Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rose Tyler Costume Write-Up

Hello all! I wanted to do a quick post on my Rose Tyler costume

I present to you the best companion on Doctor Who!
(Oh, yes I did.)

This is the outfit Rose wears in the Season 4 two-parter finale, "Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", and is one of the most iconic and memorable looks for her.

After doing some research, one of the most helpful websites was the Doctor Who Cosplay and Costuming Livejournal, which has a very detailed costume breakdown, along with an interview with the BBC costume designer Louise Page.

Rose Tyler's outfit is made up of the following pieces:

I made this Polyvore set as part of a collection to help me break down Rose Tyler's outfits in different episodes. You can see the rest of the collection here.

Her most distinctive item is her Oasis bomber jacket. While the jacket is technically purple, it looks blue in most lights, and is commonly cosplayed as blue. This is also one of the rarest Rose items out there, so keep an eye on online sellers and big brands (like Forever 21) making similar styles. (One ambitious cosplayer made Rose's jacket here!)

Fun story: I had been looking in every thrift store I had ever come across for this jacket for about a year, with no luck. I then went shopping with a friend and was describing what the jacket looked like and how hard it was to find, etc, when she looked at me and said, "Like this one?" and held up an amazing replica. After hugging her for a good five minutes straight, I bought it for $15!! So they're hard to find, but not impossible!

Mine is on the left (with a sonic screwdriver), the official screen version is on the right

The other clothes are fairly straightforward. I bought a maroon scoop-neck shirt, flared black pants, and combat boots, also at thrift stores. If you're trying to be super screen-accurate, the pants are technically dark blue J Brand jeans, and the shoes are brown Hobbs boots. Again, black trousers and boots would work perfectly for cosplay (and be much cheaper!)

Rose Tyler's costume from The Stolen Earth Doctor Who Cosplay and Costuming - Rose Tyler Breakdown - Series 4 and 50th Special

She wears medium-sized hoop earrings with minimal make-up, and her other main accessory is her GIANT GUN.

D'ya like my gun?

My brother had a Nerf Longshot gun that he graciously gave to me, and I had a friend who does amazing paint work modify it for me, adding the detail work and the SP-132 (anyone know that what means?). One can also use a Nerf rifle like the Stampede or Vulcan as well, but as long as it's big enough to get your point across, any prop gun will do.

Rose Tyler gun - can modify a Nerf Stampede or Nerf Vulcan 

My own version with a spare camera strap (Thank you Ian!!)

So, I finally had my Rose Tyler costume ready to go in time for the Denver Comic Con. I straightened my hair (which was far too long for Rose, but c'est la vie), and had a fabulous time!

The Denver Comic Con had an 'Action Figure package' booth, so I couldn't resist posing like Rose Tyler was ready to kick some Dalek butt!

What do you think?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Éowyn's Shieldmaiden Dress Tutorial

Éowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan

“The woman turned and went slowly into the house. As she passed the doors she turned and looked back. Grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings.” 

Since I first read the Lord of the Rings, I've always wanted to be Eowyn. She was blonde, rode horses, was basically a princess, yet was strong and brave and totally amazing. In fact, making a thrifted version of Eowyn's dress with my friends was what got me back into sewing (after my brief stint with Home Ec in 8th grade).

Back in 2011, a local theater was doing a Lord of the Rings marathon, and since we never got to dress up for the midnight premieres, myself and my two geekiest friends decided to seize the opportunity to made costumes and go for a photoshoot before sitting through the hours of awesomeness. After some serious thrifting, my awesome friend Melaine showed Amanda and I how to made sleeves out of pillowcases, and using a brown stretchy tank top and a white boho skirt, I added ribbon and trim for my own cheap version of Eowyn's iconic Shieldmaiden dress.

An elf, a shieldmaiden, and a princess walk in a forest... wait, it this some kind of joke?
(joke and pictures stolen shamelessly from Amanda)

So, when the Denver Comic-Con started to loom near, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to remake my Eowyn dress to as close to screen-accurate as I could get it. After creating a Pinterest board and combing several tutorials and research sites (best of which was and, off to Joann's I went, in search of the right fabric. After finding some nice suede that would work for Eowyn's bodice, I couldn't quite find any fabric with the right feel to it - until I happened upon some white crepe suiting that worked wonderfully.

Womens Costumes Costume Sewing Pattern 4940 Simplicity

I used Simplicity 4940, version B, but made several modifications to make it more accurate. I eventually tacked the end of the sleeves underneath so they weren't so long.

