Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sikozu

Character: Sikozu
From: Farscape
Made: 2004
Awards: Second place, Sci-Fi category (GenCon 2004); Second place (Farscape Burbank Creation Con 2004)

I've been a big fan of the TV show Farscape for years, but I hadn't really been interested in recreating any of its costumes...until this one practically fell into my lap. In the summer of 2003 I was doing a big clean-out of my theater group's costume shop, and I came across this pair of absolutely dreadful shiny reddish-orange lycra pants. And as I looked at the pants, it occurred to me that they were the exact color of the fourth-season character Sikozu's outfit.

Since there was no way in hell my theater group was ever going to use those pants again, I took them home with me. They sat in my closet until almost a year later, when I heard that the Save Farscape fan group wanted to get a group of costumed characters together at San Diego Comic-Con to promote the upcoming Farscape miniseries. That proved to be just the kick in the pants (ha!) I needed to really start working on the costume.

Of all my costumes, this is one of the most attention-getting, due to its eye-hurting color (one of my friends once told me, "It's too early in the morning for that color!") and the amount of skin it shows. Can't be a wallflower in this one!

San Diego Comic-Con, July 2004
Photos by Eurobeat King

Farscape Burbank Creation Con, November 2004
Makeup job by Hayley and Josh!


Construction

Pants

I'll start with the pants, since they were my original inspiration for making this costume. Although the pants were made of a stretchy material, they were very loose and baggy-- I have no idea why. But it was good that they were, because I had to salvage every last bit of the pants fabric I could in order to cover the bra and make all of its straps. The first thing I did was take off the waistband and remove the pocket. Then I put the pants on myself, and pinned all the excess fabric off to the outside of my legs so the pants fit tightly, like leggings:

I then used my serger to sew the new, tighter pants and remove the spare fabric in one go. I put the pants on again, and estimated how low I wanted the waist to be based on where the skirt was going to hit my waist. Then I trimmed the excess fabric, folded the new waist down to make an elastic casing, and ran 3/4" elastic through it. The coverstitch setting on my serger worked really well for sewing the casing. Finally, I put the pants on one last time and added my boots, to decide how much fabric I could cut off the bottom of the legs. The pants now end a few inches below my knees. I used to gaff tape the bottoms of the pants to my legs, but I finally made stirrups so I could stop ripping my skin off.

Bra Top

First, I went to Marshalls and combed through their bra rack for a bra that matched the overall shape of Sikozu's. I was lucky enough to find one that had almost the exact right shape and also had a layer of lace covering the cups, which came in really handy later.

The first thing I did was mock up all the straps in muslin. The top has a lot of straps-- six on her shoulders, and two more circling her lower torso. That took a few tries to get right. Then I had to add the vertical seam down the bra cups. This is where that lace layer was really useful-- I just cut it off of the bra cups, then cut it vertically where I wanted the seam to be. Poof! Instant pattern. I added a generous seam allowance (because the actual fabric was going to have to wrap around the sides of the cups so it could be securely affixed) and did a quick muslin mockup to make sure the seam was where I wanted it.

Then it was time for the real adventure: covering the bra! I had to plan very carefully, because I was limited by the amount of fabric I'd salvaged from the pants. No room for error! I had made muslin pieces of all the different parts I was going to need, and I arranged those around on the scraps until I was satisfied I would be able to cut all the pieces properly. Before-and-after shots of the fabric I had left over from the pants, and the scraps that remained after I cut all the bra pieces:


To cover the actual bra, I pinned the pieces on, hand-basted them, and then stitched them on with the chainstitch on my serger. It was important to use the chainstitch so I could retain the stretchiness of the bra and the fabric. The bra closed with hooks in the back, so I poked two holes in the covering fabric to allow the hooks to attach to the eyes. I also added a little fabric extension with two snaps, for extra security and neatness. I had already removed the bra's original straps, and to add the six new straps I first pinned the completed straps to the bra, to confirm how long they needed to be for the bra to sit comfortably. I then securely handstitched the straps to the underside of the bra. I repeated the process for the two lower straps. The two lower straps were also handsewn to each other where they met at the sides, and small snaps were added to close the lowest strap in the back.


