Tuesday, 24 November 2015

It's a mini-me

At Comic-Con we joked enough about the fact that there are no Leia merchandise from TFA, that I decided to make my own Leia action figure. There is a company that has offered to turn you into your own action figure for the last few cons in Sweden. I haven't really felt that I wanted to put some money in it, to be honest I don't think I was confident enough to do it. Now in Leia I was really happy about it all, so here I am.

The figure is 10 cm, and I'm amazed by how detailed it is. The face is a bit soft, but otherwise it looks really nice. In fact it's the first really good look at what my hair looked like from behind. I can definitely see that making a figure is going to be a thing at future cons, I'm already thinking about which costume I should use for my next figure.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Endor trooper vest

With all my planned project for the year done I felt it was time to go back and do some updates on old costumes instead. One of those updates that I've been thinking about for quite a long time is the Endor trooper. I consider that I have the bare basic trooper, but I've always wanted to add more things to it. Since I prefer to sew the easiest thing to do in order to upgrade it was to add the Endor vest to the costume.

You can see the vest on at least three of the guys in this picture, two are wearing it over the snow jacket, and the bearded man in the front is wearing it directly over the long sleeved t-shirt. There aren't a lot of good pictures online of the vest, but there is a full body picture and some concept sketces of it in the Star Wars Costumes - Original Trilogy book. It is basically the same vest as the one Leia is wearing under her poncho.

There is also a tutorial for the vest available here, and the pattern pieces that are used in the tutorial can be found via the Rebel Legion forum. I decided not to use the tutorial or the pattern though. There are some inaccuracies in the pattern, and the tutorial is made for a lined vest, while I decided that my with the fabric I had a fully lined vest would be too bulky and heavy.

The fabric is a quite heavy cotton/poly twill in beige.

I started the pattern by tracing the pattern off my Endor jacket, since the vest will be worn over it I figured I could just as well do that.
With the back and front pieces up I pinned tracing paper on them and simply freehanded where I wanted the sleeve, pockets and details on the front to be.
Up until this point I had followed the instructions on the tutorial I linked to above. Looking at  more reference pictures there were a couple of things I realized I needd to change. The vest is a lot shorter than planned, and the gap between the padded section (the pattern tissue at the front top) and the pocket is very small. More importantly though is that the padded section isn't just an added decoration on the right side, it's a yoke that goes all around the neck, the only thing is that he left side isn't quilted.
This is my pattern for the joke. Going from just a right front piece to a full joke led to some fabric issues though. I had bought enough fabric to be able to line the vest, but when I decided not to do that I had promised to make a vest for a friend out of the leftover material. I did manage to fiddle with the fabric, and by making one of the yokes in two pieces, with the seam hidden by the quilting, I did get two yokes out of what I had left of the fabric.
I cut out a piece of batting with the same pattern as the yoke and basted it to the main vest. I then sewed the yoke piece on over the batting and on to the vest.

In order to hide the batting at the bottom edges of the yoke I turned the yoke fabric in under the batting and sewed it on.

Since the quilted part of the vest goes from the back over the shoulder and on to the vest it was hard to figure out the placement of the seams with the pattern flat. In the end the easiest thing was to pin a piece of tape where I wanted it to go, from the back to the front, and use that as a reference line. Then 

I marked out where I wanted the seams to go, as you can see they look curved when flat but they look straight when the vest is on. I quilted the right side, but the left is just the padded. One thing that happened with the padding was that the whole vest got really stiff, I feel like a hockey player with really large shoulder protections in it. I think that I would recommend a batting that is thinner, or simply use a layer of felt rather than padding. My Endor Leia vest is a lot thinner and uses felt instead.

While working with the vest I kept having a feeling that it looked to shiny and new, and the Endor trooper is supposed to be dirty and worn. At this stage I also happened to have a full day of doing laundry, so while doing my regular laundry I threw the two vests and all the pieces of fabric that I had left into the zink with some mild bleach. After two rounds the colour hadn't changed much, except on the wrong side of the fabric, but the whole look of the fabric was a lot more faded, it simply looked more worn. I am thinking about actually throwing the vest in for yet another period in the bleach, but I haven't decided yet.

