May the Force be with You

I mentioned in my latest entries about cosplay that I would be doing a Star Wars costume to meet Lando Calrissian actor Billy Dee Williams at this month’s Wizard World Comic Con.  This post will just focus on my cosplay, so look for another post soon on the event itself! So here we go…

Yes. I am in fact cosplaying Lando, or at least a female pin-up version of Lando (or Landa as some of my friends like to call it).  And here is why: I believe cosplay is about showing your love of a character or fandom in a costume format. I don’t believe that race or gender have anything to do with these things. It’s that simple. “Cosplay Ambassador” Yaya Han agrees, and expresses this sentiment on her Moulin Rouge Snow White costume page.  And Lando is my favorite character in the Star Wars franchise, quickly followed by Han Solo, and then Boba Fett.

I went for a female interpretation because I also like to cater to my figure, and I thought I could have fun with it. I was also inspired by the recent Playboy Bunny-isation of characters, such as the Avenger Bunnies Initiative.  While normally I strive to be as accurate as possible, when doing a variation of a costume, it’s okay to take liberties, hence a capelet instead of a full cape, halter top, etc.  I love various interpretations of costumes, especially when costumes get the steampunk treatment. I recently saw a steampunk slave Leia and I’m already dreaming about my own take on that!

I had a lot of fun drawing out various options for a female Lando and settled on this pin-up version. But I also did a lot of research on the actual costume worn by Billy Dee Williams, and discovered that the lining of his cape was not just a generic gold brocade, but in fact featured an Asian dragon design and was able to score some on Ebay.  Now, let’s talk sewing specs. The capelet is made from Butterick 6411, which I bought from Miss Betty’s Attic on Etsy, and slightly altered to accommodate the collar.  For the top, I used No. 4 from La Prairie Lady on Etsy, and once again, slightly altered so I could do the black edging around the neckline.  I had a few issues with the blouse, as I altered the pattern to make it a tad bit bigger in the bust, which then turned into a lot bigger. Oops!  Since my Dixie costume was going to be so labor intensive, and I wanted to minimize the work I had to do for this costume, so I chose to buy a black pencil skirt instead of make one. The skirt is by Switchblade Stiletto, which I purchased from Naked City here in Portland.  While the skirt came with a good belt, the buckle was of course not what I needed.  For the buckle, Patrick is the genius behind it and he worked with Polymoph (also known as Friendly Plastic) to create it.  Polymoph is a plastic, that comes in small beads, a bit smaller than a BB, and has a very low melting temperature. Many cosplayers use it to make various costume elements.  This was our first time using it…and while it didn’t turn out perfect, it wasn’t too shabby!  My boots were thrifted, and the E-11 (the blaster normally used by the Stormtroopers, though Lando commandeers a few in Empire Strikes Back, and uses them to shoot their way out of Cloud City) was purchased on Ebay.

My costume I felt was well received. I even had a few people asking for their picture taken with me!  Thankfully, I didn’t get any negative comments, but maybe a few disapproving stares, but I couldn’t be sure. Overall, I had a lot of fun with this, and look forward to taking this treatment to a Han Solo costume in the future!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post with more photos, including some of a few celebrities!

“I’ve Struck a Real Bonanza!”

Back in November I blogged about working on my second Dixie Cousins costume for Portland’s Wizard World Comic Con.  And this last week I put the finishing touches on it…

Selecting a costume from an obscure source is a double edged sword where the benefit is also the downside when it comes down to recreating a costume.  Television shows rarely get their dues when it comes to publicity photos, and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. had very few, most of which are only available in the DVD booklet, and in terms of the character of Dixie, there are only ones of her in the red and gold showgirl costume (which made making that costume a lot easier) and her purple traveling ensemble. Additionally, the show is so obscure that there is very little information or images on the internet. So I often end up screencaping needed scenes myself, however quality is always an issue for all sorts of technical reasons between the original filming of the show to compressed DVD screenshots. The result is not very clear images to work from.  But this fuzziness also gives me some liberty when making the costume. I have to assume certain things and say “Well, it kind of looks like this. But I’m not sure, but this works out, so I’ll go with that.”  This costume got some good air time in the episode “Brisco in Jalisco” (if you feel like watching the clip that includes this costume, someone actually uploaded it to YouTube!) and I knew where I was going for the most part, but I know future costumes of Dixie’s will be far more brutal in attempting to work out the details.

