only way to see the tiers is from a side view.
The first stage was draping a rough mock-up on the dummy (More old sheets!), and today I moved on to tracing off those pieces onto dot-and-cross paper. I made a handful of adjustments here that may or may not turn out to be what I want - in particular, the bias-cut drapes at the back of the pink overskirt are slowly turning into a nightmare. Tomorrow I'll use this first pattern to make a toile (Even MORE old sheets!), probably make a few more tweaks, and see if the adjustments I made are what I want. Then the toile will have to be unpicked, and the alterations will be traced back onto paper to make a second pattern.
Rinse, repeat, until the paper pattern produces exactly what I want. Then, and only then, can I go ahead and start on the 'real' fabric.
Speaking of real fabric, I'm now that much closer to figuring out yardages (Should that be metreadges these days?) and thus that much closer to ordering. I'm getting my silk from a mill a few hours away, although I'm still dithering over the colours a little, it shouldn't be long now. I'm quite looking forward to working in something that costs more than £5 a metre.
The flowers have arrived - I'm using artificial foam bridal roses - and I've decided not to attach them directly to the hat but instead make a wreath, which will sit between the wig and the hat. I need to test it out before I see if hiding the stems is going to be a problem or not.
It's all coming together quite nicely.
Ciel's Adventures in Numberland (Posted 17th August 2010)
Oh my. Ciel's Robin ball gown gets more complicated by the minute, it seems.
STILL unable to find exactly the right shade of silk (Salmon is a very unpopular colour at the moment, it seems, and when I can find it it's the very dark Mother of the Bride salmon which is vaguely hideous) but playing around with different tints of lining to bring out more salmon and rose from my pink satin. All well and good. The roses are ordered and will arrive this week, with any luck - I have far too many, but now hopefully I can do the shoe garters as well. They only appear in one piece of art - the DVD cover for the Japanese special edition release - but I do love them.
I also discovered (ALWAYS READ YOUR CONCEPT ART NOTES) that the back panel on the skirt is actually the petticoat, and there are two layers of overskirt, not one. Luckily, at this stage, this doesn't take much effort to change, but if I'd started or even finished the pattern already I'd have to go back to square one for about half the outfit.
The plan now is to put a decorative back panel on the back of the petticoat - which will have to be gored, not gathered - and make the first overskirt, the large white skirt with the bottom ruffle, attach to this. All well and good. I was able to drape a very adequate back panel on the dummy, with just one little dart at the top for the fit over the bustle, and then sat down to figure out where the lace ruffles would go.
In the end, this took me the better part of an hour, so I figured I had better record it for posterity (And to save everyone else the headache. Not everyone likes maths)
You need a mocked-up back panel, preferably cotton or poly cotton, a tape measure, a pen that will write on the fabric easily and some scrap paper. My back panel is shaped like a pie-slice, more or less, as I have a hoop skirt and bustle pad underneath. This means that all my lines end up as arcs, but look straighter when draped on the hoop. I'm also using the DVD art book vol.2 designs as my primary reference. You can find these online - they have many helpful notes scribbled around the sketches, if you can read very bad Japanese handwriting.
First, you need to work out the measurements (Use centimetres and millimetres, unless you're VERY good with calculating in inches) on the concept art. Measure the full length of the back panel, straight down the centre, first (Mine was 7cm), then the distance between each row of lace (I found it easiest to measure between the 'ribbons' or gather lines, and found that they were equidistant) and then the top and bottom length of the lace ruffles (They increase proportionately in size from top to bottom).
Now, the only measurement you have on your mock-up at present is your full length, so in order to figure out the other measurements, you need how big they will be in relation to the full length. Now for the maths!
For those of you who like equations, if N is the full overall length and X is the distance between lace ruffles:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . N . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . N
Doesn't make any sense? Okay, I'll talk you through it.
Say your full length on the drawing is 7cm and the distance between ruffles is 2.2cm. 7 = N and 2.2 = X. So, divide N - 7cm - by X - 2.2cm - and you get a third number, which probably has a lot of decimal places. This number is Y. Round it up or down to one or two decimal places for your convenience.
Now move onto your mock up. Here, you know the full length, N, and the magical third number, Y, but not X, the distance between ruffles. So - remember any of this from school yet? - you need to rearrange the formula to find the unknown X. Divide the full length of your back panel by Y, and the answer is X.
For some reason I DON'T remember from school, you can't use this to find N by dividing X by Y or vice versa. You have to multiply. I'm sure there's a rule for this but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.
Once you've figured out all your numbers, start drawing on your panel (You probably want to lay it flat for this). Measure straight down the centre and then on each side seam, which - depending on the shape of your panel - will give you the points to either draw a straight line or sketch a curve. For now, I'm not making draft shapes of the lace - which is a kind of scalloped broderie anglais - just yet, as that's a whole project in itself.
Next time, hopefully, there will be more sewing and less maths.
Charity is a Virtue (Posted 2nd August 2010)
Once upon a time, someone bought a pair of the beautiful BLOX lace-up Victorian boots that were all the rage two winters ago, discovered they were the wrong size, and tried to compensate with really, REALLY thick insoles. Predictably, it failed, and they were only worn half a dozen times, and finally donated to a charity shop.
At which point I sailed along, spotted them, went "ASDFGHJKL?|@&*!!!CIEL!!!!" and bought them. For £2. When I was expecting to put down £80 on a pair of leather Pleasers.
I also found a hat which just needs to be re-covered, but is otherwise exactly the right shape, with an existing sash and bow I can remove and use as a pattern.
This makes me happy.
Ordering my fabric swatches later this week, and then I should really get on with making the patterns. And a new bustle cushion. Hmmm...