In order to finish the vests I had to use the scraps that I had left. In hindsight I think the vest would look better with lined sleeves, but there wasn't enough fabric for that. To finish the sleeves/armholes I cut a straight piece of fabric as a facing, and the same goes for the front facings as well. I did get manage to piece together two smaller bias cut strips for the neck facing. The waist band is simply the leftovers that I cut off from the vest when I shortened it. That means that there are seams in the waistband, but it was the only way I could get a strip of fabric that was long enough.

This is the finished vest.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

TFA Leia hair - a messy tutorial

Update! - This tutorial was done based on my interpretation of a pre-production photo. It was wrong. The result of this tutorial is not an accurate version of Leia's hair in The Force Awakens.

I've been asked how I did my hair for TFA Leia and this is an attempt to go through the steps I did. There are a few things to be aware of though:

1. There are no clear pictures of the back and left side of the head, so this is really my interpretation of the hairstyle.
2. I don't have a proper wig block and I didn't even try to be careful about hiding pins or fixing stray hairs. It's messy, but I hope it shows how I did, then you can practice and get it good.

One lace front wig in ash/grey

One matching loose ponytail
The ponytail was simply twisted into a bun at the top, but with around half the hair loose under the bun. It's held together with loads of hairspray and some hairpins.

2. Pull the hair back from the forehead and fasten it with a pin or two.
3. Attach the ponytail/bun with some pins so that the bun just sticks up over the top of your head.
4. Braid around a third of the hair into a braid on the right side of the face.
5. Cross the braid over the head to the other ear. This is the tricky part, and if you have an extra pair of hands that's really helpful. The synthetic hair is also very slippery so it's hard to really secure it in place.
6. Braid all the remaining hair, including the hair from the ponytail/bun into one thick braid on the left side of the face. If possible you should try and get the end of the braid that you've pinned in place over the head into the thick braid as well.
7. Loop the braid over itself, so that the end of the braid can be hidden under the top part of the braid.
8: Pin down loose hair and put some extra pins where you need some stronger attachments.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

HSM 15: Challenge 11 - Silver Screen, or the Demelza cap

This autumn I've been glued to Poldark. There's just so much to love in it, 18th century, romance, intrigues, copper mining, the clothes and Aidan Turner isn't too shabby either. I really wanted to do something from Poldark for the silver screen challenge, but just as with the sewing secrets challenge I'm trying to keep my historical sewing projects down, so I wanted something small. As much as I'd love to recreate one of Demelza's full outfits that was simply out of my league for this month. There is one thing that I've been thinking about when looking at this series, and most historical series actually, and that is the lack of caps. If you see someone wearing a cap it's usually an old woman, or a servant. And if you see a poor woman wearing a cap it's almost always over loose hair that is all over the place. Frock Flicks have gone through the hairstyles of Poldark, and you can read their opinions here.

Definitely no cap taming those curls
So I decided to make a cap, a cap that could cover the hair and make sure that it not flies around but is neatly stuck in place.

As for caps, I've always been partial to the big poofy caps, but I also really like the cap in Liotard's painting La Belle Chocolatiere
Now I know that there are debates around on the issue of coloured bonnets and how common they were. It is clear that they were very popular in Sweden, where it's explicitly noted that even women from lower classes were allowed to were silk caps. I don't know if this was the case in Cornwall, but if Demelza had lived in the same area as I do, also based on copper mining, then I'm quite certain that she would have made herself a silk cap to show her new position in life, already when she got hired by Poldark to be a maid.

Looking at Demelza's choice of colour for her clothes she seems to really like yellows, especially warm mustardy tones. That is really clear when she gets the chance to go to a ball, and matches her gold silk gown with gold ribbons in her hair.
Off to my stash I went, and I found a small remnant of warm, yellow silk taffeta. It's the last piece that I have from a test piece I bought for the gold handmaiden.Yellow isn't my go to colour usually, but since I'm also a (fake) redhead I thought it looked quite nice to my hair.

