Current Projects

Friday, April 28, 2017

Crimson Peak - NMP at WonderCon 2017

Finally caught up.

We debuted the costumes at WonderCon, and it was kind of a mixed bag.  It was awesome to finally have them done and wearable after so much planning and work, but the nightgown/robe is a bit of a hassle to wear around (all that fabric!) and very few people knew who we were (bit of a letdown).  But we also met and saw a few other CP cosplayers, so that was good fun.  We did a little casual mini-photoshoot outside the convention center, and hopefully someday soon we'll do something more formal in a Victorian house (location scouting is ongoing).

Photos credit to the awesome Mike Longo.

And some shenanigans too, of course.

Also, THIS HAPPENED, which wildly redeemed at least of some of my disappointment on the day.  Both really flattered and really embarrassed.

If anyone wants to see more (or follow other projects), it's mostly the same info, but I've been posting elsewhere too:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Crimson Peak - NMP Nightgown & Robe Construction

More throwbacks.

I didn't take many photos of construction, partly because I covered the mock-ups so extensively but mostly because I was trying to work steadily and just rarely stopped to document stuff. This is pretty much it for the nightgown.

And of course, there's plenty to tweak on an inevitable Version 2.0. I ended up doing gathering instead of pleating around the neckline. Pleating would have been more accurate and a bit nicer looking, but I didn't want to take the time to do that. The gathering also affected the sleeve head more than I thought it would, so the armpits ended up a little tight and in theory should be opened up some. With the thinner fabric, the sleeves didn't have quite the fullness and drape I intended and that the mock-up had, so I'd change that. I also melted a hole in part of one sleeve, like a moron, so I kind of have to go back and tweak the sleeves someday anyway. I started on the ribbon ties at the front but after the first row I decided I wanted to do it differently, and it still needs lace, but that's a last minute handsewing bit.

As far as the robe goes, that was pretty much a quick no-photo job too, though I did take a few of stuff that didn't really go through the mock-up phase.

On the back panel, I cut out the sides and top with the pattern piece but left it the full 60" of the fabric, and all of that became the pleats. Despite the panel being so wide, the edges were still just strictly vertical, eliminating the pattern's flared hem.  So I used the flared edge of the back pattern piece to make an additional triangular gusset of sorts which was stitched in as a side panel, restoring the flare.  I draped the pleats on the dressform, kind of by eye and with a little measuring.  I ironed them well from the neckline to about the waist, and then lightly pressed less pronounced pleats for a few inches below that so the pleats flowed somewhat more naturally into the unpleated lower section.  I also did some quick and dirty handstitching along each pleat (mostly inside, but a little outside) to hold the pleats down at the upper back where they needed to be the most defined and stay immobile.

I bound the sleeves and robe front with the same fabric to create a trim and finish off the edges. It's a lot of placing and folding and flipping over, basically like this, if anyone is interested and can decipher my terrible reference photos:

And with everything sewn, it was pretty much here.
I didn't get any photos of the dyeing process because it was messy and kind of nightmarish, but I did think to take this photo the night before the convention.  It ended up being the process and colors/materials I planned on, but it also ended up being a mistake, so someday I'll wash it out and redo with something like Dye-Na-Flow or fabric paint (sacrificing a little on color accuracy for the sake of ease).

I didn't get any of the vest in-progress either because that was a quick rush job a few days before we were wearing them, but I'll hopefully be documenting the second vest and white ghost vest.

I did some light styling on the wig the day before, just some soft fingerwaves around the face, but they ended up kind of ineffective and disappeared.

And a few months ago I made a cleaver to carry around.  I started with a funky Halloween prop I got at KMart, and as usual I didn't document much of the mod process.  But I basically used a Dremel to alter the cleaver's shape and smooth the surface (and added a hole in the handle to attach a ribbon for easy carrying), then resealed it with Plasti-Dip. In a strange turn of events, it was really fortuitous that red Plasti was all I had, because it's a gruesomely good color and texture match for the red ghosts. It was kind of disappointing to paint over it. Then I used alternating layers of sandable primer and Bondo to fill in the weird chips and grooves, sprayed it black as a base, did washes of acrylic for the final colors, and sealed it with a matte fixative. For being matte it still turned out kind of shiny, so I might go back and stipple on some more light paint to dull it down some.
I ended up skipping it for the convention, just to avoid the added hassle of going through weapons check, but I'll be using it whenever we do a proper photoshoot.

Next time: Finished!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Crimson Peak - NMP Patterning / Mock-ups

More throwbacks.

