Angelphie avatar

Angelphie
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I became interested in cosplay in 2002 from seeing photos online, and at that time had no idea of the existence of conventions in the UK. After making a bunch of costumes just for fun, I was interested enough in conventions, and also old enough to go one, by the time AmeCon 2004 came around. I think I can accurately say it’s been downhill since then!

Reference images for all my costumes can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/AMdzxTI1wBW6aCIh1

Last online 1 month ago

Edinburgh

Joined: 25th Jul 2007

Completed costumes: 72

Photos uploaded: 578

Progress journals: 465

Events attended: 65

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The base boots and a cover before it was turned the right way out.

Not sure how much help the photo is to illustrate this, but I used this tutorial for box corners: https://sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/how-box-corners-two-methods-formulas then topstitched down each corner of the bag to give it the appearance of being constructed from 4 panels. The side seams ended up being helpful to act as a pleat for the bags to concertina closed neatly.

I bought a suitable necklace from an Etsy seller, LostToThePoppy and swapped the chain for a leather cord.


It was challenging to figure out the bracelets on the right wrist, even after taking as many cutscene screenshots as I could I’m not entirely certain of it. I liked Koumori no Hime's (https://www.koumorinohime.com/single-post/2019/02/10/Kingdom-Hearts-3-Kairi-Cosplay-Tutorial) interpretation of the pink beaded bracelet so I followed the same tutorial (http://blog.consumercrafts.com/jewelry-main/beaded-diy-wrap-bracelet/) and did my best to knot the ends accurately and add a large faceted bead and star charm at the closure.


The other bracelet is more simple – it’s pearl beads with a single star bead and a few other beads either side of the star which were my best guess at accuracy. I wanted to use elastic cord for it but the cord I had was too wide to fit through the beads so I had to use non-stretch thread which unfortunately means I had to include a clasp.


This was one of these projects where I was coming home every day to loads of different little parcels since I was getting some of the beads from one source, others from somewhere else, buckles off ebay etc. etc. and I must have spent ages hunting all of these components down!

The cuff for the left wrist is silver leatherette and a I bought the studs and buckle on ebay. I did the innermost line of topstitching before setting in the studs since I wouldn’t be able to get the sewing machine foot close enough afterwards. I did the outer line of stitching after I lined it. I chose felt for the lining to ensure there’d be a decent layer covering the prongs of the studs.

This photo was taken before lining.

I bought the pattern from AnhCosplay on Etsy. I Iove sewing, but am less enthusiastic about drafting patterns and endless iterations to try to perfect them, so having a lot of the work done for me was ideal. Despite having a custom pattern for a change, it was still only a starting point. I made a mock-up to adjust the fit, proportions and figure out construction. My approach also did diverge from the pattern at times - as shown here, I adjusted the front yokes to make the black sections larger and to create inset corners for the accurate pink outline there.

Ideally I would have sewn the shoulder squiggles on before lining the jacket and applying the trim to the edges but BillieBlouse was working on them separately and I wanted to have my costume wearable for Kupocon and MinamiCon 25 (to fit with its school theme). Plus I knew it’d take me ages to apply the silver trim and I wanted to prioritise that - I’d much prefer potentially having to rush closing up the lining at the last minute than having to rush the highly visible silver trim.

The cuffs were easy to draft. For the thin silver stripes on the cuffs and collar I glued them on together while the pieces were still flat and nudged them apart by running my seam ripper along between them before the glue set, so that created the little bit of navy fabric showing between them to separate the stripes.

I couldn’t come up with a method to properly incorporate the zip into the lining so did it the easy way just like the skirt - I lined up the zip, basted it into position then stitched in the ditch next to the silver trim.


If you squint, you can see my basting stitches down the left side of the zip while the right side is still only pinned.

I chose Lekala 5610 for the jacket since it had the zip front, correct collar and was about as accurate as we would get. What I didn’t notice was that it’s a maternity pattern. So the whole gimmick of Lekala that they’ll send you a pattern customised to fit you went out the window, but it became just like working with any other commercial pattern when you start off and know perfectly well that it’s not going to fit you or be accurate for the costume without some work. Thankfully it needed to be cropped so much that eliminated a lot of fitting problems right away.


I liked Lekala, it was very affordable, seemed to work well with my measurements (as much as I could tell from this project) and although sticking together the pattern is a bit tedious, I would certainly buy from them again. It was ideal for a group project too since all of us could just download our own copies of the same cheap pattern, rather than having to send a paper pattern from person to person or trace off copies for everyone.


I made a mock-up, adjusted it then transferred my alterations back to the pattern. It didn’t require too much work – I just had to shorten it a lot and take in the seams (particularly at the front), but I also drafted the pattern for the lining (pictured). I used leftover silver satin from my Yvaine dress for the lining.

For the skirt zip, I first glued the silver trim in place right along either side of the centre front opening. Once it was all dried, I topstitched very carefully. I didn’t trust myself to try attaching the zip and topstitching the trim at the same time; I decided it was safer to focus just on the trim and get that right first. There was no need to have a zip running the entire way down so I bought a cheaper short zip and attached a placket of fabric to the end of the zip. This allows the binding to overlap it consistently and keeps the appearance identical to the jacket. I carefully lined up my zip and placket, basted it in position, then stitched in the ditch with navy thread to properly secure it.

And the final thing. The fabric is a lovely herringbone suiting from fabworks.co.uk which BillieBlouse found. It’s just what we needed – it’s still navy, but very dark and approaching black.


I sewed the hem and overlocked all edges before pleating, particularly since this fabric frays intensely. The waistband extends up quite high since I wanted to ensure that the short jacket would generally overlap it even as I moved around.


The silver trim is imitation leather from Neotrims which was hard work, but worth the effort. I had to glue it in position first (I tried a few glues and eventually chose EvoStik Serious Glue which seemed to work well and also not gum up my needle too much) and would leave it to cure with wonder clips holding it in place or under a heap of heavy books where possible. I took my time and did it all in stages i.e. glued down one half of the trim, left it to cure under a heap of heavy books; then folded over the trim and glued down the other half, then move on to the next section.


For sewing I knew I had to be very precise since you only get one shot at sewing this trim, so there were a lot of tests done before I went on to the final thing! I liked using my zipper foot best but had to do some sections with a guide foot, this wasn’t ideal since I don’t have a teflon one but I used sellotape to get it to glide ok. I spent a lot of time testing out the tension etc., used a leather needle, a longer stitch length and even adjusted my needle position, particularly to ensure I was catching the binding that would be wrapped around edges.

My solution was to use my full hip measurement which was much better. The top 10cm of the pleats are sewn together and these seams taper in to fit my waist.

I tried drafting the skirt first since that didn’t require a pattern. It should have been easy, but it’s a good thing I made a mock-up since the first skirt I made looked like this. It was a rectangle 3x my waist measurement with 8 box pleats.

The obvious problem is the pleats open up too much. That’s simply because it didn’t occur to me that my hips are larger than my waist measurement so the skirt flares out and that’s not what this particular skirt is meant to look like.

I didn't take many progress photos for this costume unfortunately since I was initially rushing to try to finish it for Nine Worlds, but have this one taken just before I attached the sleeves.

All snaps in, I just had all the fiddly aspects of the gloves to finish up at this stage.

My snap production line for the gloves and boots. I didn’t want to sew on buttons all over this costume and I also don’t like how shank buttons tend to look when they’re only decorative – they don’t sit properly – so I bought a heap of gold snaps on ebay and just set in the top halves.


All the lycra on the costume has its shiniest side facing outwards, but for a slight contrast on the plackets I used the more matte reverse. To create the appearance of the button fastenings, I bought some red elastic and sewed on short lengths along the (interfaced) placket section, glued the other ends to gold snaps and set them in.

I patterned out a cover with some spare lycra, it just has simple centre front and back seams with the placket being the only complexity. The covers are hot glued to the inside of the boots and as they go over the soles of the boots, I glued on some stick-on shoe soles.

The boots I covered were an ebay find, they have a large elastic section on the side so there’s no need to unzip them to be able to easily pull them on and off.

I shaped craft foam over a ball (actually a stress ball balanced in a mug) with a heat gun to create the domed shape then cut out the star to stick on top. The photo shows it being primed with layers of pva glue before I painted it.

The wig already had a couple of clips to secure it but putting it in a ponytail, albeit one that’s quite nicely balanced on top of my head, wasn’t ideal so I’ve bought some tape to secure the hairline.


No make-up test shown in this photo, but I plan to mix up some acrylic paint to match the wig and will apply it to my eyebrows with a mascara wand.

I will be wearing purple contact lenses too, I chose the EOS Fairy Violet from Pinky Paradise.

The ponytail holder is made from craft foam. After trying and failing to neatly draw the designs on with hot glue and puff paint, I decided on masking tape of all things which is more subtle and let me get more precise lines. I stuck a couple of layers to of tape together on my cutting mat, drew out the design and cut it out with a knife. It then could simply be stuck to the foam. I primed it with pva glue and painted it with gold enamel. The beads are glued on and there’s also brooch fastening stuck to the back which lets me clip it to the wig.

I had plenty spare extensions so experimented with curling them before starting on the ponytail itself. I do have a curling iron, but wasn’t having much joy with it so I used hair straighteners to heat the hair before wrapping it around rollers and blasting it with a hairdryer. I think this was more effective since I could leave the rollers in to let the hair cool, whereas the curling iron just didn’t allow the curls time to set. After taking out the rollers, I used a hairdryer to straighten out the curls into the very slight wave that I was looking for.


I then cut and styled the front of the wig. I used got2be glued hairspray and a hairdryer along with a bit of backcombing to get the fringe to stand up. I did find the curling iron useful here for the little curl to the ends of the fringe and other strands. The little wispy baby hairs at the hairline were curled around a pencil.

After the first few layers were secured, I stopped chopping off the hair and started to form the actual ponytail.

I took Kukkii-san’s approach to ponytails http://www.cosplay.com/photo/1856065/, i.e. pulling up hair layer by layer using a hairdryer and hairspray to train the wefts into going in the right direction. I did a couple of rows of wefts at a time. For the first few layers I cut off the tail and stubbed it using caulk. This formed a sturdy base for the rest of the ponytail and helped to thin it out. The wig was so thick that the ponytail would end up too heavy if I pulled up all the hair into it and there was no need since Terra’s ponytail is quite wispy.

I initially looked for a ponytail wig but wasn’t completely sold on the available options. I was aiming for a proper updo rather than a clip-on. Of the available wigs in actual ponytails, I knew I’d probably have to redo the style anyway in order to make the ponytail higher and to adjust the wig to fit me, plus add extensions so it wasn’t necessarily going to make things easier/cheaper. So I decided to embrace making things difficult for myself and ended up choosing CosCraft’s Vayne wig in Midnight Green since I liked the idea of a lace front, I also bought a pack of matching wefts. I then revisited my early days of cosplay, when there were very limited wig options, to put it into a ponytail myself.


I first sewed a double row of wefts along the bottom of the wig so that the edge would all be covered once pulled up. It had been so long since I’d done any styling like this that I needed to sort out a wig head. I used this approach: https://youtu.be/dtMw5DnNTZM of clingfilm and tape to make a kind of cast of my head then padded out that shell on a wig head. I pinned the wig on, separated out the section at the front that I would be leaving loose and clipped it out of the way, then marked with a pin where the ponytail should go.

Done! I'm glad I chose metallic paint.

The upper pieces are glued to the lower ones with Araldite and there are snaps glued on to attach them to the dress.


I found they don't stay on my shoulders too well so I glued some fabric to the underside which forms a little channel for a strap to be threaded through. While I did want the costume to be strapless, the clear straps are not obvious underneath the pauldrons and, seeing I was giving in and adding straps, I made the most of it and have the straps connect to the bra I'd fitted the dress over and it's secured to the dress lining with a few stitches so everything is well and truly going to stay in place.

They were heat-sealed all over and primed with layers of pva glue before painting with Deco Art Americana metallic acrylic. Priming and painting involved draping them over pint glasses to paint the outside, then balancing them like in the photo to do the interiors!

They were then shaped using a heat gun. I needed to get a good fit as any subsequent bending would be liable to crack any paint I applied (despite this I ended up with cracks on one piece at the priming stage, but they were easily fixed with Polyfilla and some sanding).

I started out with some spare, rather battered-looking foam from an old exercise mat which let me pattern out the pauldrons and experiment with heating and shaping them. It was difficult to bend the foam in two different directions – over my shoulder, but also upwards at the edges. I experimented with scoring the underside, but eventually found just some shaping with a heat gun was best.


Once I had my pattern, I cut the final pieces from 5mm cosfoam I'd bought from CosCraft. While the pieces were still flat they had their edges sanded with a dremel then finished up with some finer sandpaper by hand. I also pressed in the designs with a knife then opened them up with a heat gun.

I bought matching red beads to make the earrings which are assembled with some small gold beads. I incorporated some gold stud earrings I already owned.


The belt is a thin fabric tube that I managed to turn and I used it to cover a narrow belt I already had. The style of buckle was helpful since it made it easy to add my own decorative buckle on top without affecting the functional closure. I used black worbla moulded over the functional belt buckle, primed it with mod podge, painted it with gold enamel then glued it on with Araldite. I also spread some of the glue across the entire back of it to reinforce the worbla.

The final pieces on the fingers are cut from black worbla which I heated to shape on my hands while wearing the gloves. This was my first time using worbla and I chose it for the claws since I'd only need a small amount and I thought it’d hold up better than foam to wear and tear – foam claws would just bend and get bashed too easily. However, for the larger knuckle/back of hand section, I did use craft foam because I didn’t have enough worbla (I only bought a A4 sheet from Coscraft) and it was probably a lot easier anyway to shape foam freehand for this. I scored the back of the foam to help create the zig-zags, folded it up into pleats and blasted it with a heat gun.


Everything was primed with layers of mod podge, painted with black enamel and glued on with E6000. I realised the only decent glues I already had required significant drying time so I wanted to buy some that would form an initial bond quickly enough to allow me to attach everything while wearing the gloves (before then taking them off and leaving it to cure), so I took the opportunity to order some off Amazon after having heard so much about it from cosplayers across the pond.


After all that, the gauntlets have ended up much shinier than the bracers. I’ll need to see how it photographs altogether when I wear the costume and decide then if I need to tone down the shiny paint or maybe remake my leatherette pieces in a shinier vinyl or something.

I spent some time patterning out the gauntlets. I struggled with variable references and determining exactly what is going on here, so I ended up with a mix of what I could glean from references and what was practical.


I first cut pieces from craft foam and tested them out using some double-sided tape stuck to a disposable plastic glove. This made it easy to stick pieces on, move them about, and experiment with trimming and shaping them to fit my fingers and ensure I’d still have reasonable movement. I could also easily write on them to label them, which was very important! Before I cut out my final pieces, I also taped the craft foam ones to one of my actual gloves (shown in photo) to be completely certain that they would fit.

I had already made the base for the bracers sans armour plating so added this in time for AmeCon 2018.


For the long section on the right arm, I used craft foam covered in leatherette again to make the four plates and glued them on with Araldite. I also made a second tube shape to go around my arm. This slots inside the first one and extends above it to create the trim around the top edge.

Badly in need of ironing, but complete!


The lilac fabric is cotton from Minerva Crafts as it happened to be the right colour, it’s not really the ideal weight but other lilac fabrics I found which draped better weren’t opaque enough (and dyeing the silk scarf was enough, I wasn't keen enough to dye the lilac too!) I only had a metre of it which was just enough so I experimented with some spare fabric first to drape the sash and figure out how I was going to make the bow. The bow is assembled from a bunch of separate pieces which I gathered to create the right effect and also padded out with some wadding. It all took a lot of hand sewing. I sewed on one end of the pink scarf I’d dyed to form the tail of the bow and sewed the rest of the scarf along the hem of the sash. It attaches to the dress with snaps.


I bought the gold chain on Etsy, it’s partially hand sewn in place, but isn’t behaving quite how I’d like so I may need to revisit it. Finding the red bicone beads was challenging (another Etsy find). They’re strung together using head pins and some thin gold chain and jump rings I had spare. I also used masking tape and gold acrylic to carefully paint the lines on them. The round green beads were more readily available (on Amazon) along with end caps for them (Ebay)

My starting point was the fringed sash since I knew I’d have to find an existing scarf or dye fringe to match fabric. I found Dharma Trading sold affordable plain silk scarves with fringe so I ordered one along with some of their magenta acid dye. It was all cheap enough that I wasn’t in danger of customs charges so I didn’t mind ordering from the US. Being able to dye it myself was actually ideal too since it let me attempt a gradient.

I ironed most of the HTV on while the dress was still flat (although it wasn't exactly flat around the bust so that was trickier) then inserted the invisible zip and sewed up the centre back seam. I left the gold designs on the back until after I'd inserted the zip since the designs go across the centre back seam – I ironed them on with the zip closed and sliced through the vinyl with a scalpel.


The photo also shows more snaps for the pauldrons and a couple at the hip to secure the sash. You can also see more armour-induced design aspects: it turned out that while the dress fits nicely and doesn’t need straps; the pauldrons do. So I made the most of them and the clear straps are secured to both my bra and the dress lining.

It improved once I added the gold designs. I also used the mock-up to help me sketch out the gold designs and confirm where they should be placed. I then made paper templates of the designs and after refining those, traced around them on to the heat transfer vinyl and cut them out.


(the snaps you see in the photo are for attaching the shoulder armour)

I also used the mock-up as the pattern for the outer red satin dress. I had marked where the white trim should go so cut up the mock-up to form those pieces, added seam allowance and cut them from some spare white sateen. I made the white section for the hem twice as long as it needed to be so it could be folded in half as a neat solution to hemming the dress. It was totally a sexy Mrs Claus dress at this stage!

The dress is a drastically shortened Kwik Sew 3516. I made a mock-up to check the fit and length and adjust the neckline’s shape a little. I then took it apart and traced off the pattern for the lining (pictured) which ends at the hips. I’d decided on just a supportive bodice lining to which the boning channels could be sewn, especially since all the raw edges on the outer dress are overlocked so there was no need to fully line it. You can just make out the edge of the lining where it ends but that’s hidden by the sash over the dress. The lining fabric is coutil, because I had some spare, and I was also able to use spiral steel boning that I already had. I sewed boning casings on each seam.

Done! Definitely not completely happy with them, but it's probably the best I can manage with the satin. This was the first time I’ve made a full cover including the sole and I think it's worked out ok so I might try it again to make removeable covers for other projects in future.

The downside of these particular boots is that the heels have a suedette finish so I didn’t want to paint them and the soles. To get a nicer finish, I drafted the fabric cover to include the heel and sole. I used spare black stretch fabric with stick-on soles to protect it.


I applied the gold designs to the covers while they were flat, sewed up all the seams except the centre back which needed to be left open to slot the boot in, then sewed it closed by hand. The top edges have a facing that extends a little way down the inside of the boots for a neat finish and this is glued in place to ensure the cover stays up.

The gold designs on Terra’s boots seem to be raised shapes. I was reluctant to try to imitate this since it makes things more difficult - I knew if I stuck foam on around the toe area it would only get creased as the shoe flexed when I walked. So I continued with heat transfer vinyl which keeps it consistent with the rest of the costume. There is a bird-type shape further up the boot which I might revisit and add on in 3D form though, but I’m not sure how silly it’d look.


I covered both boots in clingfilm and masking tape to make a pattern. On one boot I drew on the seam lines for a cover then I used the other boot to mark out the gold designs. I ensured that the seams would avoid the designs as far as possible – disadvantage of the HTV is it doesn’t look good over a seam. While this meant I couldn’t have a simple centre front seam, I was able to draft a shape for the toe area which worked out ok. It was challenging since the red satin fabric I was using has zero stretch and was not forgiving, so I made a mock-up to test and refine my pattern first. I also used some heavy interfacing here so the covers hold their own shape and it’s not so obvious that they’re a bit loose and don’t fit the boot underneath precisely.

I was on the lookout for a pair of boots with a suitable heel and pointed toe and was lucky on eBay to get a pair of ex-display boots from Office. Other than the heel and shape, it didn’t matter what the shoes looked like since I’d be covering them entirely, so I was very happy to bid on super-cheap brand new boots that just happened to be a bit scuffed! They didn’t have a zip which I always find useful when it comes to covering and adapting shoes and I was able to cut them down to the right shape easily.

The lining is the spare cotton I'd used for my mock-up with some interfacing. The pieces were cut shorter so they cause the gold edges to fold over and there was no need to topstitch (I tested it out and found sewing over the vinyl would have been fine, but I like the invisible finish). Pressing was a little scary since I didn’t want to melt or dislodge the vinyl, but I got away with it using a low heat and press cloth.

I bought red duchess satin from Edinburgh Fabrics and gold heat transfer vinyl from CosCraft and tried making the bracers first as proof of concept.


I first made one in spare fabric to check the fit (this was later recycling as the lining), which was important since I wanted to use a close-ended invisible zip for the closure. I was hoping I could get away with this but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the bracers over my hands without them unfastening entirely. Thankfully it turned out to be fine.


I sketched out the gold designs on paper first. I used some artistic licence since I was struggling to figure them out exactly (I lost patience with trying to take screenshots and scrutinise them) and I didn’t want to make the designs too complicated so I ensured that they don’t cross the seam where the zip is. Each bracer has the same design, albeit mirrored.


When I was happy with my design, I cut it out, taped it down and traced around it on to the HTV’s backing. I then cut out the vinyl with a scalpel, cutting inside the lines I’d drawn. It was a bit fiddly, but the designs aren’t too difficult to cut by hand and it adhered to the satin fine. I also used the HTV for the trim, so it was all cut as one continuous piece which made aligning it all much easier.

After snapping it at Minami, I outsourced fixing the bow to my dad (who is far too nice to me). Originally it was one whole big piece of foamboard. To keep it compact enough to fit in my suitcase, it needed to come apart into 3 pieces: a central handle connecting two long parts. He made a handle by sandwiching some wood around a steel ruler. The ruler slides into slots in the foamboard. There are also perpendicular lengths attached to brace the bow, so that when I pull back the string it can't bend too far. I replaced the bowstring with a looser length of elastic as well so I'm unlikely to cause any damage. Finally, my dad also made an arrow from a dowel rod, silver card and a swan feather.

I needed to adjust the fit of the top since it was gaping at the back, so I opened up the lining and embarked on a lot of trial and error taking it in. It’s still not perfect (notably, despite understitching, the lining still peeks out depending on my posture) but I got rid of the major wrinkles and I had to stop working on the fit at some point, especially since the back just isn’t going to be seen under the wig!

Next were the yellow v-pieces. I made these from craft foam since they needed to stick up above the edge of the top. I maybe could have incorporated them into the design of the top earlier, but the reference I was using shows a gap between these yellow pieces and the turquoise part, so I interpreted them as separate pieces. I used bondaweb to stick yellow lycra to the foam and topstitched the edges. This was partially to ensure the fabric wouldn’t peel off the foam and so it’d match the applique on the rest of the costume, but the stitching along the lower edges actually attaches them to the top. I then closed up the lining again by hand.

I found some motivation and got around to completing the back of the top.

The decorative plate thing was straightforward since I was using the same approach as for the front of the top. Drawing out the shape and the designs took the most time, then I traced the design on to the black fabric and some bondaweb, cut the applique from yellow lycra with the red parts sponge-painted, ironed them on then topstitched. I lined it then stuck some craft foam inside for it to keep its shape. It’s attached with snaps so that I can still access the (super-short) separating zip at the centre back which is the closure for the top.

Overall the first wear of the costume at Minami was fine so I don’t have any upgrades planned for the pieces I’ve completed.

However, I didn’t have time to make the armour plates on the bracer and gloves so will be adding these for AmeCon as well as the detail on the back of the top. Neither of these things mattered to me for Minami though –the back is covered by the wig and the bracers look complete on the face of it.

I’m very glad I made the bracers though as at Minami, Tiran surprised me with a bow that he’d made…which I promptly broke – a moment immortalised in Nert’s photos! No other photo of this costume is going to surpass my face there. The bow made it through the rest of the con with some duct tape and the silver lining was that it then fitted in my suitcase so I was able to take it home and I can fix it up for AmeCon. I hope to make it (intentionally) dismantle-able for future so that I can transport it to and from cons myself. I’m so grateful for the gift since props are really not my thing and I wasn’t even contemplating making it myself.

These were the last thing I made since I could happily wear the costume without them if it came to it (and I hate making gloves). I’d chosen stretch leatherette to try to make the glove-making process easier. I bought the black fabric from Minerva Crafts then for the palms I managed to find red sold in small quantities on ebay.

I used a pattern based on leather gloves that I’d sacrificed some time ago as my fabric didn’t have that much stretch. I kept the gloves as a separate piece since I thought it might be easier to be able to just remove the hand section rather than removing the entire thing on my arms.

The bracelets are thick foam with cord glued on top (see photo). I used a couple of layers of fabric to cover them so that the texture of the cord wouldn’t show through.

The bracer on the right arm has a thin craft foam base and the straps on the sleeves are also craft foam covered in the same leatherette (the fabric was too flimsy alone so needed the foam insert) and I bought the buckles on ebay. The straps are hand sewn to the sleeves and the lower strap has a few stitches securing it to the upper one so that it won’t fall down. The lower two straps on the left arm stay in place fine by themselves - advantages of stretch fabric.

I traced the design on to the top to ensure everything would be positioned correctly, then ironed on all the pieces. Since I didn’t think the bondaweb alone didn’t seem quite secure enough, I straight-stitched around all the edges and this also matches how I’d applied the scuba elsewhere on the costume.

That’s the top wearable for Minami! You can see in the picture that it fits loosely at my hips as it has to fit over the skirts I’ll be wearing which add some bulk due to the wire framework.

I will see how much more of the costume I can do before the con. Next goal is the straps on the sleeves and the bracers. As the detail I’m missing on the back won’t be seen, it’s less of a priority.

I spent some time thinking about different techniques for the designs on the front: I don’t like painting and for applique I was not confident about getting all the points and corners neat with satin stitching. I eventually chose to use some yellow lycra I had spare as it would be similar in appearance to the turquoise scuba I’d been using and wouldn’t fray so I didn’t need to worry about stitching over the edges.

After drawing out the design, I traced it on to bondaweb and carefully cut out all the pieces. I painted the red and orange pieces before applying them, using a sponge with acrylic paint to get the mottled effect. The other pieces are made from the scuba which was also painted to get the blue and green shades. Picture shows all the pieces before and after painting.

The turquoise details around the collar are carefully cut from the scuba fabric and topstitched on. The larger neck section was just stitched down with a little wundaweb to help, but to make the thin zig-zag lines I traced the shapes on to bondaweb. The neck applique helpfully conceals nearly all of the seams and I also added a piece of black fabric to cover the centre front too so the only seams left showing are small lengths on the shoulders.

Photo of the back of the top as it is so far. I still need to add the detail at the back of the waist, but as it will be entirely hidden by the wig I am not concerned about doing it in time for Minami.

I started work on the top first because I expected it to be complex and I thought the designs on the front would be time-consuming (I was correct). Even before getting to the point of applying the trim and designs, just the basic pattern proved to be complicated. I particularly struggled with fitting the backless-back as I don’t have a dressform and this still needs some work.

I used New Look 6567 as a starting point to give me a simple top with sleeves. I also used a puffy sleeve pattern that I’d drafted myself for earlier costumes. I made quite significant alterations, notably creating the high collar without a neck seam (not sure how wise that was), adding the cut-outs and incorporating the two different coloured fabrics. A few mock-ups were involved, that at least was more practise for sewing those inset corners.

After I had something I was happy with, I made a version in the final fabric. There I ran into some problems since I had patterned everything out for non-stretch fabric and needed to make more adjustments for the stretchy scuba I’d ended up with (I'd begun the pattern before I found the fabric), but ultimately having the stretch was helpful and a fabric that doesn’t fray was great for all the matching trim involved.

Once I’d procrastinated for a while working on the rest of the costume, I came back to the top, finished my alterations and made the final version. When I had the pattern finalised, I could order the zips I needed - I used dynamic_perversity on ebay who stock a lot of diverse zips. I have one short separating zip at the back of the neck, which matches the references, then another one at the centre back waist with the idea that the decorative plate thing will fasten separately over it. I’d considered a side zip instead, but I don’t actually have a side seam that extends far enough up as I ended up cutting the turquoise piece without one.

The lining was another challenge. The top definitely needed to be lined to finish the cut-outs so I had to think through how to assemble everything and also create separate pattern pieces for the lining as there was no need to have the two different fabrics on the inside. I stitched around the cut-out on the front first and understitched. I also lined the long tail at the front at this stage and sewed along the hem as far as the side seams. I similarly applied the lining pieces to the back by sewing the edges first and understitching where possible. Once both front and back lining pieces were attached, I sewed their side and shoulder seams together. I set in the sleeves which act as a stay for the puffy outer ones and allowed me to sandwich some tulle inside. The top edge of the collar is finished with bias binding and I’d left a section of the hem at the back open which was closed up by hand.

On to the rest of the wig, I cut it shorter since the darker blonde needed to end around my waist, and I thinned the ends for the transition to the paler blonde. I sewed in a mix of the pale blonde and white extensions, mostly at the nape of the neck but also some throughout to make the distribution more even, but I tried to ensure the lighter extensions wouldn’t show anywhere but at the tips.

I used one pack of long wefts to make the braids and sewed used the other pack throughout the wig for a few purposes: to add some volume so that I could cut in the short blonde pieces on the sides, conceal the join with the ears, hide the braids at the back and prevent the paler extensions layers underneath from showing. There are clips sewn in at the front to secure the wig since it is, unsurprisingly, heavy after all that.

