Saturday, September 17, 2016

DIY Abby Sciuto cosplay

    So, it's been absolutely forever since I've updated my blog.  ComiCon has come and gone, and we finished all of our costumes in time...whew!  It was definitely a tight race to the finish, but we made it!  Everyone had fun (other than maybe Sugarplum, who had been fighting a cold and was pretty exhausted most of the day), and my little sisters are pumped for next year already!

    My main excuse for not updating has been my computer being on the fritz...yet it's still on the fritz, and here I am, so clearly that wasn't an entirely valid excuse.  It did make things a bit more complicated - I had to get the pictures I wanted off of my super slow computer onto a flash drive, and then actually write the blog on DH's computer since mine won't currently connect to the internet.  But I'm making it work!

    Having said all of that...it's time to start recap entries for each of our costumes, so that all the info is in one place and easy to follow.  Starting with my own cosplay, Abby Sciuto from NCIS.

    Most of this costume involved searching for and ordering pieces, there were not a lot of projects to complete.  First, every Abby cosplay needs a good goth-style top.


    I was originally looking for maybe something with skulls, which for some reason was a lot harder to find than I anticipated.  Maybe if you look at this time of year it would be easier!  But I ended up finding this skeleton tank on eBay, and it's extremely similar to one that Abby has actually worn on the show.

    Next you'll need a skirt or pants.  From my research, Abby does wear some of both, but the plaid mini skirt is her most iconic look.


    I was looking for either red, green, or blue, though I was leaning toward red.  The fact that this one came with a studded belt was an added bonus...but unfortunately, you couldn't even see it once I put it with the shirt.  Oh well.  This skirt came from swap.com.

    The next important piece is a lab coat.  I found mine on eBay, and added the embroidery myself.  I'm sure you could probably find a pre-embroidered NCIS lab coat if you don't have the means to do the embroidery, though they'll probably be a bit more expensive.  



    As an added detail for the final look, I hooked an ink pen into this pocket since Abby often carries one there.

    An optional piece, depending on what type of bottom you need up with and how comfortable you are in short skirts, is a pair of black leggings.  


    I accidentally ended up with a pair with holes down the front, which ended up working well for the overall look.  Like I said, the leggings are optional, since Abby doesn't actually wear them, but I didn't personally want to wear just a mini skirt with no other covering!  These came from swap.com as well.

    A key piece of Abby's look is her knee-high socks. 


    She wears a variety of patterns, including argyle, but I decided to go with the black and white stripes.  This was another eBay find.

    Of course as we're working our way down to the feet, the next obvious piece would be a pair of boots.


    While I admit these are not the most "Abby" boots I could have possibly gone with...I already owned them, and boots are expensive!  Abby generally wears taller boots, with lots of buckles and such.  But I felt like a simple pair of black combat boots worked pretty well without having to spend all that extra money.

    If you don't already have black hair and bangs, you'll also need a wig to complete your look.


    I found this one for cheap on eBay.  Keep in mind when buying wigs, what you pay for is what you get!  So while a cheap wig ended up working for me in the end, it was a lot more work to get it that way.
    The first thing I had to fix was the bangs.  They were VERY uneven!



    As you can see, there were sections on each side that weren't short enough to be bangs, but not long enough to mix in with the rest of the hair.  I cut those off to bangs-length.  There were other long pieces randomly mixed in throughout the bangs, too.

    Next I worked on de-shining the wig, which I have written a post on already, so I won't go into detail here.


    In this picture the left section has been de-shined.  It's not a huge difference, but it's one of those subtle details that makes the wig look more realistic.  

    I really wanted to give my wig Abby's iconic high pigtails.  Unfortunately, this is what happened when I tried that.


    I don't know how well you can tell without zooming in on the photo, but you can see the netting of the wig right through the hair.  Nothing I did to style the wig solved the problem!  Even with a black wig cap on underneath you could still see it.  This is probably another result of buying a cheap wig.  A better quality wig would most likely be thicker and have better coverage and styling options.  So, I ended up going with another Abby look, the low braided pigtails.


