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Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 Recap + 2019 Plans

2018 was a weird year in a lot of ways. It felt like it lasted forever, but now looking back at the end of it, where did it go??? Lots of bad stuff, but also some great stuff, and I still managed to get a fair bit done.

February brought two new events.  We went to The Revolution in Huntington Beach in "civvies" (non-costume), but it was an awesome event and we're definitely going back in costume next year (more on that below).

We also finally made it to the Great L.A. Air Raid, which was incredible.
We arrived a little later and left a little earlier than I maybe would have liked, but it was a great toe in the water for the first time attending. As I try to get into the historical costume and reenacting scene a bit more, both of these events are definitely going to be annual staples.

In April we went back to WonderCon, this year as Beetlejuice and Lydia the first day and TWS Mall Cap and Nat the second.
I added pockets to Lydia, which was great in principle, but having pockets in a lose-fitting tube dress means a bunch of weight hanging off the shoulders and neck. With my chronic neck problems that ended up being a major issue. I also decided to skip contacts but was still too committed to accuracy to wear my glasses, so strained eyes didn't help with the overall discomfort. I ended the day with a migraine and it kind of ruined the experience. Lesson learned for next time: carry a bag or wear 18th century pockets under the dress, and wear contacts. I also realized that despite putting on what appears to be fairly heavy makeup, it just disappears in photos, so I'm considering trying some heavier more glam Lydia makeup in future. Otherwise, it was still pretty fun, and seeing people's reactions was nice, especially this being our first time wearing them at a con.

Cap was much better, as always. I repainted the soles of the shoes with spray paint to hold up a little better, and added the brushed metal texture to the shield.
One of our photographer friends was there so we were going to try to get some nice photos, but it didn't pan out so that's still on the "someday" list.

In May, I dyed my Captain America: Civil War Sharon vest.
I still want to try to get the truly screen-accurate vest in the black/grey, but the blue one definitely looks better having been dyed. It needs another coat, but it's progress.

We made a little progress on our Reserve TIE Pilots over the summer. We got our belt buckles sanded down and brushed, but didn't think to glue on the greeblies and seal it immediately, so we ended up with some rust and now have to do it all over again. I also finally got the templates for our jumpsuit modifications.

I tore an inconvenient place (the butt) on my TWS Mall Cap pants over the summer, which is definitely not progress but it was an event, so now I have to replace those.

August was huge just for Labyrinth Masquerade, and was my biggest project completion with French Revolution Zombaes.

The costumes were fantastic, but most happily, we met up with some Instagram costume friends who are now Real Life friends.

In September, I started some Hocus Pocus stuff. So far it's the spellbook and getting fabric swatches, both of which are almost done.

In October, we went to L.A. Comic Con for the first time and wore Ghost!Thomas and Lucille again. Though the costumes were wear-ready, we did make a few substantial upgrades. Ghost!Thomas got new shoes, which my friend painted and look amazing.
I redyed Lucille's robe with a customized Dye-Na-Flow blend. It's still not quite what I want, but a definite improvement over the original dye job.
I also changed the wig. The first wig I had ordered years ago didn't fit me well. The hairline at the temple came way too far forward and completely covered my ears, and there was a weirdly pronounced peak above each temple. At the time I didn't want to deal with it, so I ordered a different style which is what I wore with the costume last year. It worked okay at WonderCon while it was in a braid, but with the hair worn down at Labyrinth it kept wanting to slide off. More experimenting after made me realize it was actually too small, and eventually it got to a point where I couldn't stand wearing it anymore. When we decided to bust the costumes out again for L.A. Comic Con, I didn't have the money to drop on a new lace front, so I got the original back out and tried to make it work. And it actually worked well. I changed the hairline and cut back the lace so it actually fit my ears and looked more natural, and it was so much more comfortable. This was also my first time actually securing the lace with spirit gum. I didn't quite get it pulled over my hairline at the sides (which just says to me I need a still bigger wig), but it looked really nice along the forehead.

We met up again with our friends from Labyrinth, who were Nightgown!Edith and Suit!Thomas, and we got lots of great reactions.
Being in a Crimson Peak group definitely helped with visibility, and the con being right before Halloween and kind of unofficially spooky themed definitely didn't hurt either. It was a completely different experience than WonderCon last year, where we had only a handful of people react and half of those thought my friend was Sweeney Todd and ignored me. We also finally got some nice and varied photos of these costumes, courtesy of our friends.

Wearing all that fabric and a heavy wig all day was too much for my neck though, especially with a flare up having already started the week before, so the week after was fairly miserable and I'm pretty sure that contributed to the solid month of migraines and tension headaches I had in November. So unfortunately, Murder Party Lucille might be relegated to just photoshoots from now on. (More excuse to start thinking about her black velvet park/ghost dress though.)

October was pretty busy, and the day after LACC we did a Hocus Pocus photoshoot at Sunnyside Cemetery as Jay and Ice.
Mostly this was just putting together the costume from purchased pieces, but I also cut and restyled my blonde lace front wig, which coincidentally made it more aesthetic and practical for Cap and more accurate for Civil War Sharon.

