Monday, 31 July 2017

Bellossom outer gown

I've come back from a great time at NärCon, but before I post about that I'm just going to add the final part of my Bellossom cosplay.

I started the outer gown by making a top from the Butterick 6134 pattern. I made some Changes though in that I made it a bit bigger, and shorter. That allowed me to pull the top over my head so I didn't have to worry abut zippers or other fastenings. The top was made from applegreen poly chiffon interlined with a nude poly lining.

The fit wasn't important since it was supposed to be a very loose gown anyway. I can really recommend this pattern, since it has raglan sleeves it so eas to put together. The original calls for it being unlined, but I have preferred to put a lining into it both of the times that I've made the pattern.

After that it was simply a question of pinning the remaining chiffon fabric and sew it on at the bust. I pleated it rather than gathered it since I think pleats looks so much nicer and gives a better drape as well.

My handstitching weren't quite up to scratch though and now when I've unpacked the gown I can see that some of it has come undone, so I will need to fix that before I wear it the next time.

It really is a costume that's hard to pose in, since it looks so much better when it's moving. I loved to just twirl around in it.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Bellossom hairflowers and shoes

The next step that I finished for my Bellossom has been the hairflowers and shoes. The shoes were really simple.

I found a pair of very cheap fabric shoes in cream with embossed flowers on them. I simply spayed them with a layer of yellow paint and then I took a fabric marker and filled in all the flowers on the shoes.

The hairflowers were a bit more complicated though. This was my first try of using a material called fosshape. It's a feltlike thermoplastic material. Meaning that it feels like fabric, but when you heat it up it becomes hard, it also shrinks and I found it a bit hard to predict how much it would shrink. It depended on the heat.

I started with cutting out five petals for each flower.

I sewed the petals together and placed them over a deep plate to give them a bit more shape. I used a heatgun on a low setting to shape the fosshape. 

After a while I turned the flower and the deep plate and went over it so that both sides had hardened. 

The flowers were harder, but still quite flimsy so I added a piece of buckram in the middle to give it a more stable centre part.

I then tried to mold the centre pod of the flower over a light holder with but it didn't work. As you can see the fosshape started to curl upwards on its own, rather than downwards even if I tried to force it down.

For the second attempt I instead made a cylinder of the fosshape and with the help of a plier I could get it to curl up around the light holder.

Here are the basic flowers, I'm really happy with the right one.

I then used spraypaint to paint the flowers, and finally I simply sewed the yellow centres to the base flower. 

After having used fosshape I the best used for it is if you have a frame that you want to have covered, and that will be covered with yet material. The surface of the fosshape, even after having been heated, was still quite fuzzy and felt-like. I did a test flower first where I used an iron to heat it, and then I could get a smoother surface, but I also got markes from the iron. It's very lightweight and there was no problem painting it, but I think it will be very hard to make it into a smooth and clean finish. Like other thermoplastics it sticks to itself when heated, but it doesn't melt into and bond together, and it was not enough to just have the stickyness to keep two pieces of fosshape together. It's possible to sew through the fosshape after it's gotten hard, but use a very thin needle since the holes will be visible. I think the best way of using fosshape is as alighter version of buckram, and instead of using hot water you use a heatgun to shape it. 

Then I needed to fasten the flowers to my head somehow. I wanted something that was adjustable and could be used both with a wig, or with a caul or piece of fabric covering the head. Now for NärCon I'm planning on using a green veil, but I also have a green wig for future use. My solution was to use magnets.

I glued two flat pieces of magnetic metal to the underside of the flower.
Then I sewed 2x3 small neodym magnets into a simple cotton headband.

Me wearing the headband.

The flowers are held in Place by the magnets.

The last thing I did with the flowers was to fill the centre with some scraps of chiffon to hide the red bottom and make it a bit more organic. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Bellossom cosplay

Sometime in the winter at a Cosplay Dalarna meeting we started talking about cosplaying pokemon figures. I don't really know how it all started, and I'm not in any way a pokemon expert. I do play Pokemon Go, but that's everything I know. Still I was thinking about going to NärCon and wanted a simply and comfortable cosplay, similar to my Rarity cosplay. I looked around for different pokemons and found Bellossom.

I figured it would be a simple thing, make a vintage inspired yellow and green dress and add some red flowers in the hair. Then the time went by and the project grew, the more time I had to plan it. When I found out that there was going to be a pokemon cosplay competition at NärCon I realised that I would not be happy with just a simple summer dress. 

