Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mary Marvel(ous)

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I know I’ve been quiet for a while, but even superheroes need a break every now and then. After finishing my Baroness costume, I was just costumed-out. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the whole process of making it, but after working on it every spare minute for a month and a half, I just needed some down time. So, I vegged out a bit, caught up on some shows (I’m still mourning the loss of Eureka), and read some books (I was a bit disappointed in the last volume of Gail Carriger’s Soulless series). After a few days, though, I remembered I had another costume to make for DragonCon, and time is running out! Luckily, in a moment of clarity, I chose a simple costume: Mary Marvel.

Of course, I say it was simple, but the costume required me to work with knits, and I hate working with knits. Knit patterns seem to always have vague instructions like, “stretch slightly while sewing,” so it ends up being trial and error until I get it just right. I was going to attempt drafting the pattern from scratch, but I decided to play it safe and found an easy pattern to work off of.  I used McCall’s M6612:

M6612

Seriously, who thought this was an attractive pose?

Line Art

I’ve had some cotton jersey print lying around my fabric stash for years, so I decided to make a version from that to check out the fit.

My bonus dress!

I’ve got to say it may be one of my new favorite dresses. It was just so comfy! I made a few adjustments to the pattern, giving it a boat neck and cap sleeves.

For the costume version, I raised the neckline from the pattern and shortened the skirt (I think it’s actually a rule that comic book heroines have to show ample amounts of skin). I used some gold spandex for the trim and to make a Shazam symbol applique.

For the cape, I cut a large semi-circle out of white satin and a smaller one for the collar. The edges were trimmed with the same gold spandex from the dress. I used some gold chord to add the cross(?)/star(?)-shaped embellishments along one side of the cape. I ran out of chord after I finished the one side, and I’m not sure whether I’ll do the other. I guess I’ll see if I’m up to it one of these days. I used some gold buttons and the left-over gold braid from my Baroness costume for the closure.

Phew! I’m more or less done with my costumes, and I still have over a month left until DragonCon. Maybe I am a superhero after all.

My Boy

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When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I always assumed he’d look a lot like me. I’m Asian, after all, and from what I’d learned in biology, my dark genes should be dominant. When Cael arrived, though, he looked nothing like me. He had brown hair, deep-set hazel eyes, and pale skin. I got a lot of “wow, he looks a LOT like his dad” comments. Once, when I was with Cael without my husband, a random  lady on the elevator looked at us both and said, “he MUST look a lot like his dad.”  He even had my husband’s almost-perpetual scowl.

He does smile. Just not when you interrupt his superhero story time for a picture.

As he grew into his personality, he even started to act a lot like my husband. Right around age three, though, Cael and I discovered that we had a common passion: costumes.

Cael has a giant box full of costumes and even more boxes of props. While most of his toys are quickly forgotten hours after he receives them, the costumes are used regularly. When friends come over, he shares them, so we get a house full of superheroes, pirates, and ninjas. He’d wear a costume every day if I let him (and when he doesn’t have to go to school I do because it’s kind of adorable watching him run around town with a cape on. Hell, I wish I could sometimes).

Cael’s always had a very vivid imagination, so he could pretend a stick is a sword or a towel is a cape, but now he’s starting to get to the age where he can do some real construction (with a little help, of course). The other day, he came home from summer camp with armor and a shield he’d made out of cardboard, and I think I was as proud of him as the day he first said  “mama.”

Last week, he asked if we could make a costume for him like the drawing on one of his shirts.

After looking unsuccessfully for a helmet I could quickly modify, we decided to make one out of paper mache over a balloon for a mold. Cael was excited about tearing up the paper but got quickly turned off by the paste. He complained about his hands being dirty after a few minutes, and I finished covering the rest of the balloon myself. Unfortunately, we made our first attempt during a tropical storm.  It took days to dry, and when it was finally ready, there was a thick black layer of furry mold on it. This is our second attempt:

It dried without molding this time although it does have a slightly weird smell. Hopefully that’ll go away once I seal it and paint it.

And my own costumes haven’t fallen by the wayside completely. I went with ease and comfort for the second costume and decided on Mary Marvel. I made myself some gold boots by stripping and painting an old vinyl pair that had been sitting around so long the vinyl was flaking off. Cael even offered to help:

Kids are great for free labor! You kind of get what you pay for, though.

