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