In November I finally finished my King George crown, which even with my reputation for unfinished projects probably now holds the record for longest continuous construction time of a single item. But hey, I did finish it.
I just did a recap on this sucker and also what comes next.

So the 2018 breakdown was:
  • 1940s ensembles: completed
  • Lydia Deetz: pockets added, wig restyled
  • TWS Mall Cap: shoe soles repainted, shield modified, wig restyled
  • CW Berlin Sharon: vest dyed, wig restyled
  • Reserve TIE Pilots: buckle construction started, jumpsuit templates acquired
  • French Revolution Zombaes: completed
  • Lucille Nightgown/Robe: new wig, robe redyed, new photos
  • Jay and Ice: completed, new photos
  • Sanderson Spellbook: almost completed
  • King George crown: completed
  • King George cape: pattern acquired
And December has mainly seen the start of some planning...

2018 was supposed to be the year of finishing the unfinished, and it kind of was, but mostly it wasn't. I did revive and revamp Hocus Pocus, but that's very much ongoing and likely won't be done in 2019 (still foolishly aiming for Labyrinth, though). We did a little work on our Reserve TIE Pilots, but not proactively, so those are still on the docket. King George's crown is done, but the other accessories are still an ongoing go. Civil War Sharon is that much closer to done, though Nat isn't, but they're also still really close in general, so hopefully that'll happen. In other ongoing work, we're hoping to finalize concept and design work on Gibson Gothic and Sword-and-Sandal Superheroes, and maybe Lost-Hope Ball too.

There are also some more pending upgrades. We want to upgrade our TWS Cap and Winter Soldier costumes, which we wore just once at an underwhelming SDCC a few years ago and then threw in the closet. I already have a new jacket for Cap, and have my nice shield as well, so this will probably mostly be redoing the Winter Soldier jacket. Our historical events, namely The Revolution and Great L.A. Air Raid, also need modified ensembles.

As far as totally new, we really want to do the TWS Cap Stealth suit and an amalgam MCU Black Widow suit. This is definitely not an outright 2019 goal. Given the scope, it'll be slower progress depending heavily on patterning and workouts (I am determined to be a Dorito). And after seeing Bohemian Rhapsody, we're desperate to do Freddie's party outfit with the crown and a Bowie to go with.

So the rough plan for 2019 is:
  • Winifred Sanderson, Mary Sanderson, and Billy Butcherson (Hocus Pocus)
  • Reserve TIE Pilots (Star Wars)
  • King George III accessories (Hamilton: An American Musical)
  • CW Berlin Sharon and Nat (Captain America: Civil War)
  • Gibson Gothic and/or Sword-and-Sandal Superheroes and/or Lost-Hope Ball designs (historical/original)
  • TWS Cap and Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
  • Cap Stealth Suit and Black Widow Tactical Suit (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and MCU)
  • Freddie Mercury party outfit (Bohemian Rhapsody) and David Bowie
  • c. 1783 American Revolution middle-to-upper class ensembles
  • new 1940s ensembles
We'll see what happens. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hamilton - King George: Moving Forward

Now that the crown is (finally) done, at least in Version 1.0, as well as the livery collar, star badge, and rhinestone garter, I can start getting back to the big picture plan and thinking about what's next.

Star badge:
I technically have one done, and it's alright. But I've never been totally satisfied with it (I will never be satisfiiiiiied). The show has since premiered on the West End, so I've been able to see the costuming tweaks they made for that new production. Most notably (and relevantly), they gave George an actual metal and rhinestone badge more like the real Order of the Garter rather than the embroidered one from the shows in the U.S. Either way works since both are accurate, and I'm not fussy about mixing costume variations from different shows. At the very least I could just remake the embroidered version. But I just love the way the rhinestone badge looks (*sparkles*). From seeing other people make replica royal orders and orders of chivalry and such, I have half an idea of how to make a star badge like this out of other jewelry pieces. It's an option, and it would probably be another cheap and fairly easy accessory. Time will tell.

I decided I had to have one after seeing the show last September, but I forced myself to put it off until all the other pieces I was working on were done. Now the time has come. I haven't really started planning construction yet. It'll probably be some kind of dowel as a base, and then I'll make the top piece similar to how I made the top of the crown. I need to do more research on it to get good references, so that'll be the first step.

While the cape falls in the realm of clothing more than accessories and the costume can be complete without it, it's still a priority over the suit. I think I can wear it and the accessories over something silly and dumb like a red union suit or ironic t-shirt and Union Jack boxers or something as kind of a high-quality gag costume, so that I can still enjoy what I've made so far without waiting on the whole suit. By chance, I was at a thrift store in October and found a costume cape with the perfect shoulder shape. So after months of struggling with picking patterns and doing alterations (more on that later), I can actually start making some real progress on this part. I have some of the materials, though now that the pattern is different I might need to order a little more yardage (fingers crossed that it goes the other way and I'll end up with extra instead), and I still need to buy some of the ribbon trim. But overall, the mockup is ready to start at least.

This monster is still going to move forward casually and at a slow and hopefully somewhat steady pace, but it's going to be a busy few weeks around the holidays and then suddenly school starts again in January. Fingers crossed!