For pattern I used the pattern available at Duran textiles. I felt that the silk was a bit flimsy though, and I also didn't want it to rub directly on my hair. So I cut out the pattern and interlined the pieces with linen from my stash.

The cap is made up from a round cap part and a band. I turned the raw edges of the linen and silk towards each other and sewed them together at the outer edge of the band, and at the back of the cap. I then gathered the cap and sandwiched it between the two layers of the band. To finish I made some gathering stitches at the back of the cap to make the cap keep its shape better and hold the hair in.

The finished cap.

The cap holds all the hair neatly tucked inside, and it keeps its shape and position with me having to pin it to the hair or anything. Very practical when you are working as a maid, and still want to look your best to your handsome employer. When it's time to wear it I should probably add a smaller cap to wear underneath, or just a piece of white fabric to imitate a cap, that development happened in Sweden and still today the bonnet for my folk costume has a loose piece of fabric that is just stuck under the edge of the bonnet to simulate a cap being worn under it.

What the item is: An 18th century silk bonnet
The Challenge: 11 Silver Screen
What's your onscreen inspiration?: Demelza Poldark, from Poldark (2015)
Fabric: 0,5 m yellow silk taffeta, 0,5 m natural linen
Pattern: Duran textiles
Year: Second half of the 18th century
Notions: regular Güterman sewing thread
How historically accurate is it? Except for the sewing thread I've just material and constructions that are plausible for the time so 90%
Hours to complete: 5
First worn: I've just tried it on so far
Total cost: It was all from my stash, but if I had bought the fabrics new they would have cost $15

Friday, 6 November 2015

How to join the 501st and Rebel Legion

During the weekend I got quite a few questions on how to join and how it works with sending in an application to either the 501st Legion or the Rebel Legion. I'm going to go through the process here.

In order to join the legions you need to be 18 years old, after that the first thing you need  is a costume. Both organisations have checklists where the minimum requirements for each costume is listed. In the 501st Legion they are called CRL:s, or Costume Reference Library, in the Rebel Legion they are called Costume Standards. As an example her is the RL standards for a jawa costume:

1. Mask (and eyes)
a. Black mask covering the entire face of the costumer so that no parts of the costumer's head is visible. Face paint is not acceptable.
b. The mask may be used as a base upon which the two glowing eyes are mounted.
c. When in full costume, only the glowing eyes should be visible from within the opening of the hood.
d. The eyes should glow, rather than emit a beam of light (flashlights or other beam emitting lights are not permitted). Incandescent lamps or non-directional LEDs are ideal.
e. Eyes should be yellow or light orange (amber), spaced for "binocular vision" and approximately 1" - 1.25" in diameter.

2. Robe and Hood
a. Robe and hood are a dark rust-brown textured fabric, and are separate pieces (hood is not attached to the robe).
b. Robe pattern should be such that there are no visible seams and with an off center opening (on the front) that runs the length of the garment. The robe may also be sewed closed. The only seams that would appear would be left and right side seams on the underside of the sleeves to the arm pit area and proceeding down each side. Sleeves and bottom of the robe are unhemmed and be tattered/frayed.
c. Hood is "pointy" and must be lined with a solid, black fabric.
d. The hood may be reinforced to maintain the facial opening, and should lap over (the robe) and onto the shoulders.
e. The flaps at the bottom front of the hood should overlap and may wrap around the neck.
f. Robe and hood may be weathered.

3. Gloves
a. Black cloth or leather (or leather-like) gloves extending over the wrist (and along the arm to ensure no skin is visible).
b. Gloves should be plain. Adornments, buckles, straps, etc. are not permitted.

4. No exposed skin (or clothing)
a. Black or brown undergarments should cover the costumers so that no skin (or other clothing) is visible.

5. Bandolier(s)
a. (At least) one bandolier is required, and should be patterned from WWII or earlier bandoliers.
b. Black or brown leather or leather-like material should be used.
c. Bandolier(s) should be worn/weathered and any metal components should be dull/worn/scuffed.
d. Two bandoliers are permitted and can be worn in any number of configurations.