I also started covering the foam ears in hair to match the wig. I initially used some of the hair I’d cut off the wig when I trimmed it shorter as an initial layer to get the foam mostly covered. After that I applied neater layers of hair on top using the short wefts I’d bought. I took more care to stick this final layer on without heaps of glue and tried to rely mainly on hairspray so it’d look nicer and match the rest of the wig. There is also some of the same fur fabric from the tail glued to the inside. Once they were dry I sewed them to the wig.

The adhoge is a separate piece with a base of wire and clear tape to support it. I then covered it in hair using some of the clear sealant left from Millia.

I was quite picky about the shade of blonde for this and also knew I’d need some matching extensions, so after some browsing I decided to try Epic Cosplay. The wig is the Persephone in caramel blonde which is a colour I’m really pleased with. I also ordered two packs of long wefts and one of their short wefts. For the lighter blonde section at the ends, I used pale blonde extensions from CosCraft leftover from Millia and bought some white ones as well to mix in.

I cut in the fringe and sewed in some of the short extensions to get the volume required for the sections around the face. I used Copic markers to colour this section green, I nearly got away with one pen but just needed to buy a second. I had styled the fringe a bit with a hairdryer before colouring this since I thought the final shape of the style might affect exactly where the green started. I then had to rinse it to get any excess ink out and re-style once it was dry. At that point I could use hairspray on the ends to finish it.

The ears were patterned with some experimentation in paper than I made a craft foam version to act as the base.

Lower half of the costume complete! Top, wig and bracers still to go.

The tail is based off Pluto Knights’ tutorial: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PlutoKnights/photos/?tab=album&album_id=727001510776198

I found long pile fur on ebay that matched my wig fairly well (it also matches my carpet according to the photos!) and I used some streaks of gold pen to get the colour a little closer. I also bought a small amount of white fur for the tip. I mixed in some of my pale blonde extensions to the white fur too in order to try to match it to the wig more closely, although I don’t think this was very successful.

I only bought a small amount of fur fabric so needed to piece it together to make it long enough, and there’s also a seam where the white fur was joined on. After I’d reached the stage of the photo on the left, it was then sewn into a tube and inside I used the same wire as for my skirt but doubled it up to make it tougher. This wire is taped inside some spare fun fur fabric I had which is rolled up and makes the padding for the core of the tail. I sewed up the ends by hand.

The tails of the wire were enclosed inside some webbing and to make an attachment, the wire runs up and over the skirt waistband where it hooks over the belt for the turquoise skirts with some velcro to keep it secure.

I finalised the turquoise design on my paper pattern and traced it on to the fabric with Clover Chacopy tracing paper then it was painted with several coats of Marabu Textil fabric paint leftover from my Bianca costume. The colour wasn’t quite a precise match for my turquoise fabric so I finished with a final coat of some Angelus leather paint from my Eureka costume which happened to match – it didn’t work well when I tried it on the fabric directly, but the base of the fabric paint allowed me to apply it fine on top and get a close colour match.

I painted the soles gold using a few coats of gold acrylic (a leftover from Margaery continuing the spirit of recycling!) mixed with pva glue then stuck the cover on using shoe goo.

The reference faintly shows some lace at the tops of the stockings. It’s a bit too subtle for me to be overly concerned with initially, but it’s something I might eventually add. I also want to see how it goes wearing the costume as I’m not sure how well the stockings will stay in place so I might sew in some sticky stocking tops.

I found some suitable shoes on ebay (pictured), they’re slip-on and very comfy, if not attractive. I made the pattern for the stocking/shoe covers by drawing on an old pair of leggings plus covering one shoe and my ankle in clingfilm and masking tape then drawing on the shape for the pattern to cover it. After testing out the pattern and refining it in some spare fabric, I made a paper template and used that to cut the final garment from black ponte knit like I’d used on the turquoise skirt. It met my requirements of being stretchy, matte, not fraying and smooth enough to take paint nicely.

The final thing is essentially a pair of leggings with cutouts at the thighs, so it has a built-in pair of shorts which hold up the stockings. There’s an elastic waistband to keep it secure and I overlocked it all together. I had to cut the fabric very carefully as I wasn’t hemming the edges. I tried to keep the seams to a minimum, there’s just an inside leg seam and where it had to become more complicated for covering the shoes, the centre front seam I needed there only starts at the ankle. I also had to cut a portion of the shoe cover separately for cutting layout reasons, so there’s an additional seam for that, but I at least managed to avoid having a seam all the way up the front of the legs.

The final step was the wire framework. There is a strand of wire in every seam and when I patterned out the skirt I’d made sure to extend the top enough so it could be folded around a belt, so the wire is braced against that and duct taped in place. The fabric was then gathered and sewn in place, neatly covering the wire/tape mess. The belt is a length of webbing and I have a rucksack-style clip at the centre back fastening it. It was important to me that if I was going to include the potentially annoying wire framework that it be easily removeable.

I’ve managed to also secure the tail to the same belt but it’s a little awkward as it needs to go under the pleated skirt and the turquoise skirts need to go over it. The wire from the tail therefore extends up and hooks over the belt, which is fairly secure alone, but I also used some velcro to ensure it stays in place. I don't know how much sense the photo makes, but that's what it's attempting to show.

When I finally completed the black pieces, I sewed them to the turquoise skirts along the hem so that when the applique was flipped up the raw edges were enclosed. The photo shows it with its right side facing the wrong side of the skirt.

I had to grade the seam allowances and clip the curved edges, understitch and then could turn it up and iron down the applique. While a bit of a roundabout route, that gave me a nicely finished hem, closed off the seams so the wire wouldn’t poke out and let me apply the black designs all in one.

For the black detail at the hem I appliqued some black ponte knit from Minerva Crafts because I already had some spare and could use it for the stockings too. I wanted something that wouldn’t fray to avoid having to satin stitch the applique. I still secured the edges but did it much more quickly with a wider zig-zag stitch and I didn’t need to go around the internal cutout shapes.

I’d given some thought to how best to hem the skirt and essentially chose to use the applique as a facing. I first cut panels from the black fabric and sewed them together so they’d have the same seams as the rest of the skirt (unfortunately the seams in the artwork are shown continuing on to the black section so I couldn’t just cut it all in one whole piece).

I spent some time perfecting a template for the design then traced it on to bondaweb. I then painstakingly cut it out. I had to buy new little scissors for this since I was struggling with the cutout sections. I used a craft scalpel to cut the tiny squares. Photo shows one piece complete and the other still awaiting the fiddly cutouts.

The turquoise skirts were patterned out with a little trial and error using spare fabric, I started with a half circle skirt and adjusted the length and volume a little from there. I was keen to try to mimic the floaty effect Atalanta’s always has so experimented with using some wire to have the skirt stick out. This was also why I wanted to keep this skirt separate rather than sew it to the top or pleated skirt as I need a belt to anchor the wire framework and I liked the idea of making this piece easily removeable so I could take it off to sit down. Once I was happy with my mock-up I marked out the seams for the different panels and made a paper template with seam allowance to use as my final pattern.

Scuba fabric was ideal since it makes the seams quite prominent like the artwork. Although there wasn’t a need to finish the seams, I made French seams to act as channels for wire. The outermost edges of the skirt aren’t hemmed though since I didn’t need to insert wire there and the raw edge looks fine.

I did start work on the top first, rightly assuming it'd be time-consuming, but got frustrated and took a break to work on other parts of the costume. I picked the black pleated skirt since I knew what I was doing there and liked the idea of working on something where I could easily make some progress. It was still useful to have made some initial progress on the top first as it let me determine where the black skirt’s waistband should sit without having it show, then I basically figured out the skirt’s length by seeing the shortest I could possibly make it.

The black fabric is a slightly stretchy black suiting from Mandors in Glasgow, which I’m also using for the top, and the trim is turquoise scuba I found in Goldhawk Road in London which will be used on the rest of the costume too.
Since scuba doesn’t fray (and it’s too bulky to turn under anyway) I just cut strips of it for the trim. I am planning to do the same for the top so this was a good trial run. I could cut it accurately with my rotary cutter although that meant having to join together several shorter strips limited to the length of my cutting mat, but the seams thankfully weren’t too bulky.

The skirt is a couple of rectangles, I overlocked all the edges, sewed one side seam, hemmed it and topstitched down the trim. After pleating, I sewed up the other seam, inserted the zip, applied the waistband and finished it with a hook and bar.

The strands attach to the wig with safety pins so there’s flexibility in how they’re positioned, they’re easily removable for storage/transportation or if I just don’t want to wear them. I can alternatively pin them to the back of dress instead which helps reduce the weight on the wig and can also make the strands appear longer. They can be reshaped to an extent depending on how I want to wear them/pose for photos, and coil up fairly well for storing and fitting them in a suitcase to travel, so although they don’t stand up to close scrutiny, I’m calling them a success! I got through 4 packs of wefts from Coscraft, but had I known what I was doing from the start I’d certainly have only needed 3 at most.

The main hair strands started out the same way as the roses, but I used the full length of the wefts and didn’t peel off the vinyl backing. When they’d dried, I cut away the vinyl up to the edge of the hair and folded each piece in half lengthways so the hair-covered side was facing outwards on either side. Doubling them up like this also ensured there weren’t any gaps– the hair from the other side just shows through to fill any thinner areas. I then sewed down the edge so that I essentially had a tube I could stick wire inside.

I was also able to sew these together to make longer lengths. I have one ambitious one that is made from three pieces and the others are just two. Because each section I’d made had the hair tapering off towards the end, they form a long triangle shape when folded in half, so I could join them inconspicuously by overlapping their narrow ends in opposing directions. I still ensured that the roses are sewn on where there’s a join though. In the photo you can see the 3-part strand being pinned together before sewing. There’s one discreet join on the left which has the neat overlap I described, and then for adding on the third piece on the right I had to connect the pieces the other way around so there’s a much more abrupt, obvious join.

When dry, I could peel off the vinyl backing and cut out the petal shapes for the roses, which I hand stitched together. I was limited by how the hair petals behaved, so not all the roses are ideal, but they’re not bad considering I was trying to sew with silicone coated sheets of hair (as you do). They’re sewn to the hair strands and I have a couple of others with clips on the back which I can position in my wig.

For the wig, I wanted to do something reminiscent of the artwork. There was no way I could mimic anything from in-game, but the art seemed feasible, at least to an extent.

I spent quite a bit of time experimenting using some drill curl tutorials as a starting point. My first attempt was to make strands from lengths of wire sandwiched between masking tape, then stick hair to them with clear silicone bathroom sealant. However, I found it difficult to get the hair to adhere thoroughly and neatly, and it was made worse as soon as I tried to shape the wire and curl up the strands.

At the same time though, I was experimenting with ways to make the roses from hair and had come up with a method to make solid sheets of hair, which I then realised I could use to make the long strands as well. It’s still far from perfect and I don’t have a good way around the buckling on the inner curve resulting from bending the strands into shape, but it’s much neater than my first attempts.

I secured wefts to clear vinyl by sewing them along the top. I then coated the vinyl in the sealant then stuck the wefts to it. Because the wefts were sewn on, I could comb through them as viciously as required to get them neat and completely and evenly covered in the sealant.

I’d made plenty spare orange bias binding when I was working on the dress. At the fingertips, I sewed the ends of the bias tape by machine into the seams, then stitched it down by hand.

After an initial trial run at AmeCon 2016, I finished the costume up for MinamiCon 2017 – I made the gloves, took the leggings in at the waist so they would stay up this time, and made some additions to the wig.

Years ago I’d bought leather gloves for my Karin costume, for which I only needed one, so the spare had been dismantled and is my close-fitting non-stretch glove pattern. I used this here to make the gloves from white leatherette. Being fingerless, it wasn’t too bad – it’s getting the fingertips neat on gloves that I particularly hate! Before sewing them up, I applied a facing to finish the rectangular cut-outs on the back of the hands, and topstitched these in place.

The panel on the front is craft foam which I painted black and sealed with pva glue so the sides and back would be neat. I then covered the front in orange polycotton and cut the border from leatherette. The yellow lettering is more vinyl and I painted the little crest – this took an inordinate length of time and was a fiddly operation involving narrow strips of masking tape that I cut. The two studs are decorative and it attaches to the hat with a brooch pin fastening.

She also has what I think could be a hair clip at the back, but I wanted to attach it to the hat. It is layers of craft foam and card and a couple of studs which I primed with pva and painted orange. There is also vinyl lettering and a brooch pin to complete it.

The brooch pictured again here shows how the lettering on it normally ends up invisible.

The hat seems fairly chunky in references so I used foam again to support it. Like the foam parts on the dress, this was a nuisance since the thickness of the foam make it harder to cover, but it’s great because it’s squashy enough to throw in a suitcase and come out unscathed.

It’s fully lined and was mostly assembled by hand. There’s a separate panel on the front and 2 straps with buckles on either side.

The brooch at the centre front is a sink strainer - I have had good luck wandering around pound shops and cheap homeware places until I find objects the right shape for random costume pieces! I stuck a circle of card in the middle to cover the holes then painted it all black and glued the cat sculpted out of fimo on. I stuck on more vinyl lettering, this time from autodecal.co.uk who offer it in 10mm height, but unfortunately the paint is so shiny it doesn’t show up well at all. I did my best to capture it in this photo. The ribbon is polycotton with black bias binding. It attaches to the dress with a brooch fastening.

I ordered vinyl lettering from vinylletteringonline.co.uk for the straps and the stuff on the hat. It would have been easier to photograph before I attach the straps, but it says “All cats are gray in the dark” on each side (to continue the theme, the brooch in the centre says “Curiosity killed the cat”).

The straps are leatherette and were sewn on by hand because I wasn’t organised enough to determine their placement before I’d assembled the dress. Hand stitches also let me secure them invisibly alone their length wherever necessary, such as for the long strap down the right hand side or the ones sticking up at the shoulders.

They were all made by folding a length of leatherette in half, sewing it into a tube then turning it the right way out (with the help of a piece of ribbon sewn inside). I bought the silver end caps on ebay (although didn’t have these in time for AmeCon). For the straps without them, I sewed the ends closed before turning them the right way out. There are two straps on the front where both ends are visible so those were turned right side out through their side seam instead which was topstitched closed. All topstitching was done with my teflon foot. The straps which stick up have thin sheets of plastic slotted inside and the large arm ones have craft foam. The buckles are all from midastools on ebay.

The cuffs and hem are foam (taken from an exercise mat) covered in leatherette. This was a little awkward since the thickness of the foam made a neat covering harder, particularly for the cuffs as the interior circumference of the cuff is smaller than the exterior’s. I eventually used some spare stretch pvc for the interior which isn’t noticeably different, and let me cut a smaller shape and have a close fit on both sides of the cuff.

I like that the foam hem gives the flared shape to the dress, but it is more awkward to store the dress (and display it nicely hanging up for these photos!)

The buttons on the sleeves I covered myself and I also cut the zig zags for the collar from leatherette. The pleats at the centre front of the hem are spare black fabric and the orange trim was made from two layers of polycotton, one layer proved to be too thin. At the same time I made a more orange bias trim to eventually use on the gloves.

I first made newspaper templates to decide on the size and placement for the straps

The two inserts below the waist were much easier. There are two gold studs on the dress and I used large buttons painted gold for the studs on the straps.

At the back, the yoke is lined with craft foam inside and this helps to support the shoulders. Beneath it, I struggled with the semi-circle seam at the centre back, so ended up overlapping the panels and topstitching it in place.

I already had a large silver separating zip which was the right length and suited the look of the costume (just in case it shows) so I used that down the left side. The zip didn’t need to separate though, so I just secured the ends. It finishes above the black part at the hem while leaving plenty room to get in and out of the dress.

The centre front panel is two layers. For the layer underneath, the zip is positioned closer to the centre. The panel then extends further to the left to overlap the zip. It’s interfaced and understitched to stay in place. The collar fastens with a snap.

The main challenges for me here were to decide how to have the dress fasten, to pattern out the pointy shoulders and incorporate all the seam detail at the back (which will never be seen underneath the wig…)

As my starting point I made some use of a pattern for a simple princess seamed dress with sleeves (New Look 6567) and also referred to a double-breasted coat pattern (Simplicity 2508) which helped me with the centre front panel and collar, but ultimately I had to draft a fair bit myself and I went through a few mock-ups to get it right.

I had just enough yellow fabric left from my Athena costume so I had to be absolutely certain of the pattern before cutting and I spent ages on the layout to fit everything in with grain all consistent. It’s all lined in yellow as well (which was also used for my last mock-up as shown). I had different pattern pieces for the lining and the front left and right of the outer fabric so I had to take care to keep track of it all.

I made the straps going around my legs separate, because I wanted to attach them to my leggings and I didn’t want the leggings sewn to my shoes. The top strap is hand sewn to the leggings most of the way around which ensures it stays up and supports the weight of the buckle. I found I didn’t need to then secure anything further.

I bought black leggings from Primark, which were long enough that I could cover my feet with them. Much simpler than sewing something myself. I wanted to be able to sew the shoe straps to them, so I didn’t want to use tights, and the dress is so short having leggings was better. They’re a bit big for me though so need to take them in at the waist. My grand plan of ensuring the straps would stay up if they were attached to the leggings only works if the leggings can stay up!

The heels and soles were painted orange with a couple of coats of enamel. The interiors were a pale colour, so I painted part of them black in case the inner sole shows.

I then patterned out a cover for them and sewed it in white leatherette. This didn’t turn out as well as I wanted since the leatherette didn’t have the stretch I was looking for, and it really shows that this was one of the last things I made and I rushed through it.

I made lined orange polycotton shapes for the toes and topstitched them on. The heel strap was lined and the upper edge finished with a facing which was understitched in place. I then glued the covers on using Shoe Goo.

The cats on the toes are made from fimo clay and the black dishes they’re glued into are upside down sink plugs! I used more Shoe Goo to stick them on.

Frustratingly, the ankle buckle goes in the wrong direction to actually function as a fastening, but I found I could slide the heel strap on and off without needing any closures.

At the centre back there’s a loop which connects the shoe strap to the strap going around my leg. The loop going around my ankle fastens at the back with velcro, and this is hidden inside that loop.

I bought some boots on ebay which had the correct sort of heel and toe shape. They also had open backs which was ideal. I cut them down into the court shoe shape at the front and reshaped the strap going round my heel. I also glued the zip closed since it wasn’t needed – I could slip the shoes on and off after all the trimming I’d done.

I have some plans to upgrade this, but my initial wig is the Alex from CosCraft in Milkmaid Blonde. I was set on this colour so settled on a shorter wig than I had in mind. To extend it, I bought a matching ponytail clip, because this was longer than the extensions on offer, and dismantled it to use the wefts. I removed wefts from the wig and replaced them with the longer wefts from the ponytail. Replacing wefts rather than adding kept the weight of the wig down and helped to create a more even look, rather than leaving an obvious point where the shorter lengths finished. I also sewed in a couple of clips at the front to secure it as. I clipped the fringe to one side (clips hidden by the hat) and cut in the short pieces at the front.

Photo (from mangamad) shows the length of wig I ended up with.

Way back at the start, I dismantled half of my first dress mock-up to use as a (much simpler) pattern for the dress lining. I added a seam at the waist and cut the skirt pieces with fewer seams (only side seams and the centre back) and the bodice just has princess seams.

The lining also acts as a visible underskirt, showing between the strips on the skirt. Early on I’d decided I didn’t want to secure all the skirt strips together to made a solid skirt, so I knew I’d need an underskirt of some sort. It's made from purple satin (from Edinburgh Fabrics) with the shiny side facing inwards, so the more matte side shows on the skirt. All the edges overlocked in pink which is the thread colour of choice for this costume.

Later in the process, I had plenty dupioni scraps left so rather than only have a teal/turquoise striped section at the centre front hem, I decided to continue it all the way round – extrapolation from the reference image.

I cut rectangles from lots of colours and considered having blocks of different shades e.g. the teal/turquoise that shows at the front, then maybe red/yellow further round but in the end I decided I liked the teal/turquoise best. I cut a heap of rectangles with my rotary cutter, and sewed them together, tapering the seams a little since the skirt widens towards the hem. The striped panel has its top edge finished with gold bias binding and the bottom edge was sewn to the skirt right sides together, understitched and flipped up then topstitched in place. This was a great way to finish the curved hem of the skirt. It was fiddly, especially getting the correct taper to the panel, and dealing with a million little pieces of silk fraying, but I’m glad I persevered and did it.

I went through a phase of buying all sorts of pink sheer fabric that I came across. These synthetics are always so cheap, it was easier just to buy a metre or two when I ran across another possible fabric than be selective about my ultimate choice. I liked having several fabrics to play with and experiment with layering. This is a rare case where I felt choosing nasty synthetic stuff was better than silk organza since I actually wanted the much more obnoxious bright shiny/iridescent fabrics. Those ruffles are so ridiculous, I decided the best way to cope was to embrace it and make them as sparkly and shiny as possible.

I eventually used 2m of some synthetic organza from Remnant Kings - this was great because it's fairly opaque, and then I used 1m of crystal organza from Cheapfabrics.co.uk on top.
I tested out flounces and/or gathering and settled on tightly gathering rectangular strips since flounces weren't giving enough gathers and it was also a lot easier to cut straight lengths.
I used alternating layers of the two organzas. The crystal organza was the best colour, but not opaque enough alone, so it's layered on top of the other organza. The two shades also help to distinguish the layers as does the roll hemming. At the collar there is one base lightly gathered section which has a row of narrow ruffles at the hem. Then two progressively shorter ones on top and another two rows of narrow ruffles around the collar.

Similarly, at the wrists I decided on one longer base layer of the more opaque darker pink organza, with the paler sparkle organza on top. My overlocker was invaluable for roll-hemming all the organza and doing the gathering.

The buttons for the dress are craft foam. I decided to cut out a smaller diamond to place on top of the larger one, rather than making a raised rim, because a) it's much easier to cut out and b) I was able to sew on a snaps to the backs for attaching them to the dress and then stick the diamond on to hide the threads. I thought this would be more secure than glue alone. They're primed with layers of pva glue then I used had acrylic paint and finally clear varnish. I couldn't decide between bright yellow like the art or a more realistic gold. I found yellow looked odd against all the gold bias binding on the dress so chose the yellowish gold acrylic I happened to have as a compromise.

After many fabric samples, pattern frustration, cutting, dyeing and endless bias tape, I was finally ready to assemble this dress. I sewed down one side of the bias binding by machine and left the other side unsecured to finish by hand later, so hand sewing aside, the construction went pretty quickly after all my preparation. There’s a lapped zip for the closure, concealed by bias binding at the centre back.

I had a lot of time off over Christmas so tried to get everything on the costume completed to the point that I could do all my hand sewing then when I was visiting my parents. I finished all the bias binding on the dress and bought a back of 50 pom poms on Ebay and used embroidery floss to attach one to every corner of the skirt panels while sitting in front of the tv over the holidays.

I'm not keen on pre-made gold bias binding and I needed so much of it, I decided to make my own. I used 3m of acetate satin from White Lodge Fabrics. I like using acetate satin for bias tape because it's crisp and easy to work with, and the quality/generally nasty shininess of the stuff is fine for narrow trim. I made 36m of the stuff. I did it in 9m sections and wound it around a board as I went so it was fairly manageable. At the end of the project, I only had about 4m left so I really needed a lot!

My production line is shown, with much assistance from Tab’s tutorial: http://khaoskostumes.com/2011/03/03/tutorial-continuous-bias-binding/

For the multi-coloured rectangles at the centre front and sides, I bought some small cuts from Edinburgh Fabrics and some assorted fat quarters online from the Silk Route. I dyed the brightest turquoise myself - it's the same dye I used to darken the main turquoise fabric for the dress, but I applied it to the white dupioni so it basically is the same colour but more vivid. The lime green fabric was really only for one section at the top, but I made more use of it because I liked it. It’s the lining for the side panels as well.

After many online samples and ventures to assorted fabric shops, I finally bought my dupioni silk. I was immediately fixated on the idea of using dupioni for this costume. I liked the idea of the texture and having the grain run vertically down the striped panels of the dress, maybe having other pieces with it horizontal for variety, and it's a practical choice too because it comes in so many vivid shades so I'd be able to have all the colours on the costume in the same fabric. Using silk would be helpful too since I could dye it and create the watercolour gradient effects.

I already had blue and turquoise Jacquard acid dyes so planned around that and bought purple dye as well. That minimised the different colours of fabric I needed to buy. I bought 3 yards of turquoise and 2 of white from an Etsy seller - the price was in USD making it much cheaper for me at the time. I did think about dyeing all of the main turquoise fabric myself, but evenly dyeing larger amount of fabric becomes trickier and there are so many lovely coloured fabrics out there it was easier to rely on them. I still ended up using my turquoise dye to darken the fabric I bought slightly and to create some varied shades on some panels in addition to the main dress colour.

I had labelled all the pieces from my mock-up in permanent marker with a letter, they were all in alphabetical order and marked left and right sides. I also wrote on which colour fabric to cut each piece from and what colour dyes were required for each piece which helped to sort them out as I was dyeing everything along with referring to my reference image. These mock-up/pattern pieces were then safety-pinned to my final silk pieces and remained attached throughout the dye process until everything was finally sewn together. That ensured I didn't lose track of any pieces and could keep them in order to sew to together correctly.

As I cut them out, I overlocked the edges of every piece because they'd be handled a lot both during dyeing and while finishing all that bias binding by hand and dupioni unravels horrendously - especially as I was set on cutting it with the grain vertical. After cutting and overlocking all my pieces, I dyed certain ones which I'd cut from white fabric. Other panels were cut from turquoise and had some areas dyed too. I liked working with the small individual panels and I had enough fabric to cut more than one of them when needed and pick the ones which turned out best once dyed.

I had 3 colours of dye in pans and it was easy to deal with the small individual pieces, dipping each one to create gradients and experiment. I had to do my purple pieces twice since they weren't dark enough initially and I also ended up dyeing all my turquoise fabric darker too. They all were left hanging over the bath to dry as pictured.

And sewn together! With bonus paper pieces where I was beginning to plan out the front panel proportions.

I was relieved when I compared the assembled pieces to my lining pattern and they'd come out the correct size and when it was complete it all still fitted ok. For the purposes of the trial run I just wanted to ensure the bodice fit and didn’t need to run the bias binding all the way around the edge of each piece, but it helped me wrap my head about how to assemble everything.

I also spent some time experimenting with the lengths of the skirt panels which needed to all be varied. I couldn't leave this until after assembling the final dress because the bias binding needed to go all the way round each rectangle as part of the construction process, so they had to already be cut to the correct length. Because all the panels vary in length and the dress isn't symmetrical, that means each panel for the dress is unique so there are 19 individual pieces which all had to be carefully labelled. I also had to determine which would be what colours - I had free rein to make up the back. I based the panels at the sides off the in-game design.

Similarly, the sleeves were sliced into multiple panels, but I didn’t do a trial run since they were much simpler.

I started with New Look 6567 - a basic dress with sleeves - and made it with fabric from an old duvet cover. It was adjusted to fit and cut a lot shorter. I needed to extend the skirt to flare out more, so I measured the circumference of a petticoat I had which looked about right, then I inserted godets at every seam to evenly expand the skirt out to that measurement.

I then started experimenting with drawing on lines to mark out where the striped panels should go. The sleeves were straightforward enough, but I quickly realised that translating the skirt into reality wouldn't be easy.

The main issue is that the amount of stripes of a suitable width that I can fit on the bodice doesn't amount to enough panels to cover the much broader skirt area below. Flaring the panels towards the hem didn't look right, and regardless, there still wouldn't be enough strips. After some trial and error pinning loads of rectangular strips on the skirt, I came up with an approach to overlap them at the waist. This makes the panels narrow enough at the top to fit around my torso, but they're wider at the skirt and they remain an even width all the way down. I also experimented with securing some of the panels all the way down their sides to keep them in place while leaving most hanging free from the waist. I primarily wanted to ensure the strips at the centre front where the coloured sections would need to be exposed would stay put.

Reflecting on it, it's maybe quite an obvious solution, but I'm still pleased that I came up with something it's possible to sew but has some of the illogicalness of the drawing, so I think that's quite a successful interpretation of the design.

After finalising my layout for the stripes on the dress, I cut apart the mock-up, added seam allowance and did a full trial run using some polycotton with some spare bias tape in assorted colours to make sure my construction method would work ok. Photo shows the pattern I ended up with. That’s half a dress, with the centre back on the left and centre front on the right.

There are 14 tassels on each boot, each one made from a pack of embroidery floss so after determining the best colour to match my fabric in a shop, I then sneaked off and bought them all in bulk on ebay.

The cuffs are made from the jersey used for the leggings and top, which was interfaced. I carefully cut out the brown pattern from felt and applied it with Bondaweb. I then used a zig-zag stitch in matching thread to secure it along the lower edge, and a turquoise satin stitch along the top.

I cut bias lengths of turquoise dupioni, ran it through my bias binding tool to fold the edges under, then glued it to the boots, after spending far longer than I expected measuring and figuring out how to criss-cross it evenly.

I bought the boots on ebay cheaply. They were paler than I liked so I used some Fiebing's leather dye, which also spruced them up a bit, making the scuffs less obvious. They don’t have a zip so that was ideal for adding the cuff at the top.

I already had a petticoat I could use for the costume which I used for fitting the initial mock-up, but I had to roll it up at the wait to be short enough, so since I had time I bought pink netting and made my own pink petticoat to just the right length. I made a yoke from some spare pink jersey fabric with an elastic waistband. I then attached two short tiers of gathered net. It took a bit of experimentation to get the right volume, but it was all quick and easy enough, especially with the overlocker to do all the gathering.

The undershirt is the same jersey as the leggings, but I fused it to a non-stretch fabric at the collar to support all the beading. I patterned it out by copying a t-shirt, then adjusted it a bit to allow for the non-stretch neckline and the high collar. When I was happy with the fit, I cut out my pieces and used Bondaweb to fuse the jersey to its underlining. I chose this approach over trying to persuade the rubbish interfacing I had to stick to stretchy fabric.