I had a lot of issues with this costume, especially with the area where the bodice meets the skirt, and I must admit, I am not entirely happy with it, in fact I am far more incredibly happy with the first Dixie costume that I did, so the second one is not always better! A lot of it comes down to time, and impatience.  I thought I had a decent mock up that worked, but when it was translated to the actual fabric, with a zipper, it did not, and alterations had to be made that I felt made the piece unshapely, but any attempts to further alter it resulted in me being unable to get the piece on, and other alterations would have run risk of damaging the fabric, which I couldn’t have because I only had limited quantities of the fabric. So I settled and left the piece alone.

In terms of sewing specs, I had a hard time finding a pattern that looked remotely close to what I needed (and I have yet to learn pattern drafting), especially since I needed to have a pattern where there was a seam under the bust for the underbust netting to be sewn into.  I settled upon a 50s swimsuit pattern, Depew 1001, which I altered.  The underbust netting, fringe business was done by Patrick, who learned old-timey fish net making and altered the traditional design slightly to accommodate a diamond pattern rather than a square one.  A tassel was then painstakingly tied to the end knots of the netting.  No pattern was used for the skirt and bustle.  The necklace is simply ribbon with snaps, and I sewed on a brooch that a friend found on Ebay for me, and the earrings too were purchased on Ebay.  I completely winged the hair piece, simply based off of fuzzy screenshots, and Patrick did my hair for the shoot!  Didn’t he do a fab job!? Unlike previous costumes, I chose not to keep track of the amount of time it took to create, especially since myself, my mother and Patrick all had hands in this piece, and there were mock-ups done of various pieces. But I can only assume it’s over 100 hours of work.

Well, I’m off to attend the first day of the con! Originally I intended to wear a Miss Kitka costume today to meet Batman star Adam West, but that did not come to fruition, maybe another con. So instead I’m wearing a vintage Batman tee to meet the caped crusader himself!  This costume will be worn Saturday to meet Brisco star Bruce Campbell! Stay tuned for my Star Wars cosplay and details on the con either Sunday or Monday! Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

It’s Wizard World Time Again!

…well, almost. It’s certainly cosplay construction time!  I’m not sure how you spent your weekend, but I spent my sewing, and not much else, because the Portland Wizard World Comic Con is coming up again! This time, it’s in January, and since I’m making more than one costume, I decided to start early.  I’m so excited that Bruce Campbell will be returning too! And I’ll be making another Dixie Cousins costume. Her entire wardrobe from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. is amazing and I want to have it all! Originally I wanted to do her purple traveling ensemble for the con, but when I realized that Star Wars actor Billy Dee Williams was also attending, and I added a Star Wars costume to my list, I realized the multiple piece outfit was going to be too much to tackle, especially with the holidays coming up. So I’m doing another showgirl costume…

This costume is from the episode “Brisco in Jalisco ” and features an emerald taffeta bodice with what I assume are flocked black polka dots.  It was a trial to find the fabric.  I couldn’t find what I wanted at any of the fabric stores in Portland, or on-line.  And my options were turning into buying green taffeta and either felting the polka dots or cutting velveteen into small circles and applying them. Neither of which sounded too appealing not to mention both would be incredibly time consuming.  So, what did I do? I found two dresses on Ebay made of similar fabric to what I needed, and cut ‘em up. I’m bound to get flack for this, I know. But my sanity was at stake! Besides, they were contemporary, Made-in-China pieces of crap.  And since I am restricted with that limited amount of fabric, I will not be making the boa, sadly.

My mum visited over the weekend and has been a tremendous help to me on this so far. She’s navigated me through many an ordeal during this costume so far, and done a bit on it for me after frustration landed me nearly in tears when working on the muslin mock-ups of it earlier.

This costume, unlike the first one, has no beading, which Patrick is quite thankful for, as we are still finding beads from the last one. However, it does feature some underbust fringe/netting business. I don’t knit or crochet or macrame, so I was concerned about how I would tackle this.  I delegated the work of this actually to Patrick, who could spare the time leading up to the final construction, as I battled out modifying a pattern, and creating muslin mock-ups.  He quickly learned old-timey fishnet making which produced the closest thing!