    Even this look was a bit hard to accomplish without exposing the netting underneath.  I will go ahead and admit that I got very frustrated with this wig before it was over with!  But in the end, the bit of netting that was exposed was not noticeable enough when paired with the black wig cap to continue to worry about.
   A side note...if you're going to do any kind of cutting or styling on a wig, you'll want to get one of these wig heads.  They only cost about $5 at Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann.  Also, do yourself a huge favor and rig some kind of stand to put it on, because they are super lightweight and will fall over constantly while you're trying to style. You can see somewhat in the picture above the one that DH made for me...basically it's a board with a spike/dowel sticking out of it and up into the hole in the bottom of the wig head.

    Now for the details!  The fun stuff!  First, jewelry.  Abby loves her jewelry!


    If you're going to cosplay Abby, a dog collar choker is pretty much a must.  I got mine on eBay, and I'm pretty sure it was an actual dog collar and not meant to be a necklace!  The skull bracelet also came from eBay, and the studded cuff was something DH had lying around.  As long as you stick with metal, black, and leather, you're pretty safe to be as creative as you'd like with your bracelets.  A choker and bracelets are about as far as Abby usually goes, though.  No earrings, and if she ever wears rings I didn't notice them.

    And, of course, you can't really be Abby without the tattoos.  This is certainly the most difficult part of the whole look!  Thankfully I married an artist, so he was in charge of my tattoos, though my sister M and I each did one on my wrists to help him out.
    There are several methods for creating your own temporary tattoos, and we weighed the pros and cons of each before settling on the simple Sharpie method.  If you want to be able to print your tattoos instead of having to draw them, there is a method with water transfer paper that you should look into.  For us, the Sharpies worked well - we drew them on the night before ComiCon, and they lasted throughout the day with very little fading.  The main issue I had was with the ones on my wrists, because I had bracelets rubbing on them, but they were easy enough to touch up.  Just make sure you take your Sharpie to the con with you!  That goes along with step #10 on my guide to ComiCon, which you should definitely check out if you're headed to your first con.
    Here are a couple of pictures of my tattoos compared with Abby's, with mine being on the right.



    Another little detail you might notice in the top picture is my black fingernail polish.  Not my usual look, but definitely an Abby thing!  For makeup, I kept it simple, with black eyeliner (but not a ton), a very small amount of light blush, and dark red lipstick.  

    And here it is, the final look!



    This was such a fun new look to try, and I got a ton of compliments on how much I looked like Abby.  Even with my baby bump, haha!

    Now let's talk cost.
    Skeleton tank: $4.99
    Mini skirt: $9.00
    Lab coat: $11.79
    Leggings: free! (long story, see my costume update post for that)
    Socks: $1.76
    Boots: free!
    Wig: $6.99
    Skull bracelet: $.74
    Dog collar: $3.70
    Cuff bracelet: free!
    Makeup, tattoos, and nails: free!

    TOTAL COST: $38.97
    Now that's cosplay on a budget!  This was actually the first time I had added up the cost, and I have to say I'm pretty pleased.

    I'll eventually get around to posts on Rey, Vanellope, Samantha Parkington, and The Man with No Name.  Hopefully it won't take me quite as long this time!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sewing Rey's Pants

    Aka: turning dress pants into harem-esque capris!


    The journey to completing M's pants for her Rey cosplay has been an...interesting one.  A bit longer and more complicated than any of us hoped.  But they are done now, so that's what matters!  

    I mentioned in my last costume update that I had found what I hoped was the perfect pair of pants for M at Goodwill.  We really liked the color and the how the fabric draped; they seemed to match the pants from the movie well. 



    But, once I got the pants to her and she was able to try them on, it turned out they were too small, even though they were the size she normally wears!  Women's clothing...ugh.  They wouldn't even go all the way over her hips, so we weren't sure that there was anything that could be done about it.  So we started looking for other options, but I was too sick to get out and do any physical shopping (oh btw, have I mentioned I'm pregnant? ha), and it's so hard to tell what you're getting color- and fabric-wise online.  My mom ordered another pair off of eBay, but they ended up being way too gray and not at all the right fabric.  