I initially made it long-sleeved because I’d thought about sewing the wrist ruffles to it rather than the dress, but I think it was a good idea to leave it like that as it’s a good base layer underneath the dress. After wearing the costume, I can simply hand wash the top and the dress shouldn’t need much freshening up.

I marked out where the beads needed to go and used the same strands of beads as on the wig. I could use a beading foot to sew all of them down by machine except for the small ovals on the collar. Those all had to be done by hand.

The pendant is made from a couple of buttons I stuck together and painted, with a spare clear resin gem I'd cast for another project which I backed with turquoise fabric. It attaches to the top with a snap.

There's a short zip down the back. I also lined this area to protect and cover up all the messy threads from beading and to neatly finish the organza ruffles around the neck opening. I was going through a phase of flatlocking everything so the hems are all finished this way with pink thread as a pseudo-coverstitch look.

In the reference, the leggings and undershirt are the same colour as her face. I suppose they could be designs actually on her legs and a bunch of jewellery at her collar, but I much preferred the idea of applying all that to clothing and not my skin! I couldn't decide whether to use white or pink fabric, and initially tried dyeing white cotton jersey (a lucky discounted remnant find in Remnant Kings) a very pale pink myself using a tiny bit of Dylon's machine dye, but I wasn’t too happy with it and ultimately settled on a cream jersey from Edinburgh Fabrics.

I copied an existing pair of leggings to make the pattern, basted it together to check the fit and marked where my skirt and boots finished on them. I planned out the turquoise designs on paper – I had to make up the back - and went over them in dark pen once I was sure of the lines. As the fabric was white, I could see the lines through it ok to be able to trace it. At first I thought I might paint the leggings flat, but decided it’d be a pain matching up the lines of the designs at the seam, so I kept them basted together, folded up and shoved my paper design template inside the leg and rotated it as the sections I’d painted dried. I used Marabu fabric paint and outlined the designs in brown Letraset marker.

Once the painting was complete, I overlocked the leggings together properly and added the waistband.

I wanted the discs on the side of the head to be a raised shape. I wasn't sure how I was going to do that and kept an eye out for oval-shaped objects to possibly use as a base. It wasn't easy to find anything oval, but luckily I ran across a soap dish in a pound shop which I thought was about the right size and shape. It was a bit too big for me to be able to buy 4 dishes to use as bases, but I was able to use it instead to mould some Wonderflex.

The Wonderflex was then covered in leftover fabric from various parts of the costume. I also made some bias binding which when glued on nicely finished the edges. I had dyed some bias strips purple when I was dyeing the dress fabric with this in mind.

The central bits are craft foam ovals also covered in fabric and finished with bias binding, and with rhinestones glued on. I liked the idea of using rhinestones since the centres seem to be textured in the reference. I also sewed on the strings of beads by hand. The finished discs are attached to the wig with safety pins.

This began as a pink wig I already had, a lovely purchase from Maple Wigs which I've had for years. I decided to add in some extensions from Coscraft for volume - those braids require a fair bit of hair - and to allow me to part the fringe and pull it aside. The extensions are a slightly different shade but are distributed throughout the wig evenly enough so it isn’t obvious. To create the parting I pulled in strands with a wool needle, which is what the photos her show. The orange streaks were done with a Letraset permanent marker.

I bought strings of various sizes of beads on ebay for both the wig and top, and secured them to the wig by pulling the ends through the mesh and sewing them in place.

I asked for the Power of Stormhold necklace as a Christmas present years ago and it’s now finally being worn! Jewellery is not my strong suit but I managed to assemble the earrings acceptably enough.

For the wig, I initially tried to copy Yvaine’s updo but it just wasn’t looking good in wig form, even when I was using a lace front, so I gave up and went with the loose hairstyle. The wig is Sepia’s Ashley in Golden Blonde which I’ve previously used for several other costumes (Karolina, Velvet, Fleur).

Only the wig and jewellery left now before the costume's complete!

I closed up the centre back edges by hand, inserted black grommets and used navy ribbon for the lacing. The ribbon’s long enough so that I can leave the bodice laced up to pull it on and off over my head, then tighten the laces myself. I copied what I think the lacing pattern is, although it's not easy to see.

Once they were set in, the armscyes were finished with a facing, which I’ve hand stitched to the bodice lining.

I struggled with patterning out the chiffon sleeves but eventually ended up with an ok sleeve shape with tucks in the right places – it’s close enough. After fiddling about with it for a couple of weeks, I’d lost all motivation to try to perfect the pattern further.

They were roll-hemmed on my overlocker with much difficulty. I eventually had to skip using the knife and cut my pieces precisely without any allowance for hemming and also use some stabiliser to get the threads to catch. Not sure why it was misbehaving so much, I think it was a combination of the awkwardness of chiffon and hemming such a tightly curved edge. The problems with hemming didn’t do anything to encourage me to persevere with improving the sleeve pattern, so once I had decent enough shape hemmed, I just stuck with it.

I used rattail covered with bias strips of silk for the piping. Because of the piping along the top and bottom edges I chose to sew the lining and outer bodice together along both those edges, turn it right side out through the centre back, then close up the armsyes and centre back edges by hand.

The lining is black coutil, inside and outside shown in the pictures.

I attached the modesty panel at this stage. I’m not entirely sure if the real dress has a modesty panel – it might, and it’s just removed or flipped out of the way when the bodice is worn partially unlaced – but I knew I wanted one.

I also sewed down boning tape to form channels for spiral steel boning. There’s boning on each seam and on either side of where the grommets would go at the centre back. I almost didn’t bother with boning given it’s being worn over a corset and the coutil lining is probably supportive enough alone, but I decided it’d be more hassle than it was worth to leave out boning then have to unpick things to insert it later if I decided it was a good idea. It certainly doesn’t do any harm, and I really like how the the topstitching on each seam looks.

My final mock-up was made from cotton drill and I didn’t clip the seam allowances at the armscyes or anything so that I could take it apart and use the pieces as underlining for the final bodice.

The outer velvet and silk pieces were fused with Bondaweb to these mock-up pieces, acting as interfacing, making the fabrics much more manageable and ensuring I had precise, accurate pieces too.

Although the skirt pattern was useful, the main reason I’d chosen Butterick 4452 was for the bodice and it worked out fairly well. I made a mock-up following the pattern straight out of the packet then tried it on over my corset. I marked out where I thought the new princess seams should be, reshaped the shoulder straps, and shortened it.

I then started on an interminable series of mock-ups, using two colours of fabric to make it easier to see if I had the shape and position of those princess seams correct. I found it helpful to take a photo of myself wearing a mock-up then layer it over a reference image in Photoshop, reducing the opacity so I could see both images at once and check if the seamlines were matching up.

The photo shows one of many mock-ups. I had a lot of trouble shaping the neckline correctly, especially at the back – one of these times where having a dressform would help.

I haven’t entirely figured out the side bustle. There’s certainly a loop of fabric holding up the skirt, but sometimes there seems to be an arrangement of pleats going on as well. I’ve decided on just the simple loop for now, although it’s only pinned in place at the moment. Once I’m happy with the positioning and gathering effect, I’ll sew the strap in place. I intend to it to fasten with a snap at one end so I can easily undo it and iron the whole skirt.

Before finishing it off with a waistband, I experimented with attaching the navy velvet drape at the back. I wasn’t sure until I made it whether it would be best attached to the skirt left as a separate piece and tied around my waist - I settled on attaching it to the skirt.

I had a lot of problems in general deciding what to do about this train! It seems to vary in length throughout the film, and there are blue pleats at the hem (which aren’t just the ones on the rest of the dress showing) but these aren’t present on the screenworn dress that was auctioned off. I don’t know what the explanation is - there could have been more than one dress, it could have been worn different ways throughout filming (e.g. the train hiked up to make it shorter), and afterwards it might be the pleats were just taken off if they’d been damaged trailing on the ground. My conclusion was that I should give up on accuracy and pick whatever variations I wanted. I chose to make the pleats and have the train no longer than the rest of the dress for practicality

I had patterned it out when I was mocking up the rest of the skirt and I’d made the silk pleats for the hem at the same time as all the other pleated pieces. It’s just a tapered width of velvet which is gathered at the top. The edges are overlocked, and as each side is turned under quite significantly I didn’t need to sew a hem at the edges (although I may put in a few hand stitches to help ensure it stays in place.)

I began with Butterick 4452 for the overskirt. I made a quick mock-up to check it would fit nicely over the pleated base skirt and should gather up at the side ok. It all went fairly smoothly without the need for many adjustments. I ended up omitting the darts and putting in 4 pleats at the back. Because I initially wasn’t sure how I would want to attach the velvet drape at the back, I inserted an invisible zip into the right side seam to keep my options open. This also kept it clear of the pleats at the left of the dress. The overskirt was then sewn to the base skirt at the waist and zip, then hemmed after testing it out while wearing the petticoat and boots.

My compromise for the silk deficiency was to make a base skirt of polycotton and add on pleated sections of the silk only where they’d be visible. As nice as it would be to have made the whole thing from silk and have pleats continuing all the way round, so much is hidden by the overlay that even if I’d had enough fabric it’d be a bit of a waste (and I did enough pleating as it was). I estimated I’d have needed about another 5m of silk which doesn’t come cheap, and it seems that on the actual dress, the uppermost row of pleats stops part way round, so it’s really not necessary. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

I did attach a complete row of pleats at the hem. The polycotton skirt doesn’t extend to the floor, it finishes where these pleats begin, so the silk is the only fabric that should ever be seen both inside and out at the hem. There’s then a second row of pleats sewn to the polycotton skirt which I had enough fabric to extend most of the way round. The third, uppermost pleats are attached at the waist and are only made up of one width of fabric as they’ll show the least.

Finally, I pressed in the pleats with my highly sophisticated pleating tool – the piece of card. This wasn’t too tedious but took about 3 hours to complete.

The silk unravelled horrendously so I did all my cutting in one day (nice and easy job with straight lines and a rotary cutter) sewed the seams (which were all at the selvedges) then
overlocked the top and bottom edges and hoovered thoroughly.

I then pressed and sewed the hems. The photo shows the fabric for the lowermost row of pleats, which was about 9m long before pleating.

At first I’d planned to do a double-hem, but regardless of the eventual hem, I knew I wanted to overlock the silk since it frays so much, and after I established I could do a very discreet 3-thread finish, I decided I’d take that lazy route and only do a single fold. This also had the bonus of making my limited fabric go a little further and when dealing with what amounted to about 17m of hem in total for the pleats, anything to speed up the hemming was welcome!

With boots, petticoat and corset sorted I was ready to pattern out the dress. I started with the skirt so that that bodice can later be correctly fitted over it.

I used a heap of spare fabric to mock-up the base skirt and experiment with the pleats to get a feel for how wide they should be and how long each tier should be. I had to be very precise with calculating how much fabric I needed given the limited silk I had, so once I had a general idea of the measurements, I spent some time playing with the numbers to find out how much of an overlap between the rows of pleats I could have, how far round the upper rows could extend etc.

The mock-up fabric I was using is so thin you can see the overlap between the rows of pleats in the photo. I’m also wearing an initial bodice mock-up, which I’ve yet to do anything further with, but it was at least helpful to have at this stage to ensure the waistband of the skirt wouldn’t show.

The boots I’m using for now are a pair I already have from New Look. They’re not accurate, but they won’t look out of place and they’ll rarely be seen, so I’ll wear them if I don’t bother with bootcovers. In any case, I’ve made the skirt the appropriate length for that heel height.

The boots from my Alice costume do have the correct shaped heels, and I have some suedette fabric, so if I do decide to go for accurate boots, I’ll probably try making removable covers for them.

To complete the underpinnings, I’m using the petticoat from my Alice costume, pinned up at the back to create a bustle. It’s a circle skirt with a ruffle at the hem which has horsehair braid in it.

I might revisit this eventually, particularly to create a better bustle, but at least I already have something I could use for patterning and fitting purposes.

Finished! I’m already itching to make another corset as I know I can still improve on my pattern and construction, but considering this one won’t even be seen it can do the job for now.

One thing I learnt the hard way was that eyelet tape just isn’t strong enough to cope with tightlacing. I had some handy so thought it’d be a nice shortcut instead of inserting grommets myself. After trying on the finished corset a few times, some of the grommets began to come loose, so I had to prise them all out and replace them with some larger, better ones. It was convenient to have all the holes already perfectly positioned though, but next time I’ll know not to bother wasting eyelet tape.

Another factor which kept delaying the dress was having to sort out the underpinnings first.

In 2011 when I made my Tinkerbell costume I had a go at sewing a corset with the vague idea that it could support the wings and also be re-purposed for Yvaine. I didn't get a great fit, found I’d have been better off with an underbust for Tink given the low back of the dress and I didn’t end up needing it for the wings anyway, so it went away in a box.

During the summer of 2014 I unearthed the corset and pattern (Laughing Moon’s Dore ) and began adjusting the fit. A couple of mock-ups later, and I had something better-fitting. I made the final thing in with a busk this time for more convenience. It’s two layers of coutil with spiral steel boning.

Photos from top left:
- The very first corset, roughly pinned for an idea of how much it needed taken in at the bust.
- A subsequent mock-up.
- I cut off the back panels of the original corset to baste on to my mock-ups giving me instant grommets and lacing.
- The final corset pattern and pieces – labeling them with tape was essential!
- One half assembled, opened out before the final seam was sewn to close the lining.

The sticking point initially was the fabric. I could never find anything in my local shops, would go through phases of searching online, but every swatch I ordered online turned out to be dark navy or too bright a blue. It needed to be two-tone, so I was always looking at shot taffeta and dupioni, and in the realm of silk, prices were often prohibitive even if I did spot the perfect colour. I had a look for fabric when I visited New York and LA without any luck. Finally, I went fabric shopping in London before the Grand Cosplay Ball 2010. First shop on Goldhawk Road that I went into had silk in a suitable colour and I came away with 8m. I’ve attempted to show it in the photo but it varies significantly with lighting.

Once I finally started work on the costume, I realised I could have done with far more fabric, but at the time I couldn’t have justified spending more. Even now that I could afford it, there’s still the compelling argument that if you can find a decent compromise to make a costume more cheaply, then it’s worth doing so. I’m therefore glad in a way that the limited fabric I had made me carefully think about how to best use it all (although my solution of mixing in polycotton with silk might be some kind of sewing crime).

I’d been thinking more seriously about starting this costume all year and in July 2014 when was back in London for LFCC I bought some navy velvet which just about completed all the materials I needed. Over time I’d collected most other things I needed for the costume – black coutil to line the bodice, chiffon for the sleeves and even thread.

I enjoy Neil Gaiman’s novels, but was never that keen on Stardust. However, I absolutely love the film! I was able to see it at the Edinburgh Film Festival several months before its general release and have wanted this dress ever since. After 7 years of it living on my dream costume list, I finally started sewing during my time off over Christmas.

I’m glad in a way it’s taken me so long to get round to making this dress since I feel much more confident and capable of it now. It’s also been a helpful (and unusual) experience to have gradually gathered all the materials over several years and spent so long thinking about it – all that preparation has definitely made construction a much smoother process.

I have managed to throw together some form of Widget so costume is done!

I thought about making the different coloured faces and finding a way to have them slot in so I could interchange them but when testing out all my construction ideas, I inevitably found it was so much easier to give up on the idea, and I doubt I’d bother swapping the faces about that much anyway. My final creation does at least light-up so I at least achieved something vaguely interesting with my lack of prop-making skills.

I built it around a push-light, covered it in turquoise fabric, painted the face on and cast a clear resin dome for the top. The push-light mechanism doesn’t entirely function with everything stuck on top like that – switching it on generally requires some shoogling.

I shaped Wonderflex for all the white pieces. I punched holes in the top and threaded a cable through – the cable a runs right around the circumference of the light and is taped in place underneath the Wonderflex so the weight of it all is nicely supported. It’s finished up with some beads glued in place and fastens at the back.

If I find the motivation to remake it, I’d make it a little smaller and forget about any lights or other complexities. I like the effect of the resin dome so would probably just sculpt clay directly around one.

I bought a cheap pair of leather gloves in the hope adapting them might be easier than working completely from scratch. It involved mostly sewing by hand but worked out well enough.

I cut the two fingers shorter, unpicked the tops of the other fingers, basted on the turquoise fabric and sewed them up again. While chopping up the glove, I tore out the lining and took in a few of the seams for a closer fit. The turquoise sections on the palm and the wrist are lined pieces stitched on by hand.

The spare left glove contributed leather for making the wrist strap and other pieces. The strap fastens with velcro. The knuckle things are oval acrylic gems I covered and glued on and the panel they sit on was sewn on by hand. The mood matrix face thingy is a cover button painted with yellow nail polish.

Just Widget to make this week before Minami now!

The ribbon is made from simple tubes of the turquoise fabric hand sewn in place. For the bow section, I also inserted thin jewellery wire into a channel in the seam allowance to ensure it retains its shape.

I covered the fringe thing as far as possible with the hair on the wig, then filled the gaps with extra wefts made from hair I trimmed off when cutting the wig into a bob. To secure the style, I used hot glue wherever it couldn't show e.g. for securing the base of wefts, then along the more visible areas relied on tacky glue, Tresemme freeze hold hairspray and a hairdryer.

I made a wire frame for the fringe section and when I was happy with the size and shape, I covered it in masking tape, painted it orange then sewed and glued it in place on the wig.

The wig is the Buttercup style from Arda in pumpkin with a clip-on ponytail. Rather than beginning with a short wig, I decided cutting a longer wig would be best to give me plenty spare wefts from everything I trimmed off, as well as making it easy to incorporate the long front strands she has and to blend in the fringe piece I needed to add.

Remaining things to make: cufflinks, earring, wig, widget and glove.

Few adjustments I want to make (and ironing would be a start…) Especially want to try altering the boots a bit: those covers could do with some help and although it looks about right for accuracy, the boots are the least flattering length possible on me, they end at precisely the wrong point on my leg!

I probably could have got away with painting them white if I'd wanted, but there were rhinestones down one side of the boot so I needed to make covers.

I first cut them to the right length and although they were already grey, I needed to paint them since they were a bit too dark and the soles had to match too. I painted the edge of the sole, toe and heel area pale grey and made covers from white curtain blackout lining fabric. It's helpful because it doesn't fray so I didn't need to do anything to its edges.

I found suitable boots to adapt on ebay. I chose them because they had the right sort of heel and sole; they're suede so would take paint well; and didn't have a zip to interfere with cutting them shorter or adding covers.

I found a few free tie patterns online and settled on this onehttp://www.purlbee.com/storage/fathersdaytie_FINAL.pdf combined with reference to instructions on some other sites. I reduced the length quite a bit but it's otherwise unaltered.

The finished shirt feels more like a waistcoat given the double-layer of fabric, pockets and sleevelessness!

The shirt is a slightly stretchy cotton drill. I used New Look 6435 (once again, a pattern I already had which although not all that suitable, was the starting point I needed) and adapted it significantly. Since I needed facings for the collar anyway and I was concerned the white might be a bit see-through, I lined the entire thing in the same fabric. Lining was also sensible to enclose the pocket bags. I followed this guide to make the single welt pockets: http://poppykettle.com/2012/04/10/101-single-welt-pockets/. I topstitched all the edges and overlocked and hemmed the armscyes with (having left them open for turning the lining). It fastens with an invisible zip down the front.

Important advice: when marking out lines for pockets (as shown in the photo of the inside of the shirt), be careful with your choice of pen. In hindsight I should have used my water-soluble pen, but it didn’t even occur to me it might matter given I was drawing on interfacing and not directly on the fabric and I’ve happily used biro before like that without any problems.

However, the ink ended up soaking through a bit where I’d sprayed the fabric with the iron when pressing. It was an adventure getting the stain out too – after hand washing and soaking it overnight didn’t work, I tried isopropyl alcohol then acetone which got the worst of it out, but I still ended up soaking it overnight in bleach which finally got it all. It then took a spin in the washing machine to get the bleach smell out. So I now have the cleanest, whitest shirt possible and at least know it’ll easily stand up to washing and whatever else I throw at it…

I patterned out the skirt myself with a bit of trial and error to experiment with the pleats. The pleats vary a bit in references; I wasn't sure if they were meant to be open from the waistband or only lower down. I decided to have them begin where the shirt points end, so have sewn the seams most of the way (at least I can always open them up if I change my mind). It's fully lined in the yellow satin. I couldn't find a bright yellow zip so painted the pull with nail polish to match.

Done apart from cufflinks. I'd somehow lost the attorney's badge from my Calisto costume so had to sculpt a new one from Milliput.

I found wonderful bright gabardine in both yellow and turquoise. I also managed to find a matching yellow satin to line the jacket and skirt.

I used McCall's 5477 as a starting point for the jacket, purely on the basis that I own it and it’s a princess seamed blazer, but it really wasn't that helpful since I had to make such significant adjustments, particularly to reshape the back princess seams, and I all but ignored the sleeve pieces. That was in addition to cropping it and so on. I made a couple of mock-ups and dismantled the final one to make my patterns for both the outer shell and lining.

Photo shows the pattern I came up with, satin lining pieces are on the carpet.

Since I had time after finishing the costume, I’ve made a matching bag with spare fabric and the test brocade piece I’d painted.

Her rose ring is a bit of an odd design with the rose stem extending quite a bit away from her finger. I bought a silver ring with a suitable rose on it from ebay and haven’t bothered trying to adapt it because I don’t really like the design and think it’d be a bit awkward to wear.

I’m using my own hair, although it’s not ideal since it’s thin, fine and determined to remain straight. It’s at least a good idea for the pulled-back hairline but I may try to incorporate extensions or a fall of some sort to add more volume in future. I’m copying the looser style from episode 2 because it seemed easiest.

I’ve also had the fun of trying to create some cleavage – not something I’m naturally blessed with in the slightest. Given the dress is backless with a low neckline as well, it’s all about tape.

I’m hopeless at the props and accessories side of costumes and I really need to thank Squiddley for detailing how she made her rose belt thing - hot glue worked perfectly to keep it light and flexible. I bought a fake fabric rose brooch and painted it gold with the same pens used on the bodice. The stem base is craft foam with hot glue on top. I’m terrible with getting this sort of thing neat and found using a heat gun helpful to even out the glue. I tested out a few different paints and decided on silver acrylic and the Krylon gold leafing pens again as those coped well with any flexing of the hot glue. The belt attaches to the dress with snaps and the ribbon bows are also functional.

With the designs all done I could assemble the bodice. It’s lined in bull denim for support and the edges understitched where possible. It fastens at the front with hooks and bars, backed up with some large snaps.

On studying the references further I realised the skirt isn’t gathered into the bodice at all, so I revisited the construction of my skirt and essentially settled on a half circle skirt. I only had to cut one new panel and re-shape my existing ones a bit before assembling the skirt again so it wasn’t a complete disaster. It was frustrating undoing my nice seams and going back to square one from having had a finished skirt, but the gathering at the waist just looked all wrong so I’m glad I persevered. I assembled it again with French seams and have roll-hemmed it. The underskirt is also now finished and hemmed.

The shoulder and back pieces were patterned out with a bit of draping experimentation. They have a base of Fosshape to give them the right sort of thickness and help them retain that curved shape. They’re looped on to the neck strap of the bodice and a few hand stitches prevent them shifting. I also used elastic thread to attach them where they meet the bodice under the arms - I wanted to ensure it’s not likely to break if I move my arms too much!

The smaller red and blue gems are the glass cabochons I used previously, but this time I cast the larger blue gems myself using polyester clear-cast resin. I also cast the oval gem for the centre of the bodice at the same time to ensure it would match. The gems are backed in foil and all are applied with Araldite. For the green gems on the shoes, I wasn't happy with the results I got from casting these using green pigment to colour the resin, so I stuck with the cabochons I painted before.

I had go sculpting more accurate earrings this time inserting pairs of the gems I’d cast glued together back to back.

The gold coins strung on the bodice are blanks intended for engraving as keychains which I tracked down in the two sizes I needed. The gold cord is the thinnest available variety of the same metallic braid used throughout the costume. I carefully measured and hand stitched it into the zigzag pattern then attached the coins with jump rings.

I replaced the flower on the headpiece with one of the resin ones I’d cast for the belt.

I used Milliput as filler on some pieces then everything was sanded, primed and painted gold. I initially coated the pieces with gold acrylic spray paint, but wasn’t too happy with the colour so applied a second coat by hand using gold enamel. I then went over the pieces with some dark acrylic colours for a weathering effect and to bring out the details, finishing with a coat of clear varnish.

I had to carefully drill holes to thread jump rings through and link all the pieces together. In addition to my resin pieces, I made cylindrical beads from fimo clay, used some round wooden beads and incorporated some of the metal medallions from the belt I’d used previously after prising it apart with pliers.

I made a mould of these from RTV silicone rubber then cast the final pieces using a polyurethane fast-cast resin. The short (hour-long) curing time for the resin was helpful when making multiple copies of each piece from only one mould.

I redid the jewellery accurately this time rather than mostly cobbling it together from found pieces, beginning by sculpting 5 different pieces for the various medallions using oil-based clay.

I then wrapped broad strands around a toilet roll tube and put in the larger curls using a hairspray and a hairdryer.

Having added all the extra wefts, I trimmed the ponytail so all the lengths matched up then curled the ends. I wanted a mix of some smaller curls to add volume and create a bit more of a natural style so I first curled the ends with a curling iron and hairspray.

At the time I bought my wig I also got a second clip-on ponytail with the intention of making use of the extra matching wefts, but I was short on time and the existing ponytail looked fine and already seemed so heavy and awkward to wear that I didn't want to add any more weight! In pursuit of accuracy and since I already had the additional ponytail, I decided to now incorporate it into the wig.

I managed to fit both ponytails on to one clip and also sewed in some wadding at the back to adapt the shape. I wanted it to seem like a ponytail sticking out and not just a clip. I did consider stubbing the wig and wrapping the ponytail wefts around to make a proper ponytail, but it didn't seem worthwhile since the volume of hair would conceal my efforts and I found having the clip is really helpful for securing the wig and balancing its weight.

I redid the Fosshape base for the gauntlets, it turned out a lot better now that I have more experience at working with it and I had a better idea of how to approach assembling them this time. I basted the lining to the Fosshape before assembly which was helpful. Experience also let me get the gold trim at the edges neater.

I constructed the final bodice in the same way as before, but this time the gold trim was primarily hand sewn at the front for greater control over its positioning. There is also thin jewellery wire enclose in the edges of the “petal” shapes at the bust to ensure these would closely conform to my body.

I also inserted a length of wire underneath the central gold stripe on each of the purple hip petals to enhance the curled shape.

I ensured the denim strength layer extended throughout the whole leotard this time. I didn’t find having it end at the hips helpful and it was a lot simpler to have it match the other layers.

I took the opportunity to order more spiral steel boning in all the correct lengths, rather than making do which whatever I happened to have to hand.

I remade the leotard completely since I wasn’t happy with the fit and had ended up with all kinds of issues with it.

I took apart the version I’d made for Aya and used its inner bull denim layer as a mock-up to improve it, adding pieces on and adapting it until I had a better fitting pattern. I also I wrapped my lower half in clingfilm, covered it in masking tape, drew on the shape of the leotard to it and used as a basis to perfect that part of the pattern. I decided having 3 petals on each bra cup didn’t look right so this time I changed it to 4 – from the references it could be either given the angle she’s pictured at.

Photo is my final mock-up, no idea how many I ended up making in total…

I put some clear plastic over a lamp and leaned on that to paint so the bright light would clearly show up the pattern to follow. I’m using Krylon’s gold leafing pens because I hate neatly painting fine details and they’re a gorgeous metallic colour. They also leave a dark border to the design which was a happy accident – I’d been debating proper silk painting with a resist to get that sort of effect, but I’m much more comfortable with this method and it’s ideal that it’s producing a similar result.

The photo is my test piece which, if I have time, will be part of a matching handbag. Might as well put it to some good use!

I could then iron the interfacing to the blue silk, as on the piece on the right in the photo.

With the pattern finalised, I drew the bodice outline on to some interfacing and started to sketch out the gold floral designs. I mirrored my references in Photoshop for this so that when the interfacing was ironed to the silk, the designs showed through the right way round. The fabric needed to be interfaced anyway and this approach gave me the designs fixed in place as an accurate template. After I was happy with the designs drawn out in pencil, I went over them in dark pen to make the tracing easier. Having done one half of the bodice, I used that to trace the design on to the other.

The bodice wasn’t as difficult to pattern out as I expected. I made just one mock-up which I basically threw together with a princess seamed bodice pattern as a starting point and some reference to a halterneck dress I own. I drew out my best guess at the shape and it worked out pretty nicely! After trying it on I adjusted the fit, cut in the low back, tweaked the neckline and that was about it. Given it ends quite high on the waist, I managed to avoid side seams and I found the entire thing could be cut out in one whole piece (assuming you had enough fabric – I have a seam at the centre back), which seems to correspond to the construction of the actual dress because I can’t spot any seams or hints at a break in the brocade pattern anywhere (other than probably the centre back). After I was happy with the mock-up, I cut the pieces from my bull denim lining fabric, and tried it all on once again to ensure it was ok.

After rushing the costume for AyaCon in the midst of moving house, I got the costume finished but not to the standards I'd envisaged. On the Sunday of Aya, Maz asked me if I would team up with her for the World Cosplay Summit qualifiers in October at Play Expo, so that gave me great incentive to go back and do the costume properly this time!

I was pretty happy with the pantaloons overall, but having seen photos from Aya and now having more time to review the costume, I decided to experiment with padding out the legs to improve the shape. I inserted wadding between the lycra leggings that form a lining/stay and the loose outer fabric. It was one of these really simple, easy things to do that ends up making a great difference.

