Maggie Murdoch

Cosplayer: hakuloveszabuza

Status: Complete

Condition: Not Set

This costume has not been worn at any events yet.

26th February 2011: Maggie Murdoch almost done ^^ I have been pretty busy since my last journal entry as my costume is eighty percent finished. It took about three weeks (working a few hours each evening, days off and Sundays) to completely cover the bodice in fabric. It took a while to pin and then hand sew each piece in place and I took the bodice in as it wasn’t as close fitting as when I first started to add the details.
Once I had finished detailing the bodice I put that aside and started work on the skirt. The skirt in essence was detailed the same as the bodice but with long pieces of fabric. I stared at the top of the skirt and slowly worked my way down to the hem. Once the whole skirt was covered I then added a full row of fabric pieces just above the bottom hem of the skirt. I did this to finish off the bottom of the skirt, to hide the hem and add to the effect of the gown being earthy, organic as well as hopefully giving movement to the costume when I walked. As the skirt was already very heavy I decided only to add a few longer pieces of fabric (basically what was left of the material after I had detailed the bodice and skirt) mainly to the back section of the skirt. The weight of the skirt also prompted me to add another strip to the waistband to length it. I did this as the heaviness of the detailing of the skirt was pulling it down and I feared if I lost more weight I would find it hard to keep the skirt in position. By adding the extra strip to the waistband I would be able to tighten the waistband at the top of the skirt if needed without affecting the shape of the skirt form the waistband downwards. As the skirt was heavier than I expected when I first started on the detailing I decided to unpick the hem of the ‘bum pad’ so I could added more stuffing to make it firmer that way the heaviness of the skirt should not affect the shape I wanted for the bustle.
After a while searching for braid in my local fabric shop I sectioned off the collar by working in roughly five inch intervals gathering up the fabric and sewing the pleats in place. Then I hand sewed two strips of the braid to each point in the collar where I had sewn in the pleats. To finish the bodice I added strips of cotton ribbon to help fasten it in place as I wasn’t too sure the Velcro would hold up if I decided to do a performance for the masquerade.
Next I worked on the accessories for the costume, the bracelets, the three belts and the antler hat of doom. I couldn’t find a bracelet similar to Maggie’s anywhere local or online but I did chance across an Indian style ankle bracelet in a market that I could use to create the bracelets. This was a sliver colour bracelet with tiny bundles of three ‘bells’ hanging from the main piece. After buying a set of cheap gold coloured bangles from a fashion outlet I decided to colour the thicker of the pair of bangles with gold spray paint as this gave a better less ‘shinny colour and finish to the bangles. It also allowed me to add the tiny ‘bells’ onto a pair of slightly thinner bangles with florist wire and then gold spray paint the lot and finally given a wash of black acrylic paint. That way both set of bangles would look similar and posses a more antiqued appearance.
The first belt has a collection of keys hanging from it. I was able to gather up a selection of mortise keys from my place of work. These were keys cut that didn’t work or practice blanks that I had a go cutting myself which was fun. At first I tried rusting the key in a mixture of water and salt, this slowly worked well but after placing the rusty keys next the costume I wasn’t happy and so decided to try another approach. Looking back at the reference pictures (the few scenes that she appears in book one of the Bizenghast manga) I notice that the keys on her belt were drawn in black so that made me think of painting them black to give a wrought iron affect. I coloured the keys with a matt black spray paint and once the paint had dried I threaded them to a platted belt made from green garden twine. I also made two additional thinner belts from the same green garden twine from which the two other accessories will hang.
Next I made the ‘cats paw’; first I cut out six tear drop shaped pieces from cardboard to make a base. Then I duct taped a small jewellery piece (that I had picked up at the craft section of a local store) to the top of one of the tear drop shaped pieces of cardboard this would allow me to thread green garden twine through the hole and make a loop to hang the ‘Cat’s Paw’ on. I then added several pieces of cardboard either side of the first piece to strength it, I wrapped all the pieces together with duct tape to secured everything together. Next I threaded two lengths of garden twine through the small loop in the jewellery piece this would become the loop so I could hang it from the belt. I covered the duct taped cardboard piece in wadding to give it a more 3D shape and sewed it in place. Finally I took a very long length of green garden twine and carefully wrapped it about the shape, slowly covering up all the wadding that was showing, I then tied off the two lengths of garden twine at the top of the tear drop shape and finally wound the loose lengths of twine through the loop until it formed the loop and I could tie it off to finish the ‘Cat’s Paw’.
After searching my local fashion outlets in vain for a pendant similar to the one Maggie has hanging from a belt I decided the best thing to do was to make it from scratch. The first thing I needed was something to give the pendant strength as I would be making the main body of it from craft foam. I had a white round plastic pin holder (the sort of thing you buy sewing pins in) which I cut out the size I needed for the pendant. Then I duct taped a jewellery piece to the top of the plastic base and threaded two lengths of green garden twine through the loop so I could match it to the one of the ‘Cats Paw’. I then added a disk of cardboard to both sides of the plastic piece to smooth it out, wrapping all the pieces with duct tape. Next I cut out two circles slightly bigger than the cardboard piece out of craft foam. I stuck the foam pieces either side of the base piece using a hot glue gun making sure to carefully stick the over lapping edges together giving it a 3D shape also like that of a fob watch. Next I carefully cut out the flower detail on the pendant, one small disk and seven small petal shapes. I glued these to the front of the pendant, then tied and wound the garden twine into a loop and then placed duct tape loosely over the loop to protect it while painting the foam. I painted the pendant with base coat of black acrylic as I wanted to give the piece an antique feel to it. Finally I added several lightly dry brushed layers of gold acrylic until I had achieved the look of the gold I wanted.