    So, recently I was finally well enough to be able to make it back over to their house and actually see these pants in person.  My mom and I had hatched a possible plan to open up the side seams far enough for her to actually get the pants on, and then fill in the gaps with the excess fabric that we were already going to be cutting off of the legs.  Thankfully, that worked (that is, after my pregnant brain decided to use a completely wrong measurement the first time and make them way huge on her), and the pants now actually fit her.

    But anyway, assuming that you actually buy the correct size pants for your cosplay, what you'll really need to know how to do is to make them fitted at the knee like Rey's are.


    Most capris that you find are going to be fitted through the leg, unlike Rey's.  So the easiest thing to do is to find a pair of long dress pants that are loose fitting, or possibly a pair of gauchos.  Try the pants on, mark a spot just under the knee where you want them to end, allowing some extra room for seam allowances, etc., then cut both legs off at this mark.  

    Next you'll need to create a cuff for the ends of the pants.  Measure around the largest part of your calf, even if that's not where the pants will actually end.  You want to make sure the cuff can slide all the way up to where it belongs!  Use some of the fabric that you cut off to make the cuff.  In my case, the original bottom of the pants had a very wide hem, just the right width for my cuff and already nicely finished off for me.  If you don't have this luxury, then I suggest 2-3 inches wide, and you'll need to hem one side.  You can choose either to cut one long strip, the length of your calf measurement (plus seam allowances), and sew the ends together (right sides together) to create a loop, or cut 2 pieces of equal length and sew those ends together (right sides together).  I did the latter.


     Hope you're still with me so far!  I pretty much make this stuff up as I go, so I'm certainly not an expert at explaining it all.  

    Okay, your next step is to gather the end of the pants.  Run a double gathering stitch (long stitch length) along the edge, then pull the threads until the pants are gathered enough to just fit inside the cuff.  You'll need to do this one side of the pants at a time, since the existing side seams won't gather. 



    Getting it to the right size will take a little bit of trial and error; just place the cuff around the gathers and readjust as needed.  It's easiest to gather a little too much to start with and then pull it back out a little once you're holding the cuff on.

    Next, once you've tied off your gathering stitches, turn the cuff inside out and pin it over the end of the pants.  When you sew this, make sure that you leave enough seam allowance to cover up all of your gathering stitches.


    Turn right side out, repeat on other leg, and ta da!  You're done! 


    Didn't get a picture of the finished product on M, but there will be plenty to come.  At this point I'm trying to decide whether there's some kind of tie on Rey's pants, around the cuff.  Anybody have any input on that one?  I have plenty of fabric still left over, so I can easily add one at the last minute if I decide I want to.

    Another quick update on how everything else is coming:  Now that we have the pants done, M's costume is basically finished other than acquiring the fabric to wrap around her arms.  
    D's Vanellope costume still needs stripes painted on the leggings and stitches added to the hoodie pocket, and we need to make candy clips for her hair.  She does have her hoodie strings dyed pink, and she actually ended up getting a different pair of white leggings and dying them the correct color to better match her hoodie.
    DH finally found a hat for his "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" cosplay!  However, it needs some work before it's ready to go.  Also, we bought some fabric for his poncho, but it still needs to be made and the design painted on.  Those are his two main pieces that needed work.
    Sugarplum's Samantha dress is nearly finished.  All the sewing is done (and was that a task! I hate patterns so much!), all that's left is to finish tacking down the ribbon belt and to find a gold piece to be the "buckle" at the center of the belt.  I also bought her some black stockings this weekend.
    This week I'm excited to finally get back to work on my Abby Sciuto costume!  All of the pieces did come in, and they all look great.  Today I gave my wig a slight haircut, and over the next couple of days I hope to work on de-shining the wig and styling it.  That will probably be my next post, so keep an eye out!


