Fine Finney Fiend

First off, Happy Halloween! I hope you all had a lovely pre-Halloween weekend! And that today brings you lots of fun tricks and treats!

Over the weekend Patrick and I attended Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con. When I found out that in attendece were going to be Adam West and Burt Ward, the caped crusaders from the 1960s, and my personal favorite version of Batman, along with Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether, who both played Catwoman; Newmar in the series, and Meriwether in the film, I decided to go with a Batman costume for the event. But with so much else going on in the month of October, I opted for an easier cosplay that involved less sewing on my part. Inspired by a vintage showgirl style tux ensemble I scored years ago, I created a female interpretation of The Penguin, who was portrayed impeccably by the talented Burgess Meredith in the 60s series and film.

Going into this, I already had an abundance of respect for Burgess Meredith (his various roles on The Twilight Zone were especially outstanding), but after shooting this costume, I have even more respect for him! Not only was it a massive struggle to keep the monocle in, but my jaw hurt tremendously from clenching that darn cigarette holder! And Meredith’s Penguin is never without his monocle, and rarely removes his cigarette holder when delivering his lines.

One thing that I always loved about Penguin’s costume from the Batman series were the fuzzy details. Penguins waistcoat is actually fuzzy, as are the tops of his gloves (with the exception of his thumb), and his spats. And as I knew I wouldn’t be able to find such details, I embeleished both the gloves and spats, while making the waistcoat myself.

I had the pleasure of meeting and getting an autograph from Julie Newmar, my favorite Catwoman, and as I already had autographs from the other Batman cast in attendance, we enjoyed the rest of the con, and later in the day attending the Batman ’66 Reunion panel, which was moderated by Kevin Smith, and the cast discussed their time on the show (which you can view here), and Adam West said what I have believed about the Batman series all along – the who wasn’t just camp, as so many wrote it off as, but was indeed a “full out satirical comedy.” The series was actually incredibly smart, witty, as well as completely hilarious.

Batman, specifically West’s version, was my first ever love. For some reason before age two I was completely obsessed. My parents recall me running around the home singining “Na na na na na na na na Bat!” Not “Batman,” just “Bat” because I didn’t know how to say “man” yet. I also apparently would wake them up at five in the morning demanding to watch it, and when I had to stay with my aunt and uncle in Denver while my parents were away for an event, they realized they forgot our VHS copy of the movie, and frantically had to scour Denver to find a copy before leaving. And for my second ever Halloween I went as Batgirl, and my dad even dressed as Batman, silver tights and all, and that right there continues to mean the world to me.

In other news, it is finally Halloween! I can’t believe October has now come and gone! What a crazy month it has been! We were constantly busy, and I still didn’t do everything I originally set out to do! As for our Halloween plans, we’re off to Knott’s Scary Farm with some friends later this evening. Then looking ahead, Dapper Day is next weekend and I still have no idea what I am going to wear! That right there is a real scare!

Costume Details
Jacket: Vintage find ages ago…I don’t remember where now…
Shirt: Who knows…
Hat, Waistcoat, & Bowtie: Made by me
Skirt: Switchblade Stiletto
Wig, Cigarette Holder, Fake Cigarettes, & Monocle: Amazon
Fishnets: Nordstorm
Spats: Amazon, then covered in fuzzy fabric by me
Gloves: Spirit, then covered in fuzzy fabric by me
Shoes: Miz Mooz
Umbrella: Stolen from Pat

Of Snakes and Monkeys

Last night Patrick and I attended our third Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland. (You can take a peek at the last two years here and here.) Unlike every Halloween since college, where I made a costume, this year I had to come to terms that I didn’t have the time. That, combined with the fact I simply couldn’t decide on what to be! So, I pulled out a costume from a few years ago, and one that has made the cosplay circuit a few items as well, my Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark. While a repeat, I was excited to shoot the costume in Adventureland.

When we entered I was sad to see that the Indiana Jones attraction was down, however it ended up being a blessing in disguise! I asked one of the attraction’s Cast Members if we could shoot photos in the queue while the attraction was closed, and she said yes!

A fun fact is that the truck in the queue is the same one used during the exciting chase sequence in Raiders!

Now, last time I wore this for Halloween, Patrick went as Indy, however, not much of that costume remains. Parts were borrowed from my dad (not easy to get our hands on now), while others were ill-fitting, thrifted garments that Patrick didn’t keep after that year. Thankfully, I’m lucky, and Patrick is actually quite supportive of doing couples costumes, or at least having our costumes come from the same source material. So this year, Patrick came up with the brilliant idea of being Jock, Indy’s pilot from the beginning of Raiders, complete with pet snake, Reggie, and fully got into the part too, bless his heart. If you need a refresher on Jock, take a peek here.