16th January 2011: Bum pillows and detailing
The next thing I needed to do was make a ‘bum pillow’ to give the back of the gown a bustled effect. The gown isn’t as highly bustled as a Victorian dress but I wanted to give the costume a bustled feel so I decided to try out a soft pad rather than a metal framework. I started to create the ‘bum pillow’ by trying out several different shapes with a newspaper pattern. After a couple of attempts with scraps of fabric that were left over from making the skirt I came up with a shape I wanted. I stuffed the pillow with wading which I had torn into little pieces. I decided to use wading as it is stiffer than the stuffing used in making a soft toy and buying it by the metre is cheaper than a bag of stuffing. Once the pillow was stuffed enough for the shape and firmness I wanted the next thing was for me to sew up the opening. I cut a strip of fabric from the same scraps I made the ‘bum pillow’ and sewed it into a thin, neat lace which I then attached to the opening seam of the pillow so that I could tie the whole thing about my waist. I may once I have added the detail to the skirt and tried the ‘bum pillow’ on under the completed skirt add another lace if I feel it needs to be held in place better. Or if I do make the bloomers I may be able to add ties to the back of the bloomers and the underside of the ‘bum pillow’ so I can secure the item in place better. I know in Victorian and other historical gowns the ‘bum pillow’ quite often rested upon the underskirt which was very often shaped with metalwork but I do not want this for my costume as this is too formal and structured. Now that I had my ‘bum pillow’ I could finally pinned the hem of the skirt while wearing the bustle pad (I briefly pinned while wearing the skirt and then pinned it more accurately with the skirt and ‘bum pillow’ on my duct tape dummy) once I had pinned the hem to a length I was happy with then I cut off the excess fabric. I rolled the hem over twice and hand sewed it to neat the raw edges ready to add the detailing to the skirt.
Now I am ready to start the fun part of this costume creation the detailing, first the bodice. As I wanted to create an earthy, woodland feel to the costume I had purchased several metres of various types of fabric, all in natural shades, brown and greens. I picked a lovely forest green in raw silk for the detailing around the neckline mainly because I loved the colour so much but also I wanted a fabric with an interesting texture for this focal point. I know from working with it on my Zhang Fei cosplay that raw silk frays badly, it is also quite expensive so I decided I was going to use this sparingly on the costume. For the detailing I wanted to create shade and texture but also due to the nature that I was going to treat the fabric as in cut it into small pieces (for the bodice) and slightly larger (for the skirts) I needed fabric that wouldn’t fray too badly but also draped well and was cost effective as I needed quite a lot of each shade. Bearing all these factors in mind I searched fabric shops (Fabricland on a visit to Bristol) and online for cotton jersey (t-shirt fabric), stretch lace and stretch net. I also found while searching on e bay some brown lace on offer very cheap so although it wasn’t stretch lace I thought it was too much of a bargain to let go and it would add another texture to the detailing as well as the gorgeous dress net in khaki and brown I got from a local fabric shop. Once I had gathered up all the fabric, I had about 22 metres in all; I split each piece of fabric into two piles so that I was ensured of having the same fabric for both the bodice and the skirt of the gown. Next I cut a section (about quarter of a metre) of each shade of fabric then I roughly cut these sections into smaller randomly shaped pieces. Once I had a small pile of each type of fabric I started the process of hand sewing each piece to the bodice. I placed the bodice on the duct tape dummy and then I began sewing the pieces on at the top right shoulder of the neckline and slowly worked around the top edge of the bodice until I had reached the opening at the back. Then with the Velcro stuck together I carefully added pieces of fabric over the fastening and continued to sew more fabric around the neckline until I reached the pointed that I had started. I carried on with this process adding a second row of pieces lifting up the first row so I could sew the top of the second row under the first. I continued doing this until I had sewn pieces that had covered to the edge of the short sleeves, then I decided to start adding the pieces to the front and back panels of the bodice working my way down the length of the bodice. I still have a lot more fabric to cut up and sew onto the bodice but I am pretty pleased with how the costume is looking so far