Skirt

The skirt was quite easy to draft and make. It's basically four equal trapezoids and a waistband. I determined the size of each trapezoid by taking three different measurements: around my waist where I wanted the skirt to sit, around my hips, and the distance between where the skirt would sit and where it would end. I divided the first two measurements by four to get the top and bottom lengths of the trapezoid, and the third measurement was its height. I mocked the skirt up in muslin based on these measurements, and then adjusted as necessary, making the bottom a bit wider and the length a bit shorter. Then I just added an inch-wide waistband. I ended up taking in the two side panels 1/2" each by adding a seam down the center, both because the waist was a bit too big and because I noticed the side panels had those seams after I'd already made the skirt.

The skirt is made out of a thin pleather-like material with a fuzzy back. The fabric was not stiff, which was very important, because the original skirt did not look stiff. The pleather was originally maroon; I colored it with two layers of Dylon Shoe Color, which I bought from chaffinch.com. I used a mix of Terra Cotta, Red, and Yellow in a 4:1:1 ratio. I also used this dye on the boots and the gauntlets.

The skirt closes with small snaps at the right rear seam. And, to my eternal shame, the edges of the skirt panels were finished by folding them under and securing them with a combination of double-stick tape and a sticky substance made for scrapbooking. I'm not proud of it, but it was the only way I could figure out to make the sides of the panels look like the original, with no visible stitching.

Gauntlets & Boots

These were a bit of an undertaking for me, because they were entirely craft projects-- no sewing whatsoever! After a bit of thinking, I decided to use craft foam covered with pleather for the gauntlets and the tops of the boots. Each was made out of three layers of foam: two layers as a base, and then a third layer to give the raised or indented design. I made a paper template, then cut the foam and hot-glued the layers together. Hot glue worked really well because it set quickly and melted the foam just slightly to attach the layers permanently.

After that, I covered the foam with the same pleather I'd used for the skirt, but I used regular craft glue painted over the foam surface to attach it. The fuzzy back of the pleather helped the pleather stay in place. I then painted the gauntlets and boot tops with two layers of the shoe dye, and I put four coats on the boots themselves, which had originally been black. The heel on the boots are a bit too high (which makes them pretty painful to walk in!) but they were a bargain find at $18, and they were just my size, so I make do.

The boot tops sit right on top of the boots, and are currently attached by gaff taping the pointy bit of the boot top onto the boot itself. At some point I may permanently attach them, but it proved easier to prevent boot-top squishing while packing if the tops were separate from the boots. The gauntlets are also attached with duct tape right now. From what I can tell, the actual gauntlets attach with some sort of metal clips, so I'm keeping an eye out for things that might work. I tried regular hooks and eyes, but they didn't work at all.

Wig & Makeup

I bought the Brook wig in Copper Red from wowwigs.com. I had to trim it a bit, since it was longer than Sikozu's hair. The one thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have a center part the way Sikozu's hair does, but I can live with that. (And I've had far too many people ask me whether it's my real hair. Yeah, not so much.)

Sikozu has pretty extensive makeup, including glittery gold scales. When I first wore this costume, at Comic-Con and GenCon, I didn't have the skills to do her full makeup. Instead, I tried to achieve her basic face coloration. To do that, I first used a tinted lotion that my friend Steph gave me, which essentially gave me a very sparkly tan. That went on my face, arms, and chest. I then added color around my hairline and eyes with this horrendous orange-red lipstick I happened to own, and then of course I used the lipstick on my lips as well.

At the Farscape official convention in Burbank in November 2004, I wore the costume and makeup as I usually do. But while I was at the convention, I met a nice couple named Hayley and Josh who offered to do my makeup more accurately with an airbrush. Hayley also has an awesome Sikozu costume, but I didn't get to see it at the con. They used just watered-down acrylic paint, and to do the scales, they laid netting against my skin and then sprayed over it. It was really cool and inspired us to buy our own airbrush for future costume use.

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