The shoes were alright but I took the opportunity to tidy them up a bit. I also inserted wire into the curly toe to help ensure it retains its shape.

I tried out Pros-aid to secure my ears and took more care blending them in with make-up.

Purim isn’t pictured with any notable make-up, but as it's such a bright, dance-inspired costume I felt I needed something vividly coloured to compete with all that pink fabric. I decided to try out pink eyeshadow and gold eyeliner, fuschia lipstick and I painted some false nails to match my fabric.

There’s Fosshape inside the petals to ensure they keep their curved shape, and when sewing them to the leotard, pulling the upper pink fabric slightly tighter than the purple lower section also helps ensure they curl upwards.

It’s nearly done apart from closing up the edges at the bottom, which I’ll do nice and invisibly by hand if I can be bothered to.

I chose to treat the hip petal things as separate pieces which seemed the easiest approach. I interfaced the purple lycra first and like the shoecovers and gauntlets, there’s gold bias tape topstitched on. Photo featuring sewing-tastic ironing board cover from Ikea!

That leotard thing was a patterning adventure, but wasn’t as bad as I expected. I started off with a bodice pattern, extended it and made refinements through mock-ups. I found referring to tutorials on bunny suits to be helpful for making sure I was on the right track (primarily this one: http://rufflebuttcosplay.deviantart.com/art/Tutorial-Bunny-Suits-Part-One-The-Suit-346132442). My pattern could definitely use further work, but since I’m wearing it over the pantaloons the fit didn’t need to be absolutely precise. And yes, amazingly it ended up ok wearing it over the pantaloons – I was sure they’d be too bulky and need to be cut down and sewn into the leotard’s leg holes, but they don’t cause any major problems.

Photo shows my newspaper pattern, stacks of the pink exterior/lining pieces and the assembled strength layer of bull denim (that denim layer is a bit shorter so is more an elongated bodice) to which the boning channels were sewn. I was able to make do with lengths of boning I already had so mostly used flat steel boning but also some lengths of spiral steel I had spare. I also sewed in bra cups. There’s zip down the back of the suit and all the gold trim is topstitched on.

For the jewellery, I mostly tried to find existing pieces to adapt because I hate making accessories from scratch and didn’t want to delve into casting resin gems again if I could help it. I found a floral medallion belt on ebay and sprayed it gold. For the larger medallions, I rolled out Fimo and cut the shape out with biscuit cutters! Clay worked well because I could press in detail before baking them.

I bought a string of little plastic medallions to go under the bust and have ended up incorporating them into the belt too. I also used some fleur de lys charms from ebay. Everything was spray painted before assembly so keep the colour consistent.

The smaller gems are coloured glass cabochons. For the larger ones, I painted the bottoms of some clear acrylic ones. I was also able to buy setting trays for the oval ones. The earrings are from Primark and had Fimo added to the bottoms and the gems glued on.

The bracelets are rigilene plastic boning covered in my sparkly gold trim. For the anklet I cut some plastic instead to get a wider width than the rigilene, and it’s attached to the pantaloons with clear thread.

They were then covered in purple lycra which will be glued on with Shoe Goo, not vaguely pinned in place like in the photo. I chose lycra because stretchy covers are much easier and it neatly smooths over the transition between the shoe and the Fossahpe toe I’d added. The stripes on the sole are gold bias tape, folded in half to make narrow strips. I might coat the sole in glue or stick a protective sole on to try to prevent it all fraying, but I’m not too worried about damage to them. The shoes don’t fit me well (slip-on court shoes refuse to stay on my feet) so I don’t plan to ever walk about in them much!

I found shoes on ebay with the right sort of conical heel and even similar shaped backs! I made an extension for the curly toe with Fosshape and hot glued it on.

I also sewed on as much of the sparkly gold trim as possible before lining them, then finished the edges with more of the trim.

They’re then covered in fabric inside and out. I did try painting the gold stripes on first because it had gone so well for the pantaloons, but I wasn’t getting a decent gold colour, so I ended up stitching down gold bias tape. I had plenty left from my Granado Espada costume so used it all up on this project.

The gauntlet things are made from Fosshape, my first time trying it out. The photos show it before and after it was attacked with a heat gun.

This hat is definitely my favourite part of the costume!

I started out with a baseball cap from a £1 shop as a base and to have the support of the visor. I experimented with mock-ups to make a cover about the right size. My pattern is a circle with a rectangle sewn around its circumference which is then gathered at the bottom to fit the baseball cap and hand sewn in place.

I made the final thing from the same cream polyester twill as the shirt, and padded it all out with wadding so it’s like having a big squashy cushion on my head! The other fabrics used also all match the fabrics elsewhere on the costume. The heart at the front is Bondawebbed on (the jersey doesn't fray so I didn't bother finishing the edges) and has cord trim sewn on by hand since my trial attempts at satin stitching were painful! The stripes were sewn on by hand. The pom-pom on the top is a gathered circle of the pvc padded with wadding. I simply drew around the cap's visor to make a cover for it from my suede fabric then also used Bondaweb to apply the squiggles, same as for my top.

I used drawstring hairpieces for the buns, my own hair will be tucked inside them. I used a length of lighter brown wig fibre to make the spiral shapes and sewed it in place with the aid of lots of hairspray. Definitely not a completely accurate hairstyle, and it's fiddly to get the buns neat and secure in my hair, but it was a cheap and simple method, avoided a wig and the results are marginally less ridiculous-looking than trying to recreate it more precisely.

I initially wanted to buy a couple of pairs of cheap brown leggings (to have one spare for matching fabric for the hat) but wasn’t having any luck finding some, so I resorted to buying some jersey fabric and making my own. This was probably a better idea since it let me make bootcut leggings (my vague attempt at the cartoonishness of the racers' legs/shoes) and obviously I had plenty spare fabric for the hat.

For the chocolate sauce on the leggings I made my own trim from a stretch pvc. I ended up lining the strips, but it was helpful to have chosen a non-fraying fabric so I could have just cut unhemmed lengths instead if I'd decided to, and the lack of fraying was helpful for the pvc used elsewhere on the costume too.

I bought a rotary cutter for this project (which might now be my new favourite sewing tool) and cut the long strips, joining them together. I sewed them into tubes, turned them the right way out (thanks to a length of ribbon sewn inside) and hot glued them in place while I wore the leggings. I then hand stitched them in a few spots to ensure they're completely secure.

I used the same pvc for the shoecovers – an eay job when using a stretchy fabric. They're glued to a pair of black trainers using Shoe Goo with the edges of the soles left showing. The white blobs are buttons covered in the same cream fabric as the shirt and hat, and I found a pair of heart earrings to glue on. They were a bit of hassle - I had to layer them in pva glue to smooth out the surface, but after that a few coats of pink nail polish they turned out well and were still easier, neater (and more identical) than sculpting my own.

The jacket is now finished - by far the worst part was the cuffs. I mean “worst” both in the sense that it was the most difficult part to make and the part I’m least happy with! I decided on piping to trim the scalloped shapes, but it wasn't easy to manipulate that dark brown pvc, and I really should have used smoother cord to stop the texture showing through. Also not pleased that the scallops aren’t that pronounced. I really can't face attempting re-doing it though! Otherwise, I love the jacket and the fabrics I ended up with.

The shirt is simple since it’s mostly covered by the jacket, so just sleeveless with a zip down the back. I used Bondaweb to stick on the squiggly designs, which were cut from the same pvc used on the shoes and leggings. Since pvc doesn't fray there was no need to do anything further to secure them. I like how cartoonish the effect is.

The cuffs are lined interfaced pieces with gold trim sewn on. The trim took some care to space precisely, but it didn’t take too long to apply it. It’s fairly easy stuff to manipulate and get the various corners/curves required, and sparkly is perfect for this bellydance-esque outfit. It’s also cheap and comes in various widths, so I bought heaps of it to use all over the costume.

The pantaloons were then sewn up and gathered at the waist and legs. They weren’t quite staying in place on my calves so I’ve made a pair of leggings from some spare pink lycra and sewed these underneath the pantaloon legs. Their main purpose is to act as a stay and keep the trousers bunched up correctly (as in the photo on the right), just like when making puffy sleeves, but this approach would also let me insert some padding for the legs if I want – not experimented with this yet though.

Although I’ve made a full pair of trousers for simplicity and fitting purposes, they will need to be cut down and sewn into the leg holes of the leotard top thing once I make it because wearing the complete pantaloons underneath the leotard is going to be far too bulky.

The paint is Marabu Textil Design Colorspray. It took a while to carefully measure the spacing and stick all the tape down, but spray paint made the actual painting really quick and neat. The colour’s not as bold as I might have liked, but I wanted to stick to using fabric spray paint as all the other paints I tried made the fabric go horrible and crispy.

To sew the pantaloons, I looked up a few guides on bellydance costumes to get an idea of how to go about it and made a mock-up to figure out the right sort of volume, leg-length etc. I did think about continuing to refine my pattern to get as close to the shape in the references as possible, but I quickly realised that leaving each leg basically as a rectangle would be best for marking out all the stripes. I used a looooooot of masking tape!

I based the skirt off Butterick 6195 and made a mock-up in white polycotton to test out incorporating the overlapping front panel. That gave me my pattern, and the mock-up has now become my underskirt. I wanted an underskirt given how flimsy my silk fabric is and there does seem to be another layer to her skirt. I think I’ll keep the underskirt as a separate piece (i.e. it won’t be sewn into the bodice) and I got rid of the overlapping front panel again so I’ll have a complete solid skirt underneath the silk. It’s all sewn together and overlocked so just needs gathered into a waistband now and eventually roll-hemmed to the correct length once I can try it on under the finished dress.

For the actual silk skirt, I’ve cut it so that the selvedge forms the edge of the front panels and used French seams. Once I can gather it into the bodice and try it all on I’ll then finish it with a rolled hem (can’t face attempting anything else!)

So I can’t do much more with the skirts just now. Photo shows the underskirt and silk skirt along with the ribbon and shoes I dyed to match.

I knew I wanted to use silk for this since it’s appropriate for Margaery, quite possibly what the dress in the show is made from, could be found in a suitable weight for the fluttery-ness of that skirt and it could be dyed. I bought 6m silk twill from whaleys-bradford.ltd.uk. The twill’s a cheaper but decent option – it’s light and comes in a very narrow width, which keeps the price down, but that still works for my purposes. I used a tiny amount of Jacquard’s acid dye in turquoise with a bit of brilliant blue leftover from my Alice dress to dye it. At the same time, I dyed narrow silk ribbon from rainbowsilks.co.uk to form the matching belt ties.

It took me three attempts to get the right colour (I don’t want to know how much water I’ve wasted!) and I basically spent a whole weekend with silk, dye and vinegar in the washing machine and heaps of fabric drying on the washing line. It came out very turquoise at first and I was worried about dyeing it too dark so tentatively added more of the brilliant blue until I got there.

The photos show how the colour progressed with each of my dye attempts (from left to right). It’s not helped that the dress colour in references inevitably varies according to lighting, but after my fabric dried off after each dye attempt, I photographed it in as many different lights as possible and compared it to a range of screenshots. Then I’d do more test swatches (you can see one in the middle photo) and have another go.

I’m not too concerned about the shoes for this costume because they won’t really be seen, but I happened to find cheap silk wedding shoes on ebay so dyed those to match. I kept back some of the dye solution that I’d added to the washing machine and brushed it on to the shoes (dyeing my paint brush in the process) and added another corresponding coat each time I re-dyed the fabric. It’s still not an exact match because the shoes are a very slubby silk and the slubs took up more dye than the rest, but I think the overall effect is a close enough to my fabric.

Finally, I plan to use bull denim from venacavadesign.co.uk for a supportive bodice lining. That doesn’t strictly need to be dyed, but I had spare blue Dylon machine dye from my Eureka costume so I’ve used it up.

Some initial progress showing all the fabrics I’ve bought for the costume so far, the finished skirt and where I’ve got to with the jacket.

I found a nice suedette in a great colour for this costume and am using both sides of it. I used the darker reverse side for the skirt. After studying it, I decided the pleats radiate outwards from the middle so I put two box pleats at the centre front and back, then knife pleats going opposite directions away from them, meeting at the side seams.

The jacket is wonderfully awful shiny satin jersey. I love it when I get to use ridiculous materials like that! I used the less-shiny side for the exterior and the super-shiny side for the lining. It was cheap and easy to work with, with a helpful bit of stretch to it. I used New Look 6435 as my starting point. The proper, suede-y side of the skirt suedette will be used for the cuffs/collar/sleeve stripes and waistband of the jacket, not all of which I’ve made yet.

The other fabrics (and jacket zip) I’ve bought for the costume are pictured too. I’ve got a cream polyester twill for the hat and top, and the dark brown stretch pvc is for the chocolate sauce. I looked for cords or ribbons to use on the leggings and also thought about puff paint, but eventually decided I’ll make my own trim. I chose the pvc so it’d be shiny, wouldn’t fray and would stretch nicely with the leggings. I can also cut out the pieces for the matching parts on the top and hat and it’ll work well for the shoecovers too.

Finally, I plan to buy two pairs of cheap brown leggings to have one to have one spare for matching fabric for the hat.

It took me 2 years, but I finally got round to remaking that bodice. I wanted to improve the fit, the positioning of the princess seams and also avoid wrinkly awful interfacing this time. I had just enough spare fabric, so remade it for NemaCon 2012 and made a few final adjustments in time for AmeCon 2012.

My method of construction was the same, but I took my time and made several mock-ups to ensure the fit and seam position were correct. Instead of interfacing, I chose Bondaweb. I used it to fuse the silk twill to white polycotton pieces which were actually from my final mock-up. This worked out nicely for making the twill easier to work with, whilst stiffening it a bit, and I haven’t had any wrinkle issues with it. Using the mock-up also guaranteed I had accurate pieces! I also used coutil for the lining this time rather than drill, which helps add a bit more support to the bodice.

I had to make new piping and I’m not delighted with the results since I’m not sure I cut the silk exactly on the bias so that may be contributing to it not lying entirely smoothly. I also found that the weave of the piping cord I was using initially showered through the silk, so I ended up pulling it out and painstakingly threading through a different, smoother rattail cord.

I found more accurate trim for the top of the opaque section, used a finer netting for the underlay, and used some new lace trim at the neckline which was carefully snipped out from lace fabric I bought in London ages ago. Aside from that, I was able to recycle most of the trim, elastic, buttons etc. from the first bodice attempt or buy more of the same that I’d used previously where necessary.

I also used the same sleeves again, all I did was replace the bottom section to make them a bit fuller and longer – it was easy to inset a seam where the lowermost tuck hides it.

Inevitably, making a garment for the second time is easier and tends to turn out better and I had a lot more time to make the bodice this time round, so overall it’s a lot better, and I really can’t face trying to perfect it any further, especially when I only have some minor quibbles now.

I made a few other tweaks to the costume too – I finally sewed the black zigzag trim on to the boots since it wasn’t staying in place with the glues I tried. I stitched it gradually over a weekend using pliers to pull the needle through the boot leather, but still wrecked my hands in the process. Still, that trim is not going to budge now.

I also shortened the necklace a bit more to work with the new bodice neckline.

Only remaining thing I might eventually do is make a new hoopskirt more suited to this specific skirt, since I currently use the one originally made for my Esther costume and had to take in the hoop and tweak it a bit. Doesn’t particularly matter, but it’d be nice to have a better one.

I bought a pair of black suede gloves and used these as a base since I hate making gloves from scratch and these were surprisingly detailed and complex, so it helped to be able to work on everything from the wrist up separately.

I made a section of black suedette lined with coutil to extend them into the right shape and figured out the appropriate seams to allow me to insert gold piping. The drawing here does not make any sense - each glove is different and I've no idea how the gold is meant to go, so I came up with something which seemed suitable and would be easy enough to do. Then there's bias binding for the trim and some gold studs. I used white polycotton for the rows of ruffles.

I did this in a rush last night so they’re far from perfect – I didn’t really make them fit my wrists correctly and also forgot to allow for fitting them over my hands when patterning them out, so the ruffled section doesn’t taper into a v at the wrist as it should, and I needed to use velcro as a closure, but the main thing is I have some form of gloves and the costume is finished!

I found a pair of knee high boots with a suitable heel on ebay, painted the heels and visible parts of the soles gold, cut them to shape and made covers from them from the black suedette.

It took a bit of trial and error to get the covers right when using a non-stretch fabric and I had to insert zips. There's gold piping where the covers meet the sole and the covers are glued on to the base boots with Shoe Goo. The left boot has a strap at the ankle made from interfaced gold satin trimmed with bias binding and the rest is all strings of gold seed beads which took forever to string together. I was able to find circular buckles which I painted gold. For the gold tops, I made a quilted section from the gold satin.

Since I was dealing with black fabric this time, I transferred the painted design on the fronts by pricking and pouncing. First time I’d tried it and it’s really effective, but I did manage to get flour everywhere.

Leaving for AmeCon in about 45 minutes! I finished the costume last night at about 10pm and spent this morning sorting everything out and packing. So relieved it all worked out in the end.

I chose a thick white stretch jersey for the stockings and blue jersey for the lower sections. When looking for net stockings or tights to get the mesh from, I actually found a knee-high pair, which was perfect. Those are stitched on top and the purple ribbon is hand sewn in place. I couldn’t find any suitable ribbon, so painted some pink taffeta ribbon I had with acrylic.

The detail at the tops is black suedette, gold bias binding and the zig-zags are cut from felt, backed with fine black netting to keep the triangular cutouts in place. I’ve sewn in the tops from a pair of hold-ups to hopefully keep the stockings in place.

I sketched out the gold designs for the front, and used the same sort of approach as for the cape to trace the designs on to the fabric. I used fabric paint, a fabric pen to help with the finer lines and add in a different shade of gold, and a brown permanent marker.

The black garter is black stretch suedette sewn to a hold-up stocking top, with tightly gathered black netting at the edges.

The cape is a simple half-circle made from a double-layer of white polycotton, lined with silver for a bit of contrast. It's probably just meant to be white in shadow in the artwork, but I liked the idea of incorporating more silver to go with the armour. There's gold trim at the hem and I painted a design on the back which I took from the in-game references. I drew out half the design on paper, when I had it finalised, I went round the design in thick black felt tip pen. The ink soaks through the paper so I ended up with the design on both sides, meaning I could flip it over to have an identical mirrored half. I could then place my paper template underneath the cape and see it clearly enough through the white fabric to trace over it using a water soluble pen, then flip it and line it up to trace the other half. I put in grommets to thread through the silver cord from the armour at the front, but it's really secured with a few snaps at the back since that cord wasn't going to support anything, and the snaps allow it to be removeable so I can still take the top on and off using the zip down the back.

I'd already made a black suedette top which had the collar beading on it. I attached the sleeves to this and then had everything in place to pattern out the armour.

I cut two layers of craft foam at once to make sure they were identical, and cut the raised trim at the edges from the second layer. This was really fiddly for the finer detail on the middle piece, but I think it was worth the effort. I used black netting for the zigzags around the heart opening and strung together the beads. For those ridiculous boob antlers, I used Wonderflex since I needed something a bit more rigid than foam. I experimented with the shape to get something that I could attach to the top and have it stay in place fairly securely. Rather than spending ages smoothing the surface out, I stuck craft foam over it which also gives it more of the thickness as shown in the artwork. I inserted grommets to thread the cord though which connects to the cape. The armour was all spray painted silver then antiqued with black acrylic.

The front of the top was cut to shape and hemmed to allow for the armour layout, then the armour is all hot glued on. There seems to be gathered parts of the white shirt showing at the sides, so I added that on. The white fabric just tucks into the bodice and hopefully will stay in place ok.

The end is in sight! Aside from minor touch-ups, everything is done except for the boots and gloves, and I’m fairly confident about finishing those too. The bootcovers are well underway and I’m planning on gluing them on to the base boots tomorrow, then getting any finishing touches sorted on Wednesday. All going to plan, I’ll start on the gloves as well. Since I’m only modifying an existing pair, it shouldn’t be too much trouble, and at least I can just wear the plain gloves as they are if I run out of time. I think I’ll have enough time though since I also have Thursday morning for last-minute sewing (and packing…) because my train to AmeCon isn’t until 3ish so I’m hoping to get it all done before I leave. Either that, or finish up with some handsewing on the train.

Adding on the black band and all the gold bias tape took quite a while as well since I was continuing to finish the binding without topstitching in various ways - either by hand, stitching in the ditch, sewing it right sides together as an insert between two sections, or when all else failed, wundaweb.

The gold ruffle at the hem was applied by hand. I initially made a roll-hemmed flounce, but it wasn't looking right, so it's just a gathered rectangle.

I had to make the ribbed white fabric which took forever. I settled on pleating since it also made the fabric thicker and more opaque, but just ironing in pleats in wouldn't be enough to make sure they stayed put and would be a pain for sewing everything else to, so I ended up sewing it all as seams and went slightly insane along the way.

The sleeves were far more time-consuming than I expected. The black top sections have gold quilted sections done the same way as on the bodice. For the little dots in the middle of the design, I ended up painted the tops of some jewellery pin things gold and embedding them. For the diamond shaped sections, I needed to ensure the pieces were lined which was a little tricky with the quilt wadding in there.

Photo shows one quilted section which has been stitched, and the other with the design traced on to the Solvy ready to do.

For the gold trim at the edges of the bodice, I made paper templates, drew out the design then traced it on to Ultra Solvy water soluble stabiliser. I sandwiched quilt wadding between two layers of gold satin, which I was careful to cut out as one continuous piece - I didn't want seams at the corners. I laid the Solvy over it and sewed over it following the lines of the design. The edges are finished with bias tape and sewn to the bodice, all finished to look as seamless as possible by stitching in the ditch.

It was useful to already have the skirt done before working on the bodice so I could make sure it fitted over it correctly and was the right length.

I used Butterick 6195 for the bodice and made a mock-up in black cotton drill. I only had to cut it to the correct length and reshape the front a bit to allow for the flared opening. Although it looks as though it's meant to fasten at the front, in practice, having a closure there would be too complicated with all the cord in the way. Instead, I chose to have the actual closure as lacing down the back, continuing the psuedo-corset theme. I did look at the in-game design to see the back of the costume, but it's fairly plain, so having lacing down the back made it a bit more interesting.

As for the front opening, obviously a garment isn't going to magically sit in place like in the drawing when it's completely open all the way down the front, so I did need to do something to secure it. I didn't want to sew it completely closed in the middle though, so I have a small strip of white fabric joining the two halves. It should blend into the white shirt fabric underneath and give the impression of the bodice floating in place as in the art.

I used my mock-up for the lining, there's a layer of coutil for support and then the outer fabric is the suedette used elsewhere on the costume. I inserted flat steel boning between the coutil and lining, ensuring no stitching showed on the outside. I found that with the coutil, the bodice was doing ok on its own so I only have boning in the princess seams front and back. With the splits at the side seams I also didn't want to mess with boning there. I made gold piping to insert into the seams and made the designs at the waist using the gold satin and bias binding, applied by hand. The other decoration is gold cord, studs and turquoise earrings which were a lucky find in Claire's Accessories. I think there are maybe meant to be psuedo-buttonholes down one side of the front, but the drawing's not entirely clear and it seemed so ridiculous to pretend that that bodice was ever intended to close at the front, so I made it symmetrical with studs on both halves.

I bought a strapless bra and altered the centre front a bit, adding piping and gathering up netting to make the ruffles. I decided for the parts of the white undershirt which show, it'd be best take it in sections rather than make a whole shirt thing and try to get it to sit correctly. I rolled hemmed and gathered fabric then experimented with draping it, and finally hand sewed the pieces to the bra and the lining of the bodice. The bodice is also hand sewn to the bra to keep the front opening in place.

I've reached the stage where I can definitely say the costume is going to be wearable at AmeCon in some form. Still finishing up the armour and other odds and ends, but I currently have almost everything complete except for the stockings, garter, boots and gloves. I've left those pieces until last since I have placeholders for them - I have the black knee-high boots and black suede gloves which I'm planning to adapt, and a pair of plain white stockings, so any of those can be worn as they are if necessary.

Next thing I made was the skirt, it seemed like a useful starting point for going on to figure out other parts of the costume. I started off by establishing the point at which I absolutely couldn’t make the skirt any shorter, and from that, I could then see how long the stockings should be and therefore the size of the designs on them, and I could also fit the bodice to allow room for the skirt’s waistband plus get an idea of how far down it should extend.

I made a white polycotton layer first - just a gathered rectangle. It has a tightly gathered roll-hemmed ruffle at the hem to mimic the artwork. I stuck to polycotton here rather than attempting lace or any sort of scalloped hem finish since I wanted it to be consistent with the other white parts on the costume. If I need more floof to the skirt, I have a circular petticoat from my Alice Elliot costume which is made from the same fabric so that will match and then all that will ever show at the hem is heaps of the same ruffles. To continue that theme, I couldn’t resist buying really frilly pants to wear underneath 1. Because they’re wonderfully ridiculous and 2. if they do happen show under that stupidly short skirt, hopefully they’ll just blend in with all the petticoat ruffles.

The next skirt layer is a gathered rectangle of gold satin, reverse side up. Where it’s visible in the gaps between the topmost panels, I put in narrow pleats as well to make the gathering more obvious there. I stuck to plain old gathering for the skirts because I eventually determined it gave the effect I wanted of lots of narrow ripples in the fabric, rather than the deeper folds from flounces or other sorts of flared skirt shapes.

The uppermost layer is the dupioni silk. I first made newpaper templates to figure out the size these should be and experiment with how the shapes should flare out towards the hem. After cutting the final shapes out, I applied black and brown suedette and sewed on the bias binding I’d made to complete the designs. The centre gold diamond shape is appliquéd. Until I looked closely, I thought the brown parts were a belt on top of the skirt, but they’re split across the panels too, so I had to sew on the brown suedette before applying the bias tape and make sure it all lined up. The brown sections are topstitched in gold thread. I thought it might be cord at first, but it doesn’t really match the cord drawn elsewhere on the costume, and I liked the idea of some variety so went with the stitching. All the bias binding is sewn down by hand so everything is as seamless as possible.

I made the back of the skirt identical to the front, since I had nothing else to go on. It’s finished with a waistband and given all the layers of fabric, the closure is a simple overlapping placket which lets me keep the layers separate.

Photo shows the finished skirt just before the final step of sewing up the seam and sorting the closure.

Over Christmas I was able to finish the beaded sections for the shoulders. Not the most logical thing to do first, but I wanted to get the time-consuming hand sewing part out of the way when I had the time, and beading in front of the tv with all the films on over the Christmas holidays is the perfect time of year for it! I had to pattern out the black fabric parts of the top first to be able to bead it, but I only did the bare minimum at the stage - the top's not cut to shape yet; I'll be patterning out the armour and sleeves properly later. I just needed the fabric base to bead and enough of an idea of the armour shapes to be sure of the size of area I'd be beading.

I used an old shirt and drew on the armour shapes to roughly plan it out, then used the shirt as an approximate pattern to help make a kind of high-necked capelet shape out of black suedette which will be the basis for the top. It was a little tricky to get right at the neck since I only wanted side seams. It has a zip down the back which will be how this whole weird top/chest piece will eventually fasten.

For the beading, I drew out the designs on to Ultra Solvy water soluble stabiliser, pinned that in place and beaded over it using gold, blue and brown seed beads. I mirrored the design for the back which you can't see in the reference. It was ending up quite butterfly/insect like, so I went with that approach when planning out the design.

The photo shows the design folded in half which is how it shows in the reference art and then the full thing I ended up with on the left.

Choosing fabrics for this costume took me quite a while because there’s so much identical gold all over the costume, but all the pieces show up distinctly in the drawing e.g. the gold trim on the skirt panels is the exact same colour as the skirt beneath them, but because of how its drawn, the trim stands out clearly. I was worried that using identical fabric everywhere would cause it all to blend together too much, so I tried to vary things a bit.

I’ve ended up with 3 variations of gold fabric. I’m primarily using gold satin from John Lewis, the less-shiny reverse side up since I tend to prefer more matte fabrics. That forms the gold underskirt layer, all the decorative trim, the ruffly sleeve bits etc.

As the photo shows, I made my own bias tape from the same satin, but using the shiny side facing up. I felt if I was going to use the shiny side for anything, it should be the most unobtrusive thing. That approach ensures that the gold all matches, but where the bias tape is right next to identical gold fabric, there’s hopefully a little bit of a contrast between them.

Finally, for the skirt panels, they’re pictured as a darker shade. The way it’s drawn made me want to pick something either two-tone, very shiny and/or textured and I ended up finding dupioni silk which at least fits the textured part! It was £18 per metre from Edinburgh Fabrics *sobs*, but I only needed 40cm, so that worked out fine.

As for the other gold on the costume, I took a swatch of the satin with me when I went shopping and picked cord and paint to match it as closely as possible.

The black fabric is suedette, as are the brown parts hiding on the skirt.

I also spent a while debating how to do the gold detail parts on this costume. Applique, paint, quilting, bias tape… My main problem was I wanted to be consistent but I quickly gave up on that too since there’s not one technique which would work for everything. The fine detail on the boots and stockings has to be painted, but everything else is going to be trim and applique made from the same gold satin. I’m going to quilt the designs on to the decorative trim because in the art it seems raised and with the shadows involved, it wouldn’t have been such a straightforward painting job as for the boots/stockings where the designs are just a flat, single shade.

I'm attempting this in time for AmeCon...key word being "attempt" because I don't know how far I'm going to get. I started planning this costume ages ago so all my research is done and I've already bought almost everything I need to make it, I just need to get on with the making part. I've even made some bits already, but it kept getting set aside, so it's only now that I've set a deadline that I’ve been focussing properly on trying to finish it.

