Sunday, May 24, 2015


I guess I can't really term this weekend a "skirt catastrophe," since everything I've done had turned out really well! Still, you wouldn't know it to see the state of my craft table mid-project. Just to clarify, so that nobody thinks I have my shit even 20% together, "craft table" is what I call the plastic folding table I balance my sewing machine on while I work on projects. It's not ideal, but it's what I've got!

This was a long weekend for much of America, so I took advantage of a little time off to do some projects. I work retail, so I am one of the people who works so that the rest of America will still have access to charcoal and beer. My second and third jobs are education-related though, so I am usually off from them on national holidays. Because of this I was able to work on a few outfits I need to get done before Disneyland in three weeks.

That's right, I'm running off to the land of enchantment that is Disneyland! I'm going with my sister, the silent half of this collaboration, our friend from work, and some of her family. Since we can't dress up fully in the park (they don't want people who are not Disney staff to interact with other guests as characters, which I can definitely understand), we are making what I am told are called "Disneybound" outfits. I am not hip to the lingo, so I'm relying on my sister for this part. She knows the Tumblers.

Kate still has not decided what character she wants to do, because she's a terrible procrastinator. I mean, I know I am too, because I'm doing this 3 weeks before we leave, but at least I knew what I wanted to do in advance, and I have all the fabric. My original idea was to rock an Ariel-inspired crop and green shorts. Have you ever tried to find plus size green shorts made for an individual with no butt? Turns out it's difficult! My plan had to be slightly altered, so this weekend I ended up making a green lace overlay skirt with a purple waistband, perfect Ariel colors!

The skirt is, in fact, the purpose of this post. I have developed a method for a quick and easy skater skirt that I wanted to share. It's easy to make, adaptable to almost any body type, and can be made with not too many yards of almost any fabric.

So, before we get into the skirt, a few disclaimers.

1. I am not a good seamstress. There are probably 1098 better ways of managing this skirt. This is just one easy variation that seems good for beginners like myself. 

2. Yes, that ugly lime green towel is going to keep showing up. It's my ironing towel, so learn to deal with it. 

3. I suck at zippers. Let's just acknowledge this and move on. 

Ok, so we'll start with what you need. First off, measure your waist where you want the skirt to sit. I wear mine really high, so I go for my natural waist, which is 41". If I were wearing it at my hips I would go with 50". Measure wherever you think you will be most comfortable. We'll add 1" to this for seams and call this number W for your waist measurement. Now think about how full you want it to be. For a less full skirt I recommend multiplying the waist measurement by 1.5. For a fuller skirt you can go with 2, 2.5, or even 3 times your waist measurement. Add 2" to whatevrr you get after you multiplying and then we'll call that C, the circumference of the bottom of your skirt. 

You need two pieces of fabric now. One should be your W measurement long by 9" wide. This piece is for your waist band, which can either be the same color as your skirt or an accent fabric. If your waist measurement is 44" or less then good news! You can buy a quarter yard of your fabric and be done. If you need more than 44", you'll have to buy a half yard and seam it together before you move on to making the waist band. 

My W number is exactly 42", which worked out well, since the fat quarter I liked was 21"×9". I was able to cut it in half and sew it with the short ends together to make a 42"×9" piece that made a perfect band! 

Once you have you waist band W" by 9", you'll need to fold it in half and iron it, like below:

Believe me when I say I hate to tell people they need to iron. I used to be adamantly against ironing while I was sewing. I have learned, though, that the amount of time you save later by putting good creases in now is well worth it. 

Once it is ironed in half, open it up and fold each edge in, ironing again to create this shape:
What you're doing is creating a neat little pocket to fit the skirt into, with folded edges so that attaching the skirt hides the raw edges up inside. It also makes the waist band extra thick, giving it better structure and preventing it from rolling up when worn. 

This is what it should look like when you're done. By the time you finish folding in the edges the middle crease will probably be pretty flat, so go ahead and fold it in half (like shown) and give it another run over while the iron is still hot.