27th November 2010: More gown progress The next part of the process was pretty much trial and error as I need to change the shape of the bodice neck from the one in the pattern to one more like my reference picture, which is a scoop rather than a square neckline. I pinned the bodice to the duct tape dummy and then cut several patterns from newspaper starting with panels at the front and back to raise the height of the neckline and then pieces to alter the neckline and better shape the tops of the sleeves. Once I was happy with the paper patterns I then cut them out in fabric, pinned them to the bodice and tacked them. Then I adjusted the fit of the garment by wearing it to check sizing and neckline and finally hand sewed the pieces to the bodice. As I was raising the height of the back of the bodice to match the neckline at the front I had to add more Velcro to ensure that the back fastened all the way up to the neckline. Once all the extra pieces were sown to the bodice I neatened up the hems on the inside by hand sewing small rolled hems to tidy up the raw edges and strengthen the seams. The last thing I did was to hem the top and bottom of the bodice ready for the next stage which will be adding the first row of detailing and the fabric to the neckline.
As I am still searching for fabric to add the detailing to the dress I decided to do more work on the skirt part of the gown. I can’t sew the hem until I have made the ‘bum roll’ for wearing underneath the skirt as this will alter the finished length of the skirt but I could finish the top part of the skirt. The pattern suggested a zip to fasten the skirt but I decided against doing this because of losing weight. I opted to just make a simple, thick waist band so I would be sure that the skirt would be fitted quite high under the bodice so there would not be a gap between the two sections of the gown. Depending on how the bodice and skirt react after I have added the detailing I might add some Velcro to secure the two garments in place. I also did not add a zip to fasten the skirt as I thought it would be easier to alter the sizing of the top of the skirt with Velcro or even a safety pin if I needed to once the detailing was added.
As the waist band would not have a fastening I had to measure it to a length so that I would be able to pull the skirt over my head. I cut a four inch strip of brown cotton fabric from what I had left from making the gown; I pressed it with an iron and then doubled it over and pressed it again. Then I pinned the edge that would be on the inside of the skirt onto the skirt. I tacked it and tried the skirt on to make sure that I could get it on over my head and then I hand sewed the edge. Next I pinned the edge that would be on the outside of the skirt, I neatened the edge by slowly unpinning it and folded over the raw edge then tacking it in place. Once I was happy with the fit I hand sewed the outside edge and finished the waist band by tidying up the inside raw edge with a small rolled hem.

11th November 2010: The Bodice In the initial stages of making the bodice part of the gown I followed the pattern. First I tacked the front centre panel to the two front side pieces. I machine stitched the panels together and then hand sewed tiny roll hems to neaten the raw edges and strengthen the seams. I repeated the process by joining the two sets of back panels together and then finally I joined the two back panels to the front piece.
The pattern suggested using a zipper as fasten but I decided to go for Velcro as due to the nature of the detailing that I would later add to the bodice and skirt I didn’t want to risk it catching in the zipper. First I tacked a little hem on the side of the right side of the bodice so that I could tuck it under the stripe of Velcro to neaten the edge. Then I hand sewed a strip of black hook side Velcro to what would become the inner edge fastening of the bodice. Next I cut a strip of roughly two inches from scrap fabric left from cutting out the pattern pieces. After ironing it and cutting it to size I joined it to the raw edge of the left side of the bodice, this was to neaten the edge and allow me to flip the strip under the bodice so I could sew the second, fluffy side of the Velcro onto the strip. I did this so that I could later add the details to the back of the bodice right up to the edge of the fabric without having the trouble of trying to sew through a layer of Velcro.
I originally intended to use the shoulder strap style of bodice but as I started to make the bodice the idea of having little sleeves seemed more appealing. As I had plenty of fabric left over from cutting the initial pattern pieces (enough to make the bum roll I hope) I was able to simply cut out the sleeves and continue following the section of the pattern that dealt with adding sleeves. I made up the small sleeves following the pattern and after a bit of confusion (pattern instructions and pictures often confuse me lol) over how to attach them I machine stitched the sleeves to the bodice.
Now that the bodice was roughly complete I tried it on wearing the item of underwear that I was intending to wear under the gown and check for fit. I knew that I would have to fit the bodice despite following the pattern as due to losing weight I have already gone down a dress size but I didn’t want to start making the gown a few sizes smaller in case it took me longer to lose weight. Anyway I decide that the length of the bodice was fine so that could be neatened up with a small hand sewn rolled hem. The ‘neckline’ of the bodice was slightly baggy due to that when following the pattern I hadn’t alter the top section of the bodice to fit me exactly. I had done this because I knew that I was going to add another piece of fabric to alter the style of the ‘neckline’ to be more like the one Maggie has in the reference picture. I put the bodice on wearing it inside out so that I could fit it better by pinning darts upon the sections of the front and (I put the bodice on a duct tape dummy) back that needed taking in. I neatly hand sewed the darts at the front of the bodice but left the pins in the back under I had finished working upon the front of the bodice.