There are a few things I like with Bellossom and that I want to emphasize in my version. One big thing is that Bellossom is quite chubby, I didn't want to show off much skin. After googling for Bellossom cosplays for inspiration I thought that too many of them were a bikini top and a skirt, with a bare mid section. My plan is definitely to start the skirt all the way up at the bust, and unlike most other costumes I'm going to hide my body under the skirt and not show off any waistline at all.

The first step to the cosplay was to make a big underskirt that can give the main dress a lot of body, and make sure that it will sway when I move.

Enter the organza monster, it was even worse than my 19th Century snowball monster.

 I really didn't have a plan, but I had 10 m of green organza and 5 meters of yellow organza that I cut into strips and sewed together.

It got to be a very long strip of fabric. If I redid I would not have sewn all the pieces together but gathered each by itself and added them one by one.

Now when I sat and handgathered it all I felt that I was in serious risk of "death by fabric". Still since I didn't have a plan when I had gathered it all, it only was enough fabric for 2,5 rows of ruffles.

When I made my 16th Century hat and guards to the undergown I cut up a wool blend skirt, for this project I added the ruffles to the underskirt from that wool skirt. Instead of making a waistband I added two straps of ribbon to it to make it into an underdress instead of an underskirt. This will also help with making sure that everything is smooth from the bust and that there is no waistline.

On top of the organza ruffles I've added around 30 individual chiffon pieces, cut into pointy edges at the bottom. For all this it should be said that I've only zick-zacked the edges of the chiffon, I have not had the time or will to make a better finish to all those meters of edges. Now I have a big underskit with a lot of swaying motion in it, but with all the fabric on it it has also ended up fairly heavy.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Visit to the Jane Austen exhibit

This year Skokloster, a 17th century castle, has a an exhibit with costumes from various Jane Austen adaptations, and me and my sister decided to go there and drool over them. As usual I only had my mobile phone with me, and the light wasn't easy to work with. If you want better quality photos of the pieces and a bit about the thought process behind their presentation I would recommend checking out RegencyGentleman's coverage of the exhibit. He is both a regency costumer and one of the curators of Skokloster, so he really knows what he's talking about.

Here are some of my favorite photos

The Daswhood sisters from Sense and Sensibility (1995)

The Shirt!!!! Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Beautiful trim (but I don't remember from which adaptation)

Lady Catherine de Bourgh (P&P 2005) and Caroline Bingley (P&P 1995)

Elinor Daswhood and Edward Ferrars, Sense and Senibility (1995)

Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon (sigh Alan Rickman) Sense and Sensiblity (1995)

Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1995)
At the end of the exhibit they had a room where you could try on some regency costumes. Of course they were done to to be easy to take on and off, and wear over regular clothes, but it was still fun to dress up a bit.
Me and my sister
 It was also really intersting to visit Skokloster from another perspective. On the way home from the wedding in Halmstad I visited Torpa, one of the best preserved medieval stone houses in Sweden. It was built in the 1480s as the main residence for one of the most noble families in Sweden, and abandonded as the main mansion in the middle of the 17th Century, just when Skokloster was built. Torpa was abandonded, just when Skokloster was the ideal rich home, so it was interesting to compare them.

Main dining hall at Skokloster, late 17th century

16th century dining hall at Torpa
There were even some pieces in both houses' collections that were identical. Such as a special glass piece, the difference though was that at Skokloster it was just one of many items, while at Torpa it was a unique piece.
Glass "humpf" to the right at Skokloster

Glass "humpf" at Torpa, dated to 1581.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A Star Wars wedding

This weekend I was off to southern Sweden to be a guest at the wedding of my friends Tommi and Jenny. The theme was obviously Star Wars, since they do quite a lot of cosplay as the Nordic Skywalkers, and we as members of the Nordic Garrison and Nordic Base were asked to troop at the wedding ceremony.

Photo: Linus Eriksson
Jenny had a really nice Mara Jade inspired wedding gown in black with purple details. The party aftewards afterwards had people come in all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy inspired outfits. I went in my vintage Amidala, but of course I didn't get any photos of it.

Thomas as a trekkie and Dawn in a party Phasma outfit
There were a lot of cute Star Wars decorations
And of course a Star Wars wedding cake

I was also really happy to finally be able to reveal my wedding gift to them. 