I drafted an enormous murder sleeve! I started with the sleeve from McCall's 5213 and thought about the logistics for a LONG time. I finally did a mock-up of the pattern as-is, then slowly alternated between trying it on to test the shape and tacking on more fabric, and finally copied that back to paper. The pattern ended up like this.

For a sense of how ridiculously large this thing is, that's a standard coffee mug in the bottom right corner. The left vertical edge of the brown paper is the top of the arm from shoulder to wrist, so the bottom horizontal edge is the wrist, and the white paper on the right side is all the extra hanging floof that gives her sleeves that huge length and roundness. The white paper on the left was for adding extra width at the shoulder to accommodate the pleating around the neckline.  I didn't necessarily want extra width at the wrist (it's PLENTY wide already), so I thought I'd eventually cut the left side down along that diagonal line, but I ended up leaving the width all the way down.

What that pattern creates (minus the extra shoulder width that I hadn't tested yet at that point) is this.

The nightgown started out as McCall's 6743, which had the gathered scooped neck, raglan sleeves (or the right shape to add them in), and a lot of fullness through the body. I used view A and extended the hem to the floor. For the pleats I planned to use a historical German hemd tutorial, which calls for two 55-56" bodice pieces and two 28" sleeves. That's where the extra width in the earlier sleeve modification came from, bringing the sleeve up from 3" to about 28-30." To add the extra width to the body I made a second center piece (the original pattern uses two sides and one center per front and back) and then extended each pattern piece about 4" so each total front and back would be about 55". I also added about an inch to the height of the neckline, intending to fold that under to finish the edge and create the slight ruffle above the pleating. The maths on lengthening the whole thing failed me, so it ended up a few inches too long, but better that than too short. I scrapped the idea of testing the pleats themselves, so I just did a few rows of gathering to get an idea and it turned out well.

I did another mock-up of the sleeve with the extra width. Instead of tapering that width down to the wrist like I'd planned, I left it the same width all the way down so I could easily cut it on the fold. And because, you know, there's no such thing as too much with Lucille's impractical clothes apparently, so why not make the wrist more full.

The robe started as Simplicity 1551, view B (which I primarily wanted for the sleeves and train). I started with the back and side back, adjusting the seam lines to get rid of the fitted princess seams while retaining fullness and then sewing those together to make one big piece.  Rather than cut the robe back with the pattern, the whole back will be draped from the full width of one piece of 60" fabric with the center being pleated by hand (similar to a robe à la française or Watteau pleats for you historical costumers) and the new pattern piece traced on the edges for the flat and unpleated sides, sleeve head, and the train. It's hard to get a good look at it in the movie, and I think there's more to it than this, but this is pretty close. Also, draping pleats is the funnest thing ever.

Using the pattern again for the front of the robe, I followed the same process as the back, getting rid of the princess seams and turning the two pieces into one large piece. This way, each front and back is only one piece, and there's only a side seam on the final thing. I widened the shoulder and collar area so it's less of a v-neck like the pattern shows, and matched this extra width along the collar of the back piece. The sleeve heads took a lot of fiddling with, both because I had changed some seam lines and it needed to be enlarged to accommodate the size of the nightgown's armhole and sleeve bulk. As a result, the sleeve itself was a total nightmare. Which was ironically fitting, since the robe sleeve was supposed to be the one piece that was perfect as-is. I'm not even sure what all I did to it or how I finally got it to work, but basically I lowered the bottom (armpit) of the sleeve head to match the new armhole shape, and widened the top (shoulder) of the sleeve to allow more pleats and give a better overlap of the edges. There's still some wonky bits along the underarm, but nothing really problematic, so I'm happy enough with it.

So all together, it actually looks like a proper thing!

Right before I started cutting out the final fabric (several months after doing the mock-ups), I got out the pattern pieces to refresh my memory and make some tweaks. I decided the nightgown's giant murder sleeves weren't giant or murderous enough, so I tacked on some more fabric to the width under the arm and the length. After trying it on they finally ended up being too long, at least in proportion to the robe's sleeves, so I cut it back down along that drawn line.

Next time: construction on the *actual* costumes finally!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Crimson Peak - Nightgown Murder Party (Thomas and Lucille Finale)

[We finished the Crimson Peak costumes a few weeks ago and debuted them at WonderCon, so I guess I'm making today Throwback Thursday and finally going back and posting some stuff about them.]

Guillermo del Toro makes incredible, beautiful movies and I've loved every one, so it means a lot when I say that Crimson Peak is probably my favorite (well, tied with Pacific Rim at least).  Plans for this literally started while leaving the theatre after watching it.  We started with Thomas and Lucille from the finale (the Nightgown Murder Party), and next we'll be tackling their ghost versions. 