The costume is nearing completion, and I’ll be glad to have it out of the way with the holidays ahead.  I’ll be tackling  my Star Wars costume next and am holding out hope of finding the pieces needed for my third costume.  I’d really rather not have to make it.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Wait…I’m a what!?

I recently read through a forum thread from which I was getting a lot of views from.  It discussed that some “vintage blogs” aren’t really “vintage” anymore.  While I was mentioned positively, and I understand the readers’ frustrations, I would also like to say that a person’s blog is their own.  It is for their own personal corner of the interwebs to do with what they please.  And I’d like to say that my blog is not strictly a “vintage fashion” blog.  It was never meant to be, as I stated on my “About” page.  Additionally, a blog is simply a journal that is published on-line.  While vintage is my “core”, I do like a wide range of things, and share them every so often.  They tend not to get a lot of comments or attention, but I’m fine with that. The entries also are few and far between, so I don’t get too much flack about the NASCAR entries or general “life” type posts.  But recently something new has entered into my life that I have already shared to a certain extent, but has now become something bigger.

What is this thing you ask? Cosplay.  First off, I really never considered myself a cosplayer until very, very recently.  Growing up, wearing costumes was just a normal thing.  I attended many midnight showings of films in costume, lived for Halloween and was active in theatre.  I’ve had longings of going to San Diego Comic Con, but other things always got in the way, but then, in February, Portland Wizard World happened and when I saw Bruce Campbell was on the bill, I immediately thought “Oh my gosh! Finally I get to meet Bruce Campbell and I have a serious excuse to make one of my all time favorite costumes, because dressing up is a thing people do at these events!”  I was just so excited to have an opportunity to wear a costume outside of Halloween, to focus on being accurate and make something amazing.  I blogged about making my Dixie Cousins costume to surprisingly wonderful comments! And then I attended the con and I had a blast.  But even dressed up in a costume, I still didn’t see myself as a cosplayer and I even felt out of place despite being surrounded by other people in costume.  And I think that is because I wasn’t wearing something in line with what a lot of other people were wearing, nor did I know who or what most of the other costumed attendees were!  I don’t play video games, nor am I into Anime or fantasy, but I do like sci-fi and comics to a certain degree, as well as “cult” films and television shows, which are also accepted into the community.  Furthermore the sci-fi, comic and cult films/tv shows I like tends to be very obscure or not very popular.  This combination of feelings led to the further disassociation as a cosplayer.

So, why am I talking about this now? Well, I recently began watching SyFy’s show Heroes of Cosplay.  I watched people spend sleepless nights and throw tantrums over the smallest details.  I listened to them talk about why they were doing it and gush about their favorite characters.  And it was like looking into a mirror.  A really, really scary mirror.  I saw myself and how I acted when making my Marion Ravenwood and Dixie costumes.  Then, I found out the dates and guest list for next year’s Portland Wizard World, and the guest list includes three of my all-time favorite celebrities.  Bruce Campbell (again!), Adam West and Billy Dee Williams. And immediately my mind began to churn with costume ideas tailored to each celebrity.  I was sketching out costumes, running to fabric stores and have hissy fits in the middle of said fabric stores over their lack of fabric.  Once again I saw myself in the cosplayers in the show. And I said, “Oh my god. I am a cosplayer.”

What this comes down to is that cosplay is a part of my life.  Days will be spent researching, sewing and attending events.  I want to share the process and events on my blog.  But I am by no means abandoning vintage for cosplay.  This entry is just more of a “Hey, I do this. Heads up! Don’t freak out when I blog about cosplay!”.  I’ll never abandon vintage, but I just want to share more of me with you.