Now we will address the skirt fabric. Remember that C value we found? That, along with the desired length of the skirt and the width of your fabric, will determine how much fabric you need. Let's talk length. 22" makes a skirt that almost comes to my knees. Keep in mind, I'm measuring from my high natural waist, so it might be longer on you if you're wearing it at your hips. I also like 22" because most cottons are 44-45" wide, so I can just cut them in half. Some apparel fabrics are 57-60" wide, so I can get my desired length 3 times out of the width. Here's your formula for how many yards you need: C ÷ (number of times fabric width fits your desired length) ÷ 36. For example, let's say my C value is 120", I want my skirt 20" long from the waist band, and my fabric is 60". That fabric width would fit my desired skirt length 3 times, so I would say 120÷3÷36= 1 1/9 yards. This is a terrible number to tell the fabric clerk, so I would buy 1 1/4 yards. Please be nice to the fabric clerk! Not that I'm biased or anything, being one myself. 

Ok, so now you have your fabric. The next step is to cut it. We need to cut it into strip that run the full length you purchased and are as wide as your desired skirt length. For the above example that would mean cutting it into the pieces each 1.25 yards × 20". These pieces will be sewn together along the 20" side, giving you a piece with the approximate dimensions Length × C. Beautiful! The body of my skirt is the gorgeous exploding TARDIS print from Doctor Who. This post wasn't nerdy enough for me yet, so I had to bring that in.
Beautiful, isn't it? 

As shown below, I have sewn my pieces together, giving my a piece 108"×22", and I am ready to start attaching it to my waist band. 

The attaching process is not difficult, but it definitely needs a little bit of attention. The skirt part is obviously much longer than the waist band, and this is where the fullness and gathers of the skirt come from. We are going to be pinning the skirt inside the pocket created by ironing the waist, but we will need to do it in such a way that the gathers are spaced evenly. I like to start by pinning the middles and ends of each piece together. This way I know the spacing starts out even. Next I pin points half way between the middle and each end, folding the fabric into a pleat as I do. 

Keep pinning half way between each existing pin, making a pleat each time you do. I like to pin at the half, fourth, eighth, and sixteenth marks, then pleat any addition fabric between and pin it down.

I'm sure this could be accomplished by a gathering foot on a sewing machine, but I like this method. It allows you to put all the pleats the same way and regularly spaced if you want a pleated skirt look, or to do them irregularly and in different direction for a more gathered appearance. 

You can see in the picture above that you want the skirt fabric to go all the way to the top off the waist band. This way you will not have one part of the waist thicker than the other. *Insert joke here about how my whole waist is thick. Laugh a lot because my jokes are really funny.*

Here's the pinned product! 

Now it's time to sew. I like to use a zigzag stitch right up against the end of the waist band. Zigzag is a nice sturdy stitch, and by putting it right against the edge you stop the fabric from rolling up slightly when washed. Not a big deal, but irritating. 

All that's left is to seam it up the back and put in a zipper. 

Here's my skirt! I can't tell you how to put in the zipper, because I have no idea what I'm doing and just sew frantically on either side of the zipper until it doesn't come off when pulled. 

To finish the bottom you have a few options. You can roll and hem the edge, use a serger, or if you like to add one more color (and I always do), you can take advantage of this wonderful thing called bias tape. 

It comes in a variety of colors, even metallics, and is easy to use. Simply fold it over the edge of the fabric and sew it on!

That's the basic idea behind my skirts. I've made close to ten of them this way, perfecting as I go. My Poison Ivy and Wonder Woman skirts were done this way. Sometimes I make the waist band a little longer and put buttons on, seaming the body of the skirt all the way to the bottom of the waist band. However you decide to do it, make it your own! Please feel free to share your projects here, or let me know if you have any questions or suggestions about my design!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Great Thrifted Costume Haul

One of my favorite parts of holiday weekends is that all the local thrift stores have sales. We are very into buying second-hand (almost my entire closet was purchased used), so we usually check out the bargains. Today we got quite the deals on some excellent costumes and costume accessories!
The first two stores we hit had some good fashion items but no costumes. The third was a treasure trove of children's outfits! We got a Monster High Abby Bominable, a Draculara (I'm going on record right now that I don't know Monster High characters and will probably butcher the names), a Batman, Batgirl, Spidergirl, Elsa from Frozen, and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. All but the Spidergirl were in great shape, and that one really just needs the cuffs repaired. We promised my older niece we would all go as Monster High at some point, so now I suppose that point will have to be before the costumes are too small for the girls. 