Aiiee! It looks so professional!

One of the main alterations was adding pintucks along the collar, a feat I only accomplished by following the lovely tutorial over at STC Crafts. I drew a straight line with tailor's chalk from the point of the collar to the dress seam, then drew parallel lines about 5/8" apart (or whatever measurement works for dividing your yoke into 5 equal lines). In case none of that made sense, here's a diagram:

I think they add depth and nice detail, don't you think? 

The other main alteration I made to make it more accurate was to change the bodice. Eowyn's bodice is technically in two pieces, a brown brocade vest and a quilted lower corset.

Did I mention how much I love Aimee Major and They're amazing.

However, even in the high quality production photos, you can't really tell it's two pieces, so I decided to only quilt the lower half. Since the idea of quilting kind of scared me, I found out that the best way to make it was to cheat trace over pre-quilted batting, which also gives the lower half extra stability.

See how I attached the side pieces before adding batting to them? Yeah, pretend I didn't do that.

For the front piece, adding the batting was easy enough, since it's all its own pattern piece. For the sides, I (should have) first attached the batting in line with the notches on the edge, then sewed the sides to the front. Don't worry too much about making it perfectly straight, since we'll be covering the edge with decorative trim.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

Next we'll talk about bias tape!

Bias tape is a long strip of fabric often used to finish raw edges. You can buy it at any fabric store, but you can also make your own! I wanted to match the fabric exactly, so I made my bias tape out of the leftover suede I had. There are fancy bias tape maker gadgets out there, but I just used what I had lying around.

I cut my fabric 2" thick, then cut out a 1" strip of thin cardboard and pressed the fabric on either side of the cardboard in to make single-fold bias tape.

I then added the bias tape to my raw edges and armholes, and it made everything look so pretty and professional! There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to add bias tape (my favorite is here), but basically, you pin the tape to your fabric right sides together, then sew along the crease. 

Pictured: How much suede changes color in different light

Fold the tape over, then sew as close to the folded edge as possible on the other side. 

There are also lots of tutorials on how to use bias tape on corners (here), if you need them. Once done, it looks like you totally knew what you were doing the whole time!

Nearly done! Here have a Judgey Cat wondering why I keep stealing her seat.

The chair is mine! My own! My... Precious!

There were only two things left to finish my beautiful Eowyn dress! I added two different types of trim to mimic the embroidery that's on Eowyn's bodice. There's a thinner version for the neckline, then thicker below the bust and around the edges.

Technically, there are three rows of embroidery on the edge, but proportionally, just one looked best for my bodice. After finishing the trim, all that was left was to add grommets to the back. The pattern has you add an invisible zipper, but grommets are more accurate and way easier in my opinion.

Pictured: Hand grommeter/ grip strengthener

After that, I just added some leather laces I already had around, and voila! My Eowyn dress was finished!

Eeek! It's so pretty!

Pepper was less than thrilled about being recruited as a dress form head

Once I added some white and gold braid to my sleeves (secured with safety pins, just in case), I was ready to head out the door on a new adventure!

A Shieldmaiden is always ready for another adventure...

Jim reprised his role as Steampunk Commander Riker, especially fitting since we both got to attend the Star Trek: The Next Generation Reunion panel, and saw Jonathan Frakes himself!

Ah, waiting in line, such a glamorous part of attending cons

Anyway, that's my tutorial! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below, and thanks for reading!

Updated to add: I went on a photoshoot with my nerdiest friends after Christmas, and the wonderful Bruce Jenkins took some amazing pictures of me!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Commander Riker of the Steamship Enterprise

Welcome to my costume walkthrough for steampunk Commander Riker, of the Steamship Enterprise! I wanted to create a Victorian-era naval jacket version of Commander Riker's uniform from Star Trek for a convention we were going to. This was my first attempt at a jacket, and I learned that the only thing you need to say to bond with other crafters is "SLEEVES ARE EVIL!". I put around 30 hours of work into this, so I was pleased as punch when it looked as good as it did.

So, this jacket was inspired by the amazing work of citizenkaneV on Deviantart, also known as Steven J. Connell, pictured below. 

Look how inspiring he is!

Jim was hesitant to come to AnomalyCon with me, but when I told him he could go as a steampunk version of Commander William Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation, in this jacket, he suddenly became very agreeable.

