Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting Back On Track

I've been a little lazy these past couple weeks. The only sewing I've done at all was a few hours of work on the Harley Quinn costume. I've started to pull out fabric several times these past days, but then I see the clutter obscuring my sewing table and ultimately decide to just watch another episode of Powerpuff Girls.

I've at least mustered up enough energy to figure out what to make for the Flora and Fauna challenge in the HSF. Low funds means I'm trying to work from the stash as much as possible these next couple weeks. Unfortunately I'm really not much of a floral girl, and the stash is very low on options for this challenge. I do however have a remnant of some gorgeous floral patterned faux-leather which will fulfill both Flora and (sort -of) Fauna!

Unfortunately since it was a remnant of fabric there's barely even a yard of it. I think I might be able to squeeze a vest out of the fabric though. I had been wanting to make a vest for a Steampunk outfit, so this entry is going to be more of a soft-entry. The front of the vest I intend to make as historically accurate as possible, but I want to add corset lacing to the back of the vest.

I plan to design the vest after the center image above. I like the low cut front because I intend to wear the vest with my Edwardian striped blouse and want to show off as much of those gorgeous stripes as possible. The low front designed properly could also be a little reminiscent of the dip-waist belts that were fashionable for Edwardian ladies. I think it will be an interesting challenge to take a menswear item and make it a bit more feminine too. Now to get all the clutter off my poor sewing table...

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Earlier this week I posted about two Harley Quinn costumes in lieu of any real sewing progress. I'm happy to report I finally got back to my sewing machine but not for the project I'm supposed to be working on unfortunately.

I live just outside of Boston so needless to say this past week has been one of the more frightening and stressful weeks of my life. Amidst all the worry and fear the very best of our community came out however. The Boston Comic Con was supposed to take place this weekend but was understandably cancelled Friday evening. Many of my friends had been planning to go and were very disappointed. That is when the artistic community in my area sprang into action.

Just a few short hours after they announced that the convention was cancelled plans were already underway for our own home town version. Local artists were contacted, a gallery space was donated and invites were sent out in droves. In less than twenty-four hours we pulled together an amazing group of people for the Beverly Comic Con.

I found out about the event through friends and facebook late Friday night. Having just posted about the Harley Quinn costume it was fresh in my mind and this would be the prefect excuse to fix it up and show it off again. Saturday morning I got straight to work with a 4 pm deadline for the start of the event. 

The bolero top was my main focus for fixing up. I was in a rush the first time and when the sleeves didn't fit quite right I made a quick and dirty fix for them. It looked alright, but it wasn't what I wanted the sleeve to look like at all. Luckily I had an extra yard or so of fabric to make a new set of sleeves out of. The corset also needed a couple repairs where bones had ripped out of their casing because of some inferior twill tape. I worked right down until the last second but was so happy with the results!

Since I was replacing the sleeves anyway I took the opportunity to add another color switch to the pattern. The sleeves had been a solid color from top to bottom last time, but I think they look much nicer now. 

Another change I made to the bolero was in the neckline. It was cut kind of high before and instead of staying up around my neck like it was supposed to it just flopped downward sadly, so I cut it down into more of a V-neck. That left the original lace trim a little short. I had an extra piece of it, but it was also short and I didn't want a visible break in the trim. 

My solution was pretty simple, but I love the look of it. I cut the extra trim I had in half and pleated it onto each center front of the neckline. I was able to tuck the ends of each piece of the trim underneath so that it looks more like one flawless piece and the pleating adds a bit more interest to the neckline.

I'm really happy that I got a chance to properly photograph the costume as well, and the people at the convention were so happy to have a cosplayer there! Overall the event was amazing. To see people come together to pull off something so amazing is really awe-inspiring. I only regret that I forgot to take pictures at the convention!!