The wire wing frame in progress, basic approach is the same as my first set of wings; the new part is the interior patterns done in wire too.

I used two 2m lengths of fairy lights from festive-lights.com. I zig-zag stitched over the wire to secure it all to the lining I had to spend some time planning out how best to arrange the wiring to get the pattern of lights I wanted. I established I could cut the strings of lights shorter at the ends if required, but I needed the lights to start and stop in places, so used tape to hide any of the leds which I didn’t want to show. The picture shows the basic layout of the lights.

I used the shoes from my first Tink costume and removed the pom poms. The pom poms were made from fur fabric wrapped around wadding, so I simply replaced the wadding with push lights. I glued circles of white felt over the lights to help diffuse them. The fur was then sewn back up and reattached (with mostly hot glue but a few stitches as well) to the shoes.

I experimented with the look of the curls a bit and decided to trim the wig slightly shorter. I then separated the wig into three sections and made three big rollers from card. I used some double-sided tape to initially secure some of the ends of the hair to them and gradually wrapped the hair around the rollers in layers, using Tresemme freeze hold hairspray to stick all the hair to itself and keep it in place around the roller. I used a hairdryer to speed the drying process along. When complete, I clipped the rollers in place, hairsprayed it again all over and left it to all dry out. I keep the rollers clipped in when storing and transporting the wig.

After I cut in the fringe and straightened the wig with the hot water method.

New Look’s Angela wig from CosWorx in colour 12 straight out of the bag.

You can see here why I went on to line it.

One half of my mock-up, the other half having been dismantled to use as the pattern for the final dress.

It was then sewn to the crown of the hat. There are a few ripples in the felt, but I’m really pleased with it overall. It’s also very resilient with the plastic inside it and won’t go out of shape, so it’s a big improvement on my last hat.

The felt was sewn together around the outer edge, seam allowance clipped, turned the right side out and pressed out to form a cover for the Wonderflex.

I then cut out two layers of felt to make a cover for the brim. That template is the original hat brim which is ridiculously faded!

As for the brim, the tutorial I followed also suggests two layers of felt glued together. I originally had encountered problems getting two layers of felt to stick together, and also found that the glue would warp the felt (no such problem when it’s stretched taunt over a hat block, but just a piece of felt sitting on a table with glue spread on it would start to go all ripply and wonky from the moisture) Perhaps weighing it down with a flat heavy object would help, but after seeing how solid two layers of glued felt could be on the crown of my hat, I wasn’t entirely confident I’d be able to shape the brim appropriately once it had dried, and I didn’t think I had a hope getting it to sit in the right shape while it was still wet.

Rather than trying to troubleshoot the PVA glue, I went with a whole new approach. I used my original hat brim as a template to cut out some Wonderflex, heated it with a hairdryer and formed it into the right shape. As usually happens at some point, I forgot about taking photos for all of this stage.

The downside is it was hard to sew through for securing the seam and attaching the brim, but nothing pliers couldn’t help with.

Second layer of felt. This time I used gallons of PVA glue and managed to get two layers of felt to stick together when making the crown of the hat, as the tutorial suggests. The glue even soaked right through the inside layer and formed a shiny coating on the inside. I think getting this step right was key - it’s ideal since the two layers and all that glue makes it very solid - it’s like a helmet. Hopefully this hat won’t get dented so easily.

I was able to buy the same felt I’d previously used from John Lewis and got to work shaping it over my revised hat block, which had been covered in cling film.

I got a whole heap of enquiries about hat commissions in advance of the last Harry Potter film and although I didn’t suddenly start accepting commissions, it did get me thinking about redoing my own hat since mine was getting very battered and faded. I took the opportunity to revise it too since the brim had never been ideal and the point wasn’t quite the right shape.

I found my original hat block and re-shaped the point on it. It was made from a candle, so it was easy to carve and I could use a lighter to melt the wax and get it very smooth.

With both sections of the covers finished, I sewed the yellow top part to the black sole section. It was quite tricky to get it to follow the funny shapes here, I think I could have planned that better. I then sewed the back seam and then attached the covers to the base shoes. I used hot glue then I hammered in a few little pins to secure the fabric to the soles. I tried painting over the heads of the pins with black acrylic so they’re less obvious!

The convenient thing about this technique is the design ends up on both sides. That meant I could test out an idea on one side without worrying about the consequences if it failed! So I tried a wash of white acrylic paint to highlight the design more on one side and decided to go with it. Doesn’t make much difference, but it can’t hurt.

Using the wadding’s dimensions as I guide, I drew out the designs on a paper template and when I’d got them about right, I traced neat versions on to some solvy. Solvy is a clear, water-soluble film which you can draw on with permanent marker and use as a guide for stitching designs. I placed the solvy over two layers of black fabric with the wadding sandwiched between them and stitched along the lines of the design. When I was finished, I washed off the solvy. The photo shows my paper template, one of the soles with solvy still on it, and the other without it.

To make the designs on the edges of the soles, I used the same quilting idea as I tried for the hair thingies, this time with black stretch suedette (with hindsight, maybe leatherette would have been nice). I don’t like sculpting and I was worried that if I used modelling clay (even model magic), it might crack or be damaged when the shoes were worn. Fabric is flexible enough to suit shoes and the effect may subtle, but I like it more than having a really bizarre, bulky sculpture on my feet! (end result still resembles clown shoes though…)

I first wrapped some wadding around the shoes to get an approximate template.

I cut that same shape from felt, the yellow dress fabric and a matching yellow polycotton for the lining - the pieces are lined to neatly finish the awkward shaped top edges, with felt sandwiched between the lining and outer fabric.

Photo shows one completed cover. When sewn up at the back, it forms the right shape to fit over the sandal.

Then I messed about with spare felt to make the covers for the yellow part of the shoe. I used felt because I had it spare, it doesn’t fray and I could go on to use it as an interlining to stiffen the yellow fabric I’d be using for the final covers.

I had to cut away some of the strap to make it suit the shape of Reith’s weird shoes.

Last bit of the costume, I finished these on the Thursday before Minami, promptly packed them and only took the last photos after the con. Not happy with these, but at least I had shoes to complete the costume!

I started with these sandals from eBay which have a suitable thick sole. It was really difficult to find shoes with that sort of platform (or I was just unlucky). I kept searching for platform trainers but they were always too expensive, so I had to make do.

All done! I actually enjoyed painting stuff on a costume for a change. Usually I hate painting because I’m not good at getting it neat and mistakes can be fatal, but that didn’t matter here. It was really easy to do without any planning because there was no need to be precise with the design (and getting it precise from the references would be impossible anyway!) so I quite liked just making it up as I went along.

I’m not completely happy with the white gradient on the ends but can’t be bothered messing with it any more.

Just shoes left to do!

I started this costume last year with in the intention of wearing it at AmeCon, realised I wouldn’t have enough time and put it aside. I’ve now finally gone back to it and am aiming to finish it in time for Minami!

I revisited the sleeves, tightening the elastic in the tops so they’re more likely to stay up, and I also tidied up the wig a bit. The skirt has been shortened (from the waist) because I found I need to wear it lower to avoid it showing through the cutouts in the back of the dress.

Those cutouts also proved to be a problem for the wire framework supporting the petals. I’ve now sorted out the wire and its waistband so it doesn’t show. It’s not quite so well anchored now, but it does the job. I may work on it more if I find the time and enthusiasm - in the photos here it clearly needs a bit of tweaking.

As for the dress, I first finished the central front bit with black cord hand sewn to it. I’d have preferred the neatness of piping, even if inserting it all would be maddening, but I had to use cord because of the little loop hanging off the bottom - there’d be no simple way to cover the cord in fabric neatly and incorporate that hanging part. That loop has thin jewellery wire inside it to help it keep its shape. With that corded piece attached, I could finally finish up all the bias tape and close up the front of the dress.

The cutout at the back, which has caused so many problems as a knock-on effect, was also kind enough to be awkward to trim with bias binding, but I got there in the end. The dots were drawn on with fabric pen.

The white petal collar is made up of 6 individual pieces, cut from cotton drill and interfaced. Each one had grey bias tape applied, then they were sewn together to have the grey taper into the seams. This was incredibly frustrating, but I like the result!

The black collar is lined and interfaced with white piping applied. The tricky bit here was the piping also had to continue around the little curved cutout in the middle. More frustration ensued, but again, I coped and eventually finished it up. I ended up using more jewellery wire inside all of the piping to help the cutout keep its shape. I’m not entirely happy with it and I’ll need to use some double-sided tape to stick it to me, but it’s mostly cooperating now. Again, will revisit it if I can face it!

I used Marabu fabric spray paint in orange and yellow for the gradient on the end of the petals and although I will be painting the green parts by hand, I've tried to speed up the process a bit by using some of the green Marabu spray I had as well.

Remaining tasks: the rest of the green paint and the shoes. Still plenty I’d ideally want to improve on the dress, but I can’t be bothered right now and doubt I’d manage in the time before Minami anyway!

For London Expo and also the Grand Cosplay Ball coming up this weekend I made a few more improvements along with the new wig and a bag.

I decided my skirt wasn’t full enough, even with tulle and a petticoat. But the idea of adding another petticoat was just a bit ridiculous - I had enough trouble fitting everything in my suitcase for AmeCon! So I’ve resorted to a hoopskirt for greater floof when I want it. It’s just the short, small hoopskirt I made for my Esther costume, with the hoop taken in quite a bit. No chance of it showing with the petticoat on top, and I don’t think it badly affects the movement of the skirt.

I knew the bodice needed some help. I want to remake it to move the princess seams at the front, and improve on wrinkle issues, and just generally be able to approach such a challenging garment (at least for me…stupid organza overlay) in a more confident way…but I can’t face that yet. What I have done is lowered it under the arms, which prevents the bunching which was occurring. No idea how I ended up with the side pieces too high in the first place, but that’s it corrected now. Changing the armhole also shifted the sleeves, and that’s stretched them out more and stopped them from drooping. Finally, I removed some of the wrinkles which had formed in the interfacing by ironing it, but there’s only so much I can do here. I’ve not had much success with removing the interfacing and re-fusing it. Not sure why it wrinkled in the first place, but I won’t be using it again!

While I had the lining opened up, I added a few snaps to attach to the skirt waistband at the back and make sure it doesn’t show. I also put a few snaps in the lining and placket at the centre front to supplement the hooks and eyes, which are guaranteed to sometimes undo themselves depending how I move.
Photos are from Madmazda86 at London Expo, showing fuller skirt, new wig and somewhat improved bodice.

That was most of the work which needed done before the bag was sewn together and lined. I sewed the final side seam, and turned the bag the right way out. Turning it was not easy - probably the most sensible approach would be to insert interfacing between the lining and outer pieces after having turned the bag the right way out. I did intend to sew the base on before turning it, but the interfacing made it so stiff, it was easier to finish up the base by hand from the outside.

The flap had its silver trim sewn on and I also put in studs on the back. These bits could have been done earlier, but I thought it would be safer to check the exact positioning of these details once the bag was sewn together.

Next up was the lining. I sewed it all together like the outer bag, but unlike the leatherette, there were no problems with turning the lining the right way out! To attach the lining to the outer bag, I first sewed it into the flap section of the bag only. This was done by placing both pieces right sides together and sewing around the three edges of the flap, clipping the corners, and turning it the right way out. I found the flap needed pressed to get the lined edges neat, so left it under a heavy book for a day, which did the trick! I also put in the other half of the magnetic clasp at this stage after the pressing.

That left the remainder of the lining to finish up: the raw edges at the tops of the side pieces and the front piece. I folded the lining under and stitched in the ditch next to the piping on the sides and straight across the front panel, catching the leatherette and lining.

There’s probably a more sensible way to line and construct bags, but this worked out ok for my first attempt at bag-making!

I could then start sewing the bag pieces together, stopping sewing a half inch before the bottom and top of each side seam to leave seam allowance for attaching the base and lining later.

I finished up a few things while it was all still flat, inserting one half of the magnetic clasp and sewing the shoulder strap to the side pieces. I didn’t want to try turning a thin strap, so made it by folding a length of the leatherette in half, then tucking the edges in and topstitching it all. I put in some decorative studs to mimic screws at the on the sides where the straps are.

The side pieces had piping applied right round their edges. I sewed one length of piping right round each side piece of the bag, clipping the seam allowance at the corners. The join where the ends meet inevitably has a little bulk to it, so I made sure they ended up at the back and at a corner.

How to make and attach piping : http://sewing.about.com/od/techniques/ss/cordingpiping.htm
As leatherette isn’t woven, there’s no need to cut bias strips. I suppose a stretch pvc or metallic lycra would work well in place of non-stretch leatherette.

I then started work on the front panel with its pocket. The raised shapes were cut out and topstitched down over a small piece of wadding to pad them out a little. There’s only so much that can be done to imitate the moulding when working with fabric, but this was an easy element to do. I also sewed down pieces of silver leatherette for the handle shapes .

When the front pocket piece was done, I sewed its lining to it right sides together along the top edge, topstitched along the top, then attached it to the rest of the front panel by sewing along the sides and bottom edge.

With the leatherette, interfacing and lining cut out, I first attached the interfacing to each leatherette piece by machine basting around the edges. The photo shows all the exterior pieces.

I came across a couple of people online who’d made these, and thought it would be a fun prop/useful bag for conventions. I looked at screenshots for references and startrekpropauthority.com was great for close-up photos of the actual props

To start with, I figured out the approximate size and experimented with a paper mock-up until I thought I had the right dimensions and a plan for sewing it together which would work. Although I’d settled on measurements for all the main pieces, the designs for the front were just cut with some trial and error using rough templates to help. I found it helpful to fold my templates in half and cut out the fabric pieces on a fold to get them symmetrical.

I used:
- black leatherette for the majority of the exterior (just like the originals!)
- silver leatherette for the base (I don’t know why I care about accuracy that much) and it was also used for the piping and decoration. Turned out to be a good plan since being able to snip designs out of a non-fraying fabric was convenient.
- black and silver thread. The silver was machine embroidery thread I already had, but grey would be fine too.
- heavy sew-in interfacing (same as used for my dress collar) for backing each leatherette piece as well as on some areas of the lining. I chose to interface the base of the lining and the flap, but that's not essential.
- black gabardine for the lining, because I had it spare. Lots of other fabrics would work here.
- a magnetic snap for the closure
- piping cord
- wadding (batting) for padding out the designs on the front.
- four silver studs to mimic screws

Leatherette is also called pleather - it’s a leather-look pvc. Other fabrics could work for this bag, but ideally you’d want something non-fraying to create the front designs the way I did. Note that leatherette requires a particular approach when sewing. For example, when topstitching , you’ll need a Teflon foot or to use tearaway paper/talcum powder/some other technique of your choice. All pin/needle marks will show, so care is needed. I used sew-in interfacing since ironing risks the fabric melting, and used a heavy book when pressing was required.

I sewed the front and back pieces together, and did the same for the lining. Then I sewed the piping to the edges of the flap and attached the remainder along the top front edge of the main bag. There was a vague reason for this other than for just using up the piping.

Before lining the flap, I set in half of the magnetic snap to the lining and sewed the buttons on to the outer piece. I then sewed the flap together and attached it to the back of the bag. At that stage I could check exactly where the other half of the clasp needed to go on the front of the bag, and set it in. Behind both halves of the clasp I used extra sew-in interfacing for additional support. The strap was topstitched, and sewn to either side, then the bag it was ready to be lined.

I placed the outer bag inside the lining, right sides together, and sewed round the top edges, securing the lining to the flap edge and the front of the bag. I left a gap at the front to turn it. With it turned the right way out, I closed up the gap by folding the top edge of the lining under and stitching in the ditch right next to the piping. The piping easily hides the stitching from the outside, which was part of my reasoning for using it there. Quick, simple way to line the bag. I have no idea how handbag linings might be done properly, but my approach worked!

I don’t normally make matching bags to go with costumes since I’ll aim to have any bag out of sight in photos, and I don’t really care about the appearance of a bag when I’m just wandering around at an event. On the other hand, having a bag to suit the costume can look good, and it’s handy if it can blend in and be unobtrusive. The deciding factor here was that I’d be wearing Alice at the Grand Cosplay Ball, and a small handbag which I could wear all night would be really convenient. I drew inspiration from Verdaera, once again, and came up with a design reminiscent of the skirt and bodice of the dress.

Copying the basic construction and approximate size of an existing bag I owned, I came up with the attached pieces made from leftover fabric from the costume. It’s a really simple bag with just front and back pieces, but it still holds enough stuff!

In the photo, the pieces at the bottom are the lining. They’re the striped chiffon used for my petticoat, backed with white cotton drill to make it opaque, and also sew-in interfacing. The piece on the right is flipped to the reverse.

Middle row left has the front piece, which is interfaced silk twill with gathered organza on top, just like the skirt. On the right, the back piece is the same minus the organza.

Top row is the flap which forms the closure for the bag, again made from silk twill. A magnetic clasp (also pictured) secures it.

To the left I have a few buttons to be used for decoration on the flap - these were the first ones I bought for my bodice which turned out to be too small.

Along the top is some piping -I only used this for trimming the flap and along the top edge of the bag because I didn’t have much cord left. I think I prefer the side seam without piping anyway, the organza gives it a nice blurred outline.

On the right is the strap for the bag - it’s long enough to wear over one shoulder or cross-body.

After separating the ringlets into thinner strands I got this!

After wearing the costume at AmeCon, there were a few things I wanted to improve on before wearing it again.

This time, I tried New Look’s Naomi wig, in my usual blonde colour choice of 24. I think Alice’s hair is somewhere in between ringlets and waviness, and since I wasn’t happy with a wavy wig (which also ended up sooo thick even with tearing our a load of wefts), then it was time to try spirals instead. I just separated out the ringlets a bit, and I think the results are much better than my last wig!

Here’s how the wig looks in a stock photo and the wig I received pictured on the right - very tight thick ringlets.

I first made a mock-up of one sleeve to get the correct size - it’s a rectangle, and I used Verdaera’s measurements http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/15568.html as a bit of a guide.

For the real sleeves, I used the selvedge of the organza for the bottom edges, folding it up to encase some blue elastic. The tucks were sewn in then ironed downwards - that took me about an hour, even with the help of a cardboard jig. I hate organza . The lace I used for my gloves forms the underlay, and the two layers are sewn together.

I’d never tried cartridge pleats before, but they weren‘t difficult. I layered more lace underneath to pad out the pleats, marked out my stitches, and to help ensure they were even, I used a tip I’d read, and threaded up two needles, and used both to sew two identical rows at once.

Having set in the sleeves, I could finish the armscye seams, sew the lace to them, sew in the remaining lining pieces, and close up the lining.

I left the end of the placket under the “eye” side of the closure open, that let me turn the lining, then the placket edge was topstitched closed.

COSTUME FINISHED! Apart from much-needed ironing. Better photos at AmeCon ^_^

The sleeves are organza with point d’esprit partially layered underneath. There are 3 tucks, and cartridge pleating at the top.

I adjusted the neckline a bit; I think this is an improvement. Here's a clearer shot of the trims and stuff as well.

Just sleeves and finishing up the lining to go! I've finished a sleeve mock-up, so can start on the real ones.

Before I could sew all the bodice pieces together, I needed piping to insert into the princess seams. I used bias strips cut from the silk twill; this was my first time making and using piping. The centre back and centre front pieces were joined at the shoulder seams using French seams, then the piping was sewn right along the edge. After that, the side pieces could be added too.

As well as the princess seams, the bottom edge is also piped. The front fastens with hook and eye tape, since the buttons are only decorative on the real dress, and they seem quite fragile, so not best suited to being a real closure. The buttons are the screen accurate ones Huscho Buttons sell, although I was able to get them through Textile Garden in the UK.

The organza/tulle neckline is finished with a rolled hem. I’ll similarly be tidying up the armscye edges once the sleeves are set in. I dyed button loop trim for around the neckline (I did this when I was doing dye tests on my silk twill) and threaded white elastic cord through it. The same buttonhole trim continues a little way down the front, and everything above the end of the hook and eye closures fastens with tiny clear snaps.

I did experiment with cutting out my own lace from leatherette and felt, but with the amount I’d need to make and all those fiddly little holes to snip out, there was no way I could manage it. Since the lace will be gathered anyway, even if I did make an exact match, it would just end up obscured. So I starting hunting for similar lace trims, or ones I could adapt. I ended up finding one I liked which is vaguely similar. I had to cut out the holes to thread the ribbon through the flowers, but otherwise left it as it was. The lace is sewn around the neckline, and will also be added to the armscye seam allowance.

This is as much as I can do before making and setting in the sleeves. Once they’re in, I’ll be able to finish the lining. In the photo, unfinished edges are just tucked under. (Looking at the photos, I think the organza neckline needs to be a bit lower, so I’ll adjust it when I find the patience to redo it!)

I’ll also mention the necklace since it’s pictured here. I initially had a lot of problems getting hold of one. Hot Topic sells a replica, but it originally seemed that I’d only be able to get it through their US website, and be charged a small fortune for postage. Some appeared on eBay, but still weren’t very affordable. No one in the UK sells a replica except Swarovski, and their necklace cost a small fortune and wasn’t even as accurate!

I could just not wear one, since she doesn’t initially have it and it’s not in the promo pics, but I discovered that Hot Topic actually has a European website with limited merchandise, which luckily included the necklace. I just had to remove a couple of inches of the chain to shorten it to the right length.

First, I made a couple of mock-ups in spare fabric. I used the bodice of Butterick 6195 which I’ve used a few times previously and had adjusted to fit me already. The princess seams were shifted and it was extended it up to the shoulders. I spent some time tweaking it to fit and marking out where the opaque layer should end etc.

When I was confident about it all, I took apart my mock-up and used it as the pattern for the final thing. I’m using cotton drill for the lining, with tulle as an underlay at the neckline, and silk twill for the outer pieces with organza layered over them.

I first marked out the pattern pieces on fusible interfacing, cut them out generously, ironed them to the twill, and used the lines on the interfacing to cut the actual size pieces. Helpful for getting the pieces precise, and also preventing fraying, plus I could draw my actual stitching lines on to the interfacing too.

My original plan to use liquid solvy to help cut the organza was scrapped when I suspected that the solution had made the organza shrink. To test it, I cut out a square, drew around it, washed out the solvy, then placed it back over the square I’d drawn, and it certainly was much larger without the solvy. That might not be an issue if I could guarantee that my bodice would never get wet so as to dissolve any of the solvy, but I didn’t think it was worth the risk! So it was back to the time-consuming cutting of awkward organza.

The side front and side back pieces have identical organza overlays, basted around the seam allowance. There’s a side front piece pictured, second from the right.

The centre back and centre front pieces are a bit different because the organza and tulle extend beyond the twill. The twill pieces have the lining sewn along the top edge, with tulle and scalloped trim sandwiched between the layers (I found blue lace for the trim here). You can see the different layers in the photo: the centre back piece on the far right doesn’t have its organza overlay, and the centre front piece flipped to the lining side shows up the blue scalloped trim more clearly. There’s also a completed centre front piece on the left which has its organza attached.

After seeing this (annoyingly tiny) sketch of the chemise with Alice at various scales (at least you do actually see the chemise properly in the film when she’s at 9 feet and 2 feet), I think that the tulle and lace seen at the neckline might be part of the chemise worn underneath the dress. The bits of lace visible under the sleeves would be the chemise straps. Alternatively, the lace could be some other separate undershirt, but I like the chemise theory.

I don’t plan on making a chemise though, because none of it is intended to show other than the lace, and that can easily be incorporated into the bodice instead. If I did actually make a chemise or undershirt, I think it would be too much of a nuisance to ensure the lace at the neckline lined up correctly, and make sure that none of the opaque chemise fabric shifts and shows at the sheer part of the bodice.

It’s helpful to have studied the chemise business though, even just for a better understanding of where all her blue outfits came from!

I won’t be making a chemise, but since it relates to my theory about the lace at the neckline of this dress, it’s worth mentioning.

I noticed that there is netting visible underneath the organza of the bodice in high res photos. Also, the lace at the neckline doesn’t seem to be sewn to the organza of the bodice, as it sometimes shifts away from it. I’m guessing that the lace and the tulle are a separate layer, (or maybe the lace isn’t trim, but the edge of lace fabric) with the blue organza on top, held mostly in place with elastic around the neck opening. In some images, the blue part of the bodice can be seen gaping away from the lace underneath, and the lace certainly can move out of alignment with the neckline.

The bodice has an opaque layer, with an organza overlay extending slightly higher. There’s piping in the princess seams and along the bottom edge; scallop trim along the top edge of the opaque section; hook and eye closures down the front plus decorative buttons; lace, ribbon, scallop trim and elastic at the neckline with snaps to close the front.

I’ve gathered the embroidered panel along its top edge, and sewn it to the rest of the skirt. Finished!

I fluffed out the tulle a bit more for this photo. So pleased with the embroidery! I’ve been swishing around in this skirt exceptionally happily ^_^

Also, the solvy-coated organza came out well, so should make dealing with the bodice pieces a lot less painful.

I finally finished all the ridiculous length of embroidery! 8 repeats of the design, over 4m long, so not easy to photograph. I’ve roll-hemmed it to the right length, washed out the solvy stabiliser, and it’s currently hanging out to dry. Hopefully it won’t need any more rinses.

I ended up with a lot of solvy residue dissolved in the water I was using to wash it out, so I kept some of the water, dissolved more solvy in it to make a concentrated gloop, and used it on the organza I’ll be cutting my bodice pieces from. The “liquid solvy” should stiffen it and make it a easier to work with. The organza I tried it on is also outside drying, so I won’t know if my solvy experiment has worked for a while, but fingers crossed! Anything to make organza more friendly to cut out neatly.

The skirt with the tulle, and worn over the petticoat. Not an obvious difference in this photo, but it is fuller, and the tulle can be fluffed up or squished down depending on the effect I want. Definitely needs ironed here!

I then decided I wanted a bit more floof to the skirt. I gathered a doubled-up length of tulle, which started out 8m wide. It’s sewn to the middle seam allowance of the skirt - this is what the inside of my skirt looks like now, for an idea of how it’s put together. That's the dupioni layer showing.

My two layers are silk twill with silk organza on top. However, I found the silk twill to be a little flimsy, and wanted to add more substance to the skirt. I therefore used some synthetic dupioni I had to back the skirt pieces, giving me three layers in the end.

The lower skirt tier is 425cm wide (being about the length of embroidery I’ll have on the organza layer), it’s then gathered to half that and sewn to the upper tier, which is about three times my waist measurement at 210cm wide. I didn’t sew quite to the ends of that middle seam, so I could later sew up the centre back seams of each tier separately, then finished attaching them to one another. Bit neater that way.

Both organza panels have been cut to have selvedges at the seam where they join in the middle of the skirt. I also used the twill’s selvedge for its hem. Every other edge is overlocked, and the organza finished with a rolled hem. My overlocker has been very helpful for all the gathering this costume has involved, although the organza overlay will be gathered by hand.

The top edge of the upper organza panel is basted to the top edge of the twill, then it was all pleated while it was still flat. I used box pleats to gather it to the waist - this is where cutting the panel at 3x my waist measurement was helpful!

Following the pleating, I could sew the separate organza and opaque layers down their centre back seams, making them into loops. The organza and twill layers are both separate, except at the waist and a little way down the centre back seam where they overlap with a placket for the closure. The waistband is interfaced and fastens with a snap at the back.

Here’s the skirt (worn over the petticoat), complete apart from the lower embroidered organza tier. You can see a bit of the contrast between the organza overlay and the twill on its own.

With my silk twill finally dyed, I could start constructing my skirt. The skirt seems to be a simple rectangle, with only a centre back seam, and it is pleated into a waistband. I’ve yet to spot a seam on the skirt, so assuming there’s only one, lost in the folds at the back, is probably reasonable, and nice and easy for me to do.

There are two identically constructed layers , a sheer layer over an opaque one. Both layers are constructed in two tiers, the lower gathered to the upper (at least I think the opaque layer is the same as the sheer, I‘m going that route anyway). The sheer layer uses the selvedges at the middle seam.

I did a lot of swatch tests (and I mean a lot), and came up with an idea of the dyes needed. I dyed the twill in the same way as my organza in the washing machine, using a the blue dye I’d used before, mixed with some grey. Here’s a photo of all the various swatches I dyed along the way!

My first dye attempt was too pale, unfortunately, but that's better than going too dark at least. I decided to dye it again using more blue dye. The final results are still fairly pale, but I’m happy with the colour. The dress seems to be very pale and greyish in person, judging by exhibition photos, but a much more vibrant blue on screen. Given the range of possibilities, I eventually just went with something I liked the look of.

The dress is organza on top of an opaque layer. It was important to get the colour of the base opaque layer right in combination with the organza to go on top, so I’ve spent a while working on dyeing it. I'm using silk twill from Rainbow Silks since it was on offer for £4.50 a metre when I was ordering grey acid dye!

The sleeves are made from the same fabric as the dress. The two rows of zigzags at the tops are lined, and there’s concealed elastic to help hold them up. The gradient is sprayed on again. I slathered both sides of the fabric in fray stop before carefully snipping out all the holes.

The bits at the top of the braids are some spare fabric wrapped around wadding and quilted. I then painted them bronze, and they safety pin into the wig. They were interesting to try and figure out from the (highly variable) references, but I eventually picked a version which I could recreate and that I liked the look of.

The petals are hot glued together, and safety pin to the ends of the braids. The yellow fluff hides the ends of the braids and the attachment of the flowers (I’m so happy to have a reason to use this stuff!)

I made the yellow flowers at the ends of the braids out of the polycotton which had been my dress mock-up. The outlines of the petals were drawn out on the fabric using fray stop and each snipped out when it was dry. The gradient was done with orange and yellow Marabu fabric spray paints. I used a few feathers for some fluff on the insides because I felt like it.