C'mon, how you not want to be this guy? He exudes cool.

So I contacted Steven and asked him how he made such an awesome jacket. He kindly told me that he used a combination of Simplicity 2333 and Butterick 3648 (which is currently out of print) to make his jacket. I only used Simplicity 2333, but it still turned out just fine.

This was a big learning experience for me, and since I wanted it to look right, I decided to make a muslin. A muslin is the fancy term for a practice project, traditionally made out of muslin, but I made mine out of a large bedsheet from my local thrift store. This way I knew how to sew everything together, and what the end result would look like.

I labeled each piece, so I would know which pattern pieces I would need to change, and made notes where needed. For instance, I ended up not using pattern piece #9, which is the two front bottom panels. I also wanted a muslin so I could figure out how to cut pieces for the yoke.

The 'yoke' refers to a garment piece that sits on the shoulders and around the neck. For the Star Trek TNG uniform, it's the black top part. For the amount of die-hard Trekkies out there, it is incredibly hard to find what the exact measurements of the yoke are. After much searching, I came up with 5" from the back of the neck down, and then 4.5" from the shoulder seam onto the sleeve. 

After trying it on Jim, I decided to go with 5.5" on the front. I took all the pieces apart and cut along the line I drew. Since I knew the likelihood of me forgetting that there was no seam allowance on the parts I cut, I taped a 5/8" piece to the yoke patterns.

For fabric, I bought between 3.5 and 4 yards of red wool, and 1 yard of black wool. I had plenty of red and barely enough black, so take that as you will.

It's like fabric tetris!

In order to keep the fabric from wrinkling, I sewed using a 3/8ths seam allowance in one way, and then 5/8ths the other.

After sewing the pieces together, I ironed it out and attached the facing, which helped smooth out the remaining wrinkles.

The interesting part was trying to get the lines to match up just right. I knew I'd be covering it with a braided trim later, but it was the principle of thing, darn it!

After sewing the front and back together, I made the collar, and added the black braid about a 1/8th from the edge, and then attached it to the neck piece.

Then came the interesting part. Sleeves. *DUN DUN DUNNNNN*

I decided to topstitch the sleeve yoke on, that way I could adjust it if it didn't fit perfectly. And what do you know, it didn't.

After trying several methods, the most effective one seemed to be basting (sewing with the longest stitch) the sleeve first, then pin on the triangle. Once the edges are lined up to satisfaction, I seam ripped the top of the sleeve, topstitched the yoke, then reattached the sleeve.

It turned out alright, if I do say so myself! Only semi-noticeable, which given the insidious nature of sleeves in general, I took as a win.

 I then pinned the braid along where the two colors met, pinched and folded the point so it would be a continuous line, and was fairly pleased at how professional it looked!

Now that the sleeves had been conquered, I added the front facing of black wool to the lining, and took it one step closer to completion!

Once the lining was in, I added black braid to the folded back edges in the front, then started working on the cuffs. I had done quite a bit of research into what jackets commanders in the Royal Navy wore around the 1850's, mostly by visiting the Royal Maritime Museum website.


Uniform of a Sub-Lieutenant from 1861 on Left, 1867 Commander's Uniform on Right.

If you notice from above, the double row of buttons was standard, and the type of button, along with the number of stripes on the cuff, denoted rank. I unfortunately didn't have time to add the strips on Jim's cuffs, but that's a project for the future.

Just you wait... I will add your stripes, see if I don't!

One thing I did make sure to do was use period-accurate buttons. Different officers used different buttons depending on rank and what military they belonged to. The Royal Navy Captain and Commander's button was a fouled anchor (anchor with a rope going through it) with a crown above it. 

After some thorough searches, I found some on eBay for a fair price. There were 24 of them, which worked out well, since I wasn't sure how many I was going to use in the double row in front (I guessed between 5 and 8), plus I needed two buttons for above the coat tails, and two more for the collar. I was also thinking of adding three to each cuff, but they looked better without. I might add them on later as well.

If I had to do it over again, I would have added several more inches to the front bodice. I only had about a five inch overlap, and thus could only space my buttons about 3 inches apart.


Jim looked pretty pleased, though.

After sewing on the buttons to the collar and the tails, we placed the Star Trek command pips and communicator. and we were all finished!

Don't we make such an adorkable couple?


We had a great time at AnomalyCon, and Jim won second place in the Division 2 of the Costume Contest! Yay!

Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment below!