Kate also found a fabulous Maleficent costume, including a soft foam head piece with horns. The horns do not stand up well by themselves, but could easily be reinforced to work just fine. 

The best part of all this is that the total cost of costumes, including all seven children's costumes and the Maleficent, was less than $50! Any items we don't use for conventions will be perfect for play time with the girls. Can't beat this steal!

Now if only I could put as much time into actually finishing my costume for Comic Con in two weeks as I spend shopping at the thrift stores...

The happiest little Batgirl

The Elsa costume that is apparently a little scratchy for the little one. We plan to cut off the scratchy material along the top and put simple blue satin straps on.

Abby Bominable! 

Maleficent is the steal of the day! The costume and head piece were under $10!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Poison Ivy Excitement!

As I am sure the title of this post indicates, I am very excited to be cosplaying Poison Ivy this September. Despite some frustration with my skirt (ruching is not a thing I'm going to be doing again any time soon), I am quite pleased with the concepts I have laid down and the work that's been completed thus far.

The top of my outfit is completely done. I was going to use felt leaves initially, due to the plastic ones being rather expensive online, but then I scored an amazing deal on some plastic bouquets of ivy leaves. Since I was unhappy with the flat, two-dimensional look of the felt leaves, I decided to switch them out for the plastic, which were more realistic and had designs and variations in color already present. I had been thinking I was going to have to go back through and paint on details, so this was a pleasant surprise!

I had already started gluing on the felt leaves, but luckily was able to remove them from the strapless swimsuit and not cause too much damage to the fabric. There was quite a bit of glue residue remaining, but that got covered by the new leaves, so who really gives a damn?

The old leaves (are dead, long live the new leaves). I had placed a lot more than this by the time I switched, but this gives an idea what they looked like. 

The new leaves went on like a charm. I have to go back through and place several more to cover places that are exposed when my rather generous figure stretches out the suit, but that should be easy. I didn't go very far down, since I prefer to wear my skirts a bit higher. I have a large measurement on my hips and a rather small one on my natural waist, causing everything I wear to migrate up to my waist regardless of where it starts. I decided to hell with it years ago and just started wearing everything higher.

The new leaves. Much more color variation and texture! 
Also, my natural hair color; not quite red enough!

My wig arrived a few weeks ago and I am beyond thrilled with how it looks! I was correct in thinking that getting all my hair under it is going to be a challenge, but that's a small price to pay for how utterly fantastic it looks on me! It definitely helps that I am a natural redhead, so the coloring is already there. This just takes it to the next level and gives me the length and curls that I can't get with my hair, or rather I could get but have minimal to no desire to work for. I have had hair as long as this wig before (I could sit on it when it was in a braid!) and it is horrible, miserable work to get it there and maintain it. Never again!

New wig, much faster than growing out my hair! Also cheaper, if you take into account my former shampoo and conditioner bills. 

The skirt has given me a little more grief. As previously stated, I was going to try for something ruched that could be turned into an Ariel skirt for January, to make it serve double duty, but it turns out that I am physically incapable of making the skirt I want, and instead was reduced to a quivering pile of tears and forced to come to terms with my own mortality. So instead, I will be doing the only kind of skirt I know how: put a channel along the top and thread elastic through! The good ol' standby.
Green fabric for my skirt

I know some people are probably thinking, "But Poison Ivy doesn't have a skirt!" Well, I for one like to shave as little as possible. I also have no butt, and desire to hide my asslessness under a several folds of fabric. For these reasons, this Poison Ivy will be wearing a skirt!