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Costume Updates

    I spent last week at my parents' house, and one thing my sisters and I did was work on acquiring pieces for their costumes.  Combine that with some of the other buying and crafting I've done recently, and I've been pretty productive on the costume front lately.  So...time for an update!

    Abby Sciuto Cosplay

    The first item to arrive for my Abby costume was a skull bracelet that I found on eBay for $.79 and free shipping.  Can't beat that!



    Next was the lab coat...also from eBay...which I failed to take a picture of before I embroidered.  But I made up for it by taking a video of the embroidery machine at work!



    Am I the only one who finds watching embroidery machines fascinating?  Yes?  Ok, fine.  Here's a still shot of it for all the rest of you.


    And here is the final product!


    Today the skirt and leggings came in the mail, too...



    Funny story about these leggings.  I didn't realize when I ordered the that they had holes down the front.  That was very unclear in the picture/description.  And while that look may be appropriate for Abby, I was hoping to be able to wear these myself, and that's NOT my style.  So I went back on swap.com to return them, and they told me they'd give me my money back but that I could keep the leggings for my inconvenience.  That's the second time swap has done that to me!  So now, I guess I'm going to use them after all...I mean, they were free!  My one concern was that they wouldn't look right when I paired them with the knee socks (which haven't come in yet for me to try), but I think it'll look fine.  I'm definitely glad I have the leggings, because that skirt just BARELY covers me!

    Still waiting on my shirt, dog collar, knee socks, and wig to arrive, but they're all coming from China :/ so the estimated arrival puts them here anytime between next week and mid-April.

    Samantha Parkington Cosplay

    Sugarplum's costume is the most labor-intensive, and also the one that I've accomplished the least on.  Gotta make myself sit down and sew!  Some of it has to do with finding the time...the perfect day when Sugarplum herself will actually cooperate and LET me sit down and sew!

    Anyway, I did buy the fabric from Hobby Lobby.  As I said in my last post, it's not exact, but it's the closest I could find.

    I also found this ribbon at JoAnn to use for the waistband.


    This is the pattern I'm going to be using, found on Etsy. 

   

    I've cut out all the pieces, and ironed the fabric, so my next step is ironing the pattern pieces and then pinning and cutting everything.  It's been so long since I've actually sewn with a pattern, it makes me a little nervous.  Funny that having instructions and a guide would make me more nervous than winging it.

    Lastly, I found a pair of black patent leather shoes on eBay.  I got them a little big in hopes that she'll still be able to wear them next winter to church.




    Rey Cosplay

    My sister M's Rey cosplay is coming along well.  First I found her a pair of pants at Goodwill.


    They're a little more grey in person than they look in this photo.  I need to cut them off at her knees and hem them, but other than that they're the perfect fabric (linen-esque) and color.

    We finally decided on some fabric, from JoAnn.  Hobby Lobby had the same type of fabric labeled as batiste, but I'm not sure if that's the correct name for it or not.  Regardless, it seemed to be the perfect texture for the fabric that drapes around Rey's shoulders.  I measured from M's knee, up over the opposite shoulder, and back down to her knee, which turned out to be 2 1/2 yards.  Since the fabric comes 45" wide, I just bought that length, and cut the fabric in half lengthwise to make a strip for each shoulder.  No need to have 45" worth of fabric gathered up on her shoulder!



    Here's a picture of Rey's costume for texture comparison.



    The other item we found for her cosplay last week was a shirt.  


    We bought this off-white fitted tee from Walmart, and I'm going to make a couple of alterations to it.


    You can just barely see in this picture where I've marked the collar and sleeve.  On the collar I'll be cutting a small "v".  The sleeves are supposed to be cap sleeves, so I'm going to cut them off shorter and re-hem them.

    We already own the belt and leather wrist cuff, so now we just need to find her some boots and some kind of fabric to wrap around her arms.  She decided to forego the staff...too expensive and too much of a pain to carry around all day!