I bought a super-long, but cheap wig on eBay. It was either that or buy a short wig and a bunch of extensions, and choosing the long wig possibly worked out cheaper 0_o Easier too. I cut the short pieces at the front and put in the 4 braids.

I covered the tape waistband in felt to pad out the ends of the wires and be able to sew to it. The waistband velcros to the top of the dress lining where it ends at the waist, then wraps round my waist to fasten at the front. That waistband both supports the framework and keeps the dress lining in place. I may need to adjust it to ensure the waistband stuff doesn’t show in the cut outs at the back of the dress, but for now I’m just glad my ideas worked!

The dress is only lined up to the waist, making the petals presentable from both sides, and to forming a pocket to enclose the wire framework. I think it’s a good idea to end the lining there, since it lets me lift the wire out to more easily iron, transport and store the costume. There’s no reason to have it fully lined anyway.

No idea if the photo will make much sense, but it kind of shows how the wire frame velcros to the lining.

There’s wire inside the petals to make them stick out, much like my Brawler costume again. I shaped the wire to match the dress, and the wires are duct taped together, mostly at the waist to make a sort of waistband and help with anchoring it all.

Very much in progress, but I like the petals, so thought it was time for a photo!

The dress started out as a mock-up. I began with the pattern I’d made for my Brawler costume, then cut out slightly different shapes for the petals, and continued to alter it from there. I optimistically used yellow polycotton in the hope that it could become the lining, but unfortunately, I had to make too many alterations for it to be useable. Luckily, I had enough of my final fabric to line the petals, which was all that mattered.

I don‘t quite know what the final fabric I‘m using is - I got the end of a stained bolt really cheaply years ago. I had to use an interesting cutting layout to work around the stained areas, ensuring that they were avoided, or would end up where they could be painted over at the ends of the petals!

It’s taken me a while to adjust the pattern, but when it was done, I got all my pieces cut out, overlocked, and assembled on Sunday. The overlapping piece on the right hand side of the dress is an entire second piece, just cut a little differently.

The dress looks like it should fasten at the front, but there’s so much detail there, I’ve decided to avoid that (although the seam is just pinned at the moment. The front will be sewn up though, and instead, it has an invisible zip down one side, and I’ll just have to make sure it can still fit over my head when I add the collar.

I’ve started on the bias tape, and I’m working on centre bit with black cord. Until that‘s sewn on, I can‘t finish up the bias tape though, which is why it‘s half-finished. I been thinking about the order to sew pieces together in, and when to apply the trim, so hopefully it’ll all layer together nicely and have a minimum of visible stitching.

I’ve finally finished up the petticoat with a waistband, which makes it about the right length. If necessary, I can easily adjust it a little to suit the final length of the dress. So here’s a proper photo of the completed skirt! And a less ridiculous view of the bloomers.

The bloomers were made from two different white polycottons with blue dots. I could only get a metre remnant of fabric with the most suitable size dots, so used larger-spotted fabric for the rest. The legs have the bigger spots, the ruffles the smaller. I don’t really care about accuracy for this part, and the ruffles are the most likely part to be seen anyway.

I copied a pair pyjama bottoms for the basic shape. There are 6 rows of roll-hemmed ruffles on each leg, because I think that’s all that ever shows in the film, but for all I know, the bloomers are meant to be ruffled the whole way up - at least mine should give that impression.

I also made the socks (or in my case, they’re only legwarmers since only the tops need to show). I used a pen to draw lines on stretch fabric, like for my gloves. This was surprisingly awkward, I had a lot of problems with the ink bleeding. It does seem like the lines on Alice’s socks seem to be a bit broken and uneven though!

I think the bloomers are about the right length, meeting the socks when I’m standing, and leaving a bit of a gap when I sit down. They look fantastically ridiculous worn on their own :P

As well as the petticoat, I made bloomers and socks. They’re both only briefly visible, but once I know something’s there, start wondering if I should make it! There will be some poses when they’ll be seen when I wear the costume, and they were cheap, easy and quick to make, which is why I bothered.

I'm halfway through the skirt embroidery now, it's about 2m 20cm in length at the moment, so the final thing's still on track for ending up around 4.5m long.

After no luck finding suitable buttons, I’ve resorted to self-cover ones. I used tiny 11mm ones, covered them in white fabric, and drew on the black areas in permanent marker. I think the buttons are about the right size, but I have a slightly larger set of cover buttons, and I may end up using them instead depending on how they match up to the size of my bodice buttons. Anyway, gloves are complete!

I originally bought dotted mesh fabric for these before finding better point d’esprit lace on Ebay. I still used the mesh for drafting a pattern for the gloves though. Luckily the lace stretches enough to pull them on and off so I didn't have to incorporate any fastenings. The blue lines were drawn on with care, a steel ruler, and a Letraset marker (they’re permanent and come in all sorts of shades). The only thing I’m a little unhappy with is the pattern of dots on the lace - it’s not a consistent repeat pattern, so it was impossible to cut it and have the dots going in neat lines, but the dots will hardly be seen, so their precise arrangement doesn’t matter much.

I haven’t quite decided what to do for the buttons yet. I’m hoping I can find the screen accurate ones, or get hold of the Hot Topic gloves which aren’t accurate, but miraculously have accurate buttons! If I can’t find suitable buttons, I’ll probably get some small white ones and paint the black parts on, or use tiny self-cover buttons, because white fabric would take paint/black ink better.

Striped lace fingerless gloves, seams on the thumb side, three decorative buttons on the other side. No real problems, other than trying to find the right buttons!

So one quarter is complete. I’ve been trying to make sure I do a couple of designs a night. If I keep that up, even allowing for the inevitable several days where I won’t get anything done, I’ll easily have it all complete in time for Ame - provided I don’t develop some repetitive strain injury from turning the sewing machine hand wheel! Free motion embroidery is not for me, especially not when trying to be precise. I tried out a few things, but it seems I do best if I just sew as usual. Because of the fiddly designs, I can’t use the foot pedal much, so I’ve been hand-cranking my way round all the designs. The flowery ones are currently taking about 30 minutes, all the other ones go a lot faster, so typically I’m spending maybe 45 minutes each evening on it at the moment, and I might manage to speed up a little more in time.

The flower designs are like Professor Layton puzzles; you can get round them completely without lifting your pen/needle! I got my routes around the designs planned out when I was first tracing them on to the solvy, and it’s mostly been easy to stick to that when embroidering - I’ve only taken a wrong turning a couple of times so far and had to stop/start in the middle.

This is the second repeat of the embroidery. First one was understandably not so neat, so I decided to wait until I completed the second repeat before taking a photo so I could show something slightly better! It’s all shiny because the Solvy’s still there, I’ll be washing all of it out at the end…which is going to be quite a task.

Not the best pictures ever, (because I was lazy and took a photo of the visual companion book rather than scanning it) but these are the main ones which show the extent of the skirt hem, and seem to indicate that there are 7-8 repeats of the embroidery design.

After applying the dye and some shoe polish! It was fairly simple to do, but I had to be careful at the base of the laces where I wasn’t following the line of the seams on the boot. I marked out the area I wanted to leave white using permanent marker first, then used a finer brush for the dye around the tricky edges. Inevitably, I still got some dye where it wasn’t meant to go, so I used some white spirit to get the worst off, then white shoe paint to conceal my mistakes :P

The leatherette trim was glued on carefully with superglue.

The final thing was add some grip to the soles since they were ridiculously smooth. I nearly keeled over the first time I tried them on and took a step on a carpet! I sandpapered the soles and scuffed them outside a bit.

I bought Dylon’s leather dye to carefully colour the toe area. The instructions for the dye only involve roughening the area to be dyed, but I chose to carefully sand the surface of the boots off to ensure the dye really stuck.

In this photo, the boot on the left is fairly untouched, the one on the right more obviously has the finish starting to come off.

For the trim around the laces, I’m using strips cut from leatherette with pinking shears. There’s a length of the trim draped over the left hand boot in the picture.

I wasn’t very happy with any of the boots I could find. Any good options were all too expensive, especially for shipping to the UK, if it was even possible to get a site which would post them there!

I was thinking about making covers and finding a way around it, but managed to get a suitable pair of boots for a more reasonable price on eBay! They’re the Oak Tree Farms Veil wedding boots, which are definitely worthwhile if you’re prepared to stalk eBay waiting for a bargain. Their only inaccuracy is that they’re a bit short, but that’ll be hidden by the skirt, so doesn’t matter. I really like that they have the right heel.

The curls could be larger, but it’ll certainly do the trick, and I can look out for any better options.

It needed a fair bit of trimming, which I’m always sorry to have to do to nice wigs! I also removed several wefts, and layered it a lot to reduce the volume. I didn’t take before pictures, but here’s the stock photo and a view of all the hair I removed…

I discovered how difficult finding nice curly wigs was with my Eowyn costume. For Alice, I found New Look’s Mary G1000(n) wig on Amphigory, which I thought would work well, and it comes in a decent selection of colours (I’m a big fan of 24B for some reason) I didn’t want to have to order through Amphigory/Katie Bair, so I went off to find other sources. It’s obscure for a New Look wig, but does exist on several sites, and I was able to get hold of it at a good price.

Here’s the first three designs. This part will end up at the back of the skirt, so my initial iffier work will be conveniently out of the way. I’m sure I’ll improve (and get a lot faster) as I work my way along. The flowers are taking me a while, but everything else goes quite quickly. Infinitely faster than anything I could do by hand at least!

I spent a lot of time experimenting with various stitches and practising before attacking the real thing. I’m using a straight stitch, a wiggly stitch on the squirrel, and a weird zigzaggy stitch on top of a straight stitch for the scallopy lines. The scallopy bits definitely aren’t accurate, but I don’t know how to do the correct stitch, and even just a close imitation would still need to be done by hand and require more time than I want to spend. The zig-zag combination I came up with looks fairly similar, and allows me to complete all the embroidery by machine and manage the 4.5 metres of embroidery I want without going insane, so I think it’s the right choice for me!

I first did the entire bottom line of scallopy bits, which again secures all the solvy nicely. I’m now working my way along the rest of the designs.

To attach the solvy to the fabric, I lined it up on the organza and roll hemmed the bottom, which gave me the final hem for the skirt, as well as attaching the stabilizer (the selvedge forms the top of the panel) I might need to hem it a little shorter later, but this may well be the final hem - especially if I’m too paranoid to put it through my overlocker after embroidering it all! Photo shows it all attached.

With all the measurements decided, and a nice template for the design, I used a Sharpie to trace the designs on to some Solvy, a water-soluble stabiliser. It’s like a clear vinyl, so I just placed it over my template to trace on to it. I can then place the fabric underneath it, and follow the design accurately when sewing. When the embroidery is complete, the Solvy will wash out. Since it’s a stabiliser, it also ensures the organza doesn’t get eaten by the machine, and that it’ll cope with the embroidery stitches, which is probably the most helpful aspect of all.

I had a 5m roll of solvy, so I just kept going, and traced every last bit on to the continuous sheet. I thought that would be best to make sure everything lines up correctly, and it also let me attach the whole lot to the organza in one go.

Tracing the designs was fairly quick and easy to do, but really boring, so I just made myself do at least one repeat a night, and got it all marked out in a week. Here’s a pathetic shot of the length of Solvy I covered!

I knew I wanted to embroider the skirt properly, I do enjoy detail projects occasionally. Besides, I’m not too sure how well paints or pens would work out on sheer fabric, and I don’t trust myself with drawing thin neat lines.

I did want to see what I could do by machine before resorting to doing everything by hand though. I bought some thick Gutermann topstitch thread, and had a trial run. I found I could get a nice effect using that, particularly when only used in the bobbin, with ordinary thread for the top, so that was the route I took.

I figured out the size the pieces of my skirt needed to be with a little experimentation in some spare fabric. It needs to be 36” long, meaning two panels 18” in length (each cut at 19” for hem/seam allowances).

I then checked the scale of the embroidered designs, based on measuring references and proportioning, and determined they should be about 4” high. I adjusted the scale accordingly to print off the design templates which Verdaera had drafted http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/1295.html - just one of the ways her progress journal has been an enormous help! The designs were taped together to make one repeat of the whole thing.

The width of the skirt panels was dependant upon the length of embroidery I could cope with! I think there are at least 7, if not 8 repeats of the design along the hem of the real dress. I measured the length of my template of one whole repeat, and it turns out that multiplied by 8, it comes to almost precisely 4.5m, so I went with that. My lower skirt panel is therefore 4.5m in length, and it’ll be gathered to half its length and sewn to the upper panel, which will be about 2.25m long. The upper panel can then be box pleated into the waistband.

Fail mirror photo.

I’ll be able to confirm the final length of the petticoat when I’ve made my dress, so no waistband just yet. I hope the petticoat alone will be full enough, but I can always wear another layer, or I might sew an extra ruffle to the inside of my dress to supplement it.

I then gathered the top using my overlocker and sewed the ruffle to the circle skirt. Because I like the flipped up hem side, and for all the petticoat will show, it’s fairly irrelevant which way round the ruffle is, I left the side I liked best facing outwards.

Next was the ruffle for the hem of the skirt. I was able to make it 8m wide, but the length of the ruffle was limited by having to allow for doubling up the chiffon, hemming it, and the amount of fabric I had. If I reduced the size of the circle skirt to try and make more room to cut a longer ruffle, then the hem of the circle skirt would end up less full, so I experimented until I hit on measurements I thought would work best. The ruffle could ideally be longer, but it was the best I could manage in the circumstances. The length of the petticoat can be adjusted from the waist if necessary - I may need to have it sit at my hips to ensure it’s long enough. Photo is of the ruffle mostly gathered up. Even gathered it’s a lot!

I basted striped fabric on either side of an 8m length of sateen - I wanted to have some stripes showing on the inside of the skirt, so sandwiched the sateen between two layers of chiffon. I also ensured I had enough for a hem to flip up and create the final change of direction in the stripes. While it was all still flat, I pressed the hem up, and stitched it down, including crinoline tape inside. I sewed right along that 8m length 6 times in total! (4 times to baste the top and bottom of each chiffon piece in place, once to attach the crinoline tape, and a final time to secure the hem)

I spent a lot of time calculating the size of the pieces I needed and figuring out a cutting layout to squeeze it out of the fabric I had, allowing for backing the chiffon with the sateen, and doubling up some of the chiffon to make some stripes visible on the inside at the hem (that's about all of the inside which might show, and is a convenient compromise since most of my fabric won’t be double-sided)

I started with a circle skirt cut in quarters, which is about the limit of the number of seams I wanted to mess with matching stripes at! The stripes on my fabric run at 45 degrees, so it was convenient to cut in 4 pieces, and have the stripes running vertically down the quarters. Of course, when sewn into a circle and hanging from the waist, the stripes end up going off at different angles and chevron at the seams.

Chiffon being chiffon, I left it to hang before hemming the skirt. After hemming, it went on to stretch further still though, so I had to hitch it up at the waist too! Stupid chiffon. I think I have it all as even as possible now though.

All sewn together with a waistband.

Then pleated - I used a strip of cardboard the width of the pleats to quickly press them all in accurately.

Nice quick project to start off the costume! I used white cotton drill for the skirt, simply cutting a rectangle and knife pleating it. I chose to hem it and sew down the black bias tape stripes before pleating, since it’s easier. It's crazy how much fabric is needed for pleats...

Next thing to try and determine from the references was the direction of the stripes. Obviously with heaps of fabric gathered together, the direction will vary, so it always looks all over the place in views of the hem. From the photo of the large scale petticoat, it looks as though the stripes run vertically, then change to diagonal for a ruffle at the hem. There’s also another change of direction where the hem is folded up. Knowing what to look for, that all can be seen on the actual scale dress too.

I had trouble finding suitable striped fabric for the underskirt, with the black stripe thinner than the white, but I eventually found printed chiffon from Abakan.co.uk which was exactly right. I was lucky, I got the last of it - I ordered 4m to give me plenty for a circle skirt, and ended up receiving slightly more as it was the end of the bolt! The problem was, it was chiffon, and a sheer fabric wasn’t going to look right or have any hope of helping to flare out a dress. So I also ordered cotton sateen to use as a backing for it, because that came in the same 150cm width, and would be of a decent weight. In the photo, you can see the see-through problem of the chiffon on its own, and how it works with the sateen behind it. Shame it means my fabric’s only striped on one side, and it’s more hassle to deal with two layers at once, but the point is it’ll look suitably accurate and do the job of a petticoat.

In order to deal with the two layers of fabric at once, I first machine basted the two fabrics together along one selvedge to help me out. I then marked out the shapes I needed to cut on the sateen, and basted around the outlines. I could then cut out the shapes, and have the chiffon and sateen secured together while I worked.

I’m still not certain exactly what all is meant to be underneath the dress, even after studying all the references I could get. There‘s definitely a black and white striped underskirt, but whether that’s the only layer of skirts underneath, I can‘t be entirely sure. It’s difficult to determine if the other fabric visible is just the opaque layer of the dress, or if there are more blue layers too. And even looking at the striped skirt is confusing with all the directions of the stripes, and stripes showing on both sides of the fabric. At least accuracy in undergarments isn’t a big deal, as much as I like to do what I can. So I decided I would make a stripy underskirt, because I know that’s definitely there, and it may be it’ll have enough volume on its own. If not, I could then make another to petticoat to supplement it.

Costume complete!

Since I kept track of it for once, I know it cost me £137.48 - the breakdown is attached as an image.

I used Jacquard’s acid dye in brilliant blue. I was really nervous about dyeing all that silk, so I did a few test swatches, and knew to start with that I wouldn’t need very much of the dye to get a pastel shade. I was cautious, and used as little as possible - I could always dye it darker if necessary. As it turned out, my first attempt on the organza was fine.

An awkward factor was that almost all the available silk dyes and instructions are intended for top-loading washing machines, which is not much help in this part of the world. Jacquard’s iDye is intended for all washing machines, but the sachet it comes in means trying to only use a small quantity of the dye wouldn’t be easy. For dyeing small things, I’m happy to use a large pot on the stove, but there’s no way to reliably manage that with metres of fabric. I researched all the instructions I could find on using dyes in front-loading machines, then made up some variation myself.

Best thing I did was found the instruction manual for our washing machine and figured out all the helpful things it would be able to do. I set it up to do a short prewash to get the fabric clean and wet, then it did the actual wash at the highest temperature (95 degrees), without spin, and without draining the water at the end (until I told it to manually before opening the door, obviously). That means the fabric got the longest possible time immersed in the dye, and avoiding the spin segments was meant to ensure it didn’t develop folds and wrinkles which might cause the dye to be uneven. The dye was dissolved in hot water, vinegar added, and the whole lot was poured into the soap dispenser at the appropriate time.

I’m happy with the results, which can be seen drying on the washing lines! The main thing was to ensure the colour is pale. It’ll be layered over an opaque fabric, and that can be used to make the colour more vibrant, or even adjust its shade, so I’ll be experimenting with the colour I need underneath. I’m leaving my options open for now until I can determine what colour my opaque fabric needs to be, if I’ll have to dye it and what type of fabric will be best.

The dress in the film has a silk organza overlay, presumably on top of silk satin or similar. You can get an idea of the layers in the attached image. I did consider my usual route of using the cheaper equivalent fabric, but I couldn’t find any synthetic organza or other sheers in the right shade, and synthetics can’t be dyed. Silk organza is also rather different from its imitation varieties, which tend to be much shinier, so it was never going to be ideal. I luckily ran across rainbowsilks.co.uk, which had silk organza reduced at the time. It was a little awkward in a weirdly narrow width, but I can work with that, and the silk could be dyed to the right shade of blue.

I enjoy the challenge of movie costumes, now I’m more confident in sewing and things. They involve identifying how a real garment was made, sometimes tracking down the actual things used, and trying to copy something made on a budget far above my own. Accuracy is a tricky thing. Not that all anime/video game costumes are automatically easier, but they present different challenges, and tend to permit more interpretation and artistic licence!

When I first saw this dress, I didn't pay too much attention to it, and thought it might be a nice alternative to other Alice designs. Then when I looked at photos of the dress from when it was exhibited, I realised I would probably die from all the embroidery. But I still loved the dress, and ended up buying fabric for it, so that was me making it! I didn’t even like the film that much, but the costumes are undoubtedly awesome.

As usual, I’m relying on other people’s experiences and research here, and will avoid starting anything I’m not sure about until I can scrutinise the dvd and feel confident I have all the references possible.

The Costumer's Guide is a fantastic resource:
http://costumersguide.com/aliceBlue.shtml

and I'm avidly following Verdaera's progress journal:
http://alice-kingsley.livejournal.com/

Linking the medallions together turned out to be not that easy. The links have to be so small, and trying to bend the ends of the wire together to close the loop is near impossible, especially trying to do it without damaging the medallions.

Instead, I sewed all of them to the belt first with clear thread. They actually looked fine like that, which was comforting - if I didn’t find a way to join them, it wouldn’t matter.

I still ended up using some silver embroidery floss, which is looped around to give the appearance of links, and also is sewn through the fabric belt to help secure the medallions. I tried to leave a bit of slack in the join so that the belt can still fold up for transportation. Not too sure how to best transport it, I think it’ll involve bubblewrap, and probably a box.

Medallions doooooone! Now to link them up, and sew them to the belt. I think they look like Christmas tree decorations

The central medallion uses the same sorts of materials and techniques as the others, but it was a bit more difficult.

Step 1
The backing was cut out from silver card. Not easy because of the stupid circles, my dad hit on using sandpaper to get them neat. The card takes impressions very well, so there are random engravings done lightly with a pencil.

Step 2
Thinner 22 gauge wire was shaped using same nail board as before in a slightly different way, and the beads are glued in place on it. The smallest beads go on the outer points, and 4 of the medium ones are in the centre. The wire forming the outer circle was bent around a tin; it‘s the same 16 gauge wire as used on the other medallions. Thicker 14 gauge wire was used for the uppermost designs.

Step 3
Everything is glued together, and the card backing is also coated in some Araldite to reinforce it - especially those little points on the circumference.

Complete! Rinse and repeat to make 14 of the damn things in total.

When they’re all done, I think I’ll be linking them together with more bits of wire, then using clear thread to attach them in place on the girdle belt. I also have to make the middle medallion, which has a different design. Thankfully there’s only one of it.

I cut out triangles of card, which is a little tricky even with a template, and glue them on, then stick the last 20mm ring on the back. Showing this upside down makes it clearer what’s going on, or it would if it didn’t mean white card on a white background…

The wire is glued on along with the medium size beads

Using the nail board, the wire is bent into these shapes. During the bending, one bit of wire gets the largest kind of bead threaded on in the centre, the other wire is done the same way, but without the bead, then is cut in half and glued on to form the cross pieces

We later realised that instead of cutting the cross piece wire, it was easier to put a u-shaped dip in the middle of the piece to fit around the underside of the centre bead

A 40mm curtain ring is glued on top.

I split the thin 20mm rings, and threaded 4mm beads on to them covering the joins. This was surprisingly fiddly, and sometimes the beads needed glue to hold them in place. All of these groups of 4 rings are now done.

The medallion belt was the part I was dreading, so obviously I’ve left that to last! I’d studied the breakdown of the medallions, and collected together all the components I thought I’d need, but wasn’t sure how I’d actually assemble them, so just had all these beads, rings and wire sitting around for ages. Then I got my dad involved, and he did a wonderful job figuring it out for me yesterday (the solution is don’t bother with any sensible jewellery techniques, just use Araldite) and together we’ve set up a production line. Currently there are 2 and a bit medallions assembled.

The materials shown (from left) are as follows:

- silver card
- 40mm silver curtain rings
- 20mm silver rings
- beads which claim to be 6mm, but are somehow larger than the other 6mm ones I bought
- 6mm beads which are smaller than the other ones 0_o
- 4mm beads
- 16 gauge jewellery wire and a nail board made up of a chunk of spare wood and a couple of nails driven through in the right places.

You can also see a completed medallion and an idea of the stages in making it.

Not pictured: lots of Araldite, pliers, clear thread and frustration.

Time for the medallions! As her belts are identical on other dresses, just gold instead of silver, so they make useful, clearer references.

The blue gems are fimo painted with nail polish, the pieces are linked with jump rings and a chain which I took apart. It was a bad choice since it had tiny tiny links, so it was a lot of trouble to thread them on to the jump rings.

The necklace consists of brass wire and fimo. I had a shot at covering it in gold leaf, but I learnt in the process that it requires insanely smooth surfaces and less intricate shapes to end up truly shiny. It’s still nice, but gold paint would have been indistinguishable (so I’m telling you all now that it’s real gold and posting the progress photo of messiness :P)

There's a replica of the necklace for sale which costs a small fortune, so I had no choice but to attempt my own...

Felt being stretched over the hat block for my first felt hat attempt.

I kept this costume secret, but still kept track of my progress when I was making it. I actually kept track of it in a lot more detail than usual, since I’ve never really tried to pay attention to how much time costumes take me, and wanted to do it out of interest for once. So since I’d already written them, I’ve put up my notes along with the few progress photos I took.

I had a trial run of hair and make-up. I’m not usually one for much make-up, but thought it would be best to clearly be wearing some for this costume. I aimed for pale pink shades since that seems to be what she wears.

I’m using my own hair. Hair from the front is pulled back behind my ears, and to make sure it stays like that, it’s tied at the nape of my neck, with the hair tie hidden under the rest of my hair. The front pieces are hair sprayed to try to keep them fixed in place as far as possible, but it doesn’t work well, so I’ll need to improve on it if I can. It’s also not easy to stop my hair from squishing the stand-up collar, or the collar making the hair do strange things. These things do not work in real life!

The shirt I won off Ebay arrived today - have taken almost 3 weeks to turn up - it seems it wasn‘t the seller‘s fault, and in any case, they handled the situation well, so all is well. However, just my luck after all that - the charity shop shirt seems to be a better choice! I had to sew on an extra button for the collar, and lengthen the sleeves by chopping them in half, and inserting random fabric to increase the length, but that’s it done. I could do with taking in the collar, or getting a better fitting shirt though, since the loose neckline looks a bit off. Anyway, costume complete!

Finished sorting out the sleeves, bias tape and shoulder pad, so I could finally close up the lining. I braved making the buttonholes. I really hate them. My machine repeatedly produces beautiful buttonholes when I do trial runs, then just fails on the real deal, and there’s only so much unpicking of tiny stitches that’s possible. Luckily they end up pretty much hidden by the buttons, so as long as I have holes in the jacket which aren’t going to fray everywhere, it doesn’t matter much if they’re neat. I then sewed on all the buttons. Jacket is DONE and my badge also pinned on to the collar.

I got more coats of paint on the badge, and glued a brooch fastening to the back, since that was what I had to hand.

I bought a pillowcase in a charity shop for 50p which is a suitable brown colour for covering the buttons. I don’t really know what colour the buttons are meant to be - they seem to be brownish, so I’m going with that. I’ve covered all my buttons now.

I opened up a seam for turning the lining, I‘d originally had different plans for the bias binding which would have meant leaving a seam open wasn‘t necessary. With that seam for turning it, I could finish sewing the bias tape along the hem. I will eventually close up the seam with slip stitching, but I still have to perfect the bias binding, and fix one of the shoulder pads in place, plus fiddle with the sleeve length before I can close up the lining completely.

Finished the badge, baked it and started painting. My dad tied a nice knot in the tie for me, which is much smarter than anything I could manage!

Since the shirt I won on eBay is refusing to turn up, I went round the charity shops after work and picked up another shirt which should be suitable if the other one doesn’t arrive in time. The sleeves are a bit short, so I’m hoping the Ebay shirt is better to save me some effort altering things.

Also started sculpting my attorney’s badge

Worked on the bias tape a bit more

Back to the jacket. Managed to sort out the collar.

I sewed up the trousers, and they’re now complete. I did the hems by hand. That plus sewing on the hook/eye closures took its toll on my fingers.

Also picked up more thread and bias tape when I was at Dunelm Mill.

Put the lining in. I was fed up of working on the jacket though, so didn’t finish it up. Instead, I cut out the trousers to give myself a break. I’m using New Look 6435. No need for pockets when the jacket is armed with them! I ensured I had enough turquoise thread so I could overlock the seams.

Finished the pockets completely, sewed in the shoulder pads, and applied all the bias tape to the jacket. Everything was set up ready to put in the lining the next day.

I knew I wanted to sew down some of the bias binding before the jacket is lined - on the sleeves, and collar where it stops and starts. Copying the construction of a jacket I own, I’ve decided to continue this idea and sew down all the bias tape before putting the lining in. It means there’s a seam on every edge, but it’s a simple way to avoid any visible stitching on the bias binding, inside and out, and it’ll make the bits on the collar much easier. I suppose this technique would be best when not using bias tape, like when you want broader trim on the edges, but since I’d already bought bias binding, that’s what I used, even if it meant I needed twice as much this way!

Bought a zip for the trousers, shoulder pads, and since I can‘t find suitable buttons, I‘ve bought cover ones so I can worry about finding fabric for them instead.

Finished the pocket flaps. Also, my new scales arrived, and this time, they were a suitable size for earrings. All it took was to detach the pans, and the jump rings on the end of the chains are just looped over a pair of stud earrings. I don’t think I’ll have to do anything more complex to them.

Here’s a pocket in progress and one of the flaps.

I finished up my bias tape on the pocket flaps, figured out the pocket positioning, and started sewing them.

I started on the real pockets, cutting out all the pieces I’d need. The bias tape needed applied to the pocket flaps before they were sewn in, so I worked on that, and nicely mitered the corners.

And the exterior.

I hadn’t made a welt pocket in a while, and I’d never tried one with a flap before, or using two different coloured fabrics, so I had a trial run, which also let me figure out the size I wanted them to be, and ensure I’d have the right measurements for the real pockets. This is my favourite guide for double welt pockets: http://www.cedesign.com/familyphotos/sewing/info/doublewelt/index.html

After sorting out the new pieces, and also remembering to add a pleat in the lining this time, I was finally happy enough with the fit.