6. Boots
a. Boots (and lower legs) should be wrapped in a similar fabric as the robe/hood and be a similar color.
b. Boots/wrapping should extend to the mid calf (or high enough so that no skin is visible).

7. Entire costume should appear tattered and weathered. 
After having read through the standards and if you think that your costume fulfills these requirements you can send in an application. A big advice though is to first register on the main Rebel Legion forum, the Krayt Clan forum (specialised in jawas and tusken raiders) or your local base/garrison forum. In these forums you can get feedback and see if you might have missed something that will stop the costume from being accepted. I can not stress enough how good it is to first get this feedback before sending in the application, tha will make the application go a lot smoother, and faster.

Before submitting an application you need to prepare photos of your costume. This needs to be full body photos of the front, back and two sides, so that you can show the costume in 360 degrees. If your costume has a helmet or mask that covers your face you also need to submit a photo  with the helmet or mask off, showing your actual face. Finally you also need a photo of yourself in some kind of action pose, that will then be photoshopped onto your legion profile page. After that it's a good idea to have pictures of all the details that are required according to the standards/CRL.

For my jawa for example I sent in the following pictures:
Mask off
Mask, bandolier, hood
Weathering of the robe
Action pose (the light was so bad on this one that I used my front photo as main photo though)

As you see that's nine photos just for a fairly simple costume without many details. A jedi costume for example needs to have the 360 degrees photos both with and without a robe. It's also good if you have a solid coloured background to your photos, so that the costume is clearly visible. I solve that by simply using a piece of fabric as background when I try to take photos of myself.

These requirements are the same for both legions, after that the application process differs though. The 501st uses a decentralised process, where the judgement is handled by a local Garrison Membership Liaison (GML) that handles every kind of costume, while the Rebel Legion uses a centralised system where each costume is judged by a Legion Costume Judge (LCJ) that is chosen to be part of the LCJ team due to his or her expertise in a particular kind of costume.

To join the Rebel Legion you first need to register at the main Rebel Legion forums. Once you are registered at these forums you get the option to "Register a Costume and Upgrade to Rebel Legion Membership,” in your profile control panel. In the application you fill in the information that is asked for, then you upload the one (1) picture you want to have as your action pose. The rest of the photos need to be submitted as links to a photohosting site, for example photobucket, links to photos on facebook do not work.

Then you send in your application and wait for a response from an LCJ. Some costumes are approved straight away, that usually goes for those costumers that have asked for feedback in the forums, while it's actually very usual for the judges to ask for corrections, or simply of better photos of some details. Don't get disappointed if this happens, as I said it's more common than being approved directly. The LCJ will give you two weeks to send in new photos with the corrections that were asked for. If you haven't sent in the new photos within two weeks the application will be denied and you will have to send in a new application to start the process again.

If you want to join the 501st Legion it's a bit different. There you need to first register at the 501st legion. In the application you will also need to submit the 5 digit number that you want to use as your 501st ID, for example my 501st ID is 4492. After you have submitted your online application you will be contacted by the GML and asked to send in the photos of your costume. The GML will probably ask you some questions, might ask for some changes or new photos, and then they will activate you as a member of the 501st legion.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

My Little Pony Rarity

So for NärCon this summer I did a fun costume, and it was Rarity from My Little Pony. I never got any decent pictures of it, but I have some from Comic Con Gamex.

This is Rarity. She's my favorite pony because she's a fashion designer, most of the episodes about her shows her sewing clothes, she's stylish, she's a bit of a drama queen so it's fun to be over the top when cosplaying her, her magical unicorn ability is to find gems (so yes, she's comfortable in mines) and she wears red glasses from time to time. Now the part with the red glasses was better with my old pair, that were red.

Now I've seen quite a lot of MLP cosplays that consists of a kind of corset and poofy skirt. I didn't want to do that though. MLP is a children's show, I would prefer to have a costume that's elegant without being overly sexy.