The Same but Different

Earlier, I blogged about going to OMSI to see the traveling exhibition on mummies, and what I wore, as some mentioned in the comments, was reminiscent of Evy Carnahan from the 1999 film The Mummy, and subsequent sequel, The Mummy Returns (2001).  The truth of the matter is, she is one of my fashion icons (I don’t often mention it, because outside of my close group of friends, The Mummy films are a bit of a joke).  Then my friend Anna, of Anna in Technicolor, invited me to her 1920s themed housewarming party. Since my 1920s wardrobe is practically non-existent beyond what I wore to OMSI and Gatsby, I felt a need to make something.  So, to expand upon my Evy inspired wardrobe, I chose to re-create the outfit from when we first meet Evy in The Mummy (which takes place in 1923) when she finds herself in a rather terrible predicament in the library inside Cairo’s Museum of Antiquities…

My version is not exact, but it wasn’t important for me to be exact, since she was a bit more of inspiration for everyday wear rather than a serious “cosplay”/con recreation.

Outfit
Blouse: Made by me, Simplicity 4356, slightly altered.
Skirt: Made by me, McCall 7153
Scarf: Made by me, pattern created by me as well
Earrings & Purse: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Brooch: Coburg Antique Fair, Coburg, Oregon
Belt: Buckle from Brownsville Antique Fair, Brownsville, Oregon, belt replaced using ribbon from Fabric Depot
Bracelet & Stockings: Don’t remember
Shoes: Miz Mooz, Johnny Sole, Portland, Oregon

Read on for party pictures!

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Sombreros Again

Awhile ago I blogged about a blouse I made with a sombrero print, and mentioned that the fabric had come in other color schemes, and bought another scheme for a dress. Well, boy am I glad I bought the fabric when I did, because now all of the fabric is gone! Not cool, I know. But here is what I made…

This dress really stressed how much of a novice seamstress I still am.  Some of you are aware of my difficulty with/fear of side zippers, and this pattern originally called for a side zipper (or slide fastener as they were called back then) so I changed the pattern slightly to accommodate a back zipper.  Additionally, I decided to added to the bodice length, since I have a lower than average waist, and more often than not end up with garments both from patterns and ready-made with waists above mine.  I held up the pattern piece to my body, and thought an inch would do it.  But an inch turned out to be just a little too much for this pattern.  This was also the first dress I made that featured pockets, and the instructions had me quite perplexed.  Eventually I figured it out…whether or not it was the right way or not, I don’t know.  But the point is, they are in there!

Up next on the sewing table is an outfit I’m making for a friend’s 20s themed housewarming party.  I’m making what is really a costume from a film, because it is an outfit I’ve been dying to own since I saw it way back in 1999, I figured it’s a good time to make it!  It may appear pretty similar to something you all have already recently seen, but whatever! That’s okay!  The party is this Saturday so I better get back to sewing! After this project, I’ll be taking a bit of a sewing break and refocus my energy on my much neglected Etsy shop.

Outfit
Dress: Made by me, using Simplicity 2074 from my grandmother’s collection.
Copper Earrings and Bracelet: Brownsville Antique Fair, Brownsville, Oregon
Copper Belt: Buffalo Exchange, Portland, Oregon
Shoes: Wanderlust, Portland, Oregon

Sun and Sombreros

When I was at Fabric Depot buying fabric for my hearse dress, I stumbled upon some pretty gosh darn marvelous fabric that I couldn’t help buying as well.  The print came in three different color schemes and I selected two, one to make a dress, and the other to make this blouse…

Patrick found these buttons and I quickly approved of them.  I thought they were perfect because they reminded me a bit of a Mayan pyramid.  Normally I don’t go for anything Mayan in flair (or Inca or Aztec for that matter), but I felt it worked well with the print as well as the color scheme.

It’s my first blouse, and I ran into a few problems, and while I’m not 100% happy with the construction, I still adore it.  I’m in need of blouses and hope to conquer more blouse patterns in the future.  But next on the sewing table is the dress using the other color scheme of this print.

I also purchased my first pair of Minnetonka moccasins!  I had been avoiding them, since the hipsters really love ‘em, but I was in desperate need of a comfortable, casual shoe that worked with my western and Mexican themed wardrobe. I adore them and am thinking I need a pair in every color.

Outfit
Blouse: Made by me! Simplicity 4356 (slightly and unintentionally altered)
Silver Palm Tree Brooch: Living Threads Vintage, Portland, Oregon
Earrings: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Western Themed Charm Bracelet: Gift from my dad, always being added too.
Jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
Belt: Thrifted by my dad!
Moccasins: Thunderbird by Minnetonka, by way of the Portland Outdoor Store