We had a delightful evening getting treats and meeting characters, as the Halloween parties are swell times to meet characters who don’t visit often, such as Maleficent and Hades, as well as a time to see what unique costume ideas fellow Guests come up with! The evening rounded out with the Halloween Screams fireworks show, before we hobbled back to our car after a long night.

My Costume
Blouse: New Look Pattern 6892, slightly altered, hand-embroidered by myself.
Pants: New Look Pattern 6132, slightly altered.
Sash: 1/4 of a yard of fabric, trimmed up, sewn in ruching with snaps in back.
Shoes & Monkey: Thrifted
Monkey’s vest: Made by me
Wig (actually a “Wonder Woman” wig): Amazon

Patrick’s Costume
Shirt: Sears, hand painted by me.
Undershirt & Pants: Target
Yankees Baseball Cap & Snake: Amazon

This is Halloween!

Ah, yes, another Disneyland post! Last year Patrick and I had such a blast at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that we had to do it again! The Halloween parties at Disneyland are a lot of fun, and are one of the few times when those over the age of nine are allowed to wear costumes at the park! With unpacking and getting settled taking a top priority, I knew that this year’s costume had to be simple, and less time consuming than costumes of the past. After kicking around a few ideas, I settled on Clarice from the 1952 Chip ‘n Dale short “Two Chips and a Miss”, where Chip and Dale have a date with the same gal, lounge singer Clarice, on the same night, and hilarity ensues, and Patrick went as Chip. In terms of costume specs, this is one of the least home-made costumes I’ve done. The blue portion of the dress I purchased. It was originally a maxi-length, and I altered it to allow for the tulip hem. For the brown portion, I simply wore a brown sweater under the dress. The hat I made from remaining skirt fabric, cardboard, and gathered ribbon for the edge. I also gathered ribbon for the lea too – you’d never believe there was 40 feet of ribbon there! But, seriously, there is! I also made my ears. I wore brown tights, and found these perfect nude flats and then simply Sharpie’ed the toe lines. For a purse, I wanted something that went with the theme of Chip and Dale, and made an acorn purse, pinning on a pin that feature Clarice and Chip. Patrick’s costume was so simple! He wore a jacket, shirt and pair of pants he already owned and donned my reversible Chip and Dale ears. All we had to purchase was a white bow tie! I also made Patrick the note that Clarice leaves for Chip that is seen near the beginning of the cartoon. After taking some snaps in Toontown, we walked around the park for awhile before taking our seats for the Halloween themed parade, which was followed by the Halloween Screams fireworks show, which is hands-down my favorite fireworks show that Disneyland does. I even spotted a (mostly) black cat near the Fantasyland Skyway Station! For more on this forgotten relic, check out my post here! Once the fireworks were over, we did a bit of trick-or-treating in the park (at Disneyland you are never too old to trick-or-treat!), and then met Chip and Dale, who were dressed as pirates! Those mischievous chipmunks attempted to steal my purse, thinking it a giant yummy acorn, and Dale got offended that only Chip was on my purse. He then proceeded to turn Patrick’s ears around so the Dale side faced front. Like last year (where we were Slue Foot Sue and Pecos Bill) I expected few people to know who we were, as Clarice does not have too strong of a presence in Disneyland and “Two Chips and a Miss” is the only cartoon to feature her. However more people knew who we were this year, with six people knowing, and telling us, verses last year where two people knew who we were. But I love doing characters I adore, and ones that are obscure, so I am totally fine with people not knowing who I am! And it’s also fun introducing people to new cartoons and characters. Disneyland’s Halloween parties are a fun, family oriented option to the terrifying experiences that are showcased at Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios. Children and adults alike get to dress up, trick-or-treat in the park, meet specially costumed characters, and enjoy fireworks and parades that are specifically for the party alone. These happen during select nights, beginning in the end of September and continuing through Halloween night. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party does require a separate entry ticket. Sadly, all of the remaining parties for the Disneyland Resort are sold out for this year, but if you love Halloween and Disney plan on making it next year! As for true Halloween, Patrick and I will be attending a friend’s wedding, back in Portland. In fact we leave today for a week long visit! The timing coincides with the October Expo and Patrick’s commitment to returning to the Portland office every four to six weeks, so we are really killing three birds with one stone! I also get to visit with friends. I am doubtful I will be blogging from the Rose City, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to say when we return along with more apartment pictures! I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween! I better go pack!

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!