The story behind it is that when I got the invitation for the wedding I really wanted to give them someting Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade-related, there isn't much merchandise with them at the moment though. Back at Celebration Orlando in 2010 I met with an incredibly talented and nice guy guy called Joe Hogan. He was doing the background art work for a fan organisation I was working with back then, but he also brought his portfolio and hoped to sell his work to the Powers at be at LFL. He did it and this year he was an official SW artists at SWCO.
Me and Joe at SWCO this year
Knowing such a nice guy and an official artist I asked if he could make a Luke and Mara commission for me. He didn't just do a commission though, he had me provide images of Tommi and Jenny to him so that he could add in their faces to Luke and Mara. And being the awesome guy that he is, he even sent me an extra print of it.

All in all I had a great weekend and it was great to share this day with Tommi and Jenny.

If you want to read more about the wedding there is an article in English here.

And if you are interested in ordering a commission from Joe here is his DeviantArt.

Monday, 10 July 2017

My 1520s wulsthaube and hat

For the Medieval fair in Leksand I came up with a quick and totally inaccurate wulsthaube, and for Tuna Ting I wanted something a lot better. I ordered some fine linen and started working on it.

My main source was the great tutorial by Katafalk on how she made her wulsthaube. There are some differences though. One is that instead of wool I used poly batting for the wulst itself. I also made my wulsthaube while it was on my headform, and when it was time for me to fit it to my head, with my hair, it was too small so I had to add an extra band to the haube.

 I was a bit worried that my wulsthaube wasn't as neat and even as Katafalk's, but after having looked around for photos of other people's wulsthauben I decided that it was god enough. While working on it, and being frustrated that it didn't fit I also started thinking about if I should skip it and ask if I could just use my mother's headwear for her folk costume.

My mother, brother-in-law and me at Midsummer.
My mother is wearing the costume from Vingåker, and I think it's pretty obvious that the headwear is a survivor from the 16th Century. The shape was formalized in 1674 when it was seen as old fashioned but it was decided that there were to be no changes to the costume. My mother's headwear is built up from wool covered straw and a lot more expensive than my linen.

Still I ended up really satisfied with my wulsthaube.

On top of the wulsthaube you add a veil. Katafalk calls this her "steuchlein" while Genoveva at calls the whole headwear, including the wulsthaube and veil, a "steuchlein" and calls the veil a "schleier". I haven't taken the time to get fully ino the terminology but if you are searching the web for more information it can be a good thing to be aware of the different terms.

For my veil I didn't use the Katafalk "Steuchlein" pattern, but instead I started out with a piece of 100x150 cm of very fine linen. That was too bulky though when I tried to wrap it around the wulsthaube so I cut it in half and ended up with a veil that was 50x150 cm. As a bonus I now have two veils, if I just hem the other half of the fabric.

In order to find out how to wear the veil I pretty much followed this video tutorial.

I put the veil on assymetrically.

I tied the short and long ends of the veil together
Then I twisted the rest of the veil and wrapped it round the head, and fastened it with a pin.

I also made a hat to wear on top of it all.

I followed the tutorial from Handcrafted history, but I used millinery wire to form the shape, and it was too weak. It ended up smaller than I had hoped, and it was quite flimsy and the brim buckled. I also had some serious problems keeping it on my head. I'm thinking that I need to pin it to the wulsthaube and not just rely on the ribbons that I had fastened to it and tied around the wulsthaube. 

I wore the wulsthaube and veil the whole weekend and I loved it. I have grown up hearing how uncomfortable my mother's folk costume headwear is, and I was worried that this would be the same. I had also ended the Leksand medieval fair with a big headache.It was totally the opposite. Coming from 18th Century costumes it was so comfortable to just put the wulsthaube on and wrap the veil around it, I could even do it without a mirror. With my hair in braids and a wulstaube and veil made of fine linen my head stayed really cool. Saturday was a really hot day, but I had no hair in the neck, and in fact the only problem was that I ended up with a sunburn in my neck and top of the back. I need to make a shift with a higher collar until next summer. 

I'm now so inspired to really get into 16th Century sewing, but that will have to wait until next year. Now it's time for me to turn my attention to some cosplay projects for NärCon, end of July, and Stockholm Comic-Con in September.