The only other thing I need to finish is my chest piece. I didn't want to go completely green for several reasons. First, that's a lot of time in application. Painting my arms, legs, face, and chest green could add hours onto the time it takes me to get ready, and I truly enjoy sleeping in. Second, I would be leaving green stains everywhere I went, and third, I don't want to have to scrub all that off in the bathroom of the Marriot. That just doesn't sound like a fun evening. instead I decided to use a green acrylic gem (already purchased) and paint on a series of green veins coming out from it. I want to make a clay piece that the gem fits into that I can glue onto my chest. This way I can paint some red onto it and mimic the look of an inflamed, infected spot, like the green is a disease that's spreading through my body, starting at the point where the gem has embedded itself. I am somewhat leery of my sculpting skills (since I have none), but I always have an artistically talented brother-in-law to help me if things don't go well!

Phew, I think that's pretty much everything! I did buy two ivy vines online to wrap around my legs, again to avoid body paint, and a pair of cheap sandals that will have the extra leaves glued across the top of them. What am I missing? I've been considering if I want a mask, and what form that might take. Thoughts? Suggestions? I want to hear them all!

P.S. One of these days I really will make one of my sisters write a post. I'm sure the internet is getting mighty tired of hearing just my voice here!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Poison Ivy is a Definite GO!

I have for sure, 100%, decided that I am doing Poison Ivy for Rose City Comic Con in September! I have started pinning some costumes for inspiration here. This is the Pinterest board where I leave little tidbits I find that I might want to follow up on. Feel free to check it out; I've been pinning way, so there's lots of cute stuff on there! I also want these boots for my outfit. They are amazing, and I think they would speak to the whole dryad look I am aiming for. I want to do a bit more naturalist of a Poison Ivy with a few of my own twists.

This week I went to the thrift store and purchased a slightly-too-large bathing suit. I am going to sew all of my leaves to it. Yes, I know that the Con isn't until September, but I'm cutting out and sewing hundreds of felt leaves, so I figured getting a jump-start couldn't hurt! I got the suit a bit too large so that it wouldn't stretch and distort too much when I put it on, and so that it would be more comfortable to wear for a whole weekend. Comfort is important! Also, I want to eat nachos, so I can't be too constricted. Just sayin', a girl's gotta get her nacho on.

I will forgo the painted on vines for my arms and legs and just go for some wire stemmed ivy from the floral department. I like the authenticity of having it three-dimensional. I think I'll also have to figure out some interesting eye makeup. In all, very excited for this costume. I will post pictures later this week when I have some of the leaves ready to go!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wizard World Comic Con 2014

I know it's been a week since the con and I'm a terrible blogger for not posting sooner. That's not to say that a certain miss Kate couldn't have posted for us, but you know! ;-)
The reason for my delay is that the last day of Comic Con I flew out from Portland (I love several hours south of there in Oregon) to beautiful Las Vegas. I have friend who just had a brilliant baby boy and I needed to meet him! Now I'm done in Vegas and am meandering down to Arizona to see my grandparents. So you can see it's been a busy week! I still haven't been home since before the convention.
Now I'm relaxing in a hotel, all packed to leave in the morning for Arizona (where it's supposed to be snowing!!) and I simply cannot sleep. Because of this I figured now would be as good a time as any to start recording the goings-on of last weekend.
First off, let me just say: HO-LY CUH-RAP! It was amazing. I was so stressed going into it. I didn't know if we would be the only ones dressed up, or if everyone else would be professional cosplayers and we would be the only ones in home made gear, or if people would be nice. Turns out there was nothing to worry about! Everyone was so nice. There was a whole mix of levels, from the grandly professional to the "printed T-shirt and accessories," and no one seemed to mind. On the day when I wore Wonder Woman and Kate wore Penguin a lot of people even asked for photos with us! Talk about flattering!
I got to have my nerd moments. Nicholas Brendan was ten feet from me. Yeah, that happened. I am a huge Buffy fan and kind of lost my cool a tiny bit. Maybe more than a tiny bit. Then I turned around and Ivy Doomkitty, one of my favorite cosplayers, was right there. I almost just turned around and walked away but instead I very calmly (read: with hands shaking and probably squeaking like a chipmunk) went over and said hi. The inner fangirl had an amazing day. I even got a picture with Ivy. Yup. Epic.
Costumes came out great. The only problem was not being able to get my hair as curled as I wanted it. Add to that the fact that I have about 34 cubic yards of unruly, heavy, red mop on top of my head, and by the end of the day it was definitely not doing the large Wonder Woman look. But that's OK. I think I'm going to invest in a wig for future costuming, and maybe just maybe cut all my hair off and burn it ceremoniously to rid it of its demon posesor. Still unsure on the second part.
Here are some photos from the weekend. I will add more to this listing when I darn well feel like it. Or maybe I won't. Either way, I'm off to lay in bed and draw up sketches for new costumes. Maybe if everyone promises to not make fun of the fact that I can't draw to save my life I'll even post some later! Good night!