The first thing I made for these costumes, way back in December (of 2015!), was the Sharpe ring.

Both the settings and the cabochons came from Findings Victoria on Etsy (and I can't recommend them enough; excellent shop). 

I might add rhinestones eventually, but they look awesome as-is for now.  (The ghost version of the ring will be the same setting in silver painted over with black, and a black glass gem.)

One of the other initial steps was fabric selection, which took a really long time (I blame part of it on the fabric being particular, and part of it on my being particular).  These dyed swatch tests started last spring but I'm just now compiling them here. (But hey!  At least I was more diligent on the RPF.)

These are all crepe satin, with labels on the right side, from Fabric Supplier aka Fabric Wholesale Direct. I did also swatch their charmeuse satin at the last minute, but I never painted it.  The paint, top to bottom, is Americana acrylic in Avocado; Americana in Hauser Dark Green; Americana in Williamsburg Blue; and Delta Ceramcoat in Aluminum. All of it was watered down to permeate the fabric lightly and play with the color washes on her robe. After agonizing over fabric paint and fabric dye and custom dye, I figured I'd just mix acrylic and water.  It's cheap, has an endless range of colors, is easy to apply, and stains like crazy. The test with a foam brush worked well, so I'm sticking with it.  [This ended up being vaguely disastrous, and I was able to salvage it but I'm already working on redoing the whole dyeing/painting process.]

These are charmeuse satin and crepe satin from Fabric Empire on Etsy and their own site. The labels are on the wrong side. Same paint and same method as on the other swatches, but I was a little messier with these and it blended a little easier anyway.

I liked the silver and grey swatches best, and specifically the charmeuse from the second set. The silver gives the truest colors in the paint, and is the easiest way to get the lighter areas of the robe's mottled color. The lightweight fabric moves and looks a bit like silk, which I suspect is what the real robe is made from, and less weight would be a definite bonus with the huge size of the robe and nightgown.  I ended up ordering the silver charmeuse satin from Fabric Empire.

For nightgown fabric, I did order swatches but who knows where they are now.  I initially considered the faux habotai fabric from Fabric Supplier, but then worried it would be too thin and would need a lining, which would make the whole thing that much heavier and expensive and therefore impractical.  So I considered some microfiber (a sheet set, actually) or various other fabrics, but watching the movie again I realized the nightgown *is* really sheer and figured I could wear something tan or white underneath for decency if I felt the need.  So I scrapped the idea of lining and went back to Fabric Supplier's faux habotai and got that after all.

Finally tally of the nightgown's faux habotai ended up being 15 yards, which was actually a decent over-estimation because somewhere in all the maths I apparently forgot something or other about panel sizes and fabric widths and all that.  The robe's charmeuse ended up at 10 yards, which again came down to math based on pattern panel sizes, but also matched the yardage for the original pattern close enough to feel safe and ended up being pretty exact.

For Thomas, we had a mad hunt for a just-right brocade in both black and white.  We initially tried to find the same fabric in both colors to match, since ostensibly Thomas's black and white vests should be identical.  Turns out the costume department actually used a different fabric for each, and since finding an accurate-ish brocade in multiple colors at an affordable price was so hard, we gave up and just focused on a fabric that worked for each individual vest.  We swatched a white brocade from Fabric Supplier, and we liked it, but at that point we were still looking for the same fabric in both colors, so we passed on it.  By the time we changed our plans, we unexpectedly found something else.  We also swatched a black brocade from Big Z Fabric on Etsy and their own site, which we also liked and which had the raised texture similar to the screen-used fabric, but by the time we were ready to order it was out of stock.  SO.  Plan change again.

In the end the white fabric came from the home decor section of a JoAnn when we were there on a whim and happened to find something surprisingly good.  For the black fabric we initially ordered some tablecloths off Etsy, and we were happy enough with those, but then we found a skirt at a thrift store that had more of the accurate raised texture we'd been hoping for.  [I ended up making the vest out of the tablecloth fabric first as a wearable mockup, and I'll be making a second out of the skirt fabric.  More on that later.]

So maybe we'll make two versions of the black vest: one with the more accurate fabric to leave nice and intact, and one with the tablecloths to stab holes in and cover in blood.  The beauty of these costumes is that they go together in so many different forms.  As far as on-screen story progression, both Thomas and Lucille can be worn clean or bloodied, and Nightgown!Lucille can go with both living Thomas or Ghost!Thomas.

Such a big backlog of updates is difficult to sort through and divide up and post so long after the fact, but hopefully in the next update I can slog through the patterning process.