8th November 2010: Start of gown As this costume is taken from an illustration in a manga, unfortunately there are no colour references. So I decided to treat this costume almost as if it was an original design. I have always pictured Maggie Murdoch as being dressed in shades of brown and green as if she is a part of the forest that she dwells in. My main inspiration for the shading and textures of this costume will be the forest, trees, underground and such like.
After several evening searching for a suitable pattern, I finally decided to use the Butterick 4131 wedding dress pattern as a base of the gown. The pattern isn’t exact, I couldn’t find one with the same neckline but it was the closest to the gown I wanted to recreate so I shall be making a few alterations to the pattern as I go along where needed. I also picked this style of pattern that has a two piece gown as it would be easier to fit to my body type especially as I am currently on a diet for my wedding.
The first thing I did was to ironed several metres of the light chocolate brown cotton fabric that I had been kindly given to me by a friend. Next I cut out the pieces of the paper pattern that I needed for the style I was going to make, then I ironed the pieces. One by one I pinned each piece of the pattern onto the fabric, roughly cut around the pattern which would allowed me to work with smaller, easier to handled on the limited flat surface on my desk. This way it was much easier to cut out the final pattern piece by piece then pinning everything to a long length of fabric as I knew I had more than enough fabric to get all the pieces cut out. As the fabric I was using was plain and it was going to be for the base of the gown it was easier for me to cut all the pieces out in smaller lengths of the fabric as I didn’t have to worry about reversing the pattern pieces to on the wrong side of the fabric to make everything fit.
Once all the pieces were cut out and labelled, I gave each piece a good press with the iron and then carefully put aside the pieces of the top while I worked upon the skirt part of the gown. I decided to make the skirt first as I would need to make a few alterations to the pattern. Also as I wanted to add a bustle of sorts under the skirt so I thought it would be best to make the skirt first so I could lengthen the top to accommodate the bustle if needed. For the first part of the skirt I followed the pattern instructions. I started with the front panels of the skirt; I tacked the side sections to the front centre panel. Next I machine stitched along the seams following the tacking, as I do not have an over locker I decided to strengthen and neaten the seams by turning over the raw edges and hand sewing them. I wasn’t too concerned about the stitching of the seams being visible on the right side of the fabric as this skirt was just a base of the gown and it would be covered by the details I would be adding later. I repeated the whole process with the back pieces of the skirt and then I joined the front set of panels to the back set of panels making a whole skirt.
I am going to leave the waist band and hem until I have made the ‘bum roll’ bustle because I want to fit the skirt wearing the bustle before I decide on the final length of the skirt.

12th October 2010: Maggie Murdoch I love the Bizenghast manga, there are so many strange and interesting characters all with beautiful costumes that I knew it wouldn't be long before I cosplayed someone from it.
When a friend of my mum kindly donated me several metres of cheap brown cotton fabric I was instantly inspired to make the unusual and stunning dress wore by the witch, Maggie Murdoch as I had always pictured her in the browns and greens of the forest where she lives.

Kacela avatar

Kacela - 12th October 2010
Cannot wait to see this, it will be awesome X3

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hakuloveszabuza - 12th October 2010
Thanks hun...I am looking forward to making the antler hat of doom ^^

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Anonymous - 8th November 2010

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KhaosKreator - 2nd February 2011
Fantastic detail on the dress, I really like how you've gone about doing it.

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Sephirayne - 2nd February 2011
This is coming together really nicely. Can't wait to see it complete.

Monkey avatar

Monkey - 22nd February 2011
Yay! This looks awesome, and hurrah for Bizenghast cosplay! :D

kitty avatar

kitty - 26th February 2011
This is looking amazing so far hun!! cant wait to see this completed..gunna have to get a few photos of ya ^^

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j_mercuryuk - 17th July 2011
This looks so awesome. Love the cosplay, you did an amazing work making this :D

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Amy-Lou - 21st July 2011
I love the final photo, you've really captured the Maggie look. The methods you've used for this costume are really effective, it must have taken a long time.