Edit: 2/15/14 Came back through to caption some pictures :-) 

Here I am as Lady Thor

Lady Loki (Kate), Lady Thor (Me), Raven (Maecy) and of course Princess Sophia!

Princess Sophia Digivolve into Storm!

Wonder Woman (Me) and Black Canary (Maecy)

Kate as FemPenguin in what is arguably the cutest corset ever

The tiniest Wonder Girl, ready for action.

Jean-Luc likes to party it up when he goes to Cons

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DIY Costume Loki Staff

January 13th, 2014

Kate has decided that if I get a hammer as Thor, she gets a staff for Loki. Since my beautiful Mjolnir arrived in the mail last week that means it's time for her to get her way. That means that this weekend we are sitting down to make her a fantastic, bladed (fake!), regal scepter worthy of the bastard king of Norse polytheism. She found several tutorials online, or so she says. She hasn't shown them to me so I wouldn't know. I get to go into this one blind.

January 15th, 2014

Well, it turns out that Kate is serious and we're actually making a staff this weekend. This should be interesting.

January 18th, 2014

Staff-making has been delayed due to a family emergency.

January 19th, 2014

Very late this evening we got a chance to start on the new project. We got the top screwed off the broom (or what I like to call, The Hard Part). We cut blades out of cardboard. We attempted to tape them to the stick part. They fell off. We taped them again and they fell off again. We had a beer, talked about the fact that this sucked, and set the project aside until after Comic Con. 

Moral of the story: there is no moral. We are tired and have been in family crisis mode all weekend. We are not making a staff right now on account of that trying to do so sucked. In fact, this probably won't even get published until after Comic Con because I'm a terrible, terrible person. Here are some amusing pictures of us failing at trying to make stuff!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

DIY Costume Bracers

I have been second guessing myself on my fantastic Wonder Woman bracers I made. I wanted something a little more "armor" and a little less "glamour." On the way home from work I was struck with a sudden inspiration, and I came home and made these beauties:

Aside from the lumps in the paint job, I'm really happy with how they turned out. I decided to include on this blog directions for how I made them. This will guide you, step by step, through the process I used to create these wonderful, easy gauntlets. 

And here we go!

Step 1: Don't Reduce, Don't Recycle, Just Reuse

Take two soda bottles and clean them out really well. I mean really well. You truly don't want to deal with half-dried soda syrup that's been heated by a scalding hot glue gun. That epitomizes unpleasant. I had to use my husband's soda bottles, which can be conveniently found on the kitchen counter. All over the counter. All the time. 

Step 2: Slice

Cut the bottles. This can be accomplished with a sharp pair of scissors. Apparently it can also be accomplished with a dull pair of scissors and lots of swearing. I cut mine right below the textured part on top and right above the bottom texture to maximize the length. You could also cut them shorter if you wanted bracelets instead of full arm bands. Now they should be something like this, the cut one on the right and the full bottle on the left:

Now cut off the portion of the bottle that has adhesive permanently stuck to it. This will open the bracelet up to be able to fit around your arm and also get rid of the adhesive. 
"But Rose," you say, "there isn't any adhesive. I managed to get it all off."
That is a lie. There is ALWAYS adhesive. The adhesive on the side of bottles is the stuff of legend.  It won't come off, so just accept it, cut it off, and move on to...