Next task was to adjust the length. I trimmed it shorter, and with the length confirmed, I could complete the lining with a facing for the bottom edge. I also sewed the stand-up collar part on.

That gave me the finished outer jacket and lining. Actually sewing them together will have to wait until I’ve made the pockets, and added some of the bias tape.

Here’s what the lining looks like

Fiddled with the armscyes a bit more, and decided I wanted to cut new centre back pieces to add more room in the shoulders. Won a larger set of scales on eBay.

Messed about with sleeves - although I made a mock-up, it was really to bash out the main shapes and play with the seam placement. I’m still happier adjusting fit as I go along

Did some more assembly, getting the lining together.

My tie also arrived, and the miniature scales turned up too, and although they’re perfect to convert to earrings, they’re too small, so I’m looking at slightly larger ones on eBay. There’s heaps of them for 99p, so it’s not big deal having to try a couple to get the right size.

Obtained extra bias tape, since I now have a better idea of the scale of things.

Pink compact arrived in record time! Will do the trick. Also won a red shirt off eBay.

Pre-washed my fabric (I amazed myself by bothering to do that), and finished up my mock-up while it was drying. Got the pieces cut out, interfaced where necessary, and the outer shell put together. Also bought a pink compact on eBay, after failing to find one in the shops.

Started the mock-up, which consists of my parents’ horrible old velvet curtains. I don’t like making mock-ups, as often as I seem to end up doing them. I much prefer to just make a garment once, and hack straight into the final fabric, adjusting things as I go. In this case, I have to figure out the collar, as well as the usual altering of the fit. I also can’t entirely follow the pattern, because it has raglan sleeves, so I’m changing those to set-in ones. Finally, since it’s lined, then I really need to keep track of any alterations I make, so it’s better to do a trial run, then have a more precise pattern for the real thing to ensure my pieces match.

I also bought a tie. I was hunting for silk fabrics and dyes for another costume, and ran across silk ties for sale from a site I was ordering from (rainbowsilks.co.uk). They’re intended as bases for painting/dyeing, but since all I need is a plain white tie, it’s perfect.

Pictured is the messy ugly mock-up, which nevertheless does the job.

I bought my lining, thread and interfacing from Edinburgh Fabrics. I also won a set of miniature scales on Ebay, I wonder what those could be for…

I found I had a suitable lipstick with a gold tube. It’s not pale pink like hers, but I just need a prop one, the colour I wear won’t necessarily be the same. Pattern arrived, had a good look at it, and cut out the necessary pieces.

Bought turquoise drill on Ebay, and pattern Simplicity 2508 from habithat.co.uk. Also grabbed some pink powder puffs, because I spotted them in Sainsbury’s.

I bought purple and turquoise thread and some purple bias tape from Dunelm Mill.

Completed the game, and by then was fairly certain I wanted to start a 3rd new costume for Minami!

I primed everything with layers of gesso, sanded the bits I’d hacked at, primed it some more…and more…then the exterior was then all spray painted black. I made sure to paint the two halves of the sphere individually to ensure they could still separate ok.

There are a couple of tap lights inside the cauldron. The holes for the face and the top are covered in green fabric to make the light shine through as green, and also conveniently hide the lights themselves inside. Anything I tried with leaving the cutouts uncovered just wasn’t quite as good. The fabric over the top can be opened up and pinned closed to let me reach in and switch the lights on and off.

The weight of the lights in the base prevents the two halves of the cauldron from staying securely together, so I have a piece of string which attaches to each end of the wire handle, then loops through the base of the cauldron. I’ll be armed with pins and tape and whatever else in case this plan fails!

Halloween failed me for obtaining a plastic cauldron, especially because I wanted it to be a decent size, but I didn’t have too much trouble assembling my own out of various polystyrene shapes!

I used a large, hollow polystyrene sphere which conveniently separates into two halves. I decided to preserve that ability to make the cauldron easier to transport.

I marked where the top of the cauldron would be, chopped it off, and also cut out the face shapes with a knife.

The feet are polystyrene eggs, as well as being glued on, they have wire embedded in them which slots into the main cauldron to help secure them.

The handle is model magic, with wire inside it for strength. I had trouble getting the model magic smooth enough, so I made a stretchy fabric cover for it to smooth it out. The wire is shoved through the polystyrene sphere, and can pivot a little. I used the ends of a couple of the egg shapes to form the rounded pieces where the handle meets the cauldron.

I tried sculpting the rim of the cauldron from model magic too, but failed even more at that. So it’s again a tube of stretchy fabric, but this time it’d padded out with batting. With my lack of skill at props, I tend to do weird stuff like that so I can stick with techniques I’m comfortable with.

Here’s the basic shapes before priming and painting.

The side cutouts were a nuisance. Before cutting holes in my nice dress, I stitched round the outline to secure the lining and outer layer of the dress together. Once I’d snipped out the shape, I finished the edge with glue to prevent fraying. I wanted to go over it with a machine satin stitch, but with the wire framework inside the dress, I just couldn’t get the dress through the machine anymore! Running out of time and ideas, I cut out leatherette to go round the edges as a quick-fix. It’s hot glued on for now, but could do with being hand-sewn.

The base of the black collar is craft foam, I could have made it bigger, but I got a shape I liked from taping two sheets together, and didn’t want to bother with extending it. It’s covered in the taffeta, and hand sewn to the dress.

The other, smaller collar has a Wonderflex base due to its curve. I held it in front of a fan heater, which easily got it warm enough to mould, just with my hands more or less. It’s also hand sewn to the now-finished dress.

I think the collars and everything look fairly nonsensical in the photo, but I’ll have photos of me wearing it soon enough!

Then the right way out

The lacing nearest the hem is all elastic, so I can still pull the dress on and off. The lacing further up is leather cord to function as a proper closure.

Unfortunately, I found that I have to keep the wire frame permanently inside, if I wanted to be able to sew the sleeve openings closed and later do the cutouts in the sides of the bodice. So ironing, packing and storing the dress will always be an adventure.

I did the decorative stitching on the seams with embroidery thread, and used it as a kind of flossing, like on corset bones, to hold the fabric in place on the wire frame.

The sheer fabric on the shoulders is a wonderful two-tone chiffon I found, and could justify buying because I only needed 40cm. It’s finished with a rolled hem, which is beautifully effective on chiffon.

Still needs the collars and cutouts at the sides of the bodice.

The actual dress is made from some navy taffeta I bought in LA. The reverse of the fabric is shot blue/black; I used that side for the lining to add some interest.

This is what the inside looks like - that’s the centre front at the bottom of the photo. So bizarre!

5. I could then sew my weft to the back of the wig. That would be a drawing of the wig, the red line marking the centre back

6. I placed the weft with all the hair going to one side, exactly how it’s laid flat with all the hair going to the right in the picture. I then sewed by hand along that tight line of stitching I’d made at step 4 - the red line. That line is the actual parting, so it had to be centred on the wig, and the weft had to be secured at that point. The actual weft ends further to the left that the actual centre parting.

7. With it sewn on, I then parted the weft, which took a little care to get even. I used a hairdryer to persuade half of the hair to go the opposite way from how it wanted to - the section going to the left doubles back over the top of the weft itself and covers the stitching.

I think of it like an ordinary seam in fabric. You’re placing pieces of fabric (in this case, layers of wefted hair) one on top of the other, sewing along one edge, and then opening it out and pressing it flat.

In case it’s useful for anyone else, here’s my terrible explanation of how I did the back part on my wig. I wish I’d taken pics of this now, but it was a pretty quick process, so I didn’t think to. Instead, I had some fun doodling in paint!

1. That’s not a comb, it’s my beautiful illustration of the weft I got from CosWorx, which was really wide - a bit more than four times the length the back part needed to be. The thick black vertical line is what I’ll call the top of the weft - the stitching which secures all the hair together.

2. I folded it up into 4 to shorten it, and that also made it thick enough for my purposes, although if you were putting a wig into high pigtails, you’d definitely need more hair in the back part.

3. I then sewed the four layers together, just using a loose straight machine stitch along the top of the weft - this was just done roughly to keep the layers together and make the next step easier to get neat.

4. With everything roughly held in place, I then did the stitching which would form the actual parting (that red line). I set my sewing machine to the shortest straight stitch, and sewed a seam a little away from the top of the weft, on the actual hair.
If you’re not familiar with this kind of technique, I’d recommend having a look through this tutorial on sewing wefts: http://images.cosplay.com/showphoto.php?photo=1079221

I had a photoshoot today, so over the last week, I finished up the final few things.

I have the last snap sewn to the jacket, and the lining closed up.

I did find a suitable enough book to carry as a prop for the moment. Not desperately looking for a better one since heavy books aren’t good for my baggage allowance, and for that reason, I may see if I can borrow a book for Minami to save me packing one. I don’t actually own a copy of the game, so I wasn’t able to remind myself of what her various books really look like; I might do that eventually.

So the very last thing was those annoying French braids. Through some experimentation, I eventually got the wig stretched to the right amount on the wig head (which needed to be looser than I thought), then the wig fitted my head, and the braids were taunt enough when I wore the wig. Alice’s braids puff out a bit from her head, so I wasn’t too concerned about getting it totally tight, flat against my head, so that leeway made it easier.

I might coil up the ends of the braids, but for the moment, I have them shoved down the back of my jacket. It’s not obvious with the bow pinned on top! I’m making things more complicated for myself because I can’t yet bring myself to cut the wig. I doubt I’d readily want to take the style down again…but I do at least have that option. I like the idea of having a more sensible style though, rather than braids abruptly ending - it makes sense that they’d be piled up at the back…or stuffed down the back of my jacket pending being properly styled.

The fringe is styled so as to hide the hairline, but proved to be a nuisance when it’s windy outside. I might need kirby grips to help keep the sides in place in future.

The bow fabric looks like it’s meant to be a different shade from the rest of her outfit, but I decided to just stick with the same fabric. It’s safety pinned into the wig.

So I might fiddle with the wig more, I'm on the lookout for better buttons, I might improve my brooch, and I'm also wondering if I might get another pair of stockings, double them up to make the band at the top less obvious, but it is very much wearable and DONE

I also used a bodice pattern, combined it with the pieces I’d figured out for the skirt, and made another mock-up, this time of the whole dress.

At this stage I discovered I’d actually made Reith from Magna Carta, who has been lurking on my cosplay list for a long time (I love yellow). So I’ll be hanging on to my pattern, and considering this dress a trial run for Reith!

No cutouts at this stage, for fitting purposes.

I could then make a mock-up for the skirt. It felt a lot like I was trying to make a lampshade or umbrella. All very messy, but you can see the rough wire outlines are now nicely hidden.

My work on the dress began with making a wire frame for the skirt. I definitely wanted it to stick out like the reference.

Here's my very messy initial framework. I was planning to replace it with a neater version, but I found this one worked out ok, so lazily left it as it was.

I needed the wire to continue all the way up to the waist for support and to keep it sturdy, so it has a kind of waistband, and it’s also taped together lower down to form the zigzag shape for the hem.

I had trouble finding any affordable white cotton velvet for the panel on the front of the jacket, so I actually used stretch velvet, lined it with gabardine left over from my Eowyn dress.

I opted for laziness, and gave up on any idea of functional buttons and removable panels, so the white panel is sewn to the jacket down one side, then snaps down the other. I was one snap short, so just need to buy that and I’m done!

I’ve also finally found suitable buttons, so those are on the front of the jacket and the sleeves. I’m still on the look out for affordable flat ones - not sure how much I like these rounded ones.

I found gloves in a vintage shop - no way I wanted to make gloves if I could help it! The flounces which show at the ends of the sleeve are tacked to these gloves. I also now have the white stockings.

Only remaining things are that last snap, closing up the lining, a prop book, and finishing up the wig.

Wig with more creatures! The wig is the one Eli wore for our Ouendan group - it already had extensions added for braids, so I just adapted it a bit. The result is that it has extra braiding going on, but I don’t mind, and it’s not obvious except from the back.

There isn’t room for a bat to peek over my ear like in the drawing, so it’s suspended, asleep, from a braid - the puppets all came with velcro on their wings so they can be wrapped closed, and it was too cute not to keep one bat like that!

The frog and hat are safety pinned to the wig, and hopefully everything will stay balanced on my head. When clearing out my room this week, I found I have a larger cuddly frog, which I want to incorporate into the costume too, if I can. It’ll probably live in the cauldron, since there’s no more room for things to go on my head.

So that’s me done with most of the accessories, it would help if I had a dress to go with them…

I bought finger puppets from eBay for the bats and frog, because they were cheap and the size I needed.

One bat (whose wings I might have to remove, I’m sorry!) will be safety pinned to the front of the dress. The ones on the shoes also required surgery, to thread wire into their wings to keep them open. They won’t have the red beads, since their wings just won’t go that way, so I’m deviating from the reference there. They have a loop of elastic which holds them to the straps on my shoes.

HAT, because I’ve been avoiding the dress so far…

It’s a craft foam cone and brim shape, which I figured out then used as my pattern for the taffeta to cover it. I moved the seam on the cone to go diagonally, and added the decorative stitches. The yellow is felt. It’s going to safety pin into my wig so it stays on at a silly angle. I’ve not finished sewing the cone to the brim, to it’s a little wonky here, but you get the idea.

I made the spider with the traditional method of a pom pom, googly eyes and pipe cleaners. It's suspended on thin jewellery wire from the hat.

The silver loops for my arms are painted craft foam, strung together with clear thread, so they sort of float

The arm and legwarmers are adapted from Primark jumpers, one navy and one yellow. I used their sleeves to make the armwarmers, overlocking the stripes together, and making use of the ribknit from the cuffs to go on the ends. The legwarmers were assembled from the rest of the jumpers. There's elastic in the tops to keep them in place.

When I think about how annoying it was to deal with fraying wool and assorted strips of stretchy fabric in making my Karolina armwarmers, I truly appreciate how easy my overlocker made this!

The shorts and stockings are the first thing I’ve done on this costume, because it was quick, easy and involved hand-sewing which could be done in front of the tv.

I made them by chopping up some Primark leggings. There's elastic in the stocking tops to try and keep them up. The details are felt and embroidery floss, I made up some of the pink shapes and positioning of the yellow squares myself.

I think in the process of making up the position of the extra square, that’s how I’ve got these the wrong way round. Whoops. Never mind, it’s a original design - what’s accuracy got to do with it?

With all the extra fibre added in, I found I could braid the wig without no real difficulty in hiding the mesh. Difficulty in neatly braiding it was another matter…

This was a quick braid to test out whether I had enough fibre in the wig. I think it’ll be fine, especially when I’ll be piling up the braids at the back a bit, and plonking the bow on, so a lot will be hidden by that.

Just got to take my time and neatly braid it now!

I probably had more extensions than I needed, but it doesn’t hurt for French braiding. I used my second weft along the back parting, since in trial runs of the braiding, I found the back mesh was showing a little.

I was able to fold this weft into four, and used a small machine stitch to sew it together like that, making a sort of seam. I then hand stitched it down the centre back of the wig, and parted it with a hairdryer.

This is the unstyled wig loose - all I’d done at this stage was to add that weft, which you can see forming the longer strands at the ends there.

This is the weft in the process of being sewn in right round the hairline - I was able to double the weft up and still get it all the way round the wig. The extensions were added around the entire edge of the wig so the hairline would all be neat when the wig was pulled back, and also to supplement the volume of the fringe. I had to trim and style the fringe quite a bit to the correct length too

The wig has been my main project recently.

I’d vaguely thought about trying to style a white wig I already had, but it was too short, and also quite thin, so would have needed a lot of extensions added. I also decided that I would prefer a more silvery wig, rather than stark white.

When CosWorx had a discount offer, I had a browse, and thought the silver colour of their exclusive wigs was what I needed - it’s fairly pale, and not especially grey. It even looks white in certain lighting, so that was exactly what I wanted - the whitest silver possible.

I chose the Clover L style, which had the fringe I needed, plenty length for styling. I also bought some of their pre-wefted extensions.

Here’s one of the wefts - that’s it folded in half, you can see they’re pretty generous

I found the boots on eBay. Turned out they fitted nicely and I quite like them, so rather than chop them up to create the tongue bit, I bought some leatherette, and made tongues to add on. They slot on using kirby grips, and I might use some double-sided tape to help out too. Not entirely accurate, or perfectly neat, but preserves the boots the way I want to keep them whilst still making them a bit more like Alice’s

I’ve kind of ground to a halt on this costume, since I’m stuck looking for various bits and pieces. I made the jacket and skirt from cotton velvet, so want the white panel on the front of the jacket to be the same fabric - I just can’t find any affordable white cotton velvet in Glasgow or Edinburgh. I don’t want to order online, since I only need a 30-40cm cut, and sites won’t sell less than a metre. Edinburgh Fabrics has stretch velvet, which may just have to do. Or I could not use velvet. I’m going with the wait-and-see approach for now.

I also need to hunt down gloves, stockings, affordable buttons, and a bible. But in the meantime, I have found a few things to work on.

I made the brooch from craft foam, because I like to avoid sculpting when I can. It has detail pressed in using a biro (I used the same lettering as on Karin’s necklace, not knowing exactly what’s on Alice’s) , was primed in pva then painted. There’s a brooch fastening glued to the back. The jacket has a chunk of white gaberdine on it at the moment, which I’m chopping into the right shape for the white panel. It’ll be interfaced and form the lining for the finished panel.

I attached the collar, put in the zip and sorted out the cuffs before lining the jacket. By “cuffs” I mean the ends of the sleeves are done so as to give the impression of a proper split in the sleeve. Not that it’ll ever be obvious, since it’ll always be shut (in fact, it’s hand sewn closed), but I wanted to give the appearance of the buttons there serving a purpose. (plus the overlap can be seen in at least one reference image)

I was then ready to sew in the lining, so after sorting out the inevitable tweaks to make the blasted thing match the outer jacket, I succeeded. I decided against topstitching in the end, since I don‘t think it‘s very effective on velvet. There are clear lines in some references, which is why I was considering doing it, but on the other hand, there are plenty references not showing the lines! So I think I can do whatever I like. It’s certainly all sitting fine as it is.

The white panel is probably going attach with functional buttons. If it behaves itself, I’d like to make it completely removable, so without it, the jacket will look just like this, but with the silver buttons as well. I might just have enough spare teal velvet to make an alternative matching panel to button on too.

That’s the skirt now completed, and pictured in a fuzzy photo (whoops) over the underskirt. It’s terrifyingly short… but accurate.

Because lining inevitably frustrates me so, I took a break from finishing up the jacket, and made the skirt. Dead easy to put together. As I anticipated with the velvet, I found it was best to divide the circle into 6 segments to have the nap all going the same way right round the skirt. In the photo, the hem and waistband weren’t yet finished, and the zip needs inserted.

I’ve now assembled the jacket lining too. I wasn’t sure initially if I would bother with lining, because the design sometimes has topstitching apparent around all the edges, that would let me just hem things, but in the end, I decided to use 1m of kingfisher blue taffeta which I already had. I don’t have enough velvet for all the facings, only enough for the cuffs. The rest of the lining has just been cut slightly smaller around the hem and sleeves so the velvet will turn under.

My fabric turned up yesterday! I already had the mock-ups sorted as my pattern, so everything could be cut out straight away. Velvet frays like crazy, so all the edges were overlocked as soon as the pieces were cut out. I got all that done last night, so today, I assembled the jacket. It was all easy to sew together thanks to the prior work on the mock-up.

I did end up adding the extra ruffles, so here’s the finished skirt, with bias tape finishing the waist and side-opening. It just fastens with a hook and eye. Hopefully it can be used as a petticoat with some other costumes too.

I experimented with gathering using my overlocker for the first time, so the ruffles were fairly quick and painless to make (considering the amount I made, I wouldn’t have been happy hand-gathering them all!) I’ve made heaps of them, as you can see in the photo! I’ve only got one row sewn to the skirt so far, but I have enough for a second row, so I’ll probably go for it.

While waiting on the velvet, I got all the more boring work on the white fabric out of the way. I need to do this while my overlocker is threaded up in white anyway.

The underskirt I’d made was finished with a rolled hem (that’s it draping in the back left of the photo) . I also cut out the flounces for the cuffs and finished them the same way. They’re complete circles too (one’s lurking on the right in the photo). All my remaining polycotton was cut into strips to make into ruffles, also with a rolled hem. You can get an idea of the ridiculous lengths I needed from the pic!

The last swatches I ordered arrived today! I’ve exhausted all my fabric shop possibilities, so I made my decision based on online options. I settled on velvet, and carefully figured out exactly how much I’d need using the mock-ups, taking into account having to have the nap going in the same direction on all the pieces. I found I could squeeze everything out of just 2m. I’ve gone for the colour on the bottom right in the photo. I like that the sheen to velvet gives it a range of shades depending on the lighting, since that makes it accurate to a number of variations in the references. It’s more teal than navy though, by my preference.

I used New Look 6435 as a basic jacket pattern to get me started, and made a mock-up to sort out the slight adjustments and tweak the fit.

I think I’ll have the jacket fasten with a separating zip at the centre front, then the white panel can close over the top of that. I imagine that’ll be most helpful for ensuring a close fit, and I’m considering making the white panel entirely removable, so the jacket can be worn without it and be a more normal design for ordinary wear.

I also made a mock-up for the skirt with the white polycotton, not that it’s particularly necessary (it’s just a simple circle skirt), but it’ll let me more easily find the precise amount of fabric I need to buy, and the mock-up can become the underskirt anyway. Also, if I choose velvet, I’ll want to cut the skirt in more sections to have the nap all going the same way, so having a mock-up for reference will help out there.

I spent some time finger combing through loads of conditioner to weigh it all down and help comb it. I then used the hot water straightening method, but not to do anything dramatic, just reduce the curls a little, and even out any frizziness. I left in some conditioner after the straightening too to keep it neat.

After it dried, I went on to straighten it further with a hairdryer. Mostly, I just straightened out the layers underneath, so remove more volume. The curls on the uppermost layers remain. The result is this! Definitely flatter, less curly, neater and more like what I need.

If I’d known about the layering in the wig in advance, I’d probably have bought a different wig, even if I couldn‘t get the exact colour I was after. Getting a long, straight wig to curl would probably have been the best option of all for true accuracy.

Still, this wig has turned out ok, although it’s taken more work than I’d like, I’m happy enough with the style now. I love its colour and the quality of the fibre. Maybe if I feel ambitious later I could try curling it into more accurate waves, but I’m leaving as it is for now.

My problem, when only vaguely thinking about making this costume previously was finding fabric in a suitable colour. I haven't run across any suiting fabrics I'm happy with. With a deadline in place, I have to really put some effort into fabric hunting!

I’ve ordered heaps of free swatches from a couple of sites. I found that Quickfabrics.co.uk has amazing range of velvets in a lot of promising shades. Seeing as a cotton velvet wouldn’t be terribly unsuitable for the costume, I got a bunch of samples. I felt bad ordering so many free samples, so I also bought 3m of white polycotton. I’ll be using it for the underskirt, cuffs, and maybe contributing towards mock-ups. Spare polycotton never goes amiss.

Whilst waiting on my swatches, I’ve started on a mock-up in some spare fabric. I wanted to have it patterned out before ordering fabric, so I’d know how much to get. If I decide on velvet, it’s not all that cheap, so I’d like to get the quantity fairly precise. Also, when sewing with velvet, it’s better to avoid any stitch-unpicking, so having the pattern exact to start with is a good idea, and it won't hurt no matter what fabric I eventually choose.

With the length evened out, my next task was taming it. Here’s it all fluffy ready to be straightened (this pic also gives a better idea of the colour). Definitely too curly, too much volume, and you can see in the previous photo that it was springing out from the scalp, so in need of flattening down. I felt bad straightening it though, since it’s kind of awesome like this…

In this photo, the wefts had been added to the left side. On the right, I hadn’t yet done anything to the wig, so the shorter layers can be seen more clearly.

I’ve finished styling my wig! I was concerned when ordering it that it might be a bit short and too curly, and indeed it was. That was easily remedied by straightening out the curls a little, which reduced it to being nice and wavy, and also lengthened it a little.

More problematic was that it turned out to have shorter layers at the front. Luckily, the wig is incredibly thick, so I removed some of the wefts from the back, and these were repositioned at the front to even out the shorter layers there.

Here’s the wefts I removed, and what the wig looks like with a new gap at the back! I found the gap isn’t a problem, so I’ll probably just leave it like that. If it starts to be a nuisance, I can sew in some lengths of elastic.

Embroidery is doooooone! Took about 9 hours in total, I think. And it wasn’t really an onerous task, I sometimes like hand sewing since I can do it whilst watching tv, or at least I can sit wherever I want to sew, and more easily carry on a conversation at the same time…so it wasn’t like 9 hours devoted to embroidery, it was 9 hours of films/tv/conversation I’d have being doing anyway.

With all the embroidery complete, I could understitch the neck opening into place, then could finally close up the lining completely - I’d left it open where the zip is to make embroidering and other detail tasks easier. So the dress is now absolutely finished!

Last night I started on the gold sections, getting one design done. This is taking a bit longer with getting the satin stitching neat…especially with the tight circle for the flowers.

Embroidery progress! I did all the silver parts today, it took about 6 hours, which were spent in front of the tv watching a couple of films. I found the stem stitch quite friendly so long as I paid attention to which way everything was facing.

To transfer it to the fabric, I cut out my neat design, and carefully pinned it to the inside of the dress. With a bright lamp behind it, it was easy to trace the design using my water soluble pen. So I’m ready to start embroidering whenever suits me!

First though, I chose to add the last of the cream/gold cord, now that I knew where it had to go in relation to the embroidery. The photo shows that and the designs I’ve drawn out for an idea of how the finished thing will look. I think the cord looks a bit wobbly there, but it stretches out a bit when I wear it and ends up even. Also, the lining hasn’t been all sewn up and understitched so is all rubbish and pinned for the purposes of the photo. I’ll probably undo the stitching along the v-neck as well to make it easier to embroider.

I’ve been preparing for the hand embroidery around the neckline (preparation is always the boring part) I printed off the design from the lotr costume site, experimenting to get it the right size, then printed it again mirrored for the opposite side of the neckline. I had to figure out and draw the middle section myself. That gave me the design spread over three separate bits of paper, so to make it easier to trace the design onto the dress, I photocopied it to get a more convenient single piece. I then went over the design with a pen to make it very clear for showing through the dress fabric.

The photo shows that neat design I used for the tracing. The second design above it is the messier one I initially taped together. I’m going to use it as my colour reference when I’m embroidering - the bits that need done in gold have been marked on it.

Gold and silver embroidery around the neckline, outlined in the cream/gold cord.

I got round to buying the cord for the upper sleeves (6m for £3). At the moment I’ve only attached it at one point to the sleeve, and otherwise just left it wrapped round and tied. It only takes a little arranging to get the lacing positioned correctly when I put on the dress, but I might consider tacking it into place more thoroughly if it’s not too problematic.

With that cord out of the way, I’ve now bought everything I need for the dress. The only remaining things to buy for the costume will be for the accessories - the necklace and medallion belt - which hopefully won’t be much. My total spent on the costume at the moment is £107.30. That’s £31.67 on the wig, and £75.63 on the dress.

Here's a good view of the cord wrapped around the upper arm, as well as the cream/gold cord which runs around the sleeve openings, armscyes and neckline, as well as lacing up the under-sleeves.

I’ve also been applying the cream/gold cord. It goes around the sleeve openings, the armscyes, and around the neckline. It’s the same stuff I used to lace up the under-sleeves.

The sleeve parts are all done, but I won’t do the neckline until I’ve marked out the embroidery designs.

And the embroidery is what I’ll be starting on next, I bought a water-soluble pen to mark out the designs today (it cost me £2.99, so it had better be a damn good pen)

Apart from the embroidery, I still need to get cord for the upper sleeve lacing, and once all that’s sewn down, I’ll be able to close up the lining, and that’ll be the last of the sewing.

I’ve finished the last bit of machine sewing - the belt thing. I used the same gabardine as the dress, with added interfacing. It looks a little off in the photo since I'm not wearing it, and ironing would probably help, but you get the idea.

Planning out all the designs first took a while. I’ve had it sitting around for a couple of weeks now, as I’d occasionally get round to doing some more measuring, marking and pinning, then get fed up!

The vertical skirt part was easy, I counted the number of designs on the actual dress, and found the size they’d need to be to fit on to the length of my skirt. That was the simple bit, but whether the proportions would actually work out was another matter - what if I had to make curves too small in order to fit enough in? But amazingly, using the right number of designs produced curves which looked about the right size as well, so maybe Miranda Otto is about my height? I'm just delighted that it worked out perfectly first time!

The horizontal hip section was a bit more problematic, since it’s hard to count exactly how many designs there are. I was assuming it was identical to the skirt section, but wanted to check. Eowyn wears a medallion belt over the fabric part, and the medallions correspond to the gold trim designs. The usually amazing lotr costume site was amazingly wrong this time, suggesting that there are 24 medallions… which is not possible. To fit in 24 medallions, and allow for gaps between them, they’d need to be about the size of a 10p coin! Also, elsewhere on the site, it’s suggested that the medallions are about 2.5” in diameter, which is quite the contradiction.

So I chose to ignore whatever the actual number of medallions may be, and just go with a size that looked correct. My medallions are going to have a 4-5cm diameter, and there’ll be 16 of them. I think on the real belt, there can’t be more than 18 medallions, so I should be about right. In applying the medallion size to the fabric belt, the hip section ended up having identical measurements to the skirt part, which is what I was planning to do anyway.