    Vanellope von Schweetz Cosplay

    My youngest sister D's cosplay is also nearing completion.  It took us awhile to find the perfect hoodie...there are a lot of teal hoodies out there, but most of them have logos and/or zippers on the front.  Also, finding the perfect color teal is easier said than done, especially without paying through the nose for it!  But I finally came across this one on eBay, which was a great price AND (contrary to what this picture shows) is the perfect color.


    Not too blue, not too green, that's the key with finding teal!  D kept this one with her, and is planning on dying or changing out the strings to hot pink, as well as adding the hot pink stitching on the pocket.
   
    She's also going to be working on her leggings.  We found these at Walgreens, of all places.


    For color comparison purposes, these are slightly bluer and a good bit darker than her hoodie.  I saw a tutorial on Pinterest for how to paint white tights to look like Vanellope's, but we figured that painting teal ones with the white stripes would equal less paint, and they'd be less likely to be stiff.  Hopefully we were right!

    Another swap.com purchase was her skirt, which just came in the mail today, so she hasn't actually had a chance to try it on yet.  It *should* be the right size, though!


    Now all she needs is some shoes and some candy for her hair, and she'll be good to go!

    I didn't include DH's Clint Eastwood cosplay in this list, because he hasn't acquired any new items yet.  :)  He's having a really hard time finding a hat that meets his standards without costing $100 +!  Unfortunately it's not one of those things you can just pick up on eBay or at Goodwill for a few bucks.  

    Eventually, when everything is complete, I'll try to compile all of these into separate, single posts, so that all the information about each costume is available in one place.  But for now, I find it fun to be able to share my progress as it comes! 

Friday, February 26, 2016

New year, new costumes!

    For the past couple of years, I have started thinking about my costume for ComiCon at the beginning of the year.  Sometimes it takes me a while to decide what I want to do, and I want to make sure I have plenty of time to accomplish making the costume or putting it together if it ends up being complicated.  Like my Arwen dress last year, for instance!  This year it was particularly important to start early, since I not only have my costume and Sugarplum's costume to plan (plus helping hubby out if he needs any sewing done), but my two little sisters have decided to come with us, too!  I'm super excited about introducing them to cosplay and ComiCon.  I always say that my husband turned me into a geek, and I pretty much passed it on to these two (and my older sister to some extent, too!).  We were all already Disney geeks, but DH got me into Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and I in turn introduced my sisters.  Haven't gotten them on Doctor Who yet...maybe that'll come next. ;)

    Anyway, it turns out that most of our costumes won't require that much sewing this year, other than Sugarplum's.  Which is even more of a good thing considering what I just found out earlier this week...Wizard World, the convention that we usually attend in September, isn't coming to Nashville this year.  That means our only choice now is FanBoy Expo, which I don't know much about, but it looks like it'll be good.  There's one in Nashville in May, and one in Knoxville in June.  That leaves us only around 3 months to get everything ready!

    Thankfully, everyone has made up their minds on who they want to be, though it did take us a while.  We debated for what seemed like forever on whether or not we could come up with a group cosplay, like maybe all cosplaying as characters from The Force Awakens.  We ended up scratching that idea, because in every scenario at least one person was going to end up settling for a costume that they weren't necessarily thrilled about.  I really wanted my sisters, especially, to be whoever they really wanted to for their first ComiCon.

    So, without further ado, here is what we have all decided on for this year's ComiCon, and our progress so far.

    My costume: Abby Sciuto from NCIS



    I watched the show NCIS faithfully for a few years.  Now I mostly see re-runs, but Abby has always been a favorite.  I mean, who doesn't love Abby?  So far her outfit has been pretty fun to put together.  I really couldn't have chosen anyone whose sense of style was more different from my own!  But that's actually what makes it so much fun.
    So far I have ordered a lab coat, which I plan on embroidering with "NCIS" myself; a black wig, which I will be cutting and styling; black and white striped knee socks; a black spiked dog collar; and one skull bracelet.  All of those came off of eBay.  I already own a pair of black combat boots that I'll be using.  Still keeping my eye out for a plaid skirt, another bracelet, and some sort of skull/skeleton top.  Also a pair of black leggings, because the knee sock and mini skirt combo is a little....bare...for me.  DH will be helping me with the tattoos when the time comes...I have zero tattoos, and Abby has 7 that will be visible!  We haven't quite decided yet what method we'll be using for those, so I'll keep you updated and probably post a tutorial later on.