I chose to use the Vogue 1208 pattern.
I've had it in my pattern stash for quite some time, but haven't had a good reason to sew it. The Rarity cosplay would be a good way of testing the pattern. I definitely thought the elegant pattern would fit a classy pony like Rarity. I don't have any pictures of the construction, it was a project that I didn't hae enough time for really, but I still wanted to do it. I used a white duchesse satin for the outer fabric and a charmeuse for the lining. One thing is that being in a hurry and cutting two layers of slippery fabrics made for the finished pieces not matching exactly, but I don't think it's too visible unless you look really close.

Rarity's cutie mark, the symbols on her flank, are turquoise diamonds. I liked that the bow of the pattern was quite angular and mirrored the cutie marks, so I made it in the same fabric, some kind of heavy, poly satin. For the cutie marks themselves I made by cutting out a diamond pattern, cutting them out in the fabric, more or less free handing the lines on the marks with triple straight stitch. I used a satin stitch to go over all the edges and then I sewed them onto the dress.

I ordered two long, curly purple wigs on ebay. One is used for the hair and one is used for the tail, but I don't have any pictures of it. Basically I sewed the head cap of the wig into a small white bag and attached it to a wide elastic. I wear the elastic around the waist, and then the tail goes out through a whole in the dress.

The unicorn and her necklace, Rarity's element of harmony, were both found on Etsy. I'm also carrying Opal, Rarity's pet, but I have a full post about her here.

At Närcon I wore a pair of white tights and a white sandals, but I think it actually looks a lot better with pantyhose and my white high Leia boots.

This is a really comfy costume. It's not hot, it's not tight anywhere, and it's possible to walk for hours in the boots. The wig gets a bit warm, that's the only downside. Until the next time I'm going to wear it I want to make a pair of pony ears as well. I also want to make a matching turquoise handbag of the leftovers from the fabric that I used for the bow and cutie marks.

As for make up I use a lot of turquoise eye shadow and then a purple lipstick.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

TFA Leia vest

I didn't have time to post this before Comic Con, but here is how I made the vest.

From the reference picture my take on it was that I couldn't see a shoulder seam, no collar, no fastenings and that strange double layer at the shoulder. I actually threw out the question on Facebook on the issue with the layers of fabric could be, and I got an answer from Kathy that it looked like the kind of shoulder tuck that you also find on jedi tunics and X-wing pilot jumpsuits. So went to the Rebel Legion forums and read up on a couple of jedi tutorials to figure out what the tuck was, and then I started on the vest.

I had ordered 1 m of black, heavy twill. The fabric was a pretty good match I think, but I should have ordered more so I could have self lined it, still this is just an experiment and I'm counting on having to redo quite a lot when we get proper reference pictures.

 I started out with a basic t-tunic shape. The kind where you simply fold the fabric in half and cut a hole for the head. I also cut up the front, and back so that I ended up with two pattern pieces. I wanted the vest to be a bit figure hugging, and for that I wanted a shaped back seam. I left some excess fabric over the arm holes and folded the excess fabric in until I felt that it looked good.

This is what the pattern piece looked like in the end. The back is down, so you can see that the back seam has quite a big curve, I really hope that the original has a back seam or else it will be hard to get the vest to fit snuggly.
Here you can see that there was quite a lot of extra fabric to fold in order to create the shoulder tuck.
I folded the fabric under, and handsewed the tuck on the inside, so that there are no visible seams. If I had lined the vest I would have attached the tuck to the lining. Then I just hemmed the armholes the front and the bottom of the vest, I didn't even have enough fabric left to do narrow facings. For the neck opening I sewed it to a piece of cotton tape and folded it down.

This is probably the best picture of the vest, when me and Björn tried to recreate the trailer shot.

I will try to show how I made the hairstyle as well later on.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Comic Con Gamex 2015, Stockholm, Sweden

The Stockholm Comic Con Gamex was held for the second year, well Gamex is older, but the adding of Comic Con was made last year. I definitely think this is the main pop culture event of the year in Sweden. It's a great mix of film, games, panels, cosplay shows and a lot of people. I would say it was even too many people on Saturday, wen this picture was taken. Then it was almost impossible to move around on the floor. This year it was held in a new venue, the Friend's Arena. The Arena is the national football stadium, so the convention was built on a floor over the pitch. This also made for interesting stages for the panels, since they used the seats around the pitch for the main stages and jsut had them separated by temporary walls from the rest of the arena. Overall I thought it worked really well actually.