As for the Historical Sew Weekly Challenge I was supposed to be working on, it's pretty obvious that I will be missing the deadline for this one. I might see what progress I can make tonight and tomorrow, but I don't even really have fabric yet. Maybe I'll complete it another time. Hopefully I will get myself back on track for the next challenge though.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Past Projects: Harley Quinn Times Two

I'm still getting over whatever sickness struck me down this past week, so sewing progress has been pretty much non-existent. So instead of a new project I bring you another entry to the series of past projects; Harley Quinn done two ways! For those of you not as nerd-savvy, Harley Quinn is a Batman villain most often seen as the Joker's lead lady. Her name of course is a play on harlequin as is her costume.

Harley's original costume

As it is with most comic book characters, her costume has been re-imagined many times for different series and different medias. Last year in the fall I had a video-game themed costume party to attend and was having a hard time coming up with a costume. A lot of video game ladies have costumes that show off a bit more skin than I'm frankly comfortable with, and the other choices like Princess Peach didn't really resonate with me either. I was already planning my own interpretation of Harley for a halloween party a month or so later, so I looked up what Harley's costumes looked like in the newer Batman games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. The Arkham Asylum costume was just awful and not something I wanted to wear, but the Arkham City costume had great potential. It was sexy and just a little revealing without being ridiculously over the top.

Harley in Batman: Arkham City

Of course by the time I had finally settled on what costume to make I had precious little time left before the party. I whipped up a red corset using one of my victorian patterns cut down to be an under-bust corset. If I ever have a little extra time I would like to go back and make one with the straps that Harley's has, but the one I made was passable. Most of the costume was pretty easy, I had an old pair of black skinny jeans hanging around that got one leg painted red, and a pair of knee high boots got the same treatment. The first tank top I made for the party was made from a red and a black tank top I had laying around, cut in half and sewn back together. The red of the tank top didn't match though, so I made a new one for the next use of the costume.

Completed Arkham City costume

Shortly after the video game party I went to a convention with Frightful Acts. One of my co-workers is a huge superhero fan and has several of his own Batman and Superman costumes, so I brought along the Harley costume as well. It was impressive enough that I got interviewed by the Boston Phoenix for a small online article about costumes at the convention!

After the convention was over I had just one or two very short weeks to complete my plans for Halloween. I had decided months before I even thought of the video game Harley Quinn costume that I wanted to make a more Victorian inspired version of Harley. I had been thinking I could use the same corset as the first costume, but I really wanted to do a full party-colored outfit. I tried out a new corset pattern for the second costume that ended up really flattering the look well.

My own version of Harley

The bolero top has a few issues, but the corset and skirt came out perfect. There were even a few girls drooling over this costume at the next convention I went to! Unfortunately I didn't get to do a proper photoshoot with either of these costumes, but at least there's a little photographic evidence.

 Hopefully my next update will be progress on the victorian bathing costume I'm planning. I've got the pattern and should get a chance to buy the cloth tonight.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Challenge #7 - Accessorize

I've been feeling quite under the weather this past week, so for challenge number seven I just have a small entry. I was having a hard time deciding what to do for the challenge since I tend to focus on clothing more than the accessories that go with it. When I saw the Dreamstress's post about the bum-rump she made I realized I had a corset pattern I've been meaning to make that included bust and hip pads. I would have needed to make them eventually, and with the way I've been feeling I decided they would be perfect for the challenge.

The Challenge: Accesorize

Fabric: 1/4 yard linen-look fabric

Pattern: Truly Victorian Edwardian Corset

Year: 1901

Notions: Thread, Bias tape

How Historically Accurate is it? I think the fabric has synthetic content that might be iffy for this time period, but it's pretty close to fully accurate.

Hours to Complete: 1

Total Cost: Everything came from the stash, so $0!

I haven't gotten around to the bust pads yet, but the bum-rump came out great! I realized halfway through that the ever-present half full bag of fiber-fill I thought I had was missing so I came up with a thrifty solution. I usually leave a paper bag near my sewing table to throw small scraps of cloth in. I rarely use them but can't always bring myself to throw it all away. My hoarding tendencies paid off this time as I just shredded up a bunch of the scraps to fill the pad with instead. It made the pad a little on the lumpy side, but it will have a couple layers of cloth over it to hide that. Plus I have a feeling the scrap fabric might be a bit more historically accurate than the polyester fiber-fill I had planned to use.