After all that effort with maths, I had to mark out where all the trim needed to go, using a circular tin as a template for the curved lines. I drew on the interfacing on the reverse of the fabric, then with a bright light behind it, I could pin the trim in place on the correct side. I liked this method since it let me doodle away on the interfacing and experiment without having to worry about anything showing.

Actually sewing down the trim went very quickly, even though I used almost exactly all of the 10m I bought! With the curved trim sewn in place, I lined the pieces, then sewed the long straight strips of trim down, which acted to topstitch the lining in place as well.

There are hooks and eyes at the back as a closure, and belt loops, made from a thin cream cord inserted into the side seams of the dress. As well as those, I decided to put a snap in the centre front to ensure it stays in position.

Girdle belt with gold trim, and silver medallions around the waist. In some images it seems to be cream, or just parts in cream, but I decided to keep mine all white.

These are the boots I don't like and decided not to bother with!

With my under-sleeves done, I could sew them and the main sleeve lining into the rest of the lining, and that was it complete. With all my lining assembled, I went ahead and sewed it into the outer dress. I’ve left the back open just now, and I also might need to open up the neckline again to let me more easily apply the cord by hand and do the embroidery later.

So here’s the completed basic dress! One sleeve’s folded back to show its lining and under-sleeve.

The dress had also been hemmed; I did it by hand for a blind hem finish. The film dress is so apparently seamless that I wanted to continue the effect by avoiding any topstitching…not that anyone will notice, but I do like invisible hems.

I decided I would wear white sandals I already owned with the dress, since the shoes were never really going to show, and if they did, the white sandals would match the outfit reasonably well (and most importantly, I don’t like the boots Eowyn wears). So I hemmed the dress allowing for the heels on those shoes. It’s just above floor length at the front, with a small train at the back

I think I’m going to sew a hook and eye, or a wee loop of cord and button higher up, which will let me to bustle the train. White dress dragging on floor = recipe for grime. The idea is I can have the dress all super-long if I want to, with the train down, and if I also wear flat shoes, that’ll make the dress even longer for the accurate more-than-floor-length look…which I doubt I’ll want to do too often, but at least I have the option. Then if I want it to be more practical, I can wear the heeled shoes, and bustle the train up out of the way.

And here’s the undersleeves laced up on my arm. The cream/gold cord used to lace them up will be handsewn elsewhere on the dress - around the sleeve openings, the armscyes and neckline.

The gold mesh fabric I ordered arrived at the start of the week, letting me complete my under-sleeves. They were the only thing preventing me from finishing off the whole dress lining, so I was stuck waiting on that fabric before I could do much more!

To make them, I used the same cream patterned lining fabric as elsewhere, but with an overlay of gold mesh. These sleeves have to lace up, and it looks as though the lacing loops are inserted into seams or darts. That seemed a convenient way to go about it, so courtesy of the Sunday Times (which helpfully is still printed in broadsheet!) I altered a sleeve pattern to have two pieces, which gives me two seams on the underside of the sleeve.

Using my newspaper pattern, I cut the pieces out of both fabrics, and basted them together in the seam allowances. I then assembled them with French seams, which encase the lacing loops I made out of cream cord. The cord is actually a shoelace!

The dress has it’s spiffy big sleeves, but also what I’m calling the under-sleeves, which are closely fitted to the arm.

Since my last update, the dress has been finished up, raw edges overlocked and seams pressed. With those final touches, that was the dress done, sans lining.

As for the lining, my sleeve lining fabric arrived on Wednesday. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be like - it’s a thin cream fabric, with a raised velvet pattern on it, which gives it a nice texture. The photo shows it (with and without flash) sewn into the sleeve openings. Although it’s perfect for the sleeves, where it will be visible, I wasn’t sure how suitable it would be as a lining for the rest of the dress, but gave it a shot anyway. The fabric wasn’t expensive, and I could squeeze all the lining pieces out of 3m, because the skirt didn’t have to be very full.

After assembling the lining and trying it on underneath the outer dress, it turned out the raised patterns on the lining fabric show through on the bodice, since it’s closely fitted. Luckily on the sleeves and skirt it’s fine since it’s loose enough there. So I only had to find some alternative fabric for lining the bodice. To save me having to buy more fabric, I decided just to use some of my spare gabardine for that section. Why didn’t I just do that in the first place? I didn’t want to line the whole dress in more gabardine because I don’t have enough left for that, and it’s an awkwardly thick and heavy option for a lining. Using a mixture of lining fabrics has worked out as a good compromise, saving me money, and having something to suit each section of the dress. The cream fabric shows at the sleeve openings, and will be used for the under- sleeves too. Using it for the underskirt as well means if that ends up showing at all there, it’ll seem as though I have an entire matching dress underneath, just as the under-sleeves imply on the real dress. As for the bodice, the neckline required a gabardine facing anyway, so it wasn’t much of a jump to line the rest of the bodice in white too.

To cut the lining, I used the same patterns as for the main dress (obviously), cutting the bodice identically, but reducing the size of the skirt quite a bit in order to squeeze it out of a smaller amount of fabric. It’s taken a bit of time to sew the bodice because of needing to make the same alterations I made when I made the outer dress. I didn’t anticipate requiring a lining, so just altered the dress to fit and shaped the neckline as I went along, rather than spending more time altering the pattern. That meant I now had replicate all the changes I’d previously made.

The lining is now assembled apart from sewing in the sleeves - I can‘t do that until I make the under-sleeves, which will be sewn into the armscye at the same time. I also won’t be able to completely sew the lining into the dress anyway, because I’ll probably want to keep the neckline open to make it easier to do all the embroidery and other detail work first, so the lining is going to have to sit around for quite a while!

The sleeves are lined in some kind of textured, patterned cream fabric. The fitted undersleeves are made from the same fabric.

It’s been about a week since I really started thinking about this costume, and that’s all the boring preparation finally over with!

Got the pieces cut out this morning, and it was finally time to start sewing. I assembled the dress very quickly. I’m amazed it worked out so well with all my mucking about with the pattern! Only one of the sleeves is in for now, because I need one to use as a pattern for the lining. Lots of minor tweaking still to do, and of course, all the detailing, but that’s essentially the basic dress done for now.

However, as usual, not everything goes smoothly. The fabric is more see-through than I anticipated, so I’m going to have to line the whole thing (hence why I’m wearing a t-shirt underneath in the photo, and you can see the black trousers I have on too!) I was originally planning to have the sleeve lining stop at the shoulder, and just finish the neckline with a facing. I’ll still be doing that, but I’ll need to line the bodice and have an underskirt too.

I ordered a jacquard sleeve lining fabric today actually (£8.42 from ebay). I may use it to line the bodice too, but it depends if I have enough and how suitable it is. I also have plenty spare gabardine from the dress, but a double layer of that would be a pretty thick, heavy lining! Most likely I’ll buy some cheap satin for lining the body of the dress. I also ordered a gold mesh fabric (£2.99 on ebay) which I’m going to use as an overlay on the under-sleeve fabric.

Total spent so far: £100.31

Gah, just broken 3 figures. But it’s mainly down to the wig, without that, the supplies are costing about what I expected. All I have left to buy is some lining fabric, cream cord for the upper sleeves, and probably a few things towards making the necklace and belt medallions, so the worst of the spending should be over...

Not much time today, so just sorted out the pattern pieces. The pattern is probably more effort than it’s worth, considering all the effort I’ve put into rearranging the seams! But once I knew what the seams on the real dress were like, I couldn’t not copy them. The film dress has side seams and a seam down the centre back. There’s also a seam at the waist, and a seam at the centre front of the skirt.

The pattern is princess seamed. I wouldn’t have minded additional seams in the skirt, which wouldn’t be obvious in the folds, but I dislike the idea of having extra seams on the bodice, when the film dress has minimal seams, and none visible at the front at all since the belt conceals them.

I used masking tape to stick a few of the pattern pieces together to eliminate the princess seams, fudging the shape a bit, and I also cut the pieces to give me a waist seam. The shape can be smoothed out when I actually cut my fabric. Then I had to reshape the neckline, since the pattern is a knock-off of Eowyn’s green gown, which has a different collar. I’ve just designed the pattern so I can cut the neckline to shape once the dress is assembled. Finally, I taped the sleeve pieces together to remove an unnecessary seam there too. I intend to extend the sleeves a little when I cut them out too.

It was all easier to do than I expected. I cut out the initial pieces a size larger, because I was concerned that all the overlapping involved in removing the princess seams would make the pieces too small, but turned out I had nothing to worry about, because the pieces I ended up with were enormous! So I had to trim the pieces down to the correct size for me anyway. I don’t have the curves that make princess seams useful, so taking them out and losing some of the volume in the bust is no issue.

I didn’t have time to cut out the pieces today, but I tested out a pattern layout to make sure my new, larger pieces would still work out. I had nothing to worry about here, since I have 60” wide fabric, and the pattern is intended for 45”, so the new pieces till fitted no problem.

Went shopping this morning, bought the zip (£3.25), got some embroidery thread (not metallic, because that stuff’s evil, £3.90) and managed to find gold trim for the belt (10m for £4.50)

While browsing the shops, I had a look at my options for the cords I need, and sleeve lining fabric. Options were limited, so looks like I need to get everything else online from now on. I bought the cream/gold cord from eBay in the evening (£5.05). It’s pretty good as it is, but I’m wondering about maybe unravelling it and stitching it on in a more accurate manner. I’ll have to see what it looks like when it arrives, and see how much effort mucking about with it will be.

Total spent so far: £88.90

Fabric and pattern arrived, sparing me from further thought about the medallions! Didn’t have time to do much today except study the pattern and figure out how the pieces will need altered…unfortunately they need more work than I’d anticipated, due to the princess seams I'd previously failed to notice. Oops.

Waiting on my fabric and pattern to arrive, so worked on the belt medallions instead, and established my ideas were not working. I would like to find a way to cast them, because making that many intricate pieces individually would be insanity, and I dislike making accessories and props at the best of times!

Her belts are identical on other dresses, just gold instead of silver, so they make useful, clearer references.

After spending much of the weekend hunting down wigs, I concluded that there are very few nice curly wigs out there, and even fewer in the right sort of waviness I wanted, and the shades of blonde I liked. Factoring in other elements, like getting the right length, not too many layers, no fringe… I didn’t have many choices at all. I did consider curling a wig myself, which wouldn’t be difficult since braiding it should create the waves I needed, but I eventually decided on the Alisa wig from Amphigory (http://www.amphigory.com/wigs_alisa.html £31.67 when ordered through Katie Bair, http://www.pettingzoowigs.com/wiginternational.html cos Amphigory don’t ship internationally). I had a few reasons for picking it:

1. I know Amphigory’s classic wigs are lovely quality, which is important which it’s a long wig, and also a curly one which could frizz easily

2. It comes in the 24B colour which I’d fallen in love with. I got very fixated on getting the right shade of blonde for this wig, which really narrowed my options down

3. It seems to be around the right kind of style and length. I’m worried it might be a little short, but since I also expect it to be a bit too curly, relaxing the curls out a little will solve both those problems, and at worst, I can always re-curl it myself to get the correct style and length.

Total spent so far: £72.20

Researched references, and ordered fabric and pattern online.

- 7m white gaberdine from http://www.efabrics.co.uk, costing £34.14
I love gaberdine and use it a lot. It’s cheap, but still thick enough to easily use for all sorts of things, easy to work with, drapes nicely and doesn’t wrinkle, but will take a crease if you need it to. I think it’ll have a suitable thickness for this dress, and will hang very nicely.

- Pattern is Simplicity 4940 (pictured), £6.39 from http://www.habithat.co.uk
I love these we’re-totally-not-infringing-any-intelletual-property-rights-patterns :P

Total spent so far: £40.53

I decided I might actually use this journal thing while I have a costume still in progress, for a change. This is partially because for the first time I’m going to more accurately pay attention to the money I spend on a costume (usually I don’t like to be to certain about the amount, because I’d rather not know!), and also I’d like to try and pay more attention to the time I spend on it, just for interest. I still can’t be bothered actually adding up the precise hours I devote to this, but I’ll be keeping track of what gets done each day.

Some references are attached. These two sites are basically all I needed to research the dress:
http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Human/Eowyn/Wool.htm
http://www.costumersguide.com/eowyn_ww.shtml

Looks much less interesting without all the detail!

Ready to go in the oven. They have kirby grips embedded in them for attaching to the costume. The pieces of card there are for preventing the entire kirby grip from being embedded - I still needed half to stick out.

It’s difficult to photograph this clearly, but this is the mould I used to make all my arrows. I sculpted one arrow first (flat, without the bend in it) and used it as a positive to make this cast from. It’s just plaster of paris. For the rest of the arrows, I pressed Fimo into the mould to get the same basic shape.

Shiny! But overall, the results are far from perfect. There’s a black spot where the lights themselves are, although that doesn’t usually show up in photos. The joins in the plastic are not very neat or strong. Being unable to use anything opaque inside, and having to ensure the crystals can open and close for me to access the lights limits a lot of what I can do about it though.

On the other hand, it was all comfortably within my ability - I didn’t need diverse tools to deal with a thick plastic, or have to learn about wiring up electronics for the lights. It was also cheap. The plastic was 35p a sheet, the lights were 50p each and I already had the other materials I used. Can’t really complain if it’s not perfect when it was ridiculously cheap and simple. At least when it’s dark, you can’t see any of the rubbish bits, and the glowiness is sufficiently distracting!

That said, these psyphers aren’t going to last well. I’d like to get more suitable lights, so I can have a switch to turn them on and off, which would then mean the crystals don’t need to open up, and I think that would improve things a bit, but problems like joining the plastic remain, so a re-think with new materials might be for the best.

The final result (doesn’t everyone leave painted items to dry propped up in the toaster?)

The black tops of the lanterns (which really look like squids when on their own…) were nice and easy.

The domed top is half a styrofoam ball. The rounded rim for the dome’s base is sculpted from Crayola model magic, Pudding did this bit for me! The rim actually isn’t just a rim, it’s attached to a flat base going all the way underneath the styrofoam (like a gem setting). I thought it would be better to glue the styrofoam to a base like that, rather than sculpt only a sausage rim to glue around the edge. It also looks neater, in case the lanterns are viewed from below. The model magic is light enough so using a lot didn’t matter.

The rest of the clay pieces are Fimo clay. I made the 8 squiggly legs, and curved pieces you probably can’t see well - they’re hooks at the tops which the chain appears to attach to. All of these clay pieces have lengths of wire sticking out of their ends, which I embedded in the clay before baking. They could then attach securely to the styrofoam/squishy model magic base by shoving the wires in, and a spot of glue on the ends to ensure they stayed.

After painting them black, I attached the black tops to the red plastic crystals. I hollowed out an indentation in the base of each dome for the point of the crystal to sit in, and have a hole punched right through each dome. There’s a hole at the top of each crystal for the wire (the wire that wrapped round the lights and extends up). So each black top just pops over the wire and sits in place. Not even glued. The squiggly legs also aren’t attached to the plastic crystals.

Last thing was attaching the chain. The attachment had to be secure and capable of load-bearing - the entire weight of each crystal would be on it. So, the wire sticking out of the top wraps round the end link of the chain. I then cut off the excess and painted the visible bit of wire (that’s what they were doing in the toaster - waiting for that last little bit of paint to dry!) Then the little hook I sculpted was glued in place over the wire. It looks like the chain is looped through that hook, as in the reference, when really the wire takes all the weight.

Flipping one panel open isn’t quite enough, so the horizontal seam at the middle is only attached with tape at one side. That operates as a hinge. With the velcro unfastened, the entire thing flips open.

(You can also see in this photo that I figured out an even better way to plug the light-leaking gaps in the outer crystal - tape the inner plastic layer into a cone! Then there's only one join to worry about, and it's solid all the way round where the corners are in the outer plastic)

How do I get in to switch the lights on and off (and eventually change batteries)? One panel on each crystal isn’t glued, it just velcros shut. Not ideal, but that’s what I get for using those particular lights. In future, I’d like to buy more sensible ones, and have a nice convenient switch outside the crystal for turning them on and off.

I discovered after testing the lights inside that the joins in the plastic were very obvious when the lights were on. The tiny gap at each edge became very noticeable when lit up! Instead of all glowing red, I got glaring white lines at each join where the light was escaping.

How to resolve this? I tried a few things to plug the gaps, but anything opaque was a no, since it just caused an obvious silhouette. Unfortunately, that even included red paper; it blocked too much light and became visible when illuminated from behind. Eventually, I settled on using a second layer of red plastic, but positioned slightly askew so its joins were not exactly in line with the joins on the outer pyramid. This was great for getting a better red glow too, with only one layer, it had been more pinkish.

Since each light is made up of 3 LEDs, I put tissue over each one to diffuse the light more evenly.

I wrapped each pair of lights up in the wire, and left a long tail of wire which was to go up through the top of each crystal for later attachment purposes.

The lights are battery powered spotlights which switch on and off when you press the fronts. They came with adhesive backs, so I stuck pairs of lights back-to-back. They still unscrew for accessing the batteries no problem. They’re secured inside the crystals with bendy wire.

I figured out a cardboard pattern, cut out all the triangular shapes, and assembled them using hot glue and clear tape on the inside. I was limited in how I could assemble the joins because any opaque tape or materials turned out to be too obvious once the lights were on. Silhouettes of tape and stuff aren’t what I was going for…

The tale of how a prop-incompetent girl nevertheless attempted the glowy lanterns. Now you get to see all the ghetto-tastic fail involved!

My original plan was to score my red plastic and fold it. Unfortunately, this didn’t work as the red coating would crack, revealing white. Having white edges maybe isn’t a big deal, but I really didn’t like how it looked, so gave up on doing it origami style, and went with lots of seams instead.

http://trulyvictorian.netfirms.com/videos/ForkPleats.MOV

Great easy way to get guaranteed regular pleats with little effort. You can even make ones this tiny, but only if you use a fondue fork :P

I love this sort of photo, because seeing costumes in Fischer Price style colours makes them so much better :P

And then they look slightly saner when painted

Then the multicoloured craft foam attack! This let me alter the shape of the shoes, and also covered all that glittery surface which I wouldn’t have been able to paint. The foam is simply hot glued down. The shoes buckle closed as before, and the foam cover fastens with a snap at the side so it doesn’t affect the normal shoe closure.

These are the base shoes I started out with

The armour ingredients - craft foam, pva glue to coat it, and gold spray paint.

Most of the materials I used for the sewing side of things, from top:

- Gold bias tape. I also used identical gold ribbon in some places
- Blue polycotton for the boot cuffs and belt - it needed heavy interfacing
- Pink polyester twill for the skirt, and matching shorts underneath it
- Black stretchy stuff for the stockings underneath the leg armour
- Red velvety stuff (from the remnant bin) for the lace-up leg things
- Gold stretch pvc. This was for the applique on the top “tails” and was also used for stretchy bracelets which hold my wrist guards
- Blue denim for the waist cincher
- White dull satin-y stuff, from the remnant bin, for the top, collar and sleeves

Complete! The bow was sewn on the front, and it hides where the fabric cover snaps closed. The shoes fasten with their buckle as normal, and the cover doesn’t interfere with that.

Everything was painted with the same enamel point. The fabric takes it differently from the rest of the shoe, but that’s not usually so noticeable.

Fabric added to alter the shape. I glued down the fabric cover, and also hand sewed it to the shoe (after punching holes with a compass point in the shoe leather first, to make it easier!)

The back cut away, with my dad’s help.

The original shoes I started out with.

Completed the last welt pocket with evil silver trim, but that was a much easier process by now. Made waistbands, sewed on the buttons, I mean, badges, added lots of safety pins, and all that was left was overlocking remaining raw edges and general tidying up. DONE in time for the signing the next day!

Got the skull and badge images printed off as transfers, duly ironed on and applied. The badges are on fabric, then stretched over those self-cover buttons. Next best thing to actual badges! The designs themselves aren’t exact since I simply didn’t have a clear enough image of them (other than the simple “pop” one) so I cleaned up screenshots as best as I could. I later scanned the image of the Johnny Rotten badge from the Boosh book to make a better badge.

As an aside, when I was little, I had a badge making kit. Professional badge machines cost a small fortune, so I was keen to find a kids version, which would be perfect for the four badges I needed. But do they exist for children today? No, not really. I didn’t find any in any of the shops, and I only found a couple online in the end, for about £20, and they didn’t even make badges the right size 0_o I was not impressed. Hence buttons.

Back in Glasgow with my sewing machine, and armed with more thread, I finished up two more welt pockets, including one with the nasty silver trim. Figuring out how to incorporate the trim into the pocket took 4 attempts with trial pockets, I really had a hard time getting my head round it!

Still in Edinburgh, so unable to do much without my sewing machine. I abused my parents’ printer to test out sizes for the badge designs and skull patch, separated some chains to the right length, ironed on rhinestones (since I failed at finding studs for the shoulders - I later did) and did some more hand sewing.

Sewed on collars and facings, and started on the welt pockets, almost completing one before I ran out of thread (again, credit to google for allowing me to learn how to make a double welt pocket) I then went to Edinburgh to go to the dentist, but took jackets and stuff with me to work on non-sewing machine bits. I put in all the snaps (12 of them) with the assistance of my dad’s mole wrench, ironed on the “Noir” with Bondaweb and did some hand sewing on the collars.

With the patches appliquéd, I could then set in the sleeves, sew the sleeve plackets (after learning wtf they are and how to go about sewing them thanks to google) and put on the cuffs. That was a silly amount of work, made worse by the degree of accuracy I was going for. Copying real clothing has its advantages, but it also drives me nuts copying every seam and line of topstitching…

Photo is from after I finished the jackets, but the point is cuffs and sleeve plackets!

Unpicking time, redid backs of jackets with correct seams (why do they each have to have differently constructed jackets? In fact, I think every single Zooniverse employee has a slightly different jacket, which is weird)

Also finished up Zooniverse patches, printed them off as t-shirt transfers, ironed them on and appliquéd the patches to the sleeves.

Serious sewing time. Front and back of both jackets assembled, zips in, and breast pockets all done (including that irritating silver lamé trim). Also finished rewatching series one, discovering in the process that I’d done the backs of the jackets wrong. Nothing significant, except if you’re me and can obsess over seams.

I did nothing on jackets other than attempt to win a Kiss Army patch on ebay. I was outbid, so stole the image from the auction to use as a t-shirt transfer instead. One advantage of copying real clothing is the fabrics and accessories can be commercially available! Sadly, that was the only item I identified for sale.

Here are all the patches I made

Let the sewing begin! Lots of cutting out of patterns, altering of patterns, cutting of fabrics, and successful assembly of the front and back of one jacket. Then out shopping for remaining jacket ingredients.

(Why do these zips cost £6.45 each?!?!?! Probably because only John Lewis sold them… Meh, accuracy…)

I went to my local fabric shop to look for fabric and get a pattern in the McCalls sale. It should be noted that the pattern is actually for Hawaiian shirts. Encountered an Ashe, potentially foiling secretness of my mission, but proceeded to buy pattern and fabric in her presence anyway. Also discover signing is in fact on the 13th. Arrrrrrgh.

Didn’t do much else other than start working on Zooniverse patches by scanning in the image of one in the dvd booklet. However, the patch in that photo is worn, the colours were uneven and it was also at an angle, so a lot of tidying up was involved in Photoshop, and because I’m rubbish, also by printing it off, drawing on it by hand, then scanning it back in again…

Also took more screenshots, which can be an amusing exercise when you only need images of specific things - I kept trying to get views of the cuffs. I now have a vast collection of screenshots, and I’m not entirely sure what was going on in a lot of them.

Ashe told me of a Boosh signing, which she claimed was either on the 17th or 19th. I thought I would have plenty time to make the jackets. Commenced research (rewatching series one whilst hammering the screenshot button) and pattern hunting online.

Here’s the basic wing frame before I covered it. I used a more flexible wire to wrap round and connect the thicker wire, and also duct taped around it a lot, as you can see, which also protected any sharp ends.

I made newspaper patterns for the wing shapes, which let me test out the shape and size (ensuring the final wings would fit in my suitcase!) then I bent the wire to match the pattern pieces. The patterns were also helpful for getting both wings to match, and they also had the vein designs drawn on, which let me trace them on to the wings and have each wing end up identical. I used silver glitter glue for this.

The important bit is that U-shaped connector. That’s the bit that slots down the back of my dress (and bra) and stabilises the wings too. The band of my strapless bra is what’s supporting the wings and holding them up, but the black elastic strap in the picture also ties around my torso, and stops the wings shifting from side-to-side at all. I later covered that U shape in felt to pad it out and make sure it would be comfy against my skin.

To complete the wings, I got 2 pairs of sheer coloured tights, and stretched them over the wing frame. The disadvantage of this technique is that the tights limited the width I could make the wings, as they would only stretch so far.

Where the wings are narrower than the tights at the tips, I hand sewed a seam and chopped off the excess fabric (also sealing the edges with clear nail polish in case they ran) then turned the tights the other way out to leave the seam on the inside. With the seam resting along the wire, it’s not very obvious when viewing the wing from either side.

For my first wings, I tried using organza to cover them. I think with more patience and practice I could have got it neater, but when covering the large wing segment, it was very difficult to keep a piece of organza that size taunt, so it’s perhaps also that the nature of the wings made them more awkward to cover. I certainly didn’t have the same problem covering the small sections. The tights worked out nicely and were suitably idiot-proof for me, so I’m pleased with my new wings!

Back of the dress

In a way, it looked good at this point too, since the glue lines were still showing up. Unfortunately, too much of the fine detail was lost, so I still had to wash the glue out... This was a weird costume to work on, because at almost every stage, it felt complete, and I could have stopped work. Then I’d be second-guessing myself, wondering if I should continue with the decoration...

Next was spray paint time, as in, the poor person’s airbrush. I got a couple of shades of paint, and went nuts in the back garden, aiming for a spirally effect with the two colours, roughly following the curved panels of the dress. Every bit of fabric had to be covered, otherwise the glue-veins I’d drawn wouldn’t have a darker background to show up against.

The dress has safety pins in the lining and string tied to them to suspend it over the washing line. I was ensuring every area of the dress was free to be coated in paint!

When dry, the glue scraped off after being soaked in water, with the aid of a kitchen knife and my nails (which turned very green). The spray paint mostly stayed in place, as intended, but the scraping also softened up the paint and freed the pile of the velveteen again, it’s not all stiff and nasty with the paint. I’m pleased with the result, since it’s still quite velvety, but no longer so horribly shiny!

I really like how it looked when it dried. If the base fabric wasn’t so nasty, I might have stopped at this point!

It was quite hard to do the lines as I could only do the front of the dress, wait for it to dry, then do the back. In reality, the designs wrap right round the dress, following the curved panels, so a line I was drawing would start on the front, but end up on the back. That meant it wasn’t ideal to do it in front/back sections.

Result: horrible shiny green dress (if you look closely, you can see the curved seams). And I made it even prettier by dribbling glue all over it.

This was my cheat’s batik method. More sensibly, I could have painted the dress, then painted the veins on afterwards in a paler colour. But I liked the sound of this technique, and the colour of fabric I had was perfect for the veins. I also dislike painting since I’m useless at getting it neat, and drawing with a glue bottle nozzle was definitely easier for me!

I did a few swatch tests in several glues, then when they were dry, also tested out a few different paints over the glue doodles (originally I was hoping I could make my own spray paint by using fabric paint and water in a spray bottle, but it turned out too dilute). Then the real test was how well the various glues and paints would hold up when washed and the glue removed. The idea was to have the paint stick, and the glue wash out, leaving the vein designs in a paler shade. What ended up working best was tacky glue, and acrylic paint.

So this photo is the leaf veins drawn out in the tacky glue. I mostly followed references for the lines, but not entirely since it seemed pointless to be so accurate. I also didn’t have many photos showing the back! I made the lines quite thick, so they photograph well.

When I finally got a reasonable fit, the pieces for the dress and its lining could be cut out of the velveteen with seam allowance added, and sewn along all those fiddly curved seams with my sewing machine’s overlocking stitch, which helpfully finished the edges quite well as I went along. The velveteen loved to shed everywhere and practically dissolve where cut.

My lining was identical. I wasn’t too sure about having the fuzzy velveteen facing against my skin, but I decided I’d better have the lining the same since it would show on the interior of the zigzags.

With things satisfactorily doodled out (I fail so hard at proper sewing, don’t I?) I could cut apart the mock-up along the new seam lines, and that gave me a pattern for the real deal.

I was careful to test my pattern - actually making a mock-up dress in more spare fabric, using the curved pattern pieces I’d created. Just as well I did this, since I had to go through a few more mock-ups to adjust the pattern. As pretty as those curved panels are, in practice they were just a nuisance! It was very hard to adjust the fit of mock-ups with those curved seams. It’s all very well determining that it needs to be taken in at the waist, but a lot hard to do when the seams are all over the place.

So this is retrospective, but seeing as I have the progress photos, I might as well upload them to document it all.

Step 1 was my mock-up. The final fabric for the dress is a horrific stretch velveteen, so I needed to make the mock-up stretchy too. At least it’s easy to fit stretch fabrics. I had a heap of spare orange lycra, for which there are limited uses, so it went into this pattern-making exercise.

I made a simple tube dress to fit me, which just had side seams. I then cut in the sweetheart neckline and zigzag hem, but most importantly, marked (with some trial and error) where I wanted the new seams to go. The face characters’ dresses are made up of curved panels, which I really liked (determining their existence involved lots of examining of high-res photos on Flickr!), and I also thought they’d be helpful because I could later follow the seam lines to mark out my leaf vein designs.


Angelphie added 3 images of Terra Branford (2 years ago)

Angelphie deleted 3 images from Terra Branford (2 years ago)

Angelphie added 2 images of Terra Branford (2 years ago)

Angelphie edited Eureka (2 years ago)

Angelphie edited Terra Branford (2 years ago)