I had gone to a friend outside Gävle, Valbo to be exact, already on Thursday evening, so on early Friday morning we drove off so that we were at the arena in Stockholm by 8. The Nordic Legions were there with a stand and I trooped by being in the photostand and take part in the parades. On Friday I wore my Endor Leia, with the helmet since I didn’t want to fuzz with the hair. The Comic Con audience is a bit different from the regular sci fi cons though, so not too many people wanted to pay for taking a photo with us. It was planned that I would be in the stand quite a lot in my handmaiden together with an R2 droid and Queen Amidala. The girl doing Amidala had suffered an allergic reaction though and couldn’t wear any face make up. So we tried to just have the handmaiden and droid in the stand, but people were totally uninterested. For the rest of the weekend my handmaiden was switched for Wall-E, since he’s a lot more popular.

On Friday I also had a panel about make-up and hair. It went ok, but people were clearly more interested when I had my wigs with me and showed how you could style them, rather than going through the Amidala make-up. I think if I’m going to do a panel like that in the future it would be best to just concentrate on hairstyles, and try to show some more example than just the cinnamon buns.

I also had time to look at the qualification for the Swedish Cosplay Championships, or at least the run through of the contestants. I watched the different cosplay competitions all days, but this is where I really show my total illiteracy when it comes to games and manga/anime. I hardly recognized anyone, except for the Elsa.

It was interesting to see a competition where performance is an important part of the competition, but to be honest I thought it was more interesting to see the competition on Saturday when they just went up to the stage and showed some poses. 

Saturday was really crowded, I didn't have any scheduled trooping to do, except for the parades, that meant that I had time for just some fun. I had brought my Rarity costume with me, and in the crowds it was nice to have a costume that is quite cool, except for the wig.

I had even remembered to bring Opal with me, I forgot her at Närcon this summer, and I met a really nice looking Dischord on the floor. I had hoped for more MLP cosplays though. 
For shoes I used my Leia boots, and I thought they looked great for Rarity, and they are comfy so that's always a plus for a cosplay.

On the con floor I also found a really nice looking Rey from The Force Awakens.
We quickly recruited her for the The Force Awakens photo shoot that me and Björn, the Nordic Base’s Han Solo, wanted to do at the end of the day. We had to wait until the end of the day since he needed to put some grey in his hair, and had to wait until after he was done in the photo stand. Micke of the R2 builders in Sweden had done a BB8, and Sigge also had a droid from TFA, so together we quickly gathered all the TFA characters and droids we could find.

Me and Björn also took the chance to recreate that one Han/Leia shot from the TFA trailer.

On Sunday we were all quite tired, the after troop dinner on Saturday had been a really quiet affair and we were all in bed before 22 I think. It's great to have a really comfortable costume to fall back too on the third day of trooping, so I went as Endor trooper the whole day. 

Me and Ingeli, the CO of the Nordic Garrison, had a talk about "Ladies of the Legions - Star Wars and female cosplay" and I think there were definitely a couple of seriously intersted people, the kind that might actually think about joining the legions in the future.

As I've mentioned I'm really not into games, but it's impossible to not notice that the game Star Wars Battlefront will be released in a couple of weeks, and it's produced by a Swedish company. This also had the effect that for once people thought that a lone Endor trooper was pretty cool as well, I heard a few "wow, that's a costume from Battlefront" around me. The Battlefront stand, where you could play the beta of the game, had a huge backdrop, with an Endor trooper facing an ATAT walker, so I ended Sunday with taking my chance of making the backdrop three dimensional.

All in all this was one of the funniest conventions in a long time. I don't think I've ever had so many fun photo oppturnities, both as Rarity, Leia and Endor trooper. The Comic Con Gamex is definitely turning into one of my main events of the year.