Step 3: Safety First

Get stabbed in the arm with the sharp corners when you attempt to try them on. React, pull it off your arm, and then get stabbed when you do it again because they just look so cool already. I'm tying to be exact in my directions, so this merely chronicles my own experience with sharp plastic to the forearm. Now take your (dull) scissors and round off the corners so that there can be a better ratio of paint to your blood on the final product. Should be something around like this now:

Step 4: That Drawing Class Finally Comes in Handy

Draw your design on. I used a marker. You could use a dry erase marker if you wanted to be able to make corrections, but the finished product will cover the marks, so it really doesn't matter. If you are a skilled artist, have any confidence in your ability to make designs while burning your fingerprints off, or are suffering from an excess of hubris, then skip this step and move on to applying the hot glue. If not them it will look something like this, but hopefully with much better art:

Step 5: The Step in Which You Will Regret Starting this Project and OH GOD IT BURNS MY FINGERS!!

Here's where the fun starts. Now you are going to draw over the designs you did using a hot glue gun. The purpose of this is to make the designs raised so they stand out once you paint over the whole thing. 

This is also the part where, if you're anything like me, you will incur a series of permanent scars. I am not good with hot glue guns. Oh, I get shit done with them. I can glue things to other things like a pro. But in the process I also glue my hand to the table, my fingers to my other fingers, and a series of expletives runs in steady progression from my mouth. I would recommend using a low temp glue gun, not only because it will save you from certain pain, but also because my high temp gun caused the plastic of the bottle to warp slightly. 

The process goes something like this: Pick up glue gun. Swear because you dripped glue on your other hand. Run glue along the drawn line. Set glue gun down to re-position piece. Swear because you touched the hot glue on the bracelet and smudged it while also burning your hand. React to try and save the design and in the process tangle elbow in cord and knock the glue gun off the table onto lap, burning the sweet holy hell out of your leg. Make an oath to whatever you believe in that next payday you will buy that dual temp cordless hot glue gun you've been eyeballing for the past two years. Know in your heart you really never will. 

I'm sure, though, that you will have much better luck than I did (can't really be worse) and it will soon look like this:

I also did dots around the edge to look like rivets. I was especially happy with how those turned out. I do recommend taking the time to use scissors once it's dry and cut the little strings that are always left hanging off. They will become very annoying once you move onto painting. 

Step 6: Put Some Paint on Some Stuff

This step could also be called "Listen to your sister when she makes suggestions." I started with a gold paint that our little sister used to paint her hair when she was Loki on Halloween. She said it wouldn't give me good coverage, but I didn't listen. This is the piece four coats later:

Clearly she was correct. At this point she removed them from my possession (some force was involved), took them outside, and spray painted them with gold paint. She uses those little Short Cuts paints which I believe are made by Krylon, and they work a charm! Here is the finished product:

You can see where I needed to be a little more precise in my application of hot glue, because there are a few lumps. 

I attempted to put some darker paint along the ridges to make them look a little weathered, but failed and stopped trying, for fear I would mess them up. I think what I need to do is put a gloss coat over the whole thing so I can sponge on some brown and wipe it, leaving it only in the crevices. The gloss should allow me to remove it completely from the parts I want to keep gold. However, at this point it was nine thirty at night and we still had three costumes to sew, making this the end of my time I had to spend on them. 

In all they were not a difficult project (with the exception of my nemesis the hot glue gun). If (when) I make another pair I will probably invest in a low temp hot glue gun so I don't distort the shape of the plastic while I'm decorating them. I have also considered using puffy fabric paint in place of hot glue and eliminating the problem all together, but I'm not sure how will it would adhere to the plastic. 

Now the question is, which bracers do I use for Wonder Woman??