    DH's costume: The Man with No Name from A Fistful of Dollars



    I've only actually seen parts of this movie a couple of times, honestly, so I don't know that much about it other than this guy is the gun-slingin' hero!  DH searched for a while for a character that he could pull off with his current beard and hairstyle.  We've discovered in the past couple of years that there really aren't very many bearded characters, besides old men and wizards!  Anyway, he already owns at least a couple of pieces for this look, including the shoes and vest.  He's currently looking for the hat (I told him just to wear his Indiana Jones hat from last year, but he claims that this is a pretty specific hat, haha.  Shows you what I know.).  We're thinking for the poncho we'll end up buying or making a plain brown one, and then painting the designs on.  You can actually find this specific poncho for sale online, but they're quite pricey.

    Sugarplum's costume: Samantha Parkington, an American Girl



    My sisters and I all grew up with American Girl dolls.  I didn't personally own Samantha until I was a teenager (I started collecting the dolls as they were being discontinued), but my older sister did.  I chose Samantha for Sugarplum because they look the most alike.  :)  This will be the one costume that will be sewn completely from scratch.  And let me tell you...that fabric is NOT easy to find!  It's technically a burgundy and grey gingham print on a kind of taffeta like fabric, but no such thing seems to actually exist in the real world.  I've had to settle for a burgundy gingham on cotton, which I found at Hobby Lobby for ~$3.50 a yard sale price.  It's certainly not exact but it's the closest I could find...well, there was one slightly closer that I found online, but with the cost of shipping it would have been $25 total at least.  It wasn't different enough to pay that much.  
    I also have the ribbon for the waist, and a pattern for a very similar looking girls' Victorian dress, which I found on Etsy.  I ordered a pair of black patent leather dress shoes from eBay, but I'll still need to find the black stockings, and something to use for that gold ring on the belt.  

    M's costume: Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

   
    
    Despite the fact that we decided not to go with a group Star Wars cosplay, there will still be one TFA character in the bunch.  My 18-year-old sister is going to be cosplaying Rey, the heroine of the movie.  As soon as I saw Rey I knew that she'd be a good character to be...her outfit just looks so comfy and fun, doesn't it?  We haven't done much shopping for my sisters' costumes yet, since we'd like to do it together and they live a few hours away.  I'm planning on visiting next week, though, and I'm sure we'll get a lot accomplished then.  However, I did happen to pick up a belt much like Rey's at Goodwill a few months ago on a whim, and I found a perfect pair of pants (that I'm hoping will fit!) at Goodwill a couple of days ago.  They're long pants, so I'll have to cut them off and tie them at the knees.  Right now I'm on a search for the perfect fabric to drape around her...something light and flowy but not super expensive, which is easier said than done.  The other piece that may be difficult to find is the boots, unless she has something already that I don't know about.  I'm sure we won't find anything too exact, but as long as they're close in style and color I think she'll be satisfied.

    D's costume: Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph



    My 14-year-old sister changed her mind multiple times, but finally decided on Vanellope.  We haven't gotten any pieces for her costume yet - though I believe she said she had some shoes that would work - but we have made some plans.  I found a tutorial on Pinterest for painting a pair of white tights to look like Vanellope's, and we've talked about how to do the candy for her hair.  She wants to use real candy, so we plan to glue it onto bobby pins.  We may even thread a wire through an actual Twizzler to wrap around her ponytail!  Finding a teal hoodie that doesn't have a zipper down the front is proving harder than I would have thought, so there has also been talk of buying a white hoodie and dying it the correct color.

    And there you have it!  We ended up with a very random combination of characters, but I think we're all happy with what we've decided on.  There will be progress reports to come, so stay tuned!