He got bored after five minutes.

I cut out the dress last night. I’ll post pictures of the finished boots and dress soon.

Convertible Maxi Dress Tutorial

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On lazy summer weekends when  I haven’t gotten around to shaving my legs and just don’t feel in the mood to whip out the razor, I like to reach for my maxi dresses instead (sexy, I know). Yesterday, I pulled out a dress I made a few years ago when I was going to London for the summer and wanted something that was versatile and could travel well. There are so many different ways you can wear it depending on how creative you want to be with the tying. Here are a few ways I tried it yesterday before my husband got tired of taking pictures:

I love this dress, and it was so easy to make, so I thought I’d share how I made it on my blog.

Materials:

4.5-5 yards lightweight knit (I used silk jersey for mine)

thread

1/2″ wide elastic (length= waist measurement minus 1/2″)

Tools 

sewing machine

scissors or rotary cutter and mat

serger (optional)

Step 1

The skirt is a simple A-line with slight gathering at the center front for some added interest. I cut one panel for the front and two for the back, but it would be simpler to just have a front and back. I’ve made a handy-dandy diagram for you:

For each panel, fold about a yard and a half of fabric in half along the grain.  Measure your waist and divide by four. Add one half inch to that measurement. That will be the top measurement to the front panel. The length of the panel should be the length of the waist to the floor plus a half inch. The half inch is for the seam allowance, so the skirt will end up being floor length (my skirt ended up being a bit shorter than I intended because I didn’t do this. Oh well.). For the bottom measurement, I decided to make the panel as wide as the fabric I had (mine’s about 40″ wide).

 

 

Step 2:

Sew the front and back panels together along the sides. I used a serger for this, but you can also use a regular sewing machine.

Step 3:

Sew a six-inch gathering stitch in the center of the front panel at the waist. Pull the threads to gather. Baste over the gathers to secure. This step is completely optional. I just added the gathering for some extra pizzazz.

Step 4:

For the straps, cut out two strips of fabric that are eight to ten inches wide (depending on how busty you are and how much coverage you want) and nine to ten feet long.

Step 5:

Position the two straps on the center front of the skirt along the waist with the right side of the straps against the right side of the skirt, overlapping the straps by one inch. Stitch the straps down.

Step 6:

Cut out a two-inch wide strip of fabric the length of your waist measurement plus one inch. With the right sides together, pin the strip around the waist of the skirt. starting at the center front. Sew. This is the waistband.

Step 7:

Fold the waistband over and sew to create a tube for the elastic to fit in. Leave the last inch open. Insert the elastic into the waistband. Overlap the ends of the elastic and sew to secure. Sew the waistband closed. And you’re done!

Just experiment, and you’ll figure out lots of different ways to tie it. If you decide to make this dress, I’d love to see the  ways you’ve worn it. Have fun!

Decisions

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So, I’m looking for a new costume idea for DragonCon. I only have a few requirements. It needs to:

  • Be cool. Literally. I’d like something with short sleeves, preferably in a breathable fabric, so I’d love to stay away from leather or vinyl. I’d also like to stay away from wigs or headgear.
  •  Not make me look like a stripper. I know that most geekery is geared toward males, but do all the female characters have to dress in outfits that are more appropriate for swinging around a pole than swinging a sword? Forget their superpowers. If those women were real, I’d be more impressed by the fact that that they can throw a punch without a breast popping out of their suits.
  • Be creatively challenging. I actually love the process of making the costumes more than wearing them, so I need something that will fulfill my artistic needs.

So far, I’ve come up with these options:

Lady Shiva (on the left, of course)

Lady Shiva She’s Asian! The shirt is sleeveless, so I could wear it without the coat during the day. My concern is that she’s pretty obscure to begin with, and I don’t know how recognizable I’d be without the coat.

Mary Marvel

 Mary Marvel This costume would be SO comfortable, and I definitely wouldn’t look like a stripper. The downside is that it’s so simple and not very challenging to make.

Elektra

Elektra Of course, I’d have to do some major de-sluttifying to the outfit. It’d be fun to carry around some sais, though.

Huntress

Huntress Again, I’d have to make a few modifications for modesty. The mask might be uncomfortable as well.

So, which one should I go with? I just can’t decide.  I think I’ll do my first poll:

I’m also open to other suggestions.